The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan      



Social Gathekas

Religious Gathekas

The Message Papers

The Healing Papers

Vol. 1, The Way of Illumination

Vol. 1, The Inner Life

Vol. 1, The Soul, Whence And Whither?

Vol. 1, The Purpose of Life

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound and Music

Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound

Vol. 2, Cosmic Language

Vol. 2, The Power of the Word

Vol. 3, Education

Vol. 3, Life's Creative Forces: Rasa Shastra

Vol. 3, Character and Personality

Vol. 4, Healing And The Mind World

Vol. 4, Mental Purification

Vol. 4, The Mind-World

Vol. 5, A Sufi Message Of Spiritual Liberty

Vol. 5, Aqibat, Life After Death

Vol. 5, The Phenomenon of the Soul

Vol. 5, Love, Human and Divine

Vol. 5, Pearls from the Ocean Unseen

Vol. 5, Metaphysics, The Experience of the Soul Through the Different Planes of Existence

Vol. 6, The Alchemy of Happiness

Vol. 7, In an Eastern Rose Garden

Vol. 8, Health and Order of Body and Mind

Vol. 8, The Privilege of Being Human

Vol. 8a, Sufi Teachings

Vol. 9, The Unity of Religious Ideals

Vol. 10, Sufi Mysticism

Vol. 10, The Path of Initiation and Discipleship

Vol. 10, Sufi Poetry

Vol. 10, Art: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Vol. 10, The Problem of the Day

Vol. 11, Philosophy

Vol. 11, Psychology

Vol. 11, Mysticism in Life

Vol. 12, The Vision of God and Man

Vol. 12, Confessions: Autobiographical Essays of Hazat Inayat Khan

Vol. 12, Four Plays

Vol. 13, Gathas

Vol. 14, The Smiling Forehead

By Date



1. Music

2. Esoteric Music

3. The Music of the Spheres

4. The Mysticism of Sound

5. The Mystery of Sound

6. The Mystery of Color and Sound

7. The Spiritual Significance of Color and Sound

8. The Ancient Music

9. The Divinity of Indian Music

10. The Use Made of Music by the Sufis of the Chishti Order

11. The Use Made of Music by the Dancing Dervishes

12. The Science and Art of Hindu Music

13. The Connection Between Dance and Music

14. Rhythm

15. The Vina

16. The Manifestation of Sound on the Physical Sphere

17. The Effect of Sound on the Physical Body

18. The Voice

19. The Influence of Music upon the Character of Man

20. The Psychological Influence of Music

21. The Healing Power of Music

22. Spiritual Attainment by the Aid of Music




Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound and Music

5. The Mystery of Sound

Sound is perceptible activity of the all pervading life. Different sounds differ in their outer expression, but within it is one and the same activity which directs all sounds. It is in expression that sounds differ, because of the different instruments through which they are expressed. The deeper we penetrate into the mystery of sound, the more we are able to trace the link that connects all sounds. This link is what the musician calls harmony, and it is in harmony that is hidden the secret of joy and peace.

As one sound is directed by another sound, so every motion is caused by another motion. Therefore no activity can take place without a directing activity, and that activity which directs all is called God. This supports the argument of the fatalist that all is done by God, and it also proves the view of the metaphysician that there is no such thing as chance. At the same time it explains that freewill remains, since each sound, in its outward manifestation, hides within itself its directing activity, so that behind what man calls freewill there is hidden God's will.

As sound takes varying manifestations through different instruments, one sound helps another, harmonizes with another, and one sound differs from another, or covers it. All this is merely caused by the instruments, their response to the directing power within, and their relation to each other.

This symbolism explains all different aspects of life, and shows that good and evil, pleasure and pain, right and wrong, all come from one source. Thus the chief consolation of the thinker is the understanding of the mystery of life, which understanding affords contentment under all kinds of conditions.

The mystic need not follow the principle of contentment unless for convenience. The mystic must be able to rise to the cause instead of laying himself helpless at the feet of the effect. It is that mastery which is called walayat in Sufi terms.

It has been shown how every external activity is directed by an inner motion and how, at the source of it, there is a principal cause. It must be understood that every wave of life which is set in motion by the principal cause, works toward a purpose. With its every motion the purpose becomes more definite, and at its every stage of evolution it adjusts itself, making a perfect harmony - although in a limited space this same activity may appear inharmonious. Therefore good and evil, right and wrong, when viewed by the keen sight, correspond with a certain purpose, and thus prove harmonious from the standpoint of the perfect Whole.

Every life-wave which starts from the innermost part of life becomes stronger with its every succeeding motion. It is a gentle impetus given to a wheel that sets it in motion, and every revolution increases its power. The Sufi recognizes three stages of movement. These three stages need not be the same in all aspects of life, since every activity adopts the form of a circle, a wheel, and it is according to its circumference that it covers the ground. Thus these three stages may be called slow, moderately fast, and fast.

At the same time every activity forms a habit which limits each motion to a certain interval of time, and it is this character of life which forms rhythm. Just as it is necessary that motion should be the source and sustaining power of life, so it is necessary that rhythm should exist in every activity. No motion can exist without rhythm. Rhythm, when of an even nature, is felt by everybody, but when uneven it is not perceived.

There are two elements in rhythm, mobility and regularity. The former has a forward, and the latter a lateral movement. The form taken by the movement of rhythm can be seen by observing light which, to the vision of the concentrative mind, is shown to have the form of the cross.

The variety found in all aspects of life results mainly from these three stages of rhythm and its two main elements. But out of these two main elements there arises a third chaotic motion in which mobility and regularity clash together. By recognizing its rhythm the mystic understands from the character of every activity the cause and result of that particular activity.

The first element in rhythm - mobility - is gentle, productive, creative and progressive. The second element is active, supporting and controlling. It is also productive and creative in a more advanced state of things, and it is sustaining. The third element leads to inactivity, decay, destruction and death. The idea of Trimurti - three aspects of God - is the symbol among the Hindus of these three powers working as main principles in life. They are named Brahma - Creator, Vishnu - Sustainer, Shiva - Destroyer.

There are two stages in every activity, action and result. Action manifests itself in audibility, and results in visibility. In the Bible there is a statement about this: that first there was the word and then there came light. The Qur'an in this connection says that first the word was spoken, and then all became manifest. This is seen in some form or other in every activity which descends from the invisible to the visible. The preparatory stage of all things is audible, and when finished they are visible. In other words, from the world of sound there came the world of forms. Therefore the Hindus call Nada Brahma, the Sound-God, the Creator.

All things can be studied and understood by understanding the nature of the perfect life. God can be studied and understood by the study and understanding of human nature, and man can be studied and understood by the study and understanding of God.

Since all things are made by the power of sound, of vibration, so every thing is made by a portion thereof, and man can create his world by the same power. Among all aspects of knowledge the knowledge of sound is supreme, for all aspects of knowledge depend upon the knowing of form, except that of sound, which is beyond all form. By the knowledge of sound man obtains the knowledge of creation, and the mastery of that knowledge helps man to rise to the formless. This knowledge acts as wings for a man; it helps him to rise from earth to heaven, and he can penetrate through the life seen and unseen.

The whole manifestation being the phenomenon of sound, the knowledge of sound is the key to the mystery. The knowledge of sound acts as a guide in the maze of names and forms. That is the reason for the great importance attached by the Yogis to mantra yoga which to the Sufis is zikr. There is nothing man cannot accomplish by the power of zikr, if only he knows which zikr, how to use it, and for what purpose. Just as there is creative power in sound, so is there also destructive power, as in the Scriptures the expression "the blast of the last trumpet" signifies the destructive power of the sound.