Humans are extra terrestrial beings; a fact as simple and straight forward as this sentence itself. No matter what religion or no religion you follow the fact is, humans are more than the physical self. Something which more research into parapsychology and Neuro scientific studies are showing, humans are gifted with many ‘built in’ suits of technologies within the body; from displaying extraordinary feats of endurance to having outer body experiences where the spirit is transferred to another spiritual body enabling it to view the physical body from outside in.
Ancient scriptures as well as religious texts have highlighted the existence of these layers and the inner dimensions of the body the world over. Notably the science of Sufism has played a central role is reconnecting people with the spiritual side through the knowledge and practice of being able to use these specific ‘built in’ technologies in the body. In Islāmic Sufism these are called the ‘lataif’ entities which, once activated, can catapult a person into the midst of spiritual activity and connection, the spiritual highway of the fast lane. In the Buddhist tradition they are called the ‘Chakras’ and Chi power in the Chinese tradition, where it describes chi as,
the fundamental life force that flows through all and everything.
Essentially lataif opens up a person to become receptive to the subtle workings of the universe and its ever-changing nature in the unseen world. Often times, allowing a person to view into the other half of life here on earth namely the angelic, demonic, other-worldly going on. Lataif, chakras or Chi power, whatever you prefer to call it, exists in all humans and is not a condition to be muslim, an indicator of piety or only in a specific place or group. These are the basic elements which can be the cause for dreams at night, premonitions at day, visions in wakefulness and a sense of complete connection with the universal energy as the Tibetan monks teach. These entities can be used for both good and evil once the skill has been learnt on how to use them. Just like a mind, hand or feet is first learnt how to use it then it becomes natural. They are the same things which each tradition has and teaches but under different names and characters involved. This is not only restricted to the monotheist religions of Islam, Christianity or Judaism. The Taoist tradition as well as other far eastern fringe religions have texts which highlight the existence of inner powers within the body. The colours of the lataif are also same, with slight variations in the spiritual traditions.
In Islāmic sufi traditions lataif are used to connect a person with the sacred and glorious, which becomes a means to meet the sages of the past and present in the spiritual world and receive guidance from them for bettering one’s life in general. In the same light spiritualists from other religions use these entities, under the names of chakras or chi, to have access to the universal life force and receive elimination like Budda and Lao-Tzu. People in the Islāmic Sufi tradition who like lataif can use this to do good, in the sense if it energizes them to be more strict on the sunnah and shariyah then this is a positive step. But a novice in the world of spirituality should be rest assured these exercises of learning the skill to use lataif are non-essential byproducts of the science of ihsan. A person will never be asked about them in the grave or be used as a category to judge him on success or failure.
Simply put, lataif are spiritual gateways within the body which allows, once opened, to have access to the unseen paranormal world. Anyone who wishes to open their lataif can do so and experience the intangible world around them. The functions of the lataif is to open up a person spiritually and make him a channel through which many of the universal energy and lights can be experienced. To become a student of the lataif one needs to do extensive spiritual exercises and dedicate himself to strict protocols of sacrifice and struggle. He must do periods of seclusion in which the lataif exercises are performed, a series of mantras, or in Islāmic Sufi traditions ‘wirds’ are recited and repeated to connect a person with the spiritual world. Each tradition varies from the other with some secluding themselves all their lives like the Benedictine monks, or in the case of Islāmic traditions one can do 40 days seclusion or the least of which is 3 days, then repeating this seclusion periods through a long period; a year, two years or however long it takes to open the lataif from within. In the seclusion periods one is not allowed to talk, unless necessary, keep in the presence of performing the litanies and keep up a schedule of activity: when to sleep, wake up, do physical chores, the wirds, when to relax for a time etc. In the christian Benedictine traditions, the monks wake up just before dawn do a set of litanies, then the communal prayer begins once this is finished they have breakfast followed by some chores and then the rest of the day is spent in similar fashion.
These spiritual exercises done over a long period in ‘khalwah’, Islāmic term for seclusion, brings about the right environment and prepares a person for what is to come afterwards. Students of the lataif will at some point begin to see things, have paranormal experiences and this is a fact so much so if a tree or a brick wall was alive and performed the exercises of the lataif it will begin to see things. This is what the lataif do; open you up to supernatural experiences. Some people in the beginning see lights, the multicolored lights depending on which lataif they activate, others see different things, frankly it all boils down to the individual and his psyche. Just as the litaif allows a person to travel in the spiritual world it also can and often times it happens allow him to have access to the demonic world. In most cases, the student does not need to go looking for unwanted attention in the spiritual world. It will find you and the dark forces come flooding in. Once they have noticed a newcomer he is immediately seen as a easy target and naïve so they pounce on him. Many men have fallen foul to this part of the journey, when they started on the exercises of the lataif without a shaykh (teacher). A teacher is a person who has learnt this spiritual path from his teacher. It is one’s teacher and his spritual blessings which keeps one safe on the path of lataif and its happenings his knowledge and know-how save a person from many demonic influences which may come his way. For example, it is highly recommended in the Islāmic sufi tradition before a novice begins he should read the last three chapters of the Quran (sura Nass, Flak and Ahad) three times each and blow on himself and all over his body. This will act as a shield of protection from any demonic interference and attempts to lead a person astray.
