Whirling Practice
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October Theme

In a universe of Love, a dervish is not governed by fear.

We welcome your reflections on this theme.

Sufism: A Path of Human Development

Oct 12th, San Diego State University

Shaikh Kabir will be offering a talk at the Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies at the San Diego State University about the philosophy and practices of Sufism. More details here.

Sufism is a way of life in which a deeper identity is discovered and lived. This deeper identity, beyond the already known personality, is in harmony with all that exists. This deeper identity, or essential self, has abilities of awareness, action, creativity and love that are far beyond the abilities of the superficial personality. Eventually it is understood that these abilities belong to a greater life and being which we individualize in our own unique way while never being separate from it.

Sufism is less a doctrine or a belief system than an experience and way of life. It is a tradition of enlightenment that carries the essential truth forward through time. Tradition, however, must be conceived in a vital and dynamic sense. Its expression must not remain limited to the religious and cultural forms of the past. The truth of Sufism requires reformulation and fresh expression in every age.

[Continue reading...]

Participating in Rumi's Urs

On Sunday 17 December (12pm ET, 5pm UK) we will once again be honouring Mevlana’s Urs with an online celebration of poetry, whirling, zhikr, and sohbet led by Shaikh Kabir and Camille. Inshallah, as in previous years, we will have some dervishes whirling in full robes on camera from their homes. This year we also invite the participation of others without robes to join us on camera. The only stipulation we make is that all whirlers should have received some instruction in whirling from Kabir Dede or Camille Ana. To create a unified and beautiful ritual, we will also suggest a simple dress code for those without robes, something everybody is likely to have in their wardrobe.

Daniel is offering a Zoom call on Saturday 14 October (12pm ET, 5pm UK) for those who would like a reminder of the technique and more information about the format. If anybody is interested in being one of our semazens this year, please contact danieltdyer@yahoo.co.uk

Watch last year's celebration below:

Oct 1st

Join us for a monthly online meditation and sohbet with Shaikh Kabir and Camille, and special guests from the Threshold community. Held on the 1st Sunday of every month at 12pm Eastern Time (5pm UK).

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

Watch last month's meeting below and see all our videos here.

Reflection on August's theme: True Adab (spiritual courtesy) is not a set of rules, but innocent awareness.

~ Anna Latifa Jamal [UK]

There is no doubt that the adab of our spiritual community and lineage is the hallmark of the Mevlevi Way. How we live and move and breathe with each other and with all of creation is the living essence of who we are. Over the many centuries, it is what professes true faith and a living experience of the Divine. It is absolutely experiential and not doctrinal or dogmatic. It is experiential from the outside, of others who come into contact with it, often transformatively; and it is experienced from the inside where one's own self participates in the Divine way. "The tariqah does not exist to cause anyone pain or add to anyone’s burdens; its discipline and commitment is meant to be a source of joy, happiness, and well-being" (The Knowing Heart).

We use guidelines for the practice of adab from our shaikh and our tradition and these are very useful, especially in a meeting or formal sohbet. But these are not hard, fast, restrictive rulings. We have inherited adab as a community over the generations. When this comes to guidelines for communal meetings and sohbets they are experienced as gifts which open a way. This is important—that their purpose is for opening. The guidelines have a gentle, respectful, purpose, such as bringing our whole selves into a shared and sacred space, where our hearts can be present, can be open to both give and receive. We create a safe space with each other which necessitates true and open sharing, most importantly where Divine Presence is invited, honoured and trusted. You could say that this is ritual, and when seen as the beautiful, wise gifts which bring us into Presence with each other, then the true meaning of ritual may be grasped. It is good to remind ourselves of the place and purpose of our traditions; they were never offered to us as restraints or for us to experience fear of offending or breaking the rules.

Could it be that our dear shaikh has offered us this theme to be sure in guiding us further into openings, to free us from shackles of any kind?

