Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan (Baroda 1882-Delhi 1927) provides a beautiful guidebook for your inner path. It contains neither prescriptions nor do's and don'ts. You may be provided with an insight and understanding which may be as a welcome in the circle of Sufi friends, or as a silent companion on your further way.
"The soul is called Atman, which means happiness or bliss itself. It is not that happiness belongs to the soul; it is that the soul itself is happiness."
This inspiring book covers almost all aspects of the life of someone who chooses to go the way of self-unfoldment and self-realization. It refers to the struggle of life, its intoxication and its deeper side. The aim, meaning and purpose of life are discussed. What is wanted in life? Essential for the answer to this question are concepts like the art and development of personality, attitude, interest and indifference, purity of life, and the ideal. All these are discussed in separate chapters dealing with these items in an inspiring and up-lifting manner, nevertheless remaining realistic as to daily life's requirements. Life is presented as an opportunity to gain experience both within and without, stressing their mutual interdependence. The second half of the book discusses, amongst others, inner life, the kingly road from limitation to perfection, and the stages on his destiny, in the context of the continuity of life.
The present volume is the first of a series including all the works intended for publication of Hazrat Inayat Khan (Baroda 1882-New Delhi 1927), the great Sufi mystic who came to the Western world in 1910 and lectured and taught there until his passing away in 1927,
A new edition of this series, which was published for the International
Headquarters of the Sufi Movement in the West in the '60s, is now made available in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East. In this way Hazrat Inayat Khan's inspired and universal vision of the Sufi Message returns to his own beloved country, where it originated and where interest in it is growing.
This book and other volumes of this series have not been written down by the author. They contain his lectures, discourses and other teachings as taken down in shorthand and other handwriting. When preparing for publication great care was taken, not only to avoid distortion of their intent and meaning, but also in leave intact, as far as possible, the flow of mystical inspiration and poetical expression which add so much to their spell, and without which a significant part of his message would be lost. Although speaking in a tongue foreign to him, he moulded it into a perfect vehicle for his thought, at times somewhat ungrammatical and unusual, but always as clear and precise as his often difficult and abstruse subjects would allow.
It goes without saying that neither in the present nor in the previous edition anything has been altered which would involve even the slightest deviation from the author's intention and no attempt has been made to transform his highly personal and colorful language into idiomatically unimpeachable English. Already so much is necessarily lost by the transfer of the spoken word to the printed page that every effort has been made, as it should, to preserve the Master's melodious phrasing, the radiance of his personality, and the subtle sense of humour which never left him.
Hazrat Inayat Khan's teaching was nearly all given during the years 1918- 1926. It covers a great many subjects, several of which were grouped in series of lectures and taken up again some years later. Certain subjects may cover nearly the same ground as others; stories and examples which abound in most of his works are met again elsewhere; and much of what he taught one finds repeated in several places. This was intentional, as repetition belonged to Hazrat Inayat Khan's method of teaching; it is for the student to become aware of the subtle differences in each context. For these and other reasons it would be difficult to follow a rigid system in publishing Hazrat Inayat Khan's works; a chronological grouping of his lectures would he very unsatisfactory, and a stringent classification according to subject-matter hardly feasible.
The complete series contains fourteen volumes. The last volume is the Index. This edition is the first one to present an index to the Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan.
Each volume is complete in it, and therefore may be read without any necessity to study following or previous ones. However, one may get a spiritual and mental appetite to continue reading. One will find that a meditative way of reading will convey not only the words but also the spiritual power emanating from them, tuning mind, heart and soul to the pitch which is one's own.
The Alchemy of Happiness was the title of one of the lectures delivered by Hazrat Inayat Khan in the early 'twenties. It appeared first in the former quarterly Sufism in December 1922 and was later published separately. In the present volume it forms the first chapter.
Inayat Khan's teaching covered practically every aspect of human existence. On the one side there are its metaphysical aspects: the relationship between God and man, the different planes and phases of existence, the place of man in creation, and many others; on the other hand he delves deeply into man's earthly life itself, analysing it, probing into its problems and possibilities, and showing the way towards a more balanced, fruitful, and happy life.
However important and interesting may be the study and practice of the metaphysical side of Inayat Khan's message, we are constantly reminded by him that such study or practice is in vain if our everyday life is not in harmony with these metaphysics. Real understanding does not come by grasping an aspect of truth intellectually; it comes by living it.
This is the continually recurrent theme of the lectures forming this book. As these were not delivered with the composition of a book in mind, but at different times and generally for different audiences, the reader will find that the subject-matter sometimes overlaps; but a closer study will always reveal that a new light has been thrown on the problems with which Inayat Khan dealt.
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