13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 1999
This book is a magnificent document to the awesome mystical experiences of the Divine which one of the greatest walis [saints] in Islam had; it is very inspirational too for all those already members of a Sufi Order or those wishing to join one. However, a word of caution: I feel that this book is not for the beginner--a person must really have a sound grasp of the shariah and the Sunnah--and what the Sufi shaykhs have said about the importance of these two in real sufism--before embarking on this great book; otherwise the danger, for Muslim readers, is to fall into heresy caused by misunderstanding of concepts discussed by the Shaykh; for non-Muslim readers it poses a danger of introducing Islam at too compex a level, and thereby causing confusion .eg a non-Muslim (or Muslim) not grounded personally in a traditional understanding of sufism might assume by this that Islam encourages an anthropomorphic image of God. To summarise, it is a wonderfully beautiful work but it is not for everyone. To use a sufi metaphor: the wine in these pages is not meant for the uninitiated!
A translation of a traditional commentary would be useful if possible.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 1999
This is a book written by a true master of this path. We can read this book, but we should be careful not to pretend to understand it more than we are capable of doing so. Ruzbehan speaks of things well beyond our mind and imagination. The "Men of God" travel far and beyond and then try to tell us of realities not accessible to us. They use "words" to communicate with us of what they "see" and each one of us can only understand them according to our background and experiences . Scholars are also in the same boat as the rest of us, though they hide their fundamental ignorance behind fancy "terminology's". A blind can never understand the meaning of light and the magnificent display of colors, no matter how hard one try to explain. Light is to be seen. To " know" what Ruzbehan and his like talk about, one has to become like them. As great Sufis like Ruzbehan say " like can only be recognized and truly understood by like". SO when we read the works of these great men, we have to make sure not to over flatter ourselves thinking that we know what they are talking about, because we don't. While there are many who claim that if you join a Sufi club( with no annual fee) you will be able to understand them and become like these great men, be aware that there is no such easy money back guarantee solution. Don't be fooled. We should read these books written by "Men of God" and it maybe that it will awaken something in us. If that happens one will know it, since this knowing is always accompanied by a true and fundamental spiritual transformation as though one has evolved into a new species. If anyone out there gets to such a place as Ruzbihan did, then say a prayer for the rest of us. However, If no observable transformation has occurred within the person, then it is not meant for him /her, but still we should read these books since it is always better than watching T.V.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2008
This book is (as another reviewer pointed out) inspirational. I'm glad I added it to my growing collection of Sufi titles. It can be a little difficult to understand the symbolism and the exact meaning of some of the visions however. It would be great if they included a commentary on the text to help sort through it. I've searched online and haven't been able to find one so far. I did find the book "Ruzbihan Baqli: Mysticism and the Rhetoric of Sainthood in Persian Sufism" by Carl W. Ernst here on Amazon though and it looks like it could be helpful. It might be worthwhile to buy that book first and then move on to this one but I will have to get a hold of a copy and find out. If so I will edit this review and let everyone know. I do tend to think this is one of those books that were meant to be taught and discussed by a Sufi shaykh with his murid rather then something to just pick up and read on your own.
It was the book "The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism" by Henry Corbin that first turned me on to this work. Speaking of one of the visions recounted in it (in which Ruzbihan received a divine oil and saw the seven stars of the Great Bear constellation as seven apertures through which God was showing himself to him) he states:
"In a dream, Ruzbihan Baqli saw that he sat with two Sufi masters and ate bread and "oil so subtle that it was like a pure spiritual substance."
"Subsequently, one of the two shaykhs asks Ruzbehan if he knows what this substance was. As he does not know, the shaykh informs him that it was 'oil from the constellation of the Bear which we gathered for you.' After emerging from his dream Ruzbehan continues to meditate upon it, but it took him some time, he confesses, to understand that there had been in it an allusion to the seven poles (aqtaab, more generally the seven abdaal) in the heavenly pleroma, and that God had dispensed to him the pure substance of their mystical station, that is to say, had admitted him to the rank of the seven masters of initiation and intercessors who are invisibly apportioned to our world.
...here Ruzbehan [is] being admitted to the number of the seven Abdaal surrounding the Pole."
The book "Arktos The Polar Myth in Science, Symbolism, and Nazi Survival" states the following regarding this particular vision of his :
"This book explains how the great Sufi Ruzbehan of Shiraz had a series of visions referring to the heavenly Pole; and by meditating on these that he was able to understand how he was personally and secretly connected with the group of the masters of initiation symbolized by the stars in the immediate vicinity of the Pole Star."