Volume VIII The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan by Hazrat Inayat Khan








Our physical body is constituted of the five chief elements, which compose even the whole universe. The skin, flesh, and bones show earth properties. The blood, perspiration, and saliva represent the water element. The heat in the body and the digestive fire in the system denote the fire element. The breath and its inner work within the body, which enable us to stretch and contract, and the power of movement, which does not allow us to keep still for one moment, represent the air element. The ether element in us is that which controls our activities and gradually consumes all other elements. It is for this reason, that a child is more active, while and aged person is still and inclined to inactivity.

The above is a rough explanation of the different parts of the body representing the different elements. They correspond in the following way: the bones with the earth element; the flesh with water; the blood with fire; the skin with air; the hair with ether.

Bone is as void of sensation as the earth. The shrinking and swelling of the muscles, the festering of the flesh, and the effect of water on it both inwardly and outwardly, prove that the flesh corresponds to the water element. the circulation of the blood depends absolutely upon the degree of heat; it flows as the fire element makes it. The air influences the skin. In hot weather the skin becomes darker, and in cold fairer; in rough weather it becomes rough, and in fine weather smooth. All different shades of the skin are mainly due to the climactic conditions of our place of birth and dwelling. The hair corresponds with the ether and is the least sensitive. If the hair is cut or burned there is no sensation.

The outlet of each different kind of refuse is caused by a certain element. The motion is caused by earth; urination by the water element; perspiration by fire; saliva by air; semen by ether.





Man’s body may be divided into two parts: the head and the body. The head represents Shuhud, the spiritual part, and the body represents Wujud, the material part. In the former, from the crown of the head to the chin is the expressive part; in the latter, the upper half of the body is the expressive part.

Two parts of the body, the brain and the heart, are considered to be the most important factors, for the scientist thinks that the brain thinks and the orthodox believes that the heart feels. In the view of the Sufi, both are wrong in a way and right in a way. In fact, it is not that the brain thinks, but the brain is the means by which the mind distinguishes thought in its concrete form. Just as the piano does not compose, but the composer tries his composition on the piano and makes it clear to himself. It is not the camera, which takes the photograph, but the light and the plate. The camera is the medium for both, and so it is with the brain. By disorder in the brain, the scientist says, man becomes unsound in mind. But the Sufi holds that nothing is wrong with the mind. It is the instrument through which the mind functions that is out of order.

The same misconception exists among those who believe that the heart feels. The heart, being the center of the body, partakes of the effect of the feeling from within – which is the real heart, not the piece of flesh – and it feels suffocated and oppressed. Depression is felt as a heavy load upon the breast. And when the heavy vibrations are cleared, then especially a person has a feeling of joy and his heart is lighter than usual. This explains the Shaqq-i-sadr, the opening of Mohammad’s breast by the angels, when fear, gloom, bitterness, and conceit were all cleared away before the manifestation of divine revelation. It is as the darkness clearing away at the rising of the sun.

As the brain is the instrument of the mind, which is invisible, and the heart of flesh is the vehicle of the heart within, which is above substance, so it is the illumination of the soul, our invisible being, whose light is reflected within this physical body. When active it beams through the eyes, through the radiance of the countenance, charging the whole environment with a magnetic atmosphere. This light being originated from sound, both light and sound echo in the dome of the temple of this physical body, though neither in reality belongs to it. To the Sufi, the seeker of the self within, they are vouchsafed when he has control over the gateways of this holy temple, the physical body. Then, instead of reflecting outward through the expression, the light and sound both manifest within.




There are five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. The senses of sight and hearing are the principal ones, and of these two the principal is the sense of sight. The sense of touch is perceived through the medium of the skin, which represents the earth element, and is sensitive to cold and heat. The sense of taste is perceived through the medium of the tongue, which represents the water element; all salt, sour and sweet, pungent and bitter tastes are distinguished by it. The sense of smell is perceived through the medium of the nose, the channel of the breath, which alone can distinguish the odors and fragrances. The sense of hearing represents the air, and is perceived through the medium of the ears. The sense of sight represents ether, and is perceived through the medium of the eyes, which in this material body are the substance of the soul.

Each sense has its dual aspect, Jelal and Jemal, the strong and the gentle aspects of life, which are represented by the right and left side, their action being expressive and responsive. Therefore, although the sense of sight is one, the eyes are two; the sense of hearing is one, but the ears are two. The sense of smell is one, and the nostrils two. So it is with every sense. It is this dual aspect in nature, which has caused the distinction of sex, for in spirit the human is human, but as it approaches the surface it becomes either male or female. The myth of Adam and Eve expresses this to those who know: Eve coming out of Adam’s rib means that two came out of the one Spirit.

In reality, there is but one sense, and it is the direction of its experience, which is perceived through a particular channel. This being so, each experience is different from the other. Therefore, we may call this sense the five senses, although in reality it is one.

