Sunday, April 5, 2009

From Unity to Bewilderment

In The Conference of the Birds by Attar, the birds pass through seven valleys on their way to their unseen king, Simorgh, which turns out to be a reflection of all thirty birds who make it to the end (“si morgh” = "thirdy birds" in Persian), and yet Simorgh is more than all of them.

While this king may represent the collective ego of the travelers (they have to arrive together), the seven valleys seem to be the stages which naturally occur in the self-development of any individual or group:
  1. Quest
  2. Love
  3. Knowledge of Mysteries
  4. Detachment
  5. Unity
  6. Bewilderment
  7. Poverty and Annihilation
Each stage is different from previous. For instance, in the Valley of Unity the birds learn to see no dichotomies. As soon as they enter the next, “that unity which got written on their soul is now gone…” Is it progress or retrogression?


  1. I think this is because the universe is about finding harmony with each thing including goals, the minute the birds reached the valley their goal was met, as they passed on to the next valley they had a new goal, thus a new harmony needed to be sought out, this is not regressive or progressive but goal is an end in itself, either it is reached or not, but it is not possible without a struggle

  2. I think the stage from Unity to Bewilderment is a progression as the early five stages are led by cognition; where to go what to do next etc. Since the questions stem from logic and then the logic gives way to emotions/heart that take precedence and then guides without answering the questions or stimulating the questions as bewilderment is the suspension of logic and annihilition is the non-existence of emotions as well.When Muslims offer prayes, brain is at the highest place while in QAYAM. During Rakooh brain and heart equate while brain lowers itself and heart takes a higher position during SAJDA. we place our head on earth but heart remains in a hgher position. Bewilderment and Annihilition cant be understood through logic.

  3. I feel that each time one "progresses" into the next realm of one's being and/or existence, the previous is left behind. Left behind, in order to experience the next stage in its fullest manifestation and embodiment within oneself. The "need" the quest,has been fulfilled, and only then does one "progress onwards"

    Once all the valleys have been traversed, one then comes to be what one has wanted to be, or has become, and in that state, then, retains some aspects of all the valleys, for they are the sum of the total.

  4. I think that remaining birds don't need to have unity....They have become powerful enough to complete the journey alone! showing the sense of Immortality, may be.


  5. Atteqa, Abida, Anonymous and Rizwan, thanks. Your comments are being answered in the forthcoming posts.