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

13. Spirit and Matter (3)

Spirit and matter are not two things; they are one, seen by us as two. The reason is that the former is not distinguishable while the latter is distinct; the former is not evident while the latter is. The spirit is man's own being, his real being; the spirit is his knowing faculty, his intelligence. The very intelligence that distinguishes all things is man's real being.

How can this intelligence see itself? It is the task of the spirit to feel matter, and at the same time it is the work of the spirit to feel itself. Matter cannot feel the spirit; the spirit has to feel itself in order to be evident. What happens when the spirit cannot feel itself is shown in the story of the twenty peasants who went on a journey, and after crossing a river they wanted to know if everyone was there. Each counted and said, "There are nineteen," because each forgot to count himself. It is the same with the spirit: the spirit distinguishes everything except itself just as the eyes cannot see themselves. The eyes see all things; bat no one has ever seen his own eyes except as a reflection in a mirror.

Another and most important fact is that no matter can exist without spirit. Spirit is its existence, and spirit is its life. With any object, sweet or sour, fragrant, hot or cold, whatever be its quality, it is the phenomenon of spirit working through that object which makes it distinguishable in one way or another. And if one were to ask whether there is a link between spirit and matter, the answer would be that there is none; there is no gap between the two because, as has been said, they are not two things; they are one and the same. It is simply that the distinguishable aspect of the spirit we call matter, and its finer aspect which can not be distinguished we call spirit.

People use the word spirit in different senses. Spiritualists have called spirit the soul that has departed from the earth; religious people have called spirit the being of God. And both are right, although both explanations are limited. It is not only spirit that is the being of God; matter is the being of God too. I once met a young man who said to me, "I do not believe in God, the hereafter, or the soul." I told him that I did not wish to make him believe in these things, that this was not my intention at all; but then the young man asked me what I believed, for he wanted to continue our conversation.

I said, "It is very difficult to put one's belief into words, but I would very much like you to tell me first what you believe." He said very easily, "I believe in eternal matter." I said, "My belief is not very far from yours, for the very same thing that you call eternal matter I call eternal spirit. It is a difference of words; we really believe the same thing." Matter cannot be eternal, but if the young man wished to call that which is eternal, matter, I had no objection; I was quite willing to call it matter too.

The difference between what we call an object and a living being is the difference in the degree of spirit they absorb. Darwin died without finding the missing link. But there is no missing link; if there were any link which was missing it would have been found. There is a constant outpouring of spirit on matter, which is its own substance; and according to the degree in which the spirit touches matter, the matter forms into an object or into a being. Thus the difference between the lower creation and the higher creation is also that of the degree of the spirit which they are capable of absorbing; and there is the same difference between a material person and a spiritual person.

The question arises why, if spirit and matter are one and the same, is there then a need for anything or anyone to absorb spirit? Matter is something which is ever changing; it is continually going through a process of change; and we call this change destruction or death, or we say of matter that it is decomposed or destroyed. In reality it has taken another form, but this form is also changed by spirit and made into something else. Only, in order to distinguish it we give the first aspect of the object one name, and the next aspect of the same thing another name. For instance in one condition a substance is called coal, and in another condition it is called diamond. It has gone through a change. The value is different, the name is different, the appearance is different. The spirit has changed it in one condition to a certain degree, and in another condition to a different degree.

When we study the lower creation, insects, birds, and beasts, and when we study their instincts, the intelligence they show, the sympathy to which they respond, we can clearly notice that they are awakened to life according to the spirit they are capable of absorbing. We see among human beings how one man is standing in the midst of all that is good and beautiful, his eyes open but his heart closed. He does not see anything, although happiness is at hand, he does not know it. And there is another person, awakened to all that is good and beautiful, ready to appreciate it and to be grateful for everything good that comes his way. There is one man whose thought reaches the highest level that thought can reach, and there is another who thinks, but his thoughts can rise no higher. What is the reason for these differences? They all come from the varying ability of these people to absorb the spirit.

The soul is likened to a ray of the sun. And what is the ray of the sun, what causes it? It is the motion of the sun, the motion of the light. The light-waves cause a space between one wave and another wave, just as in the sea a gap is formed between one wave and the next. There is no gap in reality; it is only a temporary condition of the rising of the water that makes a space between two waves; these two waves are a temporary condition of the water of the sea. The water of the sea remains, but these waves formed for a moment rise and fall again. If we say that five waves are coming it is in our conception that they are five, but the phenomenon is only momentary: they are and they are not.

And so it is with souls. If we say that there are many souls, it is true, just as there are many waves or many rays of the sun; but if we say that there is one spirit, it is truer still, just as there is one sea and one sun. The waves are an action of the sea; the rays are a manifestation of the sun; the souls are a phenomenon of the spirit. They are and they are not. They are because we see them, and they are not because there is only one Being.

Those who separate soul from body are looking from the same point of view as the one who sees spirit and matter as two different things. The sight has made the eyes in order to see, but in making the eyes the sight has become limited; the sight had a much greater power before it had eyes. By limiting itself to the eyes the sight's power has become less. So it is with the soul. The soul manifesting as a body has diminished its power considerably, even to the extent that it is not capable of imagining for one moment the great power, life, and light it has in itself. Once the soul realizes itself by becoming independent of the body that surrounds it, the soul naturally begins to see in itself the being of the spirit.

What is consciousness? Consciousness is the knowing faculty, but it is the knowing faculty when it has some knowledge; it is only then that we call it consciousness. One is conscious of something; consciousness must always be conscious of something. When consciousness is not conscious of anything it is pure intelligence. It is in this realization that the greatest secret of life can be revealed.

One might say that the experience of pure intelligence is possible only for the only Being, for God, but no one can stand outside of the only Being, and therefore each and everyone is in the only Being; the only Being includes all. And undoubtedly there is a certain process by which one can attain to this pure intelligence. Man is not conscious of it any more; he has lost the habit of experiencing what pure intelligence is; but all the meditations and concentrations, the whole process by which the mystic treads the spiritual path, bring us finally to the realization of that pure intelligence. And if one asks what benefit one derives from it, the answer is that since all that benefits us comes from one source, that source must be perfect; it must be all-beneficial. It is beyond our limited imagination, but it is the greatest thing one can attain in one's life.