the way of illumination

Principle author: Inayat Khan

(a guide-book to the sufi movement, compiled mainly from the writings of Inayat Khan)

Published by the Sufi movement

All rights reserved Second Edition

Made and Printed in Great Britain by The Camelot Press Limited, Southampton,

part I - general information


The word “ Sufi.” Although some scholars assert that this word is derived from a Persian word meaning “ wool,” to denote that Sufis wear woollen garments, it is considered in the Sufi Movement that, while possibly there may be connection with the Arabic “ saf” meaning “pure ” (i.e. pure from differences and dis- tinctions), the word more probably has relation- ship with the Greek word “ sophia ” (wisdom), so that the word “ Sufism ” may convey the idea of “ that state in which there is pursuit of divine wisdom.”

the history of the sufi movement

The European historian of Sufism sometimes traces its history by noticing the actual occurrence of the word in literature, and therefore refers only to those schools of thought which have definitely wished to be known by this name. Some scholars find the origin of its philosophy in the teaching of Mohammed, some trace the marked influence upon the Sufi writers of the Neo-platonists, some refer back to Zarathusthra, or Abraham, or the schools of Egypt.

In the view of the Sufi, however, every age of the world carries with it the presence of awakened souls, so that wisdom cannot rightly be limited to one particular period or place. Hence it is impossible to assign a date to the origin of Sufism is to be understood as conterminous with the true wisdom of all times. That which the illuminated souls of all times have uttered, whatever faith they exhibited, whatever language they used, it has always been Sufism ; for the wisdom underlying all different faiths is that which unites them all, despite their external difference of aspect.

It is true that a point in history can be found at which the words Sufi Movement first began to be used. The words simply describe a group of persons who have come together because their thoughts and points of view are alike, and if the group of persons gave themselves no name, others would soon find one for them!

The Sufi Movement may therefore be considered as the name of a group of people who are in sympathy with putting the truth before the world as Sufi thoughts, and take an interest in spreading these thoughts.

This Movement was first introduced into the West by Inayat Khan, who came from India in igio bringing the Sufi message. His under- standing of life is and has been one and the same with that of the great Sufis of history, and yet they originated other schools in the East. His expression of the wisdom differs only to suit the environment which it is his aim to reach. The same herb, planted in various atmospheric conditions, will vary in form accordingly, while retaining its essential characteristics. Hence, in spite of our having been born in different regions of the earth, and having had different religions, customs, and manners, and different ideals in life, we can in the Sufi Movement all unite in the thought of Truth, beyond the narrow boundaries of caste, creed, nation, or religion.

Now, a philosophy can be studied academically, and it can be studied as a religion. But it cannot be realised as a religion without making or adopt- ing it as such. Therefore the purely academic student cannot enter into the heart-sympathy which alone enables a true judgment. To reach the latter, one must come into personal touch with such a Movement, and become a sincere pupil.

During his travels throughout the Western world, Inayat Khan has spread his philosophy before all sorts of people and amid all conditions, beginning in the United States, and then pro- ceeding through France and Russia, establishing the work in England, until — up to the present — it has entered and reached Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and Scandinavia.

what is "a sufi?"

Strictly speaking, every seeker after the ultimate truth is really a Sufi, whether he calls himself that or not. Necessarily he seeks Truth according to his own particular point of view, and hence may find it difficult to believe that others, from their different points of view, are yet seeking the same Truth, and always with success, though to a varying degree.

The Sufi Movement has a point of view which differs from others only in its constant endeavour to comprehend all others as within itself. It seeks to appreciate as true that every person, following his own particular line in life, never- theless fits into the scheme of the Whole and finally attains not only his own goal, but the one final Goal of all.

Hence every person, though obviously not a member of the Sufi Movement, is a Sufi either as long as he is seeking to understand Life, or as soon as he is willing to believe that every other human being will also find and touch the same Ideal. When a person opposes or hinders the expression of a great Ideal, and is unwilling to believe that he will meet the others as soon as he has penetrated deeply enough into the depth of every soul, he is preventing himself from realising the Unlimited. All beliefs are simply degrees of clearness of vision. All are part of one ocean of Truth. The more this is realised, the easier is it to see the true relationship between all beliefs, and the wider does the range of vision of the one great Ocean become.

Limitations and boundaries are inevitable in human life ; forms and conventions are natural and necessary ; but they none the less separate humanity. It is the wise who can meet one another beyond these boundaries. The Sufi Movement is a limitation only in a certain direc- tion. Without such limitation it cannot act as a corporate body ; it could not utter its voice. It is corporate only for that purpose. It is, in a sense, merely a bureau in which certain work centres.

the character and work of the sufi movement

The character is expressed by the work. Therefore a proper understanding of the Sufi Movement is most easily obtained by considering its work. This work is two-fold. There is the inner work, the teaching of pupils who sincerely desire this particular instruction ; and there is the outer work, or propaganda. In ordinary business life, there is the work of the business itself, and there is the advertising by means of which more and more people become aware of its work, and acquainted with its value.

The inner work of the Movement. This may be considered in two aspects. First there is the work of teaching pupils, and second there is the work carried on by each pupil within himself. The teacher is he who brought the Movement into Europe and there are some who are authorised to assist in the work of teaching. Some pupils are in personal touch, others are in touch by conforming with instructions though personally absent, and by reading and meditating upon oral teachings which are written, and which form a course of study.

It may be supposed that a perusal or even a study of Sufi books would provide the necessary means of learning what the Sufi Movement has to teach. But such is not sufficient. In this respect the study is quite different from studies made in schools and business houses. Their knowledge is external, about external things. The Sufi seeks understanding of things internal; the outward teaching is to guide him to such understanding. This makes it essential for a pupil to submit himself unreservedly and trust- fully to a teacher, and he can only do this com- fortably by being satisfied that the teacher has long trodden this particular path himself and is well able to guide others along their path.

For this reason the study of books is relegated to the background. As will be seen in Part II, the Sufi's textbook is Nature itself, and not a book in handwriting. His progress is not in terms of the knowledge commonly called such, but in terms of appreciated experience in his own life.

The Mureed follows the path of meditation, the Murshid only hands him the torch by which to observe what he meets on his path and to guide him to the goal.

The kind of written teaching can be seen from the extracts given in Part III, and in the various Sufi books published. Those who wish to orient themselves intellectually about the Sufic view- point can do so in this way, but the real insight into the philosophy is only achieved by pupils who are willing to study everything they see through this telescope (as it were) and do not wish to waste time in scrutinising the outside of the instrument, taking it to pieces and so forth.

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

As Inayat Khan has said, “ I do not teach you to take up a particular Scripture alone as the sacred book ; I do not give you any particular principles, that you should subject your life to them ; I do not encourage in you the desire for seeking after wonders, though I tell you that in the spiritual pursuit, as your sight will be keen, so the whole life will become a wonder. I do not want you to revere me, or to consider me wonder- ful, good or great, and to raise me so high that some day you may have to throw me down from that height. I desire you to consider me friend, brother, comrade, one who rejoices in your joy and sorrows in your sorrow. I do not ask you to pray in a particular house of the Lord; I do not force upon you any rituals, forms or dogmas.”

The second part of the inner work of the Move- ment is that which concerns each individual member or pupil. His object is to become endowed with the capacity for being himself a teacher. However sincere his desire might be to serve humanity, and “ leave the world better than he finds it,” it should be clear that the surest mode of achieving this lies in the improvement of himself. He must first create peace in himself who desires to see peace in the world at large. The most arduous labours in others' service bring little real result without first the possession of that peace within which one desires to see without.

The true peace comes from a knowledge of the self, and from an understanding of the whole law of creation. The distinction between the false self (the ego) and the true Self is gradually perceived inwardly, practically rather than merely theoretically. He who holds the reins of self in his hand has the mastery of his own life.

The ideal of the Sufi, which he holds constantly in his mind, is describable by the words : “Union,” “ At-one-ment,” “ Self-realisation,” “Salvation,” “ the attainment of Unity.” The exact meaning of such terms varies with each one's discernment. As there are degrees of understanding, so there are degrees of ideal. Every person has an ideal of this kind, consciously or unconsciously ; it is only the degree that varies. This subject is dealt with in several of the Movement's publications, and perhaps most fully in “ In an Eastern Rose-Garden,” pp. 329 to 342.

the external work of the sufi movement

A person may become connected with the Sufi Movement without any definite comprehension of its nature, and nevertheless help in its outward work, and afterwards come to an under- standing of its significance. Or, he may begin by studying Sufism, discover the great gain which it proves in his life, and consequently develop a desire of sharing in and helping on its outward work.

Perhaps it is not too much to say that Pir-o- Murshid Inayat Khan's primary object in coming to the West is to deliver the Sufi message, and that the instruction of pupils is secondary. At the same time, it is true that organisation, helpers, and agents are all necessary for his first object. All these things together produce what is called the Sufi Movement.

This is not the only movement of the kind in existence. Obviously, other groups of people are seeking to realise and spread among others the knowledge of unity, the religion of love and wisdom, the removal of the variety of beliefs and faiths, the inflow of love, to overflowing, in the human heart, and the rooting out of all the hatred produced by distinctions and differences. The Sufi welcomes all these workers, seeing them to be fellow-workers ; he wishes to avoid all opposition or hindrance to their work. It is not necessary that every person should belong to one and the same organisation ; rather is it desirable that each shall use his talents according to the direction and organisation which suits him best.

To the question, “ why belong to the Sufi Move- ment and not to some order of free-masonry, or a Christian Order, or other brotherhood ? ” The answer may be given : that each should belong to that which is most suitable. If he is content with his own, that is the reason for adhering to it ; if not, he may seek one with which he can be content. If the Sufi Movement is such, he will ascertain this to be the case after noting the contents of this Guide-book. At all times, he must remember that the Sufi Movement is not a religious sect ; it is an organisation concerned with the output of a knowledge of Sufi philosophy.

Remembering that it is very difficult to give a correct statement about a work or a system, because it is always necessary to view all aspects of a case before judging upon it, or describing it, it will be reasonable to advise persons interested to withhold judgment till they have thought over the topics referred to in the remaining Parts of this Guide-book.

part II - the principal sufi thoughts

There are ten principal Sufi thoughts, which comprise all the important subjects with which the inner life of man is concerned. In the follow- ing exposition of these thoughts, each subject is divided into three parts : the formal statement of the thought ; a brief explanation or expansion of the statement ; replies to such questions as may arise out of the subject-matter.


“There is One God, the Eternal, the Only Being; none exists save He.”

The God of the Sufi is the God of every creed, and the God of all. Names make no difference to him — Allah, God, Gott, Dieu, Khurda, Brahma, or Bhagwan. All these names and more are the names of his God, and yet to him God is beyond the limitation of name. He sees his God in the sun, in the fire, in the idol which diverse sects worship, and he recognises Him in all forms of the universe, yet knowing Him to be beyond all form. God in all, and all in God, He being the Seen and the Unseen, the Only Being. God, to the Sufi, is not only a religious belief, but also the highest ideal the human mind can conceive.

The Sufi, forgetting the self, and aiming at the attainment of the Divine Ideal, walks constantly all through life in the path of love and light. In God the Sufi sees the perfection of all that is in the reach of man's perception, and yet knows Him to be above human reach. He looks to Him as the lover to his beloved, and takes all things in life as coming from Him, with perfect resigna- tion. The sacred Name of God is to him as medicine to the patient ; the divine thought is the compass by which he steers the ship to the shores of immortality.

The God Ideal is to a Sufi as a lift by which he raises himself to the eternal goal, the attainment of which is the only purpose of his life.


“There is One Master, the Guiding Spirit of all Souls, Who constantly leads His followers towards the light.”

The Sufi understands that, although God is the source of all knowledge, inspiration, and guidance, yet man is the medium through whom God chooses to impart His knowledge to the world. He imparts it through one who is a man in the eyes of the world, but God in his consciousness. It is the mature soul that draws blessings from the Heavens, and God speaks through that soul.

