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



1. Music

2. Esoteric Music

3. The Music of the Spheres

4. The Mysticism of Sound

5. The Mystery of Sound

6. The Mystery of Color and Sound

7. The Spiritual Significance of Color and Sound

8. The Ancient Music

9. The Divinity of Indian Music

10. The Use Made of Music by the Sufis of the Chishti Order

11. The Use Made of Music by the Dancing Dervishes

12. The Science and Art of Hindu Music

13. The Connection Between Dance and Music

14. Rhythm

15. The Vina

16. The Manifestation of Sound on the Physical Sphere

17. The Effect of Sound on the Physical Body

18. The Voice

19. The Influence of Music upon the Character of Man

20. The Psychological Influence of Music

21. The Healing Power of Music

22. Spiritual Attainment by the Aid of Music




Vol. 2, The Mysticism of Sound and Music

22. Spiritual Attainment by the Aid of Music

Before commencing this subject I should like to explain first what the word spiritual means. Is it goodness which may be called spiritual, or is it wonderworking, a power to produce miracles, or a great intellectual power? The answer is: No. The whole of life in all its aspects is one music, and to tune one's self to the harmony of this perfect music is the real spiritual attainment.

You may ask: "What is it that keeps man back from spiritual attainment?" The answer is that it is the denseness of this material existence, and the fact that man is unconscious of his spiritual being - divided into limitations. This prevents that free flow and free movement which are the nature and character of life.

What do I mean by this denseness? There is a rock, and you want to produce sound from it. It does not give resonance, it does not answer your desire to produce sound, but the string or wire will give an answer to the tone you want. You strike it, and it answers. There are objects which give resonance to sound. You wish to produce a sound in them, and they resound; they make your music complete.

So it is with human nature. One person is heavy and dull. You tell him something, he cannot understand; you speak to him, he will not hear. He will not respond to music, to beauty, or to art. What is it? It is denseness. There is another person who is ready to appreciate and understand music and poetry, or beauty in any form. In character, in manner - in every form - beauty is appreciated by such a person. It is this which is the awakening of the soul, which is the living condition of the heart, and it is this which is the real spiritual attainment. Spiritual attainment is to make the spirit live, to become conscious. When man is not conscious of soul and spirit, and is only conscious of the material being, he is dense, he is away from spirit.

You may ask: "What is spirit, and what is matter?" The difference between spirit and matter is as the difference between water and snow. Frozen water is snow, and melted snow is water. It is spirit in its denseness which we call matter; it is matter in its fineness which may be called spirit. Once a materialist said to me: "I do not believe in any spirit or soul or hereafter. I believe in eternal matter." I said to him: "Your belief is not very different from mine. Only, that which you call eternal matter, I call spirit. It is a difference in terms. That is not a thing to dispute about, because we both believe in eternity. So long as we meet in eternity, what difference does it make if the one calls it matter and the other calls it spirit? It is one life from beginning to end."

Beauty is born of harmony. What is harmony? Harmony is right proportion, in other words, right rhythm. And what is life? Life is the outcome of harmony. At the back of the whole creation is harmony, and the whole secret of creation is harmony. Intelligence longs to attain to the perfection of harmony. What man calls happiness and comfort, or profit and gain - all he longs for and wishes to attain - is harmony. In smaller or greater proportion he is longing for harmony; even in attaining the most mundane things he always wishes for harmony. But often he does not adopt right methods. Often his methods are wrong. The object attained by both good and bad methods is the same, but the way one tries to attain it turns the object into right or wrong. It is not the object which is wrong, it is the way one adopts to attain it. No one, whatever his station in life, wishes for disharmony, for all suffering, pain and trouble are disharmony.

To attain spirituality is to realize that the whole universe is one symphony in which every individual is one note. His happiness lies in becoming perfectly harmonious with the symphony of the universe. It is not following a certain religion that makes one spiritual, or having a certain belief, or being a fanatic in regard to one idea, or by becoming too good to live in this world. Many good people there are, who do not even understand what spirituality means. They are very good, but they do not yet know what ultimate good is. Ultimate good is harmony itself. For instance, all the different principles and beliefs of the religions of this world taught and proclaimed by priests and teachers - but which men are not always able to follow and express - come naturally from the heart of a man who attunes himself to the rhythm of the universe. His every action, every word he speaks, every feeling he has, every sentiment he expresses, is all harmonious; it is all virtue, it is all religion. It is not following a religion, it is living a religion, making one's life a religion, which is necessary.

Music is the miniature of the whole harmony of the universe, for the harmony of the universe is music itself, and man, being the miniature of the universe, must show the same harmony. In his pulsation, in the beat of his heart, and in his vibration he shows rhythm and tone, harmonious or inharmonious chords. His health or illness, his joy or discomfort - all show the music or lack of music in his life.