Whichever element predominates in a person’s nature, the sense relative to that element in him is the most active. And as breath changes so many times throughout the day and night, its element acts in accordance with the senses. This is the cause of every demand of the senses. He who indulges in any one of the senses makes that sense dull, just as attar, kept all the time near oneself, dulls in time the sense of smell, although it enslaves one to the smell of attar. The same is the case with all the senses. The Sufi, therefore, experiences life through the senses for the sake of experience and not for indulgence, the former being mastery and the latter, slavery.




The source of our bodily desires is one: the breath. When the breath leaves the body all desires leave it also. And as the breath changes its elements, and the elements – earth, water, fire, air, and ether - predominate in the breath by turns, this being caused by the different grades of activity in the breath, so the desires change. Therefore, in a certain climate one feels hungry, and in certain weather one feels thirsty, because the influence of weather on the breath kindles in the breath more of a certain element.

The constitution of a person has a great deal to do with his bodily desires. Naturally, a healthy person is often hungry and thirsty. The unhealthy person, under the garb of piety, may say, ‘How material he is!’

All bodily desires show in the physiognomy of a person. There is no desire without the influence of a particular element behind it. Besides, everybody has a certain element predominant in his physical being, and other elements in a greater or lesser degree. Upon this each person’s habits and desires depend.


The following elements and desires correspond:


Elements in the Breath Desires






There is always a possibility of confusing desire with avidity, which is not a bodily desire, but the desire of the mind that has experienced its joy through the bodily desire. Even in the absence of the bodily desire, the mind demands and forces the body to desire. In this aspect every bodily desire is out of place and undesirable, and enslaves one.

The soul, during the satisfaction of every bodily desire, descends to earth from above. That is what the myth of Adam and Eve explains, when they were driven out of the heavens and sent down to earth. This tells the seer that heaven is the plane where the soul dwells freely in its own essence and is self sufficient, and that the earth is the plane where the soul experiences the passing joys through the satisfaction of bodily desires depending upon external objects.

The soul becomes captive in this physical body, which is subject to death and decay, and forgets the freedom and peace of its original abode. That is why at times Sufis experience the satisfaction of desires, and at times abstain by the power of will, to allow the soul to experience its original joy, being in its own essence, independent of mind and body. By doing so the soul knows its first and last dwelling-place, and it uses the body, its earthly abode, to experience life on earth. It is as undesirable, according to the Sufi’s point of view, to kill the body the bodily desires by absolute or partial renunciation, as to over-indulge them and enslave one’s life to them. The Sufi means to possess the desires, not to be possessed by them.




The source of our emotions is our breath, whose impurity brings confusion and whose purity produces radiance. As the breath changes from one to the other element it produces in us an inclination towards a certain emotion. But according to the power of our will we control or give in to its unruly expression.

Every emotion has its color and its savor. One emotion develops into the other, since the proportion of activity of the mind, in its increase and decrease, produces emotions. No emotion is undesirable so long as it is under the power of the will, but when uncontrolled even the least effect of it is a sin. Fear has the influence of the earth element. Affection has the effect of the water element. Anger has the effect of the fire element. Humor has the effect of the air element and sadness has the effect of the ether element.

The nature of the elements is like colors. Light in the color makes it pale and darkness in the color makes it deep. So it is with the emotions: the light of intelligence makes them faded, and the lack of intelligence makes them deeply felt. With light, the influence of the earth element produces caution. The influence of water with light produces benevolence. The fire element with light produces ardor. The influence of the air with light produces joy and ether with light produces peace.

If you give in to an emotion, even only once and awhile, remember that the other emotions, to which you may never wish to give in, will also overpower you. Because it is one energy which assumes, by the influence of the different elements, the garb of different emotions. In fact, it is one emotion. By controlling ourselves we control all things in the world.




The mind is composed of five faculties. Even as our hand has five fingers, the physical world has five chief elements, which constitute it. As ether is an element separate from earth, water, fire, and air, and yet contains all these elements, so is the faculty which we call heart, a faculty separate from the remaining four; and yet it contains the four faculties within itself.

The special work of the heart is to feel and to produce emotions out of itself. The second faculty is mind. Its work is to think and to produce thoughts. The third faculty is memory. Its work is to collect and to supply impressions. The fourth is reason. Its work is to discriminate and to decide things. The fifth faculty is the ego, which makes one think of one’s own person, and all else as a separate entity.

The word, ‘heart,’ in metaphysics denotes the main center of the mental plane. The piece of flesh which we term heart is the sensitive part in us, which feels the effect of all joy and pain before any other organ. From this center, the breath carries on the work of spreading all energy throughout the physical body. That is why the Sufi works through this center in the physical body when he wishes to impress his absolute self with a certain thought. But high development lied in purifying the five faculties before mentioned by the mystical process and in mastering them.






It is difficult at the first thought to say whether it is the impression of the external part of ourselves which forms the mind, or if it is the impression of the inner part which forms the body. In reality, both do their work: body makes mind and mind makes body. The mind makes a stronger impression upon the body, and the body makes a clearer impression upon the mind. The thought of illness brings illness to the body. The thought of youth and beauty develops these qualities. At the same time, cleanliness of the body helps to bring purity to the mind. Strength of the body gives courage to the mind.