Although the tongue of God is busy speaking through all things, yet in order to speak to the deaf ears of many among us, it is necessary for Him to speak through the lips of man. He has done this all through the history of man, every great teacher of the past having been this Guiding Spirit living the life of God in human guise. In other words, their human guises are the various coats worn by the same person, who appeared to be different in each. Shiva, Buddha, Rama, Krishna on the one side, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mahommed on the other ; and many more, known or unknown to history — always one and the same person.

Those who saw the person and knew Him recognised Him in whatever form or guise; those who could only see the coat, went astray, To the Sufi, therefore, there is only one teacher, however differently he be named at different periods of history, and He comes constantly to awaken humanity from the slumber of this life of illusion, and to guide man onwards towards divine perfection. As the Sufi, progresses in this view, he recognises his Master, not only in the Holy Ones, but in the wise, in the foolish, in the saint and in the sinner, and has never allowed the Master Who is One alone, and the only One Who can be and Who ever will be, to disappear from his sight.

The Persian word for Master is Murshid. The Sufi recognises the Murshid in all beings of the world, and is ready to learn from young and old, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, without questioning from whom he learns. Then he begins to see the light of “ Risalat,” the torch of truth which shines before him in every being and thing in the universe. Thus he sees “ Rasul,” his Divine Message Bearer, a living identity before him. Thus the Sufi sees the vision of God, the worshipped Deity in His immanence, manifest in nature, and life now becomes for him a perfect revelation both within and without.

It is often for no other reason than clinging to the personality of their particular teacher, claiming for him superiority over other teachers, and degrading the teacher held in the same esteem by others, that people have separated themselves from one another, and caused all the wars and factions and contentions which history records among the children of God.

“The Spirit of Guidance.” A further explana- tion of this phrase is as follows : As in man there is a faculty for art, music, poetry, and science, so in him is the faculty or spirit of guidance; it is better to call it “ spirit ” because it is the supreme faculty from which all the others origin- ate. As we see that in every person there is some artistic faculty, but not everyone is an artist, as everyone can hum a tune but only one in a thousand is a musician, so every person possesses this faculty in some form and to a limited degree. but the spirit of guidance is found among few indeed of the human race.

A Sanskrit poet says, “ Jewels are stones, but cannot be found everywhere ; the Sandal tree is a tree, but does not grow in every forest ; as there are many elephants, but only one king elephant, so there are human beings all over the world, but the real human being is rarely to be found.”

When we arise above faculty and consider the spirit of guidance, we shall find that it is consummated in the Bodhisatva, the spiritual Teacher or Divine Messenger. There is a saying that the Reformer is the child of civilisation, but the Prophet is its father. This spirit has always existed, and must always exist ; and in this way from time to time the message of God has been given.

questions relevant to this section

(a) What is the Sufi's belief regarding the coming of a world teacher, or, as some speak of it, the Second Coming of Christ ? The Sufi is free from beliefs and disbeliefs, and yet gives every liberty to people to have their own opinion. There is no doubt that if an individual or a multitude believe that a teacher or a reformer will come, he will surely come to them. Similarly, in the case of those who do not believe that any teacher or reformer will come, to them he will not come.

To those who expect the teacher to be a man, a man will bring the message, to those who expect the teacher to be a woman, a woman must deliver it. To those who call on God, God comes. To those who knock at the door of Satan, Satan answers. There is an answer to every call.

To a Sufi the teacher is never absent, whether he comes in one form or a thousand forms. He is always one to him, and the same One he recognises to be in all, and all teachers he sees in his one teacher alone. For a Sufi, the self within, the self without, the kingdom of the earth, the kingdom of heaven — the whole being is his teacher, and his every moment is engaged in acquiring knowledge. For some, the teacher has already come and gone, for others the teacher may still come, but for a Sufi, the teacher has always been and will remain with him for ever.

(b) What is the position of the Sufi with regard to Christ ? The question asked by Jesus himself, “What think ye of Christ ? ” itself provides the answer. The emphasis is on the “ye.” There are as many thoughts of him as there are people who express them. The Sufi does not limit himself by expressing them. . Christ is the name of his Ideal, though in the Persian the same Ideal is named Rasul. All that centres in Rasul centres in Christ ; the two conceptions are one. All the names and functions which have been placed upon the conception of Christ — Prophet, Priest, King, Saviour, Bridegroom, Beloved — all these are understood by the Sufi. By constant meditation he realises all these aspects of the One, and, beyond that — Allah or God!


“There is one holy book, the sacred manuscript of nature, the only scripture which can enlighten the reader.”

The belief is almost universal in the West that the sacred books are certain books or scrolls written by the hand of man, and carefully preserved as holy, to be handed down to posterity as divine revelation. Men have fought and disputed over the authenticity of these books, have refused to accept any other book of similar character, and, clinging thus to the book and losing the sense of it, have formed diverse sects. The Sufi has in all ages respected all such books, and has traced in the Vedanta, Zendavasta, Kabala, Bible, Koran, and all other sacred scriptures, the same truth which he reads in the incorruptible manuscript of nature, the only holy book, the perfect and living model that teaches the inner law of life ; all scriptures before nature's manuscript are as little pools of water before the ocean.

To the eye of the seer every leaf of the tree is a page of the holy book that contains Divine Revela- tion, and he is inspired every moment of his life by constantly reading and understanding the holy script of Nature.

When man writes, he inscribes characters upon rock, leaf, paper, wood, steel ; when God writes, the characters He writes are living creatures!

It is when the eye of the soul is opened and the sight is keen that the Sufi can read the divine law in the manuscript of nature, and that which the teachers of humanity have taught to their followers was derived by them from the same source ; they expressed what little it is possible to express in words, and so they preserved the inner truth when they themselves were no longer there to reveal it.


“There is one religion, the unswerving progress in the right direction toward the ideal, which fulfills the life's purpose of every soul.”

What is meant by the word “ religion ” ? In the Sanscrit language, religion is termed “Dharma,” which means “ duty.” The duty of every individual is religion. “ Every soul is born for a certain purpose, and the light of that purpose is kindled in his soul ” (Sadi). This explains why the Sufi with tolerance allows everyone to pursue his own path, and does not compare the principles of others with his own, but allows freedom of thought to everyone, since he himself is a freethinker.

Religion, to the understanding of the Sufi, is the path that leads man toward the attainment of his ideal, worldly as well as heavenly. Sin and virtue, right and wrong, good and bad are not the same in the case of every individual ; they are according to his grade of evolution and state of life. Therefore he concerns himself little with the name of the religion or the place of worship. All places are sacred enough for his worship, and all religions convey to him the religion of his soul. “I saw Thee in the sacred Kaba and in the temple of the idol also Thee I saw.”

Some of the questions which arise under this heading are :

(a) Is Sufism a religion ? It should be clear from the above explanation that the religion of the Sufi is not separate from the religions of the world. People have fought in vain about the names and lives of their saviours, and have named their religions after the name of their saviour, instead of uniting with each other in the truth that is taught. This truth can be traced in all religions, whether one community call another pagan or infidel or heathen. Such persons claim that theirs is the only scripture, and their place of worship the only abode of God. “ Sufism ” is a name applied to a certain philosophy by those who do not accept the philosophy ; hence it can not really be described as a religion ; it contains a religion but is not itself a religion. Sufism is a religion if one wishes to learn religion from it. But it is beyond religion, for it is the light, the sustenance of every soul, raising the mortal being to immortality.

As matters stand to-day, each one claims his own religion to be the best, and he has his own religion. The Sufi tolerates all, and considers them all his ; he is therefore not of a religion but all religions belong to him. He can see all the religions like so many forms in a school : some are in one, others are in higher forms, — that is, some study life more deeply. And in each class in the school there are pupils who like to play.

To say, “ you are not of my religion ; my religion alone is true,” is as reasonable as to say, “you are not a lawyer, a merchant, a scholar; your way of carrying on life is false ; you must become as I.”

To say “ all who are in my religion are saved ” is as reasonable as to say “ every lawyer, merchant, scholar (as the case may be) is earnest, and performs his work perfectly.” Some speak of “nominal Christians, and true Christians ” ; this is only another way of saying that some persons are earnest about their work and others play.

(b) Is Sufism a belief ? What do we mean by the word “ belief ” ? It is the nature of mind to believe, and disbelief comes after. No unbeliever was born an unbeliever ; for if a soul from child- hood should disbelieve he would never learn to speak. All knowledge that man possesses, he has acquired by belief. When he strengthens his belief by knowledge, then comes disbelief in things that his knowledge cannot cope with, and in things that his reason cannot justify. He then disbelieves things that he once believed in. An unbeliever is one who has changed his belief to disbelief ; disbelief often darkens the soul, but sometimes it illuminates it. There is a Persian saying, “ Until belief has changed to disbelief, and, again, the disbelief into a belief, a man does not become a real Mussulman.” But when disbelief becomes a wall and stands against the further penetration of mind into life, then it darkens the soul, for there is no chance of further progress, and man's pride and satisfaction in what he knows limits the scope of his vision.

A constant “ Why ” arises in the minds of the intelligent, and when this “ Why ” is answered by life to man's satisfaction, he goes on further and further, penetrating through all different planes of life ; but when this “ Why ” does not get a satisfactory answer from life, then doubt, dismay, and dissatisfaction arise and result in confusion, puzzle, and despair. Sometimes belief proves to be worse than disbelief. This is when a person, set in his belief, hinders his own progress, not allowing his mind to go further in the research of life, refusing guidance and advice from another, in order that he may preserve his own belief. Thus a belief, which is preserved as a virtue, becomes the greatest sin. Both belief and disbelief, by practice, in time become natural tendencies ; the person who is inclined to believe gets into a habit of believing all things and everything, and an unbeliever in time comes to disbelieve everything whether right or wrong. The optimistic temper- ament is the temperament of the believer, and pessimism is as a rule the nature of the unbeliever. The prophets have always promised a reward for the believer, and have threatened the unbeliever with punishment, because the chance for spiritual enlightenment was only in the life of the believer, for the unbeliever covers his soul by his own disbelief.

Sufis are inclined to recognise four stages of belief :

1. Iman Muhmil, when one believes in a thing which others believe in, but no matter how strong his belief may be, when those in his surroundings change their belief, he will likewise change his.

2. Iman Kamil, the next stage of belief, is the belief of the idealist who has faith in his scripture and Saviour. He believes because it is written in the scripture, or taught by the Saviour. His belief, of course, will not change with the weather, but still it may waver, if by any means reason were awakened in his soul. At least it would be dimmed just as the light of a candle would become dimmed by the rising sun. When the sun of the intelligence rises, it would break through and scatter the clouds of emotion and devotion made by this belief.

3. Hakul Iman, the third stage of belief, when man believes because his reason allows him to believe ; such a man is journeying through life with a torch in his hand. His belief is based on reason, and cannot be broken except by a still greater reason, for it is the diamond that alone can cut the diamond, and reason alone can break reason.

4. Ainul Iman, the fourth stage of belief, is a belief of conviction ; not only reason, but every part of one's being is convinced and assured of the truth of things, and nothing on earth can change it. If a person were to say to him, do not cross over this place, there is water here, he will say, “ No, it is land, I can see for myself.” It is just like seeing with the eyes all that one believes. This belief is the belief of the seer whose knowledge is his eye witness, and therefore his belief will last for ever and ever. Of course, as a soul evolves from stage to stage, it must break the former belief in order to establish the later, and this breaking of the belief is called by Sufis “Tark,” which means abandonment, the aban- doning of the worldly ideal, the abandonment of the heavenly ideal, the abandoning of the Divine ideal, and even the abandoning of abandonment. This brings the seer to the shores of the ultimate truth.

