A classical song or poem is one that has meaning, value and relevance to many across time, culture and geography. The shabad, or Punjabi devotional song I share below is such a precious gem.
I recall waking up many mornings to this song playing on my alarm clock cassette player before getting ready to head in to work during my pediatric residency in NYC. (Yes, those were the days when we still used cassette players!)
The lyrics are written by Kabir, an Indian 15th century mystic-musician who was also a poet-philosopher and weaver. This particular version is my favorite and was recorded in 1972 by Bhai Gopal Singh Ragi, a blind singer with a melodious voice. The song is a beautiful testimony of the power of surrender and letting go.
I have come to realize that so much of illness arises from that place where we feel we are separate and distinct- apart and unique. Often we hold onto our separateness because we feel that this somehow gives us ‘identity’ and a ‘healthy sense’ of who we are. Yet at some point in our lives we long to be part of something more, something bigger, something even grand and majestic. We want to step out of our petty and trivial concerns and self-absorption and connect with something deeper, broader and wider. Like soul-stirring music played by a magnificent symphony orchestra, we ultimately realize that the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.
This song speaks to this place of surrender, or merging with something bigger than our everyday self. In the song, Kabir sings that everything he is and everything he has is really part of something much bigger. He calls this his Lord, his God. But we can also understand this to be that Oneness we may feel when gazing at a photograph of the Earth taken by the astronauts on the moon. Or when we feel our hearts expand when we fall in love or we are in the company of those we love. The ego mind often fights this surrender, this letting go, because it tells us that we will lose and we will have to sacrifice. Rather, just the opposite is true.
You are my Life, the very Support of my breath of life
Gazing upon You, beholding You, my mind is soothed and comforted.
Let this melodious song soften and dissolve those ego edges and defenses that often seem to bristle up as we step into uniting with Love, and a purpose greater than ourselves!