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

An Ancient Treasure

The idea of the power of the word is as old as the Vedas of the Hindus. The modern world is now awakening to it through what is called psychology, and since there is an interest in psychology there is a possibility of exploring that ancient treasure which seekers after truth have developed for a thousand years in the East. The race that established itself to make its life in the tropical country called Hindustan was occupied in the study of human nature and its source, leaving aside all things of the world.

Man today looks at psychology as something that can help medical science as a side-issue, but certainly there will come a day when mankind in this modern world will look upon the science of psychology in the same way that the people in the East have looked upon it: as the main thing in religion and spirituality.

As to the power of the word, a "new" idea has been coming from various places under different names, and it is that the repetition of a certain word or phrase is of great use in curing oneself of certain illnesses. This is new because psychology in the Western world is discovering it today.

  • But what about the Buddhists who, sitting in their temple, have repeated the different mantras for so many centuries, repeating them two thousand, three thousand times a day?
  • And what about the Hindus who have kept their sacred mantras, the sacred chants which came down to them from thousands of years ago? Even if the language is different, they have still kept their ancient mantras.
  • And what about the Jewish people who still have stored the sacred chants which they inherited from the prophets of Beni Israel?
  • And what about the Muslims who for ages have repeated the Qur'an daily for so many hours, and who still continue to repeat the verses of the same book every day?
  • And think what secret there is behind the repetitions of the priests and Catholic mystics!
  • The Zoroastrians - the Parsis whose religion dates from ages ago - have maintained even up to the present time their sacred words, and they chant their prayers several times a day, always repeating the same words.

Does a man, who reads a newspaper today and throws it away tomorrow asking for another one, think about this: that there is something worthwhile in the fact that these millions of people have been clinging to those mantras, repeating them day after day all their lives, never becoming tired of doing so? If it were, as it is sometimes called, a religious fanaticism, then nobody could continue those repetitions, as no intoxication can continue longer than its influence lasts; then it goes and a person is disillusioned.

This shows that behind the repetition of words a secret is hidden, and the day when man has fathomed it he will have discovered a great secret of life. Leaving all religions aside and coming to material science, a person who has really touched the great height of science will never deny for one moment that behind this whole manifestation - if there is any secret which can be found as the mystery of the whole creation - it is movement. You may call that motion a vibration, or you may call it by a religious name.

One side of the understanding of the power of the word is to keep in mind that, as a reflector in the form of a globe is needed behind the light in order to throw the light fully, so a reflector is needed for the voice, as every voice-producer knows. The voice-producer will always give exercises to his pupil to repeat over and over again in order to get this reflector into the right condition, so that all the possibility of producing a full voice may be brought out.

That is the material side of the question, but then there is the psychological side of it. This is that not only the organs of the physical body have this reflector, but the mind, or what we call feeling, can also be a reflector. We very rarely explore this question; we cut it short every time we are faced with it.

For instance, when a person is telling a lie it is natural that it is weak, and we cannot readily believe it. However loud his voice, however strongly he speaks, since it is a lie it is weak because, psychologically, the power of mind must act as a reflector, and in this condition it does not act, for the mind is not behind it.

Take an ordinary phrase such as "thank you" or "I am very grateful to you." If during the day ten people say it to you, each one of them will have a different power of conveying it; for if the reflector is not giving power from behind, a person may tell you a thousand times "I am so grateful to you", but it will make no effect.

There is another way of looking at the same question: one person may tell you something, and you readily believe it, and another person may tell you the same thing fifty times over, and you do not feel inclined to believe it. What does this show? It shows that we must prepare ourselves before we say anything. It is not always what we say, but how we feel it, how we express it, and what power is hidden behind our expression, what power pushes it out, so that the word may pierce through the heart of man.

Then there is also a thought connected with this idea: how can one best prepare oneself to utter a certain word effectively? Symbolically speaking, a person may pronounce the same word a hundred times before people, but it is an iron word. A person may say it fifty times, but it is a copper word. A person may say it twenty times, but it is a silver word. And another person may say it only once, and it is a golden word. For instance, a person may talk and talk and talk in order to convince you, he may dispute and discuss and argue and show a thousand examples to make you believe, and the more he wants you to believe, the more he pushes you off. There is another person who tells you something perhaps only once, and you cannot help saying: "Yes, I believe it, I understand it, I am convinced."

How does one prepare oneself?. How does one make the reflectors ready in order to make the impression of the word? Yogis and Sufis have found certain practices by which a kind of psychological development is brought about. Through these a person becomes naturally more and more sincere and earnest, and everything he says bears that influence, that power. Perhaps these practices have no value according to the science of voice production, but they have very great value according to the psychological point of view. It is such practices which have been considered as concentration, meditation, contemplation, realization.

Regarding ancient words, any student of ancient languages will find that different languages can be traced back to one and the same source. The closer you approach the ancient languages the more you will find a psychological significance in them, and the languages of today will seem like corruptions of them. If I were to give you the derivation of words of several languages spoken today, such as French and English, you would be surprised to see how many words exist that are derived from ancient languages; very often they have the same meaning. Also, many names of persons are derived from these languages. In the ancient languages these words were obtained through the intuition; modern languages are based on the grammar one learns. But because its words have come purely from intuition, the language made from man's experience of life, as an action and reaction, has certainly more powerful words than the languages we speak today. Therefore they have a great power when repeated, and a great phenomenon is produced when a person has mastered those words under the guidance of someone who understands that path.

Every vowel, such as "a" or "e" or "o," has its psychological significance, and the composition of every word has a chemical and psychological significance. The Yogis have certain words which they repeat in the morning or in the evening for so many times, and from saying those words they derive a certain illumination or come to a certain state of exaltation. It is this very science which was called by the Sufis of ancient times zikr. This means a science of bringing about desirable results by the repetition of the proper words or phrases.

A chemist may have all the medicines, but if every person went and got whatever medicine he wanted, he might cure himself or kill himself. Even more difficult and more responsible is the work of using the repetitions of certain psychological words or phrases. It is the physician's responsibility to give a certain person a proper medicine necessary for his condition, for his purpose. In the East one searches for a Guru, or a Murshid as the Sufis call him, who has the experience of psychological prescription, and one takes what the Murshid has prescribed as an instruction. First the Murshid makes a diagnosis of the person's condition, and according to that he prescribes a word or phrase by the repetition of which that person may arrive at the desired goal.

Those who have some experience of voice production will know that in the beginning the teacher does not give any songs; he gives certain words, and a special way of practicing by which the voice is developed. In Sufism there are certain words which are considered sacred, and a person of simple faith will only know them as sacred words. But besides that they have psychological significance, and by being repeated they produce a certain effect which helps one to bring about desired results.

It is very interesting to note that science shows every inclination of awakening in the direction of vibrations and their phenomena. During my last visit to the U.S.A. I was most interested to see a new system, known as Dr. Abrams' system. The basis of this method, which as yet is not much developed, is the same: to find out the condition of the vibrations in the physical body in order to treat it in a satisfactory way.

When we see that similar systems were developed by the ancient mystics and occultists and tried for ages, and by numberless people for perhaps all their life, it is clear that those systems must bring about satisfactory results, and give to many a treasure which has always been kept sacred by the seekers after truth.

The Sufi Movement therefore has made a facility for the people of the West, for those who wish to reach that treasure, that source, to obtain by a serious study and practice of Sufism some glimpses of the truth which the ancient mystics possessed.