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



Superstitions, Customs, and Beliefs





Everyday Life




1.1, Belief

1.2, Faith

1.3, Hope

1.4, Patience

1.5, Fear

1.6, Justice

1.7, Reason

1.8, Logic

1.9, Temptation

1.10, Tolerance

2.1, Forgiveness

2.2, Endurance (1)

2.3, Endurance (2)

2.4, Will-Power

2.5, Keeping a Secret

2.6, Mind

2.7, Thought

2.8, Tawakkul -- Dependence Upon God

2.9, Piety

2.10, Spirituality

3.1, Attitude

3.2, Sympathy

3.3, The Word "Sin"

3.4, Qaza and Qadr -- The Will, Human and Divine

Three Paths

3.5, Opinion

3.6, Conscience

3.7, Conventionality

3.8, Life

3.9, The Word "Shame"

3.10, Tolerance

Vol. 13, Gathas


3.8, Life

The life which we know is from our own life, therefore the nature and character of that life which is eternal is beyond man's comprehension. By this it is not meant that man is incapable of knowing the deeper life, but only that what man knows of life is from the knowledge of his own life. The difference between the life known to the generality and the life which is unknown is that of illusion and reality. Man mocks at the idea if he be told that all this is illusion, until he dives deep and finds out by comparison that this life which is subject to birth and death and subject to changes is a life and yet no life. This life is like a bubble in the sea. The bubble is existent and yet in reality non-existent when compared with the sea. And yet we cannot say that the bubble is non-existent, for it merges in the same sea in which it once appeared; so nothing takes it away but its own source and its original being.

The nature of this life of ours can be better understood by knowing its secret; and the knowledge of its secret will certainly enable us to live it to its best advantage. What happens is this: Man, eager and anxious to get the best out of life, owing to his ignorance, becomes a loser in the end. In order to know the secret of life one must understand the law of creation, the law of sustenance and the law of destruction. We must understand that destruction awaits every created thing, and to save it from destruction there is one mystery to be solved and that is the mystery of sustenance. What happens is that in every activity which is directed toward a certain result, owing to one's anxiety and eagerness, one draws that result closer before the time, and in this way very often man brings about that destruction which, if he knew that it can be warded off, he can put off to a later time. By this knowledge one develops patience, for very often it is the lack of patience which becomes the cause of destruction. An impatient person tries to reach too soon that culmination which causes destruction; and, by patience, the one who is able to control his activities in life will become the sustainer of life and will make the best of life. In the Hindu mythology Vishnu is the Sustainer, in other words the king of life.

The science of today, wakened to the same mystery, has been able to control matter to man's best advantage, more than we have ever known before in the history of the world. If the same mystery were used from a spiritual point of view in everything one does and one wishes to accomplish in life, success would surely be one's own. In every little thing one does in life this point of view must be understood. Even in such things as eating and drinking, if one does not sustain the rhythm he cannot take the real benefit of the food he eats and the water that he drinks. The person who reaches before the time that culmination of appetite in eating will always complain of lack of digestion. So in business, industry, professions, study, meditation, in all affairs of life, whether affairs of the heart or of the head, the consideration of controlling one's activity and guiding it and proceeding gradually toward a culmination is needed.

Questions and Answers: (July 21, 1923)

Q: In regarding the activity in life of the Shiva side of the deity . . . ?

A: It is a subject which is very vast, and it is difficult to explain that subject in two words. But that aspect of destruction and knowing about destruction can be easier understood again by something which we see in the modern science, by the medium of what they call inoculation. By putting that destructive element in one's body, one makes one's body disease-proof, that that particular disease is no longer a disease, but the nature of that person. That is the method of the mystic from a spiritual point of view. That death is a death so long as man is unacquainted with it. When man eats it up, then he has eaten death; death cannot eat him. Then he knows the life eternal. That is the mystery of the Message of Jesus Christ. To seek eternal life from the beginning to the end. The mystery of eternal life is past once a person has eaten death, then he is eternal.

