Corbin & Suhrawardi-From The Book of Tablets: Of The Knowledge Of Things Beyond The Reach Of The Senses
Sidney Herbert Sime, “Illustrative Design of Fountain and Figures”,
oil on canvas (courtesy Sidney H. Sime Memorial Gallery, via Art UK).
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA is another excerpt from ‘L’ Ange Pourpre, quinze traités de Sohrawardi’. Fayard, 1976. We continue with Henry Corbin and his French translation of Sohrawardi’s major treatises, here with the chapter VII of tablet 4 of the ‘The Book of Tablets.’ (Al-Alwah al-‘Imadiyyah) Page 103 to 106. English translation by Via-HYGEIA. More to come soon 🙂
‘The human soul have their root in Malakut, and if it weren’t the concerns of the bodies they govern, they would receive the imprint of the souls of Malakut. These, the animae caelestes, know the inherent consequences to their movements; they know what was and what will be, like this verse says: “No misfortune hits the earth or in your very souls, without it being recorded in a Book, before we even have brought it to existence.” (Qu’ran 57/22). Another verse stipulates: “with Him is the Mother of the Book“. (Umm al Kitab) (Qu’ran 13/19), which means that everything that comes to pass in the world of generation and corruption, all that is engraved in the animae caelestes, before being manifested in this world. This is what this verse says: “All things they do is recorded in their Books of Deeds (zohor)”. (Qu’ran 54/32). And this is also what this verse says: “Every matter, small and great, is on record.” (Qu’ran 54/33).
But the Book of God is not a book made of paper with a leather binding. No, it is made of something that has the nature of his Malakut. They are the knowing Intelligences (the angeli intellectuales) and the animae caelestes. “Pages held greatly in honor.” (Qu’ran 80/13), it is said, and this designates the Souls that rule the heavens, “exalted” beyond the defilement of the world of the elements, ‘pure‘ of all attachments with the later. It is also said: “written by the honorable hands of noble and pure scribes.” (Qu’ran 80/15-16), and that designates the pure Intelligences that are above the animae caelestes, these being under the rule of the shining light rays of the Angeli Intellectuales. This is the meaning of this verse: “God knows what is in the heavens and on earth, because it is recorded in a Book, and that is easy for God.” (Qu’ran 22/70). Another verse says: “…nor anything fresh or dry that that isn’t recorded clear to those who read it.” (Qu’ran 6/59), that is the spiritual entities that carry within them the imprint of the totality of beings. Another verse tells about the story of Moses, when the Pharaoh asks him: “What happened to the previous generations?” and Moses to answer: “The knowledge of that is with my Lord, duly recorded in a Book; my Lord never errs, nor forgets Himself.” (Qu’ran 20/51-52). Again, ‘Divine knowledge and the sacrosanct Book’ are mentioned by another verse: “Not even the weight of an atom escapes thy Lord, not on earth nor in the heavens; There is nothing smaller nor big than that (the weight of an atom) that isn’t recorded in a clear Book.” (Qu’ran 10/61). Another verse repeat this again: “My Lord knows the unrevealed Mystery (the ghayb). Not even the weight of an atom escapes Him in the heavens or on earth; there is nothing more small or bigger than that, that isn’t recorded in a clear Book.” (Qu’ran 34/3).
The meaning of all this, is that the pure spiritual Substances (or hypostases) carry in them the imprint of the totality of things. When at certain times, for examples during sleep, it happens that our very own souls would mix with them, they would receive in them an imprint of the imprints that these pure spiritual Substance carry in them, and hence they are initiated to the secrets of the world of Mystery. This is because in these privileged moments, the senses are relieved from their usual occupations. And if it weren’t for the trouble caused by the Imaginative function when it stays submitted to the estimative function, it would be easy for us to be informed of the things from the world beyond the reach of the senses. Though, even during sleep, it keeps the soul busy. But, when it happens that this grip loosens, the soul can then receive in her the imprint of the realities beyond the reach of the senses. In this case, the result is a true dream. However, active Imagination always transposes a shape into another shape that is in correspondence with what the soul has seen; it can even transpose into a shape that is in contrast or in opposition. For example, in the case when the soul had seen an enemy, the active Imagination transposes it into an imitative image (mohakat), like that of a snake or a wolf. In the case when it had seen a king, it will transpose it into an image of a sea or a mountain. When the soul forgets what it had seen, even though it remains latent in the memory, it is the active Imagination that shows it to her. There is then need of an interpretation (ta’bir). It is the task of the interpreter to recover of what these imitating-images are the imitation.
It is possible for the prophets and for the great mystical theosophists (the mota’allihun, the virtuous ones) to have, during the waking state, knowledge of the things that are beyond the reach of the senses, either because their soul have the adequate strength by virtue of their original proper nature (fitra), either because they acquired this strength by a way themselves only know and due to knowledge they maintained secret and veiled, having only presented them in their books in the shape of symbols (romuz). Their soul receive in them the imprint of the worlds above the reach of the senses, because their soul is like a perfectly polished mirror, in which the figures of Malakut reflect. It happens that the apparition of the worlds beyond the reach of the senses penetrates until the sensorium (the seat of the senses), and that it has with them the most delectable interview, showing itself to them only under the form of the most beautiful and noble shapes. Here they have the vision of the worlds beyond the reach of the senses through the sensorium; there, they hear the voice of someone without seeing who is talking; or, they read something written. All these are the figures that penetrate inside the active Imagination (guided by the Intellect) and are through-out the active Imagination communicated to the sensorium.
If, most of the time, the active Imagination cannot make these figure appear in the sensorium, it is because the external senses keep it busy with materially present figures, or because the intellect keeps active Imagination busy by the conduct of its meditations. But, if, gradually, a loosening is produced, for example during sleep or at other moments, the active Imagination has power over the sensorium and manages to manifest to it, either fabulous forms-like it happens during incoherent dreams (when the Imagination faculty is kept submitted to the estimative faculty), or, on the contrary, shapes that are as many imitating-images (mohakat) of the realities of the sacrosanct world. In this case, it will result into a true dream or an explicit divine communication.
It happens, sometimes, for epileptics or for hypochondriacs to have access to certain knowledge from the invisible worlds, because their occupations are reduced to a minimum and that their organs are less resistant. Also, it happens that some people seek to make children speak while contemplating things that fascinate sight and fascinate the representative imagination (khayal). One pours, for example, water in a glass and make them contemplate staringly at it; or one makes them look at a surface of a shiny black color, or many other ways…Then the sensible perceptive faculties are put into a state of stupor and the imagination is at a still point, some figures of the world beyond the reach of the senses are then able to access the soul of these children, and one can learn through them authentic things*.’
A Via-HYGEIA Note: * The Count of Cagliostro, the founder of the theurgic ‘Egyptian’ rite of masonry, frequently used ‘induced clairvoyance’ by using an hypnotized child as a ‘medium’ or ‘seer’; calling him/her a ‘dove’; letting him/her contemplate staringly at a recipient filled with water as the support for the ‘insights’ he/she would receive during their quasi-trance like operation.