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 Path of the Mystic

Knowledge of Past, Present and Future




The Path of the Mystic

There are perhaps mystics in all peoples, and there is a mystic side to all religions. This shows that mysticism does not come from the East or from the West, it is a human inheritance and belongs to the soul. Every religion: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, has a mystic aspect, and this shows that mysticism belongs to every religion, and it also shows that religion needs a mystical aspect to manifest in its fullness.

In its last stages, the world has passed through so much, so many centuries of materialism, that when one nowadays speaks of mysticism, it is looked upon as something vague and incomprehensible. Mysticism has always existed as a human inheritance, but the waves of materialism have effaced it. We should understand the difference between religion, morality, mysticism and philosophy.

Religion is a law of beauty given to humanity by the masters of life. Morality is a prescription of principles adopted by a number of persons at a given period. Philosophy is an explication of names, forms, conditions and circumstances which are known by logic and knowledge. Mysticism is a way that is incomprehensible to most people, because it is a way of getting to the center of life and things, which the other ways take centuries to get to. The source where mystics get their knowledge from is the Divine Source, of which Christ says, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all things shall be added unto you." The ordinary person cannot understand that by sitting down and closing his eyes a man can get knowledge. He also cannot see how one can get knowledge without learning from exterior sources, because all his life he has been used to that. [Note: In the place ("prescription") and ("explication") there were open spaces in the original text. These two words were added, and therefore are not authentic.]

And so it is that no religious man or philosopher however good and pure can get at the knowledge of the mystic, because the mystic's knowledge is the greatest of all. Just as a man standing on the mountain sees more than he who stands at the bottom. Or, can a man who wants to see the moon see it by looking on the ground? The words of Christ, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God" are so simple, and yet understood by so few. The Christ-spirit is the mystic spirit. Even before Christ mysticism has always existed. Buddha, Krishna, Moses and Mohammed, all walked the path of the mystic. Can you tell me of Krishna going to an academy to learn? Or Christ or any other teacher learning from outer sources? No, their knowledge came from the Divine Source.

Of course it makes the materialist wonder: What can be the source where all the knowledge of the world is accumulated.

There is a very interesting story about Firdausi, the great Persian poet, who has written the Shahnama. One shah of Persia once desired documents of the ancient history of Persia which no one could find; there was only this poet who offered to do so. Everyone wondered how that could be done, but he said: "Wait and you will see." He went to the solitude for ten years and then he came back to the court with his book called Shahnama.

As he was still linked with the current of his solitary life he was not quite himself; and when one of the knights who was very critical asked where one could find that knowledge, Firdausi called him and said: "Come and sit by me, and close your eyes and see." And then that skeptical man saw all the pictures of the ancient past pass before his eyes.

But a man may say: "If one is to become a mystic for the knowledge that mysticism gives, it is not worth while, because there is already so much knowledge in the world." But it is not only knowledge that the soul seeks, there are other things. and one is the longing for a lasting happiness which man never has. Whatever his condition or occupation there is always something to complain of.

And this means that the home of the fish is water, and on earth, even on a even on a tray of gold, it is not happy. The real home of man is the spirit of God, and elsewhere he will never be satisfied. Man cannot understand this, because he gets a little substitute called pleasure. Another thing is that this pleasure is momentary, and he must always suffer to get it; there is always pain attached to pleasure and one must pat a good price for it. The true happiness is never experienced by man until he has touched that happiness that lives in his own heart. If you ask me what that happiness is like, I will tell you that it is impossible to explain to someone who has never tasted sugar, to know what sugar is like. So one cannot explain this happiness except to someone who has felt it.

There is another thing mystics experience, and this is ecstasy, and this cannot either be explained to one who has not felt it. As there are many people who profess to be mystics, the real mystic keeps his experiences to himself. As now in the Western world these thoughts are coming to be known, many people make a profession of clairvoyance and spirit communication, a degeneration of real mysticism, which is the greatest thing. In the East these things are under the protection of religion.

Think of what loss the world has to face when mysticism degenerates into these forms becoming commercialized and a sacrilege. Ecstasy is a well of light and love which rises from the bottom of man's heart, and so high that it washes away all worries and troubles of life. The condition of man's heart depends on its reflection of this Divine Light, as the condition of the sea depends on its reflection of the Cosmic Light. The cosmic changes make the sea agitated or calm. In one's heart there are moments of calm so great that it charges the whole atmosphere, and moments when the forces rise in man, and wash away all troubles and worldly things. A poet or a gifted musician feels the same, and if you ask me why, I will say that it is that he could not create beauty, unless he were an instrument of Divine Beauty, which is the greatest creator.

