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

4. Self-realization

The first thing is to be man. It is not enough to have the form of man, we must be man. If we think that we eat and therefore are men - the animals and birds also eat. If we think that we sleep and therefore are men - the animals and birds all sleep. If we give way to our anger and passions - the animals all have their anger and passions. All that is not enough to make man human.

It is told in India that there were two madzubs at Lahore. Madzubs are those whose interest in spirituality is so great that they quite forget their physical self and even their garb. We in India know them and pay them respect; if they pass, having forgotten their clothes, we just turn our eyes away. These two madzubs were a man and a woman; when they met in the street it was seen that the man tried to avoid the woman, and the woman tried to avoid the man, and they showed signs of confusion while usually they showed no consideration at all. A priest walking behind the man madzub followed him for three days thinking, "I must find out why he behaves thus."

At last, after three days, the madzub said to him, "Why do you follow me? What is it you want from me?" The priest replied, "I saw that when you met the woman madzub you covered yourself. Why was it?" The madzub laid his hands upon the priest's head and said to him, "Now go and look at the world; then come back." The priest went into the city and, looking at every person, he saw upon the body of a man the head of a dog, or upon the body of a woman the head of a cat or of a camel or some other animal. Only the woman madzub had a human head.

He went back to the madzub and told him what he had seen. The madzub said to the priest, "This must never be told, because the world would be offended. Now you have seen how the world is, and why it does not matter to me to appear as I am before the world. Do you wonder that I cover myself before the madzub only?" This shows us how careful we should be to become at least human first.

If we cannot be trustworthy with our surroundings, with those who rely upon us, we are not human. If we cannot be self-sacrificing with our surroundings, our relations, we are not human. If we compare ourselves keenly with the animals we surely shall see what we must be in order to be human.

  • We must have tolerance; the animal has no tolerance.
  • We must be true; the animal has no truth.
  • We must have shame; the animal has no shame.
  • We must keep our promise; the animal cannot do it.
  • We must share with others; the animal does not share, it sits beside its plate of food and, even if it has eaten enough, it will not let another come near.
  • We must be accommodating; the animal does not accommodate others.
  • We must have sympathy; the animal has no sympathy.
  • We should give up those actions that give us a momentary joy, but of which we repent afterwards. Sometimes we do things of which for the moment we are glad, and then for years we repent. We should check the animal passions that carry us away.

There is a great reward for it; for every little attempt to overcome, for every little check, there is a great reward.

How many times do we become troublesome to ourselves and others by our lack of human qualities? How many times are we annoyed with our own self? To become human is the most difficult thing.

Hali, a great Indian poet, says, "What can there be easy when it is even difficult for man to become man?"

How much do we have to learn before we can say that we are truly human! It is by his quality of sympathy, by his kindness to others that man becomes human. When the animal-self, which is called nafs is before him, he wants to take everything for his own benefit. When he develops his sympathy, when he can sacrifice his self for the benefit of another, he realizes that moral which the cross symbolizes. Then he becomes farishteh (an angel who is sent on earth), then he becomes God.

In order to reach the next stage, to become angel, we must become a soldier and make another our colonel: we must make God, our self within, our colonel and thereby learn discipline. We must please Him. If we have a need we must ask Him. We must not ask anyone else; we must not tell anyone else. If we have a sorrow we must tell Him; if we have a joy we must tell Him. A listener is there for our sorrow and joy. Why should we humiliate ourselves by bringing our joy and sorrow and want before others? If we feel an obligation, let us be obliged to Him. If we want to complain, let us complain to Him. Why should we complain to others who cannot help us?

We must become a lover and idealize God, our self within, as our Beloved, thinking of His mercy and compassion, admiring the sublimity of His nature, bowing most humbly before His almighty power, and considering Him at every move we make, lest He should be displeased with us. Then at every step astray we are warned from within, "This is not right for you." At every right step we are cheered from within.

The higher we rise, the more particular we should be, for if one goes into society a very small impoliteness disgraces a person, while a man from the slums may fight and box in his eating-house and the next day, when people meet, they say, "Hullo, good morning", and are ready to be as before.

The day we think, "I am good, I am perfect", our eyes are veiled. The day we think, "I am wise", darkness has come upon us, and all the progress we have made is lost. We must always be ready to learn: from a child, from a drunkard, from a foolish person, from everyone, from all those who act differently.

Perfection does not lie in the innocence of a child, nor does it lie in being a jinn or a fairy; it lies in going through all vibrations, from the highest plane to this one, in experiencing all. A child is friends with the enemy because it does not know that he is its enemy. To know that the enemy is an enemy and yet to be kind - that is to be truly kind. To know the badness of the world and then to become harmless - that is innocence.

