Thursday, September 27, 2012

Everything is Shared in Love

We must reflect on the love we give each and everything.
Let us look at the condition of human race today. If a man marries a beautiful woman or a woman marries a handsome man, if they have a beautiful child and do many things together lovingly, that certainly is looked upon as love by most people. Their two bodies joined and their two hearts merged and became one for awhile. But what is that love? It is physical love. It is selfish love and illusion. After a while, if the wife should fall ill, her husband will not take care of her. That same husband who promised so much love, saying they had one heart even though they had two bodies, now asks for a divorce. He does not want to look after her when she is ill, and his wife would probably also want a divorce in a similar situation. Is that love? No it is not. In tru love, life must be shared. Illness, wealth, bodily suffering, happiness, joy and sorrow must all be shared. Whenever there is love in which the husband and wife do not share everything equally, that love is born of selfishness. Only when everything is shared can it be called true love.

- M.R.Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mullah Nasrudin and the Key

Mullah Nasrudin is one night looking for something next to a lamp post in the street.
A friend is going by and asks what he’s doing. The Mullah says, “I’m looking for my key which lost.”
The friend decides to help and searches the ground under the lamp post. Half an hour later the friend asks,”Are you sure you dropped your key here?”
Nasrudin replies, “Oh no I lost it inside my house in my bedroom.”
The friend screams, “Why in hell’s name, are we searching here?”
Nasrudin smiles and says, “There much more light here.” 


Nasrudin an The Coffin

Mullah Nasrudin was walking with his son when a funeral procession came by.
The mullah’s son pointed to the coffin and asked him, “What is in that box?” Nasrudin replied, “A man, my son.” The son continued, “Where are they taking him, father, and why are they so sad?” “They are sad because they take him to a place where there is no food, no drink, no bread, no water, no fire, no gold, no carpet, not even a small rug,” said Nasrudin. The son answered, “They must be taking him to our house.”



Tawhid comes to mean the recognition of plurality as no other than the fact that what seemingly appears as many or varied is in reality One and Only in Essence.

The meaning of the word Tawhid or Union as used by many like Ibn 'Arabi (and many that followed him) does not, however, end with its admitted esoteric vocabulary meaning. For Ibn 'Arabi and many that think like him, Tawhid or Union is not a matter of knowing what it means but the act of progression towards the fulfilment of that action and knowledge, to feel an irresistible desire to reach, consciously, that state of being where one is in Union or in Tawhid - i.e. in the state of having formed a concept whereby there exists no other than the One and Only, the Unique Existent, Absolute, not like a monarch, but absolute in the sense that since it is all-inclusive it is not comparable or relatable to anything outside itself and therefore Complete and thereby Perfect. Yet the knowledge of all this is not per se enough to allow one to be in the State of Union or Tawhid.

An example borrowed from Ibn 'Arabi clarifies what is meant by knowing about it and being it. He says one might know what heroism is but that does not make one into a hero until one actually performs an act of Heroism. Then only is one a Hero. So Tawhid or Union is a deliberate act of progression to being One. Not only is it an act which is deliberate, like any other deliberate action, but that action deliberately and consciously undertaken must, by its nature, be all exclusive, irresistible in its attraction, a passion induced by the supreme and all pervading Love of the State of Union or Tawhid. Ismail Hakki Bursevi, who was one of the great teachers of the Jelveti order, now closed, and who translated and commented upon the Fusûs al-Hikam of Ibn 'Arabi in what may be called the definitive commentary on the Fusûs up to now, has an inscription on his modest tomb in Bursa which proclaims that only he who has the Love of Tawhid branded upon his heart brings light to the tomb of Ismail Hakki Bursevi.

As we can gather, Union or Tawhid is both an act of progression and a State of Being to which the action of progression leads but does not stop in its action when once it is in Being.

That Tawhid is both a state of Being and an act of progression without end is due to at least four aspects of the Being Itself:

First because the Being is Complete, Non-relative, therefore beyond relativity defined by time, space, distance. It is infinite. As Einstein says, everything is relative one to another ad infinitum, looking at it from one end of the telescope so to speak. Then that which is not defined by the requisite of the relative is infinite; and the Infinite is limitless, without boundaries in time. Consequently the ever progressive Union is ever, non-stop Continuous Being.

The second aspect derives from this very same non-conditional. That Being is, at all instants, in a different configuration, and different "business" or State of Being, (kulli anin fi she'nin = at every instant in a different state or "business", or at a "thing that is its private thing", which are of the shu'un-i dhatiye or "to do with 'things' of its own Ipseity"). Hence the Progression mentioned and the State of the Union is constantly varied at every instant to suit and conform to the State of the Configuration in which the Being happens to reveal Itself.

The third aspect of the non-stop progression and the State of Being is that it is irremediably and exclusively a matter of Love. Now, according to Ibn 'Arabi, Love is a sentiment with an aim to come into Tawhid or Union with Beauty. Hence it is the vehicle which transports the sentiment for Beauty to Beauty.

