The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan1

(Read the passage in context)










Desire and renunciation




Duties and debts








Light and Love



Material life




Physical Body





Reconstruction of World










Teaching Style




About the Five Planes

Descending & Ascending Planes

Evolution 2

Five Spheres

Five Stages of Consciousness


Four Personal Magnetisms

Jinn Sphere


Manifestation, Gravitation

No turning back

Phases of Consciousness

Three Spheres

Two from One



Five Stages of Consciousness

In Sufi terms, there are five stages of consciousness: Nasut, Malakut, Jabarut, Lahut, Hahut.

1. Nasut.

This is the consciousness dependent on our senses. Whatever we see by means of the eye, or hear by means of the ear, whatever we smell and taste, all these experiences which we gain by the help of the material body prove to us that this is a particular plane of consciousness, or a particular kind of experience of consciousness. We call it "nasut."

2. Malakut.

This is a further stage of consciousness, working through our mental plane. By means of this higher consciousness we experience thought and imagination, which are beyond our senses. Very often it happens that a person does not notice a passer-by, so deeply is he thinking upon some object. You may speak to him and yet he will not listen, so deeply is he absorbed in his subject. Though his ears are open he cannot hear; though his eyes are open, he cannot see. What does that mean? It means that at that moment his consciousness is experiencing life in a different plane. Though he is sitting before you with open eyes and ears, his consciousness is on another plane, working through a different body. This, in Sufi terms is called "malakut."

3. Jabarut.

Here the experience is like that of a person in deep, dreamless sleep. He is said to be 'sound asleep.'

The plane of malakut is experienced by every person not only when absorbed in thought, but also in dreams. At the time when the different sense-organs are resting, the mind is free to work, and it works with the aid of the same mechanism which it has collected during the experience of the nasut condition. In other words all the experience which man gathers during the day is collected during the night, and the mind works with that mechanism. Whatever has been collected during the day is at work during the night. Therefore, if a person has acquired an impression of fear, the fear will manifest in the dream in different forms. If a person has acquired an impression of love, love will appear in the dream in various forms. If of success, the dream will show success in different forms. So that every impression which the mind gets, it prepares a covering for, it prepares outward appearances for. That is what accounts for the meaning of dreams.

For instance suppose a person went to a wise man saying, "I have seen flowers in my dream. What will be the result of this?" The wise man will answer, "Love, happiness, success." Why? Because the wise man knows that the mind disguises itself and its impression into something beautiful when something beautiful is going to happen, something ugly, when something bad is going to happen.

But it is not only that the mind adorns itself in a certain form in order to tell you that you are going to have a good or a bad experience, it is the natural outcome of things; it is an action and a reaction; what we take from the outer world is prepared in the mind and it reacts again in another form which gives us a sort of key by which to understand what the next step will be. In that form, it is a warning. There is no need to take it as a warning in a spiritualistic form, and claim that a spirit, or ghost, or angel came to tell you the future.

It is your own mind, and it disguises itself as spirit or ghost or angel or whatever form you wish it to come to you, or in whatever form you are accustomed to see it. It will never come under a form strange to you, such as you have never known; it will only come in the form to which you are accustomed. For instance, if you were to see a dog with wings, it is still the same form; you are familiar with a dog. It is only that the mixture of combination is curious. Though wings are attached to the dog, the form is not actually new; you are seeing something which you recognize.

Therefore, really speaking, the dream is the state of the mind.

There are two different aspects of the matter. On the one hand, when the mind is not expressive but responsive, it is acting not in a positive but in a negative rhythm, then that mind becomes visionary. Visionary mind is that which is apt to catch in itself the reflection of whatever mind falls upon it. Thus it may catch in itself the reflection of a living person's mind, or of a deceased person's mind, or of a spiritually advanced person, or of a very ordinary person. His mind lies open like a piece of uncultivated ground which a person may turn either into a farm or a garden. A person may sow seeds of flowers, or only seeds of thorns upon the soil. This accounts for people having different experiences in their dreams to what they have in waking life. People say, "I learn something from my dreams, I am inspired by them. I have received new ideas, new lessons, in my dreams." That is because the mind was exposed to the given impressions.

