The research and wisdom of french orientalist Henry Corbin (1903-1978) have influenced me greatly the last four years.
A particularly Gnosis-oriented book of his I have been reading on and off since 1996 when I rediscovered it (began reading it in 1991, but it was too “unhermetic” for my tastes, a very poor judgement) and saw a new relevance for it in my own studies…
The book in question is Henry Corbin`s The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism,
it is wonderfully relevant to the Gnostic path since it is all about
the acquiring of the Vision, of communication with and union with
the Angel, the divine celestial twin – as well as listening to the interior
witness…especially interesting is the red thread of excerpts from
Persian Ishraqist Najmoddin Kobra`s journal on the Visio Smaragdina
; one favourite Gnostic theme is:
“Natural existence is made up of four elements superimposed on one another, all of which comes to constitute a darkness: Earth, Water, Fire, Air;
and you yourself are buried beneath them all. The only way to separate yourself from them is to act in such a way that every rightful part in you comes together with that to which it rightfully belongs, that is, by acting in such a way that each part comes together with its counter-part: Earth receives the earthly part, Water the watery part, Air the etheric part, Fire the fiery part. When each has received its share, you will finally be delivered of these burdens.”
It has an Alchemical, a Reintegrationalist (cf. the teachings of Martinist “founder Louis Claude de Saint Martin and his first initiator, Martinez de Pasqually) , a Manichaean, a Valentinian and a Hermetic practical address, in my view.
Another book of great interest to me, is the collection of his later papers:
Temple and Contemplation. The chief portion of the book , ‘The Imago Templi in Confrontation with Secular Norms,’ one of Corbin’s last Eranos lectures (1974), pursues the motif of the Temple from its introduction into the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism-Islam and Christianity) to the great masonic romances of the 17th century, such as Wolfgang von Eschenbach`s Parzival.
In the paper to the Eranos conference of 1950, “Sabian Temple and Ismailism” we find Corbin investigating a dense and obscured landscape of dialogue between astral religion (such as found in Babylon) and a
beginning of interior-oriented mysticism à la Sufism; the result could be read as a Gnostic criticism of different kinds of ceremonial magic ..
The theme of the Holy Guardian Angel is also central to the study, and shows how he is transformed from an exterior “single star” visualized as a direct corollary in the stellar firmament into the Interior _shahid_ or Witness, this is important for any deeper acquiantance with the texts of the chief Sufi teachers, among whom we find the unimitable Suhrawardi and Ibn al-Arabi, but also Mansur al-Hallaj.
His Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth is an anthology of ancient Iranian; Mazdean through Sufi – texts written by the greatest teachers of the traditions, I were especially captivated by the theme of the Fravartis and the Daena and wrote a series of meditations on the text, which I shared with the Philosophia forum at Yahoo among other places. In time I might edit and publish it on my website or some such…
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A Henry Corbin forum at MSN.com Henry Corbin World of the Imaginal