THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ APR 2019
The natural state of the human being is worship.
The human needs God as the garden needs spring.
~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
Be Humble in Love; Be Bold in Loving
~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski
Sooner or later those who travel the path of God will encounter a series of questions related to the very existence of the “self.” What began as a self-evident and solid “I,” an identity made up of desires, satisfactions, disappointments, insecurities, and aspirations, gradually becomes a rather different and mysterious sense of self. According to one map of the Sufi journey, the self proceeds through a series of fanas (stages of annihilation). First it realizes that maybe its actions are not its own, as it had thought. Then it realizes that its qualities are not its own, but derived from the qualities of God. Finally, tradition tells us that one day it becomes apparent that even its very essence is not its own, but mingled somehow with the Divine.
There are many potential misunderstandings regarding this map of spiritual development. If the self were to prematurely abandon its own sense of autonomy and responsibility, it would be a case of aborted development. Or if the seeker were to allow himself or herself to become like a feather in the winds of change and circumstance, again the journey of the self would have been abandoned almost before it was begun. Sayri Suluuk, the journey of the seeker, passes through 18,000 veils before the true secret of who is the Doer is fully realized.
In Kharaqani we have an example of a human being whose inner content had become the Divine. Few Saints have set their sights as high as he did and left behind a record of this journey, indicating a territory beyond what most creatures imagine. His knowledge of God’s ways, his examination of the self, his humility, and his bold love are the treasure we consider today.
Ramadan Love Songs
60 poetic reflections of Ramadan for companionship and meditation, morning and evening, to accompany the unfolding of Ramadan or any month of the year. Accessible to any heart, of any faith, yearning towards deepening intimacy with the Sustainer and Cherisher of Creation.
“With Ramadan Love Songs, Camille Helminski has given a precious gift to all who walk the Path of Love. These purifying words of depth and devotion can hold us gently and guide us firmly through sacred passages, that lead us all towards the One.”
~ Rabbi Shefa Gold (Author of Are We There Yet? Travel as a Spiritual Practice)
Camille recites from Ramadan Love Songs.
Ramadan Love Songs is now available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon USA & UK.
Reflection on March’s theme: This is the work of the heart, not the work of the head. ~Shams of Tabriz
~ Tazeen Ahmad [Surrey, UK]
Through my darkest hours came the light
Shining so bright and so clear, radiating hope, love and promised dreams.
And then, with one big gust of wind, the light was extinguished, blown out, purging me into darkness and leaving me turning, my head spinning and my direction LOST,
Leaving me like an abandoned ship to drift, drift in the oceans of despair
And in the whirl, like a dervish I began, began to dance with the wind,
Like a ship I started to sail, searching, searching for spiritual quest, the release from my own pain and looking, looking for the elixir of life.
I learnt, learnt to breathe,
I learnt, learnt to believe, to believe in the Almighty,
In the story of creation, in the source of all energy
And more importantly, going within.
Oh sweet joy, sweet baby of mine, mine in my heart but free, free in spirit.
Go! go in peace and with love.
And from wherever you sit, laugh,
Laugh at the joy of life, your soul and beyond.
Wash away my guilt, my fears, my longing to hold you, caress and to love you.
Make me free, free of all worldly desire.
I bless you for my lessons and thank you deeply
In the knowledge that
Out of darkness, there is LIGHT,
Out of pain, there is JOY,
And like the eye of a hurricane, in all that is chaos, there IS CALM.
For there, deep within my heart lies peace and I need search no more.
On 26th March, 2003, Iman Aliyah Ahmad birthed faith in this heart. Her swift departure and the subsequent passage of grief became the wound which brought me to Mevlana’s Light and our teachers some five years later.
This month, I attended two talks about “having a winning mindset”. It made me reflect upon the whole industry of self-growth/personal development today, where “mindset”, “neurolinguistics programming”, and the important understanding of “neuroplasticity” suggest that, “if you train your mind, you will change your life.” There was no mention of the heart in either talk.
In reference to the mind, Rumi suggests, “Let go of your mind and then be mindful. Close your ears and listen!” He always offers us an invitation to go within and find the compass of our hearts as well as highlighting the limitations of the mind:
You see a movement, you know that he is alive;
this you do not know, that he is full of intellect,
Until regulated movements appear, and he by means of knowledge
turns the motion of copper into gold
From manual actions being conformable
you may perceive that there is intellect.
The spirit of Divine inspiration is more concealed than the intellect,
because it is the Unseen: it belongs to that side.
The intellect of Ahmad was not hidden from any one;
his spirit of inspiration was not apprehended by every soul.
The spirit of prophecy also has actions conformable,
the intellect does not apprehend, for that is exalted.
Sometimes he regards as madness, sometime, he is bewildered,
since it depends on his becoming that;
As the intellect of Moses was troubled
by seeing the reasonable actions of Khidr
His actions seemed unreasonable to Moses,
since he had not his state.
