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Islamic Cultures, Egypt - Notebooks of Paul Brunton

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IslamicCultures,Egypt

IslamicCultures,Egypt
Islamiccultures
1

AllahAkabar!Itisfitthatachapterwrittenonthemysticismoflandswhichflythe
IslamicCrescentandStarshouldcalluponthenameoftheCompassionate,theMerciful,
atthebeginningofthework.Suchisthecustomofthoselandssuchshallbethecustom
ofthepresentwriter.
2

Onthelefttherearetallgracefulandtaperingpalmyratreesrisingfromastretchof
browndesertsand.Fromtheirheadstherespreadfansofdroopingfronds,thinsharp
edgedleaves,wavingtoandfrointhenightwind.
3

Thescenewasanimatedenough.Camels,withtheirlonghighheldnecks,theirungainly
heads,theirskirted,striding,aquilinenoseddrivers,wereplentiful.
4

ThecontrastbetweenloquaciousAmericansofthecitiesandsilentArabsofthedesertis
unforgettable.TheBedouincansitinagroupandsaynothingatallforhours!The
desert'speacehasenteredintothemtosuchanextentthatthesocialdutyoflaryngeal
activityisunknownamongthem,andregardedasunnecessary!
5

Iwasdeeplyimpressedbytheintensefervourshowneverywherebythefollowersofthe
Prophet.OnceatsundownImetalonglineofcamelsmakingtheirslowheavyway
acrosstheRajputanaDesert.Suddenlytheanimalswerehaltedandadrawnoutshrillcry
filledtheair.ItwasthefamiliarMuhammedancalltoprayer.Theridersleaptofftheir
animals,thelatterkneelingontheirforelegs,andprostratedthemselvesonlittlerugsin
silentworship.Itwasapicturesqueandcolourfulsceneonethatgripsthememory.
6

Thesightaffectedme.Threehundredearnestfacesappearedinthemosque'sdimlight:
threehundredpairsofeyesseeingnaughtbutAllah.
7

Wewanderedintoalittlemosque.Mycompanionbowedandprostratedhimselfin
prayer,whileIsatinreflectivemeditationupontheenvironingpresenceofAllah,the
One.
8

Saracenicarchitecturehasbroughtmemanyhappyhours.HowoftenhaveIbeen
attractedbysomemosque'stalltieredminaretsgracefullytaperingupwardsandstriking
theeyewithapleasingeffect!HowinstinctivelyhaveImovedtowardsthenoble
splendidandarchedgateway,crownedwithagracefulbulbousdomeandleadingintoan
enclosedgarden!Howsatisfyinghasitbeentotreadthecourtyard'soblongwornmarble
pavingslabs.HowslowlyhaveIpacedthecypressborderedwalkbythefountainfed
shortcanal!HowhaveIpassedthroughopenloggiaandbeneaththeexquisitetriple
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archesofthemainpavilionitselftositdownfinallyandrestonthemattedfloor!How
appreciativelyhaveIgazedatthesumptuouslycarvedwindowtraceryinpierced
stonework,atthefascinatingsymmetryofitsgeometricallypatternedforms.Howdeep
thejoyIhavederivedfromthebeautifulcharactersoftheArabscriptinwhichthe
Prophet'ssuprememetaphysicaldeclarationsarepaintedonthewalls!Everywhere
perfecttasteisdisplayed.
9

ThecurvedarchesandcarvedarabesquesofIslamdrawmemorepowerfullythanits
dogmas.
10

IslamicmosquesarethemostinspiringandbeautifulbuildingsIknow.Theyperfectly
fulfiltheirfunction,drawingtheheartbytheirexquisitecharmandstillingthemindby
theirsimplicity.
11

OurgreyandwetNorthernskiesdonotfavourtheopenarcadedcourtyardswiththe
tricklingfountainsinthecentreandlittletubsofpalmtreesaround,whichIfindso
friendlyintheNearEast.
12

ThebeautifulArabicarchitectureclearlyderivesitsformsfromtents,tentpoles,and
curtains.
13

InthePersianvalleyofMourgAvotherestandsanimmensepileofancientruinsin
whitemarble.Amongthemisaprofileofawinged,angelicfigurewiththefollowing
inscription:"IamGodandhereisnoneelse.IamGodandthereisnonelikeme."
14

Aslongagoasthesixteenthcentury,AbulFazl,thesonofafamousSheikhandthe
friendofEmperorAkbar,couldwrite:"Mymindhadnorest,andmysoulfeltitself
drawntothesagesofMongolia,ortothehermitsofLebanonIlongedforinterviews
withtheLamasofTibet."
15

