What does Kabir’s couplet (Maati Kahe…) mean?

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Great Masters / Wisdom For Seekers


This video starts with Sadhguru's beautiful rendition of Kabir's 'song of the soil'. Don't we all know that one day we are going to become one with the earth? Knowing that, what are we doing... getting entangled, celebrating limitations... or wanting to find out where the dimensions of life lie...?


Duration: 11 min


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6 min read

What does Kabir’s couplet (Maati Kahe…) mean?

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Clay says to the potter, who are you to knead me
A day will come, when I will knead you
Everyone who is born will die one day, be it a king or a poor man
One sits on a throne, another a prisoner

For those of you who don’t understand the language, what the song is saying is… This is Kabir’s incredible poetry. He was a weaver by profession, an enlightened weaver. So, similarly there were enlightened potters, there were enlightened cobblers, vegetable sellers you know – all kinds.

So this is a scene where a potter is kneading the clay, and the clay is singing to the potter. ‘What are you kneading me, a day will come when I will knead you’. And ‘it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re a king, you’re a commoner, you’re a saint, it doesn’t matter, anyway I will knead you one day’. ‘The only difference is when I knead people, a few will be sitting upon the throne of enlightenment and liberation, rest will be entangled in the shackles of entanglement’, that’s all the difference. Otherwise anyway I will knead, because what you think as me or myself is not you, it’s me – that’s what the clay is saying.

So, this is the only pot [body] which can be burned and unburned, but in the meantime what happens is the whole thing. So, as a way of taking people from a shackled existence to sit on the throne of liberation, not just in terms of realization, but in terms of knowing, in terms of capability, in terms of what you can do in this existence. When you talk about competence mostly people are thinking about social competence. When you talk talk about power, people are mostly thinking about, in the world. But when the clay begins to knead, your social competence, and the power that you hold over men and material means nothing, because you are the material. But at that time a few will sit upon the throne, rest will be shackled in entanglements.

To take a person from this shackled existence to sit on the throne of existential power, not social power, not social competence, not psychological power, not psychological competence, not physical power or physical competence – to take a human being into existential competence, it should not be but generally is, a long and arduous path. It should not be, but it is. So, it’s very simple to move from bondage to liberation, but unfortunately usually it doesn’t happen like that.

Every initiation is a boost for somebody to break one barrier [limitation] and go into another

If one has to move, if a being has to move from an existence of bondage to an existence of existential power and liberation, he needs booster doses at every point. This is what the initiation processes are. Every initiation is a boost for somebody to break one barrier and go into another. Or to put it in an American way, it’s a kick in your butt to cross the line, otherwise you won’t cross it by yourself. Left to yourself, you will go within the lines that you have drawn, and never cross.

Everything that’s life, everything that’s creation, every aspect of creation, in a latent form is already there in human consciousness, there’s nothing to do. If you just bring clarity to this [self], everything is right here. You don’t have to explore the cosmos to know all the different dimensions of life and creation that exists. All aspects of creation are right here [in the self]. It is just that it has to be brought to light, right now it is in darkness. Right now it is in a space, it is in a dimension that you cannot see. Right now there are radio waves here, you cannot hear you need a transistor to hear, but it’s already there. If it is not there, your transistor could do nothing. So it’s already here, it is just that you should have the ability to see, you should have the ability to translate, what is in another form to the form that you can see and perceive. So the initiation processes are just this.

This goddamn initiations are a frustrating process for the Guru, because it goes so slow, inch by inch, millimeter by millimeter, point by point – people go so slow. Somewhere when I look at people, I think they have a notion that they have a billion year life span. They don’t hear to the song of the soil, that the soil is waiting to knead you one day, very eagerly, really. Just throw a dead body in the soil and see how eagerly it melts down, how eagerly it’s eaten up by the soil, just see. So the soil is every day, every step that you take, its waiting and it knows you will come. Doesn’t matter you jump around, you hop around, you fly, you will come back. Nobody seems to hear the song of the soil, that it is waiting to knead you, and it’ll do so soon.

Because people are unwilling to take the necessary steps, they will create hallucinatory processes for themselves. The nature of the mind is such, it can make projections of life in such a way that it can keep you busy forever. It takes a certain level of awareness and a certain force of initiation processes for people to cross this need for hallucination and come to reality. Because reality is grander than any hallucination that you can ever create.

The wildest imagination that you have will be colorless compared to the dimensions of reality that already exist. Existence has more to offer then your imagination can ever produce. But you want to settle for your own stuff, this doesn’t get you anywhere, but it makes you feel like you’re really getting somewhere. This is not exploration of the existence. This is not mysticism. This is just the mischief of your mind. If you are happy with it, fine, nothing wrong. Nothing wrong in being limited, isn’t it? Just suffocating, that’s all.

So either you must cross the barriers, the restrictions, the shackles of life yourself or you must allow someone to kick you through the barriers. One of these things you must do, otherwise you can only celebrate limitations. Otherwise you can just gold paint the prison walls, and think you’re in a golden cave – quite wonderful it is. But it doesn’t matter what imprisons you, imprisonment is imprisonment. It’s as simple as that.

So the finer the material that you employ to restrict yourself, the more dangerous it is – because to have an intelligence which cuts through the gold and makes you see bondage is just bondage – by then, the aspirations of the clay might have been fulfilled. The soil might have found its target. You you might not have, but the soil would have. So some will be upon the throne, some will be still shackled

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