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Corbin & Suhrawardi – Chapter IX Of The ‘Book Of The Ray Of Light’

‘Path of light’, picture by Dimitris Vetsikas.


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA is another excerpt from ‘L’ Ange Pourpre, quinze traités de Sohrawardi’, Fayard, 1976. We continue with Henry Corbin and his translation of Sohrawardi’s major treatises, here with chapter IX of the ‘Book of the Ray of Light’ (Partaw-Nameh), from page 139 to 143. English translation by Via-HYGEIA.


Chapter IX introduction:

‘…The tonality of chapter IX is clearly Platonic. The affirmation of incorruptibility, starting from the immortality of immaterial beings, is explicitly attached to Plato’s name, the master of wisdom. Composed terms including the word light take a great space in the text. The calling of the spiritual man is to reach, in becoming a being of pure light, the level of the Intelligences, that implies an ‘angelo-morphose’, an exaltation into the ranks of the Angels close to the Principle. The relationships between the beings of light, their multiplication by each other, are expressed in terms of a theory of mirrors, a mystical katoptris (a science of mirrors) that we see pervading throughout the whole ‘Book of the Oriental Theosophy”. The chapter ends with a few considerations upon love that are inherently platonic.’ Henry Corbin.


Chapter IX- Of the Immortal Beings

‘Know that the soul is immortal (baqi). Its obliteration is inconceivable, because the cause it emanates from, which is the Acting Intelligence (Ravanbakhsh, the celestial parent, the ‘Donator animae’), is itself forever enduring. The caused permeates because of the enduring nature of its cause. The soul is not something that would be imprinted into a substrate (note: which means that the soul is not immanent to the body its rules). If it would, the consequence would be that the substrate would cease to have the ability to support the soul, hence the soul would be destroyed-in the manner produced by the heating of water: when the heating reaches a certain degree, it makes the water vanish from its natural form and produces the ‘actualization’ of the form ‘air’. Therefore, since the soul has no substrate and is itself a ‘substantive’ essence, distinct from the body, and another substance (the body) would happen to vanish being itself distinct of it, it does not imply that the soul will cease to exist.

In brief, what makes the difference between death and life, is the breaking of the bond. But the bond is an accident of the order of relationship. Whence, the disappearance of the relation does not imply the disappearance of the substantial being which was one of the part of it. Therefore, this essence (the soul) permeates by the permeating faculty of its cause. Even though the state of preparation of the body demands that at a specific time the soul should be allotted to it, the destruction of the body does not imply the destruction of the soul, alike the disappearance of the carpenter, who is a substantial being different and distinct from the seat he just had made, does not have as a consequence the disappearance of the seat.

The archangelical Intelligence are forever indestructible, because they have neither substrate nor bonds with any substrate. The existence is conditioned only, and by nothing else than, their Emanating Cause. But, the Necessary Being (who is this cause) permeates for ever. Therefore, the world of the Intelligences, which is conditioned by nothing but the Necessary Being, permeates forever as the very result of the existence of the Necessary Being.

Every immaterial essence is immortal, because the life of the Immaterial Essences (or substance distinct from matter) does not originate from an intrinsic cause, so much that it would cease to be. Definitely no. By reason of their separation from matter, they have this perception and knowledge of them selves that is their very life, and that is inherent to themselves by essence. This life cannot cease, as PLATO, the master of wisdom (khwajeh-ye hikmat) declares about the soul, that it is the soul that gives life to things. Therefore, everything, which virtue and property is to give life,  possess life in essence. Consequently, the soul can never be subject to anything contrary to what its essence postulates and which is inherent to its very quiddity (mahiya).

Though, know that a good number of common people hold the opinion that there is no other happiness than sexual pleasure, eating and drinking. According to them, the Angels and the Cherubs (Fereshtegan o Karubiyan) are quite unhappy, and the condition of the animals (four legs) is far better than the Angels and Cherubs of the Supreme Pleroma.

But, know that pleasure consists in that good and perfection befalls on a being and that it is conscious of it as such, when nothing is obstructing or causing a delay. It can very well happen that something pleasant occur without resulting after in any pleasure, because an obstacle got in-between. Somebody who’s stomach is disturbed or plump, would feel only repulsion towards tasty meals. On the other hand, when this obstacle is out of the way, he finds his pleasure again in these same meals. It can also happen that something that would normally bring pain is not felt because of an obstacle interfering. If someone is hit while being in a sort of torpor (drowsiness induced by a soporific, for instance), the person does not have conscience of it and feels no harm. As soon as the soporific’s effects fades away, he will be conscious that he is been hit and will start feeling pain…

In brief, the perfection of the human being consists in separating matter as much as he can, and to resemble to the Principles (Mabadi, the original beings of the supreme Pleroma ). And when the ‘habitus‘ of the divine mores and their deep knowledge will be ‘actualized’ in him, he will then after the ‘exitus‘ taste a sweetness impossible for him to describe, as the Prophet says in quoting God in an inspired ‘hadith’: “I have prepared for my servants, the just, what no eye ever saw, what no ear ever heard, what has never reached man’s heart.”

