C.R.C. in Damascus

Our 5=6 Initiation, as well as the Fama Fraternitatis from which some of the 5=6 Initiation is derived, raises many questions. Among them:


Is this to be taken literally or figuratively?

How much of it is figurative and how much is literal?

Is this the partially remembered and partially embellished, and perhaps
intentionally obscured, account of actual events?


I have no intention of answering any of these questions. What I want to present to you in this post is one possible answer to some aspects of these questions.

For one thing, circumstantial evidence points to a strong possibility that Brother Christian Rosenkreutz was allegorically the famous historic Johannas Trithemius, known to some as “The Benedictine Abbot” and to others as “The Father of the Western Mystery Tradition”. Now of course Johannas was born in 1462, not 1378, but both were poor German nobility who learned Greek and Latin and became monks and practiced the Magic of Light, Angelic Magic, and had students in secret and so on. Regardless of whether they are the same person or not, there is another possible answer to another question raised by the Fama, in the statement:


While yet a youth, he accompanied a certain Brother P.A.L. on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but the latter, dying at Cyprus, he himself went to Damascus. There was then in Arabia a Temple of the Order which was called in the Hebrew tongue 'Damkar,' that is, the Blood of the Lamb. There he was duly initiated, and took the mystic title Christian Rosenkreutz, or Christian of the Rosy Cross.


The question is:


What and where was this “Temple of the Order”?

What would C.R.C. have learned there?


Briefly, I’ll explain why I believe the “Temple of the Order” where CRC took his name to have been connected to a certain individual: 'أبو عبد الله محمد بن علي بن محمد بن عربي or, for brevity’s sake: Ibn Arabi. Then, I will get to what I intend to be the focus of this post, one possible answer to that second question, “what would CRC have learned there?”: The Teachings of Ibn Arabi.

Ibn Arabi was born in Al Aldalus (later, Spain) on July 28, 1165. His father was widely known in Arabia as al-Shaykh al-Akbar "The Greatest Sheykh", and was also known in medieval Europe as "Doctorus Maximus". Al Andalus at that time had recently (about a hundred years earlier) had what could accurately be referred to as “a Neo-Platonic Revival” – great philosophers of Ancient Greece, such as Plato, were being widely published in Arabic, and discussed there by a diverse population of Christians, Jews, and Moslems, sharing hukkas in coffeehouses, for instance.

Ibn Arabi’s family were Sufis, and the title "The Greatest Sheykh" meant that his father was known as the greatest of those authorized to teach, initiate and guide aspiring dervishes. Islamic tradition focuses on the importance of chains and legitimization. In Sufism, shaykhs are connected by a continuous spiritual chain that links every previous Sufi shaykh, and eventually can be traced back to the Successors, and to the Prophet himself. In other words, there is a parallel concept to our Christian Mysticism - the idea that the true, mystic, inner teachings of Christ were for the few initiated aspirants, tracing their lineage, spiritually if not apostolically, to Saint John. Sufism has a similar concept of its own teachings as far as a deeper understanding of Islam.

These eccentric ideas were a great deal more common the further west you traveled in the Arabian Empire, and more frowned upon in the increasingly dogmatic Eastern areas closer to Mecca. Ibn Arabi brought these teachings from Spain to Damascus, and spent the last 17 years of his life in Damascus.

He had friends in high places in Damascus, and was greeted there as a spiritual master and a spacious house was provided to him by the Grand Qadi of the town Ibn Zakī. In Damascus, he devoted himself to writing and teaching to fulfil the commandment of his Lord: “Counsel My servants.” The first thing he did was to collect and disseminate the works which had already been written, copies were made and reading sessions took place in his house. At the same time, he devoted his attention to complete the lengthy Futūḥāt.

During this period of his life, he imparted direct instructions to many of his disciples including Ṣadruddīn al-Qūnawī. He was brought up alongside Ibn ‘Arabī own family in Malatya and after the death of his real father Qūnawī joined Shaykh al-Akbar in Damascus. He accompanied and served Kirmānī on his travels in Egypt, Hijaz and Iran. In his private collection Ṣadruddīn wrote that he had studied 10 works of Ibn ‘Arabī under him and later Ibn ‘Arabī gave him a certificate to freely relate them on his authority. He studied and discussed with Ibn ‘Arabī no less than 40 works, including the whole text of Futūḥāt, or “Meccan Revelations”, in 20 volumes.

