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The Third Chapter, on the Nafs-i Kull, its Position and Activity.

The Nafs-i Kull is called the "Second" (Thani) because it is the second after Aql. None amongst the higher and lower principles (Hudud) is higher than it, below the Aql. It possesses the numerical position of two while the position of one belongs to the Aql. Just as there is no number, after two, in which two would not be contained, so there is nothing, neither man not angel, whose existence would not be due to the Nafs-i Kulli (sic). Th latter, like the Aql, [24] is perfect only potentially, and actually it is imperfect, because it descends from the Word (Kalima) of the Creator, through the instrumentality (miyanaji) of the Aql. And whatever comes into existence with the help of an intermediary, cannot be similar to that intermedialry in every respect. It may only be potentially similar to it, in the way that the son, when grown up, will sometime become like his father, complete in his manhood. But it is impossible that the offspring should be similar to its father from the very moment that it separates from its parent. Were that possible, manhood itself would be realized, being at once able to manifest itself in the offspring.

For this reason it is therefore said that the Nafs is similar to the Aql potentially, not actually. It came into existence through the instrumentality of the Aql, and the thing that is born from another has to be nourished by the latter before, one day, it becomes similar to its parent. An example is the human sperm which, falling into the womb of the mother, and being nourished, one day becomes similar to the father, with the help of that nourishment which it gets from its mother, by the force (quwwat) derived from the father. Thus the child comes from both of them just as God said (xc, 1-3): "I shall not swear [25] by the city, and thou art at liberty to act as thou pleasest in it, nor by the parent with his offspring." Here the "land" (or town) allegorizes the Natiq who is the city (shahristan) of knowledge (because he said: "I am the city of knoweldge, and Ali is its gate"). Then God said: "Thou art free in this city in what art thou doing", i.e. in appointing the Asas. He says: "I shall not swear by the father and the offspring born from him". This oath is by the Aql whose position in the higher world is that of the father, and by the Nafs whose position (hadd) is that of the offspring. The Nafs came into existence from the Aql, and had the potentiality of one day becoming perfect. It started trying, and began to derive instruction (fa'ida) from the Aql. It was like the child which in the womb of its mother is nourished (growing) by the force (qudrat) which has been laid in it, and it is possible that one day the sperm will become a man. That liquid (ab) always absorbs nourishment (ma'ida) in the womb of the mother. Similarly, the Nafs derives instruction and nutrition (fa'ida wa ma'ida) from the Aql, and strives to attain perfection. The Nafs is the architect of the material world (khudawand-i tarkib-i jismani), and it is the Nafs which started (junbish karda ast) the movement of this world. The purpose (sabab) [26] of that activity (junbish) which it develops is the search for its perfection, and this attained in the eminent persons (nafs-ha-y-i buzurgwar) who appears in this world, such as the souls of the Prophets. Asases, Imams, hujjats, da'is, ma'dhuns and mustajibs. The object of its producing (faraz awurdan) this world was to produce (faraz awurdan) souls ( nafs-ha), in order that in them (ba-d-an) the Nafs itself would become perfect, and ultimately attain the position (darja) of the Aql. This was because the Nafs did not possess the position (darja) of the latter, and wanted to make itself instantaneously similar to the Aql. It failed, however, to rectify its (original) defect (nuqsan). It had no such strength (tawana'i) as the Aql had, producing it (the Nafs) instantaneously, without time. It, however, instantaneously produced an entity similar to itself: when it moved to create an entity similar to itself, its movement (junbish) resulted in the appearance of the Hayula (prototype of the world); then the form (surat) of this world came into existence, through it. All the perfection (tamami) which belonged (bi-bayast)to it, Nafs-i Kull laid it into the Hayula. (Such perfection), however, did not act instantaneously (ba-fi'l birun na-y-amad), and so it shaped the world from that of Hayula, laying into it the power of the souls of the knowing (danayan), still incomplete, like the human sperm, which possesses the potentiality of producing many individuals in the course of time. [27] Therefore the world came into action (ba-junbish andar uftad) by the power (quwwat) which the Nafs-i Kulli (sic) had put into it, in the form of the souls (nafs-ha) of the Natiqs, Asases, Imams, and others, for the purpose of bringing those force from potential possibilities into the state of realized realities. And as soon as the world started acting (bi-junbid), from its action, units of time (zaman zaman) came into existence, while the world itself became space (makan ghast) due to that movement. And in (that) space in time by its action all that the Nafs-i Kull had laid into it began to increase (fadil amadan girift). Till now we see that its procreative faculty has been continuous (za'ish-i alam paywasta ghasta), and cannot be stopped, and that it cannot be helped that the Nafs-i Kull expands this world, producing from it those great souls (nafs-ha-y buzurgwar) and one day rectifying its defect (nuqsan). When that defect has been rectified, the Nfas-i Kull will become similar to the Aql-i Kull, thus attaining what it aimed at from the beginning.

