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

7. The Spiritual Significance of Color and Sound

It seems that what science realizes in the end, mysticism reaches from the beginning. This accords with the saying of Christ: "First seek ye the Kingdom of God and all will be added." When one hears of the present discoveries about sound and color on the scientific side, one begins by being surprised. One says: "What a new discovery! Something we have never heard of. It is something quite new." And yet, when you open the Bible there it says: "First was the word, and the word was God." And if you open still older scriptures of the Vedanta, you read in their verses that in the Creator there was that word, or that vibration. When we come to the Qur'an we read: that first there was the word "Be", and then there became.

The religions of the world, the prophets and mystics who existed ages ago knew these things. Today a man comes with a little photographic plate and says: "Here I have a photograph of sound; that shows how important is vibration and its action upon the plate." He does not know that this is something which has always been known, and has been spoken of by those who knew it - but in spiritual terms. Therefore man does not think about what was spoken of in the past; he thinks that what is being spoken of today is something new. But when we realize that - as Solomon has said - there is nothing new under the sun, we begin to enjoy life seeing how, time after time, the same wisdom is revealed to man. The one who seeks through science, the one who searches through religion, the one who finds it through philosophy, the one who finds it through mysticism - in whatever manner they seek the truth, they find it in the end.

I was once introduced in New York to a scientist, a philosopher. The first thing he said about his accomplishments was: "I have discovered the soul." It amused me very much! All the Scriptures have spoken about it, thinkers have spoken about it, mystics have spoken about it, the prophets have spoken about it, and this man comes and says: "I have discovered the soul!" I thought: "Yes, that was the new discovery that we were expecting - something that we never knew!"

Such is the attitude of mind today, the childish attitude. When one looks into the past, the present and the future one sees that life is eternal, and what one can discover is that which has always been discovered by those who seek. Philosophy or science, mysticism or esotericism will all agree on one point if they touch the summit of their knowledge, and that point is that behind the whole of creation, behind the whole of manifestation -- if there is any subtle trace of life that can be found, it is motion, it is movement, it is vibration.

This motion has its two aspects. There are two aspects because we have developed two principal faculties: sight and hearing. One aspect appeals to our hearing, the other to our sight. The aspect of movement or vibration which appeals to our hearing is what we call audible and what we term sound. The aspect which appeals to our sight we call light, we call it color, and we call it visible. In point of fact, all that is visible, all that is audible - what is it in its origin? It is motion, it is movement, it is vibration, it is one and the same thing. Therefore, even in that which is audible, in that which is called sound, those who can see trace color, and to those who can hear, even the sound of the color is audible.

Is there anything that unites these two things? Yes, there is. And what is it? It is harmony. It is not a particular color which is harmonious, or which lacks harmony. It is the blending of that color; it is in what frame it is fixed; how the color is arranged. In accordance with that it has its effect upon the one who sees. So it is with sound. There is not any sound which is harmonious or inharmonious in itself; it is the relation of one sound with another sound that creates harmony. Therefore harmony is not a thing that one can point out; one cannot say: "This or that certain thing is harmony." Harmony is a fact. Harmony is the result of the relation between color and color, the relation between sound and sound, and the relation between color and sound.

The most interesting part of this knowledge is how to different persons different colors appeal, and how different people enjoy different sounds. The more one studies this, the more one finds its relation with the particular advancement of man's evolution; for one will find that at a certain time of one's evolution one loved a certain color, and then one lost contact with that color. With one's growth and evolution in life one begins to like some other color. It also depends upon a person's condition, whether he is emotional, passionate, romantic, warm or cold, whether sympathetic or disagreeable. Whatever be his emotional condition, in accordance with that he has his likes or dislikes in colors. Therefore that makes it easy for the seer, for the knower, to read the character of a man - even before he has seen his face - only by seeing his clothes. His liking for a certain color expresses what the person is like. His liking for a certain flower, for a certain gem or jewel, for a certain environment in his room, the color on his wall - all that shows what a person is like, what is his fancy.

