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CHAPTER TWELVE: The way of the sufi

Gorman, Max Aeon Books ePub

Sufism is an ancient yet timeless Teaching, which, according to its custodians, has always been with us in one form or another. Its origin can either be regarded as lost in the mists of antiquity, operating in forgotten cultures we know not of, or, more truly, always above and always within, emerging from eternity, from the timeless, from time to time, into time. ‘Our wine existed before the grape and the vine’ claims the Sufi poet Ibn el-Farid; while the master Hujwiri in his classic eleventh century text, ‘Revelation of the Veiled’ maintains: ‘Sufism has no history as other things have a history. It can be said to have existed always.’

Sufism, therefore, is not ‘Islamic mysticism’. It existed before the coming and outside the confines of Islam. It would be more correct to say that Islamic mysticism is simply a particular, culturally-oriented, projection of Sufism. ‘Sufism has been known under many names, to all peoples from the beginning of human times.’ states the contemporary Sufi master and historian, Idries Shah. ‘The Sufi entity is a community and an organism ... Its function as a school and a leaven in societies has enabled it to develop and flourish again and again in the most diverse cultures.’ Shah here calls attention to an important and subtle concept. The Sufi school is an organism, not an organisation. It works as a living leaven hidden and growing in the very heart of a culture, infusing and influencing it from within. We recall that Jesus uses the same metaphor: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven ...’ (Matthew 13:33).

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CHAPTER TWO: The message of the mystic

Gorman, Max Aeon Books ePub

From time immemorial, certain men and women appear to have developed their consciousness far beyond the ‘normal’ level or state which the rest of humanity has taken for granted as ‘life’. These are the mystics. They are of all times and places, of the East as well as the West. They emerge from every religion or none. For theirs is a spiritual rather than a religious quest. Religion, derived from the Latin ‘religio’—to bind—does just that, confusing morality with spirituality, doctrine with development. It is not belief that matters to the mystic, but experience—personal, inner experience. Then belief is replaced by knowledge—direct spiritual knowledge.

The true mystics are not culture-bound. They have gone ‘beyond’. They may well have to take into consideration the prevailing culture for purposes of communication. But their message is for mankind. Or more accurately, for those human beings who are seeking, those who will listen. In the words of one mystical master, ‘those who have ears to hear’. It is the ultimate human message, from ultimate human beings. It is the deep calling to the deep in us. If our hearts can but hear!

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Chapter Eight: Jesus and the Animals

Gorman, Max Aeon Books ePub

It is often alleged or assumed that there is no clear reference to the way man should relate to the animals in the teaching of Jesus, beyond the well-known saying about sparrows at Luke 12.6: ‘Not one of them is forgotten before God.’ Even if that were true, not only does this statement contain profound implications for the matter in itself—but surely his whole message of compassion must be taken to include compassion for all our fellow creatures. I suspect that many who call themselves Christians have not yet really reflected on this question, leaving it to others to articulate the ethics involved. Sadly, the Church has shown little concern in the matter.

But if we take into account all the evidence that is available, Jesus’ message is clear. It is that to be human is to be human to animals. Which surely should come as no surprise!

In 1881 an ancient Aramaic Gospel was discovered by the scholar and explorer the Reverend J.G.R. Ousley in a Tibetan gompa (monastery). The text describes, among other things, how one day Jesus entered a small village where he found a kitten which was not cared for. Jesus picked her up and put her inside his garment. He gave food and drink to the little cat, who was hungry. Some of the villagers expressed surprise that he should show such care for so insignificant a creature. Jesus said:

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CHAPTER NINE: The art of alchemy

Gorman, Max Aeon Books ePub

‘A urum nostrum non est aurum vulgare’, claimed the Alchemists—‘Our gold is not common gold.’ So if the Alchemists of the Middle Ages were not, as is usually assumed, concerned with the production of ordinary gold from base metals like lead or iron, what kind of gold did they seek to make?

The answer is bright and shining inner gold, the gold from which souls are made, no less—‘sophic’ gold, as they called it. From heavy, leaden, ordinary man they sought to fashion light, golden, spiritual man—beginning with themselves. For the first work of the true alchemist was to refine and transmute his own very self from coarse to fine, from lower to higher; and then to help others to effect the same change.

Without the guidance of the already golden man, a ‘changed one’, without his mastery, the transmutation could not be achieved. As a member of the alchemical fraternity told Helvetius of the Hague in 1666, ‘Nay, without the communication of a true adept philosopher not one student can find the way to prepare this great magistry.’ The student, too, had to be of a certain quality, ‘Scarce three in one million canst be candidates for the Work of Holy Alkimy.’ says Thomas Norton in his ‘Ordinall of Alkimy’ (1477).

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CHAPTER EIGHT: The Gnostics

Gorman, Max Aeon Books ePub

During the early centuries of the Christian era, a rich and strange profusion of Gnostic societies or schools mysteriously manifested and iridescently irrupted throughout the Near and Middle East. Those which have been called Christian Gnostics, claimed to possess a secret connection with the original teachings of Jesus and regarded themselves as the inheritors of an esoteric Christian tradition unknown by, and incomprehensible to, the orthodox—as did the Valentinians, Carpocratians and Basilideans. But other schools, like the Naasenes, the Barbelites and the Ophites, indicate no obvious relationship with Christianity, and we do not know the source from which they spring. It may indeed be that their common origin was extra-historical.

The Gnostics sought ‘Gnosis’, which means ‘knowledge’. This was not knowledge in the usual sense, but transcendental or mystical knowledge available only through spiritual illumination arrived at as a result of special effort and education. One would then become a ‘Knower’, possessed of a permanent state of knowing, a higher level of perception, and thus be able to fully and consciously participate in the Life of the Universe. This was the Gnostic quest.

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