The Sufi Path of Self-knowledge
“Man, know thyself, and you will know the universe and the gods!” –Temple of Delphi
“He who knows himself knows his Lord.” –Sufi Proverb
"The key to success in worship lies in meditative reflection (fikrat)…whoever persists in such reflection in the heart will behold the invisible realm in the spirit. Whoever contemplates God through keeping watch over the thoughts which pass through his heart will be exalted by God in all of his outward deeds. –Dhū’l-Nūn Miṣrī in ‘Aṭṭār: Tadhkirat, 154-155
This is course will introduce the specific means and methods for developing our full divine potential through identifying and removing the inner obstacles to spiritual illumination. Genuine knowledge of divine principles is not a matter of supposition, belief or theory, but the direct cognizance and factual results of the highly technical science of conscious perception and self-reflection.
The mystical science of self-knowledge has been taught throughout all religions. Structurally, we will examine numerous Biblical, Buddhist, and Sufi writings, including The Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri and Revelation of the Mystery by Al-Hujwiri, due to their simplicity, profundity, and accessibility for beginners.
Allah says, “I was a hidden treasure, and I wished to be known, so I created a creation (mankind), then made Myself known to them, and they recognized Me.” ―Hadith Qudsi
Marifah is Arabic for knowledge of divinity and universal principles, the actualization or experience of the truth within oneself. This lecture is the first in a course on self-knowledge, how to acquire personal understanding of the divine through the application of psychological, spiritual, and practical works. Learn how the highest wisdom, known amongst the Sufis as Marifah, is manifested through comprehension of the psyche, the mind, emotions, and our willpower, especially as explained within the esoteric writings and heart of the Muslim tradition. You will also learn about the Kabbalah, Tree of Life, and the nature of spiritual ascension to higher ways and modes of consciousness or being through knowing oneself completely.
Knowledge and Being
"Knowledge is obligatory only in so far as is requisite for acting rightly. God condemns those who learn useless knowledge (Kor. ii, 96), and the Prophet said: 'I take refuge with Thee from knowledge that profiteth naught.' Much may be done by means of a little knowledge, and knowledge should not be separated from action. The Prophet said: 'The devotee without divinity is like a donkey turning a mill,' because the donkey [intellectual] goes round and round over its own tracks and never makes any advance.
―Al-Hujwiri, Revelation of the Mystery
"A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey." ―Traditional Sufi Proverb
Learn how intellectual and spiritual knowledge must be combined with practice in order to elevate one's level of being and way of life. Comprehension is based upon the harmonious balance of knowledge and being, whereas ignorance results from the lack of communion between these factors. See how through a study of various scriptures from the Sufi, Buddhist, and Gnostic traditions.
"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." ―Daniel 12:2
Awakening is a popular term used in spiritual circles, but what does it really mean? Rather than rely on vague, incongruent, ambiguous and self-contradictory explanations, it is best to rely on one's own conscious experience in conjunction with the scriptures. This lecture explores the basis of genuine spirituality: positive awakening through the soul's liberation from suffering and its subsequent development of virtue, and its opposite: negatively awakening through strengthening the conditions of the mind and the deepening of pain.
“Al-Wasiti was asked about the practice of remembrance and said, ‘It is leaving the enclosed court of unconsciousness for the vast space of contemplation through the power of fearing Him and the intensity of loving Him.'” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Learn about the nature of soul or consciousness: the capacity to perceive thought, feeling, will, impulse, sensation, spirit, and beyond. This lecture discusses the three types of soul mentioned in the Qur'an, as well as the practice of self-observation and remembrance of the divine, the objective and subjective states of perception in accordance with Sufi and Gnostic psychology, the four fundamental states of consciousness taught by Plato's famous Allegory of the Cave in The Republic, the Greek myth of Perseus and Medusa, the Hebraic Kabbalah / Tree of Life and its varying modalities of energy, and more.
"Iradah, the will to find God, is the beginning of the path of spiritual travelers, the first title given to those who are determined to reach God Most High. This attribute is only called iradah because will is the preface to every undertaking. When the servant does not will, he does not carry out." ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
"Know that the foundation and rationale of struggle or striving (mujahadah) is to wean the ego from what is familiar to it and to induce it to oppose its desires (passions) at all times." ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
In order to arrive at genuine spiritual attainment and knowledge of divinity, the sincere practitioner of any religion must engage in and maintain an esoteric discipline (riyadah). This is accomplished through the development and application of conscious, unconditioned will. Through submission and obedience to divine ordinances and by striving against the lower passions, conditioned elements, and egotistical drives of the mind, one thereby, based on the law of cause and effect, learns authentic spiritual and psychological conduct, the basis of true spiritual life.
From the heart of the lovers, blood
flows like a vast river. Our body is
the windmill, and love, the water.
Without water the mill cannot turn.
―Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, Hidden Music
Ali ibn Ubayd said, “Yahya ibn Muadh wrote to Abu Yazid, ‘I am intoxicated with how much I have drunk from the cup of love.’ Abu Yazid wrote back to him, ‘Someone else has drunk the oceans of the heavens and the earth and his thirst is not yet quenched. His tongue is hanging out and he is asking, 'Is there any more?’"
―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism, Al-Qushayri
The blossoming of spirituality and the development of the consciousness is founded upon divine eroticism and the creative sexual energy: the most potent force available in the universe. This lecture elaborates upon the spiritual, symbolic, and erotic language of the Sufis, or how the soul achieves unification with the divine through the union of husband and wife. Learn also about the secret meaning of the Wedding of Cana, Jesus' instructions to Nicodemus regarding the second / spiritual birth, and the teachings of Bacchus / Dionysus through Mozart's Opera: The Abduction from the Seraglio.
Knowledge and Truth
"In general, it is to the measure of one’s alienation from one’s own ego that one attains direct knowledge of one’s Lord… I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say, 'One of the tokens of the gnosis of God is the achievement of deep awe and reverence for God. If someone’s realization increases, his awe increases.' And I heard him say, 'Gnosis requires stillness of heart, just as learning requires outward quiet. If someone’s gnosis increases, his tranquility increases.'" ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah
The highest spiritual realizations cited throughout the world's major religions are accessible to advanced practitioners well established within the most profound esoteric disciplines. Those who were prepared to work with the most expedient method for spiritual awakening were delivered the key from mouth to ear: the science of sexual knowledge, known in Arabic as marifah, alchemy or Allah-kimia: "to fuse with God," otherwise referred to as gnosis in Greek and Da'ath in Kabbalah.
Building off the prior stages of ethical conduct and conscious love taught in this course, this lecture elaborates on the secret path and methods for knowing the most elevated, divine realities, especially as demonstrated by the exemplary life of Prophet Muhammad. Learn also the Arabic Kabbalah and Tree of Life, the three stages of religious practice and knowledge, the Sufi writings on witnessing the divine, the science of certainty within the Holy Qur'an, and the esoteric significance of Al-Miraj: the Ascension or Night Journey of the Prophet.