The difference between tariqat and congregation (ecclesia) -Chapter One-

Talebu'l-Haqqi, gurbetun (Following/Demand God is strange)

21 mins read
The difference between tariqat and congregation (ecclesia) (Chapter One)

How many times a person opens his eyes to the world. How many times does one begin to live. When we are born into the world, we think that we saw the world for the first time there, and we consider the beginning of life as an event that happened only once. We opened our eyes and now we have been living the same life as the same person in the same world ever since. But all this is just a completion, an integration, a quick understanding and knowing, and a habit that follows one after another. Because we understand all this without living on the same first day. Who says that this is the first day and that what comes after it is always a flow that comes after it? Even if no one says it, there is someone who says it to you, to yourself, within yourself. It is the habit and the ambition to live, which brings everything together and immediately brings to light the questions that need to be asked, the cracks that need to be recognized. It is this ambition that makes us run without looking where we put our feet, this habit that takes us as far as it can, that swallows us, that makes us a reptilian snake. And the lie! This one life, which comes after an irrevocable beginning over everything, which is thought to last only one time in this current. Yet how many crossroads one experiences in this flow that has begun and continues, even in every minute, every moment. The first time he started talking, the first time he laughed, the first time he was scared… whatever happened in these firsts, what happens in the second of all these is actually the first time again. So what compels one to call one first and the other second… other than this unquestioned habit and indispensable ambition.

It is the concept called “the first” that underlies all these delusions and makes every lie that is then embraced acceptable as an uncracked reality. If there was no concept of the first, if we never understood what the first was, nothing would ever repeat itself. We wouldn’t be able to say that first there was this and then this happened. We wouldn’t be able to say yesterday, we wouldn’t be able to think about tomorrow and we wouldn’t understand the existence of now. But in return for all this, we would have gotten rid of that exhausting, corrupting, consuming habit that separates the before from the after, never to be reunited again, and makes everything come and go in a flow, that exhausting, corrupting, consuming habit, that is, time. Because time is a concept based on the first, and the first thing it does is to destroy the first. If we could destroy the first, we would get rid of all that time does. But now, even before we begin to understand this sentence, we are immediately confronted with something that stops us, namely the idea that this is impossible.

What would be the point of seriously thinking about something that is impossible to do, no matter how you look at it, so that we would actually want to look at it as a solution? This idea of impossibility, which immediately envelops us, makes all of this suddenly seem like a meaningless rebellion. Suddenly we think like this, and without even thinking about it, we realize that we know it. And some of us look for ways to overcome all these negativities without risking canceling time this time. Can we find a way to eliminate habit and repetition without wasting time with the impossible we know? This is how the smartest, the most diligent of us look at it. They try, test, devise, and explore every remedy. But without sacrificing the first and time. In the end, far from finding a solution, the work is reinforced. The circle of time becomes even stronger, and all those things that have happened flounder on people even more powerfully. Habit and repetition surround us. The world appears with its majesty as a huge machine. It overwhelms all efforts, all searches. And intimidates anyone who dares. Then the door opens to the same dreams: If there was no such thing as first, if we never understood what first is, nothing would ever repeat itself, and we couldn’t say that first there was this and then there was that…

A history of mankind that has again resorted to the wall of the impossible without making a single step forward, helpless in the face of the repetition of even the same bankruptcy… But what if there is actually another way that makes possible this proposal that is immediately and every time understood to be impossible… a way that, far from ignoring the concept of the first, is on the road to success precisely with it, with the concept of the first? In other words, not to destroy it, but to look back with more and greater interest at what “first” is, to really understand it, would we open our eyes to a life where nothing would ever repeat itself and we would no longer fall for the game of arranging things in the guise of before and after? At every moment. Therefore, would one actually find both the deception and the opposite of the deception based on this same concept, because of this same concept? Is this the same concept that opens and closes the way? Is this why it is strange, is this why it makes sense of everything? And is this also why it is this concept that for the first time ceases to be strange, and is never again infected with anything.

First of all, if this is so, is it a tried and true path, after all these centuries of searching for a remedy? Let us answer: No… and Yes.

No, because these points have been covered up by names that have carefully avoided touching the essence of the matter, by drawing attention to the thoughts that arise from this point and are likened to it, and by covering these thoughts with essentially hopeless efforts. These names appeared in the fields called philosophy and theology.

Yes, because if this point had been closed once and for all on earth, there would have been no question of anything else existing on earth. There has never been a lack of beings who have always kept this point open. They are those people of tariqa, marifat and truth, whose stories are told everywhere, but whose stories cannot be understood in any way, despite the fact that they themselves demonstrate these subtle points in all their simplicity on themselves, and in fact this is the very beginning of all their other activities. That is why they are actually the most ancient beings, and what is thought to be impossible is actually the best known law-u qadim itself. But only for those who can understand, see and realize…

I think so far we have succeeded in confronting a problem that is very big but has been kept invisible under a very big smokescreen, and we are now ready to talk about the words in the title as concepts of this problem we have come to confront. Because the tariqa, provided that they fulfill the conditions of seyr al-suluk, refers to the paths established by the people who made everything possible by entering into the impossible above, in order to tell the world about the remedy for this problem. In other words, they are the ones who, through the means referred to by these words, show that some of the basic things that are clearly thought to be impossible are in fact possible, and even, after a certain point, necessary.