Every change in the muscles and features takes place under the influence of the mind. In other words, the mind ‘paints’ the picture of the body, its vehicle in life. Wrath, hatred, jealousy, prejudice, bitterness, and all evil thoughts work upon one’s physical self even before manifesting themselves. In the muscles of the features, in his face, every person shows his follies, which can never be veiled from the eyes of the seer. So it is with love, kindness, appreciation, sympathy, and all good thoughts and feelings. All show in one’s face and form, and give evidence of one’s goodness against a thousand accusations.

Sin and virtue would have no effect upon a person if the mind did not take in impressions. Nor would good or evil thoughts work on the external body if impressions were erased from the mind immediately. The sages in the East have, therefore, mastered concentration, that by its help they might be able to wipe off all that is undesirable, since it is human to err. But one arrives at this power by collecting all the good one can in the mind, so that evil may be naturally repulsed. By constantly doing so, one acquires mastery.




The soul in itself alone is not other than consciousness, which is all pervading. But when the same consciousness is caught in a limitation through being surrounded by elements, in that state of captivity, it is called soul.

The Chinese use the simile of a bee when describing the soul. It is symbolical, and really denotes the eye, the pupil of which is like a bee. In other words, the nature of the soul may be studied in the nature of the eye. All things exposed to the eye are reflected in it for the moment. When the eye is turned away, the reflection is in it no more. It had received it for the moment only.,

Such is the nature of the soul. Youth, age, beauty, ugliness, sin, or virtue, all these are before the soul when they are exposed to it during the physical or mental existence. The soul, interested in the reflection, may be for the time, attracted and bound by the object reflected. But as soon as the soul turns away it is free from it. Amir Minai, the Hindustani poet, says, ‘However fast I am bound by earthly ties, it will not take a moment to break them. I shall break them by changing sides.’

Every experience on the physical or astral planes is just a dream before the soul. It is ignorance when it takes this experience to be real. It does so because it cannot see itself. As the eye sees all things, but not itself. Therefore, the soul identifies itself with all things that it sees, and changes its own identity with the change of its constantly changing vision.

The soul has no birth, no death, no beginning, and no end. Sin cannot touch it, nor can virtue exalt it. Wisdom cannot open it up, nor can ignorance darken it. It has been always and always it will be. This is the very being of man, and all else is its cover, like a globe on the light. The soul’s unfoldment comes from its own power, which ends in its breaking through the ties of the lower planes. It is free by nature, and looks for freedom during its captivity. All the holy beings of the world have become so by freeing the soul, its freedom being the only object there is in life.




The soul with mind is as water with salt. Mind comes from soul as salt from water. There comes a time when mind is absorbed into soul, as salt is dissolved in water. Mind is the outcome of soul, as salt is the outcome of water. Soul can exist without mind, but mind cannot exist without soul. But the soul is purer without mind, and is covered by the mind.

The mind, covering the soul is as a globe. A sinful mind makes the soul sinful, a virtuous mind makes the soul virtuous, not in nature but in effect, as a red globe on the light makes the light red, and a green globe makes it look green, though, in reality, the light is neither green nor red. It is devoid of color, color being only its garb.

The soul becomes happy when there is happiness in the heart. It becomes miserable when there is misery in thought. The soul rises high with the height of imagination. The soul probes the depths with the depth of thought. The soul is restless with the restlessness of the mind, and it attains peace when the mind is peaceful. None of the above conditions of mind changes the soul in its real nature, but for the time being it seems to be so. The soul is a bird of paradise, a free dweller in the heavens. Its first prison is the mind, then the body. In these it becomes not only limited, but also captive. The whole endeavor of a Sufi in life is to liberate the soul from its captivity, which he does by conquering both mind and body.





The body is the vehicle of the mind, formed by the mind. As the mind, which is the vehicle for the soul, is formed by the soul. The body, in other words, may be called a vehicle of the vehicle. The soul is the life and personality in both. The mind seems alive, not by its own life, but by the life of the soul. So it is with the body, which appears alive by the contract of the mind and the soul. When both are separated from it, it becomes a corpse.

The question of whether the mind works upon the body or the body works upon the mind may be answered thus: it is natural that the mind should work upon the body, but usually the body works upon the mind. This happens when a person is drunk or when he is delirious with fever. In the same way the relation of the soul and the mind may be understood. It is natural that the soul must work on the mind, but usually the mind works upon the soul.

The mind cannot do more than create an illusion of joy or sorrow or knowledge or ignorance before the soul. What the body can do to the mind is only to cause a slight confusion for the moment, to accomplish its own desire without the control of the mind. Therefore, all sin, evil, and wrong is what is forced from the body on the mind and from the mind on the soul. All that is virtuous and good, and right is that which comes from the soul to the mind and from the mind into the body. This is the real meaning of the words in Christ’s prayer, ‘Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ It means in other words, ‘What Thou thinkest in the soul, the mind should obey, and what Thou thinkest in the mind, the body should obey.’ This is so that the body may not become the commander of the mind, and the mind may not become the leader of the soul.

