Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 55 Hari M. G. 2 An Unflinching Look at the Facticity of Life The first step that Kabir vouches for in the quest for the absolute is an unflinching loyalty to truth. As Andrew Schelling (2011, xi) notes, Bhakti poets have always stood for a rigorous enquiry into the nature of truth: “Bhakti is salted with an integrity that requires intellectual effort and a great deal of honest probing to get close to.” Though the idea of truth keeps changing as one progresses in one’s seeking, Kabir exhorts his fellow beings to begin this journey to the realization of Self by ceasing to consciously get involved in lies. He even says that those who willingly live in falsehood are despicable (Kabir 2020,161): One who loves falsehood And gives up truth willingly Even in my dreams, oh God, Don’t let him come near me. The poet’s abomination for a life founded on lies emanates from his conviction that it is only an intense and sincere search for truth that would lead to the realization of one’s ultimate Self. For a mystic like Kabir the ontological certitude of the realization of one’s true being is the only sensible goal worth having. Spewing lies in the inner world consciously would deny a human being the possibility of accessing the divinity within. He is quite affirmative when he says it is truth alone that can bring the dimension of the sacred alive in one’s “heart” (Kabir 2020, 160): There is no penance like truth No sin as great as a lie; The heart in which truth exists – That’s where You abide. These lines exemplify the depth that Kabir brings to seemingly simple poetic expression. The first two lines sound like a simple morality lesson given to children – being truthful is the greatest virtue and lying the greatest sin. But, what “truth” is he talking about? Is it the ultimate truth of spiritual Oneness that Kabir as a mystic realizes or is it the truth of ordinary human beings which is usually construed as an absence of a conscious attempt at deception? It seems the poet is alluding to both these dimensions of truth – truth of the material world of human transactions and the metaphysical absolute of divinity. It can be read as an attitude which would involve these two aspects of truth – an earnest heart that does not attempt consciously to deceive oneself and others, would eventually be able to move to the absolute and immutable truth of existence. The next two lines add more depth to the complexity of ideation happening here. It is said that the heart in which truth exists is where “You” abide. Like the notion of “truth”, “You” also does have an ambiguous signification. The obvious reference of “You” would be the divine; but it can also mean the seeker of the divine. Taken together, these lines make a very profound statement – the seeker who makes an earnest effort to know oneself, without any conscious intention to take the easy road of falsehood, would finally reach a space within oneself that is usually called “God”. As Linda Hess (1983, 30) notes, in Kabir’s poetry, it is the persistent commitment to truth that finally empowers a human being to perceive the unmediated infinitude of existence: “The essence of Kabir’s effort as a teacher may be stated plainly: he wants people to be honest. He believes that complete honesty (and nothing else) provides a realization of complete truth – understanding of the nature of consciousness, the relation of individual and the universe, inside and outside, life and death.” In some verses, the poet makes his logic as simple as it could be stated (Kabir 2020, 148): Shun hypocrisy and pride Be like a pebble on a road Only one who be like this Can behold the Lord. Logic here is quite simple. As a mystic and a guru, Kabir makes just one demand – to shun hypocrisy and pride; and the one who could do that is worthy enough to be touched by the divine. As simple as it seems, there is an entire world implicit in these words. “To be like a pebble on the road” one has to abnegate and dismantle the mental structure itself. To be ordinary and honest, in this context, would amount to going beyond the mind. The spiritual reality that the mystic cryptically alludes to, in many of his other poems, is accessible only when the seeker could transplant his being beyond the chaos of the mind. In Kabir’s poetic world, simplicity of ideas and expression, often, have this quaint resonance of deeper subtext of meaning. As the topic of his musings is the subjectivity of a seeker of truth, simple words and images are contextualized within a dense range of deep experiences of the beyond. Kabir’s basic outlook towards religion is that of an inner exploration wherein the seemingly simple thoughts and emotions lead to uncharted terrains of a baffling metaphysical reality. The poet seems quite certain about the basic nature of this exploration of interiority which is quite evident in the way he dismisses the charades of the external world.