Henry Corbin & Suhrawardi: From The ‘Book Of The Temples Of The Light’-The ‘Seventh Temple’
William Blake, ‘Jacob’s Ladder’.
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA is an excerpt from one of Suhrawardi’s treatise, the ‘Book of the Temples of the Light’, the ‘Seventh Temple’. Pages 63 to 66 in the 1976 Fayard French edition by Henri Corbin. Suhrawardi is here seminal and exhilarating, ending his treatise with a beautiful prayer. Our Via-HYGEIA English working translation.
The Seventh Temple
About visionary Imagination; Wonder makers (Thaumaturges); About the parabolas of the Prophets; The Paraclete; About beings of light visitations
I. The thinking soul is an essence belonging to the Malakut. It is the organic faculties of the body and their disquiet and obsessive preoccupations that are diverting the soul of the world that is truly hers. Though, when the soul has gained enough strength by assimilating spiritual perfections, and that the influence of these organic faculties has diminished through food diet and longer waking time, it happens that it manages to free itself and escapes for some short time towards the spiritual world. It unites then with her ‘sacrosanct Father‘ (bi-Abi-ha’l-moqaddas) et receives from Him deep knowledge. The soul unites also with the moving celestial Spheres (Angeli caelestes), who are as much conscious of their own movements than of their inherent consequences of them. It receives secret knowledge, sometime in a dream, sometime during the waking state, in the same manner a mirror reflects the image place in front of it.
It happens also that the soul contemplates something of the world of pure Intelligences (amr’ aqli). The active Imagination elaborates an imitating-image (mohakat), and this image reflects in the sensorium in the same manner that from the sensorium the images are reflecting in the treasure vault of the representative Imagination. The visionary (seer) then contemplates wonderful figures, with which he confers confidentially. Or, he hears words uttered (without seeing the person who is uttering them). Or, a reality of the world of mystery is shown to him (amr ghaybi), and it happens that the apparition seems to rise or descend. But, it is impossible for the immaterial entity that is manifesting through the apparition to rise or descend, because it transcends the properties inherent to material bodies localized in the sensible space. The apparition then is a corporeal shadow (zill jismani) that imitates its spiritual states. Likewise, some dreams are also an imaginative imitation (mohakat khayaliya) of what the soul is contemplating in the pure spiritual world. I speak here of the true and authentic dreams, not of the incoherent dreams that are the results of the pranks of the demon of the ‘phantasis‘.
II. It happens also that the souls that have experienced the ‘theosis‘, are shaken by a sacred emotion. Then rises upon them the aurora of the divine Light. As you may figure out that the piece of iron reddened by the fire is becoming similar to it by its contact with it and it accomplishes like the fire the same action, don’t be surprised then that when the light of the mystical Orient rises upon a soul-and that it is illuminated and set ablaze by it, the surrounding creatures obey it as they would obey sacrosanct beings.
And among the pilgrims of the mystical Orient (the mostashriqun) there are men whose faces are turned towards their ‘sacrosanct Father‘ (Abi-him al-moqaddas). Certain sacrosanct splendors are shown to them (jalaya al-Qods), like announcing the visit of the host that is surrounded by lightnings. In truth, divine guidance (hidayat Allah) reaches this group of Elects who, the hands open, await the celestial manna. When the eyes are open, they meet God, shrouded of the mantel of inaccessible magnificence. His name dominates the circle of Jabarut. and under the rays of His light, a whole people is in waiting*.
*(Note by professor Corbin: They are the Intelligences and the celestial Souls.)
III. ‘It matters that he who scrutinizes the hidden things (mostabsir) firmly teaches the truth of the prophets’ message, and know that the parables of the prophets hint to the gnostic truths, as it is said in the Qur’an: ‘We make use of parables for the commoner; only the wise understands them‘ (29/43), and as one prophet warned: ‘I want to open the mouth in parables‘ (Matthew, 13/13 and 35). Hence the literal revelation (tamzil) is entrusted to the prophets, whereas spiritual hermeneutic (ta’wil) and the explanation (bayan) are entrusted to the supreme epiphany, that of the PARACLETE (al-mazhar al-a’zam al Faraqliti), all Light and Spirit, exactly as Christ did announce it, in saying here: ‘I am going to our Father, so that He may send you the Paraclet who will reveal the spiritual meaning’. (ta’wil) (John, 14/16. 15/26/20/17). And He also said: ‘The Paraclet that my Father will send you in my name will teach you all things‘. (John, 14/26). The words ‘in my name (bismi, ‘together with’, carrying my name) mean that He will be called CHRIST (Masih), because he will be anointed (consecrated Christos) with (or by) the Light (Yomsah bi’l-Nur). And it is alluded in the Qur’an, here where it says: ‘Then, the responsibility comes to us to explain‘. (75/17). The word ‘then‘ shows the transfer to another person.’
IV. ‘And it is certain that the beings of light of the ‘Malakut‘ (the imaginal) realm descend to help those in despair and need, that the rays of light of the most holy world spread over them, and that the path that leads to God opens to who knocks at its threshold, and as the sudden extasy that flashes like a lightning during certain nights when squalls of wind blows. Does God not say here: ‘He is the One who send the winds that announce His mercy’ ? (Qur’an, 27/63). Some time the photisms (light phenomena) come closer to the ecstatic by descending towards him; some other time, the ecstatic comes closer to the photisms by ascending towards them. This vision of light announces, we would venture to say, that the path towards the most holy world is open, so that we may ascend to the high mansions, guarded by the ‘Barzaks’ (barriers, an intermediate realm like Purgatory) and their attachments, forbidding the access to most men.’
‘Our Lord! We have faith in You. We recognize the truth of the prophets’ messages. We know that your ‘Malakut’ has levels. We know that some of your faithful have reached ‘theosis’ (ta’alloh), and that others seek access to the Light amid the darkness in the attitude of the insane. They find their way out of the mud back into the Light and receive the consolation of the perfect Sage. You made them promises and you send them gusts of wind to transport them to ‘Illiyin’ (Heaven, God’s Throne), so that they glorify the splendors of your Face, so that they know how to carry the sacred Books, so that they can suspend themselves to the Cherubs, so that they may climb to the cables of the rays of light, so that they learn how to ask for the help of solitude to gain familiarity with the people of ‘Malakut’. They are those who ascend to Heaven while staying on Earth.
Awake, O my Lord, the souls that slumber on the beds of indolence and apathy, so that they may remember of your Name and celebrate your Glory. Complete our share of wisdom and patience, as they are the parents of all excellences. Grant us to commune in your Will. Make Spiritual Chivalry (fotowwat) our distinctive garment, and may the Illuminating Orient (ishraq) be our path. Your generosity is universal, your kindness spreads towards all worlds.’
‘Here end the ‘Book of the Temples of The Light’.’
(A Via-HYGEIA note: Books I-II-III-IV-VI will come soon, as God allows).
(The ‘Fifth Temple’ available here )