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



History of the Sufis


The Sufi's Aim

The Different Stages of Spiritual Development

The Prophetic Tendency



Physical Control




Struggle and Resignation


The Difference Between Will, Wish, and Desire

The Law of Attraction

Pairs of Opposites

Resist Not Evil


The Privilege of Being Human

Our God Part and Our Man Part

Man, the Seed of God


Spiritual Circulation Through the Veins of Nature

Destiny and Free Will

Divine Impulse

The Law of Life

Manifestation, Gravitation, Assimilation, and Perfection

Karma And Reincarnation

Life in the Hereafter

The Mystical Meaning of the Resurrection

The Symbol of the Cross


The Mystery of Sleep



The Gift of Eloquence

The Power of Silence


The Ego

The Birth of the New Era

The Deeper Side of Life

Life's Mechanism

The Smiling Forehead

The Spell of Life


The Conservative Spirit


Respect and Consideration




Optimism and Pessimism


Vaccination and Inoculation



The Heart

The Heart Quality

The Tuning of the Heart (1)

The Tuning of the Heart (2)

The Soul, Its Origin and Unfoldment

The Unfoldment of the Soul

The Soul's Desire

The Awakening of the Soul (1)

The Awakening of the Soul (2)

The Awakening of the Soul (3)

The Maturity of the Soul

The Dance of the Soul



Vol. 8a, Sufi Teachings

The Tuning of the Heart (2)

Spirituality is not necessarily intellectuality, nor orthodoxy, nor asceticism. Orthodoxy, ascetism, or intellectual pursuit after truth, are all the various ways people have taken in order to reach the spiritual goal; but the way is not the goal. If there can be a definition of spirituality, it is the tuning of the heart.

In this material age of ours heart quality is totally forgotten, and great importance is given to reason and logic. When we argue with a person, he wants us to argue with reason; we must be logical. Sentiment and idealism have no place. It is because of this that humanity is getting further and further away from spiritual attainment. That which is the chief and the best quality is ignored; and by ignoring that quality it becomes dead. If a poet happens to live in a village where no one understands poetry, if an artist lives in a town where no one cares for his pictures, if an inventive genius has no opportunity of bringing his inventions out, their faculties and talents become blunted and finally they die; and the same happens to the heart quality: if it is not taken notice of, if it has no opportunity to develop, if it is ignored, then this quality becomes blunted and in the end it dies. As it is expressed in a song, 'The light of a whole life dies when love is done.' What remains? There is no sign of life; what remains is intellectuality expressing itself by the power of egoism. It is difficult to live in the world because selfishness is ever on the increase.

There is a certain fineness that belongs to human nature, a certain nobleness, a certain independence. There is a certain ideal, a certain delicacy, a certain manner. And all these become blunted when the heart quality is left undeveloped.

I have been traveling for many years, seeing people engaged in the pursuit of truth; and to my very great disappointment I have found many who, although interested in higher things, are yet arguing and discussing, 'Do you believe what I believe?' or, 'My belief is better than your belief', always intellectually. But we do not need to use so much intellect in seeking God, in attaining spirituality, for this does not come through intellect; it comes by the tuning of the heart.

People will say that this may be so, but that all the same there are many emotional and affectionate people. But emotional people are not always loving people. Maybe outwardly, but very often the more emotional people are, the less loving; for one day their love is on the rise, next day it drops. They are just moved by emotions like clouds. One day the sky is clear, next day it is covered over. One cannot depend upon emotions. That is not love; it is the feeling nature that should be developed, the sympathetic nature.

Besides there exists, especially in the Western world, a false conception of the strength of personality. Many have understood this wrongly, and under the guise of strength they want to harden their hearts. Many think that for a man to be touched or moved by anything is not natural or normal. On the contrary, if a man is not touched or moved it is not natural; he is then still in the mineral kingdom and not yet in the human kingdom. To be human and not to be touched or moved by something touching, appealing, only means that the eyes of the heart are closed and its ears blocked; that the heart is not living. It is the wrong understanding of a high principle. The principle is that man must be feeling yet at the same time so strong that however much feeling he has he should have enough strength to hide it. It does not mean he must not have feeling; a man without feeling is without life.

