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



Unity and Uniformity


The Sufi's Religion

The Aspects of Religion

How to Attain to Truth by Religion

Five Desires Answered by Religion


Aspects of the Law of Religion


The Effect of Prayer

The God Ideal

The Spiritual Hierarchy

The Master, the Saint, the Prophet

Prophets and Religions

The Symbology of Religious Ideas

The Message and the Messenger


The Spirit of Sufism

The Sufi's Aim in Life

The Ideal of the Sufi

The Sufi Movement

The Universal Worship



What is the Message?

The way the Message is given

The Messenger

The instrument of the Message

The answer to the cry

The Sufi Message

Vol. 9, The Unity of Religious Ideals

The Message and the Messenger

What is the Message?

What is the Message? Where does it come from? How is it received by the souls who deliver it? These questions often arise in enquiring minds. And the answer is that the message is like rain, and rain fails where it is needed and when it is needed. But does the rain come from above? It seems to come from above, but it first rises from below. As the vapors rise first from the sea and turn into clouds, so every aspect of knowledge gained by all beings rises upwards like vapor, forming into clouds as ideas, and again falling from above like rain.

There are very many names for the seas, rivers, and streams, but they all contain water. And there are various names for religions, but they all contain the wisdom given at different times in different ways. There is lightning, there is thunder, and the rain falls; and there are wars and disasters before the message comes. Storms are very often warnings of what is to follow, and the different kinds of battles and revolutions are often warnings before the coming of peace.

It is sometimes asked why, if God is all-pervading, there is need of the special manifestation of a messenger such as Krishna, Buddha, or Jesus. The answer is given in the words of the Bhagavad Gita, where Sri Krishna says, "When Dharma is hindered, then I am born." This means that a manifestation which the people recognize as a savior or messenger, always comes when the necessity arises. In other words, it is necessity, it is the need of the world which causes the Spirit to arise in its true form.

Skepticism is the germ that causes decay at the heart of the tree of life. But always when one tree dies, another tree springs up; we see in our own lives, and especially at times when we are sunk in depression and sorrow, that some answer comes to the difficulty of the situation. It may come from a friend, from a brother, from parents, from a beloved; one may even get what is necessary at such a moment from one's enemy.

But why should a message only come in time of pain or after a great sorrow? Why should not a message come every day for one's guidance? There are two reasons for this: one is that there is constant guidance from above, but man, so absorbed in his life's activities, does not open his heart to listen to that message and to see where it comes from. And the other reason is that the deeper the sorrow, the higher the voice of the heart rises, until it reaches the throne of God; and that is the time when the answer comes.

In all ages and to all peoples the message of God has been sent. And that message has been kept by those who received it in the form of a scripture, and the name of the messenger and his honor have been held high by those who have followed that particular message. No matter at what time in the history of the world the message came, one thing is sure: that it has always penetrated the heart of man and left its impression and its influence, ever multiplying and spreading, proving it to be the message of God. And there is no better instance of this truth than the coming of Jesus Christ, and the fact that he gave his message to so few, mostly to fishermen. Even though the conditions in which the Master had to deliver his message were difficult, yet the message was God's, and it did not fail to make a lasting impression on the souls of men.

Since it is the message of God, whenever it comes it is from the same source. When it came a thousand years ago it was His message; when it came a hundred years ago it was His message; and if it came today it would be also His message. How ignorant man has been through all the ages! And he shows his ignorance even today, for whenever the message has come, man has fought and disputed and argued. Man has held fast to one prophet and ignored the others, because although he knew his religion he did not know the message. He has taken the book as his religion without recognizing the message.

If that were not the general tendency, then how could Jesus Christ with His most spiritual message have been crucified? There had been prophecies, and besides prophecies the Master himself was the evidence of his message, as the saying has it:'What you are, speaks louder than what you say." And how thickly veiled man's eyes must be by the religion, the faith, the belief he holds, for him to accept only one messenger and to reject the message given by other prophets, not knowing that the message is one and the same!

It is one thing to love and another thing to understand. The one who loves the messenger is a devotee; but the one who knows the messenger is his friend. There is a tendency in the human race which has appeared in all ages: it leads man to accept every expression of the message which has been given him, to be won by it, blessed by it, and yet to fail to recognize who the messenger is. The followers of each form of the message profess devotion to their Lord and Master, by whatever name he had in the past, but they do not necessarily know the Master. What they know is the name and the life of the Master that has come down to them in history or tradition; but beyond that they know very little about him. If the same one came in another form, in a garb adapted to another age, would they know him or accept him? No, they would not even recognize him, because it was not the message but the form that they accepted in the past; a certain name or character; a part but not the whole.

There is a story about a great Sufi in India, whose name was Usman Haruni. He was a murshid to whom came thousands of disciples, among them many of the most learned and philosophical people of the time. He taught them the deepest truths of mysticism, and most of all to worship the nameless and formless God. But there came a time when he said to them, "So far I have worshipped according to tradition, but now I feel that I must go and prostrate myself before the image of the goddess Kali in all humility." His pupils were aghast. That he, whose conception of God had been so lofty, should go and bow before the hideous image of Kali, to worship whom was to break the law of their religion, was beyond anything they could conceive, and caused them to fear that their master had lost his reason. Some even thought that he was treading the downward path.

So when the teacher went to the temple of Kali, only one of his pupils went with him, a youth whose devotion to his master was very great. As they went, the teacher said to this disciple, "You should go back. They are many, and are surely in the right; I am perhaps in the wrong." But the young man still followed. When the temple was reached, the teacher was so greatly moved by the thoughts that the image of the goddess suggested to him that he prostrated himself in humility. And the disciple, standing by, looked on with sympathy at the thought of how many followers his master had had, and of how in one moment all had turned from him. When the teacher arose he said, "Do you still follow me?" And when the disciple said that he did, the holy man asked him further, "But perhaps you do not understand why you follow me?" Then the youth said, "You have taught me the first lesson of the spiritual path: that none exists save God. How then can I exclude this image of Kali, if you choose to bow and prostrate yourself before it?'