THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ AUG 2020
I have no companion but love,
no beginning, no end, no dawn.
The Soul calls from within me:
“You, ignorant of the way of Love,
set Me free.”
[Rubaiyat 42, The Pocket Rumi]
To Pray for Humanity in This Time of Need:
A Short Talk by Shaikh Kabir
The more the mind and heart become still, the more we can trust in God.
~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
1st & 3rd Sunday of the month
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 Daylight Time (4pm BST).
Allah will not ask from anyone more than He has bestowed. Surely, after hardship Allah will bring ease.
لا يُكلّفُ اللهُ نَفْساً إلَّا مَا آتَاهَا سيجعلُ اللهُ بعد عُسرٍ يُسْراً
[Sūrah aṭ-Ṭalāq 65:7]
How will we endure? We will endure with Rahman, The Divine Compassion & Mercy. We must carry each other. “All believers are brothers/sisters.”
God says, “I am in you. Where are you?” We must find Spirit within ourselves, as Love.
Join us on Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/435138208
[If you have not used Zoom before, please allow time to install and test the software before the meeting time. Click the above link and you will be prompted to download.]
The Subtle Ablution
~ Camille Helminski
Ablution is the ritual washing that opens the way for prayer. “Ablution is the key to prayer” (Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad). As one cleans the body one is simultaneously, with intention, clearing the inner capacities as well and on the subtlest levels, renewing one’s connection with one’s Sustainer. We strive to as much as possible always be in a state of ablution, so that we might rightfully be continuously in prayer and ever ready for a meeting with our Lord, ready to greet death when it arrives, and better able to participate with gratitude in the gift of this Life.
Declare the intention that one is washing for the purpose of worship and purity, to be in a state of receptivity and clear openness to the Divine Presence.
- Wash the hands up to the wrist three times. As one washes one’s hands, one considers how one uses one’s hands, and offers a prayer that they might be used for the Good, for healing, for the sharing of Grace, that they might touch with compassion. One gives gratitude for the capacity of opening and closing of one’s hands, for touch, and the dexterity of fingers, and the Life force enlivening.
- Rinse clear the mouth with water three times. As one washes one’s mouth, one considers what enters and goes out from one’s mouth—how do we eat, and how do we speak—and one offers a prayer that one might be guided to accepting the best nourishment to enter through one’s mouth into the sacred vessel of this body, and to be guided in right speech, that all words flowing from this mouth might be of benefit, of kindness and compassion, of Praise for the gifts of the capacity to receive nourishment and to communicate, to share wisdom, to speak from the heart (may the prayer of my tongue be the prayer of my heart), to recite Holy Revelation, to sing songs of Grace, to offer prayer in resonant sound.
- Cleanse the nostrils of the nose by sniffing water in and out of them three times. As one washes the nostrils clear, one considers what one breathes—with gratitude for the air that brings us continued life, that purifies our cells, for the capacity to perceive fragrance, which enhances our capacity for taste and the perception of guidance to that which is Beautiful and that which is wholesome and healing for us. And We breathed into him of our Spirit [32:9].
- Wash the whole of the face three times with both hands, forehead to chin, encompassing from ear to ear. As we wash our face, we consider how the face is the place of manifestation of individual being, how our faces might shine with awareness of the Life-Giver; as our hands pass over our eyes, we consider what we perceive with these eyes, where do we let our glance rest? And we offer the prayer that these eyes might also see that which is Good and Beautiful and encourage that in this world, within each other, and within our communities, and look for ways to support that all around us, and with insight, within our own hearts.
- Wash the right arm three times up to the top of the elbow, and then wash the left arm. As we wash these arms, we consider how much we are able to move and embrace. We offer a prayer to awaken to the renewal of our extended receptivity, of gratitude for the strength given us, in whatever might be our capacity, and the possibility of refreshing the electromagnetic field of our reach. We pray that our movement might be for the Good, in alignment with the best of our being, the truest capacities of our God-given nature.
- Wipe over the whole head from the hairline of the forehead to the back of the neck once with wet hands. As our hands pass over the crown, we honor also this portal of light, that last place to close over with bone when we arrive in this world, still resonant with subtle energy, and we give thanks for all our capacities and receptivity of mind and the structure that protects it, for the sensitivity of hair and its warming and cooling protection. May this mind, this sensitive brain, be used for good purpose, for recognition of the Beauty and Power of the Divine in everything and the enhancement of benefit and blessing, and support of each other in this amazing universe.
