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Oriental Mysticism, by E.H. Palmer, [1867], at



Division of the Universe into four Sources.THE Sufis and Unitarians divide the Universe into four Sources, of which the first is the Nature of God the second, the Constructive Spirit; and the third and fourth are the Invisible and Sensible Worlds. This division is contrary to the doctrines contained in the Corán and the Traditional Law, although many even of the strictest Mollahs recognize it. These last say, however, that the First Source, that is, God, created the other three out of nothing, and will, when it pleases Him, reduce them to nothing again. The Unitarians maintain that it is impossible for that which is not, to be, and for that which is, not to be. That which exists, must ever exist, and that which exists not, can never exist.

p. 39

How then, ask the Sufis, was the world made manifest? And the Unitarians reply as follows.

The First Source, which is God, is a hidden treasure, Reconciled with the Unitarian account. and He desired to be known 1. He therefore appeared, coming from internal to external being; this was the beginning of the Second Source or Constructive Spirit. This again appeared, and the third and fourth Sources were in like manner made manifest; they are the Invisible and Sensible Worlds. The manner in which these came into being, and from them all material objects, has been narrated in a previous chapter. Everything therefore proceeds from the First Source. The Source then which was a hidden treasure was the internal Nature of God, and every existent being a manifestation of His nature; consequently everything which exists is the nature of God, and there neither is nor can be any other existence save His.

It was to this doctrine that ’Abdallah ibn ’Abbás 2 ’Abdallah ibn ’Abbás. referred when he said, "I shall be accused of unbelief if I interpret aright the verse, 'It is God who hath created the seven heavens and of the earth like unto them, and His command descendeth between them, that ye may know that He hath power over all things.'" (Cor. cap. 65, v. 12.)

The Unitarians in general say that these four Precedence of the four Sources. Sources were always exactly as they are now, and have no precedence whatever, the one over the other.

p. 40

[paragraph continues] For to assert that any one has such precedence, would be to assume that it must either have been imperfect and grown to perfection, or have been originally perfect and subsequently deteriorated; but any notion of deterioration is incompatible with existence, since that must be the existence of God.

The initiated amongst them, however, allow that the First Source has precedence over the Second, and the Second over the third and fourth; but they state that it is a precedence of order and mind, not of place or time; the precedence of the Sun's Orb over its rays, or of cause over effect, each having been manifested by the preceding.

Summary of the Unitarian account.The Unitarian theory may be summed up thus; God is the First Source, He is the hidden treasure who desires to make Himself known; the others are manifestations of the First, and the more manifestations take place, the more the First becomes known.

Sufiistic account.The Sufis maintain that these four Sources have a precedence the one over the other, both of time and place; such precedence as Adam has over Mohammed. The origin of the Universe is placed by them in Eternity (azal); that of the Constructive Spirit, the Second Source from which it sprung, in Eternity of Eternities (azal i azál), whilst the Nature of God, the First Source, is Sempiternal (lam yazul wa lá yuzál).

The Traveller then must overcome the restraints of time and place, before his footsteps can border on the threshold of Eternity.

p. 41

There are other Unitarians, who explain the Four Sources as follows.

The First Source, the Nature of God, they call Another Unitarian account. an Infinite and Illimitable Light, a boundless and fathomless sea. The Second Source, the Constructive Spirit, proceeding from Him, is likewise an Infinite and Illimitable Light and a boundless and fathomless sea; it comprises and comprehends every existent atom, and governs and administers the entire Universe. The remaining two sources are manifestations of this Infinite Light, and the recurring phenomena of nature are but continued manifestations of the same.

The varied pictures I have drawn on space,
Behold what fair and goodly sights they seem!
One glimpse I gave them of my glorious face,
And lo! ’tis now the universal theme.

In this the Unitarian account differs little from The Universe the Mirror of God. the Sufiistic; but the former say that the sole object of such manifestation was that God, the hidden treasure, might make Himself known. It is as it were the mirror of God; the mirror in which His majesty and perfection is reflected, the mirror in which He sees Himself.

Look not askance, the Holy one will ever be the same,
The God of all, though oft invoked by many a different name.

The Universe is the mirror of God, and the heart of man is the mirror of the Universe; if the Traveller then would know God, he must look into his own heart; if he would know the light, he must look into his own heart. In short, if he desire to avoid sin

p. 42

and ignorance, and to attain to holiness and wisdom, the guide that shall conduct him on his path is there, "a still small voice," that ever bids him "eschew the evil and choose the good."

All the earth I'd wandered over seeking still the beacon light,
Never tarried in the daytime, never sought repose at night;
Till I heard a reverend preacher all the mystery declare,
Then I looked within my bosom, and 'twas shining brightly there.




38:1 The Persians call them "seas."

39:1 Cf. the answer to David's enquiry quoted in p. 5.

39:2 One of the companions of Mohammed. Cf. Hajji Khalfa, Vol. II. p. 333.

Next: Chapter I. The Saintly and Prophetic Offices Defined