It is possible to approach the subject of sects from a wide variety of perspectives. It can be intertwined with different fields such as cultural history, history of religions, hermeneutics, gnosticism, even politics, war, economics. A common approach is to focus on a particular belief or community. Examples of these approaches abound. However, we will start from a more fundamental need that concerns all these contexts. Where did the cult originate in man and in response to what original needs? This is our question. The aforementioned questions of “first” and “time” are central concepts of these original needs. It is not possible to understand something adequately without understanding the needs out of which it emerged. Once we accept this, the needs have to be identified precisely; otherwise we cannot see the real causes and the real location of the thing.

At this point, it seems necessary to make a distinction. As soon as we see concepts such as “the first (and the last)”, “time”, and the concepts of “being”, “space”, and “life”, which we will mention later, one might think that the word sect, as it is commonly used today, is incompatible with these concepts or that these concepts seem strange in this context. The reason for this is that the distinction between tariqa and congregation has not been made either completely or sufficiently. Without distinguishing between tariqa and congregation, it is not possible to determine the needs and places where tariqa emerged, its principles and nature, and to properly evaluate its examples in history.

Very briefly, the essence of this distinction is as follows:

A congregation is an entity that exists on the basis of fulcrum, part-whole, and closed circuit functioning.

This definition encompasses all kinds of communities or formations that come to be defined as communities. For example, we characterize congregations with religious discourses, congregations with anti-religious discourses, and other class, social, economic, political, intellectual and other groups as congregations if they exhibit characteristics that fit the definition of a congregation. Someone with a broader perspective will see that the same is true for all kinds of clusters. For example, if a theory of biological objects, whether it is aware of it or not, establishes biological objects as falling within the definition of a community, biological objects become a community by virtue of this theory. Likewise, if the set of mathematical objects is constituted in such a way that they fall within the definition of community, they are also a community; that is, they show the same existential properties in terms of their essence. These examples apply to every set of objects that are known, thought, believed, sensed and imagined. There is only a relative difference of quality between them, which does not constitute a fundamental difference.

No community is from the reality of existence. Existence, as defined above, is not a community. On the contrary, to call beings a community is a consequence of covering up the reality of beings. The reason why this is so comes from the nature of the elements that make up the concept of community.

The elements that make up the concept of community are, as we have said above, “basis”, “part-whole” and “closed circuit functioning”. If the meanings of these elements are analyzed, the nature of the community becomes clear.

“Basis” is a concept that has to be considered for every single thing, and it has ontological varieties. The “ground” specific to the community rests on the community itself. That is, the congregation rests on itself. In this sense, the congregational “basis” is a false basis. The establishment of a “real basis” leaves the congregation without a basis.

The “part-whole” relationship is an aspect of the self-proclaimed “ground” of the community and is the basis for the coexistence of its members and its totality. On the basis of themselves, the members of the community come together, and by coming together they form a whole. This whole is like a single person, and in its status as a single person, the whole is related to every single person in the community. All the parts of the community, that is, the members (or elements) of the community, individually or collectively relate to this whole, which is like a single person, in order to sustain the community. If we break this whole, we find the individual parts; if we put the individual parts together, we find the whole, which is like this one person. Which of these is the object in the whole, and which is the object in the part, can only be revealed by their being in relation to each other in a uniform place. Uniform, that is, if we look, for example, where the parts are in the whole, where the whole is in the parts, we see a togetherness like a lego, like a jigsaw puzzle. The whole has not transcended its parts, and the parts do not contain the whole. In this sense, it is as if there is neither the whole nor the parts. There is only the community.

A “closed circuit relationship” means that the parts change in relation to each other and to the whole, and the whole in relation to each of the parts, based on themselves. Change in this sense, simply put, refers to their temporal movement in that one comes first and the other later, and their spatial movement in that they change places with each other. This change is “closed” because the community relies on itself and not on something transcendent; it is “circular” because this functioning is, for these reasons, cyclical.

Not relying on anything transcendent is one of the main characteristics of community. But this must be understood well. Because when you look at it, all congregations are in the discourse, belief and even mechanism of transcendence or complementarity. Otherwise, they cannot conceive of a handle to include the parts in the community. What we mean here by not relying on something transcendent is not relying on something essentially transcendent. It means that what is essentially transcendent does not actually live here. The community shuts down what should be transcendent by acting “sustainably” and begins to live by replacing it with itself. There are many ways and forms of sustainable action. The common essence of all of these ways is the “name” of what is established as the transcendent thing. This name is the name of the community and the community is sustained by this name. Each member of the community is made part of the community by this name. The closed circuit relationship operates according to this name. This name is apparently open, but in itself it is dead. In this respect, the essence of the community is the dead name that pretends to be alive; that is, death.

Those who are part of the congregation are killed and brought to the congregation. Death here is death without life.

Finally, another fundamental characteristic of congregations is that they are self-sustaining closed circuits, unable to open up and expand, and unable to encompass what it leaves outside. Therefore, after a certain point, each of the communities tends to destroy the other community in an irredeemable way, that is, in a way that does not lead to a new essential being. This is so, at least in a potential way. The annihilation here is in the form of establishing power over the other. In this sense, communities are displaced among themselves, just as communities are displaced within themselves, and some destroy and replace others. The result, again in terms of the relationship between communities, is the continuation of the community. In this sense, this annihilation does not express a real antagonism; it is only a partial manifestation within the communities themselves, towards each other, of their essentially destructive nature, that is to say, of their essentially destructive nature towards those whom they are actually hostile to.

Ahmet Turan Esin

-He is interested in theology, mysticism and philosophy. He publishes his writings on fikrikadim.com. He gives seminars and lectures.

-İlahiyat, tasavvuf ve felsefeyle ilgilenir. Yazılarını fikrikadim.com'da yayınlar. Seminer ve dersler verir.-

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