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

2. Capacity

The secret of the whole of creation can be traced to the understanding of what is meant by capacity. Capacity is, so to speak, the egg of creation; all of this manifestation which is known to us, as well as that which is unknown to us, is formed in some capacity. The sky is a capacity. Capacity is that which makes a hollow in which the action of the all-pervading existence may produce a substance. All the stars and planets which we have discovered and those which are not yet discovered, what are they? They are all capacities. And what do they contain? They contain, each one according to its capacity, whatever that capacity is able to preserve within it and give birth to; that is why one planet is not like another planet nor one star like another star.

Just as the sea is a capacity in which all the animals of the water are born and live and die, so the air is a capacity in which many creatures live and move and have their being, and the earth is a capacity which conceives within itself the plants, the trees, and all the different stones, metals, minerals, and other substances which come out of it. Again, everything, the stone, the tree, or a fruit or a flower, is a capacity in which a perfume may be formed, or a savor. Thus the living being is a capacity, and man is a finished capacity.

The Hindu name for capacity is Akasha. People generally think that Akasha means the sky, but in reality it means everything. Everything in its turn is an Akasha, just as all substance is a capacity; and according to that capacity it produces what it is meant to produce.

By studying anatomy one will find that the organs of the senses are all capacities according to their construction; and when that capacity is clogged, broken, or in any way troubled, then that organ of sense does not function properly. The tubes and veins of the body are capacities for the blood to circulate in, and when this capacity becomes stopped up, however strong the body may be life cannot circulate and congestion and illness come. Again, every blood-cell is a capacity. If it keeps itself open life comes into it and the person feels healthy, but when a blood-cell loses this capacity life does not function any more in it and all kinds of diseases develop. So with the pores of the skin: each pore is a capacity; and when for some reason or other this capacity is clogged, then the life cannot circulate there; it stops and diseases become manifest. The digestive organs, the lungs, are all capacities which breathe life in and function according to the life that is breathed in, that is radiated through them; and when they do not function properly illness and disorder follow.

Then there are the intuitive centers in this physical body of man, each center being a capacity. Few know about them, and they become clogged because man leads such a material life and consequently the intuitive faculties become blunted. All the mystical practices which are followed by the adepts are given in order that these capacities may be opened up and activated, may be put in order so that through them man may experience that which is meant to be experienced. It is lack of air and energy and magnetism which blocks these capacities and these centers; and it is this which blunts the intuitive faculties. Thus a person who never gives a thought to this question loses his intuitive faculties, and this itself shows that by thinking about something one produces a capacity, just as one does by action, by movement; and when that movement is dull, when it is not active, then this capacity remains unemployed.

It is capacity which makes the soul a soul; otherwise it would be spirit. For instance, when the sun comes into our house in the morning, the sunlight passing through the window will be square or round according to that window, or triangular if the window is shaped like that. The sun is not triangular or square; it is the window which is that shape. We say it is the sun that comes into the house, but we could call it something else. The sun may be likened to the spirit, and its entry through the window, which is a capacity and which gives it a form--triangular, square, or whatever it may be--may be called the soul. The soul becomes identified with qualities and merits because of the capacity through which it expresses itself; if not it would be spirit.

Life has two divisions, of which one is accepted but the other is not yet. The accepted division of life is what we call substance; the division of life which is not yet accepted can be called vacuum. If we speak to a person about oxygen, he understands that there is oxygen in space; but if we speak about vacuum he does not understand. He says, "What is it? It must be something. If my instrument registers something, I can say that it is something; if it does not, then it is nothing." But in reality vacuum is everything and all things.

In certain periods of the world's history man has discovered a finer substance; scientists have come to atoms and electrons and still finer particles. But then what? Then, they say, there is nothing. The fact is that man wishes to perceive that which is called vacuum by the same method with which he perceives substance, and this is not possible. Therefore, however far he may advance in the discovery of life, he can only reach the most extremely fine substance. In this way people may search for thousands of years and they may succeed in finding a still finer substance, perhaps even a most useful substance, but it will still be a substance and not a vacuum.

