The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan      

        (How to create a bookmark)



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






















































Attitude Towards the Sacred Readings

Attitude Towards the Practices and the Movement

Attitude Towards Murshid and Towards the Cause




I should like to tell you a few words that you may know what it is to become mureed and initiated. Is it that you have joined a kind of study group, to interest yourself in a kind of new study, a kind of passing interest, that you have taken up for a pastime, or is it something you have taken for the sake of curiosity, because you wish to look at what is going on there? If it is for a study, then it is a waste of time: for a student libraries are open with books of all sorts. If it is for a pastime, then there are better occupations for that purpose. If it is for curiosity, in this path the curious ones will never be successful.

What is it? Have you come into a new religion? What it is, is that you have taken a step forward in the same religion you belong to. That step has come by your initiation, and by the power of your initiation you go forwards. Now in this initiation there are a few things which must be remembered.

First, your attitude towards the teaching which is given and towards the papers which are read. The right attitude is that they should not be taken as a study, but as something more sacred than an intellectual study. Therefore the tendency to weigh, to judge, and to criticize is not the right one in the path of discipleship. In India a phrase of a great saint is very well known: "First observe; if it interests you and appeals to you then learn; and after you have learnt, then judge it." Suppose in the teachings you have found one line which you cannot fit in with your old ideas. Then if you weigh it, there will come a conflict. Therefore in the East it is understood that in the spiritual path the old knowledge will not help, and one must unlearn what one already knows.

When I went to his murshid, there was from his side a great hunger to learn everything, and there was the natural impatience of youth. Another person was also presented before his murshid as a candidate. I, the unlearned one, was accepted, and the studied one was asked to wait a little longer. He was too much learned. This does not mean that a man must not have his own free opinion, but there is a time for that. For instance, if a subject which Murshid has treated in ten papers is read to you and you begin to judge after hearing the first paper for the first time, it would be premature and spoil the learning.

Now another thing. What value should be set on the study, that is given as sacred reading? It is not the main thing. Study is a part of the purpose for which the groups meet. But the most essential thing is the meeting of some mureeds together, and the unison with their murshid. When five mureeds are together, it is like being in the presence of murshid. The unification and the silence are even more profitable than the reading.

Now there is the question, what is the relation to Murshid? What is the relation of the mureed to Murshid, and of Murshid to the mureed? And my answer to this is, do not think of any hierarchical relation with Murshid: only think of what relation your own heart and your own intuition tell you. If you think of Murshid as your brother, it is true; if you think of Murshid as your friend, it is true also; if you think of Murshid as your spiritual teacher, it is true; and if you think of Murshid as your servant, it is also true. Besides this, there is no place for any other discussion.

Your Murshid is a human being, and as such he is liable to shortcomings. You may give him your confidence and trust, and know him as a human being. Murshid's murshid used to say, "There are many friendships in this world, but the friendship between murshid and mureed is in the path of God, in the path of Light and Truth." Therefore every earthly relation may have a chance to break, but the relation between murshid and mureed is not for the life on earth only. It is this belief which keeps their souls together, helping each other along the spiritual path.

Murshid is not the mediator between God and the mureed. Murshid stands apart, trying to unite God with His own child. And if at the beginning Murshid seems more forward, his duty is just like that of the mother: before the child begins to take natural food, she will nurse him. But it is not forever, it is for the beginning. Murshid is the divine mother, to show sympathy and tenderness to the mureed, who has been attracted. To love God, the mureed learns by the friendship of Murshid. He begins to feel in Murshid something of the fragrance of that flower, which is the love of God. Murshid helps the mureed to come in time face to face with God, and then the journey with the murshid is finished, and what remains is the gratitude in the heart of the mureed.

What must be the mureed's intention in becoming a mureed? He must not have the intention of getting wonderful powers which others do not possess; neither must he have the intention to become more wise, in order to seem more learned or wise than his fellowman. On the other hand, if he has some powers he hides them in his humility, and if his inspiration is developing, he should bow his head down, that his fellow men may not see it. Always consider that this is the one thing that you will meet on this path, and the one enemy you will avoid: vanity. You must be on your guard against it from which ever side it comes. It comes so swiftly and so subtly that it is difficult to recognize. When you are on your guard you will see that even your humble words and your meek actions will prove to be vain. This is the thing which throws man from the highest stage. Even prophets have to fight and to fight it.

