Hazrat Inayat Khan teaches about Fikr (Fikar)


The breath is the current which is established between all planes of man's existence. Its current runs from the life unseen to the life on the surface, thus uniting spirit and matter both. When the breath leaves the material being of man, then comes what man calls death, which shows that breath is the sign of life and life itself; and its contact with the body keeps the body alive and its contact with the mind keeps the mind alive, but neither body nor mind are life. If there is any sign of life we can trace on the surface, it is no other than the breath.

Therefore, the Sufi takes the breath as the means of getting what he wants from the life unseen to the life on the surface; also, he makes it a means of sending what he wishes from the life external to the life within. The breath may be considered as a lift that can take you to any floor up and any floor down. By the help of breath you can send your thought anywhere and to any plane and bring about desired results. In breath abides all the mystery there is. The Sufi's object being self-realization by the ideal of God, he works for its attainment by the means of the breath, which he calls Fikr, and an ideal so attained becomes his property, his kingdom, forever.

Rhythm in Fikr

Rhythm is the nature of motion, and motion is the nature of life. Life is not possible without motion, and motion is not possible without rhythm. It is rhythmic notion which keeps the whole universe going, and the same motion is the hidden secret of our lives, as we are a miniature universe within ourselves.
Our breath is both the cause and effect of this rhythmic motion.

Inhaling and exhaling is just like the pendulum of the clock. When it is regular the clock goes on regularly, when slow the clock goes slow, when quick the clock goes fast. So it is with us. When our breath is rhythmic, all things go well -- the mechanism of our body, the working of our mind, and the work of our feelings, all are normal. Therefore, all we think, speak, and do is normal and right. When the rhythm of our breath is irregular, all illness comes, thoughts wander, feelings are upset, and our life becomes full of confusion. All we feel, speak, and do has a bad effect, in other words, a wrong effect upon ourselves and others.

Therefore, by Fikr the Sufi sets his breath to the proper rhythm; and when it becomes a habit by a practice done every day, the Sufi's whole life becomes orderly and regular, because the rhythm in time becomes a habit of the breath. And while awake or asleep, the breath goes on rhythmically, keeping all pulsations in rhythm, on which the health entirely depends. The rhythm so produced by the breath keeps the thoughts in order, the will powerful, the memory in order, the feelings normal -- and thereby all one's affairs in life come into prefect and proper order.

Purification of the Breath

Purification is the innate tendency of every soul, but it purifies only that part of its being of which it is conscious. There is a Parsi saying, "Purity is the first piety." When striving to purify the body and mind, man often fails to find the real source of their purification. Really speaking, the breath is the source which keeps body and mind alive, and body and mind connected. Impurity of breath turns body and mind impure, and purity of breath gives purity to both.

The question, how we should purify the breath, may be answered thus, that breath is constituted of the five elements -- of which both the body and the mind are composed -- and it is the same elements which are used by the mystics to purify the breath. After a Sufi has made his breath rhythmic by the practice of Fikr, and has acquired strength in the breath, then he may purify his breath with different elements.

By breathing on earth, he will give all his impurities to earth, and will attract purity from earth. By breathing before water, he will purify his breath and will give out impurities to water. By breathing before fire, the Sufi purifies his breath by that element. Therefore, incense is burnt in religious places, and the adepts in India keep fire before them when practicing meditation. One must purify one's breath by breathing in the open air, which is the air of purification. And life in the open space enables one to purify one's breath by the ether, which pervades the whole space. Purification of the breath not only gives sound health of mind and body, but gives perpetual youth and long life, until one has attained the life eternal.

The Attainment of External Objects by Fikr

The breath is a current which can be attached to any thing or being, near or distant, if one only knew how to attach it, and those who are masters of the breath can attract all things in life. Mahadeva, the Lord of Yogis, has said that there is nothing on the face of the earth that cannot be accomplished by the masters of the breath. But for him who does not know its mastery, even to live a healthy life is a difficult thing.

Fikr is the first lesson and the last lesson in the breath. It is the first because by learning this one learns right breathing, and it is the last because not only the world but even Heaven is attained by the help of Fikr. It is Fikr which helps concentration, and at the same time it is concentration which helps the operation of Fikr. Without Fikr, no concentration or meditation or contemplation is possible.
This truth can be seen by studying the life of the cobra, and especially the large cobras that live in the jungles, in mountains. One can learn from them, firstly, how reposefulness helps the breath to develop, for cobras lie in repose for weeks (and some for months) without the slightest movement. The next thing to be learnt is that when the cobra is hungry, rabbits and fowls are drawn into its mouth.
Nobody but the mystic knows from where they happen to come and fall in its mouth; for, its breath is so powerful, and its repose has given it such a power of concentration that it reaches whatever objects it concentrates itself upon and confuses that object so that it is blindly dawn to the mouth of the cobra. The mystic learns this valuable secret from the cobra, and by the power of the breath and concentration of mind, he accomplishes all things in life.

The Attainment of the Inner Being by Fikr

Man's inner being is his soul, and man's outer being is his body. These two poles of his being are linked by the breath, and if there is any way if experiencing life distinctly through the physical body and experiencing life clearly through the existence of the soul, it is Fikr.

By Fikr one becomes conscious of one's mind. Sometimes one becomes so absorbed in the mental plane that, for the moment, the physical body does not exist for one. When a person rises above this plane and wishes to be conscious of his soul, then Fikr helps him to attain this, for the breath is the only current which runs through all planes of man's existence. The breath may be considered as a lift which can take you to any floor of the house you desire. The planes of man's existence are like floors; through the power of the breath, one can reach any floor.

One may ask what practical benefit it is to realize one's soul. The answer is that the soul is man's true being, and if man has not realized through life which his true being was and remained all through life in the illusion of considering the vehicles of his life as his being, he is greatly mistaken. Besides this, the realization of every plane of one's being gives that much more power and inspiration, and as much of his being he has realized, so great does man become in his power and inspiration.