"...the Imagination (or love, or sympathy, or any other sentiment) induces knowledge, and knowledge of an 'object' which is proper to it..."
Henry Corbin (1903-1978) was a scholar, philosopher and theologian. He was a champion of the transformative power of the Imagination and of the transcendent reality of the individual in a world threatened by totalitarianisms of all kinds. One of the 20th century’s most prolific scholars of Islamic mysticism, Corbin was Professor of Islam & Islamic Philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Teheran. He was a major figure at the Eranos Conferences in Switzerland. He introduced the concept of the mundus imaginalis into contemporary thought. His work has provided a foundation for archetypal psychology as developed by James Hillman and influenced countless poets and artists worldwide. But Corbin’s central project was to provide a framework for understanding the unity of the religions of the Book: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. His great work Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ‘Arabi is a classic initiatory text of visionary spirituality that transcends the tragic divisions among the three great monotheisms. Corbin’s life was devoted to the struggle to free the religious imagination from fundamentalisms of every kind. His work marks a watershed in our understanding of the religions of the West and makes a profound contribution to the study of the place of the imagination in human life.

Search The Legacy of Henry Corbin: Over 800 Posts

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Paris - November 26 2016

Henry Corbin - Champion of Inter-religious Dialogue

The World Turned Inside Out: Henry Corbin and Islamic Mysticism (2003)

A deep reading of Tom Cheetham's The World Turned Inside Out could have the effect of turning the reader inside out! Not only will a person discover in this book a thorough understanding of the remarkable and important vision of Henry Corbin, the great French scholar of Iranian Islam. The reader will also be engaged by a politically useful understanding of the religion of Islam generally, of mystical and negative theology, of monotheism, of the philosophy of imagination, of language and the textures of textuality, and of the nature of reading and thinking. Among other things, a careful reading of this book can inform current interpretations of the politics of terrorism, its wars and the wars against it. In short, there exists here a shaking of the foundations of human perspectives that comes to nothing short of a radical revisioning of all attempts to make sense of the life and meaning of being in the world. - David L. Miller, Watson-Ledden Professor of Religion, Emeritus, Syracuse University, Core Faculty Member, Pacifica Graduate Institute, Author of Christs, Three Faces of God & Hells and Holy Ghosts.

A remarkable creative synthesis of the genius of Henry Corbin, the silent precursor of archetypal psychology. Tom Cheetham gives the gift of a metaphysics of interiority balancing pervasive, destructive, suffocating, spectator consciousness. And it is a convivial interiority, filled with spiritual presences. The soul can breathe again because it has found its homeland, the Soul of the World. - Robert Sardello, author of Freeing the Soul from Fear.

This book is a penetrating and comprehensive introduction to and survey of the remarkable work and thought of Henry Corbin. It serves an important purpose in making Corbin's work more accessible in English. - Sophia: The Journal of Traditional Studies
The first book in English devoted to the great French author Henry Corbin, The World Turned Inside Out is an excellent introduction to and survey of Corbin's work and thought. Corbin is unique among twentieth-century scholars of Islam in his ability to imaginatively enter the world of the Sufi gnostics, and to apply their insights to the modern world. The World Turned Inside Out provides us with a bracing and stimulating overview of this seminal author's work and its implications: this is a book for all who suspect that, to paraphrase Plato, there is more to life than that which can be grasped in one's hands. - Arthur Versluis, Editor of Esoterica and author of Wisdom's Children: A Christian Esoteric Tradition.

This book does an absolutely splendid job of opening up Corbin's thought to the general reader. Corbin's work addresses our contemporary situation in a most direct way as this book shows, and the author has made an important contribution to both the philosophy of religion and the history of religions. This is an interesting, careful and important piece of work that I hope will gain the recognition that it deserves. - Charles J. Adams, Emeritus Professor of Islamic Studies, McGill University

L'Association des Amis de Stella et Henry Corbin has sponsored a French translation of this book. I am deeply grateful to Les Amis and to the translator, Hélène Senglard-Foreman. The book is available in French as L'Envers du Monde, published by Entrelacs. Available on their website HERE.

The Corbin Trilogy
By Tom Cheetham
Reviewed by M. Ali Lakhani
Read more ...

Buy the book from:
Spring Journal Books
Distributed in Europe by Daimon Publishers.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Support CAIR

Since the November 8 election, CAIR has seen a tremendous increase in support in terms of volunteers, donations and expressions of solidarity. More than 1,000 people [as of Nov. 18] have volunteered to help CAIR defend the civil rights of all Americans under a Trump administration.

Thousands of people of all faiths have donated to CAIR, including Lucy “Xena: Warrior Princess” Lawless, who tweeted her support, writing: “We're helping by donating to @NAACP @HRC @PPact @CAIRNational and fearless news organizations.”

Major law firms have offered to work pro bono for CAIR and to defend the civil rights of the Muslim community. One top lawyer wrote to CAIR: “As an American Jew, I cannot stand by silently in the face of the rising hatred and violence being experienced by the American Islamic community.”

Support CAIR’s critical work as we enter a challenging era under policy-makers who have a history of Islamophobia and bigotry.

To show your support, go to: https://www.cair.com/donations/general-donation/campaign/#/donation

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

- Egil Asprem

Correspondences 4 (2016) 1–34   
ISSN: 2053-7158 (Online) correspondencesjournal.com

Abstract Scholars agree that the imagination is central to esoteric practice. While the esoteric vis imaginativa is usually attributed to the influx of Neoplatonism in the Italian Renaissance, this article argues that many of its key properties were already in place in medieval scholasticism. Two aspects of the history of the imagination are discussed. First, it is argued that esoteric practice is rooted in a broader kataphatic trend within Christian spirituality that explodes in the popular devotion literature of the later Middle Ages. By looking at the role of Bonaventure’s “cognitive theology” in the popularization of gospel meditations and kataphatic devotional prayer, it is argued that there is a direct link between the scholastic reconsideration of the imaginative faculty and the development of esoteric practices inspired by Christian devotional literature. Secondly, it is argued that the Aristotelian inner sense tradition of the scholastics left a lasting impression on later esoteric conceptualizations of the imaginative faculty. Examples suggesting evidence for both these two claims are discussed. The article proposes to view esoteric practices as an integral part of a broader kataphatic stream in European religious history, separated out by a set of disjunctive strategies rooted in the policing of “orthopraxy” by ecclesiastical authorities.

and this is very worthy of note:

– February 20, 1981
by James Engell 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Unseen Partner - a book not to be missed!

The Unseen Partner
Love & Longing in the Unconscious
Diane Croft

Don't miss this gorgeous book! I have waited years with great anticipation for this book. 
It is even more beautiful than I expected. It's really a volume to treasure. My congratulations
to the author for the perfect completion of a long labor of love. Here's my 
contribution to the small flood of positive reviews:

"In the tradition of Jung’s Red Book and Edinger’s The Living Psyche, Diane Croft’s The Unseen Partner is a beautifully illustrated, gorgeously produced and deeply moving account of personal transformation. Croft’s presentation of her own visionary recital in the company of the invisible guide who dictated these poems will be inspiration and solace to all who find themselves suddenly strangers in the strange and often frightening realm of the autonomous psyche. We should be grateful for such a gift." - Tom Cheetham

Visit the website for more reviews and details about this book. Here is an introduction:

The Unseen Partner records one woman's descent into the collective unconscious, a universal field of reality transcending time, space, and matter. For three years, the author recorded the primordial poetry she found there. It took almost two decades of struggle to make sense of the experience and to write about it in this book.

Drawing heavily on the discoveries of C.G. Jung, as recounted in his Red Book, this book explains our human need for the transcendent -- a dimension not somewhere else, but inextricably a part of us. Her living account demonstrates that we live in both a physical world and a spiritual realm simultaneously.