Of course a mystic who dives deep, and makes his heart an instrument of the Divine Being, experiences a greater ecstasy. And as the sea responds to the cosmos more than the land, so the heart of the mystic responds to the Divine Light more than the heart of the average man. His heart is liquid, and that of the average man as frozen snow. Where does this freezing come from, since snow is also water. It comes from the thought of "I", "my father, my mother, my beloved, my friend, mine, and separate from yours." Whereas the first lesson of the mystic is, "Thou art, and not I." It is not only complete surrender to God, it is self-effacement. And what does the symbol of the cross explain? That "Thou art, not me, my hands are not for me, my feet are not for me, my head is not for me, they are all Thine."

The saying of the Qur'an, "Die before death," does not mean suicide, it means the death of the "I", the separate self. It is an error of man to call his tent his home. It is not a home, it is a tent. The body is also a tent which is temporary, he calls it I, but it is not "I." The pleasures of life make him forget what it is in him that says "I." Think only of the helplessness, sickness and death of the body. Man never thinks of it, but acts as though he should live thousands of years on the earth. There is no condition, rank or wealth that can secure man's life. What is it that makes him think he is something when he is really nothing? If he can only think of what is nothing, he will realize that what was, is, and shall be is one Being, God.

Living with God is immortality. The Bible from the beginning teaches us to look for immortality within ourselves. Therefore the mystic's path is not one of study, but of meditation. In eastern language this is called Yoga, which means connection, yoke, and this is to connect oneself with the Divine Spirit. And what disconnects one is the realization of one's separate entity, and what connects one is the thought of God. Sufis, as all other mystics have had their schools in all ages of this inner cult. And it must be considered a privilege that East and West are coming closer together, that the poetry and music and philosophy of East and West are becoming known to each other. And the happiness of humanity lies in friendship and harmony between East and West. And there are many ways of doing this, but there is none better than the thought of God, and love between men. It is the essential spirit, and by this all can unite.

The Message of the Sufis has been given in America, France and England, and is now being given here in Switzerland, and all are welcomed, because in the love and light of the path of God, there is no distinction or difference. No doubt the Movement of the Sufis is working to bring about a better understanding between races and peoples, but its essential work is to open the inner eyes of man.

Knowledge of Past, Present and Future

There are two ways of knowing the past, present and future: one is the mystical way and the other is the esoteric way. One is difficult and the other is easy: the mystical way is difficult and the esoteric way is easy.

Those who know the past, present and future by the esoteric way know it by their spiritual development. They are the sages, the prophets. They have told the story of the prophets of the past, of what happened ages before. They had not read the records of those times. They looked into the past and knew it, or into the future. They do not explain how they know it. They do not care to give a proof that would satisfy the world. If they are asked and they give an answer, their answer is so complex that a simple person cannot understand it.

If they say, "I am the beginning and the end," people will say, "You are not yet very old, how can you be the beginning?" In the mystical way of knowing past, present and future, there are numberless manners of knowing it. There are people who can tell it by looking in the fire, or in a cup of tea, or by coffee-grounds, or by laying cards, by looking in the crystal, or by asking a spirit or a god.

There was at Hyderabad a dervish who used to smoke hashish and who could tell everything by looking at the smoke. He did not want people to pay him anything and if they gave him anything, it was hashish. Someone came and asked him to tell him about what his uncle was doing. The uncle lived in Bombay, where this dervish had never been. He blew a cloud of smoke and looked into it and said, "Now I am going to Bombay, to such a street, the number of the house is such, the house is like this. Now I am going to the drawing-room. Your aunt is there, but your uncle has not yet come. Now your uncle comes." And so on.

There was another man to whom people went to ask questions and he gave them a right answer to every question. Out of curiosity I went too. He was sitting in a room and before him were the silver coins that people paid him. There were so many silver coins before him that it might tempt anyone. He told each one what questions he wished to ask. To one he said, "You want to ask four questions, one question about home, one about your business, one about your friend and one about your health." The man was very much astonished that he should know the questions he wished to ask.

Once the brother of the Rajah went to see him, to ask him questions and put him to the test. He said, "Ah, you have come to test me? I do not like that, but, as you have come, I will answer you. You wish to ask me what the Rajah will say to you, when you see him today." Then he wrote something on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope and closed it. He gave the envelope to the Rajah's brother and said, "Open this after your conversation with the Rajah." He opened it after he had seen and spoken with the Rajah and found in it the whole conversation. What he had said, and what the Rajah had said, all had been written down.

There are some people who can tell all that has happened to a person and that will happen to him from the lines in his hand. In India there are some extraordinarily clever palmists. And there are some who can tell everything by the means of anything and everything that they see. They look in the air and they see, or they look at a plant, or at the shapes they see in the fire, and from the forms of the lines in the hand and from many other things they can tell the past and future, according to their concentration and their intuition. By concentrating his attention a person sees the forms, and by his intuition he tells their meaning, their language, for everything has its own language. There is the language of our words, and there is the language of forms.

