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. The Power of the Word

2. The Power of the Sacred Word

3. The Word that was Lost

4. Cosmic Language

5. The Word

6. The Value of Repetition and Reflection

Phrases To Be Repeated



First Was the Breath

The Mystery of the Word

An Ancient Treasure

The Importance of the Word

The Word from the Earth

Vol. 2, The Power of the Word

1. The Power of the Word

The Mystery of the Word

The word is in itself mystery in every sense, and all scriptures have considered the mystery of the word - even compared to all other secrets of life - as the most profound. In the scripture that is best known to the Western world we read that first was the word, and the word was God, and then again one reads that it was the word which was first and then came light. These sentences convey to us two things. The first conveys to us that, if anything existed, and if we can express what existed, we can only express it by the term "word." And when we come to the second sentence it explains another phase of the mystery which is that, in order to enable the soul surrounded by the darkness of the world of illusion to come to the light, first the word was necessary. This means that the original Spirit was in the mystery of the word, and that by the word the mystery of the Spirit was to be found.

When we come to the Vedantic scriptures, which existed many thousands of years ago, there also we realize the same thing. For instance, there is a phrase in Sanskrit: Nada Brahma, which means: the mystery of creation was in nada - in the word. In the Qur'an one reads in the Arabic words Kun fa-yakun that first was the exclamation "Be!", and it became. The One who said "Be", and it became, was not a mortal being. He was and is, and will be, all the life there is. If that is so, then the word was not the mystery of the past, but the word is a continual and everlasting mystery. And at this time, when man has engaged himself in the material phenomena and has progressed very far, compared with the past, in industry and commercial activities, this aspect of discovering the might which lies hidden under the word is still unexplored.

The mystic who knows the value of the word finds that word first in himself; for the secret of all knowledge that one acquires in the world, whether worldly or spiritual, is the knowledge of the self. For instance, music is played outside oneself. But where is it realized? It is realized within. A good word or a bad word is spoken from outside. But where is it realized? It is realized within. Then where is the realization of the whole manifestation, of all this creation that stands before us in all its aspects? Its realization is within.

At the same time the error of man always continues: instead of finding realization within, he always wants to find it without. It is just like a man who wants to see the moon and looks for it on the ground. If a man seeks for the moon for thousands of years by looking on the earth, he will never see it. He will have to lift up his head and look at the sky. So it is with the man who is in search of the mystery of life outside himself; he will never find it, for the mystery of life is to be found within: there are the source and the goal, and it is there that, if he seeks, he will find.

What is sound? Is sound outside, or is it something within? The outside sound only becomes audible because the sound within is continued, and the day when the sound within is shut off, this body is not capable of hearing the outside sound.

Man, living today the life of externality, has become so accustomed to the outside life that he hardly thinks of just sitting alone. When he is alone he busies himself with a newspaper or something else, always working with the life which is outside, always occupied with the life outside himself. In this way man loses his attachment to the life which is within. So his life becomes superficial, and the result is nothing but disappointment. There is nothing in this world in the form of sound, visible or audible, which is so attractive as the sound within; for all that the senses touch and all that is intelligible to the mind of man has its limitation. It has its limitation in time and effect; it makes no effect beyond that.

Life's mystery lies in the breath; it is the continuation of breath and pulsation that keeps the mechanism of the body going. It seems that people of ancient times had a greater knowledge of this mystery than man has today. For what is meant by the lute of Orpheus? It means the human body; it is a lute, it is meant to be played upon. When this lute is not realized, when it is not understood, when it is not utilized for its proper purpose, then that lute remains without the use for which it was created, because then it has not fulfilled the purpose for which it was made.

The breath goes not merely as far as the man of material science knows. He knows only the vibrations of the air, going out and coming in, and he sees no further. Besides this there is pulsation: the beating of the heart and head, the pulse, all these keep a rhythm. Man very rarely thinks about what depends upon this rhythm. The whole life depends upon it! The breath which one breathes is certainly a secret in itself, it is not only a secret but the expression of all mystery, something upon which the psychology of life depends.

The science of medicine has for thousands of years to some extent depended upon finding out the complaints of the body by its rhythm and by the breath. Ancient medicine knew that health depends upon vibrations, and now again a time is coming when in the Western world physicians are striving to find out the law of vibrations upon which man's health depends. But man, absorbed in the material life, goes so far and no further. The mystery of vibrations does not concern the material plane only: it goes still farther.

