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. The Path of Initiation

2. The Meaning of Initiation

3. What is Needed on the Path

4. The Different Steps on the Path

5. Inner Study

6. Three Aspects of Initiation

7. Five Lessons of Discipleship

8. Four Kinds of Discipleship

9. The Attitude of a Disciple



Faith, Trust


The Goal


Vol. 10, The Path of Initiation and Discipleship

3. What is Needed on the Path

Faith, Trust

Initiation needs courage and the tendency to advance spiritually, although it may not seem to be the way of life for everyone. Therefore the first duty of a mureed is not to be shaken in his faith by any opposing influence or by anything said against the path he has taken. He should not allow himself to be discouraged by anybody. The mureed must be so firm in his path that if the whole world says it is a wrong path, he will say it is the right path. And if anybody says that it will take a thousand years or perhaps more, the mureed must be able to say that even if it should take a thousand years, he will have the patience to go through with it. As it is said in Persian, it is the work of the Baz, the wayfarer of the heavens.

In this mystical path courage, steadfastness, and patience are what is most necessary, but also trust in the teacher at whose hand initiation is taken, and the understanding of the idea of discipline. In the East, where for thousands of years the path of discipleship has been understood, these things are regarded as most important and acceptable from the hand of the teacher. How few in the world know trust! What is necessary is not trusting another, even the teacher, but oneself, and one is not capable of trusting oneself fully when one has not experienced in life how to trust another. Some will ask, "But if we trusted and our trust was in vain, should we not be disappointed?" The answer is, that we must trust for the sake of the trust, and not for the sake of a return and to see what fruit it brings. The utmost trust is the greatest power in the world. Lack of trust is weakness. Even if we have lost something by trusting, our power will be greater than if we had gained something without developing trust.


Patience is very necessary on the path. After my initiation into the Order of the Sufis I was for six months continually in the presence of my murshid before he said a word on the subject of Sufism; and as soon as I took out my notebook he went on to another subject; it was finished! One sentence after six months! A person would think that it is a long time, six months sitting before one's teacher without being taught anything; but it is not words, it is something else. If words were sufficient, there are libraries full of occult and mystical books. It is life itself, it is living that is important. The one who lives the life of initiation not only lives himself, but also makes others who come in contact with him alive. Therefore one is initiated into the Sufi Order not especially for study, but to understand and follow what real discipleship means.

With regard to the subject of discipline; anybody without a sense of discipline is without the power of self-control. It is discipline which teaches the ideal, and the ideal is self-discipline. It is the disciplined soldier who can become a good captain. In ancient times the kings used to send the princes out as soldiers, to learn what discipline means. The path of initiation is the training of the ego, and it is self-discipline which is learned on the path of discipleship.

The Goal

One may ask what one should think of the path of initiation: what must be our goal, what must we expect from it? Should we expect to be good, or healthy, or magnetic, or powerful, or developed psychically, or clairvoyant? None of these does one need to be, although in time one will cultivate them all naturally, but one should not strive for these things.

  • Suppose a person develops power, and he does not know how to use it, the outcome will be disastrous.
  • Suppose he develops magnetism, and by his power he attracts all, both good and bad; then it will be difficult to get rid of what he has attracted by his power.
  • Or perhaps a person is very good, so good that everyone seems bad to him; he is too good to live in the world, and in that way he will become a burden to himself.

These things are not to be sought for through initiation.

The aim is to find God within ourselves, to dive deep into ourselves, so that we may touch the unity of the whole Being. It is towards this end that we are working by the power of initiation, in order that we may get all the inspiration and blessing in our life from within.

For this two things are necessary:

  1. One is to do the exercises that are given regularly and to do them with heart and soul.

  2. The second is to undertake the studies that are given, not considering them to be only for superficial reading, but for every word to be pondered upon. The more one thinks about it, the more it will have the effect of opening the heart. Reading is one thing, contemplating is another. The lessons must be meditated upon; one should not take even the simplest word or sentence for granted. Think of the Hindus, Chinese, Parsis, who for thousands of years have always meditated upon the readings which they held sacred and yet never tired of them.


Initiation is a sacred trust, a trust given by the murshid to his mureed and a trust given by the mureed to the murshid. There should no longer be a wall from the moment of this initiation; for if there is a wall, then the initiation is not an initiation any more. And when the wall between the mureed and the murshid has been removed, then the next step will be for the wall to be removed that stands between God and the worshipper. Besides the Sufi Order is an order of mysticism, and there are certain thoughts and considerations which should be observed. One of these is that when once a secret has been entrusted to one, it must be kept as one's most sacred trust. One must also accept all the teaching that may be given to one; whether it is bitter medicine or sweet, the patient takes it. There is a time for everything, and so illumination has its time. But progress, the real progress, depends upon the patience of the pupil, together with his eagerness to go forward.

The path of initiation is also a path of tests: tests from the initiator, tests from God, tests from the self, and tests from the world; and to go through these tests is the sign of real progress in the mureed, while the one who does not undertake these tests will be wasting his time.

The Order, and this is apparent from the word "order" itself, means that there is a certain formal hierarchy of the initiators and of the Pir-o-Murshid, and that they should be regarded and respected as those who have gone further in that chosen direction. This law is in no way different from the law of nature and of life: when a child who has been disrespectful to its parents itself becomes a parent, it will find the same attitude in its own children. A soldier who does not observe discipline under his captain or colonel will experience the same from his subordinates when later he holds that position. But the question is whether he will ever arrive at that rank, not having considered and observed that which should have been observed; for those who have advanced in any line, whether in music, in poetry, in thought, or in philosophy, have always done so in a humble way, at every step greeting those who have gone further.

Then there are three stages for the pupil, the mureed, who treads the spiritual path. The first stage is receptivity, taking that is given without saying, "This teaching I will accept and that I will not accept." The next stage is assimilating the teachings. And the third stage is fixing them in the mind and letting the mind see the reason of things; but this comes after assimilation. Thus the one who considers these three stages and goes through them carefully, securely -- the stage of receptivity, the stage of assimilation, and the stage of consideration -- will be the successful mureed on the path.

Although the outer-form might appear to be a hierarchy, yet the Sufi message leads to true democracy, for it holds the promise of that goal which is the yearning of every soul. This itself is the principal thing in democracy, because it is this which makes democracy; and the reason, according to the Sufi belief, is that the divine spark is in every soul. It is with trust and confidence in God, in the murshid, and in that divine spark which is in one's own heart that one is assured of success in life if one will only step forward.