Capacity is matter. It is not merely matter in the everyday sense of the word, for in reality all that is perceptible is matter. It is substance; even if it is the finest substance it is still a substance. That which is above substance is spirit. Spirit is the absence of matter even in its finest condition. Spirit is beyond that, and thus the finest capacity will still be a substance.

Now we come to the following question: If all this manifestation comes from one source, one life, one spirit, then why is there such a variety of things and beings, each different in its nature and character?

There are two principal reasons for this. One is the speed of vibrations, the other is the direction that a certain action takes. In order to make this comprehensible one may divide the speed of vibrations into three stages: slow, moderate, and quick, or as they are called in Sanskrit: Satva, Rajas, and Tamas. The first stage is creative in its effect, the second stage is progressive, and the third stage is destructive. This gives us the reason for death and decay and destruction: every living being and every object decays or dies when it strikes that particular speed which is destructive. Besides, as every object looks different when seen from different angles, so every creative force manifests differently when it takes different directions. This explains why a person's right hand is stronger than his left, with few exceptions; and why the right leg is always inclined to go forward first and not the left leg.

There is always more strength in the right side of a person than in the left side. It is the law of direction which causes this. For a man to be left-handed is exceptional, it is not normal; it is normal for the right side to be stronger, and if a person is left-handed this shows that his right side has not the proper energy. It does not mean that the left side is stronger than the right side or that the left side takes the place of the right side; it only means that the right side has been weakened and that the left side therefore seems stronger than the right side. It does not mean that this man's positive side is the left and his negative side the right.

The three rhythms mentioned above may also be called mobile, regular, and irregular. It is because of them that manifestation has various forms, qualities, colors, and features. The rhythm which is mobile goes straight; the rhythm which is regular strikes right and left, first forming the perpendicular line and next the horizontal line; and the third is destructive, it is zig-zag or irregular. This can also be seen when one examines one's breath: the breath which is flowing through the right nostril gives power; when it flows through the left nostril it takes away that power; and its flow through both nostrils at the same time causes destruction.

What was there before creation? Was there stillness or was there motion? As far as science can reach it finds that there is motion behind it all. This is true; for what we call stillness is in reality an imperceptible motion. That is why mountains can exist and trees can live and man can act and animals can move by the power of movement, vibration. Their health, their joy, their sorrow, and their destruction are all caused by a quicker speed or. a slower speed or a particular activity of these vibrations. Disease and health both depend upon the law of vibrations.

A diamond is bright because it is vibrating; it is the vibration of the diamond which makes it brilliant. And so is the brilliant person whose intelligence is vibrating; according to the rhythm of its vibration it is capable of understanding. One will always see that it is the brilliant person who understands more quickly, more deeply, and better; and it is the one who is not brilliant who takes time to understand.

In conclusion we arrive at the understanding that the whole phenomenon is a phenomenon of capacity, and according to that capacity all that it contains is formed. As each thing or being vibrates, it acts in accordance with the capacity, and the results are in accordance with this capacity too. We ourselves are also Akashas, and in our Akasha we get the resonance of our rhythm. This resonance is like the feelings we have when we are tired, depressed, joyous, or strengthened. All these different conditions which we feel, it is our Akasha that feels them; and what causes this is our rhythm.

Every word once it is spoken, every deed that is done, every sentiment felt is recorded somewhere; it has not gone, it is not lost. We do not see it because it is not always recorded on the ground. If a seed is sown in the ground, it is recorded in the ground; it comes out in big letters, proving "I am an apple-tree", "I am a rose-bush." But when something is thrown into space, space does not lose it either. It has received it and it holds it; and it shows it to those who can build a capacity round the space and get its reflection in that capacity. There is a capacity which is the whole of life; in fact everything is a recording capacity; but then there is a reading capacity and that we have to make ourselves. We must be able to make a capacity in order to read what is written there.

In the Qur'an it is said, "Their hands shall speak and their feet shall bear witness of their deeds", which means the same thing: that everything is recorded, written down.

When a thief comes from the house where he has stolen something, he may have dug a hole in the ground and buried his spoils and appear with nothing in his hands, yet there is something written on his face about what he has done. It is written, he cannot efface it; and those who can read will read it. Nothing of what we say, do, or think is lost; it is recorded somewhere, if we only know how to read it.