Biographies > The Enigmatic Kabir


by Peter Holleran


  "If I say He is one, the question of two arises."


   Kabir (1398-1518) was a famous weaver-saint and a contemporary of the great Guru Nanak. Although a Muslim from one of the lowest castes in India, Kabir came to rival the Brahmans in influence, with many thousands of Hindu disciples. In fact, the Kabir panth sect today has one million members in Northern India who honor him as their founder. When Christian missionaries came to convert them they found, to their frustration, that the Kabir panthis were unable to comprehend how Christ was in any way superior to or even different than Kabir. According to his Anurag Sagar, perhaps less well-known than the Bijak, Kabir is said to have incarnated in all four ages or yugas. Al-Kabir is also one of the ninety-nine names of God in Islam, meaning "the great." Beloved by those of many spiritual persuasions, the essence of his teachings, especially as detailed in the Anurag Sagar, is the subject matter of this essay.

   According to Evelyn Underhill,

   "Kabîr belongs to that small group of supreme mystics--amongst whom St. Augustine, Ruysbroeck, and the Sûfî poet Jalâlu'ddîn Rûmî are perhaps the chief--who have achieved that which we might call the synthetic vision of God. These have resolved the perpetual opposition between the personal and impersonal, the transcendent and immanent, static and dynamic aspects of the Divine Nature; between the Absolute of philosophy and the "sure true Friend" of devotional religion. They have done this, not by taking these apparently incompatible concepts one after the other; but by ascending to a height of spiritual intuition at which they are, as Ruysbroeck said, "melted and merged in the Unity," and perceived as the completing opposites of a perfect Whole."

   A favorite among many non-dual teachers, there is no denying, however, that Kabir preached the glory of communing with the Name or Word of God, the Divine light and sound current, given through direct contact with the Satguru:

   “Hold your tongue, avoid loose talk, stay with the tester.
   Remember the Word from the guru’s mouth.”
(1)

   “When one merges in the Master’s words
   He will be attached to the Lord’s Name;
   When he is attached to the Lord’s Name
   His delusions depart, his fears end.

   When the moon becomes one with the sun
   The unstruck melody resounds within;
   When the melody of the bagpipes resounds
   The soul shares the throne with the Lord."
(2)

   "Apply yourself, 0 friend,
   To the practice of Shabd-
   The Shabd from which even
   The creator came into being;
   Imprint that Shabd
   In your heart, 0 friend."
(3)

   Thus, it is clear that Kabir expounded the virtues of shabd yoga and was a master of that school, giving testimony to various sights and sounds seen and heard in the realms within.

   Tradition holds that Ramanand was his guru, but Ramanand was not a shabd-Master, and so the debate continues on the reasons Kabir had for taking Ramanand as his guru and also where he learned the path of shabd yoga. Kabir makes reference in some of his verses to one Sheikh Taqi, so it is possible that he had a Sufi master, but 'Taqi' is a name that could be applied to any realized soul, so we can not be sure of this. It is not unlikely that Kabir did submit himself to a Sufi teacher, for many saints in that tradition practiced the path of shabd yoga. Hazrat Nizamuddin and Khwaja Muinuddin were two such examples. There is reason to believe, however, that Kabir wanted to be a disciple of Ramanand in order to gain respect among the people of Banares. When Kabir began to teach about God-realization through the practice of the Word or Shabd, he was ridiculed by the orthodox Hindus, who wanted to know where he got his 'new' theories, and the Muslims labelled him an infidel. In their eyes he had no guru as well.

   Kabir therefore employed a clever means in order to get the orthodox Ramanand to accept him as his disciple. He knew he could not ask him directly and hope of being accepted, so one morning he lay down on the steps leading to the river where Ramanand took his morning bath. When the guru tripped over Kabir's body, in fear of his life he cried out, "Ram! Ram!" Kabir claimed that Ramanand had thus transmitted to him his mantra and had to accept him as a disciple. In due course, as evidenced by his later poems and writings, Ramanand converted to the path of the saints, or shabd-marg, and changed his stance from that of an orthodox Hindu to one who admitted low-caste devotees (Ravidas, Dharma, Sadna) into his fold. Ramanand followed in the footsteps of other saints like Jaidev, Namdev, Tukaram, and Mirabai who at first were worshippers of divine incarnations (Vishnu, Rama, etc.) and who later adopted the path of Shabd. The Adi Granth, an immense compilation of devotional poems by Saints and devotees of that persuasion, which was compiled in 1604 by Guru Arjan Singh, the fifth Guru in the line of Sikhs from Guru Nanak, contains the following verse:

   "0 Satguru, I sacrifice my all to you, you who have cut the chains of my confusion, my delusion. The Lord pervades all, says Ramanand, and the Guru's Shabd eradicates a million karmas." (4)

   Kabir, author of the famous Bijak ("the Seedling"), is considered the greatest of all Hindu lyric poets. His verses are often bold and searing, exposing the hypocrisy of organized religion and ritual.

   "Saints, I see the world is mad.
   If I tell the truth they rush to beat me,
   if I lie they trust me.
   I've seen the pious Hindus, rule-followers,
   early morning bath-takers-
   killing souls, they worship rocks.
   They know nothing.
   I've seen plenty of Muslim teachers, holy men
   reading their holy books
   and teaching their pupils techniques.
   They know just as much.
   And posturing yogis, hypocrites,
   hearts crammed with pride,
   praying to brass, to stones, reeling
   with pride in their pilgrimage,
   fixing their caps and their prayer-beads,
   painting their brow-marks and arm-marks,
   braying their hymns and their couplets,
   reeling. They never heard of soul.
   The Hindu says Ram is the Beloved,
   the Turk says Rahim.
   Then they kill each other.
   No one knows the secret.
   They buzz their mantras from house to house,
   puffed with pride.
   The pupils drown along with their gurus.
   In the end they're sorry.
   Kabir says, listen saints:
   they're all deluded!
   Whatever I say, nobody gets it.
   It's too simple."
(5)

   The last four lines are the kind of hooks that grab the attention of those who would portray Kabir as a radical non-dualist.

   Yet in his Anurag Sagar (Ocean of Love), Kabir paints for us an elaborate gnostic panorama of creation. One cannot understand Kabir if he has not become familiar with this book. It should be mentioned that the reknown saint, Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj, at first attracted to advaita, considered Anurag Sagar as essential for understanding the difference between Sant Mat and other paths, so its reading should not be missed. In the article Sophia's Passion: Sant Mat and the Gnostic Myth of Creation, Neil Tessler writes:

   “The several creation myths developed by the Masters serve to describe the relationship between the Absolute in its non-attributive formless essence, known in modern Sant Mat as Anami or Radhasoami, and its manifested attributes....These attributes first appear in their purest and most realized form as the primordial "creation", known in the East as Sach Khand or in Gnosticism as the Pleroma or Fullness, (terms which will both be used synonymously throughout this paper). Creation is, however, a misnomer, for Sach Khand is not created as such, but rather it is the expansion into distinct being of the eternally perfect and fully elaborated attributes of the Absolute. These cosmic attributes are known as the Sons of Sat Purush in the East and the Aeons in Gnosticism. Sat Purush or the Only-Begotten is the Aeon that is the Being, the mind, as it were, of the Absolute; pure consciousness and consciousness on all planes, thus also the bridge to creation proper. As Hans Jonas has written,

   "The Only-Begotten Mind alone, having issued from him directly, can know the Fore-Father: to all the other Aeons he remains invisible and incomprehensible. 'It was a great marvel that they were in the Father without knowing Him.' (Gospel of Truth 22.27)

   The number of these eternal emanations of the divine varies according to reference. The gnostic version described by Hans Jonas gives four Aeons with their consorts to make eight, "the original Ogdoad", who then further elaborate to make another seven pairs for a total of thirty. The Kabiran version gives sixteen with Sat Purush being the first emanation.

   The myths now run in two distinct directions, at least in the gnostic forms. The Kabiran version and one gnostic version tells us that there was an Aeon that cherished a desire for its own creation as an inherent part of its nature. We could say that the potential for separation from God is in itself an Aeon. This leads ultimately to a creation existing in negative polarity with eternal Sach Khand, spinning the attributive universes that exist in Time. This separative Aeon, known as Mind or Time (Kal), is Sat Purusha's first expansion in the gnostic version and fifth in the Kabiran version. Kabir's Anurag Sagar states that "He is created from the most glorious part of the body of Sat Purush". Thus Sat Purush is cosmically linked to the "lower" creation, which eventually develops through Kal's activity. In this we are warned away from value judgements, and reminded that this entire process is under Divine Will (Hukam).”


