Monday, October 08, 2012

Paranoid Couplets

If permission granted this world to be,
then let it be; there is other way. But stay

near to the world in which X couldn’t possibly
happen, and you’ll be loath to see that day is day.

This sun, these trees, these passers-by will seem
like grounds for things to be no other way

(permission permits no trace but in the free
motion of all of those objects it makes play

along, and turns a trophy out of atrophy.
Permission's gift is motion’s prey).

Then world will be for you a gravity
and yourself a vacuum bent, as if to pray.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I started another blog for theoretically-inclined thoughts on culture and aesthetics:

I'll continue to post translations on this blog, however.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Tawasin of the Secrets in Unity

An image of the tawasin of the secretes in unity:

Secrets tend from Him & towards Him, & are spread in Him with no sense of necessity. Those secrets from Him alarm, & those toward Him tend, for He is spread. The pronoun of unity is His pronoun, for “I” is hidden. The pronoun of the hidden is His “H.”

If I said “Wah,” they’d say “Ah.”

Varieties & types, & signs don’t pry into the Unknown, “as if they formed a tightly sealed building.” It is one. His oneness doesn’t turn towards the One. The One is one & the attributes of the one tend toward what’s bounded; the Unified lacks boundaries.

The True is the refuge of the True, not the True itself. Unity didn’t speak; speech & truth don’t prove creation true, so how would they do so for the True?

That which takes form is nothing but substance.

That which doesn’t part with body is nothing but body. 

That which doesn’t part with the spirit for a moment is nothing but spirit.

Verily we are spiritual digestions returning to what contained in him -- from what’s contained in Him & His digestion; from His word & His destruction; from His carried load. 

The first circle is for actions. The second circle is for traces. These are the circles of the two existences. The point is the meaning of unity, not unity itself; how would the circle be separate, if so?

- al Hallaj

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tawasin of Unity

 The True is one, unique & lone.

Oneness & unity are in Him and from Him.

Here’s an image of this meaning:

Knowledge of His unity is solitary & discrete. This is an image of that knowledge:

Unity is an attribute of the unifier, not the unified with. If I say “I,” he says “I.” It’s for you, not for him. If I say “Unity returns to the unifier," & if I asked “how does one already unified return to unity?” & if I answered “from the unifier to the unified with,” then He appears attached in His lonesomeness.

If I say “the unity comes from His creation,” then his Essence becomes two essences, & that which converges with an essence. When the Essence isn’t essential, then it’s an essence, inessential. He disappeared when He revealed; where’d He go where there’s nowhere? O that & this can't be comprised.

- al Hallaj

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tawasin of Divine Will

The first circle is his will; the second is his rule; the third is his power; the fourth is his knowledge & his pre-eternity.

Iblis said: “If I entered the first circle I would be tried by the second. If I was made to pass the second, I would be tried by the third. If I was satisfied with the third, I would be tried by the fourth.

So no, no, no, no, no.

Even if I stayed at the first, I'd be cursed until the second, & rejected until the third. What's the fourth to me? If I knew that bowing would save me, I would have bowed, but I knew that there were circles beyond this circle. I said, in my state: “If I’m saved from this circle, how will I be rescued from the second & the third & the fourth?”

The fifth alif is Him, the Ever Living.

- al Hallaj

Tawasin of Pre-Eternity and Obscurity

The Curious High Master Abu’l Magith (may Allah be merciful to him) said: There was calling more fit for anyone than Iblis & Ahmed (peace be unto him), but Iblis fell from the Source, & Ahmed was shown the source of the Source.

Iblis was told “Bow” & Ahmed was told “Look;” the one didn’t bow & the other didn’t look, nor did he turn left or right; “his eye didn’t swerve or stray.”

As for Iblis -- he called out, but he never returned to his state. Ahmed announced himself, & refrained from his state by saying “for you, I transform & for you, I leap,” & “O beater of hearts,” & “I can’t amass enough praise for you.” There was no monotheist among the kin of Heaven like Iblis. When the Source altered before Iblis, &, he was separated from glances on his way; when he worshipped the Worshipped in isolation, & was damned upon reaching solitariness; when he was interrogated for asking for the utmost -- Allah said  “Bow (before Adam)" & he said “to no other.” Allah asked  “even if my damnation be upon you?” He said “to no other.”

My denial, in you, is a hallowing;
my reason, in you, is a folly.

What is Adam, before you?
& who is, furthermore, Iblis?

