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Al-Faqr or Spiritual Poverty and Simplicity | René Guénon

The contingent being may be defined as one that is not self-sufficient, not containing in himself the point of his existence; it follows that such a being is nothing by himself and he owns nothing of what goes to make him up. Such is the case of the human being in so far as he is individual, just as it is the case of all manifested beings, in whatever state they may be for, however great the difference may be between the degrees of Universal Existence, it is always as nothing in relation to the Principle. These beings, human or others, are therefore, in all that they are, in a state of complete dependence with regard to the Principle "apart from which there is nothing, absolutely nothing that exists"; it is the consciousness of this dependence which makes what several traditions call "spiritual poverty".

At the same time, for the being who has acquired this consciousness, it has, as its immediate consequence, detachment with regard to all manifested things, for the being knows from then on that these things, like himself, are nothing, and that they have no importance whatsoever compared with the absolute Reality.

This detachment implies essentially and above all, in the case of the human being, indifference with regard to the fruits of action as is taught particularly in the Bhagavad-Gita, and which enables the being to escape from the unending chain of consequence which follows this action; it is "action without desire" (nishkaama karma), whereas "action with desire" (sakaama karma), is action carried out in view of its fruits. "The true cause of things is invisible and cannot be grasped defined or determined. It can be attained in deep contemplation by him who is re-established in the state of perfect simplicity, and by no one else". (Lie-Tseu. ch.IV.)

"Simplicity" meaning the unification of all the being's powers, is a feature of the return to the "primordial state"; and here is seen the whole difference that separates the transcendent knowledge of the sage from ordinary and "profane" knowledge. This "simplicity" is also what is called elsewhere the state of "childhood" (in Sanskrit baalya), to be understood of course in the spiritual sense, and this "childhood" is considered in the Hindu doctrine as an indispensable condition for attaining to true knowledge. This recalls the corresponding words in the Gospels; "Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein" (St. Luke, XVIII 17.), "Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto children. (St. Matthew, XI. 25; St. Luke, X. 21.) "Simplicity" and "smallness" are here equivalents, in reality, [attributes] of the "poverty" which is so often mentioned also in the Gospels, and which is generally very much misunderstood: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" (St. Matthew, V. 2.) This "poverty" (in Arabic al-faqr) leads, according to Islamic esotericism, to al-fanaa, that is, to the extinction of the "ego"; and, by this "extinction" the "divine station" is reached (al-maaqam al-ilaahii).

This "extinction" is not without analogy, even as to the literal meaning of the term which is used for it, with the Nirvana of the Hindu doctrine; beyond al-fanaa there is fanaa' al-fanaa' the extinction of the extinction, which corresponds similarly to Parinirvana.

"Poverty", "simplicity" and "childhood", are no more than one same thing, and the process of being stripped which all these words express culminates in an "extinction" (fanaa) which is, in reality, the fullness of the being, just as "inaction" (wu-wei) is the fullness of activity, because it is from it that all the particular activities are derived; "The Principle is always inactive, and yet everything is done by it". (Tao-Te-Ching, XXXVII.) The being who has reached in this way the central point has realized, by this very means, the human state in its entirety; he is the "true man" (chenn-jen) of Taoism, and when, starting from this point to rise to the higher states, he has achieved the perfect fulfillment of his possibilities, he will have become the "Divine Man" (sheun-jen) who is the "Universal Man" (al-insaan al-kaamil ) of Islamic esotericism.

So it can be said that it is those without [realization, who] are the "rich" from the standpoint of manifestation [and] who are really the "poor" with regard to the Principle, and inversely; that is what the following Gospel sentence expresses very clearly, "The last shall be first and the first shall be last" (St. Matthew, XX, 16.); and we are compelled to see in this respect, once again, the perfect agreement of all the traditional doctrines, which are no more than the diverse expressions of the one Truth.

- Quoted partially. Read in full via Living Islam

So sever the head of (your) selfness, O sword of Ali.
Become self-less-- a dervish-like annihilated one.

(And) when you become self-less, everything you do (will be an
example of the verse) You did not throw when you threw (and)
you will be secure [from self-will].

The responsibility is (then) with God, not with the appointed
trustee. The details of it are in plain view in (the books of)
religious law.

Certainly, every shop has a different merchandise. O son,
the Mathnawi is the shop for spiritual poverty.

- Rumi, Mathnawi, VI: 1522-1525

Ya ayyuhan Nasu, antumu al fuqrao ilaAllahi,
wa Allahu Huwa al-Ghaniyyu, al-Hameed.

O man, you are poor [fuqarâ] in relation to God,

and God is the Rich, the Praiseworthy.

- The Qur'an 35:15


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Technology of the Heart: Al-Faqr or Spiritual Poverty and Simplicity | René Guénon
Al-Faqr or Spiritual Poverty and Simplicity | René Guénon
Technology of the Heart
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