Fanaa: From Time to Eternity

We approached the Giver of States in awe and reverence seeking a glimpse of that burning and annihilating ecstasy. Hearing our footsteps a voice came from the Throne of the Void, infinitely near and infinitely far from our ears, “In my perfect justice no state is dispensed in vain.”

“Tell us our Lord, what constitutes your perfect justice?”

From behind Its psychedelic veil our Shaykh spoke thus: “In my perfect justice that which persists in existence subsists in non-existence and that which persists in non-existence subsists in existence.”

“Seek annihilation by not seeking at all, for I am not found by seeking but by seeing, a seeing stripped of all looking, by pure witnessing. The seeing that finds my face annihilates the seeing that finds my trace.”

“Who art thou who dwells in the heart of the Void?”

“My essence is my face and my names are my trace. On whosoever I cast my piercing glance, whosoever has witnessed my Jamaal and blinding brilliance, is at once annihilated in its temporality and reintegrated in my eternity. That is Fanaa, the state I bestow upon my dearest folks.”

What is God

The atheist is a man or woman disbelieving in a god of his own understanding. In rejecting God as an absolute principle of reality, he unjustifiably promotes his own fallible reason to omniscience, a station whose very existence he had set out to refute. Atheism, like relativism, is self-contradictory for merely logical reasons. But perhaps we may offer a few more or less intellectual and esoteric conceptions of God, in the sense of Godhead, as food for thought for those who rather see than believe.

God is:

“The coincidence of all opposites.” Rumi

“An infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” Liber XXIV Philosophorum

“The synthetic unity of all antithetic determinations.” Eugen Fink

“The permanent actuality of the Self.” Rene Guenon

“The eternal present.” Don’t Remember

“The undifferentiated and un-differentiable state of consciousness.” Tomaj Javidtash

“Awesome.” Arthur Vandelay

Hell is the Other

The man of today is drowning in the ocean of subjectivity, in phenomena, falling for his own shadow, falling a second fall. By continuous feeding of our little desires we have made a mistress out of them; mental and physical needs become more subtle, and we have developed a consciousness for them; we have become too conscious of every disturbance, and we struggle to suppress it one way or another, like a madman trying to calm the waters by pressing down upon waves. But this growth of desire has no end, a shoreless ocean it is; it opens up indefinitely like a fractal.

We are so mesmerized with the dance of forms that we can’t remember our exalted station. Man is a frail and fragile creature, a transient phenomenon; but what is within him, or what animates him, is immortal and indestructible. It is the androgynous perceiver of all the states of reality. It perceives all points of view at once; It sees through all eyes: It is the beholder of every now and then, of every here and there. It is what it is; “I am that I am.”

This universe is a one-man universe. There is no one else in it but you; there is no “other.” It is like when we reenact a situation or lost opportunity in our head, playing all sides and conversations by ourselves! This world, this diversity of subjects and objects, it is one of those situations in the mind of the Solitary One. And you are that One, the One without a second, the only One; and there is nothing like it.

If you see the success of others, why jealousy! In them, in their hearts, it is you; their gaze is your gaze. So their achievements should make you better and happier; their success is yours and their failure too is yours. Who else is in this world!? When you judge you judge only your own perceptions. If you are true to yourself, if you are objective at all, you must realize that you see nothing but your own perceptions. So, if the world is hell for you it is the hell of your own perceptions; and if it is heaven, it is the heaven of your own perceptions.

The otherness of the other is just another perception. The other is a manufactured reality, a notion, an alien interpretation read into the Current of Forms. I am all alone; I am the only reality. The diversity of subjects and objects, giving rise to the illusion of multiplicity, has its cause in a greater and higher intelligence beyond the mind. Being one and alone, It perceives within itself an apparent diversity, much like when a single mind can perceive such diversity in a dream state. As it is in the nature of light to shine, it is in the nature of consciousness to project, to make an image of its ideas. So the reality of the image is not to be found in the image itself but in the consciousness that projects it. All we perceive is light; world, diversity, is an interpretation: “The face of Truth is concealed by a golden vessel.” (Isha Upanishad)

In this world there is no such thing as equality. There are greater men as there are lesser men. What shines in them is the same; the difference is only in what they reflect of that Intelligible Light. The difference is in the degree to which they reflect in the outside world what is reflected within them. It is the matter of concentration and utilization. The psycho-physical constitution of a man, and indeed of this modern people, is such that the intelligence shining in him is mostly dissipated by mundane curiosities and irrelevant information; the attention is leaking out every which way.

