In the previous essay, I spoke about the various types of knowledge, in addition to touching on the nature of the “tripartite” human soul consisting of appetite, emotion, and intellect. I mentioned that knowledge stems from an “ultimate realm” which is the locus or seat of the “causal intelligence” or the “causal mind” which generates all knowledge and transmits this knowledge through the human intellect which has overcome the other two components of the ‘tripartite’ human soul, namely, appetite and emotion. And at the heart of this knowledge is knowledge about the essence of existence, which is a secret sought out by the most inquisitive minds.
It is believed by the Islamic tradition that there are four types of intellect. For one, there is the intellect which deals with worldly affairs. Second, there is the intellect which seeks to comprehend the “invisible world” that is celestial and heavenly in nature. Third, there is the intellect which seeks to understand the human soul. Finally, there is the intellect which is united with “causal intelligence” and the “causal mind.” Given that the intellect shapes the human soul, it follows that there are four types of human souls, namely, the material soul, the enlightened soul, the ‘sultan-soul,’ and the divine soul.
In turn, the “ultimate realm” of “causal intelligence” and the “causal mind” is the realm of the essence of existence. Knowledge and information culminate into knowledge and information about the essence of existence. Before exploring the essence, however, one should note the various ways by which existence manifests itself. In general, there are four ways by which existence manifests itself. For one, there are forms, shapes, and colors. Second is the actions and the interactions between all that exists. Third comes the attributes, qualities, and character of things. Finally, there is the essence of existence.
Whether the essence of existence comes before existence or whether existence comes before the essence of existence is the perennial question of philosophy and religion. But one is not in a state of error to suggest that the essence of existence comes before existence itself. In fact, this is the prevailing view amongst perennial and traditional thinkers. And for the most developed and refined intellect, nothing is more important than “becoming the essence.” As Abdul Qadir al-Jilani wrote: “The goal that you wish to attain is the realization of your emptiness of all else except the Essence of God. This attainment is a becoming.” He added:
“Those who have come in sight of the truth, after beholding the beauty of the truth, do not care to see anything else. They cannot look with love and yearning at anything else. For them, God becomes the only beloved, the only thing that exists. That is their state in both worlds. That is their only purpose. Finally, they have become Men, and God has created Man in order that he know Him, in order that he reach His Essence.”
Hence, the Prophet Muhammad said:
“This world is undesirable and unlawful for those who wish for the hereafter. The hereafter is undesirable for those who wish for this world, and it will not be given to them. But for the souls who seek God’s Essence, neither this world nor the hereafter has any attraction.”
Also, the “ultimate realm” of the “causal mind” and “causal intelligence” is one of four realms of existence, according to the Islamic mystic and scholar Abdul Qadir al-Jilani. For one, there is the material realm which is confined to basic bodily perception and the bodily senses. Second, there is the realm of spirits as well as the various levels of “paradise.” Third, there is the level where knowledge is deposited and transmitted. And finally, there is the “ultimate realm” where the essence of everything – including the essence of knowledge – exists and resides. Given that the entire purpose of existence is to become its very essence, it follows that the aim of our efforts and strivings is not any particular destination, but rather, it is about the journey itself.