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Corbin & Suhrawardi: From ‘The Sufi Book of the Word’ – Chapter XXIII & XXV

Artwork by Bo Yin Ra, ‘Urzeugung’.


Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA is another excerpt from Henry Corbin’s ‘L’Ange Pourpre, quinze traités de Sohrawardi’. Fayard, 1976. We continue with Henry Corbin and his translation of Sohrawardi’s major treatises with these two fascinating quotes. Our English translation. From page 171 and 172, from ‘The Sufi Book of the Word’.


Chapter XXIII-Of the flashes of light

If someone is consistent with his meditation of ‘al-Malakut’ (Hygeia note: the Imaginal Realm. Henry Corbin argued that alam-almithal does not consist of images constructed by the mind, but the imaginative faculties unveil a hidden reality within the imaginal realm. An inner in-between place where angelic influence is felt and met ), remembers God from a true conscious attitude; if he applies to his meditation of the holy world a though that is subtle and flowing; if he reduces his meals and desires to the minimum and spends his nights in a familiar and gentle wake in the company of his Lord, soon some soothing raptures will occur, alike the lightning that blazes and immediately folds. Then the lightning lingers on; it lasts; it unfolds; it folds.


Chapter XXIV-Of the Sakina

The ‘breaths’(nefahat) indicate apparitions of lights (lawa’ih, ‘photism’- a synesthetic visual sensation). They are pleasurable and luminous raptures (kholsat) that occur unexpectedly. Then these lights quickly fold, similar to dazzling lightnings. God Most High says speaking of Himself: “It is He who shows you the lightning, by way of both fear and hope.” (Quran, 13/12.) The Sakina, it is a pleasurable rapture that lingers for a while; or it is also a succession of uninterrupted raptures during a certain amount of time. It is a higher mystical state than the recurring photism. The Sakina, it is the ‘Heavy cloud’ that the same Quranic Surah speaks of. God Most High speaking of Him says also: “It is He who send down the Sakina in the hearts of the believers, so that they grow in their faith.” (Quran, 48/4.). When the ‘habitus’ (us as receptacles of the light) is achieved, growth becomes steady.

The ‘fana’ consists in all the attention the soul has for the sweetness it feels disappears, because it is completely focused on the essence produced by this sweetness. When within the soul, the consciousness of anything else than the object of its love has vanished, and when the consciousness of the ‘fana’ itself has also disappeared, it is a mystical state called ‘erasure’ (mahw, tams). As long as inside the mystical theosophist, the given attention to the mystical gnosis (‘irfan) itself has not also vanished, he is only ‘on the way’ and will be stuck there until he has even forgotten this gnosis within the Glory of ‘He who is the subject of Gnosis’.

The Sakina, when it is fully achieved, in the measure of the respective abilities of the mystics, induces by her own essence these modalities. One day, someone asks Ja’far ibn Yunas Shebli, a Khorasanian mystic (ob. 334/945): ‘Does the traces of the ectasis (wajd) appear on the person of the ecstatic (wajid) ?’ and him to answer: ‘Lights gleam over the spirits (arwah). So, their traces appear upon the temples (hayakil).’

I ask as favor from God, something that will lasts always with you, not something perishable. Don’t speak before you reflect. Do not be surprised by anything that is happening within you, because the Giver is of an infinite might. Practice your duty of a steady reading of the Quran, as if it would have been revealed only to you. Gather in your soul the qualities we described earlier. You will be part of the blessed. Know that the Sufi, is the one that gathers in him all the higher ‘habitus’.


More about Henry Corbin: or🌿 More about Suhrawardi:
Corbin & Suhrawardi: From ‘The Sufi Book of the Word’ – Chapter XXIII & XXV

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