Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 57 Hari M. G. 3 The Desperate Seeker The poet hopes his words would make at least a few open and sensitive, though he is convinced they cannot break through the rock like rigidity of the minds of the vast majority. Therein, lies the intimacy of Kabir’s poetry. It is not addressed to the entire world, but to those few who are willing to surrender at least a part of their sense of being – an invitation to those who have a little empty space within to accommodate the divine. Intimate space that his poetry is positioned, is not only one where he appeals to others to be attentive and but also a space where he chooses to pour out his own struggles in experiencing the bliss of the absolute. In some poems, the poet brutally subjects himself to an ethical scrutiny, to the extent of calling himself the “worst human being” (Kabir 2020, 149): Kabir, I am the worst of all, Everyone else is great; The one who understands this – He is my mate. These words emanate from a deep engagement with one’s own subjectivity. When attention is directed to the hidden recesses of the mind, the poet feels the even the slightest meanness of thought as the greatest of sins. The line “The one who understands this / He is my mate”, implies that it is not a mere confession of an inner turmoil, but an intimate advice to look deep within oneself for even the tiniest of faults. Absolute integrity is what Kabir expects in those who are touched by Him, and He is laying his interiority bare as an instance of such unabashed encounter with hitherto unconscious mental spaces. Such an intimate and honest dissection of oneself leads to utter insecurity and helplessness as well. But the poet is not ashamed to cry for God’s help when he is left with nothing to cling on to (Kabir 1993, 157): I have come to seek refuge in You – but nowhere do I see Hari’s feet! I have come to seek your presence: Your servant Kabir is in despair! These are not the words of a believer, but of one who will not settle for anything less than an experience that is truly cosmic. In fact, Bhakti poetry abounds in utter insecurity of the inner world, and it was natural for the saints to experience being caught up in a no man’s land as they shed their social investments without any surety of Self-realization. Walking the spiritual path in its initial stage was fraught with a deep sense of insecurity and anxiety, for many of the saints. Arundhati Subramaniam (2014, xxvi) quite insightfully and succinctly comments on the utter vulnerability of the saints in the Introduction to her book Eating God: A Book of Bhakti Poetry: “she was an insurgent who knew the perils of the border game she was playing, and the yawning chasm that lay just beyond the horizon of her insatiable yearning.” The poems which delve into the utter insecurity of being human constitutes the most fascinating sections of Kabir’s poetry. When the seeker is sincerely honest about the everyday world of ordinary reality, he finds what people usually call as “life” quite tragic and doomed. Without an illusion of fantasy, life appears a precarious chance happening that is bound to end with death. This basic facticity does not bother an unreflective human being, thanks to an obsessive clinging to fantasies rooted in lies. The true seeker who has seen the reality of such fantasies gets inevitably embroiled in an intensely unsettling insecurity, which in turn propels his/her spiritual seeking. The poetry of such states of pain and hopelessness is also one that reflects a profound honesty – bearing testimony to a desperate need to find fulfilment (Kabir 1993, 269): You are my Mother And I am your child: Why couldn’t You forget All my faults? The insecurity and vulnerability expressed here is absolute, in the sense that it comes from a space devoid of all the mental constructs that human beings resort to in a desperate search for security and stability. On the one hand, the poet is in deep pain as he is unable to experience the bliss of cosmic oneness; on the other, he is equally distant from the comforts and pleasures of the normative social life. Caught up in the in-between space which neither has the absolute security of the mystic nor the deluded sense of security of the mundane life, he calls himself a fool while the entire world looks very self-assured (Kabir 2011, 53): The smart guys Aren’t just the majority, They are everywhere, Everyone but me. I’m the only Dimwit in town. I wasn’t born like this, With an extra chromosome, It’s singing the Lord’s name Made me so.