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Ibn Arabi


Quotations from Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn al-`Arabi.

There is a Sufi saying, "He who knows himself knows his Lord." This Lord of his own to whom the spiritual aspirant attains by self-knowledge..., this Lord ... is obviously not the Godhead in His essence, still less in His quintessence, but the God manifested in the aspirant's "soul", since each concrete being has his origin in the particular divine Name which leaves its trace in him and is his particular Lord. It is this origin and this Lord which he attains and knows through self-knowledge -- or which through ignorance or lack of self-knowledge he fails to attain.

.. the totality of our being is not only the part which we at present call our person, for this totality also includes another person, a transcendent counterpart which remains invisible to us, what Ibn `Arabi designates as our "eternal individuality" -- our divine name...

... the divine Names are shared by the Lord and His vassal. The Lord is the vassal's higher self; it is the Lord who acts in him and through him: "When you see the creature, you see the First and the Last, the Manifested and the Hidden."

... the total being is the union of this Lord and of His vassal... The two dimensions refer indeed to the same being, but to the totality of that being; one is added to or multiplied by the other, they cannot negate one another, one cannot be confounded with, or substituted for the other.

He who knows himself knows his Lord... This Lord is not the impersonal self, nor is it the God of dogmatic definitions, self-subsisting without relation to me, without being experienced by me. He is the He who knows himself through myself, that is, in the knowledge that I have of him, because it is the knowledge that he has of me...


God is your mirror, that is the mirror in which you contemplate your self, and you, you are His mirror, that is the mirror in which He contemplates His divine Names...

... the Image is not outside him, but within his being; better still, it is his very being, the form of the divine Name which he himself brought with him in coming into being. And the circle of the dialectic of love closes on this fundamental experience: "Love is closer to the lover than is his jugular vein." So excessive is this nearness that it acts at first as a veil. That is why the inexperienced novice, though dominated by the Image which invests his whole inner being, goes looking for it outside of himself, in a desperate search from form to form of the sensible world, until he returns to the sanctuary of his soul and perceives that the real Beloved is deep within his own being; and, from that moment on, he seeks the Beloved only through the Beloved... the active subject within him remains the inner image of unreal Beauty, a vestige of the transcendent or celestial counterpart of his being...

... he who is the servant of a divine Name is the shadow of that Name, his soul is its epiphanic. But in recognizing that this is so the servant does not negate his own existence. There is indeed a hadith concerning the servant who never ceases to move closer to his Lord; his Lord says of him: "I am his hearing by which he hears, his eyesight by which he sees..." This servant does not become what he was not; what happens is that the "luminous shadow" becomes increasingly transparent. Moreover, the possessive adjective "his" refers explicitly to the reality of the servant or rather presupposes it.

Mysticism in World Religions

Ibn Arabi: Page 2

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