Shaykh Yusuf, Wisdom of Animals, Pico’s Secret and Chinese and Hindu Art

• Recent additions to our library include a rare collection of Sufi writings by the influential Southeast Asian Shaykh Yusuf al-Khalwati al-Maqassari (d. 1699):

So make good the transformation of your soul and the flow of entry into your soul and confine it to the remembrance of Allah, ponder on the glorious Name of the Most High in the depth of your heart, and its light will radiate and it will encompass all your limbs and everything else.

• An audio lecture by William Chittick on “The Wisdom of Animals”, elucidating a passage from Ibn Arabi’s Meccan Revelations:

Animals, who are ruled by the Name “Abaser” (al-Mudhill), have a much more exalted position with God than most human beings. This is precisely because animals gladly accept their “abasement”, whereas human beings tend to forget they are nothing.

• From UCLA Professor Brian Copenhaver, a crucial article on the history of European philosophy, “The Secret of Pico’s Oration: Cabala and Renaissance Philosophy”, which clarifies the nature and intent of what has been called the “Manifesto of the Renaissance”, dissociating it from Enlightenment philosophy and worldview.

As angels of contemplation, the Cherubs live at this summit of divinity, but their way of life reaches down to the first ethical exercises required of those who emulate them. Thus, having chosen the Cherubic way of life as the best way to form a formless human nature, Pico finds himself at the lower philosophical stages of an ascetic and mystical ascent to ecstasy. Once he has made this choice, philosophy is his obligation…

• Finally, another seminal article on comparative studies by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy: “What is Common to Indian and Chinese Art?”

However much your mentality may be opposed to the method of induction from First Principles, there is no other method by which Oriental civilizations can be made intelligible. The method of deduction from observed fact… leads only to description and classification, which may be “accurate”, but need not imply any comprehension of or assimilation to the thing described and classified. Description and classification are acts of the mind; comprehension an act of the pure intellect.