Why would I follow anyone but You,
when, for your love, I’m already lowly?

Allah said: “You were proud.” Iblis said: “If I had a glance at you, pride and tyranny would suit me; I’m him who knew you since pre-eternity -- the ‘best of them,’ with a share in your service. There’s no one in existence more familiar with you than me. In you, there’s a desire for me, just as there’s a desire for You in me. Your desire preceded Adam. Whether I bowed to any else or didn’t bow, I’d still return to my origin: you created me from fire, which returns to fire. The estimation & the choice are yours.

There was no distance, for me, after yours, after
I learned that distance and nearness are one.

If I separated from you, separation was my friend;
how true it seems that love and separation are one.

Glory be to you, in your purity and genuineness
for the pious slave, who didn’t bow to any other One.

Musa met Iblis on the side of Mount Sinai & said: “O Iblis, what kept you from bowing?” Iblis replied: “It was my declaration for a singular Worshipped. If I bowed, I'd be like you; you were told to ‘look at the mountain’ only once & you looked. I was told to bow a thousand times, but I didn’t, because of my substance's calling. Musa said: “didn't you neglect a command?” Iblis answered: “It was a trial, not a command.” Musa asked: "didn’t the sin alter your image?” Iblis replied: “O Musa, that image is a garb; the true state isn't bound by it, for it's unchanging. Gnosis remains right as it always was, & doesn’t change even if the gnostic does.”

His memory is mine & my memory is his;
what else are these two memories but mutual?

My service now is purer; my time is freer; my memory is clearer. I served him for my sake, before eternity; now I serve Him for His. We lifted greed from prevention, repellent, impairment, and usefulness. He isolated me; he found me; he baffled me; he banished me.

He prevented me from altering, because of my change. He altered me because of my bafflement. He baffled me because of my exile. He made me forbidden because of my companionship. He made me repulsive because of my praise. He consecrated me because of my separation. He separated me because of my exposure. He exposed me because of my arrival. He made me arrive because of my obstacle. He blocked me to prevent my strength.

He corrected what I mistook in notion. I didn’t refuse his estimation; I gave no thought to my image's change. Through all of this, I maintained the estimation. If He punished me with eternal fire, I wouldn’t bow to any else; I wouldn’t humble myself to any man or anybody; I wouldn’t know opposition, because my calling wouldn’t be sincere. Through love, I'm one of the sincerest.

There are several reports regarding the states of Azazyl [Iblis before the fall]. One relates how he was called to Heaven & Earth: in Heaven he addressed the angels, showing them Goodness; on Earth, he addressed men & jinn, showing them Repulsiveness, since things are known by their opposites -- behold, the delicate garment is woven behind black wool. Thus angels display goodness & say to one who’s good: “Do it, & be rewarded.” But he who didn’t know repulsiveness, wouldn’t know goodness.

I debated with Iblis & Pharoah about nobleness. Iblis said: “If I bowed, my noble name would have fallen.” Pharoah said: “ If I believed in His messenger, I would have fallen from my noble name.” I said: “If I refrained from my calling & my speech, I would have fallen from my noble rank.”

Iblis said: “I’m better than him,” when he didn’t see any but himself altered. Pharoah said: “I know no other god for you all but myself,” when he didn’t know his people could distinguish between True & False. I said: “If you don’t know him, then know His signs. I'm that sign, & the True; I stay true forever with the True.”

Iblis & Pharoah are my companions & my masters. Iblis was ruined by fire, but he didn’t deny his calling. Pharaoh drowned in the sea & didn’t deny his calling – after determining there was no mediator. He said “I believed in no god but He, in whom the tribe of Israel believed.” Don’t you see that Allah in his glory resisted Jibril? He said “why did you fill his mouth with sand?”

I would be killed or crucified, or I would lose my hands & legs, if I denied my calling.

The name Iblis is derived from his other name. He changed the “ayn” for the attachment of his intention; and “zay,” for the growth of his excess in his excess; “alif,” for his increase in affection; the second “zay,” for his renunciation of rank; “ya,” for his search for the knowledge of his precedence; & “lam” for his quarrel during (in) his trial. Allah told him: “Bow, O vile one.” He said: “I’m a lover, & all lovers must be vile, since you call me such. I read all of this in a Revealed Book. O Powerful and Firm, how could I lower myself to Adam? You had ‘created me from fire & created him from earth.’ Those opposites don’t reconcile. I served you longer; I was greater in favor; I was wiser in wisdom (‘ilm); I was riper in age.

