Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan

The spiritual hierarchy
The unity of religious ideals
Part I, Book 3, chapter I
(Suresnes, 24 july1923)
Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan


The idea of spiritual hierarchy has been a question that has always been discussed in all ages, and especially at this time when people have much more separate and different conceptions along the spiritual lines than before.

Spiritual hierarchy is not man's imagination, it is not just a poetic idea, but it is as real as one's own being. Among hills and mountains there are small and there are big mountains, among rivers there are larger and smaller rivers, and in all things of nature one finds the evidence of nature's hierarchy. What gives us the best picture of life is the heaven with its stars and planets, with the sun apart as the giver of light and life. When we consider all the stars and planets, including the moon, we find that they all are receptacles of light, and they all reflect the light of the sun according to their capacity.

The moon functions as a receptacle of this light to the greatest degree. According to the mystical point of view, if it were not for the moon, the whole cosmos would go to pieces. The central currents of the sun function in the moon which reflects the light of the sun in fullness, but the difference is that, as it is the reflection of the sun, although in its fullness, it has finer currents of light, it is soft and cooling, attractive, and its light is beautiful.

Therefore, the light of the sun is called jelal by the Sufis, and the light of the moon jemal. The former expresses power, the latter beauty; the former is creative, the latter responsive. So if the sun has the light, then the moon possesses the light of the sun, not its own. If God is the Knower and the All-Wise, the one who gives his Message gives God's knowledge, not his own. What the moon may seem to give as light is not its own, it is the light of the sun. So it is with the Messengers at all times. People have heard them speak, and therefore they call it the Message of Buddha, of Christ or of Muhammad. But in reality the Message was of God.

All souls in the world are the receptacles of God's Message - not only human beings but even the lower creation. All objects and all conditions convey to us the Message of the One and Only Being, but the difference is that, although they convey the Message of God, they do not know it, they are not conscious of it. Not only objects are not conscious of it, but even human beings are unconscious. If only they knew that there is nothing in this world which is not the instrument of God!

As there are more useful and less useful objects, so there are more and less important human beings. If they were all equal, there would have been no diversity of different ranks and positions in a State. There would not have been generals or colonels in the army - all soldiers. There would not have been high and low notes on the piano - all one key, one note, one sound. There would not have been different rooms in the house - every room a drawing room. This shows that it is the necessity of life that there should be a hierarchy; hierarchy by election or hierarchy by appointment, for the world cannot exist without it.

According to the Sufi conception several degrees are distinguished as different stages of responsiveness; in other words, of higher initiation. Among them there are five principal ones : Wali, Ghawth, Qutb, Nabi, Rasul; the sign of Rasul being the crescent which represents a responsive heart. People call them masters, but in reality they are pupils, for in point of fact no one in the world is a master save God. Man's privilege is to become a greater pupil. Therefore, none of the great ones have called themselves masters, nor have they ever considered themselves to be so. What they have known in their lives is the privilege of opening their hearts wider and wider to reflect the light of the Master who is God Himself. The progress of these high initiates is in their responsiveness, for they have never connected themselves with what they have expressed.

Very often parents say something to their child in which there is the voice of God. Often a kind friend, out of his love and sympathy, suggests something which happens to be a message of God. Sometimes a teacher says an inspiring word, which is as a word coming direct from God. Even from an innocent child a word may come, which comes as a warning from God, for all faces are His faces, and from all lips it is His word that comes, whenever it comes. But those who can respond to Him become as His appointed servants. People call them chosen ones. God has chosen all, for all souls are dear and near to the Creator, but the soul, who is attached to the lips of God as a horn, becomes the herald of His Message, and through his lips, what comes, is not his words but the Message of God.



Question : "If it were not for the moon, the whole cosmos would go to pieces" - is this only spiritual or also material?

Answer : The positive energy has always a destructive power, and it can only become constructive when there is a negative energy to respond to it. Therefore it is not only said in a symbolical language, but in reality the sun would become so fierce that the earth would become burned to pieces; nothing would be left of it, for no planet, no star has in themselves that capacity to function as a receptacle that the moon has.

Question : Is it true that the moon has a vampyrising influence upon man, because it is a dead planet?

Answer : It is not dead, it is living in the light of the sun. You speak of a vampyrising effect, but in reality it is a magnetic effect. The moon attracts, its soft currents have a soothing power, its magnetism is more beautiful and greater, because it is more soft. The sun attracts, but its currents repel one. So one is more attracted to the moon than to the sun. It does not mean that the sun has no attraction. It has great attraction, but the power of the sun is too great sometimes for a person to stand. The power of the moon is soft and therefore attractive.

At Mecca there is a place called Ka'ba, where all the people of the Muslim-world go for a pilgrimage, because they worship God there. But what their heart is attracted to is Medina, where is the tomb of the Prophet. They would rather go to the burial-place of the Prophet than to the place of the pilgrimage to God, for there they feel the human being through whom they have known God.

That again gives the aspect of the moon, which is the aspect of the prophet of all ages. That is the reason why many people forgot the connection with God and remembered the prophet. The prophet's attraction was greater, although God is greater. But the prophet is soft, there is the attraction of the prophet's person. At Medina there is a place of soft magnetism that is remaining there.

Question : How does jemal come about for the first time?

Answer : This is a very difficult question. I shall quote a saying from the Bible, that Eve was formed of a rib of Adam. This means that it is the positive power that creates its own function. From this positive power a kind of power goes out and becomes a sort of answer to it, standing by its side, that it may function in it. It makes a kind of accommodation in which its power functions. The source and the goal are one, because the source and goal of all is the same. Therefore, that one source, when it manifests its own power, becomes a kind of accommodation for it, in which its power functions. It is made of the same object from which it has come.

Have you seen sometimes smoke covering fire? The smoke rises from the fire and then becomes a kind of cloud over it, which covers the fire. So the moon is an element which comes from the sun, then becomes a function, and then reflects it.

The difficulty in explaining the process of creation in plain words is that it is the selfsame element that has changed its aspect and has become something else. This can be studied very well in the Vedanta. Prakriti has come from Purusha : Nature has come from spirit. Therefore nature is spirit, but for our convenience of understanding we say : there is spirit and there is nature; in Sufi-terms Nur, light, and Zuhur, manifestation.




Retour au texte en français


Présentation La Musique du Message Accueil Textes et Conférences Lexique