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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Human Brotherhood


Our Movement Along the Lines of Brotherhood



Human Brotherhood

The tendency of brotherhood is instinctive in living beings, not only amongst men, but even among birds and animals. In the lower creation where the ego begins its work and where the ego rises against its brother, even in that stage there are birds and animals which can be brought together. At the same time by studying the lower creatures we can understand that in the lower stages even the destructive creatures can unite; and that gives us an idea that even in the lower stages there is already a tendency towards a higher stage of evolution.

When we think of the higher creatures we see that brotherhood can be developed and this brotherhood has developed in man. The proof of this we see in the life in towns, that people would rather live together than live scattered in the forests. There are large cities, such as New York, London, Paris, where there is difficulty in finding housing accommodation; and on the other hand the vast open spaces, woods and forests; yet people prefer to live together. This is, however, no virtue; for nothing is a virtue which is not consciously acted up to. Therefore when human beings live together this is no great thing; but when they consciously live together, then begins the tendency towards human brotherhood.

Now the conscious recognition of brotherhood requires a link; and that link awakens a feeling of brotherhood. For instance, in ordinary language when someone says, "This is my brother" it means only that the other is born of the same parents. There can also be a brotherhood of professions; there can also be a brotherhood in ideas, and a brotherhood of those born in one city; and to the extent that a person is conscious of the link that binds one with the other, so far will one realize brotherhood. If he does not feel conscious of that link, even if they are brothers, they will feel strangers. So that the strength of brotherhood does not lie in the claim, but in the consciousness of that link; not in the profession that brotherhood exists, but in the conscious recognition.

The idea of brotherhood has manifested differently in the East and the West. In the East it has manifested in unity in God; in the West in national feeling; it has appealed in the East to religion, and in the West to national feeling. But at the same time in the East, when Hinduism was predominant, especially in India, religious restrictions were taught in connection with hygiene, so that people ate and drank separately, so that the wife even had to prepare her own food separately; things are different in the West, where there also exist hygienic questions, and life is different from that of the East, where it did not prove in the end the ideal life; and the degeneration of the Hindu race began when the different limitations began.

There were four castes among Hindu: Brahmans, Kshattriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras; the caste of the student, the caste of the warrior, the caste of the merchant, and the caste of the laborer. Nobody can deny that there was great wisdom in this division; for there are four different tendencies in man. But in the end it resulted in disaster; the people became weak owing to these divisions, and the link of brotherhood was destroyed. This example of the Hindu race is in itself an example for human beings in the reconstruction of the world.

In ancient times Arabia and Persia were split up in parts, each part with its own gods and goddesses, and many different gods and goddesses; and as the Hindu race was most blessed by Shankaracharya, their teacher, so the Arabs were enlightened by the coming of Muhammed. And one can see that even fifteen hundred years ago there existed the tendency of forming a human brotherhood by the teachings of Muhammed, that tended to form a universal brotherhood. The various families amongst the Arabs began to live together and began to eat together, to shake hands, and worship together in the same house of God.

There is a story of Khalif Omar, that he was greatly hated by a certain criminal; and on a certain day this man came to the town and asked where Omar was. He was told that the Khalif was in the forest, looking after his cattle.

The assassin thought this a splendid opportunity to accomplish his plan. As he approached Omar he saw no warrior there to protect him, but he was sitting alone clad in a worn out robe. The assassin could hardly believe that the Khalif was so near and within his power; he could not trust his eyes that the Khalif whom he had pursued so long was now so near, unprotected. But the nearer he approached, the more nervous did he become, so much so that when he was quite near the dagger fell out of his hand.

Omar said. "Peace be unto you; what do you want?" to which the assassin answered, "Tell me why I tremble before you." Omar said, "Just as I tremble before God when I think of doing wrong, so dost thou tremble before me."

Another story told about Omar is that after a war, at the peace negotiations Omar represented the armies of Islam. The enemies were told by their astrologers that they must make peace when Omar arrived. But as the enemies had never seen him before, they asked "How shall we know him?" The reply was: "You can recognize him when you see a slave on the camel, and Omar walking at the side."

In fact he came as had been foretold; and the first question put to him was, "Why were you walking and your slave on the camel?" to which he replied, "I have not walked all the way. The first part I rode; and the second part it was my slave's turn to ride and mine to walk."

