THE SUFI DOCTRINES

No apology is needed, since the publication of Sir William Jones's able monograph, for the gross symbolism of such Oriental poems as those of Hafiz, the Song of Songs, the Ghazals of 'Ismat of Bokhara – not to mention the obscene Chinese Aphorisms of Kwaw.

Yet no doubt though Hafiz sings chiefly of wine, Solomon of woman, and 'Ismat of Harlotry, we sooner pardon these freedoms because we ourselves can understand though we can never approve of them: but they seem innocent indeed when we compare them with the nameless bestialities of Kwaw, or the frank paederasty of Abdullah.

But, apart from the fact that paederast : fornication: 'St. George'; 'matrimonial' in Persia and England respectively, we may at least suspend judgement while we consider this symbolism in detail with a view to discovering why (unless from caprice) el Haji chose this particular indulgence to mirror that supreme passion of the human heart, the craving for unity with the All-One.

“Make room for me” quoth the poet of Salaman and Absal, “on that divan which is only large enough for one!”

Now I shall wast my time if I prove that something in the nature of sexual intercourse is the most fitting image of that passion; for our Christian theologians, anxious to avoid the reproach of the scoffer who quotes such passages as “My beloved put in his hand by the hole, and my bowels were moved in me” (Cant. v. 4), have built a great rampart of argument to that effect.1) But Abdullah no doubt considered that the specific differences between man and woman vitiated the symbol, since man is formed in the image of God, and in Muslim theology is not supposed to have forfeited the same. It may here be remarked (as a bulwark to this contention) that el Haji is conspicuous – in fact, incurs reproach in consequence – for his innovations in the matter of scientific precision. Hafiz uses his symbols vaguely: the tresses of his mistress are no doubt the Glories of God, but they are also at times the rays of the sun, the verse of the Q'uran and so on; wherefore an uninstructed pupil, or an inquisitive Sahib, or an unauthorized Sufi, one of those who 'creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold', cannot, by possession of the elementary keys, unlock the Holy of Holies of the 'hikmat-i-Illahi'. It is as a violator of the Magian secrecy, even more than as a Christianizer, that Abdullah is blamed. Mildly blamed, for none would dare express downright disapproval of so exalted an adept; but it is no doubt for this reason that the Bagh-i-muattar is only allowed to circulate in private, even among Persians themselves; bestowed rather upon the already accomplished mystic than upon the mere inquirer into the 'hikmat', denied existence to the question of the infidel.

Perhaps owing to some curious trick of my brain, I found myself (one fine day) in the state which, as far as I can gather, Hindu writers call Samadhi. (Compare the experiences of Burton in the Bombay Presidency, as hinted by Lady Sisted in her admirable sketch of his life.)

Hindus claim that advanced Yogis can always recognize at sight those who have ever attained this condition, just as the Freemasonry of Paederasts makes the formality of introduction superfluous among free companions of the Craft.

I must say that I attribute nine tenths of Burtons's success with natives of Arabia, Africa, and Hindoostan to his mastery of their mystic systems, not only as a theoretician, valuable as that is, but as a craftsman. In my own case I am convinced that Mahbub would never have entrusted me with his precious MS. but for the fact that he recognized me as one of the 'illuminati'. Such a secret as that of Samadhi is absolutely safe, because the one who knows it cannot by any possibility divulge the same. It is real, not an artificial secret. One could expose Freemasonry – it has been done repeatedly by idiots who did not understand what it meant – by publishing the rituals and so on. But the secret remains and ever must remain the property of those worthy of it; nor does it necessarily follow that the highest mason living has a knowledge thereof. But the clothing of the secret, so to speak, can be studied; and for those whom the glorious garment may fit such study is truly illuminating.

This being understood, it may be granted without further discussion that the intelligent study of the Bagh-i-muattar will yield deeper knowledge – the husks for the scholar, the wheat for the elect – than any other known poem.

Now the revealing of one is the revealing of all: for from Fez to Nikko, there is one mysticism and not two. The fanatic followers of el Senussi can suck the pious honey from the obscene Aphorisms of Kwaw, and the twelve Buddhist sects of Japan would perfectly understand the inarticulate yells of the fire eaters of el Maghraby. Not that there is or has ever been a common religious tradition; but for the very much simpler reason that all the traditions are based on the same set of facts. Just as the festivals of Spring all the world round more or less suggest the story of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, simply because the actual phenomena which every man is bound to observe in Nature are essentially the same in every clime; so also is Mysticism One, because the physiological constitution of mankind is practically identical the wide world over.

We have then the right to buy our pigs in the cheapest market, and the Bagh-i-muattar will certainly give us more reward for our trouble than any other work, the only possible competitors being the Bhagavad-gita, Bhagavad Purana,2) and the Chinese Aphorisms of Kwaw. El Haji then earns our gratitude in that he has adopted the principle 'One mystic grace one symbol', and if we have but the wit to interpret this simple cypher, the whole secret of the East is open to our eyes. In the notes (which I have by no means stinted) I have indicated clearly to what each allusion refers; and it is within the capacity of any reader of ordinary intelligence to erect a complete system of philosophy, practical and transcendental, on those slender foundations. True, Abdullah approaches Calvin (too closely to please most students of Eastern religion) by his insistence of the doctrines of Sin and Grace, Freewill and Discipline; but on the other hand, neither St. Francis nor Buddhaghosha can parallel his Devotion and his Phenomenalism. No doubt at times one is puzzled for a while: one picks up a loose word here and there: one doubts: one guesses: one is illuminated in a moment.

One is rather reminded of the workings of a heliograph under unfavourable conditions. But (as with that instrument) by dint of repetition one gets the all-important message at last; and the situation is saved.