“Truth is that which cannot be fully spoken, and that which can be spoken is not necessarily the truth.”

© Is Sufism Moslem? Is a Sufi a Moham- medan ? In joining a Sufi community is one associating with Muslims ? Is a Sufi a follower of Islam?

The word “ Islam ” means “ peace ” ; this is the Arabic word ; the Hebrew word is “ Salem ” (Jeru-salem). Peace and its attainment in all directions is the goal of the world.

But if the following of Islam is understood to mean “ the obligatory adherence to a certain rite ” ; if being a Mohammedan means “ conform- ing to certain restrictions,” how can the Sufi be placed in that category, seeing that the Sufi is beyond all limitations of this kind ? So far from not accepting the Koran, the Sufi, recognises scriptures which others disregard. But the Sufi does not follow any special book. The shining ones, such as Attar, Shams Tabriz, Rumi, Sa'adi, and Hafiz, have expressed their free thought with a complete liberty of language. To a Sufi, revelation is the inherent property of every soul. There is an unceasing flow of the divine stream, which has neither beginning nor end.

(d) What is the position of Sufism with regard to Christianity ? There is a place in the Sufi understanding for all the teachings contained in that Faith, and there can be no antagonism in the mind of him who understands. The writings of the Christian mystics evidence the intensity of their pursuit and devotion to the Beloved, — and there is only one Beloved, The Devotion to the Sacred Heart will be found to be a link with the Sufi philosophy, which recognises and practises it in the truest sense.

(e) Is Sufism mysticism ? As green is con- sidered to be the colour of Ireland, yet it cannot be said to belong exclusively to the Irish people, for anybody can wear green, and green is found all over the world ; so mystics in Islam have been called Sufis, but Sufism, Divine Wisdom, is for all, and is not limited to a certain people. It has existed from the first day of creation, and will continue to spread and to exist unto the end of the world. Sufism is a mysticism if one wishes to be guided by it in the unfoldment of the soul. Yet it is beyond mysticism.

(f) Is Sufism theosophy ? Sufis have no set belief or disbelief. Divine Light is the only sustenance of their soul, and through this light they see their path clear, and what they see in this light they believe, and what they do not see they do not blindly believe. Yet they do not interfere with another person's belief or disbelief, thinking that perhaps a greater portion of light has kindled his heart, and so he sees and believes what we cannot see or believe. Or, perhaps a lesser portion of light has kept his sight dim and he cannot see and believe as we believe. Therefore Sufis leave the belief and disbelief to the grade of evolution of every individual soul. The Murshid's work is to kindle the fire of the heart, and to light the torch of the soul of his Mureed, and to let the Mureed believe and disbelieve as he chooses, wliile journeying through the path of evolution. But in the end all culminates in one belief, “ Huma- man-am,” that is, “ I am all that exists,” all other beliefs being preparatory for this final conviction, which is called Hakul Iman in the Sufic terminology.

As soon as the word “ Theosophy ” is taken to mean certain fixed beliefs or disbeliefs, there is a difference from Sufism. Beliefs and disbeliefs are the cause of sects, each of these being blinded from the vision of the singleness of the whole of existence. As soon as thought is restricted, it ceases to be Sufism.

(g) Is Sufism a school of thought ? This question is answered by what is said in Part I. Wisdom is not restricted to one geographical spot such as a country, a city, a building or meeting-place. Sufism cannot be correctly des- cribed as a school of thought, if by that is meant the instruction of a certain doctrine ; but it might be correct to speak of it as a school of thought in the sense that through Sufism one learns wisdom, just as in a school one learns wisdom of a certain kind. Sufism is beyond philosophy.

(h) What is life's purpose ? This question arises out of the wording of the Thought at the beginning of this section. The subject is dealt with in Part III.


“There is one law, the law of reciprocity, which can be observed by a selfless conscience, together with a sense of awakened justice.”

Man spends his life in the pursuit of all that seems to him to be profitable for himself, and when so absorbed in self-interest, in time he even loses touch with his own real interest. The laws which man has made are arranged to suit himself, but they are laws by which he can take the best out of another. It is this that he calls justice, and it is only that which is done to him by another that he calls injustice. A peaceful and harmonious life with his fellow-men cannot be led until the sense of justice has been awakened in him by a selfless conscience. As the judicial authorities of the world intervene between two persons who are at variance, knowing that they have a right to intervene when the two parties in dispute are blinded by personal interest, so the Almighty Power intervenes in all disputes however small or great.

It is the Law of Reciprocity which saves man from being exposed to the Higher Powers, as a considerate man has less chance of being brought before the court. The sense of justice is awakened in a perfectly sober mind ; that is, one which is free from the intoxication of youth, strength, power, possession, command, birth, or rank. It seems a net profit when one does not give but takes, or when one gives less and takes more, but in either case there is really a greater loss than profit, for every such profit spreads a cover over the sense of justice within, and when many such covers have veiled the sight, man becomes blind even to his own profit. It is like standing in one's own light. “ Blind here remains blind in the hereafter.” See also “In an Eastern Rose-Garden,” p. 201 and onwards.

Although the different religions, in teaching man how to act harmoniously and peacefully with his fellow-men, have given out different laws, they all meet in this one truth, “ Do unto others as thou wouldst they should do unto thee.” The Sufi, in taking a favour from another, enhances its value, and in taking measures from another, he makes allowance.

The questions which may arise under this heading are:

{a) If the idea of right and wrong is man- made, how does it matter any more what anyone does ? The answer is, It matters to those to whom it matters, and it does not matter to those to whom it does not matter. In this respect, if the Sufi has to say anything to his follower, it is this, “ Refrain from doing that which hinders you from accomplishing the purpose in your inner and your external life. Do not act against your ideal, for it will never be satisfactory to you : you will not be pleased with yourself and this inharmony in your inner and your external self will prevent peace, which is your life's craving, without which life becomes unhappy.”

“Right” is the straight path which the soul is inclined to take in life, but when one walks astray, leaving the straight path in life owing either to negligence or ignorance, or by reason of weakness or by the attraction of some temptation on the way, that is considered wrong. (This subject is referred to in “ In an Eastern Rose- Garden,” p. 39 and pp. 92-3.)

(b) What is good and what is evil ? There are two answers to this question. First it may be said : Good is that which you consider to be good, and the effect of which is agreeable to you both in its beginning and end. Evil is that which you consider to be evil and the effect of which is disagreeable in the beginning as well as in the end. If good and evil have no agreeable or disagreeable effect at first, or have a contrary effect at the beginning, whether they are really agreeable or disagreeable will appear in the end. The second answer is this :

That all things that seem good and evil are the opposite ends of one line, and it is difficult to say where evil ends and good begins, for these are comparative terms ; a lesser good would seem evil when compared with a greater good, and the lesser evil in comparison with the greater evil would appear good. If there were no evil, good would not have been valued. Without injustice, justice would not have been appreciated. Therefore the whole life's joy is expressed in duality.

© Why is there so much suffering in life, when God is described as merciful?

If God were a separate being from man, and if He rejoiced in the suffering of man, then He is to be blamed. But He, as the Sufi realises, is the sufferer and the suffering ; yet He is beyond all suffering. This fact can be understood, not merely by believing in God, but in knowing Him. Suppose your hands dropped a heavy weight upon your feet and hurt them, are your hands to be blamed ? No, for they share the pain with the feet, and although the feet seem to have been hurt, yet the one that feels hurt in your being is your absolute being. In reality, that “ Being ” feels hurt, and therefore the hand shares the hurt of the foot. So it is with God ; our very life is His, and He is not void of the feeling of joy or of pain which we feel. In reality, He feels what we imagine we feel, and at the same time His Perfect Being keeps Him above all earthly oys and pains ; and our imperfection limits us, so that we become subject to all joys and pains, however small they may be.

(d) What is sin and what is virtue, according to the Sufi?

The difference between sin and virtue is as the difference between good and evil. They are comparative terms. Lesser virtue compared with greater virtue appears to be sin, and lesser sin compared with greater sin is considered virtue. The inclination of the soul is towards good ; it is only when the soul is helpless in the hands of the lower self that it is inclined towards evil.

Again, it may be said : Sin and virtue are the standards of good and evil made by the teachers of religion ; it is the standards of morals that keep the world in order ; and it is the breaking of this order that causes the decline of religion, with the effect of wars, famines, and disaster. In order to uphold this order, Messengers are sent from time to time, and Spiritual Controllers are appointed in every part of the earth.

(e) Why tread the path of righteousness and piety ; why spend your life in teaching and preaching to humanity?

It is natural. Every loving and illuminated heart has a desire to see others partake in its vision of glory.

(f) It seems that some persons are quite happy in committing sin. Is there then no restriction to be imposed on sin?

The answer is : sin can never make one happy, Even were there pleasure in it for the time being, it would re-echo, and the re-echo of a false note is never pleasing to the musical ear. If a person were really happy in his “ sin,” one might be satisfied that it was really his virtue, and that it is only to us, from our point of view, that his action is sinful. Therefore the Sufi attends to his own journey, and does not judge others.

(g) If there is only a comparative difference between good and evil, sin and virtue, why should there be punishment for evil and reward for good? The effect of good itself is a reward for good, and the effect of evil is itself a punishment. From our limited view, perhaps, we attribute these effects to a third person, to a Divine ideal.

(h) What then of the belief of the orthodox, that if anybody asks forgiveness before his death, his sins would be forgiven by God ? It seems hard to believe that a person who has sinned all through life could be forgiven at a simple request made at the hour of death.

The answer is, that it is absolutely true that the whole of life's sins may be forgiven by Divine mercy in one moment, just as a chemical solution may wash away the stains of years from the surface of a rock in a moment. The real question is, is the request earnest enough ? It is not so easy as it seems, for this is the matter of Divine mercy, and if a person has continued to commit sins, at every sin he has lost his belief in the Judgment of the Divine Being and in His Power. Therefore he has sown the seed of disbelief in his heart and has reared this plant by his sins. That being so, how can he in the end develop sufficient faith in a moment to believe in Divine Mercy? The simplest thing becomes the most difficult for him.

For this reason, the teachers of humanity have taught man faith as the first lesson in religion. Those are forgiven the sins of their whole life, who have always believed that any moment death might come and have safeguarded them- selves against doing anything that does not meet with the pleasure of their Lord, and whenever, owing to human imperfection, they have failed in doing right, they most earnestly have asked forgiveness.


“There is one brotherhood, the human brotherhood, which unites the children of earth indiscriminately in the Fatherhood of God.”

The Sufi understands that the one life emanating from the inner Being is manifested on the surface as the life of variety, and in this world of variety man is the finest manifestation, who can realise in his evolution the oneness of the inner being even in the external existence of variety. But he evolves to this ideal, which is the only purpose of his coming on earth, by uniting himself with another.

Man unites with others in the family tie, which is the first step in his evolution, and yet families in the past have fought with each other, and have taken vengeance upon one another for generations, each considering, at the time, his to be the only true and righteous cause. To-day, man shows his evolution in uniting with his neighbours, fellow-citizens, and even developing within himself the spirit of patriotism for his nation. He is greater in this respect than those in the past, and yet men so united nationally have caused the catastrophe of the Great War — one which will be regarded by the coming generations in the same light in which the family feuds of the past are regarded by us now.

There are racial bonds which widen the circle of unity still more, but it has always happened that one race has looked down on the other.

The religious bond shows a still higher ideal. But it has caused diverse sects, which have opposed and despised each other for thousands of years, and have caused endless splits and divisions among men. The germ of separation exists even in such a wide scope for brotherhood, and however widespread the brotherhood may be, it cannot be a perfect one as long as it separates man from man.

