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

40. The Privilege of Being Human

Mankind is so absorbed in life's pleasures and pains that a man has hardly a moment to think what a privilege it is to be human. Life in the world contains, no doubt, more pain than pleasure and that which one considers to be pleasure costs so much that, when it is weighed against the pain it costs, it also becomes pain. As man is so absorbed in his worldly life he traces nothing but pain and complaint in life and, until he changes his outlook, he cannot understand the privilege of being human.

Yet, however unhappy a person may be in his life, if he were asked, "Would you prefer to be a rock rather than a human being?", his answer would be that he would rather suffer and be a human being than be a rock. Whatever be the condition of a man's life, if he were asked, "Would you rather be a tree than a man?", he would choose to be a human being. And although the life of the birds and beasts is so free from care and troubles, so free in the forest, yet if a man were asked whether he would prefer to be one of them and be in the forest, he would surely prefer to be a man.

This shows that when human life is compared with the other different aspects of life it proves its greatness and its privilege, but when it is not compared with them man is discontented and his eyes are closed to the privilege of being human.

Another thing is that man is mostly selfish, and what interests him is that which concerns his own life. Not knowing the troubles of the lives of others he feels the burden of his own life even more than the burden of the whole world. If only man in his poverty could think that there are others who are poorer than he, in his illness that there are others whose sufferings are perhaps greater than his, in his troubles that there are others whose difficulties are perhaps greater than his!

Self-pity is the worst poverty.

It overwhelms man and he sees nothing but his own troubles and pains, and it seems to him that he is the most unhappy person in the world, more so than anyone else.

A great thinker of Persia, Saadi, writes in an account of his life, "Once I had no shoes. I had to walk barefoot in the hot sand, and I thought how very miserable I was. Then I met a man who was lame, for whom walking was very difficult. I bowed down at once to heaven and offered thanks that I was much better off than he who had not even feet to walk upon."

This shows that it is not a man's situation in life, but his attitude towards life that makes him happy or unhappy. This attitude can even make such a difference between men that one living in a palace could be unhappy and another living in a humble cottage could be very happy. The difference is only in the horizon that one sees: one person looks only at the condition of his life, another looks at the lives of many people; it is a difference of horizon.

Beside this, the impulse that comes from within has its influence on one's affairs: there is an influence always working from within. If it is a discontent and dissatisfaction in life, one finds its effect in one's affairs. For instance, a person impressed by illness can never be cured by a physician or medicines. A person impressed by poverty will never get on in life. A person who thinks, "Everybody is against. me, everybody troubles me, everybody has a poor opinion of me", wherever he goes will always find that it is so. There are many people in the world - in business, in professions who before going to their work bear in their mind as a first thought, "Perhaps I shall not be successful."

The masters of humanity, in whatever period they came to the world, always taught faith as man's first lesson to learn: faith in success, faith in love, faith in kindness, and faith in God. This faith cannot be developed unless man is self-confident. It is very essential that man should learn to trust another. If he does not trust anyone, life will be hard for him. If he doubts, if he suspects everyone he meets, then he will not trust the people nearest to him in the world, his closest relations, and this will soon develop to such a state of distrust that he will even distrust himself. But the trust of the one who trusts another and does not trust himself is profitless. It is he who trusts another because he trusts himself who has the real trust, and by this trust in himself he can make his life happy in whatever condition he may be.

In the traditions of the Hindus there is a well-known idea: that of the tree of the fulfillment of desires. There is a story in India of a man who was told that there was a tree of the fulfillment of desires, and who went in search of it. After going through forests and across mountains he arrived at last at a place where he lay down and slept without knowing that the tree of the fulfillment of desires was there. Before he went to sleep he was so tired that he thought, "What a good thing it would be if I had just now a soft bed to rest upon and a beautiful house with a courtyard around it and a fountain, and people waiting on me!" With this thought he went to sleep, and when he opened his eyes from sleep he saw that he was lying in a soft bed, and there was a beautiful house and a courtyard and a fountain, and there were people waiting on him. He was very much astonished and remembered that before going to sleep he had thought of all that. But then, as he went further on his journey and thought about this subject, he found, "The tree that I was looking for - it was under that tree that I slept, and it was the miracle of the tree that was accomplished."

