The Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan      

        (How to create a bookmark)



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



Vol. 11, Mysticism in Life

15. The Tuning of the Spirit

There are two sides to which one can look: one of these is before us and the other side is within us. The first step of the mystic is to see the side which is before him, and his second step is to look at the side which is within him. The first view, which is the minor development, is the view of the adept; and the other, the major development or stage, is the view of the mystic.

  1. When people take the spiritual path they begin to interest themselves in psychology, occultism, or some other exciting subject, believing that it is the same as mysticism or esotericism; but real mysticism or esotericism begins simply with the first step, with looking outside. And at what does one look outside? At two things.
    • One thing is that a person asks himself how all he sees affects him and what is his reaction to it all; how does his spirit react to the objects or the conditions he encounters, to the sounds he hears, to the words that people speak to him?
    • And the second thing is to see what effect he himself has on objects, conditions, and individuals when he comes in contact with them.

    One must be just to be able to analyze these things; if not, one may always look at them in a light which is favorable to oneself and unfavorable to others. We hear many people say, "That person has a bad influence upon me"; but no one says, "I have a bad influence upon that person." Most people think that everybody else is wrong and bad, and that everything undesirable is in everybody except in themselves, but to become just is the process of becoming an adept, an adept who is developing into a mystic.

  2. After this comes the inner process, looking within; and this is a most wonderful process. As soon as a person is able to look at his spirit, he is born again; it is a new life. By looking at one's spirit one can analyze how all that one says, thinks, and feels acts upon one's spirit, and also how the spirit reacts. In this way one's life is analyzed more and more; it seems like churning one's spirit, and by this churning one brings out the cream of the spirit, and that cream is wisdom.

The difference between the wise and the foolish is only this, that the foolish looks at another whereas the wise looks at himself. Besides it is most wonderful to see how the person who is most at fault sees many faults in others. Because he looks at others he has not yet been able to look at himself, but the moment he begins to look at himself he does not look at others any more; he then has so much to look at in himself that both his hands are full.

Innumerable souls die without ever coming to this experience; they never even think about it. At the same time there are free souls who may be quite young and yet have that perception; and wherever this perception is there is the living spirit, even if one finds it in a little child. That child is then as old as its grandfather; it is an "old soul" as a child which shows wisdom, depth, and subtlety is called in the East. By "old" is meant that it shows more experience; it does not take a long time to make a person old in this sense. Many become old in a very short time. There are people who from their childhood show that they are old souls; they make utterances of great wisdom, as if they had had experience on earth for hundreds of years. And sometimes people of a very advanced age may think and feel and say and do things just like a child. This shows that the age of the soul does not correspond with the time since the birth of the person on this plane.

The soul which can analyze its own spirit is sparkling, for it is that soul which will train itself and train others; but the soul which cannot analyze its own spirit cannot train others.

To keep the spirit in proper condition is as difficult or even more difficult than cultivating a delicate plant in a greenhouse, where a little more sun may spoil it, a little more water may destroy it, a little more air may be bad for it. The spirit is even more delicate than that. A slight shadow of deception, a mere feeling of dishonesty, a little touch of hypocrisy can spoil it. If fear touches it, if doubt shakes it, if anger strikes deep into its root, it is spoiled. And the more delicate the spirit, the more delicate the care it needs; it must be carefully guarded in the greenhouse. A slight sense of dishonor, the least insult coming from any side, can kill it.

Apart from man, the spirit of a horse can die the day that it feels the whip; once the whip has fallen upon it its spirit may be gone. No doubt, "killing the spirit" is only a way of speaking; spirit is never killed, and yet for the spirit that is killed in the meaning of this expression it is worse than death. Death is preferable; life loses all its interest once the spirit is dead. It is better that a person should die than that his spirit should.

Nevertheless, spirit is divine and spirit is eternal, and it can always be restored if one only knows the key to it. And what is this key? If this were told, then what remains? It is not an easy thing to find this key; it is not easy to mend the broken spirit; not everyone can raise his spirit when once it is fallen, for then it is heavier to lift than a mountain. But what one can say is that there is only one key, the first and the last, and that is found in seeking for the kingdom of God. It works as an antidote, and it helps one by tuning the spirit, by harmonizing one and putting one into rhythm. If this is combined with wisdom it is better still; that is why a person looks for a teacher on the path of wisdom, in order that the teacher may guide him to fund the key.

There is a delicacy in friendship, in all kinds of relationship; there is delicacy in meeting people. If that delicate thread is damaged or moved out of place something goes wrong. There is no more delicate machinery than the spirit of man. How careful man is with his electrical machinery! Every little wire is looked at with a magnifying glass, and every little part of it is guarded so carefully and kept so clean that no rust can come on it; no one may touch it! At the same time man has no regard for his spirit, which is the most delicate machinery of all. Once it goes wrong it may never get right again; and it is very easy for it to go wrong, while it is most difficult to repair it. For other machinery we can get spare parts, but not for this machinery when once it is broken, when once something of it is lost. And when one thinks of all the illnesses and disagreeable experiences of the outer life, what about the spirit? When once the spirit is disturbed then the whole universe is disturbed for that person.

What happens, very often unconsciously, is that there are friends who are very devoted to each other, and then there is something in the machinery that goes wrong. Perhaps neither of them knows this, but unconsciously the spirit of their friendship is destroyed; and it is most difficult to mend it. Then there is no joy of friendship any more. Friendship lasts only as long as that delicate thread exists, as long as the machinery is in proper order. Besides, all the external things of life, money, power, position, or comfort, are nothing in comparison with the condition of one's spirit. If the spirit is disturbed none of these things has any value whatever; it is all lost.

There is a story of a king who one day called a porter and gave him a command, and after having given that command he went into his room and signed his abdication of the throne. His wazirs asked him why he did this, what had gone wrong. He said, "When I was giving that porter a command I saw by his expression that it was not received in the same way as he had received my orders up till now. So something must have gone wrong in my spirit; I should no more handle the affairs of the state." It takes a long time to become fit, and it does not take a minute to become unfit. It is most difficult to collect the spirit and make it work as it ought to; the least little thing can upset it. Think of how many different parts must be made in order to make a watch go regularly, and how easy it is to drop the watch and destroy it.

There are some people who have no spirit; that is to say whose spirit is still buried. They do not care, they are quite happy, although they do not know what true happiness means. But for others who are very much aware of their spirit there is nothing more difficult than to keep it in the right condition; yet no sacrifice is too great and nothing we can do is too much to keep the spirit in tune. The mystic, therefore, trains his spirit; it is the training of his own spirit that enables a man to help the souls who come to him.

The story of Ayaz gives us an example of this. That is the way to tune the spirit: to cleanse it, to purify it, to humble it, to mold it, to efface whatever may have clouded it, and to raise it high. Everything that is necessary should be done with it. And it is not easy to handle the spirit. Many who do not know how to handle it break it, just as children break their toys, and when once the spirit is destroyed then what is left? It should be remembered that greatness and smallness, happiness and wretchedness, are all effects coming from the condition of the spirit. We are as great as our spirit, we are as wide as our spirit, we are as low as our spirit, we are as small as our spirit; spirit can make us all that we are.

Verily, if there is anything that is more necessary than all else, it is to be able to tune one's spirit.