Caravanserai Magazine Archive

Published 1988-2000 semi-annually on behalf of the Sufi Movement International by the Sufi Movement in Canada.


Caravanserai Magazine 1990 No.5

Dear Fellow Travellers,

Welcome once again to the circle of friends around the fire, here at the Caravanserai. This issue, our conversation is more sober; the end of September and the beginning of October saw several well-known Sufis pass away, two on the same day. Of these, only one, Munira van Voorst van Beest, was known personally to me, but I am certain I will miss her.

For years, Munira was the Biographical Department, presiding over vaults and filing cabinets full of memories in the little house across the road from Fazal Manzil in Suresnes. Murshid gave his message before the tape recorder, and so the archives are filled with many versions of his words, some taken down in short hand, some written out in long hand after the lecture, still others typed from notes since destroyed. Not surprisingly, they vary considerably, and that variation was a sign of human weakness Munira would not accept. Murshid said what he said; any other version had no right to exist.

I last saw Munira, a tall woman with a glittering eye and relentless concentration, last August, after the Summer School, and she took the opportunity to spear Caravanserai with the intensity, I could say, of a hunting heron. The article by Murshid in issue number four on the divinity of art, where had it come from? No source was given—had I come across a paper she did not have? Her eagerness was all the sharper because the first few words were the same as a lecture on which she had been working, but then it became something else entirely. Her curiosity was alight.

Alas, my reply did not satisfy her. I could tell her that it came from a book called 'Supplementary Papers,' but the original date or location of the lecture was not given. She wondered if perhaps it was a combination of several lectures, partly because it was somewhat longer than the typical talk by Murshid. In that case, she would be looking at tracking down several sources, and might even have stumbled across some missing paragraphs from something already catalogued. Eventually, we passed on to other topics, but the matter was not forgotten. Two days later, she telephoned as early as she thought decent to tell me exultantly she had found it. "I went down this morning, and just opened a file, and there it was!" A lecture in 1920, perhaps at Wissous, taken down by Dr. O.C. Gruner. I'm afraid that with that, her interest fell off sharply, because she did not much care for what Dr. Gruner did to Murshid's prose. No change was really acceptable to her, and Dr. Gruner imposed his own style so freely in an effort to spread the Message farther that she found him mostly beneath notice Munira was a specialist, and like most specialists, she was not particularly accommodating. She could be unmoving and difficult; especially when it came to a matter of principle, and by the end of her life, her principle was exclusively the preservation of Murshid's 'voice' for the centuries to come. It may be hard to reconcile her scholarly stubbornness with the Sufi's proverbial ability to have more than one point of view, but she had found work she was uniquely fitted for, and she devoted herself completely to it. After years of practice she could read Sakina Furnee's faint pencil shorthand, on now yellowing paper as easily as if it were clear text. She knew the hands and minds of a the principal note-takers, and knew how to relentlessly strip away their own personal inclusions from the original inspiration, the words of Hazrat Inayat Khan.

Unfortunately, there is no-one else quite as keen and stubborn as Munira, not yet, anyway, and she will be sorely missed.
Nawab Pasnak

This Issue:

The God Ideal and the Spirit of Guidance
Hidayat Inayat Khan

Murshid's Words: On Brotherhood
Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan

Modern Sufi Views of the Afterlife
Nuria J. Lawrence

The Present
Karamnavaz van Bylandt

Poetry From South Africa
Padmani Burt
/Peter Philip

Mysticism in Daily Life
Wali van Lohuizen

Earth and Sky - M

A Search Into the Meaning of the Universal Worship
David Murray

Music: Song to the Madzub
Noorunnisa Inayat Khan


Back Pages

One article in this issue deserves a brief note, that of the late Karamnavaz van Bylandt on The Present. Karamnavaz was a Dutch mureed of many years, and served for some time as the executive supervisor of the Sufi Movement. This article is a reprint of a talk given at an eariler Summer School, passed on to Caravanserai by Murshid Karimbakhsh Witteveen.


1990 Volume 5. Hidayat Inayat Khan. "Teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan on the Spirit of Guidance and the God-Ideal"

When referring to the subject of the Spirit of Guidance, one of the many questions which might arise is the following: Was Buddha a Buddhist? Was Christ a Christian? Was Mohammed a Mohammedan? And, when confronted with this question, one's line of thought is directly challenged if one's heart is not open to the call of the Message of Unity which has been interpreted in so many ways by the followers. These interpretations have been moulded along the ages into dogmatic frameworks which fitted into the cultural and social conditions of various civilizations, resulting in what is generally understood by the term, 'religion.' Unfortunately, religion, which is meant to express the basic principles of a God-Ideal, is so often misleading in ways which divide humanity into controversial beliefs instead of inspiring such understandings as 'Spiritual Liberty' and 'Spirit of Guidance' in all religious impulses and expressions.

It is the nature of man to try to discover what is behind the veil of the universe, and this explains why man has the tendency to reach higher and higher in whatever be the aspiration, either material or spiritual. Therefore the seeking for God, either consciously or unconsciously, is the natural outcome of our longing to experience higher spheres.

In this context, we intuitively presume the help of divine guidance, as we also presume different experiences of these higher spheres with all their secret appeals, notwithstanding the diversity of approaches to the Divinity, arising from different levels of understanding of the source of all creation. Numerous interpretations of these concepts were formulated by idol worshippers, the first pioneers of religion, who required tangible, materialized representations of the abstract ideals of worship. However, a more advanced approach to an all-mighty and all-pervading God is adopted by those who worship abstract ideals, making God thereby intelligible at a much more mystical level of understanding.

Whether God exists is a question that arises in every mind, and there may sometimes be moments when even the greatest believer in God questions his own belief. In various periods of history there have existed different conceptions of God. People in all ages, seeking for the deity of the time, have pictured God in some form or other, but the human heart is an accommodation which conceives the idea of God pictured according to one's own mentality. For instance, the Buddha of China had Chinese eyes, while the Buddha of India had the likeness of an Indian sage. We cannot conceive of an angel as different from the human form, except for the two wings which have been added so that it may have a more heavenly appearance. Similarly, it is natural that God has been pictured in various human forms, because in fact there could not be a more perfect conception than the human personality, which is a gift of God.

People have called God 'He,' recognizing the powerful aspect of the deity. They have also called God 'She,' recognizing the mother principle and the beauty of the deity. This again has resulted in the blossoming of many gods and goddesses throughout history. In fact, though, the many gods and goddesses were never meant to be other than representations of the attributes of the one and only God. Sadly, this was the cause of many wars, fought to save the honour of misinterpretations of the one God.

The purpose of being born on earth could perhaps be to discover that very perfection which is within ourselves; however good, pious, kind or religious one may be, if we have not found the purpose for which we are born, we have not fulfilled the object of our lives. That object could perhaps be understood as the discovery of the Divine Presence, which is the real essence of our very being.

Of course, there are as many 'truths' as there are seekers after Truth, but beyond all futile displays of theological knowledge and dogmatic doctrines, the Inner Truth or 'Spiritual Guidance' is constantly shining, and thereby assuring the feasibility of our impulses, providing that we are conscious of that true guidance. This explains why it is really only we ourselves who can rightly judge our own thoughts and our own feelings inasmuch as we are aware of the inner reminder or 'Conscience,' which is at the same time the Light of Spiritual Guidance and the result of the cause and effect of all our impulses and actions. Therefore, unless we proceed as a pupil to ourselves rather than as a master to others, our virtues and our religious convictions are fruitless. By boasting of them, one makes a fool of oneself, besides fooling others and even attempting to fool God in one's impertinence. Belief is not an acquisition nor is it the result of an accomplishment nor the consequence of being won over or converted. Belief is an inner discovery; belief comes only when one is taken by surprise—so to speak—finding oneself inhabited by an inner guidance which is from that moment secretly and sacredly cherished.

Millions of people pray each day, but unless their conscience is at peace, and unless their prayer is the outcome of the tuning of the heart, the prayer is not really sincere, whatever might be the motivation, either fear of God or doctrinal obligations, or even as a source of self-confirmation when the conscience is disturbed. Prayer can only be an expression of sincerity when it is an offering emerging from the depth of the heart, unrestricted by concepts of duality such as 'God and I’. Only then does one realize that it is in the love of mankind that God is born in man, and at the same time, man is born from the love of God: Love, human and Divine. Man came into existence from the All-Pervading, where the concept of individuality has no reality in the way we understand reality, but while growing up our thinking develops more and more in lines of thought such as 'I am, this is mine, I want to have, I want to be.' This specific T concept denotes complete unawareness of the reality of the true being which is so much vaster than the little T could ever be; and which is only a fragmentary understanding of the entire picture, limiting the self to just a grain of dust within the net-work of the Universe. Besides, in the Universe, there is really nothing else to be acquired than just all that which is already there, hidden as a pearl in the depth of our heart.

It is the ‘I’ concept, with all its false identifications, which makes us unhappy and unsatisfied in life so long as that ‘I’ is our Master. In fact, all that one longs for is, in reality, just only the result of an unconscious wish for self-assertion, which has such a strong hold on the mind each time one thinks in those limited conceptions that one makes of the true self. Self-assertion either crushes the heart under the weight of unhappiness, or, when the heart is loaded with the thought of the self, it raises the head high with false pride, resultating in all those confusions which arise when we are confronted with conflicting opinions about good and bad, or right and wrong. The more we give in to the want for self-assertion, that much more ego-power is required in the game, and consequently, the more enslaved we become to our own self; whereas, conversely, when the need for self-assertion does not disturb our inner peace, we can then dedicate our aspirations to higher ideals.

