THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ FEB 2021
New pre-recorded video course (3 sessions, approx. 2 hours each)
At Threshold we are continually looking for effective ways to share the beauties of the Sufi path.
Kabir Helminski has selected some of Rumi’s most beautiful and inspiring words to present an overview of the spiritual journey: from mindfulness and presence, to heartfulness, to intimacy with the Divine.
The outline of the course
Three pre-recorded webinars with Kabir, each approximately two hours long, accompanied by a complete transcript, and a document containing the poetry selections. This is a self-study course so you can go at your own pace, and reflect on each session as long as you wish.
Each session has a discussion area where participants can engage with each other and share their experience. You will also have the opportunity to connect in quarterly live Zoom calls with Kabir to discuss your progress and ask any questions.
These three videos were originally offered through the Open Center in New York to a group of spiritual seekers from various traditions. It was a lively and deep exploration of Sufi practice and Rumi’s teachings.
The recommended donation is $50, but there are also discount coupon codes for anyone in need. Our aim is to make this accessible to everyone and we appreciate your support. This course is offered though the Thinkific platform and you have lifetime access.
Sunday Meditation: Paused for February
There will be no mediations during February but we will return as usual on March 7th.
In the meantime we invite you to view all the previous meditations online and the last one above remembering Suleyman Dede and continuing reflections on the January theme.
Requiem for Abdul Aziz Said 1931-2021, January 23
Our dear friend, Abdul Aziz was a notable peace-maker, Professor Emeritus in the School of International Service at American University, Washington, D.C., and founding Director of the University's International Peace and Conflict Resolution Division. Dr. Said was well known for helping shift the focus of International Relations theory from realpolitik based on the concept that the law of power governs states, to a new concept based on cooperation and common security. Starting in the 1990s Said focused his work on peace and conflict resolution and later explored the relationship between spirituality and religion in international politics.
Dr. Said was the first occupant of the Mohamed Said Farsi Chair of Islamic Peace and Director Emeritus and Founder of the Center for Global Peace. He was called by the university AU's “Living Legend of Peace.”
As an esteemed professor in the School of International Studies he was in a position to educate and train generations of scholars, diplomats, public servants, and military officers in the principles of social justice and peaceful reconciliation. He was a major player in international peace negotiations, though most often working behind the scenes.
He was also a close friend of ours and the Threshold Society, entering our lives at critical moments, offering wisdom and guidance. When Threshold Society was invited to offer a Sema ceremony at the National Cathedral, Dr. Said was a speaker, while Ahmed Tijani ben Omar recited the call to prayer and led a magnificent zhikr.
Abdul Aziz was born in Syria, the son of a man who was for a short time the Prime Minister of that country. Camille and I were visiting Aziz in his office at American University, when he asked, “Are you free to travel to Damascus? There is someone you need to meet there. He can show you an aspect of your essence you haven’t seen yet.”
“I’m not looking for a teacher. Would there be a point in traveling so far to meet him only once?”
“Once you’ve met each other you will always have a connection beyond space and time. There are few people in the world with his depth and his breadth.” These were not overstatements.
Eventually we did travel to Damascus to meet Mawlana Asad Ali, a true Wali (Friend of God), a great poet, and a masterful teacher. Our relationship with Asad Ali is a long story of its own, but I can refer you to two books of ours that resulted from meeting Mawlana Asad: Happiness without Death and Civilization of Paradise.
The bond with Abdul Aziz continued over thirty years, though our meetings were rare, they were often defining moments in our spiritual journey. A masterful teacher at the level of Haqiqat (Truth), who did not say “Come follow my way," but "How can I help you on your way (the way of Mevlana)?”
I remember him saying once, “Spirituality is attaining the widest possible context.” Another time he asked me, “Do you know what the ecological function of the human being is?”
“I don’t know if I do.”
“Love,” he said.
Reflections on the January theme: In these days the breathings of God prevail. Turn your ear and mind toward these breathings. ~Muhammad (a.s.).
~ Aliya Kocamis [Virginia, USA]
Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Rahim
Ya Latif, Ya Wadud, Ya Hayy, Ya Azim, Ya Wakil
The Prophet said, “In these days
the breathings of God prevail:
keep ear and mind attentive
to these spiritual influences;
catch these breathings.”
The Divine breathing came,
beheld you, and departed:
it gave life to whom it would, and left.
Another breathing has arrived.
Pay attention, friend,
don’t miss this one, too.
[Mathnawi I: 1951-53]
Last March when the lockdown started, my neighborhood got as quiet as I have ever experienced it. The background noise of cars, planes, trucks, and general transportation stopped. Most morning and evening rushes were paused and the once welcomed afternoon sounds of the neighborhood teens walking home from the local high school disappeared. No laughter, murmured conversations, basketball bouncing on the pavement, or the familiar sounds of the skateboarder practicing his jumps on the curb. It was quiet. Really quiet.
The situation at work that then unfolded solely through the laptop computer at the makeshift workstation in my living room became very intense as we monitored the information being learned about the virus and implemented science-based safety protocols for our global workforce. We reviewed our work plans, finances, and large-scale projects vis-à-vis mounting uncertainty of how long this would last. Travel stopped, long days faded into nights, and colleagues, friends, and relatives shared the tremendous strain they found themselves under, especially parents who were now juggling full time jobs while filling multiple roles like full-time learning coach. Playmate. Cleaner. Chef. Cook. Confidante. Dad. Doctor. Emotive.
Meanwhile, we became aware of people dying from the virus, from walking while black, and loved ones passing to the unseen from still other causes. For more than one of the Sunday sohbets with Kabir Dede and Camille Ana I stayed hidden from view because the flow of tears was too great to sit in front of the camera. This world I thought I knew was dissolving with my tears. Suffering became obvious.
