Heightened Senses

Hello. I'm Imraan. This is the only thing I own outright; I write from time to time, in the hopes that free-association might save a trip to a sanatorium.

Tag: Soul.

Living in this world; outrage at evil or seeing the Good of God?

Friends – all three of you! –  I thought I’d share a passage mentioned in the introduction to a translation of a short treatise the great sage and master, ibn al-‘Arabī of Andalusia, wrote to an aspirant. He seems to in some way, renounce the world and somewhat subvert traditional ideas on wayfaring (from what I gather), but this is a subject for another discussion.

I quote a short passage from the introduction, wherein ibn al-‘Arabī mentions his encounters with one of the elite sages and saints of God, one of the ‘abdāl’ about which he wrote extensive passages (as I understand it), in his most major text, the Futuḥāt al-Makkiyya – The Meccan Openings, and their cosmological roles.

Here is an encounter he had with one of them: [from ‘The Four Pillars of Spiritual Transformation,’  trans. Stephen Hirtenstein, (Oxford: Anqa Publications, 2008) pp 14-15]

“Apart from his own personal meetings with such saints, he also relates three incidents regarding other people that he personally knew and one of the abdāl: one as a part of this treatise, which involved one of his companions in al-Andalus…and twice in his Futūḥāt. The Futūḥāt meetings shed further light on the elevated degree of these men of God, who exhibit apparently miraculous powers:

‘I once met one of the wandering pilgrims on the sea-coast between Marsā Laqīṭ and the light-house [near Tunis]. He told me that on the same spot had he come across one of the abdāl walking upon the waves of the sea. He said: “I greeted him and he returned my greeting. This was a time of great injustice and oppression in the country, so I asked him what he thought of all the terrible things that were happening in the country. He glared at me angrily and said: “What is it to you or to God’s servants? Don’t speak of anything but that which is good! May God grant you help and accept your apology for this.”‘

I wonder, then, if this is a way (and I do recommend the text) if the Great Shaykh tells us to try to look past the apparent tragedy and carnage, but simultaneously to find ourselves less attached to the world and its outcomes? We may not need a Benedict Option, if in one way or another we are able to connect ourselves to the Divine through a process of gradual renunciation through some spiritual rigours? What say you? Do we need to be perpetually on-edge due to geopolitical or local concerns, or should we place our trust – though this is a matter of Grace – somewhere else? Someplace…Higher?

Walk then in the way I shall indicate, but do not ask for an explanation.

   At the idea of God the mind is baffled, reasons fail; because of God the heavens turn, the earth reels. 
   From the back of the fish to the moon every atom is a witness to his Being.
   The depths of the earth and the heights of heaven render him each their particular homage.
   God produced the wind, the earth, the fire, and blood, and by these he announces his secret. 
   He took clay and kneaded it with water, and after forty mornings placed therein the spirit which vivified the body. 
   God gave it intelligence so that it might have discernment of things. 
   When he saw that intelligence had discernment, he gave it knowledge, so that it might weigh and ponder. 
   But when man came in possession of his faculties he confessed his impotence, and was overcome with amazement, while his body gave itself up to exterior acts. 
   Friends or enemies, all bow the head under the yoke which God, in his wisdom, imposes; and, a thing astonishing, he watches over us all…
   There is none but Him. But, alas, no one can see Him. The eyes are blind, even though the world be lighted by a brilliant sun. Should you catch even a glimpse of Him you would lose your wits, and if you should see Him completely you would lose yourself…
   When the soul was joined to the body it was part of the all: never has there been so marvellous a talisman. The soul had a share of that which is high, and the body a share of that which is low; and it formed of a mixture of heavy clay and pure spire. By this mixing, man became the most astonishing of mysteries. We do not know nor do we understand so much as little of our spirit. If you wish to say something about this, it would be better to keep silent. Many know the surface of the ocean but they understand nothing of its depths; and the visible world is the talisman which protects it. But this talisman of bodily obstacles will be broken at last. You will find the treasure when the talisman disappears; the soul will manifest itself when the body is laid aside. But your soul is another talisman; it is, for the mystery, another substance. Walk then in the way I shall indicate, but do not ask for an explanation.”

From The Conference of the Birds, (C.S Nott [Trans]), as found in The Inner Journey: Views from the Islamic Tradition, Edited by William C. Chittick as part of the PARABOLA Anthology Series, Series Editor Ravi Ravindra; Morning Light Press (Idaho, Sandpoint: 2007), p. 103.

%d bloggers like this: