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



The Language of Nature

Language Without Words

The Language of Everything



Vol. 2, The Power of the Word

4. Cosmic Language

The Language of Nature

What is it that makes some people know beforehand the coming of floods, the coming of rain, the change in the weather, all the different changes in nature? No doubt there are signs beforehand, signs which become words for those who read them, and by those signs they understand the coming events of nature. For them, therefore, these are the language of nature; for others who do not know this language it is gibberish. What is it that makes those who understand astrology know about people, their past, their present and their future from the change of the planets and the stars? It is only that there are signs which indicate to them the past, present and future just as words do, and from these signs they learn of coming events. There are phrenologists who can see signs in the muscles of the head. Those who know physiognomy can see from the face of a person things that no one has told them, but which they read from his face. There are others who know a science such as palmistry, of a small part of man; even in that case the signs of the hands are for them just as loud words, just as is the form of the face.

Language Without Words

Then there are the natural conditions, such as the mother knowing the language of the little child who is not yet able to speak. His tears and his smiles, his looks explain to the mother his moods, his pleasures and displeasures, his aspirations and his wants. It is also known that the heart of the lover knows the pleasure and displeasure, the change of moods in the beloved without one word having been spoken. There are physicians who, through their experience in life, have become so advanced that before the patient has spoken one word they have already found out what is the complaint, what is the matter with the person. There are businessmen who are so engrossed in business that, as soon as a person has come to their shop, they know whether he will buy or whether he will go away without buying. What does this tell us? It shows us that, whatever be our walk in life, whatever be our profession, our business, our occupation - through it all there is a sense within us, a sense which can understand language without words.

The Language of Everything

There is also another point closely connected with this, and that is that everything in life is speaking, is audible, is communicative, in spite of its apparent silence. What we call "word" is only the word that is audible in our everyday language. What we consider hearing is only what we hear with our ears, and we do not know what else there is to hear. In point of fact there is nothing which is silent. All that exists in this world - whether it seems living or not living - it is all speaking, and therefore the word is not only what is audible to us, but the word is all. This is supported by the Bible where it is said: "First was the word, and the word was God." But it is not only that the word was first, but always when there was anything it was the word, and always the word will be.

The real meaning of the word is life, and is there anything that is not life, whether silent objects or living beings? For instance a person not knowing the secret of the planets, not knowing their influence, their nature, their character what do they say to him? Nothing. He knows that there are planets, and that is all. As far as the science of astronomy goes, a person who has studied it may say that the planets have a certain influence upon the weather and upon the season, but the astrologer will perhaps hear a louder sound from the planets; he can say that the planets have a certain influence upon the individual and upon his life. What do we understand by this? That to one the planet does not speak, to another it speaks whispering, and to yet another it speaks loudly.

It is the same thing with physiognomy. To one a person is a mystery; another may know something about him, and to a third he is like an open letter. For one physician it is necessary to make an examination of a patient with all kinds of machines and mechanisms; another physician likes to ask the patient about his condition, and a third physician looks at the patient and knows perhaps more about him than the patient does himself.

Is it not the same thing with art, when we see that one person goes to a picture gallery, looks at different pictures and thinks that there are different colors and lines? He is pleased to see the colors, and that is all; he knows nothing more about it. There is another person who sees the historic facts behind the picture, and is more interested in it, because the picture has spoken a little more to him. Then there is a third person for whom the picture is living. The picture which he sees, which he appreciates, is communicative. He reads in it the meaning which was put into it by the artist; it is revealed to him by looking at it. Therefore through the medium of the picture the thought, the ideal of one person is made known to the other.

In the same way to one person music is a noise, or perhaps a harmonious group of notes. For him it is a pastime, a certain amusement. To another person there is some joy coming from it; he is enjoying some pleasure, he feels the music which is coming to him. Then there is a third person who sees the soul of the artist who is performing the music, who sees the spirit of the one who wrote the music. Even if the music were written a thousand years ago he hears this spirit in the music.


Is it not all communicative? In art or in science, or in whatever form, life expresses its meaning, if only man is able to understand it. The one who does not understand this will not understand life's meaning. His inner sense is closed; it is just like being clear. In the same way his sense of communication with things has become dull, he does not understand them. But if a person does not hear he may not say that life is not speaking. In the same way, if a person cannot sense the meaning of life, he may not say that life has no meaning. The word is everywhere, and the word is continually speaking.

There is an ancient belief that the word was lost, and then found again. Out of this belief was made a great mystery, a mystery which exists up till now among people of old civilizations. Up till now they are looking for that word which was lost, and they consider that in gaining that world lies the fulfillment of their life. There are many who have tried to mystify this idea, so much so that a person may go on and on and never come out of it again. But the truth is not found in mystification; the truth is to be found in simplicity, for there is nothing more simple than the ultimate truth. The idea is simply that all that exists has come out of the word, and goes back to the word, and in its own being all is a word.

By word is not meant a word which is audible only to the ears; by word is meant all that is conveyed to you, all that is expressed and comes to you as a revelation. It means that what you hear with the ears, what you smell with the nose, what you taste, what you touch, what you perceive through all the different senses and through all that becomes intelligible to you - that is a word. It is life's mission to convey something to you, and everything that it conveys to you is a word. Through whichever sense you experience it, through whichever sense it is conveyed to you, it is a word.

It is not only upon the five senses - taste, heating, seeing, smelling and touching - that the word depends; we call them five senses because we experience them through five different organs. In reality there is only one sense, a sense which experiences life through the vehicle or the medium of the five external senses. As life is experienced through these five different directions, the experience of life becomes divided into five different experiences, for the word - or life - becomes visible to us, tangible, audible, it can be smelled and it can be tasted. But besides these five aspects in which we are accustomed to hear the word there is another aspect of hearing the word, independently of the five senses, and this way of hearing the word is called the intuitive way.

