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Chapter 7: A Harmony of Love and Renunciation

When Ravi Shankar is playing, you don’t bother about whether he is right or wrong. What do you mean by “right” or “wrong”? Music is music - good or bad, but not right or wrong. You don’t bother; you simply listen, and because the music has no language, you cannot translate it. You are simply in the presence of the music, surrounded by it, overwhelmed by it, taken off your feet to a faraway journey by it. But you are not deciding whether it is right or wrong, whether it appeals to your logic or not. You listen from the heart.

The mystic has to be listened to as if you are listening to music. And yes, I say to you, it is music, far deeper than any musician can create. Once you start translating it, things become difficult.

Even these beautiful translations of Rabindranath Tagore are not true - cannot be. Kabir’s sayings are in Hindi; then they were translated into Bengali; then from Bengali, Rabindranath translated them into English. They are faraway echoes, and much is lost. For example:

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.

I have stilled my restless mind - chalat mansa achal kinhi. Now, the original has a totally different taste to it. If I have to translate it, I will say, “My Lord, so you have done it? You have made my moving mind unmoving?” That is the meaning of it: chalat mansa achal kinhi. “The mind that was always moving, always moving. My Lord, so you have done it? You have made it unmoving?” That would be truer to Kabir.

Chalat mansa achal kinhi. Kabir is amazed! Kabir says, “My God, what have you done? I have been trying and trying and trying, and I could not still it, and you have stilled it? And it was so difficult, not even conceivable. Even a single thought was so difficult to drop, and now it is dropped completely, now it is nowhere! I cannot find it. All those vibrations of the mind, all those waves, continuous waves, all those thoughts, thought-processions - all have disappeared. So you have done it” - chalat mansa achal kinhi.

Rabindranath translates it, “I have stilled my restlesss mind.” Now he has missed the whole thing. He says, “I have stilled my restless mind.” No, Kabir is not saying that. The sentence can be translated this way too. So I am not saying that the translation is linguistically incorrect; it is mystically incorrect. Chalat mansa achal kinhi can be translated this way too. Because Kabir is not saying anything about who has made it unmoving, I or you; he has not said anything. It can be translated as: I have stilled my mind. But that is impossible - because “I” is the mind, so “I” cannot still itself. That will be pulling yourself up by your own shoe laces - operation shoe laces! You are bound to fail, it is not possible. Only God can still.. So I say it is linguistically correct, but mystically incorrect.

Only God can still the mind. It is a gift. It is a grace that descends on you, it is not something that you do - because whatsoever you do, you will remain. Your doing cannot dissolve you. Your doing will strengthen you more and more. Your effort will become a food to your ego.

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