THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ AUG 2017
~ Adapted from traditional sources by Kabir Helminski
The Sufis created a system of human development grounded in love and using the power of love to awaken and transform human beings. Rumi taught that it is everyone’s potential to master the art of loving. Love is the answer to the problem of human existence.
The way to God passes through servanthood. The point is to love and be connected with others in that love. The form of Sufi work is typically a group, or spiritual family. The Sufis created a milieu in which human love was so strong that it naturally elevated itself to the level of cosmic love. All forms of love eventually lead to spiritual love. “Ashq olsun,” they say. “May it become love.” They cultivated a kindness and refinement in which love fermented into a fine wine. They encouraged service to humanity as an expression of the love they felt. They accepted a rigorous discipline in order to keep the fire of love burning strongly.
The porter runs to the heavy load and takes it from others,
knowing burdens are the foundation of ease
and bitter things the forerunners of pleasure.
See the porters struggle over the load!
It’s the way of those who see the truth of things.
Paradise is surrounded by what we dislike;
the fires of hell are surrounded by what we desire.
[Rumi, Mathnawi II, 1834-7]
We are not merely Love’s passive instruments; we are also its servants. In order to know how to serve, Love needs to be grounded in knowledge. Love without knowledge is dangerous. With love alone we could burn ourselves and others. With love alone we could be foolish. Love is such an extraordinary and complex power, and the human being has such a great capacity for love. An important part of Sufi education is to acquire a knowledge of love and apply it appropriately.
Reflection on July’s theme: God gave me a life, the value of every single day He alone knows. ~Mevlana Jalaludin Rumi
~ Christi Kramer [Vancouver, Canada]
This day: Of drunk and sweet: How we are culture for each other
You can have a whole ocean of milk … but it may never turn.
[Whisper: Turn it to wine.]
I’d like to tell a story, in gratitude. A witnessed delight:
Young boy, savvy beyond his years — he is maybe three or four — knocks on door.
“My mom wants to make yogurt and needs starter.” Arms stretched upward, a small cup raised. Here are neighbors, all newly arrived to this place, living close together. These are people who know how to share. I see the boy go on to the next door.
“Mrs., my mom needs starter for yogurt, please.” He takes the cup, full … again and again … then hides around the corner to drink the treat he’s snuck.
Do you know, in this boy’s language the word for yogurt, what he sought, is “mast”.
In another story, we might tell of drunkenness, our Heart’s desire to be lost.
Our disorientation at the Source.
“Mast” in another language — what the neighbor woman, busy with her chores heard, was — “drunk”. It means both, you know: this fermentation.
And the fermented sea of the first drink we’ve ever drunk.
How we might turn a whole ocean.
From what could have soured to what sustains us:
What we give each other. You cannot do this on your own.
You’ve tried it alone, maybe. That old idea, even if with good intent, does not work.
We cannot start the process of transformation without this relationship and sharing.
This Love we pass around in cups. We are it.
[Reach for the Vine.]
Today, spin each other dizzy and hold fast all together, draw close. and nearer, yet.
~ Christi Kramer, living in North Vancouver, BC and northern Idaho, shares this reflection, which emerged out of Sohbet with Kabir Dede on retreat near Whistler, BC in July. The phrase, “hold fast all together” is from Sürah Äl Imrän 3:102-104 “And hold fast, all together, to the rope of God, and do not draw apart from one another.” The notion that we — Love that we are — are necessary culture for each other’s transformation; that, “attempting this journey alone […] is nearly impossible”, is from Reflections on Sufism as Applied Spirituality, Dede Kabir Helminski.
One’s behavior is the index of one’s mind. ~Imam ‘Ali
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
UK Annual Retreat: In the Radiance of the Truth
Gaunts House, Dorset
With Shaikh Kabir and Shaikha Camille Helminski
Selcuk Gurez, Master Mevlevi Musician from Turkey
Jeremy Henzell-Thomas, Visiting Fellow, University of Cambridge
Many things in today’s world challenge our very humanness. Spiritual practice, sacred space, and conscious community provide a means to rise above the false matrix that distracts us, reduces our intelligence, and numbs our hearts.
We can learn, for instance, from the practices, manners, and organization of traditional Sufi lodges that provided a comprehensive education of the human being. An extraordinary degree of consciousness and creativity flourished in these centers of spiritual and aesthetic attainment. When one stepped over the threshold into a Mevlevi Lodge, one entered an environment in which spiritual courtesy in language and behavior reflected certain spiritual truths and aided in their realization.
Join us for a contemporary experience of sacred space, celebrating Eid al-Adha in beautiful countryside with precious community!
More details and registration here.
Bring your ney for a music lesson from master Mevlevi musician Selcuk Gurez!
Listen to Selcuk’s mesmorising ney at the Festival of Faiths earlier this year:
Eleven Love Letters to the Prophet: A memoir of Sufism
Eleven Love Letters to the Prophet is a spiritual memoir that interweaves one American woman’s journey to Islamic Sufism with an intimate portrait of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
Originally published on sufism.org, now available as a complete Kindle book.
Download from Amazon US or Amazon UK.
