Regarding the four rivers, here is a secret I disclose for you (although, as usual, whatever I say can and may be used in evidence against “me”).
“… in it are rivers of water incorruptible, rivers of milk of which the taste never change, rivers of wine, a joy to those who drink, and rivers of honey pure and clear.” (Qur’an 47:15)
These are the four rivers that run from the Lote Tree (also outlined in the hadeeth relating to Mi’raj and within the first few pages of Genesis): as Qur’an and various Divine sources observe, two of these rivers (of water and milk) are visible, while the “upper” two rivers (wine and honey) are invisible.
Within Tailorite Sufism, these rivers correspond to four planes of existence:
Water: Mortal life, Nasut (in Arabic), Assiyah (in Hebrew) the everyday world of basic signs, human life, signification-in-Time — proofs, weaving. The world that we exist in. It consists of games that people play, the judgements they make, the actions and choices they commit themselves to. It is the space of human life. Life derives from this a river of water because life is built from the water of God’s love:
And We have made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe? (Qur’an 2:30)
And Allah sends down rain from the skies, and gives therewith life to the earth after its death: verily in this is a Sign for those who listen. (Qur’an 16:65)
Milk: Formation, Malakut (in Arabic), Yetzirah (in Hebrew): models and forms of the things that go on in nasut. This space consists of models of life’s games, that provide the formation and structure for how we relate to God. It classifies and defines/prescribes the parameters by which an action can operate. It is also within this space that a recording of the games as they progress is made. Prophetic revelation (and dreams) source from this world.
For these reasons, all schools appear to unanimously agree that that this realm is the world of angels (specifically of Jibreel). Angels are entities that occupy this space in the same way that we are entities that occupy the space of water (though we/they can “move” up and down the levels according to our projection). For example, in the hadeeth relating to the Mi’raj, Prophecy informs us that he saw Gabriel on the second descent: because from the second descent of the final river, Prophecy would have encountered this space and seen Gabriel in his original form.
This space is made of milk, because it is in self-reflexive perception of the “form” of our “throwness” that we encounter illumination. Specifically, a transmission of illumination that is Angelic. Thus my previous discussion of illuminated judgement (with its specific focus on milk and Prophecy) lead up to this point.
And verily in cattle will you find an instructive sign. From what is within their bodies between excretions and blood, We produce, for your drink, milk, pure and agreeable to those who drink it. (Qur’an 16:66)
There have been secular philosophers who engage with a metaphysics and describe “God’s eye” self-reflection on all the different structures we live in. When they do this, hey are attempting to drink milk (though they are often clumsy and ungodly in their Daedelus flights).
I am a philosopher who is not. I have a glass of milk before me. Everything I am writing now is milky in this sense — including the stuff that follows below. Unlike the philosophers-who-are, those who slip up in their meta-reflecton, I “get away with it” because I am married to milk (I will explain in a moment, but let’s press on into invisibility).
Wine: Creation, Jabarut (in Arabic), Beriah (in Hebrew). This is the space of metamodels, models of modelling regimes. It’s a bit difficult to describe really, because this space “predicates upon” and “forms” the realm of milk — but as milk is predication and descriptions/forms — this is a predication that is not, essentially.
The simplest way to think about the Pub and Wine is in terms of a common Sufi stereotype: a Sufi is someone who gets drunk on the Love of God to the extent that their own selfhood disappears. The Pub is a location that serves this Love intoxication on tap.
And from the fruits of date palms and grapes you produce intoxicants, as well as good provisions. This should be proof for people who understand. (Qur’an 16:67)
Getting a bit deeper, the “true” meaning of whatever culture/religion you were born into comes from Milk (awakening yourself to the fact that all the signs in your Holy Book, for instance, defer to God in such a way as to feed you Milk). In contrast, when drunk, this truth-in-form or truth-through-form becomes obliterated through greater jihad, through the obliteration of the self. (Remember that Hamza’s drunken antics, a key jihadi and ally of Ali, was one of the things that led to alcohol’s prohibition.) When drunk, signs no longer simply defer to God in such as way as to feed us Gnosis — instead, we enter a bodily transformation in apprehension of these signs. Rather than a milky lesser jihad of cultural transformation (attacking one city, killing its men and enslaving its women), the wine allows us a “physical becoming” through the Vine/rhizome that is the entire body of all cultures. The drunk will therefore have no cultural affinity but rather will physically produce all culture.
In terms of western philosophy, a smaller number of men have breached this realm: for example, the rhizomology of Deleuze and Guattari. But the breach is incomplete. Wine has more dangers than benefit. Mostly these dangers have to do with losing adab (distance from Reality) and the consequences when we “come down” from this. As drunk Hamza (a noble sahaba remember!) said (caught in a compromising position with a dancing girl) to the Prophet Muhammed: “Aren’t you my father’s slave?” He spoke in truth, though in sinful lack of adab. Ali is the opposite: his Naj al Balagha is written entirely drunk, without adab — in Truth — but in successful saintly negotiation of that drink.
The Tavern/Pub is an earthly entrypoint into this realm. One of the things that happens in the Pub is that everyone blends into each other, because everyone becomes intoxicated by the sight of their arms and legs turning into Vine leaves. Another thing is speaking in tounges (producing new languages, new games of Milk to play). To be truly Christian (really Christian) is to be drunk: this is why ibn Arabi says his entry point to revelation was Christ. He found a way of turning his water into wine.
As this is not the end of days, the question is: the Tavern or the Mosque? To really grok the rhizome/Vine of our physical reality is to enter the Pub. But in general the danger is to cease to be cultural Muslims …
My occasional technique is to drink a bit within the confines of my tent and then pray after I’ve become sober (following the shariah in this regard) — or, like the Prophet Nuh, to ensure my sons cover me backwards with a garment if I become naked from drunkedness.