TheIsraelites,liketheMuhammedansintheirmosques,possessnopicture,nostatue,no
figureofanykindintheirtemplestoportrayGod.
16

TheAllahwhomMuhammedansworshipisnotapersonaldeityatleastnotforthe
culturedclasses.Thetermisanegativeone.ItsignifiesThatwhichisnotlimited,
formed,bounded,material,orphenomenal.
17

IntheArabicreligiousformula,"LA"=thereisnoGod,"YLLA"=butGod.Thefirstpart
isnegativebutthesecondispositive.
18

HardlyanysculptureexistsinMuhammedanreligiousorsecularart.Toreduceallriskof
idolworship,Muhammedforbadeallrepresentationoflivingbeings.Whereasthe
Hindus,theGreeks,andtheRomansputtheirgodsintostone,wood,metal,andpaint,no
followerofhiswasallowedtodoso.Thatis,theFormlesswasnottobethoughtofas
Formed.
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19

Islamhasitsworshippedsaints,itswalis,despitetheKoran'sprohibitionofsuch
intermediariesbetweenAllahandman.
20

"AllahistheLight,"wroteMuhammed.
21

TheSufiswerenotallowedtodescribetheiroccultexperiencesitwasdeemedbetterfor
truth,andespeciallyforthesubdualofegotism,tohidethem.
22

TheSufimysticsputmoreinterestintothequestoftheSpirit'sbeautythandidother
mystics.
23

DonotconfoundthemechanicallyarousedecstasyoftheDervishwiththethought
conqueringconcentrationofthetrueYogi.Thefirstisonalowerlevelthanthesecond.
24

Sufiterms:Enayat=Grace.Verd=repetitivemantramusedbytheDervishes.
Musharaf=TofeelthepresenceofGodasGrace.
25

TheSufiArabicphrasefor"intheworldbutnotofit"is"halvatdarunjumen."
26

LIGHT.NUR(God'secstasycreatingLight)ismentionedseveraltimesinSufisacred
poems.
27

Majdhub=Dervishinecstasy.
28

BarakahinMoroccoandadjacentMuhammedanlandssignifies"graceorblessingor
healingpower."
29

ThemysticalsymbolismoftheSufiscanbetracedinHafizandOmar.Theirwineequals
aspiration,loveofthedivine.BelovedequalsGod.Drunkennessequalsecstatic
meditation.Amorousglanceequalsdevotion.
30

ThreequotationsfromTheDiwanbyNasirIKhusraw(eleventhcenturyPersianpoet,
traveller,andmystic):
1)Eremefromtheirearthlycasingsuncountedspiritshavefled,
AndI,thoughlongIlinger,maybecountedalreadydead.
2)ForSatanhadcaughtandconstrainedmetowalkinhiscaptives'train,
And'twasReasonwhocameandsavedme,andgavemefreedomagain.
3)MysoulishigherthanFortune
thenwhyshouldIFortunefear?

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31

PersianSufiverse:
Oyewhoseektosolvetheknot.
Yeliveintruth,yetknowitnot.
Yesitupontheriver'sbrink,
Yetcraveinvainadroptodrink.
Yedwellbesideacountlessstore,
Yetperishhungryatthedoor.
32

IwanderandlookforThee
ButThoudostevademyeyes
ByhidingThyselfinmyheart.Muhammedanmedievalsong>
33

"Heisamanwhodwellsamongstmankind,marries,andassociateswithhisfellow
creatures,yetisneverforasinglemomentforgetfulofGod."AbuSaid,eleventhcentury
Persianmysticofhighdegree
34

AfterIreadIbnTufail'sTheAwakeningoftheSoulmymindgravitatedquitenaturallyto
Easternwisdom.
35

IbnTufailwasnotonlyaSufimysticalmasterbutalsoanintellectualthinkerandanable
physician.Hislittlebook,TheAwakeningoftheSoul(originaltitleStoryofHaiEbn
Yokdan)wasthefirsttoleadmetotheideaofmeditation.
36

(1)"Whenitistimeforstillness,stillness."Dervishsaying(2)"Essencemanifestsonly
inunderstanding."Sufisaying
37

