In Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s recent translation of the poetry of Kabir (the iconoclastic Indian mystic poet) there is a wonderful juxtaposition of two poems with opposing views of ordinary mind. In the first, the mind represents a “crafty” trickster fed by the 5 senses, an enervating knot to be meticulously untied. In the second, your “runaway mind” can be the very vehicle you ride right out of suffering into paradise.

These two views ARE completely compatible, of course, but they represent different stages or frequencies of the spiritual journey. Sometimes it takes a wrathful seer like Kabir to remind us, however.

The mind’s a shortchanging

Flower mandala painted by an unknown patient of Carl Jung

Huckster with a crafty

Wife and five

Scoundrel children.

It won’t change its ways.

The mind’s a knot, says Kabir,

Not easy to untie.

KG 93


Listen carefully,

Neither the Vedas

Nor the Qur’an

Will teach you this:

Put the bit in its mouth,

The saddle on its back,

Your foot in the stirrup,

And ride your wild runaway mind

All the way to heaven.

KG 81


Mehrotra, Arvind Krishna. Songs of Kabir. New York: New York Review Books, 2011.

About bensten

Teacher, writer, blogger and spiritual practitioner. Managing editor of

One response »

  1. arik says:

    Not at all different views: the mind is a shortchanging huckster, or a wild runaway horse, therefore salvation comes from controlling it:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s