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

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Science and Psychology


Thought and Feeling



Toward the One, the Perfection of Love, Harmony and Beauty, the Only Being, United with All the Illuminated Souls, Who form the Embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance.

Science and Psychology

The day when science and psychology will come to a certain understanding, on that day the knowledge will become complete. But when I use the word psychology, I mean psychology in the sense that I mean, not in the sense as is understood by everyone. For the psychology which is known as a new philosophy it is in its primitive condition. What I mean by psychology is that which bridges material science with esotericism.

In order to get further in this subject I should mention first that the name "matter" and "spirit" are for our convenience.

[Science] As far as we perceive life as something tangible we call it matter.
[Psychology] And what is not as tangible as a substance, but perceivable, then that we call spirit, the knowledge of which we call psychology.
Esotericism is that knowledge which is gained not by perception, nor by tangibility of substance, but by revelation.

And so we can divide the three different aspects of science in these names: science, psychology, esotericism. Science cannot be complete without psychology, nor psychology can be complete without esotericism. It is these three that make knowledge complete. And it is by these that one can hope to understand life more fully.

There is a vast field of knowledge in the realm of psychology.

  • The knowledge of imagination, and the same turning into thought;
  • the knowledge of feeling and the same turning into emotion;
  • the knowledge of passion and the same turning into expression;
  • the knowledge of impulse and its outlet;
  • the knowledge of impulse and its suppression;
  • the knowledge of attraction and the knowledge of its contrary effect;
  • sympathy and antipathy, their origin and source

All these belong to psychology. Therefore psychology is a knowledge of tangible things, yet not of solid things that one can touch. And therefore it is more difficult to explain the laws of psychology in words than explaining the laws of the material science. A perception must be developed in order to understand psychology better.

And insight into life must be obtained in order to understand psychology better. It is the understanding of a law working behind the screen which is real psychology. It is the understanding of cause and effect in everything, in every action, in every aspect. And it is a stepping-stone towards esotericism, because it is psychological attitude which leads one to esoteric knowledge.

If a person cannot see the truth of esotericism or mysticism it is because he is backward in psychology. If a person is not able to see the hidden law he will not be able to see that hidden love which is called in the Scripture 'God'. Esotericism therefore is quite a contrary process of learning to the process by which science is learnt.

For science is learnt by analysis; esotericism is obtained by synthesis. If a person, while wanting to obtain esoteric knowledge, turns things into bits he is analyzing them. As long as he is analyzing them he will never come to the understanding of esotericism.

Psychology needs two things: analyzing and synthesizing. And by understanding psychology better, when one has accustomed oneself to synthesize as well as to analyze, then he prepares himself to synthesize only in order to understand esotericism more fully. Therefore it is quite different to acquire esoteric knowledge from acquiring the knowledge of science. It is like going to the North for acquiring one thing, and going to the South for acquiring another thing. The ancient people therefore made the knowledge of science, of psychology, and of esotericism as one knowledge, and they called it alchemy. And it was very convenient to explain to the simpleton. They said: turning steel into gold. Therefore many who sought gold in life they went into the pursuit of learning this alchemy. And some who went to the end, instead of finding gold they became gold.

There is a story told in the East, which explains this idea in an interesting form. A king was anxious to find some man who really knew alchemy. Many came, but in the end of examination they found that they could not make gold. In the end someone told him that: there is in a village a person living who is simple, most unassuming, but they say that he has the knowledge of alchemy. The king sent for him immediately; and he was brought in the presence of the monarch. When he was brought in the court the king expressed his wish of learning alchemy. And he told him whatever he will ask for it will be given to him. "No", said that man, "I do not know any such thing as you ask." The king said: "Everyone told me, everyone said that you are the person who knows it." "No King", he said, "You have found the wrong person, I am not the person who knows it." "Look here", said the king, "I am going to give you a sentence for your whole life in prison." He said: "Whatever you wish to do you may do. You have found the wrong person for what you want."