The purpose of lataif are not to simply open people up and begin to see things, which will, given the time, undoubtedly happen. A person should, if he is a muslim, dedicate his life more to the Islāmic injunctions than before and not become slack. For the very reason many of the realities of the unseen has become clear to him now and so there is no excuse; the angelic, demonic and other-worldly life.
However some people use the lataif, or chakras in other traditions for sinister means; to gain companionship and favours off the devil himself; either to gain worldly recognition, fame and name, wealth, good fortune, supernatural powers etc. This is none the more true than with the vile and self confessed the ‘most evil man in history’, Edward Alexander Crowley. He once announced he had sacrificed 300 babies over a time to the devil in an abandoned house in Mexico.
Edward Alexander Crowley was born in England, UK into a rich and well off family going to the popular universities of his day like Cambridge university but soon fell out of favour with the established institutions of learning. He became transfixed with the esoteric traditions from the Kabalah to the Egyptian dark magic ‘the book of the dead’. This is where he came across how to interact with spiritual beings, and the field of impact chakras and spiritual bodies can have on a person. In 1898 he joined the esoteric Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, where he was trained in ceremonial magic by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers and Allan Bennett. Moving to Boleskine House by Loch Ness in Scotland, he went mountaineering in Mexico with Oscar Eckenstein, before studying Hindu and Buddhist practices in India. This then took him through many phases in which he traveled the world in search of spiritual openings. Doing spiritual seclusion when he can to get access to the spiritual world. Many times living in abandoned places and mountainous terrains and performing shaytanic excercises.
In his memoirs he mentions, In February 1904 he and his wife (Rose) arrived in Cairo. Claiming to be a prince and princess, they rented an apartment in which Crowley set up a temple room and began invoking ancient Egyptian deities, also studying Arabic and “Islāmic” mysticism. It was when he was in Egypt in the pyramids and in seclusion reciting his mantras for the opening of the chakras and under extreme self-inflicted ‘sacrifices’; going without food and drink for a long time, staying awake long periods into the night, when he heard a disembodied voice according to later claims, on 8th April claiming to be coming from Aiwass, an entity who was the messenger of Horus, or Hoor-Paar-Kraat (astagfirullahil Azeem!). Crowley said that he wrote down everything the voice told him over the course of the next three days, and titled it Liber AL vel Legis or The Book of the Law. The book proclaimed that humanity was entering a new Aeon, and that Crowley would serve as its “prophet”. It stated that a supreme moral law was to be introduced in this Aeon, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”, [basically follow your ego] and that people should learn to live in tune with their “True Will”. In brief, it is Edward Alexander Crowley who became the author SHAYTANIC BIBLE known by its real name ‘The book of the “Law”‘.
The figure which used to visit him and he would see it often was the following demon: – Drawn by Crowley himself.
The above is creepy stuff and frankly disgusting and dirty exercises of Edward Alexander Crowley. However, the point i was making is although opening yourself up to the spiritual world via the lataif can be good, it has its dark and dangerous side as well. Becoming an attraction for the demonic forces to mentally, spiritually and in some cases physically do damage to a person. It is not a question of what or IF you will see things when doing the lataif exercises, you most certainly will. But what you do with the access you gain from it is what counts and bluntly speaking is the difference between Iman (belief) and Kufr (disbelief). It has been known that people who have opened themselves up on their own to have had dire consequences and faced disastrous results; some have been permanently physiologically scarred for life, others have become schizophrenic claiming to always see things out their to grab them, whilst a few ended up committing suicide. In a controlled environment with a teacher who can guide and keep a spiritual lnovice safe, then people who like to have supernatural experiences can and they should, if they want to, put their names forward to start the journey into spirituality. IF it will make them become more stronger believer of the hereafter and all what is to come. Unfortunately, many Islamic sufi group get caught up in the sightseeing along the journey to Allah and stop to continue seeing the affairs of the hereafter and do not progress any further.
To conclude, it has to be said lataif has its benefits for those who are interested in it, but it does have its darker sides as demonstrated. The other thing is, it will not be fair to leave the name of Sufism with Lataif. It has its branches, in my opinion. Deep tassawuff like the openings via lataif is something completely optional and separate to what the ‘science of Ihsan’ is. The science of Ihsan also known as tazkiyah, concerns itself with the rectification of human character, authentic love of God’s creation, the application of shayirah and sunnah in one’s life to the highest possible degree. So the two branches should not be mixed up and placed in the same basket and a clear distinction is worthy to be kept in mind all the time. Lastly, it also goes to show, in the case of Crowley, a man can go through sacrifices in order to attain what he wants. So to become a friend of Allah a person can with little hardship and sacrifice make this happen. In the case of Crowley he made hard efforts to get the favour of the devil himself and not even completely as the devil is always deceptive and will remain so. The point being, if he can put in so much hard effort for attaining evil, why not use the same abilities and efforts in ever human – to sacrifice- to attain good? The pleasure and closeness of Allah azzawajal!