11/17/10

The Recurrence of Creation






















The Recurrence of Creation


Henry Corbin: Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of  Ibn ‘Arabi
The Recurrence of Creation
This is one of the key terms in the theosophical system of Ibn 'Arabi; the idea of recurrent creation calls the very nature of creation into question. . . 

Creation signifies nothing less than the Manifestation of the hidden Divine Being in the forms of beings: first in their eternal hexeity, then--by virtue of a renewal, a recurrence  that has been going on from moment to moment since pre-eternity--in their sensuous forms.

We do not notice that there is existentiation and passing away at every moment, because when something passes away, something like it is existentiated at the same moment.  We look upon existence, our own for example, as continuous, past-present-future, and yet at every moment the world puts on a “new creation,” which veils our consciousuness because we do not perceive the incessant renewal.

At every breath of the “Sigh of Divine Compassison” being ceases and then is; we cease to be, then come into being.  In reality there is no “then” for there is no interval.  The moment of passing away is the moment in which the like is existentiated.   For the “Effusion of being” that is the “Sigh of the Compassion” flows through the things of the world like the waters of a river and is unceasingly renewed. . .  And all this happens in the instant, a unit of time that is indivisible . . . the atom of temporality which we designate as the “present” . . . though the senses perceive no interval.

In the realm of the manifest, there is only a succession of likes from instant to instant.

This world has no beginning or end; the “other world” is perpetually engendered in this world and from this world. . .   This is the other world, or rather, this already is the other world.

The intuitive mystics [for Ibn ‘Arabi] “see” God epiphanized in each soul by the renewal of His theophanies.  And precisely that is what we mean by Recurrent Creation or the recurrence of Creation.  Of course such vision is not sensory experience, but it is far more: for he who has understood the reality of this recurrence of Creation has also understood the secret of Resurrection.

When the veil is lifed in the other world, the knot, that is to say, the dogma which binds him to his particular faith, is untied; dogma gives way to knowledge by direct vision.  

Perpetual Ascension
Every being is in a state of perpetual ascension, since its creation is in a state of perpetual recurrence from instant to instant.  This renewed, recurrent creation is in every case a Mainifestation of the Divine Being manifesting ad infinitum the possible hexeties in which He essentializes His being.  If we consider the creature in relation to the Creator, we shall say that the Divine Being descends toward concrete individualizations and is epiphanized in them; inversely, if we consider these individualizations in their epiphanic function, we shall say that they rise, that they ascend toward Him.  And their ascending movment never ceases because the divine descent into various forms never ceases.  The ascent is then the Divine Epiphany in these forms, a perpetually recurrent Effusion, a twofold intradivine movement.  This is why the other world alaready exists in this world; it exists in every moment, in relation to every being.

. . . To “see” this is to see the multiple subsisting in the one. . . And so  the man who knows himself with this knowledge, that is, who knows his “soul” is the reality of the Real Being, manifesting Himself in this form--such a man knows his Lord. . . his creator is His own creature. . .


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Tom Cheetham:   The World Turned Inside Out:  Henry Corbin and Islamic Mysticism 
Perpetual Ta’wil : The Recurrence of Creation
The Creation itself as the realization of the Divine Compassion, the Breath of the Merciful, is itself the link between the human soul and the Divine.  And because of its living connection, it must be active, continually alive, subject to perpetual ta'wil.  This Creation is a recurrent Creation, not accomplished once and for all, such that we can at some time hope to know the ends of it.  "Creation as the 'rule of being' is the pre-eternal and continuous movement by which being is manifested at every instant in a new cloak." 
[Note: the words in "quotes" -here and below- are from Henry Corbin's book (see above) Creative Imagination]

This ceaseless creation is invisible to us:  "At every instant" each being is created anew perpetually--and so ceases to be and becomes at every instant.  This ceasing to be is fana, annihilation . . .  The other side of this, the perpetuation of each being, is accomplished through its existence in the One Divine Being . . .  

