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



The Message

Free Will and Destiny in the Message

What is the Message?

Lecture for Mureeds and Friends

Wakening to the Message

Aspects of the Sufi Message

The Message

Relationship Between Murshid and Mureed

Personalities of the Servants of God

Our Efforts in Constructing

Teaching Given by Murshid to his Mureeds

Ways of Receiving the Message

The Path of Attainment

Interest and Indifference

The Call from Above

The Message


Spiritual and Religious Movements

Peculiarity of the Great Masters

Abraham, Moses and Muhammad

Four Questions

The Spreading of the Message

Jelal-ud-din Rumi

Peculiarities of the Six Great Religions

Belief and Faith

"Superhuman" and Hierarchy

Faith and Doubt

Divine Guidance

The Prophetic Life

There are two Kinds Among the Souls

The Messenger

The Message Which has Come in all Ages

The Sufi Message

The Message

Questions Concerning the Message

The Inner School

The Duty of Happiness

Five Things Necessary for a Student



The Message Papers

Interest and Indifference

August 18, 1925

I would like to speak this evening on the subject of interest and indifference. Those who move about on the surface of life, for them interest and indifference are like their right hand and their left hand. And souls who have touched the depth of life, for them interest and indifference are just like two poles of the world. One has to turn one's back to the North Pole in order to go to the South Pole, and one has to turn one's back on the South Pole in order to go to the North Pole. Generally man says today, "I am interested in something," and tomorrow he says, "I have lost my interest." Or he says, "I could be interested in something," and before he can be interested in something he has become indifferent. Interest is necessary to tread the path of attainment; indifference is needed to attain the goal of renunciation. If one is deep, if one is sincere, and yet one does not know these opposite poles, in spite of the depth he has and in spite of the sincerity he has, he will be pulled from both sides by interest and by indifference.

Interest may be called life; indifference, death; interest, light; indifference, darkness. And yet through the darkness there is a goal to be reached, as there is something to be attained through the light. A person who is one day interested and the next day indifferent has not depth either to his interest or to his indifference. Neither can he attain something by his interest, nor can he reach something by his indifference. It is the power motive which stands as the greatest power, as a secret behind this creation; and it is the absence of that power which very often gives indifference, stands as a mystery behind that life which is assimilating.

When a person says, "I could not attain the object of my desire," it means he lacked interest; it was caused by indifference. When one says, "I would like to rise above things, but I cannot," it is because he lacks the power of indifference. Renunciation is the ultimate goal of indifference, and attainment is the result of interest. These two things wrongly used bring wrong result, rightly used bring right result.

The one who does not give himself heart and soul to the object of his attainment -- however small the object may be -- till he has attained it, he is not entitled to take the path of indifference, he is not entitled to utter the name of renunciation. He cannot renounce, because he does not know what renunciation means. Renunciation is a great thing, but when? At the end of attainment, not at the beginning. As freedom is a great thing to achieve --but not in the beginning, in the end; one must begin with discipline. One who begins with freedom ends in discipline; one who begins with renunciation ends in interest. But it is a wrong beginning and therefore there is a wrong end.

In Arabian Nights there is a most interesting mystical story that gives us a little idea what the path of attainment means. It is the story of Aladdin, who, on asking for the hand of the princess, was told he should bring the magic lantern first, in order to attain the daughter. And he went. Then the story goes on, telling how many forests, how many rivers he crossed, how he went through the wind and storm, through all troubles and difficulties, over the tops of mountains and to the depth of the earth. He went through the water, through the air, through fire, through all tests and trials, till he reached the end of his ordeal and found at last that lantern, that magic lantern, by which he attained his object.

And this is the rule, always to keep in mind that nothing in life can be attained which is of some worth without going through tests and trials and difficulties, persevering through it all with patience and endurance. It is that which in the end brings victory.

The picture of indifference is shown in a story of when Emperor Akbar went to pay a visit to a dervish who lived in the mountains. His grand vizier accompanied him. When he arrived near the rock where the dervish was lying, his legs stretched, the Emperor and vizier bowed before him. And the dervish answered by nodding his head. The vizier could not understand this manner in which the Emperor was received by that dervish -- the Emperor, who at every moment was shown proper courtesy by thousands and millions of people. The vizier asked in sarcasm, "How long is it, dervish, that you have stretched your legs?"

The dervish answered, "It is since I have folded my arms." The meaning was that, "If my arms were stretched in need, I would have given the same courtesy to the Emperor as all others give. Since I have taken back my stretched arms, folded them together, I stretched my legs. What does it matter who comes?"

It is such personalities, such souls, who are entitled. Souls with a thousand anxieties, a million worries, and twenty thousand problems before them, when they think of renunciation, when they speak of indifference, they make a mistake. Can one have interest and indifference at the same time? Never. Can one be on the land and in the water at the same time? Never. Neither one thing nor the other.

And now we come to the question of the Sufi Message. There are mureeds who are interested in their own advancement. And there are mureeds who are interested in the furtherance of the Message. Those who are interested in their own advancement, they may just as well have indifference for the furtherance of the Cause. But those who are interested in the Movement, in Murshid, in the furtherance of the Message, they think that they can contribute; and the contribution that can be most valuable is a continued interest without the slightest shadow of indifference.

Those who have the interest of the Message at heart, one day they are enthusiastic, saying, "I would like to do everything in my power, it does not matter how little I can do, but I would like to do all I can," and the other day they say, "What does it matter if I did it or someone else did it? It is the Message of God for humanity; somebody will do it if I do not do it. What am I? I am a poor, humble person; I occupy no position in the Movement. Besides, to do something, it wants great resources which I lack, it wants quality, it wants capability, which I do not know if I have. I have a great desire to work for the Message, but at times I feel, can I really do it?" Looking at the thousand difficulties which discourage one from doing anything. When such a thought rises in the heart of the worker, it comes as a shadow that darkens the path that he wishes to tread.

It is such mureeds and workers who will be able to accomplish something worthwhile who will not mind what position they are placed in, what work they have to do in the Order, small or great; but they wish to do it, without being discouraged, with patience and endurance, in spite of all difficulties. Is there any difficulty that cannot be surmounted? No doubt, those who have every desire to serve the Cause, but at the same time cannot, owing to such difficulties which may seem insurmountable, they may give their thought, and help the Cause by their prayers. But those who have time at their disposal, strength and health granted by God, and opportunity before them, for them it is necessary to know the nature and the power of motive, and to know the danger of the shadow of indifference falling upon it. It is in this way, with united effort, we shall be able to bring that Message before humanity which we are destined to bring. God Bless You.