On Tuesday the 16th of October, Susan Southall gave a presentation to the Spiritual Reading Group on the life and work of the Sufi writer and musician Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927). Her paper can be found at a separate post. The quotes from Inayat Khan’s book ‘The Mysticism of Sound and Music’ (Shambhala, 1996) are set out here, as used by the Group for discussion.
Music, the word we use in our everyday language, is nothing less than the picture of the Beloved. It is because music is the picture of our Beloved that we love music. But the question is: What is our Beloved? Or Where is our Beloved? Our Beloved is that which is our source and our goal. What we see of our Beloved before our physical eyes is the beauty which is before us. That part of our Beloved which is not manifest to our eyes is that inner form of beauty of which our Beloved speaks to us. If only we listen to the voice of all the beauty that attracts us in any form, we would find that in every aspect it tells us that behind all manifestation is the perfect Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom. P.2
According to the thinkers of the East there are four different intoxications: the intoxication of beauty, youth and strength; then the intoxication of wealth; the third intoxication is of power, of command, the power of ruling; and the fourth is the power of learning, of knowledge. But all these four intoxications fade away just like stars before the sun in the presence of the intoxication of music. The reason is that it touches the deepest part of man’s being. Music reaches farther than any other impression from the external world can reach. The beauty of music is that it is the source of creation and the means of absorbing it. In other words, by music the world was created, and it is again through music that the world is withdrawn into the source that has created it. P. 5
The musician and the music lover become refined and are led onto the higher world of sound. Sufis lose themselves in sound and call it ecstasy, or muti. Psychic and occult powers come after experiencing this condition of ecstasy, and knowledge of the visible and invisible existence is disclosed. This bliss of happiness and peace is available only to the Yogis and Sufis interested in the divine art of music. Almost all the great saints in the Orient have become great saints through the power of music. P. 10
The mystic keeps one thought in the mind for ten minutes, for twenty minutes. He practices this. He practices it with music. First he impresses one Raga upon his mind until it is fixed in his mind like a picture. Then he practices the sound only, without melody, one sound or — to break the monotony — two sounds, or three sounds. After that he hums. He keeps all feeling away. There is no anger, no bitterness, no prejudice, no attachment, nothing that keeps him bound to the ego. Then there is no outward sound; he keeps the sound in his mind. Then he begins to hear the sound of the breath, the fine sounds that the ears cannot hear. P.23
A question may be asked regarding the mysticism of colour and sound: Can we get our individual colour or note? The answer is that in the first place it is not a matter of our own colour being good for us. It is whether a number or colour is in harmony with us or not that makes it good or not. In the second place, at every moment of our life our evolution changes. A person who was a thief yesterday is not a thief today. So a given colour or number belonging to us at one moment does not belong to us at another moment; it changes every moment. P 37
…upon the rhythm the mood, health and condition of man’s mind depend — not only upon the rhythm which he gets from music, but also upon the rhythm of his own breath… The Sufis of ancient times, the great mystics, used to develop this art in order to bring about poise in life after their everyday activity. They called this art sam’a, and sam’a has been the most sacred thing for the Sufis; it has been a meditation for them. They meditated by the help of music, by having a certain music played which had a certain effect upon the development of the individual. The great poets, such as Rumi of Persia, used to have music for their meditation, and by the help of music they used to repose and to control the activity of their body and mind. P. 52
Beauty is born of harmony. What is harmony? Harmony is right proportion, in other words, right rhythm. And what is life? Life is the outcome of harmony. What man calls happiness or comfort, or profit and gain — all he longs for and wishes to attain — is harmony. In smaller or greater proportion he is longing for harmony; even in attaining the most mundane things he always wishes for harmony. … It is not following a certain religion that makes one spiritual, or having a certain belief, or by being a fanatic in regard to one idea, or by becoming too good to live in this world. … Ultimate good is harmony itself… It is not following a religion, it is living a religion, making one’s life a religion, which is necessary. Pp 110-111
The Sufi, like a student of music, trains both is voice and ear in the harmony of life. The training of the voice consists in being conscientious about each word spoken, about its tone, rhythm, meaning and the appropriateness for the occasion. … The Sufi avoids all unrhythmic actions; he keeps the rhythm of his speech under the control of patience, not speaking a word before the right time, not giving an answer until the question is finished. He considers a contradictory word a discord unless spoken in a debate, and even at such times he tries to resolve it into a consonant chord. A contradictory tendency in man finally develops into a passion, until he contradicts even his own idea if it be propounded by another. In order to keep harmony the Sufi even modulates his speech from one key to another; in other words, he falls in with another’s idea by looking at the subject from the speaker’s point of view instead of his own. P. 136-7
If man only knew that the greatness of perfection of the great ones, who have come from time to time to this world, was in their pupilship, and not in teaching! The greater the teacher, the better pupil he was… They say in the East that the first thing that is learned is to understand how to become a pupil. They do not learn first what God is, or what life is. The first thing to learn is how to become a pupil… All that we have learned in this world is partial knowledge. And when this is uprooted by another point of view, then we have knowledge in its completed form. That is called mysticism. Why is it called mysticism? Because it cannot be put into words. Words will show one side of it, but the other side is beyond words.
The whole manifestation is duality, the duality which makes us intelligent, and behind the duality is unity. If we do not rise beyond duality and go towards unity, we do not attain the perfection which is called spirituality. Pp 112-3
Love produces harmony and harmony creates beauty. Therefore the chief motto in life is “Love, harmony and beauty.” Love in all things and beings the beloved God, in harmony with all in the right understanding, and beautify your life by observing the beauty within and without. By love, harmony and beauty you must turn the whole of life into a single vision of divine glory. P.116
Once I was very amused and surprised at an answer that a very godly and good natured maid gave me. Working in the house, she could not answer the door as quickly as it should have been answered, and the lady visitor who was waiting at the the door became very impatient and spoke crossly to the maid. When I asked her what had happened, she was not cross at all. I asked, “Well, what was the matter with her, why was she cross, what was the reason?”, and this maid, with innocence in her face, replied: “The reason? There was no God.” A beautiful answer. Where God is lacking, there is no love. Wherever there is love, there is God. Wherever there is God, there is love.
If we interpret it rightly, what causes pain and suffering? It is lack of life. What is life? It is love. And what is love? It is God. What every individual wants, what the world wants, is God. All we have to attain by music, by harmony, by tone, by the science of right tuning, by a life of goodness — all we have to gain to bless our lives is God. This is the central theme of all good. P 107-8
Life is a symphony, and the action of every person in this life is the playing of his particular part in the music. P. 116
God is not in time. Therefore he is in the silence. Sound is part of the world of time. P 117