For me there is the experience of vulnerability in shedding of what is old and obsolete of the self and in the reorientation and adjustment in the return to a state of poverty. There is a sense of vulnerability, not something experienced as a permanent state, but having to do with this re-encounter with what is unknown.

In describing “poverty” Henry Corbin wrote that it is the fundamental condition of human existence. He refers to this metaphysical state as mystical poverty: where all things derive not from themselves, but from a source that is the grantor of Being to everything. Mystical poverty is the true state of all beings: each and every thing has nothing in itself, is nothing in itself. Corbin tells us of the seventeenth-century Shi‘ite Mir Damad who heard “the great occult clamor of beings,” the “silent clamor of their metaphysical distress;” it appeared to him as a music of cosmic anguish and as a sudden black light invading the cosmos. [2] This is a direct experience of what philosophers call the contingency of being, and it gives rise to the great question of metaphysics “Why is there something rather than nothing?” For the gnostic, it takes the form of a moment of annihilation and terror, destroying the solid foundations upon which the ego and the literal world are built.

A degree of poverty is a prerequisite for the experience of the fullness of the world. In our desperate grip upon the world we are block ourselves from that direct experience of witnessing the form emerging from the formless. Creation unfolds only in letting go; when power is renounced and a state of poverty is realized. The things of this world grow opaque when we try to control and possess them. They withdraw into themselves and contribute to further blockage in access of the riches at the roots of things.

From Tom Cheetham’s newest book: After Prophecy: Opening the Eyes of Fire

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