When a person comes before you, you cannot say - by only seeing or hearing him - that you have recognized him, whether you are satisfied with him or dissatisfied, whether you feel sympathy for him or antipathy; you can only say that you had a certain impression of that person. This shows that there is a language which is beyond the senses, a language which we are capable of understanding if the inner sense is open to a certain degree. There is not one person who has not experienced this; maybe some have experienced it more, others less. Some are conscious, some are unconscious, but when a disaster is coming, a sorrow, a failure, a success, then a feeling comes. No doubt a person with a tender heart, with a greater sympathy, with love awakened in his heart is more capable of experiencing this sentiment. It is this feeling which may be called intuition, something which does not depend upon senses. A woman feels it more perhaps than a man. Often a woman will say to a man: "I feel it. I feel that it is going to be a success", or: "It is going to be a failure." And when he asks her what is the reason - for a man is very reasoning!- she will still say: "I feel it." There is a language that she understands; the man has not heard it.


Then there is another experience. It is not only an experience of spiritual or most advanced people, but it is known even to a scientist, to a material person, to an inventor. He may not believe it, but this experience comes all the same. It is a sense of how to work out his invention, or how to form his system, how to make a plan, or how to arrange something he wants to arrange. One may say that these great inventors have studied mechanics and technique, that it is the outcome of this study that gives them their ability, but there are thousands of students who have studied mechanics and not every one of them is an inventor.

The one who accomplishes something surely accomplishes it through the help of inspiration. You may ask all kinds of artists - a painter, a drawer, a singer, a dancer, a writer, a poet -: "Can you always do the work you wish to do so perfectly, so excellently as you are able to sometimes?" The answer will be: "No, I never know when it will be done. It comes, and sometimes I am able to do it; I do not know when nor whence it comes." A poet may try for six months to write a poem - the poem that his soul is longing for, his soul's desire - and yet never finish it. But it is finished in six minutes if that time comes, if the moment comes. The poet cannot imagine how such a thing could come in the space of six minutes, something which is wonderful, which is complete in itself, which gives him the greatest satisfaction, which is living. The great musicians have not written their most beautiful compositions, their masterpieces over a period of six months. What has taken them a long time to write is of little importance; it is what they have written at moments and finished in five minutes which is living and which will always live. It is the same thing with all aspects of art: creative art depends upon inspiration. Mechanical art may be developed, and a person may be most qualified in it, but it is a dead art. The only living art is the art which comes from a living source, and that living source is called inspiration.

What then is inspiration? Inspiration is that same word which has been spoken of all this time; it is the hearing of that word which comes from within. A person hears it and expresses it in the form of line, color, notes, words, or in whatever other form. The most interesting and the most wonderful thing in connection with this subject is that the same inspiration may come to four persons. It is the same word which comes to four persons: one draws it in the form of lines, another puts it in the form of notes, a third writes it as words, and a fourth paints it as colors. This shows that artistic inspiration, inventive genius - whatever form in which the meaning of life wishes to express itself within - has another aspect different from what we see in the life outside.

Where does this inspiration come from, the soul of which we know to be the word? It is beauty in itself, it is energy, wisdom, harmony in itself. It is energy because it gives the greatest joy when expressed by an artist, by an inventor; it is wisdom because it comes with the understanding of accomplishment; it is light because the thing that one wants to make becomes clear to one - there is no sign of obscurity; it is harmony because it is by harmony that beauty is achieved.

There is another form of inspiration, a form which a person attains by a greater enlightenment, by a greater awakening of the soul. This can be pictured as a person going through a large room where all things are exhibited, but where there is no light except, in his own hand, a lantern with a search-light. If he throws his light on music, music becomes clear to him, notes and rhythm become clear to him; if he throws his light on words, the words become clear to him; if he throws his light on color, all colors come near to him; if he throws his light on line, all lines in most harmonious and beautiful forms come near to him.

This searchlight may become greater still and may reach still further. It may be thrown on the past, and the past may become clear, as it was clear to the prophets of ancient times. It may be cast on the future, and it is not only a sense of precaution that a person may gain, but a glance into the future. This light may be thrown upon living beings, and the living beings may become as written letters before him. This light may be thrown on objects, and the objects may reveal to him their nature and secret. And when this light is thrown within oneself, then the self will be revealed to a person; he will become enlightened as to his own nature and his own character. It is this form of experience, it is this way of knowing which may be called revelation. It is by knowing revelation that one accomplishes the purpose of life, and that the word which was lost - as the mystics have said - is found.

Every child is born crying; his crying conveys that he has lost something. What has he lost? He has lost the word. This means that all he sees conveys nothing to him. He knows not what it is, he seems to be lost in a new country to which he has been sent. As he begins to know a little - his mother, those around him, the colors and the lines, and all things of the world - these begin to communicate a little with him. He begins to know things a little with the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and in this way he begins to know the word which is within. It is this communication which is the sustenance of life. It is not food or drink which keeps man alive, it is this communication through the different senses to the extent that he understands what they have to say. It is this that makes man live.

When we think of our life, and when we compare the pain that we have in our life with the pleasure, the portion of pleasure is so small. Besides, what little pleasure there is, it costs also, and therefore it resolves into pain. If that is the nature of life, how could we live in this life if there were not this communication, if there were not that word which to a smaller or greater extent we hear from all things, from nature herself? It is the fulfillment of this communication that no wall nor any barrier should stand between us, nor between the life within and without. It is this which is the longing of our soul, and it is herein that revelation comes. It is in this that lies the purpose of our life.