With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.

Zig Ziglar

Kabir And Kamal

There is a beautiful anecdote from the life of Kabir. Every day a number of people gather at Kabir’s place to listen to his words of wisdom. At the end of the satsang, Kabir always requested them to dine with him before going home.

One day the matter came to a head. Kabir’s son Kamal came to him and said, “It is now becoming too much. We can no longer bear the burden of feeding so many people every day. We have to buy everything on credit, and we are now heavily in debt.” Kabir said, “Why don’t you borrow more?”

“But who is going to repay it?” Kamal asked.

Then his father said, “One who gives will repay it. Why should we worry about it?”

Kamal could not understand what his father meant. He was a worldly man. He said, “This answer won’t do; it’s not a spiritual matter. Those who lend us money ask for repayment, and if we fail to repay them we will prove to be dishonest.”

To this Kabir simply said, “Then prove to be so. What is wrong with it? What if people call us dishonest?”

Kamal could not take it. And he said, “It is too much. I can’t put up with it. You just stop inviting people to dinner, that’s all.”

Kabir then said, “If it comes to this, so be it.”

The next day people came to satsang again, and as usual Kabir invited them to eat with him. His son reminded him of his unfulfilled promise to stop feeding the visitors. Kabir said, “I can’t give you my word, because I don’t want to bind myself to anything. I live in the moment. I let what happens in the moment, happen. If some day I don’t ask them to stay to dinner, it will be so. But as long as I happen to invite them, I will invite them.”

Kamal then said in desperation, “It means that I will now have to resort to stealing, because nobody is prepared to give us credit any more. What else can I do?”

Kabir said grinning, “You fool, why didn’t you think of this before? It would have saved us the trouble of borrowing.”

Kamal was simply amazed to hear his father say this. He was known as a wise man, a sage, who always gave people profound advice. “What is the matter with him?” he wondered. Then he thought that maybe his father was just playing a joke, so he decided to put it to a test.

Late in the night when the whole village was asleep, Kamal awakened his father and said, “I am going to steal. Will you accompany me?”

Kabir said, “Now that you have awakened me, I should go with you.” Kamal was startled once again; he could not believe his father would agree to steal. But he was Kabir’s son, and he did not like beating a hasty retreat, so he decided to see the whole of this joke, or whatever it was, through to the end.

Kamal walked to the back of a farmer’s house, his father following him, and he began to break through the wall of the house. Kabir was standing silently near him. Kamal still expected his father to call off the whole thing as a joke. And at the same time he was afraid. Kabir said, “Why are you afraid, Kamal?”

“What else can I be when I am going to commit theft?” he retorted. “Isn’t it ironic to suggest I should not be afraid while stealing?”

Kabir said, “It is fear that makes you feel guilty, that makes you think you are stealing; otherwise there is no reason to think that you are a thief. Don’t fear, do your job rightly; otherwise you will needlessly disturb the sleep of the entire family.”

Somehow Kamal drilled a hole in the wall, still hoping his father would call it quits. Then he said, “Now let’s enter the house.” And Kabir readily joined him and went inside the house. They had not gone there to steal money, they only wanted grain, and so they picked up a bag of wheat and left the house.

When they were out again, Kabir said to his son, “Now that dawn is at hand, it would be good if you went and informed the family that we are taking a bag of wheat away with us.”

This startled Kamal once again and he exclaimed, “What are you saying? We are here as thieves, not as merchants.”

But Kabir said, “Why make them worry unnecessarily about this missing bag of wheat? Let them know where it is going.”

Followers of Kabir have completely ignored this odd episode. They never mention it because it is so inscrutable. In the light of this event it would be difficult to decide whether Kabir was a sage or a thief. Undoubtedly a theft has been committed, hence he is indictable as a thief. But his being wise is equally indisputable, because first he asks Kamal not to fear and then to inform the family about it so they are not put to unnecessary trouble.

Kamal had then warned Kabir, “But if I inform the family, we will be known as thieves.”

And Kabir had very innocently said, “Since theft has happened, we are thieves. They will not be wrong to think of us as thieves.”

Kamal had again warned, “Not only the family concerned, but the whole village will come to know that you are a thief! Your reputation will be in the mud. No one will come to visit you again.”

And Kabir had said, “Then your troubles will be over. If they don’t come, I will not have to ask them to eat with us.”

Kamal could not understand it the whole episode was so paradoxical.

If all the world hated you and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.

Charlotte Bronte
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