My last article dealt with Henry Corbin’s idea of the mundus imaginalis, what the Persian mystic, Suhrawardi, called Na-Koja-Abad, the Land of No-where. In this article, I would like to deal with what Corbin claims is the avenue by which we can travel there.
Throughout history, many others have made the journey to the Land of Nowhere. Experiences of traveling through the mundus imaginalis are as old as mankind. Some believe we have been cut off from making the journey, since our current mode of consciousness makes light of imagination, equating it with what is unreal. But our mode of consciousness is changing. If it weren’t, there wouldn’t be so many of us open to this line of thought. If our minds were not open to such possibilities, I wouldn’t be writing this, and you wouldn’t be reading it. Many people and processes fail us in this temporal world, but we are now discussing eternal things that will not fail, an eternal land that we can travel to now. How do we get to such a wonderful place, which is really not a place, but a state of consciousness?
We are concerned, now, with learning how to pass through the doorway and set out on the the path to the Land of Nowhere, also known as the Imaginal World. Writer and philosopher, Gary Lachman tells us that if we can somehow learn to pass beyond this sphere, “something remarkable and, for most modern minds, incomprehensible happens. The entire outer world is seen to be contained within the inner one” (Lachman 175). This is most assuredly the experience we aspire to, however incomprehensible it may seem to our rational minds. According to Corbin, the Land of Nowhere is reached via Active Imagination. We know Jung used this technique and taught it to his patients. In Corbin’s mind, Active Imagination consists of spiritual senses, faculties of the soul, that have become one single faculty. Corbin quotes the Persian philosopher, Sadra Shirazi, better known as Mulla Sadra:
All the faculties of the soul…have become as though a single faculty, which is the power to configure and typify (taswir and tamthil); its imagination has itself become like a sensory perception of the suprasensory: its imaginative sight is itself like its sensory sight. Similarly, its senses of hearing, smell, taste, and touch-all these imaginative senses-are themselves like sensory faculties, but regulated to the suprasensory. For although externally the sensory faculties are five in number, each having its organ localized in the body, internally, in fact, all of them constitute a single synaisthesis (hiss moshtarik) (qtd. in Corbin, Mundus).
The Greek word, synaisthesis, means “consciousness.”Basically, Mulla Sadra is referring to a single faculty of imaginal consciousness. This is the essence of the soul, the form of consciousness we must use to travel to the Imaginal World.
Corbin tell us the teaching is of a complete physiology of the subtle body. Such senses are only completely perfected in death, according to Mulla Sadra, but we can still have some access to the imaginative consciousness body in this life. The “spiritual imagination “is a cognitive power, an organ of true knowledge. Imaginative perception and imaginative consciousness have their own noetic (cognitive) function and value, in relation to the world that is theirs…”
This organ of spiritual perception is something we have grown very unaccustomed to using over the past several centuries, and especially since Descartes’ cogito. We use only our physical senses, thus our spiritual perception has become weak and powerless, leaving us deeply fragmented and alienated. To become balanced again, the Imagination must become active once again. We desperately need it in order to travel to the Land of Nowhere and access new images to bring to our physical world. Our world needs new myths, which only the soul can bring, but we must be willing to use our long-forgotten gifts.
I speak to myself as much as I speak to you, dear readers. In fact, this entire blog and all its many articles are really notes of what I have learned over the years. I am merely sharing my self-talk with you. Thank you for reading.
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