Category Archives: Imagination

Henry Corbin, Shaikhism, and the Spiritual Light Body

From Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth Chapter Two, Part 4

  1. Hūrqalyā, Earth of Resurrection

hurqalya[90]

The specific nature of the doctrine is already indicated in the terminology that leads Shaikh Aḥmad to make a strict distinction between two terms currently used to designate body: there [91] is the body considered as organic, animated body (jasad), and there is the body considered as corporeal mass or volume (jism).54 In our Shaikh’s anthropology it is established that the human being possesses two jasad and two jism; they represent a twofold accidental body and a twofold essential body, according to the following schema:

(1) There is the first jasad, which we shall call jasad A, and which is understood as being the element body, material and perishable. It is the apparent body of each one of us, the one that we can see, touch, weigh, recognize. It is an accidental and perishable formation, a com und of sublunar physical elements.

(2) There is a second jasad, which we shall call jasad B; it is hidden and occult from our sight in jasad A; it also is an elemental formation, but differs from the first in that it is not composed of perishable terrestrial elements—those, that is, of our material Earth—but of archetypal elements, the subtle elements of the “Earth of Hūrqalyā.” This second jasad is, there­ fore, a formation belonging to the intermediate world, the world of the barzakh; consequently, it has dimensions, but, unlike the first jasad, it is not an accidental body but an essential and imperishable body; it is the subtle elemental body, the body of “spiritual flesh,” caro spiritual.

(3) There is the first jism; let us call it jism A. Unlike the two jasad, it is not an elemental body; it belongs neither to the terrestrial Elements nor to the subtle Elements. It resembles jasad A for, like it, it is accidental, not everlasting. It resembles jasad B in the sense of being, like it, a formation of the intermediate world. However, it does not arise from the subtle elements of the Earth of Hūrqalyā (from the region, that is to say, which corresponds there to the terrestrial climate of the cosmic Occident); it originates from the celestial matter and Heavens of Hūrqalyā (from the region, that is, corresponding to the Spheres, to the celestial climate of the cosmic Occident). It is the subtle celestial body, the astral body, destined to be reabsorbed.

(4) There is the second jism, which we shall call jism B, and this is the essential subtle body, archetypal, eternal and imper-[92]ishable (jism aṣlī aqīqī); the spirit is never separated from it, for it is what constitutes the eternal individuality. One can say of it that it is the corpus supracoeleste in man.55

At first sight, this schema strikingly resembles what we find in the writings of the Neoplatonist, Proclus. The idea of these different bodies, in which the soul is clothed, and which correspond to different levels of being, reproduces the concept of the oxaTa (okhēmata) or “vehicles of the soul” which the Neoplatonists were so prone to meditate.56 The doctrine of the astral body (soma astropoiedes) or okhmata-pneuma is so fundamental in the spiritual family to which Neoplatonism belongs that it immediately calls for many other references, notably the “perfect body” (soma telion) of the Mithraic liturgy, the “immortal body” (soma athanaton) of the Hermetic Corpus,57 and finally, for this is what it suggests, this is its aim and object of aspiration, the idios daimon or oikeos daimon,58 the personal divinity or guardian Angel to whom the adept is entrusted on initiation, and which makes the terrestrial human being the counterpart of a celestial being with whom it forms a whole. This, in terms of Mazdean theosophy, is Fravarti, Daēnā, the transcendent “I,” the celestial alter ego.

We know the terms of the question in the case of a Proclus: a compromise had to be found not only between Plato and Aristotle, but also between the Peripatetic tendency of Neoplatonism and the Stoic psychology of the pneuma.59 Besides, two traditions concerning the “astral body” had to be reconciled, both alive in Neoplatonism. Of these traditions, one represents the astral body as attached permanently to the soul, the other represents it as acquired or assumed by the soul during the soul’s descent from the upper regions, and as having to be abandoned by the soul in the course of its reascent.60 Proclus succeeds here in achieving a synthesis, the homologue of which is found in the Shaikhite doctrine; for him it consists in accepting the existence of two ox a okhema (okhēma). These are:

(1) the higher okhēma which is original, congenital (sumphnes), the one that is called augoides (luminous, auroral) or astropoiedes (astral). It is the proton soma (original body) in [93] which the demiurge has placed the soul. It is immaterial, impassible, imperishable. What corresponds exactly to it in Shayikh Aḥmad Aḥsā’ī’s terminology and concepts, is the jism B, which is called the archetype original, essential (jism aṣlī ḥaqīqī): it is the real or essential human being, man in the true sense (insān ḥaqīqī).61

(2) The okhēma pneumatikon, or lower “pneumatic” vehicle, which is a temporary adjunct, composed of four elements: it is the subtle body or vehicle of the irrational soul; like the latter it survives the death of the body, but is destined to disappear or be reabsorbed. What corresponds to it is jism A, an accidental formation issued from the Heavens of the barzakhī or hūrqalyī intermediate world.

light bodyThis question of the subtle body, of the vehicle of the soul, (Macrobius’ luminosi corporis amictus, Boethius’ levis currus)82 has persisted and will persist, will always be meditated, so it seems, as long as Neoplatonic thought survives. It reappears among the Byzantine Neoplatonists (Michael Psellos, Nicephoros Gregoras) , the Cambridge Neoplatonists (Ralph Cudworth, seventeenth century) and, let us now add, among our Neoplatonists of Persia.

But in Shaikhism, the themes of meditation grow more complicated. While Proclus was able to reconcile the two traditions—of an original and imperishable okhēma and of an okhēma which will end by being reabsorbed or detached from the soul—it can roughly be said that Shaikh Aḥmad Aḥsā’ī proceeds simultaneously to affirm the existence of a twofold imperishable okhēma (jism B and jasad B), and of an okhēma pneumatikon (jism A), a nonpermanent subtle astral body. The complication of this schema can, it seems, be attributed to the need to safe­ guard the exegesis of Qur’ānic data concerning eschatology in general.

These data taken literally, as they were understood by the literalist “orthodox” of Islam, presuppose that the body of terrestrial flesh, jasad A, is resurrected, or “returns” just as it was. For philosophical meditation, this material identity has always represented an insurmountable contradiction, all the more fruitless in that it stems from an insufficient understanding of the [94] problem. For the physical impossibility to be proven, the question demands that one rise above the realm of empirical sensory evidence and the corresponding mode of perception. At that very point, the work to be done is to transmute the latter into its spiritual truth; it is not to find a way of escape into allegory and its abstract residuum, but to establish a “hūrqalyī physics.” This is the very thing that makes possible the schema of the fourfold body we have just outlined. In effect, though jism A, the accidental astral body, is finally to disappear (like the okhēma pneumatikon of the Neoplatonists)—for, while being a hūrqalyī jism, it is nevertheless accidental—it will be replaced by another “vehicle,” subtle and permanent, which is a body at the same time elemental and essential, a body of “spiritual flesh,” constituted by the subtle archetype—elements of the celestial Earth of Hūrqalyā. In this way, the state of wholeness, homo totus, always comprises, as in Proclus’ system, a twofold okhēma. This concept is properly that of the Iranian Neoplatonists and in a way reinforces that of the Greek Neoplatonists.

khidrHere then, very briefly, is the Shaikhite conception of the eschatological process: everything which is accidental body (jasad A and jism A) will eventually disappear. Everything which is essential body (jasad B, and jism B) is assured of survival. Jasad A is the coarse elemental body in which the descending soul clothed itself on reaching the terrestrial world. It is not essential, merely an accidental coating. It perishes and is decomposed, each element returning to its source and blending with it—a fact of ordinary observation. Now, what leaves this perishable body at the moment when the Angel of Death comes to gather up the soul is a twofold thing: the essential original body (jism B, okhēma symphyes), which is the permanent basis of the eternal soul (ḥāmil li’l-nafs), but at this point enwrapped in that accidental subtle body (jism A, okhēma pneumatikon) in which the soul had clothed itself in the course of its descent towards the terrestrial Earth, on passing through the intermediate world of the barzakh. This also is a formation of the intermediate world; however, as we have already said, it is constituted not from the subtle matter of the elements of the [95] Earth of Hūrqalyā, but from the subtle matter of the Heavens of Hūrqalyā. It likewise is an accidental formation. These two jism (A and B) survive, together forming the state of eternal human individuality and experiencing in the interworld either the joy and sweetness of the “Occidental Paradise” (the flavor of this expression unexpectedly recalls the “Pure Earth” of Buddhism) or, on the contrary, the despair of a Hell immanent in itself. This applies to individual eschatology as such. But what enters at this point is an extremely complex interpretation of general eschatology, that is, of the events closing our Aeon and preluding a new cosmic cycle.