Rumi’s Sun: The Teachings of Shams of Tabriz
Translated by Refik Algan & Camille Adams Helminski
“Rumi’s Sun offers something unique in classical Sufi literature: an eyewitness record, by Rumi’s own disciples, of the actual personal teachings and conversations of Shams-i Tabriz. In this beautifully readable version, we are given a fascinating insight into a unique and unforgettable personality: a boldly iconoclastic figure whose teachings are marked by an intensity of purpose, and whose own spiritual experience is expressed in an unusually open way. The translators have also done a useful service highlighting the many places where Shams’ teachings were subsequently adapted and creatively transmuted throughout Rumi’s epic Masnavi and other poems.”
~James Winston Morris, Internationally respected scholar of Sufism
Professor, Boston College
A new edition of Rumi’s Sun: The Teachings of Shams’ of Tabriz will be published in August by Threshold Books. The new edition will contain a surah index, allowing the reader to reference Shams’ interpretations of particular passages from the Quran.
Pre-order at amazon.com. Pre-order at amazon.co.uk.
Read Daniel Thomas Dyer’s Ramadan reflections on this book: Ramadan with Shams: The Ambush of Love.
Living Presence – 25th Anniversary Edition
A revised 25th anniversary edition of the classic work on Sufism that Jack Kornfield called, “A heartfelt modern illumination of the Sufi path, filled with the fragrance of the ancients.”
Available on Amazon, etc.
In Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, presence is the quality that describes a heart-filled state of mindfulness, an experience of being conscious in the present moment. It is only in this present moment, Sufi teachings reveal, that we can connect with the Divine, and the Divine can live through us.
Holistic Islam. Sufism, Transformation, and The Challenge of Our Time
Publishing August, available on 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
Threshold’s collaborative blog channel The Living Tradition on Patheos.com is reaching new audiences and sharing the experiences of our community in a unique and vibrant way.
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.
Ramadan with Shams: The Ambush of Love by Daniel Thomas Dyer
The Work of Heart by Anna Rohleder
Aug 25: Kettering, UK. Sufi Soul Session with Rumi’s Circle at Greenbelt Festival. More details.
Sep 1-4: UK Annual Retreat, Gaunts House, Dorset. More details and registration. (KC)
Oct 19-23: San Jose, US. Science & Non-Duality Conference. Kabir will deliver a plenary talk on “Sacred Space And Conscious Community.”
Nov 10-12: Kendal, UK. Sacred Pattern in the Feminine & Masculine, with Beth Hin. More details soon.
Events with Sh. Kabir and Sh. Camille marked (KC)
From the Whistler retreat last month
Ya Wadud, Ya Wali, Ya Wakil
~ from the forthcoming new book, Ninety-Nine Names of the Beloved
by Camille Adams Hamilton Helminski
You are watching
out for us,
holding our hand
when we are ill,
soothing our brow
when we are troubled,
to our hearts
when we have struggled
in Your Way
to know Your Presence
in love with us
that we have recognized
the Love in us
that seeds our being
and makes the clouds weep
to clear these hearts
and skies of Your heavens.
As with Solomon’s dove
beside the stair,
You are calling us;
and when we call,
You have promised.
Our Beloved is here—
You are our Friend,
the Guardian of All Our Affairs,
the songs of Resurrection,
restoring all to its deepest Beauty
in the Garden
of Your Eternal
Ya Nur al Quddus,
Ya Ahad, O You Who Are One,
Ya Ba‘ith, O You Who Resurrect,
Ya Mu‘id, O You Who Restore,
Ya Nur al Quddus, O Light of the Most Holy and Pure,
Ya Baqi, O Everlasting, Abiding One,
Ya Wali, O Friend and Protector,
Ya Wakil, O Guardian of All Our Affairs,
Ya Wadud, O Infinite Love!
He/She loves them and they love Him/Her.
Witness, Your Sustainer inspired the angels to convey His/Her message to the faithful, I am with you.
Call upon Me; I will answer.
Ask forgiveness of your Sustainer, and turn to Him/Her:
for truly, my Sustainer is Infinitely Merciful and Infinitely Loving.
Remember Me; I remember you.
And paradise will be brought near to the God-conscious,
no longer will it be distant: “This is what was promised for you—
to everyone who would turn to God and keep Him/Her always in remembrance—
who stood in awe of the Most Compassionate though unseen
and brought a heart turned in devotion to Him/Her;
Enter here in peace and security; this is the Day of eternal Life!”
There will be for them there all that they may wish and yet more in Our Presence.
God has promised the faithful, both men and women, gardens beneath which running waters flow,
there to abide and fair dwellings in gardens of enduring bliss;
but God’s good acceptance is the greatest bliss of all—for this is the ultimate success!
Truly, those who have faith and do rightful deeds of wholeness and reconciliation,
the Most Gracious will endow with Love.
And in heaven is your sustenance and all that which you are promised.
Then by the Sustainer of heaven and earth, this is the Truth—
as true as the fact that you are able to speak.
O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs,
let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice;
for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
[The Bible, Song of Solomon, 2:14]
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