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 in Life

2. Divine Wisdom

3. Life's Journey

4. Raising the Consciousness

5. The Path to God

Four Stages of God-Consciousness

6. The Ideal of the Mystic

7. Nature

8. Ideal

9. The Moral of the Mystic

10. Brotherhood

The Ideal of Brotherhood

11. Love

12. Beauty

13. Self-Knowledge

14. The Realization of the True Ego

15. The Tuning of the Spirit

16. The Visions of the Mystic

17. The Mystic's Nature

18. The Inspiration and Power of the Mystic




1. Knowledge of Body

2. Knowledge of Breathing System

3. Knowledge of Thinking Faculty

4. Knowledge of Self

Vol. 11, Mysticism in Life

13. Self-Knowledge


The knowledge that the mystic seeks after is self knowledge, the knowledge of one's self, within and without, the only knowledge that is worth attaining. It is contrary to the general tendency of man; man always wants to know what is before him, and that is why he sees more faults in another and less in himself. He think that if anyone is wrong it is the other, because he is less conscious of his own mistakes.

Self-consciousness is something quite different from self- knowledge. The self-conscious one is never conscious of his real self; he is only conscious of the reflection he receives from others. "Does this person hate me?" "Does that person speak against me?" That is the thought of the self-conscious. If it is not that then he pities himself: "I am poor," "I am so wretched," "I am so miserable."

1. Knowledge of Body

Self-knowledge can be divided into four kinds, of which the first is knowledge of this physical vehicle which we call our body: how this vehicle has again two aspects, the head and the body, the former for knowledge (for all the special organs of perception are situated in the head), the latter for action. Knowledge of the physical body does not end with the knowledge of anatomy; in this body there are also centers which are the organs of intuition. In so far as science recognizes them they are nervous centers, but what a mystic sees in them is the subtle power of perception. And therefore to a mystic the human body is a more perfect instrument than a wireless receiver, for that is a dead thing compared with the human body; the body is a living wireless receiver if it is prepared for that purpose.

And if one asks why it is necessary that one should prepare it for that purpose, this would be like asking if it is necessary that we should see with the eyes we have. The very fact that we have eyes means that we must see with them; and because of the very fact that the intuitive centers are situated in the physical body, it is necessary that man should be intuitive as well as intellectual, Besides to be intuitive and to be intellectual are not essentially two different things; they are just like the two ends of the same line.

2. Knowledge of Breathing System

The next aspect of man's being is the breathing system, which in reality is not physical. Breath as it is understood by science is the air which one inhales and its action on the lungs and other organs. But according to the mystic the breath is a formation of man, it is magnetism, it is an ethereal aspect of his being which is not only situated in the body, but which is also around the body. It is by the power of this breath that man is able to stand and walk on this ever-moving world. The moment this energy which is breath fails, man can no longer stand on the ground, even if the whole mechanism of his physical body is in perfect condition. Thus there is a part of man which lives on the ethereal magnetism that he breathes and that gives him energy and radiance.

3. Knowledge of Thinking Faculty

When we go still further we find that there is a being in us which we believe to be perhaps within our body or perhaps somewhere else. One cannot point it out, but it is there; and it is what we call mind. This thinking faculty has its seat in the physical body; but it is not limited by the physical body, it is independent of it. No doubt it functions in the organs of sense and in the nervous centers in order to perfect man's experience; nevertheless it is independent of the physical body, it is a faculty that can exist without the physical body, as the eyes can exist without spectacles: the spectacles only help the eyes to see more clearly.

The mind is the surface of that part of our being of which the depths may be called heart. The mind thinks, the heart feels; the mind perceives, the heart reflects; the mind imagines, the heart enjoys. The thoughts of the mind are strengthened by the heart. Yet mind and heart are not two things; they are the two aspects of one thing, the surface and the depths.

4. Knowledge of Self

The fourth aspect of our being is beyond explanation. It is joy, happiness. Man seeks for joy, and when the circulation of the joy which belongs to the depths of man's being is congested so that he cannot feel it, then he tries to experience it in what he calls pleasure. Pleasure is the shadow of happiness, something that passes away, that does not last. Being continually occupied in seeking the wrong thing instead of looking for the right thing, man loses his hold on something that belongs to him: his happiness. He begins to look for it everywhere, wherever he thinks he can find it, but he may look for it all his life and yet it will always elude him. He thinks, "Now I have grasped it," and it is gone; he thinks, "Now I have got it," and it is lost; he thinks, "Now it is mine," and it is no longer there. For it is a shadow, and pursuit after a shadow is pursuit after nothingness. The joy becomes eclipsed because man does not know that his very being is joy, that his very self is happiness.

