A Post From Sufi-Mystic Group
- This excellent post deals well with seeking ecstasy, but also with
the importance of "Right Action".
From: Terry Murphy <tmurphy@...>
Subject: RE: Re: Ego death as a process
As Shaikh Muhyi'uddin ibn al-'Arabi, sanctified be his secret,
>said: "According to the majority of shaikhs, ecstasy is animperfect stage. In our view, however, ecstasy is the most perfect
and most excellent of all stages."
'Perfect,' like 'unique,' (or 'pregnant') does not admit of
qualifiers. It is in ecstasy that perfection is recognized as such,
and thus the mind is filled with bliss, or Joy. But the Buddha
teaches that it is mindfulness itself that is the key. In (Majjhima
Nikaya, sutta 117) The Great Forty, the Buddha says
"...Right view comes first. And how does right view come first? One
understands wrong intention as wrong intention, and right intention
as right intention: this is right view."
It is not simply right view that is right view, it is also right view
to recognize that wrong view is wrong. It is not in being elated
that we possess perfection, but also in recognizing that we are
depressed when we are depressed. High is high, but knowing that you
are low when you are low is also high. It is not important that you
have wrong views, wrong intentions, wrong speech, etc, but that you
recognize (be mindful of) these conditions when they arise (as they
will). According to Mahayana Buddhism (Yogacara), we all have a root
consciousness that contains seeds of both right and wrong. It is
important that we 'water' or encourage the right seeds as they arise,
and discourage the wrong ones, without being attached to either
condition of encouraging or discouraging; both are equally 'perfect'
and equally likely to arise. The more 'practice' we have in watering
the seeds of right view, and depriving of water the seeds of wrong
view, the more 'right view' as such predominates. Seeds of wrong
view will still sprout, but if carefully weeded when small, when the
corn is high it is much easier to weed. So it is with ecstasy and
longing, with perception of perfection and perception of imperfection.
This is important in acquiring a detachment from 'states' (note Ibn
al-Arabi speaks of the 'stage' of ecstasy as being superior, not the
'state'). It is the condition of mindfulness that is key, not
whether one's feelings are pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. Ecstasy
is wonderful, but knowing that one is suffering and being prepared to
do something about it is also wonderful. This is what the four noble
truths are all about.
If we can be mindful of all of our states, neither averse to the low
ones nor craving the high ones, then we will minimize our suffering
and maximize our happiness, and that of others.
While this is the buddhist view, rooted in the Sarvastavadins of
early Buddhism, it is also taught by sufis that attachment to states,
such as ecstasy, is harmful. If we are desirous of such states, they
will be harder to achieve. When we trust in grace, grace trusts in
This is not to minimize the role of ecstasy in spiritual
transformation. 'Lest ye see wonders and miracles, ye shall not
believe.' Ecstasy leads to faith, and stimulates the will to
practice. Once we have faith, so does suffering .
I'm sure the esteemed Ibn al-Arabi knows this, and simply wants to
orient us to the idea that up is up and down is down; that ecstasy is
to be preferred to piety, to adherence to rites and rituals, to
obedience and blind faith. I'm just adding my own comments for the
sake of clarity, and hope I'm not simply confusing the issue.