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Al-Ghazzali - The Alchemy of Happiness - 04 On spiritual experience

Identifier

018770

Type of spiritual experience

A description of the experience

Al-Ghazzali - The Alchemy of Happiness - 04 On spiritual experience

Now the rational soul in man abounds in marvels, both of knowledge and power. By means of it he masters arts and sciences, can map out the skies and measure the distances between the stars. By it also he can draw the fish from the sea and the birds from the air.  His five senses are like five doors opening on the external world.

But, more wonderful than this, his heart has a window which opens on the unseen world of spirits.

In the state of sleep, when the avenues of the senses are closed, this window is opened and man receives impressions from the unseen world and sometimes foreshadowings of the future. His heart is then like a mirror which reflects what is pictured in the Tablet of Fate.

But, even in sleep, thoughts of worldly things dull this mirror, so that the impressions it receives are not clear.

After death, however, such thoughts vanish and things are seen in their naked reality, and the saying in the Koran is fulfilled:
 “We have stripped the veil from off thee and thy sight to-day is keen.”

This opening of a window in the heart towards the unseen also takes place in conditions approaching those of prophetic inspiration, when intuitions spring up in the mind unconveyed through any sense-channel.

The more a man purifies himself and concen­trates his mind, the more conscious will he be of such intuitions. Those who are not conscious of them have no right to deny their reality.

Nor are such intuitions confined only to those of prophetic rank. Just as iron, by sufficient polishing, can be made into a mirror, so any mind by due discipline can be rendered receptive of such impressions.

Every human being has in the depths of his consciousness heard the question “Am I not your Lord?” and answered “Yes” to it. But some hearts are like mirrors so befouled with rust and dirt that they give no clear reflec­tions, while those of the prophets and saints, though they are men “of like passions with us,” are extremely sensitive to all divine impressions.

…………Those souls which attain a special degree of power not only rule their own body but those of others also. If they wish a sick man to recover he recovers, or a person in health to fall ill he becomes ill, or if they will the presence of a person he comes to them. According as the effects produced by these powerful souls are good or bad they are termed miracles or sorceries. These souls differ from common folk in three ways:

(1) What others only see in dreams they see in their waking moments.

(2) While others’ wills only affect their own bodies, these, by will­power, can move bodies extraneous to themselves.

 (3) The knowledge which others acquire by laborious learning comes to them by intuition.

These three, of course, are not the only marks which differentiate them from common people, but the only ones that come within our cognis­ance. Just as no one knows the real nature of God but God Himself, so no one knows the real nature of a prophet but a prophet.

 

The source of the experience

Al-Ghazzali

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities

Observation contributed by: Francis Keeble