And when you realize that the pleasure of each faculty is proportional to its degree of perfection and perception, you understand that the relationship between the pleasures of the intellect and the pleasures of the senses corresponds to the relationship between what the intellect perceives and what the senses perceives, in their greater connection with the Necessary Being, the world of the Intelligences, the world of the Souls, and the taste of the terrestrial food or of everything inferior of the sort. The perception of the intellect (‘aql) is more powerful than the perception of the senses, because the senses only perceive the appearances of things, as the intellect perceives not only the appearance (zahir, the exoteric) but the invisible (batin, the esoteric). The intellect perceives far more, because the objects perceived by the intellect are limitless, unlike the senses that only perceive limited things. The intellect is immeasurably far more noble and essential also, because the senses are perishable, but the intellect is indestructible. This is why there is, on one hand between what perceives, what is perceived and the act of perception at the level of the intellect, and on the other hand, what perceives, what is perceived and the act of perception at the level of the senses, the same relationship between the pleasure intrinsic to the intellect and the pleasure intrinsic to the senses.

If, in this world we do not take pleasure in spiritual things and if we do not suffer from neither vice nor ignorance, it is because the intoxication of the natural world triumphs over us, and we are careless or unconscious of the world that is really ours. When all the worries that were deterring us are dispelled, he who has reached perfection will feel an infinite pleasure in contemplating the Necessary Being, the Supreme Pleroma, the marvels of the worlds of the Light, and will remain forever in this pleasure, ‘in a dwelling of Truth in the proximity of a mighty king.‘ (Qur’an 54-55). He will become an Intelligence, a being of pure light; he will be among ‘the Angels closest to God’ (fereshtegan-e moqarrab); he would cease to have any thoughts for this impure world and will disdain looking at it. “When you look there, you see a dwelling of delights and royal magnificence.” (Qur’an 76-20).  From the lights of his Glory, God will prepare for him a spiritual potion, like this verse tells: “And God will give them a very pure potion.” (Qur’an 76-21). These Elected Beings will be freed of this death consisting in nature’s obsessions; they have come out of the darkness; they have rejoined ‘the Source of Life’ and the oceans of the authentic light, the spiritual Light. “They receive their reward and their light” (Qur’an 57-19). elsewhere it is said: ” Their light will run ahead of them & their pure hands‘. (Qur’an 66-8). They have been discharged from the plight of the impurity of the body of flesh. Life in its true meaning, is in the other world, and as the Truthful says: “The other world is the Alive one. If only they would know!” (Qur’an 29-64).

“A wine mixed with the water of the ‘Tasnin‘, a spring those nearest to God drink.” (Qur’an 83-27,28). It is a spring where the closest Angels of God quench their thirst, and the souls of the blessed reciprocally enjoy each other. Every soul that the ‘exitus‘ separates from its body, takes its share from the light of the ‘Jabarut’. From this soul, light is reflected upon the souls also immaterialized, and it is for these soul a cause of pleasure, at the same time, the infinite lights are reflected upon this soul, in the manner of shining mirrors facing each other. The cursed, on the contrary suffer from the darkness and each other’s proximity. The preceding one suffers from the coming one, and the coming one suffer from the preceding one.

Once understood that pleasure is the reaching of perfection, in full consciousness and causal knowledge, one understands that nothing is more perfect than the Necessary Being. It is the most sublime of all that is known and knowledgeable, and his art in knowing is the most sublime of all the acts of knowing. His pleasure and his joy are then more sublime than all of the pleasures and joys; none partake in anything that embodies his joy and pleasure. Love, is the joy that is felt in representing (tasawwor) the presence of a certain person. Yearning desire, is the movement of the soul to bring this joy into perfection. Nostalgia, is the movement of one who has found and not found at the same time. When his love is complete and perfected, he does not feel desire anymore. This is why, the Necessary Being can only be simultaneously its lover and its beloved; the object of its love can only be itself, but it is the love object of all the other beings. After the sweetness the Necessary Being finds in itself, there is the one tasted by the archangelic Intelligences. The Intelligences do not feel the yearning desire, because they progress completely within their actions, and nothing remains in them at the virtual state. Then, there is the love and sweetness felt by the souls, each to its own respective degree.’

Note: Read Chapter X of the ‘Book of the Ray of Light’ (Partaw-Nameh),

the other chapter translated from the Persian by Henry Corbin:)


About Suhrawardi: 🌿 About Henry Corbin:
Corbin & Suhrawardi – Chapter IX Of The ‘Book Of The Ray Of Light’

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