- With dampened fingers, wipe the inner side of both the ears with the forefingers and their outer sides with the thumbs. As we refresh our ears, we offer prayer for better hearing of the messages of the Divine through all the sounds of this creation, of the resonances of Revelation, paying attention to what it is to which we listen. And as we wash the outer edges of our ears, we might also open our awareness to the refreshment of all the subtle energy points of the ears that link so perfectly with all the parts of our body.
- Wipe around the neck with wet hands, bringing one’s awareness to this sensitive area that contains nerves of conveyance between head and torso and extremities, relaxing any tense energy that may have accumulated there, easing constriction, opening, and giving thanks for all the communication between systems of this body.
- Wipe each of your feet up to the ankles, three times, beginning with the right foot. (If shoes and socks or stockings are on and the socks or stockings have been on since last performing the ablution, one may simply wipe the hands over the socks. If it is more than twenty-four hours since the last full ablution, one takes off one’s socks, and again washes the feet fully.) As we wash our feet we consider where it is they have been walking, where we might best be called to walk, and where we are walking now, to prayer. With awareness and intention, we might bring the traversal of these feet always within a place of prayer, carrying that state of prayer with us everywhere. On the Day when we are called to stand in the Presence of God, it is our hands and feet that shall bear witness [24:24]. We remember and give thanks for the gift of these feet, these toes that allow us balance, for the capacity to stand and walk about the spacious earth of our Sustainer, and we pray for the Best Guidance to inform our direction, with the Light of our Beloved, and the most Holy Purity: Ya Hadi, Ya Nur, Ya Quddus.
“Ablution upon ablution is light upon light.”
~ Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad
Q&A on the Spiritual Journey
(An occasional column)
I feel cut off from something…
I wanted to send you an update on some internal realities of late… for a good while now I feel like I’ve been in a protracted period of, for lack of a better term, “agnosticism.” I don’t really “believe” in anything these days. This hasn’t really changed my relationship to practice — salaat still brings an inner alignment, a sweetness and humility. “Allahu akbar” still recalls me to something larger than myself and my small story. Zhikr still awakens my heart. Lines of the psalms still stir devotion in me.
The qualities that practice and devotion awaken are obviously real, and are the “Unseen” for me… and of incredible value. But I don’t have a strong sense these days of anything “Beyond.” Part of this probably has to do with the pandemic, the focus of systemic racism, etc. these days — rooting us in the tangible world and its needs. And I’m having a hard time finding words to say what I mean… but I do feel a bit cut off from something that used to seem more natural and flowing.
It feels like there’s something of an intellectual/mental block that hasn’t been much of an issue before (or for a long time). For example, the afterlife has never been a focus of my spirituality, but I’ve not had a hard time “believing” in it in some form — that consciousness continues unfolding, etc. (NDEs have made that very believable to me.) But that all seems incredibly irrelevant and not something I “believe” in right now… I can logically see it as a possibility… but it doesn’t “mean” anything. I really only feel like I can hold onto what I know in my direct experience.
None of this has impacted my ability to lead spiritually… and it’s not a depressing state… just an “agnosticism”… I don’t feel overly concerned about, but just aware of it… and wondered if you might have any thoughts on the experience… no hurry for a response needed!
You describe your experience, not reality. And what you describe so well is a state of being “cut-off” from something you have known and experienced. The veils are thick here in Trump-Covid America. If we could wisk you away to Konya or Medina, if we could be gathered together in a powerful zhikr with our brothers and sisters those veils might lift or be thinned.
We are far from home…
Yes to the thickness of the veils in this moment… the whole psychic atmosphere is rife with disconnection, fear, etc. I wonder if I simply need to double down on my practice to cut through the muck. I know that when I really, fully weave it throughout the entire day it makes a difference.
I see this stretching back into pre-pandemic a bit too. I used to feel such a sense of the “bigger picture”… like my being was just humming with it. It’s not that La ilaha illallah isn’t still my highest vision and homing beacon… but that the coherence and compassionate, guiding intelligence just doesn’t seem as obvious these days.
Would you recommend any specific kinds of practice… more salaat, zhikr, night vigil? Is there work to do to cut through this, or is it just a process to surrender into? And yet just these words alone… You describe your experience, not reality. The veils are thick here in Trump-Covid America. We are far from home… …are already starting to do their work in me… Thank you…
All the practices we do can help, but even more important is the simple crying out in our need, a cry which only the Divine can answer…
With love, Dede
What can I do to not lose sight of trust?
