The Green Light

~Henry Corbin

Lights ascending, lights descending: the dhikr sinks down into the well of the heart and at the same time lifts the mystic up out of the darkness of the well. The simultaneity of these concentric movements foretells the birth and growth of the subtle organism of light. The descriptions become more complicated and interwoven until they are resolved, as Najm Kobrii tells us, in the visio smaragdina to which these movements are the prelude . 

"Ours is the method of alchemy," declares the shaykh. " It involves extracting the subtle organism of light from beneath the mountains under which it lies imprisoned" (§12). "It may happen that you visualize yourself as lying at the bottom of a well and the well seemingly in lively downward movement. In reality it is you who are moving upward". 

This ascent (reminding of the vision of Hermes in Sohravardi, his ascent to the battlements of the Throne), is the gradual emergence from the mountains which, as we have already been told (supra IV, 2), are the four elementary natures constituting the physical organism. The inner states accompanying this emergence are translated into visions of deserts, even "cities, countries , houses, which come down from above toward you and later disappear below you, as though you were seeing a dike on the shore crumble and disappear into the sea" (§12) .

This correspondence is precisely what provides the mystic with a decisive method by which to verify the reality of his visions; it is a guarantee against illusions, for it demands the maintenance of a rigorous balance.

"You come to gaze with your own eyes on what you had until then only known theoretically, through the intellect. When you envision yourself as submerged in a sea, and yet making your way across it, know that this is the elimination of superfluous fetal requirements originating from the element Water. If the sea is clear and if suns or lights or flames are drowned in it, know that it is the sea of mystic gnosis. When you envision rain descending, know that it is a dew which falls from the places of Divine Mercy to vivify the earths of hearts slumbering in death. When you visualize a flame in which you are first entirely engulfed and from which you then free yourself, know that this is the destruction of the elements surrounding the fetus that originate in the element Fire. Finally, when you see before you a great wide space, an immensity opening onto the far distance, while above you there is clear pure Air and you perceive on the far horizon the colors green, red, yellow, blue, know that you are about to pass, borne aloft through this air, to the field of these colors. The colors are those of the spiritual states experienced inwardly. The color green is the sign of the life of the heart; the color of ardent pure fire is the sign of the vitality of spiritual energy, signifying the power to actualize. If this fire is dim, it denotes in the mystic a state of fatigue and affliction following the battle with the lower ego and the Devil. Blue is the color of this lower ego. Yellow indicates a lessening of activity. All these are suprasensory realities in dialogue with the one who experiences them in the twofold language of inner feeling (dhawq) and visionary apperception. These are two complementary witnesses, for you experience inwardly in yourself what you visualize with your inner sight, and reciprocally you visualize with your inner sight precisely what you experience in yourself (§13 )."

From: 'The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism'