When there was nothing, there was only God. God desired to be recognised and for this, the presence of another entity was essential and hence He created the universe. God then revealed Himself before the creations and reflected His attributes in more than one dimension, naming them as the apparent, inapparent, the seen and the unseen. These four dimensions are prevalent in all creatures and signify a point that there was, is, and will always remain only one entity Who is the First, the Last, the Seen and the Unseen. God says,
"I was a hidden treasure. I created the creatures with love so I may be recognised." (Hadith-e-Qudsi)
Recognition is based upon two points:
1- Dimensions of an entity should be determined.
2- Someone should be there to recognise the hidden entity.
God commanded, "Kun (Be)," and the whole universe manifested with all of its details. His proclamation, "Am I not your Lord?" activated the senses in all creatures. As a result of this, the first thought that surfaced in the minds of the creatures was, "Who am I, and who is it that addressed me?" Curiosity transformed hearing into sight and the sight witnessed the Infinite Being. When the state of awareness deepened, the creatures felt their Creator. This feeling brought awareness in the creatures that the Entity that created them is God Almighty. "I am created by God, and I, the servant of God, am dependent upon Him." As soon as this awareness dawned upon the creatures, they negated the existence of "I am," and became subservient to their Creator.
Listening to the voice is, Ilm al-Yaqeen (Certitude of Knowledge).
Looking in the direction of the voice is, Ain al-Yaqeen (Certitude of Witness).
To feel the Creator is the negation of oneself, and self-negation is, Haq al-Yaqeen. (Certitude of Truth).
Qalu Balaa (Yes, Indeed, You are our Lord) is the affirmation that God Almighty is our Creator.
The awareness of God is attained by following the sub-consciousness and the first step towards it is Nafi (self-negation) and Asbaat (affirmation of God). Nafi Asbaat is the first lesson of the universe.
Awareness is linked to the senses. In their respective stages, each of the faculties of hearing, sight, perception, feeling and speech are different forms of awareness. In the states of awareness, an individual feels themselves first and then goes on to see themselves separate from others. This can alternately be explained as, when two entities feel the presence of each other, they become one or unify at the stage of feelings; and thereafter, when they perceive themselves to be different from each other, it separates them into two different entities again.
For example, a child is born from a mother but when she places her hand over the hand of her child, she thinks that both of them are separate individuals. This is because, when waves of the child transfer into her field, she surrenders to them, and the presence of child's existence becomes dominant in her. Owing to this feeling, the mother declares, "This is my child." In other words, the mother conveys that both she and the child are separate entities.
1. The mother negated herself, and affirmed the existence of the child.
2. By expressing that it was her child, she affirmed the distance between them.
We see others only when we do not see ourselves; and when we see ourselves, the others, despite being present, become unnoticeable. The law of sight is such that, when we view something, the reflection of the object transfers into us and we become subservient to what we are observing. However, when we blink, distance forms in our awareness, and we declare, "This is a flower, and I am Adam. '' It is important to note that in the realm of awareness, both the flower and Adam are one entity.
Let us consider another example. One is able to describe the taste of water by drinking it, but, water, its taste, and the person drinking it are all one entity in the realm of awareness. This is the reason that they all accept each other and the thirst of an individual is quenched.
Awareness is linked to distance. An entity can only be felt when it is separate from us; if not, the concept of distance will not arise.
Let us consider a man sitting in ambience, fragrant with perfume. When he applied the perfume, he experienced its fragrance. However, the smell becomes unrecognizable after a while. This is because, the fragrance of the perfume infiltrated into him, and aligned with the proportions that were common between them. As a result, he does not feel the fragrance after a while. When someone else enters the room, the waves of fragrance surround them, and absorb themselves into them too and leaves them feeling ecstatic. But, in a short span of time, the new person stops feeling the fragrance too. Has the fragrance exhausted? Why do the people in the room not feel the fragrance anymore, and why do new people entering the room feel it, but only for a bit?
The first step to learning is to unlearn existing knowledge within us. No knowledge can be learnt without this step. Every reality has an existence, irrespective of the fact that we may be aware or unaware of its presence. What may exist for someone, can be non-existent for another.
Therefore, everything has an existence irrespective of one's experiences, as the affirmation and negation of something is an acknowledgment of the existence of the entity. When one says, "It does not exist," the word 'it' in this sentence is an affirmation of the existence of the object, and also becomes an admission of one's ignorance about it. When one follows the law of negation and affirmation, the path leading to observation opens up.
