"I must say, it has been such a joy
to share with you the encounter of our thoughts sparking each other. The mission
— the meaning of the Message of the future, all of it has been exciting and
overwhelming, and I am very grateful for your sharing with me. There is a word
— from the moment that one has broken bread at the same table, one is linked by
a special link, and that's the reason for the Mass. The Mass is the sacrifice
for eating at the same table together, and we have been sharing this wonderful
bread and wine at the same table, and that establishes a link between us that
can never be broken, so that we can always find each other. So, I will just say
that you can find yourself — you can find me in your heart; and I can say, I can
find you in my heart. God bless you."
— Pir Vilayat lnayat Khan, Suresnes, 27 January, 2004
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, an internationally
known lecturer and author, and head of the Sufi Order International, died
on June 17, 2004, at his home in Suresnes, just outside
two days before his 88th birthday. He was recently awarded the Hollister Prize
for creating interfaith understanding. The award will be presented on July 10th
in Barcelona, at the Parliament of World Religions.
Pir Vilayat, born in London in 1916, was the spiritual successor of his father,
the pioneer Sufi teacher in the West, Hazrat Inayat Khan, who had been a
celebrated musician in India. Pir Vilayat became a musician himself, playing cello, and studying composition
with Nadia Boulanger. He took a degree in psychology from the Sorbonne. During
the Second World War he and his older sister Noor served the British war effort.
Noor, known as Madeleine, was a heroine of the Resistance, executed at Dachau.
Pir Vilayat served on a minesweeper which was torpedoed in the D-Day invasion in
In the 1950s Pir Vilayat began teaching through the Sufi Order, and particularly
in America he drew a large number of people. More than one hundred local centers
for the study of Sufism exist in North America, as well as many in Germany
and in many other countries around the world. In 1975 he founded, in upstate New
York, a spiritual community, the Abode of the Message, and also Omega Institute,
a flourishing learning center embracing many teaching approaches.
In 1974 he published Toward the One, a highly successful introduction to
spiritual traditions and practices. He followed that up with A Message in Our
Time, 1978, a study of the life and teachings of his father. After that he
published a series of books on various aspects of meditation and realization:
The Call of the Dervish (1981), Introducing Spirituality into Counseling and
Psychotherapy (1982), That which Transpires behind that Which Appears (1994),
Awakening (1999), and finally, in 2003, In Search of the Hidden Treasure, a
wide-ranging exploration of Sufi teachings in the form of an imagined congress
of Sufis through the ages.
Pir Vilayat traveled very widely, and spent much time in India, learning
meditation techniques from teachers of different traditions. He taught his
students techniques of meditation drawn from Yoga, Buddhism, Jewish and
Christian traditions, as well as established Sufi methods.
Since 1965, Pir Vilayat assembled every spring a Congress of Religions in or
near Paris, where representatives of various traditions met together to discuss
and understand each others' viewpoints. He also took a keen interest in new developments in science, and often spoke at
symposia dedicated to dialogue between scientists and spiritual teachers. He
regularly incorporated the latest scientific thought into the discourses he
delivered with great flair at seminars and meditation camps. Every summer, he
conducted a camps in the Swiss Alps and in the United States, attended by
thousands of people.
He is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Mary Walls, his younger
brother Hidayat and sister Claire Harper; by a daughter, Maria, and two sons,
Zia of New York, who has been designated his spiritual successor, and Mirza of
California, and three grandchildren. His body will be taken for burial to Delhi,
India, in the tomb complex where his father is buried.
Additional information can be found at PirVilayat.org,