   In the path of the masters, or Sant Mat, creation is explained as follows. As Nanak says in his Jap Ji (the introductory section of the Adi Granth),

   "There is One Reality, the Unmanifest-Manifested; Ever-Existent, He is Naam, the Creator, pervading all; Without fear, without enmity; the Timeless; the Unborn and the Self-existent; Complete within Itself. Through the favour of His true Servant, the Guru, He may be realized."(6)

   Within that reality there are three lower regions: physical, astral, and causal, which constitute the trigunatmic egg of Brahm in Hinduism, followed by a supracausal realm and then Sat Lok, or the region of Truth. [In Theosophy the causal region is divided up as devachan into a mental and causal region]. It is claimed in Sant Mat that when a soul transcends the three lower regions, it is beyond the cycle of transmigration, or birth and death. However, between the third and fourth region there is a vast region of pitch blackness called Maha-Sunn, where even great soul are suspended until attracted and liberated by the great light of the Living master of the age when he passes through that region periodically. In the supracausal region, after a dip in the pool of Manasarovar (manas-sarovar, Sanskrit for "lake of mind"; Cosmic mind, Hiranyagarbha are equivalents), to which there are eighty-four steps representing the 8,400,000 species of creation and its karmas that the souls have passed through during aeons of time, the soul sheds its causal body, and now has only a thin veil, the anandamaya kosha, covering it. It is upon gaining access to this region that the soul is said to cry out, "Oh Lord, I am of the same essence as Thou art." The anandamaya kosha or bliss sheath, says Kirpal Singh, is almost an integral part of the soul itself. It is said that here in the supracausal region, or Par Brahm, that the soul first truly awakens to itself. In the supracausal region one is also said to be beyond the Universal Mind. Upon entry into Sach Khand, the first division of Sat Lok, the soul sheds even the anandamaya kosha, and is now in its true, eternal home, whose glory is beyond description.

   Here is where the reader must bear with the paradoxical nature of describing Sat Lok, which comprises four regions. As we are now beyond mind, matter, and illusion (maya), according to the saints, human language fails to capture the nature of this place. As paradoxical as it may be to some advaitists, in Sant Mat there are more than just one soul, although the advaitic expression, "not-two" may perhaps also aptly apply, so inadequate is our language. As Paul Brunton descriptively wrote of life in the Overself,

   "He as he was vanishes, not into complete annihilation and certainly not into the heaven of a perpetuated ego, but into "a higher kind of life shrouded in mystery." (7)

   The first region is Sach Khand, where resides Sat Purush, the effulgent expression of God, visualized as a Person, which in Sant Mat is the person of one's Master or Satguru, whose radiant form had previously guided the soul through all the lower regions. A story of Kabir illustrates this:

   "When Queen Indra Mati had completed her course of spiritual discipline and reached Sach Khand, she found her Master Kabir, in the seat of Sat Purush (the True God). Seeing this, she said, "Master! Why did you not tell me before that you were Sat Purush yourself? I would have believed you." Kabir, smiling, replied, "I could not have convinced you then." (8)

   This sort of experience did not only happen centuries ago. The following is an bridged letter from a devoted Kirpal Singh initiate, somewhat long, written upon the death of Master Darshan Singh, when Master Rajinder Singh became his successor. Some, particularly the philosophically inclined, such as the advaitists, will no doubt scoff and consider this all imaginary and not reality - whether actually experienced or not. Others may be blown away. Please note that, as far as we know, these were not ordinary visions within the braincore, but those of one who purportedly had frequent transports up and through the crown of the head and into the inner realms:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

   When Master placed us in meditation he told me to look carefully at his form, which began demonstrating the radiation, which supports all of creation; that is streams of light, energy and love poured out of Master intermingling into rays of sustenance maintaining all of existence. The rays encapsulated and sustained each particle of existence as well as the entire physical universe including inner planes.

   Then Master Darshan told me the living Master sustains and loves all of existence from the tiniest particle to its totality. As he spoke, he showed me the smallest possible particle of matter, a squiggle-like note of light, completely surrounded by Master’s radiation and love. There was no way to penetrate this cocoon. The only possible means of reaching physical matter is through the offices of the living Master because if this protecting shell were disturbed, the matter would cease to be.

   Then Master Darshan told me dozens and dozens of times that masters have equal love for all souls no matter what the soul’s current state because each soul contains the Godhead and Master could do nothing but love it. He then showed me one of the Lords of the Planes and told me of Master’s great love for this soul who was due for a human birth and the good fortune of initiation in his next life. He continued that although his love for this soul was great, it was no greater than when the soul was mired in sin and showed me truly horrifying past lives of the soul that was now the Lord of a Plane. I saw him as a man wallowing in the torture and degradation of his fellow man. In one life he even tore apart other men and ate them raw. Then I saw him in a hell where he existed as a bacteria-like creature around the edges of a pool that emitted a steamy atmosphere of vomit and ammonia. Yet even there, Master showed me how the Master’s love was unflagging as he sustained the soul in its punishment.

   Then Master Darshan held out a bug, I believe an ant, toward me and said he loved this creature as much now as before. He showed me this soul when it had, in its turn, inhabited the body of a Lord of a Plane during a previous existence and many subsequent existences which led the soul into its present form. Master said over and over again that he loves every soul, that the living Master always loves every soul and that the world could never be without a living Master. Then he showed me each of the masters in turn from Nanak and Kabir to the present living Master manifesting this power and love. Then Master Darshan’s form changed into that of his son, Raji, and he said that Raji was his successor; that when he left, Raji would be the Master and administer existence with the same love that Master Darshan has shown.

   Next Master Darshan showed me two more areas that the masters control, the distribution of karma and guidance of souls through the inner planes. I saw initiations where Master Darshan approached the bar of justice, which looked like a rough granite block, and physically removed the record of a soul from the care of the Lord of Death, who bowed obsequiously to the Master. Then in some cases, Master Darshan kept the entire record himself, in others he physically gave the rest of it to Raji’s form, and in still others he kept some himself, gave some to Raji, and some to other subsequent masters. As he did so, Master Kirpal and Hazur explained over and over that only the living Master can administer a soul’s karma and that when one master leaves his body, the subsequent one takes over his duties in assisting initiates on the physical plane. Then Hazur and Master Kirpal showed me initiation ceremonies from the time that they were the living Master. Hazur entrusted Master Kirpal with the care of disciples; Master Kirpal entrusted Master Darshan and so forth.

   Then Master Darshan told me that Raji would guide souls across the inner planes just as the other masters had done and he showed me Raji’s Radiant Form transversing plane after plane as the Lords and inhabitants of each region paid him, and the souls he escorted, homage. Finally we came to a throneroom which Master Darshan told me to observe carefully and tell him what it was. He confirmed it was the throneroom of God where evolved souls are received. He told me to look at God’s throne and tell him whom I saw. I saw Master Kirpal come out and sit in the throne. He told me to watch carefully and turned into Master Darshan, then Raji, then quickly to Hazur and one after the other hundreds and hundreds of masters most of whom I couldn’t identify and finally back to Master Kirpal and then Master Darshan and Raji over and over again.

   Another place the masters repeatedly took me was to the courtyard of the masters where protected souls who leave the earth plane go, and deliberately contrasted it to the judgement place of the Lord of Death. The masters insisted I carefully note the shinning material and beauty of the courtyard where Master Kirpal sat on a throne on a raised platform. The important element in the place was the brimming over love with which the masters inundated the entire area. This light, love and music formed an atmosphere so uplifting and joyous that each arriving soul immediately perceived the masters’ solace and love for it.

   In conjunction with this courtyard, the masters took me to the judgement place ruled over by the Lord of Death. The stark, lifeless stone of his cold area contrasted totally with the love and light of the masters’ courtyard. When the Lord of Death stood behind the Book of Judgement which was on an alter-like slab in front of him, he radiated complete, accurate justice. Master Kirpal and Swami Ji were usually the ones that would point out that the Lord of Death was entirely free of any animus just as surely as he lacked mercy and compassion. The souls judged by him found no comfort. Frequently at this point the masters again showed me what would happen to a soul at the time of initiation. The living Master, Master Darshan, would enter the actual judgment place and approach the Book of Judgment at which point the Lord of Death would step back and relinquish his control over it. The living Master would then remove the records of the initiate from the book. If the initiate’s life on the earth plane was going to extend beyond that of the living Master, the living Master discussed the disposition of his karma with his successors each successor acquiring control of the parts that would occur while he was the living Master. The Master who was explaining to me what was happening would always emphasize that an initiated soul was henceforth free of any dominance by or debt to the Lord of Death. The masters controlled the karma of an initiate and dispensed it with the complete love of the courtyard. Again, I have no words to adequately convey the difference to the soul between the austerity of justice and the love of the masters, nor can I articulate how important and precious this boon is.