The Sufi, realising this, frees himself from national, racial, and religious boundaries, uniting himself in the human brotherhood, which is void of the differences and distinctions of class, caste, creed, race, nation, or religion, and unites mankind in the universal brotherhood. The Sufi welcomes all as his brothers, and is open to be the brother of all.

questions arising under this section

(a) Is Sufism a community ? It should be now clear that Sufism does not add another community to the numbers of castes and creeds which already exist. Any person can study Sufism, and make use of it for guidance in daily life, without discarding his existing associations with other communities. As he perceives the underlying wisdom, he perceives also that he is related to every other community, and is at one with them in the path of love and light.

The Sufi Movement is composed of truth- seeking people of different faiths and beliefs, for to whatever extent any of these persons is a sincere seeker after truth, to that extent is he already a member of the Movement, whether he be aware of this or not. It is not intended that all members of the Movement should label them- selves followers of a certain faith ; they may keep whatever faith or belief they have. It is not even required of them that they should all call themselves Sufi.

Hence it is clear that it is not accurate to think of Sufism as a community. The members of the Sufi Order are guided, for a certain time, by the Murshid ; and during that time all who are so guided are to that extent associated. After that time is passed, each has his own path and is master of his path. The perfect disciple places himself unreservedly in the care of his teacher, and the reward for such implicit trust is his greater rapidity of progress. After that, if his work has been good, he will find himself master of his walk in life. It is just as in a school, where the pupils are gathered together for a certain time, but, after that, each pursues his own work. He does not stay in the school all his life. Yet, during the time he is part of the school, he might be looked upon as belonging to a community if one wished to express the matter that way, and with clear knowledge of the limited interpretation of the word in this case.


“There is one moral, the love which springs forth from self-denial and blooms in deeds of beneficence.”

There are moral principles taught to mankind by various teachers, by many traditions, one differing from the other, which are as separate drops coming out of the fountain. But when we look at the stream, we find there is but one stream, albeit that it turns into several drops on falling. There are many moral principles, as many drops fall from one fountain ; but there is one stream that is at the root of all, and that is love. It is love that gives birth to hope, patience, endurance, forgiveness, tolerance, and to all moral principles. All deeds of kindness and beneficence take root in the soil of the loving heart. Generosity, charity, adaptability, an accommodating nature, even renunciation, are the offspring of love alone. The great, rare and chosen beings, who for ages have been looked up to as ideal in the world, are the possessors of hearts kindled with love. All evil and sin come from the lack of love.

People call love blind, but love in reality is the light of the sight. The eye can only see the surface ; love can see much deeper. All ignorance is the lack of love, as fire when not kindled gives only smoke, but when kindled, the illuminating flame springs forth. So it is with love; it is blind when undeveloped, but when its fire is kindled, the flame that lights the path of the traveller from mortality to everlasting life springs forth, and the secrets of earth and heaven are revealed to the possessor of the loving heart, and the lover has gained the mastery over himself and others, and he not only communes with God but unites with Him.

Rumi says : “ Hail to thee, then, O love, sweet madness ! Thou who healest all our infirmities! Who art the physician of our pride and self-conceit ! Who art our Plato and our Galen ! ”


“There is one Object of Praise, the beauty which uplifts the heart of its worshippers through all aspects from the seen to the unseen.”

The Koran says: “ God is beautiful, and He loves beauty.”

This expresses the truth that man, who inherits the Spirit of God, has beauty in him, and loves beauty, although that which is beautiful to one is not beautiful to another. Man cultivates the sense of beauty as he evolves, and prefers the higher aspect of beauty to the lower. But when he has observed the highest vision of beauty in the unseen by a gradual evolution, from praising the beauty in the seen world, then the whole existence becomes to him one single vision of beauty.

Man has worshipped God, beholding the beauty of sun, moon, stars, and planets ; he has wor- shipped God in plants, in animals ; he has recog- nised God in the beautiful merits of man, and he has with his perfect view of beauty found the source of all beauty in the unseen, from whence all this springs, and in whom all is merged.

The Sufi, realising this, worships beauty in all its aspects, and sees the face of the Beloved in all that is seen, and the Beloved's spirit in the unseen. So, wherever he looks, his ideal of worship is before him,

“Everywhere I look, I see Thy winning face.” “Everywhere I go, I arrive at Thy dwelling- place.”


“There is One Truth, the true Knowledge of our being, within and without, which is the essence of all wisdom.”

Hazrat Ali says : “ Know thyself, and thou wilt know God.”

It is the knowledge of self which blooms into the knowledge of God. Self-knowledge answers such problems as :

From whence have I come?

Did I exist before I became conscious of my present existence?

If I existed, as what did I exist? As an individual such as I now am, or as a multitude, or as an insect, bird, animal, spirit, Jinn, or Angel?

What happens at death, the change to which every creature is subject?

Why do I tarry here awhile ? What purpose have I to accomplish here ? What is my duty in life?

In what does my happiness consist, and what is it that makes my life miserable?

Such are the questions which those ponder over whose hearts have been kindled by the light from above. Those, whose souls are already illumined by the knowledge of the self, understand them. It is these who give to individuals, or to multitudes, the benefit of their knowledge, so that even men whose hearts are not yet kindled, and whose souls are not illuminated, may be able to walk on the right path that leads to perfection. This is why it is that people are taught in various languages, in various forms of worship, in various tenets in different parts of the world. It is one and the same truth ; it is only seen in diverse aspects appropriate to the people and the time.

It is only those who do not understand this who can mock at the faith of another, condemning those to hell or destruction who do not consider their faith to be the only true faith.

The Sufi recognises the knowledge of self as the essence of all religions ; he traces it in every religion ; he sees the same truth in each ; and therefore he regards all as one. Hence he can realise the saying of Jesus, “ I and my Father are one.” The difference between creature and Creator remains on his lips, not in his soul. This is what is meant by union with God ; it is in reality the dissolving of the false self in the knowledge of the true self, which is divine, eternal, and all-pervading.

“He who attaineth union with God, his very self must lose.” (Amir.)

The knowledge of the self within is the topic of what is called “ Esotericism.” The questions which arise under the present section are there- fore answered when this branch of knowledge is enquired into. A few references are given in Part III. Others are scattered through the pages of the publications of the Movement. The chief answers are obtained through personal instruction by the Murshid.

The question of “ the purpose in life ” is referred to on page 61 of this guide-book.


“There is one path, the annihilation of the false ego in the real, which raises the mortal to immortality, in which resides all perfection.”

“I passed away into nothingness — I vanished ; and lo ! I was all living.”

All who have realised the secret of life under- stand that life is one, but that it exists in two aspects. First, as immortal, all-pervading and silent ; and secondly, as mortal, active, and manifest in variety. The soul, being the first aspect, becomes deluded, helpless, and captive by experiencing life in contact with the mind and body, which is of the next aspect.

The gratification of the desires of the body and the fancies of the mind, does not suffice for the purpose of the soul, which is undoubtedly the experience of its own phenomena in the Seen and the Unseen, but its inclination is to be itself and not anything else. When delusion makes it feel that it is helpless, mortal and captive, it finds itself out of place. This is the tragedy of life, which keeps the strong and the weak, the rich and poor, all dissatisfied, constantly looking for something they do not know. The Sufi, realising this, takes the path of annihilation, and, by the guidance of a teacher on the path, finds at the end of this journey that the destination was himself.

“I wandered in the pursuit of my own self; I was the traveller ; and I am the destination.” (Ekbal.)

There are several questions possibly arising out of this section, but they only find their answer in Experience. Of all aspects of enquiry taken up in Sufism, this is the one in which knowledge is essentially above representation in writing.

“Annihilation ” is a special term, equivalent to “ losing the false self,” which, again, is equiva- lent to the phrase, “ eternal life.” A certain insight into this is afforded by what is written on page 305 of “ In an Eastern Rose-Garden.” It is also referred to in the book called “ Hindustani Lyrics,” poems vi. and xvi., as well as in many other examples of Sufi poetry.“

The Sufi is the student of two worlds : the world within and the world without. The world within is equivalent to what is popularly named ” the next world,“ because of the wide-spread belief that time is the all-important factor ; that we have a life now, and another life at another time.

The Sufi knows differently. The world without has two aspects : the social world in which we are placed, and the greater world which is the topic of history, past, present, or prophetic. The world within can be entered only by the student himself, though he may learn about it as ” Esoteri- cism “—a subject which also has two aspects : that of the forces of the mind, and that of the Divine Light. The latter is the real goal of the Sufi's enquiry ; it is his Shekinah ; it is his Holy of Holies.

part III - some topics presented in sufic terms

Contents : (i) Purpose in Life. (2) How is a person to live in the world? (3) Vocations. (4) Nur-Zahur. (5) Intellect and Wisdom. (6) Certain terms belonging to Esotericism. (7) Alif. (8) Communion with God. (9) Poems. (10) Suma, The Music of the Sufis.

(1) Purpose in Life.

Every soul at times asks itself, ” Why am I here ? “ This question arises in accordance with the development of one's intelligence. A man may say, ” I am here to eat, drink and to make merry,“ but this even the animals do ; therefore what more has he accomplished by being human? Another might affirm that the attainment of power and position is important, but he must know that both of these are transitory. Power of any kind has its fall as well as its rise. All things we possess are taken from others, and others in . their turn await with outstretched hands to seize them.

A man may say :— ” We are here to gain honour.“ In this case some one has to be humbled in order to give him the honour he seeks, but he in his turn may have to be humbled by a still more ardent honour-seeking personality. We may think that being loved is all important, but we should know that the beauty in ourselves which makes another love us is transient. Further- more the beauty we possess may pale in com- parison with the beauty of another. When we seek the love of another we are not only dependent upon their love, but are ourselves void of love. If we think that it is desirable to love some one who deserves our love, we are mistaken, for we are always liable to be disappointed in the object of our love, who may perhaps never prove to be our ideal. One is led to suppose and believe that that virtue is the only thing that matters in life, but it will be found that the greater number of sufferers from moral hallucination are to be met with among the self-righteous.

Then the only purpose of our life here on earth, if there be any, is the successful attainment of life's demands. It may seem strange at first sight that all which life demands should be allow- able and worth while attaining, but on a closer study of life we see that the demands of our external self are the only ones we know, and we are ignorant of the demands of the true self, our inner life. For instance, we know that we want good food and nice clothes, comfort of living and every convenience for moving about, honour, possessions, and all necessary means for the satisfaction of our vanity, all of which for the moment appear to us as our life's only demands, but neither they nor their joy remain with us constantly. We then come to think that what we had was but a little and that perhaps more would satisfy us, and still more would suffice our need, but this is not so. Even if the whole universe were within our grasp it would be impossible fully to satisfy our life's demands. This shows that our true life has quite different demands from those with which we are familiar. It does not want the joy experienced by this individual self only, it desires joy from all around. It does not wish for a momentary peace, but for one that is everlasting. It does not desire to love a beloved held in the arms of mortality. It needs a beloved to be always before it. It does not want to be loved only for to-day and perhaps not to-morrow. It wishes to float in the ocean of love.

It is therefore that the Sufi seeks God as his love, lover and beloved, his treasure, his pos- session, his honour, his joy, his peace, and this attainment, in its perfection, alone suffices all demands of life for the here and the hereafter.

Then, again, it may be said, There is a purpose over each purpose, and there is again a purpose under each purpose, and yet beyond and beneath all purposes there is no purpose. The creation is, because it is.

Life is a journey from one pole to another, and the perfection of the conscious life is the final destiny of the imperfect life. In other words, every aspect of life in this world of variety gradually evolves from imperfection to perfection, and if life's evolution were not so in its nature, there would have been no difference between life and death, for life on the surface is nothing but the phenomena of contrast. This is, then, another way of expressing what is the purpose of life.

(2) How is a Person to Live in the World?

