On Spiritual Ecstasy

The true mark of a “Gnostic” (Arif) or one who has excelled conventional and worldly knowledge and wisdom is the experience of spiritual ecstasy. As the Islamic mystic and scholar Abdul Qadir al-Jilani wrote: “True ecstasy is the conjunction of light with light, when the soul of man meets the divine light.” Thus, spiritual ecstasy occurs as a result of man’s experience and encounter with the basic essence of existence mentioned in previous posts.

In turn, spiritual ecstasy manifests itself in a number of physical forms, such as changes in one’s physical condition or when the body shakes and trembles outside of one’s control. What modern science views at times as psychosis or madness can actually be an encounter with spiritual ecstasy, depending on the individual in question. An appreciation for nature, a feeling of overwhelming love for both God and people, a knack for poetry, and the ability to play music are some of the attributes and qualities of the person who has undergone spiritual ecstasy. Although the onset of such an experience and state is outside of anyone’s control, the trigger for one’s spiritual ecstasy can be another person (Tajalli) who transmits the basic essence of existence to the person who is undergoing spiritual ecstasy.

It is important to note that spiritual ecstasy is not something that happens voluntarily. Nor can books or education trigger such an experience and state. The onset of such an experience and state is beyond one’s control. As Abdul Qadir al-Jilani wrote, spiritual ecstasy and its physical manifestations “are the result of a spiritual force over which no one has control.” He added:

“The soul in ecstasy overwhelms the senses. It is like the state of delirium caused by a high fever: it is hardly possible to prevent oneself from shaking and trembling and stiffening in delirium because one has no power over any of these exterior manifestations. Similarly, when expanded spiritual energy overcomes the will of the mind and the body, ecstasy is true, sincere and spiritual.”

Hence: “The will, the ability of the mind to choose and to decide, is overcome” as a result of spiritual ecstasy. In turn, spiritual ecstasy opens the door to the “causal intelligence” or the “causal mind” and thus the “ultimate realm” of the basic essence which were mentioned in previous posts. The gnostic who has undergone spiritual ecstasy is then cut off from virtually everything because nothing else is as satisfying and worthwhile as spiritual ecstasy. As the Prophet Muhammad said: “A single divine inspiration which cuts one off from the world and bestows upon one the reflection of divine attributes, showing one the signs of the divine Unity, is worth the experience of both worlds.”

On the other hand, those who have not experienced spiritual ecstasy at least once in their lifetime are deemed as either incomplete or sick based on perennial and traditional thought. As the Prophet Muhammad said: “The one who has not experienced spiritual ecstasy and thereby received the manifestation of divine wisdom and truth has not lived.” The Prophet Muhammad also said: “He is ill-natured who takes no pleasure being with lovers of God: the poems of the wise which they chant, the season of spring, the color and perfume of its flowers and the lute and its song.” And as Abdul Qadir al-Jilani said:

“The heedless for whom the seeking of spiritual ecstasy is a heresy, and the ill-natured ones who take no pleasure in beauty, are sick and there is no remedy for that sickness. They are lower than the birds and the beasts, lower than even the ass, because even the animal takes pleasure in a tune.”

Thus, as irrational as it may seem to the ordinary person or the modern man who is confounded and made cruel and ill by the erroneous nature of the material realm, gambling and staking everything which one has on the experience of spiritual ecstasy is what life is all about.

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