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effluent atoms of Being are ever striving to rejoin their source, but so long as their phenomenal extrusion lasts they are held back from reunion with their divine source.
Passing to precept, Mahmud says, “ Rest not in the illusions of sense and reason, but abandon your natural realism,' as Abraham abandoned the worship of the host of heaven. Press on till, like Moses at Mount Sinai, you see the mount of your illusive phenomenal existence annihilated at the approach of Divine glory. Ascend like Muhammad to heaven, and behold the mighty signs of the Lord.”
Thus illumined you will see “ The Truth” to be the source of all being, diffused and poured out into the phenomenal world by means of the various emanations, beginning with the Logos and ending with man.
“ The Truth” it is who alone is acting in the universe. All the revolutions of the heavenly spheres, stars and planets, proceed not from themselves, as the undevout astronomer says, but from “ The Truth.” He is, as it were, the Master potter who turns the wheel. The motions of the heavens, the coalescence of discordant elements into bodies, the obedience of plants and animals to the laws of their kinds, are all His never ceasing handiwork.
With regard to man, he is the soul of the world—the microcosm. While other creatures reflect only single divine attributes, man reflects them all. He is an epitome of the universe, and so by introspection he may see in himself reflections of all the divine attributesof the “ fulness of the Godhead.” But on the other side he is black with the darkness and evil of Not being. His object therefore should be to purge away this non-existent corrupt side of himself, which holds him back from union. And, union once attained, thought is no longer possible, for thought implies duality.
III. To « travel into self” means “ introrsum ascendere,” — to journey out of the phenomenal non-existent self into the real self, which is one with “ The Truth.” This journey has two stages, dying to self and abiding in “ The Truth.” When man's phenomenal self is effaced, and the real Self alone remains, law has no longer any dominion over him.
IV. These journeys are called the journey up to God” and the “journey down from God in God,” and are a sort of circuit, and he who completes the circuit is the “ perfect man.”
When man is born into the world evil passions spring up in him, and if he gives way to them he is lost. But if he attends to the promptings of Divine grace and light in his soul, he repents, and is converted, and journeys up to God,-effacing self-will, self-knowledge, and his entire phenomenal corrupt self-existence; and purifying his nobler part from the stain of externality, he ascends in spirit to heaven, and is united in spirit with “ The Truth.”
This stage is the holy state known as saintship, exemplified in saints and prophets.
But the “perfect man ” must not pause in this estatic union, which is above all laws. Notwithstanding this exaltation he must journey down again to the phenomenal world, in and along with God, and in this downward journey he must conform to outward laws and creeds. His sanctification must bring forth the outward fruit of good works.
The law is as a husk, and the holy state of identity with “ The Truth” the kernel; and when the kernel is ripe it bursts the husk. But the perfect man must not rest or abide in this ecstatic state of union with “The Truth," but so long as he is in this life must return to sobriety;" and though “ The Truth” is the fixed and abiding home of his soul, he must wear the law as an outward garment, and the Sufi 'path' or canon as his inward garment, and perform all external legal observances.
The perfection of this saintly state will be seen in Muhammad Mehdi, the seal of the saints,' who by the secret of unity will perfectly attain to “ The Truth.”
V. The man who knows this secret—that all things are One-dies to self, and lives, with regenerate heart, in God. He sweeps away all that comes between God and the soul, and “ breaks through to the
? Another caution, insisted on as well by the Sufis as by European mystics, is that the vagaries of the “inner light” must be checked by recourse to the advice of the Pir, or “Spiritual Director."
oneness,”1 as Eckart said. Good works, it is true, raise men to a * laudable station,' but so long as division and duality and self' remain, true mystical union of knower and known is not attained.
VI. But if knower and Known be one, how comes it that the knower feels within him emotions of love and aspiration drawing him towards the “Known ?' In man's present phenomenal state, the mixture of Not being in him divides him from Being; and these aspirations are the stirrings of the true Being within him, recalling and drawing him as with a magnet to his source. If he be not of those who are born blind to this spiritual light within, these sparks kindle up the flame of love to God, which burns up his phenomenal self, and shows him his real self one with “ The Truth."
