Which centric? How centric?

Exploring Titus Burckhardt’s “Mystical Astrology According to Ibn ‘Arabi” continued:


Looked at closely the argument for against geocentrism in favour of heliocentrism is an argument based purely on astronomical position. The heliocentric view places the sun in a central position as far as the solar system is concerned. The sun is only one of innumerable suns contained in one of innumerable galaxies in the universe. Whether there is a cosmic centre becomes a matter of conjecture. The cosmological implications are however quite far reaching. […it has ] produced an intellectual dis-equilibrium which shows clearly that the ‘arificial’ extension of the empirical knowledge has in it something of the abnormal, and that it is intellectually, not only indifferent but even detrimental” (p.10)

Ibn ‘Arabi discusses the nature of “position” from a qualitative viewpoint. He speaks of elevation and differentiates between elevation with respect to position (created being) and by degree. In describing this he speaks of the Sun and takes a heliocentric position! But as we shall see this heliocentrism is entirely different to that of modern astronomy. It is embedded in geocentrism.

“The most [cosmic] position is that point around which the Spheres revolve, which is the Sphere of the Sun where the spiritual form of Enoch resides. There revolve around it seven higher Spheres and seven lower Spheres, being fifteen in all. The higher Spheres are those of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Mansions, the Constellations, the Divine Pedestal and the Divine Throne. The lower Spheres are those of Venus, Mercury, the Moon, Ether, Air, Water and Earth.”(Fusus al-hikam, The Bezels of Wisdom, ‘The Wisdom of Holiness in the Word of Enoch’)

He makes a distinction in position. The Earth and the Sun both have a central position. But there is a qualitative difference. The Earth from the standpoint of created being, in terms of position, is the centre of fixation. But the Earth in respect to the Sun is inferior in essential reality. The Sun occupies the central position in the hierarchy of the celestial Spheres. It is the “heart of the world”. Even so the Sun is not the most elevated of Spheres. This belongs to the Sphere of the Divine Throne.

How does Man fit in all of this? In the same chapter in the Bezels of Wisdom Ibn ‘Arabi says:

“Man, namely, the Perfect Man, is the most elevated of existing beings, but his elevation depends on an elevation of position or degree, not deriving it from himself [as a created being]. He is elevated either because he has a high position [in the cosmic order] or because he has a high degree, the elevation residing in them and not in him”.

How is this to be understood? Here one has to keep in mind two passages, one in the Qur’an (which Ibn ‘Arabi has in mind) and one in Genesis which refer to Enoch.

“And mention Idris (Enoch) in the Book; surely he was a truthful man, a prophet. And We raised him high in Heaven.” (Qur’an 19:56-57)

“And all the days of Henoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.
And he walked with God, and was seen no more: because God took him.” (Genesis 5:23-24)

Enoch did not die. His elevation is not derived from himself but from and through God.

If you ponder the diagram above you can see the Earth as the central Sphere contained within the outermost Sphere of the Divine Throne. Both of which form a “pole” to each other. But you can also see the Sun as the central Sphere. In this case the Sun forms one “pole” and the other pole is formed by the Sphere of the Divine Throne and(!) the Earth. They in a sense coalesce. Enoch.


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