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



Five Faculties



Q & A


Vol. 8, Health and Order of Body and Mind

The Control of the Mind


I have given this [word mind] as a title in order to make my idea intelligible, but when explaining the subject, instead of using the word mind, I shall use the word spirit. The word mind comes from a Sanskrit root which means mind and also man. In this way the name itself explains that man is his mind. Since the word mind is not understood in the same way by all those who use it in their everyday language, I think it best to use the word spirit instead.

The spirit can be defined as consisting of five different aspects: mind, memory, reason, feeling and ego, and each of these five aspects is of two kinds.

  1. The mind is creative of thought and of imagination. Out of the work of the mind, directed by the will, comes thought, and out of the automatic working of the mind comes imagination. So the thoughtful person is different from the imaginative. Thought is concrete because it is constructed, it is made by will power. The thoughtful person therefore is dependable and more balanced, because he stands on his own feet. The imaginative person, on the contrary, floats in the air; he rises and falls with his imaginations. He may touch the heights of heaven, and he may fall deep down on to the bottom of the earth; he may float to the north, the south, the east or the west. However, both thought and imagination have their proper places.

    The automatic working of the mind which produces imagination has its power, inspiration and beauty peculiar to itself. Poets, musicians, painters, sculptors create out of their imagination, and they reach further than the ordinary man. This only shows that the power of the automatic working of the mind is very great, although there is always a danger of being unbalanced. So often one sees a great genius, a composer, a poet, a great artist with a wonderful skill, and yet unbalanced, because the imagination makes the spirit float in space. The one who by floating takes the risk of falling, also has the chance of rising further than anybody else. To a practical and thoughtful man of common sense an artist or a composer, seems to be very unpractical, sometimes he seems to be very ignorant and childish. And looking at them from this point of view he is right, for however large a balloon may be, it is a balloon, it stays in the air. It is not a wagon one can rely upon to stay safely where one has put it. A balloon will fly, one does not know where it will take one. Nevertheless, the wagon remains on the earth, it never touches space; it does not belong in the air. Being a wagon, it misses the joy of rising upwards.

    Thought has its place; it is solid, it is concrete, it is distinct. A thoughtful man seldom goes astray, for he has rhythm, he has balance. Maybe he cannot fly, but he walks and you can depend upon him.

    Now as to the spiritual aspect in connection with thought and imagination, there are two kinds of seekers after spiritual truth: the thoughtful and the imaginative. The imaginative at once jumps into religion; he does not walk, he jumps into it. He revels in superstitions, he cherishes dogmas and beliefs, he interests himself in amusing and bewildering stories and legends connected with religion, he maintains beliefs that are impressed upon him. And yet, with all faults and weaknesses, the imaginative person is the one who is ever able to make a conception of God and of the hereafter. The one who has no imagination is not able to reach the zenith of the spiritual and religious ideal. Often an intellectual or materialistic person without imagination stands on the earth like an animal compared with a bird: when the bird flies up the animal looks at it and wishes to fly, but it cannot, it has no wings. The imagination therefore is as two wings attached to the heart in order to enable it to soar upwards.

    The thoughtful seeker after the spiritual ideal has his importance too, because he is not led by superficial beliefs and dogmas. One cannot fool him, he is thoughtful and every step he takes may be slow, but it is sure. He may not reach the spiritual ideal as quickly as the imaginative, but if he wishes to reach it he will arrive there, slowly and surely.

  2. The second aspect of the spirit is memory, which again has two sides. There are certain things we need not look for; they are always clear in our memory, such as figures, and the names and faces of those we know. We just have to stretch out our hand and touch them; we can recall them at any moment we wish, they are always living in our memory. But then there is a second side to the memory which is called by some the subconscious mind. In reality this is the depth of the memory. In this part of the memory a photograph is made of everything we have seen or known or heard, even just once in a flash. This photograph remains located there, and some time or other, maybe with difficulty, we can find it.

    Apart from these two sides of our memory there is still a deeper sphere to which it is joined. That sphere is the universal memory, in other words the divine Mind, where we do not only recollect what we have seen, or heard, or known, but where we can even touch something that we have never learned, or heard, or known, or seen. All that can be found there also; only for that the doors of our memory should be laid open.

  3. The third aspect of the spirit is reason, of which there are two kinds. One kind is affirmation, and the other is both affirmative and negative. Affirmative reason is the one we all know. When a person is bankrupt we have reason to think that he has no money for the very fact that he is bankrupt. When a person shows his bad side we know that he is wicked, because people call him bad. Every apparent reason makes us reach conclusions that things and conditions are so and so. This is one kind of reason.

    The other kind is the inner reason which both contradicts and affirms at the same time. This means that, if a person has become poor, we say, "Yes, he has become poor - and rich." If a person has failed we say, "Yes, he has both failed - and gained." Here is a higher reason which one touches. The higher reason weighs two things at the same time. One says, "This is living", and at the same time one says, "This is dead", or one says, "This is dead and at the same time living." Everything one sees gives a reason to deny its existence and at the same time to affirm its opposite - even to such an extent that when one has a reason to say, "This is dark", by that higher reason one may say that it is light.

