Monday, March 21, 2011

From knowing to seeing | from ilm al-Yaqin to 'ayn al-Yaqin





What is the state where you "know" the Great Love is listening, but you do not "see" physical clues of the fact that "It" is listening?

In short, what is the description for this state of "doubt" in Sufi teachings? What are the meditations to over come this state?



1.
Everything in creation is created by the Creator in pairs or in opposites (only the Divine alone is without opposite or partner, laa sharika laHu, Ekam). As long as we behold anything as a separate entity (or as long as the domain of illusion or maya of separateness operates for individual consciousness), that entity has an opposite. This also holds true not only for matter (anti-matter) but also for quality or emotion. The wise guides of the Path use allusions of opposite to transmit the knowledge of reality, to help us grasp the truth of how things really are.

The opposite of doubt is certainty, which in sufi language is called yaqin. Certainty is closer to truth while doubt is the absence of certainty and hence closer to falsehood. Thus the evolutionary journey of soul towards truth (Asato ma sadgamaya, tamaso ma jyotirgamaya) is from doubt to certainty.

Certainty and doubt are both functions of the faculty of mind and of the inner heart. Doubt happens when we lack knowledge, when we are uncertain of something, uncertain of true nature of things.

How do we remove doubt? Here is a simplified parable. Lets say we hear on the radio about a product, lets say in a commercial they claim that such and such product has this special ingredient which removes all dirt from any mirror surface in an instant and makes it super shiny than ever.

This stage of knowing about this product is mere information or hear-say knowledge. This is like the faith of common folk who only say by their tongue (and think on the external surface of their mind) when they hear certain doctrine of faith / articles of faith and they think that they believe. This is not certainty yet since one does not know whether the source is reliable or not, whether the message is true or false (simply propaganda). This has minimum value because just like in the example of the radio commercial, it is only information and in reality has no real value (just hearing about it is not going to clean your stuff). Thats why its said that faith without spiritual vision is mere assumption.

When one hear or read about something and has enough faith to trust in the source (which is important), such as we read in the book of science that the earth is floating in the space. Now this information is not verified by us directly, yet because of the reliability of the source, more or less we can achieve certain degree of certainty. In Sufi science this is called 'Ilm al-Yaqin, Knowledge of Certainty. This stage is more useful than the previous level because now the possibility to make it really useful exists in a greater probability field. To attain this degree, its important that the source be reliable and trust or faith be established.

In the language of religion, that trust must be established in the Divine Informer (Nabi) or in the Messenger. This is the spiritual significance of blessed Christ's saying, "No one goes to the Father except through me." That is to say, none can reach the Knowledge of Certainty of God except by reaching at the Knowledge of Certainty of the Messenger of God, the Divine Informer who Informs of the Knowledge of Unseen (ilmul Ghayab). This is also why faith and certainty of knowledge in the Rasul (Messenger) is a prerequisite to attain Ma'rifa, or Godly gnosis or divine illumination. The messenger is the reliable source who take us to the certainty of the message and more than that, the Source of message.

Going back to the example of radio commercial, lets say we come across the same product in the super market where a demonstration is being given and one can see with one's own eye that the product really cleans the surface of mirror as it claims. Then a new certainty is reached. This is the next stage of Yaqin or being certain which in Sufism is called, 'Ayn al-Yaqin - Eye of Certainty. A biblical example of literal Ayn al-Yaqin are the miracles performed by Moses and Christ which was aimed to help remove doubts from the heart. But just seeing with external eyes does not guarantee the vision with the Eyes of the Heart. Hence even though many would see miracles by their naked eyes, yet due to their veils over the heart, they can not attain the Certainty of Vision of Heart.

For indeed it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts, which are within the bosoms, that grow blind. (Quran 22:46)


“I am thirsty for this water,” said the little prince. “Give me some of it to drink…”

And I understood what he had been looking for.

