Volume I - The Way of Illumination
Section III - The Soul: Whence and Whither?
BEFORE Manifestation what existed? Zat, the Truly Existing, the Only Being. In what form? In no form. As what? As nothing. The only definition that words can give is as the Absolute. In the Sufi terms this existence is termed Ahadiat.
A consciousness arose out of the Absolute, the consciousness of Existence. There was nothing of which the Absolute could be conscious, except Existence. This stage is called Wahdat. Out of this consciousness of existence, a sense developed: a sense 'that I exist'. It was a development of the consciousness of existence. It was this development which formed the first Ego, the Logos, which is termed Wahdaniat by the Sufis.
With the feeling of I-ness the innate power of the Absolute, so to speak, pulled itself together; in other words concentrated on one point; thus the all-pervading radiance formed its center, the Center which is the divine Spirit or the Nur, in Sufi terms called Arwah. This central light then divided existence into two forms, light and darkness. In point of fact, there is no such thing as darkness; there has never been darkness; it is only less light compared with more light. This light and darkness formed an Akasha or Asman, an accommodation, a mold; and the phenomenon of light and shadow working through this mold furthered the manifestation into a great many accommodations, Asmans or Akashas, one within the other. Every step manifestation has taken has resulted in a variety of forms made by the different substances which are produced during the process of spirit turning into matter. The working of this process has been according to the law of vibration, which is the secret of motion; and it is the plane of the definite forms of nature which is called Asman in Sufi terminology. Out of these forms the vegetable kingdom came gradually from the mineral and from the animal came the human race. This provided for the divine Spirit, the Ajsam, the bodies which it has needed from the time it centered itself in one point, and from there spread its rays as various souls.
Thus six definite steps towards manifestation are recognized by Sufis. The first three are called Tanzi, and the next three Tashbi; the first three imperceptible, and the next three distinguishable.
There is also the phenomenon of four elements. Besides one which is the source and goal of all elements; Nur, the ether; this makes them five. Bad the air, Atish the fire, Ab the water, Khak the earth. These elements have worked in consonance with one another in order to bring about the results desired by the divine wisdom working behind them. In every Akasha or Asman they have been present either more or less; one without the other did not exist; the four together brought the fifth. In this way the whole manifestation has taken place through a gradual process of development.
Manifestation finished half its task in the creation
of man, in whom is born the wisdom of controlling and using
all that is on the earth to its best advantage. And in man
the purpose of manifestation is fully accomplished, especially
in the man who has on his return journey become more and
more conscious of the purpose, by widening his outlook and
by living a fuller life, the man who has reached that stage
of realization which is called divinity, in which is the
fulfillment of the purpose of this whole manifestation.