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The Knowledge in the Sufi literature

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The Knowledge in the Sufi literature

The eternal Gnosis, the Eternal Knowledge has expressed itself in many forms in all the civilizations throughout the time. The Islamic tradition could not have been failed. Every great religion has two parts: an exoteric one - adressed to all mankind, and an esoteric part, which means occult, for those few who really want to understand the purpose of living and the origin of everything that the world and the human being is, that means liberation. In the Islamic tradition, the esoteric or the mystic branch is called sufism.

Much has been written about sufism, and this study dosen’t aim to explain once again what sufism is, but aims to make a parallel between sufi poems and gnostic principles, and reveal the hidden knowledge from whithin.

The knowledge

Studying the sufi texts we come to find that their vision of the knowledge, or better said of the path through which one can obtain knowledge, it is called 'irfan or ma'rifat', the equivalent of gnosis in Greek. First of all, we have to define what knowledge means. The Greeks had two words to describe Knowledge, episteme - that means: intellectual knowledge that you can learn from books, ideas, concepts; and gnosis - knowledge that one can achieve only through experience, or so called the intuitional knowledge that doesn’t need books, intelect, concept to know and understand...The gnostic teachings are based properly on this last one type of knowledge, on the experiential knowledge of the life, of the Divine - precisely it was defiend with this name. Therefore, knowledge of the Divine is not intellectual, conceptual- but personal and intuitional experience:

Soul receives from soul that knowledge, therefore not by book nor from tongue.
If knowledge of mysteries come after emptiness of mind, that is illumination of heart.

Jalaluddin Rumi

All that is left
to us by tradition
is mere words.

It is up to us
to find out what they mean

Ibn al-`Arabi, Tarjuman al-Ashwaq

Gnoti seauton= Noscete ipsum (et nosces universum et deos)= Man 'arafa nafsahu fe qad 'arafa rabbahu. The Sufi doctrine has at its basis a prophetic hadith: “Man 'arafa nafsahu fe qad 'arafa rabbahu”, which means: “Who comes to know himself will come to know his Lord.”

All traditions that bring out the true knowledge relie on self knowledge, because knowing thyself, you will know the causes of suffering, of death, of life. The Ancient Greece had a well-known Oracle that was contained in the Temple of Delphi. This oracle was indeed composed by the sybils, foreseers of the future, and all the great Greek kings were visiting this Temple in order to get predictions and help for their future. They were encountered by a phrase on the walls of this Temple- gnoti seauton= know thyself and you will know the universe and the gods that leads it...

Man 'arafa nafsahu fe qad 'arafa rabbahu”= Who comes to know himself will come to know his Lord.

Prophetic hadith

Let go of your worries
and be completely clear-hearted,
like the face of a mirror
that contains no images.
If you want a clear mirror,
behold yourself
and see the shameless truth,
which the mirror reflects.

Jalaluddin Rumi

The Knowledge in the Sufi literature

The universal religious principles

The Divine Wisdom, the Truth expresses itself in different manners and forms throughout time and space, addapting itself to people, places and centuries. This is how religions, mystic and spiritual schools born, as Samael Aun Weor states: “All religions are precious jewels on the golden string of Divinity”. Every authentic knowledge and every “awakened” will always recognize that, because beyond concepts, theories and opinions - the Truth is always there to be revealed:

What are "I" and "You"?
Just lattices
In the niches of a lamp
Through which the One Light radiates.

"I" and "You" are the veil
Between heaven and earth;
Lift this veil and you will see
How all sects and religions are one.

Lift this veil and you will ask
When "I" and "You" do not exist
What is mosque?
What is synagogue?
What is fire temple?

Mahmud Shabistari, translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the Desert'

O Marvel! a garden amidst the flames.
My heart has become capable of every form:
it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
and a temple for idols and the pilgrim's Kaa'ba,
and the tables of the Torah and the book of the Quran.
I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love's camels take,
that is my religion and my faith.

Ibn al-`Arabi, Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, In The Mystics of Islam

Piousness and the path of love
are two different roads.
Love is the fire that burns both belief
and non-belief.
Those who practice Love have neither
religion nor caste.

Shaikh Abu Saeed Abil Kheir - "Nobody, Son of Nobody"

O Love, You who have been called by a thousand names,
You who know how to pour the wine
into the chalice of the body,
You who give culture to a thousand cultures,
You who are faceless but have a thousand faces,
O Love, You who shape the faces
of Turks, Europeans, and Zanzibaris,
give me a glass from Your bottle,
or a handful of bheng from Your Branch.

Jalaluddin Rumi

The Knowledge in the Sufi literature

The purpose of Living- The Being

To live just to be living is a completely non-sense, as everything that the material world has to offer is perishable, ephemeral, transient, and is not worthy to be pursued because it will never be achieved for more then some seconds, minutes, years. As the Eclesiast says: “Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas” - “Vanity of vanities, everything is vanity”.