The ego is not something tangible, although it does motivate powerful impulses in the sphere of mind, from whence it governs our personality, and to the extent that one is isolated within the very limited dimensions of the self, is a handicap to all prospects of happiness. When seen from another angle, however, it is obvious that without the strength of an ego-drive one would not be able to survive amidst the hardships of this demanding world. Paradoxically, one finds oneself confronted with the negative consequences of one's own ego, whereas without the power of that same ego one would not be able to accomplish those things which one plans, nor would one reach to the desired goals. Perhaps the answer to this paradox could be found in the knowledge of the secrets of the Alchemy of Happiness. Happiness becomes a reality when all feelings of duality such as 'Thine and mine' are overcome, and the heart is freed from all individual limitations, after experiencing the burning of the flames of self-denial. The Alchemy of Happiness is the process through which the iron rod of the ego is melted, transformed into gold and moulded into beautiful jewellery: the art of personality. It is only then that happiness becomes a source of inspiration in all occupations, either material or spiritual, and that 'unreality' vanishes when exposed to the brilliant light of the Spirit of Guidance which is constantly present at all levels of consciousness.

"This is not my body, this is the Temple of God."


1990 Volume 5. Hazrat Inayat Khan. "The Work of our Movement on the lines of Brotherhood"

Words of Murshid

The following is an excerpt from Complete Works of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan, Original Texts: Lectures on Sufism, 1923II. It is the fruit of meticulous labour by the late Munira van Voorst van Beest of the Biographical Department, assisted by Sharif Graham, and is published by East-West Publications. We regret that space does not permit the full explanation of the abbreviations in the annotations, but Sk. refers to Sakina Furnee, one of Murshid's secretaries; Gd. refers to Murshida Goodenough; Hq. t. means a typewritten document from Headquarters; Sr. refers to Sirdar van Tuyll van Seerooskerken.

Sakina's undated longhand reporting, which may be her shorthand transcription; the latter, however, has not been found in the archives.
Summer 1923'

2The Work of our Movement 3on the lines3 of Brotherhood.

This line of work is really speaking the fulfilment of every activity of our Movement.

One activity of our Movement is the esoteric School in which people are initiated, and they4 advance grade by grade individually developing the5 soul towards the attainment of spiritual realization.6 There is another activity which is 7a devotional activity,7 which is called8 Church of All or the Universal Worship, and9 it is a religious activity; religion, not in '°the sense of a sectarian activity.10 On the contrary, a religious activity which brings souls to that11 true religion which stands above all sects. But whether we strive'2 the path of religion or we journey through the path of mysticism, it is for one object: that we may be best fitted to live the ideal of brotherhood. If a person was ,3such a great'3 mystic that he was the greatest Master, or if a person was so pious and religious that he was the greatest saint and yet'4 if he did'5 not live the idea'6 of brotherhood, ,7it was of not great importance whether17 spiritual realization is realized'8 in the'9 practical20 life by observing the idea21 of brotherhood. At this time when the world needs the idea21 of brotherhood more than 22at any other time22 in the history of the world, it is our privilege and destiny to do all we can to bring about the23 ideal of brotherhood24 in our own lives first and then25 to spread26 outside27 in the world. Any problem or28 theory or doctrine intellectually29 studied is of no value unless it is30 practised. Ten thousand people crying3' out "brotherhood" and one person living it, is32 equal or perhaps33'34 better. Brotherhood is not a materialistic ideal,35 it is a spiritual ideal. The materialist36 cannot understand 37what brotherhood is in its real sense of the word.37 For38 the39 reason is40 that the materialist36 can 41go as far as saying41 "another brother42 is as good as me43 and therefore my happiness is in sharing all the44 good with another". But the spiritual person says "another45 person is me. His happiness is my happiness46," and therefore this47 highest ideal of brotherhood which spiritual realization can teach, materialism cannot teach. Therefore 48inspite of all48 that this49 activity which is50 going on 5'in the world just now5' to bring about a world brotherhood52 is not53 being successful, because the life of brotherhood which is its very breath, is the realization of the same God in oneself as well as in another.54 The work of the spiritual man is to forget his false self, and 55what does he realize by forgetting?55 56He realizes the true self,57 the realization of God, and that self is not only in himself56 but in his neighbour also.

There is no doubt, every man more or less loves the ideal 6 of brotherhood. 58l do not say58 of a person who is not 59in his right mind,59 but a normal person, he60 cannot deny61 the idea16 of brotherhood being62 the only idea16 which can be called 63religion or spirituality.63 64But the question is in practising it. It is easy to know it intellectually,64 65but when it comes to practise66 it, it becomes67 very difficult. It needs sacrifice, it needs humbling68, it needs endurance, it needs patience, it needs forgiveness, it needs that brotherly sympathy for every soul who69 stands next to us, and65 it is the power of love alone which will raise man through the pettiness, 70smallness71 of human nature to rise to that 72high ideal of brotherhood which is72 the true aristocracy73 of the human soul.

Instead of the blank, Sk. afterwards filled In "purpose". As usual Sk. did not keep herself a copy of her reporting, which she sent to Hq. Evidently she did not remember that she had taken down the word "aristocracy" In her Ih.r. and she added "purpose" In copy.

74Now the question is that75 how can we set to work about it? We have only taken our first step in this direction, many steps more we have to take. The first step is that wherever our Movement is established, there we have one day or two days in a month when we have such meetings of World Brotherhood. In this meeting we have the lecture given by our own members or by our friends, a lecture on the problems of our every day life and its relation to spiritual ideal. Therefore this meeting platform gives scope to members and to friends who have some ideas to suggest for the well-fare of humanity, that they may bring their idea before their friends, and in this way by hearing the ideas of different friends and on these most important questions, we shall be able some day to make our thoughts more distinct as to the working of this idea and thus we shall be able to set forward our blessed Movement in order to accomplish our sacred ideal, the service of man and God.74


1. Sk.lh.r.: over It was added In Gd.hwr, "Summer 1923 (Rep. by S. Furnee)"; Sr.: "Sunday, July 15th 1923"
2. Sr.: "About" added
3. Hq.t.: "In the Line" Instead of "on the lines"
4. Sr.: "they" omitted
5. Ibid.: "their" Instead of "the"
6. Ibid.: "perfection" Instead of "realization"
7. Ibid.: "devotional and" Instead of "a devotional activity"
8. Ibid.: "the" added
9. Ibid.: "and" omitted
10. Ibid.: "a sectarian sense" Instead of "the sense of a sectarian activity"
11. Sr.: "the" Instead of "that"
12. Ibid.: "In" added
13. Ibid.: "so great a" Instead of "such a great"
14. Ibid.: ", still" Instead of "and yet"
15. Hq.t.: "does"
16. Sr.: "Ideal" instead of "Idea" or vice versa
17. Ibid.: "It would not avail much". Instead of "It was of not great Importance whether";
Hq.t.: "it Is not of great importance If"
18. Sr.: "Is attained" Instead of "Is realized"; Hq.t.: "Is not realized"
19. Sr.: "the" omitted
20. Hq.t.: "dally" Instead of "practical"
21. Sr., Hq.t.: "Ideal"
22. Sr.: "ever before" Instead of "at any other time"
23. Ibid.: "this" Instead of "the"
24. Ibid.: "of brotherhood" omitted
25. Ibid.: "thus" instead of "then"
26. Sr., Hq.t.: "it" added
27. Sr.: "outside" omitted
28. Hq.t.: "as"
29. Sr.: "intellectually" omitted
30. Ibid.: "be" Instead of "Is"
31. Ibid.: "calling" instead of "crying"
32. Hq.t.: "are"
33. Sr.: "even" Instead of "perhaps"
34. Hq.t.: "the one is" added
35. Sr.: "Ideal" omitted
36. Hq.t.: "materialistic" instead of "materialist"
37. Sr.: "brotherhood" Instead of "what brotherhood is In Its real sense of the word"
38. Hq.t.: "For" omitted
39. Sr.: "the" omitted
40. Ibid.: "is" omitted
41. Ibid.: "say" instead of "go as far as saying"
42. Hq.t.: "brother" omitted
43. Ibid.: "I" Instead of "me"
44. Sr.: "my" Instead of "the"
45. Ibid.: "that other" instead of "another"
46. Ibid.: "mine" Instead of "my happiness"
47. Sr., Hq.t.: "the" Instead of "this"
48. Sr.: "inspite of all" omitted
49. Hq.t.: "the" Instead of "this"
50. Sr.: "now" added
51. Ibid.: "In the world Just now" omitted
52. Hq.t.: "the attempt" added
53. Ibid.: "not" omitted
54. Sr-.: "the others" Instead of "another"
55. Ibid.: "what does he realize by forgetting?" omitted
56. Ibid.: "And so to realize the true self which is God, and this true self not only in him" instead of "He realizes the true self, the realization of God, and that self is not only In himself"
57. Hq.t.: "that Is" added
58. Sr.: "I don't say this is true" instead of "I do not say"; Hq.t.: "This Is not said"
59. Sr.: "sane" Instead of "In his right mind"
60. Sr., Hq.t.: "he" omitted
61. Sr.: "that" added
62. Ibid.: "is" instead of "being"
63. Ibid.: "religious or spiritual"
64. Ibid.: "The question is how to practise this ideal which Is easy to know" instead of "But the question Is In practising It. It Is easy to know It Intellectually"
65. Ibid.: "The difficulty Is that practice needs sacrifice, needs humility, needs endurance, needs patience, needs forgiveness, needs brotherly sympathy for every soul who stands near one"
66. Hq.t.: "practising"
67. Ibid.: "is" Instead of "becomes"
68. Ibid.: "oneself" added
69. Ibid.: "that" Instead of "who"
70. Hq.t.: "the" added
71. Sr.: "smallness" omitted
72. Ibid.: "this Ideal" Instead of "that high ideal of brotherhood which Is"
73. Ibid.: "answer" in his hwr. copy; a blank In his tp. copy;
74. Ibid.: this last paragraph Is not Included
75. Hq.t.: "that" omitted


