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 Journey to the Goal




The Journey to the Goal

Man has the tendency to expect in his spiritual journey experiences akin to those of the earth. If he had these, then only could he believe that he is journeying. But on this journey there is at each step less to be seen until he arrives at the highest state, where there is nothing before his sight, that is, neither before the eyes, the mind, the heart, nor before the soul. Although the faculty of seeing is there, there is no object to be seen. There is the consciousness alone, the pure intelligence, in its own essence.

'Journey' makes one think of a journey in time and space, like the journeys of our everyday life. This is a journey not in time or space, and yet in time and space. If we go to Brighton, it takes so many hours. If we go to Paris it takes so many more hours. If we make a journey to India, it takes such a long time. This journey cannot be measured in the everyday time. It may take much more time. It may be done in a second. If a person sits here and closes his eyes, he may journey in thought a thousand miles. Yet he has not moved. This shows us that this journey has nothing to do with space.

We measure the time by ourselves. Because we are limited within a hundred years, we count a hundred years, and a thousand years, and we cannot easily count much more. We cannot count the great cycles. When we are sad or sorry, the time goes so slowly. One moment seems an hour, and an hour seems a whole year. And when we are happy or joyful, the days pass so quickly, that ten years are gone, and we do not know where they are. This shows us that there is no time. The journey may take very, very many years, and yet it has not been a long time, because it was not felt to be long.

All the space that we measure is from here to there, so many yards, so many miles. There is another space, within which this space is contained. The nature of this higher, or inner space is that its least little sparkle can contain all the sun, moon, and planets. The space upward and inward, the planes. This space has been produced from that. The higher planes have turned themselves from vibrations into space. If I drop any object, it will fall down. If I pour water from a pitcher, it will fall down. The flame goes up, and the smoke goes up. If you have a chimney, you will see that the flame leaves behind whatever earth substance it has for the earth to take, and when the smoke has become quite pure from the earth, it goes up as ether, as the pure spirit.

This shows us that the lower elements go down, and the higher elements go up. The higher planes are up, above. Christ is always depicted with his finger pointed upwards. Some have said, "Is Heaven then up in the sky?" The higher life, to which Christ points, is above. When you feel sad or sorry, you feel heavy, and drawn down to earth. Then you feel depressed. When you feel a joy, you feel light. What sadness is there in illumination? This is why the Parsis have worshipped the fire, the sun, as the purest element, the symbol of God. It was worshipped until it was said, "Do not worship the sun, the symbol, worship man, in whom is God Himself." But rather than worship men like themselves, men worshipped the elements, less than themselves, because there was not the jealousy of men.

How can these planes, which are greater, be contained in the space, which is less? Our eyes teach us a great lesson. These eyes, not an inch wide, can contain not only all the countries and seas, but also the universe, the sun, the stars. Man, who is so small in one respect, and so limited in another aspect, is so great that he is himself the whole.

In one way we are so poor, poor is small, smaller than a tree, smaller than the big animals even, than an elephant, a camel, a horse, so poor in every way, a drop of water in the sea, a thing not to be counted, and, in another, so vast, that we are ourselves the whole.

There is a poem of my Murshid, where he says:
"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."

Khwaja Nizamuddin Chishti says: "The boat in the sea, and the sea in the boat, Oh what fun that the sea is in the boat."

He expresses this philosophy, that man - the boat - is borne up by the whole, the sea, and the whole - the water - is borne up by man - the boat.

In the first step of manifestation, there is consciousness only. He is conscious, but He does not know, "What am I. Where am I. What is my work?" Then by the activity, consciousness becomes sound. Here, before me, there is nothing, but, if I wave my hand, vibrations and sound come. This shows that all comes from activity. As the activity increases light comes. Then He thinks that He is sound and light. Because He has no body, He recognizes Himself as that of which He is conscious. A little child recognizes himself as his physical existence, because he sees his hands, his body.

The light forms the ideas, because it is the property of light to divide. Variety is the property of light. All activities are made by one activity. Just as in a watch all the wheels are made to go by one wheel. So all our activities are made to go by one, by the breath. The breath makes all go, and when that ceases all the activities cease. Every cause has a cause behind it. All causes originate from One Cause, call it the First Cause, if you will not call it God. Every soul is a ray of the Consciousness.

In this way the Consciousness, by many stages, about which if I were to speak, I should speak for many hours, through many planes, by many experiences, by increase, by reduction, becomes man. So the life goes through many planes, through the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms. In man the return journey begins. In man the manifestation is perfected. Man is the seed of God. Why is it never said in any scripture that a cat or a dog may be the son of God? Why is it said only that man is the son of God? Because in man are all the attributes of God. What is the matter with him is only that he is deluded. He sees this physical world and he thinks, I am this. It seems so solid, so real.