It is also available on amazon.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Gnostic Apocalypse and Islam

Gnostic Apocalypse and Islam: 
Qur'an, Exegesis, Messianism and the Literary Origins of the Babi Religion
(Iranian Studies) 
by Todd Lawson
Routledge, 2011.

From the publisher: Of the several works on the rise and development of the Babi movement, especially those dealing with the life and work of its founder, Sayyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi, few deal directly with the compelling and complex web of mysticism, theology and philosophy found in his earliest compositions.


Somehow it seems I never posted a note on this when it appeared. It is replete with references to Henry Corbin. Among them:  "The whole offers a perfect dramatic example of one of Corbin’s resounding insights: in Shi‘i Islam, the angel of revelation is identical with the angel of interpretation."

Review of Todd Lawson, Gnostic Apocalypse and Islam: Qur’an, Exegesis, Messianism, and the Literary Origins of the Babi Religion by Christopher Buck

Buck's Review concludes: "The present work is a refinement of Lawson’s doctoral dissertation (1987) at McGill University, Canada. It has aged, matured and sophisti-cated like fine wine in the barrel of Lawson’s subsequent work, and is inter-spersed with insights arising in subsequent studies. Thus, it is a work of original research on an original figure prismed by an original mind. Gnostic  Apocalypse and Islam is an instant classic in Babi/Baha’ studies. It is foundational to the academic study of Babi/Baha’i history and doctrine. Not only did it take a scholar with a command of Arabic and of the history, doctrine and arcane philosophy of Shi‘i Islam to write Gnostic Apocalypse and Islam. It took a gnostic."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

At Last!!! ... (Notes on Corbin & Poetry #??...)

Volumes One & Two
edited by John Clarke and Albert Glover
Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2016.

For anyone with an interest in Olson of course this is indispensible - but also for anyone with an interest in how Corbin was read and understood by a generation of poets. Such a wonderful labor of love. And beautifully produced for a good reasonable price - these large and impressive volumes are a must have. - TC

While I have not read all the individual chapbooks in A Curriculum of the Soul Series, I have very much admired what Albert Glover is doing there and the way he is doing it.
     Donald Allen

A Curriculum of the Soul series is, in my evaluation, one of the most impressive publishing ventures now under way among American small presses. It will be valuable to contemporary poets and readers in a number of ways.
     Karl Young

The series is one of the more imaginative, certainly one of the best among scores in the small press world….Over the years A Curriculum of the Soul has included many of the major American poets, or, more particularly those whom are by now among the top voices familiar to those of us who read little magazines and keep-up with small press publications.
     Bill Katz

Albert Glover’s publishing venture is one of the most ambitious and consistent of the past decade. The series of books, A Curriculum of the Soul, serves more than one function; as a whole, it advances the provocative theoretical thinking of Charles Olson, and as individual books it produces new poetic statements and works by writers who are among the best in the country.
     Alan Davies

I find it difficult to imagine a more admirable project, one which is of value not only to us who read the fascicles as issued, but to the laymen and scholars of the future who will attempt to unravel this complicated age. …Such is the destiny of A Curriculum of the Soul, which is a work of art, gigantic in its conception, yet wonderfully accessible in its execution.
     John Nomland

Reviewed by William Farrar on amazon:

After over 50 years, the Curriculum of the Soul has come out in an affordable trade copy. This work is an homage to the poet Charles Olson. Olson, who is known mainly for being a “Black Mountain” poet influenced by the style of Ezra Pound, was also known for creating the idea of projective verse, which discussed the centrality of breath as an organization structure of poetry. In the past decades, Olson’s reputation has taken some hits. A biography by Tom Clark (Allegory of a Poet) and the editing of Olson’s masterwork, the unfinished The Maximus Poems by George Butterick, created the image of a person whose muse was like Melville’s Ahab in Moby Dick: a dark, obsessed character whose life ended in the wreckage of an incomplete, unfulfillable vision. The Curriculum of the Soul, which was edited by Albert Glover and Jack Clarke points toward a different, more positive role of Olson in the American artistic landscape.

