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





















































Collective Interview

The Inner Voice




Collective Interview

There are many different paths: the intellectual path, by which one studies and attains to spiritual perfection, the meditative path, in which one develops spiritually; the path of good action, which is sure to lead to a high attainment. But in spite of all these paths, the path of devotion is great. It is most easy and most difficult. It is easy because it is natural; it is difficult because one looks for other paths rather than this. In the history of the great and holy beings of the world the greatest and the most blessed have been the devotees. There have been great scientists and philosophers, but they have not been saints and masters for the very reason that the power and inspiration devotion gives is much greater than that obtained by any other way. Besides, devotion teaches one virtue; sincerity, earnestness, the sense of duty: all different virtues come by devotion. A person who is devoted to anyone in the world, to one's father or mother or brother or sister or children or friend, has taken the first step in devotion. But the one who shows his devotion in the spiritual path to his teacher he has taken his second step. He has only to take one more step and he will be there. And that will be the devotion to his ideal.

There is a story of a mureed who was known to be a great devotee of his murshid. After the death of his teacher a great sage came to that village where he lived, and people began to talk all around the village, saying that so great is the power of this sage that coming into his presence would make a person liberated from all his sins. This man who was most spiritually inclined was the first expected to visit this sage. But everybody from the village come to greet the sage except this one. They are all wondering why it is so, that the man who is really deep in the idea is the very man who has not come. So the sage went himself there, and asked this young man; "What was the matter that you did not come to see me? Everyone talked about you, and I was eager to make your acquaintance. Is there any antipathy you have for me, or what is it?"

He said, "No, I would be the last person to have an antipathy towards a spiritual soul like you. But there was one thing that kept me back. " In his simple way he said, "People told me that by seeing Your Holiness I would be liberated from all sins. But I do not know yet where my murshid is going to be, in Heaven or in the other place. If by being liberated I went to Heaven and if I found that my murshid was in the other place, then that Heaven would be hell for me. I would rather be where my murshid is. Even if it were hell, it would become Heaven for me."

It is that attitude really which makes a mureed a mureed. There he begins on the path.

The Inner Voice

Beloved ones of God, my subject of this evening is the Inner Voice. In this age the science of instinct is an admitted fact. Material man today admits that the animals choose their food, and what they must not eat they leave. Also he admits the fact that the birds, without being taught, fly; the fish, without being taught, swim; and the sparrows, without being taught, make their nests. But in spite of admitting this he is ready to deny the source from which this instinct comes. It is the same source from which intuition comes, inspiration, and the revelation of other kinds of things; the same source from which instinct has come. This shows to a mystic that God is the teacher of the whole creation, even of the lower creation.

But to a man God teaches more, man being the finest of all creation. Besides, man is more capable to learn and therefore he is taught more. In the East religion says that God has made man as His representative in the whole creation. What does it mean? It does not mean that man represents heaven or something Divine, but it means that man is the miniature of God. That man is capable of showing the perfection of His wisdom can be seen in the example of Christ. If that perfection were not possible for man, it would not have been written in the Bible, "Be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect."

Someone may ask, "What is the reason that the warning of certain happenings is given by horses, by dogs and cats in the house, and man remains ignorant?" Many who have some experience with animals, who understand the signs of the animals, will without difficulty admit the fact that especially such happenings as a great illness or death are known by the animals in the house: they give man warning. Besides there are several birds that give warnings of great happenings. No doubt the experience of these things has become more rare because man is living crowded in a city. He is in less contact with the Divine and his life is artificial; he does not know, does not notice these things.

The reason why man does not know is not that he is incapable of knowing, it is only that he has so many things on his mind. He has lost his reason, power of concentration, his power of stilling the mind, and in that respect he becomes worse than the horses, dogs, and cats. No doubt as human nature he is the most active among all the creatures, and this activity is the right thing for him if he could keep it under control. Instead of that, life is made artificial, and every day it becomes increasingly artificial. A man has not remained a man, he has become a machine. His thought, his mind is constantly working, and for what? For nothing. Think of the feeling that one gets in the large cities today. The trams running and the busses, the motor-cars running over one another. Under the ground there are vibrations going on, and on the earth there are automobiles running.

And now, since the war has taken place, now even the sky is not free for us to breathe the pure air; there are also aeroplanes you see every day. If you go near the water there are steaming ships making noise; if you go into the country you have the noise of the factory from morning till evening; and in the town there are machines. Impressed by all these things, if you ask a man, talk to him something about the inner voice, about spiritual ideas, he will answer, "What is it? I don't understand." It is only necessary to hear the voice which is within, it is not necessary to study something. What is necessary is to become like nature. But man has become artificial, and he must become natural in order to hear the voice within. But the unfortunate thing is that this artificial life has become necessary to man, and when they tell him about natural life, spiritual life, God ideal, natural thought, he thinks it is something against his nature; he says, "I can't bear it."

