Second Branch: The degrees of manifestation of divine names: The all- encompassing manifestation which is universal; the manifestation for species; the manifestation for individuals.
This explains two mysteries which comprise the keys to many further mysteries.
FIRST MYSTERY: “Why do the saints differ greatly in their visions and illuminations although they are unanimous on the principles of belief? Why are their illuminations, which are at the degree of witnessing, sometimes opposed to reality and contrary to the truth? And why in their ideas which they consider to be the the truth, establishing them through decisive proofs, do thinkers and scholars see and show reality in a way that contradicts one another? Why does one truth take on numerous colours?”
SECOND MYSTERY: “Why did the early prophets leave some of the pillars of belief like bodily resurrection in brief form and not explain them in detail like the Qur’an, so that in the future some of their communities went as far as denying some of those concise pillars? Also, why did some of the saints only advance in the affirmation of Divine unity, and although they even progressed as far as the degree of ‘absolute certainty’ in Divine unity, some of the pillars of belief appear in their paths very little and in summary form? And as a result, those who followed them in the future did not give the necessary importance to the pillars of belief, and some of them even fell into error? Since true perfection is found through the unfolding of all the pillars of belief, why did some of the mystics advance significantly in them, while some remained very backward, whereas Allah’s Most Noble Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him), who manifested all the Divine Names at their maximum degree and was the chief of the prophets, and the All-Wise Qur’an, which is the luminous chief of all the sacred scriptures, described in detail all the pillars of belief, clearly, and in a most serious manner and deliberate way?”
Because in reality the most true and complete perfection is thus. Yes, the wisdom in these mysteries is this: for sure man is the place of manifestation of all the Names, but since his power is slight, his will partial, his abilities various, and desires different, he searches for reality among thousands of veils and barriers. So, in uncovering reality and witnessing the truth, barriers intervene. Some people cannot by-pass the barriers. Their abilities are all different. The abilities of some cannot support the unfolding of some of the truths of belief. Moreover, the colours of the Name’s manifestations vary according to the place they are manifested; they become all different. Some people who manifest them cannot be the means to the complete manifestation of a Name. Also, the manifestation of the Names takes on different forms in respect of universality, particularity, shadow, or originality. Some capacities cannot transcend particularity. And some cannot emerge from the shadow. In some capacities, sometimes one Name is predominant, and it carries out its word and rules in that capacity. Now we shall make a few indications to this profound mystery and this extensive wisdom with an enigmatical, comprehensive, true, but somewhat complex, comparison.
For example, let us suppose an adorned flower, a living droplet enamoured of the Moon, and a translucent atom which looks to the Sun. Each of these possesses consciousness and some perfection, and each has a yearning for that perfection. Together with indicating many truths, these three things also allude to the spiritual voyaging of the soul, the mind, and the heart. They also correspond to three levels of those who investigate reality. (1)
The First indicates those who follow the path of intellectual thought; those who follow the path of sainthood; and those who follow the path of prophethood.
The Second corresponds to those who approach reality by striving for perfection through the bodily systems; and those who approach it by striving with the mind and refining the soul; and those who approach it through belief, submission, and purifying the heart.
The Third is the comparison of those who do not give up egotism, are plunged in works, and approach reality through deduction and reasoning only; and of those who search for reality through knowledge and science, reason and learning; and those who approach reality swiftly through belief and the Qur’an, poverty and worship. These comparisons point to the wisdom in the differences between the three groups, whose capacities are also different.
Thus, under the titles of Flower, Droplet, and Atom, we shall show by means of a comparison, the mystery and extensive wisdom in the progress of the three groups. For example, through its Creator’s permission and at His command, the Sun has three sorts of manifestation, reflection and radiance: one is its reflection on flowers, one its reflection on the Moon and the planets, and one its reflection on shining objects like glass and water.
The First is in three ways:
One is a universal and general manifestation and reflection whereby its radiance encompasses all flowers at once.
Another is a special manifestation whereby it has a special reflection for each species.
Another is a particular manifestation whereby its effulgence is in accordance with the individuality of each flower. This comparison of ours is in conformity with this statement, that the adorned colours of flowers arises from the changing reflections of the seven colours in the Sun’s light. According to this, flowers too are sorts of mirrors to the Sun.
The Second is the light and effulgence which, with the All-Wise Creator’s permission, the Sun gives to the Moon and planets. Having received this extensive, universal light and effulgence, the Moon, whose light is like a shadow of that light, profits from the Sun in a universal fashion. Then its radiance and effulgence shines in a particular way on the seas and air and shining earth, and partially on the bubbles on the sea and translucent particles of the earth and the molecules of the air.