As sun shines equally on everything, pure intelligence too shines equally in every being and animates it; but the receptivity of the spirit to this light always depends on our spiritual/intellectual orientation. If your mind-body complex is consuming most of your intelligence, then you are moving toward intellectual dullness and stupidity. Here lies the difference between literacy and knowledge, between mere information and true wisdom: Literacy doesn’t make noble men; it doesn’t impart virtue. Books don’t make men; it is men who make books. We see more crookedness, arrogance, and awkwardness in the merely literate than the illiterate. While literacy concerns itself with the letter, or the most superficial reading of it, knowledge is concerned with the spirit behind the letter, i.e. the transcendent and immutable meaning of things.

The imperative has always been the same: Know thyself. Know, first, that by knowing which everything else is known.

We produce informed but not wise men. We produce readers but not seers. We produce sterile beings. It is by the admission of our scientists and philosophers that “the more we know we realized how little we know.” That this knowledge, this outward curiosity, adds not to knowledge but to our ignorance. Then, how can it be called knowledge when by possessing it we feel less knowledgeable. Simple is the answer: This cannot be knowledge in the true sense of the word if it does not remove ignorance and instead multiplies it. That is why the more we fill ourselves with this world-knowledge, the more empty and arrogant we become. This is the difference between knowledge and literacy; in the latter we accumulate letters, a pile of names and forms, something even a tiny flash-drive can do; while in knowledge we accumulate nothing; we only peel off the many layers of ignorance; we add no more conceptions but stand behind all conceptions. By reaching the ground of Being we stand under everything; then and only then can we say we truly understand.

In true knowledge we add nothing but subtract everything until the true Self shines, until its beams emerge from underneath a pile of forms and letters. Literacy makes a man heavier, less flexible, less immortal; but knowledge, i.e. knowledge of universal principles, makes a man light, more flexible, and closer to immortality. At the summit, when the last veil, i.e. your human cover, drops and His face, your true Self, is beheld, then immortality is realized. And it is the immortal man who hovers over the surface of the waters, the waters in which the literate man of today is drowning to his demise.

Some make their own truths, and some let themselves be made by the truth: To be made is to be hammered.


The Last Illusion

At the closing of Mahabharata, seeing his enemies in heaven and his own family in hell Yudhishthira starts shouting at the gods and condemning their justice. This was the last waystation before he entered Sakina, the Great Peace at the heart of the Godhead. So the keeper of the last dwelling said to Yudhishthira:

“Stop shouting! You have known neither paradise nor hell. Here there is no happiness, no punishment, no family, no enemies. Rise in tranquility. Here words end, like thought. This was your last illusion.”


The three stages of spiritual path are Katharsis, Theoria, and TheosisKatharsis is Purification through Abstention. Theoria is Illumination through Contemplation. Theosis is Deification through Concentration. Theosis is Obliteration in Affirmation.

This encompasses the method, the means, and the end of all spiritual ascent: First, we become aware of our existence; then, we see, with the Eye of the Heart, the non-existence of our awareness of our existence; and at last, we are no more and we see no more, for in our total obliteration it is affirmed that though “Nothing is like Him, He is the Hearing and the Seeing,” [Verse (42:11, Quran)] and He is the Being of all beings: At last, we have landed on the Cloud of Unknowing.

Spiritual ascent is a journey from man to Atman, from humanity to Divinity, from duality to singularity.

Nothing is ever achieved, for everything is already given. The wind of grace is always blowing; to receive it we only need to become receptive, and to become receptive is to be open, wide open, and to be open to Him is to be closed to ourselves, to be mute and dead to ourselves, i.e. to play dead before Him so we perceive His approach and receive His mercy and grace; it is to turn the attentiveness of the soul away from the Divine self-transmutation toward the Divine self-disclosure, from perception in reception to reception in perception.

Truth is waiting for us on the other side of phenomena. It is the attraction of truth that draws us toward Himself but to us it is experienced as an attraction toward phenomena, while it is really an attraction to that which lies behind and beyond them. The task is to cross over: Your soul is your boat and your remembrance of Him is your rowing toward Him.

The world, this ensemble of phenomena, is nothing but a transparent veil over the face of Truth. It is transparent, for we are at all times staring at the face of Truth but failing to recognize It. Instead we conjure up the world in place of the Face, darkness in place of light, obscurity in place of clarity, illusion in place of vision. Truth is always known by all. It is only a lapse in memory that make us oblivious to Its existence and nearness to us.

