“Q. Can coming volcanic eruptions and earthquakes and disasters in nature be felt by sensitive people in advance? A. Yes, there is an action and reaction, the action of nature upon people, and the action of people upon nature. This storm and wind has a certain effect upon us, in our word and speech and action. But this is also caused in some way as a reaction of the conditions of people. And therefore all wars and storms and floods and volcanic eruptions, very often they are caused by human beings, by the action or attitude or condition of humanity in general.” Hazrat Inayat Khan
1. There is one God, the eternal, the only being; none else exists save God.
Climate change is man-made. Hazrat Inayat Khan told us this a hundred years
ago; science proves it now. Through our economic development we have
changed the earth system for up to 130, 000 years, a time span impossible to
imagine. Life conditions that our planet will offer will be at least very different,
and probably a lot less favourable to human life.
The historic period called Holocene, starting 10, 000 years ago with Zarathustra
teaching mankind agriculture as a God-pleasing way of living, comes to an end.
Time gets another meaning. Suddenly the mystery of eternity is being
Geologists call the new period Anthropocene. New is the fact that we humans
don´t just change regional environments but have developed the power to
disturb the functioning of the earth as a complex and dynamic whole.
It is not some old God punishing us with floods and droughts and earthquakes.
It is us! Not just the inhabitants of the western world, but all mankind.
„The whole earth“, „all mankind“. These terms, having been ideas for many
centuries, become a physical reality now. In ten or twenty years our world will
be Indo-Sino-American-Eurocentric. The average per capita production of CO2
of the Chinese is now the same as that of the Europeans. The old division
between north and south is disappearing.
And for the new age called Anthropocene, Hazrat Inayat Khan invites mankind
to conceive of a new concept of God as a being that works through all forms of
the universe, a being within and without, seen and unseen.
We live in a time where the old ideal of mankind has come to an end. We have
discovered that our planet is not able to sustain the global economic
development, that we envisioned. We consume nature on a level that would
need 4 Planet Earths.
Mankind stands there naked, lost, without an ideal. The vision of utopia based
on the free flow of capital was shattered on the rocks of physical truth and
without ideals we are in danger of falling back into old ideologies of nations,
religions, family ties.
During the last two or three hundred years, nature was considered to be a
commodity, basically so-called resources to be used for the happiness of man.
Mankind felt free to take whatever it could use from its “environment”.
Spirituality had to do with inner worlds, with churches and Sundays. On top of
this, more and more humans dropped spirituality altogether, seeing it of no use
in attaining the envisioned utopia.
And then Hazrat Inayat Khan declared that the time has come for a renewal of
our ideal: mankind discovering that all of its activities are embedded in the One.
The first response of our Inayati Order to climate change is to incorporate
and present the possibility of a new ideal, which can nourish our bodies,
hearts and souls: mankind integrated in a greater whole.
2. There is one Master, the guiding spirit of all souls, who constantly leads
followers toward the light. Why did we go that far destroying our world? Because we follow the rules and necessities of global economics, the ruling world-wide vision. The master of
global business is the one that achieves the minimum of effort with the maximum of material result. Thus harnessing himself, man developed in the last fifty years a power that literally moves mountains. By the will of man, the whole world is being transformed all the way down to the geological level.
This mastery was able to be developed by the means of the powerful weapons
of willpower and rationality. Modern man is able to distance himself from the
environment. He has developed the capacity of not feeling or being emotionally
involved. Everything has to be observed and measured from outside Planet
Earth, so to say, from „Sirius“. The outside world is considered to be the real.
The subjective world the unreal. We had to renounce sensibility and responsiveness to the processes of nature. We had to lose any contact to soil, earth, or origin. We had to drop the idea of „we“ in any sense.
As reactionaries were considered all those who tried to conserve their belonging
to a special place, community, environment, way of life, profession, religion. In
order to become one world we had to drop any difference, any diversity.
The big advantage was the freedom we gained in this way. We dropped the
bonds that tied us to our surrounding. This is the mastery gained in the
And now we discover, that with all the power we have developed, we have not
just ruined our planet, but also changed its rhythms and structure. We are on
the way to losing the world that sustained us.
The fear and the madness as the result of this discovery take on different faces:
• Elites in power try to neglect the facts and pretend everything to be fine.
