|Kabir is absolutely ordinary, a normal person.
Remember, when I say normal, I don’t mean the average. The average is not the normal. The average is only “normally” abnormal; he is “as mad” as all others are. In fact, in the world, normal persons don’t exist.
Kabir is really that normal person that you never come across in life, with no desire to be special. When he became enlightened, then too he remained in his ordinary life. He was a weaver; he continued to weave.
His disciples started growing in numbers — hundreds, and then thousands, and then many more thousands were coming to him. And they will always ask him to stop weaving clothes — “There is no need. We will take care of you.” But he will laugh and he will say, “It is better to continue as God has willed me. I have no desire to be anything else. Let me be whatsoever I am, whatsoever God wants me to be. If he wants me to be a weaver, that’s why I am a weaver. I was born a weaver, and I will die as a weaver.”
He continued in his ordinary way. He will go to the marketplace to sell his goods. He will carry water from the well. He lived very, very ordinarily. That is one of the most significant things to be understood. He never claimed that he is a man of knowledge — because no man of knowledge ever claims it. To know is to know that to know is not to know and that not to know is to know. A real man of understanding knows that he does not know at all. His ignorance is profound. And out of this ignorance arises innocence. When you know, you become cunning. When you know, you become clever. When you know, you lose that innocence of childhood.
Kabir says he is ignorant, he does not know anything. And this has to be understood, because this will make the background in your mind for his poetry. From where is this poetry coming? It is coming out of his innocence, flowering out of his innocence. He says he does not know.
Have you ever observed the fact that in life we go on claiming that we know, but we don’t know? What do you know? Have you known anything, ever? If I ask why the trees are green, will you be able to answer it? Yes, the best answer that I have heard is from D.H. Lawrence. A small child was walking with him in a garden and the child asked — as children are prone to ask — “Why are the trees green?” D.H. Lawrence looked at the trees, looked into the eyes of the child, and said, “They are green because they are green.” That’s the truest answer ever given. What else can you say? Whatsoever else you say will be foolish; it will not make any sense. You can say trees are green because of chlorophyll, but why is chlorophyll green? The question remains the same. I ask you one question, you give me an answer, but the question is not really answered.
You have lived with a woman for thirty years, and you call her your wife, or with a man, for fifty years; do you know the man or the woman? A child is born to you; do you know him? Have you looked into his eyes? Can you claim that you know him? What do you know? Do you know a piece of rock? Yes, scientists will give many explanations, but they don’t become knowledge. They will say electrons and protons and neutrons. But what is an electron? And they shrug their shoulders; they say, “We don’t know.” They say, “We don’t know YET,” in the hope that someday they will be able to know. No, they will never be able to know, because first they said, “The rock is made of atoms,” and when it was asked what is an atom, they said, “We don’t know yet.” Then they said, “The atom consists of electrons.” Now we ask what is an electron; they say, “We don’t know yet.” Someday they will say the electron consists of this and that, X, Y, Z; but that doesn’t make any difference. The ultimate remains irreducible to knowledge. The ultimate remains a mystery.
If the ultimate is a mystery, then life becomes a life of wonder. If the ultimate is not known, then poetry arises. If the ultimate is known — or you THINK that it is known — then philosophy arises. That is the difference between philosophy and poetry.
And Kabir’s approach is that of a poet, of a lover, of one who is absolutely wondering what it is all about. Not knowing it, he sings a song. Not knowing it, he becomes prayerful. Not knowing it, he bows down. The poet’s approach is not that of explanation. It is that of exclamation. He says, “Aha, Aha! So here is the mystery.”
And wherever you find mystery there is God. The more you know, the less you will be aware of God; the less you know, the closer God will be to you. If you don’t know anything, if you can say with absolute confidence, “I don’t know,” if this “I don’t know” comes from the deepest core of your being, then God will be in your very core, in the very beat of your heart. And then poetry arises… then one falls in love with this tremendous mystery that surrounds you.
That love is religion. Religion is not after any explanations. Religion is not a quest for the explanation. Rather, it is an exploration of love, a nonending journey into love.
I invite you to come with me into the innermost realm of this madman Kabir. Yes, he was a madman — all religious people are. Mad, because they don’t trust reason. Mad, because they love life. Mad, because they can dance and they can sing. Mad, because to them life is not a question, not a problem to be solved but a mystery into which one has to dissolve oneself.
One thing more about Kabir’s approach. He is life-affirmative. That too is an indication of a real man of understanding. There are two types of people in the world: the people who indulge and the people who renounce. They Look opposite to each other but they are not. They are two aspects of the same coin. The people who indulge are continuously frustrated because no indulgence brings you to joy. You can indulge — you can waste your life, you can waste your opportunity, your energy — but no enjoyment ever comes out of indulgence. If indulgence could have given joy, then nobody would ever have renounced. People renounce because indulgence fails — but then they are moving to the other extreme. Thinking that indulgence has not helped, they move to the opposite. They become against life, they become antilife, they become life-negative. They start destroying their being; they become suicidal. These are the two types of people you will find. In the market you will find the people who indulge, and in the monasteries you will find the people who renounce.
Kabir belongs to neither. A real man of understanding is a great synthesis. He knows that it is not a question of indulgence or renunciation; it is a question of awareness. Be in the world, but be with awareness. Don’t go anywhere, don’t have antagonistic attitudes towards life. Kabir is tremendously life-affirmative. He loved, he had a wife, he had two children, and he lived the life of a householder… and yet was one of the greatest seers of the world. He lived in the world and remained untouched. That’s his beauty. He is a lotus flower.
If you go to your so-called mahatmas, they create antagonism towards life; they make you life-negative. They teach you that life is the enemy, it is evil. They make you feel as if God and life are contraries, you can’t have both. Kabir says you can have both, because life and God are not enemies. Life is God manifest; God is life unmanifest. God and life are one force, one energy, one movement. When God is not visible he is God; when he becomes visible he is Life. And this goes on continuously — he becomes visible, he becomes invisible. It is like breathing: you breathe out, you breathe in.
The old Indian scriptures say that existence is when God breathes out, and when God breathes in there is nonexistence. The whole of existence disappears when he breathes in; when he breathes out, the whole of existence appears. It is one breath going in and out. When God breathes out, you are born; when he breathes in, you disappear in death.
But you never leave God. The outgoing breath is as much his as the ingoing breath. And one has to understand this dynamism, this dialectics. Kabir is neither for the world nor for renunciation.
And his assertions are very simple, down to earth. He is not dramatic. He is not a preacher. And he is not worried whether you are impressed by him or not. He simply relates whatsoever he has experienced. He never exaggerates. He never proves his assertions through any logic. He simply asserts; they are pure statements.
Kabir is not dramatic at all. His assertions are simple. His assertions are just from his heart. He is not scholarly either. His poetry is pure, uncontaminated by scripture. His poetry can be understood by anyone who is innocent enough.
Ecstasy: The Forgotten Language, Chapter-1