A verse in the Qur’ān (39:68) tells of the two “blasts of the trumpet” which are to be sounded by the Angel Seraphiel. This verse gave full scope to the speculative impulse of the Shaikhī theosophists. The Angel’s “trumpet” is, of course, a cosmic instrument. Each of its orifices represents the “treasure,” the original matrix from which each being has come forth, in this case the jism aṣlī, the subtle, essential, congenital body (jism B), the archetype of human individuality. The first sounding of the trumpet heralds the total reabsorption of the cosmos; each being reenters its source and sleeps there during an interval whose length is expressed as four centuries of our terrestrial duration (this of course does not refer to chronology or quantitative time). The second sounding of Seraphiel’s trumpet proclaims the Renewal of Creation (tajdīd al-khalq), a new cosmic cycle that assumes the character of an apokotastisis, a restoration of all things in their absolute, paradisic purity.63
In what then does the Event of this Resurrection consist? How can it be that the Earth of Hūrqalyā is at the same time the instrument and the scene no longer of the individual eschatology alone (the entrance of subtle bodies into the “Occidental Paradise”), but of the general eschatology? What they tell us is this: when the trumpet sounds for the Resurrection, the essential, original body, which is the support of the eternal individuality (jism aṣlī, jism B), reappears in its unchangeable wholeness (verus homo, insān ḥaqīqī). As for jism A, okhēma pneumatikon, which had merely lent a degree of opacity to the perfect [96] subtleness of the jism B, it does not reappear, or rather, it is completely reabsorbed into the all-luminous subtlety of jism B. As we have seen, these two jism departed together, at the moment of death, from the perishable, terrestrial, elemental body, jasad A. But what of the imperishable subtle elemental body, the body of “spiritual flesh” made of the elements of the Earth of Hūrqalyā, jasad B or jasad hūrqalyī?

alex greyHere Shaikhism introduces a highly original concept. This body, likewise essential, is made up of the subtle matter of the archetype-elements of the Earth of Hūrqalyā and is also a receptacle of the influences of the Heavens of Hūrqalyā; this means that it possesses organs of perception that are seventy times more noble and more subtle than those of the body of elemental flesh in which it is hidden and invisible. It has shape, extent, and dimension, and is nevertheless imperishable. Whereas the terrestrial elemental body, jasad A, perishes in the grave, jasad B, or jasad hūrqalyī does not depart from it at the moment of death in company with the essential man (insān ḥaqīqī), who is made up of the original subtle body enveloped in his other, provisional, subtle body. The jasad hūrqalyī survives, they tell us—survives “in the grave.” But at this point we should refer to a striking feature of one of Maeterlinck’s dialogues expressing the esoteric meaning of death, when the Shadow, a few moments before becoming the Angel of him whose death it is, declares: “They look for me only in the graveyards, where I never go. I do not like corpses.”64 The “grave,” that is, the place where the jasad B continues to be, is not the “graveyard,” but exactly the mystical Earth of Hūrqalyā to which it belongs, being constituted of its subtle elements; it survives there, invisible to the senses, visible only to the visionary Imagination.

Vision of this mystical subsistence is, therefore, itself a pre­eminent example of a psycho-spiritual event “taking place” in the Earth of Hūrqalyā. Here the difference between the schools of thought becomes apparent. Proclus held that the inhabitants of the high places of the Earth in Plato’s myth, the Phaedo were souls still clothed in their lower okhēma and awaiting their [97] complete apokotastisises. In a way peculiarly his, Shaikh Aḥmad also rises above the dilemma which would leave no choice except between the idea of completely disembodied souls (in contradiction with the idea of soul) and the idea of complete immortality of the irrational soul (Jamblichus). But when we come to Shaikhism, the doctrine of apokotastisis is amplified. It is affirmed, not only that the lower okhēma is stripped, but further affirms the reassumption of this other essential body, which is also a subtle vehicle, an imperishable, paradisic body, sleeping in Hūrqalyā, the Earth of Light whence it came. That is where the Angel took it in order to “hide” it in the terrestrial body of flesh, at the moment of conception.

Therefore, at the second sounding of the trumpet, this jasad B or hūrqalyī body, the body of “spiritual flesh,” is the body which the eternal, individual soul, conveyed by its original, essential, or archetypal body (jism B), again puts on its transfigured terrestrial raiment of glory. Now, this reunion and transfiguration take place in and through the Earth of Hūrqalyā. This celestial Earth, this “eighth climate,” is, indeed, what preserves the future “Resurrection Body,” since this Earth is its source; and for that reason also it plays the same role in the general eschatology, namely, that of “Earth of Resurrection.” It goes without saying that “orthodox” Islam has never been able to find its way in this theosophical physics; the Shaikhīs had to face difficult situations, a mass of objections, on the feebleness of which we need not dwell, since the premises remained on the very mental level which the Shaikhīs’ meditation aimed to surpass.66

Let us enter still more deeply into this Shaikhī meditation, which transmutes things into the substance of Hūrqalyā by contemplating them in that “Earth” and thus evolves a physics and physiology of Resurrection. We notice, then, that in this process meditation on the alchemical Work plays a capital part, and that the spiritual practice of alchemy continues in a discreet fashion even to our day in Iranian Shaikhism. The work of its founder reveals the need he exemplifies to interiorize the true practice in order to obtain from it the psychic reactions which are resolved in a mystical psychology of the Resurrection body.

[98]

The basic idea of alchemy for the Shaikhīs67 is that it alone makes it possible to conceive the resurrection of bodies as a consequence or corollary of the survival of Spirits. It makes it possible to pass from the one to the other and gather them into a single concept. To make this transition is to make at the same time a transposition (an “anaphora”) and a transmutation, which invalidate the rationalist philosophical arguments against resurrection, because these arguments are carried on on a level lower than the level on which the question in fact arises, just as, and for the same reason, the “literalist” concepts of orthodox theologians concerning the resurrection of bodies are equally weak.

From the beginning, let us remember Shaikh Sarkār Āghā’s beautiful and forceful maxim: one’s first concern is to become a Hūrqalyāvi oneself; one must be able and one must have been initiated to see things and beings, processes and events, “in Hūrqalyā.” The organ of sight is the active Imagination, which alone enters into the intermediate realm, makes the invisible within the visible visible to itself. It is thus the quinta essentia of all living, corporeal, and psychic energies. We hear Shaikh Aḥmad insisting strongly in his turn on the essential function of the meditant, active Imagination; as he says very definitely: the Imagination is essential to the soul and consubstantial (jawharānī) with it; it is an instrument of the soul, just as the hand is an instrument of the physical body. Even sensory things are known only by means of this organ, for it is to the soul what the Soul of the Heaven of Venus is to the Soul of the Heaven of the Zodiac.”68 One can therefore also say here in Paracelsist terms that the Imagination is the “astrum in homine,” “coeleste sive supracoeleste corpus.”69 And one can add likewise that the alchemical Work, because of the psychic effects it produces in him who meditates and interiorizes it, is essentially carried out “in the Earth of Hūrqalyā.” So in that sense, it can be said of alchemy that it works with the elements of the Earth of Hūrqalyā and “transmutes” the terrestrial elements into these subtle elements.

But for this to be true, the alchemical Operation must be really perceived and mentally actualized in Hūrqalyā, and it is [99] for this purpose that the appropriate organ of perception is necessary. This is why the alchemical Operation (‘amal al-ṣinā‘a al-maktūm), literally, that is, the operatio secreta Artis, is called the “Wise Men’s Mirror” (mir’āt al-ḥukamā’). “Of the Operation of the Elixir (‘amal al-iksīr),” writes Shaikh Aḥmad, “the Wise have made a Mirror in which they contemplate all the things of this world, whether it be a concrete reality (‘ayn) or a mental reality (ma‘nā). In this mirror, the resurrection of bodies is seen to be homologous to the resurrection of spirits.”70 The postulate is that one and the same spiritual Energy of light is just as much the constituent of the essence of what is qualified as material as it is of the essence of what is qualified as spiritual.71 Briefly, how it should be expressed is by saying that “Spirits are being-light in the solidified state (nūr wujadi dhā’ib) whereas bodies are being-light but in the solidified state (nūr wujadi jāmid). The difference between the two is like the difference between water and snow. Proof confirming the resurrection of the one is valid in respect of the resurrection of the other.” Now, the final result of the alchemical Operation is exactly this coincidentia oppositorum: once a body has been treated and perfected by this Operation, it is in the state of “solid (or ‘congealed,’ ‘frozen,’ miyāh jāmida) liquid.”72

Here, then, are some themes for meditation which, amongst others, are suggested to us with a view to interiorizing the alchemical Work. Let us, for example, take silica and potash, opaque, dense substances corresponding to the state of the terrestrial, elemental body (jasad A). In the first place, having been boiled and liquefied, these two substances lose their opacity and become glass (potassium silicate), which is transparent; in this state the outer allows the inner to be seen through it; the hidden spontaneously shows through the apparent. Certainly it is still the lithoid substance, and yet it is no longer that. This state should be meditated as corresponding to the jasad B, which is the subtle, diaphanous body composed of the elements of Hūrqalyā. In refusion with the addition of a certain chemical, glass becomes crystal; crystal with the addition of the white Elixir turns into the “crystal which sets on fire” (a “lens”). At [100] this stage it corresponds to jism A (okhēma pneumatikon), that is, to the astral body which envelopes the essential original body (jism aṣlī, jism B), or eternal individual, and which, together with the latter, enters the “celestial Earth” at the moment when death separates them from the perishable elemental body (i.e., from jasad A). When the crystal is fused a second time with white Elixir, it becomes diamond. This is the same crystal, the same silicate in which the crystal was hidden, the same compound of mercury and sulphur, and yet it is no longer any of these. “And diamond, freed from crystal, freed from glass, freed from stone, corresponds to the believer’s bodies in this absolute Paradise.”78

This operation is confirmed by others. That, for instance, which is performed on pewter. Pewter treated with white Elixir turns into pure silver, the stage of jasad B. Treated with red Elixir, the silver becomes pure gold, the stage of jism A, which enters the earthly Paradise or celestial Earth. Treated again with red Elixir, the pewter-become-gold itself becomes Elixir, the stage of jism B, which, reunited with jasad B (the hūrqalyī body) and having assimilated the latter to its own subtlety, enters into the absolute Paradise.74

bodiesBriefly, the meditation that interiorizes the transmutations accomplished in the course of the real operation engenders the spiritual body, which also is a coincidentia oppositorum. It enters into the intermediate realm, into the psychic realm of subtle bodies through the active meditant Imagination, which, by transmuting sensory processes or events into symbols, itself activates psychic energies which radically transmute the relationship between soul and body. There is then a state, says Shaikh Aḥmad, in which “bodies perceive through their very essence (bi-dhātihā) the thoughts which are thought in the celestial world, as well as angelic Forms. Reciprocally, the Spirits dependent on these bodies perceive bodies and corporeal realities through their own essence, since their bodies, when they wish it, become spirit and their spirit, when they wish it, becomes body.”71 Therefore, meditation on the alchemical operation or meditation operating alchemically reach the result the formula of which is precisely [101] the definition we have heard, given by Moḥsen Fayẓ, of the world of the barzakh as “a world through which bodies are spiritualized, and spirits embodied.” And this is the perfect definition of the Earth of Hūrqalyā, as well as of the Events which are accomplished there and to which this mystical Earth lends its very substance.