The Third is, through the Divine command, a reflection of the Sun which, making the air and the surface of the seas into mirrors, is pure, universal, and without shadow. Then the Sun gives to each of the bubbles on the sea, the droplets of water, molecules of air, and snow-flakes, a particular reflection and tiny image of itself.
Thus, in the three forms mentioned above, the Sun bestows an effulgence and favour on every flower, the Moon, and all droplets and atoms. And these in turn are each in two ways:
The First Way is direct, and without barrier or veil. This way represents the way of prophethood.
The Second Way: In this, barriers intervene. The capacities of the mirrors and places of manifestation add colour to the Sun’s manifestations. This way represents the way of sainthood.
Thus, on the First Way, ‘Flower’, ‘Droplet’, and ‘Atom’ can each say: “I am a mirror to the Sun of all the world.” But on the Second Way they cannot say that; they can rather say: “I am the mirror to my own Sun, or the mirror to the Sun which is manifested in my species.” For that is the manner in which they know the Sun. They cannot see a Sun which looks to the whole world; the Sun of that individual or species or genus appears to it within narrow confines and under limiting restrictions. And it cannot ascribe to that restricted Sun the works of the unrestricted, unconfined, absolute Sun. For within those narrow restrictions and limited confines it cannot attribute to the Sun with the certain witnessing of the heart its majestic works like furnishing the whole face of the earth with light and heat, stirring all plants and animals into life, and making the planets revolve around it. Indeed, even if those three things, which we suppose to have consciousness, ascribe those wondrous works to the Sun which they see under those restrictions, they can only do so with the mind and through belief, and through submitting to the fact that that restricted thing is absolute. Whereas these judgements of ‘Flower’, ‘Droplet’, and ‘Atom’, which we suppose to possess reason like a human being, that is, their ascribing those mighty works to the Sun, is through the mind and reason, it is not through illumination. Indeed, sometimes their judgements concerning belief clash with their illuminations about the cosmos. They can only believe them with great difficulty.
Now the three of us must enter into this comparison, which is narrow for reality, but in some of the corners of which the members of reality are to be seen and which is mixed with reality. The three of us shall suppose ourselves to be ‘Flower’, ‘Droplet’, and ‘Atom’. For the consciousness which we suppose them to have insufficient. We must add our reasons to theirs. That is to say, just as they receive effulgence from their physical Sun, we too shall receive effulgence from our immaterial Sun, and must understand it.
And so, my friend, who has not forgotten the world, is preoccupied with materiality, and whose soul is dense! You be ‘Flower’. ‘Flower’ takes on a colour dissolved from the Sun’s light, and it mixes the Sun’s image in with that colour and clothes itself in an adorned form. For your capacity resembles it as well. Then let this philosopher who has studied secular science and is plunged in causes like the Old Said be ‘Droplet’, which is enamoured of the Moon. For the Moon affords him the shadow of light it has received from the Sun, and it gives a light to the pupil of his eye. ‘Droplet’ too shines with the light, but he can only see the Moon with it, he cannot see the Sun. Rather, he can only see it through his belief. Then, let this poor man be ‘Atom’, who knows everything to be directly from Almighty Allah and considers causes to be a veil. He is such an ‘Atom’ that knows himself to be poor in his own self. He has nothing on which to depend so as to rely on himself like ‘Flower’. He possesses no colour that he should appear through it. And he does not recognize other things that he should turn towards them. He has a sheer purity by which he holds the Sun’s image directly in the pupil of his eye. Now, since we have taken the place of these three things, we must consider ourselves. What do we have? What must we do?
Thus, we look and see that through his favours a Most Munificent One is adorning, illuminating, and nurturing us. And man worships one who bestows favours on him. He wants to be close to one worthy of being worshipped, and desires to see him. In which case, in accordance with our capacities, each of us journeys through the attraction of that love. You who is like ‘Flower’, you are going, but go as a flower. See, you have gone. You have advanced and advanced till you have reached a universal degree, as though you have become like all flowers. But ‘Flower’ is a dense mirror; it dissolves and refracts the seven colours in light; it conceals the Sun’s reflection. You will not be successful in seeing the face of the Sun which you love, for the colours and characteristics, which are restricted, disperse it, draw a veil over it and obscure it. In this situation, you cannot be saved from the separation which occurs with the interposing of barriers. However, you can be saved on one condition, which is that you raise your head, which is sunk in love of your own soul, and withdraw your gaze, which glories and takes pleasure in its own merits, and cast it at the face of the Sun in the sky. But on condition you turn your face looking down to the earth to gain your livelihood, up to the Sun. For you are its mirror. Your duty is to act as a mirror to it. Whether you know it or not, your sustenance will anyway come from the earth, the door to the treasury of mercy. Yes, a flower is a miniscule mirror of the Sun, and the Sun too is merely a drop-like flash manifesting in the seas of the skies the Name of Light of the Pre-Eternal Sun.