Since truth is transcendental, and hence atemporal, its perception too cannot be an experience in the usual sense of the word, i.e. experience as a temporal and dual stream, dual in the sense that all experience is based on a knower-known, or subject-object duality. Knowledge is proportional to its object, for both emerge and become manifest as a result of an apparent polarity within the knower. Therefore: The experience of the eternal is itself eternal.

Intelligence operates simultaneously at two distinct levels: In one level it is the pure onlooker, the Witness; in another, the lower level, it is the actor and constitutor. These two distinct levels of activity of God or the higher Intellect, the one transcendent and the other immanent, is reflected in the human plane as the two principal modes of wakefulness, i.e. a wakefulness in the world and a wakefulness to the world: This is the distinction between the active and the contemplative life. But even the active life, action here implying outward mobility, is founded on the contemplative activity of the spirit. After all, everything is contemplation, for the One is contemplation par excellence: It is contemplation that creates, i.e. transcendentally constitutes, the field of action. 

Spiritual practices and rituals are not meant to invoke a deity or to bring the Divinity closer to the aspirant but to make the aspirant aware of the primordial nearness of the Divinity: The heart of the devotee is the throne of God.

The separation between man and God is a one-way separation, for it appears only to man and as long as he is man. From God’s side all is God and God is all. Though we are far away from God, He is eternally with us, for He is the eternity within us. This separation is of the nature of time. As time separates the tree from its root, the fruit from its seed, it has separated man from the Atman. To see this we must see that eternity is not something in time, but time is something in eternity. Because of ignorance, i.e. intellectual/spiritual impurities, or more precisely because of poor sight, we cannot perceive this truth. Spiritual practices are meant to remove these impurities as a result of which the ever-shining Face of Truth is immediately recognized.

Truth shines in the heart: Spiritual practices only make the heart receptive to this light. This is only a matter of spiritual/intellectual reorientation of the soul. In other words, spiritual practices in fact reorient the Intellect toward its origin, away from duality and toward singularity: The only way to Theosis is Katharsis.  

What is Religion

Of religion we can say that it is akin to an iceberg only whose tip is visible to the common man while most of it is concealed from view, not so much because of a conspiracy to hide its essential content but because this content, being purely metaphysical, remains inexpressible in mundane terms, and hence it is always reserved for an intellectual elite who are willing to dive in and realize the Truth for themselves, a truth that underlies all outward forms and expressions.

No doubt the word religion, along with the word God, has acquired a peculiarly western meaning in that it is understood to be no more than a dogmatic belief in an ideology in competition with other ideologies such as system philosophies, sciences, etc. But if we take religion in this sense, then we have missed its essential content and function, and what is worse we can no more include in this definition some major spiritual traditions. For instance, Hinduism, along with Buddhism, cannot be said to be a religion in the above sense; neither is it a philosophical system, for it is much more than a mere religion or a system: Hinduism is rather a way, or as it is termed by its true practitioners an eternal way, Sanatana Dharma. More alien to this western definition of religion is the esoterism that underlies all religious traditions, an esoterism whose sole aim is the attainment of perfect knowledge of Truth, i.e. the Ultimate Reality. In Buddhism, for example, there is no notion similar to that of God in Abrahamic traditions, and this to the extent that from the point of view of Abrahamic exoterism, Buddhism can be regarded as a more or less agnostic, if not an atheistic, tradition. For this reason, Hinduism and Buddhism, among some other Eastern traditions, are not subject to a clear cut division between an esoteric, purely mystical and intellectual, and an exoteric, purely formal and devotional, department. This division into esoteric and exoteric is more vivid in traditions such as Islam and Christianity, though the esoterism within these traditions is concealed under a predominantly formal and exoteric outlook; in such traditions outward forms are emphasized much more than the essential, metaphysical content which is accessible only through an esoteric understanding. i.e. gnosis. However, esoterism is still and always present in all religious traditions, Abrahamic or otherwise, though access to it may be more or less difficult in some traditions, and this is so for reasons that depend entirely on the collective intellectual capacity of a people insofar as they are the recipients of revelation.

Therefore, in order to have a definition of religion that encompasses all spiritual traditions, i.e. traditions based on revelation, we have to understand what tradition implies in the spiritual context. Tradition, not to be confused with customs of popular origin, is a non-human, i.e. divine, influence that propagates in time and space, using culture and social structure as a medium of its propagation and operation. This non-human influence is nothing but revelation. Thus, a useful picture that can assist us in understanding the nature of tradition is that of a stone producing concentric circles in a pond upon its impact: When a stone, spiritual influence, makes contact with the surface of a pond it creates concentric waves propagating in all directions; its propagation in time is the transmission of the spiritual influence through history and by an unbroken chain of spiritual masters, Guru Parampara, that is connected to the center, the Avatara, i.e. the Son and the Logos; and its propagation in space is the echo of that spiritual influence, namely the truth, that reaches all people in a given historical period. There is not a people who has been left out.