But, of course, this “substantiation” occurs only through the presence of the adept to this mystical Earth where spiritual bodies alone can be present. That is why the constant principle here again is: solve et coagula. The Wise, writes Shaikh Aḥmad, dissolve and coagulate the Stone with a part of its spirit and re peat the operation several times. When they have treated it three times with the white Elixir and nine times with the red Elixir, the Stone becomes a living spiritual Mineral (or metal) (ma‘dan ḥayawānī ruḥānī), which exactly translates our Latin alchemists’ idea of the living Stone (lapis vivus)76. It is a body, but its operation is spiritual: it gives life to those “metals” which are dead. Meditate and understand this Sign, says the Shaikh, for such a body is precisely the Sign of the dwellers in Paradise, “for they have bodies in which exist all the attributes, laws, and actions of bodies, but such bodies enact the actions of Spirits and pure Intelligences; they perceive what the celestial Souls and angelic Intelligences perceive, just as the latter perceive through their own essence what Souls and bodies perceive.”77 Bodies such as these are made from the original clay (al-ṭina al-aṣlīya) of the emerald cities Jābalqā and Jābarsā, and they receive the influx, no longer of the Heavens of the physical cosmos, but of the Heavens of Hūrqalyā.18
Shaikh Aḥmad Aḥsā’ī’s own words have, we believe, conveyed what is essential in the doctrine. At some future date, we shall publish a study of the amplification by his successors of the theme of the spiritual body which is the body of resurrection. In so doing, we shall discover the constants in what might called the “metaphysics of ecstasy” common to all the Spirituals, and which bears witness to the permanence and identity of this interworld on which their similar experiences converge. The Shaikhs emphasize the idea of an essential archetype body (jism [102] aṣlī ḥaqīqī) which simultaneously possesses dimension, shape, form, and color like bodies in general, but which differs from them in one radical respect, namely that the appearance of the essential body depends on actions fulfilled and the inner states manifested by these actions.79 In our terrestrial world, our inner states are invisible and the aspect of what we do is limited to the outer, observable appearance, but in the celestial earth the same actions assume another form and inner states project visible forms. Some take the form of palaces, others the form of houris, or of owers, plants, trees, animals, gardens, streams of running water,80 and so on. All these forms and figures are seen and are real “outside,” but they are at the same time attributes and modes of being of man. Their transfiguration is the transfiguration of man, and they form his surroundings, his celestial Earth. Hence it can be said that the action is its own reward and the reward is the action “itself.”81

The ontological status of this celestial Earth is thus defined in terms comparable, to take but one example, to the fundamental doctrine of Swedenborg, who constantly reminds us, in formulations which vary very little, that “things outside the Angels assume an appearance corresponding to those which are within them.”82 All things that come into the Angels’ field of vision correspond to their “interior” and represent it; “they vary in accordance with these inner states, and this is why they are called ‘Apparitions’ (apparentiae), but because they issue from this source they are perceived so much more vividly and distinctly than the way in which men perceive terrestrial data, that they must rather be called ‘real Apparitions’ (apparentiae reales) since they really exist.”88 And the following formulation is perhaps the essential one: “the body of each Spirit and each Angel is the form of its love.”84 A Shaikhī saying echoes this fundamental thesis: “The paradise of the faithful gnostic is his very body and the hell of the man without faith or knowledge is likewise his body itself.”85 Or again, this saying which condenses the fruit of Shaikh Aḥmad Aḥsā’ī’s meditations on the “diamond body”: “Every individual rises again in the very form [103] which his Work (in the alchemical sense) has fixed in the secret (esoteric) depth of himself.”86

One can also understand how the idea of the celestial body or resurrection body expresses the idea of the human being in his totality, homus integer. By representing the human person in its transfigured state, it is henceforward far more than the physical organ of personal subjectivity in opposition to the world, since it is “its” world, its “true world,” that is, not a foreign, opaque reality, but a transparency, the immediate presence of itself to itself. From that point also we can understand how the representation of the original, spiritual body, the okhēma aymphyea of Neoplatonism, came to be connected with the idea of personal divinity (idios daimon) , the guardian Angel or archetypal “I” from which the terrestrial “me” originates. This again recalls an odd detail: Shaikh Aḥmad, when asked about the origin of the name Hūrqalyā, which has as strange and foreign a sound in Persian as in Arabic, answered that it was a word which came from the Syriac language (sūryānī) in use amongst the Sabeans of Baṣra, or more exactly, the Mandeans.87 Now the Earth of Hūrqalyā, the intermediate world of exemplary Real Images, is the homologue, both in Suhrawardī’s “Oriental theosophy” and in Shaikhism, of the Paradise of the archetypes of Yima, and it so happens that the close resemblance between the Var of Yima and the “second world,” or world of archetypes, of Mandeism (Mshunia Kushta) has more than once been pointed out.

And in all cases it refers to that same world in which the liberated soul, whether in momentary ecstasy or through the supreme ecstasy of death, meets its archetypal “I,” its alter ego or celestial Image, and rejoices in the felicity of that encounter. This reunion is celebrated in a Mandean text as follows: “I go to meet my Image and my Image comes to meet me, embraces me and holds me close when I come out of captivity.”88 Recently also, our attention was drawn to the a nity between the central hero of Mandean gnosis, Hibil Ziwa, and the young Parthian prince, the hero of the “Song of the Pearl” in the Acts of [104] Thomas.89 In this ancient gnostic book we find again the rapture of a similar encounter, when the young Prince, on returning to the East, his fatherland, discovers the luminous raiment he had left behind: “The garment suddenly appeared when I saw it before me like unto a mirror of myself. I saw it altogether in me and I was altogether in it, for we were two, separate one from the other and yet but one of like form.”90 And the Gospel According to Thomas declares: “When you see your likeness, you rejoice, but when you see your Images which came into existence before you, which neither die nor are manifested, how much will you bear!”91

Now we must return to that which is the archetype of the individual eschatology, and which was clearly described to us in the last part of the preceding chapter. The figure of the Angel Daēnā, the celestial “I,” as the daughter of Spenta Armaiti, the feminine Archangel of the Earth and of earthly existence, led us to make a connection that has seldom been pondered. It became clear to us that the filiation of the celestial “I” is verified as and when man assumes Spendarmatīkīh, the very nature of Spenta Armaiti, who is Wisdom-Sophia. Hence the relationship of man with the Earth, defining his present existence, was seen by us to be a Sophianic relationship, the full actualization of which is destined to come about in a meeting of the Earth with the “Abode of Hymns” (Garōtmān, the Iranian name of the celestial Paradise). Going on from there, not in the “historical direction,” but according to the “polar dimension,” we heard in a higher octave of the harmony of the worlds, the theme of the supracelestial Earth in the person of Fāṭima the Resplendent, Fāṭima-Sophia, who is the Earth of the pleroma of the deity because she is its Soul. We have since learned at the flowering of the spiritual body, which is the awakening and birth to the celestial “I,” takes place in the form of a meditation that transfigures the Earth into a celestial Earth, because, reciprocally, it is said that “the clay of every faithful gnostic was taken from the Earth of his Paradise.” Perhaps then we can begin to see no longer only what is the celestial Earth, but who is the celestial Earth.

What does all this mean for us today? Nothing more nor less [105] than that very thing toward which we are going, which we shape, each one of us, in the image of our own substance. We have heard it expressed in languages both remote and nearer to us, in very ancient and also in modern contexts (we went from Mazdaism to Shaikhism). Very likely, the experiences of the Iranian Spirituals evoke in each of us comparisons with certain spiritual facts known from other sources. I would like to remind you here of the words uttered in the very last moments of his life by the great musician Richard Strauss: “Fifty years ago,” he managed to say, “I wrote Death and Transfiguration (Tod und Verklärung).” Then, after a pause: “I was not mistaken. It is indeed that.”93

At the boundary where the boundary ceases to be a boundary and becomes a passage, there comes the overwhelming and irrefutable evidence: realization does indeed correspond to the faith professed in the innermost part of the soul. One has only to remember the last bars of this symphonic poem, and one will understand the import of that realization in the present at the moment when the end becomes a beginning: all that was fore­glimpsed, all the struggle and secret hope borne as one faces a challenge—it is indeed that. The triumphal solemnity of the closing chorale of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony: “O my heart, believe! nothing art thou losing. What is yours remains, yes, remains forever, all that was thy waiting, thy love, thy struggle.” One thing alone matters in the night in which our human lives are wrapped: that the faint gleam, the fiery light, may grow which makes us able to recognize the “Promised Land,” the Earth of Hūrqalyā and its emerald cities.

mazdaism

Everyday Portals

December 11, 2016

deck

Our View from the Kitchen

It is a beautiful overcast early Winter morning and the view from our kitchen out over the hills surrounding Athens is so comforting. I love the feeling of being nested into this community and this energetic space of river, hills, and sky facing the rising sun (hidden behind the gray cloud cover). As Anna and I were pouring our first cups of coffee at the breakfast table I felt tempted to open my laptop and see if we had the winning numbers for last night’s Powerball drawing. (I learned a bit later that we did not.) But at the same time I didn’t want to open the laptop. Anna asked why not and I said, “Because opening the laptop opens up a portal that tears a hole into the fabric of your existence.”