In India there are many such holy persons. Their innocence is so great that it shines out from them - much more than from a child. Their presence is peace and joy.

I knew a sage who was very much revered. His humility was so great that when little boys came to see him, before they could bow to his feet as is the custom or kiss his hand, his head was on their feet and he said, "I am your servant, I am your slave. You are much greater than me." Those sages always think that every other is much greater than they.

It is very difficult for a person of a certain evolution to like those of another evolution. If a person goes and sits in a care and always speaks of God or Christ, and says, "Christ was great, Christ said this or that", the other people will say, "Please, go to the church if you wish to speak of God and Christ." And if a person who wishes to drink goes to the church, they will say to him, "Go to the care if you wish to drink. Here it is not the place." I myself have sometimes been told, "Please, do not mention the name of God in our society, or the name of Christ. Say what you please about science, about the planes, but do not speak the name of God here."

That is why the Sufi takes the other way. He sees the good in every thing. He sees the face of God everywhere. He is in all companies. One Sufi always recognizes another, wherever he is, in whatever religious or social garb the other may be. That is the Sufi message of friendship. Unless each one of us bears this message into the world, peace can never come to the world.

Self-realization has been taught by all religions as it is their spirit. The underlying truth is the same in all, though their principles may differ. What is this self-realization, this knowledge of the self?

We all know the self that we see, we know: I am tall or short or of medium height, I am fat or thin. We know the name that has been given to us, whether John or Jacob or Henry. We know also: I have a temper, or: I have my clever ways, I have these merits and these faults, I have this work or this particular way of enjoyment in life, I have responsibilities and cares and sorrows and joys, I have friends and acquaintances and enemies. But all this is not enough. We should consider whether that which we are doing from morning till night, which we are striving after, to which we give a great importance, will remain with us - be it money, fame, name or whatever it may be. Does it make us happy? Does it give us the knowledge of what we were and what we shall be? We should know what we were before, whence we came and whither we shall go, from what all this world has come and into what it will turn.

If I were to explain from what all this manifestation has come, how it has been produced and into what it will turn, it would take a very long time. It is a long subject, but in a few words I can say: How could there be room on this earth for all the people that ever have been, if this matter remained as we see it? Even for the people living on earth where they are many, often famines come, diseases, plagues and wars. If all that matter did not return by various processes to the unseen from which it has come, there would be no room left on earth, nor in the water, nor in space. Matter is all destroyed, annihilated, and nothing can save it when the call of annihilation comes.

If you think that fame and name can live, I will say: do you suppose that Beethoven and Wagner were the only musicians of their time? There have been many, many others who have come and gone about whom no one knows anything, and a day will come when those names which are known to-day will also be wiped off from the world's memory.

The aim of all religions and philosophies is the understanding and the realization of unity. The Vedanta philosophy teaches advaita: There is no such thing as "two"; the whole is one and the same being. In the Bible it is said, "I and my Father are one", which means unity, and then, "Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect", which shows that in this unity lies perfection, amplitude. When we come to the Hadith we read, "By knowing himself man can know God", which means that by realizing himself he realizes God.

Supposing that there are some people who believe this and ask, "If we ourselves are the Whole Being, why should we not do whatever we please? Whom should we fear? Before whom should we pray?"- I would say to such a person, "If I take all you possess, will you let me have it?" He at once will say, "No, it is mine." But then he is not the Whole Being, he is a limited being. He recognizes "you and I": separate beings. By learning this philosophy of "I am all" intellectually people have many times been led astray. It is not enough to have read a few books of philosophy and to think, "Now I know all." That is not mastery. By books one can learn intellectually that we are all, but books cannot give us realization, the realization by experience in which we are sure, in which no doubt can remain in the soul.

Self-realization can be learned only in one way, in three grades. For this one needs no books, no study; one can learn it only from life. If a least little insult makes one vexed, and a least little praise makes one feel so flattered - if that is one's condition - how can one call oneself God-conscious? The self-realized ones are those to whom insult or praise, rise or fail are indifferent. They will deserve to be called so whom neither sin nor virtue can touch. Heaven and hell are the playgrounds of their imagination. They are, although on earth, yet above the earth.

It is then that self-realization comes, fana. When does it come? When there is no thought, no idea at all anywhere touching the breath of one's existence as a limited being. When all idea of this external being is gone, then comes the consciousness of the unlimited Being, of God. This is annihilation, fana, which is shown by the cross. Christ's words have always taught renunciation, annihilation. This can be learned by the three grades of which I have spoken: first to be man, then to be angelic, then union with the Divinity.