William Blake, ‘Jacob’s Ladder’.
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA is a quote from one of Sohravardi’s treatise, the ‘Book of the Temples of Light’, part III, IV and epilog of the Seventh Temple. Pages 65 to 66 in the 1976 Fayard French edition by Henri Corbin. Sohravardi is here seminal and exhilarating, ending his treatise with a beautiful prayer. Our English working translation.
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 Qoran: ‘We make use of parables for the commoner; only the wise understands them’ (29/49), 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 PARACLET (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 Qoran, here where it says: ‘Then, the responsibility comes to us to explain’. (75/16). 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’ ? (Qoran, 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 East (ishraq) be our path. Your generosity is universal, your kindness spreads towards all worlds.’