   Another area the masters repeatedly took me to was to a beautiful throne that guarded a passageway to Sach Khand. Usually I went there with Hazur, Gurus Nanak or Kabir, or Swami Ji and after saying the names for a while, they directed me to look at the throne where Master Kirpal was sitting. They explained that he was sitting on the throne of God and he would change into Hazur, the living Master and then Raji and then to hundreds of other masters and back to himself. Then one of the masters would explain that the only possible way to traverse the pathway into Sach Khand was under the guidance of the living Master of the time. Without this guidance, no soul could pass Master’s throne into Sach Khand. They were exceptionally emphatic about this.

   Master has repeatedly said that seeing is believing and that we should all see for ourselves. I offer this letter not in an attempt to tell anyone else what to believe, but to share what Master has shown me.”


   Before one dismisses the above visionary tale outright, as well as the story of Kabir and Indra Mati before it, he is first referred to the great Lankavatara Sutra, in which the Blessed One states:

   "Thus passing beyond the last stage of Bodhisattvahood, he becomes a Tathagata himself endowed with all the freedom of the Dharmakaya. The tenth stage belongs to the Tathagatas. Here the Bodhisattva will find himself seated upon a lotus-like throne in a splendid jewel-adorned palace and surrounded by Bodhisattvas of equal rank. Buddhas from all the Buddha-lands will gather about him and with their pure and fragrant hands resting on his forehead will give him ordination and recognition as one of themselves. Then they will assign him a Buddha-land that he may possess and perfect as his own.

   The tenth stage is called the Great Truth Cloud (Dharmamegha), inconceivable, inscrutable. Only the Tathagatas can realise its perfect Imagelessness and Oneness and Solitude. It is Mahesvara, the Radiant Land, the Pure Land, the Land of Far-distances; surrounding and surpassing the lesser worlds of form and desire (karmadhatu), in which the Bodhisattva will find himself at-one-ment. Its rays of Noble Wisdom which is the self-nature of the Tathagatas, many-colored, entrancing, auspicious, are transforming the triple world as other worlds have been transformed in the past, and still other worlds will be transformed in the future. But in the Perfect Oneness of Noble Wisdom there is no gradation nor succession nor effort, The tenth stage is the first, the first is the eighth, the eighth is the fifth, the fifth is the seventh: what gradation can there be where perfect Imagelessness and Oneness prevail? And what is the reality of Noble Wisdom? It is the ineffable potency of the Dharmakaya; it has no bounds nor limits; It surpasses all the Buddha-lands, and pervades the Akanistha and the heavenly mansions of the Tushita."
(from The Lankavatara Sutra, Chapter 11, trans. D.T. Suzuki, as condensed in The Buddhist Bible, by Dwight Goddard)

   The idea of the 'throne of God' features prominantly in the Christian Bible as well:

   "And he showed me a pure river of Water of Life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." - (Revelation of St. John)

   There must be some fire behind this smoke, therefore these descriptions are mentioned here. The epistemological considerations [i.e., how we know what we know, and how one knows what is real or truth] relating to the nature of the above accounts and such experiences in general will be dealt with below, allowing the reader to make his or her own conclusions. After taking a deep breath, however, we will first complete our discussion on the cosmology of the path of the Masters.

   In Sant Mat, without the intervention and help of the Living Master, access beyond the trigunatmic "egg of Brahm," or the lower three worlds, physical, astral, and causal, is not considered possible, although one may be duped by the Negative Power who has created worlds upon reflected worlds to deceive "even the elect." Sant Kirpal Singh affirmed that to gain access to the planes beyond the three lower regions one must be ushered into them. In Sach Khand, the soul is said to be magnetically attracted to the Sat Purush, which progressively merges the soul into the Absolute God via Alak, Agam, and Anami Loks. Descriptions given of Sach Khand with fountains of bliss, nectar, infinite light and love, etc., are attempts to portray something of the life inherent in the soul in this region. It is not just a state, however blissful or peaceful, as in nirvikalpa samadhi, but a Divine, eternal domain. Plotinus, also, attempted to describe such a place and the life of the inhabitants therein:

   "A blissful life is theirs. They have the Truth for Mother, Nurse and Nutriment; they see all things: not the things that are born and die, but those which have Real Being and they see themselves in others. For them all things are transparent and there is nothing dark or impenetrable, but everyone is manifest to everyone interiorly and all things are manifest to the most intimate depth of their nature. Light is everywhere manifest to light. There, everyone has all things in himself and sees all things in others, so that all things are everywhere and all is all and each is all, and the glory is infinite." (v. 8, 4)

   Now, contemporary teacher Adyashanti argues in his book, Emptiness Dancing, that the experience of merger (with God) is a very nice experience for a separate self to have, but it is not liberation, which is realization of the One. There is already only One, he says, and there is no separate self to merge with it. I would argue that this is probably a valid advaitic criticism for lesser forms of mysticism, but that it is not the last word when applied to the teachings of the Sants at the level of the soul. In Sach Khand, it is true, Sant Mat describes there being a progressive merger of the soul via the Sat Purush into Absolute God, but it must also be remembered that at this level the coverings of mind, matter, ego, and illusion are supposed to be gone and one is beyond oppositions and duality. He is in an ineffable realm where human langage is wholy inadequate. "Merger" is a word, a concept as well, pointing to a mysterious process, so non-dualists take note when dismissing the soul too easily. Perhaps one can - and needs - to have awakenings and experience at every level of the soul for realization to be full, and for karma to be undone; that is, for full liberation to be achieved. What would that mean for one's satori, realization, or non-dual awakening limited to the earth plane? Would it necessarily survive the after death states, or might one cycle back on the winds of karma in spite of it? The non-dualist answer is sometimes, "such is an invalid question, as there is no left to care about it." According to Plotinus, however, the Soul is a Divine emanant, an Eternal existant, and one must go through it to gain a glimpse of the Nous, what to speak of the One.

   Further, in the process described in Sant Mat, the ego is said to die at every level quit by the soul (or more correctly, the outward expression of the soul, which is the attention). That is to say, one does not just have passive mystical experiences by a separate self on the way to Sach Khand; no, the physical ego-self dies when transcending to the astral realm, the astral ego dies when going to the causal realm, and the causal ego-self dies in like fashion. The ego, as they say, "takes a bath," at every level. As one long-time initiate, Ed Wallace, said to me thirty-five years ago, "you die, then you are born again - it's so perfect!" So there is said to be no such separate ego-self left in Sach Khand, even though the language employed by the Sants speaks of a divine merger which begins to take place there, between a soul whose own luster is that of sixteen suns and an infinite ocean of love-bliss. So my challenge to the non-dualists is "see, and then say"; let us not forstall our conclusion before such specific knowledge is gained. The whole of the path may or may not so simply be reduced to one of "eliminating psychological suffering", as some teachers maintain.

   Here is the point of view of one who has realized his soul in Sach Khand (which Sant Rajinder Singh speaks metaphorically of as the “office” of the Master) and ‘merged’ in and out of the God-state of Anami Lok. In a January talk on "Timelessness", Sant Rajinder Singh said that time as an illusion. He states that everything is going on all at once, and that there is no past and no future and no present as we know it. This approaches non-dual language to me. The vedantist has an argument for this. V.S. Iyer writes:

   “There is only one Mind - let us call it the “Overmind.” Every individual human being is an inlet to the one Mind. In Sanskrit the latter is called “Sarowar” mean ing “the lake” hence the name of the sacred Tibetan lake “Manasarowar,” meaning the lake of the mind. If we imagine individuals to be pipes running out of this great lake of the Overmind, then whatever goes only a little way into the lake becomes conscious of the minds nearest him; whoever goes to the deepest extent can then tap all minds. This is the secret of telepathy. Insensibility to the body, or temporary insensibility of the personal ego, permits the individual to enter the Universal Mind, as in hypnotic states, trance, etc. The medium who gives up the ego to that extent gets rid of the obstruction to entering into the Universal Mind. She may then ascertain the past or predict the future, because both are equally present in the Overmind. However, she does this only temporarily and she does not contact the Divine Self, only the eternal infinitude of time. There is no limit to the Overmind, just as space has no limit. The notion that the mind is enclosed in the head is a mistake. There is but one Mind operating through a multitude of individuals and appearing different in each. This applies also to animals. To tap this Mind to its deepest extent is simply dependent on the amount of concentration one has. [this is certainly an understatement, as if such an attainment was a piece of cake; nevertheless, Iyer affirms that it is a product of yoga and not the highest, and that a sage may have no such ability but still know Brahman, the realization of which requires something other than only concentration.]