O heart of man! Understand from this, of what sort of a Sun you are the mirror. After fulfilling this condition, you will find your perfection. But just as in actual reality you cannot see the Sun in that way, so you cannot understand this truth naked; the colours of your attributes give it a colour and your cloudy telescope imposes a form on it, and your limited capacity restricts it.
Now, wise philosopher who has entered into ‘Droplet’! You have advanced as far as the Moon with the telescope of your droplet of thought and by the stairway of philosophy. You have entered the Moon. Look, of itself the Moon is dense and dark; it has neither light nor life. Your endeavour has all been in vain and your knowledge has proved to be profitless. You can only be saved from the darkness of despair, the desolation of loneliness, the pestering of evil spirits, and the horrors of that bleakness through these conditions: that you give up the night of nature and turn to the Sun of reality, and you believe with complete certainty that the light of this night are the shadows of the lights of the daytime Sun. After fulfilling these conditions, you will find your perfection. You will find the majestic Sun in place of the poor and darksome Moon. But like your previous friend, you will not be able to see the Sun clearly; you will see it beyond the veils with which your reason and your philosophy are familiar and conversant, and behind the screens woven by science and learning, and within a colour conferred by your capacity.
And now our Atom-like third friend, who is both poor and colourless. He swiftly evaporates in the Sun’s heat, abandons his egotism, mounts the steam, and rises into the air. The dense matter within him takes fire with the flame of love and is transformed into light and radiance. He adheres to a ray proceeding from the manifestations of that light, and draws close to it. O you who resembles ‘Atom’! Since you act as a direct mirror to the Sun, at whatever degree you are, you will find an opening, a window, looking purely at the Sun itself in a fashion that affords absolute certainty. And you will experience no difficulty in attributing to the Sun its wondrous works. Without hesitation you will be able to ascribe to it the majestic attributes of which it is worthy. Nothing will be able to take you by the hand and make you forego ascribing to it the awesome works of its essential sovereignty. Neither the constriction of barriers, nor the limitations of your capacity, nor the smallness of mirrors will confuse you, nor impel you contrary to the truth. Because, since you look at it purely, sincerely, and directly, you have understood that what appears in the places of manifestation and is observed in the mirrors, is not the Sun, but manifestations of it of a sort, and coloured reflections of it of a sort. For sure those reflections are its titles, but they do not display all the works of its splendour.
Thus, in this comparison, which is mixed with reality, perfection is reached by means of three ways which are all different, and which differ concerning the virtues of those perfections and the details of the degrees of witnessing. But in conclusion and in submitting to the Truth and confirming the reality, they are in agreement. Just as a man of the night who has never seen the Sun and has only seen its shadow in the mirror of the Moon, cannot squeeze into his mind the resplendent light and awesome gravity particular to the Sun, but submits to those who have seen it and imitates them; similarly, one who cannot attain to the maximum degrees of Names like All-Powerful and Giver of Life through the legacy of Muhammad (PBUH), accepts the resurrection of the dead and Great Gathering imitatively, and declares it is not a matter that can be understood through the reason. For the reality of the resurrection and Last Judgement is the manifestation of the Greatest Name and of the supreme degree of certain other Names. Those whose gaze cannot rise there are compelled to believe it by way of imitation. While those whose minds can enter there, see the resurrection and Last Judgement as easily as day and night, and spring and winter, and accept it with an easy mind.
Thus, it is due to this mystery that the Qur’an speaks of the resurrection and Great Gathering at the highest level and in the most perfect detailed manner, and our Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him), who manifested the Greatest Name, taught it thus. And as required by the wisdom of guidance, the former prophets did not teach their communities, which were at a somewhat simple and primitive level, about the resurrection of the dead at the highest level and with the most extensive details. It is also due to this mystery that some of those who followed the path of sainthood did not see or could not demonstrate some of the truths of belief at the greatest degree. It is also due to this mystery that there are pronounced differences in the degrees of those who have knowledge of Allah. Numerous other mysteries like these unfold from this truth. Now, since both this comparison hints at the truth a little, and the truth is extremely extensive and profound, we also shall content ourselves with the comparison, and not attempt mysteries which are beyond our limit and capacity.
(1) There are also three groups in each level. The three things given as examples in the comparison look to these three groups which are in each level. Indeed, they look to those nine groups, not the three levels.
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