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



The Message

Free Will and Destiny in the Message

What is the Message?

Lecture for Mureeds and Friends

Wakening to the Message

Aspects of the Sufi Message

The Message

Relationship Between Murshid and Mureed

Personalities of the Servants of God

Our Efforts in Constructing

Teaching Given by Murshid to his Mureeds

Ways of Receiving the Message

The Path of Attainment

Interest and Indifference

The Call from Above

The Message


Spiritual and Religious Movements

Peculiarity of the Great Masters

Abraham, Moses and Muhammad

Four Questions

The Spreading of the Message

Jelal-ud-din Rumi

Peculiarities of the Six Great Religions

Belief and Faith

"Superhuman" and Hierarchy

Faith and Doubt

Divine Guidance

The Prophetic Life

There are two Kinds Among the Souls

The Messenger

The Message Which has Come in all Ages

The Sufi Message

The Message

Questions Concerning the Message

The Inner School

The Duty of Happiness

Five Things Necessary for a Student



Belief and Faith

Stages Between Belief and Faith

Attitude Toward Clergy, Teacher & Prophet

The Message Papers

Belief and Faith

Attitude Toward Clergy, Teacher & Prophet

Now I would like to speak about what attitude one has to have towards the teacher on the spiritual path, towards the clergy on the spiritual path, and towards the prophet on the spiritual path. Because there are these three directions: the priest is one direction, the initiator is another direction, and the prophet is another direction. And towards these three the attitude must be distinct, peculiar, and different.

Attitude Toward the Priest

Towards the priest there ought to be an attitude of respect, not only respecting the person, but respecting what is taught, the direction that is given by the priest. By this I do not mean to say the priest of this particular religion or that particular religion. I am especially telling you of these three different persons who come into one's life. One is the authority of religion, the other is the authority of esotericism, and the third is the prophet.

Only, when on the spiritual path what one has to be careful of is this, that too much conventionality and rule and direction may bury a soul. Very often when people regard the rigid rules and conventionalities they become so narrow and so external that everything must be just like this, and if it is not like this then it is a sin. Hands must be washed at a certain time, feet must be washed at a certain time, clothes must be in this way, one must stand in that way, look in that way, act in a certain way. And if it is not done, then it is not right, it is a sin. And in all parts of the world you will see the minister with his whip raised when a person has not done things that he ought to do rightly in his life.

But when there is an insolence and a contempt and a prejudice towards a religious authority, it means that this person is not respecting that which is something spiritual. It is a step higher. And if one has no respect for it, it only means the person is going downhill. The soul who is guided from within will always find instinctively a desire to respect a religious man, no matter what religion he belongs to, be he a rabbi, a Catholic priest, or a clergyman from the Protestant Church. No matter what religion he is, you cannot but feel respect towards that person when intuitively there is a leaning towards religion.

And if we have to criticize them, of course there are many faults, but have we not great faults ourselves? Can a human being be perfect? God alone is perfect. If we look at their faults we gain nothing, except the fruits which we have looked at, we collect them. But we can just as well look at the good side of it.

Besides, in respecting a religious man, it need not be that we are respecting every belief or dogma or idea he has to teach. Is it not enough to think of religion as something sacred, and have a respectful attitude towards every person who is doing the work of religion?

It is also necessary to think of those in our Sufi Movement who are made Cherags and Sirajs. If we ourselves will not respect them and will not appreciate their devotion to the Cause and their service towards it, we are just like a child who is not inclined to respect the elder ones in his own family. It is for the dignity of the Cause, it is for the honor of the Message, of the Movement, that those who are ordained as Cherags and those who are made Sirajs be given due consideration. There is no pleasure in not doing it, but in doing it there is a great pleasure.

I will tell you my own experiences of childhood. In the different kingdoms of India, the Orientals especially have more conventionality, more bowing and bending and greeting. And with new ideas in my head, I thought, "Is it necessary?" It was a question. But at the same time one cannot help it; where there is a conventionality so much spread one cannot keep from it. But the moment I began to greet people in that conventional way I began to enjoy it. The more I did it the more I enjoyed it, because it brought joy to another, but to yourself just the same. For by the very fact that you give joy to another, you get it back ten times. It is automatic. That proudness, that conceit, that hardness, that rigidness of "Oh no, I shall not respect him, I shall not bow or bend before anyone," only makes him as a brick: he is turned into a rock, more rigid every time.

