Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Inspired by the vision of
Hazrat Inayat Khan
We have seen in the previous lesson that
our usual sense of personal identity has the effect of encapsulating
ourselves in a limitation - with the consequence that we fail
to fulfill the purpose of our lives which is to realize and
unfurl the divine perfection invested in our being. The method
advocated by Pir o Murshid Inayat Khan was to explore the
wider dimension of our being in our participation with the
totality by overcoming the habit of contrasting our sense
of “me” from what we represent as the universe
(or God) as “other.” This we called “the
cosmic dimension” of our being.
In the present lesson, we are working with an
alternate dimension: “turning
within.” Very often meditation is considered as “turning
within.” Meditation consists not just in turning within
but also, as we have seen, discovering our outreach and, further,
as we will be exploring: our “transcendental dimension.”
“Turning within” opens up an infinite
perspective upon our being, one which Pir o Murshid emphasizes
significantly in his esoteric teaching. Normally we are only
aware of a sliver of the bounty that we are immersed in.
When a man looks at the ocean, he can only see
that part of it which comes within his range of vision;
so it is with the truth.
We are in search of ourselves and our relationship
with the universe, in all its dimensions (which we represent
as God), in our longing to grasp the significance of our life.
Man, with the maturity of his soul, desires to
probe the depths of life. He desires to discover the
power latent within him, he longs to know the source
and goal of his life, he yearns to understand the aim
and meaning of life, he wishes to understand the inner
significance of things, and he wants to uncover all
that is covered by form and name: he seeks for insight
into cause and effect, he wants to touch the mystery
of Time and Space, and he wishes to find the missing
link between God and man - where man ends, where God
Let us at this stage make a start in our meditations
and ask ourselves whether we feel that we are missing
out on grasping the meaning of our lives, of our
relationship with the situations in the outer world.
What man knows is generally the world
that he sees around himself….What
he knows is to express outwardly and to
receive from this same sphere as much as
he can receive by himself….but there
is something around themselves beyond that
which they realize.
As we ask ourselves these questions, we wonder
whether it would not be easier to call a halt for
a few moments from our commonplace life style -
whether we are not missing out on grasping areas
of ourselves not commonly experienced.
If we respond to the things of the
earth so much that our whole life becomes
absorbed in earthly things, then it is quite
natural that we do not respond to those
riches which are within us, and yet are
far removed from them.
We hope that if we follow a method
based upon instructions devised by beings who
have clinched a more meaningful sense of life
in general and their own life, we will gradually
gain more insight into our own lives.
Having explored wider areas as in the previous
lesson, we have a hunch that there is a whole area to explore
How one wanders all one's life in search of
something which can only be found within oneself.
Instead of finding it within he always wants
to find it without.
Before we look deeper into this, can we be clear as to what
we mean by turning within?
One commonly takes for granted that all that
lies outside one’s skin-bound body is the “world”
whereas what lies within this skin is “myself.”
Turning within cannot be reduced to simply becoming aware
of what is happening within one’s own body. Moreover
it is a misconception to think that the mind is “in
the body” – in the brain.
To a material person 'within' means in the
body, inside the body. In reality 'within' means
not only inside, but also outside the body. This
can be seen by the light inside a lamp: the light
is inside the globe, and it is outside the globe
too. So is the soul; it is inside and outside too.
So is the mind; it is inside and outside, it is
not confined inside the body.
What Pir o Murshid means by “within”
is not included in the three-dimensional space that evidences
the limitation in our middle range mental faculties.
They might think 'within oneself' means
inside one's body; but that is because man is
ignorant of himself. Man has a very poor idea
of himself, and this keeps him in ignorance of
his real self. If man only knew how large, how
wide, how deep, how high is his being, he would
think, act, and feel differently; but with all
his width, depth, and height, if man is not conscious
of them he is as small as he thinks himself to
There is another space, within which this
space is contained.
Within us there is space too; the space within
extends in another direction.
This could be illustrated by our dream world:
In the physical world, you are here and everything
is without you, you are contained in space; in the
dream, all you see is contained within you.
We have experience of this world of mind even while
awake, but the contrast between the world within and
without makes the world without concrete and the world
Furthermore, it includes:
(i) Occurrences, events;
(ii) What is enacted behind our problems,
which is often masked by our assessments of our problems;
(iii) Particularly, the virtualities of our
psyche, whose outer face is our self-image – our identity.
(iv) Intuitive hunches;
(v) Creative imagination – inspiration.
Since we are so used to taking for granted
that the objects in the world are “discrete entities,”
it is difficult for us to imagine how everything could be
intermeshed (like radio waves or, if this were possible:
a piece of paper so crushed that every part was in contact
with every other part).
That the world appears different according
to one's perspective is a theory in physics. Dr. David
Bohm contrasts the way things look in our commonplace perspective
which he describes where things are perceived as unfolded or, alternately, enfolded (explicate
Each part of the holograph is an image of
the whole object. The light from all parts of the
room contains information about the whole room.
Therefore every part contains information about
the whole object….Information about the whole
is enfolded in each part of the image. Information
about the whole object is dynamically enfolded in
each part of space while the information is then
unfolded in the image.
