Henry Corbin & Suhrawardi: From The ’Book Of The Temples of The Light’- The ‘Fifth Temple’
‘Ezekiel’s Wheel’ In St. John The Baptist Church
In Kratovo, Macedonia, 1836.
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA is a excerpt from one of Sohravardi’s treatise, the ‘Book of the Temples of the Light’, the ‘Fifth Temple’. Pages 53 to 60 in the 1976 Fayard French edition by Henri Corbin. It is a fitting follow up to our last post about the ‘Iynx-Wheel’, here giving an illuminating Ishraqi perspective and completing chapter X Of The ‘Book Of The Ray Of Light’ as Professor Corbin mentioned in his note: ‘Our author has already reminded us in the fifth temple, chapter II, of the ‘Book of the Temples of the Light’ that the events that are consequential in our terrestrial world are not the finality of their movements.‘ So here are, as promised, the chapters of the ‘Fifth Temple’. A Via-HYGEIA English translation from Corbin’s original French.
The Fifth Temple
The ‘Animae Caelestes’ and the secret of the celestial movements
Entrance of the temple
Chapter I: That the events are following one another infinitely.
Know that any event postulates (elects) in becoming a cause itself becoming. The same reasoning applies to this becoming cause that elects (postulates) in turn a becoming event. Therefore it follows that the becoming causes follow each other infinitely, implying that these causes have no beginning, because with any inauguration of the event, the whole reasoning would need to be repeated.
The thing involved, being renewed in its very essence, is movement. What needs to be said is that within the whole group of the movements, the never interrupting one is the circular one. Enduring movement, it is apt to be the cause of the uninterrupted suite of always becoming events. Precisely, this movement is that of the celestial Spheres. It is this movement that is the cause of the events that are happening in our World.
As the First Agent (al-fa’il al-awwal) being aloof of any change and alteration, it cannot be the immediate cause of the becoming movements. If there were no celestial Spheres, not one event would be occurring. But the movements of the Spheres are not movements simply resulting from their nature, because the Sphere leaves successively every one of all the points its movement led it towards. Therefore, when what is moved by a natural movement has reached the point it was progressing towards, it stops there, because it is its nature that it could not escape from what was its aim. Such is not the movement of the celestial Sphere. Its movement can only be a voluntary movement.
Middle of the Temple
Chapter II: The nostalgy of the ‘Animae caelestes’ and the earthly events.
I. What gives its movement to the Sphere is its Soul (the Anima caelestis). The moving action of the soul setting in motion the mass of the Sphere, is an act of free choice, whereas the mobility of the mass of the Sphere itself under the moving action of the Soul is a mobility by constraint. If we take separately on one hand the mass of the Sphere and on the other hand its moving soul, we say that the movement of the Sphere, whose cause is the moving action of the soul, is a movement by constraint, considered as being under the action of the Soul. But, if we take simultaneously the Sphere and its Soul as forming one being, then the movement of the Sphere is a voluntarily movement. In this aspect, we can therefore say that the Sphere is a being gifted of life and means of perception.
The celestial Spheres do not need to feed, nor to grow, nor to procreate. They have no lustful appetites. And because there is nothing that oppresses nor resists them, they have no irascible (choleric) strength.
II. As far as we are concerned, when we are purified from the obsessions of the body and that our meditation allows us the imaginative vision of the sublimity of the divine Being and the deployed Light of Glory (the Xvarnah), of the light that effuse around Him upon the beings, then we meet inside of ourselves fulgurating lightnings, rising lights that steer the soul towards its orient. We contemplate these light and we reach our goal.
If it is so for us, what may you foresee concerning the Mighty divine Beings (the Animae caelestes) whose apparent form is eternal, whose body is immutable and who are preserved from corruption by their estrangement from the world where the opposition of contraries rule? Because there is nothing by which they could be lead into distraction, never cease for them, neither the auroral Illuminations of the sublime lights of the Lord of Lords, nor the assistance of the subtle divine graces. If the object of their aspiration and of their love wasn’t itself unceasing, their movement would come to an end. This is why each of the celestial Souls has a Beloved (ma’shuq) in the supreme world. It is a victorious archangelic Light (nur qahir), which is at the same time the cause of its being, the provider of its own Light and the one that is in between it (the Soul) and the First Being. It is through this Beloved’s intercession that it can contemplates the divine glory and that it receives influx and lights.
