Biography of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan passed from this life on July 17, 2004, at the age of 88, at the family home in Suresnes, France. He was the eldest son and successor of Pir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan, founder of the Sufi Order of the West (now known as the Sufi Order International). His spiritual lineage is traced through a long line of Sufi “pirs” or masters, but his teaching is free from religious bias or attempt to proselytize. Pir Vilayat brought the timeless contributions of the ancient Sufi mystics and poets together with the discoveries of psychology and science. He rejected absolutely any attempt to treat him as a “guru,” taking pride in the strong, independent and creative qualities of those drawn to be his students.
Pir Vilayat was born in London in 1916 and spent most of his early years in England and France. He graduated from Paris University with a degree in psychology, and studied philosophy at Oxford University and music at l’Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris. Pir Vilayat later traveled to the East where he underwent rigorous training in meditation, including long periods of seclusion devoted to spiritual exercises. He also studied the esoterica of the major world religions and the meditation techniques associated with them.
He traveled the world teaching meditation, lecturing and writing. Books by Pir Vilayat include Toward The One (Harper & Row, 1974), The Message in Our Time (Harper & Row, 1978), Introducing Spirituality into Therapy and Counseling (Omega Press, 1990), That Which Transpires Behind That Which Appears (Omega Press, 1995) and Awakening, A Sufi Experience (Jeremy P. Tarcher / Putnam, 1999). Forthcoming books will be a culmination of his teachings and spiritual practices.
Pir Vilayat’s lectures opened fresh perspectives on the problem of bringing greater understanding and awareness into a life of activity and accomplishment. He approached this issue from the vantage point of the Hindu rishi, the Buddhist bikkhu, the Muslim dervish and the Christian monk. The practices of these contemplatives are used to help one confront one’s life directly by making one more sensitive to those aspects of self which are truly meaningful. Meditation can be used to develop these deepest and most fulfilling parts of one’s being and help one to use them in dealing with personal problems, values, goals and aspirations.
Pir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan, Pir Vilayat’s father, established the Sufi Order to provide a vehicle for the transmission of spiritual truth consistent with modern western culture, and to act as a bridge between East and West. In keeping with the aims of his father, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan sponsored and conducted events to promote understanding between East and West. He helped translate the vocabulary of the mystic into the language of the modern person.
The Sufi Order is an inter-religious body honoring all religions, traditions and teachings. It’s broadest aim is the unity of humanity in brother/sisterhood and wisdom achieved through tolerance, compassion and respect for freedom. It stresses the ideal of living a deeply spiritual life in the midst of the world. The Sufi Order emphasizes the integrated development of inner life and outer accomplishment.
Pir Vilayat is buried in the Nizamuddin Basti, the neighborhood surrounding the tomb of the great Sufi Saint, Nizamuddin Auliya, in New Delhi, India, just steps away from the Dargah or tomb of his father, Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, and the Hope Project, which he founded.
The Sufi Order of Rochester Center for Sufi Studies, 494 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607, the Carriage House behind the AAUW mansion (Carriage House is 492).