Bibliotherapy

Michael-Sebastian Noble-Fakhr al-Din al-Razi’s Guided Meditation

Persian, 15th century, from a manuscript entitled Miraj Nama, which is in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

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Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA is a quote from Michael-Sebastian Noble’s ‘Philosophising the Occult’, Avicennan Psychology and ‘The Hidden Secret’ of Fakr al-Din al-Razi’, De Gruyter, 2021. It is an in-depth study of Al Razi’s ‘Al-Siir al-Maktum’ (the Hidden Secret) impressive treasure trove about the Harranian Sabians and their teachings.

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‘Razi’s esoteric understanding of the ritual prayer performed by the ‘arif’ (the wise, the gnostic) is a mystical mimesis of the prophetic heavenly ascent, a flight from the corporeal world of sense perception, to the unseen world-the world of spirits (alam al-arwarh), the lowest level of which comprises the human. The human spirit is thus an isthmus between the corporeal and spiritual worlds. Addressing the spiritual aspirant who desires to be of the rank of those ‘desirous of the divine countenance’, Razi provides the following guided meditation, advising him to:

‘…Summon to your soul the presence of all creations of God the Exalted that belongs to the world of bodies and of spirits, so that you embark from your own soul, summoning to your intellect the presence of your organs-both simple and composite-and all your natural animal and human powers.

Then summon to your intellect the totality of all that is in this world, all species of minerals, plants and animals-human and non-human. Then include the seas, the mountains, hills and deserts, and the totality of all therein-of wondrous plants, animals, and the tiniest motes of dust.

Then ascend from them to the nearest heaven and its vast expanse. Continue ascending from heaven to heaven until you reach the Lote Tree of the Nethermost Boundary (sidrat al-muntaha), the Cushion, the Tablet, the Pen, the Garden, The Fire, the Footstool and the mighty Throne.

Then transition from the world of bodies to the world of spirits and summon to your intellect all lowly earthly spirits-both human and non-human; and summon to your intellect all the spirits connected with the mountains and the seas-just as the Messenger, upon whom be peace, spoke of the angel of the mountains and the angel of the seas.

Then summon the angels of the nearest heaven and the angels of the seven heavens, as he, upon whom be blessings and peace, said: “In the heavens there is not even the space of a hand’s width in which an angel is not standing or sitting.” Summon to your intellect the thronging angels encircling the throne, and all the bearers of the throne and the footstool.

Then transition from them to that which lies beyond this world as He, the Exalted said: ‘And none knows the hosts of thy Lord but He.” So, when you summon to your intellect all these divisions of spiritual and corporeal beings, say: “God is greater (Allah Akbar)”.’

 The corporeal world-the world of the senses- is a bridge to the world of the spirits. Auto-gnosis being the point of departure in this journey, knowledge and experience of embodied existence, and the ontological connections between the lower and higher worlds, constitute the aspirant’s ladder to the latter. This entire elaborate meditation, which harmonises so closely with the spiritual cosmology we have encountered in ‘al-Siir’ and in ‘al-Matalib’ is a preparatory exercise that precedes the very ritual formula by which the formal prayer (al-Salat), as preformed by the ‘arif as he raises his hands, is initiated. As Razi avers, “it is the intended meaning of his saying, at the beginning of the Şalat, ‘God is greater!”

The Sabian talismanic science discloses the intricate web of congeneric connections that link the corporeal to the spiritual world, and how the spirits of the latter mediate the influence, transmitted from the outmost sphere, on generation and corruption in the former. Brought into the preparatory cosmological meditation that is the very threshold of the ‘arif’s şalat, it assists the aspirant in constructing the epistemological ladder by which he might traverse the boundary between the corporeal and spiritual worlds. Stripped bare of its astrolatry, Sabianism has now been restored to the purity of its original monotheism and summoned by the Islamic philosophers-theologians (i.e., Suhrawardy) to assist the ‘arif in his cosmological ascent to mystical knowledge of God.’

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