SheikhShihabudDin,ofAleppo(twelfthcentury),wasaSufiwhotaughtthatthe
ultimaterealitywasLight(Nur).Hisheterodoxycausedhimtobeexecuted.ThisLightis
selfexistent,perpetuallyluminous,selfmanifesting,andisthesourceofallexistence.It
hastwoexpressions.Thesheikhalsotaughtinhiswritingthatthepathofspiritualityhad
fivestations:(1)selfishness,(2)selfcenteredness,(3)"Iamnot,"(4)"ThouGodart,"
and(5)Iamnotandthouartnottheannihilationofdistinctionsofsubjectandobject.
38

"SonamedabsorptioninGod,regardedasthegoaloftheSufiseeker,isinfactonlythe
beginning,"warnedAlGhazzali,thePersianwhosebook,TheAuthorityofIslam,was
knownandstudiedthroughoutEuropeintheMiddleAgesbyChristiansandJewsaswell
ashiscoreligionists,Mohammedans.Hespentfourteenyearsinvestigatingallavailable
teachingsduringwidetravelsthroughoutOrientallandshewentintothedesertfor
solitarymeditationfortwelveyearsandishonouredasagreatMasterinthoselands.
39
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TheNaqshbandiOrderofdervisheswasfoundedinthefourteenthcenturyinBukhara,
anditschiefcentrewasthereuntilBolshevismarose.Theirgreatadept,theMullah
Nasrudin,istheoriginofseveralmysticphilosophictaleswhichconveyquitesimply
instructionondeepVedantictruths.Inthesecondstoryhesays,"Inevertellthetruth!"
Thecommentaryexplains:"Ifthisistrue,helies.Ifuntrue,hetellstruth!Thusbywords
wecanarriveanywhere,butthisisnot,never,truth."Inthefirsttaletheideaofcauseand
effectvanishes.Inthethird,thepastandthefuturearealreadyhere,now.The
Naqshbandiswarnaspirantsthatselfdeceptionisacommonobstacletofindingand
realizingtruth.Theyfurtherteachthattosatisfytheintellectbecomesimpossibleand
explanationreachesadeadendbutitcanbetranscendedandamysteriousplaneof
higherbeingattainedthroughtheexperienceofdeepcontemplation.Thelasttalemay
makeyoulaugh.Nasrudinwentintoashop.Heasked,"Haveyouflour?""Yes.""And
haveyoumilk,sugar,honey?""Yes.""Then,forheaven'ssake,whydon'tyoumake
sweetmeats?"
40

TheSufisofPakistanandtheNaqshbandidervishesofpreBolshevikBukhara,butnow
elsewhere,usecertainwritingsstoriesoftheadeptMullahNasrudintoinstructsimple
personsinsubtletruths.Theyare"Vedantamadeeasy"tales.
41

IfBuddhistmonksintheFarEastoriginallytookteatostayawakeduringlongperiodsof
meditation,piousMuhammedansoriginallytookcoffeetostayawakeduringthetedious
periodsofformalreligiousprayer.

Egypt
42

WeintheWesthavebroughtpunctualitytoperfectionanddevelopedbusinessintoa
religion.WecustomarilyandfromourstandpointrightlydespisetheEastforitslight
heartedattitudetowardsthesematters.Wearriveatourbusinessengagementswith
clocklikeprecisionandinvoluntarilycarrythesamespiritintooursocialappointments,
too.Weworkhardandwell,andtorelaxwhenthemoodpromptsusistoyieldtooneof
thesevendeadlysins.Perhapstheonlyshiningexceptionsaretobefoundinbohemians
andthoseinartisticcircles,whoseattitudewasaptlyandhumourouslyputbyOscar
Wildeintothemouthofoneofhischaracters:"Hewasalwayslateonprinciple,his
principlebeingthatpunctualityisthethiefoftime."DuringmywanderingsintheEastI
havenotfailedtonotethedifferenceofoutlook,theeasygoingattitudetowardworkand
time,andthoughthisatfirstexcitedmyirritation,itnowreceives,withinduelimits,my
approbation.ForI,too,havefeltthepleasureoftakinglifeeasily,thedelightofceasing
tobepursuedbyoldKronos,thecomfortofnolongerreactingtoclockworkand
mechanicaldiscipline.InEgyptIfoundthisspiritatitsapogee,andnowitsuitsmewell.
YetIhopeIshallneversuccumbasfarasthatrotundHinduIndianmoneylenderof
Lahore,whoboastedtomethatwhenhehadanappointmentforteno'clockinthe
morningheinvariablyturnedupattwointheafternoon.Ilookedathim,shocked,and
thenreproachedhimforsuchinconsiderateconduct."Oh,don'tworry,"hereplied,"for
evenifIdidturnupattenmyclientwouldinvariablyturnupattwo!"However,I
masteredonelessonthroughmysojournunderthepleasantEgyptiansky,alessonwhich
hasbeenwellputbyRabelais,whosaidthatthehoursweremadeforman,andnotman
forthehours.ItisnotthatIwanttoenterintoadefenseofunpunctualityfarfromitbut
thatIwanttoenterintoadefenseofthatinnerpersonalfreedomwhichcanliveinthe
EternalNow,whichcancarryonitsworkanddutieswithoutbeingenslavedbythem.
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43

