THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ APRIL 2017
Reflection on March’s theme: The courtesy (adab) of the gnostic (arif) is above any other courtesy, because his or her gnosis refines the heart.
~ Rauf Sheikh (UK)
The main idea of this month’s theme is Gnosis (Ma’rifah). And instead of being an abstract exposition of Gnosis, or Ma’rifah, that doctrine is here deliberately “aimed” at the gnostic (arif) so that he or she may experience a continual knocking on the doors of his intelligence. Here ma`rifah is brought into relationship with the theme of adab, a Sufi term which may be translated as “spiritual courtesy”.
Gnosis is not merely an act of the intelligence, it demands total participation; and adab in its highest sense is the conformity of the soul, in all its different facets, to the Divine Presence. Hence the level and courtesy of adab needed to be invested in and committed to has to be par excellence. The sincerity, devotion and honesty has to be commensurate to the desire and craving for closeness and purification. The gnostic has to be in a complete and total state of pious courtesy and submission. This is a profound and intense statement. Personally I cannot claim to be a gnostic even though I have been on the path of sufi practice and learning for some twelve years and part of the Threshold Society since 2008. Moreover, an episode some years ago triggered acute anxiety and depression which led me to probe more and more within, apart from hundreds of self-help books and videos as well all kinds of spiritual conferences. My approach was hasty and overzealous – excessive accumulation of information has never made life easier or provided a clear cut path or practice. Through the rough and tumble and, alhumdulillah, by Divine Grace I feel lot more connected to the Divine source. Teachers along the way have been a catalyst in inculcating a deeper insight. My meditation and invocation practice and, above all, with Allah’s mercy and rehma, enabled me to get mystical flashes, insights and intuition which, when experienced, leaves me in a complete state of ecstasy and love.
In the view of great scholars and mystics, ma’rifa is the attribute of one who knows God (may He be exalted) by His names and attributes and is truthful toward God by his deeds, who then purifies himself of base qualities and defects, who stands long at the door, and who withdraws his heart continually (from worldly matters). Then he enjoys a goodly nearness to God, who verifies him as true in all his states. The temptations of his soul stop, and he does not incline his heart to any thought that would incite him to other-than God for, when he becomes a stranger to men and is free of the calamities of his soul, when he is purified of joy in, and concern for, other-than-God, when his intimate prayers with God Most High in secret are constant, when he is sure in every glance of Him of his return to Him, and when God inspires him by making him aware of His secrets concerning his destiny, he is, at that time, called a gnostic (arif) and his state is called gnosis (ma’rifa). In short, the degree of gnosis he will reach is determined by the degree to which he is estranged from his false self and ego. One of the signs of gnosis is the attainment of awe. For one whose gnosis increases, awe of gnosis increases. Gnosis brings about utter tranquility to the heart.
The great sufi Ash-Shibli commented, “For the gnostic there is no attachment, for the lover there is no grievance, for the servant there is no claim, for the one who fears God there is no rest, and for no one is there escape from God.” Ahmad b. ‘Asim al-Antaki stated, “Whoever knows God Most High is pained by his [own] existence, and the earth, for all its spaciousness, becomes confining for him.” It is said, “Whoever knows God, living is joyous for him and life is pleasant for him; all things stand in awe of him, he fears nothing among created beings, and he becomes intimate with God Most High.” It is said, “Whoever knows God, desire for things leaves him, and he is neither detached from them nor attached to them.” It is also said, “Gnosis brings about shame and glorification of God, just as asserting the divine unity brings about satisfaction and submission to God.” In conclusion I would assert that the adab of the gnostic has to transcend all other matters of reverence if he is to realise the state of closeness and purification that will ease all trials and tribulations and draw him so close to the Beloved that when the bodily death occurs he gently steps into the embrace of union and eternal bliss.
~ Rauf Sheikh is a retired accountant in the process of moving from Reading to Kendal.
