Celebrating Mevlana Rumi's Urs

SUNDAY 19th DEC 2021, 1PM EST / 6PM GMT

Celebrate Mevlana Rumi’s union with the Beloved – the anniversary of his passing into the Unseen – with an online gathering of remembrance. Join Shaikh Kabir & Camille Helminski and Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes for zhikr, music, and poetry on the theme of Returning to Love.

Join us on Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/435138208
Zoom passcode: threshold

Please note this takes the place of the regular Threshold Sunday meditation.

This event is being offered for free. If you would like to support our activities please donate by PayPal here.

This is an interactive experience. We welcome all friends who may wish to whirl, whether you have robes or not, to join in. You may wish to create some space for turning, perhaps light some candles and have some red roses or rose incense/oil.

We will be spotlighting several screens in the speaker view so you can see multiple whirling dervishes turning. Please ensure you are in SPEAKER view rather than gallery view to see all the dervishes.

Downloadable programme which contains all the poetry for the evening including song lyrics will appear here 2 weeks ahead of the gathering.

Image by Uzma Taj.

The Way of Mary, Maryam, Beloved of God

The online book launch of The Way of Mary, Maryam, Beloved of God was held on Sunday. Watch the celebration of hearts with Camille Helminski, A. Helwa, Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Andrew Harvey, Omid Safi, Rev. Matthew Wright, Lisa Ferraro and other friends.

The book is now out and available in the UK, USA/Canada, and for international delivey through the UK distributor, see more details here.

Dec 5th

NOTE: Dec 19 (Rumi’s Urs) will be at the later time of 1pm EST, 6pm GMT.

Join us for an online meditation with Shaikh Kabir Helminski, Camille, and other members of the Threshold community. Held on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month at 11am Eastern Time (4pm UK).

Zoom meeting: https://zoom.us/j/435138208
Zoom passcode: threshold

Watch the previous meditations here.

December Theme

Be in the vibration of Love.
~Shaikh Kabir Helminski

We welcome your reflections on this theme.

Reflection on November theme: Heal with Presence. ~Shaikh Kabir Helminski

~ Denise Saludares [California, USA]

Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem. I begin in the name of the Source of Life and Being.

I struggle with presence. I struggle with sustaining presence. Too often I get caught up in what is happening around me. I react. I identify with my thoughts and feelings—with my emotions—until I become fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, sorrow. Sometimes this identification lasts awhile; sometimes it’s only a moment. But it happens. I’ve reacted. The best I can do is ask for forgiveness and try to forgive myself. Estaufrullah.

I’m sorry.
Please forgive me.
Thank you.
I love you.

[Ho'oponopono practice]

I am trying to catch myself before I react, to sustain awareness so that I can cut my reaction off at the pass, to take the power away from my ego. It has been difficult work for me, but what I found that helps me consistently and without fail is prayer.

The first time that I was exposed to salaat was at a Threshold retreat in San Diego two years ago. I was three weeks into the 99 Day Program and both excited and nervous to meet Kabir Dede and Camille Ana in person. I made the intention to participate in every activity during the retreat even though I had no idea what to expect. During the retreat, I found myself quietly sobbing while Kabir Dede spoke and while Camille Ana guided the meditation. At the time, I had no idea why.

During salaat, I tried to follow along and mimicked the postures of the women near me as well as I could. It was a few weeks later that I learned that I should cover my hair during prayer. When I learned this, I wept in remorse.

I longed to see Kabir Dede and Camille Ana again. On the Threshold website, there was an announcement for a writers retreat in Costa Rica, with a video of the previous retreat. At the end of that video, Camille Ana recites a poem with the setting sun in the background. Seeing her face and listening to her voice moved me to tears and I immediately registered.

Every evening in Costa Rica, we would gather to experience the sunset and perform maghrib prayers together. While I had made the Mevlevi zhikr part of my practice, I had not learned how to perform salaat. In all honesty, I had barely memorized the Fatiha. One dear sister—who I had just met at the beginning of the retreat—offered to explain how to perform salaat to me after our morning group meeting. That evening, during maghrib, I stopped worrying about when to bow, when to kneel, and when to prostrate. Even though the recitation was foreign to me, listening to it put me in a state outside of myself. I was completely empty except for one thing repeating in my head: Allah. And then it happened. While I was kneeling, tears seemed to come from nowhere—tears not from feeling remorse, not for a longing to see spiritual teachers again or to be in their presence, but from nothing. I could only describe it as a faucet running out of my eyes as there seemed to be so much water, and I was baffled as to how it turned on or how to turn it off!

After my experience in Costa Rica, I made an intention to learn how to perform ritual ablution and salaat. I found that when things in my life seemed out of my control, when I needed to heal my inner life, I could return to salaat to reset.

This past year, things in my life seemed to be going really well. I was getting busier and busier in the outer world, so I was praying less frequently and eventually stopped praying altogether. When life circumstances started causing me anxiety, I thought that I could overcome it by just being more aware of myself. But observing myself in this way seemed more like a mental or psychological exercise. My awareness was lacking.

The answer came to me in a group meeting via Zoom. The meeting began at the same time as maghrib, so instead of going directly to meditation, we performed salaat. The feeling of remorse hit me like a tidal wave. What was lacking in the awareness I was trying to cultivate was the remembrance of God. And since I am unable to sustain this remembrance 24/7, the best I can do to is to pray—to help me reset—to ground me.

There is a polish for everything, and the polish for the heart is the remembrance of God.

[Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, The Knowing Heart]

Prayer helps me because it engages all of my senses. It is easier for me to come into presence in prayer. When I begin with ritual ablution, I feel the water on my skin, cleansing it, as I clear my mind of thoughts and make the intention to pray. When I face the qibla, I take a deep breath and bring attention to it. I feel the woven fabric of my prayer mat beneath the soles of my feet. I feel the lightness of my veil over the top of my head, covering my ears, brushing against my cheeks, and draped over my shoulders. I feel the sensations in my hands as I hold them to my side. And I start with Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem before I recite the Iqama.

When I bow, I feel the stretch of my hamstring muscles in my body, but in my heart and mind, I feel reverence to God. And when I prostrate with my forehead and nose on the ground, I submit and surrender to Allah with all of my being.

At the end of salaat, when I say personal prayers, I always begin with, “Thank you, my beloved Friend.” Thank you for my family, my teachers, this circle. Thank you for the situations and circumstances that present opportunities for me to practice and learn. I ask for help in turning to God and keeping God in every state. I ask for healing for those who need it, recite a final Fatiha, and kiss my prayer mat in gratitude.

For, truly, in the remembrance of God hearts find rest.

[Surah ar-Ra‘d 13:28, translated by Helminski]

~ Denise lives in California with her family.

Reflection on November theme: Heal with Presence. ~Shaikh Kabir Helminski

~ Michael Cichoracki [Sunset, Maine US]

While writing this reflection I wonder. Am I present? Can a person know or define what that is?

There are easily twenty or more distractions, including this writing, to grab my attention and intention and spin a story around it. The radio in the background, the coolness of the air on this fall morning in Maine, leaves falling off the maple trees, the bitterness of coffee taste on my tongue and its scent. More than enough external signals to deal with, nevermind the internal emotions, memories and worries that all vie to pull us forward or backward in time. Just writing about it alone stirs a feeling of anxiety and a type of rejection of each of these sensations. So I repeat to myself, "Stay on the path," then I save the notes and decide to perform salaat.

Being new to this "Sufi" path I face the qibla wall and make the ritual motion of my hands to put the world of forms and creation behind me. Without much Sufic experience I recall the admonitions of the teacher in The Cloud of Unknowing. Somehow this attempt to put the world behind me is impossible, but made possible, at least to some degree, with intention. I stand upright, with the sense that I am standing before Allah. This unknowable, inconceivable truth that is well beyond my most strenuous mental capacities only exists in a faith filled with doubts, it is a place my brain cannot go to. It calls nonetheless, so I continue.

Reading aloud the transliteration of the Fatiha, I find my mind can make no sense of the sounds it is telling my mouth to make. Here, again, I am performing a petitionary prayer that I only vaguely recall in English to Allah (that my mind cannot grasp). Being honest with myself, I ask, “How many times have you recited a prayer in English that was just that, a recitation and nothing more?”  Recalling that one of the most important facets of this prayer is to ask for help. The Arabic words confuse my mind and my being settles into a cry for help. "God please guide me on this path."  I continue the salaat.

I make the prostration, my hands, knees, toes, head and nose all on the floor. Embodying a position where my head is below my heart, I see that it was not me that willed me into being, it was not my mind that fashioned me from this stardust. I am placed on this path of existence, of life, by something much grander than "me."  The mind is relentless and it draws up a memory of yesterday while walking along a narrow deer trail in the woods. Something saying, "Stay on the path," while so many natural distractions off path to explore: fungi and lichens, mosses, tress and fallen leaves, woodpeckers... I resist and stay on the path all the way back home.

Making personal prayers during salaat, I ask for protection and to be called again and again so I may always have the ability to respond. Looking right and left while offering wishes of peace to all other beings, we feel the sufferings of all other beings and hope not to add to it. Make me a channel of your peace. Already, the varied internal sufferings become smaller, some insignificant and some not. I am only human and again I prostrate —head, hands, nose, knees and toes—and recall "from dust you were created and to dust you shall return." My physical impermanence will end what is of my ego and judgments, and these sufferings are temporary. Knowing this also helps to limit the sting of the problems of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Sometimes healing is just about being present to what really is and understanding it in a new light. However, to be able to do that means to, if only briefly, slip out of the world of distractions and into one of presence. So I stay on the path.

~ Michael Cichoracki lives a simple and semi-hermitic life on an island off of Maine's mid-coast. Raised as a Roman Catholic he maintains a deep admiration of Mary, enjoys carving wood, being in natural settings and writing poetry.

Threshold's collaborative blog channel The Living Tradition on Patheos.com has been reaching new audiences and sharing the experiences of our community in a unique and vibrant way for nearly four years. We are now transitioning over to Medium in the coming months, and will be writing under our new publication, Awakening with Rumi.

Recent articles:

Entering the Garden by Anna Rohleder

Eating Sorrow: A Conversation about Suffering by Daniel Thomas Dyer

The Threshold Society

The Threshold Society, rooted within the traditions of Sufism and inspired by the life and work of Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi, is a non-profit educational foundation with the purpose of facilitating the experience of Divine Unity, Love, and Truth in the world. Sufism is a living tradition of human transformation through love and higher consciousness. Our fundamental framework is classical Sufism and the Qur’an as it has been understood over the centuries by the great Sufis. The Society is affiliated with the Mevlevi Order, and offers training programs, seminars and retreats around the world.

Each month we intend to highlight an article about our lineage and its principles. This month we offer: Basics of Practice in the Threshold Society.


1st & 3rd Sunday: Online Meditation, more details

Dec 19: Rumi's Urs, more details    (KC)


Events with Kabir (K) & Camille (C)

We’d love to hear from you — get in touch at eyeoftheheart@sufism.org



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