1990 Volume 5. Nuria J. Lawrence. "Modern Sufi Views of the Afterlife as Expressed by Hazrat Inayat Khan"

As a mystical movement, Sufism is more concerned with inner experience than outward form. This is largely because of the feeling that there is a separation between words and meaning, making words tools, not ends in themselves. As Rumi expresses it, "Have you ever picked and held a rose from R, O, S, E? You say the NAME. Now try to find the reality it names."

In keeping with this tradition, Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan feels no obligation to express his ideas in the logical pattern of theology. This does not mean that he is illogical, but that his logic is one of symbolism. His ideas often appear to be a contradictory mixture of many different religions and mythologies. Upon closer examination, however, it is apparent that his ideas are unified by sentiment and personal experience. His views of the afterlife are presented as part of a larger body of mystical thought, meant to improve the condition of the present life by awakening the hearer to the purpose of existence.

The key to understanding any view of the afterlife is in comprehending the underlying view of the nature of the human being. It is thus appropriate to begin with an examination of Hazrat Inayat Khan's idea of the soul.

In The Soul, Whence and Whither, a wide variety of images is used to describe the soul, from a ray of the divine sun, to an exhalation of God, to Intelligence caught by mind and body. In general, Pir-o-Murshid's conception of the soul can be understood as energy that needs a medium in which to function before it becomes recognizable. The soul descends from God into a series of different spheres. At each stage it picks up more layers or 'veils,' as the raw energy attracts 'bodies' of mind, individuality and the physical body. The goal of every soul is to reverse the process by stripping away the veils until it is once more in a state of union with the Divine. Because the perception of individuality is regarded as ultimately illusory, personal survival is not an issue.

The first stage on the return journey of the soul is the death of the physical body. The soul inhabits a physical body on earth because the body has a magnetism that traps the soul. This magnetism is limited and will eventually be dissipated, like a clock that has run down. Death as we know it occurs when, as Murshid says, "this body loses that power of keeping together by which it holds the soul which functions in it. It gives way, and the soul naturally departs, leaving the material body as one would throw away a coat which one no longer needs."

Immediately after death, the soul experiences a period of shock and inactivity. It had become accustomed to identifying itself with the body, and the sudden withdrawal into itself produces an impression of horror. This is especially true if the person had been afraid of death, for, as Pir-o-Murshid says in The Soul, Whence and Whither, "if there remains anything of death with the soul which has passed away from this earth, it is the impression of death according to the idea it has had of death. If the soul has had a horror of death, it carries that horror with it; if it has had agitation at the thought of death, it carries that feeling with it."

The length of time that the shock lasts varies according to the fear of death the person had before dying; the greater the fear, the longer the time. Hazrat Inayat Khan refers to this state as purgatory, similar to the Christian idea in that it is a period of purification. However, it differs from the Christian conception in that it is seen as a purification from a single idea, that of death, and not from sin. Because of this, it is a state that all souls go through, whether they are on their way to heaven or hell.

For Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, heaven and hell are not separate places, but separate states of mind. They exist in the jinn sphere, which is a world created by the mind, and the next phase after purgatory. When the soul has been purified of the idea that it is dead, it regains energy and reawakens in the world of ideas. This is compared to a dream world, except that one can never waken from it. The jinn sphere contains all of the things that the soul was familiar with on earth, including people and day-to-day activities. The soul lingers in a mental body similar in form to the one left on earth, but 'finer,' with "an incomparably longer life than the physical body." This body, like the physical body, is subject to discomfort. In the world of the mind, Pir-o-Murshid declares that discomfort consists of impressions ".. .of illness, sadness, of misery which the soul has experienced while on earth and has taken into the spirit world." Eventually, this body also decomposes and the soul moves on to the next sphere.

"After the jinn sphere, the soul moves on to the sphere of angels...

Because the world of the jinn plane is not physical, there are fewer limitations, and desires are much more easily met in this sphere. This is not always pleasant. As John Hick, theologian and author of Death and Eternal Life, points out, "We might discover that some of our desiring was repugnant to our better nature." For Hazrat Inayat Khan, it is our desires that create heaven and hell. "Owing to its delusions," he writes, "[the soul] takes upon itself all the conditions that the mind has to go through after death. Therefore the experience after death of the soul that has not attained to liberation is very depressing. If the mind is not much attached to the earthly life and has gathered up the satisfaction of its deeds, it enjoys heaven; if the contrary is the case, then it experiences hell." The progress of the soul is not automatic, and it is possible for a soul to remain in its hell for the duration of its stay in this sphere, by dwelling on negative impressions. However, Murshid says, "If [the soul] knows how to throw them off, he need not take them with him," and many souls learn how to 'throw them off during their time in this sphere. All souls are bound for the same destination, union with God, and in the afterlife, Murshid explains, "the soul finds itself in clearer spheres, therefore it knows its way better than it had known before when on earth."

In this Sufi way of understanding the afterlife, the 'Day of Judgement' of the Western traditions is interpreted metaphorically. The realization of the true nature of ourselves and our desires becomes our 'day,' for as Murshid writes in The Sufi Message of Spiritual Liberty, "Our day is when we are awake, our night is when we are asleep. When the illusionary [ego-centred] life has proved to be not so real as for some time we had thought it to be then comes the day when things appear as clear as in daylight. To some few this happens in this world, but to all in the hereafter."

The worlds created by the soul in the sphere of the jinn are by and large self contained. Hazrat Inayat Khan refers to the soul as "a person here [on earth] and a planet there." It is difficult to know exactly what he means by this. It could be that he means this quite literally, but it is more likely that it was meant figuratively. Each soul creates an individual mind world for itself, filling it with its own particular images brought from life on the physical plane. The self-containment is not complete, however; separate souls may not experience the same world, but, like planets, they do exist in the same realm and can influence each other by "their power of magnetism and by their power of attraction," as Murshid says. They may also communicate with
each other if they wish, or with people still living on earth.

While the jinn sphere is thus not completely isolated, it is not vital for the progress of the soul that there be interaction with other beings and realms. This is especially true for followers of the mystical path, whose goal is generally a subjective experience of God, or rather, an experience of God that goes beyond distinctions and differences. The mystic looks for God within the true self, and the knowledge of the self which a projected mind world would provide could greatly enhance growth, not limit it.

After the jinn sphere, the soul moves on to the sphere of the angels. The angelic sphere is also generally referred to as heaven, but unlike the mind-world, it is not a self-created world. It is a joyous state because the souls are close to the presence of God. Everything belonging to the jinn sphere is left behind, including thoughts. All that the soul retains are feelings and vibrations. The body in this sphere bears little resemblance to the earthly body, due to the changes undergone in each sphere. "When the soul is on its way to the physical plane," Pir-o-Murshid says, "its bodies grow, develop and become more distinct, and as the soul advances towards the goal, so its bodies become more ethereal, luminous but indistinct." It is made up of a special kind of light that is "Light and Life in one." It is visible, intelligent and even audible, for as Murshid says, "The soul, apart from the body and mind, is a sound, a note, a tone, which is called in Sanskrit 'Sura.' If this note is inharmonious and has dissonant vibrations [the result of failing to cast off negative impressions in the previous sphere] it is called...asura, out of tune. The soul, therefore, in the heaven of the angels has not got sins or virtues to show, nor has it a heaven or hell to experience. It does not show any particular ambition or desire; it is either in tune or out of tune."

The angelic sphere is a realm of music, in which each soul attains greater harmony. Even in this sphere, some souls remain undeveloped. The comparison to music allows for the discordant notes, because there are so many souls that each will find harmony with someone. Furthermore, as Pir-o-Murshid points out, the disharmony gradually fades: "The inharmonious people follow the harmonious even as far as in heaven. But as the soul goes farther it improves, it becomes more and more in tune. At the same time the vibrations of every soul are different, one is more harmonious than the other, but they all fit in to the one music of heaven, for the reason that in music you do not want all notes alike; all different notes are necessary.. .There is a chance of harmony at every step even as far as in the heavens, for life is progressive, and therefore there is always hope of improvement."

Eventually the soul leaves this plane and achieves union with the Divine, completing its journey to and from manifestation. This stage is not described by Murshid, because it is a mystical union and thus beyond words.

