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. Mysticism

2. The Mystic

3. Realization

4. The Nature and Work of a Mystic

5. The Secret of the Spirit

6. The Mystical Heart

7. Repose

8. Action



Vol. 10, Sufi Mysticism

7. Repose

When the lips are closed, then the heart begins to speak; when the heart is silent, then the soul blazes up, bursting into flame, and this illuminates the whole of life. It is this idea which demonstrates to the mystic the great importance of silence, and this silence is gained by repose. Most people do not know what repose means, because it is something they feel they need when they are tired, while if they were not tired they would never see the necessity for it.

Repose has many aspects. It is one kind of repose when a person retires from the activity of everyday life and finds himself alone in his room. He draws a breath of thankfulness as he feels, after all his interesting or tiresome experiences, "At last I am by myself." It is not an ordinary feeling, for there is a far deeper feeling behind it; it expresses the certainty that there is nothing to distract his mind and nothing which demands his action. At that moment his soul has a glimpse of relief, the pleasure of which is inexpressible; but the intoxication of life from which every man suffers is such that he cannot fully appreciate that moment of relief, which everyone expects, when it is time to retire after the activities of his daily life, whether he be rich or poor, tired or not.

Does this not teach us that there is a great mystery in repose, a mystery of which people are very often ignorant? Besides we always find that a thoughtful person has repose by nature, and one who has repose is naturally thoughtful. It is repose which makes one more thoughtful, and it is continual action which takes away thoughtfulness even from a sensible person. People working in the telephone, telegraph, or post offices, upon whose mind there is a continual demand, often in time develop impertinence, insolence, and lack of patience. They do not become less sensible; it only means that lack of repose, which weakens their sense of control, makes them give way to such things. This shows that repose is necessary not only for a person on the spiritual path, but for every soul living on the earth, whatever be his grade of evolution or his standing in life. It is the most important thing to be developed in anyone's nature; not only in a grown-up person, but it is something which should be taught from childhood. Nowadays in education people think so much about the different intellectual attainments the child will need in life, and so little about the repose which is so very necessary for a child.

Sometimes cats and dogs prove more intuitive than mankind. Although man is more capable than the animals he does not give himself time to become more intuitive. It often amused me in New York, where one easily becomes exhausted by the noise of trains and trams and elevators and factories, to see that when a person had a little leisure to sit in the train or subway, he at once began looking at the newspapers. All that action was not enough; is it not in the body, then there must be action in the brain! What is it? It is nervousness, a common disease which today has almost become normal health. If everybody suffers from the same disease then this disease may be called normal. But self-control, self-discipline, only comes from the practice of repose, which is helpful not only on the spiritual path but also in one's practical life, in being kind and considerate.

The mystic therefore adopts the method of repose, and by this he tries to prepare himself to tread the spiritual path. This path is not an outer path; it is an inner path one has to tread, and therefore the spiritual laws and the journey on the spiritual path are quite contrary to the earthly laws and the journey on the outer path. To explain in simple words what the spiritual path is, I would say that it begins by living in communication with oneself, for it is in the innermost self of man that the life of God is to be found. This does not mean that the voice of the inner self does not come to everyone. It always comes, but not everyone hears it. That is why the Sufi, when he starts his efforts on this path, begins by communicating with his true self within; and when once he has addressed the soul, then from the soul comes a kind of reproduction, like that which the singer can hear on a record which has been made of his own voice.

Having done this, when he has listened to what this process reproduces, he has taken the first step in the direction within; and this process will have awakened a kind of echo in his being. Either peace or happiness, light or form, whatever he has wished to produce, is produced as soon as he begins to communicate with himself. When we compare the man who says, "I cannot help being active, or sad, or worried, as it is the condition of my mind and soul," with the one who communicates with himself, it is not long before we, too, begin to realize the value of this communication.

