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 Culture of the Soul

Consciousness, the Only Personality

The Influence of Character and Fate on Our Surroundings




The breath is one, and all else is two. The eyes are two, the ears are two. The breath is one in all mankind, and in all animals and birds. This shows us the unity of God. What is one in the unmanifested state becomes two in the manifested state. The eyes are two. The ears are two. There are the two nostrils, and the two lips. Though the tongue shows one, yet there is the palate to make two. There are the two hands, the two feet.

When a person wishes to rest, he folds his arms. If he wishes to feel peaceful, he closes his eyes, and a peace comes. Though the eyes are two outside, inside they are one. If the ears had covers, like the lids of the eyes, a person would close them. When a person is in the crowd, in a great noise, the thought comes: "I should go away into the solitude." If anyone is sleeping, he will want to cross his legs. If he is sitting, he will want at least to put one foot over the other. When they meet, people shake hands.

All this shows that the going from duality to unity is a bliss. The two arms and the two legs are restful when they are folded, because they have been one before and they want to be one again. If I ask you to hold your five fingers apart for six hours, you will say, "No, thank you." If I ask you to keep your hand closed for six hours, you will consent more readily. If I ask you to remain six hours with arms outstretched, you will decline. If I ask you to keep your arms folded for six hours, you may consent. If I ask you to keep your lips parted for hours, you will not be willing to do so. If I ask you to keep your lips closed for hours, you will consent.

The soul has been one with the 'consciousness,' and it longs for its union with the Consciousness. By the manifestation two have come from what was one. The soul wants to manifest. It also wants to return to the Consciousness.

The Culture of the Soul

Beloved Ones of God,

My subject this evening is "The Culture of the Soul." There are many in the world who perhaps do not believe that there is a soul. Some think there may be a soul, others believe there is a soul, but do not know what it is. Man's life can be divided into two aspects. One aspect is the part of his life which is comprehensible to himself, and the other that part of his life which is unknown to him, that is the soul. The eyes cannot see themselves, but as they can see all other things we know that we have eyes to see. So the soul is our real self, and the soul which sees all things cannot see itself, but the very fact that the whole universe is reflected in it must prove to a deep thinker that there is a soul.

No doubt people of different nations and the followers of different religions imagine and explain the soul differently, and no doubt that for a student to know more about the soul by the study of different scriptures and books is difficult, almost impossible. When somebody went to the Prophet Muhammad and asked him for an explanation of the soul, the Prophet replied, "The soul is an activity of God." It is so true and yet it explains nothing to a person who wishes for the explanation in words.

All things that are comprehensible words can explain, but for the soul which passes beyond human comprehension, words are too inadequate to explain fully. But the question, "How can a person then realize his soul?" can be answered, "By the inner culture."

There are two ways of learning. Learning from within, and learning from without. What we learn from without is called 'learning,' and what we learn from within 'the inner cult.' People very often confuse intellect with wisdom. Often people use the word 'wisdom' for 'intellect' and 'intellect' for 'wisdom.' Also people confuse 'clever' with 'wise' and 'wise' with 'clever.' In point of fact the wise can be clever, but the worldly clever is not necessarily wise. While wisdom is learnt from within, intellectual knowledge is gained from without. As it is necessary to live in the world so intellectual knowledge must be attained, but it is still more necessary to satisfy our soul's longing, to attain inner knowledge which is called wisdom. As eyes without the power of sight are blind, so without illumination of the soul intellectual knowledge is but a mist.

When a soul is born on earth it brings from above the sight, which is the light of the soul, but as the infant grows in the world so his intelligence, covered by impressions coming from the external world, covers the light, until, instead of simple curtains the volumes of impressions so to speak build a wall, covering man's eyes from his own light, the light which man inherits as his divine inheritance. In the Bible it is said, "Raise your light on high, nobody should cover the light under a bushel."

Man's external being becomes in time as a tomb upon the light which is within him, covering it from his own light and leaving him in the darkness. The pursuit of the seekers after Truth is the pursuit of this light; the best known of the stories in the "Arabian Nights," Aladdin, in pursuit of a lantern, is symbolic of this idea. What is necessary first in the pursuit of this light is to waken the faculty of love which generally becomes frozen by the disagreeable experiences of life. No doubt love is divine, it is a divine stream; but if a person has lost his patience before touching this divine stream, which is in the depth of the earth he finds himself in the mud, for the water is still deeper. The first lesson of love is selflessness, and it is the awakening of love in the heart of man which is the re-birth, the true beginning of his life. The story of Aladdin says that he had first loved the princess, and it was she who desired that lantern to be brought, that led him in the path of light.

It is the love element which should be awakened instead of an intellectual research after Truth. How many there are who are searching for Truth in books. Let them study in libraries, there are more books than they can read throughout their whole life. Others are seeking after phenomena, wonder-working. Some wish to communicate with spirits, others wish to acquire some magnetic or some magic power to accomplish their life's purpose. They are not seeking after Truth, they are seeking after the things which often make man more selfish, more superstitious, more confused, more covered and more stupid.

The only longing the soul has is to touch its own depths, to find its own beauty, its riches, its own happiness and its peace. It is as if the soul had possessed a domain and this domain had been taken from it. It is said in the story of Aladdin that after setting out on the journey in the path of love, he found a Dervish sitting by the wayside, and he asked him gently where that lantern was, and how he could reach the place. That explains that the spiritual guide and teacher, who is called in the language of the Hindus 'Guru', is needed for one to proceed in the pursuit of the light. No-one in the East would think for a moment of journeying in the spiritual path without guidance.