To be conscious of that state where we are all is the return journey. It has six planes, and the starting-point, that makes seven. For one it may take thousands of years and more, for another it may take one instant. That depends upon the traveller, upon his courage, endurance, energy, and chiefly upon his confidence. Everything in the world has been done by "I can" and all our lacks come from "I cannot." With what did Alexander, who is still called the Great, conquer so many countries? With "I can." This whole world has been manifested with "I can."

The return journey is made through the same planes as the way toward manifestation. Man is the seed of God. From man he must become God, by the thought of God, by the repetition of the name of God. Shams-i-Tabriz says, "Say 'God, God, God,' and God you will become. And again I say, You will become God." His unreal life has become real to man. When he attains to the consciousness, when he reaches the goal, this life becomes unreal to him, and that becomes his real life, his true life, as it is. Whatever we do, whether we live as a saint, whether we make a sacrifice, it is for our own happiness that we do it. And if someone wishes only for peace, it is because his happiness lies in peace.

The world was made for the happiness of the Creator. He felt the power to manifest, and where there is the power to do a thing, there is happiness in doing it.

It is as if someone had made a bazaar and then one came to him and said, "There is no shade in my shop," and another said, "I have made a contract, and they have not given me the whole of my contract. They have given me only part." And another said, "The thieves have come in the night, and have taken everything." And another said, "My husband quarrels with me." And another said, "My wife is very bad. This is the wife you have given me." And the man had become so wrapped up in all this that he did not know what to do, and he began to think, "What am I? What have I been? What shall I be? I am not this bazaar that I have made."

This is what cannot be spoken before the uninitiated because it goes against the religions. He himself became so involved in this existence that He forgets what He is.

When man seeks to clear himself from all these vibrations that he has gathered around him, this is Sufism, this is initiation. Then he places himself in the other swing. This is rebirth. Then he is a Brahman, who knows Brahma. And also "Brahman durj." Durj means reborn. Christ also said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." Then he passes from this self to that Self.

In the Arabian Nights there is the story that a man loved a princess. His love increased so much that he thought that if he could see her only once that would be enough for his whole life. It was very difficult, for she was a king's daughter, and you know that the zenana is a place that cannot easily be entered. He went to a mystic and said to him, "I do not want to learn any philosophy nor any metaphysics nor anything. I only want to know how to reach my beloved." The mystic said: "That is very difficult. She is a king's daughter. But you can put your soul into the person of someone else, and so be near her."

The man said, "How can I put my soul into someone else, and into what person? A human being will not be able to go where she is. There are the beasts and birds, but they cannot approach her." He thought a bird would be best. There was a very beautiful parrot that had just died. He entered into the body of the parrot, and he flew straight to the king's palace. When the princess saw the beautiful parrot she at once had it put into a cage and stroked and caressed it, and fed it on sugarplums. One day he was very happy. Two days he was very happy. Three days he was very happy. But then he began to think, "I was a man and I am a parrot. I am in a cage. I cannot speak with the princess. She is different and I am different. If only I were a man again, even away from the princess. And perhaps by this time my body is buried and I can never be a man again."

He escaped from his cage, and flew back to the mystic. The mystic had been preserving his body, thinking that he might want it. He said to the mystic, "I want to be a man again. But what can I do?" The mystic said, "Let me cut off the parrot's head." He cut off the head and the man became man again.

People may say, "What a foolish story. What a fable." To a philosopher its meaning is very great. It shows us some very great lessons. It shows us that at first no intellectual knowledge nor philosophy is needed, only love, devotion, the love of God which makes a person desire to draw near and see God. Until love is developed in him, he cannot see God. In order to do this he becomes a bird. What does this mean? It means that he becomes a man of imagination and thought. The bird flies. The nature of thought is that it flies. It flies into the realm of imagination, of beauty. He becomes an idealist, that is, he worships God in His manifestation.

Think what the world would be if there were only manufacturers, traders, accountants, bankers, scientists, politicians. Where would be the beauty of life? When the musician feels the beauty of sound, he composes beautiful music. When the poet feels the beauty in words he writes beautiful poems. When the sculptor feels the beauty of form, he makes beautiful statues. When the painter feels the beauty of color, he paints beautiful pictures. When the architect is awake to beauty, he erects beautiful works.

But then, devotion is not enough. He desires union. And for this he must lose his external self, his parrot self. When that is gone, then he realizes that there is no other, that I am all and everything.

Now I will explain its meaning as to the purpose of life, which is even more interesting. When God became manifest, He was deluded by the beauty of His nature. He felt, there is some beauty in My nature, and He wished to see and enjoy it. This whole manifestation was made for God's admiration. The whole thing is the ideal of God, not the ideal of one person, or any persons, but the ideal of the Whole Being. To enjoy it He became first angel, then djinn, then man. Its meaning is very great. It gives the whole purpose of life.