By looking for happiness, what does man seek after? He is seeking after his self, though he does not know it. There is nothing so easily lost as self; in one instant a person can lose it, because he is always accustomed to hold things that are in his hand, and there is only one thing that he can never hold and that is self; it instantly slips from his grasp. Naturally happiness is lost in the search for pleasure, and self becomes drowned in the pursuit of outer things. The way of the mystic is to find self in all its aspects, to learn and to understand the self within and without.

One might ask why one cannot understand self by studying human nature in general. Why must one study self by trying to understand oneself? The answer is that to study human nature is most interesting, but one can only study it well after one has studied oneself, for that enables one to understand human nature. As long as one remains ignorant of self one cannot study human nature properly. Often we hear people say, "I am so disappointed in my friends," "I am so disheartened by my neighbors," "I have lost my faith in mankind," "I can bear animals, I can stand trees and plants better than human beings; I always try to avoid places where there are people." Why do these thoughts come? Where do they come from and what causes them? It is the lack of understanding of oneself. The more one understands oneself, the more one finds that everything that is lacking in others is also lacking in oneself. Does a person become less by finding faults in himself? No, he becomes greater, for he not only finds that all the faults which are in others are also to be found in him, but that all the merits of the others are also his own merits. With faults and merits he becomes more complete; he does not become less.

What a great treasure it is when a man has realized that in him are to be found all the merits and all the faults which exist in the world, and that he can cultivate all that he wishes to cultivate, and cut away all that should be removed! It is like rooting out the weeds and sowing the seed of flowers and fruits. One finds that all is in oneself, and that one can cultivate in oneself what one wishes. A world opens for the man who begins to look within himself; for it is not a little plot of ground that he has to cultivate; he has a world to make of himself, and to make a world is a sufficient occupation to live for. What more does one want? Many think that life is not interesting because they make nothing, but they do not realize that they have to make a world, that they are making a world, either ignorantly or wisely. If they make a world ignorantly then that world is their captivity; if they make a world wisely then that world is their paradise.

Only self-realization can give man full independence. It would be no exaggeration to say that by self-realization the heart of man becomes greater than the universe. The world in which man lives like a drop in the sea then becomes a drop in the ocean of his heart. The saints and sages, the illuminated souls who have brought light to others, have been the self-realized ones.

One might ask, then where is the place of God, if self-realization brings one to perfection? The answer is that God is a steppingstone to self-realization. The godly one is not always self-realized, but the self-realized one is godly. All the different ways that lead to God, different religions, faiths, occult schools, mystical paths, all these bring one in the end to the same goal, and that is self-realization. Even where there is a great difference such as that between the teachings of the Hebrews and those of Buddha, both teachings will meet in one thing, and that is self-realization.

There are four different ways by which one can attain to the knowledge of this truth.

  1. One person has been told that self-knowledge is the guide to perfection, and he says, "Yes, it must be so." He knows no more than that.
  2. There is another person who has read in this or in that book that it is self-knowledge which leads to perfection; and he thinks it must be true because it is written in a book.
  3. There is a third person who has reasoned it out; and by his reasoning, by synthesizing, he comes to the knowledge that it is one which has become many, that this variety is again gathered into one, and that this one is to be found in oneself. No doubt the more his reason helps him, the more he will be consoled.
  4. But then there is a fourth person who realizes this truth himself, not by reason but by experience, and that is the way of the mystic.

How does the mystic proceed to experience it? By the mystical process of turning the eyes within, by shutting out the outside world for a moment and going into meditation, and by realizing, "I do not exist only as a physical body, which I always see myself to be, but I also exist as a life, as a magnetism, as an energy." Meditation which lifts him, in other words the consciousness, from the physical body, helps to make it clear to the mystic that he is not only (1) a physical body, but that he is (2) a being of energy, of magnetism, of breath, by the touch of which the physical body lives, being attached to it. As he goes further in the meditative life, he then begins to see that the faculty of thinking, of imagining, of feeling, is independent of the first two aspects; that he himself is a thought, that he himself is a feeling, and that he himself is the creator of thought, even a creator of feeling. And as he goes still higher, he sees that he is happiness himself as well as the creator of happiness.

It is by this process that one arrives at and experiences the happiness which is in oneself and which does not depend upon anything outside. As long as that happiness is not attained, all else that is taken as a substitute for it must disappoint sooner or later; and therefore, if there is any knowledge which can be said to be the only knowledge worth attaining, it is the knowledge of self.