   “The One Universal Overmind is the source of genius. It is NOT Brahman. It is reached by forgetting the personal “I”, then concentration. It is because the mind is not confined to the brain box, but stretches far outside the body that certain kinds of psychic phenomena are possible. Similarly, because past, present and future exist simultaneously in the Overmind prediction is possible.”
(Commentaries; see note 26).

   To the vedantist, the non-dual realization is beyond time and timelessness, time and eternity. It does not automatically grant one the power of prediction or transvision, unless one has pursued a yoga that grants one such a power. One does not necessarily see the past, present, or future all at once; rather, he is beyond time per se, inasmuch as that is a mental concept, and simply knows Consciousness itself. Iyer states:

   "All the Indian systems of philosophy such as yoga, vaiseshika, nyaya, tarka, and samkhya excet our teach that the Atman has a separate thing called mind. Only Advaita teaches that Atman is mind, none other than it...Patanjali is ABC. His goal is deep sleep. The occult powers (siddhis) which yogi develops are powers belonging to a state equivalent to dream state.: hence they have the value of dream faculties. To the jnani they are but mental creations as much as other ideas and not Brahman. He looks upon them as he looks upon ordinary powers."

   "The moment you know that everything is Brahman, you have omniscience. You have no right to say God is omniscient. He alone may say so. How can you know that God is so?...You get omniscience when you see everything is in Brahman, is in Atman. It does not mean reading the future as that entails changing past unto future, hence causality
[nor does it mean knowing everything, only knowing everything as Brahman] ...The Gnani, by constant thinking, has arrived at seeing the Many when he sees the One." (Commentaries)

   To Sant Rajinder Singh's remarks above we might add the following from the sage Ashtavakra, as time, space - and causality - go together, all being categories within Mind:

   "For me who is abiding in my own glory, where is the past, where is the future, where is even the present, where is space, or where is even eternity?"

   "Where is distance, where is proximity; where is exterior, where is interior, where is grossness, and where is subtlety for me who abide in my own glory?"

   "No form can exist outside Mind. Within and without apply only to the body. But the body is in the mind. So these terms become meaningless."

   "Where is death or life, where are the worlds or the worldly relations, where is dissolution or concentration for me abiding in my own glory?

   "Where are the elements, where is the body, where are the organs, and where is the mind; where is the void; where, too, is despair for me who is taintless by nature?"

   "Where are prarabdha karmas, where is liberation-in-life, and where is liberation-at-death for me, the ever undifferentiated?"

   "What is existence or non-existence, unity or duality? What need is there to say more? Nothing emanates from me because it is non-different from myself. There are no two."
(9)

   This could explain how the Master Power can seemingly manifest any and everywhere at the same time, being not limited to time and space, and why the Masters never refer to themselves as the doer, nor do they consider themselves as the doer, yet a mysterious influence pervades their company.

   Continuing, Sant Rajinder Singh, the current Master in the lineage of Sant Kirpal Singh and Sant Darshan Singh, tells us that in the Kabirian story when Kal desired a kingdom of its own, up to that point there were but two regions in existence: Sach Khand, made of pure spirit and Par Brahm or the supracausal plane, made of spirit with a thin veil of illusion as previously described. Both of these are beyond dissolution (pralaya) and grand dissolution (mahapralaya). When Kal, the Negative Power (function or principality), as a result of great penances and pleasing Sat Purush desired his own realm, the three lower regions came into being. The purpose of Kal is to keep souls entrapped in these regions. To this extent, God granted Kal three boons: one, that when souls died they would not go immediately back to God - otherwise Kal's domain would soon be depopulated; two, souls would forget all their previous lifetimes; and three, that God would not do miracles to in order to make souls go back to God, but only by allowing His agents, the saints, agents of the Positive Power, through the process of satsang (discourses, fellowship, and spiritual transmission), reconnecting them with the eternal Light and Sound of God of which they had become unaware of. (10)

   Kal can be looked at personally, as the embodiment of Satan, the Negative Power, or impersonally, as the world of time and space, or the entrapping web of the mind.

   All of this appears so fantastic that it is no wonder it was proclaimed:

   "O Kabir! In every age the path of the saints is a strange path."


   Kabir so endlessly extolls the virtues of the Master of the Shabd, Naam or divine light and sound current that it is hard to see how one can miss it, as so many writers do:

   "All holy ones are worthy of reverence,
   But I adore only one who has mastered the Word."
(11)

   "Kabir comes from the celestial abode of the Lord and holds a direct commission from Him." (12)

   "The Master is greater than God. Ye may very well think
   over this dictum. Devotion to God keeps a person entangled
   on this side; but devotion to the Guru leads him across to God."

   "Without Word one can have no escape (from bondage).

   Word personified is the Master and he can manifest It in us.
   God may turn His back and one may not mind, but if the master
   does so, none can bring about reconciliation."
(13)

   Give thy body and mind to him who has no
     desire of his own;

   With no thought of the self, be established in him;
   After the mind, what then remains? Not even the body;
   Having given the body and the mind, no burden
     remains to be carried;
   He who takes pride in this sacrifice will yet have punishment;
   For who can part with the seed-mind within?
   O Kabir! How can that mind be subdued and surrendered?
   Along with body and mind part thou with the seed-mind;
   O Kabir! Only after hearing the master, one becomes fearless;
   Place the seed-mind at the altar of the Lotus
     Feet of the Master.
   O Kabir! Now one sees nothing but the Luminous Form of the Master!
(14)

   "The world is but a fictitious bondage,
   and Kabir centered in Naam is forever free."
(15)

   "I wish and long for the dust of his feet [Charan Kamal - the inner vision of the Master's feet]
     - the dust which has created the universe;
   His lotus feet are the true wealth and a haven of
     peace.
   They grant ineffable wisdom and lead one on the path Godward."
(16)

   Kirpal Singh wrote:

   "This lustrous form of the Master always accompanies a spirit on the various planes, ending with Sach Khand or the Home of Truth. When his luminous form descends to the focus of the eyes, a devotee has nothing more to strive for. Herein lies the devotion of the devotee. Half his success has been achieved, and hereafter the Master's astral form takes over charge of the spirit with full responsibility for leading it to the final goal. Even the saints adore this form and derive ecstatic delight from it." (17)

   Thus far, it should be obvious that a comparison of the teachings of Kabir with that of modern advaita or non-duality is well-nigh impossible. Kabir appears entirely beyond their scope and persuasion, his non-duality of another order altogether, in accordance with the teachings of the Sants. It may be said therein that all planes are concurrent with each other, the lower contained within the higher, and the manifest inseparable from the unmanifest. So there is non-duality, albeit on a grand scale. Sant Rajinder Singh has updated the language of Sant Mat to the extent of saying not only the above, but that in fact one does not really "leave the body", go "in" and "up", but only appear to do so due to our conditioning in the physical world where we are led to believe in time and space. In truth, all realms, the Uncreated - as well as created - are beyond time and space. With language like that one might think that it won't be long before Sant Mat merges with contemporary non-duality, with the question becoming, "why meditate at all?!" The answer to the advaitist, would, at the very least, no doubt be a variation of their traditional one, that the power of concentration gained will strengthen and purify one's Buddhi so one can discriminate the real from the unreal and have viveka, in everyday life, before death, and on the inner planes, after death. Therefore, they continue to proclaim this path of the soul, "ancient, eternal, and authentic," as Kirpal Singh once said.

   So, while within this tradition, where the goal has generally been proposed as the highest inner region a soul attains through mystical ascent, the final realm, an "infinite ocean that has no shores," beyond light and sound, is spoken of in paradoxical language such as the "wonder region", "unknowable", unnamable", and "inaccessible". Some Sants have claimed a state even beyond that, inasmuch as the realization must be carried into everyday life. Kabir, it will be admitted, poetically describes the state of Sahaj in a manner that implies that this region may not be only a region at all, but rather an absolute transcendental condition that is neither born nor dies and which, he says, is beyond trance.