The difference, however, between what the Aql has done, and what (Nafs) is doing, consists in the fact that the former has produced it outside time (bi-zaman), while the Nafs can only achieve what it does within time. This is why we have said that the Aql is moving (mutaharrik), or acting, by offering thanks to God, while it is static, quiescent (sakin) in so far as it is self sufficient. And for this reason the Nafs, which came into existence through it, [28] acquired both movement and quiescence, potentially. Its working (junbish) however, actually started by its attempting to attain its own perfection, while its quiescence is due to the fact that it is connected with the Aql, which is selfsufficient, and that it, Nafs, derives its guidance (fa'ida) from it. In a similar way, in the world organized by the Nafs-i Kull, both movement and quiescence are in existence, as in the case of the earth which is quiescent and the skies which are moving (junban). No material body (jism) is free from one of these states (wasf).

Similarly, the action (fi'l) of the Nafs is of two kinds. One is perfect potentially but imperfect in realization, as in the case of the creation of the world which is potentially perfect, but only (gradually ?) Comes into existence. It is like humanity: individual men are born (and die) while mankind is spread all over the world, and the whole purpose of the world is in humanity (alam dar mardum jumla ast). Therefore the action (fi'l) of the Nafs in this world is only potentially (in general) perfect, before its final realization. But in some other actions Nafs is perfect both, potentially and actually, as in the case of the production of the souls of the Natiqs, Asases, and Imams, who are the (only) real men (marduman-i ba-haqiqat), by the nature of their souls (ba-surat-ha-y nafs-i khwish), as the Prophet said: "Do not debase your faces because God has created [29] Adam after His own image, and breathed into him the growing force (namiya) from His spirit". Then know that the Divine Image (surat-i Izadi) is the Nafs-i Kull, the Divine Spirit is the Word (Kalima), and Adam, by the command of God, is the Natiq of his time. At every period he, Adam, by its (i.e. Nafs's) power (quwwat), in his (individual) corporeal forms (ba- surat-ha-y-i nafsani), is in it (i.e. the world) as the image of the Nafs-i Kull, while the word of God (Kalima'i Bari) would be the spirit in it (or in him, Adam?) This is as God says (xxi, 91) in the story of Mary, peace be upon her! "The daughter of Imran who guarded her sexual organs, and We breathed into her of Our Spirit". This means that Maryam did not turn her ears to the devils (Iblisan) with their speeches. This is because the sexual organ is like the ear, (footnote 20a included in 20) and ear symbolizes the sexual organ because through it comes the corporeal form (surat-i jismani), and through the ear the mental idea (surat-i nafsani). "She guarded her sexual organ" means that she did not turn her ear to those who only teach the zahir, formal side of the religion (zahir-sukhaniyan), disregarding the esoteric interpretation (ta'wil). "And We, in the Word (Kalima), have given her the lot of bringing up Jesus" [30] - peace be upon him, - until he becomes the Prophet.

Therefore in that tradition in which the Prophet says "Do not disgrace your faces", he meant: "Do not take your spiritual guides, Imams, from amongst the enemies of the True Family (khandan-i haqq), making through this the images of your souls as horrid as the faces of the devils". The ta'wil of the "face" is the Imam, because the mu'min is recognized by his Imam, as God said (xvii, 73): " The day when We will call all men by their Leader (Imam)".

May God keep us steadfast in the obedience of the Imams and may He call us by them on the Day, by His generosity and mercy!