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 Palace of Mirrors

2. The Phenomenon of Reflection

3. Wazifa

4. Reflection upon the Mind

5. Reflection

6. Heart Reflections

7. The Mirror of the Heart

8. Soul Reflections

9. Reflection in the Hereafter

10. Reflection of Ancestors

11. Reflection of a Teacher

12. Reflection of Others

13. Reflection of God

The Story of Una



Vol. 4, The Mind-World

9. Reflection in the Hereafter

There are many teachings, doctrines, speculations, and ideas as to the hereafter to be found; but if there is anything that could explain the nature and the character of the hereafter it is one word, and that is reflection. From whatever point of view one looks at it, it is one thing, and that is reflection, either from the point of view of the one who believes in heaven and hell after death, or from the point of view of the one who believes in reincarnation which follows after death. For there is not one place built like a town for those who have done good deeds, so that all the good people should be in one town called Heaven or Paradise; while there is another town for the ones who have been sentenced to the other place.

In the first place each individual has his own way of looking at life, and according to his attitude towards life, according to his outlook on life, there is his hereafter. And therefore the heaven of one person cannot be the heaven of another, neither can the hell of one person be the hell of another person. As there are different ideals of different people, so there is a particular world of every person. And what is that world? That world is his spirit. And what does that world contain? That world contains all that the spirit contains.

The soul is likened to a photographic plate. A photographic plate may contain the reflection of one person or it may contain a reflection of a group or a view of thousands of souls. It is capable of accommodating in itself the reflection of the world before it. So is the soul. Then, one says, what is the hereafter? The hereafter of each one is what his soul contains. If his soul contains a heaven, the hereafter is heaven; if the soul contains something else, then the hereafter is that.

Some people ask, "Is it not the soul which comes as a reincarnation?" Yes, a soul; certainly a soul comes. But what soul, which soul? A soul which has a reflection in it. It is that reflection which is its reincarnation. But if this is so then one might ask whether it does not make everything unreal, just like the play of shadows. But is it not that? If it is not the play of shadows, then what is it? If man finds reality in unreality, if that is consoling for him, he may console himself for some few days. But unreality is unreality. Unreality will not prove satisfactory in the end, because satisfaction lies in the knowledge of truth. For the time being, if unreality satisfies one, to think that this is real, one may continue to think in that way. But it must .be said that in the end this will not prove to be real. In order to avoid future disappointment one must find it out soon in one's life if one is to be capable of grasping and then assimilating the ultimate truth.

What is the condition of the soul that experiences the conditions of heaven or hell in the hereafter? The condition of the soul is that it is surrounded by what it has corrected. As Christ has said, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also"; so whatever the soul has treasured in this life, it is that which is the future of that soul.

What difference is there between these two distinct ideas, the first that the soul goes on in the wheel of reincarnations, going from one thing to another, and the second that after death the soul experiences heaven or hell, and so it goes on towards God? There is only the difference of two different ways of looking at this one particular soul. The one who calls personality the soul, sees that personality continuing from one condition to another; he thinks that the personality which he has once seen has not ceased to exist in the world, but is going on with its reflections repeatedly, one after another. And when he sees that personality as soul, he calls it the chain of several reincarnations, one after another. The other person, who sees the soul as independent of personality, who considers personality as the garb of the soul but not the soul itself, then sees the actual condition of that ray of divine Intelligence which has come to the world as a soul. He sees its projecting outward and withdrawing inward. He understands this projecting as manifestation, and withdrawing as returning to the goal.

But one might wonder whether there is not anything of that soul left to go on. The soul which has journeyed to the goal certainly left something behind. When the body is left in the earth, something has become of this body. Either this body has been eaten by an animal and that animal's being has become at one with this body; or insects have eaten it and through them it has manifested. This body has achieved some result just the same. But at the same time we do not consider this body as the person. We say: this was the body of that person; that person has gone away. And therefore we do not take account of that body. But if we study and analyze the different conditions the body has gone through, we find that it has become food for different creatures and different objects, manure for flowers and fruits and plants, and directly or indirectly it has reached the animals, the birds. Besides, the little lives that have been created from it, blown by the wind, have reached far and have been breathed by many, and have been absorbed in the breath or water by many beings.

If we look at it that way we shall find that nothing that has once been born has been entirely lost. It has just been changed; and that change has used it for a new life. Therefore, the death of the body has been nothing but a kind of illusion to our eyes, and behind this illusion there has been something accomplished towards the continuance of life.

Is each soul an individual ray, or has one ray more than one soul in it, like a group-soul? Even the ordinary individuality has a certain illusion in it. For instance, man thinks his body separate from everybody else.-He says that the body itself is the sign of individuality; and at the same time each atom of his body has an individual and exclusive life, every blood cell has its exclusive life; it has its illness, it has its death and birth. And it is very interesting to see, in blood research, how every blood cell is a living being, and that it can die, and that it can be ill, and that it can cause death to the other blood cells also. No doubt this cover of the body hides it from our eyes; and so far as we can see this body is individual. But how many individuals are there within us?

Besides, a family also has a kind of individual significance; a country, a nation has an individual appearance; the world, a planet, is a kind of individual. And yet as a cell of the body makes a part of the body, so we all make a part of the country, so we make a part of the world; and the planet makes a part of the cosmos.

