The way that knowledge is obtained in science differs from the way that knowledge is obtained on the path of Erfan. In science, results are obtained through the five senses, followed by a rational conclusion. Erfan, in contrast, does not rely on the five physical senses. Instead, it relies on the internal sense, sometimes referred to as the sixth sense. It is for this reason, that the starting point of Erfan is an insight. To have an insight means to open the heart, the third eye and to activate the sixth sense, including the five senses. This is the essence of an insight. Although an insight is not an irrational discovery, it is a suprasensorial one that goes beyond the five senses, yet does not neglect or disregard them. There were Sufi masters such as Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi, Sheikh Mohammed Lahiji and Sheikh Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi, who summarised the results of their direct suprasensorial discovery, their insights, by conveying them in a coherent and comprehensible format for us. They thus utilized their five sense and their ability to think logically and rationally. For this reason, science and Erfan are not incompatible. Indeed, they can even complement each other.
It is similar to our current educational system. If someone wants to study any subject or profession, he or she needs to go to school, college, or university and have a teacher and follow a specific educational system that is based on logic and rational thought. It is absolutely the same if people want to discover themselves and open their heart. There are specific methods and techniques which seekers learn from their teacher and which they practice in order to open the suprasensorial perception in order to be able to penetrate into areas that cannot be understood by the five senses. Sufism offers just that: an educational method and a system for Erfan that enables the student to activate their suprasensorial perception through techniques and methods, that are specific to Sufism, in order to be able to discover themselves. For this, the Sufi Master teaches students how to open their heart, their third eye.
The next topic that we will cover is the essence and nature of our “True Self”. What is our “True Self” and how do we relate through our five senses to our “True Self” are some of the questions that we will explore in our next essay about Erfân.
Dr. Seyed M. Azmayesh