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



1,1: Magnetism

1,4: Insight

1,5: Spirit

1,6: Purity

2,1: Breath

2,2: the Spirit In the Flesh



1: The Secret Of Spirit

3: Spirit Within and Without

4: Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

5: Spirit and Matter

6: The Experience of the Soul through the Spirit

7: The Experience of the Soul through the Spirit of Another

8: Spirit and Matter, Part I

9: Spirit And Matter, Part I, (continued)

10: Spirit And Matter, Part II

11: Spirit And Matter, Part III

12: Spirit

13: The Conservative Spirit

14: Spiritual Circulation through the Veins of Nature

15: Manifestation

16: The Spirit of Christ

17: The Tuning of the Spirit

The Healing Papers

1,5: Spirit

8: Spirit and Matter, Part I

We often use the words spirit and matter in our everyday speech, but their meaning is not understood by everyone in the same way. There is the man who says, "Spirit is one thing and matter is another thing; matter is not spirit, neither is spirit matter." This is a religiously inclined person. There is another, a materialist, who says, "There is no such thing as spirit; all that is there is matter." And then a third person comes along who says, "Do not mention the word matter to me; there is no matter. It is only an illusion; only spirit exists."

One is free to believe what one wishes to believe, but when it comes to reasoning and looking deeply into life one sees it in quite a different way. Just as ice and water are two things and yet in their real nature they are one, so it is with spirit and matter. Water turns into ice for a certain time, and when this ice is melted it will again turn into water. Thus matter is a passing state of the spirit; only, it does not melt immediately as ice melts into water, and therefore man doubts if matter, which takes a thousand forms, ever really turns into spirit. In reality, matter comes from spirit; matter in its true nature is spirit; matter is an action of spirit which has materialized and has become intelligible to our senses of perception, and has thus become a reality to our senses, hiding spirit under it. It has covered the existence of the spirit from the eyes of those who look at life from the outside.

We read in the Qur'an that all comes from God and all returns to Him. In philosophical terms one can simply say that all comes from spirit and will return to it. No substance can exist without spirit. Although there is a war between spirit and substance, although they are opposed to each other, at the same time no substance can ever exist without spirit. Throughout this battle between substance and spirit the substance will resist spirit and outwardly drive it away, resisting surrender or diminution by the power of the spirit. But there will come a day when it will be diminished; in other words there is no mountain which will not one day crumble.

What is death to the spirit? As spirit is nothing to matter, so is matter nothing to the spirit; it does not miss it because it is self-sufficient. Spirit misses matter only in its limited, active condition. When the spirit is acting in a process towards manifestation, then it needs a capacity. Through that capacity it experiences life in a limited way, but in its true nature it is self-sufficient. It stands in no need of any experience. It is itself all experience, all knowledge; nothing is wanting in it.

One may call matter positive and spirit negative, or spirit positive and matter negative; there is a reason for it in each case. If one calls matter positive it is true, because matter shows itself as the picture while spirit is the background, and we are always inclined to call the picture part positive, not the background. But if we call the spirit positive that is true too, because matter has come from the spirit and spirit will consume it one day.

It is through vibration, through motion, that spirit turns into matter. Hindus call it Nada, and they always combine this word with Brahma; together this means God-vibration. They never call it vibration alone; they always call it divine vibration. By vibration spirit arrives at two experiences: the first is that it becomes audible to itself, and the next that it becomes visible to itself. In the Bible we read that first was the Word and the word was God, and then came light, visible life. This means that the first experience of the spirit is that life is audible and that the next experience is that life is visible.

And now coming to the idea of spirit: What is it? How do we define it? The answer is: if we define spirit it cannot be spirit; the spirit that can be defined cannot be spirit. The best definition of spirit is "that which is not matter." The chemical world has applied the word spirit to the essence taken from anything; symbolically this expresses the same meaning, though in this way spirit is brought into matter. When one takes a bottle of essence and says, "There is spirit," it is true symbolically; but in reality spirit means something that our senses cannot perceive. It is spirit in the sense that it is essence, but in the sense that it is perceived it cannot be spirit.

Then spiritualistic people have given this name to the souls which have passed. Symbolically it is true that the body representing the material part of man has disappeared, and that the personality has gone towards the spirit; and yet as long as the personality is perceptible and has its own particular qualities, as long as it still retains its individuality, it cannot be spirit.