Monday, April 17, 2006

"the trap of the assimilation ... committed by themselves"

"The mystery of the Cross of Light was the mystery of *Christus impatibilus*, saving his own through the love born of their common origin; it was this love of the heavenly angel that acted as a magnetism upon "His" terrestrial soul, *His* "member," to make it reascend toward him, to recall it to their common angelicity (here a homoousia as eschatological anticipation). The form of love thus lived and meditated upon was wholly different from that meditated upon and "realized" in the Divine Incarnation, in compassion with the sufferings of the God incarnate, with the death of the Redeemer who was "the true God and true man." But consciousness would fully "realize" the event that had taken place, and Nietzsche would cry out: "God is dead, he has died of his pity for men." That is to say, in the context of consciousness, God has died of this homoousia, of his consubstantiality, his identity with his Incarnation. But what *meaning* would Nietzsche's words have had for Gnostics who knew the true meaning of the epiphanies of the "One for the One," the meaning of the Angel? In the opposition between epiphanic Figure and Incarnation, *mazhar* and *hulul*, we can perceive, both in Gnostic Christology and in Ismailian Imamology, the same demand for Mystery and the same protest against the violence done to this mystery by a conception implying that the godhead can have suffered death. We are compelled to note that the facts of the problem are mutiliated if we content ourselves with opposing the Christian idea of the divine Incarnation and the strict transcendence of orthodox Islamic monotheism. Between the two there is a middle term, and this is the entire meaning of Shiite Islam, eminently of Iranisn Shiism, and most particularly of Ismailian Imamology. It is impressive that we should find here certain traits characteristic of a Christianity that has vanished from the historical scene, for this modifies the meaning of our encounter as men of the West with an Orient that is, to be sure, very different from the "modern" Orient. We perceive a kind of protest against a form which has become constitutive of our consciousness, which dominates our Christian theology of history as well as the secularized philosophies of a post-Christian era. And this protest, coming from the part of spiritual Islam in which Imamology assumed the features of an ancient Christology, also brings to our ears the voice of the vanished Christianity. It comes to us like a question, perhaps urgent and imperious, and at the same time it rises up as an answer, the answer of those who know the mystery of the Cross of Light and who reply to the "god is dead" with the protest uttered in the Koran verse: "No, they have not killed him, they have not crucified him! They have been caught in the trap of the assimilation (*tashbih*) committed by themselves."
--Henry Corbin

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