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The Supreme Barzakh

created from man's soul, which is the last natural existent. 25 (II 109.6) Here we cut short our discussion of cosmology. If certain dimensions of the previous passages remain unclear, perhaps this can be remedied on another occasion. But the exact status of the First Nature, the Supreme Barzakh as such, can never be completely clarified. And this follows from its reality. Discussing the Barzakh has led to a certain amount of perplexity and bewilderment, since its fundamental nature is imaginationintrinsic ambiguity. The more it is analyzed, the more confused the accounts become. Part of the problem stems from our tendency to think in terms of logical concepts rather than analogies and images. Since existence is an imaginal reality, reason can understand it only with the help of analogies and comparisons which appeal to the imagination. But imaginal realities cannot be pinned down. If you say the COSlnOS is He, I have to reply that it is not He. And if you try to hold me to that, I will say yes and no. This is the whole mystery of
existence. Engendered being is only imagination, yet in truth it is the Real. I Ic who has understood this point has grasped the mysteries of the Path. (FH~i;j~ 159)

What is the Barzakh? It is the cosmos as revelation, the face of God manifested as existence. It is the reality of "Whithersoever you turn, there is the Face of God" (2:115). Is it God? Yes and no. He/riot

He. The more we analyze it, the more puzzled we become. The desire for a clear, logical, and totally coherent picture of the universe merely reflects the ignorance of the seeker. Ultimate Reality in Itself cannot be known, and It "never repeats Itself' in Its self-disclosures. So how can we constrict and define Its self-disclosures? Our highest and clearest perception of It, as Ibn al-'Arabi frequently reminds us, is "the incapacity to comprehend It," whether in Itself, or as It reveals Itself How Call we know the reality of anything at all, given the fact that both the existence and attributes of each thing go back to the One, who is unknowable? But this docs not mean that man should give up searching for knowledge, since the explicit divine command is to pray, "My Lord, increase me in knowledge!" (20: 114). The dead end we reach in trying to analyze things through the rational faculty should serve rather to alert us to the fact that there arc other modes of knowing God and self. If "imagination" seems a shaky ground upon which to stand, this is because we have forgotten what must guide the imagination: God's revelations. True and valid knowledge of all things is in fact available, within limits, and these limits arc set down by the revealed Laws. If Ibn al'A ra bi constantly rem inds us that reason is incapable of finding true knowledge on its own, this is because he wants to point to the firm handle provided by the Koran and the Hadith, Hence we turn from Ibn al-'Arabi's description of Reality to a concern far more basic to his writings: How do we gain personal knowledge of the Real? How do we find God?

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