Now, outward forms, which is the only level at which traditions seem to diverge, are no more than means of communicating The Message which has to adopt a particular form in order to speak to a people. Truth is one but has to speak different languages in order to make itself understood to different cultures. Or as Ananda Coomaraswamy says, “different cultures are the different dialects of one and the same spiritual language.” Also, according to Rig Veda, “Truth is one, but sages call it by various names.” Esoterism,  which is the level underlying all forms, is where the differences fade and all these different traditions converge. Thus, one must look at spiritual journey as a path that leads to the summit of a mountain; the summit, the Truth, is one and the same, but it can be reached through different paths starting from the base. It is obvious that as we approach the summit, the different paths become closer and closer together, and it is at the summit that all paths converge to the same point, a point at which there are no more differences because there are no more paths.

The summit, or rather moving toward it and ultimately reaching it, is the inner message or call of all religious/spiritual traditions. This call is none other than the universal invitation to “Know Thyself.” The essential identity of the inner Self with the Truth, i.e. Supreme Identity, is expressed by a Muslim mystic as following: “I searched for myself and found God, and I searched for God and found myself.” Supreme Identity constitutes the essential doctrine of Advaita Vedanta formulated by Shankara: “Brahman is Real; world is illusory: Atman [Supreme Self] is Brahman. This identity, That thou art, is expressed in one form or another in the kernel of all orthodox traditions though gravely misunderstood by pseudo-spiritual movements of the modern age. It should be emphasized that this inner Self has nothing whatsoever to do with this psycho-physical compound we call human being which is only a transient appearance veiling its permanent principle, i.e. the Self. The Highest Point at which this identity is consummated, the Truth, the Ultimate Reality, The Absolute and the Infinite, the Godhead, Brahman, Deliverance or Liberation, i.e. Moksha, Nirvana, Fanaa-al-fanaa, Birth and Breakthrough (Meister Eckhart), Transcendence, Enlightenment, Unconditioned Reality, i.e. Supreme Identity, or the placeless state of Eternal Self-Knowledge, is the supreme goal of human life. It is a point at which, according to Dante’s Paradise, “every when and every where is concentrated into a dimensionless point.”

From what we said above we can offer an all-encompassing definition of religion: Religion is the science of Reality.” All orthodox, i.e. true, religious traditions contain within them, and by necessity, the means not only of attaining the knowledge of Ultimate Reality but also of utilizing that Reality for the good of mankind. Note that experience is an essential component of all science. Contrary to the common assumption that religion is only a matter of faith and that its truths can never be verified, religious experience is at the heart of all living traditions. It may be true that religious experience for the beginner is entirely subjective, experienced only at the level of feeling or passing visions. However, at higher levels and when the higher states of the being are realized, we are no more in the sphere of human subjectivity but rather come to the permanent acquisition of states, or stations to be more precise, that are known with irrefutable self-evidence, a degree of certainty alien to the human mind. What is more, the attaining to the ultimate state, the state-less state, i.e. Turiya, is a complete transcending of all contingencies, and hence it is an illumination, a transcendental experience, that comes with absolute certainty in which the doctrine is immediately verified and all doubts instantly removed. This summit of spiritual ascent is none other than the unconditioned state where there is direct experience of the Truth, known as Brahmanubhava in Shankara’s doctrinal expositions. Therefore, faith and belief are only means, or preconditions, that support the aspirant in the path of spiritual realization whereby faith is ultimately transcended and replaced by intuitive and immutable knowledge, for those who can see need not believe. This is the reason that all religious traditions are based on two intrinsic dimensions of Doctrine and Method.

What distinguishes this science from what nowadays passes as science is that religion considers reality as a whole and without limiting it to one particular aspect. Modern sciences, on the other hand, consider only a very limited, and above all the least real, aspect of total Reality, that is, they consider reality insofar as it is sensible and measurable. All modern sciences are blind, from their very inception, to a supra-sensible reality which is inexpressible in terms of quantity. We see only in quantum physics, and yet with an halfhearted understanding, that the idea of material and sensible reality is replaced by the idea of a purely intelligible reality that is not susceptible to commonsense or human imagination. But even quantum physics, along with all other modern sciences, can have no access to unconditioned reality for the simple reason that all these sciences are too human and ultimately subjective, having no intellectual foundation in the self-evident ground of all knowledge, i.e. the Pure Intellect.