And when one thinks of this one realizes the beauty of the human heart, this perfume which resides in the human soul. There is another example of human brotherhood.

When the Prophet Muhammad was waging war against some people, the Prophet was compelled to flee three times from Mecca, and each time a great deal of harm was done to his family and even he himself had scars and was bleeding from various wounds when he fled. But later, when the Prophet was victorious, these enemies were brought before him, and he asked them, "How shall I deal with you?"

They answered, "Deal kindly with us." Muhammad said, "Yes, I will deal with you in the same way in which Joseph dealt with his brethren." And at once they shook hands, and were friends, and all the feelings of hatred were forgiven.

By this I wish to say that it is not the intellectual teachings of the great ones that we need, but the example of their lives which is so important to us.

Now, the effect of that example can be seen even down to this day in the peoples of Arabia.

The Bedouins, who spend their lives in fighting and robbery and are found everywhere in the deserts of Arabia, - if two of them are found fighting and on the verge of killing each other, and if a third person says, "Unite, in the name of the Prophet Muhammad", immediately they throw away their weapons, shake hands, and become friends.

How much do we wish that what such wild people do would be followed by us the so-called civilized nations? If people can move from one country to another and cannot find the link which binds them to each other, what use is that to us? This does not mean that we have to ignore national distinctions; but that we have to ignore the narrow boundaries of the nations.

Any person with some heart will wonder, and say, "Will there ever come a time when hearts will become united, and the barriers be removed, and so men will become united in some higher link which binds them all together?" Considering the question from the psychological point of view we shall find that no family can be happy where there is a difference of feeling, or a feeling of reciprocal ill will. The atmosphere of such a house can cause all manner of diseases and all sorts of misery. Where there is disagreement, disharmony, perhaps one is in a better position than the other, but the suffering will be divided amongst them all, and each will have to bear his share of it. The old stories and legends that there came down fire from heaven, that there came floods and volcanic eruptions, show us that these disasters came as a result of disharmony.

Now the national disharmony is more prevalent than ever before on earth; for the small communities have now become nations and peoples, so that they can now have a greater power for evil or good. From the psychological point of view all the nations are one family, so that the consequences of what one nation does against another, the whole world experiences, and so that the actions of races and communities are the same as the actions of individuals of the past.

Every nation only interested in its own affairs, ignoring the conditions of the others, is equally responsible for the suffering and troubles that they suffer.

Just think of the great suffering and pain which the larger part of humanity is going through in different regions of the world today. If it were not for the fact of illusion and the blindness of mankind for others than themselves, the world would be in a different condition from what it is.

But to see life as a whole is not the work of everybody. Man has too much to think of in his own affairs, his own worries and troubles. Today is a time such as the world has never seen before. Mankind is divided ignoring the truth that they depend upon one another. To the person who would think from a human point of view even the wise and clever are acting as children.

What is required today is this: that some souls, unselfish, strong, confident of the truth of their ideals, should join hands in serving humanity.

Not that there are not some hearts and heads who see life from different points of view; but it is such as these that are required. The Sufi Movement is devoted to this ideal, and is an answer to the call of the earth to the heavens. It is not necessarily a religion or a philosophy, but it is the essence of all religions and all philosophies. It is understanding which will unite mankind, and its great link is wisdom.

It is not the claim or wish of the Sufi Movement that this shall be the only Movement working for the brotherhood of man, but that the work be shared by everybody who feels called upon to take part in this task. The Sufi Movement does not make restrictions upon people coming from other religions, Christian, Buddhist, or Jew, because it looks upon all as one, coming from the same divine source. Everybody is welcome in the Sufi Movement, whose aim is to unite people in that feeling of the Unity which is their Source and Life.


Beloved Ones of God,

My subject for this evening is: Brotherhood; a subject which needs more attention and consideration at this present moment than ever before. It is natural that from all parts of the world comes the cry: Brotherhood, Brotherhood! But at the same time this cry alone is not sufficient: knowledge of the subject is necessary. We see at the present moment that peace is the desire of all nations but the right method to get at it is the thing most needed.

In the first place the tendency to brotherhood is a natural tendency not only in man but in all creatures which is proved by the fact that all harmless creatures live in harmony and peace together in herds and flocks, this is the law of creation, but animals who have a tendency to fight such as lions and tigers live separately. Therefore the first attempt that was ever made by mankind towards civilization was an attempt at brotherhood. This attempt at brotherhood was the dawning of civilization. All the great religions following each other from time to time were given by the great Masters Who lead humanity, and an these religions teach brotherhood. The schools of mysticism, the occult schools of all times had another object in view, viz the growth of man's soul.

