There are seven stations of the self…
Ammarah (inciting), lawwama (self-accusing), mulhima (inspired), mutmainna (peaceful), radhiya (pleased), mardhiya (pleasing) and safiya (pure)!
The word ‘self’ (nafs) refers to the individual consciousness.
Based on its database, when the individual consciousness is first formed, it assumes the wants of the body as its own, and as such, bases its existence on corporeality and the body. This phase is referred to as the inciting self (nafs-i ammarah).
When the self, which confines itself to its body, realizes that life will not end with the death of the body, that it will somehow continue, and it will have to face the consequences of its actions in this world in the next realm of existence, the remorse it feels for its mistakes that endanger its future is known as accusation (lawm), and hence defined as the self-accusing self (nafs-i lawwama).
In both cases the self, or individual consciousness, is based around and related to the body. That is, all that transpired relates to the ‘earth’ (ardh)! The individual consciousness is yet unaware of its heaven (sama)!
When the individual consciousness realizes that it is not the body but the reflector and manifestation of universal oneness it is called the inspired self (nafs-i mulhima) as this realization is through internal inspiration.
At this level the individual consciousness begins to refine itself of the bodily notion. At times it will feel like the body, and at times, as something else… Though, at this stage, it will not be able to define the nature of its ‘other than the body’ self, as this is not a reality that one can intellectualize with knowledge.
This level of individual consciousness is probably the most difficult. It will fall in and out of many contradictions. At times it will see itself as the servant and at times it will see itself as the Reality, and based on these it will experience different results!
Only a very few people are able to overcome this phase.
One who sees themself as the Reality at this stage, may not even deign to consider sainthood (!) They may even neglect and omit all religious practices and indulge in bodily life.
For the people of authenticity, the act of READING commences here. They begin to READ THE SYSTEM called sunnatullah, and at this level of consciousness, they discern the reality of what the Rasul of Allah brought and why, they begin to experience this reality at the level of certainty (haqq al-yakeen).
Here, he will have freed from all concepts of duality (hanif)! Here he will truly believe in the One denoted by the name Allah…
Here he will become purified through suffering (kashf-i zulmani) and attain enlightened discovery (kashf-i nurani).
Here he will discern the secrets of the Quran valid until Doomsday …
A person at this level is deemed enlightened and called an ‘arif’. However, they have not yet attained sainthood.
The ones who the masses, or those who imitate rather than contemplate, call ‘saint’ and appropriate titles such as ‘gaws’, ‘qutub’ etc. comprise this level of consciousness. Sometimes even they begin to believe they are deserving of these titles, because of the unveiling they experience. Whereas, at this stage, all of their insight and knowledge are like mere droplets from the fountain of sainthood.
The station of sainthood is yet oceans away…!
28 March 2003
Raleigh – NC, USA
 More information on this topic can be found in Know Yourself