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

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The Law of Heredity (1)

The Law of Heredity (2)

The Attitude



The Law of Heredity (1)

Heredity has been considered among all peoples and in all ages. If we look at the animal kingdom we see that the lion cub is never the child of the snake, nor any storks hatched from pigeon's eggs, the oak tree will not produce dates, nor will roses spring from thistles.

We see in the East that of all breeds of horses the Arab horse is the best. One slight touch will make it leap any obstacle, cover any distance, while there are other horses, donkey-like horses, upon whose back dozens of lashes are laid, and they put one step forward and stop, again twenty lashes, and one step forward. The Arabs value their horses so greatly, that they preserve the breed, never allowing it to be mixed with any other strain. These horses are very devoted to their master.

An Arab was once riding in the desert, and he was overcome by illness, so that he fell from his horse and lay on the ground, unable to move. Days and days the horse remained beside him, though it could easily have wandered away. It never left him, until at last some travellers came near and were attracted to the place, seeing the horse standing there. They took care of the man, and so his life was saved.

There are very many stories of Arab horses. Among dogs, there are some who will follow anyone. Whoever gives them a bone is their master, and if another gives them meat they leave the first and run to the other. And there are some who follow only one master, who obey only one, and even sometimes, sacrifice their life for him. It depends upon the breed, the heredity.

In the East they have considered this subject of heredity very much and have given great importance to it. We have always seen that the son of a poet will have the poetical gift, the son of a musician is expected to be a musician. Even now, if anyone comes forward to speak upon religion they will say: "Are you the son of a priest, or are you qualified yourself?" A great many of the words of abuse have more to do with the parents than with the person himself, and a great many words of praise have to do with the ancestors, not with the person. It was for this that Christ said: "My Father in Heaven", because he recognized his origin from the Divine.

The son of the miner will never do the work of a shepherd, and the son of a shepherd will never do the work of a miner. In India we have one family of poets who have been poets for ten or fifteen generations. They are in Rajputana, and are all of them great, wonderful poets. They are called Shigrakair, improvisors, and were at the court of the kings.

There is also the inheritance from the minds of those who have left this earth. When a soul on its way to the earth meets a soul coming from this world, it receives the impressions of that soul, if it is attuned to it. For instance a soul meeting the soul of Beethoven, receives the impression of Beethoven's music. Then it is born with the musical qualities of Beethoven. The believers in reincarnation say: "He is the reincarnation of Beethoven." The Sufi says if it is meant that Beethoven's mind is reincarnated in him it may be said true. But, because the spirit is from the unlimited; he says: "It need not necessarily be called reincarnation." Therefore a soul with poetical attributes may be born in the family of a statesman, where there never before was a poet.

Each soul is like a ray of the sun, or of any light. Its work is to project, to go forth as far as it can. It is creative and responsive. It creates its means, its expression, and it is impressed by whatever comes before it, in proportion to its intention.

If we go to the Tottenham Court Road, if we are interested in carpets, we shall not stop before the nut and fruit shop. We stop before the shop with nuts and fruits only if we are hungry, if we are capable of being interested in them.

The mental attributes inherit by impression upon the mental plane. Every physical atom of the parents becomes radiant, and its qualities are imparted to the child.

In the case of a father who has liked drink, the child of course is born without the tendency for strong drinks, at that moment. But as it grows and develops, the cells of its body being the same as those of the father, they may have the same craving for drink. The soul is much stronger than the body, and all inherited defeats and infirmities may be overcome, if only the person has a will strong enough for him to cure himself, or to be cured by the help of another person.

That which is more outside is given in heritage more than what is more inward. A man may not be like his father in looks or in nature, but he inherits his property. The state will give the property to the son. It is inherited because it is more outward. The attributes of the body are inherited more than those of the mind, because they are more outward.

Coming to the question whether more qualities are inherited from the paternal side or from the maternal side, I will say that the qualities inherited from the father are more deep-seated, while those inherited from the mother may be more apparent, because the father's inheritance is the substance, the mother's is the mold. A child may be very like his mother in appearance, yet the quality is the father's. For instance if the father is very generous, but a rather crude person, and the mother is finer, the child perhaps will be generous and finer.

In this way the evolution of the world goes on, by the intermixture of nations and races. Those families who keep themselves reserved, in the end become weak and very stupid, diseased also. For this reason the Prophet in Islam allowed all races and castes to intermarry, because the time had come for the human race to evolve in this way.

Sometimes a person may be very like his paternal uncle or his maternal uncle or great-uncle. This is because in the parents these qualities of the grandfather, which although they were in him, had no chance to show themselves, while they could show themselves in his brother.

Also heredity is made by vibrations, there must be harmony in the number of vibrations, as color and sound are made by the harmony of vibrations. Therefore a person may be like his grandfather more than his father. The grandfather may have been a poet, the son may not be a poet, but the grandson again is a poet, because the number of the vibrations corresponds.