But when religion was given it was with two objects. The first and most important motive was uniting mankind in brotherhood and the second was the uplifting of the soul. In different civilizations brotherhood was formed in different realms of life. In the present time when we think of brotherhood in the West it is the brotherhood of patriotism while in the East you have the brotherhood of religion. In whatever aspect brotherhood may show itself, there is always one link that unites many souls and the existence of this uniting link is the principal condition for brotherhood. Children of the same parents are brothers because the same parentage links them into brotherhood. In a school, college or university the students form a brotherhood united through the link of the university. Those who unite in any enterprise or profession form a brotherhood through the link of that particular profession. The most important thing for brotherhood is the strength of that particular uniting link. The nature of life is love or as the Bible says: God is love, which means: the world is created by Love, it lives by love, it is uplifted by love.

The lesson of love is first learned by human love. When a person begins by saying: I love God, he does not speak the truth because man must first learn to love human beings before he can love God. One begins to love in life one's father, mother, brother, sister, beloved, husband, wife, child; it is the first lesson, the first stage in love. Among Hindus Love is symbolized as water. And as water kept in a little tank is subject to being spoiled after some time, so is the love when it is bestowed on one person and cannot spread itself. It is like the water kept closed up in the tank; a time will come when it turns bad. Nobody, no doubt, is capable of loving many who has not first learned to love one. The first step in love is by loving one; it is the first lesson and he who at the beginning of life says: "I love everyone" or "I love many", has not yet learned his first lesson. After learning that lesson you cannot love one and hate another, you must expand your love and admiration.

Among the Japanese lives a certain sect, who keep an interesting custom, viz two people loving each other very much don't go together to worship their God, which they call a jealous God, as they believe this God will spoil their love. The idea underlying this belief is that a love which is not allowed to spread, but which is kept in narrow bounds, as the water in the little tank, is spoiled by the same spirit that spoils the water. By this man learns the lesson that progress of love is life and its stillness death.

Now coming to the question of today. Humanity has in this modem civilization in reality progressed in different directions, in art, in science, in philosophy; there seems nothing in which he has not made progress and notwithstanding all progress humanity has never met with such a catastrophe before. Not only man suffered, nothing in the whole creation has been spared suffering; even the fishes in the water have been disturbed. It has disturbed the inner world as well as the outer world. As man's external condition influences his inner condition so is the condition of the inner world influenced by that of the outer world. All the floods, famines, plagues, which we suffer on earth are the results of the external condition and the reaction upon the inner world.

Now coming to brotherhood. How is it, that the brotherhood which existed in the world could have allowed a catastrophe to take place like the one we have gone through. And the answer to the question is: it was a brotherhood among nations and not of nations. Nations became brothers of nations for some self-interest. The nature of love is to progress, to expand. When brotherhood did not go further than nations it had to have an undesirable result. For a long time during the period of modern civilization the tendency has been like that of somebody who is only concerned about the welfare of his family. Selfishness on the part of an individual very often seems profitable in life, but it never ends in harmony and peace.

Therefore the Prophets and Masters have warned mankind against the intoxication of self-interest and egoism. The world, the nation, the family can be pictured as one single body and when one part of the body has pain although the other part has no pain, the person feels sick. Therefore you can never be happy unless you see your brother and your neighbor happy also. But very few people think this way; very few see it from the true point of view. All efforts as socialism, league of nations, all peace movements are striving to bring a better understanding, to bring peace and brotherhood but the ideal is not realized. It can be seen in the teachings of the Masters who have come from time to time to earth to give light to humanity. It does not mean that all these efforts directed to harmony and brotherhood are wasted, but the essential part is missing.

For man must have a perfect ideal to which he directs his activities. When the ideal is imperfect the progress is imperfect also. If his ideal is the comfort of his family, he will stop at that and go no further. If the nation is his ideal, he will only go as far as that. But unless the international ideal is as much a living reality as is now the national, we cannot look for better times. The international ideal seems just now intolerable to some people and those who sympathize with the idea consider it impossible. In order to fulfill an object like international brotherhood, there must be a powerful impetus behind every act and that is that we must realize the one link.