DuringtheinundationoftheNile,manypeasantsdreamawaytheirtimeinshadyspots
andidlyawaitthetimewhenthelandwillagainbeaccessible.
44

WhenthevividcoloursofsunsetwentoutoftheEgyptiansky,Itookupmystationby
theNilebankandmentallywentwiththem.ThelittleselfwasleftfarbehindasIpassed
intoNature'sstillness.
45

TheEgyptiansundowncreatesgloriouschromaticappearancesorange,gold,yellow,
pink,red,andothercoloursarepaintedonthesceneinthequiveringlight.
46

InmostMuhammedancountries,andcertainlyintheEgyptwhichIknewmanyyears
ago,lunaticswerebelievedtohavelefttheirsoulbehindintheheavenworld,sothattheir
desertedbodieswerebereftofthemind'sguidance.They,andinparticularmentally
retardedidiots,wereconsideredtobeholybecauseofthisconnectionwiththeirpraying
orworshippingsoulsinheaven.
47

IntheEgyptofthosedaysatranquilamicableandattractiveEgypt,beforethefuriesof
politicsandthehatesofwarhadenteredinIfoundsomeinterestingnatives
uncommonlygiftedwithpsychicpowersorreligiousdepth.Therewasthelittleold
negressinwhosepresencelogiclostitsvalue,forshetoldmetruthsofmypastand
future,alltrueorfulfilled.
48

Thatwasabeautifulsight,whenthemonthlyvisitationofthefullmoon'slightfellupon
theSphinx'sfargazingeyes.
49

TheSphinx'smutilatednoselessface,itslostdesertprivacy,showtime'sdevastating
hand.
50

TheSphinxbearsthescarsofhavinglivedtoolong.Themutilatedfacehaslostthe
beautyitoncehad.Thisiswhyitmustbeseenbymoonlight,notinglaringsunlight.
51

FullmoonisthebesttimetovisittheSphinx.Itcomesalive,speaks.
52

IsthistheanswertotheSphinx'sriddle,thatman'sconsciousnesscomesfroman
unknowableSource?Orisitthatthisconsciousness,freedfromitsanimalinheritanceand
humanconfusions,isitselfthatSource?TheinitiateintotheEgyptianMysterieswas
giventheanswer.
53

ThetemplewhichstilllieshiddenundertheSphinxandthechamberwhichstillremains
undiscoveredwithintheGreatPyramidwerenotcunninglysealedupbysosecretivea
tribeastheHighPriestsfornothing.Forallthosewhoareimprisonedinthefleshlybody,
theymustserveonlyassacredsymbolsbutforafewofustheymeanmore.
54

TheGreatPyramidofEgyptwaserectedbysurvivorsofAtlantis,asasymbolicbuilding
remindingusoftheconnectionbetweenwisdomandtheearthlyworld.Itwasalsoa
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TempleoftheMysteries.
55

Egyptiankingshadtoundergofirstinstructionandtheninitiationbeforetheycould
inherit,fromthepreviousking,thetitleofdivinepersonage.Fortheinitiation,withits
physicalritualandpsychicreality,theGreatPyramidalonewasreservedandbuilt,as
wellastostandforasymbolofthesethings.ProfessionalEgyptologistsrejectthese
interpretationsasbeingunscientific.
56

AlthoughthePyramidservedsomanydifferentuses,physicalandspiritual,therewas
alsothegeographicalonewhereinitservedasakindofmappicturingthenorthernhalfof
ourglobe.InthiswayitsapexwouldbetheNorthPoleandtheperimeterwouldbethe
equator.
57

OnthatsmallplatformwhichisthetruncatedtopoftheGreatPyramid,Ioncestoodto
lookaroundatthecharminglongvalleyoftheNile,thepurebluesky,thegrovesofpalm
trees,theprolificfields,andthentheendlessyellowdesert.AfterawhileIsquattedon
theoldflatstone,brownedbytime,andwithinminutesfellintoareverie.Amessage
came.
58

