Seventy Thousand Veils

“Love is not to be learned from men: it is one of God’s gifts and comes of His grace.”

“None refrains from the lusts of this world save him in whose heart there is a light that keeps him always busied with the next world.”

“When the gnostic’s spiritual eye is opened, his bodily eye is shut: he sees nothing but God.”

“If gnosis were to take visible shape all who looked thereon would die at the sight of its beauty and loveliness and goodness and grace, and every brightness would become dark beside the splendor thereof.”

“For sight is the keenest of our bodily senses; though not by that is wisdom seen; her loveliness would have been transporting if there had been a visible image of her.”

“Gnosis is nearer to silence than to speech.”
“When the heart weeps because it has lost, the spirit laughs because it has found.”

“Nothing sees God and dies, even as nothing sees God and lives, because His life is everlasting: whoever sees it is thereby made everlasting.”

“O God, I never listen to the cry of animals or to the quivering of trees or to the murmuring of water or to the warbling of birds or to the rustling wind or to the crashing thunder without feeling them to be an evidence of Thy unity and a proof that there is nothing like unto Thee.”

“O my God, I invoke Thee in public as lords are invoked, but in private as loved ones are invoked. Publicly I say, ‘O my God!’ but privately I say, ‘O my Beloved!'”

“Seventy Thousand Veils separate Allah, the One Reality, from the world of matter and of sense. And every soul passes before his birth through these seventy thousand. The inner half of these are veils of light: the outer half, veils of darkness. For every one of the veils of light passed through, in this journey towards birth, the soul puts off a divine quality: and for every one of the dark veils, it puts on an earthly quality. Thus the child is born weeping, for the soul knows its separation from Allah, the One Reality. And when the child cries in its sleep, it is because the soul remembers something of what it has lost. Otherwise, the passage through the veils has brought with it forgetfulness (nisyan): and for this reason man is called insan. He is now, as it were, in prison in his body, separated by these thick curtains from Allah.

“But the whole purpose of Sufism, the Way of the dervish, is to give him an escape from this prison, an apocalypse of the Seventy Thousand Veils, a recovery of the original unity with The One, while still in this body. The body is not to be put off; it is to be refined and made spiritual–a help and not a hindrance to the spirit. It is like a metal that has to be refined by fire and transmuted. And the sheikh tells the aspirant that he has the secret of this transmutation. ‘We shall throw you into the fire of Spiritual Passion,’ he says, ‘and you will emerge refined.'” {“The Way” of a Mohammedan Mystic, by W. H. T. Gairdner (Leipzig, 1912), pp. 9 f.}

THE MYSTICS OF ISLAM
by Reynold A. Nicholson
Routledge, Kegan Paul, London
[1914]

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