Then the thought, the feeling, of the parent are inherited by the child as a quality. If the father is in the thought: "I should build an orphanage", the child will have the philanthropic disposition. If the father is thinking: "This person is my enemy, I should revenge myself upon him", the child will have a vindictive disposition. If the mother admires something very much, if she thinks: "How beautiful these flowers are," the child will have that love of beauty in its nature.

How important it is that people should know that their passing thought or feeling makes the character of the child. In the schools geography, history, astronomy, are learned. But it is most important that this should be learned also. It is not that the old people should read and know it, but the young people should learn it.

It is true that genius is transmitted through heredity, and develops at every step, but it is sometimes found that the child of a very great person happens to be most ordinary; sometimes the child of a most worthy person proves to be most unworthy. This may be explained in this manner, that every genius has its three courses, uruj, kemal, and zawal, ascent, perfection, and descent. When the genius is ascending in the ascendent it develops progressively, when it is in perfection it surpasses all the former geniuses in that family, if it is in the decline it shows gradually or suddenly the lack or loss of genius. It is so with families, nations, and races.

A child need not partake the attributes and qualities of his parents, because the soul has no father and no mother; no one can claim to be the parent of a soul. Among very worldly people without a thought of anything but pleasure, a very spiritual child may be born, or from very saintly persons a very devilish child. For those who are walking in the path of truth, there is no heredity. By realizing their divine origin they free themselves from all earthly inheritance. As Christ said: "My Father in Heaven." They realize their origin from the spirit, and by their concentration and meditation, clear all earthly influences from their soul.

The Law of Heredity (2)

This evening's subject is to explain the question whether more attributes are inherited from the father or from the mother, or whether more are brought by the soul itself, or are the original attributes of the soul, or are God-given. The soul acquires attributes and qualities throughout life. A coward who is enlisted for the war, by hearing always of bravery, by living with soldiers, may in time think: "I should go to the war, I should fight." A joyous person, from being in the society of serious people, may become serious, and a sad person from being with cheerful people may become cheerful. Those qualities which were first impressed upon the soul are the strongest, and those attributes which are acquired later are the more active.

When the soul first starts from its original point, it comes first to the world of the angels, and is impressed by the angelic qualities. The work of the angels is love for light, to live in light and sound. Therefore the infant always loves light and sound. They do not distinguish good and bad, high and low. Their work, too, is to admire beauty. The infant will always turn to what appears to it radiant and beautiful.

There are two sorts of angels, those who have never manifested as man, Fereshta, and those who upon their journey to the infinite, have reached the world of angels. These are called Hur and Malak. Love, light and lyric are the attributes of the Hur and Malak. From them the soul receives these impressions. Devotion, service and worship are the attributes of the Fereshta.

In the world of angels, the soul for years and years enjoys these experiences. When the desire for more experience urges it on, it goes forth, and comes to the world of jinns (peri and gulman), that means the astral plane. In the Bible we find that Adam was driven out of paradise. This means that the wish for more experience makes the soul leave the world of angels, and go to the astral plane and the physical plane. The work of the jinns is to imagine and to think.

The jinns are of two sorts. There are those who have never manifested physically, and there are those spirits who have left the earth with all the load of their actions and experiences upon them. From the first sort of jinns, those who have not manifested physically, the soul receives the impressions of imagination and thought.

The soul that leaves the earth can take to the world of the angels only whatever little love, whatever little nice feelings and kindness it may have. Even its love and kindness and its nice feelings it cannot take higher than to the world of the angels. This is still too heavy for the higher plane. There is a higher plane, and on that plane there is no individuality, nothing but the infinite consciousness. All the rest the soul must leave in the astral stock, and until it can leave all the evil that it has gathered it must remain there; it is too heavy to go higher.

This earth is just like a street, where someone is walking with a bundle. He says to the soul: "Will you take this bundle?" The soul is inexperienced. It says: "Yes. Is it a nice bundle? Has it a good sound, or a perfume?" It takes the bundle, and receives these impressions.

Every soul has the best qualities. However wicked a person may be, be assured that his soul has the best qualities, as a spiritual inheritance but they are covered up by all that has been gathered afterwards. And so there is always possibility of spiritual progress for every soul, even the most wicked.

The soul goes always to what appears to it radiant and beautiful, and so it goes on and on, and finds different qualities and different experiences, and collects them around it until at last it finds the mother's womb. The soul of the saints and murshids has remained long in the world of the angels, more impressed by the world of angels, and it brings with it angelic qualities.