One may try to see from the point of view of another, as well as from one's own, and so give freedom of thought to everybody, because one demands it oneself. One may try to appreciate what is good in another, and overlook what one considers bad. If anyone behaves selfishly to one, one may take it naturally, because it is human nature to be selfish, and so one is not disappointed with it. But if one oneself appears to be selfish, one should take oneself to task and try to improve. There is not anything one should not be ready to tolerate, and there is nobody whom one should not forgive. Never doubt those whom you trust ; never hate those whom you love ; never cast down those whom you once raise in your estimation. Wish to make friends with everyone you meet ; make an effort to gain the friendship of those you find difficult ; become indifferent to them only if you cannot succeed in your effort. Never wish to break the friendship once made. If anyone causes harm, one should try to think it is because one has deserved it in : some way, or else it is that the one who harms knows no better. Remember that every soul that raises its head in life gets much opposition from the world. It has been so with all the prophets, saints and sages, so one cannot expect to be exempt. In this is the law of nature, and also God's plan working and preparing something desirable. No one is either higher or lower than oneself. In all sources that suffice one's need, one may see one source, God, the only Source, and, in admiring and in bowing before and in loving anyone, one may consider one is doing it to God. In sorrow one may look to God, and in joy one may thank Him. One does not bemoan the past, nor worry about the future; one tries only to make the best of to-day. One should know no failure, for even in a fall there is a stepping-stone to rise ; but to the Sufi the rise and fall matters but little. One does not repent for what one has done, since one thinks, says, and does what one means. One does not fear the consequences of performing one's wish in life, for what will be, will be.

(3) Vocations.

Every being has a definite vocation, and his vocation is the light which illuminates his life. The man, who disregards his vocation, is a lamp unlit.

He who with sincerity seeks his real purpose in life is himself sought by that purpose. As he concentrates on that search a lignt begins to clear his confusion — call it revelation, call it inspiration, call it what you will.

It is mistrust that misleads. Sincerity leads straight to the goal.

Each one has his circle of influence, large or small ; within his sphere so many souls and minds are involved — with his rise, they rise ; with his fall, they fall.

The size of a man's sphere corresponds to the extent of his sympathy, or we may say, to the size of his heart. His sympathy holds his sphere together. As his heart grows, his sphere grows — as his sympathy is withdrawn or lessened, so his sphere breaks up and scatters.

If he harms those who live and move within his sphere (those dependent upon him or upon his affection), he of necessity harms himself. His house or his palace, or his cottage — his satis- faction or his disgust in his environment are the creation of his own thought. Acting upon his thoughts, and also part of his own thoughts, are the thoughts of those near to him — others depress him and destroy him, or they encourage and support him, in proportion as he repels those around him by his coldness, or attracts them by his sympathy.

Each individual composes the music of his own life — if he injures another, he brings disharmony.

When his sphere is disturbed, he is disturbed himself, and there is a discord in the melody of his life. If he can quicken the feeling of another to joy, or to gratitude — by that much he adds to his own life ; he becomes himself by that much more alive. Whether conscious of it or not, his thought is affected for the better by the joy or gratitude of another, and his power and vitality increase thereby, and the music of his life grows more in harmony.

(4) Nur-Zahur. A. Nur-Zahur means ” Divine manifestation.“ To the view of a Sufi this universe is nothing but a manifestation of the Divine Being. The supreme God, from His existence as a single, as the only Being, has journeyed, so to speak, as far as He could toward the surface. By His activity and His will behind it, He has manifested on the surface, from the heavens He descended upon earth. From the most unconscious state of existence, blind, unaware of His being, as is the rock, He has gradually awakened to conscious- ness of the surroundings on the surface. ” The world was created out of darkness “■ — Koran. A gradual progress of the journey brings the Inner Being to the condition of a plant, flower and fruit, then to the state of worm, germ, and animal, until He manifests as man, Ashraful Makhlukat, the ruler of this universe and the controller of the Heavens. In man He reaches the final goal of His destiny, when He realises Himself as the whole being, which He has not done hitherto. ” In Our own image We have created man “ — Koran.

B. The Light of Guidance. ” The secret of God can be studied in His nature “ — Ali. Every traveller on foot, as a rule, lights his torch at the approach of night. So also this heavenly traveller. Seeing darkness overwhelming in the lower spheres on His path, He lights a torch. It is the light of this torch, which is called in Koranic term, Nuri Muhammed, that has carried Him to the surface, whence He could clearly discern and find His path back. ” I have made thee of My light and of thy light have I created this whole universe “ — Koran. To the knower's eye, this Nur, this light, is the real Muhammed. This light it is which has beamed forth through all the Masters of humanity.

It is the nature of every luminous object to shed light all around and yet a particular beam of light coming out of it has more illumination than the light spread all around. This may be seen in the light of the sun. The souls which happen to be in the zone of that beam of the light of guidance, whether by intention or accident, have been known to the world as the chosen ones of God. They saw God sooner, they heard Him more quickly than others, they have been nearer to Him than others. They may be called the elect of God.

Before the righteous soul,
Servant of God, even the angels bend;
His lotus feet the long-desired goal
Where weary pilgrims find their journey's end
In pardon for their sin.
Thus, as the saint, God comes, and man is healed,
And fortunate that happy one, within
Whose heart the mystic vision is revealed.

All souls since the creation of man who have been in this light have been Masters, coming one after the other connected in the link of the one current which first springs from the innermost being and broadens and expands in this universe.

The saints, sages, and mystics, who fare forth from the highest spheres are attracted by this light and they seek refuge in it from life's dark clouds. The invisible ones who floated in this light, even before man was created, were the angels.

C. The Divine Light in the Lower Creation. This light has shone upon the mineral and vegetable kingdoms, and upon the animal king- dom ; and there, too, it has shown its phenomena, although its full radiance was reached only in man. It can be seen in the developed intelligence, and this can be observed in the cosmic system as well as in the mineral and vegetable kingdoms. It is the light of the sun which shines upon the moon and the planets ; each star is but a reflec- tion of the same light ; thus the whole cosmic system is illuminated by the sun alone. In the vegetable kingdom we see one little plant, a fruit or flower, spreading its influence around it, covering that part of the forest, in time, with the same sweet fruit or with the same fragrant flower. When we watch the animal kingdom closely, we see the especial gift of intelligence in some animals. We find that among all birds there is a leader for every flock. Among the elephants of the forest especially, there is the wise elephant who walks in front of the herd, carefully carrying the stem of a tree with his trunk. He uses it as a stick, and examines with it the path he walks upon to discover whether there are any pits on that way, for his own safety as well as that of his followers , In the jungle a troop of monkeys can be seen following the command of one among them; after he has jumped, they all jump. The foxes and dogs in the jungle have among them someone who is most wary, who gives the alarm before every coming danger. In a flock of birds, one wise and courageous bird leads the whole flock. And this is the case with many other birds and beasts also. This faculty of guidance, with the maturity of intelligence, fulfils the purpose of manifestation in the evolution of man.

“Man was destined to be the Khalif of all beings ” — Koran. This Surah can be rightly understood when we see that all beings in the world are employed for man, being controlled and ruled by him, obeying his command. All the secret of their nature is disclosed to him, that he may utilise them for the purpose for which they are meant. Moreover, it is man who may rightly be called the seed of God, for in him alone intelligence develops so perfectly that he not only appreciates God's works and worships Him, but he is even enabled to attain self-sufficience and all-pervading consciousness with the everlasting life of Allah. ” Man realises his perfection in Allah, and Allah realises His perfection in man.“

D. The Spirit of Prophecy. We see this ten- dency of guidance (1) in a small degree in Parents, who, whatever their own life may have been, yet wish their children to be benefited by their experience, that the children may live aright. (2) There are some people to be found, in this world of selfishness, who warn their friends against going astray. (3) We find a leader in a community who sacrifices his own life and welfare for the benefit of his fellowmen, uniting them in the bond of love and harmony. (4) The same attribute of self-sacrifice, in its higher grade of evolution, is seen among the Masters of humanity, who act as officials of the infinite government and are known in the world as messengers. Among them are holy beings of different grades, designated by Sufis as Wali, Ghous, Kutub, Nabi, and Rasoul. They differ one from the other in degree, according to (a) the depth to which they penetrate into the world unseen, and to (b) the breadth of the space they occupy in the Universal Consciousness, and also according to © the width of the circle of humanity that is placed in their charge for its guidance. Nabi is the guide of a community, Rasoul has a message for the whole of humanity, and each has a certain cycle of time for his message.

This can be seen by an intelligent study of the cosmos. The laws of nature teach us and prove to the knower the influence of each planet upon souls, both individually and collectively, as families, nations, and races, and even upon the whole world, the condition of each and all being in accordance with the nature of the planet under whose influence they are- Over birth, death, and every rise and fall, and over all life's affairs the planet acts as ruler. If planets, the reflections of the sun, have power upon the external affairs of humanity, how much greater must be the power of the God-conscious, the reflections of the divine light, of which the sun is merely a shadow ! These are the Awatads, whom the Hindus call Avatars, who are not only in power, as the earthly kings are, for the time of their life on earth, but remain in power even after they have passed from this earthly plane. The knower, therefore, sees in the Masters of humanity, not only the deliverers of the divine message, but also the spiritual sovereigns, con- trollers of the universe during their cycles.

The Cycles. Every aspect of the life of an individual and the life of the world has its cycle. In the life of an individual, the period from his birth to his death is the first part, and from death to assimilation in the Infinite the second part. The sub-cycles in man's life are from infancy to youth, where ends one part, and from youth to old age, where is the close. There are again under-cycles : infancy, childhood, youth, maturity, senility ; and there are the cycles of man's rise and fall.

So there is a cycle of the life of the world, and the cycle of the creation of man and his destruc- tion, the cycles of the reign of races and nations, and cycles of time, such as a year, a month, week, day, and hour.

The nature of each of these cycles has three aspects — the beginning, the culmination and the end, which are named Uruj, Kamal and Zaval, as, for example, new moon, full moon, and waning moon — sunrise, zenith and sunset. These cycles, sub-cycles and under-cycles, and the three aspects of their nature are divided and distinguished by the nature and course of light, and as the light of the sun and moon and of the planets plays the most important part in the life of the world, individually and collectively, so the light of the spirit of guidance also divides time into cycles, and each cycle therein has been under the influence of a certain Master with so many controllers of the whole world under him working as the spiritual hierarchy for the control of affairs, mainly of those concerning the inward spiritual condition of the world. The Masters have been numberless, since the creation of man ; they have appeared with different names and forms ; but He alone was disguised in them Who is the only Master of eternity.

Rejection of the stranger and belief in that one only, whom he has once acknowledged, has kept man in darkness for ages. If he believed one message he would not accept the succeeding message, brought by another Master, who was, perhaps, a stranger to him. This has caused many troubles in the lives of all the Masters. Man refused to believe the Masters and their teachings, whether of the past or future, if their names were not written in the particular tradition he believed, or if he had not heard their names in the legends handed down for ages among his people. Therefore the people of that part of the world who have acknow- ledged the Hebrew prophets do not recognise the Avatars, such as Rama, Vishnu, Shiva, and Krishna, only because they cannot find these names in their scriptures. The same thing occurs in the other parts of humanity, which does not count Abraham, Moses or Jesus among its Devatas, as it does not find those names written in the legends with which it is familiar. Even if it were true that Brahma was the same Devata whom the Hebrews called Abraham, and if Christ was the same Master whom the Hindus have called Kresht or Krishna, yet man would not recognise as one those whom he has distin- guished as different one from the other, having a higher opinion of one of them and a lower opinion of the other.

E. The Unity of the Masters. If the Masters were not the same in their mortal garb, yet in spirit they were one ; if it were not so, how could one and the same truth be disclosed by them all?

The Masters of humanity have been the older brothers who guided the younger ones out of their brotherly love, and owing to their love in the Father. It is humane to sympathise with one's fellowman when he is striving for something and cannot gain it, and to help him to the attainment of the ideal object for which he strives.