The guidelines from our tradition, and even new ones from our teachers, are offered in and for love. Masha'allah; spontaneity is something Kabir Dede emulates, Camille Ana too. Beautiful examples that we are so blessed to have, and deeply grateful for. Their gentle and loving spontaneity is part of their own purity of awareness that precedes it. May we take our beautiful teachers as examples as often as we can while we are blessed to have their physical guidance with us, and may we open our own hearts to the Haqq that guides them. Our blessed teachers give their lives to open this way for us, that we too may live on this path with Presence— with taqwa (awareness of Divine Presence), and participate with each other and all of creation in tawhid (living unity of all through the Divine). Our Sufi path together is a gentle facilitation. Alhamdulillah for its ease, support and perpetual openings.

The words "innocent awareness," as opposed to pure awareness, conjure images of childlike awe and wonder. If we speak of pure awareness it surely is about the innate fitra, however speaking about childlike awareness gives us not just a metaphysical notion but an observable physical reality whereby a young child still has a close connection with their fitra and from the spiritual realities and realms they have come from. It’s about being in a place within ourselves that's still and grounded and can recognise many things on many levels, and can be in awe through that subtle awareness. It places us in proper relationship to everything around us. From this place we can act, not as an individual but as part of it. This is courtesy. It is innate but can also be refined.

Without too much external programming, when children are free they exert so much we can learn from. Their innocence, their abilities, their innate consideration, being able to find themselves in unending new situations and be able to deal with them, are just a few. The teaching from children is a whole beautiful way in itself, and the phrasing of this month’s theme certainly calls us to observe and relate to children more readily with esteem and with deep reverence.

We always experience our spiritual teachers and our practices with such respectful, loving adoration. The key though is perhaps that adab isn't necessarily observed and learned but arises innately from within us when we have aligned ourselves with the Divine. Courtesy coming from within. As a child is influenced and taught from externals we may learn from the beautiful examples around us and be nurtured by them in a grateful manner. However, our path is our own, and we must absorb the adab that we see into our core. Therefore the true adab is emanating from within.

Spiritual courtesy is a quality and capacity that every seeker needs to develop for themselves. It is the refinement of a quality of relating through which spiritual blessing manifests. Every level of being also has its adab, including coming into the presence of Truth. Our possibilities in the path would be served by increasing our awareness of some simplified aspects of adab. The more people are willing to consciously serve each other, to notice what is needed in any moment, the more beautiful and refined the togetherness becomes.
[Shaikh Kabir]

Kabir Dede reminds us, "In fact every moment of life is an opportunity for impeccability."

Allah's counsel says: "My love belongs by right to those who love one another in Me, those who sit together in Me, those who visit one another in Me, and to those who give generously to one another in Me.
[Hadith Qudsi]

A more mature dervish would always be asking himself or herself: Is this conversation appropriate to this moment? Can it be more beautiful, more true, more congruent with our highest purpose?
[“Lessons in the School of Love: The Adab of Sacred Space”]

We look forward to our sharing as a community over this theme, to contemplating it individually, and to help, guidance and presence in living it out among ourselves in spiritual community, among our families, and wherever we are called to be in this world and lifetime. In the Mevlevi Adab and Customs (for which we eagerly await the English translation) we are invited to "Come to know the secret we have opened for you."

Muhammad’s Intimacy with His Sustainer

~ Mahmoud Mostafa

In a previous article we mentioned how the Prophet (PUH) had a deep capacity for Munajaat, that is the secret discourse between lovers, which involves openly pouring our hearts out to our Rabb (our Sustainer, our Lord, our inmost Self), with openness, vulnerability, and longing for nearness to Him. There is an extensive and rich recorded tradition of the Prophet’s prayers that can help us understand and guide us to what is possible for us in our relationship with the Divine. The Prophet lived his life in a state of remembrance, he made his daily, mundane living an occasion for a joyful, loving relationship with his Lord. He remembered his Rabb waking up, sleeping, dressing, walking, riding, standing up, sitting down, entering and exiting doorways, eating, drinking, making love, bathing, praying, and all other aspects of his daily living. Muhammad’s Rabb was his constant companion, Muhammad felt His presence with him at every moment, protecting him, guiding him, forgiving him, seeing him, hearing him, and loving him.

