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




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 Philosophy of Breath

As the books, the precepts and doctrines of a religion are important to the follower of that religion, so the study of breath is important to the mystic. People ordinarily think of breath as that little air they feel coming and going through the nostrils, but they do not think of it as that vast current which goes through everything, that current which comes from the Consciousness and goes as far as the external being, the physical world.

In the Bible it is written that first was the word, and from the word all things came. But before the word was the breath which made the word. We see that a word can make us happy, and a word can make us sorry. It is told that once a Sufi was healing a child. He repeated a few words and then gave the child to the parents saying, "Now he will be well." Someone who was antagonistic said to him, "How can it be possible that by a few spoken words anyone can be healed?" From a mild Sufi an angry answer is never expected, but this time the Sufi turned to the man and said, "You understand nothing about it, you are a fool!" The man was very much offended; his face was red, he was hot. The Sufi said, "When a word has the power to make you hot and angry, why should not a word have the power to heal?"

Behind the word is a much greater power: breath. If a person wishes to study the self, to know the self, what is important is not the study of mind, thought, and imagination, nor of the body, but the study of breath. The breath has made the mind and the body for its expression. It has made all, from the vibration to the physical atom, from the finest to the grossest. The breath, a change of breath, can make us sad in the midst of happiness, it can make us joyful in the saddest, the most miserable surroundings. That is why without reason in some places we feel glad, in other places a melancholy comes over us. It is the air that makes us so. One may say, "How can breath do all this? How can it make the body?" I have seen people in the course of years become as their breath is. What exists in the breath is expressed in the form: as the breath is, so the child becomes.

There are three sorts of breath: there is the stronger breath, jelal, and the weaker one jemal, and there is the breath that unites the jelal and jemal, and by uniting them destroys, annihilates both: this is kemal. By uniting jelal and jemal the breath forms a circle. This explain the circular form of guns, shells and cannons: the circle is the form of destruction.

All elements - earth, water, fire, air and ether - are in the breath, according to the direction it takes. We can taste them in the breath. There are five directions, four outward and one inward. You may ask, "What influence can the direction have?" I shall answer that if you take a ball and throw it in every direction, the ball will not go equally far at every throw; it will sometimes go farther, sometimes not so far. Even in our words the direction of the breath has its effect. Sometimes we say, "Yes, I see", directly. Sometimes we say, "Yes", sarcastically, "I see", and our head is thrown back, the breath comes obliquely; the effect is quite different. If you say, "We cannot feel, we cannot perceive the elements in the breath, we do not know where they are", I shall say that this is a science. It cannot be understood in a moment; it is a study.

You may ask, "Is the direction the only thing that has influence upon the breath?" There are two other forces that influence it: uruj and nuzul, the rise and the fall. In the jets of water in a fountain some of the jets rise very high, others less high, others rise only a few inches, according to the force by which they are predestined. So it is with the breath.