Thursday, November 14, 2013

Being, Grace, and Mercy-Part III- Mercy

Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
Photograph by the author

The Mercy of God flows in [all] created beings, and courses through the selves and essences. 

—Ibn Arabi, The Bezels of Wisdom, chapter XXI

Mercy, as I pointed out in a quite recent post, is the higher of God's qualities that becomes manifest in material reality; and Mercy is assured.

This is because Mercy cannot be withheld. If it were left to mankind, Mercy would be in scant supply; for we are fundamentally unforgiving creatures and don't understand what mercy is. Real Mercy flows downward in infinite abundance from the Lord, and is dispensed without regard to circumstances according to His infinite generosity.

God's Mercy exceeds his wrath (cf. Ibn Arabi) in all measures. Any perceived failings of the perpetual operation of Mercy are misunderstandings; because only man has the capacity to be unmerciful. So Mercy, which Gurdjieff called the force of intentional suffering, is not only God's Love for His creation in perpetual action; it represents God's willingness to forever take on the burden of man's transgressions without judgment. Mercy is unconditional; it falls on the worthy and unworthy alike.

Because mankind does not understand either the burden or the obligation he is under, this was acted out both symbolically and literally for mankind by Jesus Christ in His crucifixion. The act was meant as a personal reassurance from God that no Being would be abandoned to judgment alone, but that Mercy would be shown to all. There is an irony, and a tragedy, in man's belief in a supremely or fundamentally angry or judging God, for such a thing is quite impossible. This is why Mercy is assured.

Buddhism understands this concept from the perspective that all sentient Beings will attain enlightenment; and Gurdjieff encoded the idea of the bodhisattva vow into his fifth obligolnian striving.

Mercy, as the second conscious shock, occupies the last position between the notes si and do on the enneagram, and is the Divine force that makes the return to the heavenly realm possible. God, having originally emanated the entire universe and all that is from the depths of His Divine Being, swallows it whole again; in this sense, God takes responsibility for all that he has created and everything that happens. To take responsibility is Merciful; and this gives us a number of clues as to the nature of the action that is necessary in order to return to God.

Everything is required to return; nothing can remain where it is. (see section 5 of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Ibn Arabi for his cosmology of the Return, which is intimately related to the cycles of the enneagram.) There are two kinds of return: voluntary and involuntary. This particular question has a number of aspects too detailed to expound here, but suffice it to say that a deeper understanding of Mercy would engender trust in the Lord, which is actually a very high level of inner development rarely attained by human beings. Trust in the Lord—illustrated by Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son—knows no objective limits if it is fully developed,  which was the original point of the story. Such trust relies on an infallible inner understanding of the absolute quality of Mercy; and we can perhaps agree that, categorically, we don't have it.

Yet Mercy is assured. And this takes place through a perhaps unexpected and definitely misunderstood vehicle, which will be discussed in the next essay.

May your soul be filled with light.

nb. Readers interested in examining more material the subject of Mercy may to turn to chapter XXI of The Bezels of Wisdom by Ibn Arabi, The Wisdom of Dominion in the Word of Zakariaha piece which, despite its brevity, encapsulates an exactly correct understanding of the subject. You will find no better authority.

The preferred translation may be that of R. W. J. Austin, although the one available at the link will certainly do.

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