    When one arrives at this higher reason one begins to unlearn - as it is called by the mystics - all that one has once learned to recognize as such and such, or as so and so. One unlearns and one begins to see quite the opposite. In other words, there is no good which has not a bad side to it, and nothing bad which has not a good side to it. There is no one who rises without a fall, and no one who falls without the promise of a rise. One sees death in birth, and birth in death. It sounds very strange and it is a peculiar idea, but all the same it is a stage. When one climbs above what is called reason one reaches that reason which is at the same time contradictory. This explains the attitude of Christ. When a criminal was taken to him he had no other attitude towards him than that of the forgiver; he saw no evil there. That is looking from a higher reason.

  4. Feeling is the fourth aspect of the spirit. Feeling is different from thought and imagination; it has its own vibrations and its own sphere. Thought and imagination are on the surface, feeling is at the depth of the spirit. Feeling also has two sides: one is likened to the glow, and the other to the flame. Whether one loves or whether one suffers, there is intense feeling, a feeling which cannot be compared with the experience of thought and imagination. A feeling person has a different consciousness, he lives in a different sphere. A person who is feeling has a different world of his own. He may move among the crowds and live in the midst of the world, and yet he does not belong to the world. The moment feeling is awakened in man, his consciousness becomes different. He is raised up, he touches the depth, he penetrates the horizon, and he removes what stands between man and the deeper side of life.

    Is there anyone in this world who will own that he has no feeling? And yet there are hearts of rock and of iron, of earth and of diamond, of silver and of gold, of wax and of paper. As many objects as there are in this world, so many kinds of hearts there are; one heart is not like the other. There are some objects that hold fire longer, there are others which burn instantly. There are objects which will become warm and cold in a moment; others, as soon as the fire touches them, will melt, and others again one can mold and turn into ornaments. So is the heart-quality. Different people have different qualities of heart, and by the knower of hearts each is treated differently. But since we do not think about this aspect of feeling, we take every man to be the same. Although every note is a sound, all notes are not the same, they differ in pitch, in vibrations; so every man differs in pitch, in the vibrations of his heart. According to the vibrations of his heart he is either spiritual or material, noble or common. It is not because of what he does, nor because of what he possesses in this world - he is small or great according to how his heart vibrates.

    All my life I have had a great respect for those who have toiled in the world, who have striven all through life, and reached a certain greatness, even in a worldly sense, and I always have considered it a most sacred thing to touch their presence. This being my great interest, I began to make a pilgrimage to great people in the East, and among these wonderful visits to writers, sages, philosophers, and saints I came in contact with a great wrestler, a giant man. Since I had this admiration for great toil, I thought that I should go and see this man too. And would you believe it: this in appearance giant-like man, with that monstrous muscular body, had such a sympathetic outgoing nature, such simplicity and gentleness connected with it, that I was surprised and thought, "It is not his giant-like look that has made him great. What has made him great is that which has melted him and made him lenient."

    Feeling is vibration. The heart which is a vehicle, an instrument of feeling, creates a phenomenon, if one only watches life keenly. If one causes anyone pain, that pain returns; if one causes anyone pleasure, that pleasure returns. If you give love to someone, loves comes back, and if you give hatred, that hatred comes back to you in some form or other. Maybe in the form of pain, illness, health, success, joy, or happiness - in some form or other it comes back, it never fails. Generally one does not think about it, and when a person has got a certain position where he can order people about and where he can speak harshly to them, he never thinks about those things. Every little feeling that rises in a man's heart, and directs his action, word and movement, causes a certain reaction and rebounds; only it sometimes takes time. But do not think that you can ever hate a person - even have the slightest thought of it - and that it does not come back; it surely comes back some time. Besides, if you have sympathy, love, affection, a kind feeling for a person, even without telling him so, it returns in some form or other.

  5. The fifth aspect of the spirit is the ego, and again there are two sides to the ego: the false and the real. They are just like the two ends of one line. If we look at the line in the center, it is one line; if we look at the line on the ends, it is two ends. So the ego has its two sides: the first is the one we know, and the next the one we must discover. The side we know is the false ego which makes us say "I." What is it in us that we call "I"? We say, "This is my body, my mind, these are my thoughts, my feelings, my impressions, this is my position in life." We identify our self with all that concerns us and the sum-total of all these we call "I." In the light of truth this conception is false, it is a false identity. If the hand is broken off, or a finger is separated from this body, we do not call the separate part "I", but as long as it is connected with the body we call it so. This shows that all that the false ego imagines to be its own self is not really its self.

    Besides, it must be remembered that all that is composed, all that is constructed, all that is made, all that is born, all that has grown, will be decomposed and destroyed, will die and will vanish. If we identify our ego with all these things which are subject to destruction, death and decomposition, we make a conception of mortality, and we identify our soul which is immortal, we identify our self, with all that is mortal. Therefore that is the false ego.

Now coming to the most important truth about spiritual attainment: those who are thoughtful and wise, those who go into the spiritual path, do not take this path in order to perform wonders or to know curious things, to perform miracles or other wonderful things. That is not their motive; their motive is to rise above the false ego and to discover the real. That is the principal motive of spiritual attainment; for no one will consider it wise to be under a false impression, to be under the impression that "I exist", when one has nothing to depend upon in one's existence. Therefore striving in the spiritual path is breaking away from the false conception that we have made of ourselves, coming out of it, it is realizing our true being and becoming conscious of it. No sooner do we become conscious of our true being and break the fetters of the false ego, than we enter into a sphere where our soul begins to realize a much greater expansion of its own being. It finds great inspiration and power, and the knowledge, happiness and peace which are latent in the spirit.