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The Unveiling of the Heart

The Application of Ibn Arabi's Teachings in Transpersonal Psychotherapy

By Angela Gruber 

There is a very lovely story told by Hazrat Inayat Khan of a lion who saw a lion cub wandering through the wilderness with a herd of sheep. The lion was very surprised. Instead of running after the sheep, he ran after the lion cub. The little lion cub was trembling and frightened at the sight of the lion. The father lion said, "Come with me, my son, you are a lion." "No," said the cub. "I tremble, I tremble, I am afraid of you. You are different from my playmates the sheep. I want to run with them, play with them; I want to be with them." "Come with me, my son," said the lion, "you are a little lion." "No," said the cub, "no, I am not a lion. You are a lion; I am afraid of you." The lion said, "I will not let you go; you must come with me." The lion took him to the shore of the lake and said, "Now look in it and see with your own eyes if you are a lion or if you are a sheep." (Khan, C.W. Vol.1 p.202)

How many of us have, like the lion cub, forgotten who we really are and have learned to act and see ourselves in ways which divorce us from our true nature? In this simple story we have something of the essence of the spiritual path, namely the journey of unveiling our hearts and the discovery of our divine inheritance. Hazrat Inayat Khan describes the process whereby we become alienated from our original nature as the soul ‘garbing itself’(C.W. Vol. I.) in different identities. We learn and acquire these identities by our experience in our families, our environment, our culture, class, religion, race.

As a transpersonal psychotherapist, what interests me is how we can open our hearts and remove the veils that make us forgetful of our divinity. Questions arise such as what is the experience of transformation, what is the nature of Reality and how can we establish a more conscious relationship with that Reality. At the Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education we have developed an integrative transpersonal model of psychotherapy that draws amongst others, on the inspiration and genius of, the great Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi.

Transpersonal psychology first made its appearance in the 1960s in the United States and is considered to be the fourth force in the emergence of psychotherapy. Behaviourism is generally regarded as the first wave, influenced by Pavlov and emphasising how behavioural conditioning can create irrational and faulty ways of perceiving, thinking and responding. The second wave is psychoanalysis (inspired by the work of Freud), which emphasizes early infant and childhood experiences. Freud described the development of the ego as a mediating force between the primitive instinctual desires of the id and the prohibiting voice of the superego. The third wave, which evolved in the pre- and post World War II periods, is the humanistic model developed by people such as Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls, Wilhelm Reich and Abraham Maslow. Humanistic approaches affirm the belief in the ‘self actualizing tendency’ whereby there is an urge within a person towards self development and an empowerment of the individual towards greater authenticity. The emphasis here is on personal development. Existential themes also find expression within the humanistic tradition in the desire to find meaning and purpose in life. Transpersonal psychology, as the name suggests, seeks to go beyond the personally identified aspects of self and is defined by Lajoe and Shapiro (Braud & Anderson, p.xxii, 1998) as "concerned with the study of humanity’s highest potential, and with the recognition, understanding, and realization of unitive, spiritual, and transcendent states of consciousness." In practice, the transpersonal psychotherapist will use the lenses of the three preceding forces in psychotherapy to understand the client’s problems whilst holding the spiritual perspective of the client as a discrete expression of the Divine. The client’s problems are seen as the vehicle by which consciousness is seeking to emerge and manifest the inherent divine qualities that are at present in his/her latent condition.

Let us look at the case of our lion cub and see how the first three forces could be applied to his presenting problem of false identity. We might use cognitive behavioural techniques to facilitate awareness of and change his faulty thinking and behaviour patterns. From the perspective of psychoanalysis, we might inquire into how he was inadequately parented and abandoned into the care of sheep. We might look at his super-ego persecution in his feelings of unworthiness of being a lion. Working from a humanistic perspective, we would want to trust in the cub’s self actualizing tendency, his capacity to change and find his personal sense of ‘lionhood.’ His therapist would show empathy, unconditional positive regard and a non-judgmental attitude, enabling the lion cub to find a safe place to expose his vulnerable feelings. Existentially, we might inquire into the meaning and purpose of his experience and his feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Before we look at the way in which a transpersonal psychotherapist might help the lion cub, we must go back to our definition of the transpersonal and its goal of moving a client towards their highest potential. In order to be able to do this, it is important to have a metaphysical model to map the spiritual journey. This is where an understanding of Ibn Arabìs philosophy can be a guide.