Once I said it this way, I realized how true this is. What I was most enjoying at this point in our morning together was the sense of unity in space and place. The atmosphere created by our windows and the hidden morning sun and the breakfast table in the window and the view out over the deck was one of completeness, of comfort, of home. I knew that once I opened the laptop, the screen would suddenly dominate the entire scene, drawing all of our contiguous homey space into its own spatial dimension out into the virtual environs beyond the screen itself. The screen light would fill this corner of the kitchen and then cause our own space and atmosphere to flow discreetly yet surely into the world stretching out into the screen world. And I was quite happy in this world right-here-right-now.

kitchen

The Laptop Portal and the Window

The same is even more true of televisions in that once they are hooked up to television cables (tele-vision, vision teleported elsewhere), you are then drawn into a world mediated by someone or something else, some corporate entity whose only purpose of being is to draw you in in such a way as to make you surrender your own boundaries of place and self as you enter the videated universe of television programming and commercial advertisements. The sounds completely take over your atmosphere and, by extension, your body. The curious thing about what Joni Mitchell called the “blue TV screen light” back in the black and white days of videated experience up to the present moment in “full color experience” (my mother couldn’t wait to get a color TV in 1970 so that she could see the true color of Johnny Carson’s ties) is that while the initial experience of the emanating TV glow and sound is that of an intrusion into your familiar space, a reverse circuit of flow is actually established by means of which our world, our environment—having been initially penetrated, then captured—is now drawn in reverse motion into the world of the screen. Our entire fabric of experience passes through this miniature everyday portal into the beyond of our local atmosphere.

My point is not that this morning I could not appreciate the portal draw of the screen and the alternate universe lying on the other side of the glass, but that I did not yet want to let go of my hold on experience on this side of the screen—not yet. Instead I wanted to spend more time enjoying the view outside our kitchen morning windows beneath the comforting early winter clouds out over Bong Hill and Witches Hill and beyond to the mountains of West Virginia, out there where the sun rises and starts each day for us.

And then I had a realization: the sky itself is our original portal. The sky is our original laptop screen that during the day encloses us in the variety of cloudy and sunny skies from morning to night, only then to open out onto a universe of stars and planets in the night sky. Those sky orbs had been there all day too, of course, but it is only on clear nights that we see the sky open out onto the galaxies beyond and allow for a diurnal rhythm of daytime enclosure and nighttime expanse. Thus the sky serves as our original portal, our experience of passage from one world of experience into another.

Henry Corbin explores this inside-outside phenomenon in his exploration of a tale by the Sufi saint Suhrawardi: “As is suggested, at the end of Sohravardī’s tale, by the symbol of the drop of balm exposed in the hollow of the hand to the sun, it is a matter of entering, passing into the interior and, in passing into the interior, of finding oneself, paradoxically, outside, or, in the language of our authors, ‘on the convex surface’ of the Ninth Sphere—in other words, ‘beyond the mountain of Qāf’” (Swedenborg 6).

Pool Portal—Strouds Run State Park

Pools of water obviously also played this role in the days before computer screens. They continue to offer this experience of being situated between varying universes. At one moment the surface of the water reflects the sky and clouds and sun and trees and projects them inward as though into a subaqueous world on the other side of the water’s surface. Then with a shift of light and perspective we see below the surface to the stones and fish and water weeds “actually” existing below the water’s surface. And when we slip down under with a diving mask, we then see another layer of existence below the surface and, looking upward from down under, see the water’s surface now above us as the boundary between this watery world and our usual world up there on land. It is not so difficult to see how people in the olden days caught on to this portal phenomenon provided by water and began the practices of scrying and other divinatory explorations of alternate realities.

After a while, humans experimented with these above-and-below and inside-outside positionings and eventually created windows. (Bill Gates came along later.) And now we inhabit enclosures that stage this dynamic of alternate spaces in our very habitations. Cut a new window into a wall or a skylight into a ceiling and a new universe is made possible at once. We then see how “ceiling” contains the heavens that name it and reminds us of the world beyond our denser enclosures.

So in the end, what I have chosen this morning is to sit here in the comforting enclosure and expanse that my little kitchen corner affords me of this inside-outside, here-and-beyond portal experience (“portal” also refers to ordinary doors, after all) before opening up the laptop and watching as its screen goes from an unlit opaque object within this space to a luminescent portal onto other spaces.

The larger point dawning on me in this morning light is that the experience of portals, of transporting our awareness from one space and time to another, is not so occult as we might imagine. The sky is the original portal, as are pools of water and cave entrances and rivers flowing out of sight. Just imagine what other universes these experiences are preparing us for.

Corbin on Ibn ‘Arabī’s Theophanic Imagination

[The following is an excerpt from Henry Corbin’s amazing book Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sūfism of Ibn ‘Arabī, Princeton: Princeton UP, 1969.]

1 . The Creative Imagination as Theophany or the “God from Whom All Being Is Created”

aloneIt will first be necessary to recall the acts of the eternal cosmogony as conceived by the genius of Ibn ‘Arabī. To begin with: a Divine Being alone in His unconditioned essence, of which we know only one thing: precisely the sadness of the primordial solitude that makes Him yea to be revealed in beings who manifest Him to Himself insofar as He manifests Himself to them. That is the Revelation we apprehend. We must meditate upon it in order to know who we are. The leitmotiv is not the bursting into being of an autarchic Omnipotence, but a fundamental sadness: “I was a hidden Treasure, I yearned to be known. That is why I produced creatures, in order to be known in them.” This phase is represented as the sadness of the divine Names suffering anguish in nonknowledge because no one names them, and it is this sadness that descended in the divine Breath (tanaffus) which is Compassion (Raḥma) and existentiation (ījād), and which in the world of the Mystery is the Compassion of the Divine Being with and for Himself, that is, for His own Names. Or, in other terms, the origin, the beginning is determined by love, which implies a movement of ardent desire (ḥarakat shawqīya) on the part of him who is in love. This ardent desire is appeased by the divine Sigh.

By an analysis in which he discovers the mystery of being in [184] the experience of his own being, the theosophist avoids from the outset the theological opposition between Ens increatum and an ens creatum drawn from nothingness, an opposition which makes it doubtful whether the relationship between the Summum Ens and the nothingness from which He causes creatures to arise has ever been truly defined. Sadness is not the “privilege” of the creature; it is in the Creator Himself, it is indeed the motif which, anticipating all our deductions, makes the primordial Being a creative Being; it is the secret of His creativity. And His creation springs, not from nothingness, from something other than Himself, from a not-Him, but from His fundamental being, from the potencies and virtualities latent in His own unrevealed being. Accordingly, the word tan u s also connotes “to shine,” “to appear” after the manner of the dawn. The Creation is essentially the revelation of the Divine Being, first to himself, a luminescence occurring within Him; it is a theophany (tajallī ilāhī). Here there is no notion of a creatio ex nihilo opening up a gulf which no rational thought will ever be able to bridge because it is this profoundly divisive idea itself which creates opposition and distance; here there is not so much as a fissure capable of growing into an area of uncertainty that no arguments or proofs can ever traverse. The Divine Breathing exhales what our shaikh designates as Nafas al-Raḥmān or Nafas Raḥmanī, the Sigh of existentiating Compassion; this Sigh gives rise to the entire “subtile” mass of a primordial existentiation termed Cloud (‘amā). Which explains the following ḥadīth: “Someone asked the Prophet: Where was your Lord before creating His (visible) Creation?—He was in a Cloud; there was no space either above or below.”

angelThis Cloud, which the Divine Being exhaled and in which He originally was, receives all forms and at the same time gives beings their forms; it is active and passive, receptive and existentiating (muḥaqqiq); through it is effected the differentiation within the primordial reality of the being (ḥaqīqat al-wujūd) that is the Divine Being as such (Ḥaqq fī dhātihi). As such, it [186] is the absolute unconditioned Imagination (kayāl muṭlaq) . The initial theophanic operation by which the Divine Being reveals Himself, “shows Himself” to Himself, by differentiating Himself in his hidden being, that is, by manifesting to Himself the virtualities of His Names with their correlata, the eternal hexeities of beings, their prototypes latent in His essence (a ‘yān thābita) this operation is conceived as being the creative Active Imagination, the theophanic Imagination. Primordial Cloud, absolute or theophanic Imagination, existentiating Compassion are equivalent notions, expressing the same original reality: the Divine Being from whom all things are created (al-Ḥaqq al-makhlūq bihi kull shay’)—which amounts to saying the “Creator-Creature.” For the Cloud is the Creator, since it is the Sigh He exhales and since it is hidden in Him; as such the Cloud is the invisible, the “esoteric” (bāṭin). And it is the manifested creature (āhir). Creator-Creature (khāliq-makh­lūq): this means that the Divine Being is the Hidden and the Revealed, or also that He is the First (al-Awwal) and the Last (al- Akhir).

