Espoused syncretism

“On God,” by Kabir

On God

  • “Thou art That” is the preaching of the Upanishads; that is their message.
  • Great is their reliance upon this; but how can they, however mighty, describe Him?
  • Pandit, your thoughts are all untrue; there is here no universe and no creator;
  • Nor subtle, nor gross, nor air, nor fire, nor sun, nor moon, nor earth, nor water;
  • Nor the form of light, nor time are there; there is neither word nor body.
  • There is neither action nor virtue, no mantras and no worship at all.
  • Rites and ceremonies have no worth at all.
  • He is one, there is no second.
  • Wherever, wherever one looks, there, there is He the same; He is found in every vessel.
  • How can I explain His form or outline? There is no second who has seen Him.
  • How can I describe the condition of the unconditioned, who has neither village nor resting place?
  • He who must be seen without qualities; by what name shall I call Him?
  • When the fire of avarice is out, and the smoke of desires no longer issueth.
  • then shall man know that one God is everywhere contained, and that there is no second.
  • The joiner dwelleth ever separate from the work.

Kabir (1440–1518) was a Hindu poet whose works were transmitted orally before eventually being written down for posterity. His pithy works, consisting of short couplets, reflected a combination of Hindu and Islamic influences, espoused a sort of syncretism — that is, that all religiously minded people can access the mystery of God; he also taught, however, that mysticism in the yoga tradition is necessary for such access. Because of his simple, straightforward teachings and rejection of dogma and caste, his work appealed greatly to the poor and oppressed.

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