Know the danger of this path, and do not waste your time in falling into it. The one thing to rely upon is God's favor. Do not build neither on your study nor on your meditation, although they both help you. But you are dependent on God, not even on Your murshid. Seek Him, trust Him. In Him lies your life's purpose, and in Him is hidden the rest of your soul.

Attitude Towards the Sacred Readings

Now I would like to tell my mureeds something about the Gathas which they hear in the sacred readings. It is the privilege of the initiated in the Sufi Order to hear the Gathas first. No doubt a time will come when these Gathas will be given to a larger population. But just now this privilege my mureeds will appreciate, and instead of speaking about the Gathas will live them in their own lives, and show the others -- without trying to correct them or teach them -- the example worked out in your own life.

No serious work may succeed if it is not tried. Your privilege it is to receive this, and that will make the Message a real message to others. And please remember that truth is the share of the sincerest. The more sincerity is developed, the greater share of truth you will have. And however much sincerity a person may have, there is always a gap to fill, for we live in the midst of falsehood, and we are always apt to be carried away by this world of falsehood. Therefore we must never think we are sincere enough, and we must always be on our guard against influences which may carry us away from that sincerity which is the bridge between ourselves and our ideal. No study, no meditation is more helpful than sincerity itself.

It is by the love of truth that truth can be realized. Your respect for Murshid, your devotion to the Message you will show in your esteem for the teachings given to you. If you find them simple, you must think that all things of real value are simple. If you find them complex, you may know that the truth will not take very long to be understood. For we will all agree that it is best that in our sacred readings all arguments are kept out, in order to follow the path of truth. There must be harmony between the mureeds, between mureeds and Murshid. And this harmony is to be realized by your patience in the teachings given to you.

You need not be impatient for the progress you make on the spiritual path, for you must be sure of the fact that your Murshid is more enthusiastic and more keen about your progress than you yourself are. If he does not push you forward too quickly, it is not the lack of interest, nor is it the lack of fair dealing on his part. What could be more pleasing to the parents than the progress of their own children? So it is with your Murshid. If you progress in advancement, it is to my content, to my credit: it is my great benefit. In the path of truth you have to have the same tendencies as the travellers on the ship towards the captain: the sure trust that he is doing his duty to his best. If anyone should go to the captain and say, "I think you are going more to the north than to the south; this is not the place I want to go to," that poor captain would be so confused that he should not know what to do. Shall he go backward or forward? I hope this my mureeds will understand.

And now coming to our attitude as far as the Message is concerned. I believe without doubt that the Message is not only for some certain nation or some certain class of people. The Message is for all nations, and for every soul living on the earth. Not one soul there is, either of friend or foe, saint or sinner, that has nothing to do with the Message, nor one nation in the world which will be kept untouched by it. And if this is true, it is absurd on our part to say that this person must come to us, and the other person not. Or that this particular place is for the Message and the other place not. When a worker who is working in another country writes to me that that place is difficult to work in and that people are not ready yet, I think that that particular mureed/worker is not yet ready himself, and the difficulties surpass his faith. If I were dwelling in the forest where no man was to be seen, I would still have worked among the animals and have dug deep into the rocks in order to bring out the spirit.

What attitude must we then have? We must not allow ourselves to become discouraged. We must not allow any pessimistic feeling to rise in our souls. If the whole world stood against us, we shall still stand firm without being disappointed, for the Message is the promise of God, and its domain is all the domain which belongs to God and is in every heart. And its work is in every nation. No people are to be left out. And you, my mureeds, who stand by my side in this world, at this moment when it has not yet begun, your response must be great. You must realize this every day, and be ready to do all in your power to make the Message of God spread and to make your Murshid's task easy.

