In the last post titled Women’s specially hidden relationship with God there has been some stimulating and thought provoking sharing from you. In the process some comments and questions have also arrived. I am grateful to all of you for sharing this post among your social networks to help the seed of ideas, inspirations and remembrance to carry forth around the sphere of minds and hearts. Indeed the blessing from the Source is inexhaustible and is bestowed upon all who participate in sharing the light. May each of your sharing be like a new candle passing on the light without diminishing its own light.
In Islam, Allah, the All Encompassing, All Compassionate Divine Essence is a Hidden Treasure, and thus hiddenness is also a key for seekers. God Who is Neither He, nor She and thus can be called as Huwa or Hiya, He or She, without ascribing any gender bias to the Divine Who is beyond any comparison. The Divine, She is a Hidden Treasure, and Her Mysteries are unveiled to those who are hidden. For this reason, the chosen and elect friends, lovers of God remain to be hidden, whether they are male or female. Since hiddenness by essence is a feminine quality, it is not a surprise that in religious / spiritual history, we find the luminous women figures as mostly hidden characters and their relationship with the Divine was of that hidden quality, private, intimate and direct.
The first comment of the previous post carried few questions within:
Truly there is no such thing as coincidence. I have been contemplating on this topic a lot lately, especially Ibn Arabi's notion of women. ... Come to think of it I guess in part it is also our (women's) ability to carry a "seed" to a full term, despite the pain and agony, makes us a living proof that as human beings (both man and women) we have the capability to carry the seeds of love El Vedud has put in our hearts to a full term. It is not easy neither for women nor for men. Spiritual birth is unquestionably much more painful than the physical birth but in the end the reward is unity with God which is the ultimate treasure (May Allah grant us the privilege)
On the other hand one thing I find it difficult in Ibn Arabi's writing is if man can only truly contemplate God through unity with women does this mean the same goes for women as well? I mean how can women contemplate God in the same sense?
I like to think best way to contemplate God is through our opposite sex counterpart but then this brings up another question. What happens when unity with that person does not bring you closer to God and even damages spiritual well being? What happens than? Is divorce solely on this ground is an option? How do you balance spiritual weights of divorce on one hand and not being able to truly contemplate God with that person on the other? Any thoughts? Thanks.
To address your first question, yes, in my humble opinion, if a man can contemplate God through unity with women, the other way is also true. Please note that, I am leaving the two words “only” and “truly” here, for I believe there could well be other ways of contemplating God, path which could uniquely be ‘true’ for individuals.
The Final Prophet of God, peace and blessings to his soul, is recorded to transmitted us this truth that “Paths to God are as numerous as the children of Adam" (at turuqu ila 'Llahi ka-nufusi bani Adam). For example there have been men of God who took very different path than what is discussed here in connection to Shaykh Ibn Arabi and reached very lofty spiritual stations and the same is true for many women of God. To answer to the question as to “how can women contemplate God in the same sense”, it is through love, devotion and surrender for the earthly beloved, women may approach towards the Love, the Surrender and the Devotion to the Supreme Beloved.
One of the readers have made a very valuable comment, "a man can't truly love a woman if he is unable to perceive her already as a part of himself. So a man who loves a woman is complete." It reminds me of what the Holy Prophet Muhammad has transmitted, "that man is the best, who is best in the eye of his wife." This tells that the recognition and acceptance of a man is by his partner / wife / spouse. The love between a man and his wife and vice-versa is the immanent aspect of Divine Love because through them we co-participate in God's love and intermingles with His Love.
I remember in this connection a valuable write-up by Dara O. Shayda which may provide a better explanation of how this alchemy may be achieved. Read it here, Who Do You Really Love?
Its worth noting that for a man, it is in the opposite sex (not only in wife, but also in other women in life), particularly mother, since in Sacred Islamic Tradition, one’s mother is given exquisite honor. It is said that “paradise in under the feet of mother” which is not an ordinary statement. This is to say for a son, the straightest path to achieve the highest in the eternal life is to love the mother, to be devoted to her and finally to achieve salvation by making her well pleased. When it comes to spouse, since after a certain period we lose our parents in the womb of time, it is in the contemplation on the qualities found in the partner for man, that the quintessential feminine qualities of the Divine such as Rahma (Mercy), Hubb (Love), Surrender are seen, recognized and experienced.