What is not vanity, meaningless is exactly the Source, the Being, the Divine, and therefore the purpose of life is re-ligare, reconnect with the source of Life. With the One that awaits in secret every mortal of the face of the Earth when this last one decided that has had enough with the world and himself and wants to go in search of his origins, when he decided that is worth “give up everything in order to achieve everything”...The sufis call the Being as “Allah”, the “Beloved”, the “Essence of the Essence”, “the intoxication of Love”, the “Sun of Tabriz” or simply “He” or “You”:

One I seek, one I know, one I see, one I call.
He is the first, he is the last, he is the outer, he is the inner.
Beyond "He" and "He is" I know no other.
I am drunk from the cup of love, the two worlds have escaped me.
I have no concern but carouse and rapture.
If one day in my life I spend a moment without you
from that hour and that time I would repent my life.
If one day I am given a moment in solitude with you
I will trample the two worlds underfoot and dance forever

Jalaluddin Rumi

By Allah!
I long to escape the prison of my ego
and lose myself
in the mountains and the desert.

These sad and lonely people tire me.
I long to revel in the drunken frenzy of your love
and feel the strength of Rustam in my hands.

I'm sick of mortal kings.
I long to see your light.
With lamps in hand
the sheikhs and mullahs roam
the dark alleys of these towns
not finding what they seek.

You are the Essence of the Essence,
The intoxication of Love.
I long to sing your praises
but stand mute
with the agony of wishing in my heart.

Jalaluddin Rumi - 'The Love Poems of Rumi'

Your love has wrested me away from me,
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave.
Day and night I burn, gripped by agony,
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave.

I find no great joy in being alive,
If I cease to exist, I would not grieve,
The only solace I have is your love,
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave

Yunus Emre

The Knowledge in the Sufi literature

The Ego

The Ego is known in all religions and spiritual streams as the sins, the psychic aggregates, the interior demons and they have been catalogued as being 7 principals: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. The psychology called them “I’s”, the Self or the Ego.

I wonder
from these thousand of "me's",
which one am I?

Jalaluddin Rumi - In the Arms of the Beloved

He said, "Why is the palace deserted?"
I said, "They all fear the thief."
He said, "Who is the thief?"
I said, "The one who keeps me from -you.

Jalaluddin Rumi


The Ego is the imperfection, all the pleasures, desires, thoughts, feelings from within that give us the false impression, the illusion that we have a reality, that we exist indeed, and that keeps us apart from the Perfection, from the Being. Every authentic school of mysteries teach that through self annihilation, that is destroying each and every “I” that compose our Psychic, one can clean its Interior by impurities and reveal the imperishable, immortal and unfading Reality, which is Awakening from the Sleep of the Conscious to see, touch and feel the Being, or how the Sufis say - to “claim Solomon’s kingdom”.

Until you become an unbeliever in your own self,
you cannot become a believer in God.

Shaikh Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir - 'Nobody, Son of Nobody'

I stood with the pious and I didn’t find any progress with them. I stood with the warriors in the cause and I didn’t find a single step of progress with them. Then I said, ‘O Allah, what is the way to You?’ and Allah said, ‘Leave yourself and come.’

Bayazid Bastami

For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself.
From within, I couldn't decide what to do.
Unable to see, I heard my name being called.
Then I walked outside.

Jalaluddin Rumi

Oh Beloved,
take me.
Liberate my soul.
Fill me with your love and release me from the two worlds.
If I set my heart on anything but you
let fire burn me from inside.
Oh Beloved,
take away what I want.
Take away what I do.
Take away what I need.
Take away everything
that takes me from you.

Jalaluddin Rumi

Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
You're covered with a thick cloud.
Slide out the side. Die, and be quiet.
Quiteness is the surest sign that you've died.
Your old life was a frantic running from silence.

Jalaluddin Rumi - The Essential Rumi

If you can disentangle
yourself from your selfish self
all heavenly spirits
will stand ready to serve you,

if you can finally hunt down
your own beastly self
you have the right
to claim Solomon's kingdom

Hafiz - "Persian Poems"

The Knowledge in the Sufi literature

The Mind, the Intellect - Meditation

“The best way to think is to not think anymore” - Samael Aun Weor.
The Intellect is useful in his sphere of action, but useless when wanting to understand the Divine. The mind rests on rationalize, and rationalize is resting on opinions, on the fight of antithetic concepts, that remain only concepts and are not the truth. The Reality is life lived moment by moment and it comes when the process of rationalize, of thinking is over; when the mind is a mirror, a calm lake in which is reflected the Reality, the Divine.

Everyone is overridden by thoughts;
that's why they have so much heartache and sorrow.
At times I give myself up to thought purposefully;
but when I choose,
I spring up from those under its sway.
I am like a high-flying bird,
and thought is a gnat:
how should a gnat overpower me?

Rumi - Mathnawi II, 3559-3561 - 'Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance'

Out beyond all ideas,
Of right doing,
And wrong doing,
There is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

If knowledge of mysteries come after emptiness of mind, that is illumination of heart.

Jalaluddin Rumi

Were it not for
the excess of your talking
and the turmoil in your hearts,
you would see what I see
and hear what I hear!

Ibn al-`Arabi, Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, in The Mystics of Islam

This Love is beyond the study of theology,
that old trickery and hypocrisy.
If you want to improve your mind that way,

sleep on.

I've given up on my brain.
I've torn the cloth to shreds
and thrown it away.
If you're not completely naked,
wrap your beautiful robe of words
around you,
and sleep.

Jalaluddin Rumi - Sleep on

The Knowledge in the Sufi literature
Alchemy in the sufy literature
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