The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan      

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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. Man, the Purpose of Creation

2. Character-Building

3. Human Nature

4. Self-realization

5. The Art of Personality

6. Man is likened to the Light

7. Truth

8. Selflessness - Inkisar

9. Indifference - Vairagya

10. Independence and Indifference

11. Overlooking - Darquza

12. Graciousness - Khulq

13. Conciliation - Ittifaq

14. Consideration - Murawwat

15. Tact

16. Spirituality

17. Innocence

18. Holiness

19. Resist not Evil

20. Resignation

21. Struggle and Resignation

22. Renunciation

23. Sacrifice

24. Ambition

25. Satisfaction

26. Harmlessness

27. A Question about Vegetarianism

28. Unselfish Actions

29. Expectations

30. Be a Lion Within

31. Humility

31. Moral Culture

33. Hope

34. Patience

35. Confidence

36. Faith

37. Faith and Doubt

38. The Story of Orpheus

39. Happiness

40. The Privilege of Being Human



Individuality and Personality





The Art of Jesus

Learning the Art

Vol. 8, The Privilege of Being Human

5. The Art of Personality

Individuality and Personality

There is a difference between individuality and personality, just as there is a difference between nature and art. However much nature is near to man's soul, art is closer to his heart. If it were not so man would have preferred to live in the forest; he would have roamed about in nature and would have been quite satisfied in the wilderness; he would have found the greatest charm in what the wilderness can offer and in the beauty to be seen in the forest. Instead of all this man has created a world -- a world which he has made for himself -- and in that world he has made a nature of his own imagination, a nature which he calls art. If that is art then on this art much depends.

People may say, "Is it not an imitation of nature?" Yes, it is an imitation of nature. You might say, "Then it is not as great as Nature", but I say: both nature and art are made by the same Artist. Nature is made directly by the Artist, and art is made indirectly through the pen of the Artist. Art is the finishing of that beauty which begins to manifest itself in nature. A person who has not come to this conception of art does not yet know the divinity of art.

Now as to the question what art has to do with personality, personality is art itself, and the greatest art.

Once a lady told me, "My parents brought me up just like a plant grows in the wilderness." When I replied, "It is a great pity", she was surprised.

What is education, what is culture, what is self-development? It is all art, it is the way for individuality to culminate into personality. In ancient times the religious education and human culture in every form mainly had the culture of the personality as their central theme. Today we are expected to learn mathematics, geography, history and other things, but never the art of personality which is of the greatest use in life.

  • Apart from its spiritual significance, we see in our everyday life that a salesman who is pleasant, courteous and well-mannered is successful.
  • If he lacks manner he will be repellent; he may have all kinds of beautiful things in his shop, he will have no success.
  • If a clerk in an office, a secretary, an assistant, a supervisor has a charming personality, a kindly manner, a sympathetic attitude, he will win the affection of all; everything will be light, everything will go smoothly.
  • If he lacks the art of personality, he may have all qualifications, he may be a most capable person, yet things will not run smoothly.
  • A person, whether man or woman, may be a barrister, a solicitor, a doctor, a most qualified individual, but if the art of personality is not developed he will be disagreeable and unpleasant - in his own home and in all walks of life.

The art of personality is the main thing to develop; if not, a person misses a great deal.

The ancient people lived on tradition, and especially in the East they regarded their ancestors not for their titles or their great works, but for the art of their personality. To-day in modern civilization people have become regardless of this art which considers the equality of all men. Equality to-day is working in quite another direction: instead of rising upward toward the level of the best, people want to go downward and join the level of the worst.

When you hear the word equality it seems a beautiful thing, it sounds very nice, it seems a religious, a philosophical idea. But what is life, if it is not a symphony? And is not every person a note in this symphony? Suppose that you want to hear music and that all the notes are the same. How would you enjoy that music? If all notes are equal, there is no music; if all persons are the same, there is no symphony. The way to understand equality is different: it is rising to the best, to the highest pitch. And everyone can rise to that pitch if he wants to rise. But since man takes the way of the least resistance, he falls to the level of the average person.

It must be remembered that disregard of the principle, which is called the art of personality, may lead the present generation, the modern civilization, there where it can find nothing but disappointment, especially when materialism is prevailing all over and there is nothing to think about but matter; this in itself keeps man away from the art of personality. If this art is not introduced, and if there is no love for it, what then happens is that the human being does not become any better than the lower creation.

Is a human being greater than an animal because he possesses wealth, or because he has read many books, or because he has learned much? Does that make him greater as a human being? No, man is greater when from an individual he has become a person. Very few of us distinguish between individuality and personality. Individuality is that which we have brought with our birth. We are born as a separate entity; that itself makes us an individuality. But personality is something that is acquired; it has not come with us, it is something we gain. If a tree grew in a garden in the same way as it grew in the forest, the gardener would say, "You are not welcome here; you should fit in with the surroundings. This is a garden, it is not a forest." Besides this, the art of personality is not only something one should learn in order to become pleasant to others: the art of personality fulfills the purpose of life.

Now arises the question: what is the art of personality? Is it mannerism, putting on different airs of expression, a special politeness, a society rhythm? Not at all; it is falsehood, which people adopt by being unnatural and acting unnaturally. Instead of giving a better impression of themselves, they give a worse impression. The art of personality expresses itself spontaneously. One need not act in a certain way, one need not put on something: it is the expression of oneself which shows the art of personality. Expressing the art of personality is the sign of the great. Knowingly or unknowingly a person may develop that manner in himself and it is wonderful to watch it.

When in India I was very fond of seeing the celebrities known in our country. One day I heard that a great wrestler was visiting our town. I had never approved of something which made one person win and the other fail, but because this man was a celebrity I wanted to see him. One would expect very little from the personality of a wrestler, but in this personality, in spite of all muscular and nervous strength, there was such a kindly manner, such a sympathetic look, such an outgoing attitude and such a serenity that I thought, even a wrestler, who does the most material and physical work, can show that it is his personality, and not something material, which has made him great.

One may ask: If we have a personality, why must we develop it? But even a diamond must be cut! It has light in it, yet cutting is required to awaken it. It cannot show its glow and brilliancy before it has been cut. It is the same with the personality.