Just another challenge that will be mastered by global capitalism.
• Partly by willingly destroying the evidence of the catastrophic state we
put ourselves into.
• Some of the richest have started investing in spaceships that would allow
some humans to live a human live after leaving planet earth.
• As some regions become inhabitable because of climatic or economic or
humanitarian reasons, the victims start moving and try to reach as
refugees the richer parts of the world.
• The inhabitants of the more well-to-do regions try to prevent an invasion
and fall back into old nationalistic ideologies, as if any part of the world
could be exempted from the change of the earth’s rhythms.
• Some come to the conclusion that mankind has lost its right to live on this
planet and that we will die out.
The Sufi Message as brought by Hazrat Inayat Khan offers another solution. We
have to wake up from the illusion of an ideal that turned out to be too limited.
We have to proceed in the enlargement of our vision.
This means to be proud of our mastery and of the autonomy we gained. And at
the same time to start listening to the processes that dominate life on our
planet. We have to acknowledge that we cannot be imagined as free beings in
the sense of completely independent from any bonds. The Anthropocene shows
without any doubt how deeply we are related to the natural processes. Our activities have immediate impact on our planetary surroundings, which in turn
have an immediate impact on us.
With the word „immediate“ is meant a physical bodily impact. With the word
„listening“ is meant, that we take seriously our senses of hearing, seeing,
feeling, smelling, touching.
Only if we start listening, will we be told how to survive in a world of changing
climates. If we enlarge our awareness, we will hear the voice of guidance
coming from all things, without and within.
The message of Hazrat Inayat Khan states that in the combination of mastery
and responsiveness lies the next step. The 2nd response of the Inayati Order to climate change is to help people to start listening to their inner voice and to find an equilibrium between mastery and guidance.
3. There is one holy book, the sacred manuscript of nature, the only scripture
which can enlighten the reader. The surprising thing about climate change is that it cannot be understood without understanding man. The wide range of predictions about global
warming in the 21st century has just one background: we don´t know how man will behave. This is revolutionary! Our modern culture is based on a sharp division between
man and nature. Through this thought we dominate nature. The result is that we know less about the planet than ever before. Of course some mighty groups don´t give up the vision of subduing the earth. Geoengineering is the keyword for them. One can only hope that these people will wake up from illusion soon, before making things worse.
Unwillingly, we have brought ourselves to a point of surrender. The only way to
deal with the new unpredictable situation is to admit that we don´t know. So
the result of desecrating nature is that she gains a new sacredness in the sense
of an unknown mystery that maybe should not be touched, because we don´t
know the results. We thought that we are the masters of the universe and find
out that the only sensible option towards the powers of nature is humility.
Our planet as a continuously moving unity propelled by interconnected cycles
and influences from the earth centre through the atmospheres up to the moon,
the sun, the other planets and stars is one whole.
This whole is more than the parts. We are used to reducing life to the parts
involved and through these analytic methods we lost the sense of holiness.
And now this holiness or whole returns through the backdoor. We are
confronted with an earth system that includes all, including ourselves. Mankind
developed a tremendous power to change nature, but we have very few
insights in the interaction of the different bodies and forces. No other living being can influence the processes of nature as much as man, but we will never be able to dominate these complex systems because we are part of them.
A completely new perspective of nature is being born. Hazrat Inayat Khan was
ridiculed for saying that the earth is the center of the universe. Now we can
slowly understand his statement. In the Anthropocene we have to drop the
merely rational and „scientific“ way of looking at Planet Earth from outer space.
The Earth was considered to be one planet out of many in the endless universe.
This point of view brought us on the verge of losing our Earth. We are
discovering that the Earth is our center, if not the center of all.
Complementary to the existing forms, science must be widened to incorporate
investigations into the nature of transformation. Birth, death, growth, life,
corruption are to be the metamorphic phenomena to study closely.
The etymology of the word „nature“ comprises aspects of
These aspects cannot be investigated from outer space. In them the life of the
scientist intermingles with the life of the studied objects as living beings with a
Thus reading the book of nature becomes a source of enlightenment because by
doing so the walls between man and world are being dissolved.
Attachment becomes a legitimate place complementary to detachment.
The 3rd response of the Inayati Order is to understand that both we
ourselves and our surrounding world belong to the same one nature.
