Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Suhrawardi Comes to Aleppo.

I wanted to share these two paragraphs from the Introduction of "The Wisdom of the Mystic East" by John Walbridge:

"In 1183 a young man, a ragged dervish, entered Aleppo. There his learning and magical powers drew the attention of all. The prince grew to love him and became his disciple. The other learned men, jealous of his ascendancy, complained of him to the king, the great Saladin. The king feared that his son would be led into heresy, and he knew that heresy bred sedition. Twice he ordered his son to kill the dervish.

 Heartbroken the prince at last complied. The dervish's disciples fled, and their names were forgotten. In Aleppo people remembered him, remembered the power of his personality and his speech and how he had sought to revive the Divine wisdom of the Ancients and thereby make the age luminous and how he had perished in the attempt. " His knowledge was greater then his prudence," they said.

But he had also left books behind- brilliant allegories of the mystical and philosophical life, powerful treatises of philosophy summarizing and pointing beyond the Peripatetic philosophy of Avicenna and his school, even prayers. Above all, there was a book called "The Philosophy of Illumination", a metaphysics of light and darkness, finished one September evening in 1186 as the seven Ptolemaic planets drew together on the western horizon of Aleppo. It's interpretation, he promised, was with "him who will arise with the Book," but there was no such person, or else he was lost to history when the dervish's disciples fled.

 In succeeding centuries some scholars in each generation sought to bring life to the dry bones of the master's writings and to follow the arduous mystical path that lead to an intuitive understanding of philosophy of illumination. And a few still do

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