Ibn Arabi died in Damascus on November 10, 1240, but teachings, his House of Learning, and the commandment to "Counsel My (God's) Servants" was continued by his students.

Then, 138 years later:


"In 1378 was born the Chief and originator of our Fraternity in Europe.”


Who, while yet a youth, traveled to Damascus, was initiated into “A Temple of the Order” and took on his name, “Christian of the Rosy Cross”. So, one possible answer to these questions is that the “spacious house” provided to Ibn Arabi by the Grand Qadi of the town Ibn Zakī is the very same “Temple of the Order” where C.R.C. was first initiated, and where he took on his name.

The Teachings of Ibn Arabi


The following are assorted quotes from Ibn Arabi from his master work which he completed in Damascus toward the end of his life, the Futûhât al-Makkiyya, or “Meccan Revelations” which can be found in the library at the Temple of Isis, as well as quotes from his other literary works.



God and the cosmos demand one another and are inconceivable apart from one another.

God is the Light of the heavens and earth.

Light it is any divine inrush which dispels engendered existence from the heart.

The opposite of 'engendered existence' is the Divine Being.

Light indeed is identical with the Divine Reality; to perceive it is to perceive God.

The kingdom exists in water, or water is the root of the manifestation of the kingdom's entity.

Within it become manifest the forms of the cosmos, which is the kingdom of God.

The cosmos is restricted to entities and relationships.

The entities are existential, while the relationships are intelligible and non-existent.

So life belongs to the entities, and death to the relationships.

The spirit's manifestation to the body is the life of that body, just as the sun becomes manifest in order to illuminate those bodies to which it becomes manifest.

The spirit's absence from the body is the disappearance of life from it, Hence coming together is life and separation death.

Coming together and separation are intelligible relationships with manifest properties, even though they have no existence in entity.

You should know that all the faculties in man and every living thing, like the faculties of sensation, imagination, memory, form-giving, and all the other faculties attributed to all bodies, high and low, belong only to the spirit.

They come to be when the spirit exists and bestows life upon the body. When one of the faculties ceases to be, this is because the spirit turns away from the body in the respect in which that specific faculty has come to be.

So understand! When the spirit turns away from the body entirely, all the faculties and life disappear along with the spirit's disappearance. This is called 'death'. It is like night through the absence of the sun.

As for sleep, it is not a complete turning away. Rather, it is vaporous veils which come between the faculties and the sensory objects of their perception, while life remains in the sleeper.

This is like the sun when clouds come between it and a specific location on the earth.

The brightness - like life [in the sleeper] - continues to exist, but the sun cannot be perceived.

The name Manifest - if you verify it - is the cosmos, since the cosmos is to the Real as the body is to the governing spirit.

And the name Non-manifest belongs to everything that is hidden from the existent things in the relationship of life to themselves.

The human being exists through the whole, since he is defined as a 'rational animal'.

His animality is his manifest form, since 'animality' denotes the same thing as 'a feeding and sensate body', though more briefly.

The word 'animal' was preferred in the realm of verbal expression because of its abbreviated form, since it is equivalent in denotation.

Man is 'rational' in respect of his supra-sensory reality, and this reality is nothing other than what we mentioned. Hence in our view the whole cosmos, which consists of everything other than God, is a 'rational animal', though its bodies, its feeding, and its sensations are diverse.

It is manifest through its animal form and nonmanifest through its intrinsic life which comes to exist through the divine self-disclosure, which exists continuously.

Hence there is nothing save God, His names, and His acts.

He is the First in respect to the name Manifest, and He is the Last in respect to the name Non-manifest.

So understand! If this were not the case, the creatures alone would perform acts, and the divine power would not pervade all the possible things, or rather, the possibilities would vanish from the divine power.

So glory be to the Manifest who is not hidden, and glory be to the Hidden who is not manifest!

Through Him the creatures are veiled from knowing Him, and He made them blind through the intensity of His self-manifestation.

Hence they are deniers, acknowledgers, waverers, bewildered, correct, mistaken. And praise belongs to God, who favored us with such!

******


Our eyes fall only upon Him, and we support ourselves only through Him. 'There is no god but He, the Inaccessible, the Wise’.

...Consider the images and forms on the screen of the shadow play. In the eyes of the small children far from the veil of the screen set up between them and the person who manipulates the figures and speaks through them, who speaks within these forms?

The situation is similar with the forms of the cosmos. The majority of people are these small children whom we have supposed, and you know from whence things come to them.

The children in the gathering are happy and delighted. The heedless take it for a sport and diversion. The men of knowledge take heed and know that God has set this up only as a likeness.

That is why, at the beginning, a figure comes out known as the narrator. He delivers an address in which he magnifies and praises God. Then he talks about each kind of form which will come out after him from behind the screen. The gathering comes to know that God has set this up as a likeness for His servants, in order that they might take heed and come to know that the cosmos is related to God just as these forms are related to their mover and that the screen is the veil of the mystery of destiny...

Then the narrator goes away. He is like the first person existent among us, Adam. When he went away, he went away from us to his Lord, behind the screen of the Unseen. 'And God speaks the truth, and He guides on the way’.

******


Perfect man has two visions of the Real, which is why He appointed for him two eyes.

With one eye he looks upon Him in respect to the fact that He is Independent of the worlds. So he sees Him neither in anything nor in himself.

Through the other eye he looks upon Him in respect of His name All-merciful, which seeks the cosmos and is sought by the cosmos. He sees His Being permeating all things. Through the vision of this eye he is poor toward everything in respect to the fact that the things are the names of God, not in respect of their own entities. Hence, none is poorer toward the cosmos than perfect man, since he witnesses it subjected to himself.

He knows that if he did not need the cosmos, those things that are subjected to him would not have been subjected to him.

He knows in himself that he is more in need of the cosmos than the cosmos is in need of him.

His all-inclusive poverty stands in the station of the all-inclusive divine Independence.

In respect of poverty, he takes up a position in the cosmos like the position of the Real in respect to the divine names, which demand the displaying of effects in the cosmos.

He only becomes manifest in his poverty by the manifestation of the names of the Real.

Perfect man is the Real in his independence from the cosmos, since the cosmos has been subjected for his sake by the divine names that display their effects within it.

Nothing is subjected to him except that which possesses the display of effects, without respect to the entity of the cosmos.

So he is poor only toward God.

******


The knower of God thanks God in order to create the form of thanksgiving constantly; thereby he makes the glorifiers of God, those who perform His worship, more numerous.

When God knows this from him, He increases him in outward and inward blessings, so that he may possess the attribute of creating thanksgiving without cease. This situation belongs to him constantly in this world and the next.

The greatest plane through which thanksgiving becomes manifest within existence is the plane of thanksgiving for the blessing of the Form of Perfection and the plane of thanksgiving for the blessing of subjection.

When through his thanksgiving the thanksgiver seeks increase because of what God has promised, God gives him nothing of the blessing of increase except in the measure and form of his seeking, i.e. whether it is mixed or flawless. His increase will be a forgiveness, a pardon, and a passing over, nothing else.

******


Know that the objects of Knowledge are Four:

(Atziluth) God, who is described by non delimited being, for He is neither the effect nor the cause of anything.

Knowledge of Him consists of knowledge that He exists and His existence is not other than His essence, though His essence remains unknown.

Rather, the attributes that are attributed to Him are known: the attributes of meanings, which are the attributes of Perfection.

As for knowledge of the essence of reality, that is prohibited.

It cannot be known through logical proof or rational demonstration, nor can definition grasp it, for He, glory be to Him, is not similar to anything, nor is anything similar to Him.

So how should he who is similar to things know him to whom nothing is similar, and who is similar to nothing?

So, your knowledge of Him is only that nothing is like Him.

(Briah) The Second Object of Knowledge is the Universal Reality that belongs to God and the world, and is qualified neither by existence nor non-existence, temporal origin nor eternity.

This reality is eternal when Eternal is described by it, but this reality does not exist until those things described by it exist.

If something exists without a precedent non-existence, as for example the being of God and His attributes one says about His reality, because God is qualified by it, one says that this reality is an eternal existent.

But if something exists after non-existence as for example the existence of everything other than God, and existent through something other than itself, then it is said to be temporally originated. In each existent it accords with its own reality since it does not accept division, since it has neither whole nor part, it cannot be known disengaged from form through logical proof or demonstration.

In short this reality has come into existence by means of God from this Reality but it is not existent, such that God might have brought us into existence from an eternal existence that we should be established as eternal.

The origin of creation is the dust, the first existent within it is the Universal reality pertaining to the all-merciful. A reality which is not restricted by position, since it is not specially confined.

From what did creation come into existence? From the known Reality which is described neither by existence nor non-existence.