4. There is one religion, the unswerving progress in the right direction
toward the ideal, which fulfils the life’s purpose of every soul.
In no period of human evolution has the concept of religion become more real
than in the now starting Anthropocene. The old understanding of religion was
the following of a cult that would bring us to heaven after death. The award for
refraining from certain actions and things would be waiting for us in the
After dropping religion altogether, mankind developed pseudo religions like
communism and capitalism, telling us that hardships and injustice are
necessary for us humans to reach a glorious future with happiness for
everybody. The suffering of the non-human nature kingdoms was not even
being considered, as these did not complain anyway.
Today nature has started „complaining“. This phenomenon is termed climate
change. From a background that could be taken for granted (loving mother
earth), she became our counterpart, giving us a hard time.
If we don´t want to divorce (leaving the planet) or continue to misuse (growing
anger of our counterpart as a result) we will have to learn how to live with her
together in partnership.
In the world becoming our beloved we will have to find out how to be in
harmony with her. This is the new religion. The processes between man and
world are to be permeated with love.
Etymologically religion means „to bind fast“. More than ever before, we
humans will need a lot of endurance to be married with this world. Sufis in all
ages have been training themselves in this type of relationship. They called it
the dynamics of Love, Lover and Beloved. Hazrat Inayat Khan mostly used the
similar term of „Love, Harmony and Beauty“. Harmony is meant to be a state
wherein lover and beloved are in tune. For sure being in tune with nature will, in
the chaotic transition we are living through on our planet, will mostly not look
like a peaceful affair. We will have to drop our concepts of harmony.
Religion in the new era will be coined by a lot of freedom, because love cannot
flourish if bounded by external commandments. Which form love will take, we
don´t know, because we don´t know our beloved world. We just took her for
granted till now.
At the same time religion in the Anthropocene will need more loyalty than ever
before, because the behaviour of the beloved will be full of unexpected moods.
Floods, earthquakes, and droughts are quite scary!
The reward, according to the the words of Hazrat Inayat Khan, will be „worldly
as well as heavenly“. We don´t have to wait. Oneness is within reach.
The 4th response of our Order to climate change is a life in partnership
with all nature kingdoms
5. There is one law, the law of reciprocity, which can be observed by a
selfless conscience, together with a sense of awakened justice.
Religions through the ages taught man how to act in harmony with his fellow
men. All kind of rules were given, all circling around one general spiritual truth
quoted by Hazrat Inayat Khan from the Bible: “do unto others as thou wouldst
they should do unto thee.”
In contradiction to this age-old truth the motor behind the global economic
development is the pursuit of self interest. Nothing seemed able to stop this
power. Yes, it was mitigated in the western world by unions defending the
pledge of the workers. Yes, considerations about the environment also had
some influence. But in the center of the pursuit of profitability stands till today
self-interest. Propelled by this motor mankind will, according to the
predominant world-wide capitalist ideology, in the end live in happiness.
But, Hazrat Inayat Khan told us that in pursuit of self interest man loses touch
with his own real interest. Because, so he continues, “It is the law of reciprocity
which saves man from being exposed to the higher powers, as a considerate
man has less chance of being brought before the court.”
And now it is too late: the “higher powers” have awoken. Geologists would call
these the deeper powers of the earth. Suddenly we discover that the earth
systems have become deregulated and that we are exposed to her reactions.
The Earth “hits back”. It seems that another old rule “Eye for eye, tooth for
tooth” is still valid. Mankind will have to face the fact, that the living conditions
for all beings on our planet have deteriorated beyond repair. We will have to
acknowledge that the danger of extinction of the human race is no longer
Existence finally gave us the proof of the law of reciprocity. Until now it was a
matter of belief, today it is a matter of fact: We don´t act in our real interest if
we freely use our freedom and technical possibilities. In the end it is in our interest to develop a sense of real justice. And for this we will have to drop a lot
of prejudices about our so called rights. It is a matter of unlearning, more than
learning. Each human being, so says the Sufi-Master, is borne with a sense of
justice within. It is just a matter of removing the covers to reach this natural
ability to judge.
The 5th response of the Inayati Order to climate change is to discover and
show the workings of the law of reciprocity and to help ourselves and
others to discover our inborn sense of justice.