"Well", said the king, "I will give you six weeks to think, and till then you will be in prison. In the end of the six weeks I am going to have you put to death." He was put into prison. And every morning the king came to the prison and said: "Now have you changed your mind, can you teach me? Now death is approaching, take care, give that knowledge to me." He said: "No King, go to someone else, who has got what you want; I am not the person that you are seeking for."

And at night, every night the king went as a porter and swept the floor and dusted the room, and took food for him, and sympathized with him, and did everything he could do for him, as a servant could do for him. He asked him: "Is your head aching? Can I do something for you? Are you tired? Can I make your bed for you to lie down? Shall I fan you to sleep? It is hot, it is warm!" Everything that a person could do he did at that time.

And so days passed, and one day remained, the next day of which was appointed for this man to be beheaded. The king visited him every morning and told him: "Now you see there is only one day remaining before your death. And this is your last opportunity of saving your life." He said: "No King, you are looking for someone else, not for me." But at night when that porter came this man said, putting his hand on his shoulder, he said: "Poor man, poor porter, you are so sympathetic. I will whisper in your ears a word, a word of alchemy, and that alchemy will change you from steel to gold."

This porter said: "I do not know what you say: alchemy. I only know to serve you. And only I am sorry that tomorrow you will be beheaded. That is the one thing that tears my heart. I only wish that I would give my life to save yours. I would be most thankful." The alchemist said that: "It is better for me to die rather than give alchemy to the unworthy. It is the same thing which I give you just now in sympathy, in appreciation, in love, which I do not give to that king who will now tomorrow take my life. Why is it? It is because you deserve it; the king does not deserve." He whispered in his ears the words of secret. Instead of making gold he became gold.

In the morning the king came to give him the last warning. He said: "Now there is your last chance. Now that moment has come that you must be beheaded. Now you must give or you go to the place where you ought to be beheaded." He said: "No, no." The king said: "Yes, you have already given me." He said: "Did I give you? I did not give to the king; I gave to the porter."

This beautiful story gives us an insight into the idea. That process through which the king went as a porter, it is that process through which the knowledge of esotericism is to be gained. The other process, through which the king demanded, that was not the right way of acquiring that knowledge. That knowledge never comes through that process. The difficulty of esoteric knowledge at the present time is only this, that man trained in science is not yet capable of attaining to the esoteric knowledge, unless he went through the process of psychological knowledge. In order to enter the gates of mysticism the first thing for man is to understand what feeling is, what service is, what sympathy is, what sincerity is.

It is a great fault of the learning today that sentimental side is kept apart, which is the most important side. It is like wanting a person to come, but not with his life, but as a corpse. In order to educate a person the life should be taken out of him, and turn him from a living person to a dead one. Therefore we find the death of heroism, therefore we find the death of idealism, therefore we find the death of souls who have made impressions upon humanity and which have lasted for thousands and thousands of years. What is to be revived in the present generation is the capacity of feeling. It is the thinking which is developed today, but not the feeling, after feeling comes seeing. And it is this seeing which is known in the English word "seer."

Q. What is the best way in education to develop that feeling in children?
A. I think people at home are more responsible for it than at school. Because this is the first work of home. But if at home such education is given and at school it is spoiled then of course there is an disharmony.

For instance I will give you an example. A nurse was telling the children that: "You must keep your toy; you must not take away the toy of another child", when they were quarrelling over one another's toys. The nurse taught them: "No, each of you have your own. The other one has not the right to touch the toys of the other." It was just, but it was not love.

Then another one came who knew about it and who said to each child: "No, all the toys belong to all of you. And the best thing is to give one's toys to the other, that you play with each other's toys. Do you not like to see your brother or sister playing with your toy? You ought to be delighted to see that your brother or sister is playing with it."

Well, that is the feeling that must be developed. This crude way in which sometimes people want to work up high ideals by troubling and fighting, that is not the way. The best way is the way of love, of harmony, of sympathy. And for that feeling must be developed instead of thought. The present generation has made a great advancement in thought. But that is not enough. Now what is needed is that battery which stands behind thought, and that is feeling.