Ibn Arabìs philosophy is dedicated to the mystery of the Unity of Existence, the Oneness of Being (wahdat al-wujud). Chittick writes, "As the Essence of the Real, wujud is the indefinable and unknowable ground of everything that is found in whatever mode it may be found." (p.16, 1994) Oneness of Being is the unifying principle, the current that flows through the whole cosmos but that is beyond the capacity of humans to know in its entirety. To quote Izutsu, it is the "Absolute in its Absoluteness …..unknowable to us because it transcends all qualifications and relations which are humanly conceivable." (p.23, 1983) However, in Ibn Arabìs philosophy, God also has a revealed dimension which can be known through the Divine Names. Ibn Arabi takes his inspiration from the hadith of the Hidden Treasure in which the Unknowable God in His Essence is moved by the yearning of the Divine Names to be known and revealed. Here we have a theme of unimaginable beauty and poignancy for it is the existentiating sigh of Divine Compassion, the breath of the Nafas Rahman, that is moved by the sadness of the Names, and releases them from there hidden, latent state. Ibn Arabi offers us a unifying vision of the conjunction between the One and the Many, for it is through us, the locus of manifestation of the Divine Names that the Unknowable God can become the Revealed God.

Chittick (p.51, 1994), writes, "Ibn al Arabi identifies the primordial human disposition with the sum of the attributes of perfection possessed by the human spirit at its creation." He goes on to quote Ibn Arabi, "When God created the human spirit, He created it perfect, fully developed, rational, aware, having faith in God’s tawhid, admitting His lordship. This is the original disposition according to which god Created human beings."

Ibn Arabi affirms our creation like Adam, in the likeness of God, our primordial disposition or fitra that lies at the very core of our being awaiting our remembrance.

We have in the teaching of the Hidden Treasure, the dance of love between the Hidden God and the Revealed God, with the Divine Names within the Hidden God yearning to be known, and the Revealed God, embodied in the creature, longing for return to its state of Unity. Here we have a pivotal key to understanding Ibn Arabìs philosophy and that key is to understand that God and the individual are in constant relationship. However, God experiences this as unity, while we experience this as duality. From this perspective, God is waiting, longing for our conversion – that is, our awakening to Unity by turning towards our inherent divinity and making ourselves capable of God. Corbin illustrates the relationship between the creature and its creator with a beautiful image taken from Proclus of the prayer of the heliotrope turning its face towards the sun. In describing the action of the sunflower he says, "if we could hear the sound of the air buffeted by its movement, we should be aware that it is a hymn to its king, such as it is within the power of the plant to sing." (Corbin, p.106, 1969) Ibn Arabi uses other metaphors to describe the relationship between the Hidden God and the God revealed in man. In the Fusus al-Hikam he says, "Man is to God (al-haqq) that which the pupil is to the eye (the pupil in Arabic is called ‘man within the eye’), the pupil being that by which seeing is effected; for through him (that is to say the Universal Man) God contemplates His creation and dispenses His mercy." (Burkhardt translation, p.12, 1975) In the same chapter on Adam, he goes on to use another analogy of the Universal Man being the setting around the seal in the ring of the King. Sufis often prefer to refer to the relationship between Creator and creature as that of the lover and the beloved.

