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



Love, Harmony, and Beauty

Nature's Religion

The Personality of God

Silent Life

The Will, Human and Divine

Mind, Human and Divine


Developing Will-Power

Personal Magnetism

Love, Human and Divine


The Effect of Prayer

The Mystery of Breath

Character and Fate

Gain and Loss

Stilling the Mind

The Knowledge of Past, Present, and Future

The Planes

Spirits and Spiritualism

The Desire of Nations


The Freedom of Soul (1)

The Freedom of the Soul (2)

The Freedom of the Soul (3)

The Ideal Life

The Journey to the Goal

Intellect and Wisdom

Simplicity and Complexity


Friendship (1)

Friendship (2)

The Four Paths Which Lead to the Goal

Human Evolution



Vol. 7, In an Eastern Rose Garden


There is nothing new under the sun, said Solomon the Wise. Man thinks that democracy is something which has been developed in the spirit of man, and which he had never known before. He thinks the democratic way is not only right, but new. But when we think deeply, we see that life is the same, the ideals are the same, nature's laws are the same in all ages. And therefore these two aspects, the spirit of dependence and of independence, have always existed and have always manifested in their time.

For instance every soul knows that in its own life the very first aspect to be experienced is the aspect of dependence. The infant is dependent on its mother and father; in whatever way they direct him, he acts and works. Then comes the time when he is old enough to understand his own affairs, and he says, "Yes, Father, that is what I want to do, and I will do it." The father and mother say, "Yes, our child has grown up, and he understands his own way; we should not interfere with him." Thus we see that in everybody's life there have been the two phases: the phase of dependence and the phase of independence.

It is exactly the same in the lives of peoples, of communities, and of nations. It is always the same: at first dependence, then independence; at first autocracy, then democracy. The life and evolution of the individual and of the multitude are alike.

As freedom is the nature of every soul, so the child, even from infancy, seeks freedom. We want the child to sit in our arms, but it prefers to go and play. An animal, a dog, or a cat, which depends so much on the sympathy of mankind, still does not wish to be deprived of freedom. This shows that at every stage of development life is trying to become free. That is why it is true to say that the spirit of democracy is not a thing just of today; it has existed in all ages. Sometimes its appearance has been timely, and sometimes untimely.

When we trace the cause, the reason for the spirit of democracy, we find that it lies in idealism. The human race first developed a thought of idealism in itself, religions, learning, education have all emerged from this one human tendency. And what is this idealism? It is the silent consideration, the recognition of affection and attachment which we even see in beasts and birds. We see that deer recognize their mates, and pigeons and doves have a kind of attachment for them. Sparrows and other birds share the responsibilities for their young with their mates.

This all shows us that this ideal has only culminated in man. Call it religion, wisdom, learning, whatever one wishes, the only really human thing is idealism. As soon as a man begins to think, "These are my parents, and I would like to take care of them, so that they may not have the cares and struggles of life", he shows idealism. Then the ideal extends to his neighbors: "When I was young I could not help them; now I can help them, and I will look after my neighbor home and protect him from robbery." Then comes consideration for his life's partner, the queen of the home. As man then sees the beauty of life, he begins to develop his thoughts and imagination, making beautiful forms which shape themselves into beautiful ideals.

He expands the ideal and becomes capable of higher ideals. Motherhood is regarded by everybody with veneration, fatherhood is regarded by everybody with respect. Neighborliness is looked upon with friendly feelings. The elders, chiefs, or kings in the village or town, who have given all their thoughts to the welfare of that town or village, how are they regarded? The people say, "Here is our father who has looked after us all when we were helpless or ignorant." In this way the idea of a king or raja came into being, through the development of a certain kind of ideal. The civilization of every age or time always originated in idealism. The whole source of civilization is idealism and nothing else.

In ancient times the religion and the nation went hand in hand; and there is no doubt that there is a great advantage in this when we compare it with later times, for no nation without religion or spiritual ideal, and based only on material values, can suffice the needs of a world that seeks lasting peace.

However developed or learned a person may be, if he is not in touch with the spiritual point of view he remains selfish. His outlook on life is not impartial; his justice is self-made. How can he claim to be a just ruler?