The soul is our real being, through which we realize and are conscious of our life. When the body, owing to loss of strength and magnetism, has lost its grip upon the mind, the seeming death comes; that which everybody calls death. Then the soul’s experience of life remains only with one vehicle, that is the mind, which contains within itself a world of its own, photographed from one’s experience on earth on the physical plane. This is heaven if it full of joy, and it is hell if it is filled with sorrow. Feebleness of mind, when it loses its grip on the soul, is purgatory. When the mind has lost its grip, that is the end of the world for that soul. But the soul is alive. It is the spirit of the eternal Being, and it has no death. It is everlasting.






The soul experiences life through both mind and body. Without the mediation of the mind, the body would be incapable of acting as a proper vehicle for the soul. To put it plainly, the mind is the vehicle of the soul and the body is the vehicle of the mind. Many believe that the brain thinks and the heart feels. But in reality, the brain enables the mind to think concretely, and the physical heart enables the heart, to factor of feeling, to feel clearly.

The soul stands aloof as a mirror in which every activity of the mind and body is reflected. The soul accomplishes its purpose through these vehicles, the purpose that it has set before itself from the beginning of its manifestation. As great as is the purpose, so great is the strength that the soul applies to its fulfillment. And as fine as is the purpose, so fine does the intelligence become for its accomplishment. This is very well said by Sa’di, ‘Every soul is born for a certain purpose, and the light of that purpose has been kindled in this soul.’




In this subject the first thing that we must understand is that the soul is an undivided portion of the all-pervading consciousness. It is undivided because it is the absolute Being. It is completely filled with the whole Existence. The portion of it that is reflected by a certain form or name, becomes comparatively more conscious of the object reflected in it than of all other objects. Our mind and body, being reflected upon a portion of the all-pervading consciousness, make that part of consciousness an individual soul, which in reality is a universal spirit. This individual soul experiences the external world through the medium of the bodies reflected in it, namely our mind and body.

If we think of another thing or being, forgetting our self, that thing or being becomes reflected in our soul. We ourselves become that being or thing which is reflected at that moment in our soul, and we know all about the thing or being reflected in our soul; more than we know about our self, which is in reality not our self.

It is this mystery that accounts for telepathy, thought reading, spirit obsession, and spirit communication. By focusing our soul with responsive mind on the mind of another, we read his thought. By focusing our soul with expressive mind we send a telepathic message. When a spirit focuses his soul with expressive mind upon the mind of another, it obsesses another. When we focus our soul with expressive mind, we communicate with and help the spirit on the other side. When we focus our soul with responsive mind to a spirit, we get spirit messages.

We can learn from our murshid, be inspired by a prophet, or become illuminated by the light of God without study, practice, or any effort on our part, if we only know how to focus our soul rightly in any direction desired.




So long as the soul has not awakened to its majesty, it is full of poverty, which is cause by its limitations. The things upon which man depends in life, and the things that man admires and wishes to possess, seem so far from his reach. This is not because his soul has short arms, which cannot reach, but because his soul is captive in the physical body and only knows how to work with the material arms, which cannot reach further than one yard’s length.

The other reason for the soul’s disappointment through life is that it disconnects itself from the things and beings around it, concentrating upon the limited vehicles, the mind and body, which are focused on it, and through which it experiences life. It calls these

‘my individual self,’ thus limiting its far-reaching power and intelligence.

When the soul awakens, then no being, no thing is far from its reach, and as it becomes more capable of seeing through man, so it becomes capable of seeing through things also. In this way the soul sees through all things and knows their use, their purpose in life, and uses them for their best purpose in life.

The soul not only knows things and the secret of their nature, but it can attract things, it can construct and it can destroy things. Its power is much greater than words can ever explain.

Those who cannot see, but believe by the external evidences, to them the soul is as if dead, and they are as limited as their limited body. Those who realize God, the all-knowing and almighty, and realize His intelligence and power in their soul, they, according to their evolution and power in life, inherit the power and intelligence of the heavenly Father. Rumi says, ‘Earth, water, fire, and air seem things to men, but to the seer they seem living beings, waiting every moment to carry out the command of their Lord, the God of the universe.’




The mind has five faculties: the faculty of feeling (heart), the faculty of thinking (mind), the faculty of reasoning (consciousness), the faculty of remembering (memory), the faculty of identifying (ego).

The soul is like a light in this five-cornered room, for the soul perceives feeling, thought, memory, reason, and identity, and identifies itself with them. In reality, it is aloof from them. Change of feeling or thought does not change the soul. But as the soul cannot see itself, it thinks by the help of the ego: I am sad, or I am glad, or I remember, or I have forgotten. The soul does none of these things. They are all the workings of the mind. But as the soul does not see itself, it identifies itself with what is seen at the time.

It is a fact that the light of the soul keeps the mind in working order. When its light is covered, all confusion in life comes. And all intuitions and inspirations come as the soul discloses its light. When the mind is not in order, the soul cannot perceive things rightly. The mind is like a telescope before the soul. Therefore, both things are necessary: the mind in order, and the soul in perfect focus on the mind.