However much one studies psychology, theoretically or practically, one will not attain to spirituality. Spirituality does not belong to intellectuality. It has nothing to do with it. In connection with spirituality, intellectuality is only useful in so far as an intellectual person can better express spiritual inspiration.

One might ask if it is not natural to attain spirituality. Does it not come without any effort on our part? And if it is not natural, then what is the use of attaining spirituality? The answer is that spirituality is not only for human beings but also for the lower creation, for every being; not spirituality in the sense we usually understand it, but in the sense of being tuned to one's natural pitch.

Even birds have their moments of exaltation. At the setting or the rising of the sun, the breaking of dawn, in moonlight, there come times when birds and animals feel exalted. They sing and dance and sit on the branches of the trees in exaltation. Every day they feel this exquisite joy. And if we go still further and if we have eyes to see life in those forms in which others do not see it, in the rock or the tree, we find that there are times when even the trees are in a complete state of ecstasy.

Those who live naturally, who open the doors of their heart, whose soul is in contact with nature, find nature singing, dancing, communicating. It is not only a legend, a story of the past, that saints used to speak with the trees. It is an actual fact and is the same today as in the past. Souls are always of the same nature. They are the same, only we have become unbelievers, we have no confidence in life. We have become material, we have closed our eyes to what is before us. Souls can become saints and sages today just as in the past. Are the stars not the same as ever? They communicate also today with the one who is able to understand them. But we have turned our back on nature; we live in an artificial world; we have not only become material, we have become matter itself.

Sufis in all ages, mystics of India, Persia, and Egypt have considered the awakening of the heart quality to be the principal thing in life. For all the virtues that the priest can teach and prescribe, all the virtues that one is told to practice in life, come naturally when the heart opens. One need not learn virtue; virtue becomes one's own. Virtues that are taught, how long do they last? If there is any virtue it must come by itself; spirituality is natural. And if animals and birds can feel spiritual exaltation, why not we?

But we do not live a natural life. We have tried in our civilization to be as far removed from nature and natural life as possible, breathing an artificial atmosphere contrary to climatic influences, eating food which we have manufactured, turning it into something quite different from what nature had made it.

The most important question is how to make the best of our life, how to make the best of this opportunity which is passing by us. Every moment lost is incomparably more valuable than the loss of money. As man comes to realize this, he will more and more come to the conclusion that while he thought that he was progressing, he has really been moving around in the same maze. If only he had found the door, that door which is called by the wise spiritual attainment!

However well educated one may be, however much one has collected or accomplished, however much power and position one has gained, none of this will be lasting; there is only one thing which is everlasting and that is spiritual attainment. Without this there will always be dissatisfaction, an uncomfortable feeling. No knowledge, power, position, or wealth can give that satisfaction which spiritual attainment can give.

There is nothing more easy and nothing more difficult in the world: difficult because we have made it difficult; easy because in reality it is the easiest thing possible. All other things one has to buy and pay for. We have even to pay for our water. But for spiritual attainment we do not need to pay any tax. It is ours, it is our self; it is the discovering of our self. And yet what one values is what one gets with difficulty.

Man loves complexity so much; he makes something big and complicated and says, 'This is valuable.' If it is simple he thinks that it has no value. That is why the ancient people, knowing human nature, told a person when he said he wanted spiritual attainment, 'Very well; for ten years go around the temple, walk around it a hundred times every evening. And go to the Ganges. Then you will get inspiration." That is what should be done with people who will not be satisfied with a simple explanation of the truth, who want complexity.

One often hears people say, "I once had deep feeling but that feeling is all gone, it is lost. Now I have no more feeling." That really means that something in them has died. They do not know it, but something of great importance has died as a result of their being affectionate, loving, kind. Perhaps they have met with the bad qualities of human nature and have become disappointed; and so the feeling heart has taken the bowl of poison and died. There are others who out of self-righteousness or keen perception of human defects, out of their critical tendency, begin to hate before they can love someone, letting hate come first and giving love no chance.

What is necessary is to develop a sympathetic nature and to sustain its gradual growth. Just as it is difficult for the student of voice-culture to practice with his voice and yet not to let it be spoiled, so it is with a sympathetic person. While developing, he runs the risk of spoiling the faculty of sympathy; in other words, the more loving a person, the more chance he has of being disappointed. The greater the love, the greater the fragility of the heart and the more susceptible it becomes to everything, until it can break at any moment. The one who walks in the path of sympathy should take great care that his way is not blocked; everything will be trying to block his way, and it is his own perseverance that will keep it open.

