A major work of mystical literature, this account focuses on 14 visions in the form of dramatic conversations with the divine, interspersed with dazzling visionary episodes regarding the nature of existence, humans' relationship with reality, and the way to achieve true happiness. The introduction presents a resume of Ibn 'Arabi's life and examines in detail the style and symbolism of the contemplations. Presented for the first time in English, this work is a superb example of Ibn 'Arabi's inimitable style and deep perception. "A scholarly and lucid translation of a fairly difficult mystical text." -MESA Bulletin "An excellent book for anyone with a contemplative bent. It shows the possibilities that may arise when one engages in serious meditation." -Sufi Magazine
Excerpts: Contemplations of the Holy Mysteries
Take it with strength and make it known to everyone you see . . .
Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi makes it clear that the inspiration to write the Contemplation of the Holy Mysteries came from an extremely elevated level. The first instruction that occurred to him concerning the book was Take it with strength and make it known to everyone you see. This indicates its universal relevance, even though it consists of what may appear to be very private visions and conversations with his innermost Reality. He was also told to verify it for himself and to scrutinize it carefully, implying that it requires close attention in order for its meaning to unfold and become realized.
The Contemplations deals with perennial questions such as the nature of existence, our relationship with the all-encompassing
Reality, the limits by which we define ourselves and the Truth, and the way to happiness. Ibn Arab makes known the meaning and value of the human being, who is the secret of existence and the purpose of creation. He is told, If it were not for you, the mysteries would not exist nor would the lights shine.
Between the mystery of what is unseen and the clarity of what is made manifest, between majesty and beauty, compulsion and
freedom, awe and intimacy, the Fire and the Garden, a line is drawn that allows for the arising of a unified perspective which encompasses all apparent duality. Interspersed with visions of incredible beauty and wonder, and the promise of eternal happiness, is the warning: pass beyond the forms of images to their meaning, act appropriately and be vigilant.
Rise beyond and you will discover.
The book consists of fourteen visions or contemplations, each of
which is linked to the rising of a star. It begins with the contemplation of existence as the star of direct vision rises and continues in an ascending journey to the contemplation of the light of argument as the star of justice rises, when the traveller arrives at the Day of Judgement. In this ascending journey, the rising of
each star heralds a new revelation appearing in the heart of the contemplator.
The style of the Contemplations is similar, in this respect, to a later visionary account written by Ibn 'Arabi, the Kitab al-Isra' or
The Book of the Night Journey. In fact, Ibn 'Arabis close disciple, Ibn Sawdakin, points out in his commentary that the two works are inseparable. Both accounts consist of a sequence of events which follow one another in an ascending series of steps: in the
Contemplations, each vision refers back to the previous one and leads on to the following.
Similarly, both books have a connection to the Quranic Sura of the Star, which begins, By the star, when it sets. According to
Ibn Sawdakins commentary, Ibn 'Arabi relates this to a story in the Quran that tells of Abrahams seeking for the Reality which is permanent. Abraham looked to the heavens, seeing first a star,followed by the moon and then the sun. As each celestial body set, he concluded, I love not those that set and then became free of his attachment to partial and ephemeral things, turning his attention to and worshipping only the single, essential Truth which is the source of all things. This detachment from everything
transitory, and attachment only to the origin of all existence, is an underlying theme of the Contemplations, for, as Ibn Arabi says in his epilogue:
The one who stays with the image is lost, and the one who rises from the image to the reality is rightly guided.
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