Monday, 11 April 2011

Ibn Arabi and Metaphysics of Love


Ibn ‘Arabî  belongs to the ancient, universal, timeless School of Love. The vision of love as the path to Truth or the Truth itself is presented in these famous lines from his TarjumanuI Ashwaq
I follow the Way of Love,
           and where Love's caravan takes its path,
           there is my religion, my faith.
God created out of love and love is the cause of every movement, every longing, every endeavour in the universe. Akbarian Sufi doctrine put in the language of love states that "there is but One Reality: Love or Sheer Being, which manifests Itself in two forms, the lover and the Beloved." One quote from the Tanazzulât al-mawsiliyya will suffice to show importance of love for him “All praise to God who made love (al-hawâ) a sanctuary towards which the hearts of all men whose spiritual education is complete make their way and a ka'ba around which the secrets of the chests of men of spiritual refinement revolve.” He celebrates both feminine and divine beauty, the former because the formless God manifests in all forms and most brilliantly in feminine face. He conceives love as fundamental driving force in the cosmos. In fact we can call his metaphysics as the metaphysics of love. All love is essentially holy or divine for him because it is really (though many are not conscious of this) directed towards God who alone is and who is the only Beloved smiling in every form. He is not averse to physical aspect of love though he is for progressive Platonization of love; he is for moving from phenomena to the One which manifests yet hides in them.
Iraqi perfectly expresses Akbarian understanding of Shahdah’s metaphysical content in his Lam’aat by saying “There is no love but Love.”  Iraqi’s following lines also express the same vision: 
  Expressions are many  but Thy loveliness is one;
              Each of us refers to that single Beauty.
Sufi poets in general often choose to speak of Reality or Absolute in terms of Love. Akbarian Sufi doctrine put in the language of love states that "there is but One Reality: Love or Sheer Being, which manifests Itself in two forms, the lover and the Beloved." One quote from the Futûhât will suffice to show how great a lover he is. "By God, I feel so much love that it seems as though the skies would be rent asunder, the stars fall and the mountains move away if I burdened them with it: such is my experience of love " For him love is the universal and unifying theme in his worldview. He wrote in the Tanazzulât al-mawsiliyya:  “All praise to God who made love (al-hawâ) a sanctuary towards which the hearts of all men whose spiritual education is complete make their way and a ka'ba around which the secrets of the chests of men of spiritual refinement revolve.” Like Nietzsche his justification for life is ultimately aesthetical as he argues for transcendence of good-evil binary at metaphysical plane and sees fundamental motivation of creation in divine wish to share its creative joy and beauty. His exegesis of the notion of hidden treasure is aesthetic as God appears to be an artist who needs to exhibit his work of art for the contemplation of others. For him the world of manifestation is nothing but the activity of love as God loved to be known or share his love (the Good tends to diffuse as Augustine puts it) and created the world, a mirror of His attributes. The world is the “other” to God so that he could see mirror Himself. In a way it is His object of love. The worlds are markers or traces of the incessant loving activity of God through unveiling by means of creation/ manifestation. Because the different worlds or realms of manifestation are Divine Self-determinations they acquire a reflection of Divine Existence and this “reflection is the movement of life called love." He says in Futûhât: “No existence-giver ever gives existence to anything until it loves giving it existence. Hence everything in wujûd is a beloved, so there are nothing but loved  ones.” 
Ibn ‘Arabî is not the one who could countenance dualism of body and soul and saw the body as the vehicle of spirit and thus essentially divine. There is a divinity in physical touch as Tantrism and Kashmir Saivism particularly emphasize and Ibn ‘Arabî would agree. 
As opposed to every romantic and dualistic understanding of love, he envisions love as lying at the centre of reality as is the case in Plato, world mystical traditions and in fact in all religions. Love and self-denial go hand in hand. The denial of the self is the cornerstone of all religions. This allows the higher self, the Spirit, the Inner man in us to take reigns and the triad of values, Goodness, Beauty, Truth are then realized and life becomes transformed from its otherwise alienated, fragmentary, fear ridden, sorrowful, restless state to Life Divine, which is integrated, blissful life that radiates peace and love. The attributes of divinity are appropriated by the traveler on the path. Religions build on this transformed vision of life and worship God as Love, Beauty, Goodness and whatever beautiful names or aspects that there are. Mystics of diverse hues agree that there are two selves, one illusory or limiting and the other real, knowing which one knows everything. Love has been traditionally one of the chief means of approaching the great King and Ibn ‘Arabî  has unreservedly, unqualifyingly advocated the path of love. So the end that he seeks through it can’t be essentially different from what other travelers on the path seek. Self transcendence achieved through love is the crux of Akbarian vision as it is of the esoteric religion and wisdom traditions of the world.

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