One of the philosophical advantages of this scheme is that no one is excluded from it. There is a certain amount of predestination involved, in that it is part of the soul's nature to journey towards reabsorption. However, in all of the steps along the way, the soul has both the choice and the ability to make the experience pleasant and further its progress.

Another interesting feature of Hazrat Inayat Khan's explanation is that it can work on two levels. On what might be termed the horizontal level, there is also what could be considered a vertical dimension to the soul's experience. Because this is an explanation based on mystical practice, there is no need to wait until the end of the journey to experience the Divine Presence. "They can go to God even from here," says Pir-o-Murshid, "for God is nearer to them than any sphere of angels or anything else." Through various esoteric practices such as zikar and meditation, the soul can achieve union with God no matter which plane the body inhabits. Each soul goes through the horizontal journey because, "The joy of life is the joy of the journey. If one closed one's eyes and was put immediately on the top of the Himalayas, one would not enjoy it so much as the tone who would climb from height to height, see the different scenery, meet with different people and breathe the different atmosphere and air."

If the purpose of manifestation is for the Divine to come to know itself, once having put on many veils, it is natural that the manifested souls will undergo many different experiences as the veils are dropped. It is also desirable for the soul to experience the vertical journey, so that it is able to appreciate and learn from the other journey. It is this learning that gives meaning to life. In Aqibat, Life After Death, Murshid says, "The work of the Sufi is to take away the fear of death. This path is trodden in order to know in life what will be with us after death. As it is said in the Qur'an 'Die before death.' To take off this mortal garb to teach the soul that it is not this mortal but is that immortal being, so that we may escape the great disappointment which death brings, this is what is accomplished in life by a Sufi."

By providing an image of reality in which the individual is ultimately illusory, Hazrat Inayat Khan avoids many of the philosophical problems associated with personal survival. For many people, the eternal existence of an identifiable ego provokes an existential nausea. In a scheme such as Murshid's, existence is given meaning and purpose—to know the Divine—without the weighty responsibility of eternal individuality.


1990 Volume 5. Karamnavaz van Bylandt. "The Present"

The subject of this talk is ’the present’ this day which is hedged between yesterday and tomorrow. We can't change yesterday and what tomorrow shall bring, we don't know. But today we have in our hands, we can do something with it. Before us lie possibilities, opportunities, a choice of action. We can make or mar today. It is really a solemn thought when we come to think of it. George Fox felt it when he said "Ye have no time but the present, therefore prize your time for your souls' sake!"

Our Murshid admonishes us in the Gayan, "Every moment of your life is more valuable than anything else in the world." It has the sound of an urgent appeal. Why so urgent? Because today is passing, tomorrow it is gone. This sense of the impermanence of the present has been felt and expressed all through the ages.

In their terse, lapidary way, the old Romans said carpe diem, pluck the day. During the troubled days of the renaissance in Florence, when dagger and poison often menaced life, the poet Poliziani said, "Chi vuol esser lieto sia, di doman non c'e certezza." Let him who wants to be cheerful know, there is no certainty about tomorrow. It may sound cynical, but there is wisdom underneath.

What are we going to do with today? Are we going to let it come over us as it comes, submit ourselves to get ruffled and annoyed, or are we going to meet the outer world, the people around us in a positive way? In a positive way—that means looking things in the face and seeing what we can do about it. What we can do about it, what we can give out. In other words, are we going to think, to speak and to act in a way productive of harmonious results? We all know the saying, "What 14 one sows, one reaps," but we have the tendency to apply this saying to others rather than to ourselves.

We are fortunate in that, as mureeds, we have been given practices, which we might consider as the frame of our day. Are we not invited at the beginning of the day to purify ourselves, breathing in the power out of divine space which fortifies and revivifies us and enables our soul to expand? It is the very thing to help us to stand positively against the disturbing influences which are always present in the world around us.

Recently I happened to come across a beautiful text from a Sanskrit scripture which I should like to read to you as it stresses in a marvellous way the importance of being conscious of today. It is called The Salutation of the Dawn...

Look well to this day for it is life:
the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the verities of your existence:
the bliss of growth,
the glory of action,
the splendour of beauty.
For yesterday is but a dream
and tomorrow only a vision,
but today well lived
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day!
Such is the salutation of the dawn!

When we try to make the most of today, one of the effects will be that, more than before, we shall find our-selves to live in the present. What is the present? We can consider it in two ways, in the first place from the point of view of time, and in the second place from that of space.

Seen as time, it is that mysterious zero-point which glides away between our fingers. While we are here together, every moment is disappearing into the past. "Time, I have never seen thee, but I have heard thy steps," says Murshid in the Gayan.

The Sufi poets have often reminded their hearers that they should live in the present: "O my beloved, fill the cup that clears today of past regrets and future fears," sings Omar Khayyam. Murshid has commented on these verses (in Sufi Teachings, vol. VIII of the Collected Works). "Make the best of this moment," says Murshid. "It is now that you can clearly see eternity— if you live in this moment. But if you keep the world of the past and of the future before you, you do not live in eternity, but in a limited world...In other words," concludes Murshid, "live neither in the past nor in the future, but in eternity."

We may well ponder these words a moment together, and ask ourselves how much of our time we spend living uselessly in the past or pointlessly in the future. I say uselessly and pointlessly, for of course there is such a thing as remembering with a purpose and preparing the future by trying to visualize it.

So we are to live neither in the past nor in the future, but in eternity. One would have expected Murshid to say, 'in the present,' 'now,' but by saying 'in eternity,' Murshid has given us a precious clue. Could 'now' be eternity? What is 'now'? Now is this fleeting moment between past and future which passes too quickly to hold it. We can look at the past, we can try to pierce the hidden future, but the present escapes our grip. Still we feel that the present is a very real thing, it has a reality different from the past and it is somehow more substantial than the future. Could that be so because it is the only moment during which we can live in eternity?

To live in eternity. From the context, it is clear that it does not mean living forever, for an infinite length of time. Sometimes Murshid uses the term everlasting to express that idea, in contradiction to eternal. To live in eternity is living out of time, it is a different quality, one might say it is living in a different dimension.

How do we live in eternity? To answer that question it is perhaps best to ask ourselves if we ever had experiences of living out of time. I think we all have moments when 'time was not'. The experiences may vary, but they shall undoubtedly prove to have this in common, that in every case we were completely absorbed in what we did or saw or heard. It may have been before a splendid sunset, a landscape, or just a flower, or listening to music which, as the saying goes, 'transported' us, taking us into another world, or it may have been some artistic occupation or scientific pursuit, or deep thought, which made us forget time, forget ourselves and made us live concentrated in something else. Our practices— meditation—may lead us to that experience.
One speaks of 'entering into a subject,' or 'losing oneself in the contemplation of beauty'—expressions which point the way of how to get out of time and into eternity.

We may not all be artists, or scientists intent on discovering the secrets of nature, but there is one thing we all can do, and that is to try to live more in the present, to live consciously in the present, which really means doing what we do, with full attention and concentration. For instance: Nazar! Thankfulness! But also taste, enjoy your food! Eat it consciously.

In this way we make of our daily life, of our daily task our concentration—just doing the thing before us and not to rush ahead to live in the future! This means in the first place never to hurry. Hurry is a deadly foe to concentration, a destruction to rhythm. "He who believeth, hurrieth not," says the prophet Isaiah (Is. 28:16). When we put aside hurry and return to an even rhythm, the quality of our work improves, we seem to be able to enter more profoundly into a subject; somehow time seems to widen.

In the Gayan there is a strange sentence which touches upon the mysteries of time. It goes, "It is our perception of time which passes, not time itself, for time is God and God is eternal."

It is our perception of time which passes, and the way it passes varies very much. We all know how time may drag and how time can fly. Conventional time, measured by the rotation of the earth round the sun, is the same for all of us, but, as science has found, there is also something like a biological time for each individual. For instance, the time wounds take to heal differs according to the individual. Health, and especially the age of a person, are factors which determine this biological time. The same wound heals three or four times faster in a child than in the case of an aged person. Also the perception of time varies greatly according to age. The day of a child is much longer than that of an adult or an old person. I am sure we all can recall how vast was the expanse of a day spent in the country when we were young, and how at the end of the school term seemingly endless summer holidays opened before us. An explanation of this phenomenon might be that the child lives more in the present, his mind is more open and therefore his days are full of moments of eternity.

We may do well to remember in this context the words Jesus said to his disciples: "Except ye be converted and becomes as little children, ye shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven." (Matt. 18) Or, in the version of Saint Luke, "Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, shall in no wise enter therein." The Kingdom is a state of consciousness into which we may enter, if we become simple and receptive as little children. Simplicity and receptivity are the condition requisite to enable us to change our consciousness so that we may receive the Kingdom into it. We have to think again with the eyes, with the immediate perception of a little child.

It is not outside our power to become as little children, nor is it outside our power to change our perception of time. We have seen that, when we are collected in our thought, the time seems to widen.

Living in eternity is experiencing an expansion of consciousness escaping out of normal perception of time into a spiritual world, where the value of time is different. St. Peter says in hi; second Epistle General ((II 3:8), "Beno1 ignorant of this one thing, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand year: and a thousand years as one day." Ian reminded here of a saying of Murshid that one day of meditation is more that a year of study, and one hour in the presence of the Murshid still more.

