[The wound that is our existence.]

“When the All-Merciful speaks, He articulates His Words in His Breath, just as we articulate our words in our breath when we speak. Thus, the Breath of the All-Merciful is the underlying substance of the universe. It is the page upon which God writes out the grand Book of the Cosmos. The nature of the Divine Speech that appears in the Breath is suggested already in the derivation of the word kalam (Arabic for speech). It comes from ‘kalimah’ [k l m], a word that means to cut, to wound. As Ibn Arabi explains, this means that speech leaves effects and traces in the undifferentiated and unarticulated Breath. Each of these traces is then called a Word, kalimah; that is, a wound, or an articulation in undifferentiated existence. The Breath itself remains forever untouched and unwounded by the words it pronounces, just as our breath is unaffected by the words that we speak.”

Source: Taken from William Chittick’s lecture The Cosmology of Dhikr

[Modes and Hierarchical Levels]

This post is continued from a previous post here.

“”The account of the levels of Being which separate the Creator from material universe, while at the same time uniting them, is similar in all the revealed traditions and in the works of many mystical philosophers. But it is never identical, since whatever can be made explicit has already entered the world of relativity. True metaphysical doctrines are vastly more stable, articulate, intelligible and concrete than anything in the material and psychic worlds. But even though the Absolute emanates them, they cannot contain the Absolute; they can only indicate it.

Being is manifested on different levels, but it also appears in terms of different qualities occupying the same level. Levels are vertical; each higher level is the cause of the levels below it, and contains all that is in these lower levels in a higher form. Likewise each lower level is a manifestation or expression—a symbol—of all that is above it; in René Guénon’s words, ‘the effect is a symbol of the cause.’ Modes of Being, on the other hand, are horizontal; they differ in quality and function, but not in degree of reality; they are mutually-defining, polarized manifestations of a single level of Being.

The distinction between modes and levels can be illustrated in the realm of gender. In vertical terms, man, considered as a reflection of the creative Logos, is higher than woman, considered as a reflection of universal receptive Substance. Viewed from the opposite perspective, however, woman, when taken as a symbol of the Divine Essence or Beyond Being, is higher than man, when seen as a symbol of the particularizing thrust of the Logos whose ontological limit is the material world as perceived by the human ego. But in horizontal terms, man and woman are polarized as complementary opposites, on the same level of Being. The right hand is not more real than the left hand; because they are complementary, they are equal. But equality in this sense has nothing to do with sameness or identity. The right hand still maintains its symbolic connection with the higher realms of Being, with truth and the ‘right’,  while the left or ‘sinister’ hand retains its affinity with the lower realms. On the other hand—pun deliberately intended—the right hand is also connected with the outer conscious ego and the left hand with inner Truth, as Jesus implied when he recommended that, in charity, one should not let his right hand (conscious ego) know what his left hand (inner spiritual impulse) is doing. [NOTE: Whoever meditates on the famous Yin/Yang sign will see in it a visual representation of this paragraph.]”

Source: Charles Upton, The System of Antichrist, pp. 95-6

[Unity and Multiplicity]

“From both the metaphysical and natural points of view it is false to say that in order to arrive at two, you take two ones and put them together. One only need look at the way in which a living cell becomes two. For One by definition is singular, it is Unity, therefore all-inclusive. There cannot be two Ones. Unity, as the perfect symbol for God, divides itself from within itself, thus creating Two: the creator unity and the created multiplicity.

Unity creates by dividing itself, and this can be symbolized geometrically in several different ways, depending upon how the original Unity is graphically represented. Unity can be appropriately represented as a circle, but the very incommensurability of the circle indicates that this figure belongs to a level of symbols beyond reasoning and measure. Unity can be restated as the Square, which, with its perfect symmetry, also represents wholeness, and yields to comprehensible measure. In geometrical philosophy the circle is the symbol of unmanifest Unity, while the square represents Unity poised, as it were, for manifestation. The square represents the four primary orientations, north, south, east and west, which make space comprehensible, and it is formed by two pairs of perfectly equal yet oppositional linear elements, thus graphically fulfilling the description of universal Nature found in Taoist and other ancient philosophies.

The square (above) represents the earth held in fourfold embrace by the circular vault of the sky and hence subject to the ever-flowing wheel of time. When the incessant movement of the universe, depicted by the circle, yields to comprehensible order, one finds the square. The square then presupposes the circle and results from it. The relationship of form and movement, space and time, is evoked by the mandala.”