Similarly for a woman, it is through the dedication, faithfulness, love, honor, devotion and surrender to the earthly beloved, her spouse or partner, she can contemplate Dedication, Faith, Love, Reverence, Devotion and Surrender to God. The task of pleasing the Supreme Beloved begins through the earthly beloved. There is a narration (via Buraida) by the Holy Prophet regarding prostration to show respect. He said, "If I would have given permission to do Sajada (falling prostrate), it would have been to a women in respect of her husband," but bowing one's head in Islam is reserved for Allah, the Divine Alone and hence giving that supreme honor is not shared with human beings. Never the less, the hadith is an indication that the highest form of reverence and devotion for a partner is to flow to the other partner for a woman.
Now coming to the most difficult and complicated of the questions:
What happens when unity with that person does not bring you closer to God and even damages spiritual well being? What happens than? Is divorce solely on this ground is an option? How do you balance spiritual weights of divorce on one hand and not being able to truly contemplate God with that person on the other? Any thoughts?
To begin to answer this question, I believe its helpful first to understand the spiritual law that we as human being experience only that which is either inside of us or that which is necessary for our evolution since we still have lessons to learn in life or in another world, still to graduate by turning away from our ego’s addiction to the lesser gods (ilaha) (or, golden calf if you like) in order to (re)turn to the Supreme Truth. There are many mystics / spiritual communicators who are fond of describing this by describing the world as a mirror (‘aarshii nagar’ in Bengali, literally means, the City of Mirror). The reason for this is that we experience, see, become conscious, get entangled with only that which is playing inside of us in that particular moment in time. Yes our mind or spirit or soul progress / evolve in time, but for any particular moment, whatever we’re experiencing, it is a reflection of our inner state / condition / reality.
Once we understand this, then we may turn towards the idea of purification. Whether it’s the metaphysical science of alchemy or the science of tasawwuf (which is basically the art of becoming pure, safa) – at the beginning, at the middle and at the end its all about getting rid of the veils and purifying one’s self. The whole drama of life, be it the alarming rate of divorce in present world or the constant psychological battle with the partner, the love and hate situation among lovers – all of these stem from the side-effect of not paying enough attention to purification. As a result even love become toxic through the tremendous amount of pollution that is brought into the energy-space of the partners, the couple.
blameworthy traits of the self still dominating inside our ego such as pride, showing off, arrogance, envy, miserliness, vengeance, ingratitude, denial of blessings, keeping heart attached to materialistic stuff, unjustifiable anger, breaking promise, pretension, hypocrisy and so forth. The sufis talk about 68 blemishes of the nafs, as a teaching tool to make one aware of one's possible enemy / impurity within.
When people fail to learn how to be in the moment, how to experience the existence as it is or when people forget the truth that love is all about lover’s becoming nothing for the sake of the beloved, that it is the super exercise of dissolving the ego for the sake of the beloved – then yes we may even become more egoistic in not seeing our faults but blaming on the partner and eventually getting into a scenario such as divorce, battle in the court, trying to kill each other and so forth. I am not generalizing the scenario here, but what I am trying to convey is the fact that we often are not ready to face the darkness of our ego-self, are not prepared to take the steep path of purification. And that is one of the main reason for trouble among partners.
If one to look from metaphysical perspective, Christ didn’t permit divorce or the question of marriage after divorce (see Matthew 5:32, 19:9). According to Jesus’ teaching, he never approves divorce, only separation, that is divorce without the right to remarry. He says in Luke 16: 18 - 'Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.' Another of his teaching of unity is this 'What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.'' (Mark 10:6-9)
Its prohibited for one who is Christ-like or who is touched by Christ consciousness. I know this is hard to accept, but that is the truth. Divorce or if we use another term for it is “separation” is the opposite of “unity” and comes from the absence of love and thus symbolizes anti-christ characteristic. Hence in Islam, which, in the evolution scheme of Divine revelations, is the successor of Christianity – do permit divorce but reminds us that is a hated thing in the eye of God. One need not to go near divorce, may God save us from such calamity, if both the partner is well educated about the ego, how it operates, the truth that love is all about dissolving the ego and where “you, not I” is the rule of the game, then only peace, tranquility, harmony and love will remain in every abode. But alas! We prefer to follow our ego and the archenemy, than embark on the path of purification.