I raised the bucket to his lips. He drank, his eyes closed. It was as sweet as some special festival treat. This water was indeed a different thing from ordinary nourishment. Its sweetness was born of the walk under the stars, the song of the pulley, the effort of my arms. It was good for the heart, like a present..

“The men where you live,” said the little prince, “raise five thousand roses in the same garden – and they do not find it in what they are looking for.”

“They do not find it,” I replied.

“And yet what they are looking for could be found in one single rose, or in a drop water.”

“Yes, that is true,” I said.

And the little prince added: “But the eyes are blind. One must look with the heart…”

"Here is my secret. It is very simple. One sees clearly only with the heart. That which is quintessential is invisible to the eyes."

- from The Little Prince (1943), by Antoine de Saint Exupéry


Even though 'ayn al-yaqin or vision of certainty is better than just the knowledge of certainty, but it still is reliant upon second hand experience. The reality of it is still a distant reality, the duality still exists.

Again back to the example of radio commercial where after seeing the demonstration at market, next stage would be to obtain the product, take it home and use it for real on a real surface. Only when we experience it by ourselves, then no trace of doubt remains and we achieve or experience the third degree of certainty which is called Haqq al-Yaqin - Truth of Certainty. This is from direct experience which all mystics are about, which is the esoteric teachings of all religion is about. All Prophets, Messengers, Avatars, Sages, Mystics of absorbed states experience this at some point and in experiencing dissolve their duality. Hence they transmit what they transmit from that direct experience of the Haqq (Truth). The spirit of all religious or faith tradition thus rely on direct experiencing.

Truth of Certainty is in the tasting, dhawq. It is the tasting by one's own tongue.

The Raja of Mahmudabad gives another example:

Ilm al-Yaqin: You are told - there is a fire in the forest. You only hear it from others.
'Ayn al-Yaqin: You come close to the forest and see the glow of fire with your own eyes.
Haqq al-Yaqin: You are at the fire in the forest, experience it directly through its real effect such as heat, burning away.

So to address the question as to what is the state where you "know" the Great Love is listening, but you do not "see" physical clues of the fact that "It" is listening? - the answer would be that this state of Heart is 'Ilm al-Yaqin and yet to obtain 'Ayn al-Yaqin.


2.
From the writing of Osman Yahya, in the article, Theophanies and Lights in the Thought of Ibn 'Arabi:

Certainty (al-yaqîn), like Permanency and Extinction, comprises three degrees. The first degree is referred to by the Master and by current Sufis by the name 'ilm al-yaqîn (the knowledge of Certainty), which means that Certainty is the result of knowledge. At this degree the object of Certainty is knowledge just as the aim of knowledge is Certainty. Both together are in the soul uniquely, such that Certainty is the first degree of spiritual life and the last of speculative experience. This particular degree of mystical yaqîn is the result of divine theophanies in Act at the level of existence and also the result of theophanies of lights of nature at the gnostic level.

The second degree of yaqîn is what one calls in Sufi terms 'ayn al-yaqîn (the Eye of Certainty), that is, Certainty as a consequence of contemplation and vision. At this level, the object of Certainty is present in front of the gnostic and is not only a speculative concept. Here knowledge becomes what one calls 'ilm-hudûrî (Presence of knowledge), and that is the second aspect of Certainty in the spiritual way and in liberating experience. By this kind of knowledge, the man of the Way is distinguished from philosophers and learned men. This particular degree of spiritual Certainty is the result of divine theophanies of Attributes at the level of existence, just as it is the result of theophanies of lights of the intellect at the level of gnosis.

Finally, the last degree of yaqîn is called haqq al-yaqîn (the total reality of Certainty), that is, Certainty as supreme truth. Here, Certainty has a particular colouring: it is the fruit of an all-embracing experience because the object of Certainty is identical to the one who is experiencing it, knowledge being transformed into actual experience and actual experience into knowledge. At this stage, in fact, knowledge is not limited to the intellect, nor to the vision of the one who is contemplating it, it becomes one with the human being. This is the final phase of yaqîn, the apotheosis of the spiritual and intellectual journey. This high degree of Sufi Certainty is the effect of the Emanation of the divine Theophanies in Essence at its existential level and that of the diffusion of the Light of lights (Dazzling Irradiations) at the level of the theophanies of the gnostic.


