Between the conscious and the unconscious, the mind has put up a swing

by Kabir

English version by Robert Bly
Original Language Hindi

Between the conscious and the unconscious, the mind has put up a swing:
all earth creatures, even the supernovas, sway between these two trees,
and it never winds down.

Angels, animals, humans, insects by the million, also the wheeling sun and moon;
ages go by, and it goes on.

Everything is swinging: heaven, earth, water, fire,
and the secret one slowly growing a body.
Kabir saw that for fifteen seconds, and it made him a servant for life.

-- from The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, by Stephen Mitchell

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/ Photo by Johnny Jet /


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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

This is a rather loose translation, but I like it.

Everything is swinging: heaven, earth, water, fire,
and the secret one slowly growing a body.


There is a continuous flowing between the subtle and the manifest, between spirit and matter. Spirit pours through matter, giving it life and awareness. Matter, in turn, gives form to spirit, striving to embody the limitless amidst limitation.

And so the swing goes back and forth, patiently, playfully, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes frightening.

It isn't a process where we find that perfect spot and then it all stops. "It never winds down." It is an interplay that continues, and we find our rightful place by seeing the entire dance...

Kabir saw that for fifteen seconds, and it made him a servant for life.



Recommended Books: Kabir

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi Songs of the Saints of India One Hundred Poems of Kabir: Translated by Rabindranath Tagore
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Between the conscious