Earlier in this talk I said we could consider the present from the point o view of time, as indeed we have don't so far, but we can also look at the present from the point of view of space—the present. What is present before us, or rather what surrounds us?

What surrounds us? In the first place, the material universe which stretches out on all sides, in all directions, into infinity. But we are also surrounded by a mental world. Our space is filled with all kinds of vibrations, good and bad, vibrations of love and hate, of serenity and fear. We get a small illustration of this, when we tune in our radio on one station after another.

We are also surrounded by invisible beings. In the prayer Saum, we say, "Lord God of the East and of the West...and of the seen and unseen beings." Do we not feel sometimes the presence of our dear departed? Do we not feel that our revered Murshid is still there and sometimes near us? For many Roman Catholics, the saints are felt as living presences who respond to their appeals. Are guardian angels just a sweet invention, or living realities?

Of all that surrounds us, we perceive only very little, an infinitesimal part, and our individual perceptions vary greatly. Some people have more acute senses than others, people's awareness, their interests differ. Where one person will just see a few houses, a painter will be struck by the beauty of a particular combination of line and colour. The same impressions we receive, are relayed to our individual brains, where they are translated and made intelligible to our individual minds and hearts. We vary in background, past experience, knowledge, education, and so on, so it is logical that our perceptions of the present vary greatly.

Why bring this out? In order to make clear that our present, that what we perceive of reality, is that which each of us, for himself, is conscious of, at a given moment.

Can we see more of reality than we do? Can we see deeper into reality? Can we be conscious only of a number of ever-changing phenomena or is it possible to penetrate behind the surface, behind the screen and know what produces the phenomena? Can we change our consciousness? Widen our consciousness?

We can indeed, with an effort of will, detach our consciousness from our material surroundings and live in our thoughts, in the mental world. And we may, by means of prayer and meditation, try to enter the spiritual world. We shall find that by leaving the surface, so to speak, by entering interior space, our consciousness already embraces a larger horizon—widens, in other words.

We have seen that while we can measure time on earth by hours and days and years, we cannot measure the present, the interior time—you remember, one day with the Lord is as a thousand years. Well, it is the same with space. When we enter interior space, the values of distance change. Two people on earth may be separated by many miles, by seas or continents, but they may be close together in thought—we all have heard and perhaps exercised telepathy—and earthly distance does not prevent two people from being close together in love, or one in spirit, as the saying goes.

In the Bible we find remarkable references to interior space linked with love. It is in the Epistle to the Ephesians and goes as follows: "that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth and length and depth and height..."

Out of time, out of space, into eternity.

All through the ages, people have felt, more or less dimly, that at the back of the continually changing present— changing in time and in space—there is something more real, something not changing, something immovable, something to depend upon, something eternal. And in answer to this feeling, to this aspiration, holy men, sages, prophets, mystics, messengers from above, whose consciousness was open to the spiritual world, have come to tell us about the way to that underlying substance, under and behind the fleeing and changing present, the way to the Eternal with Whom there is no shadow of turning.

They have told us about the real presence behind the present, namely God's presence, in and behind His manifestation. They have told us about His omnipresence.

The prophet Isaiah (6:3) lifts up his voice: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory." The first Sunday of this summer school we heard quoted from the Quran, "Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth declares the glory of God." But nowhere perhaps the omnipresence of God is brought home to us more forcibly than in those well-known words in the Acts of the Apostles, "For in Him we live and move and have our being." (17:28)

It is up to us to realize this marvellous truth, which becomes especially marvellous when we remember that God is love.

I feel I should now repeat and complete the quotation from the Epistle to the Ephesians, "that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth and length and depth and height and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."

Between past and future, the present.
Between past and future, eternity.
Between past and future, the presence of God.

We find it all in the prayer Murshid has given us, Salat. Past and future: "the first cause and the last effect, Alpha and Omega," and in between the Presence. "We adore Thy past. Thy presence deeply enlightens our being, and we look for Thy blessing in the future."


1990 Volume 5. Padmani Burt Honeydew. "Beloved Master, Did You Pass This Way?"

Thoughts at Grand Canyon - 1980

I scan in noonday hush Grand Canyon's awesome majesty
And feel Eternity is throbbing through my soul:
I humbly stand on gravel old as time itself -
A precipice of sacred soil beloved of Navaho.
An eagle's beating wings for just one timeless moment half obscures the sun
As she soars towards a distant plume of smoke
Drifting like silent incense from a scrub fire far below.
No wind or cooling breeze to interrupt the Painted Desert's insects' lazy drone
As they buzz the age-old trees on moonscape rock -
Compared with Nature, Man is just a grain of sand and nowhere could he feel more totally alone.
The dryness of the desert's burning heat is somehow soothed by mighty Colorado's onward sweep.
The craggy torrents changing face from churning 'Dirty Devil' to 'Bright Angel's' calm.
Powerfully echoing is the chasm stark and deep,
Where narrow trails twist steeply down the gorge to lead intrepid ponies whose strong backs
And willing hearts have carried generations of adventure-seeking souls
As they pick their slippery way on time-worn tracks.
It was not long ago that You, Beloved Master, walked a piebald mare
along Grand Canyon's trails
To recharge the inner spheres where-e'er you rode...
A photograph records that blessed day,
When with regal dignity You reined your mount,
Whose noble head perceived the honour she had earned -
Could I be standing there? Beloved Master, did you pass this way?
For in this breathless hush my sharpened sense detects Your presence and like a compass needle starts to move:
Excitement rises in my heart for here I feel
I surely must confront You face to face and prove
What all Mureeds have always known: You're with us still!
Past and future become the timeless 'now';
An imprint on the desert's memory revives a fleeting glimpse of robe and staff -
Records in space when Pir-o-Murshid blessed this canyon's crust
And left behind the lasting mark where His sandals stirred the dust...Beloved Master, you surely passed this way!


1990 Volume 5. Peter Philip “La Verna"

Easter Weekend 1990

Tyre hum background to tentative 'getting to know you' conversation.
Turn off. Then a dusty, narrow, twisting sand-stony road.
Speech-shaken and rattled.
The paved driveway. Peace?
La Verna at last!

The spartan accommodation provided a shock for the city seasons.
Swallow hard, help sort it out.
New arrivals, new introductions to my new family-to-be.
Strangers still, but not strange.

Confraternity. The start of the togetherness?
The laughter. The quiet. The sharing, the explaining,
the listening, the talking.

And always Murshid's words...

The Chapel. Cool blue light with red-purple tones of stained-glass sunlight.
Yellow and red roses, sweeter for their surprising scent.
Rain-cleared, morning-fresh air, sunshine healing,
The river-rich, brown-hued sparkle of reflected light.

And always Murshid's words.

Zikar-stunned senses stumbling into sudden understanding.
I softly smile at my past stupidities!
Sufi circles. Awkwardness all swept away singing into the dancing darkness of candle-lit friendship smiles.

And always Murshid's words...

My initiation. Long held convictions confirmed, my path is now started, the fikar feels right! Pray God I fulfil His purpose.

And always Murshid's words,
Leading, Guiding and Showing the way...

Confused crush, catholic service. "Christ is risen?" Continue confraternity, and then, altar yellow-decked,
the candles lit, we confirmed that
Christ in us IS risen from the limitation, into the limitless eternity of God's Love.

Dona nobis, dona nobis pacem.
Our torch in the darkness, our rock in the weariness of life.

And always Murshid's words...

Too soon the end-off AGM. After all this reality the return to illusion is an unwelcome prospect. But this Easter is my breath, always to be recalled in my gentle times, to relive the rhythm of real friends, and to rest in the Love I experienced.

And Murshid's words:
"The answer to every question is God.'


1990 Volume 5. Wali van Lohuizen. "Mysticism in Daily Life"

In the spirit—and sometimes in the wording— of Hazrat Inayat Khan's philosophy, this paper will try to explain three issues. One is that mysticism is a divine gift to each human being and a human potential for a better life. Another is that this potential lies in the expansion of consciousness, consciousness being the carrying force in life. The third is that mysticism is not something other-worldly; rather it is a way of life. Mysticism should be completely integrated into daily life. To make a start, some consideration will be given to the question, what is mysticism like.

Mysticism is generally considered to be an exceptional condition of the human mind experiencing a state of union with the One, generally either in terms of God or of a Saint or Messenger or another spiritual or religious ideal. Some include in this definition the ecstatic experience of an individual losing himself in a rapture caused by concentration, meditation and prayer towards the Ideal.

Question 1: Is mysticism indeed limited to some individuals who are exceptionally gifted in this respect, or is it rather a potential of all human beings?

Many scholars have noted the striking similarity of the mystic experiences of followers of different religions, irrespective of the fact that Christians unite with God the Father, or Christ, while Hindus unite with Rama or Krishna. Research has virtually excluded the possibility of widespread falsification, or pure imagination (see William James). Psychologists, however, may maintain that mysticism is a process of the mind, an imagination; though containing full reality, this is not Reality, but just the reality of an individual's mind.

Question 2: Is mysticism the actual unification of one's soul with the Ideal, through God's grace poured upon the individual?

Based on a keen study of the lives of well-known mystics, and particularly of their own reports on their experiences, scholars like Evelyn Underhill conclude that generally this realization of Unity is a final stage of a process, the mystical way or the mystical quest. This process may take quite some time. In exceptional cases, it may happen in a few hours but generally a good deal of one's lifetime might be involved.