Sufis women and men term this awareness of unlearning as Ilm-e-La and the awareness of knowledge as Ilm-e-Illa. The meaning of La is 'No' and Illa means 'but exists'. In Illa, there is negation of everything, with the affirmation of the reality.
Abdal-e-Haq Qalandar Baba Auliya (RA) says,
"When a spiritual enthusiast desires to be acquainted with their subconsciousness or 'La', they then have to forget all apprehensions, ideologies and thinking patterns of the exterior world. They should reflect within themselves, in the depths of their inner mind. Reflection or Fikr is that movement that cannot be bound in forms or dimensions. We call this type of reflection Fikr-e-La, that is, for a brief or lengthy moment, we become dominated by that state in which one is unaware of all dimensions. We can achieve this through the practice of Istarkha*. With the practice of Istarkha, every inner sphere of the deeper consciousness empties itself of all thoughts, or we could say that one's consciousness aligns with their subconsciousness when the mind is absorbed in Fikr-e-La. ''
In spirituality, Fikr (contemplation or reflection ) means searching. When a contemplative mind is absorbed in reality, they attain Fikr-e-La, that is, they attain 'unlearning'.
Until one does not see creatures other than themselves, they are unable to see themselves too. The example for this is a mirror. If the mirror did not exist, one would not be able to see one's self. One believes in one's existence when they see themselves in the mirror.
Two (1 + 1) is a reflection of one, but we call it two to make both ones (1s) distinct. Nevertheless, one remains one, no matter how many ones (ls) are added. One, two, three, four and five are names given to maintain individuality.
Let us understand it through another example. Every particle with which the mirror is made is also present in every individual; the difference is in the quantities of proportions being less or more. The mirror is different from the one who is standing before it, but it has their proportions within it. Therefore, when any creature stands before the mirror, the mirror accepts their image and reflects it back to them.
The first step of consciousness is the activation of hearing, which transmits waves to this faculty as sound. These waves travel in circles, are spread across the universe and work as a medium to transfer thoughts as well. Waves convert into sound as per the reception power of one's mind, and when the mind is in sync with the frequency of the sound, then sound becomes observation. It is imperative for the waves to be in circular motion, because, a circle negates dimensions, and gives affirmation to that dimension in which the first and the last, the seen and the unseen are all one. God Almighty has defined the negation of dimensions as A had.
"Say: He is God, the One (Ahad). God, the eternally Besought of all (Samad). He begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him." (Quran, 112:1-4)
In the light of these verses, the understanding of negation and affirmation is as follows.
1. Ahad defies all dimensions by encapsulating them as one.
2. The attribute of Samad refers to the One who is free of wants. Therefore, the second verse reiterates that God is beyond dimensions.
3. Duality (dimension) is important for the existence of creations.
Whereas the Creator of the Universe, God Almighty, is free from duality.
After the inception of the universe, the first awareness that the creatures had was of their unawareness. On the command of "Am I not your Lord?" though they realised their existence, they did not know who they were, and when one is unaware of themselves, their existence is equivalent to being nonexistent. The voice of the Creator activated the faculty of hearing in them; the sight witnessed Him, and the creatures negated themselves and affirmed the existence of God.
“There is none worthy, except God. Muhammad (PBUH) is the Messenger of God.”
While there is still knowledge of 'I' within the spiritual seeker, they cannot learn spiritual knowledge. When we read the Kalima Tayyaba (the first creed of Islam), we negate the fictitious senses and acknowledge the truth. In the times of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), people worshipped idols as God. La Ilaha explains that the idols are not immortal but God Almighty is. The highest acclaimed friends of God submit that, “We negate the knowing of God in the way that our conscious mind conceives Him, and we know God as how He wants us to know Him. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the messenger of God. We acknowledge God, in the same way that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) knew and told us about Him.”
This concludes that first we negate what we know, and then we affirm what we do not know by attaining knowledge about it. When we negate our own knowledge, we negate ourselves, and when we negate our-selves, then nothing remains but God. God Almighty has ordained to His beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),
“Say: He is God, the One (Ahad). God, the eternally Be-sought of all (Samad). He begetteth not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him.” (Quran, 112:1-4)
May God protect you.
* lstarkha is a practice of staying focused on one point in the darkness without batting your eyelids.
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