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Introduction to the Fusûs al-Hikam

Due to the wealth of detail and elaborate attention to the proper exposition of what for him are facts which he has proven, so to speak, before our eyes, Ibn 'Arabi's tenet presents a complete, circular and magnificent system of perfect Oneness, where all the questions that are sometimes left only partially explained, here find satisfactory answers from both religious and philosophical approaches. He affirms that "there is nothing but God". Not only that He is everything, and that "like unto Whom there is nothing", but also that He is not just a conglomeration of everything there is, on the contrary, but that there is nothing other than Him even though everything is not Him. He manifests Himself in an infinity of forms. God does not contain, but is, all the forms, and yet He has no form. He is the essence of all existence. Hence man's existence can only be through Him. Looked at, then, from man's point of view, there is beyond man and inclusive of himself, One Reality, One Essence and One Existence, of which man partakes, to which man relates, in which man finds his own Reality and relationship. Since, as we have seen, that there is no other existent but the One and Only and Unique Existent, the Reality of the universes is again the same as that of man. The difference between man and the universe, of which he is obviously a part, is therefore only a difference in the concentration of consciousness. To this consciousness it is the mystic's heart alone which is most fully receptive.

Divine Essence is unqualifiable. It is endowed with Attributes only when It manifests Itself, and consequently all created things are the result of His Attributes. His Attributes are identical with Himself. When viewed apart from Him they are nothing. Since the universe, and everything in it, is the consequence of God's manifested Attributes, its existence is relative; God alone is Absolute. The Divine Essence is the knower, the known and the knowing, and since there exists no other than Him there exists a complete unity of subject, object and the relationship between them.

Where everything devolves from the One and Only Source, the Essence, there can be no question of a creation - a situation when there was not and then there was. Creation ex nihilo, then, is unimaginable. Also, nothing cannot produce something. Since there was no time when there was not, and the universe was not created at some time in the past, then it must be that it manifests constantly the Divine Existence. It can be said that the universe is in a perpetual state of recreation out of time, creation meaning simply the coming into concrete manifestation of something already existing. It is the causes within the thing itself which result in that thing coming into manifestation, albeit according to the Divine plan. This is not a plan as an object, but rather the plan of His Own Being and consequential and subsequent manifestation. God has only to will it - to say "Be" - for it to happen. That which qualifies what has thus come to be is the Divine Attribute. A Divine Attribute is a Divine Name manifested in the external world. The Divine Essence is unqualifiable and embraces both Its own non-phenomenal and phenomenal aspects. These manifestations are particular aspects of Reality.

It follows that the Divine consciousness must embrace all the intelligible forms of the prototypes or a'yân. Consequently, the Divine Essence embraces all the potential essences of the prototypes. In fact these potentialities are the 'latent realities' or a'yân al-thâbita. The Essence of each of these then is no other than a 'mode' of God.

These latent realities or potentialities which are of and in the Essence, present in the unqualifiable Existent, never get manifested. It is the images of their potentialities which are the manifested 'modes'. All the seemingly existent multitude of things and beings are therefore, as images of the a'yân, individuated 'modes' of His Existence. It is this multitude of individuated 'modes' of the Essence which form the phenomenal aspects of the One and Only Reality. Therefore the phenomenal world is a reality in its Essence by virtue of the whole of this manifestation, which is no other than the particular aspects of Reality qualified and thereby rendered relative, and only the relative image of the unlimited and infinite potentialities which is the unqualifiable Divine Essence.

The 'mechanism' of manifestation on the other hand is at once simple, since it is an expression of the Divine Will - Be - and complex, due to the nature of the variable and infinite relativities expressed as the phenomenal universe. The basic factor of this manifestation into relativity, however, is still the Divine Essence as One. But equally one must bear in mind that there must be a parallel to this, a manifestation of the One Absolute and Unqualifiable as the Qualifiable One, an equally valid manifestation of the Essence of the One, again, into a qualifiable multiplicity - the whole process remaining as The One and The Unique at the same time. Consequently, the only manner in which this can happen, is for the Unique Unqualifiable Essence to express Itself, to exteriorise Itself as a multiplicity - remaining the Unique Unqualifiable Essence as the interior Reality of this expression. We have, then, a curious seeming duality of the exteriorised Uniqueness as a multiplicity of images and forms and, at the same time, we have the Unique Unqualifiable Essence manifested in toto in all Its qualities and attributes. The former Ibn 'Arabi calls the Perfect Man, the latter the Godhead. The qualifiable multiplicity of the One, known as God or the Godhead, is no other than the multiplicity of the Divine Names and Attributes.

From Addresses II

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