The True told him: “The choice is mine, not yours.” He replied: “All choices, including mine, are yours. You chose this for me, O creator.  If you prevented me from bowing to him, you were the preventer. If my tongue errs, you don’t abandon me, for you’re All Hearing. If you willed me to bow, I’d be obedient; there’s no one among the gnostics more knowledgeable than me.

Don’t blame me, for blame is far
from me; reward me, Lord, for I’m but one.

If, in promise, your promise is truly true,
in beginning, the beginning of my call is firm.

To whoso wishes to record my speech:
read & know that I’m a martyr.

O brother, he was named Azazyl because he was removed (‘azl) & was remote in his sovereignty. He didn’t return from his beginning to an end, because he never left his end. His exit was cast back in the steadiness of his kindling. He was set ablaze by the fire of his marriage & the light of his title. His ailment was thirst & dubiousness. His wreck was sick & sparkling.

O brother, if you understand, you’ve picturingly pictured the Picture. & deludingly deluded the Delusion. You’ve returned afflicted & been annihilated anxiously.

The most eloquent of the people, before His door, went mute. His gnostics grew too enfeebled for what they learned. Only Iblis was more familiar with bowing than them, & closer to existence than them, & most generous in effort than them, & more loyal to the Entrusted than them & more closely drawn to the Worshipped than them. The others bowed to Adam for help. Iblis denied bowing, for a long period of observation. His command got confused & his thoughts grew dark, so he said “I’m better than him,” & he stayed in the veil & he rolled in the dust, & made himself forever damned forever.

- al Hallaj

Monday, January 09, 2012

Tawasin of the Point

More particular than the Circle is the matter of the Point –the origin that doesn’t grow, or shrink, or pass away. The denier dwells in the first circle; he denies my state, when he can’t see me. He dubs me “unbeliever” & accuses me of evil.

Whoso sees my glory in the forbidden circle cries out to me for vision. Whoso wields the second circle thinks I’m the Divine Scholar. Whoso reaches the third supposes I’m secure. Whoso reaches the circle of truth forgets me & vanishes from my sight. “There is no refuge; that day your resting place is for your Lord. Man will be informed of what he set forth & deferred.” Man takes to tales & makes off for refuge. He fears the sparks. He’s blind & blinded.

I once encountered a bird among the flock of winged Sufis. He denied my glory, though he continued to fly. He asked me about purity; I told him “Cut your wings with the shears of annihilation, or else don't follow me.” He said: “I fly with these wings.” I replied: “Alas; ‘there’s nothing like Him, the All Seeing & Hearing.’” This Sufi stopped, one day, upon the sea of understanding, & drowned. This is the image of that sea:

I saw my lord with my eye’s heart;
I asked “who are you?” He said “you.”

But “where” from you is nowhere
And there’s no where regarding you;

You are that which touches everywhere
as far as nowhere, so where are you?

Delusion holds no dream of you,
& only Where knows where you are.

The first point is from the circle of Thoughts; understanding of one of them is true. The second point is false. He drew near loftily, then returned toweringly. He drew near seeking, then returned overjoyed. He kept far from his direction & he drew near to his Lord. He stayed (bata) at his heart & drew near to his Lord.

He was absent when he saw me. He wasn’t absent. How was he present while not present? How did he look without looking?

He startled, so he recognized. He recognized, so he startled. He witnessed, so he was witnessed. He arrived, so he was divided. He arrived at his desire, so he was divided from his inner heart; “the heart didn’t forge what it saw.” Allah concealed him, so He drew him near. He entrusted him, so He purified him. He made him thirst, so He fed him. He purified him, so He chose him. He called him, so He invited him. He afflicted him, so He healed him. He shielded him, so He made him saddle.

There stretched “bow length,” when he repented & reached his aim. He was called, so he answered. He saw, so he went absent. He drank, so he was sated. He drew near, so he startled. He parted from cities, helpers, secrets, look, visions, & traces: “your friend didn’t stray.” He didn’t weaken & didn’t tire. His eye didn’t weaken from Where, or tire from When. “Your friend didn’t stray” in our dwelling or our conduct. “Your friend didn’t stray” in the garden of remembrance (dhikr), before our view. “He didn’t err” in the wandering of thought; he was mindful of the True in breaths & blinks, & thankful to Him for trials & gifts. “There’s nothing but revelation revealed” from Light to Light.