This is very well illustrated by the myth of Ram Chundra. It is said in the Purana that once Sita, the consort of Ram Chundra, was staying in the guardianship of Washita Rushi with her sons. The younger son, Lahu, one day went to see the neighbouring town. He saw Kalanki, a most beautiful horse, running throughout the city without a rider. When he enquired whose the horse was, people told him that this horse had been let loose so that whoever would be able to catch it should be made the king of that kingdom. This tempted the youth, and he ran after the horse in order to catch it. He continued running a long time, and met with nothing but disappointments. Every time he came close to the horse, thinking now he would catch it, it slipped from his hand. When he reached the point of utter disappointment, he saw his brother coming in search of him, sent by his mother, and told him that he would not come back till he caught the horse. The brother said, ” That is not the way to catch the horse ; in this way you will perhaps run for ever and will not be able to catch it. Therefore, instead of running after the horse, run to meet it.“ This caused the younger brother to succeed in a moment's time. Then both brothers were taken to the presence of Ram Chundra, their father, who embraced both, acknowledging the guidance of the one and the achievement of the other.

All the teachers who had come before declared for what community or group of people they were born and prophesied the coming of the next teacher, foreseeing the possibility and the neces- sity of the continuation of the message until its fulfilment.

That the messengers came successively did not mean that they were to give different messages, but that they should correct the corruptions made in the message of the past by the followers, and also to revive principles in order to suit the evolution of the period and to recall the same truth to the human mind which had been taught by the past Masters but had become lost from memory. It was not their personal message, but the divine message. They were obliged to correct the errors which had been made by the misinterpretation of the religions, thereby renewing the same truth given by the past Masters, which had been changed from its real character owing to the lapse of time. Man has ignorantly quarrelled about the names and forms of Masters, traditions, principles, and their limited groups, forgetting that they are one in that which unites them.

Their messages differ from one another in their outer appearance, each message being given in accordance with the age of man's evolution, and also in order to add a particular part in the course of divine wisdom. Certain laws and principles were prescribed by them to suit the country where the message was given, the climate, the period, customs, manners and requirements.

It was most necessary for the messengers to claim some exceptional position which might attract humanity to receive the message they had to give. Some were called Avatars, incarnations of Brahma, such as Vishnu, Shiva, Rama, and Krishna, while others were called Paghumbar, prophet, intercessor. Their followers have had foolish disputes, admiring and hating according to their personal liking, about the greatness of their assumption ; or about what they did and taught, or the sort of life they led.

The divine message had always been sent through those fitly endowed. For instance, when wealth was esteemed, the message was delivered by King Solomon ; when beauty was worshipped, Joseph, the most handsome, gave the message; when music was regarded as celestial, David gave his message in song ; when there was a curiosity for miracles, Moses brought his message; when sacrifice was highly esteemed, Abraham gave the message ; when heredity was recognised, Christ gave his message as the Son of God ; and when democracy was necessary, Muhammed gave his message as the servant of God, one like all and among all, which put an end to the necessity for more prophets, because of the democratic nature of his proclamation and message. He proclaimed La Elaha el Allah, None exists but God ; God constitutes the whole being, singly, individually and collectively, and every soul has the source of the divine message within itself. This is the reason why there is no more necessity for mediation, for a third person as a saviour between man and God, as soon as man has evolved enough to conceive the idea of God being all and all being God, and as soon as man has become tolerant enough to believe in the divine message given by one like himself, who is liable to birth, death, joy, and sorrow, and all the natural vicissitudes of life.

F. The Embodiment of the Masters. All Masters from the time of Adam till the time of Muhammed have been the one embodiment of the Master-ideal. When Christ is represented as saying ” I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,“ it is not meant that either the name or the visible person of Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, but the Master-spirit within. It was this spirit which proclaimed this, moved by its realisation of past, present, and future life, confident of its eternity. It is the same spirit which spoke through Krishna, saying ” We appear on earth when Dharma (religion) is corrupted,“ which was perhaps long before the coming of Christ. During his divine absorption, Muhammed said ” I existed even before this creation and shall remain after its assimilation.“ In the holy traditions, it is said, ” We have created thee of Our light and from thy light We have created the universe.“ This is not said of the external person of Muhammed as known by this name. It refers to the Spirit which spoke through all the blessed tongues and yet remained formless, nameless, birthless and deathless.

But the blind world, taken up by its phenomena and impressed by a certain name and form, has clung to the name, forgetting the true being. It is this ignorance which has divided the children of men into so many divisions, separated one from the other by their own delusions ; whereas in reality there exists One religion, a single Master, the Only God. Man has considered his stead- fastness to the Master, in whom he believed, his true religion ; and to believe in the next teacher he considered a breach of faith, which is pictured in the following story.

G. The Allegory of the Spirit of Prophecy. There was a man living with his wife and children in a little village. He was called away by the inner voice of his soul, and he renounced his life with his wife and children and went to the wilderness, on a mountain called Sinai, taking with him his eldest son, the only one of his children who was grown up. The children, having a faint remembrance of their father, wondered at times where he was, and longed at times to see him, and were told at times by their mother, ” He went long ago, and perhaps, so people say, has passed from this earth “ ; at times, in answer to their longing, she would say, ” perhaps he will come or send word, for so he promised before his departure.“ Sometimes the children grieved at their father's absence, their father's silence, and whenever they felt the need for him to be among them they would comfort themselves with the hope ” as he has promised, perhaps some day he will be with us.“

After some time had passed, the mother also passed away, and the children were left with guardians, who were entrusted with their care, together with the care of the wealth left by their parents.

After a few years, when their brother's smooth face had become bearded and when his cheerful look had given place to a serious expression, and his fair skin, now in the strong sun for years, had turned brown, he came home. He went with his father in grandeur ; he returns in poverty, and knocks at the door. The servants do not recognise him, and do not allow him to enter. His language is altered, the long stay in a foreign country has made him forget all. He says to the children, ” Come, O brothers, ye are my father's children ; I have come from my father, who is perfectly peaceful and happy in his retire- ment in the wilderness, and has sent me to bring you his love and his message, that your life may become worth while, and that you may have the great happiness of meeting your father, who loved you so greatly.“ They answered, ” How can it be that thou comest from our father who has been gone so long, and has given us no sign ? “ He said, “If ye cannot understand, ask your mother. She will be able to tell you.” But the mother had already passed away ; only her grave was left, which could never tell. He said, ” Then consult your guardians. Perhaps they will be able to tell you from the signs of the past which they may recollect ; or things that our mother may have said to them might bring to their memory the words of our father about my coming.“ The guardians had grown careless, indifferent, blind, quite happy in the possession of all the wealth, and enjoying the treasured gold left in their charge, and using their undisputed power and complete hold upon all the children.

Their first thought on hearing he had come was of annoyance ; but when they saw him they were quite heedless, for they found in him no trace of what he had been like before, and as they saw he was without power or wealth, and was altered in looks, in dress, in everything, they cared not for him. They said, ” By what authority claimest thou to be the son of our father, of our master, who has long since passed away, and may perhaps be dwelling in the heavens by now ? “ He then said to the children, ” I love you, O children of my father, although you cannot recognise me, and even if you do not acknowledge me as your brother, take my word for your welfare, for your father's word, and do good in life and avoid evil, for every work has its reward like unto it.“

The older ones, who were hardened in their ways, paid no heed, and the little ones were too young to understand, but the middle ones, who hearkened to his words, followed him quietly, won by his magnetism and charmed by his loving personality.

The guardians became alarmed at the thought that the children in their charge were tempted and carried off. They thought, ” Some day even the remaining ones may be charmed by his magic and our control over them, with the possession of their wealth and our comfort in their home, and our importance and honour in their eyes, will all be lost if we let this go on any longer.“ They made up their minds to kill him and incited the remaining brothers against him, declaring before them the pity of their dear brothers being led astray and carried away from their home and comfort and how unfounded was the claim he made.

They came up to this man, and arrested him, and bound his arms and legs, and threw him into the sea. But those children who had looked upon him as their guide and brother grieved and lamented at this. The brother consoled them, saying, ” I will come to you again, O children of my father. Do not give up hope, and the things that you have not understood, being young, will be taught to you fully, and as these people have behaved so harshly towards me, it will be shown them what it is to be heedless of our father's message brought by his own son, and you will be enlightened, O children of my father, with the same light with which I came to help you.“

This man was a master swimmer. The sea had no power to drown him. He seemed to them to have sunk, but then he drew his hands and feet out of the knots, rose upon the water and began to swim in a masterly way, as he had been taught. He goes to the father in the wilderness and tells all his experience on his long journey, and shows his love and desire to obey his father's will and fulfil all his commandments, and to go to the children of his father again with renewed strength and power, in order to bring them to that ideal which was the only desire of the father.

A bearer of the message of their father appears again after a few years, not insistent in proving himself to be the son of their father, and yet to guide them and to help them towards the ideal set for them by their father. The guardians, disturbed already by one who came and went, insult him, stone him, and drive him out of their sight, but he, renewed in his power, strength, and courage and coming fresh from the mighty influence of his father, withstands it courageously with sword and shield, and seeks refuge among those of the brothers who responded to him and sympathised with him on his last coming. They say, ” Surely he who came before was from our father, whom our brothers did not recognise and have sunk in the sea, but we are awaiting his coming, for he promised us that he would come.“ He answers, ” It is myself who promised, and went to our father, and now I have come, for the promise given to you was of two natures : ' I will come again ' was said to those who could recognise me in a different garb, suited to the time and the situation, and ' I will send another,' or ' Another will come ' was said to those who were likely to be confused by the external garb. It was said to them so that they might not refuse the word of guidance sent by our most loving father.“ They understood his word better, but refused to acknowledge him to be the same as the first, whom they had formerly seen and now expected.

He spoke, and he showed in his works the signs of their father, but they clung to the person whom they had seen at first, forgetting his word and their father.

But the little ones, who had not known him before felt the tie of the blood relationship, for neither were their hearts hardened nor were they set strongly in their ideas. They loved him, they recognised him more than had ever been his experience at his former coming, while the other brothers, under the influence of the guardians, fought and rebelled against all that this man did. But, in spite of all their resistance and the suffer- ing caused to him, he guided the children of his father, as many as he could, until the name of his father was again glorified and his brothers were guided, directly or indirectly, through the puzzles of the world and the secrets of the Heavens.

This story gives the illustration of what has happened in the lives of the messengers, especially of Christ and Muhammed, though the terms Father, Son, Brother, are merely metaphorical. There has been one Teacher only, and he alone will be. All the names which the world has fought over are His names, and all the physical forms that have won the adoration of the truth- seeking world are His forms. Therefore, though the foolish reject the message, there are wise ones who accept it.

(5) Intellect and Wisdom.

There are two aspects of intelligence, intellect and wisdom.

Intellect shows in an infant from its birth when he begins to be curious about all he sees ; then by storing in his mind the various forms and figures he sees, he recognises them as an addition to his knowledge of variety. Man thus gathers the knowledge of numberless forms of the whole world in his mind, and holds them ; some of them stand out luminously and predominate over, and cover others. He also retains those forms which interest him. The nature of forms is to over- power one another in proportion to their material concreteness. The more concrete they are, the more luminous they appear, so the intellectual person takes an interest in their variety and law of change, and as knowledge is the food of the soul, he at least becomes increasingly interested in the knowledge of names and forms, and calls that ” learning.“ This becomes his world, although neither does it give him a sense of unchanging comfort, nor does he thereby gain an everlasting peace.

Wisdom is contrary to the above-named know- ledge ; it comes with maturity of soul, and opens up the sight to view the similarity between all things and beings as well as unity in names and forms. The wise man sees through the spirit of all things ; he sees the human in the male and female, and the racial origin which unites nations, and he sees the human in all people and the Divine Immanence in all things in the universe, until the vision of the whole being becomes to him the vision of the One Alone, the most beautiful and beloved God.

