This is a book about the stages of progress and development of the sufi's psyche in its spiritual journey. It is the first English-language work to address and answer, within the framework of traditional Sufism, such fundamental questions as: "What is the spirit?" and "What is inner consciousness?".
Most of the prose texts and poetic works presented in the book have been translated into English for the first time.
From the sufi point of view, material nature (tab'), the self (nafs), heart (del), spirit (ruh), the inner consciousness (serr or khafi), and the innermost consciousness (serr-e serr or akhfa), constitue the stages of advancement through which the human psyche passes on its journey towards perfection.
When one is goverened by the nafs, one also possesses the characteristics of material nature within one's being. Similarly, when one is governed by the heart, one still possesses vestiges of the nafs and material nature within. those governed by the nafs have no awareness of the spirit.
What does the nafs know of what is stored in the treasury of the heart? What does the heart know of the subtleties contained in the sanctuary of the spirit? What does the spirit know of the legacy within the pavilion of the inner consciousness? And what does the inner consciousness know of the realities of the innermost consciousness? Indeed, the nafs is the site of Divine entrustment (amanat), the heart the house of gnosis, the spirit the sign of witnessing, the inner consciousness the way-station of love, and the innermost consciousness – only God knows what it holds, and who knows it! It is beyond the imagination of human beings (Kashf al-asrar Maibodi VI 112).
According to Sa'di:
Perceive the ultimate goal for humanity:
To arrive at a point where nothing is seen