As mentioned before, what distinguishes “spiritual authority” from “temporal power” is that the latter is “contingent” and “transitory” whereas the former is “eternal” and “perpetual.” What is implied by Saint Augustine’s “City of God” for instance, is that the eternal nature of spiritual authority comes from a certain “blessedness” or ‘Barakah’ to borrow from Hebrew and Arabic terminology. Hence, when someone or something is deemed ‘eternal’ and wields some sort of spiritual authority, it implies and suggests the ‘blessedness’ or “Barakah” of that person or thing. As the Bible states: “Of His kingdom there shall be no end.”
In turn, blessedness or “Barakah” and thus an eternal spiritual authority is derived from an avoidance of sin. As Saint Augustine wrote in analogous terms: “Sin is to a nature what blindness is to an eye. The blindness is an evil or defect which is a witness to the fact that the eye was created to see the light and, hence, the very lack of sight is the proof that the eye was meant, more than any other member of the body, to be the one particularly capable of seeing the light. Were it not for this capacity, there would be no reason to think of blindness as a misfortune. So is it with that nature that basked in God as an eye does in light.”
As Saint Thomas Aquinas argued, those who sin “turn away from that in which the notion of ultimate end is truly found, but not from the intention of the ultimate end, which they falsely seek in other things.” It follows that all men seek blessedness, eternity, and immortality, yet some men seek such conditions and states and such an ultimate end through moral transgression and sin.
And as Ibn Arabi argued: “The conflict between Intellect and the evil-commanding self is caused by their very nature, which induces each of them to try to dominate the whole of the human being and to be the ruler of it. Even when one of them is able to conquer the whole realm, the other still strives to regain what it has lost and to repair what has been destroyed.” Hence, the most vicious conflict and danger for man is the conflict and danger that is raging from within. There is an outward struggle against the corruption and sin which is pervasive in one’s environment, and then there is the inward struggle which is most difficult for man to overcome. The outward struggle becomes easy to overcome once the inward struggle is overcome. And as Ibn Arabi argued:
“What can save the human realm from danger is its obedience to a beneficent influence which comes from outside. That influence from outside of man is the divine law. It is only when man is open and ready to accept the divine law that the soul in him recognizes that its influence has the same nature, the same characteristics, as itself. Only then may it distance itself from the evil-commanding ego. When this happens, Intellect imagines that it has found an ally against the ego, and rises against it – and the war between the two starts.”
And of all the dimensions or elements of goodness and virtue commanded by divine law, it is love which assumes a higher rank and place than all the others. All that is not love is lust, and lust is sin. In turn, sin deprives one of blessedness and eternal spiritual authority. As Nietzsche wrote: “Where is beauty? Where I must will with my whole will; where I will love and perish, that an image may not remain merely an image. Loving and perishing: these have rhymed from eternity. Will to love: that is to be willing also to die. Thus I speak to you cowards!”