The Traveler, The Goal, The Stages & The Road

February 2, 2011 Comments Off on The Traveler, The Goal, The Stages & The Road

The Traveler, The Goal, The Stages, And The Road

The Traveler in the path of mystic philosophy is the Perceptive Sense, which as it becomes further developed results in Intelligence, not however the intelligence of life,

but such as is described in the words of Mohammed, “Intelligence is

light in the heart, distinguishing between truth and vanity, not the

intelligence of life.” After a time our traveler merges into Divine

Light, but of the thousands who start upon the road scarcely one attains



The Goal is the Knowledge of God, and the acquisition of this knowledge is the work

of Divine Light alone, Perception or worldly intelligence having no lot

or portion therein. The latter is represented as the sovereign of this

world, and the perceptive faculties are the executive officers of his

rule, to whom both the cultivation and devastation of the face of the

earth is due.


The idea is suggested by the following passage of the Corán: “When God said to the angels, I am about to place a

vicegerent in the earth, they said, Wilt thou place therein one who

shall commit abomination and shed blood? Nay; we celebrate Thy praise

and holiness. God answered them, Verily I know what ye wot not of.”

(Cor. cap. 2, v. 28.) Which answer implies that God knew that although

such might even be the conduct of the bulk of mankind, there would still

be some who should receive the Divine Light and attain to a knowledge

of Him; so that it is clear that the object of the creation of existent

beings was that God should be known. Existence was made for man, and man

for the knowledge of God. To the same purport is the answer given to

David, “David inquired and said, Oh Lord! why hast thou created mankind?

God said, I am a hidden treasure, and I would fain become known.”


The business of the Traveler then is to exert himself and strive to attain

to the Divine light, and so to the knowledge of God; and this is to be

achieved by associating with the wise.


The received notion of the “stages” in the “road,” involves a paradox, the disciple who asks concerning them being told that there

is not even a single stage, nay more, not even a road at all.


This statement is differently explained by two sects, the Sufis and the Ahl i

Wahdat, whom I shall call the Unitarians.


The Sufis say that there is no road from man to God, because the nature of God is

illimitable and infinite, without beginning or end or even direction.

There is not a single atom of existent things with which God is not and

which God does not comprise: “Are they not in doubt concerning the union

with their Lord? doth he not comprise everything?” (Cor. cap. 42, v.

54.) Nor is there aught that he does not comprehend with his knowledge:

“Verily God comprehendeth all things with his knowledge.” (Cor. cap. 42,

v. 54.) The Traveler who has not attained to this Divine Light can have

no lot or portion with God, but those who have reached it gaze always

upon His face; they go not forth by day and retire not to rest at night

without an abashed consciousness that God is present every where; for

with Him they live, and in Him they act.


The whole universe compared with the majesty of God is as a drop in the ocean, nay

infinitely less than this. But Perception or Intelligence can never lead

to this conviction, or reveal this glorious mystery; that is the

province of the Divine Light alone. Such is the Sufiistic explanation of

the proposition, “There is no road from man to God.”


The Unitarians interpret it as follows. They hold that existence is not

independent, but is of God; that besides the existence of God there is

no real existence, nor can there possibly be: for that which exists not,

cannot exist of itself, but that which does exist, exists of itself,

and that which is self-existent is God.


When man imagines that be has an existence other than the existence of God he falls into a

grievous error and sin; yet this error and sin is the only road from man

to God; for until the Traveler has passed over this he cannot reach

God. A certain Sufi poet has said,


Plant one foot on the neck of self,

The other in thy Friend’s domain;

In everything His presence see,

For other vision is in vain.


That is, whilst you are looking up to self you cannot see God, but when you are not

looking up to self all that you see is God. Such is the Unitarian

solution of the proposition that “there is no road from man to God,”

namely that the error of imagining an existence separate from God is the

only road to Him; the stages on this road are innumerable, and some

philosophers even assert that it has no end.


Oriental Mysticism, Part 1, Ch. 1 by E.H. Palmer, [1867], at



Tags: Intelligence, Light, Knowledge, God, Perception, Sufi




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