The Ocean of the Soul: Man, the World, and God in the Stories of Farid Al-Din 'Attar

By Hellmut Ritter; John O'Kane | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTEY-SEVEN
PURE LOVE OF GOD

Travellers to the halting-stations of love, so says Ibn al-Dabbāgh who is inclined to Neo-Platonic modes of thought, are divided into three groups. The first group is made up of people who reach love on the path of sensual perception and fantasy images, and do not progress beyond this. The second group is made up of people who reach love on the path of sensual perception and intellect as well. The third group consists of people who come to love on the path of intellect, while they progress beyond the previous two levels… For the first group the object of love is the world of bodies and its beautiful forms and wonderful figures, and nothing more. Their love does not go beyond the inner world of fantastical conceptions. They are in love with the harmony of forms, the radiant beauty of visible things and the miraculous works of creation. The chief role in this love is played by the usual things experienced by lovers among ordinary people, such as physical nearness and distance, being together and being separated, absence and presence, disappearance behind a barrier and showing oneself, separation and meeting again, and other contingent aspects of bodies… Consequently, one sees the adherents of this love spend their life addressing the faded traces of campsites and weeping over the windswept remains of dwelling places… The second group of lovers also comes to love on the path of sensual perception but then they attain perception through the intellect. They do not remain in the world of fantastical conceptions but manage to proceed beyond it. To this group belong most of the special class of "travellers on the path". For this group the object of love is beauty which is attached to a particular place. But if they advance in knowledge, they then come to detach beauty from these places… The third group of lovers is made up of those who behold holy beauty which reveals itself to their soul from the light-world. Their souls accept this within themselves because of their inner affinity with it, and its form impresses itself on their soul like the sun in a clear mirror. Then

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