Going to sleep for him was a regular occasion for lovingly calling out to his Rabb, seeking support and protection, asking for forgiveness, giving thanks, surrendering his being to Allah’s care, and acknowledging the sovereignty of his Rabb:

O, my God, the stars have come out and the eyes have come to rest. And You are the ever-living, ever-lasting One who is not overtaken by slumber or sleep. O Living One, O Everlasting One, make my night calm and let my eyes sleep.

He would awaken in loving gratitude for being alive, nourished and sustained by Al Hayy, Al Qayyum:

Praise is to God who returned my soul to me and put strength in my body and permitted me to remember Him. Allah is the Greatest, the Greatest.

At the end of each year, he would seek forgiveness from his Rabb for whatever he’d done over the year, acknowledging his Lord’s infinite mercy, generosity and benevolence:

O my God, I seek Your forgiveness from whatever I have done throughout this past year that You have forbidden but from which I did not repent. Forgive me what I have done that does not please You and I have forgotten but You did not. You showed Your benevolence toward me though You are able to punish me. Forgive me what you have invited me to repent after my insolence in disobeying You. And I ask You to accept whatever I have done that pleases You. O Generous and Noble One, do not stop my hope in You.

Every new year, he would call out to his Rabb, acknowledging His timeless, eternal existence and his utter dependence upon Him, and asking for protection, nearness, and intimacy:

O my God, You are the Eternal, Ancient, First One. Upon Your great benefits our existence depends. A new year approaches and we ask Your protection throughout it from Satan and his friends and hosts. We ask Your aid over our commanding selves. We ask You to occupy us with what will bring us closer to You, O You who are Majestic and Noble.

During his prayers he would totally submit his being to his Lord:

O my God for You I bow down, and in You I place my faith, and unto You I submit. To You have bowed my hearing, my sight, my brain, my bones, and my nerves.

The Prophet was ever turning back to his Rabb, seeking forgiveness in humility and love:

O my God, forgive my errors and my ignorance, my excesses, and whatever You know better of me than I do. Forgive my seriousness and my jesting, and my mistakes and my deliberate actions, and everything else that is from me.

He would regularly seek his Rabb’s protection from his Nafs, acknowledging his own weakness and helplessness:

O my God, I seek refuge in You from the harmfulness of my hearing, and the harmfulness of my seeing, and the harmfulness of my speaking, and the harmfulness of my heart. O my God, I seek refuge in You from incapacity, and from laziness, and from miserliness, and from decrepitude, and from the torment of the tomb.

He would call upon his Rabb to beautify his character and make him more human:

O my God, fill me with awe of You in my inner being and outer form. Let me be truthful in contentment and in anger. Give me modesty in poverty and wealth. Give me ever-lasting ease. Let my peace of mind be uninterrupted. Make me content with Your judgment. Grant me goodness in life after death. Give me the pleasure of gazing upon Your face. Make me long to meet You. Do not let affliction harm me and do not let my trials misguide me.

O my God let me be for You. Let me remember You. Let me be grateful to You. Let me be obedient to You. Let me be humble before You. Let me sigh for You. Let me return to You. My Lord, accept my repentance. Wash away my shame. Answer my call. Strengthen my plea. Guide my heart. Straighten my tongue, and remove all that causes ill-will from my breast.

O my God, by Your name I live and by Your name I die.

He implored his Rabb to endow him with love for His sake, a love that is not of sentimentality or neediness:

O my God make me love You, make me love those who love You, make me love all things that bring me closer to loving You. O my God, make me love You, and Your angels, and prophets, and all of Your creation. O my God, make my love for You dearer to me than myself, and my family, and my wealth, and my children, and from cool, pure water to the thirsty.