Reality in itself, however, can be known only by an objective intelligence, undivided and un-fragmented by the flood of the senses and not defiled by human subjectivity and the facts of empirical consciousness. This objective intelligence is no more a human faculty but a ray of the Intelligible Light, the Solar Ray of all mythologies, emanating from the Divine Intellect. This sort of intelligence, which is the only means of true and objective knowledge, is accessible only in and through orthodox spiritual traditions which include within themselves true philosophies such as those of Plato and Plotinus. The final aim and sole function of all religious practices, all rites and symbols, is to remove from the soul the dust that obscures and dissipates that Intelligible Light, a purification that inevitably leads to an effective knowledge of total Reality, which amounts to the same thing as the summit of all spiritual ascent. In fact, consciousness-of-a-world, i.e. empirical consciousness, which is ignorance rather than knowledge, world being a veil over the Face of Truth, is the result of the refraction of the Intelligible Light, the source of all knowing, by the plane of human mind. In effective spiritual realization which amounts to the withdrawal and gathering of this Light into its source, i.e. mystical concentration or Samadhi, all phenomena, including the universe and the mind, disappear all at once whereby the never-lost identity of Atman with Brahman is immediately realized. Thus, it is never the individual human person who realizes the Truth, for the human person is himself the very veil that hides the ever shining Face of Truth. Instead, it is the nothingness and illusory nature of existence, human or otherwise, that is realized upon the annihilation of all forms and phenomena. This unveiling, which is meaningful only from the point of view of the spiritual aspirant seeking Liberation, is itself found to be illusory from the point of view of the Absolute, for there is nothing but the naked Truth, never veiled and never lost. From this point of view known as Paramarthika, which is the only true point of view, both bondage and liberation are realized to be illusory. In other words, at all times and in all places nothing is and nothing is known but Brahman, the knower and the known both being Brahman, i.e. Satcitananda, being of the nature of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss. Therefore, empirical consciousness, being of the nature of ignorance, is no more than an illusion, a veil known as Maya, superimposed on the just mentioned Truth of Brahman: In truth, and at all times, nothing is known or seen but Brahman, the Ultimate Reality, i.e. the Supreme Essence.

Thus, religion is the only true science of reality because it aims at the knowledge of ultimate reality, a knowledge which is essentially unitive and nondual, and hence it is attained by identity rather than difference. One knows That Reality by being It rather than reducing it to an object of empirical consciousness, a reduction that is absolutely impossible. Prayer, meditation, invocation, etc. are all means of establishing an effective communication with the source of all reality, a communication by which one can choose either to stay in a spiritual orbit and hence enjoy the warmth of Truth, or to ride the Solar Ray into the Sun and achieve Supreme Identity and immortality. We only add that this immortality is not the same as perpetuity, an indefinite prolongation of one’s individual existence in time or in other planes of manifestation. Immortality par excellence is rather becoming free from the bounds of time and individual existence; it is an attainment, by identity, of the unconditioned Reality, a timeless state not conditioned by existence. Thus, the truly enlightened man, the Universal Man and the Solar Hero, attains immortality by going beyond being and non-being, and He dwells in the Eternal Present, the permanent actuality of the Self, and is no more subject to time or existence in any sense of these words. Religion, as a science of Reality, or more precisely as a Way rather than an end and a goal in itself, provides the spiritual aspirant with all the necessary means for attaining to this unconditioned state, i.e. the perfect knowledge of total Reality, by a sophisticated interplay of doctrine and method without which Truth cannot be known but all of which are to be ultimately transcended in the face of The Naked Truth.


Be Not

All doubts are removed, all past and future gone, with one sublime glance of the Solitary One. Pray for the unconcealment of that blessed moment in which His glance catches yours and annihilates all separation and duality, and all things merge in one eternal glance.

You mad people of this age, with your heads cut off and running aimlessly with a bleeding soul! Truth is the simplest of all things only if you could See. Alas, Seeing is forgotten. The seeing you take for knowledge is a veil over the unblinking eyes of the One.

There is a seeing that veils and a Seeing that unveils. The seeing that you see veils the Seeing that you can’t see, and you can’t see It because You are It; You are the Seeing: Tat Tvam Asi. 

How can you seek to remove the veil when you are the veil?! Seek not, know not, and be not, for all that appears to exist exists not.