Oriental Mysticism, by E.H. Palmer, , at sacred-texts.com
Summary.THE words quoted in the first chapter, "I am a hidden treasure, and I would fain be known," form the basis of the whole system of Sufiistic speculation. Considering the entire universe merely as a manifestation of God, produced by the agency of intelligence directly proceeding from Him, they rightly surmise that this intelligence is the only means by which He can be known.
Now man being with them the most perfect entity in the universe, is clearly the instrument by which the object of its creation is to be accomplished; but this object is that God should be known, and He can only be known through intelligence; therefore the attainment of this intelligence is the final aim of man.
But as man sprung from the Intelligence which Development of the system. originated the Universe, and should, as has been just stated, tend to the same, the Sufis proceed to consider his existence as a circle meeting in the Intelligence which reveals the Godhead. This circle they divide into two arcs, the former called Descent (nuzúl), includes every stage, from the first scintillation from the original intelligence to the full development of man's reasoning powers; the latter arc, called Ascent (’urúj), includes every stage, from his first use of reason for its true purpose to his final reabsorption into the Divine intelligence. This is what is meant when they speak of the Origin and Return of Man.
The Ascent, or upward progress, naturally presentsIdea of the "Journey." itself to the Sufiistic mind in the form of a journey, and the doctrines which profess to describe it are accordingly called the road (taríkat).
When a man possessing the necessary requirements The Tálib, or Neophyte. of fully developed reasoning powers turns to them for a resolution of his doubts and uncertainties concerning the real nature of the Godhead, he is called a Tálib, or Searcher after God.
If he manifest a further inclination to prosecute The Muríd or Disciple. his inquiry according to their system, he is called a Muríd, or One who inclines.
Placing himself then under the spiritual instruction The Sálik, or Traveller. of some eminent leader of the sect, he is fairly started upon his journey, and becomes a Sálik or Traveller, whose whole business in after-life is sulúk, devotion, (or, as the word signifies, the prosecution
of his journey,) to the end that he may ultimately arrive at the knowledge of God.
1st stage, Worship.Here he is exhorted to serve God as the first step towards a knowledge of Him; this is the first stage of his journey, and is called ’Abúdiyat, Service or Worship.
2nd stage, Love.When in answer to his prayers the Divine influence or Attraction has developed his inclination into love of God, he is said to have reached the stage called ’Ishk, Love.
3rd stage, Seclusion.This Divine Love expelling all worldly desires from his heart, leads him to the next stage, called Zuhd, or Seclusion,
4th stage, Knowledge.Occupying himself henceforward with contemplations and the investigations of those metaphysical theories concerning the nature, attributes, and works of God, which have been described in the Second Part of this treatise, he reaches his next stage, which is that of Ma’rifat, Knowledge.
5th stage, Ecstasy.Now this assiduous contemplation of startling metaphysical theories is exceedingly attractive to an Oriental mind, and not unfrequently produces a state of mental excitement akin to the phenomena observed during the recent religious revivals. Such ecstatic state is considered a sure prognostication of direct illumination of the heart by God, and constitutes the next stage, Wejd or Hál, Ecstasy.
6th stage, Truth.During this stage he is supposed to receive a revelation of the true nature of the Godhead, and to have reached the stage called Hakíkat, or The Truth.
He is then said to proceed to the stage of Jam’ 7th stage, Union. or Wasl, direct Union with God.
Further than this he cannot go, but pursues hisLast stage Extinction. habit of self-denial and contemplation until his death, which is, however, merely looked upon as a total reabsorption into the Deity, forming the consummation of his Journey, the last stage designated Faná, Extinction.
That stage in which he is said to have attained The Interpretation of Mystical Poems. to the Love of God is the point of view from which the Sufiistic poets love to discuss the doctrines of their sect; with them man is the Lover, God the Beloved One, and the journey above described is referred to allegorically as the distance which separates the lover from the object of his affection. The glossary which I have appended to this work will enable the student of Háfiz and other Sufiistic writers to interpret for himself the Mystical Poems of the East.
Thus far have we followed the Traveller upon his trackless path through every mystery, human and divine. But one thing now remains; if we, like him, aspire to reach the goal we must cast away the pride of intellect and boasted knowledge, and kneeling before the throne of God in humble thankfulness for the light He hath already vouchsafed, ask Him for guidance and protection who alone is "the light and life of men."