(6) Certain Terms belonging to Esotericism.

Consciousness is the wakeful state of the know- ing faculty.

Knowledge is that of which the Consciousness is conscious.

Conscience is a sense which is born when Con- sciousness holds before itself in a scale — on the one side an action, and on the other side ideal.

Intelligence is the grasping faculty of Conscious- ness, which, by every means, recognises, dis- tinguishes, perceives, and conceives all that is round and about it.

Wisdom is the knowledge which is illumined by the Light within.

Intellect is the knowledge of names and forms, their character and nature, which is gathered from the external world.

Ignorance is the state of mind when it is in darkness.

When mental vibrations flow into the Astral Plane, without conscious direction, it is called “imagination ” ; when they do so under conscious direction, it is called ” thought.“ When the imagination is experienced during sleep it is called a ” dream.“

Impression is a feeling which rises as a reaction on receiving a reflection coming from the external world (physical, mental, or astral).

Intuition is an inner message, given in the nature of warning or guidance, perceived by the mind independently of any external source.

Inspiration is the rising of a stream from the depth of the heart of the genius and manifests in the realm of poetry, music, painting, sculpture, or art.

Vision is a spiritual dream which is witnessed either when awake or asleep. It is called a dream because the radiance of the vision brings about a semi-sleep to the seer, even when awake.

Revelation is the disclosing of the inner self. The consciousness throughout manifestation, fac- ing toward the surface turns its back to the world within, the sight of which is therefore lost to it. But when it begins to look within, the world unseen is disclosed, and Choudatabak, the four- teen planes, consisting of the seven heavens and the seven earths, are revealed. ” The veil shall be lifted from thine eyes and thy sight shall be keen “ — Koran.

Does the remainder of man's being which is still attached to his soul after death fade away in time, or does it take some form on its dispersing? The answer is, the remaining part of man's being, when dispersing, may separate itself into two parts, ten, a hundred, or a thousand parts, or it may crumble into a million or a billion parts. Therefore there is no trace of the lower personality remaining, even if we take for granted that the remaining part of man's being is remoulded.

(7) Alif.

In the life of Bullah Shah, the great saint of Punjab, one reads the most instructive account of his early training when he was sent to school with boys of his own age. The teacher taught him Alif, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet. The other boys in his class finished the whole alphabet while he was mastering the same letter. When weeks had passed, and the teacher saw that the child did not advance any further than the first letter Alif, he thought that he must be deficient and sent him home to his parents, say- ing : ” Your boy is deficient, I cannot teach him.“

The parents did all in their power for him, placing him under the tuition of various teachers, but he made no progress. They were disappointed, and the boy in the end escaped from home, so that he should no longer be a burden to his own people. He then lived in the forest and saw the manifestation of Alif which has taken form in the forest as the grass, the leaf, the tree, branch, fruit, and flower, and the same Alif manifested as the mountain and hill, the stones and rocks, and witnessed the same as a germ, insect, bird and beast, and the same Alif in himself and others. He thought of one, saw one, felt one, realised one and none else besides. After mastering this lesson thoroughly, he returned to pay his respects to his old teacher who had expelled him from school. The teacher, absorbed in the vision of variety had long ago forgotten him, but Bullah Shah could not forget his old teacher who had taught him his first and most inspiring lesson which had occupied almost all his life. He bowed most humbly before the teacher and said : “I have prepared the lesson you so kindly taught me, will you teach me anything more there may be to learn ? ” The teacher laughed at him and thought to himself, ” After all this time this simpleton has remembered me.“ Bullah Shah asked permission to write the lesson, and the teacher replied in jest : ” Write on this wall.“ He then made the sign of Alif on the wall, and it divided into two parts. The teacher was astounded at this wonderful miracle and said : “Thou art my teacher, that which thou hast learnt in the one letter Alif, I have not been able to master with all my learning.” Bullah Shah sang this song :

' ' Oh ! friend now quit thy learning, One Alif is all thou dost need,

By learning thou hast loaded thy mind With books thou hast filled up thy room, But the true knowledge was lost by pursuing the false,

So quit now, oh friend, the pursuit of thy learning.”

Every form seems to be derived from another, all figures being derived from Alif, which is originally derived from a dot, and represents zero, nothingness. It is that nothingness which creates the first form Alif. It is natural for every person when writing to make a dot as soon as the pen touches the paper, and the figures proceeding from the words hides the origin ; in like manner the origin of the One Being is hidden in His manifestation. That is why Allah, Whose name comes from Alif, is hidden under His own mazing manifestation. The same form of Alif is the figure one in English, and in both aspects this form reveals its meaning. The meaning, in its various forms, is seen in all aspects of nature.

“A hair perhaps divides the false and true; Yes ; and a single Alif were the clue, Could you but find it — to the treasure house, And, peradventure, to the Master too.

“My soul said, ' I desire the mystic knowledge : Teach me if it be in thy power.' I said, ' Alif She answered, ' Say no more; If one is at home, a single letter is enough.' ”

(8) Communion with God.

It is the lover of God whose heart is filled with devotion, who can commune with God, not the one who makes an effort with his intellect in analysing God ; in other words, it is the lover of God who can commune with him, not the student of his nature. It is the ” I “ and ” you “ that divides, and yet it is ” I “ and ” you “ which are the necessary conditions of love. Although ” I “ and ” you “ divide the one life into two, it is love that connects them by the current which it established between them, and it is this current which is called communion, which runs between man and God. To the question ” What is God ? “ and ” What is man ? “ the answer is that the soul, conscious of its limited existence, is ” man,“ and the soul reflected by the vision of the unlimited, is ” God.“ Plainly speaking, man's self-consciousness is man, and man's consciousness of his highest ideal is God. By communion between these two, in time both become one, as in reality they are already one. And yet the joy of communion is even greater than the joy of at-one-ment, for all joy of life lies in the thought of ” I “ and ” you.“

All that man considers beautiful, precious and good, is not necessarily in the thing or the being; it is in his ideal ; the thing or being causes him to create the beauty, value and goodness in his own mind. Man believes in God by making Him an ideal of his worship, so that he can commune with some One Whom he can look up to, in Whom he can lay his absolute trust, believing Him to be above the unreliable world, on Whose mercy he can depend, seeing selfishness all round him. It is this ideal when made of a stone, and placed in a shrine, which is called an idol of God ; and when the same ideal is raised to the higher plane and placed in the shrine of the heart, it becomes the ideal of God with Whom the believer com- munes and in Whose vision he lives most happily, as happily as he could be in the company of the sovereign of the whole universe.

When this ideal is raised still higher it breaks itself into the real, and the real light manifests to the godly ; the one who was once a believer now becomes the realiser of God.

(9) Poems.

The Man and the Gentleman.

While man mocks at and makes fun of another,
The gentleman is unmoved, serious and quiet.

While man complains of the faults of his fellow man,

The gentleman understands and weighs man in his mind.

While man lays bare the weakness of another,
The gentleman covers it with the veil of his graciousness.

While man does not mind causing disturbance to another,

The gentleman takes care lest he may hurt any man.

While man tries to take all comfort for himself,
The gentleman thinks first of his neighbour.

While man has done some great thing and boasts
of it with pride,
The gentleman covers it beneath the mantle of
his modesty.

While man takes offence at the slightest cause,
The gentleman is polite in every situation in life.

The Man and the Wise Man.

While man falls back through his follies in life,
The wise man becomes more wide awake at every fall.

While man expresses his opinion heedlessly,
The wise man first thinks what effect it will have upon another.

While man judges another from his own moral standard,

The wise man looks also at the point of view of another.

While man rejoices over his rise and sorrows over his fall,

The wise man takes both as the natural consequences of life.

While man blames another for causing him harm,
The wise man first takes himself to task.

While man bemoans his most miserable past,
The wise man endeavours to better his present and future.

While man collects a fortune that he must one day relinquish,
The wise man collects such a treasure as will last with him for ever.

The Man and the Holy Man.

While man worries and cares about to-morrow,
The holy man lays his trust in Providence.

While man becomes disturbed and confused over misfortune,

The holy man is calm and resigned to the will of God.

While man gives in to the temptations of evil,
The holy man keeps steady on his path.

While man is vexed and bitter with another,
The holy man is tolerant and forgives all mens

While man considers one superior and another inferior,

The holy man recognises and respects the divine spirit in all.

While man takes to himself the credit for the good he has done,
The holy man attributes all the good to God.

While man is in pursuit of the passing joys of life,

The holy man strives after everlasting bliss.

The Man and the Superman.

While man reasons out the happenings of life.
The Superman touches the cause of each cause.

While man looks at the outside of things,
The Superman knows the secret of their nature.

While man sees form and feature in another,
The Superman sees through the soul of man.

While man depends solely upon external sources,
The Superman works with the power of his will.

While man cannot manage his own affairs properly,

The Superman masters the affairs of the world.

While man gets the reward and punishment for
his deeds,

The Superman rises above heaven and hell.

While man becomes subject and surrendered to mortality,

The Superman lives for ever, unconquered by death.

To the Beloved.

My Beloved ! The beauty of the flowers fades away,

And the brightness of the moon becomes dim,
The colour of the face of the fair ones pales,
When I behold the beauty of Thy Countenance.

The cares of life are forgotten,
The fear of death is felt no more,
Each moment brings to me new hope, new life, new joy,

When my heart reflects Thy Divine Light.

The riches of the earth cannot allure, Nor can the power of the world enslave me, my King!

With Thy riches am I enriched, in Thy Strength I am strong,

In Thy thought, my eternal Beloved, I live, and shall live evermore.

(The original poetry is in Persian ; the above are literal renderings into English prose.)

(10) Suma, The Music of the Sufis.

It is very well known to all, who have any knowledge about Sufis and Sufism, that music plays a great part in their spiritual attainment. The Chistis, a particular school of Sufis, take a special interest in music. They call it “Gizai-ruh,” the food of the soul, and they listen to the Kawali, the special songs sung at their Suma, the contemplative musical assembly. It seems as if some potent life were there which is rarely met with elsewhere. The atmosphere is charged with magnetism, harmony, and peace, which are emitted by the illuminated souls present. The Shaikh, the teacher, sits in the midst, and the other Sufis sit round him, and invoke one after the other the sacred names of God, and repeat suras of the Koran turn by turn. This is an introduction which tunes the hearts of each one present to its proper pitch, the hearts that are already prepared by Zikar, the esoteric contemplation.

Their way of contemplation sets the heart to rhythm, which makes even the circulation of the blood regular, and the pulsation and the whole mechanism of the body becomes rhythmic. When the mind is also set to rhythm with its awakened response to tone, the Sufi's whole being becomes musical. This is why the Sufi can harmonise with each and all. Music makes all things in the world living to him and makes him alive to all things, when he begins to realise how life is dead to many in the world, and how many are dead to life.

There are different grades of progress, and the verses that are sung by the Kawals are also of different kinds. Some verses are in the praise of the beauty of the ideal which Suhs in the grade of ” Fana-fi-Shaikh “ enjoy.

In this grade are those who see the Divine Immanence in the ideal, walking on earth. There are verses which speak about the high merits of the personality of the ideal-in-name-and-not-in- form, which appeals to those who are in the grade of ” Fana-fi-Rasul.“

These have not seen the ideal, neither have they heard his voice, but they have known and loved that ideal which alone exists as far as they know.

Then I lin e are verses which speak of the ideal beyond name and form. To these verses, those respond who are in the grade of ” Fana-fi- Allah “; these are conscious of their ideal as beyond name and form, qualities and merits, Who cannot even be confined in knowledge, being beyond all limitations. Sometimes the coming of the ideal is pictured in the verses which describe the sweetness of voice, the beauty of countenance, the grace of movement, the praise, the merits, the qualities, and the winning ways of the Ideal. There are verses also in which are pictured the lover in love, his agony in separation, his caution in the presence of the beloved, his humility, his envy and rivalry, and all the natural vicissitudes of a lover.