Glover and Clarke chose 28 words taken from a typescript by Olson called Curriculum of the Soul and assigned each one to a different poet or writer associated with Olson in some way, who produced a fascicle on one of the words. Contributors include poets such as Robert Duncan, Robin Blaser, and Joanne Kyger. These fascicles have been combined together and the individual contributors' name have been backgrounded.

The Curriculum exemplifies the ideals of a different Olson than can be found in Tom Clark’s biography. The Olson evoked by the contributor to these volumes is the Olson who dreamed of a “nation of nothing but poetry” and who mythologized his own vision Greek ideal of polis, an artist and teacher who imagined individuals coming together to create a collective work that transcended the individuality of a single creator’s ego. The Curriculum achieves this by presenting a work that has the feel of a single epic meditation composed of multiple voices. In a sense, the work functions like the poetic equivalent of the free jazz of the 60s.

Like free jazz- or any collective project- the work is uneven. There are notable moments in the work: moments of beauty and insight that capture the vibrant spirit that Olson’s writing and ideas point towards. But, there are also weaker, less committed contributions that provide very little to the whole. In addition, the work reveals some of the limits of the main era of its composition: it has a viewpoint that is predominantly male, white, and 70s in its consciousness (think of those old photographs with bell bottoms). In spite of these limitations, the work is valuable. It serves as a document of the evolution of poetry in 20th century America, a memorial to an influential post-WWII American poet. It is also an homage of perseverance, commitment and care on the part of its editors.

Volume One

Charles Olson
Albert Glover
Duncan McNaughton
John Wieners
Michael Boughn
Lisa Jarnot
Fred Wah
John Clarke
Robert Duncan
Alice Notley
Robin Blaser
Robert Dalke
George F. Butterick
Edward Kissam
Edgar Billowitz
Volume One

 iii WOMAN
 iv MIND
 vii BLAKE
 viii DANTE
Volume Two

Harvey Brown
Lewis MacAdams, Jr
Ed Sanders
Michael Bylebyl
David Tirrell
Danny Zimmerman
Drummond Hadley
James Koller
Gerrit Lansing
Joanne Kyger
Robert Grenier
John Thorpe
Anselm Hollo
Michael McClure
Volume Two

 xvi DANCE
 xxviii ORGANISM

Thursday, September 15, 2016

New from OUP

Edited by Khaled El-Rouayheb and Sabine Schmidtke
Oxford University Press, 2016

The study of Islamic philosophy has entered a new and exciting phase in the last few years. Both the received canon of Islamic philosophers and the narrative of the course of Islamic philosophy are in the process of being radically questioned and revised. Most twentieth-century Western scholarship on Arabic or Islamic philosophy has focused on the period from the ninth century to the twelfth. It is a measure of the transformation that is currently underway in the field that, unlike other reference works, the Oxford Handbook has striven to give roughly equal weight to every century, from the ninth to the twentieth. The Handbook is also unique in that its 30 chapters are work-centered rather than person- or theme-centered, in particular taking advantage of recent new editions and translations that have renewed interest and debate around the Islamic philosophical canon. 

The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy gives both the advanced student and active scholar in Islamic philosophy, theology, and intellectual history, a strong sense of what a work in Islamic philosophy looks like and a deep view of the issues, concepts, and arguments that are at stake. Most importantly, it provides an up-to-date portrait of contemporary scholarship on Islamic philosophy.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Todd Lawson at the Ibn Arabi Symposium, 2016

The Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society 33rd Symposium 'Light & Knowledge' 
Wolfson College, Oxford March 2016. 
Video by Ayman Saey