Within what did it come into existence? Within the dust.

In what likeness did it come into existence? The form known within God’s self.

Why did it come into existence? To make manifest the Divine Realities.

What is its goal? Deliverance from mixture so that each world may know it’s share from the Producer. So, it’s goal is to make manifest its own Realities, the true knowledge of the spheres of the greater world, which is everything other than man (in the technical terminology of the community) and of the smaller worlds, man has to do with the spirit cause and occasion of the world. The world’s spheres are its stations, it’s movements and the differentiation of its strata. Just as man is small by way of his body, so he is paltry by way of his temporal origin.

But the theomorphism is a fact since he is vicergent of God in the world the world is subjected to him and a vassal of God in the same way that man is the vassal of God.

Know that man’s most perfect plane is in the world.

As for the next world the state of each person of the two groups will be one half, though not his knowledge, since each group has knowledge of the opposite state.

For in this world man is nothing if not faithful and infidel at once: felicity and wretchedness, bliss and chastisement, blissful and chastised.

Hence knowledge in this world is more complete, while theophany in the next world is more elevated – so understand and open this lock.

For those who understand I’ve composted an intimation. Though its words are repulsive and loathsome, its meaning is marvelous:

The Spirit of the Great Essence is the Small Existence!

If not for him He would not say “I am the great, the powerful, let not my temporal origin veil you, nor my annihilation and resurrection, for I, if you regard me closely am the all-encompassing, the great, in my essence I belong to the eternal, though I am manifest and newly arisen – God is the solitary, the eternal, afflicted by no incapacity, engendered existence is a new creation imprisoned in his two hands – it follows from this that I am the paltry existence, and that every essence turns round in my existence, for there is no night like my night, no light like my light, he who calls me servant, I am the poor servant, he who says that I am existence, I am the all-aware existence! So call me a king, and find me such. Or the rabble, you will not go wrong. Oh you who are ignorant of my worth, you who are the all-knowing and all-seeing, inform my existence about me, though words are both true and false. Say to your people that I am the all compassionate, the all forgiving, say that my chastisement is the ruinous chastisement, and say that I am weak, incapable, a prisoner.

So how should anyone attain blessing or ruin at my hand?"

******


The Real made me contemplate the light of the veils as the star of strong backing rose, and He said to me, “Do you know how many veils I have veiled you with?”

“No”, I replied.

He said, “With seventy veils. Even if you raise them you will not see Me, and if you do not raise them you will not see Me.”

“If you raise them you will see Me and if you do not raise them you will see Me.”
“Take care of burning yourself!”

“You are My sight, so have faith. You are My Face, so veil yourself.”

O my God, gift me with a heart by which I may be devoted to You in utter poverty, led by yearning and driven by desire, [a heart] whose provision is fear [of You] and whose companion is restlessness, whose aim is [Your] closeness and acceptance! In Your Nearness lies the consummation of those who aim, and the fulfilment of the desire of those who search.

O lover – whosoever you are – know that the veils between you and your beloved – whosoever he might be – are nothing save your halt with things, not the things themselves; as said by the one who hasn’t tasted the flavor of realties. You have halted with things because of the shortcoming of your perception; that is, lack of penetration, expressed as the veil; and the veil is nonexistence and nonexistence is nothingness. Thus there is no veil, If the veils were true, then who got veiled from you, you should also have been in veil from him.

O my God, You are Self-Standing by Your own Essence; Encompassing with Your Qualities; Revealed through Your Names; Manifest in Your Acts; and Hidden by virtue of what is only known to You!

You are Alone in Your Majesty, as You are the One, the Unique; and You have singularized Yourself, as You permanently endure in eternity without beginning or end. You, You are God, who by virtue of Oneness is the Only One.

With You there is none other than You; in You there is none but You.

All praise belongs to God, who veiled us by Himself, for the jealousy that anyone may know his core, He appeared as light and then got veiled from sights by His light, He manifested, but got concealed from insights by virtue of His manifestation.

Thus light entered in light, and self-manifestation got concealed in manifestation. So no sight falls but onto Him; no out-comer comes out but from Him, and no goal-seeker eventually ends up but to Him.

So, O people of intellect, where is absence or veil?


******


I invite you to look further into his work, as well as the works of other Sufi masters such as Hafiz and Rumi, keeping in mind that they may be closer in their relationship to us as Rosicrucians than you’d previously suspected.

Your Brother in Light,

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