Of all the ancient mystic poets of India, a name that stands out is that of Saint Kabir.
Kabir belonged to the 15th century, and is well known today as he was before for his poems (mostly couplets) that carry deep insightful messages on life, faith, mind, the universe and consciousness.
He earned the distinction of ‘Sant’ or ‘Saint’ owing to the deep and powerful thoughts he conveyed through his poems.
The following is a collection of 12 important life lessons you can learn from Saint Kabir’s poems.
Lesson 1: Faith and patience are the most powerful virtues
“Faith, waiting in the heart of a seed, promises a miracle of life which cannot prove at once.” – Kabir
Meaning: The seed contains an entire tree inside, but you need to have faith in the seed to nurture it and patience to wait and watch it turn into a tree. Therefore, in order to achieve anything significant in life, you need to have these two virtues – faith and patience. It is faith and patience that will push your through the toughest of times.
Lesson 2: Self awareness is the beginning of all wisdom
“You have forgotten the Self within. Your search in the void will be in vain. Be ever conscious of this, O friend, You have to immerse within your – Self. Salvation you won’t then need. For what you are, you would be indeed.” – Kabir
Meaning: It is only by knowing yourself that you develop the ability to know others. It is only by understanding yourself can you begin to understand others. This is why self knowledge is the beginning of all wisdom. So, spend time with yourself. Get to know yourself from a deeper level. Become your own best friend.
Lesson 3: Let go of your limiting beliefs to free yourself
“Just throw away all thoughts of imaginary things, and stand firm in that which you are.” – Kabir
Meaning: Your subconscious mind holds lot of limiting beliefs. These beliefs control you as long as you are unconscious of them. Once you become conscious of these thoughts/beliefs, you can start to become free from them and in doing so get in touch with your true self.
Lesson 4: Look within and you will know your true self
“But if a mirror ever makes you sad, you should know that it does not know you.” – Kabir
Meaning: The mirror is merely a reflection of your external form and not of your internal form. Hence the mirror does not know you and what it portrays is of little importance. Instead, to know your true self, spend time in self reflection. Self reflection is a far greater way to understand yourself than looking at yourself in the mirror.
Lesson 5: The basis of love is understanding
“Listen, my friend. He who loves understands.” – Kabir
Meaning: To love is to understand. When you know and understand yourself, you begin to love yourself; and in loving yourself you develop the ability to love the other.
Lesson 6: We are all connected
“The river that flows in you also flows in me.” – Kabir
Meaning: Though we look separate from each other, deep within, we are all connected to each other and the cosmos. It is the same life energy or consciousness that is present in every single atom of our beings. We are all connected by this single source of energy.
Lesson 7: There is joy in stillness
“Still the body, still the mind, still the voice inside. In silence feel the stillness move. This feeling cannot be imagined (only be experienced).” – Kabir
Meaning: Stillness is a state of pure consciousness when you are completely present and all your thoughts settle down. As your mind noise settles, your mind becomes still and so does your body. You are no longer your egoic self, but exist as pure consciousness.
Lesson 8: God cannot be defined or labeled
“He makes the inner and the outer worlds to be indivisibly one; The conscious and the unconscious, both are His footstools. He is neither manifest nor hidden, He is neither revealed nor unrevealed: There are no words to tell that which He is.” – Kabir
Meaning: God cannot be described in words as it is beyond the capacity of the human mind. God can only be experienced as pure consciousness.
Lesson 9: God resides within you
“The Lord is in me, and the Lord is in you, as life is hidden in every seed. So rubble your pride, my friend, And look for Him within you.” – Kabir
Meaning: What Kabir is referring to here is that God or your essential nature which can also be described as consciousness or life energy, exists within you. When you look at a seed, you cannot see the life in it, but it holds an entire tree within. In a similar way, consciousness exists within every single atom present in this universe and hence consciousness is within you as it is within everything.
Lesson 10: Silent contemplation is better than loose talk
“Hey brother, why do you want me to talk? Talk and talk and the real things get lost. Talk and talk and things get out of hand. Why not stop talking and think?” – Kabir
Meaning: There is a lot of power in silent contemplation. There is a lot that you can learn about the essential nature of your being when you sit with yourself in silence and simply stay aware of the thoughts that arise.
Lesson 11: Connect with your heart and you will find what you are looking for
“Lift the veil that obscures the heart, and there you will find what you are looking for.” – Kabir
Meaning: The heart is clouded by the thoughts in your mind. When your attention is completely identified with your mind, you lose touch with your body, soul and your heart. Your mind acts as a veil that obscures your heart as Kabir points out. Once you connect with the body, and slowly become free from the grasp of your mind, you start to experience liberation.
Lesson 12: Become conscious of your unconscious mind
“Between the poles of the conscious and the unconscious, there has the mind made a swing: Thereon hang all beings and all worlds, and that swing never ceases its sway.” – Kabir
Meaning: Your mind can essentially be divided into two – the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. There are moments when you are completely lost in your unconscious mind and some other moments when you experience being conscious. Hence, Kabir is right in pointing out that you mind swings between the conscious and the unconscious. It is important to note though that the only way you can influence your subconscious is by becoming conscious of your subconscious. In other words, experiencing your conscious mind more. Practices like mindfulness and meditation can help you become more conscious and self aware.
Lesson 13: Realize that you are one with the universe
“The sun is within me and so is the moon.” – Kabir
Meaning: You are connected to everything in this universe and everything is connected to you. The life energy or consciousness that exists within every single atom in your body is what exists in every single atom in the universe. You and the universe are essentially the same. Similarly, the sun and moon do not exist outside of you, you perceive them as outside, but they are an intrinsic part of you.
Lesson 14: Patience and perseverance will help you achieve your greatest goals
“Slowly, slowly O mind… Everything in own pace happens, Gardner may water a hundred buckets, but fruit arrives only in its season.” – Kabir
Meaning: Everything happens at its own time. No matter how hard you try, you cannot force things to happen before the time is right. Just like you cannot force a tree to bear fruit before the right time irrespective of how much you water the tree. Therefore, the most important virtue that you can cultivate is one of patience. It is the slow and steady that wins the race and good things always come to those who wait.