Ibn Arabi, at the beginning of The Bezels of Wisdom, explains that in a dream he had in Damascus in 627 the Sent of God appeared him and commissioned him to transmit to humankind the content of this book.
He did so, he says, "with great care not to add or take anything away from the words of the Most High, who requested to grace to take a transcendent inspiration and spiritual blow from inside his soul to preserve everything his fingers write, his tongue express and his heart keep" so that he was, as good Sufi, truly "a simple interpreter, and not someone who decides".
The goal of the book is very high, it is to articulate and 'set' the speeches of the great masters, they would seemingly different ways but share the main lines of a single underlying structure, the lace which will be revealed to him directly by divinity.
God is so great, explains in the first chapter, dedicated to the verb of Adam, that you can not perceive in his entirety. It is incomprehensible in itself. We need some kind of 'receptacle' or 'vessel' that contains or reflects some discrete action item to understand and conceive God.
God is not to be confused with nature, he says, because nature alone, but is immense and created by God, has no spirit. There must be, added to nature, "vessels of insufflation or breath of the spirit" to speak of divinity. It is our mind the vessel of God; and our ideas or thoughts, that shape mind, are the vessels, in plural, of 'angels' or 'spirits' of God. To each notion or idea corresponds a 'form', and the energy that generates and gives life to it is called 'angel' or 'spirit'. The 'forms' of the universe are the ideas, the contents that take the spirits in our minds.
“Our being is humankind and yet is the representative of God” says Arabi.
There is a manifestation of God in all of creation. He is outside of everything that is understood and, in turn, is the interior which understands, but is beyond the comprehension of itself (discussed in Chapter 3, dedicated to the verb of Noah). Human and God are linked in a very intimate way. The knowledge of God is attached to self-knowledge. “The one who knows himself knows his Lord”, the prophet said, collects Arabi. Or as the Quran says and that also includes: "We will show them our signs in the horizons (outside) and in their own souls (interior) until it becomes apparent to them that He is God".
He notes: "You are the form of God and God is your spirit. The definition of man includes what is outside and inside: if the spirit ceases to govern the form, what remains of this is not a man, although it is said of it that is the shape of a man, only designates the name 'man' metaphorically, not according to true reality”.
God is our intelligence and understanding, is the highest of the human soul, what Noah says the sky will pour over men abundantly, that is not the literal rain or a flood, interprets Arabi, but grace and wealth God, the great gift that He sends us, is "that we can see our own form in Him". He adds, "because the one who imagines that he sees Him (as separate from the human) has no knowledge. The Gnostic is the one who knows that who he sees is himself; this is what differentiates ignorant and wise persons”.
"God does not open the vision of all beings that are part of the world to let them see reality as it is; some have science, while others are ignorant, simply. God has not willed, has not led us all", he writes in chapter 5, referring to Abraham.
It is indeed a very elusive knowledge because "science has no effect on its object, which is you and your passenger states. On the contrary, it is the object (mind) that has an effect on it (science) and which communicates what belongs to it. It is thought that leads to science. The 'divine discourse' takes into account the understanding of those it directs to, adapts to his reason and it is expressed in them".
Science and divinity are individually expressed in understanding and intelligence of each one. It is difficult to conceive it therefore beyond the speech of each one reason. Such a nature that unifies our inner world with the outside world, is beyond our understanding. “Our intellect can not understand all this by way of rational speculation. Such understanding occurs only through a divine intuition that allows to know the origin of the forms of the universe, which are the vessels of spirits that govern them". Just a few of us get to experience this intuition.
However, there is no person who has not a spiritual dimension and not subject to the divine science, says the Quran. Everyone has their own reality. "By your personal existence you manifest a reality yet. Even if you keep your reality belongs to God and not to you, also the divine reality belongs to you. Being endowed with current reality is you. Despite the reality is operated by God, returns to Him when acting on you. Only you deserve praise, only you deserve censure. Are you who its nourishment is, and is He who your nourishment is: your own determination determines him. Just that you are who is subjected to the law, and He is who subjects you”.
At the end of the fifth chapter is expressed in these verses:
"We are for Him, as shown
our tests, and we are for us.
He does not own more than my Being.
We are in Him and we are for us.
I have two faces: Me and Him.
There is no I in me.
But me is where it manifests:
we are to Him a vessel."
Arabi said in the ninth, based on the verb of Joseph, that our world is "the world of imagination," that is, that our world is purely mental. We have no access, he says, to strictly real world, to nature itself, which is inert and soulless, foreign to our understanding and our lives. For the existence of world to us our mind must perceive it. The divine is precisely our mind, not the real world. Our mind is the vessel that receives the 'permanent divine manifestation'. It is our intelligence that orders the nature and which manifests divinity in this ordering action. It is what creates the 'logos'.
Our mind has 'angels' or receives 'angels', Arabi writes. The 'angels' are, according to him, the constituent parts and faculties of the universe, while they are the mental and sensorial faculties of human, sorted in some 'divine' hierarchy, ranging from the apperception of absolute truth nearest God (the intellect) to empirical or sensory reality farthest from higher faculties and divinity. Our intellect is 'divine' as it perceives God and it is provided by a breath of God.
We live in a purely mental world. Arabi notes what the messenger of God said to Aisha: "Truly, men sleep, and when they die, wake up". We live entirely in the imagination and dream... We live in the world of imagination. Namely we do not imagine reality but possibilities, which we believe may be real, but they are not reallity, be care! They are just thoughts!
Our lives and experiences need to be interpreted, require proper and intelligent interpretation not to lose ourselves in the fantasies of our personal lives, more or less distant from the divine speech of intelligence.
We must accept, above all, according Arabi, that "we don't know of the world more than we know of its shadows, and we ignore of God what is ignored of divine personality that produces this shadow on the origin of all others. While the world is a shadow that belongs to God, it is known; but as long as you ignore what shadow contains of the true 'form' (idea) of the person who produces it, God is ignored yet. That's why we say we know God at one aspect and ignore at another".
"The world is illusory because it is devoid of true reality itself. We live in a world of imagination, because we imagine that the world is an independent and superimposed reality outside God, when it is not. We don't see that the shadow, in the sensitive domain, holds the person who produces it, and it is impossible to separate of it, because it is impossible to separate something of himself."
And resolves: "Learn to recognize your being, who you are. What is your true being, what is your affinity with God, why you are God and why you are the world”.
Ibn Arabi: Los engarces de las sabidurías. Traducción, edición y notas de Andrés Guijarro. Edaf. Madrid. 2009.