The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan      

        (How to create a bookmark)



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 Secret of Repetition

The Psychological Effect of Our Speech


Names of God

Take the Spiritual Path

Forgetting the False Self

Vol. 2, The Power of the Word

6. The Value of Repetition and Reflection

The Secret of Repetition

For thousands of years the secret of repetition has been known to the mystics. They found that the greatest mystery was hidden in the form of repetition, and on that science mantrayoga was rounded by the Yogis in India, while the Sufis worked for ages in the lands of Syria, Palestine and Egypt with the science of the repetition of words.

What attracts us most is the repetition of any experience that we have had. If you are in the habit of going to the park, you have perhaps made an association with a little bench there, and you will always be attracted to it whenever you go to the park. You have experienced the magnetism of the place. There may be a better place, but on the place you once sat you will sit again, and the oftener you sit there, the oftener you will be attracted to it. Then there are simple songs that you have heard in your childhood; they are already lost from your memory. You have become a great lover of music, but when that song is sung that you once heard in your childhood, it brings you a new joy and a desire to hear it again; you cannot compare it with the best music in the world! There are also things that one eats or smells - that have a perfume, and after having experienced them once, twice or thrice they grow on one. One begins to like them so much that the one who has never experienced them is surprised to think what joy there is in liking such a thing. This also is the effect of repetition.

Friendship, familiarity, acquaintance, all these are repetitions. Sometimes one feels very uncomfortable in the train finding oneself among people one does not know, but after having seen them for a while one becomes so accustomed to their presence that sympathy awakens and one becomes friends. So the whole life is based upon the principle of repetition. Therefore things that help one to be illuminated and to attain spirituality are prescribed by the wise for repetition.

It is through misunderstanding that in the Protestant religion people stuck to that one hint of Christ against "vain repetitions." But this was not meant against repetitions, it was against vain repetitions. The Protestant clergy, however, took this idea up and made out of it a saying against repetition. So in countries like Switzerland, and other places where there is a Calvinistic spirit, people very often do not understand this. Yet on repetition the whole of life is based. Even going to church and saying prayers is repetition.

Nowadays a wave is coming in this material age when people are beginning to recognize from a psychological point of view an idea, as used by [Dr. Emile] Coue, that by repeating: "You are well, you are well, you are well", one becomes well. People come home with this idea about which the mystics of all ages have thought, and they say: "Somehow it is useful." The more they understand it, the more they will find that there is much in repetition, if once they will explore it.

In India there was a maid in our house who got a fancy to sing a song, the words of which were: "How my fate has changed today." During a week she sang it the whole day long, and at the end she fell from the balcony and died. Fate changed for the worse.

There was a Mogul emperor, Bahadur Shah, who was an exquisite poet under the name of Zafar, the greatest poet of his time. He wrote sad poetries and he died in utter sadness.

Then I may tell you about my own experience. While travelling in Holland I went with a friend - a very practical man and wide awake - to have lunch in his country house. In the train I told him how once I had lost my station, and so went away from the place where I should have got down. While telling this we actually lost our station, and instead of arriving for lunch we arrived for dinner. This shows that everything we repeat has a psychological action.

Good omen and bad omen also depend upon repetition. If you tell a person about an accident when he is just getting into his automobile, it means that you put the wheels of his automobile on the track leading to an accident.

Why does success repeat itself, and why does failure repeat itself? There is always success after success, and failure after failure. This is repetition too; it forms a rhythm. There is nothing that succeeds as success, and once you have failed, you will fail again and again. If I were to go deeper into this subject, I would say that the moving of the world is also repetition by which a rhythm is formed. The rising and setting of the sun, the waxing and waning of the moon, the changing of the seasons, the rhythm that the waves take, and the speed with which the wind blows, all this works according to the law of repetition. Since repetition is movement - a mobile movement because it goes forward - so it is used even by the mystics as the greatest secret for spiritual progress or material success.

There are many ways of concentration, but the best way is the repetition of a word. For instance, if a person wants to concentrate on balance, he cannot make a form of it before his mind because it is an abstraction. But if he closes his eyes from all other things and repeats to himself: "Balance, balance, balance, balance, balance", naturally each time he repeats "balance" it makes a picture in his innermost, a picture of balance, and in everything he does he sees that picture reflected. So his life becomes balance.

The Psychological Effect of Our Speech

Very often parents, not knowing this, call a child "naughty." The child is impressed by it; it knows that it is naughty, so it goes on being naughty. So it is with friends and relations and with all those around us. Not knowing the psychological effect of our speech we may turn them from bad to worse. If you say to your business partner: "Is it not dishonest what you did?", that means that you have made that person dishonest. The first thing he did was less dishonest; you have completed it by saying so.

Every kind of accusation of dishonesty, of lack of kindness, or affection, or love, makes a person that of which you accuse him. Ignorant of this people often rejoice saying to another something they want to see changed in him. If you say to someone: "You have been very unkind to me", or: "You have not been just", or "very cruel", you have made that person more unkind, more unjust, more cruel, and that person cannot help it. It would have been much better not to have said anything, not to have taken a chance of making that person better! For all that you acknowledge you make worse by the repetition of words.

Acknowledging is giving life to something. If you do not take notice of things, they die because you have not given them life. By noticing them you give life to things which may not be profitable to you. There is the simple one, the clever one, and the wise one. The simple one does not see into human nature; the clever one sees it and what he sees he says; the wise one sees and does not say anything, and it is that which makes him wise.


In the East they give great consideration to the names given to children, to horses, to animals, because that word is repeated so many times, and that repetition brings about the same result as the name indicates. When you give a person the name Lucky, and he is always called so, he must become lucky. By this I do not mean to say that Mr. Armstrong is always a strong man. I only wish to say that the name has a great effect for the very reason that it is repeated.