The two things originated together. The history of Khusru, the old king of Persia, who was both prophet and king, shows this. His feeling was, "My subjects are my children; more than my children, nearer and closer than my children; their interest is my interest, for them I live, for them I was born. My whole life is for them." The whole life of the country was based on that example, that king's ideal. He was the instructor, the preacher, the ruler; he ruled according to the spiritual law. Solomon was also prophet and king at the same time, and so was Rama, the Hindu king. Think of the impression they have left; it is so many centuries ago, and yet however many kings have come and gone since then, the impression made by Rama still remains in the Hindu race. There are temples and shrines, and in them an image of the king whose life was spent for the welfare of the subjects.

A figurehead or leader is always the ideal which the people will follow in every age, and is it not so today? When the President shaves his beard everyone does the same! Man keeps saying, "I will get rid of this idol", but he can never get rid of it; it is human nature. From infancy man wishes to imitate somebody's walk, or movement, or expression, or way of talking.

'God is beautiful, and He loves beauty." He loves beauty through every soul, expressed in movement, word, in whatever way the beauty comes. He cannot help following beauty, whether it be in democracy or aristocracy.

There is a story of a Persian king and a dervish. Now a dervish is a self-educated man, but one who knows and understands things. He is a free-thinker; he does not abide by the law of society; he touches the depth of the truth, and ignores all the superficial and artificial rules and laws of society and religion; he leads his life freely in thought and action; he is so happy in his philosophy that if he is clothed in rags and tatters it matters nothing to him.

This dervish was standing in the street along which the king was about to pass. In the front of the procession were the pages, and they called out to him, "Get out of the way, the procession of the king is coming." He said, "That is why." He went back a few steps, and when the pages had gone past he came forward again, and sat down in the same place. Again came the cry, this time from the courtiers, riding on beautiful horses: "Away, away, the king is coming." He said, "That is why", and went a few steps back, and then when they had passed he returned to the same place. Then came the chariot of the king. When the king saw him standing in the middle of the street, he gently bowed his head to the dervish, who smiled and said, "That is why."

A young man who was watching this could not help laughing. He was curious about it too and asked the dervish, "Why do you say to everybody, "That is why?"" He answered, "It is plain. The gentleness of the king was the reason why he acted so towards me; the dullness of the courtiers was why they were curt to me; the rudeness and crudeness of the pages and the bodyguard was why they were rude to me."

For in the East they pay respect to holy men, even to a dervish. It is inevitable that the culture and education and thought that have been cultivated for centuries among families, communities, and peoples should manifest its effect.

If one asks whether one person's mind is equal to another's, or different, the answer is, it is never equal; there is an immeasurable difference between minds. One mind may be developed more than two, another more than ten, another more than a hundred, another more than a thousand persons. One person whom we meet and talk to and sit with makes us feel as if we had been in heaven, so full is he of gentleness, knowledge, response, and goodness. With another, however open-minded we may be, we find that his manner, his point of view, everything, is repulsive, and we cannot help it.

This shows that the root of civilization is idealism. The seedling was in aristocracy, the plant of civilization grows in aristocracy, and the climax comes in autocracy; for it is comfort and power that have always blinded men. We always find people who are without money more thoughtful and considerate than those who have wealth; blinded with wealth they have no time to think of another person. Even helpless people will have sympathy and share our pain, while those who have the power to help do not.

This aristocracy on one side, and on the other side the authority of a Church with temporal power, both reach a climax when they are blinded by the power of wealth. The aristocracy which was the virtue and culmination of civilization turns into autocracy; and once that autocracy begins, whether with king, president, eider, or head of a family, there arises a bureaucracy: what the king does the officer does, what he does the policeman, the constable and everybody else does. As it is said in Sanskrit, "As the king is, so becomes the subject." Everybody values the leader. An autocratic leader produces an effect on every person, making him an autocrat himself. If the king is fond of luxury, the man whose duty it is to wait on the king also becomes fond of ease and comfort. He is too lazy to get up in the morning because the king is lazy also.

When this is so it means that the time has come for another form of life to appear. That is why there come wars, revolutions, floods, strikes, rebellions. These are all signs that life is going to change. It is not only today; it has been so in all ages. Such signs always mean the change from autocracy to bureaucracy, and then the new era begins, the era of democracy.