What is the individual? There is one Individual; and all else that seems for the moment to be an individual, we may call an individual if we see it thus. When we no longer see it, we may no longer call it so. When we see an entity, standing remote, exclusive, separate, we call it an individual. But it is owing to our eyes that we see it as separate. There comes a time that we do not see it as a separate entity; we see it linked up with all else that exists. Therefore naturally the Sufi, after observing life keenly, arrives at the idea of one Individual, and he sees the whole being reflected in one Individual. It is towards that idea that we have to develop.

And then we come to what we call the world of mind, of personality. Personality is a picture which the soul reflects in order to manifest according to that design; it is something of which the soul partakes. For instance, a person goes on a journey, and finds snow on the way; he is covered with snow. Then he comes to a place where it is dry; but at the same time he has brought snow with him. So it is with the manifesting soul. The soul which is manifesting has brought with it a personality. It is that personality which is now designing his destiny in the physical world, which is now building his form in this physical world. Therefore, if one must give a name to something which the soul has already brought, one can give it; but the soul does not start originally with personality, it starts as a divine ray.

Then the expression "an old soul" is not true, as the soul is new? What really happens is this, that instead of calling it "old personality", people call it "old soul." But we must always understand it as an "old personality", because the soul as we know it is garbed in a personality which we generally call soul. In that sense we may say "old soul"; but really it is "old personality."

The personality is another garb of the soul. This also goes on, just as the body goes on. The personality is also partaken of by one or by many wayfarers coming from the source; arriving at manifestation, showing at the same time the same personality, for it is the same personality. The caterpillar is representative of the flower, of the tree, of the plant that it has absorbed in itself; the caterpillar is the reincarnation of that which it has taken into itself; and yet the caterpillar is itself an entity which is known by us as it appears to be. A personality representing a complete person certainly has absorbed that which it is reflecting; in other words that which it has taken into itself, which has been projected upon it, which it has borrowed; and it is of that personality that it may claim to be the reincarnation.

What is done with the body after death is different from what is done with the personality that survives. The body, being a substance, is eaten and absorbed; but the personality, being a picture, is reflected in the mind-world. Therefore as a reflection of a person on a photographic plate does not rob the person of his existence, so the reflection fallen upon a soul from a soul does not rob the soul of its personality. The personality continues to journey towards the goal through the necessary processes. It is its reflection which builds another personality on the same design, which is known as reincarnation.

Then the question arises if there is any connection between these two personalities which are alike. Certainly, like attracts like. If in the plane of the jinn a sympathetic Link is established between two souls, it continues to exist. In this way it is natural for the spirit of Shakespeare to continue to inspire the Shakespeare personality on earth. The question if there can be more than one incarnation of the same person at the same time, may be answered: yes, a person can have many pictures, so there can be many reflections of one personality manifested on the earth.

One might ask if the personality is the same as feelings and thoughts that continue in the hereafter. Certainly it is; but at the same time you can look at it from different points of view. There are two points of view: one is that a body remains with us as we go on in life; and the other is that by cutting the nails or the hair a part of the body is separated. That part which is separated is not lost, it is not destroyed; but one does not think about where it has gone and what has become of it.

And so it is with every thought and every feeling. Sometimes the thoughts become elementals; they become living beings; they become as living creatures. They work for you or against you. And if that is true, then it is the same as with different parts of one's body. Sometimes with people wounded in war, hands cut off, fingers gone, the person does not think any more about that part which is gone; but that part has been utilized by nature too; that part is existing somewhere.

The world is a place where nothing is lost: it is only changed. A finger or leg cut off is going on; and so is everything that has been separated from one's mind. It has gone in the spheres, but still it is continuing its life. And as parents find that their children live after them, continuing their life, so every thought and feeling is also continuing its own life in the mind-sphere. But at the same time, having lost one finger or leg of the body we still live; so the thought and feeling go on as living individuals. Man does not lose his individuality after death. That personality is making his hereafter.

When we come to the soul, around which the body was a cover and the personality was a cover, that is just a divine ray, if we can understand the ray as a soul, which is difficult for every mind to grasp. But if intuition, inspiration, permit a mind to grasp it clearly, that person has seen a soul, not a personality; not a body, but a soul; an independent entity by itself, as an angel or a jinn; and even passing through those conditions and arriving at its origin, which is the only purpose that is in the depth of its heart. A new ray vivifies each incarnation; for the action of the soul is not to go out and to come half-way back and to go out again from there. Neither is the action of breath that. The action of the soul is the same as the action of breath. It goes out fully and it is drawn in fully. Each breath must touch the innermost of one's being in order for one to exist, for life is impossible unless one's being is charged at every moment by the innermost spirit. Every breath that a person takes touches the very depth of his spirit; and it would not be possible for any one to live if the breath did not touch the depth of life. Therefore, although we think that it is nourishment, or food, or outward things which keep us alive, it is really the life of God, which we take in at every moment with each breath.

As the seer says, this whole manifestation before us is a play of shadows; it continues for the night, and in the morning it is all over. One might ask, "If that is the case, then what are we supposed to do? By considering it unreal we do not seem to arrive at anything; but at the same time by not considering it unreal we stay in the unreal, and we do not open our eyes to the real." The idea is to make the best of this world, which is unreal; and at the same time to hold fast with both hands to the knowledge of reality, which alone is the savior in which we find our liberation. Verily, truth is inspiring and truth alone will save.