Thursday, August 23, 2012

Nafee-Esbat Zikr in Naqshbandi Sufi Way | An Infographic Edition

Nafee Esbat (may also be written as Nafi Aesbat) is a common technical term in the Sufic Science which refers to the practice of repeating the formula of "La ilaha illa-Allah," which according to Sufism is the grand formula of Truth. It consist of two part, first the negation of everything other than God and second part is the affirmation of the Supreme Being.

Frithjof Schuon in his book "Understanding Islam" wrote on the sacred formula: "The first proposition of the sentence, which is negative in form ("There is no divinity..") relates to the world and reduces it to nothingness by taking away from it any positive character, the second proposition, which is affirmative (" the Divinity, Allah"), is related to the Absolute Reality or to Being. In the Shahadah (la ilaha illa-Allah) there is metaphysical discernment between the unreal and the Real, and then combative virtue; this formula is both the sword of knowledge and the sword of the soul, while also marking the peace that Truth brings, serenity in God."

"...The Shahadah is the juxtaposition of the negation la ilaha (no divinity) and the Name Allah (the Divinity)... thus in the center of the Shahadah there is a kind of inverse image of the relationship which it expresses, and this inversion represents the truth according to which the world possesses the degree of reality proper to its level, since nothing can be cut off from the Divine Cause."

In this particular practice of moving the Shahadah on various subtle centers of the body, it may be worthy pointing out that the Lataif or the Spiritual Subtle Centers even within the Sufic tradition may get defined by different school differently, varying in terms of location, color and their subtle functions. Here we have used a particular school of classical Naqshbandi Sufi School from the references as mentioned in the Infographic above. For those who are interested to explore more on Lataif, the Wikipedia article may give some more details: Lataif-e-Sitta.

The differences of the centers are partly because Lataif or the Spiritual Subtle Centers like Spirit itself, is something which belong to the realm of unseen and beyond our everyday language. That is why even though the basic idea is almost same as Eastern notion of Chakra, yet the Lataif in Sufi Schools get slightly different interpretations and that again varies within various School.

In the Book Essence with the Elixir of Enlightenment, A. H. Almaas touched some important aspect of Lataif:

"The lataif, as Shah says, are not only centers but also forms of consciousness, operating on the subtle dimension. These forms of consciousness when understood precisely will be seen as a dimension of Essence, a subtle form of substance. They comprise the subtle body. They are the beginning experience of Essence in some of its basic aspects. For instance, the green lataif is the beginning of compassion, or the loving kindness aspect of Essence. The red lataif is the beginning of the strength aspect of Essence, and so on. They are called lataif, meaning qualities that have subtlety, gentleness, and refinement to them, and are the first subtle and fine manifestation of Essence.

... condition of openness and spaciousness usually leads by itself, to the activation of the centers of the subtle physiology called the lataif... there are said to be five centers of spiritual perception...They are conceived of as having physical locations in the human body. 

The Sufi tradition uses the lataif system. This is somewhat deeper than either of the above energy systems. In fact at this level it becomes difficult to speak of energy. We can still use the term energy, but the lataif really operate with the higher, more diluted forms of Essence. We can say that the lataif level is the transition from the level of energy to the deeper level of essential Presence."

But beyond differences on the locality and modalities of Lataifs, what is far more important is sincere application and consistence practice once a particular school is adhered to.

In the beginning and at the end, the goal of any spiritual practice is to attain Taqwa or Divine Consciousness and the practice of Nafee-Esbat also has the same goal of attaining the taste (dhawq) of the Supreme Presence and hence the Consciousness of the Supreme One. Indeed all opening and success comes from God and we beseech only His grace and help.

ala bi zikri Allahi tatma-innul quloob
Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find tranquility. 
~ The Quran, 13: 28 ~

Note: This is an introduction to the method and possibility of this Zikr / Sufi Remembrance Practice. For effective progress on the Path and to obtain desired benefit, the Sufic Science invariably recommend to receive such practice from an authentic and authorized Guide of the Path.
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