The Esoteric School

Pir Vilayat meditation photoOverview

Those who belong to the esoteric school of this order are given, besides personal guidance, the studies which are entrusted only to those who are fitted to receive them. There are subtleties of ideas – spiritual, moral, or philosophical – which cannot be given to everyone at first, but can be given gradually to those who are serious enough to walk in the path of truth. Every seeker after truth must remember one thing: that the first step in the path of truth is to become true to oneself. — Hazrat Inayat Khan

The Esoteric School of the Inayati Order is for those who wish to pursue a deep study and engage in a transformational process whose goal is realization of one’s essential nature and empowerment to achieve the purpose of one’s life. The process begins with unlearning the conditioning one has received in life, purifying one’s body, heart, and mind, and discovering one’s intrinsic values and ideals. Self mastery and developing one’s personality as a work of art are important tasks along the way. In this way one gains in will power and self confidence, the root of faith. One discovers one’s religious faith by honestly examining the ideals that are truly inspiring and can bring to one’s faith community of choice the deep insight of the experience of personal faith.

The classes of the Esoteric School offer profound insights of mystical masters which are to be absorbed in a meditative atmosphere. Although much written material is available for study, the primary teaching is offered heart to heart by a spiritual guide. The relationship between guide and student is a sacred bond in which trust in oneself and in one’s insight and inner guidance can grow. Guides offer transformative practices that work with breath, prayer, and sacred sound to bring out the latent qualities the guide sees in the student. From time to time, the student can withdraw from life responsibilities to engage in an intensive retreat. A retreat is an opportunity to dive deep into practices that lead to transformation.

While the goal of the school is to catalyze awakening in the individual, it is assumed that this outcome will lead to a life of service toward humanity and the wondrous gift of the manifested world.

Core Principles

1. The training is transformational.

2. It is transmitted from teacher to student heart to heart.

3. The object is to rise above the false self and discover the true self.

4. Self mastery is the path to true freedom.

5. Sincerity is required; trust must develop.

6. Nature within and without is the true teacher.

7. Every soul has its purpose in life.

8. The relationship between the guide/teacher and the mureed/student is intended to develop love, trust, respect, authenticity, and an unselfish sensitivity towards each other (following the principles outlined in the “Art of Personality” by Hazrat Inayat Khan).

Developmental Stages

Momentarily to take oneself out of the heady intoxication of life is to observe that human existence is a fleeting passage between the mystery of birth and death. We cannot help being travelers. But we can choose the course we chart, and direct each footstep with precision toward the object of our truest desire. — Pir Zia Inayat-Khan

The path of awakening frees one from the heady intoxication of life and unveils meaning and purpose which are written into the heart of the human being as a secret to be discovered. The first step is to adopt an attitude of openness, questioning the nature and functioning of the conditioning one has acquired. One learns to examine one’s ego or sense of identity and to question the way one has seen and done things. The ego gradually goes through stages of growth, from a self-centered stage seeking gratification of one’s desires, to a self-reflective stage facing one’s limitations and correcting one’s behavior, to a peaceful stage of self-acceptance and expanded self-awareness.

The foundation for awakening is built on practice with breath, prayer, light, sacred sound, and rhythm in everyday life. “A Sufi is one who breathes well” is a classical description of Sufism. Breathing, which one generally takes for granted, has a great influence on one’s experience of life. By learning to work with breath, one gains self-control, self-confidence, peacefulness, and intuition. Sincere prayer from the heart awakens a sense of sacredness and awe. The rhythm of our culture is fast and tends to be destructive. Choosing the right rhythm in the activities of one’s life creates a psychic clearing in which finer senses can be developed.

Progress on the path occurs through a progressive refinement of one’s consciousness which proceeds in four stages: concentration, contemplation, meditation, and realization or awakening. Concentration in children is natural but adults lose it through continual distractions. The mind can be trained to regain the power of concentration by holding steady in the midst of distractions. When the mind can focus steadily on an object, the next step is contemplation, to hold steady with a thought. The hand that can be gripped tightly in a fist can then be consciously released and relaxed. Meditation is the conscious relaxation of the grip of the mind. Beyond the veil of thought, one can glimpse another realm of consciousness which could be called intelligence itself. Having mastered these stages of consciousness, one can return to ordinary consciousness with a new sense of being awake. In this heightened awareness, a deeper sense of reality reveals itself.

Teaching is transmitted heart to heart rather than mind to mind. Through the relationship with a guide, one more experienced on the path, trust develops and the heart opens. The guide acts as a cupid between the seeker and the seeker’s living ideal. The presence of the guide fans the spark of longing in the heart which cannot be satisfied by any earthly attainment. The flame that rises in the heart releases the hidden store of love and leads to states of ecstasy.

There are two directions in the training that interweave. One direction explores inner experience. The other is a gradual discovery of our interdependence in relationships. A conditioned sense of separateness begins to fade as the heart opens and one experiences the reality of the unity of being expressed through the uniqueness of each soul.

The training prepares one to choose one’s direction in life, following one’s deepest desire as a beacon on the path toward fulfillment. It is a preparation to fulfill the purpose of one’s life through service.