Question 3: Is this process something that can be done only outside the world of daily affairs, or can one follow this path while being in the world integrating one's inner and outer life into one whole?

Let us summarize and reformulate the three questions:

1. Is mysticism limited to some gifted (or even abnormal) individuals, or is it rather a genuine human potentiality (stronger in some, weak in many) carrying in itself the seed of spiritual development, of perfecting the heart, mind and body?

2. Is the actual mystical process of transformation something that happens to one's mind, to one's heart, or to one's soul? Is it transcendent or immanent in character?

3. Is treading the spiritual path/undergoing the spiritual process only possible under the condition that one parts
with the world by retreating into solitude, either in a monastery, a khankah, a vihar or in nature itself? Or is there, on the contrary, a chance of progress on this path by mutually integrating one's inner and outer lives, sharing all odds with one's fellowmen? Should the adept just focus on his/her personal development, or is he/she a social being deriving spiritual development from the way one deals with the others?

I will try to answer these questions mainly by referring to the spirit of the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan. Mysticism in his teachings is not restricted to a certain occult science. It is the knowledge of being—or rather, of Being. It is learnt by the 'analysis' and the 'synthesis' of the whole life, both seen and unseen; its method is living and meditation.

Prior to mysticism is 'psychology,' the knowledge of human character and human nature rather than a certain system of psychology. It is learned by the 'analysis' and 'synthesis' of all we can feel in human nature and character; its method is thinking.

Prior to both is 'philosophy,' the knowledge of things perceived by intelligence, by intuition, rather than a certain philosophical system. It is learned by the 'analysis' and synthesis' of things perceived by the five senses; it is the study of things.

"These are the three steps to the altar of divine wisdom."

Mysticism as a Divine Gift and as a Human Potential

Mysticism is nothing new or secret; it is what your soul knows already, but it is veiled by mind and body, by our sensations and emotions, by our experiences in the world. Therefore mysticism is the process of unveiling.
The origin of mysticism lies in intuition: "First there was intuition, then reason and logic."

Mysticism is neither a creed, nor a principle, nor a dogma. These are man-made things.

A mystic is born a mystic: look at his temperament, his outlook on life. It is a certain type of mind. There are the souls who are pure, gifted with a mind and heart with a great potential for love, harmony and beauty. Yet mysticism may be acquired, for the roots of love, harmony and beauty are inborn qualities in each and every human being. The human soul is light itself. It is a ray of the Divine Sun, a spark of Divine Light. Therefore mysticism can be developed and acquired, and that is a greater achievement even, and a blessing of happiness to both the person and his surroundings.

Mystics do not belong to the East not to the West, there are as many born here as there are born there. In the East, though, the mystic may be welcomed, while in the West he is considered to be a stranger. But do not mix up occultism with mysticism, as you will not consider every clever person to be wise.

What is mysticism? It is the finding of the self, of the Self., This in itself is indicative that mysticism is a basic human quality. What is this self? "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you." In that search, the mystic finds himself. Mysticism therefore teaches communication with the self and thus enables you to communicate with life.

What is a mystic? He has developed qualities considered to be genuinely human, and he does so to a greater extent than the normal human beings do. A mystic is more responsive, observant, perceptive, outgoing, appreciative, sympathetic and harmonious. He has developed gentleness, mildness and kindness, bearing fruit and giving it to all, willing to serve all who need his service. He can endure and he will stand firm. He acquires insight and is inspired. And he shows innocence and simplicity, love for all and sympathy; he is God-conscious. He has centred his mind on the cosmos, when his consciousness is no longer an individual consciousness. A mystic shows equilibrium and balance, as for example between beauty and power. He has his head in heaven but his feet stand firmly on the earth. He uses reason, but love and harmony are his instrument and goal. Therefore he is religion.

Mysticism is the development of the heart quality, and what is more human than the heart? The heart is at the basis of the formation of a person. The heart is the depth of the spirit, the deepest depth of man's being.

At present, less importance is given to sentiment, relying more on intellect. It even seems that the intellectual person is more balanced because he is supposed to be less emotional. But we confuse emotion with sentiment, with the finer feelings perceived by the finer organs. Therefore the intellectual person proves unbalanced if he has not developed the sentimental side. He then becomes sceptical, doubting, unbelieving and even destructive. The problem is that there is no power in the heart to balance it. Therefore devotion is the best thing to cultivate in the heart for spiritual realization. Where is it to find God? In the loving heart of a kind human being. We need patience to get this sentiment to be developed. It is the widening of the heart, the awakening of the inner feeling. We need repose to sense this sentiment, it is only in silence that you can hear the finer vibrations. Repose, thoughtfulness, balance, consideration are all aspects of one and the same thing: the finer sentiment residing in the depth of the human heart.

Concluding, the mystic tendency is a basic human quality which occurs in every single individual, the intensity of which will vary to a great extent. We may compare it with music. Only a few people are talented musicians or composers; many have a strong feeling for music; some others do not care for it at all. Yet the musical feeling proves to be innate, as through careful education each individual can develop musicality to a greater or lesser degree.

Of course the term 'education' must not be associated with schools and courses, but rather with a call appealing to the heart and the soul. And a silence must be created, both literally and metaphorically.

When the lips are closed, then the heart begins to speak.
When the heart is silent then the soul blazes up, bursting into flames
And this illuminates the whole life.

Mysticism: The Expansion of Consciousness

The consciousness is the intelligence; the intelligence is the soul; the soul is the spirit; and the spirit is God. Therefore consciousness is the divine element, consciousness is the God-part in us. And it is through consciousness that we become small or great, and through consciousness we either rise or fall, and through consciousness we become narrow or we expand."

Raising the consciousness is thus the striving of the mystic, and the culmination of life. The best means is to have an ideal, the Ideal: the God-ideal. This functions as a stimulus, as a pulling power, as an inspiration, as a beloved, as the Beloved. Life is as the sea: the rising and falling of the waves. Rising means to constantly climb towards one's ideal, falling means that one remains beneath one's ideal. In the selection of one's strivings one can strengthen the raising forces and 'unforce' the falling power. The work of the mystic is to expand the scope of life, to make its range as vast as possible. If you slip, and try to go on, you will become more sure-footed. Slipping is natural. Do not lose courage, do not allow your consciousness to be impressed by it; fix your gaze on the ideal; sympathize with it; love it.

The moral of the mystic thus is the love principle— towards the Ideal and therefore (!) towards his fellowmen. It is the lesson, T am not, you are!' By expanding the consciousness from oneself to the person we are sympathizing with, we 'forget' ourselves a little bit, we will understand his point of view, and thereby grow in wisdom. It is the first step on the path of unification, towards Unity. Inwardly we may touch that one life everlasting, dissolving into it, becoming conscious of that One Spirit, being the existence, the only existence. Outwardly we feel in touch with all we see, we feel at one.

Mysticism is an outlook on life: the same things which previously we would look upon as being alien or even inimical now gradually merge, they tend towards harmony and beauty, because we fall in love, we sympathize.

It is also an outlook because by discovering the inner dimension one finds that what seemed to be real is unreal, and what looked like otherworldliness is a Reality encompassing all and everything: all-pervading, omnipotent, omnipresent, the Only Being.

The God-ideal is both the stepping stone and the goal. One must have something before one to love, to worship, to adhere to, to look up to, to raise high, and therefore be raised high oneself. In order to attain this ideal, one must prepare oneself, primarily by mental purification: relaxation/repose, concentration, contemplation, meditation, that is, in the last instance, to purify oneself, to free oneself, to open oneself to the light of Truth. Divine prayers are both the beginning and the end; the beginning because they tune and focus body and mind on the Divine Perfection; the end because only after complete purification does communication become possible. It is then that the soul, being of Divine light, can reflect its Origin and Goal. It is then that one's ideal is larger than that covered by a name. Through love and devotion alone one can forget oneself. The ideal is always more than our imagination, and even more than our realization. Therefore a devotee has always scope for expansion, for advancement.

Concluding, the mystic process is not just a psychological process, but may be likened to alchemy: through the development of the Spirit, our whole being is transformed.

"Let me forget myself, Lord, that I may become conscious of Thy Being."
'When the human heart becomes conscious of God it becomes like the sea;
it extends its waves to friend and foe; spreading further, it attains perfection."
"The mystic contemplates upon the Being of God,
and so raises his consciousness
above the limitations of time and space
and liberates his soul
by lifting it to the Divine spheres."

Mysticism in Daily Life

A mystic has his head in heaven and his feet firmly on the ground. That is the typical approach of Hazrat Inayat Khan. A real mystic should prove to be an inspired artist, a wonderful scientist, an influential statesman. A mystic without knowledge (and practice) of worldly affairs is a half mystic. Therefore, there are many half and quarter-mystics; these differ amongst themselves. Real mystics do not. Why not?

Those on the spiritual path are prompted by the ever-flowing stream of sympathy. Their fellow-creatures are made in the image of God. All of us are part and parcel of the Divine Consciousness, of the Divine Mind. Life is a great symphony. Our duty is to play our own part, and to contribute to the creation of divine harmony in the world. Without harmony there can be no happiness. Harmony is the first principle to be observed. This is not easy, as we will not bend, out of pride, self-consciousness and self-will. Many good people are not harmonious: their goodness does not work out, its results are not up to the intentions. Sacrifice is necessary, and a great effort.