By lack of development of the sympathetic nature a block is produced in the mind and in the body. In the physical body there are some nervous centers, centers which are awakened by sympathetic development. And by lack of sympathetic development they remain closed. It is for this reason that a butcher is less intuitive. Everything that keeps man from sympathy robs him of intuition, for in these finer centers sympathy develops life, and the absence of that sympathy takes away that life.

So it is in the mind. When the heart is not sympathetic there is something missing in the mentality of man, and it is sympathy which opens it. The Sufis know the medicine for this disease, and it is the practice of the art which is called Zikr or Mantram. By practicing that particular art in the right way one activates these fine centers by vibrations. By the repetition of certain mystic words the centers begin to vibrate. Very often after only a short time of doing these practices a person feels quite different, especially when a mental thought is held during that time; thus concentration is developed at the same time. It helps the love-nature or sympathetic nature to be deepened or centralized, and as it begins to flow out an atmosphere is created, a spiritual atmosphere; this all comes from the development of feeling.

During my pilgrimage to the holy men of India I saw some whose presence was more illuminating than the reading of books for a whole lifetime, or arguing a thousand times about any problems. They do not need to speak; they become living lights, fountains of love. And as there is infection in disease so there is also infection in spiritual attainment. One feels uplifted and full of joy, ecstasy, happiness, enlightenment.

No doubt one person may be more impressed than another; upon one the influence is much greater that upon another. It all depends upon the individual. I remember a lady once telling me, 'Since you came my husband has been very nice to me.' But eight days after I had left the town where I was staying, she wrote to me that her husband was just as he had been before. It makes a great difference what person it is, for it is just like the effect of fire. On stone, on iron, on wax, on paper, on cloth, on cotton, on every object the effect of fire is different, and so on every person the effect of spiritual personality is different.

Once I met a learned man, a doctor of philosophy with a great many degrees. We spoke about the deeper side of life. And he became very interested in what I said and told me that he thought very highly of me; so I thought that if I were to tell him about my teacher how much more interesting it would be for him. I told him, 'There is a wonderful man in this city; he has no comparison in the whole world.'

'Are there such people?' he asked, 'I would very much like to see him. Where does he live?' And I told him, in such and such a part of the city. He said, 'I live there also, where is his house? I know all the people there. What is his name?' So I told him. He said, 'For twenty years I have known this man, and now you are telling me about him!'

I thought to myself, 'In a hundred years you would not have been able to know him.' He was not ready to know him. If people are not evolved enough they cannot appreciate, they cannot understand others. They cannot even understand the greatest souls. They may sit with them, talk with them; they may be in contact with them all their life, but they do not see; while another, if he is ready to understand, needs only one moment.

This philosopher had known my teacher for twenty years and yet he did not know him; I saw him once and became his pupil for ever. This man was learned, he was very intellectual, but he saw him with his brain; I saw my teacher with my heart.

The one principle to be remembered in the path of sympathy is that we should all do our best with regard to the pleasure of those whom we love and whom we meet. But we should not expect the same from those whom we love and whom we meet. For we must realize that the world is as it is, and we cannot change it; we can only change ourselves. The one who wants others to do what he wishes will always be disappointed. That is the complaining soul, the one who all day long and every day of the month is complaining. He is never without a complaint; if not about a human being, then it is the climate; if not about the climate, then about the conditions; if not about someone else, then about himself.

He should remember that self-pity is the worst poverty. The person who takes life in this way, who considers his poor self to be forgotten, forsaken, ill-treated by everybody, by the planets, even by God, for that person there is no hope; he is an exile from the garden of Eden. But the one who says, "I know what human nature is, I cannot expect any better, I must only try and appreciate what little good comes from it and be thankful for it, and try and give the best I can to the others", has the only attitude which will enable him to develop his sympathetic nature.