When Ibn 'Arabi speaks of sentiment he makes it very clearly understood that he is not talking of an emotion. Emotions are murky at best and Ibn 'Arabi's sentiment is crystal clear and definite, even to the degree of exclusivity. This sentiment is an active feeling which is only translatable with expressive Love which is equally its vehicle. Hence Love is the Love of Beauty to which it transports the Lover. The sentiment and its vehicle coinciding in action, in purpose, in reaching to, and, in the State of Being that which it reaches out towards, Beauty.

One has to be extremely careful in understanding this Beauty, not as something qualified by Beauty, even though we have no other means of expressing it except by a qualifying adjective. Yet we must come to know that Beauty not as qualified by the adjective of Beauty but as sheer Beauty, as Beauty Itself, far beyond anything by which it can be qualified - a Total Beauty, therefore a perfection which can never be qualified except by Its own Being such as It is. A qualifying statement comes as a Hadith in the words of the Prophet Mohammed: in-Allahu Jamilun wa yuhibb-ul Jamal - "In that God is extremely Beautiful and Loves Beauty".

The fourth aspect of the continuous act of progression and the State of Being is that it is Alive, Hayy. Ibn 'Arabi makes us definitely understand that Life is movement. Water which is not in the motion of flowing, therefore not in movement, is stagnant. Stagnant water is "dead" water. Life being the quality of the Being, the State of Its Being is active and in movement. Consequently all action towards Union or Tawhid with that Being and the State of Being of that Being are in constant movement. This consideration takes us back to the third aspect mentioned above. If the Being is in constant movement then Beauty is equally in a state of constant movement. As the movement of Beauty is Love, then the Beauty is in constant Love and it is because of this Sentiment that the Love of Union or Tawhid is a constant progression towards Beauty, as at the same time being in the state of that Being is Beauty.

We have seen the constant movement of Beauty and that the movement of Beauty is Love. Yet Beauty is also in constant expression, as Beauty without expression is inconceivable when there is no one to appreciate that expression or to witness its presence. So the expression of Beauty is Love as well as it being vehicled by Love.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Ibn Arabi On Retreat

Retreat refers to a withdrawal to a place of seclusion or safety: a place of refuge. It may refer to the spiritual practice of retreat as seclusion in a cell or to the general principle of withdrawing or fleeing to God.

Fleeing to God, in the context of Ibn 'Arabi's doctrine on the unity of existence, is not a flight away from one thing towards another, since there is nothing in existence but God; fleeing to God is merely a way of expressing the flight from ignorance to knowledge - a theme which runs through all of Ibn 'Arabi's writings. However, Ibn 'Arabi also wrote specifically about the spiritual practice of retreat in the Futuhat al-Makkiyya, in the Risalat al-anwar which Rabia Terri Harris has translated into English under the title Journey to the Lord of Power and in at least one other treatise which he devotes to the subject, the Kitab al-khalwa.

The practice of physically withdrawing from the world to a cell or some other isolated place is inevitably associated with asceticism. Ibn 'Arabi mentions some of the methods associated with retreat as a practice of withdrawing from the world in the Hilyat al-abdal, which refers specifically to seclusion or solitude, 'uzla. This kind of seclusion is characterised by abstinence, in particular refraining from speech, refraining from the company of people and refraining from food and sleep, described here by Ibn 'Arabi as silence, solitude, hunger and wakefulness. Ascetic elements of the retreat are described not as something in which to remain for their own sake, thereby conditioning what might be given freely, but as a means to an end, for they loosen the grip that the animal self exercises by curbing the natural appetites and they help in the cutting of worldly ties in order to bring the realisation of one's dependence on God Alone: that in silence and solitude conversation may take place with the Real One, for His is the Company, and through hunger and wakefulness it is known that God is the Nourisher and God is the One who gives repose.

Ibn Sawdakîn reports that Ibn 'Arabi told him, "Retreat and seclusion is all for the preparation of the place by cutting the ties. It is agreed that the one who finds intimacy with God the Most High in retreat has really [only] become intimate with retreat, not with God (Allâh), and He is the Truth (al-haqq)." The physical cutting away from wordly attachments and severing from dependence on secondary causes may be helpful as a means of approaching God. However, Ibn 'Arabi seems to indicate that the means should not be taken as important in themselves, lest the seekers familiarize themselves with a method instead of finding closeness to God, and limit Him by trying to approach Him through something other than Himself. Much of what Ibn 'Arabi writes in his letters, treatises and books address a particular individual or group of people, at a certain stage and for a specific reason, all of which is incidental to its purpose of helping others to withdraw from their belief in the existence of anything besides the One and Unique existence. The physical practice of retreat needs to be undertaken within careful guidelines and Ibn 'Arabi makes it clear, in the Risalat al-anwar, which is addressed to someone who is already advanced in spiritual disciplines, that caution needs to be exercised. He says, " not enter your cell until you are aware of your station and of the extent to which you are able to oppose the power of the imagination. If your imagination has power over you, you must go into retreat only under the guidance of a teacher who is trained in discerning spirits and familiar with the Way. If, on the other hand, your imagination is under your control, do not fear to go into retreat."