   We still, therefore, have this tale of Kabir’s to deal with. The saint went to a lot of trouble to write it. The modern day sants are adament about its veracity, as they are that their form of mysticism goes far beyond all others. Therefore we rest content in simply pointing out the basic advaitic arguments: all of these planes and experiences only exist within Mind, or consciousness, no matter how ecstatic they may be. The Atman, the seer, the knower, is real; whatever is seen and known is not real, until it is known as an idea and then thereby dissolved into the mind, then the world becomes known as Brahman. Iyer even states:

   ""Even if you see God [i.e., Sat Purush] before you, it is only a thought." (18)

   Personally, I don't think ultimately the sants would disagree: one goes beyond the vision of the Sat Purush, they say, by being absorbed into it. On the other hand, it is a legitimate question to ask, "who sees the vision of the Sat Purush and the "throne of God" in Sach Khand, that is, in what mind is that image appearing? It is difficult to answer in the terminology of Sant Mat, because in that school one is already 'beyond' the individual and universal mind in Sach Khand. Yet philosophy demands a mind to perceive an apparent object or image. So how can we answer this? The true Self, the Atman, according to sages like V.S. Iyer, Sri Nisargadatta, Robert Adamas, or Ramama Maharshi is beyond all perceptible phenomenon; do we say, then, that an image of a throne is "caused" by a universal mind, or an individual mind, itself arising from the Self or Atman? This problem is no different than that of ordinary physical perception: is there a universal, more "real" image, or a multitude of individual, somewhat variable images? Can we know? It is beyond the scope of this article to explore this epistemological and metaphysical problem in depth; suffice it to say that there is a likelihood, as good an explanation as any, that, as far as the apparent individual is concerned, a collective mental habit-energy that constitutes a mind is responsible for the image of "the throne"; and that in any case upon awakening it is seen and known that Ultimate Reality lies beyond it. What, says the religionist, isn't the image of a throne and even God himself a manifestation of Infinite Intelligence, perhaps an archtypal presentation, even if it be a 'cosmic dream', and not just an individual self-creation by mental habit-energy? Good question. Most likely unanswerable, but good. One might try, however, and say that the bliss and numinosity of the image may be due to the felt proximity of the Overself, while the particulars of the dream itself are mentally formulated. But the brain aches, so we will move on. Where is a good trepanner when he is needed?

   Ancient teacher Yog-Vasishta once said "it is the mind that conceives of birth and death and migration to other worlds," Sant Mat, would counter by saying that the teachings of vedanta and even great yogis such as Yog-Vasishta, were limited to the trigunatmic egg of Brahm, or the three lower worlds only, as likewise is the vibratory power of "Om." That would make sahaj realized on earth not the highest realization, and give credence to the teachings of the sants about the soul or principle of consciousness needing to reach the highest abode in the manner they prescribe for ultimate liberation and God-union.

   For the vedantist this logic is weak, for they would again refer us back to the seer, the Atman, as the only uncontradictable, never-changing substratum of the whole show. "How do you know?" is the question they will always return to, questioning the roots of one's knowledge, not the mere facts of ones experience. Relating to the above initiate's series of visions, it might be asked, "How do you know there is a separate soul?" "How do you know you are seeing God?" "How do you know you are seeing such and such a past Master (one of whom was supposedly already the reincarnation of another) ?" "How do you know you are seeing such a thing as 'matter', which the rays of the Creator and the Masters are supposedly sustaining?" [i.e., need for prove there is such a thing as matter, which there isn't, therefore one is only seeing ideas, which dissolve into Mind, along with the notion of a creator God]. And most importantly, "Who is the seer itself here?" "Who or what is the "I" seeing this entire show?"

   As scientist Carl Sagan once said, "Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence." If one is claiming to see into the Mind of God (as language like "the boon that God is now extending to mankind" implies), there needs to be some objective proof other than mystic revelation. Iyer writes:

   "The 'I' is the fallacy behind "I have seen God." Your I becomes the authority and therein lies the error."

   "The yogi who wrongly thinks there is a Brahman to be got, may attempt to do so, and may think he sees it, but all the time he is under the delusion of duality, thinking Brahman to be something different."
(19)

   Such a vision should at least, one would think, be corroborated by the testimony of the living, physical Masters involved, for one to be even inferentially certain of its veracity and truth. Otherwise the vision, in our humble opinion, says as much about the mind of the experiencer than of what was experienced, and may easily be contradicted by someone else's vision. It may have confirmed in her or others' minds who the successor guru was; such may have been its main purpose. Any more is speculation.   Iyer wrote:

   "Epistemology is the enemy, the devil of yogis, mystics and religious teachers because it pries into the truth, the source and the validity of the knowledge they claim. Therefore it is the most difficult part of philosophy." (20)

   "Creation stories in Upanishads and Bible and Koran are for children who can believe fully, but for those who doubt them the higher truth may be taught, i.e., non-creation because of non-causality." [i.e., All is Mind, Brahman, or the non-dual Absolute] (21)

   For the pure Vedantist, there is, in truth, no personal salvation, satisfaction, or liberation for the jiva (ego-soul), only the freedom of realization of the One, Atman or Brahman. Jnana is realization of truth, or emancipation from ignorance - not necessarily freedom from birth and death itself as the mystics or religionists claim but rather primarily emancipation from even the idea of birth and death. This may seem rather cold and distant for most seekers, but one such as Iyer would consider the claims and beliefs of the mystics to be second-tier to truth itself. As the Ashtavakra Gita proclaims, "you must be desirous of knowing the truth; even if it seems to you the most bitter, distasteful or unpleasant thing, consider the truth as nectar." Only a person with an extreme rational consciousness, perhaps only having already gone through a yogic or mystical path, can appreciate such a concept. For most it is a painful endeavor to reach such a point. Which is why such texts have traditionally been kept hidden until the chela or disciple was considered ripe enough to face them.

   In any case, one can not give away the power to question and still be a man, whose glory is that of a thinking, reasoning being (man = manas]. According to a strict rendering of Anurag Sagar as well as Soami Shiv Dayal Singh's Sar Bachan, however, such philosophers must be agents of Kal for leading believers astray, with this faith holding more to the mystic dictum that "the mind is the slayer of the real," rather than that Buddhi is the way to discriminate the truth from untruth. In this regard we have the words of Goethe, "Be but contemptuous of reason and highest gifts of man, and you have given yourself over to Satan." So which to believe? What, after all, is true faith (shradda)? Iyer writes:

   "1. The love of truth, the determination to get at truth, come what may; 2. A strong mind; 3. To be a hero in the face of God's wrath." (22)

   And further:

   "Truth may be as bitter as poison, but you must like it as nectar. Those who cannot do this are unfit for Vedanta...The right kind of seeker will accept and search for truth whether it brings bitterness or sweetness, whatever it tastes like, for its own sake. He must be prepared to find God as impersonal, and to lose his individuality for the sake of truth." (23)

   Which is one reason why such teachings as advaita have traditionally been strictly guarded, or held in reserve, leaving the masses to religion and mysticism, which are beneficial in their own right, as stepping stones to the investigation of ultimate truth, which is most subtle. For Iyer and other vedantists, yoga and samadhi are only means to prepare the mind for calm inquiry into truth.

   Jagat Singh, interregnum guru between Sawan Singh and Charan Singh of the Beas lineage once remarked, "95% of spirituality is clear thinking," suggesting that there have been advaitins among the sants from time to time.

   I will but mention one incident with a master of Sant Mat that I feel gives some validity to the above possibility, but also a glimpse into the strange and wonderful world of the saints. Once, in 1973, a disciple of Kirpal Singh, Judith Vanier (now Judith Lamb-Lion), confessed in his company and with his permission to having been taken to Sach Khand during her initiation. Sach Khand or Sat Lok is where one is supposed to have self-realization on the path of the saints, the halfway house to God-realization, and where one realizes his or her identity as a pure soul. After this experience, this person still asked Kirpal Singh, in wonderment, "WHO am I?" to which he replied, "WHO is asking?" This Maharshi type of interchange implied to me at the time there is more left unsaid by some of these saints. It is also of note that the self-inquiry was only proposed by Kirpal Singh to one who had fulfilled the traditional steep requirements for advaita and had a calm, concentrated, inquiring mind.

   Kirpal himself was surely an enigmatic saint. Besides frequently referring to himself as "Mr. Zero," when asked if he still meditated, his reply was, "when you get your PhD, do you have to go and learn the ABC's?" As previously stated, according to Ashtavakra, the sage may go into samadhi for refreshment or enjoyment, but he need not do so to regain his contact with the real. Kirpal Singh, implied as much to me when I heard him say, "I, too, like to cut off from the outside and go in and enjoy, you see."

   Another time, when he once asked me with a probing, peculiar look on his face, "do you want anything, my friend - do you want to leave the body?", I replied, in a mood of resignation more than from any great insight, because at the time I certainly did want that very thing, "no, nothing." His response was immediate and animated. He exclaimed, "You're an emperor, you're a prince, I'll kiss your feet - God is nothing!" Finally, near his death when he casually mentioned to someone he would be going soon, and they asked, "where are you going?", he said, "oh, where we all go." So there were hints to me of something beyond mysticism going on. The episode with Judith, moreover, was quickly followed a few days later by Kirpal Singh catalyzing in me a nowadays run-of-the-mill non-dual realization, one of those "non-events" outside of the mystic arena, in which I saw that there was no character called Peter! I had woken up out of the path of Sant Mat as I knew it. This was most perplexing in a sense, being in an ashram full of seekers. Kirpal recognized it right away and started called me a new man, something I didn't quite understand at the time. Unfortunately, Peter came back, but has been going away in fits and starts ever since, apparently dying a slow death. Beware, friend, coming around such saints. You may not leave with what you expected!