When I was at Hyderabad there was there, walking along the streets, a man carrying a bottle of spirituous liquor and a glass. He wore no clothes, nothing but a few rags wrapped about him. At every few steps he stopped, poured the spirits into the glass and drank; then he took another few steps, poured the spirits into the glass and drank again. A crowd of little boys followed him, and he put his hand into his rags, took out a handful of silver coins and scattered it among them, and went on a little further and did so again. Wherever he put his hand, he found the coins. Another day he would be seen in another street, in the same way. I had the craze of a curiosity for such things, but one would not like to go and speak to him, for everyone in the street was staring at him.

So I sent a boy from our house, who said, "If you would like to hear music, our sahib wants you to come, he will sing to you." He was very pleased, he was in that mood. He came. There were some of our friends sitting there, they were all well-to-do people. He sat and began to say to one, "Blackguard. You are angry and complaining that you have been dismissed from your post. Why did you muddle that money that was in your charge?" To each one he spoke in this way. Among them was a boy to whom he said, "You failed in your examination, in mathematics. Your answer that you had written on your slate was quite right, but then you thought perhaps it was wrong and you looked what another boy had written on his slate and copied from him. That was why you failed." The boy was delighted that he had found out his fault. To all he spoke, scolding them. Only to me he said, "Bless my soul."

There was a dervish living outside the town, in the jungle. People used to go to him to ask his help in their troubles. Once a man went to him and said, "I am in a great difficulty. I am to be tried in the law courts and I have no money even to pay a barrister. My case is coming on tomorrow. Pray help me." The dervish said, 'What have I to do with it. Go away!" He said, "No, you are my refuge, help me." The dervish wrote something on a piece of paper and gave it to the man. The words were, "I have looked into this man's case, and I find that there is nothing in it, and therefore I dismiss the case." When the case came up for trial, these were the very words the judge said.

Coming now to the esoteric way. One who knows the esoteric way loses interest in the mystical way. The mystical way is limited. It can tell that this form means that and this number means that. In the esoteric way everything is revealed. To him who has this revelation, everything speaks. Everything tells him its secret. He knows all. Hafiz says, "To him to whom it is revealed, every leaf of the tree is a book."

All is one life and one light. When by concentration of thought and feeling upon the condition of a friend a person has opened up a way for the light, he is connected with that friend and knows all about his condition. You will say, "If all is one then we should be always sad and suffering from the unhappiness of others!" It is one light, but there is the shade between, isolating each and therefore we are not so much aware of the unhappiness or joy of others. And yet unconsciously its effect is felt. During the war the bloodshed was going on at the front, but he who could see, could see its effect here and everywhere.

He knows it because when he looks at any being, he looks at him thinking, "This is I," and as he knows about himself, so he knows all about every being. In the physical existence we see so many different forms, but behind this physical existence there are not many lives, but one life. By living in this one life, in this one God, he knows every being and thing. There is God in the thing also, in the plant; only in the plant He has not opened His eyes.

There is a beautiful saying of a dervish, "God slept in the rock, dreamt in the plant, awoke in the animal, and became fully conscious in man." Those who are awake are the beings and those who are asleep are the things. And among the human race how few are beings, how many are things.

In this esoteric way the first lesson is not study, it is love, that "I am not, you are." By this a person's self expands. He may expand it first to one person, then to many, then perhaps to the whole world, or even to the whole universe. There are some beings who are in themselves the universe. Outwardly man sees their small earthly form, but within they are as vast as the universe. By expanding to the vastness of God the mystic experiences the greatness of God in every form, as a god, as a human being, as an animal, as a devil, or from a god to a devil, and he keeps his veneration for man, for man is the image of God.


Now I would like to say a few words on what we call mysticism. Mysticism is a means to an end. Mysticism is not the goal, but through it one arrives at the goal. If you ask me: "What is Sufism, is it a philosophy, is it mysticism?", The answer is: "It is both." This evening I would like to speak a few words on the mystic side of Sufism. The mystic side of Sufism may be recognized as seeing and as hearing. To see further than one sees, to hear keener than one hears. In other words: to see what the eyes cannot see, to hear what the ears cannot hear.

This experience brings to realization: to see without eyes, to hear without ears. No doubt, for the mystic seeing and hearing, these two words, have a different meaning. When we say seeing, we mean what we see through the eyes; when we say hearing we mean what we hear through the ears. But for the mystic seeing is not only through the eyes, but even without eyes. Hearing for the mystic is not only through the ears, but without ears. There happens to exist a word in English language: 'seer.' It means some-one who with eyes and without eyes can see.

Now the question comes, if there is such a seeing and hearing, every soul would be most happy to attain to it. For it would be just like having wings to fly. Who would not? Everyone will. And if there is this possibility to see and hear, why is not everybody seeking after it? The reason is that not everybody believes it, that, which can only be attained by belief, never without it. Therefore it is that something every soul seeks after, every soul doubts about. And if a soul believes, the question is if he has patience enough to go through it. For it is patience which is required in this way because a certain preparation is necessary to hear and see.

