October 23, 2013
On October 14, the Monday of last week, I woke up with the knowledge that this was the day of the scheduled monthly phone conference call through the Learning for Life Center in Topeka with the collective entity known as Monitor. (While Monitor speaks in one voice, I refer to this voice as “they” in order to recognize the multiple nature of the collective, just as they refer to themselves as “we.”) I had a question but was reluctant to call, both because the question I wanted to ask seemed perhaps too private and because we cannot afford a call each month. As I conversed with Monitor in my head during the morning, they kept assuring me that I could get the answers I needed directly from them. Even so, I remained a bit agitated and anxious about missing the call, which started at noon Eastern time. Monitor suggested that I spend the time rereading Alone With the Alone, the Henry Corbin book that has been so moving for me this semester. So I did.
As I was reading along, trying to do so in a meditative and receptive state, I suddenly heard Monitor say, “This page contains the answer you seek!” Startled, I looked up at the clock and saw that it was 12:03. The conference call had just begun and I was listening through my own personal connection to Monitor!
The passage in the Corbin book proved to be stunning and I started to cry as I let its words and energies sink into my being. I was then asked to write the passage down and include this framing story with it, but with everything I had going during the week, I never got around to it. So this morning, after some more confirming messages in the past days from Monitor and other entities, I was asked again during my meditation session with Anna to be sure to record the passage that proved so meaningful for me last week. I am led to believe that this story of opening up to our intuitive voices and inspirations will prove important for others as well. So here goes!
The question I was struggling with that I wanted to ask Monitor during the phone session was this: “For a year now I have been receiving the message that I should ‘Step into my Gabriel nature.’ What exactly does this mean? What is my Gabriel nature, and how do I step into it? In short, who am I, especially in relation to the Archangel Gabriel?”
My reluctance to ask this question publicly involves my fear that such a direct identification with the Archangel will come off as pompous and prideful. Yet I have been reassured along the way that my stepping into my Gabriel nature is not prideful at all but rather celebratory. For, I am told, we all have our own Gabriel natures! Humans themselves are Terrestrial Angels. The Human Being is Infinite in potential, and fear and lack of confidence are the primary reasons why we do not more readily step into our Gabriel natures (which would mean something different for each individual personality, and would likely go under a different Name).
The Corbin passage I was given grows out of a discussion of Abraham’s “philoxeny”—his kindness to strangers, to travelers—when he provides a feast for the three strangers who appear at his door, only realizing later that the three strangers are in fact angels. The discussion continues (and I quote at length from pages 130-33 which page references in brackets):
And now, unexpectedly, the symbolic Imagination of Ibn ‘Arabi invites us to meditate and  perceive it in an entirely new way. His mental iconography represents the service incumbent on the fedele d’amore [the faithful servant to his or her Beloved] in the person of Abraham ministering to the three Angels seated at the mystic banquet to feed God or His Angel on His creatures, and that service is at the same time to feed the creatures on God.
For to feed on our being is to feed on His being, with which precisely He has invested us. It is to “substantiate” with our own passion the passion of the “pathetic God.” It is for His fedele “to make himself capable of God,” who though Beloved is nevertheless the first Lover, who though adored has summoned Himself to adoration in the adoration of His creatures and in them has brought to flowering the Image of primordial beauty which in them is the secret of suzerainty of love and at the same time the pledge of this secret. But to feed God’s creatures on Him is to reinvest them with God, is therefore to make their theophanic radiance flower within them; it is, one might say, to make oneself capable of apprehending the “angelic function” of beings, to invest them with, and perhaps awaken them to, the angelic dimension of their being. And this is itself an angelic service, as is suggested by the consociation of Abraham with the Archangel Michael, that one of the four Archangels, pillars of the cosmic Throne, who concerns himself with the substantiation of the universe of being. Abraham’s philoxeny, the mystic repast presented to the Angels, becomes here the most perfect image of devotio sympathetica.