Water and Light pervade the writings of Ibn 'Arabi as they do the Quran itself. In the poetic literalism of Ibn 'Arabi's discourse, these everyday realities are frequently involved in specific events of knowing. Knowledge appears to be built upon water and light. Water and Light are also essential "hormones of the imagination" – they are elements of the natural realm that lead us beyond nature. The living "natural" cosmos and everything in it, according to Ibn 'Arabi, is the imaginal (not imaginary) projection of the divine. Imagination is the single most powerful divine activity and it issues in what is frequently referred to in scripture as "creation". Humankind participate in this activity through the imagination. As Ibn ‘Arabi frequently has it, God describes the cosmos to us through us (laná biná). This issues in the most stirring and transformative instances of knowing. The light of the imagination draws us together to the primal scene of our collective beginning on the Day of the Covenant (Q 7:172), the birthplace of time, history and consciousness where we were all gathered in peace in the divine presence – in Quranic language much loved and venerated by Ibn 'Arabi, where "all are created from the same water " (Q 21:30). The poetic dynamics of water and light in the Quran and Ibn 'Arabi's writings generates a noetic and experiential music of remembrance, recognition and knowledge through which the revelation of our common humanity is nourished, our sense of our common dependence upon the Real is articulated and deepened, and our common engagement with the imaginal realm illumined and guided.

The purpose of this talk is to explore what appear to be similarities among three different Quranic elements which acquire significant importance in the writings of Ibn Arabi and to speculate on the nature of knowing, how it comes to be and what are its proper focii. Through considering the poetics of the Quran and the poetics of Ibn Arabi we hope to deepen our understanding of his teaching and, of course, the teaching of Islam. In this we will try to explicate how these three elements “hang together” to communicate something essential about the nature of the world we live in and the nature of the instrument we use to consider that world. Furthermore, we will offer some suggestions about the relationship between the dynamics of water, light and knowledge in conjunction with the imaginal activity of the Real and learning from Ibn ‘Arabi that the circulation of these metaphorical realities throughout the cosmos is the very life of the world and those in it. Some focus, toward the end of the talk, will fall on the “immutable entities” and their role in the ecological toning of the imagination.

Dr. Todd Lawson
Professor Emeritus
University of Toronto
1509 Sherbrooke St W
Apartment 34
Montreal, Quebec

Call for information

I have an email from someone trying to contact Hugo van Woerkom with regard to his translation of V.2 of En Islam iranien which can be found on Scribd here. There is apparently a possibility of publication. If anyone knows how he can be contacted I will pass along the information. Many thanks. - Tom Cheetham tcheetham@gmail.com

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Items of interest

Perception of Western Modernity from the Gaze of Ṣadraism: 
Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabā’ī’s and Murtaḍā Muṭahharī’s 
Critique of Modern Western Philosophy

Urs Gösken
International Journal of Persian Literature
Vol. 1, No. 1 (2016), pp. 142-163

Among the many Iranian thinkers who dealt with Western intellectual systems and concepts, Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabā’ī (1903–81)1 and Murtaḍā Muṭahharī (1920–79),2 two of the leading religious scholars of their time, stand out as the first to attempt to subject crucial teachings of modern Western philosophy to critical discussion by assessing the intellectual quality of their reasoning and questioning their claim to superiority to premodern philosophical systems.3 The doctrines they mainly engaged in the wake of their project were Cartesianism, empiricism, Kantian criticism, positivism, and Hegelianism. Their intellectual enterprise, going back to the 1950s, comes after a period when Iranian intellectuals’ contact with Western philosophy had been mainly receptive, based on the premise that doctrines of modern philosophy such as positivism and materialism were indispensable for intellectual and cultural progress.4 In the nineteenth century—and up to the 1950s—Iranians who grappled with Western philosophy often did so under the impact of the then-current philosophical teachings in Europe like positivism, scientism, naturalism, and empiricism5 and later, with the growing influence of Marxism on political thinking in Iran, dialectical materialism.6 In selecting the doctrines they came to adopt, they were less guided by purely intellectual interests, and more, perhaps, by intellectual, political, and ideological tendencies. LINK HERE. (jstor)

And from 2002 in the Journal of the Ibn 'Arabi Society XXXII:

A Counter-History of Islam:
Ibn al-'Arabl within the Spiritual Topography of Henry Corbin 
Vahid Brown 