We can see from these few examples how the Prophet was in a living, vibrant, and intimate relationship with his Rabb. He called out to his Lord in all aspects of his life, certain that his call would be heard and responded to with loving kindness and generosity by the One who is All Hearing, All Knowing. The more he called out to his Lord, the more his heart expanded, and the deeper his love flowed so that he became Mercy for All the Worlds. We too can make this call to our Rabb. We are endowed, by virtue of our humanness, with this capacity for intimacy with our inmost Self. It is our birthright as Children of Adam to come to know our Rabb and to know the innate love that is within us. If we learn to call out from the place of our deepest longing, to express our truest need, and to reveal our innermost feelings then our hearts will soften and our love will deepen and our defensiveness, doubts, and resistance will gradually melt away. Then we too may come to live with inner trust and total surrender to our Sustainer, our Rabb. We may come to call out these words from the same place of knowing that our Prophet experienced:

O my God, I have surrendered my soul to You, and I have turned all of my matters to You. I have taken refuge back with You in longing and awe of You. There is no refuge or escape from You except with You.

A selection of sohbets taken from the monthly Sunday meditations.
Watch 11 sohbets here.

InterFaith and Interspiritual Fluency for Spiritual Directors and Companions

Camille Helminski will be offering a session for this course with Spiritual Directors International on December 5, 2023 on “The Way of Mary, the Way of Love.”

In all our movement through the caravans of this world, we may sometimes become lost in the wanderings of the mind, but then we are suddenly found by the One Finder (Al-Wajid), by Love (Al-Wadud) and our hearts and souls are strengthened in remembrance of that One. And so the Water of Life flows, greening our hearts and our world, enabling the outpouring of Divine Compassion (ar-Rahman).

During this session we will reflect with the principles of the Sufi path as inspired by the Quran and the example of Prophet Muhammad, the teachings of Rumi and his beloved mentor, Shams of Tabriz, as well as the being of Beloved Mary, mother of Jesus, “Hazrati Maryam,” as the purest of souls, receptive to Divine Inspiration, an open doorway of Love.

Rumi’s mentor and beloved friend, Shams of Tabriz, encourages us to keep turning towards the heart to find that One who finds us—even as beloved Mary must have done when she had lost her son—and in that process to be willing to undergo the trials that expand the heart to be able to encompass more and more fully that Presence of Enlivening Grace. We will share reflections from The Way of Mary: Maryam, Beloved of God, facilitating our witnessing together of the Oneness of Spirit enlivening us all.

As Rumi says:

The eye of the Sea is one thing, the foam another;
leave the foam and look with the eye of the Sea!
The water has a Water that is driving it;
The spirit has a Spirit that is calling it.

Register for the course
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 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).

Everything within sacred space is inherently intentional; whereas the secular world, which is the result of egoistic and commercial forces, is much less coherent, harmonious, and holy.

Ideally, every thing within sacred space has meaning and purpose. If we are fortunate enough to have a sacred space that was designed specifically for a sacred purpose, even the proportions of the architecture will be intentional, reflecting the Golden Mean, for instance, or embodying sacred geometry and number in other ways.

Proportion also applies to human relationships. Relationships are more harmonious when we know where we fit, what our place is. In the tekkye relationships were proportioned by reciprocal humility and respect. The beauty of relationships in Sufism is one of the qualities that captured my heart. As a beginner on the path and as a guest, I encountered a quality of respect I had not seen in any other circumstances. In fact I felt that I received more respect than I deserved.

[Continue reading...]


1st Sunday of every month: Online Meditation, more details   (KC)

Dec 17: Rumi's Urs online celebration, more details soon   (KC)

Feb 23-25, 2024: Retreat with Kabir & Camille, San Damiano, Danville, California   (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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