"...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.
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008
"Orientation is a primary phenomenon of our presence in the world. A human presence has the property of spatializing a world around it, and this phenomenon implies a certain relationship of man and the world, his world, this relationship being determined by the very mode of his presence in the world. The four cardinal points, east and west, north and south, are not things encountered by this presence, but directions which express its sense, man's acclimatization to the world, his familiarity with it. To have this sense is to orient oneself in the world." The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism, 1.
"Prophetic philosophy looks for the meaning of history not in 'horizons,' that is, not by orienting itself in the latitudinal sense of a linear development, but vertically, by a longitudinal orientation extending from the celestial pole to the earth, in the transparency of the heights or depths in which the spiritual individuality experiences the reality of its celestial counterpart, its 'lordly' dimension, its 'second person,' its 'Thou'." Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi, 81.
"Then it may happen, just as we have learned to understand alchemy as signifying something quite different from a chapter in the history or prehistory of our sciences, that a geocentric cosmology will also be revealed in its true sense, having likewise no connection with the history of our sciences. Considering the perception of the world and the feeling of the universe on which it is based, it may be that geocentrism should be meditated upon and evaluated essentially after the manner of the construction of a mandala. It is this mandala upon which we should meditate in order to find again the northern dimension with its symbolic power, capable of opening the threshold of the beyond." The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism, 3. The quest for the Orient "is the ascent out of cartographical dimensions, the discovery of the inner world which secretes its own light, which is the world of light; it is an innerness of light as opposed to the spatiality of the outer world which, by contrast, will appear as Darkness." The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism, 5
Figure 1:Turkish Map of Mecca; Manuscript of the Dala'il al-Khayrat (Guides to Good Things), by al-Jazuli, A.D. 1787/A.H. 1201; Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper. The Edward Binney, 3rd, Collection of Turkish Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, M.85.237.54. From wikimedia. Figure 2:The New Jerusalem, from The Trinity College Apocalypse. Manuscript on parchment, London? c.1255-60, Cambridge, Trinity College MS R 16 2