Thus in this Cloud are manifested all the forms of being from the highest Archangels, the “Spirits ecstatic with love” (al­muhayyamūn), to the minerals of inorganic nature; everything that is differentiated from the pure essence of the Divine Being as such (dhāt al-Ḥaqq), genera, species and individuals, all this is created in the Cloud. “Created,” but not produced ex nihilo, since the only conceivable nonbeing is the latent state of beings, and since even in their state of pure potentiality, hidden within the unrevealed essence, beings have had a positive status (thubūt) from pre-eternity. And indeed, “creation” has a negative aspect, since it puts an end to the privation of being which holds things in their occultation; this double negativity, the nonbeing of a nonbeing, constitutes the positive act. In this sense it is permissible to say that the universe originates at once in being and in nonbeing.1

Thus Creation is Epiphany (tajallī), that is, a passage from [187] the state of occultation or potency to the luminous, manifest, revealed state; as such, it is an act of the divine, primordial Imagination. Correlatively, if there were not within us that same power of Imagination, which is not imagination in the profane sense of “fantasy, “ but the Active Imagination (quwwat al-khayāl) or Imaginatrix, none of what we show ourselves would be manifest. Here we encounter the link between a recurrent creation, renewed from instant to instant, and an unceasing theophanic Imagination, in other words, the idea of a succession of theophanies (tajalliyāt) which brings about the continuous succession of beings. This Imagination is subject to two possibilities, since it can reveal the Hidden only by continuing to veil it. It is a veil; this veil can become so opaque as to imprison us and catch us in the trap of idolatry. But it can also become increasingly transparent, for its sole purpose is to enable the mystic to gain knowledge of being as it is, that is to say, the knowledge that delivers, because it is the gnosis of salvation. This occurs when the gnostic understands that the plemulti successive forms, their movements and their actions, appear to be separate from the One only when they are veiled by a veil without transparency. Once transparency is achieved, he knows what they are and why they are; why there is union and discrimination between the Hidden and the Manifest; why there is the Lord and his vassal, the Worshiper and the Worshiped, the Beloved and the Lover; why any unilateral affirmation of a unity that confounds them, or of a discrimination that opposes their two existences as though they were not of the same essence, is a betrayal of the divine intention and hence of the Sadness which in each being yearns for appeasement in the manifestation of His secret.
The Creature-Creator, the Creator who does not produce His creation outside Him, but in a manner of speaking clothes Himself in it as the Appearance (and transparency) beneath which He manifests and reveals Himself first of all to Himself, is referred to by several other names, such as the “imagined [188] God,” that is, the God “manifested” by the theophanic Imagination (al-Ḥaqq al-mutakhayyal), the “God created in the faiths” (al-Ḥaqq al-makhluq fi’l-i‘tiqādāt). To the initial act of the Creator imagining the world corresponds the creature imagining his world, imagining the worlds, his God, his symbols. Or rather, these are the phases, the recurrences of one and the same eternal process: Imagination effected in an Imagination (takhayyul fī takhayyul), an Imagination which is recurrent just as—and because—the Creation itself is recurrent. The same theophanic Imagination of the Creator who has revealed the worlds, renews the Creation from moment to moment in the human being whom He has revealed as His perfect image and who, in the mirror that this Image is, shows himself Him whose image he is. That is why man’s Active Imagination cannot be a vain fiction, since it is this same theophanic Imagination which, in and by the human being, continues to reveal what it showed itself by first imagining it.

This imagination can be termed “illusory” only when it becomes opaque and loses its transparency. But when it is true to the divine reality it reveals, it liberates, provided that we recognize the function with which Ibn ‘Arabī  endowed it and which it alone can perform; namely, the function of effecting a coincidentia oppositorum (jam‘ bayna’ l-naqīḍayn) . This term is an allusion to the words of Abū Sa‘īd al-Kharrāz, a celebrated Ṣūfī master. “Whereby do you know God?” he was asked. And he replied: “By the fact that He is the coincidentia oppositorum.” For the entire universe of worlds is at once He and not-He (huwa lā huwa). The God manifested in forms is at once Himself and other than Himself, for since He is manifested, He is the limited which has no limit, the visible which cannot be seen. This manifestation is neither perceptible nor verifiable by the sensory faculties; discursive reason rejects it. It is perceptible only by the Active Imagination (Ḥaḍrat al-Khayāl, the imaginative “Presence” or “Dignity,” the Imaginatrix) at times when it dominates man’s sense perceptions, in dreams or better still [189] in the waking state (in the state characteristic of the gnostic when he departs from the consciousness of sensuous things). In short, a mystic perception (dhawq) is required. To perceive all forms as epiphanic forms (maẓāhir), that is, to perceive through the figures which they manifest and which are the eternal hexeities, that they are other than the Creator and never­ theless that they are He, is precisely to effect the encounter, the coincidence, between God’s descent toward the creature and the creature’s ascent toward the Creator. The “place” of this encounter is not outside the Creator-Creature totality, but is the area within it which corresponds specifically to the Active Imagination, in the manner of a bridge joining the two banks of a river. The crossing itself is essentially a hermeneutics of symbols (ta’wīl, ta‘bīr), a method of understanding which transmutes sensory data and rational concepts into symbols (maẓāhir) by making them effect this crossing.

An intermediary, a mediatrix: such is the essential function of the Active Imagination. We shall have more to say of it further on. The intellect (‘aql) cannot replace it. The First Intelligence (‘Aql awwal) is the first determination (ta‘ayyun awwal) that opens within the Cloud, which is itself the absolute theophanic Imagination. The intermedia between the world of Mystery (ālam al-ghayb) and the world of visibility (ālam al­shahādat) can only be the Imagination, since the plane of being and the plane of consciousness which it designates is that in which the Incorporeal Beings of the world of Mystery “take body” (which does not yet signify a material, physical body), and in which, reciprocally, natural, sensuous things are spiritualized or “immaterialized.” We shall cite examples to illustrate this doctrine. The Imagination is the “place of apparition” of spiritual beings, Angels and Spirits, who in it assume the figures and forms of their “apparitional forms” ; and because in it the pure concepts (ma‘ānī) and sensory data (maḥsūsāt) meet and flower into personal figures prepared for the events of spiritual dramas, it is also the place where all “divine history” is accomplished, the stories of the prophets, for example, which have meaning because they are theophanies; whereas on the plane of sensory evidence on which is enacted what we call History, the meaning, that is, the true nature of those stories, which are essentially “symbolic stories,” cannot be apprehended.

Venus Transmission

October 21, 2015

Venus

As I went to bed last night I was thinking about my conversations with beings from Jupiter last winter. Then out of nowhere Jupiter told me to expect a visit from another planetary force soon. Well, “soon” turned out to be within just a few hours as I opened my eyes at 4 a.m. this morning and saw a light come into focus through the branches of the trees on the hills east of our house. I immediately knew this was Venus come to pay me a visit.

Jupiter (as a collective planetary voice) said, “Relax, lie there focusing on this beautiful light of Venus manifesting before your eyes. See and, more importantly, feel the energy of this alignment of stars and planets, of Leo’s beautiful frame, of Regulus.”

alignment

So I watched as Venus slowly rose higher into the eastern sky, light waves flashing as she passed behind the tree branches, expanding in her brilliant illumination.

And then Venus herself began speaking. “It is not at all accidental that you found yourself making several reference to me in your classes yesterday and in your readings. This is all part of an important, consciously orchestrated series of synchronicities on your planet at this time. You and many others have been profoundly, if not always consciously, affected by this particular alignment of planets and stars from your Earthly perspective. This is a critical time of transition for your planet, and as you can see and feel, I play a key role in this alliance of waves and rays and energies.”

Venus’s reference to my teaching involved my growing awareness of an unexpected “coincidence” of references to Venus in both of my classes yesterday at Ohio University. In my first class, Multicultural Critical Theory, we were studying a chapter by Patricia Hill Collins on Black Female Sexuality. In her overview of various modes of oppression, Collins spent some time discussing the Hottentot Venus phenomenon as a primary moment in the development of racialized sexual domination in the West. Her primary thesis is that the domination of Back women’s bodies serves as the Matrix of Domination in Western culture, the crucible out of which other forms of domination—racial, class, gender—grow or are articulated. What struck me most in the chapter, however, was Collins’s claim that “[A]ll systems of oppression rely on harnessing the power of the erotic.”

The erotic, of course, is one area under the purview of Venus. And while in this chapter Collins explores the negative side of this work of the erotic, she closes the chapter with the suggestion that while “harnessing the power of the erotic is important for domination, reclaiming and self-defining that same eroticism may constitute one path toward Black women’s empowerment.”

So this got me to thinking about the role of the erotic when harnessed in such systems of domination and liberation. The Rebel Flag of the Confederacy, for instance, gains much of its power precisely from harnessing the power of the erotic. This symbol of racial domination serves to stimulate and organize the flows of erotic drive into a relatively coherent yet often only dimly conscious expression of racialized sexual domination, a power struggle over who’s on top—a power play especially appealing to poor White men who are often dominated in other various ways in our collective Matrix of Domination.

And all of this led me to wonder how we might more productively harness these erotic drives for a platform of liberation. How might the energies we draw from Venus lead us to a higher social constellation than we can currently imagine?

In my later class, a Senior Seminar organized around the theme “Exraterrestrials, Angels, and Elves,” we were finishing up our discussion of the American poet H.D.’s book-length poem Trilogy. While there is much to say about this stunning book, I will here only point to the central role of Venus as one aspect of the liberating powers of imagination that H.D. stages in her coordination of various goddess figures of the erotic: Isis, Astarte, Aphrodite, Venus, and—through a wonderful transfiguration brought about in the poem—Mary Magdalene. Through this particular constellation of goddesses of the erotic, H.D. offers us a glimpse of what a liberating reclamation of the powers of Imagination might offer.

So I was quite stunned and yet not at all surprised to hear Venus mention these moments as part of a larger process of Venus-Earth realization.

When I asked her what I might do at this point, she suggested that I do more research on this moment of planetary alignments spanning Leo and Virgo during this Fall of 2015. But more importantly, I and others should tune into the energies emanating from this eastern portal each early morning during this season. We can do so in our meditations and communicative journeys. She suggested further that these powers will influence us in one way or another, so it is our best interests right now to tune in very consciously as we experience these transformative powers. The VENUS-JUPITER-MARS conjunction energy following the transition from Leo into Virgo is intense! (I’m referring, of course, to the planetary alignments with the constellations, not the Zodiacal time of year.) This is a powerful time for personal and global transformations, but we need to focus our intentions or be swept away on the tide. In other words, the shift is partly under our control—just learn to surf this wave!

planets

Venus engaged me in an extended discussion concerning my own life as lover and father. I was overcome by the beauty and warmth she expressed in her assurance that we can tune into these higher energies right now and allow ourselves greater comprehension and control over our extended erotic faculties, which include our roles not simply as lovers but as parents, children family members, friends, and members of the planetary family at large (which is not at all limited to the planet’s human inhabitants).