Attitude Towards the Practices and the Movement

I wish to speak to my mureeds a few words about their practices. The prescription papers given, it is something which must be kept as a sacred trust, something that must not be shown either to the non-members, or even to the members. For each prescription is for that particular person, and may only be presented to Murshid. And if there are any questions to be made, the most preferable thing is to ask Murshid by letter. If it is so pressing that you could not do without an explanation, you ask the leader of a certain group of the Sufi Order. If the leader is not there, then the conductor of a certain group.

Now there are three things, besides all other practices, which are most serious.

  1. Firstly: The twenty breaths of purification which are given to all mureeds, because this is a kind of air ablution which prepares every person going through the spiritual path for every activity which he is going to take in daily life, and as necessary as one's everyday ablution. And by this I can promise you, that if you will keep up the prescription of purification regularly and steadfastly, it will become as a guarantee of your health. Besides this it prepares to keep your intuition factor clear, so as to think rightly and to act rightly. Therefore spiritually and physically both, it is the most valuable prescription for you to keep up.

  2. Secondly: The prayers Saum and Salat are the prayers which are meant to be the prayers for today, for this time; therefore their power is much greater than can be imagined. It is a battery itself, by which a great activity is developed. It is the prayer which the spheres repeat, and someday will reach every part of the world: no part of the world will be left without. These prayers will touch every soul one day or other, either directly or indirectly. By seeing and knowing this more and more, you will realize the power of these prayers a thousand times more than ever. One may say them more times a day than is prescribed. And if you say them more than once, it is better. And if you are able to do them with the movements in all humility, it is best.

    There are two ways of saying them: one way is standing; the other bending, bowing, prostrating. It is not a subject which should be considered secondary. For the movements have a great power. No one who has the slightest idea of the occult laws will for one moment think less of the power of the movements. Yet if behind the movement there is no sense, the whole movement is a lost movement. When that movement comes with a great thought, it has a great power, it is dynamic.

    No doubt the Sufi Order keeps all mureeds free to do one kind of movement or the other, or to do no movement at all. This is the Order in which freedom is considered. No mureed is forced to do, no one is urged to follow. You all follow freedom, and freedom is our rule. Only I must tell you what great opportunity you have, what can be of great benefit in your life.

  3. Thirdly: When one unites with Murshid in thought at the end of one's practices, it is only in order to feel that we are receiving the divine inspiration and blessing of God. That we are open, that we do not close our hearts to our Murshid, who has taken our life's interests into his heart, who can only be happy in our happiness, and who sorrows in our sorrow. Besides this, if your devotion makes you feel inclined that you might help your Murshid in thought, to be in thought with Murshid's task, it will make your work easier.

    The continuation of the practices without break every day is the very best thing, and if one drops them one day that does take away some kind of sustenance of the practices. Regularity in practices is a great thing.

But now coming to the practical questions of life. There might be mureeds who think, "I am quite willing to do work for the Cause, but Murshid does not depend upon me for something fixed." You must never allow such thoughts to come into your mind. The initiation has appointed you for the work, and to do all the things you can for our Cause. Besides this you can always help those who have the responsibility of the work. This is a work of love and sacrifice. You can all work. By partaking of the responsibility of all, you can do so much.

For ourselves, what we can bring is love, harmony, beauty. Therefore the first experience in ourselves is to forgive one another, thinking that all human beings have their shortcomings. But the main thing which is in our mind must be this: that all the troubles and difficulties should not hinder our Movement, because we shall stand firm. And can you imagine what battle it is for your Murshid, a continual battle, and to what extent does it hurt? And if it were only a battle with adversaries, it was not so bad. But if mureeds should make battle among themselves, what difficulties there will be. It is not the battle outside which gives the greatest fight, but the battle in ourselves which is the hardest.

What I ask my workers is to have understanding for the sacrifice their Murshid has to go through and to understand that they share his sacrifice by their devotion. One great hope I have: that I have not the slightest doubt about your devotion and faith, and I know there are souls who will stand by me through all my strife and through all my life.