Itisquitepossiblethattheflattopofthepyramidwasusedasalandingpadforspace
vessels.Itisalsopossiblethatthereweresecretpassagesandchamberswhichledupto
thispadandwherethehighestpriestscouldmeettheirvisitorsfromdistantspace.
59

ItwasascientistnamedAlvarezwhoinvestigatedtheGreatPyramidwiththeuseof
cosmicrayinstruments.
60

AmenophisIV,alsocalledAkhnatentheHeretic,wasthefatherofKingTutankhamen
andalsothehusbandofQueenNefertiti.Akhnatenwasagreatmystic,asuperbartist,a
convincedpacifist,anobleidealist.Yethewasopposed,hated,defeated,anddestroyed
bytheexistingselfish,externalizedandmaterialized,orthodoxpriestlyleaderswhenhe
wasonlytwentysixyearsold.Hisambition?Tobringanewandbettersociety.
61

ThedustinTutankhamen'stombwaspoisonous.Itisthiswhichsickenedandviolently
killedoffthoseviolators.Therewasnoneedforanypsychicnonphysicalsorcerousforce
tobebroughtin.
62

ItwasnotonGreekearththatGreekthoughtfinallytranscendeditself,becamemystical,
andthusblossomedwithitsfinestflowers.ThishappenedonEgyptianearth,inthecity
ofAlexandria,whichwasfoundedbyaGreek,ruledforaperiodbyhalfGreeks,and
associatedwiththebestHellenicculture.HeretheNeoplatonicschoolsofphilosophy
and,later,theChristiantheologiesofClement,Origen,Methodius,andotherFathers
appeared.HerereasonedattitudescombinedwithinwardexperienceshereEuropeand
AsiaandAfricacombinedtheirhighestdreamsandtruthstoproducethewisdomof
Alexandria.
63

AsacentreofHellenicculture,AlexandriawaslargerandmoreactivethanAthens.
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64

AncientAlexandriakeptitsreligiousindependence,keptreligionbutputitwhereit
belonged.Ithonouredphilosophy.Thatiswhytheignorantrabblefromtheslums
lynchedHypatia.
65

Alexandriawasanextraordinaryproductofthecreativeimaginationandfarsightedness
ofAlexander.Inashorttimeitquiteastonishinglybecameaworldcentre,ameeting
placeofAfrica,Asia,andEurope.Itestablishedseveralreputations,eachalongquite
differentlines.Weknowthatallitwasacentreofphilosophy,erudition,andresearchit
wasinfactthegreatestculturalcentreintheancientworldofitstime.Wedonotall
knowthatitbecamereputedalsoforitsartists,itstraders,anditsmanufacturers.
66

Alexandria,thequarrelsomecitywhichmobbedandslewHypatia,alsoproduced
celebratedNeoplatonists,talentedGreekspeakingChristianFathers,andgiftedlibrarians
whoculledknowledgefromseverallands.
67

Alexandria,inRomanimperialdays,becameagreatcentreofcommerceandcrime,
learningandsects,magnificentbuildingsandlowlyslums,thenobleNeoplatonic
philosophyandthevilepoisoner'sart.
68

WhenAlexanderstartedthebuildingofAlexandriain332b.c.,heopenedthewayfor
Zenodotustoopenthedoorsofthecelebratedlibraryin280b.c.
69

ThissignetringwasmadeinAlexandriaandbearsonitsfacetheheadofthegodSerapis,
withhisbentnoseandcurvedhelmet.ItisinterestingtospeculatethatwhenAlexandria
flourishedthesarcophagusofthecity'sfounder,Alexander,wasbroughttothegreat
templethereandthatSerapis,towhomthetemplewasdedicated,wasdepictedwith
blackpupilsandawhiteirisgazingfixedlyattheworshipper.
70

Stonehengewasbuiltinrelationtosun,moon,andeclipses.BabylonandEgyptalsobuilt
templesonanastronomicalbasis.
71

TheeyesymbolizedsecrecyandoccultismtotheEgyptiansofold.Henceitsfreeusein
theirmysticchambers,paintings,andhieroglyphics.
72

TheancientEgyptianmystichieraticposturewaslikeanIndian'sexceptthatpalmswere
lyingflatupontheknees.
73

IfwecompareHebrewwithEgyptiantextsthecoincidenceofwholesentencesis
startling.
TheNotebooksarecopyright19841989,ThePaulBruntonPhilosophicFoundation.

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