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. Man, the Purpose of Creation

2. Character-Building

3. Human Nature

4. Self-realization

5. The Art of Personality

6. Man is likened to the Light

7. Truth

8. Selflessness - Inkisar

9. Indifference - Vairagya

10. Independence and Indifference

11. Overlooking - Darquza

12. Graciousness - Khulq

13. Conciliation - Ittifaq

14. Consideration - Murawwat

15. Tact

16. Spirituality

17. Innocence

18. Holiness

19. Resist not Evil

20. Resignation

21. Struggle and Resignation

22. Renunciation

23. Sacrifice

24. Ambition

25. Satisfaction

26. Harmlessness

27. A Question about Vegetarianism

28. Unselfish Actions

29. Expectations

30. Be a Lion Within

31. Humility

31. Moral Culture

33. Hope

34. Patience

35. Confidence

36. Faith

37. Faith and Doubt

38. The Story of Orpheus

39. Happiness

40. The Privilege of Being Human



Vol. 8, The Privilege of Being Human

19. Resist not Evil

One often wonders at this saying in the Bible, and it is not always given the right interpretation. To interpret it the first thing is to explain what evil means. Is there any particular action, is there any particular thing that one can point out as being evil? No doubt man is always apt to point out a certain action as evil, but nothing can be evil according to a fixed principle. What then is evil? It is something which is void of harmony, which lacks beauty, something from which love is missing. Beyond and above all, it is something which does not fit into the accommodation of life. What fits into the accommodation that life offers cannot be evil; it is the characteristic of evil that it does not fit into it.

Evil may be likened to fire. The nature of fire is to destroy everything that comes into its fold. The power of evil is as great as the power of fire, and at the same time evil is as weak as fire, for fire does not endure, and so evil does not last. As fire destroys itself, so evil is its own destruction. Why is it said, "Do not resist evil"? Because resistance gives life to evil, non-resistance lets it burn itself out.

In the form of anger, passion, greed, or stubbornness one sees evil, and also in the form of deceit and treachery. But the root of evil is one, and that is selfishness. In one person's heart the evil is perhaps manifest on the surface, in another person it is in the depth.

There is a saying in the East, "Do not invoke the name of Satan or he will rise from his grave." An inconsiderate or tactless person always falls into the error of awakening this evil even if it is asleep, for he does not know the music of life. In order to live in the world one should become a musician of life. Every person therein is a note, and the one who feels this way has an instrument before him: the whole world is an instrument upon which a symphony is to be played.

Even in small things one can observe the same law. Very often the great trouble that one has in life is not due to the difficulty of others, but to a lack of comprehension of human nature. If one knew human nature, not to resist evil would be the first and the last lesson to learn, for resistance becomes fuel to its fire. If one tells someone, "Do not do this", if one asks someone, "Why did you do it?", if one says to someone, "You have done such and such a thing", by all these words one only makes evil stronger; one makes the person firmer in his fault.

Everyone in this world can be a teacher - but not a real teacher. A real teacher is the one who always teaches himself, and the more he teaches himself, the more he finds that there is so much to be taught. This self has so many lacks that a whole lifetime is not enough to teach it. The more the self learns, the more it overlooks the evil in others. It does not mean that the evil is in others; it only means that one finds in oneself the enemy which one was seeing outwardly. And the worst enemy one was faced with in outer life one finds to be in one's own heart. It makes one feel humiliated, but it teaches the true lesson: one finds oneself having the same element which one wishes to resist in another.

Life is a place where gentle movement is necessary. In thought, speech or action, in everything the rhythm must be controlled; the law of harmony should be observed in all that one does. One should know that, when walking barefoot on thorns, even they will not allow one to be free from accusation: the thorns will accuse one of having trampled upon them. If the delicacy of living in this world is to that extent, can anyone say, "I have gained sufficient wisdom", or can anyone say, "I can afford to live in this world without giving a thought to this problem?"

The problem of evil is great. Many cannot tolerate to hear the name of evil, but they are faced with it every moment of their lives and therefore to leave this problem unsolved does not help. Besides this, everyone is ready to judge, to observe, or to take notice of the evil in another, not knowing that sometimes the surface of a thing is quite different from its depth. Maybe what seems evil has something good inside it, or what is good in appearance may have a spark of evil inside. By what standard can we determine evil and good, and who can judge the evil and good of any man? If one can judge something it is one's own evil and good. No one except God has the power to judge another. The sense of justice that is given to man is for judging his own actions, and if he judges himself he uses this sense best, because it is for this purpose that the sense of justice has been given to him.

When we look at life through a telescope, we shall find that it is nothing but a struggle for living, individually and collectively and it appears that, if there is anything worthwhile in this life, it is what is besides this struggle: giving and taking kindness and love, doing any action of unselfishness. However qualified a person in the things of the world, his qualification reaches a certain extent and does not go beyond. The whole qualification required is the understanding of life, the understanding of the law which is working behind it. It is this qualification alone which will diminish man's continual struggle in life. It will diminish his struggle in this way that it will give him less to resist. It will make him more tolerant of the natural condition of human beings. As soon as one realizes that one cannot expect from anyone something of which he is not capable, one becomes tolerant.