Attitude Towards Murshid and Towards the Cause

I would like to speak to my mureeds about in what relation they stand to their Murshid. As soldier to their general, or as pupils to their professor? They stand much more close to their Murshid than words can explain. Mureeds to their Murshid are just like veins of his own body, through which the blood of his Message runs continually. And in that way the Murshid not alone gives the Message, but all the mureeds together with him. I wish my mureeds to understand what responsibility they have in the world, that by realizing this they feel what is their duty in the Cause. As they become more and more serious and keen as channels to the Message, so they become as the lungs through which the word comes, the lungs of the Murshid through which the Message comes. And what if there is something wrong with the lungs? It has its effect upon the whole life.

The more you will think of this, the more you realize that you have become mureeds not only for your own spiritual development: then you might as well have become a member of any esoteric society. If destiny has brought you into the Sufi Movement, then your responsibility is different. If one does not realize this, one has not yet come to the consciousness of one's mureedship. He has been received but is not yet conscious of his responsibility. In order to have that, all the energy that is needed, must be put to the cause of the Message. Every mureed has to share its burden; concerning this, every mureed is counted, however humble his work. A mureed one does not see for the whole year, that mureed has something to do with the Message. That mureed is part of a particle of the body of the Cause, and his attitude, his life, his work, his feelings, his thoughts, have an effect upon the whole Cause.

It is not only that the mureeds depend upon the Cause, it is also the Cause which is dependent upon the mureeds. The best thing therefore for my mureeds is to realize this, to realize their responsibility to God and humanity in this Cause. When only they do not think, "What am I?" Because they are not known perhaps, or are not doing any particular work either known or unknown. In the abstract world you all have your part in the plan. In the abstract world you have it, you all have your part to play in the Message.

The Sufi Cause is a temple built for this time, a temple built for the worship of the future. And some will have to be the pillars of the temple and some will have to serve in the making of the walls. And some must help the position of the dome and minarets. In truth all this is needed; this all must be provided and supplied. By what? By the devoted hearts of the mureeds. This temple built in the abstract will be indestructible. Everything else will follow sooner or later.

Every mureed contributes to the making of this temple in the abstract, a duty which is most sacred. The more you are conscious, the more you will make the temple. Never mind if your means do not allow you, or your everyday work; never mind if your life's situation will not allow you opportunity, as long as you intend to do your best for the best. If the result is not for today, then it will be for tomorrow. It is your intention which values most in this Cause.

No doubt over-enthusiasm upsets a person's balance. So I would not ask you for an over-enthusiasm on your part. Although I must appeal to your deepest hearts that we sorely need ten thousand workers to begin our Movement. Until we have got this, we have not developed. I do not consider that we have made a beginning. A Cause which is for the whole humanity needs at least the number I have mentioned. And this I will tell you, you must come and do every effort possible to make the number which is wanted just now to serve God and humanity.

Your devotion is really the only consolation I have in the difficulties which are endless and which I can never explain in this world, difficulties which are endless and beyond imagination. I think as parents who do not think it necessary to bring their troubles before their children; they bear it for themselves. It is that which is the case of your Murshid. Yet I am quite well aware that if your Murshid were in need and I was in trouble, you would all gladly help me. But this is my greatest need.

One might ask whether in any cases quality is not more than quantity. This might be true for an esoteric school, but not for a world cause. If it were for an esoteric school, it would be quite a different thing. But it is the world service, and we can never have enough work done, it can never be enough. And there is a large part of the world which should be touched, which is still untouched. When we look at the map, how poor we stand for a world message, with all the riches from above that we have at the back of us.

No doubt it is true that the message of God must reach all people, must reach all parts of the earth, but human efforts are necessary as our part. It is necessary that some people will come out from the mureeds who will be able to take up the work in other lands, in other parts of the world where the Message has not yet spread. Some will have to go before the Message and try to awaken interest and prepare the ground. And others will go in places where the Movement has started, to blow the fire and keep it glowing. Our ideal is so high: our work, our service needs a number of souls. But our congregation is so little. This we must realize every day more and more, and find out every day more and more what can be done for this want in order to promote the Cause so dear to our hearts and so sacred to our souls.

God bless you.