February 27, 2013

Henry Corbin On "The Trilogy of the Soul"

Henry Corbin "was a philosopher, theologian and professor of Islamic Studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, France."(Source: Wikipedia). To learn about him and his work visit the blog, "The Legacy of Henry Corbin."

Tom Cheetham, author of, "Green Man, Earth Angel: The Prophetic Tradition and the Battle for the Soul of the World," writes:
"Henry Corbin (1903-1978) was a visionary Protestant theologian and a ground-breaking scholar and translator of Islamic mysticism. His understanding of the Imagination as the fundamental creative principle in the world is urgently needed in our pluralistic and interconnected global society. Corbin taught in Paris and Tehran and lectured annually at the Eranos Conferences from 1949 to 1978. He was a friend and colleague of C.G. Jung and shared his view of the significance of the active imagination in human life as well as his profound grasp of the importance of alchemy for religious psychology. His works have had a lasting impact on a wide variety of scholars of religion, visionary thinkers and artists. James Hillman ranked Corbin, Freud and Jung together as the foundational figures in the development of archetypal psychology. Corbin’s great book 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 great monotheisms. His life was devoted to the struggle to liberate the religious imagination from fundamentalisms of every kind. His work marks a watershed in our understanding of religious diversity and makes a profound contribution to psychology, spirituality and liberal theology in the contemporary world."
The following is an excerpt from Corbin's book, "The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism." Translated by Nancy Pearson. Shambhala Publications, Inc: Boulder, Colorado. 1978. Pg. 66. It appears under the heading, "The Trilogy of the Soul."
"Three characteristics situate and constitute the trilogy of the drama of the soul. There is the extravagant lower soul: nafs ammara (12:53), literally, the imperative soul, "the one which commands" evil, the passionate, sensual lower ego. There is the "blaming" soul: nafs lawwama (75:2), "the one which censures," criticizes; this is self-consciousness, and is likened to the intellect ('aql) of the philosophers. Finally there is the "pacified soul": nafs motma'yanna (89:87); the soul which in the true sense is the heart (qalb), to which the Qoran addresses the words: "O pacified soul, return to your Lord, accepting and accepted." This return, which is the reunion of the two fiery currents, is exactly what is described in one of Najm Kobrā's most significant visions.

The extravagant lower soul, the ego of the common run of men, remains such as it is so long as the effects of spiritual warfare have not made themselves felt. When the effect of continuous prayer, the dhikr, penetrates it, it is as though a lamp were lighted in a darkened dwelling. Then the soul attains the degree of "blaming soul"; it perceives that the dwelling is cluttered with filth and wild beasts; it exerts itself to drive them out so that the dwelling may be ready to welcome the light of the dhikr as its sovereign; this welcome will be the prelude to the opening of the pacified soul."