Originally published at Wisdom's Child, now Omega Publications.

Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, the world-renowned Sufi master and mystic, passed peacefully from this world on Thursday, June 17, 2004, while at home in Suresnes, France with his close family and friends. He was 87, soon to turn age 88 on June 19th.

 

 

As head of the Sufi Order International, Pir Vilayat was the inspiration for the founding of our business, Omega Publications, Inc., and heartily encouraged the compilation, printing and distribution of the teachings of his father, Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan, which is the core focus of our work here. Pir Vilayat was his father's successor, and most joyful and enthusiastic student, always referring back to his Murshid, his teacher, Hazrat Inayat Khan.

Many of us on this particular spiritual path met Hazrat Inayat Khan through Pir Vilayat, who so beautifully embodied the essence of Inayat Khan in his daily life, throughout his travels, and by bringing this living presence into the various retreats and seminars he gave around the world.

Over time Pir Vilayat's multitude of inspirations became their own teachings, and manifested in various projects, including a number of books. Pir Vilayat's last book project, In Search of the Hidden Treasure: A Conference of Sufis, was begun thirty-years ago, and after engaging a number of inner creative forces over the years, Pir Vilayat felt it was finally ready to publish just last year, in 2003.

In 1999, Awakening: A Sufi Experience, was published by Penguin Putnam, and prior to that two compilations of Pir Vilayat's retreat talks were published as That Which Transpires Behind that which Appears, and The Call of the Dervish, with the latter soon to be available once again. Pir Vilayat's book, Introducing Spirituality into Counseling and Therapy will also be reprinted and available by year's end.

Other rare books that have been long out of print, and at the request of Pir Vilayat will most likely not be reprinted, are Toward the One and The Message in our Time.

Our love and gratitude for Pir Vilayat transcend time and space as his being always has, and we are thankful for his continued influence as we progress to become fuller human beings, together in Love, Harmony, and Beauty.

Message from Pir Zia

Full Obituary

Pir Vilayat on Death


Message from Pir Zia

"The sadness that accompanies the passage of our Pir bespeaks the depth and breadth of his meaning in our lives. Tears and sighs are natural expressions of a feeling heart. But even as we mourn the loss of his physical presence, may we find the inner clarity and strength to remember the essence of his teaching: the soul is immortal and its very being is joy. It is death that dies; life lives forever. The signature of our beloved Pir's inimitable spirit is inscribed in the starry sky."


Full Obituary

Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, an internationally known lecturer and author, and head of the Sufi Order International, died yesterday, June 17, 2004, at his home in Suresnes, just outside Paris, France, 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 Normandy. 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 the United States, 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 Therapy (1982), That which Transpires through 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 Sufi 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 two grandchildren. His body will be taken for burial to Delhi, India, in the tomb complex where his father is buried.


Pir Vilayat Inayat on Death

"In the perspective of the Esoteric school, the concept is fana. In order for there to be a change one has to accept a breakdown and trust that there will be a breakthrough. That is the principle of alchemy. As long as one holds on to one's self-image, one cannot undergo this breakdown. This is where faith is called upon: faith in the ability of nature to reorganize itself.Of course death is the ultimate breakdown, the ultimate fana, and just like in our lifetime, we trust that it is followed by a breakthrough. If it is not, we remain the same, and that is not a nice condition. You see, we go through crises unless we catalyze the breakdown. There are moments we go through a crisis in our life but at the psychological level it could be the dark night of the mind that is, everything we thought breaks down. We don't know what is true, only what is not true. But the deeper night is a breakdown of our self-image, and that is part of the esoteric work. When one has experienced baqa that is, the reinstatement of our being then we are not afraid of a breakdown. In fact it is a wonderful joy to be free from our own self-image, because it is limiting... You see, one does not want to continue to be what one was. Then you are not afraid of death."

More Pir Vilayat quotes from the Alps Leaders Camp, 2002:

"Don't ask where a person is after death. There is no where."
 
"There is some indication that life doesn't stop at the moment of the big jump (death). It's never to early to pray to get ready."
 
"Our thoughts configure our aura and our aura configures our body."



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