Henry Corbin was one of the most brilliant and sometimes un­ usual minds to rise to prominence in the western study of Islam during the twentieth century. At his death in 1978 he left behind a remarkable legacy of text editions and translations, studies and synopses, ranging over astonishingly wide areas of time and space within and beyond the Islamic world. While primarily dedicating his prodigious labors to the study of Iranian Islam, he also wrote about and translated texts from such varied fields as German existentialism, Rhenish mysticism, and Swedenborg's theology.1 The critical response to Corbin's scholarship has been similarly diverse, and runs a spectrum from ardent devotion to equally ardent objection.2 Among the reservations and notes of caution that are to be found in this critical reception, Corbin's idiosyncratic conception of Iran as the spiritual homeland of Islam's esoteric core is never far from the center of the argument. After examining this and related criticisms, it will be my purpose here to train their light onto one area of Corbin's interests and the object of constant reference in his work - the life and thought of the Andalusian mystical philosopher, Muhyi'd-DIn Ibn al-'Arabl (d.1240) - as embodied primarily in the independ­ ent study, Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi. It will be argued that Corbin's situating of Ibn al-'Arabl within the "spiritual topography" of Iranian gnostic spirituality led to a dis­ tortion and misrepresentation of the Shaykh al-Akbar in Islamic history and thus within the history of religions. FULL TEXT PDF.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Zoroastrians in New York

A Rare Glimpse Inside A Zoroastrian Temple In New York
Take a look inside Pomona, New York’s new Dar-e-Mehr temple.

Full article in The Huffington Post

Recent Citations

Disorientation and Inferred Autonomy: Kant and Schelling on Torture, Global Contest, and Practical Messianism

FS Scribner - Rethinking German Idealism, 2016
... As the great French Sufi scholar Henry Corbin notes, the polestar is the axis of metaphysical
geography; the quest for the mystical Orient is not achieved by traveling east: 'This mystic Orient,
the Orient-origin, is the heavenly pole, the point of orientation of the spiritual ascent. ...

[PDF] Asceticism, Mysticism, and Messianism: A Reappraisal of Schechter's Portrait of Sixteenth-Century Safed

ER Wolfson - Jewish Quarterly Review, 2016
... In my scholarship, I have employed the locution imaginal body, borrowed from the work of Henry
Corbin on Islamic esotericism, in order to convey this sense of embodiment that is not material
flesh but which is nevertheless a concrete phenomenon and not merely a figure of ...

[HTML] Ontology and the Aesthetics of Cinematographic Bodies

JY Heurtebise
... in the ontological reality of the body. This ontological reality is essentially, as Henry
Corbin says, “imaginal.”[9]. 4. Plato and Bresson: the refusal of sensibility and the
hand of the devil. The question of the representation of the ...

[PDF] Fernando Pessoa and Islam

F Boscaglia - Oriente e Orientalismo
... In fact, these references to the Arab and Persian imaginary and cultures are particularly related
to a line of thought about the ontology of imagination, which I have read in comparison with Henry
Corbin's studies about the Creative Imagination [Imagination Créatrice] (1958) in ...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

This Fall in Washington DC

The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts

October 15, 2016–February 20, 2017
In recognition of one of the world’s extraordinary collections of Qur’ans, the Freer|Sackler is hosting a landmark exhibition, the first of its kind in the United States. Some fifty of the most sumptuous manuscripts from Herat to Istanbul will be featured in The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, opening this fall. Celebrated for their superb calligraphy and lavish illumination, these manuscripts—which range in date from the early eighth to the seventeenth century—are critical to the history of the arts of the book. They were once the prized possessions of Ottoman sultans and the ruling elite, who donated their Qur’ans to various institutions to express their personal piety and secure political power. Each manuscript tells a unique story, which will be explored in this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

On Franz von Baader

Sophia, Androgyny and the Feminine in Franz von Baader’s Christian Theosophy

J. Glenn Friesen
Religions, V. 216

with references to Corbin