Moreover, she suggested that I do some research on certain esoteric expressions of our relationship to Venus in order to gain greater clarity concerning what all this means on personal and collective levels. I have only begin in this work, but I already found a most stimulating passage that could serve as a postscript for this entry:

“Perhaps some idea may be gained if we remember that, in an occult sense, Venus is to the Earth what the higher Self is to man.” Alice Bailey and Djwal Khul, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire

From Out of the Matrix of Airy Nothing: Night Thoughts on the Theoretical Constructions of Universes

September 26, 2015

blake

Late last night as I was doing the dishes before bed I happened to glance off to my left and saw two or three light beings in the passageway from our kitchen to the living room. I was immediately captivated and asked them to identify themselves and, before they could even answer, I already knew that they were angels. At my suggestion, they then grounded each of us in the Golden Light of Grace and invoked the Greatest Good for All Beings.

They then asked me to gaze into their light and take in both what they had to say and the energy that they emitted while saying it. Their light was relatively subtle in terms of brightness but very warm and comforting in terms of tone. I had the sense of floating and soaking in a warm, comforting bath filled with luscious, radiant light as I stood there transfixed at the sink.

Once I settled into the flow of things, they told me that despite the fact that I would not be able to give my presentation on fairies at the Serpent Mound gathering today, this day would nevertheless be an important one for me in terms of spiritual cognitive development. At first I thought I was projecting this thought onto the moment, but they stopped me and assured me that the message was indeed coming from them and not from some insecure inner part of my self.

They didn’t go into detail but suggested that today I would find a new path out of the intellectual impasse I have found myself in during the past few weeks and in many ways for nearly a decade. I had no idea what this might mean, but still basking in the warm glow of the energetic transmission, I felt secure in the message and what it would ultimately mean.

The immediate context for this message involves the reading I have been doing of my own past notes and books involving some of the High Theory I have explored during the past few decades, in particular that of Karl Marx and Carl Jung. Earlier this week in preparation for teaching my Theory class on Marx’s notion of the dialectical progression of the forms of capital (in Capital Volume I, Chapter One) I reread a portion of my chapter on Marx in my book The Abyss of Representation. I was immediately drawn back into the ecstasy of that theoretical mindset and for two days or so felt a bit giddy at having come up with such a concise and compelling account of Marx’s theory. I started wondering what it was that made me give up on dialectical thought in the first place and whether there was reason to rekindle this passion at this point in my development. Even in the midst of this intellectual giddiness, nevertheless, I had a deep understanding that this would not in fact be the direction of my new understandings. “But why was I drawn back into this dialectical giddiness if not to rekindle the fervor?” I wondered.

Then yesterday, having just finished reading Jung’s Answer to Job the night before, I reread my notes concerning Jung’s book Aion and my earlier attempts to find a space in which I could draw Jung’s work together with Gloria Anzaldúa’s later work, which operates within a deep Jungian framework. Again as I reread Aion I was wondering how to rekindle this engagement with Jung and find a way to apply this particular schematic framework to Anzaldúa’s theorizing. But just as with the Marx material, before I could even get settled into thinking in detail about this project my daimon suggested that such a move on my part would be a mistake. I would be doing an injustice to Anzaldúa’s work, which resonates from within a deeper space of social commitment than does Jung’s, and would miss out on the opportunity this moment offers to put Jung’s system to the test.

Not knowing what this might mean, I went to bed feeling a bit disappointed and frustrated because I had been so excited about this chance to get back to my academic writing. In the early morning hours, though, I was woken up by Anna, who could not sleep. We got into a wonderfully engaged and energetic discussion of these topics as well as others, and during our conversation I found myself being fed certain ideas by the angels who has visited me last night. I said these things aloud as they came to me, elaborating on them in the excitement of the early morning hours.

The gist of what I realized was that my work should not revert to the intellectual paths I had earlier pursued but rather, no matter how much I might yet again be excited by them, to bring myself into a deep recognition of an element of these intellectual systems that started to dawn on me almost a decade ago but which I had not pursued in the midst of my life-changing pursuits in shamanism and visionary development. I should begin to develop a way of talking about and characterizing the totalizing effectivity of systems of thought. I will now attempt to begin that way of talking by trying to explain what I mean by totalizing effectivity.

Back around 2006 or 2007 I had come to an important realization concerning such systems of thought in my work as a teacher and scholar of critical theory in an academic setting. What I had come to realize over the decades of my involvement with Theory was that, ultimately, each and every theoretical system is in effect an allegory. What I mean by this is that whether we are talking about Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism, or deconstruction, each of these theoretical systems creates an allegorical frame of understanding that operates by means of key terms and concepts that translate whatever subject matter we seek to analyze into the terms of that particular theoretical system. This insight became all the more important to me when I also realized that the particular theoretical framework with which we might choose to analyze any given content reflects either consciously or unconsciously our own predispositions—or, at least, should.

The question arose for me whether the particular theoretical systems that I found most alluring actually pertained to the world either as it is or as I would hope it might become. In other words, why would I choose a cynical and endlessly critical thought system that might not in fact reflect the world I would like to see? Do I really believe, for instance, there really is no deeper reality than the apparent surface phenomena that I perceive? Do I really believe that all imaginative constructs can be reduced to the various concatenations of our “desiring machines”? Is there really nothing more to see in, say, the works of Martin Heidegger than various willful mystifications seeking release from the bounds of western rationality? Is that cigar really nothing more than a symbol of a penis? Does the statement (accompanying the image of a pipe) saying “This is not a pipe” really in its ironic stance undoing a few thousand years of representational fallacies?

If, then, each and every particular theoretical system is nothing more than an allegory, we are confronted with two realizations: one, I have no objective reason to profess one theoretical system rather than another other than my own predilections; and two, once you are operating within the terms of a theoretical system, there is no objective way out, no objective way either to accept or defy the terms of that system. Reality is what it is in terms of psychoanalysis because of the terms of psychoanalysis—not because psychoanalysis offers us the True path into understanding the phenomena that confront us. The question remains, however: Does psychoanalysis provide me with the terms and frames of understanding that do justice either to the world I see around me or the world I would hope to see? If not, why operate within the terms of psychoanalysis? Or Marxism? Or alchemy?

And so over the subsequent years I more or less distanced myself from adhering to particular theoretical constructs as I began pursuing a more phenomenological engagement with (but not necessarily a Phenomenological explanation of) the experiences, textual and otherwise, that I encountered.

But in the early hours of this morning I realized another aspect of theoretical systems that had eluded me in the past. I had earlier recognized that each theoretical system constructs its own universe of meaning for deciphering the aspects of experience under study. But I continued to imagine this expression—constructs its own universe of meaning—in fairly conventional terms. I took this statement concerning allegory in allegorical terms. In other words, the “universe” I was talking about simply referred to a conceptual system of thought, a collection of ideas that one might use to make sense of other ideas. These universes were simply abstractions taking place in certain people’s heads. What I realized this morning, however, was that theoretical systems construct their own universes in fact. In other words, allegories are not simply stories we might or might not tell but actual constructions of actual states of being. In other other words, words create worlds—real worlds.

I came to a phenomenological understanding of this fact as I underwent a profound visionary experience in which I saw whole universes growing into existence simply through the elaboration of different thought systems. I could actually see and feel these different worlds come into being, taking form from out of the matrix of airy nothing, as I passed from one mode of theoretical allegorization to another. I saw a world pertaining to Marxist concepts and logical processes come into being as a definite world operating according to Marxist laws of nature, a world that would have definite concrete effects on its inhabitants. I saw a Freudian universe come into being, and a Jungian one, an Anzaldúan one, a Kristevan one, an Einsteinian one, a Blavatskyan one, and so on. And this is what I meant earlier by the phrase totalizing effectivity: Any given theoretical allegorical system effects reality in its totality. Note that I say effects rather than affects. In other words, theoretical systems bring into being total universes that comply with the terms of those systems. This is a level of effective multidimensionality, the ideational effecting or bringing into being of multiple co-existing universes each consistent within the terms of each allegory.

In other words, theoretical constructs have real-world consequences. Multiple theoretical systems have multiple real-world consequences.

One thing that this means is that we are responsible for and to the universes we create through our conceptual elaborations. As we bring into being these various universes from out of the matrix of airy nothing, we have a duty to the inhabitants of such universes, including ourselves. As Henry David Thoreau wrote: “The universe constantly and obediently answers to our conceptions; whether we travel fast or slow, the track is laid for us. Let us spend our lives in conceiving then.”

So the earlier question still obtains: Why would I choose to live in a universe as described by Nietzsche or Lacan or Moses or Marx when I could inhabit the temples of Heidegger’s Greece, the nirvanas of Buddhism, or the Other-World passageways of Irish understanding?

 

Shanti Shanti Shanti

Discipline—Teachings from Callador, Elfin Representative

May 20, 2015

[The following words from Callador were channeled by Gabriel Hartley following a middle-of-the-night instruction.]

chakra fireThere are times when you feel as though all of the progress you have made over the years has suddenly gone and disappeared. These can be times of despair, when you feel the backslide, as they say, “from Grace to Perdition.” But despair not. The light of the Divine ever shines within you and is available at a moment’s notice.

What many beings forget from time to time is that all beings go through cycles of ebb and flow, of high and low, of light and dark, of flame and spark. But the tiniest spark is simply a glimmer of the eternal flame that warms and enlightens your being.

The key at such moments of despair is to remember your discipline. Now the word discipline tends to conjure up images of austerity and self-flagellation. But discipline is simply a return to source. Discipline is the reassurance that once you regain your focus, your previous progress rises up in an instant and glows before the world.