By the time that this new period has arrived, the spirit of independence has become ready to meet it. When this spirit is understood wrongly it becomes a time of great trial to the world and humanity at large. When violence comes, rudeness and crudeness predominate in social life and disregard of the true spirit of religion, and of consideration for others; these are the degradation of democracy.

Human nature is just like goats and sheep: where one goes, twenty will follow, and fifty more want to walk behind. So it is with man: one comes and seeks democracy, and the others follow without knowing what democracy is. Democracy is not a craze, not lunacy, not a spell; it is the maturity of souls; that is the real democracy. The soul now feels the responsibility, the value of its own power, the latent power and inspiration which it possesses. It does not necessarily mean breaking with Church or religion or law, nor a disturbance. These would be a degradation of civilization.

Where can this spirit, this true spirit, be learned? From socialism? Only a little. From politics? Only partially. The view of the politician is a partial view. In the law-courts the pleader may tell the truth, but the other side also may tell the truth. Politics may give education, but the perfection of democracy can only be learned from the real science or religion, from the spiritual ideal.

Real spiritual democracy we see in Jesus Christ. According to their law the Jews wished to accuse the people who had sinned, but he told them to let him who had never sinned throw the first stone. That was the outlook of democracy. In that Christ suggested that human nature was everywhere. See the picture of the Master washing the feet of his disciples!

Then in the life of the Prophet we read of a negro slave whom the Prophet's grandson called by his name. The Prophet said, "That is not good manners; call him "Uncle", he is older than you."

He taught his followers that in the house of God there is no distinction between king and servant; the place of prayer should not be for rich people only. All can pray together, shoulder to shoulder; the sultan and the beggar can meet and pray thus. That is democracy.

Whence did it come? It came from the depth of religion; it came from spiritual law. However humble and low a person may be in occupation and evolution, we are none the less interdependent and require his help and service as he needs ours. However much wealth or power or rank we possess, we still depend upon the humblest and poorest person in the world.

The realization that the whole of life must be give and take, is the realization of the spiritual truth and the fact of true democracy. Not until this spirit is formed in the individual himself can the whole world be raised to a higher grade of evolution. Spiritual Democracy In point of fact democracy is always spiritual; there cannot be a material democracy. People call any system democracy which appears or which claims to be democratic, even if it proves upon examination to be only a shadow of democracy. There cannot be two goals; there is only one. The birth of true democracy is in the spiritual ideal, and as long as there is no spiritual light to guide man's life, he does not know the real democracy.

There are two stages in the life of every individual, in the life of a nation, of a community, of a race, of the world: the minor period and the major period. The minor period is when a man realizes that there are others who have experienced life more than he, and that is the beginning of his career; he then accepts the help and advice of those who have more experience than he. This is the preparatory stage which leads to democracy. No parents think it wise that from the moment the child is born it should be permitted to act without any direction or advice. What really happens is that when the minor, the preparatory period is despised, then instead of democracy anarchy comes and takes its place. True democracy means rising from the lower stage to a higher stage, and false democracy is pulling those at a higher stage down to the lower stage.

In some respects a man shows childishness all through his life. Very often, too, he has the same characteristics that one sees in sheep which flock together. None of them knows where they are going, but one leads and the rest follow. One man cries democracy, and no one knows where it goes, what it will become, or what the result will be.

As every moment in the life of a human being is one of growth and development in which he learns something of every kind of experience, so in every period civilization takes a certain direction, develops in a certain way, builds up something. Then spectators of this civilization can have two attitudes: the one who thinks it is not his ideal of civilization and wants to break it all to pieces, and the attitude of the other is that before wanting to break anything he first wonders what is good, what can be preserved and what should be discarded. This person can do a great deal of good by his attitude. He sees what is beautiful and valuable, and the whole that can be made of the existing parts.

The tendency to destroy all the beauty and culture of life is not real democracy. Whatever nation or race has that tendency will destroy the beauty and culture of centuries. The right tendency is the one which comes from a spiritual ideal; the wrong tendency springs from man's egoism. What today is springing up as the democratic ideal comes from a material ideal.

Men, revolting and agitating against others who have some culture, beauty, power, possessions, want to crush and destroy all these; but democracy born of a spiritual ideal is different; it teaches the true human brotherhood; it teaches the true equality of man, recognizing it in the source and goal of every person which is always the same. A real democrat is the God-realized man for whom the world is an open page. It is not he who destroys beauty for selfish purposes.

