Julie Redstone said , “It is part of embodied life to focus on the level of the mind and on the level of the emotions as a way of identifying the self. Such identification has come about over a very long period of time and its presence signals the ascendance of the ego-self within time and space and the relative diminishing of the conscious awareness of one’s inner being — one’s transcendent, immortal, soul-self. That this shift took place is not a mistake. It is not an error in judgment. It is the consequence of souls being drawn into the sphere of duality which the physical realm represented, and it was by choice that souls arrived there.
THE HUMAN SOUL: A SUFI WAY
“It is the Soul, the feminine principle between Body and Spirit, which undertakes the Quest and is transformed from its physical and sensible function to its psychic function and thence to its spiritual function. As the Soul approaches the second transformation, from sensible to spiritual, it becomes what the Sufi calls the spiritual Heart, the instrument of intuition. It is the Heart which finally unites with the Spirit. It is annihilated and experiences a spiritual death. It is then reborn with the Spirit and attains subsistence: it knows that it exists through the Absolute and was never really separated from it.
The Soul has its origin in the spiritual world. When it is attached to the Body, it descends from the world of Light to this world of darkness, dark because of its distance from the Source. If the Body with its desires proves the stronger, the soul becomes heavier, more materially orientated, dense and opaque. The veils multiply. If, however, this Soul becomes aware of its captivity and conscious of its imprisonment within the six directions of the body and the four primary elements of earth, air, water and fire, then and only then can the journey of the feminine principle begin.
Having fallen into the world against its will, it finds itself a stranger, an exile from the world of Light. The Soul must raise itself to the level where it feels its chains and bonds are intolerable, and then, with the aid of its spiritual faculties, which only now realise the bondage, free itself and return whence it came. Thus, the moment of consciousness is awareness of the exile, the moment when the Soul realises the illusion of this life and yearns to return to its Origin where it was one with the light of Unity. Only then does the Mystic’s Soul discover where it is, where it came from and where it is to go.
The human form contains the possibility of uniting the opposites within by means of Consciousness. The Soul, the feminine principle of the reflective moon within, is united with the Spirit or Intellect, the masculine principle of the sun within. Then the ‘desire’, which sought knowledge, becomes known. Then one has realised the Tradition of the Prophet, ‘One who knows Self, knows Lord.’ The Way of Sufism is to become aware of the possibilities which exist within the human form, to conceive them, and then through special practises to actualize them. Ibn Arabi says: ‘Remove from your thought the exterior of words; seek the interior until you understand.’
The Soul consists of a threefold hierarchial structure: sensory, psychic and spiritual. The Soul in its sensory and psychic form is the Soul existent with the human form. We can, through structural analogy, relate the human form or microcosm to the circle, where the circumference is the physical, the radii are the sensory-psychic area, and the centre is the spiritual. The space between the centre and the circumference is the place to which the Soul descends at conception.
Having come from the non-physical world, it must first of all become less subtle and more concrete. In this process, it becomes the Vegetative Soul, allowing the form within the womb to have the same function of feeding and growth that plants have: the ability to transform foreign substances into its own form.
As the form grows in the womb, it develops the Animal Soul, in which it acquires the ability of motion. At birth, the Animal Soul is completed, as the form exhibits various desires. However, not until adolescence does the soul pass from the potential Consciousness to being able to actualize Consciousness with the appearance of the Rational Soul. The Quest may begin now. The ability to transform Self has come into existence.
The first stage of the journey is to retrace one’s steps, to return to one’s Primordial Nature, to become a form without desires. That is, one actively denies self-desires, and exists with the faculties of feeding, growth, motion and the ability to transform foreign substances into one’s own form. It is a return to complete potentiality before any masks were assumed. To be awakened is to cross the bridge to one’s Primordial Nature and then enter through the gateway.”
SUFI: EXPRESSIONS OF THE MYSTIC QUEST by Laleh Bakhtiar (ISBN 050081015X)