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



Sufi Thoughts

Some Aspects of Sufism

The Sufi



Seeker of Truth

The Coming World Teacher

What think ye of Christ?

Considering Initiation

What Is Initiation


Objective of Initiation


Is Sufism a religion?

Is Sufism a belief?

Is Sufism Muslim?

Is Sufism theosophy?

Sufi's attitude toward right and wrong

Vol. 1, The Way of Illumination

The Sufi


Are there any conditions imposed on a would-be initiate? No one need fear taking initiation from the idea that he undertakes something he may not be able to fulfil. If he does not wish to progress beyond a certain point, that is only for himself to say.

The only thing that happens when a person is initiated, is that from the hour of initiation one is the brother of all in the Sufi Movement, of all other Sufis outside the Sufi Movement, of all knowers of truth, whether they call themselves Sufi or not, and of every human being, without distinction of caste, creed, race, nation, or religion; one is the companion of the illuminated souls of the Sufis living on earth and of those who have passed to the other side of life. Thus one is linked with the chain of Murshids and Prophets, and so enabled to receive the light running through this current, through the chain of the Masters. And one is the confidant of the Murshid and of the Order.

Therefore the initiate takes a vow in his heart to make use to the best of his ability of all he receives from the Sufi teaching and practices, not using any parts for selfish purposes.

These teachings have been kept secret for thousands of years, so why should they go out of the Order without the Pir-o-Murshid's authorization? One may ask why there is any secrecy about the teaching. If true, why should it not be scattered broadcast? This implies that secrecy is objectionable. The answer however is quite easy.

  • A certain secrecy is necessary in that some of the Sufi conceptions might easily be misunderstood and misused, were they exposed to the general public. The earnest pupil will not speak of them without due consideration of his audience.
  • A further point is that when a teacher is not absolutely dependent on his pupils, he will prefer to select his pupils. If a person wished to go to the very best master of the violin, he would seek out a virtuoso of fame. But the latter might not care to spend time upon him; he would if he were sure the pupil would faithfully do all he was asked to do, and attain to something like the standard of the virtuoso himself. Whatever instruction he gives this pupil is naturally "secret"; it is a personal matter; the pupil may hand it on to his own pupils later, but he does not have it printed and circulated indiscriminately. The secrecy is no more than this.

It may also be said that every school which gives the initiate special personal instruction trusts that respect shall be paid to that which it teaches. All teaching can be misconstrued and perverted and made to appear ridiculous. To do this with Sufi teachings, consciously or inadvertently, will not help the pupil. A certain medicine may be good for a sick person at a certain time, but this does not mean it should be used by every sick person in the world. Nor would it be any advantage to anyone, if the exact medicine were to be published indiscriminately. If there should arise need to say what it was, the doctor would not withhold the information.

Where there is a need to explain the Sufi teachings, the Murshid will explain them. The books published by the Sufi Movement set forth many of the teachings, so that it cannot be said that they are kept rigidly secret. But the very intimate thoughts to which the Sufi is accustomed, are naturally not uttered indiscriminately, any more than an ordinary person will speak of his private affairs to a stranger.

The fruit must be of a certain degree of ripeness before its taste becomes sweet. So the soul must be of a certain development before it will handle wisdom with wisdom. The developed soul shows his fragrance in his atmosphere, color, the expression of his countenance, and sweetness of his personality, as a flower spreads its fragrance around, and as a fruit when ripe changes its color and becomes sweet.

One may ask why the awakened ones do not awaken people in the world from the sleep of confusions. The answer is, that it is not to be advised that little children, whose only happiness is slumber, should be awakened. Their growth depends on their sleep. If they are kept up late they become ill, and will not be so useful in the affairs of life when they are grown up. Childhood needs more sleep, and the children must sleep. Such is the nature of immature souls. They are children, however old their bodies may appear. Their fancies, their joys, their delights are for unimportant things in life, as the life of children is absorbed in sweets and toys. Therefore those who are awakened walk slowly and gently, lest their footsteps may disturb the slumber of the sleeping ones. They only awaken on their way those whom they find tossing in their beds. They are the ones to whom the travelers on the spiritual path give their hand quietly. It is for this reason that the spiritual path is called the mystical way. It is not unkind to awaken a few and to let many sleep, but on the other hand it is great kindness to let those slumber who require sleep.

During his mureedship the initiate should avoid wonder-working; claiming to know or possess something unfamiliar to one's fellow-men; casting out devils; communicating with spirits; character-reading; fortune-telling; appearing over-wise in conversation with others about spiritual things, and looking to others for approbation. Also sanctimoniousness, over-righteousness, and teaching and advising others before having learnt one's own self, which is as dangerous as giving the same medicine to another that the doctor has prescribed for oneself.

During discipleship, the habit of discipline should be adopted which makes the ideal mureed. Self-denial is the chief religion, and this can only be learnt by discipline. It is as necessary in the path of discipleship as for a soldier on the battlefield; in the absence of it the mureed holds fast the very thing which he wishes to crush by taking the initiation. "Mastery is in service, and it is the servant who alone can be master."

One should also have a respectful attitude to the Murshid. This is not to raise the honor of the teacher in his own eyes, or in the eyes of others. It is to learn a respectful attitude by first having it towards one who deserves it. The mureed may then be able to develop in his nature the same respect for all, as a little girl by playing with a doll learns the lesson of motherhood. To respect another means to deduct that much vanity from ourselves, the vanity which is only the veil between man and God.

During the period of mureedship sobriety, an equable mind, a serious habit, regularity in all things, diligence, a desire for solitude, a reserved demeanor, an unassuming manner, a pure life, and uninterrupted daily spiritual meditations, are desirable.

The Sufi is the student of two worlds, the world within and the world without. The world within is equivalent to what is popularly named "the next world", because of the widespread belief that time is the all-important factor; that we have a life now, and another life at another time. The Sufi knows otherwise. The world without has two aspects, the social world in which we are placed, and the greater world which is the topic of history, past, present, or prophetic. The world within can be entered only by the student himself, though he may learn about it as "esotericism", a subject which also has two aspects, that of the forces in the mind and that of the divine light. The latter is the real goal of the Sufi's enquiry, it is his Shekinah, it is his Holy of Holies.