6. There is one family, the human family, which unites the children of
earth indiscriminately in the parenthood of God.
What did Hazrat Inayat Khan mean when he talked about „children of earth“?
Different explanations apply:
• taking the expression literally, it means that we are all made of earth or
according to another Sufi saying made of clay. The etymology of the
name Adam is „man of clay“. The word human is related to the word
• Secondly, Murshid may have pointed to the fact that we humans are all
children of the same Planet Earth.
• And possibly with „earth“ is meant Mother Earth as the counterpart of
Father Heaven. Earth representing variety, Heaven representing unity.
Climate change causes in man the perception that the soil under his feet is
crumbling. In this there is no division between north, south, east or west. It is a
The panic and distress connected with climate change varies. Those who
pretend not to be affected by the climatic catastrophes try to defend their piece
of earth against those who had to experience that their soil is no longer there or
no longer able to sustain them.
The first group falls back into defending their national state. „We don´t belong
to the same world as you. Your world may be threatened or lost, ours not.“!
The second group has nothing to lose and bangs on the doors of the rich, often
risking their lives.
How to develop a common life for mankind under such circumstances? The only
way out is to find out together, which territory is habitable and with whom we want to share it. Millions of strangers will have to be guided in their search of a
safe piece of Earth. We will have to build a collective life for mankind. So
nothing is more innovative and less nostalgic than finding agreements about
how and where migrants could land on some ground.
This search transcends any bonds of family, nation, religion. Every child of earth
will have to ask him/herself, with whom to share this Earth.
Hazrat Inayat Khan states that man can only evolve by uniting himself with
In the Anthropocene this unity is no longer a goal for the few but we are on the
way of finding out that all living beings together are necessary for the survival
of the whole. All is interconnected and only if we recognise this fact, we will be
able to live on Earth.
The 6th response of the Inayati Order to climate change is to know and to
show how rewarding it is to share our piece of earth with others.
7. There is one moral, the love which springs forth from self-denial and
blooms in deeds of beneficence.
More than ever before, man is the dominant living being, influencing all other
living beings. Since maybe sixty years ago he has developed such a tremendous
power that he has even changed the geological processes on Earth.
We don´t realise how far reaching our influence on nature has become. An
example: of the total mass of all vertebrate animals, 30 % are humans, 67 % are
domesticated animals, 3 % wild animals.
Hazrat Inayat Khan: In the Quran it is said, “We have made man the Caliph of
the whole creation”, in other words, the master of creation.
In the actual philosophical discussions about the monstrous results of mankind´s mastery some take the position that man has lost his right to play any
special role at all on earth. Any form of anthropocentrism has to be cancelled.
Others proclaim that these disastrous effects are just an interim phenomenon
and that man will in the end reach a promised utopia when he just continues on
his path. An unbroken Anthropocentrism based on neglecting reality.
The Sufi attitude is anthropocentric and theocentric at the same time. Hazrat
Inayat Khan: The perfection of God’s manifestation is man. When man reaches
perfection His manifestation is perfect and without man’s perfection God’s manifestation would not be perfect. Perfection is reached when man becomes altogether human.
So, in the eyes of the Sufi, God is dependent on „man becoming human“ in order that creation reaches its goal.
Morality untill recently had mainly to do with our duties toward our fellow men.
Moral commandments were given by the great teachers of humanity. But since
the Renaissance we principally no longer obey commandments. Philosophers
like Kant elaborated on moral freedom. Sufism stands in the line of all religions
and at the same time in the line of philosophical enlightenment.
Today with the dawn of the Anthropocene age, morality receives a new connotation. If mankind wants to live on this earth, a moral necessity is the result. Our
first obligation is to take care of the earth, before anything else.
Only mankind has this unique moral obligation. No other creature has any such
responsibility. We are no longer free to do whatever we want. We are on our
way to finding out that we have to curb our behaviour. It is up to us to prove (to
God) that it is right that man dominates the world.
How to do that? By developing our love capacity. Renunciation as an act of refraining from taking more than one is giving comes out of love alone.
„O, it is excellent
To have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.“
Isabella in Shakepeare’s “Measure for Measure”
The 7th response of our Inayati Order is to help ourselves and others to
experience the joy that is hidden behind renunciation. Nothing is lost, all
8. There is one object of praise, the beauty which uplifts the heart of its
worshippers through all aspects from the seen to the unseen.
The main source of beauty used to be wild untouched nature. An overwhelming
sadness overcomes us realizing that most of it has been destroyed.
The next most important source of beauty used to be the age-old countrysides
created by man cooperating with nature. Again a deep sadness overwhelms us,
when we realize that more and more of these landscapes have disappeared and
may never come back.
The third source of beauty used to be the rich diversity of human creativity in
the innumerable different cultures around the world. With sadness we see how
globalised consumer culture has just one direction: uniformity worldwide
When we observe the upcoming populist political leaders around the world it is
the growing coarseness of their expression that hits our ears. Maybe what one
considers to be ugly, for others is pleasing. Hazrat Inayat Khan says: „that which
is beautiful to one is not beautiful to another.” But what destroys our planet
cannot be beautiful.
There is just one way left over to treat our beloved earth and all her inhabitants:
by respecting her proportions and integrity. Sufis search for the face of the
beloved in all they see and create. So in our ways of production we will have to
be consonant with the earth if we want to maintain our love affair with her and
bring peace to her and ourselves.
That´s why Hazrat Inayat Khan considers gardening and farming as art forms.
He even says: “Gardening is music, farming is music”. The times where beauty
had its place in the museum and pesticides “maintained” our crops is over.
Apart from the fact that it is ugly, maintaining our livelihood by killing
innumerable other creatures is no longer possible because we are discovering
that these other beings are part of the life of the whole that sustains us.
After destroying most of the natural paradises, man will start to create new
ones and so will start pleasing not just himself, but also the earth.
The 8th response of the Inayati Order to climate change is to create new
paradises, thus pleasing not just ourselves, but also the earth.
9. There is one truth, the true knowledge of our being, within and without,
which is the essence of all wisdom.
The truth about the Anthropocene is that man worldwide influences his
environment in ways more powerful than some of the great powers of nature.
This thesis from the Dutch Nobel prize winner Paul Crutzen and his team stands
today as largely acknowledged in the international scientific world (1 and
Some conclude from this thesis that man reigns over nature or at least will do
so in the near future. Climate change is in the eyes of these just a crisis that will
pass because man will in the end create a happy world for happy people. As a
matter of fact, such an ideology denies the fact that global economic
development is creating worlds that are incompatible with the possibilities of
The consequences of the discovery of the Anthropocene are much more far
reaching. The fact that man developed a power that influences the basic
rhythms and structures of the planet does not mean that he can reign the
world. It simply means that the state of the planet depends on the state of the
human being. The division between inner and outer world has been overcome.
If we want to understand what happens to our earth, we will have to study
ourselves. If we want to understand the state we are in as humans, we can
study our planet.
This insight should put an end to the megalomania of ideologies such as
ecomodernism. But it does not. Because knowledge in itself is not enough to
generate change. We will have to give up habits. We will even have to give up
any concept of who we are as individuals and as humanity. These processes of
shattering concepts and habits on the rock of truth is the age-old science of
Scientific truth is not enough for a turnaround on our planet. It needs truth in
practice, not just in theory.
The 9th response of our Order is to prove our truths by applying them.
10. There is one path, the annihilation in the Unlimited, which raises the
mortal to immortality, and in which resides all perfection.
The pursuit of individual well-being brought us to the verge of the destruction of
Sufism invites us to drop the concept of our individual self. It stands in the way
of real happiness.
After the break of the Anthropocene, man is challenged to give up the idea of
subject (our individual self) and object (the world around us). The truth is that
sometimes the subject is world and the object is self. Just if we dare to get lost into the rhythms, meanings and needs of our earth with all her inhabitants will
we have the change to discover a self which is able to embrace all these others.
„I lost myself and I found you at last“. (Hazrat Inayat Khan)
The tenth response of our Inayati Order to climate change is to practice
zikr and to teach zikr.
The 10 Sufi thoughts are part of the core teachings of the Inayati Order. They
were given by Hazrat Inayat Khan in the beginning of the 20th century.
The comments in italics are mine. They try to describe the application of these
principles to a climatological crisis, whose extent could barely be foreseen one
The 10 Sufi thoughts can be found on www.inayatiorder.org