From each illumination rising over it (ishraq) a movement is proceeding in its heaven, and by each movements of its Heaven the celestial Soul is made able to receive the illumination of a new light that is rising from its orient. This is how the succession always renewed of these celestial movements is perpetuated the succession always renewed of the illuminations of the rising lights (ishraqat), and that by the always renewed succession of the rising lights is perpetuated the succession always renewed of the celestial movements. And it is due to this double continuous sequence of the former and the latter that the genesis of the events occurring in the inferior world is perpetuated.
Because, if there were neither the auroral illuminations that the celestial Souls receive, nor the movements that these illuminations produces between themselves, a finite measure only from the divine generosity would be actualized. The outpouring of its plethora would cease, as no change or no alteration are happening in the essence of the First Being, that would lead to a change or an alteration on the outpouring of His plethora. Therefore, if the genesis of the events of this world persists due to the generosity of the First Being, it is due to the perpetual extasy of these divine faithful lovers, the movement of their heavens whirling in favor of the inferior worlds.
III. it is by no means to say that the movements of the celestial Spheres would suffice by themselves to grant existence to things. But, they actualize the states of separation, and the First Being bestows to each thing what corresponds to it’s state of preparation. As there is neither change nor renewal in the Agents, it is by the virtue of the renewal of the state of preparation (isti’ dad) of its recipient that the thing caused by it is renewed.
It may happen that one very same thing has renewed and different effects, due to a renewal and a difference in the state of the recipient, not because of a difference that happened in the state of the Agent. Consider, as an hypothesis, the case of a person that would do no movements and whose state wouldn’t be altered. In front of that person, mirrors are moving that are different by size-great and small- by their limpidity or their opacity. In each of these mirrors appears an image of that person, who, by the capacity of the mirror, differs by size-great or small, by the perfection or the opposite by a defect in the appearance of the colors. This is due, not because of a change in the image’s original, but due to a difference to the state of the recipients (the mirrors). Therefore, the First Being has established a link between stability and stability, between novelty and novelty. He is the principle and the mean of the established connection, so that Good is perpetuated, that the outpouring of His Plethora persists, and that there is no limit to his mercy. Because His generosity is neither mutilated nor deficient; there is no beginning nor end from which It can cease.
IV. The generosity consists in giving what is proper to give without expecting a compensation, as he who acts eying whatever compensation is a pauper. The rich man is he who has in himself and in his essence (perfection) the means to not rely upon others. The absolute rich man, is he who owes his act of being to his very essence (the one whose essence implies by itself existence), and it is the Light of Lights (Nur al-anwar). It’s creative action is unprejudiced, or in order to find a better way to express this: Its essence is an essence from which Mercy overflows spontaneously. And it is the absolute sovereign, because the absolute sovereign is the one to whom belongs the essence of all things, whereas his own essence belongs to no other.
It is unthinkable that being could be more perfect than what it already is. Otherwise, it would mean that divine Essence claims what is inferior to the cost of surrendering what it superior. Far from the truth! What is inherent to its essence, it is what is superior, because what is inherent to what is superior is necessarily superior, likewise the reflect of light is superior to the reflect of its reflect. It is then unthinkable to imagine something more perfect than being as it is. The unthinkable is powerless even when it is yielded by some person of power.
V. Then, that one would extend the discussion unnecessarily about Good and Evil-that presupposes that the Beings from above have their attention turned towards the people from below, or that he imagines that God has not other worlds beyond that dark mound our earth is, and that besides these maggots that we are, God has no other creatures. This man ignores that if what is happening now would happen differently than how it is happening, great amount of evils would result of it, a perturbation of the cosmic order that is far greater than what is occurring nowadays. An order that is impossible to outdo, such is the actual order of the world. When one speaks of a world that would be reached by neither misfortune and trials, if has to be another world than ours: The world of our return and the sanctuary of those among us who are pure souls.
It is as unthinkable to also say that these sacred Being of the superior worlds (al-awali al-qodsiyun, here the Animae Caelestes) have no other worries (concerns) than to tear the veil that protects modesty, to snatch newborns from their mothers and make them orphans in butchering their fathers, to inflict pain to animals, to foster religions that propagate ignorance and to mislead souls, to praise the ignorant and persecute the wise. Of course not ! The Animae Caelestes are fully occupied with contemplating the divine Lights, seeking the auroral splendor through each thing or place where they would show up. From their movements, the events of our world are occurring by a tread of inevitable consequence. But to ever imagine that the Animae Caelestes would regress the movement of their own heaven to a position that would give advantage to any nation on earth is futile, as only misfortune and damages would occur to other universes too. And how their movements could have for a goal the people of the inferior worlds? Again, unthinkable ! The Animae Caelestes move their own heaven so that eternal splendors and divine lights can be reflected upon them. The veneration felt during the divine stations of their contemplation, the influence of the sacrosanct irradiation that the archangelic Lights projects upon them, dominate them to a point that there is no possibility for them to have even a glance on themselves, and even more so for the world below them. Despite this, they know everything that is manifested and what is concealed. Nothing is missing from their knowledge nor from the knowledge of their Creator.