The interpretation of this legend is a philosophy in itself. It is man himself who is the tree of fulfillment of his desire, and the root of this tree is in the heart of man. The trees and plants with their fruits and flowers, the beasts with their strength and power, and the birds with their wings are unable to arrive at the stage which man can attain. The trees in the forest await that blessing, that freedom, that liberation in stillness, in quietude; the mountains and the whole of nature seem to await that unfoldment, the privilege of which is given to man. That is why the traditions say that man is made in the image of God. Thus one may say that the most fitting instrument for the working of God is the human being; from a mystical point of view, one may also say that the Creator takes the heart of man as His means of experiencing the whole creation.

That shows that no being on earth is more capable of happiness, of satisfaction, of joy, of peace, than man and it is a pity when man is not aware of this privilege of being human. Every moment in life that he passes in this error of unawareness is a waste and is to his greatest loss.

Man's greatest privilege is to become a suitable instrument of God, and until he knows this he has not realized his true purpose in life. The whole tragedy in the life of man is his ignorance of this fact. From the moment a man realizes this he lives the real life, the life of harmony between God and man. When Jesus Christ said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God", this teaching was an answer to the cry of humanity: some crying, "I have no wealth", others crying, "I have no rest", others crying, "My situation in life is difficult", "My friends are troubling me", or, "I want a position, wealth." The answer to them all is, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you."

How can we understand this from a practical, a scientific point of view? All that is external is not in direct connection with you and is therefore unattainable in many cases. Therefore sometimes you can attain your wish, but many times you fail. By seeking the kingdom of God you seek the center of all that is within and without, and all that is in heaven and on earth is directly connected with the center. So, from the center, you are able to reach all that is on earth and in heaven but, when you reach what is not at the center, all may be snatched away from you.

In the Quran it is written, "God is the light of the heavens and of the earth."

Beside the desire to obtain the things of the earth there is that innermost desire, unconsciously working at every moment of life, to come into touch with the Infinite. When a painter is painting, when a musician is singing or playing, if he thinks, "It is my painting, my playing, my music", perhaps he has some satisfaction but it is like a drop in the ocean. If he connects his painting, his music, with the consciousness of God, if he thinks, "It is Thy painting, Thy music, not mine", then he connects himself with the center, and his life becomes the life of God.

There is much in life that one can call good, and there is much to be contented with; there is much that one can admire, if one can only bring about that attitude, and it is that attitude that can make man contented and his life happy.

Another thing is that God is the painter of all this beautiful creation, and if we do not connect ourself with the painter we cannot admire his painting. When one goes to the house of a friend whom one likes and admires, every little thing is so pleasant, but when one goes to the house of an enemy, everything is disagreeable. So our devotion, or love, our friendship for God can make this whole creation a source of happiness to us. In the house of a dear friend a loaf of bread, a glass of milk is most delicious, and in the house of the one we dislike all the best dishes are useless.

As soon as one begins to realize that the many mansions in the house of the Father are this world with its many religions, many races, many nations, which yet are in the house of God then, however humble and difficult our situation in life, it must sooner or later become happier and better; for we feel that we are in the house of the One we love and admire, and all that we meet with we take with love and gratitude, because it comes from the One we love.

Think for a moment of the condition of the world just now: how nations, communities, churches, religions, all divide humanity - the children of one Father who loves them all without distinction! Man with all his claims of civilization, of progress, seems to have fallen into the greatest error. For centuries the world has not been in such a state as it is just now: one nation hating another, looking with contempt on another. What can we call it? Is it progress, or is it stand-still? Or is it worse than that? Is this not the time when thinking souls should open their eyes from sleep and devote themselves to the effort of doing what good they can to humanity in order to better the conditions of the world and, when each one is thinking only of his own interest, to think of the interest of all?

Sufism brings to the world the message of unity, of uniting in the Fatherhood of God beyond all differences and distinctions. The chief object of the Sufi is to bring about a friendly understanding between people of different nations and races, to bring people of different religions closer together in one understanding, the understanding of truth.

One may ask, "Is it then not the message of Christ which brought the tiding of the love of God and the unity of mankind in the love of God?" There cannot be two religions, there is always one religion only and there cannot be a new one, as Solomon said that there is nothing new under the sun. Whenever the message of love and wisdom is given it is not a new religion, it is the revivification of religion, in order to bring to man the realization of the truth of the religion he follows. Sufism therefore does not bring a new religion, it brings that life and light which are necessary to revivify that religion that has always existed.