If the human body is a lute, then every word man speaks, every word he hears, has an effect upon his body; it not only has an effect upon the body, but also upon the mind. For instance, if a person hears himself called by the name "foolish" and repeats it, even if he were wise he will in time turn foolish. And it is also true that if one calls a man who is simple wise, in time he will become wise. The effect of a man's name has a great deal to do with his life, and very often one sees that a man's name has an effect upon his fate and career. The reason is only that he is so often in the day called by that name. Is it not true that a man saying a humorous thing bursts out laughing, and a man saying a sad thing breaks into tears? If that is so, then what effect has every word that one speaks in one's everyday life upon oneself and upon one's surroundings!

The superstition that has existed in all times about not saying an unlucky word, an undesirable word, has a meaning. In the East a child is trained to think before he utters a word, since it has a psychological meaning and effect. Very often people reading a poem or singing a song with great love, a song of sorrow or tragedy, are affected by it, and their life may take a turn as a result.

A person who speaks of his illness nourishes his illness by speaking of it. Often I have heard people say that if a pain exists it is a reality, "and how can one deny it?" It is so amusing to hear them say this, because reality is so far away, and our everyday life is such that from morning till evening we do nothing but deny it. If one could only know where the truth lies, if one could only know what truth is - if one only were to know it and see it - one would think that all else is non-existent in reality. If one studies the depth of this idea, one must admit the power of the word. But then, it is a science, a metaphysics that must be studied.

Yet the depth of the word of each person is very different. If a person has spoken a hundred words in one day, do you think that every word has the same power? No, the power and effect of a particular word depend upon the state in which that person was, and from what depth the word rises. Upon this depend the power and light of that word. For instance, with a person who has a habit of telling a lie, who is insincere, you will always find that his words are dropping down; his words have no force, while the one who speaks with conviction, who is sincere, who tells the truth - his word has a light, his word penetrates. Sometimes, from a person full of sadness and heartbroken, a voice comes, a word, full of sincerity; it has all the power to penetrate; it has such an effect upon the listener! Then there is another person who is lighthearted, who is not deep, not serious enough in life; everything he says and does is always on the surface; he inspires no one with confidence, for he himself has no confidence.

Besides that, there is a power of the word which is in accordance with the illumination of the soul, because then that word does not come from the human mind, that word comes from the depth, from behind; that word comes from some mysterious part that is hidden from the human mind. And it is in connection with such words that one reads in the scriptures of "swords of flame" or "tongues of flame." Whether it was from a poet, or whether it was from a prophet, when that word came from his burning heart, then the word rose as a flame. In accordance with the divine Spirit which is in the word, that word has life, power and inspiration. Think of the living words of ancient times, think of the living words that one reads in the scriptures, the living words of the holy ones, illuminated ones! They live and will live for ever. It is as a music which may be called a magic, a magic for all times. Whenever such words are repeated they have that magic, that power.

What the sages of all ages said - those words were kept by the people, by their pupils. In whatever part of the world they were born or lived, what they let fall as words was taken up as real pearls, and kept as scriptures. Therefore, wherever one goes in the East one finds that the followers of different religions keep the words of the illuminated ones whenever they pray, and they do not need to put them into their own language. One finds that in this way the words said by the great ones have been preserved for ages to be used for meditation.

There is a more scientific and still greater mystery in the word. It is not only what the word means, it is not only who has said the word, but the word in itself has also a dynamic power. The mystics, sages and seekers of all ages, knowing the mystery of the sacred word, have always been in pursuit of it. The whole meditative life of the Sufis is built upon the mystery of the word. For the word "Sufi", according to the explanation of the initiates, is related to sophia which means wisdom. But not wisdom in the outer sense of the word, because worldly cleverness cannot be called wisdom. The intellect which man very often confuses with wisdom is only an illusion of it. Wisdom is that which is learned from within; intellect is that which is acquired from without. The source of wisdom is above, the source of intellect is below, and therefore it is not the same method, it is not the same process which one adopts in order to attain wisdom, as that which one adopts to acquire intellect. In short, the attainment of that wisdom is achieved in various ways by various people, but the great mystery of attaining divine wisdom lies in the mystery of the word.