It is the realization of the beginning and the end, where we come from and whither we go, which is the real spirit of democracy, the realization of the one life. If there is not that idea of spirituality then there are only parties of democrats fighting for political aims, for business interests. This is no real democracy; it is a pretence. When a person has not yet come to that stage where he can give his whole life for his ideal, what is he? Selfishness is a lock that closes the door to democracy. Today democracy is laid claim to by those who are working on a basis of selfishness. Man, however, should consider not only national interest, but the interests of the whole of humanity. This should be his sacred duty. For a long time nationalism has existed, and the war has proved that nationalism cannot solve today's problems. There is a great good that man can do by this example in life, by an example of the absence of egoism. If any nation can do good, it will be by working not only for its own interests, and then others will follow, for it is the nature of the soul.

How can this spirit be awakened? No doubt every activity like the League of Nations, every institution of this kind is good, but First World War. not sufficient. What is needed is religious awakening; the awakening of that religion which is of every soul, not of a particular section or faith. If the spirit of democracy is born, it will only be born in hearts awakened to spiritual life. Every faith and belief has its principles, right or wrong, good or bad. Some follow these, others do not. They are given to humanity for a particular time, when a message is given for that period for a certain race. Whenever a spiritual wave has come to the world, in the time of the prophets and great teachers of humanity, it has always been a great spiritual ideal to awaken democracy. In the scriptures of Zarathushtra, in the Bible, in the Qur'an, in the Kabala, it is always the same voice teaching the equality of man and love for one's brethren.

Whenever there has been a wave of social reform, however good the service it has performed it has never been able to kindle the spirit of universality. This shows that a reformer is the child of civilization; the prophet is the father. One ideal comes from the heart of an intellectual man; the other from the spirit of God, expressed by man.

The message of God is not a system which is only given for a certain period, after which the world is deprived of it; it is Alpha and Omega, and has pronounced softly or loudly the same words at all periods. Advancement or progress is not standing still and stopping at one ideal or principle. Progress is life; standing still is death. When a person becomes hardened in his feelings, when his only interest is for the family or the nation, he does not go further, he is dead. But as long as he is advancing from a family to a nation, to a race, he is alive, he is progressing. The great disaster that has come upon humanity in recent years is caused by this death: the feeling confined in nationalism has burst out in conflict.

This is not only visible in nations, but also in religious forms, in communities. Destruction is always the result when man does not progress. The mystical explanation of this is found in the Bible, where it is said, "In God, we live and move and have our being", and as it is said also that God is love, we can say that we live and move and have our being in love. When selfishness eats up that divine spirit which is in man he is dead. His heart is dead; he is only seemingly alive. Many people seem to be alive, but only rarely do we meet one who is really alive.

The greatest progress is a constant expansion of the divine spirit, expansion in any direction so long as the ideal of unity is applied; this is the ideal of the Sufis. It is not the desire of the Sufis that all should become members of the Sufi Movement; but the ideal of its members is to invite humans to become members of humanity. Sufism is not a new religion or community; it does not want to add a community to the world. It is an attitude of life, not taught by any particular principle or dogma; it is to tune oneself to a certain pitch, so that the heart can become tuned to the Lord. This is the only religion that exists; this is the only message that Christ gave.

There cannot be two religions, truths, or Gods, if our mind is clear. But to understand this religion it needs tuning; and to fight in order to make people believe this, is not the ideal. What is necessary now is understanding another person's point of view; to see with two eyes instead of one. Why is there so much misunderstanding? It is because of using one eye instead of two.

There is another side to religion: the esoteric side, that part of religion which prepares man by prayer and other forms of worship to receive the blessing of God from within. Without that blessing it is difficult to become illuminated. There comes a stage in man's life when he begins to enquire, "Is this all? or is there still more to understand?" And that is why he starts looking for a teacher. It is this need in man's life which the Sufi Movement tries to help. It is the contact with the teacher, study, meditation, silence, repose, which makes one understand one's own religion, the inner side of religion. The Sufi's idea is that man in time may arrive at that stage of understanding where he can hear the voice of God from all sources, all sides, all things, all beings. There is a saying of Sa'di: "Every leaf of the tree becomes as a page of the sacred book, when the eyes are opened and the sight is keen!"