Seven Subtleties, Ghazali’s Light and Hatha Yoga

Our latest additions this month include an article by Kristian Petersen, “The Seven Subtleties of Islamic Spiritual Physiology according to Wang Daiyu”, giving a glimpse into a centuries-long dialogue between Islam and Confucianism.

The true heart’s grand nature grasps the sage’s knowledge and sees what has been and what shall come, what has appeared and what has not yet appeared; all appear before him and the cosmos is as one. These are all because this heart’s function is to act in obedience to the bright command.

• As we continue to build our core library of comparative studies, we present a now classic article by J.A. Wensinck on Al-Ghazali’s Mishkat al-anwar (The Niche of Lights), widely considered the most esoteric of Ghazali’s works. Wensinck draws a detailed parallellism between some of Ghazali’s most profound passages and early Christian and Neoplatonic sources.

This sight is only possible because the eye itself is light and sunlike. Become, therefore, first wholly godlike and wholly beautiful, if thou wilst see God and the Beautiful. Here, in intelligible beauty, dwell the ideas; the highest good is the fountain-head and the beginning of the beautiful.

• As one of the outcomes of the ongoing SOAS project on Hatha Yoga, we present an article by Jason Birch on “The Meaning of hatha in Early Hathayoga”, that “forceful combustion that destroys duality”.

The practice of Hathayoga causes kundalini to rise, which, like a key, forces the door of liberation to open. When coupled with other images that are used to convey the effect of Hathhayoga on kundalini, such as that of a stick beating a snake, the implication is that the force of Hathhayoga is the forceful effect of its practice on kundalini.