When someone is angry, it may satisfy us to be angry, too. Is it not so!?! However, let us rather try to discover the joy of smiling when the other one is angry! What difference in experience this is. It is as not giving fuel to the fire. And the same applies to jealousy, hate, prejudice, bitterness.

The process of mystical development is the annihilation of the false ego in the real. The true ego, which is the ego of the Lord, has become a false ego in ourselves (false+less true). The soul has conceived a false idea of itself. The ego appears in different degrees of intensity, the most intense being the egoistic one: he is hard on others (and also on himself), he becomes blind to justice and devoid of life, and therefore of love. He sees in everyone a pronounced ego, and derives from it the idea that the other one is egoistic: his ego is hurt by the sight of others...

All methods to bring about better conditions for humanity will fail if the psychology of the ego is not studied from a mystical point of view.

Therefore the way of action in the midst of the world is of utmost importance in mysticism. For that very reason, life in the world is necessary if one wants to go the spiritual path. Few know the effect of their actions. Each thought, word and deed creates a power in itself. What is the guiding principle when deciding for an action? Is it consideration? Refinement? Patience? Thoughtfulness? Yet these are the qualities resulting in a harmonious way of life. Here is the test whether we are indifferent and independent to the needs and wants of our false ego.

And what about being observant, responsive, appreciative, sympathetic, outgoing, gentle, mild, kind? Traditionally, these qualities are supposed to develop under strict control of the senses and the mind, through discipline and self-containment. But what is the mystic's way of control and discipline? Love, sympathy, devotion, being natural, giving time and scope for expansion, for settling, for growth. The sign of saintliness is not in power of words, or a high spiritual position; it is the continuous springing of the fountain of love and sympathy gushing from the divine fountain in the human heart. Turn that fountain on, and it will purify your heart, making it transparent. Therefore the mystic's moral is love. It first manifests in reciprocity. When the heart grows it can sustain more and carry heavier loads, manifesting in beneficence. And when the false ego loses its power, love manifests in renunciation. Or to put it in a more down to earth way: to develop a sense of seeing the right proportions, weights and measures. What is 'right' will depend upon one's spiritual development, that is, the dimension in which one sees things.

Mysticism culminates in brotherhood. This is an inner inclination (although we generally show the opposite). Mysticism makes one more tolerant towards opinions, more able to rise above divisions, to assimilate, to understand, to appreciate and admire. What is brotherhood? Being respectful to all beings, having sympathy towards everyone, understanding the conditions of the other one through sympathy and respect, and thus being tolerant and forgiving, culminating in the feeling of being united with the other one, with everybody, not only in God but even in himself.

By mysticism understanding, sympathy and brotherhood can be established both within oneself and amongst others.

Can a person reach perfection by love alone, without meditation? Or by meditation alone, without love? Hazrat Inayat Khan states as an answer to this question: "Man meditates because he cannot really love. When one really understands 'love,' it is too sacred to utter. People fall into love, few only rise in love." Ecstasy does not come through seeing spirits and other phenomena. It comes only when the heart is tuned to that pitch of love which melts it, makes it tender, gives it gentleness, makes it humble. Love manifests in love of all, making man a fountain of love, pouring out over humanity that love that gushes forth from his heart.

It is not necessary to be unconscious of the world while being conscious of God. Even social conditions and human interrelationships cannot really improve unless the mystical outlook becomes widespread. Religion is not confined to a shrine on Sunday: it is daily life, and in daily life one's realization of religion is tested. Mysticism is the only common basis and foundation for religions to meet, understand and unite, while keeping their own creed, form and traditions.

To Sum Up

1) Mysticism is a genuine, essential human potential.

2) The mystical process is a process of expanding consciousness of the soul, transforming heart, mind and body; it is both transcendent and immanent.

3) Treading the Sufi path is to be a social being, contributing to the symphony of love, harmony and beauty.

There is one God, one Truth, one Religion, one mysticism. Mysticism is not a branch of philosophy, knowledge, etc. It is the very stem. Many houses of worship, yet one God. Many scriptures, yet one Truth, many methods, yet one Faith, the annihilation of the false ego in the real, which raises the mortal to immortality, and in which resides all perfection.

The Sufi message is the message of love, harmony and beauty.

The mystic makes his heart an instrument for the Divine Being. His heart reacts to the Divine Light, his heart is liquid. The condition of the heart of man depends on his reflection of the Divine Light. In our hearts there are moments of a calmness so great that it charges the whole atmosphere, or moments when the power in man rises to wash away all troubles and worldly affairs.

"Mysticism without devotion is like uncooked food: it can never be assimilated."
"The fire of devotion purifies the heart of the devotee and leads unto spiritual freedom."
"The aim of the mystic is to keep near to the idea of Unity and find out where we unite."
"Mysticism is an experience."

Everything is summed up in the invocation prayer:

Towards the One,
the perfection of love, harmony and beauty,
the only Being;
united with all the illuminated souls
who form the embodiment of the Master,
the spirit of Guidance.


1990 Volume 4. "Earth & Sky: M" аn arbitrary selection of gods, humans and other unclassified beings


An Algonquin word for spirit or supernatural power. It was believed that everything had its own manitou; some were for man to dominate, such as those of the wood and fire and rock, whereas others man looked to for help, such as the manitous of the sun, wind, rain, etc. The Great Spirit, misrepresented by Longfellow in his epic poem "Hiawatha" as 'Gitchee Manitou,' is 'Kitcki Manitou’ the uncreated Father of Life and Light, above all powers. Most North American tribes had such a Supreme Being, although they were not monotheistic in the same way as Jews, Christians and Muslims. As an example of the ceaseless mutability of the world, and the human ability to see things from many points of view, the Shawnee tribe uses essentially the same word, 'manedo’, not for spirit but for snake, and in compound forms for evil, monstrous beings, and even for Satan.


One of the manifestations of the Adibuddha, that is, the primary, unoriginated, omniscient Buddha, source of the Buddhas of the various ages. Manjusri is the personification of the wisdom from which all Buddhas spring; he is traditionally portrayed seated on a lion, with a sword of vajra (as hard as adamant, as clear as emptiness and as powerful as a thunderbolt) which destroys all ignorance. Manjusri is better known in China and Tibet than among southern Buddhists, and in Nepal, he is considered the giver of civilization. He has many names; 'Manjughosa,' probably the most ancient, means 'pleasant voice.'


Following the period of Hammurabi's conquests, ca. 2000 BC, Marduk or Baal Merodach was the principal god of Babylon, god of the city of Babylon itself and the hero of the Akkadian creation myth. Marduk was tall, had four eyes and four ears, and fire came from his mouth. Tiamat, the dragon-mother of the gods, received a complaint from Apsu, the watery Abyss, that her children were too noisy, and so she determined to destroy them. The elder gods were afraid to confront her, but Marduk, the youngest of the gods, agreed to be their champion if he were given supreme authority. The council of the gods agreed, but to test him, they first placed a garment before him. By the power of his words alone, Marduk annihilated it, and then recreated it, perhaps because he spoke with a tongue of flame. In his ensuing battle with Tiamat, he was successful, throwing the four winds into her maw so that she was unable to swallow him, and then shooting an arrow through her open mouth into her heart. The victorious Marduk took the tablets of destiny from Tiamat's consort, Kingu, and thus became the most powerful of all beings. Splitting Tiamat's body in two, he raised up one half to become the heavens, and used the other half to form the earth. From the blood of Kingu, he formed mankind to be servants of the gods. The city of Babylon was built by the other gods out of gratitude to their chief, and the entire epic was read and re-enacted in that city every New Year's Day.


The Mexican goddess of pulque or fermented drink, she seems to have been deified not by the priestly Aztec aristocracy, but by a grateful peasantry. The story goes that Mayauel, a farmer's wife, was tending the agave patch, when she encountered an unusually bold mouse; when she tried to shoo it away, the mouse only laughed at her. Mayauel observed that the mouse had been drinking the juice of the agave plants, and so she and her husband collected some juice and put it aside while they went out to the fields to work. When they returned in the evening, the juice had fermented. Upon tasting it, they discovered the happiness of intoxication. Mayauel is represented seated on a cactus plant (although the agave is not, strictly speaking a cactus but an aloe) but she is also shown carrying a loop of cord, as a sign that she helped women in childbirth. Rather than being the celestial, inhuman figure that many goddesses are, Mayauel seems rather to be the type of the wise, down-to-earth, practical and observant woman who was venerated by simple hearts for the various ways she eased their lives.


Mithraism is often presented by European scholars as 'the religion which could have been ours,' and with good reason; from the second to the fourth century AD, Mithraism and Christianity competed in Rome, and there are enough similarities between the two to make the victory of either one plausible. Mithras was the Persian god of light, truth and justice, the principal assistant to Ormazd or Ahura Mazda in his battle against the forces of darkness. He is identical with Mithra, and an apparent elaboration of the Vedic Mitra, god of the sun or the light of day, and one of the Adityas. Mithras was typically portrayed as a young man slaying a bull. In a highly complex, symbolic picture, he wears a tunic, trousers and pileus or cap, and sits partly astride the semi-prone animal, holding its head back with his left hand gripping the nostrils, while with his right hand, he plunges a dagger into its throat. A dog and a snake lick up the blood, and a scorpion grips the bull's testicles. The slaughter is commonly depicted in a cave, which is lit by two torch-bearers. In addition, there is usually a crow, along with trees or plants, while the tail of the bull sprouts an ear of corn. The symbolism is difficult to decode precisely, because the Mithraic tradition was largely oral and secret, and what records existed were destroyed by zealous, if not jealous, Christians. Interpreted according to Zoroastrian mythology, however, it signifies the sacrificial death of the great generative power of the universe, which thereby assures the continued fertility and renewal of the world.