As man evolves spiritually through life, so his choice of color changes. With each step forward he changes, his idea about color becomes different. There are some to whom striking colors appeal, to others pale colors. The reason is that the striking colors have intense vibrations; the pale colors have smooth and harmonious vibrations, and it is according to the emotional condition of man that he enjoys different colors.

Now coming to sound, every person, whether he knows it or not, has a certain choice of sound. Although everyone does not study this subject, and man mostly remains ignorant of this idea, yet every person has a liking for a certain sound. It is therefore that there is a saying, a belief among people, that each person has his note. It is a fact that each person has his sound, a sound which is akin to his particular evolution. Besides the divisions that the singers have made, such as tenor, bass or baritone, each person has his particular pitch, and each person has his peculiar note in which he speaks, and that particular note is expressive of his life's evolution, expressive of his soul, of the condition of his feelings and of his thoughts.

It not only has an effect upon children to hear certain sounds and to see certain colors, but it also has an effect upon animals. Colors have a great effect and influence upon all living creatures: animals, birds and human beings. Without knowing it, the influence of colors works in their lives, turning them towards this or that inclination.

Once when I was visiting a house which had been taken by a certain club, one of the members told me: "It is a very great pity that since we have taken this house there is always disagreement in our committee." I said: "No wonder. I see it." They asked: "Why?" I said: "The walls are red, they make you inclined to fight. A striking color from all around gives you the inclination to disagree. The emotions are touched by it, and certainly those inclined to disagreement are helped by it."

It is from this psychological point of view that one finds among the ancient customs of the East that a certain color is chosen for the time of wedding, and certain colors for other times of different festivities. It all has its meaning, there is a psychological significance at the back of it.

Since both color and sound are perceived differently and we have different senses through which to perceive them, we have distinguished between visible and audible things. But in reality those who meditate, who concentrate, those who go within themselves, who trace the origin of life - they begin to see that behind these outer five senses there is one sense hidden, and this sense is capable of doing all that which we seem to do or experience.

We distinguish five external senses because we know the five organs of sense. In reality there is one sense. It is that sense which, through these five different organs, experiences life and distinguishes life in five different forms. And so all that is audible and all that is visible is one and the same. It is this which is called in Sanskrit Purusha and Prakriti. In the terms of the Sufis this is known as Dhat (zat) and Sifat. The manifestation of this, the outer appearance, is called Sifat. It is in the manifestation of Sifat that one sees the distinction, or the difference between that which is visible and that which is audible. In their real aspect of being they are one and the same. That plane of existence where they are one and the same is called Dhat (zat), according to that knowledge of the inner existence of the Sufi mystics, in which one sees the source and goal of all things.

What I wish principally to explain is that color and sound are a language which can be understood not only in the external life but also in the inner life. For the physician and for the chemist color has a great significance. The deeper one goes into the science of medicine and into the science of chemistry, the more one recognizes the value of color. Each element, the development of every object, or the change of every object is distinguishable by the changing of its color. The physicians of old used to recognize diseases by the color of face and form, and even today there exist physicians whose principal way of recognizing a man's complaint is from the color in his eyes, on his tongue, on his nails, on his skin. In every condition it is color which is expressive of man's condition. Also in objects their condition and their change are recognized by their change of color.

Psychologists have recognized the condition of objects by their sound and of persons by their voice. What kind of person a man is, whether strong or weak, what his character is, what his inclinations are, what his attitude is towards life, his outlook on life - all this is known and understood by his voice.

Color and sound are not only the language in which one communicates with the life without, but also the language in which one communicates with the life within. One might ask how it is done. We can see the answer in certain scientific experiments. Special plates are made, and by speaking near such a plate marks are made upon the plate with sound and vibrations. Those marks make either harmonious or inharmonious forms. If that is true, then every person, from morning till evening, is making invisible forms in space by what he says. He is creating invisible vibrations around him, and so he is producing an atmosphere. Therefore it is that one person may come into the house, and before he speaks you are tired of him, you wish to get rid of him. Before he has said or done anything you are finished with him, you would like him to go away, for in his atmosphere he is creating a sound; a sound is going on which is disagreeable. There is another person with whom you feel sympathy, to whom you feel drawn, whose friendship you value, whose presence you long for; harmony is continually created through him. That is sound too.

