The Impassable Mountain Pass
“That mountain pass you mentioned lies between the membrane and the inner chamber of the heart, and it is that which prevents the heart from knowing.”
These words were addressed to the Shaykh al-Akbar [Ibn ‘Arabi], on a starlit night in the holy precinct of the Ka’aba, by a young woman who “surpassed all the people of her time in grace and culture, beauty and knowledge.”
This seminar aims to explore two questions:
- What is it that prevents the heart from knowing, or renders that mountain pass impassable?
- Who, or what, is that young woman?
The seminar does not assume prior familiarity with Ibn ‘Arabi’s teachings and will attempt to explain some of the principles which are key to understanding them through the use of images and film clips.
Avi Abadi has been a student of the work of Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi for many years, and originally prepared this material for a talk at the Ibn ‘Arabi Society AGM.
He says “Although, essentially, a commentary on the second stanza of the opening poem of the Tarjuman al-Ashwaq (The Interpreter of Desires), to achieve this, it explores the principles of becoming and the manner they manifest in the heart. It also dwells extensively on that which the intellect can and cannot grasp in respect of those principles.”
About Ibn 'Arabi
Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi (1165–1240)
Known as the greatest mystical genius of the Arabs, Ibn ‘Arabi was born in Murcia in south-eastern Spain, at a time of the last great flowering of Andalucian culture under Islamic rule. From the earliest age he showed evidence of an extraordinary visionary capacity, and while still a teenager, had a seminal vision of the three major prophets of the West, Jesus, Moses and Muhammad. He traveled widely in North Africa, the Middle East and Asia Minor, eventually settling in Damascus for the last 20 years of his life. He wrote a series of inspired works, some 300 in number ranging from short treatises and mystical odes to the 37-volume encyclopaedia Meccan Revelations (al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya) and his spiritual masterpiece on the prophetic wisdoms, Fusus al-Hikam.
Ibn ‘Arabi’s reach was immense and his influence vast during his lifetime and beyond. His works inspired the great civilizations of the Mughals in India, the Ottomans in Turkey, the civilisations of Indonesia and China right down to the present day. He occupies a status equivalent to Shakespeare in the realm of English language, but Ibn ‘Arabi’s wealth of meanings extends from the interior unknown essential reality to the most explicit outward expression without ever compromising the principle of unity.
With recent translations into European languages a new era of influence is noticeably and interestingly beginning to unfold. The Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society was founded in 1977 to promote a greater understanding of the work of Ibn ‘Arabi and his followers. It is an international association with its headquarters in Oxford, England and a branch in Berkeley, California.
The October Gallery
September 15th – 22nd, 2018
A week dedicated to studying largely unpublished material by Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi. This includes an outline of a cosmological framework for understanding the place of the human being in the universe, and consequently, our correct attitude towards other living beings.
September 12, 2018 (6.30pm)
A talk by Jane Clark exploring some of the practical implications of Muhyiddin Ibn ʿArabī’s teaching, and asking how can we integrate these into our lives in the 21st century?
September 19–23, 2018
Scottish Borders, UK
A five-day study tour in the North of England led by Katherine Tiernan, author of ‘Place of Repose; a tale of St Cuthbert’s last journey’.
October 6th – 7th, 2018
The Abbey, Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, UK.
A residential weekend studying one of the major works of Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi. Facilitated by the co-translator Cecilia Twinch.