This is what the Sufis have taught for thousands of years. The path of the Sufi is not to communicate with fairies nor even with God; it is to communicate with one's deepest, innermost self, as if one were blowing one's inner spark into a divine fire. But the Sufi does not stop there, he goes still further. He then remains in a state of repose, and that repose can be brought about by a certain way of sitting and breathing, and also by a certain attitude of mind. Then he begins to become conscious of that part of his being which is not the physical body, but which is above it. The more he becomes conscious of this, the more he begins to realize the truth of the life hereafter. Then it is no longer a matter of his imagination or of his belief; it is his actual realization of the experience which is independent of physical life, and it is in this state that he is capable of experiencing the phenomena of life. The Sufi therefore does not dabble in different wonder-workings and phenomena, for once he realizes this the whole of life becomes a phenomenon, and every moment, every experience, brings to him a realization of that life which he has found in his meditation.

The being of man is a mechanism of body and mind. When this mechanism is in order there is happiness, fullness of life; and when anything is wrong with the mechanism, the body is iii and peace is gone. This mechanism depends upon winding; it is just like a clock which is wound and it then goes for twenty-four hours. So it is in meditation; when a person sits in a restful attitude and puts his mind in a condition of repose, regulating the action of this mechanism by the process of meditation, it is like the winding of a clock. And its effect continues to be felt because the mechanism was put in order. Thus the belief of a mystic is not an outward belief in a deity he has not seen; the mystic's worship is not only an outer form--by saying prayers and then his worship is finished. Certainly he makes the best use of the outer things and his pursuit is logical and scientific; he will if possible unite them with the mystical conception; but mysticism includes the scientific explanation as well as the realization of the things taught by religion, things which would have no meaning to an ordinary person.

When an ordinary person reads about the kingdom of God and heaven, he reads these names but he does not know where heaven is; he feels that there is a God but there is no evidence for it. And therefore a large number of intellectual people who really are seeking the truth, are turning away from the outer religion, because they cannot find its explanation, and consequently they become materialistic. To the mystic the explanation of the whole of religion is the investigation of the self. The more one explores oneself, the more one will understand all religions in the fullest light and all will become clear. Sufism is only a light thrown upon one's own religion like a light brought into a room where everything one wants is to be found, and where the only thing that was needed was light.

Of course the mystic is not always ready to give an answer to everyone who asks. Can parents always answer their children's questions? There are some questions which can be answered, and others which should wait for an answer until those who ask them are able to understand. I used to be fond of a poem which yet I did not understand; I could not find a satisfactory explanation. After ten years, all of a sudden, in one second, a light was thrown upon it, and I understood. There was no end to my joy. Does it not show that everything has its appointed time? When people become impatient and ask for an answer, something can be answered, something else cannot be answered; but the answer will come in its own time. One has to wait. Has anyone in the world been able to explain fully what God is, have even the scriptures and the prophets succeeded in this? God is an ideal too high and too great for words to explain. Can anyone explain such a word as love, can anyone say what truth is?

If truth is to be attained it is only when truth itself has begun to speak, which happens in revelation. Truth reveals itself, therefore the Persian word for both God and truth is Khuda, which means self-revealing, thus uniting God with truth. One cannot explain either of these words. The only help the mystic can give is by indicating how to arrive at this revelation. No one can teach or learn this; one has to learn oneself. The teacher is only there to guide one towards this revelation. There is only one teacher: God; and the great masters of the world were the greatest pupils; they each knew how to become a pupil.

How is this all taught or brought to the consciousness of those who tread the path of truth? By Bayat, by initiation. It is the trust of someone who guides, given to someone who is treading the path. The one who treads the path must be willing to risk the difficulties of the path; to be sincere, faithful, truthful, undoubting, not pessimistic or skeptical, otherwise with all his efforts he will not reach his aim. He must come whole-heartedly, or else he should not come at all. Half-heartedness is of no value. And what is necessary, too, is some intellectual understanding of the metaphysical aspect of life, which some have, but not all; besides this the qualities of the heart are needed, with the divinity of love as a first principle. Then one needs action, but such action as will not hinder on the path of truth, such action as creates greater and greater harmony. And finally one needs repose, which makes it possible to learn by one day of silence what would otherwise take a year of study; but no doubt only if one knows the real way of silence.