The Divine Breath of the Creator
Consistent with other ancient esoteric cosmographies I have studied, once again I have learned that life on Earth begins with primordial sound. According to the ancients, sound is the first vibration that sets into motion all archetypal thought constructions that turn into the physical world of the senses and elements that we experience (senses and elements are ruled by manas, and are represented by the Moon). Ibn 'Arabi, a great 12th century Sufi mystic, rearranged the order of the 28 lunar constellations - by order of sound emanation. The scholar Titus Burckhardt, in his Mystical Astrology According to Ibn 'Arabi notes:
"...Islamic esotericism establishes a correspondence between the 28 mansions of the Moon and the 28 letters or sounds of the sacred language. 'It is not like people think,' - says Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, - 'that the mansions of the Moon represent the models of the letters. It is the 28 sounds which determine the lunar mansions.' These sounds represent in fact the microcosmic and human expression of the essential determinations of the Divine Breath, which is itself the prime motivation of cosmic cycles." (p.35)Just how these sounds are an expression of the essential determinations of the Divine Breath is explained in great depth (and in very dense metaphysical language) in chapters 2 to 15 of Ibn 'Arabi's magnum opus, the Futuhat (The Alphabet: The Abstract Made Literal translated by Eric Winkel). Having read this book I am convinced that the Arabic alphabet is a contemplation of the pranava as the matrix of all sound and all creation - of course from a Sufi point of view. Ibn 'Arabi's authority on the subject, while embedded in the Ptolemaic cosmology of the 13th century and anchored in his inspired interpretation of the Quran, is validated by his own spiritual experience, wisdom and self-transformation as a mystic and scholar. It also interests me that the Quran has 114 chapters, corresponding perhaps to 114 chakras that Indian mystics tell us we work with in the human experience (these minor chakras - marmas - are of importance in Ayurveda).
In summary, we are talking about the roots of quantum physics from the point of view of mysticism! And this is all encoded in the 28 constellations/fixed stars of the Moon!
Reading (Winkel's Cosmography) especially FM chapter 22 it sounds like (similar to the Mayan system) Ibn Arabi separated the 9 special cosmic levels of creation (GV19/20 to GV28) from the ones that ascend up the sushumna GV1-19 - because chapter 22 is entirely devoted to these 19 manazil that take the seeker from ignorance at the base of the spine to enlightenment at the top (my interpretation): 9+19=28 the full set. Of course all of this is presented from a Qur'an point of view not a Vedic one and I am trying put them all these models into one ur-model finding commonalities in the essential teachings behind the teachings. In chapter 22 he refers to enigmas and Surah's in the Qur'an and Winkel has include excellent references to studies that explain what Ibn Arabi is alluding to from his other writings. So all of this is quite complex!
The order of the manazil is structured in the same way as in the Chinese system - 7 lunar mansions per zodiac sign. Here for example is a 12th century Persian representation of Sagittarius (from Titus Burckhardt's book - now available as a pdf):
The elixir (al-iksir), O man of wits, is the great gift of Allah; he who acquires it acquires all riches, and becomes free from worry and fatigue.
Talisman: If you ever see a gnostic seated on the carpet of guidance, while the voice of his condition, or his words, beckons men to come, make you haste, O seeker, to the quest of the new vistas he opens.
Decipherment: Ponder the letters of the alphabet, imagine the letter alib and cover all the stages of its variation. Thus does the perfect saint develop all the variations in
order to satisfy all his desires.
~ al-Bhazzali (Illumination in Islamic Mysticism - link)
The letters of the alphabet, the essential signs and providential instruments of the Sacred Science, are twenty-eight in number. The number twenty- eight, congruent with four and seven (28=4 x 7, and 28 is the "Pythagorean sum" of 7), immediately suggests a relation with the lunar mansions. There result from it diverse cross-references of a cosmological order, to which we will make allusion later on. The connection between the number of letters and the lunar mansions is sufficiently remarkable that it is emphasized and exploited. Thus Tirmidhī ( Khatm al-awliyā', question 142) states that the number of letters was primordially set at twenty-eight owing to the number of lunar mansions. Ibn 'Arabī was to make this point more explicitly by "localizing" in the moon--the intermediary between heaven and earth--the "prophetic" residence of Adam and by specifying that the manifestation par excellence of the mediating function of the heavenly body is the differentiation of the unique primordial sun (in the manner of Adam as the "unique man") in articulated language.