Source: Robert Lawlor, Sacred Geometry: Philosophy and Practice, pp. 16, 23

[Surface Contradictions]

“[E]very evil is by definition a ‘part’, never a ‘totality’; and negations or fragmentary privations, which are the various forms of evil, are inevitable since the world, not being God and unable to be Him, is of necessity situated outside of God. But with regard to their cosmic function as necessary elements of a total good, evils are in a certain way integrated into this good, and this point of view makes it possible to affirm that metaphysically there is no evil; the notion of evil presupposes in fact a fragmentary vision of things, characteristic of creatures, who are themselves fragments; man is a ‘fragmentary totality’.

As we have seen, evil is in the world because the world is not God; now from a certain point of view—of which the Vedantists are especially aware—the world is ‘none other than God’; Maya is Atma, Samsara is Nirvana; from this point of view evil does not exist, and this is precisely the point of view of the macrocosmic totality. This is suggested in the Koran by means of the following antimony: on the one hand it declares that good is ‘from God’ and evil is ‘from yourselves’, and on the other hand that ‘all is from God’ (Surah ‘Women’ [4]:78, 79), the first idea having to be understood on the basis of the second, which is more universal, hence more real; it is the difference between fragmentary vision and total truth. The fact that the two maxims nearly follow each other—the more universal coming first—proves moreover the lack of concern in sacred dialectic for surface contradictions and the importance attached to penetration and synthesis.

And this brings us back to our more general subject, the question of antinomic expressions in the Koran; an example that has become classic is found in the following verse: ‘Nothing is like unto Him (God), and He it is that hears, that sees’ (Surah ‘Counsel’ [42]:11). The flagrant contradiction between the first assertion and the second—the second drawing a comparison, precisely, and thereby proving that an analogy between things and God does exist—has the function of showing that this evident analogy, without which not a single thing would be possible, in no way implies an imaginable resemblance and does not abolish in the least the absolute transcendence of the divine Principle.”

Source: Frithjof Schuon, Sufism: Veil and Quintessence, pp. 13-14

[Ink and Letters]

“Suppose we are reading a book. Our attention naturally is drawn toward the written letters. What strikes our eyes are primarily letters. We take notice only of the letters. We do not see the ink with which they are written. We are not even aware of the ink, while in reality we are seeing nothing other than various forms assumed by the ink. A slight shift of viewpoint will immediately make us realize that the letters are but of a ‘fictitious’ (i’tibari) nature. What really exists before our eyes is ink, nothing else. The seeming reality of letters is after all due to social convention. They are not realities (haqa’iq) in the most fundamental sense. Yet, on the other hand, it is equally undeniable that the letters do exist and are real in so far as they are various forms assumed by the ink which is the sole reality in this case.

Everything in this world is comparable to a letter in its double nature that has just been explained. Those who perceive only letters without taking notice of the underlying reality of ink are those whose eyes are ‘veiled’ by the letters. To this fact refers the famous Hadith which says: ‘God is concealed behind seventy thousand veils of light and darkness.’ Those of the people of this kind who recognize only the veils and do not recognize the hidden God behind them are, theologically, outspoken and straightforward infidels. Those who know at least vaguely the existence of the invisible God behind and beyond the visible veils are believers and monotheists in an ordinary sense. But they are imperfect monotheists or imperfect ‘men of unification’ (muwahhidun) because what they actually perceive is nothing but letters, while in reality the ink is so clearly and nakedly visible in the letters. Letters are not even veils, for they are the ink. It is in reference to this point that Ibn Arabi says: ‘It is the empirical world that is a mystery, something eternally hidden and concealed, while the Absolute is the eternally Apparent that has never concealed itself. The ordinary people are in this respect completely mistaken. They think that the world is the apparent and the Absolute is a hidden mystery.’

But, Haydar Amuli continues to say, those who see only and exclusively the ink without taking notice of the letters are also imperfect monotheists, for their eyes are veiled by the ink from the vision of the concrete forms assumed by the ink itself. A real ‘man of unification’ must be a ‘man of two eyes’ (dhu ‘aynayn) whose vision is veiled by nothing—neither by ink nor by letters—a man, in other words, who sees Unity in Multiplicity and Multiplicity in Unity.”

Source: Toshihiko Izutsu, The Concept and Reality of Existence, pp.73-74


“Like points on the circumference of a circle, the words of God are infinitely many. But the infinitely many words of God originate from a single word. That word is the divine command kun which consists of two manifest letters (kaf and nun) and a nonmanifest letter (waw). God engenders existence or brings his commands into manifestation by differentiating or setting limits between the letters or the words that are latent in His Essence. When God desires to make this affair known, he speaks within the configuration of the perfect human being. The perfect human being assumes the deputyship of the Real in differentiating between the engendered prior word and the word that follows it.”

Source: Salman H. Bashier, Ibn al-Arabi’s Barzakh: The Concept of the Limit and the Relationship between God and the World