Within each of us lies the secret of the Divine Nostalgia, the longing to return and be reunited with our Perfect Nature. In transpersonal psychotherapy, this is the longing to achieve our highest potential. However, more often than not this longing is accompanied by a corresponding feeling of alienation. In my experience as a transpersonal psychotherapist, behind every presenting issue a client brings, is the longing to be truly seen and known, to have his/her divinity mirrored. This longing to be seen and known is often mistakenly projected out into personal relationships leading, in most cases, to disappointment and further alienation. This could be the result of inadequate mirroring in early life by the persons’ mother or primary caregivers. In this human mirroring, the mother senses her baby’s states and reflects them back, digesting them and modulating them so that the baby is not overwhelmed. She also, in her love, admires her baby affirming his worth, his beauty and qualities. This human mirror is of course limited by the mother’s own state of mind and what is reflected back can only inevitably be, to use a phrase of C.W. Winnicott, (1964) "good enough." Modern neuroscience (Cozolino, 2002, Siegal, 1999) is providing evidence of how distorted perceptions of self are then "hard wired" into the brain becoming, in transpersonal terms, the veils which cover the soul and which begin the process of the soul’s alienation from its original disposition. Here we once more can refer to our case of the lion cub who thinks he is a sheep as a case in point.

Human beings are not only made of pure spirit, but as Ibn Arabi reminds us in the Wisdom of the Prophets (1975 translation) our prototype Adam was made of earthly clay into which God blew His animating spirit, thus impressing him with the potential to express all the Divine Names. The clay is our earthly inheritance garnered from our evolutionary history of the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms or, as Rumi poetically describes it, "humans are an angel’s wing attached to a donkey’s tail." Part of our "conversion" involves the alchemical journey of recovering the gold of our true nature from our ordinary states of consciousness that are created out of the "clay" of the limitations of earthly existence. Spirit must first be freed of this contamination accrued by the veils of our conditioning and the grasping nature of our ego, to become a more conscious embodiment of spirit in matter. This is the path of submission to the will of God, of experiencing the fana, annihilation of the false beliefs of separate existence, and baqa, subsistence in the knowledge of unity or Oneness of Being. The purpose of transformation is, ultimately, to make ourselves "capable of God."

How do we begin this journey to make ourselves ‘capable of God?’ Ibn Arabi gives us some very useful advice when he says that the only right way of knowing the Absolute is for us to know ourselves. He bases this on the tradition of, ‘He who knows himself knows His Lord.’ Izutsu (1983), comments on this by saying that Ibn Arabi tells us to abandon the futile attempt to know God in His Essence but that instead, we must go into the depths of ourselves and discover the Absolute as it manifests in particular forms. Izutsu writes of Ibn Arabìs teachings, "Only into the interior of ourselves are we able to penetrate by our self-consciousness and experience from inside the Divine activity of self-manifestation which is going on there. It is in this sense that to ‘know ourselves’ can become the first step toward our ‘knowing the Lord’. Only he who had become conscious of himself as a form of the Divine self-manifestation is in a position to go further and delve deep into the very secret of the Divine life as it pulsates in every part of the Universe." (p.39, 1983)

In order to take the steps towards knowing our Lord we need to have an understanding of how the Absolute becomes known. This leads us to the teaching of the Science of Balance between the visible and invisible worlds, whereby spirit descends (tanzil) into matter through the planes of existence and becomes subtly materialised as symbols in the realm of alam al-mithal, the intermediary world between the visible and invisible worlds. It is through the power of the individual person’s creative imagination to apprehend spirit through the medium of symbols that enables ascent (tàwil) to a higher, or more expanded state of consciousness. Tàwil is the capacity to trace or, I prefer, to be carried back by means of a symbol to a more subtle state of consciousness. The expanded state of consciousness of the revelation facilitated by the symbol initiates the individual through direct spiritual experience into a new spiritual birth. The unveiling of the divine through symbols is unmediated by the ordinary logical, rational thinking of the mind but arises instead through himma. Corbin, (1969) describes himma as the creative power of the heart to meditate, reflect, conceive, imagine and desire, enabling perception of the continuous outpouring of the recurrence of creation. In this way, through the subtle senses of the heart, "God knows Himself, reveals Himself to Himself in the forms of His epiphanies." (p.221, 1969) In the field of psychotherapy, this is called transpersonal knowing. In this type of knowing, a person experiences direct, unmediated knowing which cannot be willed and is ‘instantaneous,’ arising when consciousness is not divided by subject and object. One is ‘carried back’ on the wings of the heart and graced with a new revelation.

