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Chapter 9: The Song of Love

The flute of the infinite. In the East we have always symbolized existence as the flute, the hollow bamboo on the lips of God. The song is his; the flute cannot sing, the flute can only allow the singing, the singer, the song, to flow through it. Existence is a passage; so is man. Man is a flute, the birds are too, and so are the trees and the sun and the moon. The whole of existence is a hollow bamboo - God flowing through it, filtering through it, being expressed in millions of ways.

When I am talking to you, I am not talking to you; I am just a hollow bamboo. And when you are listening to me, you are not listening to me; he is listening through you - you are a hollow bamboo. Be the talker or be the listener; be the dancer or be the audience - we are all hollow bamboos on the lips of the infinite. The song is his and so is silence.

Once you understand this concept of being a hollow bamboo, you are on the path of love. This is the first step.

The flute of the infinite is played without ceasing.

And this is the beauty and the contradiction: that the infinite needs a flute of finity, of the finite. The formless needs form to be expressed through. God needs you as much as you need him. The need is not one-sided, otherwise it would not be so beautiful. If only we were in need of God, then it would be a lopsided state of things. No, there is balance: God is as much in need of us as we are in need of him. The flute needs the singer, but the singer, too, needs the flute. It is true - the flute cannot create the song by itself; but the singer also cannot create the song by himself. The flute is as much a must for him as he is a must for the flute.

This is the concept of interdependence: the whole depends on the parts, the parts depend on the whole. Neither is the part independent nor is the whole independent. In fact, the very idea of independence is neurotic. We are joined together. This gives a tremendous dignity.

On the one hand Kabir says: Be a hollow bamboo. On the other hand he says: Remember your dignity; without you God cannot sing the song. Yes, without these tiny birds in the casuarina trees, God cannot sing the song. He depends on them; every morning he needs them. He cannot flower without the roseflowers; every morning he seeks them.

God and his existence are not two separate things, but interdependent, leaning on each other, searching for each other like two lovers. The lover will not be total if the beloved is lost, and the beloved will not be whole if the lover is lost. When they are together, when their togetherness is such that they are melting into each other, only then are both whole.

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