What does music teach us? Music helps us to train ourselves in some way or other in harmony, and it is this which is magic, or the secret behind music. When you hear music that you enjoy, it tunes you and puts you in harmony with life. Therefore man needs music; he longs for music. Many say that they do not care for music, but these have not heard music! If they really hear music it will touch their souls, and then certainly they cannot help loving it. If not, it only means that they have not heard music sufficiently, and have not made their heart calm and quiet in order to listen to it, to enjoy and appreciate it. Besides, music develops that faculty by which one learns to appreciate all that is good and beautiful. In the form of art and science, in the form of music and poetry, in every aspect of beauty one can then appreciate it.

What deprives man of all the beauty around him is his heaviness of body, or heaviness of heart. He is pulled down to earth, and by that everything becomes limited. When he shakes off that heaviness and feels joyous, he feels light. All good tendencies, such as gentleness and tolerance, forgiveness, love and appreciation - all these beautiful qualities - come by being light, light in mind, soul and body.

Where does music come from? Where does the dance come from? It all comes from the natural spiritual life which is within. When that spiritual life springs forth, it lightens all the burdens that man has. It makes his life smooth, floating on the ocean of life. The faculty of appreciation makes one light. Life is just like the ocean. When there is no appreciation, no receptivity, man sinks like a piece of iron to the bottom of the sea. He cannot float like the boat which is hollow, which is receptive.

The difficulty in the spiritual path is always what comes from ourselves. Man does not like to be a pupil, he likes to be a teacher. If man only knew that the greatness and perfection of the great ones, who have come from time to time to this world, was in their pupilship, and not in teaching! The greater the teacher, the better pupil he was. He learned from everyone, the great and the lowly, the wise and the foolish, the old and the young. He learned from their lives, and studied human nature in all its aspects.

The one who learns to tread the spiritual path must become as an empty cup in order that the wine of music and harmony may be poured down into his heart. You may ask: "How can one become an empty cup?" I shall tell you how cups show themselves filled instead of being empty.

Often a person comes to me and says: "Here I am. Can you help me spiritually?", and I answer: "Yes." But then he says: "I want to know first of all what you think about life and death, or about the beginning and the end." And then I wonder what his attitude will be if his previously conceived opinion does not agree with mine. He wants to learn, yet he does not want to be empty.

That means, going to the stream of water with one's cup covered up: wanting the water, and yet the cup is closed, filled with preconceived ideas. Where have the preconceived ideas come from? No idea can be called one's own! All ideas have been learned from one source or another, but in time one comes to think that they are one's own. For these ideas one will argue and dispute, although they do not satisfy fully. At the same time they are one's battleground, and all the time they will keep the cup covered up.

Mystics therefore have adopted a different way. They have learned a different course, and that course is self-effacement or, in other words, unlearning what one has learned. They say in the East that the first thing that is learned is to understand how to become a pupil. They do not first learn what God is, or what life is. The first thing to learn is how to become a pupil. One may think that in this way one loses one's individuality. But what is individuality? Is it not that which is collected? What are one's ideas and opinions? They are just collected knowledge. This should be unlearned.

How can one unlearn? You would say that the character of the mind is such that what one learns is engraved upon it, and how then can one unlearn it? Unlearning is completing knowledge. To see a person and say: "That person is wicked" - that is learning. To see further, and recognize something good in that person - that is unlearning. When you see the goodness in someone whom you have called wicked, you have unlearned. You have unravelled that knot. You have once said: "I hate that person'- that is learning. And then you say: "Oh no, I can like him, or I can pity him." When you say that, you have seen with two eyes. First you learn by seeing with one eye; then you learn to see with two eyes. That makes sight complete.

All that we have learned in this world is partial knowledge, and when this is uprooted by another point of view, then we have knowledge in its completed form. That is called mysticism. Why is it called mysticism? Because it cannot be put into words. Words will show us one side of it, but the other side is beyond words.

The whole manifestation is duality, the duality which makes us intelligent, and behind the duality is unity. If we do not rise beyond duality and go towards unity, we do not attain the perfection which is called spirituality.

This does not mean that our learning is of no use. It is of great use. It gives us the power of discrimination and of discerning differences. This makes the intelligence sharp and the sight keen, so that we understand the value of things and their use. It is all part of human evolution, and all useful. So we must learn first, and unlearn afterwards. You do not look first at the sky when you are standing on the earth. First look at the earth, and see what it offers you to learn and to observe, but at the same time do not think that your life's purpose is fulfilled by looking only at the earth. The fulfillment of life's purpose is in looking at the sky.

What is wonderful about music is that it helps man to concentrate or meditate independently of thought. Therefore music seems to be the bridge over the gulf between the form and the formless. If there is anything intelligent, effective, and at the same time formless, it is music. Poetry suggests form, line and color suggest form, but music suggests no form.

Music also produces that resonance which vibrates through the whole being. It lifts the thought above the denseness of matter; it almost turns matter into spirit, into its original condition, through the harmony of vibrations touching every atom of one's whole being.

Beauty of line and color can go so far and no further. The joy of fragrance can go a little further. Music touches our innermost being, and in that way produces new life, a life that gives exaltation to the whole being, raising it to that perfection in which lies the fulfillment of man's life.