The mind is like a mirror, and every thought coming into the mind is reflected in this mirror. If a mirror with a reflection in it is focused on another mirror, the same reflection will be found in that mirror.

So it is with the mind. For the mystic who has developed enough to do it rightly, it is a simple task to take the reflection of the mind of another, or to throw the reflection of his own mind on the mind of another. The former is called thought reading, the latter is called mental suggestion. And by developing this power a person can communicate not only with the living, but also with spirits. The question is who should do so and who should not do so. If it is not advisable for a little child to go in a crowd, that does not mean that the same should be applied to a grown-up person. Therefore, the unselfish and wise may learn this in order to make the best use of this attainment.




The heart is globe covering the light of the soul, and its different emotions are different colors of this globe. Every emotion is produced by a certain element. While experiencing life through the heart, the soul at that moment thinks: I am sad, or glad, or afraid, or humorous. In fact it is its momentary experience. When the influence of a particular element is changed, the emotion has expired and the soul is as pure as it was before. Nothing touches it. It is pure by nature and it always remains pure. If ten people in turn look in a mirror, the mirror shows everyone his face reflected in it and it is clear enough to take every other reflection. In the end the mirror is as clear as before. No face that has ever been reflected in it has left an impression on it.

There are nine different emotions, which the soul experiences through the heart, and these are influenced by corresponding elements, thus:

Emotions Elements




Fear……………………….ether and air


Courage……………………fire and air

Indifference……………….ether, fire, and earth


Anger…………………….. fire and air




The soul sometimes experiences life through the heart of another. In the case of a living person, it is only done when he is master of harmony and concentration. But a spirit that has left its body on earth and passed away to the other side becomes master, for it has one vehicle less of the many vehicles that keep the spirit captive.

The secret of experiencing through another person’s heart is to focus one’s own heart on the heart of the other. This is easily done by love, and sometimes by concentration, but concentration and love combined give mastery over it. The heart is pictured by the mystics as a mirror, and as the reflections of one mirror can be reflected in another mirror, so it is with hearts. The heart, which perceives reflection from the other heart, should be without any reflections in it, by which is meant, it should be pure from any other thought or feeling at the time. But the heart, which throws the reflection, has a much more difficult part to play. It has to force its own reflection through a heart, which may perhaps be full of reflections.

Therefore, reading the thoughts of another , or knowing the feeling of another, is not so difficult as sending a thought to another or expressing one’s feeling to another. It requires strength of will, good concentration, and the right way of directing the reflection, with fineness or purity of thought and feeling.




The soul has two different sides and two different experiences. One side is the experience with the mind and body, the other side is the experience of the spirit. The former is called the outer experience, the latter the inner experience. The nature of the soul is like glass, transparent; and when one side of the glass is covered it becomes like a mirror. So the soul becomes a mirror in which the outer experiences are reflected when the other side is covered.

That is why, however greatly blessed a person may be with outer knowledge, he is not necessarily gifted with inner knowledge. In order to attain to inner knowledge, the Sufi covers the other side of the soul, so that its mirror part may face the spirit instead of the outer world. As soon as he is able to accomplish this he receives inspirations and revelations.

There are people who are by nature intuitive. They are sometimes called psychic or clairvoyant. It is accounted for by the other side of their soul naturally facing the spirit within. One may call them extraordinary or exceptional, but not mystical. For the mystic does not desire that position. By concentration and meditation he gains such a mastery that he can cover the soul from within when he requires the reflection from the outer world to its full extent. Balance is desirable, and mastery is the goal to be attained.




The soul experiences life through one’s own spirit and also through the spirit of another, sometimes consciously, but mostly unconsciously.

It is not only in obsession that the soul experiences through the spirit of another. On the contrary, it is the spirit of another that experiences through one’s own spirit in obsession. Thought reading, knowing the feeling of another, receiving sympathetic impressions upon oneself, all these things are the experiences of our soul through the spirit of another.

Then there are dreams of strange character, thoughts that do not belong to us, and different feelings that come for no reason. These are nothing but the experiences of our soul through the spirit of another. It is difficult to achieve such an experience consciously, though one often has it unconsciously. The man who can experience consciously through another person’s spirit has solved one of life’s great problems, for to do this he must have been able to efface his limited individuality from his soul. He is already on the journey to perfection, for in time his soul becomes the soul of all.




All things that manifest before the mind, such as thoughts and feelings, are in time born on the surface in the world of action, where they are called deeds. And those who cannot see them are sometimes quite unaware of the totally different form they take in their outward manifestation.

Sometimes they come before a person’s eyes, and sometimes they manifest from his notice. Those who dive deep within themselves can, when they touch the plane of the abstract, perceive things that are preparing to manifest through the mind on to the surface. But the primitive state of these things is so indistinct even to the seer, that unless he knows the language of that sphere, he cannot understand what his experiences convey, thought they are undoubtedly true in their effect. It is just as difficult as to read a line of fate.