Ibn Arabi had several encounters with Khidr and was invested with Khidr’s green mantle. Hirtenstein describes Khidr as "a spiritual teacher who operates in the unseen world beyond the strictures of normal life, the ever-living archetype of direct Divine inspiration." (p. 54, 1999) Part of the process of transpersonal psychotherapy is to facilitate the client to connect with his/her inner guidance that is living silently underneath the introjected voices of the past. By working with the creative imagination through dreams, visualizations, meditation and listening to the heart, transpersonal psychotherapy can help to disentangle the client from this chorus of confusion. Often, we are afraid to listen to the inner voice of guidance as it calls us away from inauthentic living, requiring us to make significant life changing decisions that are often very painful. A dear friend recently shared how he feels that he must end his thirty year marriage as, despite his long standing efforts to reinvest the marriage with life, his heart is slowly dying and shutting down which is intolerable for him. Part of the process of awakening our guidance is the submission required to follow it, to trust it and to have faith that whatever the outcome, one has been true to oneself. This involves discriminating between the often conflicting voices that can arise. Being able to voice these conflicts in the presence of someone trained to facilitate in a non-directive way can be of great value.

Ibn Arabi, in his Meccan Revelations, (Morris, p. 32, 2005), describes four spiritual journeys. I quote: "Their journey (has four dimensions): the journey (in and with God) through Knowing and Realization (‘ilm and tahaqquq); the journey through the divine Names by taking on their attributes and qualities (takhalluq), which is the journey of their state of descending from that first state; a third journey through the created things, by seeing the lessons contained within them (i ‘tibar), which is a separate state from the first two states; and a comprehensive journey that integrates all these three journeys in their states – which is the most prodigious of the journeys through the created things, although the first journey (in and with God) is the most immense and sublime journey of all!")

This paragraph sums up the different processes of transformation. The first journey is the experience of unity, and whilst it is the goal of transpersonal psychotherapy and is its very foundation, it probably is not the primary focus in sessions with clients. However, the second journey with its focus on the descent of the Divine Names into manifestation through the planes of existence and the third journey through life’s tests and lessons are very much at the core of transpersonal practice. Indeed, each person’s tests and lessons are viewed as the opportunities for drawing out the qualities that are the hidden treasures in their latent state yearning to be known, with each individual’s circumstances attracting exactly what is needed in order to manifest more fully their inherent divine nature. This process involves the continual journeying through the alchemical cycle, with the constant purification and refinement that is needed to unveil the gold that is our original disposition. The alchemists describe this process by using a simple formula – dissolve in order to coagulate, meaning the limited state of ego identifications must be transcended by dissolving into a higher state of consciousness which must then become manifested or coagulated. This is the experience of fana and baqa.

Here is a client’s dream that illustrates this process in which we can see the alchemical operations of mortificatio, symbolizing death dying and decay; solutio, which is the dissolving of a lesser state of awareness into a higher state of consciousness; and coniunctio symbolizing the union of opposites and the integration of new consciousness.