   Kirpal Singh apparently ascertained the state of my mind and acted accordingly. Years earlier, however, he had answered more indirectly, telling me by letter, in response to such vedantic type questions, that vivek or discrimination would simply come automatically as one progresses on the path, and that I should just drop them for now, and start from the beginning as a trusting child. A fundamentalist vedantic like Iyer would disagree, saying that even at the highest level of indefinable mystical experience often given the term anubhava, the inquiry or question of whether that is truth must be engaged. Feelings and experience must be placed under the microscope of Buddhi or Reason by the razor-sharp mind after passing through a yogic discipline. It is not that Iyer would categorically deny that the saints have such experiences, quite the contrary, but he would relentlessly inquire as to their final reality. It will be suggested, nevertheless, that there is another kind of faith, available to common humanity, than that of the one given by Iyer: faith in the inherent goodness of God to lead one on the right way. Paul Brunton, student of Iyer, and who held to non-dualism, neverheless wrote:

   "The self-love which the ego unvaryingly displays or cunningly disguises, in all circumstances and through its yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows alike, is simply a complete extroversion of the love which the World-Mind bears for itself, and which it reflects towards the whole universe. The ego, as a projection which is ultimately traceable to this divine source, carries with it what is nothing less and nothing other than divine love. But personalized and narrowed as it then becomes, this holy force is no longer recognizable for what it really is...It comes to this, that if God did not love himself, man could not do the same nor crave for love from his fellow man or give it to woman. And if God did not love man, no man and no woman would love God, seek God, and deny himself or herself for God." (24)

   Further:

   "When he finds out that all his efforts at self-improvement are movements around a circle, that the ego does not really intend to give itself up in surrender to the Overself and therefore only pretends to do so, he realizes that left to himself he cannot succeed in really changing his inner centre of gravity. Help is needed from some outside source if he is to free himself from such a hopeless position."
(25)

   Even Ramana held out there were two ways to Truth, inquiry or surrender, jnana or bhakti. So despite the imprecision in language, according to strict vedantism, the experiential truths spoken of by Kabir and the Sants remain to be 'disproven' by them. Certainly we are talking about far more than punditry. Just the one metaphor of the "soul being attracted to the Sat Purush like metal filings to a magnet", and also the promise that "once the aspirant reaches the radiant form of the Master within, he has nothing more to do by himself or for himself," must make one ears take note. Something great may be hidden herein.

   Other scriptural evidence strongly suggests this path, although apparently starting in duality, is genuine and complete, inherently non-dual and leading to non-duality, and not contradicted by Vedanta. In the Rig Veda we read:

   "In the beginning was Prajapati, the Brahman, with whom was the Word and the Word was verily the Supreme Brahman."


   Maulana Rumi says, in his Jap Ji:

   "There is a way, O Nanak, to make His Will our own, His Will which is already wrought in our existence." (26)

   That way was known by the Muslim mystics or Sufis as Sultan-ul-Azkar, or communion with the ultimate Sound Principle, the Word, the inherent expression of the One Unmanifest-Manifest. Rumi, Shamas Tabrez, Hafiz and many others spoke of this practise. Further, in the Buddhist Surangama Sutra, it talks of realizing the “Supreme, wonderful and perfect Samadhi of Transcendental Consciousness” called the “Diamond Samadhi," and attaining the "supreme purity of mind-essence and its instrinsic brightness shining in all directions," by means of “Intrinsic Hearing.” Manjusri summarizes the views of an august assembly of Bodhisatvas, Mahasatvas, and Arhats thusly:

   “This is the only way to Nirvana, and it has been followed by all the Tathagatas of the past. Moreover, it is for all the Bodhisatvas and Mahasatvas of the present and for all in the future if they are to hope for perfect enlightenment. Not only did Avalokiteswara attain perfect enlightenment in long ages past by this Golden Way, but in the present, I also, am one of them....I bear testimony that the means employed by Avalokiteswara is the most expedient means for all.” (27)

   Thus, I humbly submit to being agnostic whether or not the possibility that the Sat Purush that is visualized and merged into in Sach Khand, for instance, as admittedly being an appearance to consciousness or Mind, as is likewise the Sound Current itself, is a special divinely ordained one, built into the structure of the worlds by the Mind's inherent Intelligence. Even though one may be passing through a cosmic dream all the way to the end, this may still offer a way out. This way of looking at the problem gives a different perspective, however, does it not?

   Yet we must not rely solely on appeal to scriptural authority; how do we know the Vedas and ancient rishis were right, and their ideas and experiences the truth? We must not simply assume anything, truth must be proven afresh on its own terms. How do we know the “diamond samadhi”, being a “state,” however great it sounds, is the truth?

   The argument of the shabd or logos as a fixed, divine idea, power, or appearance is problematic to the vedantist, since, as Iyer similarly points out in his criticism of Plato:

   “Plato’s doctrine of archtypes, ideas that are unchanging , is self-contradictory. It is the very nature of ideas to be ever-changing. His archtypal world was an imagination.” (28)

   Thus, if the ideas of and within the worlds are ever-changing, so might this creative principle, as an appearance, be ever-changing. It is not so, according to the Sants, who regard it as an eternal verity. Iyer, however, states:

   “Vedanta regards the “Logos” idea of theosophy in the same way as it regards the God-idea of religion.”

   “To those who assert that this world is “the expression of a divine power” I retort, “How do you know?”
(29) [i.e., because you feel or experience it to be so?]

   Tough questions, no doubt. Was Ramana wrong, then, to say that at the time of his famous death experience, he "was taken over by a great power?" Therefore, I say that it is an open question at best whether the teachings of the vedantist or contemporary non-dualist has definitively refuted saint Kabir and his Anurag Sagar.

   Actually, Kabir is somewhat of an enigma, as are many such saints. On the one hand he penned the elaborate, fantastic Anurag, spoke of crying buckets of tears for God, and elsewhere complains, "nobody gets it; it's so simple!" So I will forewarn the reader that in the end we may leave this subject as ignorant as we began, perhaps even more so - which might even be a good thing, depending on one's point of view.

   Papaji was an example of a religious-mystic devotee of Krishna who eventually passed on to the view of non-duality. For years he had repeated a mantra, achieving the near-constant vision of his beloved Krishna. He then went to see Ramana Maharshi, but was not enamored of his teachings, preferring his religious devotion and the presence of his beloved Krishna. This went on until Ramana apparently catalyzed an awakening in Papaji that swept away his dualistic practice. Soon afterwards he had a vision of all his previous incarnations in form, from an amoeba on up to man, followed by a final vision of Ramana's form, and then the non-dual realization of the Self. Hereafter, he was known by his famous saying, "nothing ever happened," the title of a series of books by David Godman. He essentially became an embodiment of the ajatavada or non-causality, non-creation viewpoint of vedanta. Huang Po, the great Ch'an Master, also expressed this viewpoint:

   "Our original Buddha-Nature is, in highest truth, devoid of any trace of objectivity.... Even if you go through all the stages of a Bodhisattva's progress toward Buddhahood, one by one, when at last, in a single flash, you attain to full realization, you will only be realizing the Buddha-Nature that has been with you all the time; and by all the foregoing stages you will have added to it nothing at all. You will come to look upon those aeons of work and achievement as no better than unreal actions performed in a dream. That is why the Tathagata [the Buddha] said: I truly attained nothing from complete, unexcelled Enlightenment." (30)

   The late American sage Robert Adams, a disciple of Ramana Maharshi who also spent time with Paramhansa Yogananda and Swami Muktananda, had these strong words to say on the subtle and celestial realms:

   "When you die what happens? What do you want to happen? Who dies? The ego dies. The body dies, but you never die. You'll live forever. Nothing really happens. I know you've heard all kinds of stories about going to different realms and planes of existence. This is all part of the dream. You create these things yourself. You create all these different planes. The subtle plane, the mental plane, the causal plane. All these things you read about in the Yoga text are of the mind. They all belong to the mind. So you believe in these things. You go according to what you believe. It's all created by you. You create your world after you die....Unless these people find a proficient teacher who can lift them up out of the mind, they will be involved in mind-stuff for thousands of years. For the mind likes to play games with you. It likes to make you believe that you reincarnate and that you go through astral planes and mental planes and causal planes, that you have lived before thousands of times, that you've had various experiences thousands of times. These things are true for the person who believes in their mind. Just as a dream is true as long as you're dreaming." (31)

   Do we, however, personally create these realms, even as we dream our way through them? Do we also create the realms beyond, such as Sat Lok? How do we do so? and how do we know? The last word, therefore, may not have been spoken about Kabir and his Anurag Sagar, and we will set all this talk to rest, letting the reader come to his own conclusions, but not before offering the following possibilities on Kabir's engimatic stances: first, Kabir simply adapted his teachings for the class of mind he was dealing with. The simple folk would never understand non-duality, so he constructed an elaborate fairy tale to keep them on the straight and true path of morality and devotion.

   Second, perhaps Kabir was privy to the viewpoint suggested by the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, which Ramana quoted, that

   "the first name of God is 'I'. 'Aham nama abhavat' ['I becomes the name']. Om came later." (32)

   Let us explain. According to the non-dual teachings of vedantists such as Iyer or Robert Adams, all of causality hinges on the ego or "I". Since that comes and goes (disappearing in samadhi or sleep) it is not real, but only an idea; therefore, by inquiry into the nature of the "I" the entire "inner tour" of the saints (signified by "Om", the vibratory current of light and sound, the purported "cause" of all creation) might be bypassed. This is essentially the position taken by today's non-dualist teachers. Maybe Kabir knew this, maybe not. His comments about the whole affair being "too simple" suggests that it is possible he did. Even here, however, the shabd yoga Master would have a retort, namely, that “Om” signifies the power of Brahm on downwards, responsible for the creation of the lower three worlds only, and that the shabd goes much higher. The true individuality of the soul, or the “I”, they might say, only appears in the supracausal realm, first “spiritual” plane above the three-fold egg of Brahm or Hiranyagarbha, therefore, the Upanishad was right but not of the highest. The vedantists like Iyer would say all “spiritual” realms are really mental, and all talk of Hiranyagarbha just ancient imagination. So the argument goes on and on.

   Third, Kabir may have had different stages of development, which his writings suggest; or fourth, someone else wrote the famous Anurag Sagar. This last possibility has actually been suggested before, but is beyond the scope of this article to research. For now, drink deep from the following verses of the wonderful saint:

   “I’ve filled he vessel of my body with water luminous and pure.....
   I drink it, yet thirst for more. My mind turned inwards.
   It plunged into the sea of love and bliss. And it bathes with joy....
   Searching for Him, O friend, Kabir lost himself.
   When the drop has merged into the Ocean, how can the drop be found? ...
   The Ocean has MERGED INTO THE DROP. NOW HOW CAN THE OCEAN BE FOUND?”
(33 - important note)

   "Where there is neither sea nor rains,
   Nor sun nor shade;
   Where there is neither creation
   Nor dissolution;
   Where prevails neither life nor death,
   Nor pain nor pleasure;
   Beyond the states of Sunn and trance;


   [Note: A redundancy; In Sant Mat teachings, as previously stated, Sunn or Maha Sunn is a
   dark void between the causal and spiritual regions, so is obviously only known through trance.]

   Beyond words, 0 friend,
   Is that unique state of Sahaj.
   It can be neither weighed
   Nor exhausted,
   Is neither heavy nor light; It has no upper regions
   Nor lower ones;
   It knows not the dawn of day
   Nor the gloom of night;
   Where there is neither wind
   Nor water nor fire,
   There abides the perfect Master.
   It is inaccessible,
   It is incomprehensible,
   It is, and it will ever be;
   Attain it through the Master's grace."
(34)

   "I have stilled my restless mind and my heart is radiant,
   for in Thatness I have seen beyond Thatness,
   in company I have seen the Comrade Himself,
   Living in bondage, I have set myself free,
   I have broken away from the clutch of all narrowness,
   I have attained the unattainable,
   and my heart is colored with the color of love."
(source unknown)

   Similar sentiments are expressed in his poem, The Abode of the Beloved.

   No ego can realize this state; because of this Kabir is a favorite of those of both the mystic and non-dualist persuasions. Elsewhere he gives his point of view, however, of prerequisites for this condition:

   "Love grows not in the field and is not sold in the market,
   Whosoever would have it, whether king or beggar, must pay
      with his life.
   Carry your head upon your palm as an offering
   If you would step into the Wonderland of love."
(35)

   And, as the premier bhakti of his age, he proclaimed:

   “No one has been united to his Beloved through mirth. Whoever has attained communion with him has done so after shedding many tears. If it were possible to meet the beloved while laughing and in a state of comfort, why should one suffer the anguish of separation? The people of the world are happy. They eat and sleep. Kabir alone is unhappy. He is awake and is crying.”

   He also warned:

   "So what if you have dropped illusion?
   You didn't drop your pride.
   Pride has fooled the best sages,
   Pride devours all."
- Bijak

   For Kabir, finally, liberation must be had while alive:

   "O friend! hope for Him whilst you live, know whilst you live,
    understand whilst you live: for in life deliverance abides.
   If your bonds be not broken whilst living, what hope of
    deliverance in death?
   It is but an empty dream, that the soul shall have union with Him
    because it has passed from the body:
   If He is found now, He is found then,
   If not, we do but go to dwell in the City of Death.
   If you have union now, you shall have it hereafter.
   Bathe in the truth, know the true Guru, have faith in the true
    Name!
   Kabîr says: "It is the Spirit of the quest which helps; I am the slave of this
    Spirit of the quest."
(trans. R. Tagore)

   On this point, that liberation must be gained while alive, Kabir and the vedantists appear in agreement. However, it must be pointed out that this is not the only view in the traditions. Paramhansa Yogananda said that most souls reach their final liberation from the higher planes, and this is given out as a possibility in certain Buddhist sutras, random comments by Paul Brunton, as well as the teachings of the Sants, especially if one has love for ones Master. So like in all things one must keep an open mind. Some things are "revealed not to the worldly wise but unto babes," as the Bible tells us.

   At the time of his death both Hindus and Muslims claimed his body, but when they went to remove the cloth that covered it they found only flowers in its place. Thus, even in death Kabir worked to bring the two religions closer to the truth.


   [For more on Kabir and gnosticism, and the role of Sophia in the important alternate gnostic creation myth, read the above hyperlinked article and also see section #19 of Sant Mat: A Comparative Analysis, containing three articles on the Sophia myth and other material]


1. The Bijak of Kabir, Sabda 4, trans, by Linda Hess and Shukdev Singh (San Francisco: Northpoint Press, 1983), p. 98
2. V.K. Sethi, Kabir, The Weaver of God's Name (Mystics of the East Series} (Beas, India: Radha Soami Satsang Beas, 1984), p. 476
3. Ibid, p. 225
4. Ibid, p. 13
5. Hess and Singh, Op. Cit., p. 42
6. Kirpal Singh, The Jap Ji (Bowling Green, Virginia: Sawan Kirpal Publications, 1981), p. 87
7. The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Vol. 16,(Burdett, New York: Larson Publicatons, 1988) Part 1, 2.194
8. Kirpal Singh, Godman (Franklin, NH: Sat Sandesh Books, 1971), p. 152
9. V.S. Iyer, Ashtavakra Samhita (edited by Marc Scorelle, 1999), p. 65
10. Rajinder Singh, Spiritual Thirst (Naperville, Ill: SK Publications, 2004), p. 134-135
11. Kirpal Singh, The Crown of Life (Franklin, NH: Sat Sandesh Books, 1970), p. 162
12. Kirpal Singh, Godman, op. cit., p. 86
13. Ibid, p. 100-101
14. Ibid, p. 136
15. Kirpal Singh, The Crown of Life, op. cit., p. 74
16. Ibid, p. 167
17. Kirpal SIngh, Godman, op. cit., p. 107-108
18. V.S. Iyer, op. cit., 2155
19. V.S. Iyer, Commentaries, Vol. 1 (edited by Marc Scorelle, 1999), p. 4, 48
20. Ibid, p. 32
21. Ibid, p. 161
22. V.S. Iyer, Commentaries, Vol. 2, op. cit., 802
23. Ibid, 866
24.Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 6, Part 1, 3.142
25. Ibid, Vol. 2, 6.26
26. Kirpal Singh, The Jap Ji, op. cit., p. 88
27. Kirpal Singh, The Crown of Life, op. cit., p. 198
28. Iyer, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 236
29. Ibid, pp. 10, 6
30. John Blofeld, trans., The Zen Teachings of Huang Po, New York: Grove Press, 1958, p131
31. Robert Adams, Silence of the Heart (Santa Barbara, CA: Acropolis Books, 2007), p. 177, 316
32. David Godman, The Power of the Presence, Part One (Tiruvannamalai, India: Sri Ramanasramam, 2000), p. 233
33. In Talks with Ramana Maharishi, the sage quotes this famous verse of Kabir from the Prabuddha Bharati: "All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop." At least one way that this may be interpreted is as a paradoxical expression of the non-dual state, whether in the highest state of trance or in ordinary outward life. It reflects Maharishi's inquiries such as "who goes up or down?," "who realizes what?," and "who merges into what?" He is not, imo, necessarily denying the understanding of Sants, but rather affirming the ultimate realization as unimaginable and beyond all categories, and not an attainment of the ego.
34. Sethi, op cit., p. 257-258
35. Kirpal Singh, op. cit., p. 183



Appendix

   This is an selection of some quotes by Sri Nisargadatta and PB showing a radical difference from the point of view of the experiencer in the above-described vision of the Masters. No attempt is made to argue which if either position is the final word, except to say that the vision was most likely a combination of a transmission from those gurus and the creative mind or unconscious imaginative faculty of the disciple, the respective proportions of which will be left to the reader to determine for his or her satisfaction. One is reminded beforehand, however, of the line of Shakespeare, “There are more things on heavan and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.”

   Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj:

   "In reality you are not a thing, not separate. You are the infinite potentiality. Because you are, all can be. The universe is but a partial manifestation of your limitless capacity to become....There is absolutely no difference between me and others, except in my knowing myself as I am. I am all. I know it for certain and you do not....The diversity is in you only. See yourself as you are and you will see the world as it is - a single block of reality, indivisible, indescribable. Your own creative power projects upon it a picture and all your questions refer to the picture....All this is temporary, while I am dealing with the eternal. Gods and their universes come and go, avatars follow each other in endless succession, and in the end we are back at the source. I talk only of the timeless source of all the gods with all their universes, past, present, and future." (I AM THAT (Durham, North Carolina: The Acorn Press, 2008), p. 121, 123)

   "To take appearance for reality is a grievous sin and the cause of all calamities. You are the all-prevading , eternal and infinitely creative awareness - consciousness. All else is local and temporary....Only that which makes perception possible, call it Life or Brahman, or what you like, is real....My guru taught me to doubt - everything and absolutely. He said: 'deny existence to everything except your self'....You cannot talk of reality as an experience. Once this is understood, you will no longer look for being and becoming as separate and opposite. In reality they are one and inseparable, like roots and branches of the same tree. Both can exist only in the light of consciousness, which again, arises in the wake of the sense 'I am'. This is the primary fact. If you miss it,you miss all." (Ibid, p. 42, 75, 104-105);

   “Once you realize beyond all trace of a doubt that the world is in you and not you in the world, you are out of it. Of course your body remains in the world and of the world, but you are not deluded by it. All scriptures say that before the world was, the Creator was. Who knows the Creator? He alone who was before the Creator, your own real being, the source of all the worlds with their creators....Even the idea of God as the Creator is false. Do I owe my being to any other being? Because I am, all is.” (Ibid, p. 207-208)

   "The world is what it contains and each thing affects all others...Every effect has innumerable causes and produces numberless effects. It is useless to keep accounts, nothing is traceable...[Karma and retribution are] merely a gross approximation: in reality we are all creators and creatures of each other, causing and bearing each other's burden...Most of our karma is collective. We suffer for the sins of others, as others suffer for ours. Humanity is one. Ignorance of this fact does not change it. We could have been much happier people ourselves, but for our indifference to the sufferings of others." (Ibid, p. 415, 465-466)

   "A gnani [does not] claim to be something special. All those who proclaim their own greatness and uniqueness are not gnanis. They are mistaking some unusual development for realization. The gnani shows no tendency to proclaim himself a gnani. He considers himself to be perfectly normal, true to his real nature. Proclaiming oneself to be an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipotent deity is a clear sign of ignorance." (Ibid, p. 193)

   "Q: We are told there are many levels of existence. Do you exist and function on all the levels? While you are on earth, are you also in heaven (swarga)?
   M: I am nowhere to be found! I am not a thing to be given a place among other things. All things are in me, but I am not among things. You are telling me about the superstructure while I am concerned with the foundations. The superstructures rise and fall, but the foundations last. I am not interested in the transient, while you talk about nothing else."
(Ibid, p. 327)

   “Life will escape, the body will die, but it will not affect me in the least. Beyond space and time I am, uncaused, uncausing, yet the very matrix of existence....I am not a person in your sense of the word, though I may appear a person to you. I am that infinite ocean of consciousness in which all happens. I am also beyond all existence and cognition, pure bliss of being. There is nothing I feel separate from, hence I am all. No thing is me, so I am nothing.” (Ibid, p. 222)

   "In the light of consciousness all sorts of things happen and one need not give special importance to any. The sight of a flower is as marvelous as the vision of God...See everything as emanating from the light which is the source of your own being [not the source of the universe outside of ones self]. You will find that in that light there is love and infinite energy." (Ibid, p. 197)

   "Neither God nor the universe have come to tell you that they have created you. The mind obsessed by the idea of causality invents creation and then wonders 'who is the creator?' The mind itself is the creator. Even this is not quite true, for the created and the creator are one. The mind and the world(s) are not separate. Do understand that what you take to be the world is your own mind...All space and time are in the mind. Where will you locate a supramental world? There are many levels of the mind and each projects its own version, yet all are in the mind and created by the mind." (Ibid, p. 502)


Paul Brunton:

   “He could keep on collecting inner, mystical, or psychical experiences for years, for undoubtedly they are very fascinating. But to whom? To the ego: but that is not the point of this quest. Ramana Maharshi told me [PB] that he had thousands of such experiences. The essential point is to treat them as incidental and to rise into Overself awareness and stay there.” The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Vol. 11, 14.07)

   “ If he continues to gaze at the mental images which he thus sees in his vision, rapt and absorbed as he is, he may eventually mesmerize himself into a firm belief in their external reality. But whether they be Gods and saints or lights and colours, these strange visions which pass before his eyes are partly creations of the mind itself.” (Ibid, 15.2)

   “Those to whom the higher power has to reveal itself through visions seen clairvoyantly, or sounds heard clairaudiently, or teachings impressed mentally are helped in this inferior way only because they lack the capacity to recieve in a superior way. And this remains just as true if the vision is of their respected Spiritual leader, the sound none other than the mystic Sanskrit syallble OM, and the teaching fully descriptive of the seven planes of progressive being. If they had possessed the capacity to receive by pure insight without any reference to the method by which we receive through the agency of five bodily senses and the intellect, they would not have needed such occult experiences, which are in a sense semi-materialistic.” (Ibid, 15.28)

   “It would be a gross error to believe that all visions are to be regarded with caution, let alone suspicion. There is one which is a complete exception to this rule. This is the vision of Light.” (Ibid, 15. 33)

   “The faith which is already in the heart, the image which pre-exists in the mind, these are drawn upon and used by the man’s soul to give him the experience of and message from itself.” (Ibid, 15.35)

   “The Overself can never be seen or heard, touched or tasted. Therefore no visions of a pictorial kind, no voices of a psychic kind, no musical sounds of a “mystical and cosmic” kind, no outer form or manifestation of any kind which comes to you through the senses can be the real authentic experience of it.” (Ibid, 15.36)

   “God will appear to us in Spirit alone, never in Space. To see him is to see the playing and posturing of our own mind.” (Ibid, 15.41)

   “A mystic experience may come with a seen vision of the spiritual Guide or a felt - not heard - voice communicating a message, teachings, or guidance, or it may come with none of these things as intellectual insight into the Real.” (Ibid, 15.42)

   “When it is said that the mystic’s own mental construction is responsible for the visions he sees, whether these be of a living guru distant in space or a dead one distant in time or a scriptural God, it is not meant that such construction is a voluntary activity. On the contrary, it is both involuntary and subconscious. This is the psychological explanation of such phenomena, but what is the metaphysical one? This is that the mystic, not having evolved to an understanding of the formless, timeless, matterless character of true being, nor to the capacity to concentrate on it, is given a spaced-timed-shaped image on which to concentrate. What gives him this image? It is his own Overself (Soul).” (Ibid, 15.104)

   “Whether the mystical experience represents a revival of ideas previously acquired or a genuine penetration into a spiritual world is not to be answered by a brief yes or no, for it does in fact involve both these elements. This is of course why so many mystics' reports frequently contradict each other. The visions they see and the intuitions they acquire contain forms or thoughts which have previously been put into their minds by teachers, traditions, environment, or reading. The intellect contributes a personal element whereas the deeper level of mind contributes that which is common to all these experiences. If it were possible for a mystic to free himself of all pre-possessions, both conscious and subconscious, he might gain the pure experience of this deeper level wherein neither intellect nor emotion would interfere. The philosophic discipline seeks to achieve this.”

   “If the different revelations made by mystics do not agree on several points, here is a warning that first, although a mystic may honestly describe what is revealed to him, this is no guarantee of its perfect truth, no safeguard against its being partly mistaken or even wholly biased, and second, the spiritual authority of no man should be so exaggerated as to deify his statements.”
(Ibid, 9.3-5)