I see myself as other than God

From Know Yourself, by Muyhiddin Ibn ‘Arabi
or Awhad al-din Balyani

This work is sub-titled, On the meaning of the saying of the Prophet Mohammed, peace on him, ‘Whoever knows their self knows their Lord.’

If someone then says, “I see myself as other than God and I do not see God as myself,”

The answer is as follows: The Prophet meant, by the word ‘self’, your being and your essential reality and not the self which is called the blaming self or the egotistical self or the self which is known as the confident or peaceful self; by the self, he was alluding to everything that is other than God, like when he said, “O God, show me things as they are.” He meant by things whatever is other than God; so this prayer means, “Make me know what is other than You, so that I may know what things really are – whether they are You or other than You, whether they are eternal and subsistent, or newly happening and temporal.”

Then God showed him what is other than Him as Himself, without the existence of what is other than Him. So he saw things as they are, that is, he saw them as the essence of God, exalted is He, without how or where. The word ‘things’ may equally well be applied to the self or to other things, the existence of the self being similarly in the category of things. When you know the things, you know yourself and when you know yourself, you know the Lord: because what you think is other than God is not other than God but you do not know it. You see Him and you do not know that you see Him.

When this secret is revealed to you, you will know that you are not other than God but that you yourself are the object of your quest. You do not need to pass away. You have not ceased nor will you cease to exist, without time and without moments, as we have already mentioned. You will see His attributes as your attributes, your exterior as His exterior, your interior as His interior, your first as His first and your last as His last, without any doubt or uncertainty. You will see your attributes to be His attributes and your essence to be His essence, without your having to become Him and without His having to become you in the least degree.

Everything passes away except His Face”, both outwardly and inwardly. This means that there is no existent but Him. Nothing other than Him has being and therefore has to pass away so that His Face remains. There is nothing except His Face.

It is like when someone who previously did not know something, knows it. The unknowing being does not vanish to be replaced by another, nor is there a mixing nor interpenetration of the being of the ignorant person and the one who knows: ignorance simply disappears.

Do not think therefore that it is necessary to make yourself pass away, because if it was necessary to pass away, that would mean that you are veiling Him. He would therefore be veiled by another than Himself, which would necessarily imply that another than Him can have power over Him and prevent Him from being seen. That is an error and misconception. As we have already said, His veil is His oneness and His singularity is not other than it. That is why the person who has reached the essential Truth is allowed to say, “I am the Truth” or “Glory to me!” No one has truly reached Him, unless they see their attributes to be the attributes of God and their essence to be the essence of God, without their essence or their attributes ever entering into God or coming out of Him and without their passing away from God or remaining in Him.

They see that their self has never been their own, not that it was and then it passed away. Because there is no self except for the Self, and there is no being except His Being. This is what the Prophet was alluding to when he said, “Do not curse Time, because God is Time”, and God, may He be blessed and exalted, is unblemished by any associate, or equal or like. It is also reported that the Prophet said, “God the High said: ‘O child of Adam, I was sick and you did not visit Me, I was hungry and you did not feed Me, I asked of you and you did not give to Me…’” This alludes to the fact that the being of the person who asks is His Being. When that is accepted, it is also accepted that your being is His Being and the being of all created things, whether substance or accident, is His Being.

When the secret of an atom is discovered, the secret of all created things is made clear, whether they are apparent or hidden, and you stop seeing the two worlds as other than God – although the two worlds, their names and what they name do not exist, or rather, their names and what they designate, and their very existence are Him, without any doubt. You do not see God as having ever created anything but as being “every day in a different configuration” which sometimes reveals Him and sometimes conceals Him, without any condition, since “He is the First and the Last, the Apparent and the Hidden and He has knowledge of everything.” He manifests Himself in His oneness and hides Himself in His singularity. He is the First in His essence and His self-subsistence and the Last in His everlastingness. He is the very being of the name the First and the name the Last, of the name the Apparent and the name the Hidden. He is His own name and what is named. Just as His existence is necessary, the nonexistence of what is other than Him is necessary. What you think is other than Him is not other than Him. He is free from there being any other than Him. Indeed, other than Him is Him without any otherness, whether this is with Him or in Him, inwardly or outwardly.

It happens that in this section of the book there are an unusal number quotations from the Quran, hadith and other sayings on this page, mostly marked in italic. They are shown here in the order they occur in the text. A hadith is a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad.

Whoever knows their self, knows their Lord. (Hadith)

And He is now as He has always been. (Hadith)

I knew my Lord through my Lord. (Hadith)

God is, and nothing is with Him. (Hadith)

O God, show me things as they really are. (Hadith)

Everything passes away except His Face. (Quran 28:88)

I am the Truth. (An ecstatic saying of Hallaj)

Glory to me. (An ecstatic saying of Abu Yazid al-Bistami)

Do not curse Time, because God is Time. (Hadith)

God the High said: ‘O child of Adam, I was sick and you did not visit Me, I was hungry and you did not feed Me, I asked of you and you did not give to Me…’. (Divine saying, Hadith qudsi)

Every day He is in a different configuration. (Quran 55:29)

He is the First and the Last, the Apparent and the Hidden and He has knowledge of everything. (Quran 57:3)