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Henry Corbin-The Hermetic Idea of Perfect Nature According to the Harranian Sabeans

Picture: Harran, Turkey

“…/…The relationship is in fact so fundamental that it is found again in Manicheism, and is also what, in Sohravardi’s “oriental theosophy,” makes it possible for us to conceive the relationship between the Perfect Nature of the mystic and the archetypal Angel of humanity (identified with the Holy Ghost; the Angel Gabriel of the Qur’anic Revelation, the active Intelligence of the Avicennan philosophers). What this Figure represents in relation to the totality of the souls of light emanated from itself, each Perfect Nature represents respectively for each soul. The concept of this  relationship is what we are guided toward by the Hermetic texts in Arabic concerning Perfect Nature.


The most important of these texts known today is a work attributed to Majriti: the Ghayat al-Hakim (the “Goal of the Sage”), composed no doubt in the eleventh century, but from far more ancient material, since it informs us in detail about the religion and ritual of the Sabeans of Harran. There already Perfect Nature is described as “the philosopher’s Angel,” his initiator and tutor, and finally as the object and secret of all philosophy, the dominant figure in the Sage’s personal religion. Again and again, the description sounds the fundamental note: his Perfect Nature can only reveal itself “in person” to one whose nature is perfect, that is, to the man of light; their relation is this unus-ambo in which each of the two simultaneously assumes the position of the I and the self-image and mirror: my image looks at me with my own look; I look at it with its own look.


‘The first thing you have to do in relation to yourself, is to meditate attentively on the spiritual entity (ruhaniyato-ka, “your angel”) which rules you and which is associated with your star namely your Perfect Nature-which the sage Hermes mentions in his book, saying: “When the microcosm which is man becomes perfect in nature, his soul is then the homologue of the sun stationed in Heaven, whose rays shed light on all horizons.” Similarly, Perfect Nature rises in the soul; its rays strike and penetrate the faculties of the subtle organs of wisdom; they attract these faculties, cause them to rise in the soul, just as the rays of the sun attract the energies of the terrestrial world and cause them to rise in the atmosphere.’


Thus it is suggested that between Perfect Nature and its soul, there will be a relationship-as formulated in the psalm composed by Sohravardi to his own Perfect Nature-such that the Bearer of the Child is simultaneously the Child who is Born, and vice versa.


‘Wise Socrates declared that Perfect Nature is called the sun of the philosopher, the original root of his being and at the same time the branch springing from him. Hermes was asked: “How does one achieve knowledge of wisdom? How can one bring it down to this world below?” “Through Perfect Nature / he answered. “What is the root of wisdom?” ” Perfect Nature.” “What is the key to wisdom?” “Perfect Nature.” “What then is perfect Nature?” he was asked. “It is the heavenly entity, the philosopher’s Angel, conjoined with his star, which rules him and opens the doors of wisdom for him, teaches him what is difficult, reveals to him what is right, in sleeping as in waking’. “

Henry Corbin

🌿 From Henry Corbin, ‘The Man of Light on Iranian Sufism’. From page 16 to 17. Omega Editions, 1994, New York. 🌿 Further Reading: 🌿
Henry Corbin-The Hermetic Idea of Perfect Nature According to the Harranian Sabeans


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