The one who keeps justice in the foreground will always be blinded by it; he will always talk about justice, but he will never really know it. For the one who keeps justice in the background, the light of justice falls on his way and he only uses justice for himself. When he has not done right towards others he takes himself to task, but if others do not do right towards him he says that this also is justice. For the just person all is just; for the unjust everything is unjust. The one who talks too much of justice is far from justice; that is why he is talking about it.

Is there then no reward at all in sympathy if it leads only to disappointment? Life's reward is life itself. A person may suffer from disease or be most unhappy and sad; but if he were asked, 'Do you want to be turned into a rock?' He would say, 'No, rather let me live and suffer.' Therefore life's reward is life; and the reward of love is love itself. Loving is living, and the heart that closes itself to everyone closes itself to its own self.

The difference between human love and divine love is like that between drill and war. One has to drill in order to prepare for war. One has to know the phenomenon of love on this plane in order to prepare to love God who alone deserves love. The one who says, 'I hate human beings, but I love God', does not know what love means; he has not drilled, he is of no use in war. Whether a loving person loves a human being or whether he loves God, he shows no trace of hatred. And the one who has hatred in him loves neither man nor God, for hatred is the sign that the doors of his heart are closed.

Is it not a great pity that we see today among the most civilized nations one nation working against the other, a lack of trust and the fear of war between them? It is dreadful to think that humanity, though it appears to be progressing, is actually going backward to a greater extent than has ever been seen in the history of the world. Are we evolving or going backward? What is missing is not intellectuality, for every day people are inventing more and more ingenious things. Then what is missing? It is the heart quality. It seems as though it is being buried more deeply every day. Therefore today the real man is being destroyed, and the false part of his being is continuing. Better conditions can only be brought about by the individual who realizes that it is the development of the heart which can accomplish this, and nothing else.

Very often people coming to hear me say afterwards, "Yes, all you say is very interesting, very beautiful, and I wish too that the world could be changed. But how many think like you? How can you do it? How can it be done?"

They come with these pessimistic remarks. And I tell them, "One person comes into a country with a little cold or influenza and it spreads. If such a bad thing can spread, could not then the elevated thought of love and kindness and goodwill towards all men also spread? Thus we should see to it that there are finer germs of goodwill going from one to the other, of love and kindness, of the feeling of brotherhood, of the desire for spiritual evolution; they will have greater results than the other ones. If we all took this optimistic view, if we all worked in our small way, we could accomplish a great deal."

There are many good, loving, and kind people whose heart goes out to every person they meet. But are they spiritual? It is an important question to understand. The answer is that they are very close to spiritual attainment, but they are unconsciously spiritual. They are not spiritual consciously. Very often we meet a mother or father or child in whom we see a deeply loving tendency; love is pouring out from them, they have become fountains of love. Yet they do not know one word of religion or of mysticism. But this does not matter. After all what are these names? Nothing but nets for fishes to be caught in, which may then remain in those nets for years. Sometimes these are big names with little meaning to them, but much is made of them by those who want to commercialize the finer things. Very often it is a catering on the part of so-called spiritual workers to satisfy human curiosity and to create a sensation even in the spiritual world. Nevertheless truth is simple. The more simple one is and the more one seeks for simplicity, the nearer one comes to truth.

The devotional quality needs a little direction; that direction allows it to expand itself. The loving quality is just like water. The tendency of water is to expand, to spread, and so the loving quality spreads; but if a person is not well directed or if he does not know himself, then instead of deepening it becomes limited. The love quality must be deepened first before it spreads out. If not, what generally happens to those who set out to love all human beings is that in the end they hate all human beings, because they did not first deepen themselves enough and so lacked more and more the strength of attraction.

The Sufis have therefore considered spiritual culture to be the culture of the heart. It consists of the tuning of the heart. Tuning means the changing of pitch of the vibration. The tuning of the heart means the changing of the vibrations, in order that one may reach a certain pitch which is the natural pitch; then one feels the joy and ecstasy of life, which enables one to give pleasure to others even by one's presence because one is tuned.

When an instrument is properly tuned one does not need to play music on it; just by striking it one will feel great magnetism coming from it. If a well-tuned instrument can have that magnetism, how much greater should be the magnetism of the heart which is tuned!

Rumi says, "Whether you have loved a human being or whether you have loved God, if you have loved enough you will be brought in the end into the presence of the supreme Love itself."