There are sages, there are those who have concentrated and whose mind is powerful and, when they give a certain name to someone with a certain meaning, that name has a great effect. It is like giving the life which is in the name, and that life beginning to grow in the person; it is like sowing a seed in the ground, and that seedling bearing flowers and fruits. The meaning which is in the name works after days and years, and brings about most wonderful results. From the moment the name is given the whole life is changed. If it is given by a person with power and inspiration it has a wonderful effect.

Names of God

As to spiritual development, there are different influences which may be considered as spiritual influences, and such we need in our life; such as the influence of kindness, of compassion, the influence of Providence, inspiration, cure, health, wisdom, power, and so forth. These being spiritual influences the mystics have names for them - for each of these influences - and they call them the sacred names of God. There are perhaps a hundred of such names or more which the mystics use, and each of these names has been practiced by them for thousands of years. The effect of these names works sometimes most wonderfully.

In Hyderabad it so happened that a sage wanted to meet the king, and he could not. The secretary said: "The king is too busy to meet everyone who comes." The sage said: "All right. As the king will not receive me, I shall receive the king." By the repetition of a certain sacred name for about six weeks such a condition was brought about that the king came to visit the sage. I have seen this myself.

There was just a few months ago a case where a young man was to be engaged to be married to a princess. But it was all in his mind; nothing was outside. The State was against it, the Church was against it, the family was against it, and the man's own financial condition was against it. So there was no chance from anywhere. This person in utter despair wanted to commit suicide. Then he came in contact with a spiritual teacher; the young man said to him: "There is no other way in the world except suicide." The teacher said: "There is a way. Repeat this word and it will all be well." In three months time all difficulties and troubles fell away. He got his heart's desire.

There is nothing that cannot be accomplished if a person has faith. When he takes that direction, he will know the benefit that comes from the law of repetition.

When a person repeats something to himself, whether a good word or a bad word, whatever it is, he is engraving that idea in his innermost, and that idea is reflected in the akaska, in the space. On every person he meets it will be reflected. For instance, if a person who repeats "kindness, kindness, kindness", meets the most cruel man in the world, the kindness that is engraved upon his heart will be reflected upon the man, and that man cannot but act kindly. Besides, a person who has repeated "kindness" so many times in his life whoever he will meet will say: "That is a kind person", because by saying "kindness" he has become kind.

Of course one may overdo it; one may do it wrongly, and that must be avoided. One may try to experience it before one is ripe enough to experience it. For instance, one may hear this lecture and go before a bank and say: "Money, money, money, money, money", and then come to me and say: "I repeated "money" a thousand times, but money has not come!" That person has not proceeded rightly. Besides that, to make use of such a wonderful thing for the attainment of earthly things is very foolish, because life is an opportunity, and when that opportunity is lost, it is lost for ever. When we use this knowledge for things that are not worthwhile, then the time is lost. Therefore this only proves worthwhile if it is used for the attainment of spiritual knowledge. If we use this secret for the attainment of earthly things, we do not know whether they are good for us or bad. Very often we would love to have this or that, but if it is not good for us we may just as well not have it.

Take the Spiritual Path

Best is the moral principle which we read in the Bible: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all those things shall be added unto you." In order to seek the kingdom of God it is not necessary to give up the things of the world. Whether we have them or do not have them, the first thing is to seek the kingdom of God.

I heard many people say: "If my financial situation will be right for the remainder of my life, I will set to work on spiritual lines; if the money situation is all right, I will do it." I quite understand that it is necessary to think of the financial situation; it is reasonable. But at the same time, when we look at life which is passing -- this moment we have will never come again! -- when we think that we let our life pass in the pursuit of earthly things alone, and wait before looking at something higher, perhaps it will be too late. Earthly things last only as long as the life of the body lasts: in a moment it has gone. Who knows into whose hands the wealth one has collected will go.

At the same time we must remember that Solomon with all his wealth was not less wise. We need not give up all those things; by pursuing God we need not lose the things of the earth; they all follow.

But one should not say: "After I have finished my acquirements, then I shall take the spiritual path." This is a dream which may never be accomplished. If you want to take the spiritual path, you must take it right now, at this moment, and at the same time think about worldly obligations. One may just as well earn money and profit by it and experience all the comfort that is there. It does not matter, as long as one pursues the spiritual path.

Forgetting the False Self

Now you may ask: "In what way does one attain to spiritual knowledge by repetition? Is it by repeating the name of God that one comes to spiritual knowledge?" Not necessarily, but by repeating a certain thing you forget yourself. Forgetting yourself, you are forgetting the false self, and it is in forgetting the false self that lies the secret of spiritual attainment. Spiritual attainment apart, even the secret of the great works of musicians and poets was that they forgot themselves in their work. In order to give life to something one must make a sacrifice, and in spiritual attainment it is by the sacrifice of the false self that one comes to the real self.

There are many who are afraid and say: "If we lose ourselves, what do we gain? It is only a loss!" It is not losing the real self, but the false conception of oneself. It is like a person who is dreaming. He is so interested in the dream that, if somebody comes to wake him up, he says: "No, no, let me sleep." He forgets that awaking will be another experience; his great interest is in the dream. So it is with some people; they are afraid to lose themselves, and they forget that it is only the false conception of themselves that they lose.

At the imagination of the spiritual ideal, many people are very afraid, as someone is afraid on the top of a high mountain when looking back on the immense space. It makes them fear, because they have always seen narrow horizons. The wide horizon has an effect which gives them a shock. It is the same with those who are accustomed to the false conception of the self. The best way of losing the self is by the repetition of a certain sacred word which gradually makes one lose the conception of the false self, expressing at the same time the idea of the real self, a foundation upon which life will be built for ever and for eternity.