"I am in a beautiful palace or temple – a place of great worth and value, richly decorated – large, maybe with large rooms full of books. I seem to be in great danger, almost cataclysmic danger. I wonder what to do. A Sheikh appears. He is a very beautiful man wearing a turban. He has another man with him who is not clear, maybe even invisible. (This could the figure of Khidr.) I fall in love or recognize instantly that I love the Sheikh. He tells me to follow him, be knows the way out of danger. I follow him – almost at the instant of annihilation but just before it. We quickly move to a small rowing boat. It is surrounded by beautiful flamingos. I am moved to ecstasy by their beauty. However, the Sheikh puts his hands in the water and shows me the dead, lifeless, featherless corpse of a flamingo. I see some smaller ones that are dying and want to rescue them. I try to get into the boat but it is moving away. I call to the Sheikh as I am in danger of being left behind. He brings the boat back to the shore. I realise that I will have to let the small dying birds go in order to get into the boat and as I do so, there is a sense of a rush of flamingòs wings. Next, I am beside the Sheikh and his companion. I stand next to him like an innocent girl next to her lover. The Sheikh accepts me as his bride. I put my arms around his neck in embrace. As I do so, I have the sense of melting into his body which becomes the Infinite. What was his body becomes the vastness of space. I am swooning as I say, "Oh my Most Precious Lord" – I am annihilated in him."

In the figure of the Sheikh and his invisible companion we have the appearance of the guide and also the beloved, or Lord who the dreamer instantly recognizes and falls in love with. There is also a theme of needing to be careful of distractions – she nearly ‘misses the boat’ in her concern for the dying flamingos and perhaps there is a lesson here about letting things be as they are, that there is a Divine Order to the universe that is beyond the cognition of ordinary levels of consciousness.

It is important not to forget the suffering involved and the willingness that is needed to engage in this process of revelation. This is where transpersonal psychotherapists can accompany their client offering the support and guidance they need to enable them to travel the path providing, that is, that they too have been willing to submit to their own travails and revelations of the spiritual path. However, it is important to note that transpersonal psychotherapy is not a replacement for a spiritual guide or teacher who can instruct his/her student and give appropriate spiritual practices and guidance.

At this point, I would like to describe the Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education’s model for working with the Divine Names or qualities. Drawing upon alchemy, Sufi teachings and ancient Greek philosophy, each of the qualities is attributed to one of the four elements. The air element representing the mind, fire represents energy, water stands for feelings and earth for the will. So for example, insight and knowledge are air qualities, truth and power are fire qualities, generosity and beauty are water qualities, discipline and patience are earth qualities. Student psychotherapists are trained to recognize the different natures/elements in their clients by observing their qualities, the distortion of qualities, the life problems that the clients are facing and the qualities that are being called forth by such life situations. So for example, a client who has perhaps a strong fiery disposition, who is direct and truthful and shows a lot of initiative, and who has a tendency to want to control, direct and lead others, may have problems in personal relationships. The longing for more intimacy and fulfilment in relationships is an opportunity for more water qualities to manifest in the form of developing more harmonious, sensitive, loving and adaptable qualities, or the slow calmness and patience from the earth element. In the case of our lion cub, he would need to develop his connection to power, confidence and radiance (fire qualities), as well as majesty, authenticity and mastery, which are associated with the earth. To do this, he would need insight, vision and discrimination which are air qualities.