While getting drunk is prohibited in the Shariah, cosmic prohibition has a number of interesting sides (it’s a bit like prohibiting images of God or of likenesses of Prophecy — I’ve just created two of these by merely uttering the prohibition!) For young westerners, getting drunk can seem quite glamorous: lots of celebrities endorse alcohol consumption. For example, the Ayatollah Khomeni wrote a poem near his death in which he expressed his desire to leave the Mosque and enter the Tavern:
“Let the doors of tavern be opened, and let us go there day and night.
For I have become disgusted with the Mosque as well as from the School.
I remove the dress of ascesticm and dissimulation.
And become awakened after wearing the robe of a tavern haunter.”
Whatever your opinion of the Imam, he was no doubt sincere in this verse: physically, not metaphorically (because in wine things begin to get physical). Similarly Hafiz of Shiraz exalted the prayer mats being stained with wine. And Leonard Cohen sung: “I fought against the bottle, but I had to do it drunk.”
A bit of a cryptic footnote to wine and its relationship to the soul. This space is one of physical becoming. In wine, it is possible to become any number of milky sign-regimes, to transmute the thing you call “me” into any other number of lives. This means that, within the ummah of the self, the wine-soul travels between houses of milk. The wine-soul is the reason we are a multiplicity of lives, some of which we forget, some of which we remember. But this form of “astral travel” (to use a new age kind of term) is governed by a shariah of physics:
O you who believe! enter not houses other than your own, until you have asked permission and saluted those in them: that is best for you, in order that you may heed. If you find no one in the house, enter not until permission is given to you: if you are asked to go back, go back: that makes for greater purity for yourselves: and Allah knows well all that ye do. It is no fault on your part to enter houses not used for living in, which serve some (other) use for you: And Allah has knowledge of what ye reveal and what ye conceal. (Qur’an 24:27-29)
Honey: The Metametamodel/the Heavenly Court/The Mind’s Emanation, Lahut (in Arabic), Atzilut (in Hebrew). Wine/bodily transformation within the Real is not the end of the invisible story. If wine is physical becoming, physical transformation into the actual signs of the Real, then there is a level above that predicates upon all physical transformations.
This level above is the means of production for everything that comes below (the vine, the dairy, the waters of life). The (worker) bees maintain this means of production. Honey is the pure, clear, unadulterated sweetness of Divine Unity from which creation derives. But in reverse-time (of our existence), it is extracted by the bees from the multiplicity of the fruits of the world — forming now a pure, undifferentiated tawhidic dimension of one. God is One, and still ultimately transcendent, still above all this, but God’s light shines down “immediately” into this amber space of honey and is still attatched explicitly, outwardly, completely, to everything. There is nothing sweeter, nothing more joyful, than this first space of creation.
A bit cryptic now. This space contains the Laugh of Sarah, the Wife of Honey laughs with Joy here. From which all physical transformations (all corporeal becomings of the wine soul) derive (in this sense it is is primordially Adamic, being one of a ruh-in-clay, a single soul, if wine is a space of Astral travel).
Thanks to the Bee, it is possible to locate Hives.
And your Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in habitations, then to eat of all the produce, and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord. There issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought. (Qur’an 16:68-69)
This is why the narrations inform us that Prophecy loves sweet things — and also why honey (even in small dosages, being so rare) is a medicine.
Narrated ‘Aisha: Allah’s Apostle used to love sweet edible things and honey. (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 65:342)
Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah: I heard the Prophet saying, “If there is any good in your medicines, then it is in a gulp of honey, a cupping operation, or branding (cauterization), but I do not like to be (cauterized) branded. (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 71, Number 603)
What does this mean for “me”? These rivers are orders of knowledge and are aspects of this strange thing we call the human psyche that is mapped out in the Holy Book. They are beautifully mapped out in verses (16:64-69). The mapping concludes
It is Allah who creates you and takes your souls at death; and of you there are some who are sent back to a feeble age, so that they know nothing after having known: for Allah is All-Knowing, All-Powerful. (16:70)
And here it becomes clear that these orders are about the creation/death of the human, and of cycles of knowing and forgetting — True dhkr runs through all four rivers, upwards, by these cycles, of knowing and forgetting. Each cycle a simultaneous opening of an aspect of the self that runs through its associated river, a recollection and knowing of that self’s aspect, and a forgetting of that self. Each cycle a valley and a crest of a hill.
Our soul is constructed from four components. We move through the waters of first order in daily life. Our lives are recorded and constrained by the angels of the second order: the milky modelspace that guides our life is guidance, and this guidance is form and form is immutable and unchanging. Our angelic forms are wine stains. And the wine bottles are made of honey.
Philosophy has up to now penetrated the space of milk to the extent that it considers forms and considers its consideration of forms self-reflexively. It has even ventured into Vinology. But cosmically, it is homosexual. This would be my main problem with western philosophy: it lacks a female touch, it is too flirtatious, it lacks fidelity. It is almost, at times, adulterous. To venture into these realms and maintain balance (not to fall like Hamza but to obtain the victory of Ali) must occur through marriage.
There are four realms, four rivers, four aspects of selfhood and, placed within these things for those who make this dhkr of recollection/forgetting, four wives:
And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course. (Qur’an 4:3)
Four wives will ensure fidelity and completion in ascent. The Persian Sufis like to refer to these four realms as “hills” or “crests”, the feminine wives being the “valleys” at the beginning of an ascent to the “hill”.