This manifestation and annihilation occurs eternally, perpetually, instantaneously, and in all the hierarchy of worlds from the terrestrial upwards.  The interpenetration of this world and the other means that "this is the other world, or rather, this already is the other world."
  This is the "secret of Resurrection:" there is a "continuous ascension of being . . . and their ascending never ceases because the divine descent into the various forms never ceases . . .  it exists in every moment."  

The beginning of the ascension is that spiritual birth which gives one access to the mundus imaginalis [the imaginal world] and so "an increasing capacity for acceptance of forms forever new."  The eschatology of Resurrection must be understood not only as referring to the worlds after death, but to spiritual birth in this world also.  And it applies not only to humanity: "every being is in a state of perpetual ascension, since its creation is in a perpetual recurrence from instant to instant."

This cosmology presents a radical challenge to the understanding of the meanings of Transcendence and Immanence, of Creation and Imagination, which have molded Western thought.

It is the deepest purpose of human existence to journey from the outward to the inward and so “return creation to its origin.”  [Cheetham is here quoting Henry Corbin; and a note: the word ta'will means "return to the origin."] 


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Swami Shantananda:  Splendor of Recognition: An Exploration of the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam: a Text on the Ancient Science of the Soul 
The Hindu sage Utpaladeva discusses Divine Manifestation in terms of abhasa-vada, a concept that seems quite similar to Abin Arabi’s “recurrent creation.”  Following are quotes taken from Swami Shantanada’s book where he defines and discusses Utpaladeva’s ideas. SF   

A Theory of Manifestation
A vada is a doctrine or theory; and an abhasa is that which flashes, illumines, appears, or manifests, and it also means “splendor.”   The great yogic sage Utpaladeva (ca. AD 900-950) postulates that everything we experience and perceive is an abhasa, or a combination of abhasas.  That’s like saying that everything in life is a projection, a flashing forth, of Reality. . .  There is nothing in this universe but God.  It’s all God.  Only our understanding makes us see it otherwise.

How are abhasas created?  It’s like staring at the sky on a winter day: the snow seems to fall from some undefined space.  Similarly, all created forms issue forth from the unformed and undifferentiated space of Consciousness. . .  Just as the snowflakes crystallize from the atmosphere into marvelous delicate designs, so do abhasas crystallize in an astonishing variety of structures.

If abbhasas are created things, I’ve wondered, why didn’t Utpaladeva simply call them “objects”?  By choosing the terms abhasa, he seems to emphasize two significant aspects of the creative act: on the one hand, that objective manifestations are forms of mahaprakasa, the great light of Consciousness, which illumines; and on the other hand, that they are ephemeral flashes, mere projections onto the screen of Citi [the creative power of universal Consciousness] with no permanent existence.  In spite of the flickering and precarious nature of abhasas, without them, there would be no world to perceive.  Without abhasas, we couldn’t understand what it is to be a subject; our existence would be a diffuse spread of light with no form, no limits, no definitions, and no variety.

Every time a perception takes birth, the subject also takes birth; the existence of one implies the existence of the other.  Every time I see a person or hear a sound or have an idea, I define myself as a subject.  Likewise, Siva [absolute Reality personified as God] is the universal subject only because he chooses to experience his creation; without that creation, he would not be a subject but an abstract entity incapable of manifestation.  

For me, the the quality of “hiddenness” is a highly significant aspect of abhasa-vada. . . One reason life seems so perplexing is that many abhasas are veiled or unobserved. . . we’re sending and receiving abhasas all the time, often without even knowing it. . . we are forever creating realities, and these realities have their own existence and their own effect, regardless of our awareness of what we’re doing.  In other words, the multiple layers of manifestation happen simultaneously, whether or not we’re conscious of them. 