VI. What has been said about the necessary continuity of their movements also show on another perspective that the state of the celestial Spheres is constant, that they are not composed of four elements and that they are not prone to corruption. If they would be composed, they would be prone to dissolution and their movement would not be perpetual. They do not have in themselves anything that belongs to the elements. As heat being hot moves only upwards, cold being heavy only moves downwards; humid welcomes and abandons with great eagerness any new configuration, conjunction and disjunction; dry welcomes both only with difficulty. Therefore, the Spheres are untearable and unpierceable; they do not move in strait lines, nor towards the center, nor from the center. No, their movements are circular and whirl around the center. They are neither heavy nor light, neither hot nor cold, neither humid nor dry. They belong to a ‘fifth nature‘ (tabi’a khamisa, quinta essentia, quintessence). They surround the Earth. If Heaven would not surround the earth, once the sun sets in the West, it would only come back to the Orient by doubling the length of day-time. This is why the heavens are spherical; they surround us; their moving Souls are gifted with life and thought; they are the love faithful of the sacrosanct Light; they are eager to their Principle; there is nothing ‘dead’ in the sidereal world (alam al-athir, the etherical world).
Closing of the Temple
Chapter III: Of the hierarchy of beings according to love’s domination and obedience.
I. The first relationship to blossom in being is the relationship between the First Substance to exist (jawahr qa’im, the First Intelligence) and the Fist Being eternally subsisting (al-Awwal al-qayyum). This relationship is the archetype (omm, the ‘mother‘) of all relationships; it is also the noblest. The First Substance ( the Fist Intelligence) is the love faithful of the First Being, and the First Being, by the light of Its eternal existence, dominates it with such a domination of love that is is impossible to neither fathom nor to reach the bottom of its essence. This primordial relationship is composed with a love obedience (mahabbat) and a love domination (qahr), one of the two terms of this relationship is greater than the other. The modality of this relationship spreads in all the universes, so that the different categories of beings are associated to form pairs.
In fact, this substance consist in two categories: corporeal substance and incorporeal substance. The incorporeal dominates the corporeal one; it is its love object (ma’ shuqa, its beloved) and its cause. One of its sides is the inferior one (that of the lover, who notwithstanding his nomen agentis, is in fact the passive side). Likewise, the immaterial substance consists in two categories: a superior one, active and dominating (the Intelligences, the archangelical Lights, the Angeli intellectuales); the other category is of an inferior hierarchical status, passive and dominated (the Animae caelestes or Angeli caelestes in contrast with the Intelligences).
Likewise, the bodies are divided into etherical (athiri, celestial bodies) and elementary bodies. Moreover, some of these celestial bodies consist in two categories: There are the one that bestow bliss and the ones that bestow the dominating strength. Moreover, there are two luminaries (the Sun and the Moon); one is the display of the image of the Intelligence (Angelus intellectualis) and the other the display of the image of the Anima (Angelus caelestis). Likewise, there is what is above and there is what is below; what is on the right side and what is on the left side; there is the orient and the west. Even with the animals, there is the male and the female; every time a perfect side is paired with an imperfect, in the imitation with the primordial relationship (between the First Being and the First Intelligence). Who would understand this Quranic verse,” And of everything we have created pairs: that you may receive instruction.” (51-49), would understand this.
II. As the Light is the noblest of beings, the noblest of bodies is the most luminous. And the sacrosanct (qiddis), the Father, the Sovereign, HURAKHSH the Mighty, Conqueror of the Darkness, the Ruler of Heaven, Origin of the Day, He whose energies are perfect, Maker of Wonders, He who inherited the best part of divine majesty, He who gives to the bodies their light and doesn’t receive any from anyone. He is the supreme Image of God, its most magnificent Face. After Him, hierarchically, come all the other princes and lords, magnificent and magnified. Glory to the exalted One who gave being and who gave His form! Bless be God, the best of creators!
You can find the other
Via-HYGEIA English translation, ‘The seventh Temple’,
from Suhrawardi’s ‘Book of the Temples of The Light’
(Books I-II-III-IV-VI will come soon, as God allows)