This is the intermediate place between spirit and matter, the mundus imaginalis, where the spiritual world assumes an objective reality, and where the transmutation of the prima materia of the human psyche into the subtle or spiritual body is the work of an alchemical opus that involves encounter with an angelic presence through the faculty of the active imagination. In this paper, I intend to explore the nature of this encounter in the context of the neoplatonism of the Islamic mystical philosophers to whom Corbin dedicated his life and work. To begin, we should briefly consider the kind of knowledge that characterises the Platonic path of gnosis. Human modes were characterised by rational, theoretical and analytical attempts to grasp the world of nature through the observation and deduction of sense-perception, whereas divine modes embodied a deep intuitive sense of transcendent principles governing and emanating throughout creation, apprehended only through the highest intellectual principle in the soul which recognised the images of its divine source. The former entailed the separation of the observer from 1 H. The former took place in time, the latter in a timeless place beyond the working out of cause and effect.

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Stein introduced us to the work of Henry Corbin — , who was a professor of Islamic Studies at the Sorbonne, a Christian theologian, and an expert on 12th and 13th c.

Sufism and Persian mysticism. This intermediate world has its own consistent topography, but is also constantly influenced and shaped by the physical and the spiritual worlds. We embodied humans both perceive this Mundus Imaginalis and we create in it.

Yet, in some ways, the Mundus Imaginalis is more real than the physical, sensory world we call real. It is a method of perception and exploration that is supposed to straddle the physical world and the Mundus Imaginalis, allowing interplay between them Voss, p. British psychoanalyst D. An example of being in potential space would be the composer who writes a piece of music, yet might also feel it was communicated to her by a Muse.

The use of transitional phenomena like a comforting blanket or favorite piece of music can also prop up the potential space, making further play, creativity, and discovery even more likely. Getting lost and scared in the new territory Now, what happens if you have a psychic opening that is brought about by neurological damage or is otherwise abrupt, distressing, and discontinuous with your previous weltanschauung?

Theoretically, you now have suddenly increased access to the Mundus Imaginalis. This is supposed to be a desirable thing, expanding your capacity for creativity, grace, and mystical fun. But, nooooooooo. We seem to experience it as frightening and overwhelming. And we imagine the worst. And it all has a relentlessly negative bias. Richard Stein said that when you first encounter a repressed aspect of yourself or your culture, it almost always comes up first as dark -- almost as if it were angry or vengeful for awhile for having been neglected by you for so long.

Psychologist Kaye Rossi, Ph. According to one of the working hypotheses of this blog, distressing psychic openings happen for reasons analogous to hitting bottom see 29 Feb 12 post. Rossi said that, when hitting bottom, the addicted person unwittingly co-creates with other intelligences in the Mundus Imaginalis some kind of synchronicity or wake up call that makes it possible and necessary to start letting go of the addiction pp.

Clearly, it is better to be admitted to this level of awareness than not, even if admittance is initially frightening and requires painful purification and evolution. Like Orpheus, you have to be careful where you look.

Then, having a lot of imagination starts to become a gift. Corbin says himma can concretely create that which it seeks Voss, p. Any strong emotion carries within it far more energy than, say, that required to send a rocket to the moon. As we develop our relationship with the Mundus Imaginalis, our imagination begins to come from a deeper part of ourselves, so that what is found or created is more truly great for us, more individual, more apposite, than anything we could have imagined for ourselves before we tumbled into the opening.

Sources: Rossi, Kaye. Pacifica Graduate Institute dissertation. Stein, Richard. Lecture, 17 March , The C. Jung Institute, San Francisco. Voss, Angela. Barbara Croner, M. Posted by.


Henry Corbin

The version printed here has been condensed with the permission of the author by omitting paragraphs of a technical nature on pages 5 and 8 of the original, as well as an account pp. The complete text of this account has been published in H. Other writings of Prof. Corbin have been published regularly in French in the Eranos Jahrbiicher. Latin terminology has the advantage of providing us with a fixed and technical point of reference against which we can compare and measure the various, more or less vague equivalents suggested by modern Western languages. To begin with, I shall make a confession.


Mundus Imaginalis, or the Imaginary and the Imaginal

The Legacy of Henry Corbin " He was a champion of the transformative power of the Imagination and of the transcendent reality of the individual in a world threatened by totalitarianisms of all kinds. He was a major figure at the Eranos Conferences in Switzerland. He introduced the concept of the mundus imaginalis into contemporary thought. His work has provided a foundation for archetypal psychology as developed by James Hillman and influenced countless poets and artists worldwide.

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