The Lataif or subtleties are the psychic organs of supersensory perception that can only be activated by a Sufi Master as part of the Great Work, the goal of Alchemy. Each of the Six Lataif have to be purified in order for you to become Complete.
The Lataif are:
- Latifa-e-Nafsi – below the navel; breath of life, Noah
- Latifa-e-Qalbi – left side of chest, yellow; mind, Adam
- Latifa-e-Ruhi – right side of chest, red; Spirit David
- Latifa-e-Sirri – solar plexus, white; consciousness, Moses
- Latifa-e-Khafi – third eye, black; intuition,
- Latifa-e-Akhfa – centre of brain, centre of chest, green; perception of Creation
This concerns the Breath or Soul. When you are breathing properly, the breath is located in the diaphragm. Breath animates life. Without breath we are dead. The breath or Soul, purifies the base characteristics of life, preparing the aspirant for a spiritual life. Latifa Nafs removes negative thinking patterns such as anger, fear and depression. Excessive work on the Nafs results in a hermetic lifestyle, withdrawing from life.
Latifa Nafs purifies the ego so that it no longer identifies with external objects. This mis-identification with objects is a critical obstacle to self-realisation. However, in correcting this problem, the danger is of inflated ego, and self-obsession. The Latifa Qalb balances the work of Latifa Nafs by expanding spiritual love, extending the ego beyond personal pursuits into tolerance and love towards all without expectation of return of favour. Latifa Qalb removes hate, anger, and lust, allowing the realm of the Jinn to become visible. The concept of Service and Devotion by helping others is represented.
The realm of Spirit brings greater abstraction to spiritual progress. Latifa Ruh resolves and unifies the expansion of love with the ego it eliminates negative actions such as hurting others, and promotes respect for other nationalities, religions, and beliefs.
Focussed in the Solar Plexus brings knowledge of Spiritual Realms. The practice of Dhikr and the Divine Names of God empties the aspirant so that divine knowledge can enter.
The Third Eye is well known in the West. The balanced working of all the Lataif for power of the faculty of intuition, the ability to perceive subtle levels of awareness.
Akhfa means arcane, hidden, deep, mysterious. The two centres of Akhfa, deep within the brain and in the heart, are activated alternately, expanding the heart and the intellect, giving the aspirant knowledge of the spiritual laws of nature, so that the Master knows his position in the Universe. Activation of this centre signifies that the Aspirant is able to help others spiritually, and help them in their evolution. It signifies that the user is able to transfer spiritual knowledge and power to his or her students, known as shaktipat in yogic terms.
Critical to understanding the Latifa is that activating these centres is not enough. The combination and co-operation of the centres results in greater spiritual powers. In the Balanced Spiritual Sufi Master, all the lataif work in concert depending on what is required.
Alchemy and the Lataif
The colours black, red and white correspond to the alchemical colours, which is very interesting since the word ‘alchemy’ is of course Arabic, and means ‘the black’. Much of what we think of as western occultism has been stolen from Sufism and repackaged, to the detriment of the original practice. By restoring the primary understanding of the Lataif as alchemy, ie, the transformation from base material into spirituality, of lead into gold, with the powers that result, we bring new knowledge into the world.