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 Importance of the Word

There is nothing more important as a means of raising one's consciousness than the repetition of the right word; there is nothing that can be of greater use and importance in the path of spiritual attainment. When we look at the traditions we find that, from the time of the ancient Hindu teachers who lived thousands of years before Christ, the sacred word was in practice. And so you will find that, in all the great periods when a religious reform came to different countries, the power of the word was considered to be of immense importance: for instance, at the time when the Jewish religion was given, and also when the Christian religion began.

It is the misunderstanding of certain words of Christ which has confused many followers of the Christian religion in their understanding of the importance of the word. For when it is said to keep oneself from making vain repetitions, a person in the Western world, when he reads repetitions, just makes a literal translation; he does not know what is meant by it. The condition at that time was this: the word "God" had become so much used in common affairs that, whenever a person wanted to convince another about something true or false, he used the word "God." If a man wanted to sell something, in order to convince the other person of his own idea, he used to attach the name of God to the object he wanted to sell. And when the other did not believe him the custom was to say: "By the name of God it is true." It is therefore that it was said: "Do not make vain repetitions of the sacred name; it is too sacred to be used in trade or business." But then those who could not understand the idea behind it said that it was the repetition itself that Christ did not want. If they would only think that even at the last moment the Master repeated the sacred name!

It is the same sacred words which from ancient times up to the present are given from teacher to pupil. Mystical words may be used in different languages, but they do not exclusively belong to any language. Take, for example, the phrase used in the practice of zikr. It is found today in the Arabic language, it came from Arabia. But then it is used in the Persian language also; one who does not know its existence in Arabia might think that it came from Persia. It also exists in the Hindustani language; one who does not know of its existence in those two other languages might think that it was Hindustani. That divine name also exists in the other Semitic languages. It is the same word which was repeated by Christ himself as his last word. Those who were before Christ, mystics whose origin was the ancient school of Egypt, also repeated the same word. There are sufficient proofs of this fact: during the time of Abraham, who was initiated in the school of Egypt, this word was used.

In the Buddhistic and Vedantic religions and philosophical schools we find that the same words which were used for thousands of years are used even today. For the Hindus it was a kind of science - a science which they called mantrayoga, the science of the word, of the dynamic power, the vital power that lies in the repetition of certain words.

Modern psychology is beginning to awaken to the same idea, although it is still searching in darkness, and has not yet found the secret of the use of words. Nevertheless, what little it now perceives, its believing in the power of words and their repetition gives a hope that psychology will come some time to the realization that the ancient people had.

The work of the Sufi Order is to give the combined theory of the Semitic line of mystics and of the Hindu line of mystics, the two joined together. By Semitic I mean not only the line of Moses, but it included Christ also. There are also two distinct mystic lines, and both are joined in what is called the Sufi message. Besides this, to interpret this in a modern form is the meaning of the message.

Now one might ask: "What is it in the word that helps, and why does it help?" In answer to this I would say that there is no expression of life more vital than words, because the voice is an expressive manifestation of breath, and breath is the very life. Therefore the word that one says not only has an effect upon another person, but also upon oneself. Every word one says has its effect not only upon one's body but upon one's mind and one's spirit. A tactless word not only offends another - a foolish word uttered can prove to be of great disadvantage to oneself.

Many times a person in a pessimistic mood, in a kind of disturbed condition may wish for death, wish for failure, wish for anything. If he only knew what an effect it has, he would be frightened. Even in pain, if a person could refrain from saying: "I am in pain", he would do a great deal of good to himself. If a person who has met with misfortune would even avoid saying: "I am experiencing misfortune", it would be a great thing. For when a person acknowledges the existence of something he does not want, he only gives it a greater life. In the same way when a person acknowledges something that he wants, he gives that life too. But when a person says: "Oh, I have waited and waited and waited; my ship will never come", he is keeping his ship back in the sea. His ship will never arrive in the port, while the one who does not even see the ship, but says: "It is coming, it is coming" - he is calling it. It will come.

What I have said concerns the psychological meaning of the word, but the mystical word has a greater value than the words that one uses in everyday language. Mystical words have come from three distinct sources: intuitive, scientific and astrological.

Intuitive words have come as sudden expressions from God-realized souls, souls who have become tuned to the whole universe. Whatever word comes from their mouth, that word or phrase is something which has a much greater power than the words that everybody uses. But apart from a spiritual person, do you not even see in your everyday life that there is perhaps one person among your friends, among your acquaintances, whose one word has weight, has power, whereas another person says a thousand words that go in at one ear and out at the other? In one person his mouth speaks, in another person his heart speaks, in another his soul speaks. There is a great difference.

One might ask: "How can a spiritual person intuitively bring forth a word which has power?" The answer is that there is a possibility of a soul's becoming so much in tune with the whole universe that he hears, so to speak, the voice of the spheres. Therefore what he says comes like the echo of the whole universe. The person who is in tune with the universe becomes like a wireless instrument; what comes from him is the voice of the universe.

Leaving aside the personal aspect and coming to the scientific aspect, I would like to say that a deep study of human anatomy will explain that there are delicate nerve centers that can only be affected by certain vibrations; upon these centers the equilibrium and the health of mind and body depend. Very often people have even been cured of illnesses by the use of such scientific words, because this has given to a certain center that vibration which was wanted to bring about the life it needed. If one goes deeper into the science of the word one will find that every vowel and every consonant has its certain effect upon one's mind and body. Often you will find, before seeing a person, that by knowing his name you get an impression of what that person is like. It shows that the name makes such a great difference in a person's character.

When we come to the astrological aspect, it is a very vast subject, for it has a connection with every existing art and science. Vowels and words have their connection with the astrological science. By invoking a certain word one invokes a certain planet, either in order to diminish its influence if it is unfavorable, or to increase its power if it is favorable. Therefore in the astrological science of the Hindus every name given to a person is given in accordance with the astrological science.