It will be asked where the imagination is. It is in the mind. And then the question comes, where the mind is. Whether it is in the body, or out of the body. Whether as some scientists and naturalists have said, it is the brain that produces mind and that is all. If that is so, the mind exists as long as the brain exists, and when the brain is destroyed, the mind is finished. If this were so, all a writer's work of three or four months, so many pages and books, and all an artist's work of ten years, a studio full of pictures would be in the brain. And where, in the little brain, would there be room for all this?

It will be said that when a person thinks, his eyes show his thoughts. When he is sad, his eyes and eyebrows and his forehead change; and when he is glad, the eyes and the forehead smile. We may keep back our smile, but the forehead smiles. If we think very much, our brain becomes tired. Sometimes a feeling of depression comes, and a heaviness, especially in the chest and in the left side. If a joy comes, a feeling of lightness is felt in the heart. This is because, as thought has its organ, the brain, so the heart is the organ of feeling. With the blood, it sends its vibrations to every pore and every atom of the body.

The mind is thought of as something small, because we say: "My mind, in my mind", and that which is called 'my' always seems small, like: "my purse", or "my grip", smaller than the material body, something that can be carried about in a grip. Really the mind is much bigger than the material body. The shadow of the body is much larger than is generally known. By the practices of mysticism you may learn how very far it reaches. And the mind is much larger than the shadow.

I may be sitting here, and I may send my thought to Paris. But then, it may be asked: "If I am here, and my thought is in Paris, am I separated from my mind? Can I go out, and leave my mind in the house, and come back and find it again?" No, the mind has wings that stretch from here, not only to Paris, but to New York, or to Russia, to Japan, to the North Pole, the South Pole and much further still. If from here I send my thought to a friend in India, if I send it without letting anything interfere with my thought, he will feel it in his life, something good will happen to him on account of this good thought.

There is a couplet by my Murshid:
"I, the poor, have such a strength,
That if the eyes had eyes,
They could not see the rapidity of my steps,
If the eyes had their utmost power,
they could not see the rapidity of my paces.
This is the strength of the strong."

If a person reads this, who does not know the hidden meaning, he will not understand. The step means the step of thought.

We are so contracted in this material body, because it is the nature of matter to contract. But even here, in this material body, we can expand a little. We can move our hands and arms, and though we are so little, we can walk many miles. This shows the expanding tendency within us.

Thought and Feeling

Let me first explain what is thought and what is feeling. We often speak of thought and feeling as being much the same as the other, but they are as different as fire and air, or as earth and water. It is sometimes said: "My mind is my thought and my thought is my brain."

Some scientists have said that the brain is a substance that produces thought. But the brain could never be large enough to contain the whole of thought. The brain receives the vibrations from the mind invisible, and the heart receives the vibrations from the heart invisible. If we think very much, we hold our head. The head becomes heavy. Scientists do not give the heart any importance as an organ of feeling. They say that it is simply an organ that helps in the circulation of the blood. Really the physical heart receives the impressions from the heart invisible. A feeling of joy or pleasure is not felt in the brain. It is felt in the chest, and especially in the left side, where the heart is. A feeling of fear is not felt in the brain, but in the place of the heart. A feeling of depression or sadness causes a heaviness in the chest.

A dull person will understand less of what is said to him than an intelligent person. If two people are sitting next to each other, and someone is speaking to them, one may understand much less than the other. The vibrations come to both in the same way, but one brain is better able to receive them than the other.

The brain and heart also change. We find a person moved, touched, and shedding tears at the smallest thing that has to do with love or truth, and five years later he may not show any sign of being moved by the greatest joy or sorrow. So also we may find a person very indifferent and cold, and then, three or four years later, he may show a tender and melting state of heart. This depends upon the physical condition of the brain and heart, and this has to do with the subject of physical culture. The Brain and heart may be developed. This is why the zikr and fikr and the various practices of the Sufi are done in connection with the heart. The Sufis give great importance to the cultivation of the heart.