Inasmuch as the intellect of Moses becomes tied up in the mysterious,
who is the intellect of a mouse, O excellent?
Conventional knowledge is for sale:
when it finds a purchaser, it glows with delight.
The purchaser of real knowledge is God:
its market is always splendid.
[Mathnawi II: 3255-64]
Whilst you may observe certain appropriate actions and appreciate there is intellect behind them, Mevlana points out that Divine inspiration stays concealed in the unseen and is not always perceived in the plane of the human mind. With the mouse’s intellect, we cannot understand Moses’ state, meanwhile Moses intellect cannot understand Khidr’s actions, and at times the actions may appear mad, as we do not always grasp the truth behind situations with our intellect alone.
At each stage, we do not perceive the whole. We only experience reality through our own spectrum of God’s eye. How good is birthed from evil, how faith is birthed through death, how we open up to love with our hardship and how with difficulty comes ease.
Neither the heaven nor earth can contain me, but only the heart of my humble servant contains me.
Our conditioned, ego-orientated psychology, with everything depending upon the effort and will of the individual, will shift over time towards remembrance of the primal spiritual truth: that we are taken by God to God.
In the end
a man tires of everything
except heart’s desiring,
sultan, saint, pickpocket;
love has everyone by the ear
dragging us to God
by secret ways
I never knew
That God, too, desires us
Seducing us with the secrets of love, nestled within our hearts, She turns our attention inwards and awakens us to turning and recognising our complete dependence on Her Grace. Softly and tenderly opening up into this inner enquiry, we discover our relationship with our Rabb and access a state that can profoundly shift our habitual emotion-led thinking.
Your remedy is within you, but you do not sense it.
Your sickness is from you, but you do not perceive it.
You presume that you are a small entity,
whereas within you is enfolded the entire Universe.
You are indeed that Evident Book,
by whose alphabet the Hidden becomes Manifest.
Therefore you have no needs beyond yourself.
What you seek is within you, if only you reflect.
This alchemy brings transformation within ourselves, our relationships with others and the world around us, as well as an ability to surrender, to trust and to cultivate a deeper knowing that all our stories of failure, rejection and fear are part of a greater plan, thus shifting the lens through which we choose to see them.
Through this turning within and getting to know our Rabb, we embody “know thyself” and hence “know thy Lord.” We subtly and gently begin to open to the possibility that each of us has the potential to be a mouse, Moses and Khidr all in one breath.
Today, 16 years later, I give gratitude for Iman’s brief presence in this world, her poem reminding me of how the heart knows before we do.
A special thanks to Mahmoud for his guidance and wisdom.
~ Tazeen is a mother of two, a wayfarer on this path, a student of Love and is a committed spiritual warrior on her journey of healing and growth to try and live in a deepened state of Presence. She is a filmmaker and offers media and image coaching.
Countering Extremism: The Transformation of the Ego
Shaikh Kabir on extremism as a pathology of the ego with a religious justification. All human endeavours and institutions are prone to degradation because of egoism. The real and original Islam was and is a remedy for this spiritual disease.
Sema is Joy
Aliya Kocamis reflects on the recent Kendal whirling retreat.
Years ago I saw my first sema when my now Shaykhs led a Whirling Dervish Tour of North America. Sema was my introduction to Hazreti Mevlana. It is therefore a treasure and blessing to spend a weekend immersed in sema and other practices of coherence including zhikr, salah, singing, and service. Learning this sacred ceremony with other committed dervishes making efforts to be of service within our tradition fills me with joy and humility. Our ailments are lessened, our burdens lightened, and we are nourished to expand beyond what we once thought possible. These words from Segah Ilahi, the signature Mevlevi ilahi, near the end of sema says:
Sema safa, jana shifa, ruha gidadir.
Sema is a joy, a remedy for the soul, food for the spirit.
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The Grace of Love: Leonard Cohen and the Sufis (Part 3) by Daniel Thomas Dyer
Why it’s a spiritual duty to develop the imagination by Anna Rohleder
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Apr 27-28: Istanbul, Turkey. Shaikh Kabir will deliver a paper at an international symposium on “Abu al-Hasan al-Kharaqani: Sultan of Futuwwa” at the Institute for Sufi Studies of Üsküdar University. (K)
May 4-5: Sarajevo, Bosnia. Shaikh Kabir will be attending events related to the book launch for the Bosnian translation and publication of Living Presence (more details soon). (K)
May 5 – June 4: Ramadan & Eid al-Fitr
Jun 15: Madison, Wisconsin. Rumi’s Circle: Awakening with Rumi (more details soon).
Aug 11: Eid al-Adha
Aug 23-26: Dorset, UK. Gaunts House Annual UK Retreat (more details soon). (KC)
Oct 18-20: Kendal, UK. Rumi’s Circle/RAY Sacred Roots Retreat with Beth Hin and friends (more details soon).
Events with Kabir and Camille marked (KC)
San Francisco Retreat
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