When my friend is away from me, I am depressed.  Nothing in the daylight delights me.  Sleep at night gives no rest.  Who can I tell about this?  The night is dark and long.  Hours go by, because I’m alone.  I sit up suddenly–a fear goes through me. 

Kabir says, “Listen, my friend.  There is one thing in the world which satisfies–and that is a meeting with the guest.”

I said to the wanting creature inside of me, “What is this river you want to cross?  There are no travelers on the river road–and no road.  Do you see anyone moving about on that bank, or resting?  There’s no river at all–and no boat, and no boatman.  There’s no towrope either–and no one to pull it.  And there’s no ground, no sky, no time, no bank, no ford.  And there’s no body, and no mind. 

“You believe that there is someplace that will make the soul less thirsty?  In that great absence you will find nothing.  Be strong then–and enter into your own body.  There you have a solid place for your feet. 

“Think about it carefully–don’t go off somewhere else.”

Kabir says this:  “Just throw away all thoughts of imaginary things–and stand firm in that which you are.”

I know the sound of the ecstatic flute, but I don’t know whose flute it is.  A lamp burns–and has neither wick nor oil.  A lily pad blossoms–and is not attached to the bottom.  When one flower opens–ordinarily, dozens open.  The moon-bird’s head is filled with nothing but thoughts of the moon.  And when the next rain will come is all that the rain-bird thinks of. 

Who is it that we spend our entire life loving? 


(Robert Bly’s translation)


  1. 1 solosocial June 20, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Here are Tagore’s translations of these same three poems by Kabir:

    When I am parted from my Beloved, my heart is full of misery: I have no comfort in the day, I have no sleep at night. To whom shall I tell my sorrow?

    The night is dark; the hours slip by. Because my Lord is absent, I start up and tremble with fear.

    Kabir says: “Listen, my friend! There is no other satisfaction, save in the encounter with the beloved.”

    To what shore would you cross, O my heart? There is no traveller before you, there is no road:

    Where is the movement, where is the rest, on that shore?

    There is no water; no boat, no boatman, is there;

    There is not so much as a rope to tow the boat, nor a man to draw it.

    No earth, no sky, no thing, is there: no shore, no ford!

    There, there is neither body nor mind: and where is the place that shall still the thirst of the soul? You shall find naught in that emptiness.

    Be strong, and enter into your own body: for there your foothold is firm. Consider it well, O my heart! Go not elsewhere.

    Kabir says: “Put all imaginations away, and stand fast in that which you are.”

    What is that flute whose music thrills me with joy?

    The flame burns without a lamp;

    The lotus blossoms without a root;

    Flowers bloom in clusters;

    The moon-bird is devoted to the moon;

    With all its heart the rain-bird longs for the shower of rain;

    But upon whose love does the Lover concentrate His entire life?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: