THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ MAR 2021
During February, after almost a year, we took a break from our Sunday zoom calls. As Mevlana says, "Doesn't a period of silence restore beauty to the voice?" During most of March Camille and I will be in Hawaii, 10 time zones from the UK.
This has been a productive writing and retreat time for us, as it was 30 years ago when Living Presence was completed here on Maui.
We have asked our dear brother Mahmoud and our beloved sister Khadim to host two meetings, and we trust that this will be a blessing for everyone.
On the first Sunday of April, just before the beginning of Ramadan, we look forward to being with you all again.
May it be Love and Beauty, Eyvallah Hu,
Camille and Kabir
The most intelligent of people are those who are most fastidious in matters of courtesy and friendship. . . ~Muhammad (a.s.)
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
Exploring the Living Tradition of Sufi Teaching
Shaikh Kabir speaks to Tazeen.TV about his latest book In the House of Remembering: The Living Tradition of Sufi Teaching. Watch the video below.
Returning on March 7th
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 Standard Time (4pm GMT).
Zoom meeting: https://zoom.us/j/435138208
Zoom passcode: threshold
Initiation on the Path of Happiness and Struggle
~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski
The Prophet invited certain people to make a commitment to the Way by inviting them to speak these verses:
This is my way: I call on Allah with conscious insight (basirah),
I and whoever follows me—subhanallah—and I am not of those who worship other than God.
[Surah Yusuf 12:108]
Surely, those who promise allegiance unto you,
promise allegiance only to Allah.
The hand of Allah is above their hands.
So whoever breaks a commitment,
breaks it only to his or her own hurt;
whereas whoever remains true to what is pledged to God,
upon them God will bestow an immense reward.
[Surah Fatih 48:10]
These are also the words spoken during initiation (bayat) into Rumi’s Path. The commitment to the Way is based on that deep seeing. It's about awakening perception.
Don't ever think of Allah as some vast abstract Truth. Yes, vast and transcendent, but also the tenderest Truth, the most intimate experience. Some are drawn to this Way because it is the most complete expression of Mercy that they have ever known. That Mercy is the Way of Muhammad. In the Sufi understanding, Islam is not just a sect, not just of a religion called “Islam,” but the primordial religion of humanity, the root of all religions.
Rumi is always showing us the dynamic relationship between the individual human soul and this awesome, overpowering Mercy. Rumi gave that Mercy a voice:
I've come to drag you by the ear
to make you selfless and crazy,
to take you inside your heart and soul.
I've come to you, My lovely rose,
to be with you like spring,
to hold you beside Me
and to pour some wine for you.
I've come to reveal your beauty,
and just as the vows of lovers promise,
to take you above the sky.
Who is this rose, but you yourself?
The power to command, sovereignty, is with you.
Even if no-one else knows you,
once you are Me, I recognize you.
You are My Spirit and My Soul.
It is you who recites the Fatiha for Me.
So become the Fatiha, now!
And I will call you in my heart.
You are my catch even though
you try to run from My trap!
Come, return to the trap again
or I will drive you towards it.
There's no escape….
Why are you running around Me?
I will rip right through you!
Or embrace your wounds and charge forward
with the Shield of Holy Courage!
Don't listen to anyone else!
I will give you all the arrows you need.
From the dust of the threshold
to the Perfection of Being Human
there are a thousand abodes.
From city to city, moment by moment,
I will show you every step of the way.
Say nothing! Don't take the lid off the pot.
Simmer well and be patient while I cook you.
Don't you know that in essence
you are a fearless lion,
veiled by the body of a deer?
And I will take that veil away.
So, Rumi is the fulfillment of the revelation that came so clearly with our Beloved Prophet, and Jesus, and Solomon, and David, may they be blessed, and countless prophets and true friends of God, known and unknown. Rumi is of the same spiritual DNA. This is not a different message. This is not something other than the root of the root of the root of religion.
Now, inspired by those words comes the hope and the reassurance that you are meant for this journey. It's not so impossible. It's difficult but it may be easy compared to all the other choices. It's easier than being tyrannized by your own ego. It's a path of discipline, but it is also the way of happiness. It is also the way of turning the inevitable suffering and the inevitable pain of life into a maturity of the soul.
In many cases it's with our pain that we begin. If we didn't have some pain, we wouldn't search. We wouldn't yearn. We might be comfortable somewhere not thinking about these things. But our pain has brought us here. Our yearning has brought us here. Ultimately, love has brought us here.
Reflections on the February theme: 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.)
~ Aykut Akalin, [Istanbul, Turkey]
When I reflected on this saying from Prophet Muhammad (a.s), I realized that it is opening possibilities of nearness to Allah that I haven’t thought about before. With these words, I believe our dear guide and healer of our hearts is not only addressing certain people but addressing every single one of us, that we might be one of those true servants: we have this latent potential for our hearts to be under the Throne of God. It feels like it is a question of nearness, and reminds me of the following ayah:
It was We who created the human being, and We know what his inmost self whispers within him, for We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.
This message in the Quran always amazes me, in the sense that our Beloved Allah is always with us, closer to us and knowing us better than ourselves. Reflecting on this, I ask myself how we could think differently while we keep saying we believe in Unity, that everything that exists – within our inmost consciousness or external to us – is sourced in this Divine Reality, Haqq. Of course, both physically and metaphysically, every single particle of our selves is sourced in Allah. Yet I can’t sustain this perspective. I am forgetful of my role of being an objective witness to this Truth and see the world through dualistic lenses. I so often fall into the delusion that I am ruled by my whims and desires – many idols which have no power or agency. I fall into the well of worldliness, and the way out from that well is calling out to my Rabb: for, truly, in the remembrance of God hearts find rest [Quran 13:28].
It’s not a question of the nearness of Allah to us, but a question concerning our perception of our nearness to Him/Her: So remember Me, and I remember you [Quran 2:152].
Last year I was listening to a podcast series between an emeritus professor of civil engineering (who apparently was a dervish) and a psychiatrist. As he was an engineer like me, the way he described certain matters was appealing to me, but the most important thing that I learned from him was his guidance on calling out to our Rabb in every circumstance of life. He said if you are happy then call out saying, “Ya Rabbi!”; if you are sad, call out, “Ya Rabbi!”; if you are struggling say, “Ya Rabbi!” – you got the point – just call out, “Ya Rabbi!” This is very similar to what Ibn Abbad of Ronda wrote in one of his letters:
…the mystics and those who are spiritually advanced concern themselves with the inner work… They endeavor to make Him their Companion in all their spiritual states insofar as they are able. When God discerns that attitude in them He is Merciful to them by causing them not to pay attention to their own weaknesses or strengths in whatever they undertake or leave aside. Instead, He is their safeguard and protection. He guarantees their welfare and sustenance for they are His Servants and are dedicated to serving Him… And in the Sacred Tradition the Most High has said, “I am with My Servant whenever he or she thinks of Me.”
To my understanding, the ones whose hearts are above and under the Throne of God are these friends of God who endeavor to make their Rabb their companion in all circumstances, who have gotten out of the well of worldliness, striving in His direction:
Indeed, with the friends of God no fear need they have neither shall they grieve: those who have attained to faith and have always been conscious of Him, for them there is the glad tiding in the life of this world and in the life to come.
This friendship is promised to some by Allah:
For all those who listen to God and the Messenger are among those on whom God has bestowed His blessings: the prophets, and those who never deviated from the truth, and those who with their lives bore witness to the truth, and the righteous ones; and what a beautiful friendship this is. Such is the abundance of God – and it suffices that God is All-Knowing.
We might be struggling to sustain this nearness and might be in the early stages of the journey to sustain remembrance in all the circumstances of life, but our dear Mevlana Jalaluddin hints at a supplementary way to come closer to our Beloved, which is "to be close to the hearts of the Lovers of God":
When God has chosen one of His servants and caused him to be absorbed into Himself, if anyone should grab hold of his skirt and make a request of God, God will grant that request without the mystic (that servant) so much as mentioning it to God.
[Fihi Ma Fihi, Discourse 3, Signs of the Unseen]
May we be able to call out to our Rabb and endeavor to make Him/Her our companion in all circumstances of life. May we be close to the hearts of the Lovers of God…
~ Aykut is a seeker on the Mevlevi Path, living in Istanbul with his dear wife and yearning to meet fellow Thresholders in person soon.
Review: In the House of Remembering
Spirituality & Practice have selected In the House of Remembering as one of their 50 Best Spiritual Books of 2020
Have you ever wondered what happens in a Sufi circle and what teachings are conveyed there? Then this volume is for you. An excellent introduction by Mahmoud Mostafa, a dervish from the Threshold Society in the Mevlevi Order founded by the son of the Persian saint Jelaluddin Rumi, provides a primer on key terms – zhikr (chanting the names of God), ilahis (songs about Divine love and Sufi themes), adab (spiritual comportment), and presence (an inner capacity to consciously witness both the context and the content of experience). He then invites the reader "into the heart of the Theshold Mevlevi circle where you can experience some of the spiritual conversations that have been shared over the years by Shaikh Kabir Helminski with his dervishes."
Read the full review
We are only 6 weeks away from the blessed month of Ramadan.
We have eight on-demand ecourses offered through Spirituality & Practice that you can access at any time, currently available at a 30% discount.
We particularly recommend the Ninety-Nine Names of God which was offered during Ramadan a few years ago.
The Compassionate (ar-Rahman), the All-Seeing (al-Basir), the Manifest (az-Zahir). These are but three of the 99 Qualities or “Names” of God intrinsic to the Islamic tradition. This e-course, open to people of all backgrounds, explores the interplay of the Names in our lives and leads us on a journey of discovery and renewal. The Names serve as a doorway to self-knowledge and intimacy with our Sustainer. Focusing on the Names can provide substantial nourishment in realms of heart and soul. Anyone who engages with them in yearning finds a pathway to a deeper connection with Enlivening Spirit. Includes video meditations and audio zhikr by Camille Helminski.
See the full list of available ecourses here.
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.
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: Suggestions for Practice
Most people who come to Sufism have preconceptions as well as questions about what Sufism is. What does the practice consist of and how will I learn and develop? Is there a detailed curriculum? Or hidden knowledge? What should I expect of my shaikh and what kind of relationship is possible? Some people might imagine that the shaikh has a detailed, objective technical knowledge of various inner states, spiritual energies, planes of reality, spiritual powers, etc. While there is some truth in this, it has been our experience that among the best teachers these subjects are seldom emphasized or talked about directly. An emphasis on secret, privileged knowledge, or encouraging a mystique or building a cult of personality, or intimations of end-time scenarios, have proven time and time again to be counter-indicators of spirituality. In other words, the more such tendencies surround a teaching, the less likely it is that the teaching will be balanced and authentic. If we look to the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet Muhammad, we see a sane and balanced presentation of the Way. Our approach, therefore, places a strong emphasis on developing our capacities for presence, remembrance, service, and humility.
1st & 3rd Sunday: Online Meditation, more details (KC)
Apr 12: Ramadan
May 13: Eid al-Fitr
Jul 19: Eid al-Adha
Events with Kabir (K) & Camille (C)
1288 Cherokee Rd Louisville, KY 40204
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