In Sufi terms such experiences are called Anvar and Ansar. In them lies the secret of prophecy. The first experience is perceived by the ears of the soul, so to speak, for the first experience is audible, while the second experience is visible. And yet it is not audible to the ears nor is it visible to the eyes. The audible experience is called clairaudience, and the visible, clairvoyance, although these words are misused by those who falsely claim these experiences.






People have different motives for attaining knowledge. Some attain it to gain power, occult or psychic, some for inspiration, and some out of curiosity, to see if there is really something behind the wall that stands between human perception and the life unseen.

In reality, none of these motives are true ones to have for spiritual attainment. Life in the world may be likened to a journey, and the real desire of the soul is to reach the goal. The soul is the point whence life starts and where it ends. All religions at different times have taught man the way that seemed most desirable, the way to make his journey easy and joyful. One person goes to Mecca on horseback, the other riding on a camel, another travelling on foot. The experience and joy of each is different, though all journey to the same goal. So it is with us. All the virtuous and wicked and wise and foolish among us tread the same path and reach the same goal in the end. The difference being that some go with closed eyes and some with open, some on the back of an elephant, and some, weary and worn, journey on foot.

The mystics, therefore, try by the study and practice of the deeper side of life to make this path of life’s journey smooth. Amir says, ‘Beware, O travelers, the path has many charms. Men and robbers and thieves are all along this path.’ The real robbers and thieves are our attachments and temptations that rob us of our life, every moment of which is an invaluable privilege, thus bringing to us all disappointments and sorrows, which are not natural and do not belong to us. The path of this journey is within ourselves. Just like the wide space, beheld by the eyes, which do not seem more than an inch wide, yet miles of horizon can be reflected in them.

So is the true nature of the soul. It is so wide, and there is a path that runs from the body to the soul, from man to God. A person sitting at the gate will perhaps sit there for a thousand years, and never get to the goal, but he who leaves the gate behind and proceeds further will arrive at the goal by contemplation and meditation.

The Sufi’s aim is not power or inspiration, though both come as he proceeds. His only aim is to tread the path until he can arrive at the end. He does not fear how long it may take, he does not worry about what sacrifice he will have to make. He desires one thing alone, be it God or goal, the attainment of which is his perfection.






Though one sees different desires in different people, yet when one studies them keenly one finds they are all different paths leading to one common goal. When one realizes this one’s accusations, complaints, and grudges cease at once. However, there is also a natural tendency in man to find the easiest and quickest path to reach the desired goal, and there is also the tendency to share his pleasure, happiness, or comfort with others, and it is this that prompted the prophets and reformers to help mankind on its journey to the goal. Those that follow in their footsteps, forgetting that moral, drag people by the neck to make them follow them, and this has brought about the degeneration of religions.

Christ said, ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions.’ The Prophet has said, ‘Every soul has its peculiar religion.’ There is a Sanskrit saying, which perhaps deludes those who do not understand it, but which yet means the same thing: ‘As many souls as there are, so many gods are there.’

The Sufi, therefore, never troubles which path anybody takes, Islam or Kafir. Nor does he worry which way anyone journeys, the way of evil or of righteousness. For every way to him seems leading to the goal, one sooner and one later, one with difficulty, and one with ease. But those who walk with him willingly, trusting in his comradeship, are his mureeds and call him Murshid. He guides them, not necessarily through the same path he has chosen for himself, but through the path best suited to them.

In reality, the goal is already there where the journey begins. It is a journey in name; it is a goal in the beginning and in the end. It is absurd to say, ‘How wicked I am…’ or ‘How undeveloped I am for reaching the destination!’ or to think, ‘How many lives will it take, before I shall be ready to arrive at the goal?’ The Sufi says, ‘If you have courage and if you have sense, come forward. If now you are on the earth, your next step will be heaven.’ The Sufi thinks, ‘From morality to immortality I will turn as quickly and as easily as I change sides in sleep.’




A deep study of anything shows the seer that there is a purpose beneath it all. Yet, if one could look beyond every purpose, there would seem to be no purpose. This boundary is called the Wall of Smiles, which means that all purposes of life, which seem at the moment to be so important, fade away as soon as one looks at them from that height called the Wall of Smiles.

But as deeply as the purpose of life can be traced, there seems to be one ultimate purpose working through all planes of life and showing itself through all planes of existence. That is as if the Knower, with His knowing faculty, had been in darkness, desiring to know something. And in order to know something He created all things. Again, it is the desire of the Creator that has been the power which created; and, too, it is the materialized substance of the spirit, a part of Himself, that has been turned into a creation, yet leaving the Creator behind as the absolute Spirit, constantly knowing and experiencing life through all different channels, some developed, some undeveloped for the purpose.

This Knower, through His final creation, man, realizes and knows more than through any other channel of knowledge, such as bird, beast, worm, germ, plant, or rock. This one Spirit, experiencing through various channels, deludes Himself with the delusion of various beings; and it is this delusion which is the individual ego. He experiences, therefore, two things in His delusion: pain and pleasure; pleasure by the experience of a little perfection, and pain by the lack of it. As long as the cover of this delusion keeps His eyes veiled He knows, yet does not know; it is an illusion. He experiences all things, and yet everything is confusion. But as time goes, when this veil becomes thinner and He begins to see through it, the first thing that comes to Him is bewilderment. But the next is knowledge, culminating in vanity, which is the purpose of life.