The idea of anti-christ, from spiritual perspective means 'absence of love', 'absence of empathy' or 'absence of grace.' And this is what is manifesting all over the place around the world and one of its side-effect in the outer world is gross violation in the name of love, gross violation of the sanctity of body in the name of sex, pornography, manipulation and disregard for sanctity of family, abnormal number of divorce rate which is causing tremendous damage to the psychology of the children, the younger ones who will inherit this world and sadly it is them who are growing up in dysfunctional family, growing up by not experiencing compassion and love and respect between their parents. Divorce, to me, personally is only an outer symptom of our inner state of disunity.
Some mystics call our addiction to transcendence as an escape where people ignore the suffering of the neighbor, the homeless and enjoy an expensive trip to the holy city in the name of religious ecstasy, similarly divorce is also an escape from facing the darkness of one’s ego which is manifested in clash with the spouse and instead of facing it, working on it and accepting and dissolving the ego’s blemishes, the society tells us to take the shortcut called “divorce” and live with the ego’s darkness and continue to suffer while suffering continue to come in many forms.
This is in no way to mean in general sense. Indeed it would be an injustice to truth to paint every picture of divorce in the same manner, because in many cases there are abuse, there are violation of dignity and in that case to preserve one's peace, dignity and honor one has to walk away. Such scenarios are not something where we can contemplate on the Divine Light in the partner since it is so abusively veiled.
When the male and female come together, something new can come in life, a new child born in the heart, a child that is ‘true being.’ This is the immaculate conception.
You know the basic underlying principle in our nature is harmony. So, after the male joins the female, after the East meets the West, the duality, the opposition falls away. It all dissolves. You don’t know what’s male or female anymore, they become so entwined. In consciousness, there is concord and agreement and equanimity. The struggle disappears. The union happens, you are in harmony, the isness, this state of being.
- Lynn Barron, from The Unknown She
'Everything you have ever been told about the divine is prejudiced by patriarchal distortions...
- Andrew Harvey, The Unknown She
'The transcendent and formless have become the goals, the world has been left behind. And yet for women this goes against our nature, which is to be involved, through love, in the entire process of creation.'
- Mystic Angela Fischer
When women really live the love that already exists in their lives, and accept the deep vulnerability love demands, they will be led by love in the spiritual work they need to do.
- Hilary Hart
At this point its worth reminding ourselves what one Anonymous commenter in the post commented saying, (the important point in the comment is in bold):
I do think both men and women carry female and male ENERGIES. Some men are more gentle and nurturing than women sometimes and sometimes women are more proactive and dynamic than men. I have always thought the journey to God lies within each soul. It is our job to make the masculine and feminine energies within us reconcile just as they are reconciled and one in God. If God is in us and we reconcile those energies then we are more One with God.
If we have a partner who can encourage that journey and whom we can encourage and nurture back, well that's perfect! I think an earthly beloved can inspire our growth and help it along but I do not feel it helps to depend on that beloved to complete our journey for us - that only we can do with the grace of God. If we do and then work and love and share with others, then life may become blissful. But because society labels and forces men and women into boxes and presupposed roles, I feel this whole dynamic is messed up at the moment. But I really believe we can find the way if we look to God.
I am reminded of what Lynn Barron said in an interview with Hilary Hart, quoted in The Unknown She, which may further help understand that when we talk about the Divine Feminine, its not about gender or being a woman or something which is dealt solely by women. It incorporates spiritual work, recognition for any soul, and any human being regardless of gender.