If that is true then it is not only the external signs, but also the inner condition which is audible and visible. Though not visible to the eyes and not audible to the ears, yet it is audible and visible in the soul. We say: "I feel his vibrations. I feel the person's presence. I feel sympathy, or antipathy towards that person." There is a feeling, and a person creates a feeling without having said anything or done anything. Therefore a person who is in a wrong vibration, without doing or saying anything wrong, creates the wrong atmosphere, and you find fault with him. It is most amusing and very funny to see how people may come to you with a complaint: "I have said nothing, I have done nothing, and yet people dislike me and are against me." That person does not know that it is not because of his saying or doing anything: it is because of his being. "What you are speaks louder than what you say." It is life itself which has its tone, its color, its vibration. it speaks aloud.

One may think: "Where is it? What is it? Where is it to be found?" The answer is: What little man knows about himself is only about his body. If you tell a man to point out where he is, he will point out: this arm, this hand, this body. He knows little further than that. There are many who, if asked: "Where is it in your body that you think?", will say: "Thinking? In my brain." They limit themselves to that little physical region which is called body, thus making themselves smaller than what they really are. The reality is that man is one individual with two ends, just like one line with two ends. If you look at the ends, it is two; if you look at the line, it is one. One end of the line is limited, it is limitedness; the other end of the line is unlimited. One end is man, the other end is God. Man forgets this end, and knows only that end of which he is conscious, and it is the consciousness of limitedness which makes him more limited. Otherwise he would have a greater scope for approaching that Unlimited which is within himself, which is only the other end of the same line, the line which he calls, or which he considers to be, himself. When a mystic speaks of self knowledge this does not mean knowing: how old I am, or how good I am, or how bad I am, or how right or wrong I am. It means knowing the other part of one's being, that deeper, subtler aspect of one's being. It is upon the knowledge of that being that the fulfillment of life depends.

One might ask: "How can one draw closer to it?" The way that has been found by those who searched after truth, those who sought God, those who wished to analyze themselves, those who wished to sympathize with life, is one way, and that is the way of vibrations. It is the same way as of old; by the help of sound they prepared themselves. They made these physical atoms, which in time had become deadened, live again with the help of sound. They worked with the power of sound. As Zeb-un-Nissa says: "Say continually that sacred name which will make thee sacred." The Hindus have called it mantrayoga; the Sufis have termed it wazifa. It is the power of the word which works upon each atom of the body, making it sonorous, making it a medium of communication between the external life and the inner life.

What one begins to realize as the first experience of one's spiritual development is that one begins to feel in communication with living beings, not only with human beings, but with animals, with birds, with trees, with plants. It is not an old tale that the saints used to speak with the trees and the plants. You can speak with them today if you are in communication. It was not only the ancient times which were blessed; the blessing which was of old is there today. The old blessing is not old today, it is new! It is the same old one that was, that is, and that will be. No privilege was ever limited to a period of the world's history. Man has the same privilege today, if he will realize that he is privileged. When he himself closes his heart, when he allows himself to be covered by the life within and without, no doubt he becomes exclusive, no doubt he becomes cut away from this whole manifestation which is one whole and is not divided. It is man himself who divides himself; if not, life is undivided, indivisible.

It is the opening of the communication with external life which makes man wider. Then he does not say of his friend: "This is my friend, I love him", but he says: "This is myself, I love him." That is the time when he can say that he has arrived at the realization of love. As long as he says: "I feel sympathy with him because he is my friend", his sympathy has not yet fully awakened. The real awakening of his sympathy is on that day when he sees his friend and says "this is myself." Then the sympathy is awakened, then there is the communication within one's self.

Man does not close himself only from the external life, but also from the inner part which is a still more important part of his life. That inner part is also sound, that inner part is light; and when one gets in touch with this sound and this light, then one knows that language which is the language of heaven, a language which is expressive of the past, the present and the future, a language which reveals the secret and character of nature, a language which is receiving and giving that divine message which the prophets have tried at times to reveal.