Abhasas appear at all levels of creation . . . An abhasa can be a solar system, a country, a hat, or it can be a molecule or a particle of energy.  Anything that streams out of the great light of Consciousness is an abhasa.  Our physical bodies, for instance, are universes of astonishing complexity, comprising countless abhasas. . .  At the subtlest level, our bodies are nothing but shining particles of light, pure energy--and, according to Utpaladeva, each of these particles is an abhasa.

There is no one correct way of seeing this universe; every viewpoint, no matter how odd or oblique, has a foundation in Reality.  It is jut one more way in which the universe manifests.  And we know that it manifests in an immense variety of forms . . .

The Fleeting Nature of Life
Abhasas flash forth . . . incessantly and at a fantastic speed. . . When I speak to someone for just a few moments, that person is created and destroyed millions of times right before my eyes.  The abhasas that compose his body, his voice, his feelings, his gestures are appearing and disappearing, vibrating beyond the reach of my senses.  Each pulsation of spanda [divine energy] creates, maintains, and destroys everything.  The reason I can identify the person who appears in one moment as the same person I was speaking with just a moment before is that these abhasas flash forth in a given pattern, re-creating the person’s form and once again animating it.  According to Utpaladeva, each moment of our perception is composed of a series of abhasas, pulsating with tiny  consecutive modifications that give us the impression of movement. . .   Although on the physical plane we are aware of the stability of the Great Pyramid, on the cosmic level this very structure has vanished and re-emerged billions upon trillions of times.  In this sense, even the oldest human construction is only a fleeting appearance, a thing without stability in the infinitude of Consciousness.   

Abhasana: the capacity to re-create the world 
In exactly the same manner as the abhasas, those sparkles of conscious light that flash forth all forms in the universe, through our senses we project the objects that we perceive, causing them to appear before us. . .   Abhasana is the capacity to re-create the world, to make it manifest before us, and this power springs from the heart of Siva within our bodies.  

It is said that when Siva opens his eyes, the universe comes into being; the same happens with us when we activate our sense of sight, hearing, touch, smell, or taste.  Our experiences [of the senses] are abhasas, reproductions of the divine power creating our own universe.  Our senses of perception are beams of sakti [the dynamic aspect of absolute Reality; creative force of the universe] manifesting our perceptions on the mirror of the mind.  The saktis appear from their origin, the Self, faster than physical light, apprehending the objects of the world and projecting them, just as a camera prints images on a film.  The act of perception culminates when the experiences are labeled: “toast and coffee,” “wet grass,” and “so-and-s0’s voice.”  The memories that come to our mind concerning these images are also abhasas, are also perceived on the mental mirror.  Behind the screen, the Self--Siva himself--observes the impressions dancing for his pleasure.


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Henry Corbin (1903-1978) : The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism  

Henry Corbin’s book is about the Sufi mystic’s journey of the spiritual path.  Corbin writes:  It is the ascent out of cartographical dimensions; the discovery of the inner world, which secretes its own light, which is the world of light . . . an innerness of light as opposed to the spatiality of the outer world.  


In Corbin’s world of metaphor we enter into the light of angels, an altogether different  kind of Darkness called by the mystics the “Night of light,” the “luminous Blackness” or “black light.”  This other-worldly light is the light of the soul, “the light of consciousness rising over the Darkness of the subconscious” says Corbin in which the divine "Cloud of Unknowing" gives birth to an interior burst of the initiatic light of the “Midnight sun.”  Corbin comes to the realization that each mystic, in fact each one of us, is accompanied on our journey by an “invisible Guide,” the “heavenly Partner,” the “Holy Spirit,” “the Figure of light.” 

Each stage of the journey to “Paradise,” the “Earth of light,” the Terra lucida, the “heavenly Earth,” is marked by a sequence of signs of colored light concluding in the outburst of green light . . . that may precede or succeed the “darkness at the approach to the pole,”  that is, the “light of the North” which is an interior place with its own divine “light” ablaze with immaterial matter.  The green light is the sign of completed growth of the subtle body of the seeker through a conjunction of the seeker’s soul with it’s angel of light.



The Light of Creation

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