Cooperation of inner Being involves taking all the forces into account within the field of awareness — an awareness which does not by default adopt a partisan attitude in relationship to any force. It doesn't, for example, say “personality good — essence bad;” it doesn't say, “ego bad, spiritual self good,” or what have you. It arrives objectively, beginning and ending without presumptions about the nature of each part. And here I want to make an absolutely critical point: one’s inner forces are hereby treated as equal partners so that each one retains a degree of respect which it not only needs but deserves.
If we don't give our various parts the respect they deserve and (in egoistic senses) even demand, we are setting ourselves up so that all of our parts actually work against our intention to become more whole.
Ibn Arabi makes the following comments in Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom:
Do not ever forget the evil commanding ego which you carry within you. Do not ignore its presence. Instruct your most valuable minister, reason, to treat it well, to be in continuous contact with it, because it knows best how to govern the barren deserts of your realm. It has power, and it lies in its hands to do good, if it so wills, or to cause disasters, if it so wills. If it is treated well, there will be peace in the land. Your enemies will be subdued, and your treasuries will be secure. Let all your will and efforts be made to make ordering that which is nearest to you. And that which is closest to you is the result of your efforts and of your work.
If you order that which is good in you to attack that which is bad, in hopes that the bad may turn into good, you may frighten also what is neutral in you. Then you will create hatred against you among them.
— Ibn Arabi, Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom, trans. Tosun Bayrak, Fons Vitae press 1997, pages 71-72.
What Ibn Arabi is saying is that inner forces which we often see as competing with one another, as sources of conflict and tension, can become powerful allies if we understand how to treat them properly.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.