From the golden, welcomed silence to the contraction of walking into the unknown to the painful awakening to Truth – my breath, this breath (bu dem), has been with me through it all. Every day, all day. Every night, all night.
The theme this month helps me remember the invitation to prioritize my awareness first to my breath, a gift granted at the moment of my birth, and then to the time and space events. Mevlana says:
You are like wind and we are like dust.
The wind is hidden while the dust is plainly seen.
[Mathnawi V: 3311]
Kabir Dede wrote in Living Presence, ”What we choose to give our attention to we energize.” He and Camille Ana regularly make the invitation to “bring your finest attention to your breath.” The more regularly I attempt to bring attention to my own breath, the greater the likelihood of being able to connect with it deeply in each moment and state. The Prophet’s words that Mevlana shares remind me that when I am present to the breath, I am present to the Divine Breathings, and through this relationship of mind, body, soul, and Lord, not only will the Divine Presence behold me, but perhaps I, too, can behold Her/Him.
. . .She/He forms her/him in accordance with what she/he is meant to be, and breathes into her/him of Her/His spirit: and She/He endows you with hearing, and sight, and feelings as well as minds: how seldom are you grateful!
[Quran, As Sajda 32:9, adapted from Asad]
The breath is an anchor of embodiment, remembrance, and well-being. Taking a deep breath that fills my lungs and cells with oxygen before releasing it to carry away what no longer serves produces a sense of well-being. I can breathe slowly, deeply, and consciously to relax, or quickly with vigor to raise my energy level. The breath is the wind of the infinite cosmos within each being and an ancient master of giving and receiving. My individual portion of breath will expire at some point, but the Breathings of God are continual, reliable, and available to be experienced by one who has attuned ear and mind to the Breathings.
Remember every breath. As we breathe we should place our attention on each successive breath and be aware of our own presence. Inattention is what separates us from God. The more that one is able to be conscious of one’s breath, the stronger is one’s inner life.
[Rumi’s Sun, tr. by Refik Algan & Camille Helminski]
Demi Hazreti Mevlana
There are some true servants of God of whom the body is here but of whom the heart is above, under the Throne of God. ~Muhammad (a.s.)
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
God's Light & The Divine Feminine
Camille Helminski offered a closing contemplation at RAYfest20, sharing the weaving of traditions from Navajo, Christian, and Islamic prayers, the call of the Feminine within nature, and a meditation with the breath. Watch the video above.
~ Camille Hamilton Adams Helminski
Ever You are Here,
these minds might traverse—
our simple imaginings
of space or time—
stretching our cellular awareness
Whose expanse are we?
Didn’t You say,
“and spacious is My earth!”?*
How can we
not know You know
us through You,
in our deepest heart,
where we are alone
Shedding our cocoons
and baggages of years,
like a candle,
to its Source,
beyond the known worlds
to a placeless Place,
are no longer “we”
All that ever has been,
or could ever be—
Ya Awwal, Ya Akhir,
*Quran, Surah 29:56
~ a dervish blog by Joseph Simpson
We are pleased to share an extract from this beautiful blog by Louisville dervish, Joseph Simpson. Do check out more of his work on hymnsofthedesert.com
In 2016, in a room in Turkey, about two dozen friends witnessed the Shahada of a middle-aged, Baptist deacon from Appalachia. If anything about that is hard to imagine, then we beg your forgiveness and pardon.
The Manners of Friendship
The well-placed rose.
Sometimes the heart commands the feet. Sometimes the feet lead the heart. Here, a confession is sadly necessary. When these feet met this path—and even after a bit of walking down it—the heart remained slow to join. There were so many internal prejudices and biases, so many misconceptions.
Love has a funny way of exposing us, albeit tenderly.
We see the care with which our friend places a rose just so. We see the care with which our friend prepares a cup of coffee. We see the care with which our friend anticipates our needs, sometimes before we know we are needy. We experience the very breath of heaven through our friend when we pray. Whether in times of jubilation or sadness, comedy or reverence, affirmation or correction, we feel nurtured, and we feel the desire to nurture. One can dispute theology until the end of time, but one cannot dispute this. Of the this, we are certain.
We ask, "What is this, friend?"
And the answer is always the same, over and over...
"This, dear one, is the way of Muhammad (ﷺ)."
Threshold Books COVID-19 Care Package
Choose any three items from this list of paperback books and CD’s
and receive all three at the discounted price of $25 including shipping.
Or choose one hardcover book and two of any of the others for $30 including shipping.
Ship to yourself or to cheer a friend.
(See our bookstore pages for item descriptions)
Jewels of Remembrance; The Rumi Collection.
Paperback book options:
Unseen Rain; Love Is a Stranger; The Light of Dawn; Inspirations on the Path of Blame; Happiness without Death.
Praise by Ahmet Tijani and friends; Embracing Both Worlds (Music of Sema)
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: Lessons in the School of Love: The Adab of Sacred Space.
Sufi training is accomplished, above all, in the Sufi lodge and the network of relationships cultivated there. Sometimes the Sufi lodge is an actual tekkye or dergah, a private home, a rented hall, and sometimes it may even be a “tekkye on wheels,” as when we travel to a foreign country together. What is most important is the intention and an understanding of why we come together. We are seeking to create and sustain an environment where spiritual realization can be optimized, where the influence of egoism can be minimized, and where the values and knowledge of the tradition can be preserved.
When we step over the threshold of the Sufi tekkye (lodge) we are leaving one world and entering another. We are leaving the environment of the mundane and entering sacred space. We do this, above all, with our intention. Our intention is to be present, courteous, and aware of our own self (nafs).
1288 Cherokee Rd Louisville, KY 40204
© Threshold Society. All rights reserved.