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

Simplicity and Complexity

We read in the Vadan, "Simplicity is the living beauty." Man today has made life so complex that whatever he seeks after, he wants to find in complexity. All things in life which have importance, beauty, and value are simple; and simplest of all things is the divine truth. The one who cares little for it thinks it is too deep water to go into, and the one who cares much for it thinks that it is so difficult that it would be very hard to find it. In this way both the lover of truth and the one who does not care look for complexity. Knowing his nature, the wise have guided man gradually to the truth. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ, the Prophet Mohammed, Moses, all the different prophets who in their time have given the message of God and truth, have given it in perfect simplicity. Today man with all his knowledge complicates that truth and gives it a form which is not understood. The general tendency is that when a man does not understand something, he believes by the very fact of his not understanding it, that there must be something in it.

Can there be any truth which the human soul has not known? If the soul had not known it, it could not be truth; for truth is not a knowledge, it is the very self of man. The truth is not a newly invented theory, not a dogma, not an idea; it is reality itself. At the back of it is the self of man; therefore it is simple. But it is not simplicity that man seeks; he is longing for complexity. Anything which will confuse he is glad to take interest in. If it is simple, he says, "I know it already.'

Spirit is generally considered to mean the source and goal of all things and the essence of life, that spirit from which the whole of manifestation comes and the same to which the whole of manifestation is drawn. We also use this word in the case of a person who has passed from this earth. This is another meaning of the word spirit. From a metaphysical point of view it is the mind and the soul and their activity which is spirit, but there is still another meaning of the word spirit that we use in everyday language: influence, power, radiance, enthusiasm; those also are called spirit.

This chapter deals with the spirit which we call manifestation or life. Many ask what was the reason at the back of this manifestation, of this creation. The reason is beyond all reasoning. There is no reason. It is nature itself: love cannot but manifest. It is its nature. When poetically expressed, the great ones have said that God was lonely and in order to realize his predisposition which is love, in order to experience it, He manifested. It is poetic and it is true. But the process of manifestation can be understood by knowing the nature of manifestation: that the spirit is likened to the sun and what we call souls are the rays of the spirit. If the spirit is eternal, then the souls are eternal. If the sun is eternal, the rays are eternal because the sun and the rays are not two things; rays are the unfoldment of the sun and souls are the unfolding of the spirit.

In manifesting, the souls enter into three spheres.

  1. No sooner does a soul come forth as a ray, than it enters what may be called the angelic sphere. In order to make this intelligible, the wise of ancient times have pictured angels in human form. Nevertheless, it was in order to make man that the whole of creation was made; it was not only the angels, but the rocks and shells, fruits and flowers, birds and beasts, all show in their form a preparatory stage of the human being. As we read in the scriptures, man was made in the image of God. The whole of creation was a process to make that image which was the image of man. Man was the finished image. For this reason God was recognized in the image of man.

    The nature of the beings of this sphere is such that it can be said that they are happy, innocent, musical, lyrical, poetical, pure, and full of worship. When we see that nature in a human being we say, "Here is an angelic soul." Perhaps one person may show this more distinctly than another person. It is not necessary in order to be wise, that one should not be innocent. It is not necessary for an innocent person to be an ignorant one; it is the foolish person who is ignorant. The most wise are innocent became they hear all things and do not hear; the foolish are innocent became life does not speak to them; their heart is closed.

  2. The soul on its further journey pierces another sphere, the sphere of the jinns. The qualities of this sphere are represented by the soul in intellectuality, in poetic gifts, in musical talent, in art, in science, in all those attributes which belong to the mind. It is for this reason that we call such a person a genius.

  3. After this sphere, the soul manifests in the physical sphere where it adorns the physical garb which is the human frame.

Every soul that has been projected as a ray from the spirit, must pass through all these three spheres. Sometimes it remains in one sphere longer than in another. It remains or it goes further, just as some of us in art, in science, in learning, in the pursuit of knowledge, go so far and no further. So it is with souls; those which are satisfied in one sphere remain there; they may behave like any creature of the lower creation would -- eat, drink, and make merry and be quite happy. There are others who feel uncomfortable until they have penetrated into another sphere where they are more contented; some are not satisfied in that sphere either and look for another sphere.

We human beings here have this tendency and it is also the tendency of the soul. Wherever it finds interest, joy, and pleasure, it remains, it settles there. But again, every soul is bound to its goal, it must reach there, and in order to reach the goal it must return. The condition of that return is that it must give up the garb of the particular sphere it has dwelt in, in order to enter another sphere. It is not allowed to enter into the inner sphere with the outer garb.

These three spheres: angelic, jinn, and physical, have each a particular garb. This garb may be called the body of that sphere which the soul has to adorn. And when returning, it must give back that garb to the same sphere from which it borrowed it. And this giving back of the garb to the sphere from which it was borrowed, we recognize as death. Since man does not know his soul and is only acquainted with the garb, when the garb is given back man says that it is the end of life. But in reality it is only the beginning -- just another act of the play which is the further journey it must make.

There are, however, three different ways of returning, or one should really say going forward. One is the way of the drunken man; another of the man who is asleep; and the third is the way of the man whose eyes are open.