As a concrete and practical example of what discipline means for you, you have your own particular set of practices that help to orient you and get you in the spirit, so to speak. For instance, you might have a warm-up practice of breathing exercises (pranayamas) that help to open up your chakra system and your visionary capabilities and allow you to enter into your usual meditative and visionary state. In your case in particular, Gabriel, you have been given the Kyy Breath pranayama practice, and this has proven to work wonders for you and Anna as you enter into your usual visionary states.

On a practical level, then, what I mean by discipline is returning to the practices that help you return to source. You need no painful or tedious Spartan regime unless such a regime suits your needs and your temperament. You simply need to do what always works well. Even at your lowest moments, the simple act of breathing in or chanting or visualizing is all that is necessary to clear the blocks and to allow you to open up once more.

More often than not such blocks are simply intellectual concepts and fears. “Oh Lord, I am not worthy!” These despairing concepts emanate from those aspects of yourself that are most unstable or uncomfortable with changes in your psychic status quo. But the simplest way to take control over your psychic status quo is to return to your source, return to your rejuvenating practice, return to your discipline.

A guide to a deeper understanding of the notion of discipline comes from meditating on the word’s etymology. What are the roots and source concepts that inhere in the term? While the medieval Christian uses of the term involved connotations of chastisement, suffering, and punishment, you will see that the Latin sense of the term referred to instruction, learning, and knowledge.

The root of the word is disciple, and this sense is much closer to what I have in mind. The Latin discipulus means “pupil, student, follower,” from discere, to learn. And notice the words’ resonances with the term discern. Through this resonance discipline comes from disciple, the student capable of discernment, the capacity of being able to distinguish the rays of connection and separation in a moment of perception.

etymologySo discipline is simply the act of entering into the bodily, intellectual, and spiritual mood necessary for the igniting of chakra fires capable of illuminating the objects of our visionary experiences. And once one enters into such a state, all despair and doubts vanish.

Blue Kachina Message to Humanity #4

Attune Yourself in Atonement

September 15, 2014

reikiAs you will see, part of the exercise for this line in the Song of Humanity is to encourage you to find a way to let go of your own desire to control and create the events as they unfold before you. What we are asking you to do instead is to recognize that, yes, you are a co-creator of the events that you participate in. But your co-creation involves on a very critical level your ability to let go of your desire to control.

Even when that desire is guided by higher intention, higher principles, higher goals, when you begin with those intentions, those principles, those goals, you are beginning with concepts, you are posing up front the conceptual framework within which truth might unfold for you, might show itself in the space that you could otherwise allow to open up before you. So rather than putting your concepts on the table and using them for creating a framework for controlling how you then define what else you find participating in the unfolding of truth on that table, we ask you to simply sit back and behold, to let things unfold before you in the space of acceptance and openness created when you let go of the desire to control.

This means that frequently you might find yourself believing that you are actually moving forward according to notions, concepts, goals that have been suggested to you by higher entities, your Higher Self, and that you then go on to pursue them. You might indeed be getting suggestions from a higher source, but their suggestions will rarely take the form of providing you with some conceptual term or notion to put forward as the framing mechanism for making sense of what then unfolds. Instead, what you are asked in a higher sense to do is to go with the flow, to go with what you feel opening up before you. And step-by-step following that guiding light without trying to predetermine where your destination might be, where this particular journey might lead you.

It is this opening up the space before conception, before brief recognition of concepts that guide you as principles for action, for thought, for behavior, for understanding. We instead are asking you to use this space of conception in its other sense—as a space for giving birth to new modes of creation, new modes of expansion, new modes of unfolding, for humans are in a constant state of unfolding and under-standing. And they should be standing under the display of wonder and magic that unfolds before them rather than to be posing concepts that provide the pre-determined groundwork for that apprehension of wonder.

So bring forth this message on atonement and attunement and we will continue to speak to humanity as a whole in universal terms as yet another Message to Humanity. We work with you at all stages of composition, for it is com-position, that is, bringing together, positioning together, com-posing as a mode of attaining unity.

Our last message concerned unity and the necessity for humanity to start recognizing the necessity for unity. At this point we wish to pose one more step, a step out of that field opened up by the desire for unity among humans, the unity among humans that alone can make possible an effective human interaction and community with other entities on a species level, on a planetary level. So that next step forward that we suggest is one of attunement, and we wish for you to meditate on the senses of this word that you have in English—attunement—and ultimately, in ways that we will lead you to consider as we go on, the relationship between attunement and atonement. For it is through this attuning atonement that humans can bring themselves to move forward beyond a mere concept of unity, of unification beyond the simple desire and recognition of the necessity for unification, and realize that that unification has to involve a kind of attunement.

So if we begin with the word “attunement,” and you think back to our message on unification, we suggested that each of these communications is in a sense the production of another line in what we called the Song of Humanity. And that musical reference is not incidental or accidental. It is crucial to the very feeling of understanding that we are inviting you to participate in. If you think of attunement in its musical sense, you are the orchestra preparing to sing together, to play your instruments together in a way that produces a symphony of humanity, a song of the earth in which the human voice resonates so beautifully.

When you tune in together, when you align your instruments of expression, those instruments that best allow you to express your very being in a given moment, we allow you a way to imagine how humans might consider and might enact the kind of unification we spoke of in the previous message. Imagine yourselves as the orchestra sitting down together, tuning your instruments, preparing for the greatest symphony you have ever played together in all of the existence of humanity. This is humanity’s great song, and you are tuning your instrument in order to play your part in that great musical composition.

It is through that musical composition, that alignment of resonances, that alignment of voices, that alignment of unified intention and rhythm, timbre, tone, not always seeking some simple harmonious chord but perhaps some energetic play of discord in order to emphasize what needs to be emphasized and not washed over in the simple rhythms and tones of accord. Discord is not the opposite of accord; discord is another mode of accord. It’s when you together as the orchestra, as the one unified entity, the one unified musical organism playing this song, recognize how you work together in this creation of the universe. And as you let yourself go in the performance, as you let your voice of your instrument sing forth, as you play your drum, vibrate that bow on those strings, press the keys of that wind instrument, you bring forward your own voice in the creation of attunement. And when you are attuned, then you can move on in your performance of that great Song of Humanity.

When humanity can allow itself to consciously seek this kind of attunement in which discord is another mode of accord from a higher perspective that allows for the various voices and rhythms and movements to play in and through each other, then you can begin to imagine the necessity for atonement—the atonement only made possible by the previous recognition of the necessity for attunement. Atonement only has genuine meaning when you are in tune with and seeking greater attunement with all of the universe, all of humanity, all of this planetary creation that you are yourself participating in in its unfolding.

“Atonement” is the English word these days referring to various modes of contrition and reparation where guilty parties express their sorrow and seek forgiveness. They say, “I am sorry for the pain and the suffering I might have contributed to in my previous ventures that were out of attunement with humanity’s great song. I apologize for acting out from an egocentric platform which at the time best expressed what I understood to be the most appropriate and opportune behavior or mode of expression. Yet seeing a greater overview of how all of these various voices come together in this attunement, I am sorry for imagining that my voice was more important and more pure and more to the point of truth than those others.”

It is only when we can humbly let go of our singular claim to truth that we can begin to recognize the claims of truth expressed by others. For when we can begin to recognize how the various expressions that seem so discordant might on a higher level actually be working towards a higher resolution of energies which from a limited perspective appear to be in conflict and only capable of producing conflict and pain and suffering and anger and hatred—yet pure atonement, pure expression of contrition is not satisfied by expressions of sorrow and of being sorry, but is a recognition that All are One.

Atonement is At-One-Ment. It is the recognition that at base we are all one being, one people, one expression of this total planetary being as it works itself out toward a more beautiful and harmonious expression of energies and tones. That At-One-Ment is the ultimate goal of atonement. It is not to hide in shame. It is not to use expressions of being sorry to hide behind when you haven’t in fact truly grown in your comprehension of the apparently conflicting forces at play. True atonement comes out of true attunement. When you are truly attuned to the other impulses and vibrations of your fellow human beings and, ultimately beyond them, the other entities participating with you in the Song of this planet and this universe, you are ready for a true understanding of atonement, At-One-Ment: the true unity that we spoke of in the previous message.

To repeat: that unity does not come about simply through good intention, for good intention can often unwittingly provide the framework for further conflict. You are so sure of your good intention that you are no longer capable of understanding the good intention of others. You are so sure that you have found the best possible way of making sense of and expressing the conflicting resonances of a given set of circumstances that you become convinced that you are the sole possessor of the words of truth. Atonement moves beyond that. True atonement moves beyond Ego. It’s a giving up of Ego and saying, “I am part of a larger resonance, a larger array of forces, energies, vibrations, frequencies, and only in the illusion, the Myth of Separation can I even imagine that my one voice can be true in itself.

When you can imagine all of these voices as various modes of expression of truth, however one-sided they may appear, however limited they may appear to your presumed perspective of what is appropriate and right and true, only at that point of true recognition of attunement can you move forward to the creation of atonement where all of humanity comes together and realizes that true atonement, the true At-One-Ment is acceptance. It is Love.

The saying, “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a very important step toward attunement and atonement. An even greater step in that direction is the embracing of the saying, “Love your enemy as yourself.” When you can get to the point where you can actually feel the truth of that expression from within, and from a non-egocentric position step forward into the universe where you are actively loving your enemy, then you are actively seeking attunement and atonement. It is only at that point that you can truly be sorry for your previous expressions guided by well-meaning but limited definitions of truth.

So prepare your instrument. Practice it well. For it is your mode of expression. It is your mode of excelling, of letting yourself go in the grand symphony of existence, in the great song of life, the great Song of Humanity. Become perfect at the expression of love and joy through your instrument, and tune that instrument to those of the other members of your orchestra. Then your own expression will truly resonate and truly find its place in the Song of Humanity.