3.
Verily every certainty has a reality (haqiqa).
- The blessed Prophet

From examples of real life we know intuitively that certainty about knowledge or situation is achievable. Often in the physical world matter of certainty depends on the mind, through good source, solid knowledge, better understanding and discernment one can arrive at certainty of things. There are well devised scientific methods to conduct experiment, derive theoretical and experimental models, produce reproducible and verifiable results to verify theory to arrive at certainty. In short, for physical phenomena there are techniques to remove doubts and bring about certainty.

When it comes to spiritual matters, certainty does not remain a function of mind only, but heart or inner faculty of perception also comes into great influence.

What prevents attaining certainty of the heart, in sufism they are generally called veils. Veils prevent the heart from attaining clear vision of truth. The metaphor of veil of heart is something universal.

In the Bible we read, "They have no knowledge or wisdom; for He has put a veil over their eyes, so that they may not see; and on their hearts, so that they may not give attention." (Isaiah 44:18)

This is also reflected in the Quran, "Over their hearts are veils which prevent them from grasping its inner meaning, and into their ears, deafness. And so, whenever you mention, while reciting the words of God, your Sustainer as the One and only Divine Being, they turn their backs in aversion." (Quran 17:46)

Just as there are techniques to arrive at certainty when it comes to matter of physical world, in the world of spirituality, arriving at the certainty of spiritual truth there are guidance in the Path.

To approach Ilm al-Yaqin one need to find the reliable source. The Sufis who accept all Divine revelations and make no distinctions among any of the Divine Messengers sent to humanity, understand that many authentic paths of significant past, over the time have lost their essential teachings. Many later introduced doctrines have clouded true essence of teachings. For this reason there is wisdom to receive from the renewed Revelations. Thus Sufis turn to the Criterion (the Quran) which confirms previous revelation and carry the primordial truth for the latter days and also Sufis accept the Last Divine Informer as reliable source of the knowledge of the Unseen. When the reliable source is identified, it help fortify the certainty on the knowledge level (Ilm al-Yaqin).

It is confirmed by every spiritual path that the sacred knowledge ideally transmit from heart to heart. That is why in order to attain Ilm al-Yaqin, one needs to have the right companion to receive that knowledge of certainty. The pages of book does not warrant such knowledge. That is why satsang or sohbet with right kind of people is important because in their company alchemy of heart happens and aspiration descends and hearts receive illumination. "Be in the company of the truthful ones" - commands the Quran. The truthful ones are the Satguru (Teachers of Truth, Kamil Murshid) and their companionship is called Satsang in eastern tradition.

Consider how wool is turned into an elegantly designed carpet by coming into contact with an intelligent person. See how dirt can be turned into a fine palace by coming into contact with an intelligent person.

If association with the intelligent has such an effect on inanimate objects, think what effect will be when one seeker of God associate with another!
- Rumi, Kabir Helminski

The moment you are united with the masters, it become effortless.
- Bhai Sahib

According to the teachings of sacred Hindu tradition, "illusions or maya is produced by ignorance and dissolves in the wake of knowledge." It is ignorance that give rise to negative doubt. The doubt that aspires one to probe deeper into the truth is positive doubt and useful. But the negative doubt keeps the Heart veiled from realizing truth, from tasting the sweetness of iman (faith).

Apart from companionship of the truthful ones and sincere seekers, Divine remembrance is another important tool to help remove the veil. Prayer, chants (loud zikr), contemplation and meditation - all can be considered as variety of Divine Remembrance.

In Corinthians it is affirmed, "Whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed." (Corinthians 3:15-16)

The Final Testament transmit the certain knowledge, "Indeed in the Remembrance of God the Hearts find rest and tranquility." And rest and tranquility of the Heart is an after-glow of the dawning of Certainty (yaqin).


