"...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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Monday, June 10, 2013

The Ocean of Nonexistence

I am delighted to flag a really interesting and lovely paper by Dr. Mohammed Rustom appearing in

Mawlana Rumi Review 4 (2013)

The Ocean of Nonexistence
Mohammed Rustom

In this article, I would like to offer some remarks on what Rumi has to say about love. What, in other words, is it? From his perspective, inquiring into the nature of love can only give one partial answers, since the very inquiry into what love is entails a partial question. The easiest way for Rumi to explain what love is, is by saying that we will know what it is when we get there. Consider these lines: 

Someone asked, ‘What is Love?’ I said, ‘Do not ask about these 
When you become like me, you will see. When you are invited by It, you will sing of It.’

Thankfully, Rumi himself left behind nearly 65,000 verses of poetry, most of which sing of the nature and reality of love. Yet, even after having attained to love, he acknowledges that some things are better left unsaid, precisely because love is too vast to be encompassed by human thought and language:  

Whatever I say about Love by way of commentary and exposition,
when I get to Love, I am ashamed at that

Although explanation with the tongue is clear,
that Love which is tongue-less is even clearer.

Since love is so difficult to pin down, Rumi finds an apt metaphor for what it is by referring to it as an ‘ocean’, which, incidentally, he does more so than any other poet in the Persian or Arabic language...

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