a selection from henry corbin's the jasmine of fedeli d'amore
I am in the middle of writing my chapter on Imagination and the space of multiplicity, when I found this wonderful piece of translation and interpretation by Corbin, and had to add it here for rememberance. Here it goes:
“Seek Me in the Mystical Abode of Love “
But, whoever dares to carry out this search will find himself obliged to defy the norms and forms of thought in the common, socialized forms of religion, and his proposals will sound like paradoxes (the shath of which Ruzbehan was so fond). To remain faithful, with absolute sincerity, to the presence of his 'inner' God, one may have to accept being taken for a 'black sheep' in the eyes of 'right thinking' Muslims. Such was the case with those called maldmati among whom we find Hafiz. Now, Ruzbehan tells us a detail about himself which really underlines his affinity with Hafiz. He mentions this on the occasion of one of his visions when the contradiction between the Unique and the Multiple was resolved for him; a contradiction that exoteric theology is powerless to overcome, since it recedes before it:
In the days of my youth, met a shaykh who was a man of great mystic science, a maldmati shaykh, whose true face was unperceived by the mass of mankind. One night, I was contemplating a vast plain in the plains of Mystery when suddenly, on the approaches to that plain, I saw God in the guise of that shaykh. As I came up to him, he made a sign to me, showing me another plain. I advanced towards this plain and I saw a similar shaykh and again the shaykh was God. He made another sign, showing me another plain, and so on, until he had disclosed seventy thousand plains to me, and each time a plain drew nearer, I saw a figure similar to the one I had seen first. I said to myself: And yet, God the Most High is unique, one, indivisible, transcending (monazzah) small or large numbers, along with equals, contraries and similars. Then I was told: such are the theophanies of the eternal Attributes, they are boundless. At that moment, I felt the gripping presence of the esoteric realities of tawhid from the sea of Magnificence.
The meaning of this vision is perfectly clear. The plurality of limitless theophanies – a stumbling block for the naive consciousness which would simply see polytheism in it – is resolved each time into being the multiplication of unity by itself, the product of which is always and each time a unity, that is, the unity of the Contemplating and the Contemplated. Such is the visionary mode, a mode which enables the mystic to re-discover in the creature the secret of the Uncreated, without negative theology nor a dialectic of the inaccessible. Recounting another vision in which the whole series of divine Attributes corresponding to the human form were revealed to him, and having been admitted to take part in a mysterious divine Supper, Ruzbehan exclaims: “My God, you nevertheless transcend the act of eating and drinking. If the tears of repentance are the drink of Angels, what of the tears of desire and intimacy shed at the time of the Vision?” “And He said: 'that is my drink.”
pp. 212-13, The Jasmine of Fedeli D'Amore, Henry Corbin