It is undoubtedly the importance he attaches to Sin, Repentance, Grace, as the means of raising the old to the new Adam that cost el Haji so much pains in persecution by the more orthodox Muslim; possibly the teachings of St. Paul had vaguely penetrated to the gulf with the merchants of Venice or Portugal, and their danger had been recognized by those who held to the simpler grandeur of Islam. But clearly the belief in Evil – perhaps even a modified Manichaeism;3) we must no forget that this heresy is a legacy from the Guebres with their Aormuzd and Ahriman – had impressed itself profoundly on the mind of the young Abdullah. Or he may have attached an exaggerated importance to that mystic phenomena which Bulwer Lytton calls the 'Dweller of the Threshold', that moment of intensest agony which separates Work from Reward and serves as a sure diagnostic4) to discriminate between the happy-go-lucky 'union with God' of the mere church goer – an emotional glow of pious exhilaration – and the splendid illuminating Union which constitutes Samadhi. Never forget that this great doctrine informs almost the whole of so called Christian literature; St. Paul's apostrophe (I Thess. iv. 16) if translated literally into Sanskrit word by word, reads like a mutilated but unmistakable passage from some lost Upanishad.

Such follies as Sri Parananda's lunatic commentaries on Matthew and John could never have been perpetrated but for the fact that his fundamental theory – that Christ was a Yogi – is correct.

And our hymn:

“Forever with the Lord! Amen! so let it be! Life from the dead is in that word: Tis immortality”.

may be rendered by paraphrase:

For ever Timeless: an epithet only used of the Atman.
with the Lord sam Adhi.
Amen Aum.
Life from the dead an expression constantly and exclusively employed to denote the yogic attainment.
that word To Aum is attributed the great power of regeneration. It has the sense of the Greek Logos.
immortality a-mrita, the same idea glyphed as a dew: the Christian Graal, cup, blood, etc.

In short, every single word in the verse is literally and even in two cases etymologically identical with a technical mystic Sanskrit phrase. This is not a carefully chosen and exceptional case; on the contrary, I challenge any orthodox divine to produce any passage of scripture or any decent hymn which is free from identities of this kind.

To return to the question of phallicism, I will not be so frivolous as to quote 'New every morning is the love Our waking and uprising prove' as an example of obscene symbolism in the Christian Church; for there is no lack of serious identity. The cross itself is notoriously the lingam; the vesica piscis – Christ being ΙΧΘΥΣ, the fish – the yoni. Now the vesica piscis is the foundation of all Christian architecture; that is to say, the female member lying open, and awaiting impregnation by the male, is the glyph of the church, and the divine invocations upon its altar. Similarly the figure of the bride of Christ has only been spiritualized in very recent days. Whoso doubts it may consult Payne Knight's essays 'On the Worship of Priapus'. The lady was usually represented by the 'Early Christians' (our models in all things) as a naked female with a lascivious grin; offering with her hands, apparently to the first comer, a vulva which is of the shape and relative size of a horse collar! Any ordinary man who attempted to indulge her fancy would find himself in the position of Baker's blue jay. But with God all things are possible.

I am tempted to add that even plain paederasty, without any question of symbol at all, is perhaps not so incompatible with virtues, religious, social, moral and domestic, as my good compatriots make such a point of asserting with a fine show of disgust and indignation, thereby lending colour to the fixed idea which obtains on the Continent of Europe that all Englishmen are sodomites.

To my hand, as I write this, comes a strange essay περι τησ παιδεραστειασ written by a well known clergyman. He is adored by his wife and children; his church is full when his brethren in the district are in despair; his poor are better looked after than any for fifty miles around; and his choir is incomparably the best in the kingdom.5) To a sincere and even rapturous piety he joins a passionate love for the pleasures of the table and the bed; and the reader will I think grant him both acuteness of intellect and elegance of diction.

It is instructive: indeed, beyond all comparison better than the laborous and pedantic exposition I have conceived it my duty to attempt: it gives the inside view, and references to the scholars and paederasts who have previously enlarged on this fascinating topic: the style is impassioned and the matter impeccable.

I therefore turn my readers over to it without further parley, for I feel that they must be (by this time) thoroughly tired of the prosing of one who is after all not a writer, but a soldier. (In defence to the wishes of the widow of the gallant soldier who penned these lines and gave his life to his country in S. Africa, we do not carry out his intention of attaching his name to them (during her lifetime) and designate him only by his chosen nom de plume, Alain Lutiy. Ed.)


1)
St. Augustine can find no better symbols than El Haji to express his love for God. “What is it then that I love, O my God, when I love you? It is not the beauty of bodies, not the glory which passes, nor the light which our eyes love; it is not the varied harmony of sweet songs nor the aroma of perfumes and sweet flowers, nor the voluptuous joys of carnal embraces. No, it is more than these that I love when I love my God; and yet in this love I find light, an inner voice, a perfume, a savour, an embrace of a kind which does not leave the inmost of myself. There in the depths of the soul glows something which is not in space: there a word is heard which has no syllables; thence there breathes a perfume which no breezes waft away: there food is always savored and never eaten: there are embraces which never ask to end…”
2)
The few who still suppose that Omar Khayyam was a libertine should read the exposition of Book xi of this Purana.
3)
Manes (Mani) the heresiarch was of course Persian.
4)
I cannot agree that such a moment necessarily intervenes between normal and Samadhic consciousness, or, as the Buddhists assert, that there is a long series of intervening states invariable and well-defined, though perhaps this may sometimes be so. Nor is the appearance of the “Dweller” a sure earnest of success: on the contrary, many (even most) will fail to pass this terrible barrier.
5)
Crede experto? Ed.


Thelema

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