Life, which is omnipresent and all pervading, divides itself as it proceeds towards manifestation in the same way that light divides itself when it projects its rays. Although there is originally no purpose in it, every activity and all activities when summed up make a purpose or purposes. In other words, it can be said that purpose comes after the activity, not before. When it seems to come before, it is the result of previous activity. For instance, it is true that the eyes are made to see, but in reality it is because the eyes can see that seeing is the purpose of the eyes. It is of course a poor example, for nothingness of purpose cannot be traced in objects visible and intelligible. It can only be traced in the origin of things.

The outcome of the whole of manifestation seems to be its knowledge. Therefore it is knowledge alone that can be called the purpose of the whole creation. It is not the knowledge of why and where that can be the purpose of life. It is the knowledge that gives complete satisfaction. There remains no part of one’s being that is hungry. There is a feeling of everlasting satisfaction in knowing something that the knower can never put into words.

It is this knowledge that mystics call self-realization, and that is recognized by some religious-minded people as God consciousness, and by philosophical minds as cosmic consciousness. It is knowledge, which is self-sufficient. In the moments that a soul holds this knowledge before its view no pain, or suffering, or weakness, or sorrow, or death can touch it. For this knowledge the whole world was created, and with this knowledge the soul’s purpose on earth is fulfilled.




The mystical conception that all life is the divine light and the whole creation is made of that light, which is the light of God, has its evidence in all forms of Creation. In the mountains and rocks there are not necessarily separate and detached rocks. This shows that in the mineral kingdom life evolves collectively. Evolution may show singleness in the vegetable kingdom, and as every tree may be called single, so every leaf, flower, and fruit may be called single. A flower may be called single, trees and plants attached together may be called single, such as reeds and grass. The development is collective, and yet it shows singleness.

Singleness can be noticed among animals and birds, but individuality is found among men. All this shows the nature of the light: that at the source from which the rays of light start they do not start singly, separate from one another. It is a very collective light. At every step forward it separates, until at its end it takes the form of a separate ray.

Light has two tendencies: to open itself, and to withdraw, which may be likened to birth and death. Also it has a tendency to narrow itself and to expand. This is like the first tendency, only in a different direction. The former is in the perpendicular direction and the latter activity takes the horizontal direction. It is this idea which is symbolized in the cross.

These tendencies can be seen in every form, in its length and breadth. There is a certain time in life during which youth grows tall. After that limit, growth will spread in another direction. Therefore, the soul is that point of the collective light, which stands separate and aloof from other points. But the withdrawal of each ray within naturally enables it to

Merge into that collective light and life.



The word ‘soul’ is used by different people in different senses. But the manner of its connection with the body proves it to be divine. Therefore, the Sufi conception of the soul is that it is the divine part in man. The fire that comes from coal or wood is in reality the part of the sun that is in them. When the soul qualities arise in the heart of a man and show themselves, this proves that it is the divine part in him that rises, like the flame in the fire.

Soul is in all objects, both things and beings, but when it is recognized as soul, then it becomes a soul. It is of the soul that a Persian Sufi has said, ‘God slept in the mineral kingdom, dreamed in the vegetable kingdom, awoke in the animal kingdom, and became self-conscious in man.’ It is the description of the soul, starting in manifestation as one and manifested in variety.

The reason why one cannot see the soul is that it is the soul that sees all things, and the soul has to become two in order to see itself, and this can never be. As consciousness is realized by being conscious of something, and as intelligence is realized by the knowledge of things, so the existence of the soul can be proved by one’s very existence. That part which exists in one, or which makes one existent, that part which sees, conceives perceives, and is conscious of all things and yet above all things is the soul.




The destiny of the soul with the mind and the body is a momentary experience when compared with the everlasting life of the soul. The soul with the mind and body are like three persons traveling together. The difference between them is that one depends for his life upon the other two – that is the body; and one depends upon one for its life – that is the mind; and one does not depend upon either for its life – that is the soul. That is why the spiritual person, who realizes being not as body and mind alone, but as soul independent of body and mind, attains to everlasting life. But for the experience of the external life the soul depends upon the mind, and the mind depends upon the body.

There is no object or being that has no soul, but the word, ‘soul’ is used in ordinary language only for that entity which is conscious of its individual being. The soul is the light, the mind is the furniture, and the body is the room. The furniture could be anywhere, and the room is a fitting place for it. But without light, neither room nor furniture is of any use, nor would life exist without soul.

The mind is created by the soul, yet the soul is independent of the mind. Just as the body is created by the mind, but the mind is independent of the body for its life. It is the life of the body, which we call life on earth, and it is the life of the mind, which we call the hereafter. It is the life of the soul that we call the life everlasting. Who lives with the body, dies with the body. Who lives with the mind will live long with the mind, and will die with the death of the mind. But who lives with the soul will live forever. Who lives with his individual self will live so long as his individual self lives, here and hereafter, and who lives with God will live the everlasting life of God. There is a saying of Nanak that, as a grain is saved from being ground in the mill by being in the center, so the worshipper who lives with God is saved from mortality.