Lynn said in that wonderful interview:
“The ascent is work, effort. You take one step at a time, pass through one stage after another, move closer and closer to the light. But suddenly the light becomes so bright it is black. And the descent begins. The descent is a pull. You have surrendered and it’s not up to you. You are pulled by love. You are gone. You are lost in the luminous black, the sweet silence, the dynamic, living emptiness of the Unknown She.”
... Annihilated – as the Sufis say – in the fires of divine love, Lynn has been shown a unique vision of what is possible in the evolution of human consciousness. Within her understanding, there exists a state of consciousness currently available to all humanity in a way it has never been before. This is a consciousness of oneness beyond duality, a pure and formless state of being whose essence is love. It is, as Lynn calls it, the “Unknown She.”
“When I talk about the Unknown She,” Lynn explains, ‘I am talking about a state of beyond concept, idea, or form – a timeless state. All sense duality has been dissolved. There are no biases or distinctions born of conditioning, culture, or tradition. The illusory boundaries have disappeared. You have let go of all that is confined in time and space. You have given up all ideas of individuality.
‘The Unknown She is a state of love, in which there are no intermediaries between you and the divine,’
You have sensed the subtle connection to the essence, the divine energy. You have rid yourself of any sense of separation, for nothing in the world of relative truth is real for you. This is a state of silence and emptiness. It is an active, dynamic state of radiating luminous black light. In this state of being, silence and emptiness exist in oneness. It is a pure state of being that contains itself within itself. Here God rests in action, as when God spoke, Be”
‘It’s so hard to recognize.’ She says, ‘because we want to bring it back into the old forms of this world, and what I’m saying is it isn’t there. It’s turning within, a new way to be in this world of time and space. The visible outer picture is being formed in the moment, and yet this state itself is timeless. It is a consciousness of love and being, and and conception before conception takes form. It is the formless form, it is the formless form, it is a non dimensional state of being here in ordinary reality.’
‘When you start to investigate this concept of consciousness of love in which all is contained within itself’- she explains ‘the closest thing that comes to it is Mary- if you’re within the Judeo/Christian/Islamic mystical tradition. Mary had pure consciousness; she was in a virgin state. She conceived from a pure state. In this state impregnation.conception, gestation are all self contained within the principle love.
Just because I call it ‘She’ does not mean that it is female. It isn’t a gender, it is neither masculine nor feminine, but for some reason you want to say ‘She.” It is a feeling state, and feeling is a female quality. You just feel it. You can’t think, or put thoughts around it. It stays in the formless realm. For example, you feel as if you are enveloped by presence. There is such intimacy, as if you have been embraced.
.. when you are in this state, you are in the female element. Love, the Essence. She embraces you and you embrace this feeling – the She – with you heart, so it can live inside of you as you. This feeling emanates from the source. Its is a state of pure transformative love.
This state of pure being, is the beginning of a journey that takes one to the most hidden chambers within your heart – into the beyond of the beyond. Love itself embrace you and takes you further into the mysteries of love. One enters the Unknown She, becomes Her luminous black light, and can then be guided by this light into deeper states of consciousness. The journey happens beyond ordinary consciousness, is only remembered later, when one comes back into the ordinary mind. The memories are sometimes images, but sometimes just exist as direct knowledge, as though one simply understand the meaning of one’s experience.
“Remember the Prophet said, there is a hidden treasure that wants to be known. Enter Her light and Her light will take you to the treasure. Enter this luminous blackness, and She Who is Love Itself will take you deeper and deeper into love, into the sweet honey, into golden amber streams of light.
Abide in the silence and She will come. Remember Her, so She will come. She is lost in the shadows behind many veils. Remember She, She wants to be known.
Peace She is. She wants to be known.
|“The assembly is filled with fragrance at the mention of Her,|
and every tongue utters Her name.” ~ Ibn Arabi / art credit
(*) The Unknown She, article by Hilary Hart
(*) The centrality of the Divine Feminine in Sufism / Laurence Galian
(+) A list of Audio Talks given by Maata Lynn Barron are available via Sufi Conference site where she touches on the Unknown She / the Divine Beloved
(+) A list of Audio Talks given by Maata Lynn Barron are available via Sufi Conference site where she touches on the Unknown She / the Divine Beloved