For everyone would like to see and hear, but if he were open to it, would he be strong enough to endure the disadvantages? For an instance: mankind, as ready as it is to criticize its fellowmen, if it could see faults still more, what will you do? A man who is absorbed in life's interests, if he sees a terrible thing coming upon himself, upon his dear ones, will he be able to endure? -A person who is ready to give the secret of one to another, if he knew by this power the secrets of his fellowmen, what a terrible thing he would do. -A person who is affectionate, afraid of any harm or hurt touching his dear ones, if he saw it coming, his nerves would be shattered to pieces.

Therefore we see that though there is a possibility of seeing and hearing in every soul and every soul would be too delighted to attain to this power, yet not every soul is ready to have it nor would it be good for every soul to have it. Naturally for that reason it is called mysticism. If there is any secret in it, that is the only secret. Before a person has developed his outlook, he must not hear, he must not see. Therefore, not in order to make one see and hear, but to change the outlook, the Teacher gives initiation. But when the pupil says, "I come to see and hear," the Teacher says:"You wait.

For I will tell you my own experience: before looking for my Teacher I began to have the faculty of seeing developed. It is that which gives the desire to seek for a Teacher, for the Teacher can give the explanation of life. I did not tell my Teacher about this faculty. For I was too impressed, too respectful to say what I could see and hear. But one day, after association with my Teacher, I ventured to speak about it. And what was his answer? "I am sorry." I was expecting a word of encouragement. Following to it, he said:"it is not seeing or hearing, it is to acknowledge it that hinders one's progress."

When there is this hearing, they call it clairaudience, this seeing: clairvoyance. How badly today these words are used. Anyone who is troubled in his mind, who wants to know about the future and speaks about it, is called clairvoyant. How surprising it is to hear a person say: "I am clairvoyant." In reality this gift of seeing and hearing is a gift from the Divine Being. Someone who has this power is trusted with the secret of life. The more he claims, the more he attracts people, the more he sins against the law of divine nature. It must be understood, when this seeing and hearing begins, from that time an initiation is given and man becomes responsible for the secrets revealed to him. Besides, if man was not prepared, if he had not reached a certain point, what is the benefit?

As once I was amused to hear from a man: "The condition of our country? We have so much freedom that we do not know what to do with it." The same thing with the person who can see, and hear, he finds so much to see that he does not know what to do. The Sufi therefore is grateful for what he sees and hears and grateful for what he does not see and hear. He learns resignation in the path of the Divine Voyage.

Now one might ask: "What kind of preparation?" The answer will be: "It is a moral preparation." But not in the sense as we understand in everyday life the word:moral. What we understand is selfish because we judge another with our law instead of considering him with his law. The moral according to the Sufi idea, in this preparation specially, is another thing: it is consideration of the law of friendship, of the relation to one's elder or superior or younger or inferior. Although it is a simple thing to consider friendship, it is most difficult to practice. If one knows the principle of friendship, one does not need the moral of the world. When instead of his own profit and laws, man considers the profit and laws of another, then he begins to see his soul. As long as he sees the other as a separate being different from himself, he will see him wrongly.

Therefore, friends, what Sufism offers, is a facility of becoming acquainted with these ideas. After this acquaintance naturally the soul unfolds. And as a natural consequence of the soul's unfoldment, one gradually hears more and more. God bless you. Now I shall be glad to answer if there are any questions.

Q. May one seek for this power? A. Food is for the hungry. If you are hungry you must seek for food. If you wish, you will naturally see more. But if you do not wish it, it does not matter. It is according to the appetite. If there is appetite there must be food. If it is a sin to see more, it is also a sin to see with the eyes. The eyes are given to see, the soul to see further. Nevertheless, to seek for extraordinary powers, for phenomena, is going backwards instead of forwards. If one goes in the path of beneficence, all that is to be given, will be given. But as I say, if we live a life of friendliness, there is nothing better we can live for.

Q. ? A. The idea is this, as long as one understands the principle of friendship, one will find what is necessary and what not. If a Sufi has relations who belong to the Catholic Church, who would be too delighted if he went to the Church also, if he considers the law of friendship, he will go to the Church but will not let it take away Sufism. He does not disturb all the ceremony of those who love it. Why should he? Wisdom is not to separate, it is to unite. - I will tell you a little story. When I was travelling in the ship from a French port to New York, three services were given. I attended to all those three services. Nobody expected me to be there, I went there not to please anyone but to please myself. Not in one service I felt worshipping God less. I felt in all three services the worship of the same God. But suppose a person did not go to the service and only went to the dance after dinner, would he be less a Sufi therefore? He would also have done a worship - as much as in the service.