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




Physical Condition

Physical Culture

Control of the Body


Balance in Solitude

Balance in Greatness

Life's Mechanism





A Question about Fasting


Physical Control

Questions about Vaccination and Inoculation


The Mystery of Breath

The Science of Breath

The Philosophy of Breath

The Control of the Breath

The Control of the Breath

The Power of Silence

A Question about Feelings

The Control of the Mind

The Mystery of Sleep

Five Stages of Consciousness


Dreams are of Three Kinds

Spiritual Healing



Vol. 8, Health and Order of Body and Mind

The Science of Breath

The nature of every creature can be known by his breath. Animals such as the lion, tiger, or bear, who kill and eat other animals, show from their breath strength, power, and yet an upset condition which gives them upsetting of mind, temper, jealousy, a fighting nature, greed and a tendency to bloodshed. Other creatures like the cow, sheep and goat have a settled breath which keeps them thoughtful, considerate and social to their own kind, which is proved by their living together in herds. They content themselves with feeding on grass, avoiding the presence of cruel animals.

Among all creatures a change of breath can be found through their spells of passion, anger and fear. The breath of man likewise shows his nature. A man who works and is always busy with material things has a noisy breath, similar to that of the animals, and the irregularity of his breath shows the unsettled condition of his life; the breath of a thoughtful person is much more rhythmic and fine. Of course more physical energy makes breath grosser, and a person becomes thoughtless. When his breath is normal, man becomes thoughtful. When the energy is less, a person becomes still wiser, but incapable of making a right use of his wisdom, owing to the weakness of the means: his physical body.

The value of breath is more than all wealth and power one can have in life, for every breath gone has lessened that much life. Suppose a person is made with the energy of a hundred breaths - he may take them in one hour and die, or by controlling them through rhythm he may finish a hundred breaths in a day. It is just like a clock: if its tick goes slower it will last much longer than the hours of its limitation, and when the beat is quicker it will stop long before its winding hour.

When lying down the breath is least strained, by sitting it is more strained, by standing still more, and by walking and running still more again. The influence of passions quickens it most; for this reason the life of celibacy has been practiced by ancient mystics, and that is why the Sufi finds it necessary at times to lead a secluded life, which settles his external self as well as his mind. This does not only help to create peace and harmony in man, but even to prolong life much longer than the allotted time.

There is a vast distance between the finer plane and the grosser; they are linked by only one source and that is the breath. The nature of breath is just like the air; when the air is farther away from the earth it becomes finer, and in the same way it becomes heavy when nearer to the earth. Such is the case with the breath: when it enters the body, it materializes itself and becomes audible during sleep and even when awake, according to the fineness or grossness of a man's nature. But when breath approaches the spirit it loses its weight. That is why the average person feels his breath to a certain limit, beyond which he cannot even imagine that it could flow. Breath in its highest reach spreads all over, and in its lower flow it is confined to the least portion of time and space.

Breath is a chain which links the Infinite with His manifestation. In other words, it might be called a lift in which the Infinite descends to earth in order to experience life, and again through the same lift He makes His return journey to His origin. The speed of the journey depends upon the power of the breath and its control. Breath can reach every being, thing and atom of the universe, regardless of time and space. It is also the source of all inner and outer communication. In fact, as the length of breath joins the Infinite with the manifestation, so the width of breath connects the whole universe. Lack of consciousness keeps man in limitation; otherwise, through breath, he could expand his knowledge to the whole universe.

Breath is vouchsafed to the senses as far as their reach of perception goes. Breath makes a complete circle within the body, entering through the nose, passing through the brain and down the spine, ascending again through the abdomen and lungs, going out through the nose. When breath reaches the higher spheres, the senses, unless developed, cannot follow it there. Though one circuit of the breath takes a circle through earthly and heavenly planes, yet to an average person it seems as if some air goes out and comes in. But the mystics follow this chain of breath in the pursuit of the Infinite and, by holding on to it at the sacrifice of all earthly temptations which lead one on to death, they drive their lives towards immortality.

When this condition is brought about by a mystic of his own will in meditation, then he becomes the controller of his life, and death becomes his servant. By dying every day in meditation and again experiencing this momentary life the mystic becomes familiar with that state which every man fears and calls death. The greatest punishment that man can inflict on man is death - which to a mystic becomes his everyday playground. Thus he gets beyond the interest of this life and the fear of death. The difference between the mystic and another person is as that between the swimmer who would quite fearlessly swim and dive into the water and the non-swimmer who would die with fear even before sinking. That which is a comfort to the one becomes death to the other; so death, most alarming to the average person, is peace to the mystic. In all religions, directly or indirectly, this secret of mysticism is suggested,. Of course the truth cannot be revealed plainly before everybody; that is why the study of breath is kept secret and is termed mysticism.