"...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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Friday, August 29, 2008
Suzuki, Swedenborg, Ibn 'Arabi
Delighting in one of the wonderful comparisons of which he was so fond, Corbin recounts a conversation with D. T. Suzuki in Ascona in 1954: "...we asked him what homologies in structure he found between Mahayana Buddhism and the cosmology of Swedenborg in respect of the symbolism and correspondences of worlds: I can still see Suzuki suddenly brandishing a spoon and saying with a smile 'This spoon now exists in Paradise... We are now in Heaven,' he explained. This was an authentically Zen way of answering the question; Ibn 'Arabi would have relished it. " - Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi, 354
For more on this see: D.T. Suzuki, Swedenborg: Buddha of the North, trans. and introduced by Andrew Bernstein. Afterword by David Loy, West Chester: Swedenborg Foundation, 1996, and Roberts Avens, "The Subtle Realm: Corbin, Sufism and Swedenborg," in Immanuel Swedenborg: A Continuing Vision, ed. Robin Larson, New York: Swedenborg Foundation, 1988. Also pertinent is Sachiko Murata and WIlliam Chittick, Chinese Gleams of Sufi Light : Wang Tai-yü's Great learning of the pure and real and Liu Chih's Displaying the concealment of the real realm ; with a new translation of J¯am¯i's Law¯a'ih from the Persian; with a foreword by Tu Weiming. Albany, NY : State University of New York Press,2000. Boddhisatvas in the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves in Turfan, on the Silk Road, Xinjiang, western China.