Gnosis of the self from the Hikam of Ibn Ata'illah


Your being on the lookout for the vices hidden within you is better than your being on the lookout for the invisible realities veiled from you.

A seeker of truth is more closer to the realities within him, including his vices, the shadows of his unrefined ego, the source of waswasa (whispering of the veiled part of the self, the unconscious) than the unseen realities, than the spiritual realm which is naturally made invisible to him or her. Thus it is better and recommended for the seeker to look out first at the vices hidden within the self than to be concerned about the deeper realities of the invisible realm.

Often the spiritualists falls into this mistake by going after the invisible and mysterious matters of the unseen realities first than discovering what is within their own self. This is like a driver who imagines and plans elaborately for the challenges of the road ahead in detail before journeying, but forgets to check the weakness of his car such as checking the brakes, gas-tank and radiator.

The Real (al-Haqq) is not veiled from you. Rather, it is you who are veiled from see It, for, were anything to veil It, then that which veils It would cover It. But if there were a covering to It, then that would be a limitation of Its Being: every limitation of anything has power over it.

Nothing encompass the Real, but It encompasses everything. Indeed, Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing. (1) Changing the perspective can really change how we view and interact with the realities. And this also helps to prioritize things / actions for the seekers. In this case for example, removing the veils of self and constantly working on the self is an important on-going task.

Travel not from creature to creature, otherwise you will be like a donkey at the mill: roundabout he turns, his goal the same as his departure. Rather, go from creatures to the Creator. "And that the final end is unto thy Lord." (2)

The journey of the aspiring gnostic should be the journey from the creatures to the Creator, from the signs spread in abundance in the creation to the Maker of those Signs, from noticing the signatures on the canvas of creation to the recognition of the Grand Artist, the Signator.

He only made an inspiration come upon you so that you would go to Him.

He only made an inspiration come upon you so as to get you out of the grip of alterities and free you from bondage to created things. He made an inspiration come upon you so as to take you out of the prison of your existence to the unlimited space of your contemplation.

The door of revelation has closed with the Final Prophet the noble Messenger of God, Muhammad Mustafa. But the door of inspiration remains open till the end of time and every time there is a descent of inspiration upon one's heart, know it as a call from the Beloved who wants nothing 'from you' except you; that you turn to the Beloved and face your entire self to the Beloved alone as He is ready to listen you with all He has. Inni wajjahtu wajhiya lillathi fataras -samawati wal ardha hanifan wama ana minal mushrikin / I have turned my full attention towards the Supreme Being, Who has created the heavens and the earth, and I am not one of those who see partners with Him, who sees two with the Beloved Who is One. The Ever King is waiting for an audience from you.

Sami Allah hu li man hamida ~ the Great Beloved is Ever Listening and each of your utterance to the Beloved is like a song of praise to Him.

He sends inspiration as Sign of His remembering you, as a Call of Freedom from the limitations of your limited self, bondage and attachment with what perishes to invite you to the Abode of Peace and to the Real.

If you want to know your standing with Him, look at where He has made you abide now.

God has made the world in such an awesome fashion that what is found in the grandest scale can also be found in the smallest. What is in the Kingdom is also found in the world, on a different scale in terms of permanence and endurance. The Grand Realities with the Divine Reality is found within our temporal realities as well.

Just as in physics each part of the hologram contains an enfolded order essentially similar to that of the object - similar is the case of the creation. There is a reciprocity, a reflection in play. Remember Me and I will Remember you. (3) Our sleep and waking is made a prototype for our death and resurrection.

Thus if we are to know your position, rank / station in Divine Eyes, if you wish to have some kind of understanding as to where your position is, you can look at where He has made you abide now, in what temporal state, in what relatively permanent station in terms of your disposition, your health, your sustenance, your mood, your spiritual aspirations, your heart, your spirit and soul. All of them are signs to convey your standing with Him.

When two matters seem confusing to you, see which is heavier on the ego and following it through. For, indeed, nothing weighs on the ego but that which is true.

If a seeker wish to advance in the Path, in his journey, he/she should oppose the ego, the whims of the ego. At the junction of any confusion following that which the ego opposes or feel as burden is the path to be taken. Every time the caprices of the ego is battled against, is resisted, a new light comes, the self's progress towards enlightenment is renewed. This is how saints arrive at their stations, by opposing the self, the ego.

People praise you for what they suppose is in you; but you must blame your self for what you know is in it.

What people think are only supposition and conjecture, whereas what you know of yourself is more closer to truth. So don't pay heed and get attached to the praise of people, instead be mindful of the self's imperfections and aspire to purify the self towards perfection, for that is a Godly attribute. Jesus said, "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is Perfect."

Only the contemplation of His Attribute can dislodge you from your attributes. So long as you have not contemplated the Creator, you belong to created beings; but when you have contemplated Him, crated beings belong to you.

The attributes of everything in the temporal world are temporary, perishing and unreal; whereas the Attributes of the Divine are everlasting, permanent and real. By contemplating the Divine Attributes, one is free from that which limits and binds.

Allah says: "O child of Adam, I have created you for My sake, and I have created things for your sake. So do not disgrace that which I created for Myself with that which I created for you. (don't go after the world in a way that you forget The Real)" When a servant forgets and denies his, her servanthood, God makes him servant of the lower world and the world become constricted for him and he ever remain discontent with it. But if the servant acknowledge his, her servanthood of the Real and act accordingly, whatever is necessary from the created world gathers after him to provide for him and to assist him.

Cling  to the attributes of His Lordship and realize the attributes of your servanthood!

This is the requirements for gnosis (ma'rifa) of the self. He who knows the self, knows the Lord; and again, he who knows the Lord, can not help but become an enlightened self, enlightened by the light of gnosis.

About the al-Hikam: The author, Shaykh Ahmad ibn Muhammad Ibn 'Ataillah as-Sakandari the third leader or khalifah of the Shadhdhuli Sufi Order. He was born and grew up in Alexandria, Egypt where he first encountered the teachings of Shaykh Abul Hasan ash-Shadhdhuli. One of his well known work is al-Hikam, which are the pure pith of the teachings of Shaykh ash-Shadhdhuli. The outer simplicity of al-Hikam veils the depth and profundity of their meanings and are best understood if read and considered over a long period of time, preferably under the tutelage of a spiritual master. The translation shared here are by Dr. Victor Danner (Sidi Abdu'l Jabbar).

# References:
(1) The Quran, 2:115
(2) The Quran, 53:42
(2) The Quran, 2:152

# Related:
* Teachings on The Hikam of Shaykh 'Ibn 'Ata'Illah as-Sakandari by Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee (2009)
* Teachings on The Hikam by Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee (2010)
* The Aphorisms of Ibn Ata'illah



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Technology of the Heart: Gnosis of the self from the Hikam of Ibn Ata'illah
Gnosis of the self from the Hikam of Ibn Ata'illah
Gnosis of the self from the Hikam of Ibn Ata'illah at Technology of the Heart
Technology of the Heart
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