Overturn speech & absent yourself from delusions. Raise your feet above man & creature. Separate His Order & orders. Be infatuated with infatuation. Rise, so you may fly between mountains & fields -- the mountains of understanding & the fields of peace – & see what lies therein. The fast ends at the Sacred (Forbidden) House. So he drew near, as if he drew near to the meaning. Then he quarantined himself, like a feeble one unlike the feeble. He went from the station of correction to the station of discipline; from the station of discipline to the station of nearness. He drew near seeking so he returned fleeing. He drew near calling, so he returned crying out. He drew near answering & returned near. He drew near witnessing & returned watching. “There were two bow lengths.” He hit “Where” with the arrow of “Between.” He established “two bows” to verify “Where,” or make it absent. The Source drew near through the Source’s source.

The Strange Master, al-Hussain ibn Mansur al-Hallaj (may God be merciful to him) said:

I don’t think our words will be understood except to him who’s reached the second bow – the one below the tablet.

It contains many letters that aren’t Arabic, except one: Meem – the letter signifying the Last Name (Muhammad): this is the string of the first bow.

[He who rules the second bow is the Kingdom & the first bow. Sovereignty acts omnipotently.  The second bow is the Sovereignity of the Kingdom. Sovereignity is an attribute of the two bows; it contains a specific revelation where the arrow points to Nothingness. The arrow is the two bows.]

Who lights the defect, Allah said of him: his clarity of speech is in the meaning of nearing. The True bestowed the meaning of the truth; it doesn’t belong to the mode of Creation. Nearing is an exact circle.  Truth is true of truths, in the particle of particulars: in past testimonies; in the lover’s description of longing; in the cut off vision of those bound to the saddles of insolence; in the persistence of misfortune & the revelation of particulars; in the enunciation of deliverance; in the path of the select; in the nearing of he who is broad for understanding of its importance, which is the observed, transmitted, & prophetic tradition.

Of this matter that was safeguarded & protected in a hidden book, the Master Yathrib (peace be unto him) said:

As was mentioned in a “written & visible book” on the meaning of the conference of birds: He “moved us” until “there stood two bow lengths,” because the Source shoots. So lover, understand – if you’ve so far understood – the Almighty doesn’t address any but kin – & kin from kin, & kin of kin; He is Him who has no master or disciple, who has no choice or preference, who has no caution, who has no attire, who has no through, & who has no from; what’s in Him in Him. He’s in Him, no in him’s in Him; He’s a desert in a desert & a sign in a sign. His meanings are public, and His meaning is His hope. His hopes are far. His path is hard. His name is glorious. His symbol is singular. His knowledge is His indefiniteness. His indefiniteness is His truth. His value is His deed. His name is His path. His naming is his fire. Desire is His attribute.  Moral law is His character. The suns are his courtyard. The souls are his portico. The familiarized are his animal. The effacement is His glory. The teachers are His witness.  The bride is His garden. The effacement is His edifice. His lords are my refuge. His principles are my gift. Their desire is my question. His helpers are my way station. His sorrows are my mishap... His saying is “Be.” So one supposes. What's below Him angers Him. By Allah is the only success.

al Hallaj

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Tawasin of the Circle

The first reached it. The second reached it & got cut off. The third got lost in the desert of truth’s truth.

The Bah is the second door in the circle, represented by ب . This door is for arrivals: whoso passes it arrives. The third door is the desert of the truth. The door represented by ب standing opposite the other doors & beneath the second circle -- that door is truth.

Whoso enters the circle – the way is blocked for him; whoso seeks is driven back. The high point is his intention. The low point is his return to origin. The middle point is his bewilderment.

The low point, returning him to the origin, seeks the right side; the middle point bewilders him – the way through the center leads to the left. 

The circle has no doors. The point in the middle of the circle is the truth. The meaning of the truth is that from which outward & inward aren’t absent, & that which doesn’t welcome forms.

If you wish to understand what I’ve thus shown, “take four birds & twist them towards you” -- for the True doesn’t fly. Jealously brought it after absence. Awe obstructed it. Bewilderment stole it. These are the meanings of the truth.

Subtler than that is the understanding of Understanding -- which, to Delusion’s shroud, appears around the circle, not beyond it.

As for knowledge of the truth – it’s forbidden & the circle’s been forbidden. For this, they named the Prophet “forbidden” (haram). He went beyond it, so he said “Ah!”

- al Hallaj