However, a spiritual Message has been given to humanity; as long as man will keep himself far from that perfect ideal, all his striving is imperfect. For it is not natural for one race to say: as long as we are only happy that is enough, what do we care about another nation? It is when man does not care what happens to other nations but his own, that he does not come to the perfect ideal. A man who has no idea of brotherhood for his own brother has not learned his first lesson. He who has not shown his brotherhood to his nation is not fit to know the brotherhood of humanity.

Those in the East, whom we call Masters and Sages feel at home in every country, they consider every person as their brother or sister. The children they look upon as their own and feel responsible for them as if they were their own; for the old people they feel the same love and respect as if they were their own father and mother. Friends, what is called spiritual evolution can be proved by the change of attitude towards life. Now it is possible that the beauty of human evolution may be spoiled because humanity has fallen as low as possible and now is trying to rise, but as a person who is intoxicated and does not know what he is doing.

From everywhere we hear the cry of democracy, of freedom, of equality, but we do not see the right attitude that makes man man. For instance if an order was passed by the Government that everybody, every boy and girl were quite free to do and say what they like and that they were all alike and nobody had power to direct them, everybody at liberty to do as they wish - what would be the result? As evolution is human, so is fanaticism human nature. The condition of different nations today which is creating unrest and disturbance is the result of trying to realize ideal without considering it from all points of view. There is no greater law or moral than that of nature. See how all things work together and react on each other. How the moon takes the light of the sun and the planets reflect the same. How the little stream runs to meet the river and the river to join the sea. How every soul born on earth has a certain task to accomplish and needs help and advice.

The Sufi Message as it comes to the Western world comes with this special Message of brotherhood of East and West. East and West are like two hands. On the unity of East and West, on their mutual understanding depends the great harmony and peace of the world. This Message of brotherhood is brought in order to unite different nations and different religions. It presents to the West the hidden treasure of the East which they have for thousands of years searched for with suffering and sacrifice. The Sufi Order is presenting these treasures to those in the West who are ready to listen to the words of Wisdom.

Our Movement Along the Lines of Brotherhood

This line of work is, really speaking, the fulfillment of every activity of our Movement. One activity of our Movement is the esoteric school in which people are initiated and advance grade by grade individually developing their soul towards the attainment of spiritual perfection. There is another activity which is devotional and which is called the Church of All, or the Universal Worship. It is a religious activity, religion not in a sectarian sense, on the contrary a religious activity which brings souls to the true religion, which stands above all sects. But whether we strive in the path of religion, or we journey through the path of mysticism, it is for one object that we may be best fitted to live the ideal of Brotherhood.

If a person was so great a mystic that he was the greatest Master or if a person was so pious and religious that he was the greatest Saint, still if he did not live the ideal of brotherhood, it would not avail much. Spiritual realization is attained in practical life by observing the ideal of brotherhood. At this time when the world needs the ideal of brotherhood more than ever before in the history of the world, it is our privilege and destiny to do all we can to bring about this ideal in our own lives first, and thus to spread it in the world. Any problem or theory, or doctrine studied, is of no value unless it be practiced. Ten thousand people calling out brotherhood and one person living it is equal or even better. Brotherhood is not a materialistic, it is a spiritual ideal.

The materialist cannot understand brotherhood for the reason that the materialist can say another brother is as good as me, and therefore my happiness is in sharing all my good with another. But the spiritual person says that other person is me, his happiness is mine, and therefore the highest ideal of brotherhood which spiritual realization can teach, materialism cannot teach. Therefore this activity, which is now going on to bring about a world-brotherhood is not being successful, because the life of brotherhood which is its very breath is the realization of the same God in oneself as well as in the others. The work of the spiritual man is to forget his false self and so to realize the true self which is God, and this true self not only in him, but in his neighbor also.

There is no doubt every man more or less loves the idea of brotherhood. I don't say this is true of a person who is not sane, but a normal person cannot deny that the ideal of brotherhood is the only ideal which can be called religious or spiritual. The question is how to practice this ideal which is easy to know. The difficulty is that practice needs sacrifice, needs humility, needs endurance, needs patience, needs forgiveness, needs brotherly sympathy for every soul who stands near one. It is the power of love alone which will raise man through the pettiness of human nature to rise to this ideal, the true purpose of the soul. God bless you.