In little things of life, one person says, "I do not like to touch vinegar. It hurts my health." One person says, "I cannot bear to eat cream, I cannot digest it"; another person says, "I cannot stand to have sugar in the tea, I do not like it." For him the sugar is a poison. If he took the poison once, the same would become sugar for him. All things that one thinks that they are foreign to his nature, by this he makes his nature exclusive. And by becoming exclusive he makes himself subject to them in a way. There comes a time when they rule him, a situation when he is under them. A person who says, "Bitter quinine, it is too bitter, I cannot stand it" -- he is in a fever, the doctor says he must have it. He dreads having it; at the same time he cannot help it. Therefore the way of Shiva was always to work against one's weaknesses. He counted them as weaknesses, not as nature. "Nature, all is my nature, but what I cannot have, that I make foreign to my nature; if I have separated it, there comes a time perhaps that I become so weak that I cannot help having it." Would you believe that the snake charmers, I have found some of them who have gradually, by making the snakes bite them time after time, developed so that poison does not hurt them. So that when they go, they just catch the snake in their hand; if the snake bites them, it does not hurt them. Shiva is pictured with a cobra round his neck; out of death he has made a necklace; it is no more a death to him.

One can go to extremes. But still it is a law that must be studied and known. The only mystery it teaches is not to consider anything in nature as foreign to one's nature. If it was not in use one would not know it. By this one overcomes all the destruction which is the source of fear and pain and disappointment.

Q: Does it mean that if there is no poison there is no moral? There is no good and no bad, if there is no poison?

A: No. It does not mean that. Good is good, and bad is bad. But at the same time one can rise above bad, or one can be submitted to badness. One can become weak before the evil, or become strong. The idea is to become strong before the evil instead of weak.

Q: If one sees that a thing has begun with precipitance, what should one do?

A: One should be sorry for having begun it too quickly, and one should try to regulate the rhythm. As in the beginning there is a need of patience, so also in the end. Patience should be all along. Patience is the secret of the whole thing. There are many virtues, but no virtue can be compared with patience. For it is not only a virtue, it is a power within itself.

Q: Is it perhaps God's way of making us immune to sorrow, when He sends us troubles and difficulties?

A: Every way is God's way. When He sends us troubles and difficulties, that is God's way; neither there is the law of God to send only sorrow and trouble, nor to send us only joy and happiness. But if we are thankful, and see the hand of God in all, we would certainly be grateful -- and even after sorrow -- and to see in both the way of God.

Very often there are people more impressed by the doctrine of Karma, who say that if illness has come, "Well, now it is our Karma, that we have to pay the due. Then we must take it patiently." I think there is a virtue in it also, and to see that it is from Karma. But it is not sufficient. We must know that happiness is our birthright. In our happiness there is the happiness of God. In our sorrow there is the pleasure of God. Therefore we must do everything in our power to get out of that illness, instead of thinking that the Karma had thrown that illness, and we must lie patiently, with a rock over us, and not try to push it off because it is Karma.

Q: Is it bad to be too impatient, even for spiritual development?

A: "Too" is always bad. If a person asked me, "Is it right to be too good?." . . it is enough to be good. Impatience of every kind is to be avoided. One loses one's equilibrium. There is no gain out of impatience.

Q: . . . .

A: Patience does not necessarily mean sloth, negligence and laziness.

Q: Is in our sorrow not God's sorrow reflected?

A: Certainly, as in our happiness God's happiness is reflected, so in our sorrow God's sorrow is reflected. If God would not sorrow man would be greater than God. For man is capable of two things, and God would only be capable of one.

Q: Why did you then say that God is not pleased in our sorrow?

A: I did not mean to say that in our sorrow there is not God's sorrow, but I meant to say that God is not pleased -- as man is sometimes -- in causing sorrow to man. It is impossible to have no sorrow, but we want balance in sorrow and joy. When too much joy and no sorrow then life becomes monotonous.

Q: After all is it not a good plan for one to look for the cause of their sorrow or gladness in their own thought and action?

A: Sometimes it so happens that it is not conditions which make sorrow. We allow them to make us sorrow. It is not only on their part that it depends, it depends upon both: A part of the sorrow comes from life, and a part one makes oneself. Therefore, if there is a response, one helps life to give a little joy, then the life will give one a little joy also. But if one prevents the life to give a little joy then the life becomes helpless.

There may be out of a hundred things ninety-nine in everyday life that we take too seriously. We might take perhaps one thing seriously, and of the ninety-nine say, "It matters little."