When an illness becomes spread all over, it becomes common, it becomes the standard of health. Therefore today's illness of humanity is materialism, and that materialism has become natural.

In order to find an example in support of this argument you need not look for a saint or saints. You can see this in a fairly good person, a righteous person of tranquil mind and good intentions, sympathetic. You can see this in his life. The first thing that a sympathetic heart with a clear conscience perceives is an impression: every person he meets during the day, he feels not only what that person says but what is behind it. This can increase. When a person comes into a certain room he feels the atmosphere in the house, of the people, of the family. He feels in his heart whether his friend's enterprise will be a success or a failure, distinctly or indistinctly. He feels what is happening.

That person feels the pleasure, the displeasure of his fellowmen without having spoken, that person can understand. If there is a smile outwardly and a cry inside, he hears it; and that person understands if there are tears outside and inside there is nothing. You may ask, "Is that faculty to be cultivated, and if it is to be cultivated in what manner?" I will answer, "Yes. A sympathetic person who has taken a spiritual path will naturally progress and that faculty will develop. But what is most necessary before wanting to develop that faculty is that one's life has become true. It is sincerity, trueness, good living, a quieter thought, which prepare man for the voice which is within. But with all this goodness every person is not spiritually inclined, every person does not concentrate his mind towards that ideal which is necessary; he will still be, so to speak, blocked, not open to receive and hear the voice."

The next step of inspiration after impression is intuition. Intuition is a distinct feeling: it is not only a convinced feeling that perhaps it will happen so, but a distinct feeling that it must happen so. An intuitive person feels if somebody is writing him a letter from a distance. The intuitive person thinks about somebody and meets him in the street, he had thought about him. The intuitive person may feel when going to table that fish will be served him; he felt by intuition what was going on in the mind of the cook, and he has foreseen this. An intuitive person becomes a kind of thought-reader, what they call clairvoyant. Although today there seems to be such a lot of that clairvoyance: it has become a business, there are so many clairvoyants! The most amusing thing is this, that it has become such an ordinary thing to have clairvoyant power, if you are psychic.

It is just like asking a person, "Have you a pen or paper?" Neither the one who asks nor the one who answers realizes how sacred the subject is, and how that subject may be treated. It is amusing to see how many people in these days talk so freely about having that power. If they only knew that when there is such a power one has to be modest about it, close one's lips and look down.

When, therefore, a man develops, he experiences what is called inspiration. It may come as an inspiration to paint, or music or poetry. The difference between inspiration and the work of a lifetime is that the one has done his work with much thought; but in the case of inspiration it comes easily, one has only to write it down and it is there. What comes by inspiration cannot be corrected. By wanting to help it or correct it, you only spoil it instead of making it better, because it is not the person who has made it. It has been given him, although a person with materialistic ideas will not be ready to admit the fact. But ask any musician of some depth, or a poet who has really written something, and he will tell you that when he has the intention to write, he cannot; but the moment comes when it is all like rain coming from above.

When a soul develops still further it not only receives inspiration but it has what is called visions. All that he has to create, all that he produces in the form of music or poetry, it is distinctly given to him. There are visions one sees while asleep -- one gets into a condition of being in a kind of half sleep -- and there are visions which one gets even when wide awake. When this intuitive faculty fully develops it becomes like a searchlight. This searchlight is thrown upon a body and not only shows it dearly to man, but he has the power to open that body so that man sees the secret of that body. It is this which is called revelation. Inspiration, intuition, and revelation are grades of the development of this power.

You may ask me, "Where does this power come from?" I would answer, "The Divine spirit is hidden in the heart of man, and the more the heart is disclosed, the more the Divine Spirit finds the chance of rising to its fullness." The great prophets, saints, and sages who have given wisdom to the world have not got this wisdom from intellectual resources but from the inner voice.

The whole tragedy of humanity today is that lack of the inner voice, and the cause of this is that the soul seems to be buried under matter. A person with a living heart goes with a torchlight to find somewhere someone who can understand what he says. What with the condition the world is in, it is hard to find. When one person among thousands come to some understanding, more realization of life, the first thing he feels is like running away from the whole crowd and never coming back to it again. For the ignorant, perhaps life here is a joy, but for a person of understanding, a person of wisdom, it is the greatest tragedy to live.

In this bad condition the Sufi Message comes to humanity as an answer to humanity's cry. Its main theme is to waken in humanity the idea of the divine, of the human soul. The religion that this Message brings is to tolerate the beliefs of one another; and the moral, or rule, or doctrine that the Sufi Order has brought to the world is to consider that the whole inner voice is one.

As the happiness of the body depends on the health of the organs, so the happiness of the whole world depends on the well-being of all nations. The Sufi Order welcomes such souls who have now arrived to a realization of the truth, the truth which will solve all questions of life, and that truth which alone can be called the ultimate truth.