When it is said in the Bible, the son of God, and the son of man, it means that son of God is he who has recognized the eternal spirit as his parent, and son of man, is he who has recognized himself as the son of his parents, who are as limited as he. We recognize our father and mother as our origin. The parents claim the child as their own, and so they delude themselves. The soul has no father and no mother. Its origin is the universal spirit. And in this we are all brothers and sisters, without distinction of high and low, of race, caste, creed, or religion.

Now the question comes whether the soul inherits more qualities from the father or the mother. The soul has many more attributes of the father, because these are the fundamental original attributes. The attributes of the mother are added to these. They are the more active, because they are the later attributes. From the society, from the training, from the contact of the mother, very many attributes of the mother may be acquired. A man may not like the attributes of his father and may hide them. A small child may have a face just like its mother, it may be just like its mother, but, in its life, on some occasion, it will be so like its father that it is surprising. A coward, by association with brave people may become brave. He may go to the war, but then, when he hears the guns, the cowardice which was the original attribute of his soul, will show itself.

You will ask me: a child is often like an uncle, an aunt of the father's or mother's. Why is this? This has two aspects. Either the father or mother may have the qualities of this relation, though they may not show, or the grandfather or grandmother, or other relation, even five, ten, or a hundred generations back, may have so much attachment for that grandchild that he may watch and impress with his qualities the child that is born in that house. Also the relatives and surroundings of whom either of the parents think the most, their qualities and features also are impressed upon the child.

You will say: "Then, if we inherit the attributes of our father, our mother, acquire the attributes of the jinns and angels, how can we help how our character is?" A man may say: "I am an angry person, because my father was an angry person." "I am a moody person, because my grandfather was a moody person." "I cannot help this, it is my character." This is half true, but it is developed by belief. The soul acquires only those qualities in which it is interested. If the soul is not interested in the qualities, it will never take them. And the soul keeps only those attributes in which it is interested. If it is not interested in them, it loses them. However wicked a person may be, however many undesirable attributes he may have, he can lose them all if he does not approve of them.

You will say: "But can we change our physical body? Can we change our face?" We can. People become like those of whom they think strongly, or with whom they associate. I have seen herdsmen who live with the cattle and the sheep, and from association with the cattle and the sheep, their face had become very like. Have you seen the pictures of the Prophets, of Christ, of Zoroaster, of Moses, and of the other Prophets? If you have seen them, you will say: "They are made from imagination. The painters had not seen them. They were not alive." I will say: "They are alive. And is not the mind greater than the camera? I could show you in India the pictures of our murshids, of the Order to which we belong, from Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti, the pictures of ten or twelve murshids and their mureeds are all alike. If it were imagination, why should not imagination produce different pictures, differing from each other, for the nature of imagination is more to differentiate than to unite.

The Attitude

All affairs of life depend upon man's attitude, and the mechanical work that is psychologically done is such that before man steps forward to work, he sees his attitude being reflected on his affair. For instance, a person starts to do something with doubt in his mind; on that affair he sees the shadow of doubt; when a person wants to do something which he knows is not quite just, before he begins the work he sees the phantom of injustice before him.

The heart of man, as Sufis say, is a mirror; all that is reflected in this mirror is projected upon other mirrors. When man has doubt in his heart, that doubt is reflected upon every heart with which he comes in contact; when he has faith, that faith is reflected in every heart. Can there be a more interesting study and a greater wonder than to observe this keenly in life? As soon as man is able to watch that phenomenon in life it is just like a magic lantern that is making all so clear to him. How foolish in this light would appear to man the cleverness and the crooked ways of the dishonest, who for a moment thinks that he is profiting by it, and who for a moment may seem to be benefitted by it.

Worldly gains which are snatched from one hand to the other, are not worth making the heart be reflected by the element which is foreign to it. This life on earth upon which we cannot depend, even on the morrow, only that which is comforting and consoling through all this life of falsehood is that feeling of purity in one's own heart, when one feels that one's own attitude in life is right and just. The one who experiences it, will certainly say that it is greater than all the wealth of the world. It is the knowledge of this philosophy which seems to be lost from the heart of humanity at the present time. It is therefore that all things go wrong. And if there is any preventative which can be used against it, it is to make one's own life as much as one can an example of one's ideal; although to make it perfectly is most difficult. There is nothing like trying, and if once failed, another time one may be successful.

There are some who will say: "Yes, for certain errors here now a suffering has come; I shall bear it." No doubt he is brave and just; but I personally would prefer that man who would resist against suffering by realizing that his birthright, as a divine right, is happiness alone. And pain and suffering is foreign to his soul; it does not belong to it, he does not want it, he will not have it.

Q. Is suffering necessary for evolution? A. Suffering is helpful to evolution, not necessary. In addition therefore; we must not seek suffering in order to evolve. We must avoid suffering. Every failure to a wise person is a teaching. But it is better if he avoided learning in that way.

Q. Would it be possible to gain the same degree of evolution in life without suffering? A. Certainly possible, but most difficult.