  1. The way of the drunken man is the general way. What is life? Life is drunkenness. Whether a man is in business or amuses himself, whether he is in a profession or has any other interest in life, what is it all? It is a wine. He is drunk. Afterwards he knows nothing except that particular intoxication. He is intoxicated by the life he has lived. That is his world: ambition, aspiration. He is taken back against his wish like a drunken man. This is the general way that a soul goes towards the goal.

  2. Then there is the way of the man who is asleep. He knows not what death and life and birth mean. He does not know why he came here, why he is going away. He is happy because he is asleep. He is taken wherever he is taken.

  3. Thirdly there is the way of the man who journeys with open eyes. The one with open eyes will see all the beauty on the way. He is the one who will enjoy the journey, who will appreciate the beauty of travelling. For him every step forward provides a new experience, a greater joy, a particular blessing. He experiences the dance of the soul, and what the dance of the soul is may be understood by watching the water in a tank and the running water of a stream. In the tank it is stagnant, dead; in the same way a person can be dull, heavy, depressed. The water of the running stream is dancing at every step, and the dancing soul attracts everything towards itself like the stream of water, and will bring pleasure and satisfaction to all who can see.

This process by which every soul comes forth and returns is the very process that the mystics of all ages have realized here on the earth; and the true meaning of mysticism or spiritual attainment is to know fully, here on the earth, about the way that the soul has manifested and is bound to return. The question is: how do the mystics know this explanation of the journey we have made? To understand this it is necessary to make intelligible to our minds that this journey is only an idea. In reality the soul has never been away.

If one thinks of the soul as a line, one end is attached to the goal, and the other end is manifested; but when we look at the center of the line, it is one line. Neither is God man, nor is man God; and yet man is God and God is man. The difference is in how we look at it. If the soul of man is attached to the goal, then it has not departed from any sphere it has once penetrated. It is still there. But man is unconscious of those spheres that he has gone through, because he is so open to this visible sphere that his soul has closed its eyes to the sphere within.

Heaven is not a place where the virtuous are sent. Heaven and hell are both within man. All the higher spheres of which man talks are within, but he never realizes nor imagines that he can find the higher spheres within himself.

The analysis of the spirit is simple: spirit is free matter and matter is the dense spirit. It is only a difference of words, and most difficulties that arise come from a difference of words. Words are to cover truth, not to explain it. Truth cannot be explained in words. The spirit is likened to water; matter is likened to snow. Water and snow are the same, it is only the condition of water that makes it snow; thus it is a condition of spirit that makes it matter. It is in this process that man must realize and come to understand the great fullness of the purpose of life and of all that he seeks after through life.

It is related among Hindus that the Lord Indra, the God of the heavens, had fairies at his court, Upsaras whose work was to dance. Once one of them went to the earth and saw a mortal being, and she fell so deeply in love with him that she lifted him up and brought him to the spheres of Indra. And when it was known that the mortal man had been brought there, Indra commanded that he should be dropped back to the earth to live the mortal life, and that the fairy should be sent to the other end of the world to overcome her Karma.

This story conveys that every soul is born to dance before the throne of Indra, God. In reality every action of beauty, of harmony, every action of love, of kindness, of compassion is the dance of the soul. But when the soul becomes conscious of this dance, then the presence of Indra becomes clear to that soul. To be in the presence of Indra is to be in the presence of God. It is the greatest joy and happiness which nothing on the earth can give.

As Rumi has written in the Masnavi, where the soul is likened to a reed flute: "Why does the music of the flute appeal to you? Because it laments, it cries; it longs for that spirit, for that being which was its stem. This reed was cut away from its stem and holes were made in its heart. That made it cry. It cries with longing to rejoin the stem."

So it is with every soul. The restlessness, the uncomfortable feeling of every soul, is always for one and the same reason, though each one gives a different reason. The one would like to possess earthly wealth; another suffers from the contempt of friends; another cannot approach his beloved; another has troubles at home; another has a case in court. But in reality there is only one trouble and that trouble is the sorrow of the spirit. As it is the inclination of every river to go and meet the sea, so it is the inclination of every soul to go and meet the spirit.

At this time, when materialism prevails everywhere, there seems to be a great hunger after truth. It is natural that people should hunger after truth. The very fact that there is so much materialism shows that every soul feels uncomfortable and begins to long for spiritual attainment. But how do they pursue spiritual attainment?

Generally there are two kinds of seekers.

  • There is one kind who is curious, who wonders if there is anything or not; if it is really true that there is a soul and a hereafter. They look for some phenomenon in order to try and prove it. They use psychometry, palmistry, clairvoyance, and all such different means. There may be hundreds and thousands wandering about in delusion looking for phenomena.
  • And there may be another one who is perhaps more intellectual, who reads books on occult science, often because he has seen them recommended in the newspapers, and in the end he will surely become more and more confused. Is this the way of learning? Is it not enough that from childhood one has to learn in school? And after having read all those books, all that there is to be read, at what does one arrive? At confusion. One does not know which is false and which is true.

Learning is one thing and unlearning is another, and unlearning means rising above what we call worldly learning. Very often what we call knowledge keeps our soul away from the knowledge of itself, a knowledge which is most essential because the knowledge acquired by learning is very complex. People think that if it is simple it cannot be truth, they value what is complex. But in this way by one's own tendency one covers over the truth in oneself which is one's own being.