Make Your Mind Your Mecca

 

“Make your mind your Mecca.” – Kabir
(Adi Granth:Raga Bhairava, shabad 4)

The 15th century North Indian poet-singer-saint, Kabir, lived in a time of great tension between two major religions. He honored and bridged both with his bhakti devotional songs. He was claimed by the Hindus to be a Hindu and by the Muslims to be a Muslim. He both inspired and confused both camps with his mystical lyricism. He confounded them even in the legend of his death. The Hindus wanted to burn his body, and the Muslims wanted to bury him. When they looked under the garlands of flowers that had been placed on top of his body, they saw that his body was gone. The Hindus burned half the flowers, the Muslims buried the other half.

One of the five pillars of Islamic practice is the expectation that every Muslim will make hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once in a lifetime. For some Muslims, making hajj is an arduous and very expensive journey.

But if your mind is your Mecca, why would you not make the journey to self-awareness every day?

Kabir’s poetic image, and the example of his life and death, remind us that mindfulness is a spiritual practice that is central to all the great world religions. To know your mind, and your body which is inseparable from it, is to know God. Because when you observe your thoughts, emotions, urges, and sensations long enough, you awaken to the One within you who is doing the observing. That One is Allah, Atman, Brahman, and the Christ. The mind is the holy city where the Divine dwells, and to go there and find God is the greatest hajj of all. And it is a journey that costs nothing but the abandonment of one’s egotism and the setting aside of snippets of time in one’s day.

Let us set forth on this sacred pilgrimage right away, wearing the clothes we already have on our backs, the shoes we’ve already put on our feet. The inner Kaaba of our thoughts awaits our focused, open, compassionate attention. “Make your mind your Mecca….”

ABOUT JIM BURKLO
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Associate Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern California

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