How many in the Western world, working on their own by reading books of Hindu Yoga, have lost their track and confused their minds, for there is always the danger of losing one's mind when a person plays with the great cult without the personal guidance of a teacher. Even in order to sing the producer of voice must be consulted; when ill a physician's advice is necessary. Man himself is not self-sufficient, in every walk of life guidance is necessary. But there comes another important phase which has little to do with the teacher, it is the responsibility of the pupil. The teacher shows the way, but the pupil must journey. If the teacher shows the way and the pupil sits still, after a thousand years he is still there where he was, and it is not the fault of the teaching.

In the spiritual cult, first faith and confidence is needed, trust is needed first in the self and next in the guide who shows the way. Then comes a period of mist when one does not know if the train is going forwards or backwards, and it is possible that when it goes backwards it seems to go forward, and when it goes forward it seems to go backwards; and it is natural that when it is standing still one feels that it is going, and when going it may seem to be standing still. Man too anxious about his progress, will lose his battle, but the one who trusts and hopes, who is firm and steady, not curious but serious, who goes into it wholeheartedly, must sooner or later win his battle.

Once the light is gained, once the lantern of Aladdin is in hand then the path in this world and the next is clear, a path which is full of thorns, full of pits, full of dangers of all kinds, a path full of difficulties for rich and poor, strong and weak, for the sensible and for fools, that path then becomes easier, strength comes by itself. Life at every step seems more in one's control, and at every station of the journey there comes a new hope, new experiences, new life, new strength, besides the light, beauty, joy and peace, which are so to speak, the kingdom of man's soul.

Consciousness, the Only Personality

When we look at the world we see that everything makes a circle. The plant grows from the seed to its developed state and returns to dust. Man grows from childhood to youth, to maturity, then to old age. This, it is said, is an argument for our passing through many lives. But it is not the circle that journeys, but the point which journeying forms the circle and returns to the place from which it started. It is the Consciousness that performs the journey at all times, and not the individual soul.

The drops of water in a fountain go up, some higher, some lower, some go a very little way, some rise very high. When each drop falls down it sinks into the stream, flowing away with it, and does not rise again, although the water of the same stream rises again and falls again in drops, which proves to us the fact that the water has a continual rise and fall, not the drop, yet apparently it rises and falls as drops though the portion of water in every drop is different.

The wheel of evolution is such that the consciousness gradually evolves through rock, tree, animal, to man. When it reaches man it cannot manifest further toward the surface, because through this journey all its force is spent. Man is the most active being, he has to do with most things. A rock has very little activity; it lasts long. A tree has a little more activity, and its life is not so long as that of the rock. There are many animals which live much longer than man. Man has the most activity, and in him the consciousness reaches the highest point of manifestation.

The Influence of Character and Fate on Our Surroundings

Our influence is felt and remains in those places where we live, where we sit, where we walk. A person's influence is felt in the room, in which he has been, in the chair in which he has sat, even in his belongings, his coat, his shoes, in all his things. Our influence on our belongings is not absolute. If it were, the Prophets would not have had all the difficulties they had in life. But it is very great. A person's influence is felt by all his surroundings. People's dogs and cats, even become like them. In the families where there is always a quarrel going on, the dogs and cats are quarrelsome.

There was a sage who said: "A person's character shows in every object belonging to him."

I have myself always been very sensitive to people's influence. After learning mysticism, I could by the spiritual practices throw off every impression, so that no one's influence affected me at all, but before, as a musician, I felt the thought of every person in the audience, who liked my music, who did not, if anyone was antagonistic, and if there was anyone present who was hostile, the whole program was spoiled.

The influence of others acts even upon the great sages. A sage was sitting in concentration. He said, "There must be some person from outside in the room." The disciples looked, but they could see no one. They saw only the familiar faces, there was no stranger among them. The sage said, "Look again, there is some disturbing element in the room." They looked, and found a stick that had been left there by a visitor, a person who was hostile. Even his stick had the power to disturb and prevent the concentration.

The wider a person's influence extends, the greater is his power. One person's influence may be only over his family, another may be over the persons in his employment, another may have power over his whole country, his whole race.

I have seen myself that if in a family there is one spiritual, one very good person, the whole family will feel his influence. I have seen in a family of fifty or sixty persons living in one house, there was one very spiritual person, and every young person in that family, every thoughtless person, at a moment when he was inclined to be led astray, would feel something like a rein holding him back. And when this person was gone, in this family, which for forty years had been growing in every way, increasing in reputation in goodness, first drunkenness was introduced. It spread from one person to many; and then all in the family were at variance, one against the other.

By association with a good person the bad may, once in a hundred times, do good actions, and by association with an evil person even the good may once in a hundred times, become bad.

There is a Gujerati saying, "By the virtue of one, thousands may be saved, liberated; by the vice of one, thousands may be lost."

This is what is meant when it is said that Christ saves his followers from their sins. By the goodness of one, thousands may be benefitted and by the evil of one a whole land, nation, may be ruined.

But we should not depend upon another to save us. Our soul is the same as the soul of the Prophet, of the Pir, of the Murshid. We must not say, "I cannot be as they." Our soul is the same. And why, having the beautiful essence within us, should we not be loved? We should think that there is in our soul the same power, that our influence extends to others. If we have not a family, we have friends, if we have not friends, we have acquaintances, if we have not these, there are the people about us, who may be influenced by us. This is a great responsibility, and very few people think of it. A father rarely thinks: "My child may be influenced by my feeling, my thought," a mother seldom thinks of this. Only man has the sense of responsibility. It is not the dog, the cat, or the horse that has it.

There are four ways that people follow.

  • One is when a person enjoys all by himself, taking no heed of others.
  • The second way is to enjoy oneself and share with others.
  • The third way is that a person renounces his own benefit and advantage for others.
  • The fourth way is that a person returns good for evil, kindness for ill-usage, friendliness for insults. By this way he becomes saintly and prepares himself for the spiritual path.

God bless you.