4.
The transition from Ilm al-Yaqin to 'Ayn al-Yaqin, from Knowledge of Certainty to Eye of Certainty is significant and radical. The journey from doubt to certainty is not an instantaneous one, but like every journey this also happen in stages. It takes time for the soul to be pregnant with God but it can be done - says the Sufis.

You shall most certainly journey from stage to stage. (Quran 84:19)

Those who attain faith and do righteous work: blessedness is for them, and a beauteous station will be their journey's end. (13:29)

Attaining 'Ayn al-Yaqin prerequisite that seeker must pass through the valley of Ilm al-Yaqin, that is to say, his or her knowledge of certainty must be sound. The guides of the Path counsel us that if we want to remove the doubts in our mind regarding Allah, we must increase the level of our faith, and lessen the constricted distress in our soul regarding the truth about the life of this quickly passing world (truth must be learned about why we are here, what will happen after we die). That means the fundamental about the perennial truth, truth of our existence must be received from authentic authority of truth, from the divine astronomers who have done space walk and have seen what they have been shown. Unfortunately in today's world many religious ways have become such that they no longer preserve to provide the quintessential "theory of everything". Its of paramount necessity for a seeker to discover for himself or herself the Path which offers the truth of human existence, with no traces of doubt in it regarding pre-eternity, present life and its guidance and where we are going, our sure destination in post-eternity.

No! You are going to know.
Again! Indeed you are going to know.
Only if you knew with a sure knowledge (ilma al-yaqeen)!
Then you will surely see with the eye of certainty (ayna al-yaqeen).
(The Quran 102)


To attain 'Ayn al-Yaqin, the Certainty of Vision is not impossible and many have gone before us who have left traces of their footprint on the sand of eternity. There are successive chain of transmission through whom sacred knowledge and methods have been passed down.

When sacred knowledge is infused in the heart, when heart is washed clean of the impurities or blemishes, when ego self is tamed by knowing the criterion of right from wrong by the Command - then outward gleams and gleams of manifestation (tajalli) start to shine in front of the Eyes of the Heart. Here begins, by God's permission, entering into the realm of Ayn al-Yaqin.

To God belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. (Quran 2:255)

Ayn al-Yaqin is a special grant of unveiling of God's knowledge to His chosen servants and this secret is not disclosed to those who are not worthy of it. Hence the Quranic reminder, "they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills."

In the book The Hundred Steps, Shaykh Abdal Qadir al Murabit writes:

"All creation, good and corrupt, witness Allah. However, they do not recognise Him, and they do not see the Real as the Real and recognise Him except for the one whose heart has the light of meanings. These lights of meanings by which Allah is seen and recognised only appear in the heart by the exaltation of the senses intending to seek Allah. Similarly, the darkness of meanings only appears by the illumination of the senses because wisdom is not in witnessing. It is in gnosis, because Allah is manifest (zahir) to everyone, hidden (batin) to everyone.

The gnostic is the one who recognises Him in the outward as he recognises Him in the inward and recognises Him in the inward as he recognises Him in the outward. As for the one who recognises Him outwardly and not inwardly, or recognises Him inwardly and not outwardly, he is ignorant. The ignorant is not called gnostic.

Shaykh ash-Shushtari, may Allah have mercy on him, said:
Do not look at vessels.
Dive into the sea of meanings.
Perhaps you will see Me
In the company of the sufis.

The meanings become a condition of seeing, and exalting the senses becomes a condition in the manifestation of meanings. Directing consciousness to seeking Allah becomes a condition in darkening the senses. Allah gives success!

The watching (muraqaba) began when the faqir (one who claims nothing, who have nothing and wants nothing) guarded against the wrong actions of the self. Then the watching deepened to an attention in fikr which prevented anything 'other' entering into the awareness.