Thought comes from feeling. In the next inversion, thought may create feeling. The thought of an enemy may produce a feeling of sadness and revengefulness. One may be feeling very joyous and a picture of a friend not seen for a long time may produce a feeling of sadness. Still, it is feeling that has creative power, and thought is responsive. A person may be sitting in a room full of people, and may be laughing. Though he may hide his laughter, and it may not be seen, the tendency to laugh will arise in others. A person who is sad or gloomy may come into our presence, and, though he may say nothing the tendency toward sadness arises in us.

If you look at the sky and watch closely, you will have solved a great problem. You will see that there is a small, white cloud somewhere. It is joined by another cloud, and its form is changed. Then another cloud meets them, and its form is again changed. Then one part is taken away, and two parts only remain. Then it grows to ten times its size, and then nine parts are taken away. So it is with thought. It changes constantly like the clouds. The mind is the sky. It is the sun that disperses the clouds, and the soul that disperses thought. In India and other countries where the sun is very strong, the clouds are quickly dispersed. When the soul's power is great, the clouds of our thoughts will be scattered.

People often say: "Hold the root of the thought, hold the feeling which creates it." If a person has the feeling, 'I want money,' the feeling will grow and grow. He will watch every cent and collect, and he may become a millionaire. If a person has a spark of anger against an enemy, it will grow in his thought and feeling, until he feels bad not only towards his enemy, but towards my friend, only to my enemy", but in time, we shall feel full of enmity towards the friend also.

Thought is much greater than all the material objects that it has made. The thought of Shakespeare is alive today, his body has disappeared. The thought of Beethoven lives on the paper, though there may not be an atom of his body remaining. The thoughts of Jelal-ud-Din Rumi, at the time when his soul was longing for its liberation, move the heart of him who reads them.

People often say: "I said it, but I did not mean it." That is never true. If you said it, you thought it, and if you thought it, you felt it. You may be in a hurry, and say 'cat', for instance, instead of 'hat', or you may not know the language very well, but to say a thing you have not thought, is not possible.

If a thought comes that: "I want some roses", and the thought repeats itself in my mind over and over again, one of two things will happen, either my thought will make me go out and buy some roses, or else it may make someone else bring them to me. If you think that you want fish for dinner, and the thought makes its circles in your mind, the cook will bring fish. It is not that the cook wished to bring fish, but your thoughts make him bring it.

It is by the power of thought that the black magicians can kill a person, or make a person go mad. I have known some so great that they make boxes in a house catch fire and burn without anyone going into the house. And yet they cannot be called saints or sages, because they do what they do without renunciation, not by the power of the soul, but by the power of the thought.

If this power can be used for a better purpose, that is more desirable, but practice it in your own affairs first. If it can be used for others, with renunciation, with love, that is most desirable. From morning till night we think how to make our house more comfortable, how to have a nice dress, a nice motor car, and we do not think of him who lives in the house, of the personality. We want incense in the house, we do not want a bad smell. Of what use is it if the motor car runs well, if the motor car of the mind does not run smoothly? First take care of him who lives in the house.

If we can say to our soul: "You are my real self. Shine in my mind. To you all this that surrounds me is a show, whether I like it, or whether I do not like it. To you it is an experience. See it, even if it be sad or unpleasant. But you are not moved or affected by any of these things. You are much too great for them to leave any stain upon you. You are always the same, always unaltered. And you are also the soul of all else. You are the light of God."

This is what is meant by, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God." The Kingdom of God is the soul. It is the light of God. If we can say this, whatever our circumstances may be, our depression and sadness will be dispersed like the clouds before the sun and we shall be in the light and peace of our soul.

Q. If all knowledge is in the Consciousness, what need is there of thought? And if thought is drawn from the external world, how could the universe be created without thought?
A. The Consciousness contains all knowledge. Thought is the activity of the consciousness impressed by the external world. Thought is needed to control the activity of the consciousness. God bless you.