Further to the elements model and drawing upon the ancient Sufi models of the planes of existence and teachings within the Sufi Order of the West, at CCPE we have developed a map of levels of self associated with different soul attunements which are impressed upon the soul in its journey into incarnation through the planes of existence. This map is used to diagnose in the client different soul natures with each soul nature having particular tests and lessons that can be seen manifesting in a client as part of the difficulties they are presenting with. Nigel Hamilton, the Director of the CCPE, has, as part of his as yet unpublished doctoral research on the Role of Dreams in Human Transformation (2006), refined this map into what he describes as six levels of consciousness. Level One is called the Instinctual mind/self, and is connected to the experience of the limitations of embodied existence of the soul in its incarnation into the earth plane, where it comes under the influence of the instinctual forces. Level Two known as the Creative mind/self, relates to creative thinking and is connected to the creative imagination. At this level, the mind is clearer, freer from personal thoughts and thus more capable of making connections leading to insight. Moving to Level Three, the Loving self, there is a shift to more subtle, angelic energies. The main qualities associated with this state are innocence, beauty and harmony. For souls who strongly resonate to this level, there is often a struggle in facing the harsher realities of life and they can assume a victim identity as they fail to grasp the darker side of human nature. Level Four is connected with the Wise self where themes of justice, truthfulness, wisdom and compassion emerge. At this level, there is often a struggle between dark and light as the person confronts the shadowy aspects of their nature with the ego needing to submit, like the servant, to the Lord to make the breakthrough necessary to progress on the spiritual path. The vibrations of the different levels are becoming increasingly more subtle in nature and as we move into Level Five, known as the Sacred self, qualities of peacefulness, splendour, majesty and sacredness are present. The lesson of this level is in the healing of self image. Taking the example of the lion cub, when he looks into the lake of the heart guided by the older lion, he sees in his reflection who he truly is –he sees his Lord. Ultimately, to heal our wounded self image we need to recognize our divinity. Level Six is the experience of the Pure self and the state associated with this level is one of being very detached, impersonal, pure and totally in a state of receptivity or submission. This might be likened to the attunement of the Virgin Mary at the annunciation or the receptivity of the innocent girl who is to be the bride in the dream of the Sheikh. From this perspective, forgiveness is possible as one has gone beyond the personal and can see the cause behind the cause, or the karmic knots that one has been caught in. Beyond the sixth level the soul is absorbed into the black, uncreated light. In the alchemical process, the soul is reinvested with spirit to be reborn and to make its descent through the planes to reunite spirit with matter, thus enabling the Revealed God to be unveiled in the midst of life.

So how does all of this translate into work with clients? For many clients seeking psychotherapy the transpersonal dimension will not be very conscious. Most often, clients come with distressing themes of unmet needs in childhood that replay through their adult lives in their relationships and work. Familiar themes are of loss, grief, addictions, low self esteem, depression, abuse often accompanied by feelings such as rage, resentment, sadness, envy, hatred, meaninglessness, hopelessness and despair. This is the nigredo of alchemy where the soul is weighed down in its leaden state and is lost in forgetfulness of its divine source. Corbin reminds us that sadness is not the privilege of the creature alone, but is the "sadness of the un-revealed God, the anguish He experiences in His unknownness and occulation." (p.115, 1969) He goes on, "From the inscrutable depths of the Godhead this sadness calls for a "Sigh of Compassion (Nafas Rahmani)."

Here we can see a parallel in transpersonal psychotherapy as the therapist acts as a conduit for the sigh of compassion mirroring back through the power of the heart to the client the qualities she sees, and by doing so, like the sunflower turning its head towards the sun, the client can begin to remember who he/she is on a deeper level. To see a client at the level of the soul is to lift the veils of obscurity enabling the dawning of remembrance of the original disposition of one’s divine nature. It is to have faith, trust and love in the Godhead of the client that, like in the New Testament story of the prodigal son, a way back will be found.

Let me conclude with an example of a client who came to see me and who had done considerable work on herself but was new to the transpersonal approach. The client is a middle aged woman, a gifted writer but who for many years had suffered from writers’ block. In our third session together, she brought along a dream, a new experience in itself as she had not recalled dreams before. In the dream, the client and her husband are standing together at the front of a little boat. She described the dream saying, "We were one at heart. All around us the water rippled. Above us towered the huge golden figure of the Statue of Liberty which stands at the end of one of the islands in the river Seine."