Exploring Mystical Links to the Arabian Lunar Mansions
I started to read the Mystical Astrology by a 17th century Sufi sage named Ibn Arabi and other books to find out how the lunar mansions correspond with the enlightenment teachings I am working with. I am just at the beginning stages here, with lots to post.
One of the interesting things in Medieval/Renaissance thinking is the use of Pythagorean numerology to explain how the 28 manazil are a numerological total of the 7 numbers: 1+2+3+4+5+6+7=28. This is another way of expressing that the 28 points represent the totality of the seven chakras.
Numbers and sounds are always linked. Even to construct a musical instrument, the instrument parts, whatever it is, have to be constructed following a numeric system in order to get the correct pitch and octave or whatever scale is being used. Vibration works like this. And this is consistent with the subtle anatomy in that the number of petals on a chakra corresponds to that number of nadis and shows what interconnects with what.
"The Arabic alphabet consists of eighteen shapes that express twenty-eight phonetic sounds with the help of diacritical marks," (source). In my research I ran across something that said that the Chinese, Arabian and Indian lunar mansions only agree with 18 component stars and the rest are all different (which I put down to astrology). "...these lunar asterisms in the main agree as to their component stars, — eighteen are coincident..." (source). Jyestha is the 18th nakshatra if we count from Ashwini in the modern 27-nakshatra system, and hence another reason for calling it "the eldest" (although in my view Jyestha being at the top of the neck at GV16 makes it "eldest").
Perhaps a study of calligraphy and pictograms might shed light on the symbolic meaning of the basic 18 shapes and what they might have to do with the 18 component stars that these cultures agree on. And then one might explore the Mayan ones...and those of other ancient cultures...
This is all very interesting but here I am focusing on the 28 sounds related to the nakshatras. Could these be Arabian counterparts to the bij mantras that Achala Sylwia Mihajlović discovered in her research? (See article.)
It is no surprise to me that the Arabian alphabet has 28 letters, and that Ibn Arabi connects them to the lunar mansions, manazil - but he changes the order. They are not in alphabetical order. So this is really interesting!
Based on my research so far into the meanings of the manazil, I am making the following links:
GV28 ش - shīn (13th Arabian alphabet letter, 10th manazil according to Ibn Arabi)
GV27 ج - jīm (5th Arabian alphabet letter, 9th manazil according to Ibn Arabi)
GV26 ك - kāf (22nd Arabian alphabet letter, 8th manazil according to Ibn Arabi)
GV25 ق - qāf (21st Arabian alphabet letter, 7th manazil according to Ibn Arabi)
Note that the first manazil is GV19, Uttarashadha, but that GV20 is the manazil for Universal Soul. It is also interesting that GV1 is the 28th letter of the Arabian alphabet! There are Divine names of God for each of these and the corresponding energies...all to be explored....
A lot of this Christopher Warnock has looked at through the lens of Renaissance magic as well as his studies into Sufism and Zen and other things in his book on the Arabian Lunar Mansions. The Arabs brought a lot of this ancient knowledge from all over Asia, the Middle East and it got mixed up with the ancient Greek and Roman knowledge and condensed into an astrology-based book of magick called the Picatrix which itself was based on hundreds of sources and was used in Europe along with the Tropical Zodiac. One has to go through these things like picking through piles of dirt-encrusted broken shards with tweezers to find the gold hidden in it. The ground of commonality is in the advanced knowledge of meditation and the enlightenment teachings - hidden by layers and layers and layers of confusion. Every culture has preserved it and every culture has distorted it. But it is there. The Truth is everywhere. This is like the mystic as archeologist.
The number 9 & the أبجد Abjad numeralsThe number 9 has a special relationship to the nakshatras as I have written about separately (see my post Secrets of the Vimshottari Mahadasha Sequence) - in terms of the pada chart of the Navamsa, the 9 planets, and their mahadashas, the 9 waves or underworlds of the Maya (and the perhaps the 9 "hells" in Dante's Purgatorio), the 9 stages to enlightenment in Buddhism... I am still not at this writing 100% certain what they mean exactly but I am not surprized that this relationship of the 28 to 9 occurs in the Manazil as well. I believe it is found in the system in which letters of the alphabet are correlated with numerals called أبجد Abhjad.