Over the centuries, the worship of Mithras was remarkably wide spread, and adapted to the cultural needs of the times. He was lord of daylight in India, for example, but the lord of wide pastures in later Zoroastrianism. For the Roman legions, who helped to spread his cult throughout the empire, he was the bull-slaying, cave-dwelling hero-god. In every case, though, he was also a god of light.

For several centuries, the cult of Mithras was a serious rival to the newly born Christian faith, and it was only when the Emperor Constantine officially adopted Christianity that the matter was decided. The struggle was all the more remarkable in that the two have many beliefs and practices in common. The birth of Mithras was celebrated on December 25th, for example, and his rebirth was at the time of the spring equinox. Both had baptism for the remission of sins, the symbolic meal of communion (including consecrated wine), and beliefs in redemption, salvation, rebirth in the spirit and the promise of eternal life. Early Christian apologists claimed that Mithraists had caricatured their faith, but it seems likely that the two traditions arose separately, in a fascinating example of parallel evolution. They may indeed have borrowed some elements from each other, but it is now impossible to tell who took what from whom.

What set the worship of Mithras apart, though, was a strongly developed inner school, cloaked in secrecy, full of symbol, ceremony and initiatic rites. The rites included everything from the beating of drums and the unveiling of statues to the ritual slaughter of a bull on a grating, while the initiate crouched below, so as to be drenched with the animal's blood. Although exclusive and hierarchical, the Mithraic school did teach such useful virtues as self-mastery, the transmutation of sexual energy into psychic energy, and the concept of a mystical path. If the cult of Mithras lost out to the upstart Christianity, it is perhaps only because it lacked the magnetic charm of Jesus' divine personality.


In many, but not all, traditions, the Moon is seen as female. Inasmuch as it does not shine of its own light, but reflects the light of the {usually} masculine sun, this seems a reasonable interpretation, and Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan has commented that if there were no moon to catch the relentless outpouring of the sun, its fire would eventually consume the whole universe. However, in the Andaman Islands the waxing moon is regarded as masculine, while the waning moon is feminine. This belief also has its reason, and finds delightful support in the 'solar/lunar' arrangement of our own bodies; the waxing moon is the 'right-hand moon' because the orientation of the crescent is the same as the curve between thumb and index figure of the right hand, and the waning moon is the 'left-hand moon.'


Prophet and lawgiver to the Israelites, the story of Moses is well-known: how as a baby he was found by Pharaoh's daughter floating in a basket among the bulrushes; how he confronted Pharaoh and eventually led the enslaved Israelites to freedom, parting the sea as he went; how he brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai not once but twice, and so forth. There is no doubt that the message he transmitted has had a profound effect upon our world, forming one of the cornerstones of western civilization. Some scholars have suggested, though, that Moses was in fact not an Israelite but an Egyptian. The name Moses seems to be Egyptian, possibly meaning 'child,' and he was perhaps a member of the royal family of Ikhnaton, or a priest of Ikhnaton's monotheistic religion. Thus monotheism may have come into Judaism from Egypt!

Moses gave the Message in the form of law, because that is what was needed at the time, but as Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan said, "Love is above law." Therefore, with no disrespect intended, Moses is often employed in Sufi tales to represent inflexible legalism, as opposed to the freedom of mystical understanding—as for example in the story Pir-o-Murshid tells of Moses and the Shepherd. Moses, it is said, one day overheard a shepherd praying in a very rustic manner: "Oh, God," he was saying, "if only You were here, I would sit You down in the shade, and comb Your hair for You, and bring you a delicious drink of cool water." Moses could not let this simple view of the Deity go unchallenged. "Who do you think you're praying to?" he demanded. 'God isn't thirsty. He doesn't need your water. He doesn't need you to comb His hair. He is the Lord of the Universe, Creator of all, Commander of legion upon legion of angels and archangels, before whom a simple shepherd should tremble!" At this, the shepherd hung his head, and promised never to pray so again. Later, though, when Moses went up the mountain to talk to God, he was surprised to hear the Lord say, "Moses, We are not pleased with Thee. When the shepherd prayed to his shepherd-god, he felt close to Us, and We were close to him. Now, he feels We are far away and unreachable, and that was not Our wish."

And it was Moses' turn to hang his head...


1990 Volume 5. David Murray. "A Search Into the Meaning of the Service of the Universal Worship. A Geometric Pursuit into its Form and Symbolism"

Universal Worship in our last issue provoked strong and sharply divided reaction. Some readers congratulated us on it; others deplored it. Those who disliked it objected to several points, which deserve consideration. There was a feeling in some readers that the language or tone of David's notes implied a definition rather than an exploration; that is, that David was presenting his geometry as an absolute reality. This was an unfortunate misunderstanding; David himself considers the geometry as a sort of metaphorical spatial symbolic search for meaning in the Universal Worship, and makes no claim to having discovered a particular truth. Another objection had to do with the substance of his article. In the Universal Worship Guidebook, complied after the death of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, it states that the candles stand in the form of a crescent, whereas, in the first article, David's geometry appears to depend upon arranging the candles in a straight line. There was concern, therefore, that Caravanserai was attempting to alter the form of the Universal Worship. This was not our intention, and if in fact anyone gained that impression we earnestly wish to erase it. In view of the criticisms, it may seem foolhardy to present a further deve1opment of this geometrical conception. However let us stress that this is merely a personal exploration, presented with the hope that it may spark the interest of other geometrically-inclined Sufis. In this article, the dot of Divine Origin evolves into the star and crescent, symbols at the core of the Sufi emblem; furthermore, the candles follow the accepted crescent shape. Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan once wrote that in the future all ritual and ceremony would become a play. If the ceremony of the Universal Worship is to remain free of dogma, we must be able to appreciate it from many points of view and the following is humbly offered in that spirit.

—The Editor
The dot is the most important of all figures, for every figure is the extension of the dot. It is the beginning. It is the One and All.

From the dot comes the line. From the line comes the cross. The vertical line represents Divine aspiration. The horizontal line represents material manifestation.

From the line and cross come the circle. The circle symbolizes the unity of the Divine and the material. It symbolizes motion, circular and spiral, in and out, the breath of life.

From the dot and circle come the Divine geometries, the mandalas. The eight-pointed star is derived from two squares set at an angel to each other, implying revolution and setting this symbol into dynamic motion. It corresponds to the musical scale of eight notes. It represents music as the universal language.
The mandala is a 'vehicle' on which the ceremony of the Universal Worship can travel to its destination.

Inside the eight-pointed star can be found a square, representing the altar of the Universal Worship. The vertical and horizontal lines bisect the square, symbolizing the known and unknown, the seen and the unseen. The centre of the square, the dot, represents the Divine at the centre of all things.

When projected into the third dimension, the dot (Divine Source) is located above the square (the altar). Joining the dot to the corners of the square creates a pyramid. The square plane represents man. The pyramid represents the relationship between God and man. The dotted back half of the square represents the unseen and the bottom pyramid, a reflection of the one above, represents the unknown.

A crystal has been formed encompassing all aspects of the Divine and material. This crystal represents the power of transformation. It transforms single while light to the spectrum and vice versa. Thus it is the symbol by which we can understand the One in All and All in One.

The altar for the Universal Worship is the half square at the centre of the mandala.

On the surface of the altar is located a crescent moon shape, symbolizing both the receptacle and the reflection.

It is within this crescent that the candles representing the world religions are placed. The candle representing the Divine Light is located at the back of the altar under the symbolic dot.

The crescent moon is created by the intersection of the circles relating to the geometry of the square and the circle of the mandala.

As the service of the Universal Worship proceeds, the pyramid over the altar becomes more solid, the unity of God and man closer to realization.

In front of the altar, described by the inner circle of the crescent, is a five-pointed star mandala, the symbol of illumination and the symbol of man.

As the pyramid becomes more solid, the centre point of the five-pointed star, the heart of man, becomes a receptor point for the energy of the Divine realization.

This point of reception is the location of the blessing at the culmination of the service. The star, symbolizing man with outstretched arms, also represents the blessing.

The solidification of the pyramid over the altar coincided with the giving of the blessing—the instantaneous link between man and God.

A large crescent shape is formed using the mandala circle as the inside circle of the crescent. In the service of the Universal Worship, the crescent represents those who are attending the service, the receivers of the Divine illumination, as represented by the five-pointed star, the point of the blessing as transmitted by an attending cherag.

The cherag giving the blessing is the messenger of the time, representing the heart of man in direct contact with the Divine.

Hence the symbol of the star in the crescent moon, when understood how derived, is a significant symbol of the Universal Worship. The practice of all religions as one has the power of Divine realization.

The Universal Worship is one such form, and to the Sufi, is a symbol of Sufism itself.