Teachings


  • Discovering the Elemental Self Discovering the Elemental self by Wajid Ibn ‘Arabi advises the seeker, “Do not hope to recognize yourself through other than yourself, for there is no other” In ancient alchemy The Elemental Self was regarded as the main source of study. Comprised of the five elements , earth, water, fire, air and ether, also called akasha in India. According to Wikipedia, the elemental system used in medieval alchemy was developed primarily by the Persian alchemist Jābir ibn Hayyān
  • Everyday Life As Spiritual Practice Often we think “Oh, I’d love to give more to my practices, but I just don’t have the time. Maybe someday, once ___ (fill in the blank) happens...” It is certainly the case that more and more demands are being placed on our limited time, and that our tendency is to let the important things take a back seat to that which is more pressing. Since there seems to be no respite from the pressing things and there’s always something in the way when ____ comes, the dedicated spiritual aspirant must be increasingly creative in finding ways to do spiritual practice “in life” and not waste valuable time. Without daily spiritual practice to stay “tuned up,” we lose the momentum we get from retreats and workshops, we are more subject to mental fog, upsets, and crappy moods, and our progress on the path is in general very slow. This is actually unnecessary. There is really quite a lot we can do to engage the basic principles of spiritual-practice-in-life. In this article, we will look at the habits and attitudes that can make daily life one’s spiritual practice, to be “in the world but not of the world.” There are many devices and little rituals that we can fold into our day that can help us greatly. These are not “shoulds,” not something with which to further beat ourselves up for not having done them. These techniques, when engaged in a spirit of experiment and inquiry, can bring awareness and aliveness to even the most mundane activities. There are some things which also have an effect at a subtle-energy level and help us to keep ourselves tuned up and also plug energy leaks. Don’t try to remember or do all the hints and techniques in this article all at once; take one at ...
  • The Adab of Group Zikr Beloved ones of God, dear friends, Welcome to this gathering of samā and Zikr. I am very happy to share a weekend together with you to explore the nuances of the sacred practice of Zikr-Allāh, the remembrance of God. Zikr-Allāh is the very core of the sufi path. Exploring the nuances of this sacred practice is very meaningful. There is a recommended adab, a manner, in which this sacred practice is best approached and engaged, and I would like to mention a few important points. Come early to the Zikr circle so that you do not find yourself interrupting. Come as the circle is being formed. Find yourself a place in the circle. If more people are coming, be ready to move back and incorporate more people into the Zikr circle. Open the circle, so that everyone can be included. If you come late, one must not interrupt the Zikr that is in progress. But you can silently come and sit just behind the circle. If you have a tasbih or prayer beads, this is for your own practice, in your personal Zikr practice. But if you are in a circle of Zikr you need not (and ought not) count the tasbih. Only the Zikr leader, the shaikh, the “Zakir” will do this. He or she is the one who will count, so you need not count. Keep your glance oriented to the Zikr leader. It is very important to be attentive to the Zikr leader — this is something that I find is very often lacking in group Zikrs. People often “space out” and get into their own state instead of partaking of the unity in and of the group. Zikr is not only vocalizing, invoking, singing or saying the words. It is as much about listening as about vocalizing — and very often this ...
  • The Five Aspects of Prayer and the Five Elements Five aspects of prayer are described by the Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan. I have found a correspondence between these and the Five Elements to which we attune through the Purification Breaths. The best time for the breath practice is first thing in the morning, outside or in front of an open window. Practise it standing, or if necessary sitting with your back straight. Once you are familiar with the breaths, it is better to keep the eyes open, but at first you can close your eyes. Earth Purification Breath The first element is Earth, and the first aspect of prayer is gratitude. The earth breath is inhaling and exhaling through the nose. To attune to one’s relationship with the earth one needs to awaken to one’s subtle energetic body. In the same way that the physical body is continuously nourished by digesting and metabolizing the physical substance of the planet, on a subtle level our magnetic field is nourished by the magnetism of the planet. It is useful to first locate the rhythm of your heart. Then see if you can find the echo of the heartbeat in your hands, feet and head. Scientists used to speak of the heart as the pump of the circulatory system, but now it is understood that the heart itself is pumped by the collective action of the entire circulatory system. So you can’t think of your heart as being limited to your chest. In fact, if you feel the pulsation of circulation in your hands, fingertips, feet and head, you may feel that there is no definite boundary. When you eyes are closed, your hands don’t feel as if they are made up of five fingers, but rather you feel the vibration that pulses through the hands, expanding in all directions and forming a field that emanates ...
  • The Gift of the Formless As in many Sufi writings, the article below contains ideas that flow from the heart rather than the mind. This essay can be read as a guided meditation; we invite you to allow yourself to be drawn gently on a journey of expanded consciousness. When we observe ourselves critically, we sometimes discover that our lives are permeated by an unsuspected element of fear — the fear of death. We have tried to take the emotional edge off this fear by calling it an instinct for survival, which is just a more acceptable way to say, "We are scared, and willing to do anything to avoid this feeling." Our fear of death is uncomfortable, and we do what we can to avoid it, because we are basically creatures of comfort. We are unsettled by the thought of death partly because we know nothing about what happens after death. We know what death looks like from the side of the living, but once the threshold has been crossed, it becomes the unknown, and most of us do not like the unknown – nothing is more frightening. It is so scary that we spend an enormous amount of energy avoiding even the thought of it, and we have created all kinds of social manners to circle the subject. Religion has attempted to ease our fear by suggesting a landscape of continuity — of life beyond death. Unfortunately, the average person cannot verify it, and to make things worse it has been embellished to a point of incredibility, becoming more folklore than a useful tool to appease our fears. Yet there are some dedicated intuitive individuals who have crossed the threshold into the holographic, non-linear unknown, and have attempted to offer guidance, to offer maps and directions on how to work on our self-imposed limitations and fear. One ...
  • The Unseen Greetings, welcome to all of you. I just arrived from across the sea, from Suresnes, having lived this last year at Fazl Manzil, the home of Murshid and the Begum. And it’s been an extraordinary time, and yet I’m very delighted to be returning and especially to be here with you today, gathering together, all of us as members of one spiritual family, the Hazrati Sufi family. And why do I use this expression? As you know, the official name of our Order is The Sufi Order International. But perhaps many of you have met with quizzical expressions when you have been asked which order you belong to and you have given this response, because to some it seems to convey insufficient information. The Sufi Order International — which Sufi Order International? And then perhaps you explain that our lineage is from India through the Chishtiyya Order and continued and given a new life through the inspiration and teachings of Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan — for which reason we might call ourselves the Inayati Order, and many have been using this word. However, in a certain place Murshid requests that his Order not be named after him. We might use the name Chishtiyya, but also we have the initiatic heritages of the Suhrawardiyya, Qadiriyya and Naqshbandiyya, though the Chishtiyya has been our keynote. But Murshid’s own dispensation represents such a significant renewal and reorganization of our Chishti heritage that it seems proper to acknowledge that contribution in our very name. And so therefore we may well use the name Hazrati — Hazrati being the honorific by which we know our Murshid: Hazrat Inayat Khan. After all, the Mevlevi Order is named, not the Jelali Order or the Rumiyya, but the Mevlevi Order after his honorific. Likewise we may speak of the Hazratiyya. So ...