Someone has said that Columbus didn’t know where he was going, didn’t know where he was when he got there, and didn’t know where he’d been when he got back.
Well, about the time Columbus thought he’d found India, far away in the real India there lived a poor weaver who made rugs by day and scratched out poems by night.
His name was Kabir and today he’s one of India’s best-loved poets. Here’s a sample:
I laugh when I hear that the fish in the water is thirsty.
You don’t grasp the fact that what is most alive of all is inside your own house;
and so you walk from one holy city to the next with a confused look!
Kabir will tell you the truth: go wherever you like, to Calcutta or Tibet;
if you can’t find where your soul is hidden,
for you the world will never be real.
I think maybe Kabir is onto something.
Just think of the civilization we’ve built in the last century—the wealth, the comfort, the inventions, the possibilities. It would blow the minds of any other century.
You would think we would all be ecstatically happy! You would think that loneliness, depression, addictions, lack of fulfillment and other social ills would be at a minimum.
It is a little like being fish in the water and still being thirsty, isn’t it?
I like Kabir’s prescription. He says we may need to grasp a little more deeply the truth that “what is most alive is inside your own house.”
That line stopped me. First, I thought, “That’s good, because that’s where we are!”
Yes, it’s easy to feel that life, aliveness, joy, meaning, the pursuit of happiness is all “out there”. And, of course, we’d all love to be “out there.” And someday we will.
But meanwhile, Kabir is reminding us to look again at what we have “in here”—in our homes, in relationships, in ourselves, in the cultivation of our souls.
In a way, Kabir is calling us to be the Columbus of our own lives, to quietly go in search of new worlds inside ourselves—new inner resources, new, more satisfying and more “alive” ways of thinking and living and working and relating.
Today more than ever, I believe many are making that journey of discovery and that we’ll come back with our boats loaded with the riches money can’t buy.
I see signs of that in the outpouring of compassion, in a deeper concern for each other, in a quieter, more thoughtful approach to things, in a greater sense of personal presence, and more.
The world is becoming more real.
Who knows, maybe it’s a time for the rediscovery of America—an America where more of us really do know where we’re going.