It is poetry, music, and art combined. It is not a simple song ; it creates the Whole vision in the realm of music before the mind of a Sufi which is capable of visualising it against positive environ- ments. In other words the Sufi produces his ideal vision in his imagination, by the help of music.

In the Kawali the nature of love, lover, and beloved is expressed. In this the poetry of the Sufi excels the love poems known to the world, for in it is revealed the secret of love, lover and beloved, the three in one.

Apart from the philosophy of the whole being, one can see the delicacy and complexity of their poems, rich with conventions and adorned with metaphor.

Hafiz, Rumi, Jami, and many others among the Sufi poets, have expressed the secret of the inner and outer being in the terminology of love.

The Kawals, the singers, sing these verses distinctly, so that every word may become clear to the hearers, that the music may not hide the poetry, and the Tabla players who accompany the singers emphasise the accents and keep the rhythm even, so that the being of the Sufi already set to music joins with the rhythm and the harmony of the music. At this meeting, the condition of the Sufi becomes different, his emotional nature at that time has its full play, his joy and feeling cannot be explained, language is inadequate to express them. This state is termed ” Hal “ or ” Wajad,“ the sacred ecstasy, and is regarded with respect by all present in the assembly. Wajad means ” presence,“ Hal means “condition.”

This state of ecstasy is not different from the natural condition of man when touched on hearing a kind word spoken, or moved to tears either on separation from the one he loves, or on the departure of his object of love, or when over- joyed on the arrival of his long-expected beloved.

In the case of a Sufi the same feeling becomes sacred, his Ideal being higher.

A pilgrimage is the same as an ordinary journey, the only difference being in the aim ; in a journey the aim is earthly, whereas the pilgrimage is made for a sacred purpose. Sometimes on hear- ing music, the Sufi is seen to be deeply touched, sometimes his feeling finds vent in tears, some- times his whole being, filled with music and joy, expresses itself in motion, which in Sufic terms is caUed ” Rakhs.“

When man analyses the objective world and realises the inner being, what he learns first and last is that this whole vision of life is created of love ; love itself being the life, all will, in time, be absorbed in it.

part IV - initiation into the sufi order

A . The following indications show whether one should consider the question of being initiated into the Sufi. Order, or not.

1. The feeling that one is inclined to know some- thing different to what is taught in the world. One feels a seeking for something though one knows not what. One feels that the opposites — good and evil, right and wrong, friend and foe — are not so far apart as one used to think.

At the same time the heart is felt to be more sympathetic than ever before, and the sense of justice makes one wish to judge oneself before judging others.

This all shows that one may look for a Guide through these unknown paths.

2. The feeling, especially after reading the preceding parts of this guide-book, that one is after all really a Sufi, that one is at one with the circle of Sufis. One may now feel drawn to the Spirit of the Teacher from whose hand initiation may be taken.

3. The feeling, after reading the preceding parts of this guide-book, or after reading the books pub- lished by the movement, or after speaking with the Pir-o-Murshid, that the message is genuine.

Hi 105

B. The next question which arises is, What is meant by Initiation?

Initiation, or, in Sufic terms, ” Bayat,“ first of all has to do with the relationship between the pupil and the Murshid. The Murshid is under- stood to be the Counsellor on the spiritual path. He does not give anything to or teach the pupil, the ” mureed,“ for he cannot give what the latter already has ; he cannot teach what his soul has always known. What he does in the life of the mureed is to show him how he should clear his path toward the Light within by his own self. This is the only purpose of man's life on earth.

One may attain the purpose of life without a personal guide, but to try to do so is to be as a ship traversing the ocean without a compass.

To take initiation, then, means entrusting one- self, in regard to spiritual matters, to a spiritual guide.

C. The next thing to be decided is, ” if I must have a personal guide, whom shall I take as guide ? “

There is no stamp of spirituality, or seal of perfection marked upon any man's forehead, which enables one to say ” This is the man from whose hand to take the bayat.“ Neither his appearance nor his words can be relied on as evidence of his worth. The only thing, that has any reliance in it, is the appeal of his soul in your heart. Even so, you must satisfy yourself whether it is evil appealing to the devil, or God to the goodwill.

There are three ways in which people trust. One is not to trust a person until he proves in time to be trustworthy. To those who trust in this way there will be no satisfactory gain in this path, for they will go on, like a spy, trying and testing the Murshid with their eyes focused downward. Hence they can only see the imperfect self of the teacher, and will never be able to see the beauty of the perfect self, above and beyond the limits of their view.

The second way of trusting is to trust, and to continue until the person is proved unworthy of trust. Those who trust in this way are better suited than the first, for if their trust will make their sight keen, perhaps they will have every prospect of development, provided that intelli- gence guides them all the way.

But the third way of trusting a person is to have an absolute trust, and to continue until it be proved to be true. This is the trust of devotees. It is these mureeds who make the Murshid. It is such worshippers who make God. “By faith, a tongue is produced from the rock, and it speaks to us as God, but when faith is lacking, even God, the Eternal Being, is as dead as a rock.” The word of the Murshid is as useless to the doubting mind as a remedy to the unbelieving patient.

D. To become an Initiate in the Sufi Order therefore implies :

1. A willingness to agree with its teachings and objects.

2. A willingness to cease to attach importance to the differences of the principles of the world's various faiths, and see in all the Masters only one embodiment of the divine Spirit.

3. That one is not already following another course of spiritual training. In such a case, why go to another kind of teacher as well ? It would be like travelling in two boats, one foot in one, and the other in the other. When each boat goes its own way, although in the end they meet at the same goal, yet the traveller will sink in the sea. No one could seek guidance under two teachers except out of lack of patience with the one or lack of confidence in the other, making him still cling to the first.

E. With what objects should one take Initiation under the Murshid?

1. To realise the self within and without,

2. To know and communicate with God, whom the world only worships,

3. To kindle the fire of Divine Love, which alone is worth while,

4. To be able to read nature's manuscript and to be able to see into the world unseen,

5. To learn how to control oneself,

6. To light the torch of the soul and to kindle the fire of the heart,

7. To journey through this positive existence and arrive in this life at the goal at which every soul is bound in the end to arrive. It is better to arrive in the light than to be only transported through the dark. ” Who is blind here will be blind in the hereafter.“

Therefore, one does not take Initiation (a) for the sake of curiosity to see what is going on in a ” secret “ Order. Such an one will certainly not be able to see what he wishes to, for only the eye of sincerity can see. The eye of curiosity has the cataract of doubt, and is blind already.

(b) For the sake of gaining some material advantage in one's occupation. Initiation is not a scientist's process, or an engineer's inven- tion ; or a business enterprise ; it is not something that can be stolen, nor anything to be bought. It is revelation, which has at every moment a new offspring, which can never be stolen by a thief. The only process for gaining it is righteous- ness, and when its light is covered under a bushel, even the Jam of mystery stolen from Jamashyi will serve no better than an earthen bowl.

© For the sake of attaining happiness. It is true that one cannot attain wisdom without deriving a certain advantage from it, as it is more advantage to be knowing than ignorant. But it is not for this that the journey is entered upon. However, as he progresses on the spiritual path, the Sufi becomes aware of a wonderful peace, which is inevitable from the possession of the constant presence of God.

Many people of various beliefs and faiths have written about the practice of the presence of God, and all speak of the happiness they receive from being in His presence. So it is no wonder if the Sufi also, should he wish to speak of it, should testify to similar happiness. He does not claim to a greater happiness than his fellow-men, owing to his being a human being and subject to all the shortcomings of mankind. But at the same time, others can decide about his happiness better even than his words can tell it. The happiness, which is experienced in God, has no like in anything in the world, however precious it may be, and every- one who experiences it will realise the same.

(d) If one has set before himself certain principles he does not wish to abandon. He might find that the foundation he has built does not correspond with the building now to be erected on it. Such is the person who goes from one teacher to another, from one method to another, and never able to gain that which is only to be obtained through steadfastness. Those who have a desire to teach while coming to learn should not pose as disciples ; they must come as teachers.

F. Are there any Conditions imposed on a would-be initiate ? No one need fear taking initiation out of an idea that he undertakes some- thing he may not be able to fulfil. If he does not wish to progress beyond a certain point, that is only for himself to say. The only thing that happens, when a person is initiated, is, that from the hour of initiation, one is

1. The brother of all in the Sufi movement,

2. The brother of all other Sufis outside of our organisation,

3. The brother of all knowers of truth, whether they call themselves Sufi or not,

4. The brother of every human being, without distinction of caste, creed, race, nation, or religion,

5. The companion of the illuminated souls of the Sufis living on earth and those who have passed to the other side of life. He is linked with the chain of Murshids and Prophets, and is so enabled to receive the light running through this current through the chain of the Masters.

6. The confidant of the Murshid and of the Order. Therefore he takes a vow in his heart to make use of all he receives from the Sufi teaching and practices to the best of his ability, not using any parts for selfish purposes. These teachings have been kept secret for thousands of years, so why should they go out of the order without the Pir-o-Murshid's authorisation?

To the question, why is there any secrecy about the teaching ? if true, why should it not be scattered broadcast ? an answer has been given already (p. 17) . It may also be said : every school which gives special personal instruction trusts that respect shall be paid to that which it teaches. All teaching can be misconstrued, and perverted and made to appear ridiculous. To do this with Sufi teachings, consciously or inadvertently, will not help the pupil. A certain medicine may be good for a sick person at a certain time, but this does not mean it should be used by every sick person in the world. Nor would it be any advantage to anyone, if the exact medicine were to be published broadcast. If there should arise need to say what it was, the doctor would not withhold the information.

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

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

The question, why do the awakened ones not awaken people in the world from the sleep of confusion ? is answered thus :

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

G. Having decided to take initiation, and to take it from the Murshid ; and now at length having taken this initiation, there are certain means by which the pupil will find himself making easier and more rapid progress. During his pupilage, he should AVOID.

1. Wonder-working, claiming to know or possess something not common to one's fellow-men. 2. Casting out devils. 3. Communicating with spirits. 4. Telling people's character. 5. Fortune-telling. 6. Showing over-wise in conver- sation with others about spiritual things, and looking to others for approbation. 7. Sancti- moniousness, over-righteousness, and teaching and advising others before having learnt one's own self. This is as dangerous as giving the same medicine to another that the doctor has prescribed for oneself.

H. During Discipleship, the following habits should be adopted :

I. Discipline, which makes the ideal mureed. Self-denial is the chief religion, and this can only be learnt by discipline. It is as necessary in the path of discipleship as for a soldier on the battle- field. In the absence of it, one holds fast the same thing which he wishes to crush by taking the initiation. ” Mastery is in service, and it is the servant who alone can be master.“

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

3. During the period of mureedship, sobriety, an equable mind, a serious habit, regularity in all things, diligence, a desire for solitude, a reserved demeanour, an unassuming manner, a pure life, uninterrupted every day's spiritual meditations, are desirable.

sufi invocation

PRAISE be to Thee, O Hidden One and
Manifested One. PRAISE be to Thy Glory, to
Thy Might, to Thy Power, and to Thy great Skill.
O ALLAH, to Thee all greatness belongs. O
THOU who possessest the Power and Beauty
and Perfection, Thou art the Spirit of All.
PRAISE be to Thee, O Sovereign of all
Monarchs ; to Thee, O Master of all affairs ; to
Thee, O Controller of all things ; to Thee, Ruler of all Beings.
THOU ART free from death, free from birth
and free from all limitations. O Thou Eternal
One, Thou art free from all conditions, pure from
all things. O ALLAH, Thou art the God of Souls
on earth ; Thou art the Lord of Hosts in the Heavens.
consciousness, spirituality, mind, humanity
book/the_way_of_illumination.txt · Last modified: 2021/08/02 14:10 (external edit)