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The Divine Self in Ibn Arabi's Philosophy

According to Ibn Arabi, although the specific relation be-tween the a`yan thabita and the Divine Absolute is beyond the knowing even of the perfect mystic, one can arrive at knowledge of the a`yan thabita themselves, particularily one's own a`yan thabita.  As he says in his Fusus u'l Hikam ("Wisdom of the Prophets"), it may be that God reveals to the mystic "his a`yan thabita and its infinite succession of states, so that he knows himself in the same way as God knows him, having derived his knowledge from the same source." [A. E. Affifi, The Mystical Philosophy of Ibnul Arabi pp.52-3].  A very revealing insight into the nature of the experience of the individual a'yan or Archetype is given by Henry Corbin:

"...To know one's ...own archetypeal essence is to know one's "Angel", that is to say, one's eternal individuality as it results from the revelation of the Divine Being revealing Himself to Himself.  In returning to his Lord: a man constitute an eternal pair of the servant and his LORD, who is the Divine Essence not in generality but individualised in off or another of His Names.  Consequently, to deny this individuation...is to deny the archetypal or theophanic dimension specific to each earthly being....No longer able to appeal to his Lord, each man is at the mercy of a single undifferentiated Omnipotence, from which all men are equidistant, lost in religious or social collectivity.  When this happens, each man tends to confound his Lord, whom he does not know...with the Divine Being as such, and to wish to impose Him on all....Having lost his bond with his specific Lord-archetype (that is, having lost his knowledge of himself), each ego is exposed to a hypertrophy that can easily degenerate into a spiritual imperialism; this know of religion no longer aims to unite each man with his own Lord, but solely to impose the "same Lord" upon all..."
[Henry Corbin, Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn `Arabi (Princeton University Press) p.210]

In the light of the present upsurge in religious fundamentalism world-wide, the concepts presented in the above passage are words are particularly germane.




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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 26 June 1998, last modified 6 September 2004