O my God! I ask for faith that will bring enthusiasm to my heart…
from The Mevlevi Wird
A khalife (representative) went to his Murshid (spiritual master) and said, “Dede, I have so many important decisions to make in life. How should I educate those who have come to me for guidance? How shall I raise my children? Shall I remain in the place where I now live? How shall I conduct my business?”
The Murshid looked kindly at his khalife. “My younger brother on the path of love, do you keep up your remembrance? Practice your zikr and things have a way of working out.”
A Sufi Prayer:
“O my God, I have reached this morning in a state in which I cannot remove from myself the things that I dislike, nor can I achieve that to which I aspire. These matters are not in my hands but in Yours. . . O my God! I ask for faith that will bring enthusiasm to my heart and an unshakable certitude free from doubt so that I may know that nothing will come to me other than that which You have intended for me, and make me content with what You have given me as my portion.”
Remembrance strengthens the heart and attunes us with the Divine reality.
Mevlevi Wird (available from Sufism.org)
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
Sema in Dallas, Texas
Saturday, April 22, 2017
8:00pm – 10:00pm
Hamon Hall inside the Winspear Opera House
2403 Flora Street, Dallas TX 75233
Shaikh Kabir, Shaikha Camille and friends will be holding a sema ceremony at the Winspear Opera House. Get your tickets here.
The Qualitative Science of the Heart
Shaikh Kabir at the Science and Non-Duality conference last October, speaking about the science of the heart as a science of qualities, not quantities, and how through the heart we can know this existence qualitatively.
Moments with the Names
~ offered by Shaikha Camille Adams Helminski
Al Azim, The Most Magnificent
“Al Azim, Ya Aziz, Ya Hakim, Ya Wadud”
Ya Shakur, O You Who Instill Us with Gratitude
“Ya Shakur, Ya Wahhab, Ya Wadud, Ya Karim”
Ya ‘Ali, O Most Sublimely High, Ya Mut‘ali, O Most Exalted Essence
“Ya ‘Ali, Ya Mut‘ali”
Holistic Islam. Sufism, Transformation, and The Challenge of Our Time
Publishing June 1st, available for pre-order through Amazon, etc.
Sufism has long been the kernel of Islamic truth and the embodiment of its wisdom. Kabir Helminski’s Holistic Islam is a sagacious and indeed perspicacious walk through the heart and soul of Islam. It is an essential source for anyone who is interested in Sufism or in the moral impulse that motivated great sages like Rumi and Hafiz. Perhaps, more importantly, I think this book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the real Islamic faith.
~ Dr. Khalid Abou El Fadl, Distinguished Professor of Islamic Law at the UCLA Law School, UCLA. and author of The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists
Spotify Playlist of Threshold & Friends Music
A wonderful compilation of Threshold music to keep you company as you work,
travel and meditate: listen here
Let us know what you think by commenting on the posts — join the discussion at www.patheos.com/blogs/livingtradition and “follow” The Living Tradition.
May 5-9: Paradise Island, Bahamas. Meditation Symposium at the Sivananda Ashram. sivananda.org (KC)
Apr 22: Dallas, US. An Evening of Sema and Poetry with Kabir & Camille, and an extraordinary ensemble of musicians, more details.
May 25-Jun 24: Ramadan
Jul 7-9: Whistler, Canada. Annual Retreat British Columbia, deep in nature, following Ramadan. (KC)
Sep 1-4: UK Annual Retreat, Gaunts House, Dorset (KC)
Oct 19-23: San Jose, US. Science & Non-Duality Conference (K)
Events with Sh. Kabir and Sh. Camille marked (KC)
Words from the East
~ Shaikha Camille Adams Helminski ~
Your shining water,
the Sun atop the darkness
and then a patch of turquoise blue
at the edge of the gulf,
near land –
the place You come to meet us
where we are home,
and remind us
that one day we will be drawn
to our home before time once again.
Back to the center
on the current of Your Love,
riding the back of a whale,
not swallowed up in its belly,
but riding high, fresh,
in the clear sun’s shine.
We’d love to hear from you – get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
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