The soul is the originator and producer of the mind, and the mind is also the originator and producer of the body. The soul produces the mind out of its own self. Yet the mind is constructed fully after the formation of the body, and the soul becomes a spirit after the formation of the mind. The soul holds the mind and the mind clings to the soul, as the mind holds the body and the body clings to the mind. The soul holds the mind as long as its activity is constructive, in other words, the soul holds the mind as long as it is engaged in the creative purpose.

When the activity of the soul takes another direction it withdraws itself from the mind. As long as the mind has power, it still clings to it, though it becomes exhausted as there is no hold on the part of the soul. This can be seen when the aged and ill begin to lose their memory and become uninterested in thinking, speaking, or hearing.

In the same way the mind works with the body. When the mind for some reason or other withdraws its activity, the body becomes disconnected from it, for it loses its hold of the mind. But if the body is still strong and healthy it clings to the mind. Soon, however, it becomes exhausted and this causes death and disease.

Death is mostly caused by the withdrawing of the soul and the mind. It seldom happens that it is cause by the body, its weakness or disorder. When the activity of the soul and the mind is constructive and drawn within, the body with a disease or a disorder continues to live. The cases where people lie for years with disease and pain are proof of this.





The phenomena of the radiance of the soul are apparent to the student of the human body. The body with its perfect mechanism loses power, magnetism, beauty, and brightness, when the soul departs from the body. This shows that the power, magnetism, beauty, and brightness belong to the soul. But since they are expressed through the body, man attributes all this to the physical body.

When we consider power, we see that the hand is not so powerful in weight and strength compared with the weight it can lift. This itself shows that it is not the hand that lifts the weight. It is something behind it. And one can notice that physical power is not the only power, but real power is something else.

As to magnetism, there is no object nor any living creature that has as much magnetism as man. The magnetism of objects attracts man, but a keen study of life would show that objects are more attracted to man than man is to the objects. If they had only intelligence to show their attraction this fact would be clear to everybody.

There is a superstition in India that some people can light fires better than others, in other words, that fire responds to some more than to others. With plants and flowers one can se the truth of this even more. The touch of some people’s hand will make them fade sooner than that of others, and certain people’s touch or even glance, would make them die. Certainly, no living creature can feel man’s magnetism as much as man, and yet even animals and birds are attracted to man sometimes more than to their own element. This magnetism of man is not necessarily of his physical body. It is his soul.

It is the same with what we call radiance or brightness. It is a light, something, which is quite apart from the physical body. No illness, weakness, or age can take away this brightness. Although it must be understood that illness is always caused by the withdrawal of the soul to a certain extent from the body, or by the incapacity of the body to a certain extent to hold the light of the soul.

Sometimes by stretching one’s hands and body one feels renewed strength, and brightness come to one’s mind and body. Sometimes, without reason one feels depression and pain in general, and laziness besides, for which no one can suggest a cause, except that the light of the soul closes and discloses itself. When disclosed, brightness, freshness, and strength come. But when closed, depression, darkness, and weakness come. By knowing this, we can realize that those who have sacrificed every pleasure, wealth, comfort, or power in life in their pursuit after the soul are justified. For a loss in pursuit of a greater gain is not necessarily a loss. Those who become independent of the physical body by meditation no doubt experience the state of the highest bliss and attain the everlasting life.



The heart of man is like a globe over the light of the soul. When the globe is dusty, naturally the light is dim. When it is cleaned, the light increases. In fact, the light is always the same. It is the fault of the globe when it is not clear. When this radiance shines out, it shows itself not only through the countenance and expression of a man, but even in the man’s atmosphere. The soul power, so to speak, freely projects outward, and the surroundings feel it. The radiance of the soul is not only a power, but it is an inspiration too. A man understands better. There is less confusion. And if he is absorbed in the contemplation of something, be it art, science, music, poetry, or philosophy, he can get inspirations clearly, and the secret of life and nature is revealed to him.

Love is the best means of making the heart capable of reflecting the soul power – love in the sense of pain rather than as pleasure. Every blow, it seems, opens a door in the heart whence the soul power comes forth. The concrete manifestations of the soul power can be witnessed in the depth of the voice, in the choice of words, in the form of a sentence or a phrase, in every movement, pose, gesture, and especially in the expression of the man. Even the atmosphere speaks, though it is difficult for everyone to hear it.

The heart may be likened to oil. Soil may be fertile or a barren desert, but the soil, which is fertile is that which bears fruit. It is that which is chosen by living beings to dwell in, although many are lost in the soil of the desert, and lead in it a life of grief and loneliness. Man has both in him, for he is the final manifestation. He may let his heart be a desert, where everyone abides hungry and thirsty, or he may make it a fertile and fruitful land, where food is provided for hungry souls, the children of the earth, strong or weak, rich or poor, who always hunger for love and sympathy.

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