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 Word from the Earth

Many holy scriptures give evidence of the power of the word. But a science so well known to the prophets of all times where has it gone? That science has been lost to the view of the generality. The reason for this is that man engaged himself in the things of the earth and the knowledge of material things, and in this way he lost the art of the ancient times. By losing that great science, that mystical secret, what has the soul attained? The soul has attained an increasing deafness, and this increasing deafness prevailed with the prevailing of material life. Nevertheless, at every time there have been some thinkers, and in every period there have been some servants of God, working known or unknown to the world, who have admitted that the word was lost. It was not lost for them; they saw that for the generality that word was lost. By the loss of this word is meant that the secret of the whole life was lost. This is however an exaggerated saying. The word which is existent cannot be lost, but man has lost his capability of knowing, of hearing that word.

Besides this, man did not hear that word from the sky: he heard that word from the earth, the outcome of which is the great progress and awakening of material science. All the great inventions of this time, which are like miracles, have come to the great minds who have, so to speak, communicated with matter, and matter has spoken with them face to face. All such great inventions are answers from the earth to the communication of these minds with matter. In this way the word was not lost, but the direction was lost.

Man learned continually from the objective world things that he could touch, and make intelligible, and he always disbelieved in things that were not intelligible to him. So he became far removed from the main part of life's mystery. Nevertheless, if at any time in the world's history man has probed the depth of life, he has found it in artistic expression by communicating with the inner life, by communicating with the heavens. And what is that communication? It is the word.

The Prophet Muhammed, when he thought that Someone existed with whom he could communicate, went away from town and remained in solitude on the top of a mountain, sometimes fasting, sometimes standing, and staying there night and day for two or three days. What did he find in the end? He found that a voice began to come to him, a voice in answer to his soul's cry. His soul, so to speak, went forth, pierced through all the planes of existence, and touched the source of all things. How did the answer come? In what form? The answer came from everything: from the wind, the water, the sphere, the air - everything bringing the same answer. But this is not limited to a certain person or to a certain time. In our everyday life there are times when a sadness comes, and it seems as if everything in the world, even the voices of beasts and birds, cause sadness. Then again comes the hour of profound joy. At that time the sun helps to give joy, and the clouds covering the sun also give joy. The cold, the heat, the friend, the enemy, all help to give joy.

This world to a mystic is like a dome, a dome that gives a re-echo of all that is spoken in it. What is spoken from the lips reaches only as far as the ears, but what is spoken from the heart reaches the heart. The word reaches as far as whence it has come; it depends from what source it has come, from what depth it has risen. The Sufis of all ages have therefore given the greatest importance to the word, knowing that the word is the key to the mystery of the whole life, the mystery of all planes of existence. There is nothing that is not accomplished, there is nothing that is not achieved or known through the power of the word. Therefore in esotericism or mysticism the word is the principal and central theme.

What is the word? Is the word just what we speak? Is that the word? No, that is the word of the surface. Our thought is a word, our feeling is a word, our voice, our atmosphere is a word. There is a saying: "What you are speaks louder than what you say." That shows that man does not always speak, but his soul speaks always. How do the fortune-tellers read the future? They hear it. They say that they see it from the action of man. But what is it all? It is all a word. For word means expression, expression in voice, in word, in form, in color, in line, in movement: all are united in one thing and that is the esoteric side of mysticism.

Of course many people in the Western world have said: "For us it is very difficult to have a meditative life in the activity of this world. We have so many responsibilities and occupations." But my answer is that for this very reason they need more meditation. Then a person may say: "I have things to do. How can I go into a meditative life? I have weaknesses to overcome." But the answer is that the way of getting above weaknesses is to go through meditation. When there are many responsibilities in life, one's very reason tells one that it is better to meditate and make the responsibility lighter. It is not getting worried over one's responsibilities that helps man. It is being responsible, but at the same time being strong enough to lift one's responsibilities.

There are words - the words which are known to the mystics - which do not belong to any language, but the words of many languages seem to have sprung from these mystical words. It is by the help of these words that one develops two faculties: seeing and hearing.

By seeing I do not mean seeing through the eyes, as everybody does. By seeing I mean penetrating. It is the penetrating quality of seeing that makes man a seer; it is that which was really meant by clairvoyance. Nowadays people have used this word so much that one would not even like to use it any more. But then, people have not left any word that exists in this world without having misused it. If one were so sensitive about words, one would have to leave all language alone.

Then there is hearing. By hearing I do not mean listening, I mean responding; responding to heaven or to the earth, responding to every influence that helps to unfold the soul. By such responding and penetration, that one gains by the power of the word, one attains in the end to the goal, that goal which is the yearning of every soul.

Question: When one has the desire to go into these things, what should one do if one's life is too busy.
Answer: I have heard many persons say that they have the greatest desire to give their time and thoughts to spiritual things, but because they have not attained a manner of living that leaves their mind free to keep to these things, they think they cannot take up anything spiritual. I saw the reason of their argument. It is quite true that in this world, as life is today, it is difficult to move without money. Material things apart, even in spiritual things one cannot do without money. If I were to give you the same lecture and I would not be sitting in a room, it would not become a lecture! If the newspapers had not given the advertisement, if a notice had not been printed, you would not have known about it, and perhaps only two or three persons would have been kind enough to come and listen to me to oblige me.

It is therefore natural that a person should think like this, and he is not to be blamed. But at the same time, when we look at it from a different point of view, we still see that every moment lost in waiting for spiritual attainment is the greatest loss conceivable. Besides, one may go on thinking: "The day will come when I shall change my life and give in to something higher, something spiritual", and that day will never come! One has to do it today, just now, instead of saying: "Tomorrow I will do it." Otherwise one repents.

Life is assimilating; time passes. Hours, months, years slip by before one realizes that they have slipped by. To the one who understands the value of time, spiritual attainment comes first. As Christ said: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you."

I do not say: "Let all things go in order to pursue spiritual things." Spiritual attainment does not deprive one of material gains. One has only to fix the spiritual things before one first. In order to become spiritual it is not necessary to give up worldly things, or all that is good and beautiful and valuable from the point of view of the material world. Solomon, with all his wealth, was not less wise.

You need not give up all you have in order to become spiritual. If you think that, it is a great pity. But to wait and say: "I shall wait till my ship comes. Then I shall become spiritual" - who knows when the ship will come! It is never too late to go onto the spiritual path, but it is never too early. The best thing therefore is that, the moment you think that it is already too late, you should begin and go through all the tests and trials of this path, confident that there is nothing that cannot be accomplished once the spiritual path is taken.