The princess is this world. When He had become man, He had become the parrot. His desire as a man was to eat with the princess, to speak with the princess. But he is in the cage. What she gives him to eat, he eats. He likes the princess, but he is a parrot. He has become the servant of this world, so much that when the fever comes, he wishes to lie down. He does not control the fever, it controls him. He thinks, "I desire that this princess should be my servant. I do not desire to be her servant. I desire that she should be in my control. I do not desire that she should control me." He wishes to control his temper, his jealousy, his anger. He wished to control this outer world, but he cannot. He is its servant, in the cage. He is a limited being.

God desires perfection. He desires that He should be fully satisfied. And there is this nature also in us. Therefore when we desire anything, we desire much of it, and more. We desire to be fully satisfied. In the stage of parrot He loses His true perfection. Therefore in the next inversion He perfects Himself by losing the mortal garb, which He had first adorned for the same reason, thus God arrives to Godhood from man, as the man was parrot and again the parrot returned to man. This is the perfection of which the Bible speaks, 'Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.' This perfection is the Abundance, the Amplicity.

The thought comes, "If I were God, I would say, Let a million dollars come, and a million dollars would come. I would say to this house, Fall down, and it would fall down. I am not God." This illusion comes. Then the thought comes, "Thou art God and I am man. Thou art different and I am different." But the thought comes, "Something there is in me, I do not desire subordination, I desire freedom, I desire perfection. I desire to have all my wishes fulfilled.'' Then he realizes, that "I am in the cage." When this wisdom has come, then the princess, however charming she is, however great her attractions are, does not please him. He runs from her, that is: he renounces.

He renounces his self. He renounces all that makes him greedy, all that makes him selfish. Then when he has renounced all the world he takes away the self that remains, after that self has died by the zikr, he looks at himself and says, "I am not, but Thou art." By the Fikr he looks at his mind and says, "I am not, but Thou art." In this way he takes away all his external self. He goes again to the mystic. That means, he returns to his pure intelligence. When that is there, without any stain, without any impression of the world, then he enjoys the pure existence of God.

This is why the mystic's work is very great. For man to remind the Whole Being that He is God, what could be greater. The mystics are called saints, they are called sages. In the East great names are given to them. Their grade is very high. There are the words of Christ, "Ye are the salt of the earth, and if the salt hath lost its savor, wherewithal shall it be salted?" This is the meaning: the mystics are the salt of the earth. If wisdom is not found in them from where can it be brought? Can it be brought from the dog, from the cat? Their work is great. It is to say, You are not man, but God. He says, "You have been man. You are not parrot. Become man again." That is, You are God, not man. In order that you may recognize it, let me deaden the external self. He deadens it by inactivity.

Repose, peace, rest, these are the things of death. The dead man never moves. The self-controlled man never moves. The dead man never speaks. The self-controlled man never speaks. The dead man never thinks. The self-controlled man never thinks. The dead man never feels. The self-controlled man never feels. Activity, thought, feeling, when these three things are taken out, then the external self is dead. Then nothing but God remains.

This is why the Qur'an says, Mutu Kubla anta mutu. Die before death.

God bless you.


Selflessness does not only beautify one's personality, giving grace to one's word and manner, but it also gives a dignity and a power with a spirit of independence, which is the real sign of a sage. It is selflessness which often produces humiliation in one's spirit, taking away the intoxication, which enriches the soul.

Independence and indifference which are as two wings which enable the soul to fly, spring from the spirit of selflessness. The moment the spirit of selflessness has begun to sparkle in the heart of man, he shows in his word and action a nobility which no earthly power or wealth can give. There are many ideas that intoxicate man, many feelings there are which act upon the soul as wine, but there is no stronger wine than the wine of selflessness. It is a might and it is a pride that no rank of the world can give. To become something is a limitation, whatever one may become: even if a person were to be called the king of the world, still he is not the emperor of the universe.

If one is the master of the earth, he is still the slave of Heaven. It is he who is no-one who can be all. The Sufi therefore takes the path of being nothing, instead of being something. It is this feeling of nothingness which turns out of the human heart an empty cup, in which the wine of immortality is poured out. It is this state of bliss which every truth-seeking soul yearns to attain. It is easy to be learned, and it is not very difficult to be wise; and it is within one's reach to become good, and it is not an impossible achievement to be pious or spiritual. But if there is an attainment which is greater and higher than all these things, it is to be nothing.

It may seem frightening to many, the idea of becoming nothing. For human nature is such that it is eager to hold on to something and the most he holds on to is his own person, his individuality. Once he has risen above this he has climbed the Mount Everest, he has arrived at the spot where earth ends and Heaven begins.

God bless you.