The order of the world as a structure of things
that are basically external to each other comes
out as secondary and emerges from the deeper implicate
order. The order of elements external to each other
would then be called the unfolded order, or the
So all the aspects of the mind show themselves
and are enfolding each other, and transforming through
each other through enfoldment and unfoldment. Mind
and matter may consistently be related without adopting
a reductionist position. Perhaps they both arise
from some greater common ground or perhaps they
are not really different.
The state of the whole is such that it organizes
It is heartening for the meditator to see
the way that the views of Hazrat Inayat Khan, already
foreseen by his Sufi predecessors, are corroborated in
the findings of a modern physicist.
While exhaling, with eyes open,
you can see the objects perceived as separate
entities; for example the trees. Now closing your
eyes represent to yourself a forest where all
the trees, windswept in one direction, seem to
be various expressions of a basic reality. Or
again bees as the diverse expressions of the global
reality of the bee swarm. Or again bubbles as
ephemeral expressions of water.
When I open my eyes to the outer
world I feel myself as a drop in the sea;
but when I close my eyes and look within,
I see the whole universe as a bubble raised
in the ocean of my heart.
bubble is small before an ocean, and yet
it is not of any other element than the ocean.
Another metaphor is the wave and the sea. This
realization will help us, because to understand
what we mean by God it is helpful to see ourselves
as a wave in the sea.
Man is a condition of God as a wave
is a condition of the sea.
Instead of emphasizing the contrast
between these two perspectives, now try to grasp
the correspondence between them. While perceiving
the outer world, you still keep in mind that it
is an expression of what you have now grasped as
its deeper reality, so that you may feel a communion
with all existential things instead of deeming them
as “other” than yourself.
This process takes place in two directions:
outwardly by being one with all we see,
and inwardly by being in touch with that
one Life which is everlasting, by dissolving
into it, and by being conscious of that
one Spirit being the existence, the only
The one who looks within finds when
he looks without, that all that is within
The only way of wakening to the life
within, which is most beautiful, is first
to respond to the beauty outside.
Let us now try to correlate those
two dimensions: cosmic and within. As you exhale
with open eyes
, imagine that all that one perceives in the environment
or conceives in one’s ordinary thinking
is just what appears at the surface of a reality,
grasped as you inhale with closed eyes
, that is so complex, so intermeshed, that one
cannot with one’s ordinary reason make sense
As you inhale
represent to yourself radio waves that are so
intricately interwoven and which we could never
extrapolate. As you exhale
now imagine that they are processed through our
radio into sound that makes sense to our ordinary
minds. To this purpose, they need to be reduced.
So what we are listening to on the radio is a
reduced expression of the bounty of the audiosphere.
Another example would be the way
that an idea can configure itself as a form: As
you exhale, imagine that you are swimming at the
surface of a lake and enjoy the view of the water
lilies. Now as you inhale think of the network
of roots in the depth of which they are the expression.
Better still the genetic code of the seed.
As the seed is sufficient and capable
of producing another plant, so man is
the product of all planes, spiritual and
material and yet in him alone shines forth
that primal intelligence that caused the
Thus then, try to sound the depth below the threshold
of your grasp. Here you may espy that “secret
treasure” that we would like to decode and which
according to the Hadith of Prophet Mohammed “loved
to be known.” However, while it is known, albeit
inadequately, by inference thanks to the clues perceived
or conceived, one may venture into that mystery on condition
that one gives up one’s middle-range logic and
stretches one’s mind beyond its usually limited
Sufis often call upon the metaphor of the mirror.
There is a quotation of a great Yogi, who says,
"in order to see what is before you you must
see within yourself." And that means that within
yourself there is a mirror and it is that mirror which
may be called the inner world.
This illustration is not altogether exhaustive
since the image in the mirror has a profile whereas the
images in the depth of our psyche are like Kirlian photographs.
Forms seen in mirrors, just like imaginary
forms are not imprinted materially either on the
mirror or in the imagination. No, they are “bodies
in suspension”… These non-spatial forms
in the intermediary world have places where they
appear (epiphanic places), but they are not contained
The comparability however is valid in that
it is represented as being “outside” one’s
This mirror is two-sided, its two sides
facing opposite ways; one facing within, the other
without; and the secret of working with it is
to close it from one side in order to make it
take the reflection from the other.
It is in this mirror that all that is before one is reflected.
When the eyes are looking outward one turns one's back to the mirror
which is inside, but when the eyes are turned inward then one sees in
this mirror all that is outside.
Pir o Murshid adds a further metaphor:
the photographic plate rather than the mirror, because
the imprint of an impression, or a friend, can become
adamant (like gold) rather than remain “in suspense.”
That reflection only depends upon the object
being before it. No sooner the object is removed,
the reflection is gone. But the reflection on a photographic
plate is like the reflection, but becomes an impression,
which then can be developed by a certain process in
But, Murshid sees the value of not simply
storing inside impressions that have accrued from outside
albeit quintessentiated, but how this enrichment can spark
creative thoughts and the unfurling of our personality emerging
from within towards outside. The impression finds its fulfillment
by growing and being productive, by acting as a catalyst
for our creativity.
A reflection on a photographic plate remains,
but does not live; the reflection upon the mind
lives, and therefore it is creative. It does not
always live, but it helps one to create within oneself
the same thing.
By the power of unconditional love we can
find our friend unfolding in one’s own self and
thus contributing to one’s own unfoldment.
The real awakening of his sympathy is on
that day when he sees his friend and says 'this
is myself'. Then the sympathy is awakened, then
there is the communication within one's self.