Sufism, the Way of Knowledge

"Pursue not of which you have no knowledge."

Holy Qur’an (17:36)

Almost two and a half thousand years ago, Plato, in his famous Allegory of the Cave, described the perplexity of humanity’s situation and state of "unfinished education." He said:

"Shackled head and foot from birth to the cold wall of your cave, you sit mesmerized by the shadows cast by a bonfire out of your direct sight. In your ignorance, you mistake the shadows of real people and objects parading unseen behind you, for reality itself. Only after someone comes to deliver you miraculously from your chain, are you able to turn around, in pain and protestation, to behold your sad, deluded situation, Only then you begin to see accurately the reality of events taking place in the cave. With further guidance, you ascend outside to behold the green grass, blue sky, fresh air and finally, the brilliant sun itself. Completing your education thus requires a teacher."1

"Plato discovered from his own experiences that he was a prisoner of his senses. This ancient allegory, often treated as some abstract philosophical koan, suddenly becomes enormously relevant when one understands that one lives out one’s life in just such a cave–the one atop the torso: the brain. This three-plus pound mass of protoplasm is the source and repository of all one’s sensory perceptions, memories, emotions, learning – in short, all of the human 'psychology' ultimately resides somewhere in the brain's bio-chemical, electrical mini codes. And however differently one may sense reality, one will live ones entire life in a world of cortical shadows, out of which one constructs a limited and totally distorted reality of what 'is.' In the most literal sense, one is a cave dweller.”2

"Modern scientific research, across many disciplines, has validated Plato’s metaphor. In his book on human memory, science writer Philip Hilts  3  made several observations about humanity’s cave and the misapprehensions and misperceptions it creates. He presented several key principles in Sufism in a way seldom found in scientific writings. He stated that in everyday life we act as if we have a clear and complete depiction of the world outside us. Based on our limited sensory experiences, we imagine wholeness, and think we sense our entire world." 3

"Hilts postulates that, since it usually takes decades, perhaps centuries, for a radically different vision to be accepted and established, so it must be for this new understanding we’re approaching.

“Scientists in other disciplines have also concluded that humanity’s knowledge of reality remains shrouded and incomplete. Quantum physics, for instance, stated that humanity does not know reality. In fact, it said, we cannot even imagine it. Einstein’s colleague, Sir Arthur Eddington, evoking Plato’s imagery, once described humanity’s situation as ‘watching a shadow graph performance of familiar life.' "4     

The human being is bound to the limitations of its senses, and remains shrouded from the true reality of existence, believing only that it is what we see, hear, touch, taste and smell that exists. Things indeed are not as they seem! By using our senses in limitation, we will not be able to know our reality. According to the teachings of the Oveyssi School of Sufism®, the human body is equipped with a built-in mechanism that facilitates the ascension of the human being to the most elevated state. The Teacher, called the "Arif,” is the guide to spiritual ascension and the journey of self-knowledge. He completes humanity’s education.

1. G.M.A. GRUBE, trans. The republic of Plato, Hackett, Indianapolis, 1974, pp. 170-171.
2. Hazrat Nader ANGHA, Theory "I", M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi® Publications, Riverside, CA, USA, 2002, p. 143-144.
3. Philip HILTS, Memory Ghost: the Nature of Memory, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1995, p. 22.
4. Sir Arthur EDDINGTON, The Nature of the Physical World, Macmillan, New York, 1929. Quoted in : Ken WEBER, Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World's Greatest Physicists, Shambhala, Boulder, CO, 1984, p. 9.