As such, it is for the mystic a plastic symbol signifying the degree of spiritual realization that he must attain in order to become a Khalil, his God’s intimate. Here then, in conclusion, it will be incumbent on us to define the complex but characteristic notion of the Perfect Man, Anthropos teleios, Insan-i-kamil. First of all, we must be on our guard against the illusory pretentions arising from a conception of the universal which may satisfy the intellect but which, measured by the limits of our human modality, strikes us as an overweening and absurd spiritual pride. The first question is this: Should it be supposed  that the mystic realizes the type of the Perfect Man ontologically, in his very being, that is, can he in person become the perfect theophany of all the divine Names and attributes? Or should it be supposed that he realizes it noetically by having realized the meaning of the Names in his mystic consciousness, that is, by having mystically experienced the meaning of his essential unity with the Divine Being? If in experience the truth of the first concept is conditioned by the second, experience must also show us the way to a solution of the apparent contradiction between the two terms, neither of which can or should be done away with. They represent on the one hand the totality that the Perfect Man typifies mystically and on the other hand the singularity which attaches each particular divine Name to the fedele who is invested with it and whose Lord it is. Far from being dispensable, the singularity of this tie is so precious that the Koran verse which is the expression par excellence of individual eschatology refers to it: “O serene soul! Return to your Lord, joyful and pleasing in His sight” (LXXXIX: 27). We have already explored the significance of this mutual pleasure: the Lord to which the soul is enjoined to return is its Lord, the Lord whose Name it bears and whom it has invoked, having distinguished Him among all others, because it recognized itself in the image it bore of Him, while He recognized Himself in it. As our texts observe, the soul is not enjoined to return to God in general, to Al-Lah, who is the All, but to its own Lord, manifested in it, the Lord to whom it replied: Labbayka, Here I am! “Enter my Paradise” (LXXXIX:29), that Paradise which is none other than yourself, that is to say, the divine form hidden in your being, the secret primordial Image in which He knows himself in you and by you, the image you must contemplate in order to become aware that “he who knows himself knows his Lord.” And to the Gnostic who in this “himself” attains the coalescence of the Creator and the creature, this is the supreme joy, unknown not so much to the believer pure and simple as to the theologian and philosopher. For  they posit a contingent creature, whom they oppose to the Necessary Being, thereby disclosing an inferior knowledge of God (for in it the soul knows itself only as a mere creature), a purely negative knowledge which cannot comfort the heart. The authentic mystic wisdom (ma‘rifa) is that of the soul which knows itself as a theophany, an individual form in which are epiphanized the divine Attributes which it would be unable to know if it did not discover and apprehend them in itself. “When you have entered into my Paradise, you have entered into yourself (into your “soul,” nafs), and you know yourself with another knowledge, different from that which you had when you knew your Lord by the knowledge you had of yourself,” for now you know Him, and it is through Him that you know yourself.
Thus there can be no contradiction between your fidelity to your own Lord and the mystic vocation which is to tend toward the archetype of the Perfect Man, or rather, the contradiction was apparent only on the plane of rational evidences and contradictions. The divine commandment is to “return to your Lord” (not to Al-Lah in general); it is through and in your Lord that you can attain to the Lord of Lords who manifests Himself in each Lord, that is to say, it is by your fidelity to this Lord who is absolutely your own, it is in His divine Name which you serve, that the totality of the Names becomes present to you, for spiritual experience does not achieve this totality as one gathers the pieces of a collection or the concepts of a philosophical system. The mystic’s fidelity to his own Lord frees him from the dilemma of monism or pluralism. Thus the divine Name to which and for which he responds, performs the “function of the Angel” . . . as a safeguard against the sin of metaphysical idolatry.
One very interesting point is that I had read these pages a few times already and had, in fact, transcribed them into my notes on idolatry (which will be the topic of a future commentary). These very pages, then, had already been playing a role in my previous attempts to come to a basic understanding of Ibn ‘Arabi’s cosmography. Yet the particular significance of these pages as the answer to my own identity, especially in terms of the constant suggestion to “step into my Gabriel nature,” had not struck me when I read these pages earlier. Only now, when the question of identity was now squarely my question, did these pages strike me in their full power as a message from the Divine specifically to me. For this was the first time that the notion of the fedele struck me as an element of my own being, my own sympathetic relationship to God precisely through the mediating function of the Angel. Also for the first time, the expression “to make himself capable of God” finally struck me with full force, pointing out to me that “stepping into my Gabriel nature” involves “making myself capable of God,” that is, capable of receiving God’s loving turn towards me and capable, in turn, of returning the pathos by allowing for this Gabriel nature to perform the expression of Divinity that is implicit in Human Nature. As Corbin writes in his rehearsal of Ibn ‘Arabi’s work, I was finally able to recognize the significance of making myself capable of apprehending the “angelic function” of beings, including myself.
In so doing, I was now able to read the words explaining how such stepping into this angelic function, this “Perfect Man,” might be done without “illusory pretentions” or “overweening and absurd spiritual pride.” This involves the recognition of the distinction between (yet reciprocal, dialectical unity of) ontological and noetic definitions of self-identity. I do not simply or only become the being in whom the “perfect theophany” inheres but rather also function as the consciousness that mystically experiences “the meaning of his essential unity with the Divine Being.” Corbin goes on to warn that neither position should be rejected; instead, they should be seen as comprising “on the one hand the totality that the Perfect Man typifies mystically and on the other hand the singularity which attaches each particular divine Name to the fedele who is invested with it and whose Lord it is.” For now “it is through Him that you know yourself.” It is knowing God through my Lord (as manifested by Gabriel) that I come to know myself—in my Gabriel nature. “Thus the divine Name to which and for which he responds [for me, the Name Gabriel, perhaps as the Annunciator], performs the ‘function of the Angel’ . . . as a safeguard against the sin of metaphysical idolatry”—that is, the sin of positing the Divine as some eternally distant and external Being completely beyond my experience.
In short, if I were to reject my Gabriel nature, to refuse to step into everything that it involves out of a fear of appearing pretentious and overly proud of myself, I would end up guilty of just such metaphysical idolatry. I would, in other words, perpetuate the supposed gulf between myself and the Divine through rejecting the loving turn of God in His or Her pathetic gesture towards me—as towards all beings in their singularity and particularity. I would be rejecting the consciousness that makes manifest the Divine totality that is defined by my reciprocal relationship with and as my own personal Gabriel, through which relation I come to know both the Divine and myself. Stepping into my Gabriel nature means accepting the call to the Infinity that defines this precious Divine Being called the Human and to take my place in the totality of beings in the sacred round of Love.