VII. The man who, like Mansur Hallaj, the wool-carder, has carded away his phenomenal self, can say, “ I am the Truth ;" for when man takes his eternal side, other,' i.e. Not being, is annihilated, and nothing is left but Being. When God withdraws what belongs to Him all things fall back into their original nothingness. All phenomenal existence is merely an illusion, as we may see from the case of echoes, reflections, past and future time, and fleeting accidents, wherein all the externality or objectivity of substance consists.
VIII. The creature state being thus non-existent, man cannot of himself move, draw near to, or unite with “ The Truth.” Union is only a phrase for annihilating the phenomenal element in man-sweeping off the dust of contingent being. The genesis of the creature world is an eternal process. It is as a drop of water, raised from the sea of Being in mist, poured down in rain, converted into plants, animals, man, and finally recalled into the bosom of the sea. Phenomena are constantly annihilated in the universal Noumenon, and this annihilation is union.
Similarly Tauler preached the necessity of “ fathomless annihilation of self,” and a “transformed condition of the soul,” and “rest in the divine centre or ground of the soul.”—Vaughan, i. 192.
IX. The illusion of free-will is Magianism, setting up an evil first cause, Ahriman, over against the good, Ormuzd. This illusion must be shaken off and annihilated in the conviction that the only free agent is “ The Truth,” and man a passive instrument in His hands, and absolutely dependent on His pleasure. Man's glory lies in abandoning his self-will, and finding his true will in God's will.
X. Going back to the relation of the law to the state of sanctification, called in the fourth answer “ The Truth,”1 and here called “ the knowledge of faith,” Mahmud compares the former to the shell, and the latter to the pearl within it. The Sufi must extract this pearl ; but, on the other hand, he must not break the shell till the pearl within it is fully formed. The law is a schoolmaster to bring him to ". The Truth.” Without this faith, this fixed spiritual habitude, this settled internal character or state of the heart, no external legal works are virtuous in the highest sense. Legal and formal works cannot sanctify man ;? it is the saintly disposition which sanctifies works. From this disposition all the virtues flow spontaneously. All the virtues lie in the mean, in equipoise and harmony, and this harmony of the soul calls down and attracts the Spirit from above. This heavenly spirit operates in man like the sun's beams on the earth. As it were enamoured of the harmonious soul, the Spirit enters into a mystical marriage union with it, the issue of which is gracefulness, virtue and the beauty of holiness. But all these are not of man that worketh, but of God that giveth grace.
XI. Absolute Being is the summum genus embracing all being; but in one sense actual phenomenal being is wider, because it is absolute plus phenomenal limited being. This phenomenal side is
Kashifi's abstract of the Masnavi, called Lab ul labab, arranges the matter of that poem under the three heads of the law, the path, and the truth.
• In the Nafhat ul Uns, the Shaikh of Islam is quoted as saying, “God is veiled from the heart of the man who relies on his own good works.” Compare Luther's doctrine of justification by faith.
renewed every moment, as indicated by the texts about the new creation.' Similarly the texts about the resurrection and world to come' indicate that the dispositions acquired by men in this life will then be manifested in spiritual bodies,' i.e. forms appropriate to them. The perfect will then drink the pure wine' of union with God. There will remain no duality or distinction of persons. Hence faith, reason, devotion, paradise and houris will then become an empty tale. Such will be the perfect 'union' in the world to come, but in this world all ecstatic union is followed by sobriety and separation.
XII. Mahmud concludes this part of the discussion by reiterating his main thesis that all things are One. The Eternal and the temporal are not two distinct entities, since the temporal is merely a subjective illusion, like the circle of fire seen when a single spark of fire is whirled quickly round.
XIII. to XV. These last three sections are devoted to an explanation of the figurative language whereby the Sufis express their conceptions of God and the universe, and their ecstatic experiences. And of this language it may be said that though it seems irreverent and unseemly to us, it did not seem so to them. As Xenophanes 2 saw, men's conceptions of the Deity bear a constant relation to their own moral and intellectual stature. Symbols that we see to be inadequate and misleading, were not improbably the highest attainable by the untutored minds of other ages and countries, and thus possessed, perhaps, a relative goodness of their own. Answer XV. shows us that one of the main characteristics of the Sufis was their readiness to recognise and appreciate whatever seemed to them to be good and true in other religions, such as Christianity, Magianism,
* Law, author of the “Serious Call,” got rid of gross material conceptions of heaven much in the same way.-L. Stephen, English Thought, ii. 407.
? Lewes, Hist. of Philosophy, i. 40.