Attitude Toward the Initiator

And now coming to the question of what attitude one must have towards one's initiator. If a person will not stand like a child before his initiator, he will not derive benefit out of his teaching. The one who comes before his initiator with a thought that, "I have brought before him certain knowledge which I already had, and now I want more to be added," is wrong; it should be thrown away. The one who comes to his initiator with the thought that he must find out if it is right or wrong or he must find out what will happen, he is wasting his time and fooling himself; he will never gain by it. He could just as well have gone and done some business and got some money.

What the initiator gives as an instruction, as an exercise, must be taken just like the prescription of the doctor. And if one says, "No, I will not do it today, I am tired now and I do not know how it can do me any good," one's mind is not in the right place. One should not have taken the trouble of going to the initiator and having given him the trouble. And if a person does the practices and has no faith in them, nor in the initiator, then he will not receive benefit just the same.

It is very easy to say, "I know this," but it is very difficult to say, "I know nothing." And the moment one says, "I know nothing," that is the moment one begins to learn and to know what is worth knowing. Never go to your initiator therefore with knowledge. No matter how much knowledge you have, it is of no use, it is not wanted there. It is not the path that requires knowledge to be taken to the initiator. The best thing is to keep it away and go like an empty cup that may be filled. The cup that is already full with something will not be filled.

And one might ask, "Are they not all initiated in the Sufi Order, whoever comes? Are they examined, are they tested, are they tried before their coming, that they come without anything?" It must be known that the method of the Sufi Order is different. The method of the Sufi Order is that the first initiation is to welcome, to admit. But after that every step one takes is examined more. One does not know it, but it is so.

Besides that, it must be understood that what you can take from the initiator by sympathy you cannot take by discussion. It is your sympathy which draws out the sympathy of your initiator, and what comes through that is the real knowledge. The spiritual knowledge is never taught. Even the initiator cannot teach it in words; it is imparted, and that comes without words. It comes by a current of sympathy from the teacher to the pupil.

Those who understand the real meaning of esoteric teaching, the initiator and the pupil, know that this is the most blessed friendship that there is. A friendship in the path of God, in the path of light, in the path of truth. And besides that, every worldly point of view must be kept away in connection with your initiator. One must know that what comes to one from the initiator cannot be valued, it cannot be priced, it cannot be made limited. And therefore there must not be a thought of reckoning, of give and take.

Attitude Toward the Prophet

And there is an attitude that one can have towards the prophet. The attitude towards the prophet must be so sacred that you cannot put it into words, an idea which you cannot express before another person. As soon as you express your idea before another person and put it into words, you only limit it.

For instance, a Buddhist who, in order to convince a Hindu says, "Lord Buddha was the World Teacher," do you think he is raising Buddha? No, he is pulling him down. What is the world? The universe is greater than the world. One cannot raise the prophet high enough. And as soon as one makes efforts by words -- if a Muslim says that Muhammad was one of the many great prophets, only he was a little greater than the others -- he brings him lower in the listener's estimation.

Why compare? Comparison is not necessary. Our mouth is too small to compare the Great Ones. We are not entitled to fix them as so and so, saying that there are four masters coming, or ten masters coming, or eight masters in the world, and that to each master we assign an area on the map of the world. It is all insolence.

At all times, whenever the Message was given, the thoughtful have always refrained from limiting their prophet by words. And if there ever came a question of comparison of one teacher with another, they have always said, "Is it not one Soul, not one Spirit, the Spirit of Guidance?" No matter in how many names and in how many forms the Spirit of Guidance comes, it is the same. Why compare the outward appearances? And what are we to compare with our limited knowledge? Those who happen to live in the time when the prophetic message is given and those who are brought into the presence of the prophet to listen to the living words, if they will not seal their lips, who should seal them?

Hafiz says, "Think of the shell in the sea. No sooner the dewdrop from Heaven falls into it, then it closes its lips. And what comes out of it after a time? A pearl, which is most valuable!"

God Bless You.