Go forward seeking the peace that you know you at base are yourself. You are peace. You are love. You are attunement. You are atonement. Move forward with an open heart. Move forward into the space of creation and let the resonances unfold before you, and let your spirit be moved in that unfolding as it moves forward. Do not try to predetermine the outcome of that song. Go forward with the understanding that very beautiful and mysterious strains will find utterance through your voice in ways completely unexpected by yourself. Go sing your unexpected song of beauty. Go forward in your attunement, in your atonement, in your song of love, which is the Song of Humanity.

Stepping Into My Gabriel Nature

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).

Abraham's Philoxeny

Abraham’s Philoxeny

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 [131] 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 [132] 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 [133] 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.

Archangel Gabriel

Archangel Gabriel

Planetary Breathing: A Meditation from the Elves

September 3, 2013

lotusearth1

Relax and sink into the calm of the energy.

Breathe in slowly and deeply.

Breathe out slowly and deeply.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

 

As you breathe in, imagine the gases and chemical compounds that fill your lungs as you inhale them from your local atmosphere.

As you breathe out, imagine the gases and chemical compounds that leave your lungs as you exhale them into your local atmosphere.

 

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

 

As you breathe in, now imagine all of the entities around you also breathing in.

As you breathe out, now imagine all of the entities around you also breathing out.

Billions of creatures across the planet breathing in.

Billions of creatures across the planet breathing out.

 

You are sharing the atmosphere with all other entities on this planet at this moment. You share on the in breath and you share on the outbreath.

 

The entire planet breathes in. The entire planet breathes out.

The entire planet breathes in. The entire planet breathes out.

 

The frogs are breathing in. The frogs are breathing out.

The bats are breathing in. The bats are breathing out.

The moths are breathing in. The moths are breathing out.

The deer are breathing in. The deer are breathing out.

The ants are breathing in. The ants are breathing out.

The flies are breathing in. The flies are breathing out.

The birds are breathing in. The birds are breathing out.

The buffalo are breathing in. The buffalo are breathing out.

The trees are breathing in. The trees are breathing out.

The flowers are breathing in. The flowers are breathing out.

The fairies are breathing in. The fairies are breathing out.

The elves are breathing in. The elves are breathing out.

The moose are breathing in. The moose are breathing out.

The snakes are breathing in. The snakes are breathing out.

The turtles are breathing in. The turtles are breathing out.

The humans are breathing in. The humans are breathing out.

The angels are breathing in. The angels are breathing out.

The rocks are breathing in. The rocks are breathing out.

 

Everything that you can imagine is breathing in.

Everything that you can imagine is breathing out.

 

As you breathe in, then, you connect with every other being on the planet.

As you breathe out, then, you connect with every other being on the planet.

 

In this way you connect energetically and spiritually with all of existence on the planet.

In this way you connect energetically and spiritually with the planetary being.

 

And once you have become attuned to the breathing in and the breathing out of the planet, and all beings on the planet in tune with your own being, you have opened up an energetic connection with the planetary being.

 

You have joined in consciousness and intention with the planetary being.

 

You have become conscious that you are one with the planetary being.

 

You are now and always one with the planetary being.

A Lesson From the Elves

By Gabriel Hartley — July 13, 2013

I hadn’t anticipated communal living arrangements with Elves when Anna and I rented our house in the country here in Athens, Ohio. We have gotten pretty accustomed to interacting with Faeries and Extra-Terrestrials, but I, at any rate, had never really given much thought to Elves. In fact, I had wondered whether they might simply be Fairies that some people chose to call Elves. But now that we’re living with Elves, sharing our new home with them—or I should say they are sharing their old home with us—as we attempt to gain a better understanding of who and what they are and what exactly the plan might be for this new inter-species communal life.

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I will write more about my first encounters here with the Elves as some future date. For now I want to record the lesson they have been teaching me over the past few days and nights as we become better acquainted with each other. Their lesson for us this week involves a meditation on the boundaries and limits of the Human Being as humans tend to conceive of ourselves today.

The starting point for this lesson is the recognition that humans tend to simultaneously inflate and limit their definitions of what it means to be human. This inflation and limitation involves the same notion: that humans are somehow privileged beings not just on this planet but in the larger universe. On Earth we tend to see ourselves as the most important species in existence. Every other being on the planet is by definition inferior to and therefore subservient to humans. This point is supported by a vast host of belief systems, whether religious, scientific, political, or simply customary. Many thinkers have pointed to this superiority complex as one primary source of our ongoing ecological crisis.

This notion of human superiority is inflating in the sense that it allows humans to imagine themselves to be greater than most if not all other beings in the universe. We are important. We are special. We are privileged. And this distinction results from the plan of God or the accidents of Natural Selection. All other beings by nature are at our disposal. This notion of human superiority is limiting in the sense that we see ourselves as separate from all other beings. In fact, we see all things as separate from each and every other thing and assume that this is the nature of reality. So we are unique and privileged beings defined by certain characteristics and traits that make us what we are and, more importantly, keep us separate from what we presumably are not. We have definite, determinate boundaries as we float as discrete, isolated beings through life.

But the Elves have a different view of the limits and boundaries of the Human Being (and all other beings as well). As the Elves see it, the Human Being is in fact infinite. It is, like all other beings, co-extensive with the rest of existence. There are no discrete, determinate boundaries that separate the Human Being from all other beings. Humans are greater in all ways than they tend to imagine. And what the Elves hope for us is that we can learn to contemplate this possibility and eventually learn to become comfortable with it and someday even, perhaps, to allow ourselves to open up into our infinite possibility.

PPTelepathyThese possibilities can be seen through a variety of phenomena that tend be excluded from the range of plausible realities for humans. These phenomena include capabilities that we currently deny ourselves and ridicule, such as telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation (or astral projection), and other so-called Metaphysical or downright superstitious concepts. The very fact that Anna and I are currently in communication with a species of beings that are denied any reality other than fantasy or mythology is one example of this self-imposed limitation on the definition (the de-fining or making-finite) of human possibility. Our telepathic communication is denied; and then the existence of the beings with whom we are communicating is denied. Elves cannot really exist. Humans—so the common logic goes—cannot really communicate telepathically at all, and certainly not with imaginary beings.

The only realm in which we allow such activity is art. Only in poetry or paintings or movies can humans engage in telepathy, and only there can Elves be allowed to exist—only as figments of our collective imagination. And this reveals both the beauty and the complicity of art today. Art can only be art so long as it limits its claims to such things to the realm of fiction. In this sense, imagination is characterized a pleasurable but ultimately debased mode of human activity. What gets lost here is that Imagination itself is the very term for the range of faculties that allow us to experience things beyond our current self-conceptions! Science Fiction, we are told, is great so long as we make sure to identify it as fiction. But if we start to imagine it as reality, we are deluded. Never mind all of the instances of “Science Fiction” that have proven to be accurate intuitions of an expanded understanding of reality. The last hundred years or more of western physics is a case in point.

aurafing3Recognizing this limiting sense of human superiority as a conceptual barrier to further growth, nevertheless, is simply the start of where the Elves would like to take us. Their intention is to lead us through a thorough going practical program not only of conceptual but also experiential expansion. They want us to experience the vastness of our being. And this has been the bulk of their work with us in the past few days. So what does this mean in practice?

The starting point is to achieve a meditative state in whatever way one normally does. In this meditative state, we are to still our mind and relax our desire to make such growth happen. The point, at least at the start, is to not do anything, at least in the active, willful sense; we are instead supposed to let go, to stop trying, to give up our sense that we need to change ourselves and our world. The best way to try to change is to stop trying to change. “Just let go,” the Elves tell us repeatedly, “let go. Ease into the flow.”

And this easing into the flow is the key. By “flow” the Elves mean the flow of energies and vibrations that characterize our very being. As we come into contact with other beings, whether human or nonhuman, we enter into a mutual exchange of energies. Our vibratory signatures adapt to and influence the vibratory signatures of others. The point is to let go of the distinction between human and nonhuman in order to experience the full range of human possibility.

When I first asked them how I might let go, the Elves reminded me of an analogy that came to me a few years ago during meditation. At the time I was in sadhasana pose, also known as the corpse pose, lying on the floor as I felt the energies within and without me. In order to try to achieve some kind of energetic union with the vibrations in my immediate environment, I was trying to radiate my own energy out into the energy field around me. I was squeezing my eyes tightly and stiffening my body as I tried to push my own energy outward. I was trying to make myself glow by forcing the light outward. What I was told then was that I had the process backward in my mind. The point in trying to become one with your environment is not to force yourself onto your surroundings but rather to melt into those surroundings. When I asked how I might envision such a shift in consciousness and action, I was told to imagine myself as a pat of butter in a hot pan. The pat of butter does not have to do anything in order to melt. It simply experiences itself bubbling up on the edges and then slowly bubbling up throughout its structure as it simply flows out across the bottom of the pan. I was told to imagine myself as that pat of butter and to imagine my energy bubbling up on my skin and then my entire being ultimately melting into my surroundings. In this way I could truly manifest the energetic union I was seeking.

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The Elves reminded me this week of this analogy and told me that this was exactly what they were asking of Anna and me. Instead of trying to squeeze out our radiance into our environment, we simply need to let go, to melt into the flow of energies that we share. For now this is our only task: to let go; to melt into the energetic field around us, a field made up of Elves, Faeries, Angels, animals, plants, stones, waters, and all other things in existence in our immediate and extended environment. Only once we become fluent—or fluid—in this experience will we then be able to take the next steps that the Elves have in mind: the engagement with energy portals here on the land. This will become possible once we let go of the rigidly defined boundaries of ourselves and allow ourselves to melt into the greater self in which we participate. In this process we will enlarge our experience of being human and take on our true Human Being as Being Commensurate With all that is.

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