Salaam Shaikh Kabir—
I hope this note finds you well. Yesterday, I participated in your and Shaikha Camille’s Sunday Meditation session. I’m so grateful for these sessions. I’m also started to go back into the recordings and take notes so I remember your good words. Eyvallah.
During this week’s session, you mentioned the 3 sisters: contentment, gratitude and trust. While I feel I am more content now than ever and am grateful for so many things in my life, I have a hard time ‘trusting’. I walk into a situation, more often than not, trusting others. However, my trust gets squashed by other’s deceit or at times I feel others take advantage of my ‘niceness’. Then it takes a while, if ever, for me to rebuild that trust with those individuals. I often trust others to do good as they ‘appear’ good or have good intentions. But I am left disappointed at times.
Perhaps my ability to trust has hardened as I work in corporate America, filled with competition, turf protection, constant justification of your role/work, etc. I have forgotten to keep trust and judge others intentions. Could it be the environment I’ve worked and work in? Perhaps my life experience… my sister was murdered by her husband… a man she trusted…
One day, I hope I get out of this work environment and live in seclusion/meditation/prayer/reading in a hut at the coast of either Turkey or Greece. 🙂 But for now, I have to work in corporate America and learn to trust. What can I do to not lose sight of trust?
In all humbleness, …
Dear … Salaam,
Of these three sisters — gratitude, contentment, and trust — trust is perhaps the last to develop. The essential question is: where shall we place our trust? It would be very unfortunate to mistrust people who deserve our trust. This would be a failure of character. And yet most human beings have their own inner contradictions, and may not even be aware of all that distorts their perceptions, opinions, and actions. Sometimes we do not choose what is right even when we should know better. So the trust that is to be developed is not a trust of other human beings necessarily, but a trust in the one and only who is worthy of our trust, al-Wakil. And even this trust does not come easily. So, when we find ourselves in a situation where we are deceived, victimized, or harmed, we are reminded that this is sometimes the way the world is, that even the Prophets were severely mistreated, and that we place our trust in the Trustee, al-Wakil, al-Khabir (All-Aware), al-Adil (All-Just).
With love, Dede
Salaam Dede— Eyvallah.
Thank you for de-coupling trust for me; trust in al-Wakil and humans. There’s definitely some more inner work I have to do to not allow my nafs take control of me.
With love, …
Matthew Wright addresses the relationship between Sufism and Islam, while giving an overview of the life of the Prophet Muhammad. It was given in the context of a retreat exploring the relationship between Christian and Sufi mystical traditions. The Islamic creation story told here is adapted from Eliot Weinberger’s Muhammad. The retreat was recorded by the Contemplative Society, which has given permission to share the audio. The presenter, Matthew Wright, is a Mevlevi dervish within the Threshold Society.
Mevlevi Music with Hakan Tulu
Long-time friend of Threshold, Hakan Talu, has been writing a series of articles on Mevlevi music for the online magazine Makam. This month he writes about one of the great neyzans and masters of Turkish music, Dogan Ergin, who was the conductor of the Mevlevi Ensemble that accompanied the Sema ceremonies with Camille and Kabir on four North American tours from 1994—2000.
HeartSpace Sufi App
Awaken the heart with the wisdom & practice of Sufi spirituality
“This app is filled with gorgeous wird & dhikr. Each one is like a love letter from God directly to my soul. If you find yourself in need of reflection, guidance, or solace, this app will guide you to spiritual healing & regrowth, inshAllah.“
The purpose of HeartSpace is to awaken the consciousness of the heart through the wisdom and practice of Sufi spirituality. It is through the heart that a human being can experience the peace, inner strength and sense of well-being that comes through spiritual practice. True spirituality is based on experience more than beliefs. HeartSpace offers an introduction to traditional principles and practices shared across Sufi lineages. HeartSpace is not meant to replace lived spiritual guidance, but is intended to be an opening or a complement to your spiritual journey. All praise and thanks be to the Sustainer of the Universe.
More details here.
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: Basics of Practice in the Threshold Society.
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.
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We appreciate your support.
1st & 3rd Sunday of every month Online Meditations: more details (KC)
Events with Kabir (K) & Camille (C)
We’d love to hear from you – get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
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