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. Illusion and Reality

2. Capacity

3. Vibrations (1)

4. Vibrations (2)

5. Atmosphere

6. Light

7. Intelligence

8. The law of Rhythm

9. The Threefold, Dual, and Unique Aspects of Nature

10. Spirit Within and Without

11. Spirit and Matter (1)

12. Spirit and Matter (2)

13. Spirit and Matter (3)



Vol. 11, Philosophy

12. Spirit and Matter (2)

Spirit and matter are the two names of one life. The primal aspect of life developing into denseness remains spirit, and its development into dense form is called matter. It is like water turning into snow: it is liquid, but it develops into a harder substance; it loses its fineness.

There is a conflict between spirit and matter. The matter absorbs the spirit in order to exist, and the spirit assimilates matter, for its own property. The whole of manifestation may thus be regarded as a continual conflict between spirit and matter; the spirit developing into matter on the one hand and assimilating matter on the other: the former being called activity and the latter silence, or construction and destruction, or life and death. When one realizes the source of both spirit and matter is when one will see that there is no such thing as death; but this one can only recognize when one knows the distinction between the life which may be called the source and the life which is momentary, the life which matter shows by absorbing spirit.

Vacuum or space consumes substance; and when substance absorbs life from space, the space opens up within the substance. For instance, trees and plants absorb more from space than do rocks, and animals absorb still more from space than do trees and plants. Man absorbs the most spirit from space, and therefore man represents both matter and spirit in himself.

What is absorbed from space has the effect upon that which absorbs it of opening it up and of forming a vacuum. That is why the stone, which has very little vacuum in it, appears to be lifeless. Plant life shows some sign of life because it absorbs more from space. In the atoms of plant life there is an opening, for by absorbing all that it can absorb from space the plant opens within itself a space to accommodate also the spirit that it absorbs. We see a further development of the same phenomenon in animal life, which, through breathing, absorbs more of the spirit which is in space and therefore becomes more intelligent. This shows that although intelligence manifests through living beings, yet it is absorbed from space. We only know intelligence as something that belongs to man, to the mind or to the heart; but whence is intelligence attracted? It is attracted from space. We recognize intelligence in its manifestation, but we do not know it in its essence. In its essence it is all-pervading, and that is why philosophically minded people have called God omniscient.

All that is constructed is subject to destruction; all that is composed must be decomposed; all that is formed must be destroyed; that which has birth has death. But all this belongs to matter; the spirit which is absorbed by this formation of matter or by its mechanism lives, for spirit cannot die. What we call life is an absorption of spirit by matter. As long as the matter is strong and energetic enough to absorb life or spirit from space, it continues to live and move and be in good condition, but when it has lost its grip on the spirit, when it cannot absorb the spirit as it ought to, then it cannot live, for the substance of matter is spirit.

The Bible says, "It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing." But, one will say, does not the dense matter depend for its maintenance upon dense food? Yes, but at the same time the appetite is not satisfied by eating stones; man eats vegetable or animal food because he not only gets a substance from it but also the spirit it has absorbed. In other words, even in eating dense food one is absorbing spirit from space.

Some people will call spirit energy, or a scientist will give it the name of some form or force, but it is never called a person or a being. Then what is it that makes us call God spirit, or why do we call that which is really spirit God? If it is the very same spirit which we breathe from space that makes man an intelligent being, capable of thinking and feeling; the same spirit that gives him the power of perception and conception and develops in him that feeling which one calls ego, "I"; if this is the phenomenon that the spirit shows by being absorbed by the material body, how much more capable of perception and conception, of thought and feeling, must the spirit be in itself! Only, because we are limited by our physical frame we are not able to experience fully its perfect life and its perfect personality.

Where there is a hole this hole has a tendency to become larger, and where there is a little substance there is a tendency for that substance to increase; this shows the tendencies of spirit and matter, the continual conflict that exists between spirit and matter. On the part of matter there is always a tendency to absorb, and on the part of spirit there is always a tendency to assimilate. Mortality, therefore, belongs to substance, not to spirit; immortality belongs to the spirit.

What is it that makes man spiritual? Spirit-consciousness. If a person is not conscious of what he absorbs, he is not conscious of that which makes him more than the dense part of his being. It is not the dense substance which has formed his body that makes him capable of thinking, that gives him the faculty of feeling, of experiencing, of knowing; it is the spirit which this dense substance has absorbed. And if one asks whether this spirit which belongs to man, which may be called an individual spirit, is to be found within or without, the answer is that man himself is the individual spirit. The body is something which the spirit has taken for its use; therefore just as man is dependent upon this vehicle, which one calls the body, for experiencing the outer life, to the same extent or even more is he independent of the outer body in order to exist for ever.

The dependence of man and the independence of man depend upon what he wishes to experience. If he wishes to experience the dense earth, he depends upon the dense body; if he wishes to live the life of the spirit, he need not depend upon anything. The spirit is living, the spirit is life itself; it only depends upon matter for its experience and not for its life; for the spirit itself is life, though a life which is different from the life we generally recognize as such. What we call living is the matter which has absorbed spirit; and what we call life is that which is moving, acting through and by that spirit. In reality life is that which matter has absorbed; life passes away from matter and remains; life cannot be destroyed. It is in the understanding of this that lies the secret of immortality.