A mind open to impressions in this way may as well reflect a satanic as an angelic one, a wrong as easily as a right one. It is open to whatever comes into it. Such a person is as likely to be led astray as to be helped. The result is therefore only good as long as the impressions to which the mind responds are good ones. What then is the way in which one can be sure to have the mind focused upon good things and so receive only good impressions? There are three considerations:

  1. One must be able to keep away all the ever-moving thoughts which come into one's mind. One must develop that mental strength, that will-power, which will keep away all thoughts which come into one's mind during concentration, and take one's mind away from the object on which one focuses.

  2. The mind will always focus itself upon the object which it loves. If one has not love for the divine Being, for God, if one has not that ideal, then it is certainly difficult. It cannot be done by the intellect. The intellectual person keeps asking, "Where shall I focus my mind, what object shall I focus, please picture it for me, and point out where it is." It is the lover of God whose mind cannot wander anywhere save always directly to God.

  3. Purity of mind is necessary. The mind must be pure from all fear, worry, anxiety, and from every kind of falsehood. For all this covers the mind from the vision of God. The mind full of faith and love and purity and strength, once focused upon the ideal of God, will receive teaching and inspiration and advice directly, and in the case of everything he meets with in his life.

The simple teaching of all religions during every age, the essence of all religion and philosophy, is contained in this: go and stand before God in simple faith, as being a little child before God. For that moment you say, "I know not anything, I have not learned anything, I am only an empty cup waiting to be filled; I have only love to offer You, and because that too is insufficient, I only ask for more; I have only faith, and yet that is insufficient, and so I ask that it be strengthened and developed in order to have it strong enough to hold me before You; purity I need but have it not, or at least if I have it it is only Your own essence which is within my being, and I wish to keep it as clean as possible; with these three things I come, as a simple child, with no knowledge of my own, and leaving aside all doubt and questions or whatever can come between us..." Here is the essence of religion.

It is so simple that even a child can do it should he so wish; he does not need much learning to be able to do it. Once explained to him, he will understand it. We also need not have learning or great intellectual knowledge to be able to do it.

A little further on beyond this plane of malakut brings us to the plane of consciousness which I have explained as being like the experience of deep sleep. The blessing here is greater still. In this higher experience there is God's own Being, by which we experience the life, peace and purity which are within us. Moreover whilst anyone may experience this blessing during sleep, the person who follows the path of spiritual development will experience it while awake. The Yogis therefore call it 'sushupti,' this joy of life and peace and purity which the mystic experiences with open eyes, while wide awake, though others can only touch it during deep sleep.

4. Lahut.

This is a still further experience of consciousness. It raises a person from the material plane to the immaterial plane. In this plane the state of being fast asleep is not necessary. There is a greater peace and joy and nearness to the essence which is called divine. In Christian terms, this stage is called 'communion.' In the Vedantic terms it is called Turiyavastha.

5. Hahut.

The further step to this is called 'samadhi,' which may no doubt be described as 'merging into God.' In other words, in this stage we dive into our deepest self-hood, God is in our deepest self. Here there is the ability to dive so deeply as to touch our deepest being, which is the home of all intelligence, life, peace, and joy; and here worry, fear, disease or death do not enter.

This is the experience which is the object of every mystic who follows the inner cult. In Vedantic terms, this stage is called manan. The equivalent in Christian terminology is 'at-one-ment.'

From these considerations it may be seen that the work of the Sufi Order is to aim at ennobling the soul. When initiated into the Order we take the path of ennobling the soul, not wonder-working, communicating with spirits, or performing miracles, or developing magnetic or psychic powers or clairvoyance or clairaudience or anything of that kind. The one single aim is to become humane, to live a healthy life, try and better the moral condition of one's life, ennoble one's character, and meet not only our own needs but also those of our neighbors and friends. The work is to try and develop that spark which is in every soul, whose only satisfaction lies in the love of God, and in approaching toward God with the intention some day of having a glimpse of that Truth which cannot be spoken of in words.