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Excerpts about Lataif

Activation of the Lataif

Activating the Red latifa provides the soul with the strength and capacity to reach and discern what one loves and wishes to unite with. It gives one the energy and fire, the initiative and courage, to go after one’s heart’s desire.
Activating the White latifa accesses the soul’s inner determination and solid steadfastness, which gives her the capacity to persevere and continue, rather than getting discouraged or losing heart.
Activating the Black latifa opens up the subtle perceptual faculties of the soul: those of intuition, seeing, and spiritual understanding.
Activating the Green latifa develops the capacity of the soul to simply be and not do—in other words, to be sensitive to and abide in her essential presence.

Centers of the Subtle Physiology

This condition of openness and spaciousness usually leads by itself, to the activation of the centers of the subtle physiology called the lataif... there are said to be five centers of spiritual perception...They are conceived of as having physical locations in the human body.

Developing the Lataif

The work on developing the lataif then continues by understanding the emerging sectors of the personality. Each one of the lataif has a sector of the personality connected to it that acts as a substitute for it and has the memory of the situations that led to its burial. All of these phenomena must be understood, precisely and exactly, for the centers to be permanently active. Each of the subtle forms of the consciousness is then understood, experienced, and embodied. The effects of the lataif on the person's consciousness are understood and integrated. This has a permanent influence on the personality; the personality is in fact transformed by accommodating the impact of the lataif on its structure and consciousness. Beyond that, each of the lataif functions, so to speak, as a door or entry into a whole universe, a whole dimension of Essence. Each is an entry into a realm of the being that has in it many essential aspects.

Lataif Level is the Transition from the Level of Energy to Essential Presence

The Sufi tradition uses the lataif system. This is somewhat deeper than either of the above energy systems. In fact at this level it becomes difficult to speak of energy. We can still use the term energy, but the lataif really operate with the higher, more diluted forms of Essence. We can say that the lataif level is the transition from the level of energy to the deeper level of essential Presence.

Lataif, the Seven Elements of Subtle Consciousness

The combination of all these factors brings about objectivity. The seven factors—the energy, the determination, the joyfulness, the kindness, the absorption, the peacefulness, and the awakeness—come together in perfect proportion, and exist as one phenomenon, whose quality is objectivity. Objectivity is exactly what is needed to deal with the personality, its basic patterns and its basic tendencies toward grasping and attachment. With objectivity you are not influenced by your superego or your unconscious; what you see is what is there. You are not determined by your past experience, by concepts, or by opinions. Your strength is objective, your will is objective, your joy is objective, your kindness is objective, your peace is objective, your capacity to be absorbed, to be dissolved is objective. Objectivity takes the seven factors to another dimension, another level. The seven factors are called the lataif, the seven elements of subtle consciousness. The energy is the red latifa, the determination is the white latifa, the joy is the yellow latifa, the kindness or compassion is the green latifa, peacefulness is the black latifa, the absorption is the blue latifa, the awakeness that can free us from desires is what we call the clear latifa. The lataif are a very subtle kind of presence; some people say it’s like air, a subtle air that produces those qualities in you. The consciousness now is objective because it balances the seven factors, and is exactly what is needed to be free from the attachment and grasping that are the most basic characteristics of the personality. The objective consciousness, what we call the diamond consciousness, allows freedom from these aspects of the personality. The diamond consciousness is a panoramic consciousness, in contrast to the fixated focus of the personality. If you could look at your difficulties and conflicts objectively, you would see they are nothing but resistance against that objectivity, against seeing things as they really are. You are attached to your attachments and you don’t want to see things as they are.

Presence of the Lataif Can be Overlooked

This particular one of the lataif, the heart center, is connected with the experience of compassion. At this level of experience, all of the excitement, glitter and drama of the heart chakra are gone. Instead, what is experienced in the chest cavity is emptiness. The whole chest feels as if it is gone. There is nothing left but a very clear, peaceful and silent emptiness. It feels as if nothing is occurring there, yet it is open and lucid. If the person pays closer attention, it will become apparent that this peaceful emptiness is pervaded by a very fine and subtle Presence, so fine and subtle that it is usually overlooked by the one having the experience. This fine and subtle Presence pervading the emptiness of the heart is the latifa or the first manifestation of it. The person will experience a subtle but exquisite sense of compassion, for himself and all others.

Seeing Through Ego Supports

Letting go of ego identifications on a profound level is possible only after the activation of certain essential aspects, primarily those of the five lataif (subtle energy centers in the body) and the aspect of true value. The lataif aspects -- strength, will, compassion, enjoyment and intuition -- provide the true support of Essence, which makes it possible to see through ego supports and not compulsively pursue them. The emergence of the aspect of value, for instance, which is the true existential value of Being, makes it possible to see through the ego mechanisms of seeking self-esteem and to become less dependent on them.

Table of Lataif Centers

These centers are sometimes called “organs of perception.”



Associated Color

State of


Activation Effects

Left side of body




The state of consciousness here is that of true joy and delight in which essence exists in the condition of unadulterated joy

Its activation and realization also are connected with the transformation of
a certain sector of the personality, a process that is sometimes referred to as the yellow death

Right side of body


(spirit or soul)


Consciousness here is of true and real strength

It is like the fire of Essence and requires the transformation of the personality
referred to as the red death, or the freedom from fear of people

Solar plexus



White or silver

Consciousness here is of true will, which is the support for essence and its life

Activation of this center is often seen as the initial step or transition from the world of personality to the dimension of Essence

Forehead between and just above the eyebrows



Shining black

The consciousness is a state of peace and absolute stillness

Connected to the black death, which is the state of annihilation of the sense
of identity of the ego, which is
the false self

Center of the chest


(more hidden)

Emerald green

The consciousness here is that of loving-kindness and compassion

This center is connected to the essential aspect that is referred to in the literature as the pearl beyond price, the personal being

The Lataif are a Dimension of Essence

The lataif, as Shah says, are not only centers but also forms of consciousness, operating on the subtle dimension. These forms of consciousness when understood precisely, will be seen as a dimension of essence, a subtle form of substance. They comprise the subtle body (Jism latif). They are the beginning experience of essence in some of its basic aspects. For instance, the green latifa is the beginning of compassion, or the loving kindness aspect of essence. The red latifa is the beginning of the strength aspect of essence, and so on. They are called lataif, meaning qualities that have subtlety, gentleness, and refinement to them, and are the first subtle and fine manifestation of essence. To use an analogy: if essence is like the oil of a perfume, the lataif will be its aromas. A latifa is like the vapor of the oil, which, in turn, is the essential substance. So the lataif are forms of essence that is a fine, very subtle, and gentle presence that pervades space. It is so fine and so subtle that it is very likely that an individual will fail to discriminate it from space, the void. Of course, as each latifa is activated, it will bring out with it to consciousness a certain sector of the personality, which must be confronted and understood objectively. The experience of the void does not indicate that the work on the personality has ended, definitely not. It heralds the beginning of essential development.

The Personal Essence is the True Ego

The Personal Essence is the real person, the true individuality. It is the true ego, just as the 14th century Sufi, Semnani, stated, when referring to the left latifa: "This subtle divine center conceals the "rare Mohammadan pearl”, that is to say, the subtle organ which is the True Ego.

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