"The Abjad numerals are a decimal numeral system in which the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet are assigned numerical values," (Wikipedia).
|(Wikipedia June 4/17 link)|
This shows up simply as a mathematical progression based on 9:
ط=9 ح=8 ز=7 و=6 ه=5 د=4 ج=3 ب=2 أ=1
ص=90 ف=80 ع=70 س=60 ن=50 م=40 ل=30 ك=20 ي=10
ظ=900 ض=800 ذ=700 خ=600 ث=500 ت=400 ش=300 ر=200 ق=100
a single 1,000:
If I may speculate that these represent all the powers of all the chakras (represented by letters and numbers as subtle-invisible-elemental"vibrations") divided into four states of consciousness: gross-physical, mental-astral, mental-causal, and the turyia state is then logically represented by the 1,000 petalled sahasrara chakra.
The alphabetical order, which shows the mathematical precision based on 3 sets of 9 plus a perfect 1000 is not the order of letters assigned to the lunar mansions by the sufi mystic Ibn Arabi. So that adds a conundrum, and a layer of complexity to this. I suspect that there is one system based on sounds-numbers-elements (that relates to the nadis) and another system based on chakra qualities, in other words a system for the ENERGY and a system for the CONSCIOUSNESS.
Ibn Arabi's decoding of the lunar mansions
"Now, it is to this faculty of mediation that relates the transformation of the primordial sound, which is the vehicle of the spiritual revelation, in articulated language. It is for this reason that Islamic esotericism establishes a correspondence between the 28 mansions of the Moon and the 28 letters or sounds of the sacred language. ‘It is not like people think,’ - says Muhyiddin Ibn ’Arabi, - ‘that the mansions of the Moon represent the models of the letters; it is the 28 sounds which determine the lunar mansions.” These sounds represent in fact the micro-cosmic and human expression of the essential determinations of the Divine Breath, which is itself the prime motivation of
Mystical Astrology According to Ibn Arabi (I lie Fons Vitae Titus Burckhardt Series)- expresses the idea that all physical manifestion emanates from AUM (pranava), from mind, the moon heart.
Abjad The Science of LettersClearly ancient Islam had similar knowledge as the Taoist and Hindus seeing the linkages between the inner and outer cosmology. If I am to draw some early conclusions here (and my research into this part of it is only beginning) it seems to me that, certain in Islam, the power of the word, logos, which is clearly the power of mantra and affirmation in Tantra, was recognized as the prime/core cocreative power responsible for everything in the universe:
"One could say schematically that the science of letters involves the following: (1) divine and metaphysical or metacosmic symbolism; (2) universal or macrocosmic symbolism by virtue of correspondences between letters and "astrological" givens (celestial spheres, planets, zodiacal signs, lunar mansions, etc.), on the one hand, and "physical" givens (elements, "natures," etc.), on the other; (3) human and individual or microcosmic symbolism by virtue of physiological correspondences (organs of the body, "temperaments," etc.), from which comes its correlation with chirognomy etc."
Ibn Arabi's science of letters
"Each of the twenty-eight letters corresponds to several things, including one of the divine names and one category of creature. Some of the letters represent creatures that appear on the descending arc of existence, the movement from the invisible realms into the semi-visible realm of receptivity in which the visible cosmos is born. Other letters represent creatures that appear on the ascending arc of existence, which begins in visibility and then returns to the invisible realms of spirit and consciousness from which it arose. On this returning arc, the twenty-seventh letter represents human beings, and the twenty-eighth designates the stations and stages of perfection achieved by those human beings who enter into the presence of God. The twenty-sixth letter represents the jinn, and the twenty-fifth the angels, inasmuch as these are creatures that are present in the invisible realms of the returning arc. Letters 23 through 25 designate the visible creatures, that is, minerals, plants, and animals. Notice that modern cosmology deals almost exclusively with the twenty-third letter of the alphabet, the other twenty-seven letters lying outside the realm of its competence. This is why it hardly deserves the name "cosmology"."
William Chittick, The Wisdom of Animals (url)
[to be continued]
ArtworkBelow is a beautiful video complete with images of the Arabian manazil put together by researcher Christopher Warnock, a "Renaissance astrological magician" who has written books on the subject (see his website):
Lataif-e-sitta (Persian: لطائف سته)