Thank you for your sympathetic response. God bless you.


To a Sufi, to be a mureed, a disciple, is a thing quite different from being a student. A student adds to his knowledge of the names and forms of this world the knowledge of things and beings, but the disciple does not add anything to his knowledge of the names and forms of this world. In the East they do not enter upon this path to acquire psychic power, to become very magnetic so as to make others do their will or to work wonders, to look into things unseen or to communicate with spirits. All these things are curiosities. If anyone has an interest in them he goes to the juggler, the magicians. There are some of these in every street. They come from the low classes, the low castes. They are very ignorant, but certainly they are very powerful.

The knowledge that the disciple seeks is of quite another sort. In Arabic this knowledge is called Ilmal - Batim, the knowledge not of the world, the knowledge that has nothing to do with this world. When the desire comes for another knowledge -- to know what it is that has given the fishes the ability to swim in the water, which they have not been taught; what it is that has given the birds the ability to fly -- then they seek for a guide, someone who can show them the way to this other knowledge. And they find a teacher, for where there is a need, it is supplied.

Whatever we ask of the Divine Power, that He gives, if we really desire it. The question is whether we really desire it, whether we are not really wishing for something else. If we ask for one thing and really we are wishing for another, then we dupe the Divine Providence and we get nothing. But until a person is ready for this way he will not be able to enter upon it.

To tell you my own case, though I was interested from my early years in philosophy and mysticism, I was twenty-three when I became a mureed. Before that whenever I heard the name of a great man and then I saw him, either I did not accept him as a teacher or he did not wish to initiate me, until I found my destined teacher.

Therefore in the East they do not become disciples from childhood. Firstly their parents would not allow them to. They become disciples at that time when they have already the experience of life. And then they do not become initiated until they have found that teacher in whom they have confidence; and when they have found him, they do not change. Their moral is that in whose hand they have taken Bayat, initiation, there they remain. Some have to wait a long time, some at once find their guide, it differs. When they have found the murshid and when they have taken the initiation, they go before the murshid as a child. They forget all that they have learnt before. They ask him questions, certainly, about something they have not understood, but they never question what the murshid has said or argue about it.

Sometimes a person who otherwise would wish to enter upon the path of discipleship is afraid of losing his individuality. In France there was a friend of ours, a venerable old man, very much interested in Sufism and very anxious to enter upon this way, but he was afraid of losing his individuality and so he did not take initiation. But, in reality, what is our individuality and who is another when we have realized that all is one life, one being?

What does the murshid do? Does he teach anything? Does he demand anything? He does none of these things.

He does only one thing: he helps that light that is in every soul to disclose itself. The light is there, inherent in all souls, but it is covered. He reflects the light that is in his own soul into the soul of the mureed. If the sun is shining in one mirror and other mirrors are focused with that mirror, then the light of the sun will be reflected in all. In the Hadith there is the saying of Muhammed, "I am knowledge, and my disciple (Ali) is the gate of knowledge." He did not say, "The scripture is knowledge," but "I am knowledge." Man is knowledge and through him it is handed down.

There are, of course, certain things that the disciple is told to do during his training, and certain spiritual practices are given, which are different for each one. The disciple during his training does not make use of any knowledge or any powers that he acquires. That would be as if every medical student, as soon as he entered the medical college, were to prescribe for patients. It would be terrible. He would kill everybody. Sometimes they become impatient and use their powers before the right time, and the results are very bad.

And do you think the murshids are harsh, severe in correcting a mureed? No, they are very gentle. Do you think they are stern in requiring anything? No, they are much too gentle for that.

My murshid was very fond of hearing music, and my being a musician naturally gave him sometimes the thought of hearing some music. I was an eastern mureed, sitting before him, but he never asked me to sing. Sometimes, if he wished it very much, he said, "What are the notes of that raga?" I thought, "He wants me to sing the raga."

When the time of training is over then the murshid says, "Now you are free. I have shown you what the soul is, what life is, here and hereafter, why you are here, what is the purpose of life, and where you will go. Now you are free and I am no longer responsible."

They make no assumption of authority, superiority, of being something different. They are one as you are, but one who has journeyed on the path, who has experienced it. There is only one thing that matters to the murshid. If the mureed does not study, he does not mind that. If he is given some spiritual practice and he does not do it for months, that does not matter to the murshid. It is the disciple's life that matters. Because if he does the practices for perhaps two hours and all the rest of the time he is without them, if he behaves like an angel for two hours and the rest of the time he is rude, rough, or inconsiderate, that is of very little value.

The great and most needful thing is to be human. How few beings there are in the world of whom it can be said that they are human. All have the human form, but how few are really man. The world has such great need of human beings. If you have become really human, then you have opened the way to all bliss. God bless you.