The difficulty is that everyone demands more of another person in the way of thought and consideration, of kindness and love, than he does of himself. Man wants more justice and fairness on the part of another than he is himself prepared to give; and his standard may be so high that another person cannot keep up to it, which in turn makes him disappointed. What generally happens is that one does not just remain quiet after being disappointed but one resists, and so the struggle of life continues. One should not expect the pear-tree to bear roses, nor the rose-bush to produce jasmine. Every person is like a certain plant, but not the same plant. We may be fond of roses, but every plant does not bear roses; if we want roses we should seek only the plant on which roses grow, and we must not be disappointed if what we find is not the rose plant. In this way we can correct our own deception.

When people say that someone is bad it really means that the surface has become bad. The depth cannot be bad, however bad a person may seem. For goodness is life itselF, and a person who would be all bad could not live. The very fact that he is living shows that there is a spark of goodness in him. Besides just as there are various objects so there are various persons; some show softness inside; some are very good in the depth and evil on the surface; and some are evil on the surface and good in the depth, for there are as many different varieties as there are souls.

What education, what point of view, what attitude in life is the best and will give the greatest happiness? It is the attitude of overlooking evil instead of resisting it. There are three ways of living one's life, which can be compared with struggling in the sea whose waves are rising and falling all the time. The first will struggle as long as life will permit; but the rising and falling of the waves in the sea continue for ever and ever, and in the end he will be drowned. And so it is with man. He struggles along, intoxicated by his struggle. How long will it go on? As long as his energy will permit it, and in the end he will be drowned. In this struggle he may seem powerful, he may seem to have overcome others, he may seem to have done things greater than others - but what is it after all? In the end that person is drowned.

There is another man who knows how to move his arms harmoniously in the water, and who has got the rhythm of moving his arms and legs. He swims with the rising and failing of the waves, he is not struggling. This man has a hope of arriving at the port, if only the port is near. If his ideal is not too far off, then he is the one to accomplish it.

The third person is the one who walks above and over the water. It is this which is the meaning of Christ's walking upon the sea. Life is just like waves, it is making its way continually. The one who allows himself to be disturbed by it will be more and more disturbed every day. The one who does not take notice of it will keep the quietness which is his own within himself. The one who sees all things and yet rises above things is the one who will walk upon the sea.

No one can reach the highest summit of life, the summit of wisdom, in a moment's time; even a lifetime is too short. Yet hope is necessary. The one who hopes and sees the possibilities walks towards the summit. The one who has no hope has no legs to mount on this hill of wisdom, the summit of which is the desired goal.

Question: How can anyone at the head of a business or institution possibly keep to the rule of not resisting evil?

Answer: I have seen people at the head of certain factories who had won the heart of every worker, and another head of a factory whom every worker was speaking against. It may be that the latter made a greater profit than the former, but in the end he would find the profit of the former more durable than his own.

The manner of wisdom and tenderness cannot be made into principles to which people should be restricted. A brush cannot take the place of a knife, and therefore everyone has to use every manner and action according to the situation. Nevertheless, the thought of not resisting evil should always be at the back of it.

Question: How can one manage a person who is really bad?

Answer: If a person is "really bad" it means that the whole surface has become bad, but still the depth cannot be bad. However bad a person the depth cannot be bad, for goodness is life itself, and a person who is all bad cannot live. The very fact that he is alive shows that there is a spark of goodness. Besides, just as there are various objects, so there are various persons. Some show softness outside, hardness inside; some show hardness outside and softness inside. Some have good in the depth and evil on the surface, and some have evil in the depth and good on the surface, because as many souls there are, so many are the varieties.

Question: Is there a system to take away evil?

Answer: That system is understanding life more and more; it is keeping the love element alive, trying to keep an harmonious attitude as much as possible, and then keeping beauty before oneself.

It is difficult, but it is possible when we have the spirit never to be really grown-up, never to close our heart to learning, always to be ready, whatever be our age, to accept what is harmonious and beautiful. When one thinks, "What I think is right", and one finds arguments and reasons to make it right, and when one thinks, "What the other person thinks is wrong", and one finds reasons to make it wrong, one will always remain in the same place. But when one is ready to accept, even from a child, that something one says may be wrong, one thinks, "Even though it is a child who said it, it is a profit for me to accept it." God has not spoken only through His prophets, He speaks through every person, if we open our hearts to listen. The difficulty is that we become teachers. If throughout our whole life we remain pupils teaching will come all the time from within and without. As soon as we become teachers we close our hearts from Him who alone is our Teacher.

Question: If we want to be kind to a person, how can we prevent him from abusing our kindness?

Answer: Our part is to be kind; that person's part is to use it tightly. It is not our part to see that the other person makes the right use of our kindness. If we think about that we shall forget our part.

Question: How can we help a person who does not understand our kindness and is doing harm?

Answer: Love is a conqueror, and in the end will conquer. It is not only the person outside whom love will conquer, but it will conquer the self of the one who loves. This is the conquering of the kingdom of God. The power of love is penetrating, nothing can resist it in the end, and by giving kindness we have not lost anything. It is an element which is never lessened, it is a treasure which is divine. When we consider whether a person is worthy or unworthy we limit our love to a channel, but when we allow that feeling of kindness to flow it will develop into a continually flowing condition. Then kindness will work out its destiny without any intention on our part.