However there is a final stage of watching which is the summit of gnosis. It envelops the dislocation of awareness which is the experience of unity. Let us look again. In stage on you setup a Watcher to watch the outward and make it pure. In the second stage the Watcher watches the self in its inward descriptions. From this emerges a profound stage in which the Watcher is voided of any thing or form to watch, held only by the act of calling on the Name. This leads to the original Void. Then the seeker moves between the worlds, drawing sensory and meanings into closer and closer, finer and finer balance. When light dawns you know that you do not see Allah, but Allah sees you. Ihsan.

This is not pure monism or any other simplistic philosophical position - it is a situation that cannot be expressed in linear expression or formulate for it is subtle, dynamic and secret.

The wird (action) of this time is the Wird-asSahl.

Allahu Ma'ee (Allah is with us).
Allahu Nadhirun alayya (Allah is Seeing us).
Allahu Shahidun alayya (Allah is Witness upon us). 66 times.

Shaykh Ibn al-Habib said in his Diwan: "The Merciful is only to be seen in the manifestations." The gnostic moves from the tajalliyat of the Attributes to the Tajalli of the Essence. The end is direct vision of the Face.

Seek only the Face of Allah. Allah guides whoever He wants to His Light. Allah is in His slave's expectation of Him, so have a good expectation of Allah. Now go on."


5.
Yaar ko humne ja-ba-ja dekha
kahin zahir kahin chupa dekha
kahin momkin hoa kahin wajib
kahin fani kahin baqa dekha

I saw my Beloved in all I saw,
At times revealed, hidden at times.

Been familiar with knowledge of faith,
I saw the Face of my Beloved in all I saw.

At times a possibility, at times imperative,
At times ephemeral, at times eternal.

Inspired by the wish to see Himself,
He made Himself into every form.

He is the one who Sees and Hears
I saw no one other than Him.

Laughed gleefully through blooming flowers,
Crooned in nightingale's melodious songs.

He took the forms of the candle and the moth,
And annihilated Himself in flames of His own.

At times claiming "I am the Truth",
Witnessed His head raised on the Cross.

O 'Niyaz' He was beyond the bounds of `You' and `Me',
And yet I see Him in every `You' and `Me'.

At times He behaved like unfamiliar,
At timed I found him with familiar face.

At times He is the emperor in power,
At times seen with a mendicant's begging bowl.

At times, a devout worshiper,
Lord of rakes and drunkards at times.

At times in the beloved's attire,
He was seen throwing up His charms.

At times as a lover like 'Niyaz',
He was seen beating his breast and heart aflame.

- Kalam by Hazarat Shah Niaz, full lyrics


6.
Practical advice for attaining certainty, by Divine generosity and bestowing

Regardless of your faith, try your best to learn your own Scripture. Read regularly the Scripture of the Path you feel at home (be it New Testament, Gita or Torah). Along with it, also read translation of the Quran in your own language. If you do not have a copy, read from Online. Quran.com has standard translation. You may choose to read any random chapter, but important is to read it for the sake of attaining Ilm al-Yaqin, knowledge of certainty, which is the first stage of journey to certainty.

Try to spend time with people of spiritual knowledge. Find them if you do not know them yet. Sit in their circle. Attend remembrance (zikr) circle once a week if possible. Its very much possible that in your very town there exists such circle of remembrance where seekers and lovers of God gather. May we be included and accepted among such circle of lovers.

Glory be to Your Lord, the Lord of Might, above any description or limitations of mind, beyond any comparison. And true praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the multiverse. Abundant peace and blessings be upon all His chosen Messengers.


# Related:
* Blessed Glance as Sacred Practice (esoteric practices are hinted here for attaining 'Ayn al-Yaqin)
* Gazing At The Beloved
* When was God far? | Ibn Ataillah
* Esoteric Dimension and Gnosis of Immanence
* It is the heart that perceives beauty
* Vision of Allah is of two kinds
* The Hundred Steps by Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Murabit (Recommended Reading)
* The Vision of God
* Remedy For Removing Doubtfulness And Ignorance
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