Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan was born in London in 1916 and passed away in Suresnes, France on June 17, 2004 (Pir Vilayat’s obituary). He was the beloved Pir of our Sufi Order until his passing, and is the father of Pir Zia Inayat Khan.
Vilayat was the son of the Sufi Master Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan and Ora Ray Baker, the second of their four children. His early years were imbued with both the rich mystical tradition of the East and the cultural heritage of the West. He studied philosophy and graduated with a degree in psychology from Paris University, and later did postgraduate work at Oxford. A formidable musician and cellist, Pir Vilayat music at l’EcoleNormale de Musique de Paris, and music featured prominently in his life and teaching. After his university years and war service, he began an intensive training of meditation in India, Pakistan and the Middle East with Sufi masters and teachers of various meditative disciplines, and carried out long periods of seclusion and retreat.
In 1926 his father had named him to be his future successor and head of the Sufi Order (later renamed The Inayati Order) and the Confraternity of the Message. There were to be struggles and conflicts regarding the succession after Hazrat Inayat Khan died, but when he came of age (and after his heroic military service during World War II), Pir Vilayat claimed the position that had been granted him by his father, and was confirmed by lineage holders in Ajmer, India as well as by many witnesses to Inayat Khan’s wishes for his eldest son to inherit the mantle his leadership.
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan was a well-known teacher of meditation, presenting seminars, camps and retreats throughout the United States, Western Europe, and India. The training he gave integrated a broad spectrum of meditation techniques from many traditions. In seminars intended especially for psychologists and educators, he demonstrated ways to adapt meditation to the needs of people in our age, and how to synthesize spiritual training with psychotherapy. A particular focus in his work was his dedication to the retreat format as means of enabling personal transformation.
Owing to his efforts to bridge the experience of contemplatives and the findings of physicists, biologists and psychologists, Pir Vilayat was a popular speaker at symposia on science, religion and holistic medicine. He convened religious congresses in various parts of the world, bringing together teachers from a variety of denominations in mutual respect and recognition of their underlying unity.
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan is the author of numerous books. In 2014, a magnificent summation of his meditation teaching entitled The Ecstasy Beyond Knowing: A Manual of Meditation was posthumously published. Other works include Introducing Spirituality into Counseling and Therapy, The Call of the Dervish, The Message in Our Time, Toward the One, and That Which Transpires Behind that Which Appears, In Search of the Hidden Treasure – A Conference of Sufis and Awakening – A Sufi Experience
Listen to an interview with Pir Vilayat Inayat
Universel: A Course in Meditation is an online course following the outline of a SOI spiritual retreat workshop, as given by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan.