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. Background on Sufism

2. Sufism--The Spirit of All Religions

3. Sufism--Beyond Religion

4. Sufism: Wisdom Of All Faiths

5. Different Schools of Sufism

6. The Intoxication of Life

8. The Path of Initiation

9. Reincarnation

9. The Interdependence of Life Within and Without

11. The Truth and the Way

12. Sufi Mysticism, I: The Mystic's Path in Life

13. Self-Realization: Awakening the Inner Senses

14. The Doctrine of Karma

15. The Law of Life: Inner Journey and Outer Action

16. Sufi Mysticism, II: The Use of the Mind to Gain Understanding

17. Sufi Mysticism, III: Preparing the Heart for the Path of Love

18. Sufi Mysticism, IV: Use of Repose to Communicate with the Self

19. Sufi Mysticsim, V: Realizing the Truth of Religion

20. Sufi Mysticism, VI: The Way Reached by Harmonious Action

21. Sufi Mysticism, VII: Human Actions Become Divine

22. The Ideals and Aim of the Sufi Movement

23. Working for the Sufi Message

24. The Need of Humanity in Our Day

25. The Duties of a Mureed

26. The Path of Discipleship

27. Divine Manner, I

28. Divine Manner, II

29. Our Sacred Task: The Message

30. Sufi Initiation

31. What is Wanted in Life?



Social Gathekas

14. The Doctrine of Karma

In Hindu theology the doctrine of karma is much more emphasized than in the religions of Beni Israel. By Hindu theology I do not mean only the Vedantist or the Brahman, but also the Buddhist; by the religion of Beni Israel I do not mean the Judaic only, but also the Christian and Moslem. The whole theory of the Hindu philosophy is based upon the doctrine of karma; the moral of Beni Israel is also based upon karma. The only difference is that on one side the moral is made on karma, on the other side the philosophy is based on karma.

What is the meaning of the word karma? The meaning is action. It is quite evident that what one sows one reaps; the present is the echo of the past and the future is the reflection of the present. Therefore it is logical that the past makes the present and the present makes the future.

Nevertheless, in the Sufi school there is little spoken on this subject. Very often people interested in the doctrine of karma begin to wonder, "Why does Sufism not speak on the subject? Is it opposed to it?" The answer is that it is not at all opposed to it, but in the way a Sufi looks at it, one cannot help but close one's lips.

In the first place, what a person calls right or wrong is according to his or her own knowledge. A person calls something right which one knows as right and which one has learned to call right; a person calls something wrong which one has learned to call wrong. In this way various nations, communities, and races differ in their conceptions of right and wrong. A person accuses another of wrong doing only on the grounds that one knows it as wrong. How does one know it to be wrong? It is because one has learned it, read it in a book, or been told so. People have looked with horror and prejudice at the doings of other individuals, communities, nations, and races. Yet there is no label, no stamp, or seat upon actions which point them out as right or wrong. This is one aspect of the thing.

Secondly, at every step of evolution one's conception of good and bad, of right and wrong, changes. You might ask me, "How does it change? Does one see more wrong or does one see less wrong as one evolves?" One might naturally think that by virtue of one's evolution one might see more wrongs. But that is not the case: the more one evolves the less wrong one sees. Then it is not always the action, it is the motive behind it. Sometimes an action, apparently right, may be made wrong by the motive behind it. Sometimes an action, apparently wrong, may be right on account of the motive at the back. The ignorant is ready to form an opinion of another person's action, but for the wise it is most difficult to form an opinion of the action of another.

Now coming to the religious idea: if a person evolves spiritually he or she sees less and less wrong at every stage of his or her evolution. How can God be counting the little faults of human beings, who know so little about life? We read in the Bible, "God is love." What does love mean? Love means forgiveness, love does not mean judging. When people make of God a cruel judge, sitting in the seat of judgment, getting hold of every person, asking them their faults, judging them for their actions, and sentencing them to be cast away from the Heavens, then where is the God of love?

Leaving the religious idea aside and coming to philosophy, is a person a machine or an engineer? If one is a machine, then one must go on for years and years and years under a kind of mechanical effect of one's evil actions; if one is a machine then one is not responsible for one's actions. If one is an engineer then one is responsible for one's actions; if one is responsible for one's actions, then one is the master of one's actions and the master of one's destiny. If one is an engineer, then one makes one's destiny as one wishes.

Taking this point of view, the Sufi says, "It is true that if things are wrong with me, it is the effect of my actions. But that does not mean that I should submit to it or be resigned to it because it is from my past actions. I must make my destiny, because I am the engineer." That is the difference.

I have myself heard a person say, "I have been ill for so many years, but I have been resigned to it. I took it easily because it is my karma I am paying back."

By that he or she may prolong the paying, which was perhaps to last ten years, for the whole life.

The Sufi in this case acts not only as patient but, at the same time, as doctor to him or herself. The Sufi says, "Is my condition bad? Is it the effect of the past? I am going to cure it. The past has brought the present, but this, my present, I will make the future." The Sufi does not allow the past influences to overpower his or her life; the Sufi wants to produce in the present the influence to make his or her life better.

Besides that, there is a still more essential subject. Before a person takes upon him or herself the responsibility of paying back the past, does he or she ask internally, "What was I in the past?" If one does not know of it, why must one hold oneself responsible for it? You can only be responsible for something with which your conscience is tinted. That is quite a sufficient load to carry in life. Why add to it a load of the unknown past?

When you took at yourself philosophically, what do you find? The keener your sight becomes the less fragments you can find of yourself. The more conscious of reality you become the less conscious you are of your small self. All this burden of past actions is taken by one without one's being invited to take it up. A person could just as well have ignored it. It gives one no benefit, it only gives one a moment's satisfaction of thinking, "It is just that I am in this trouble," and this self-justification fortifies one's trouble. The pain that could have been finished continues because one has fortified the pain.

The main object of the esoteric work is to put away the thought of oneself -- What was I? What am I? And what shall I be -- put it away for a moment. One can be very well occupied if one thinks about life as a whole: what it is, what it must have been, and what it will be. This idea produces a kind of synthetic point of view and unites instead of disperses. It is constructive, and the secret of spiritual liberation is to be found in this.

The Brahmins, the Vedantists, and the Buddhists, who hold the idea of karma as the foremost doctrine, once having touched the idea of the goal that is to be attained by spirituality, which they call mukti or nirvana, rise above the idea of karma. For unless a person has risen above that idea, he or she does not touch nirvana. The verbal meaning of nirvana is no (nir) color (vana)-no color, no label, no division.

It is in seeing the whole life as one and realizing it that is the secret of nirvana.