I decided to work with the client using the waking dream method, a technique for working with dreams unique to the CCPE. This method of working with a dream taps directly into the alam al-mithal, the world of the creative imagination. The client is guided into a meditative state and then is asked to relive the dream in the present tense as if she is participating in the dream world itself. In this way, the symbols become imbued with life as the client opens herself consciously, enabling the symbols to "carry her back" (tàwil) to a more subtle state of consciousness. Each symbol or element in the dream is seen as part of the dreamer’s personality or reveals their state of consciousness. The psychotherapist will help the client make possible links as to where in the body the images and memories are held. This can involve connecting to the latif, the subtle energy centres that resonate to different levels of consciousness which may have energetic blocks caused by unprocessed psychological material. Guiding the client back into the dream, I asked her to identify with, by means of the imagination, the different elements of the dream. So first of all she became the couple looking up at the Statue of Liberty and described her feelings; then I asked her to feel and experience the quality of light upon the water and finally to actually become the Statue of Liberty. At this point, the client experienced a profound sense of the transpersonal as the Statute became a living flame of light, an experience which stayed with her for many days. Later she described the experience as "like a state of constant orgasmic arousal, beautiful beyond words and extending to the whole world around me, nature in particular. It was scary because I seemed to be in a parallel world and needed to function effectively in this one." She described the experience in this poem which also marked the end of her writers’ block and unleashed a flood of creativity.

The Statue of Liberty


Around my head peacock’s feathers

Of shimmering liquid gold


Below me ripples the water

On their boat, leaning against the rail

The pair look up

Their eyes are mirrors of reflected gold

But on their faces in the freshening wind

Lies overlaid a web of weariness.

Now lift your eyes, see around my head

The quivering mirage of golden smoke.

Within the everyday glows liquid fire!

Be bold, be steadfast, trust your heart;

You lose your vision if you lose the tide

The Time is Now and Always.

We used the image in our work together of the Statue of Liberty with her blazing torch and scales of justice for many subsequent months. For the client, the Statue of Liberty symbolized the qualities of the Wise self of Level Four and the challenge of upholding the light of truth and justice. Her life problems involved developing fire qualities, becoming authentic, speaking her truth, holding her ground and revealing her very fine spiritual nature. In her words, "I no longer wished to be spineless" Incidentally she had broken her back in her student days. Later, on her first individual spiritual retreat, she had a vision of the Goddess Athene in gold wearing a softly draped Greek gown and a gleaming helmet looking at her with grey, blue eyes. So rather like the lion cub seeing a true reflection of himself in the lake, the client looked into the mirror of her heart and saw a vision of her soul, her heavenly counterpart, her lord.

Chittick (1994) gives the translation of the word belief in Arabic as to knit, knot, or tie. He describes how Ibn Arabi uses it to illustrate the range of ways in which human beings form beliefs that ‘tie up’ consciousness and thus create the limitations that obscure the vision of the Divine Face. Transpersonal psychotherapy contributes towards the untying of these knots of beliefs, freeing the person from the constriction of the ego to open to the knowledge that they are indeed a self-disclosure of God.

Paper presented at KNOW YOURSELF - Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi 

23rd Annual Symposium - 13th -14th May 2006


Arabi, I.B. (1975). The Wisdom of the Prophets (Translated by Titus Burkhardt). Beshara Publications:Gloucestershire.

Chittick, W.C. (1994). Imaginal Worlds. State University of New York Press: New York, Albany.

Corbin, H. (1969). The Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn Arabi. Princeton University Press: New Jersey.

Cozolino, L. (2002). The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy. Norton: New York.

Hamilton, N. (2006). The Role of Dreams in the Study of Human Transformation. Unpublished Doctorial Research.

Hirtenstein, S. (1999). The Unlimited Mercifier. Anqa Publishing: Oxford.

Izutsu. T. (1983). Sufism and Taoism. University of California Press: California.

Khan, H.I. (1973). C.W. Vol. 1. Barrie & Jenkins, London.

Morris, J.W. (2005). The Reflective Heart. Fons Vitae: Louisville, KY.

Siegal, D.J. (1999). The Developing Mind. Guilford Press: New York & London.

Winnicott, D.W. (1964). The Child, The Family and The Outside World. Penguin Books:London.


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