THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ FEBRUARY 2017
Annual San Francisco Retreat:
The Human Reality, Sufi Chivalry, and Freedom
Beginning Friday dinner at 6 PM and ending with lunch on Sunday.
A Threshold Retreat is a time to recharge, elevate our vibration,
deepen our perspective on life, and be inspired by each other.
Join us for Spring (inshallah) in California: a weekend of friendship,
Sufi music, zhikr, and contemplation in the tradition of Rumi.
Futuwwah, or chivalry, is the rose in the garden of human virtues —
a noble generosity and courage, and expression of divine beauty in action.
The ethic of chivalry in its various forms — as respect for one’s enemies,
as magnanimity in victory, as the most refined sentiment in human relationships —
entered European societies during the Crusades, both through the martial virtues as well as the troubadour
culture,to become the stuff of legends thought to be the quintessence of medieval European virtue.
In reality chivalry was derived from esoteric sources stemming from the family of the Prophet Muhammad and Hazrati Ali.
The Living Path of Rumi: Walking the Way of Mevlana in the Modern World
Shaikh Kabir in conversation with Baraka Blue: soundcloud.
Reflection on January’s theme: Through constant remembrance of God is negligence (Ghaflah) dispelled. ~ Imam Ali (AS)
~ Connie Risley (Wenatchee, USA)
This theme has particular relevance for me. Since retiring and gradually letting go of various activities, I increasingly wonder if I am merely being negligent. My retired friends are active in conservation, church, literacy, musical, and social action groups. I’ve involved myself in a succession of these activities, but increasingly they don’t feel like useful ways for me to contribute.
I have a history of negligence, of fluctuation in consistency. Periods of intense involvement with the Mevlevi path alternate with sometimes years of forgetfulness. In the late 1970s I was first invited to set foot on this path. When I lost connection with my first circle of Mevlevi friends, I immersed myself in exciting new activities in my career: computers, new mapping technology, landscape-scale analysis and planning, roaming the hills and streams on foot by myself, exploring natural and altered conditions, evaluating the effects of management, observing rates of recovery in varied ecosystems. I still get excited thinking about it. It appeals to my material self, my intellect. It’s very seductive.
But neglect of the spiritual leaves me on the surface of life, and so at intervals — a month, a year, a few years — I would return to the Mevlevi practices for awhile, feeling like I had lost something in the interim. Some years later I was very grateful to find Threshold. But my periods of negligence continue. It is encouraging to be given constant remembrance as a remedial practice.
Why am I so often negligent? Is it laziness? Boredom? I don’t even maintain constant remembrance during zhikr. Does the key to constant remembrance lie in integrating intellect and spirit? Like turning requires simultaneous awareness of physical and spiritual?
As I consider this theme, I realize that remembrance is not an intellectual activity, not remembering with the mind, but a state of being one with. When the theme becomes an intellectual exercise, I unconsciously begin breathing La Illaha Il Allah and my awareness settles back into my heart. In a state of remembrance other questions don’t matter. As I work with this theme, forays into absorption with the material realm no longer trigger guilt, but simple awareness of where I am. Maintaining remembrance during zhikr becomes easier. This is a start.
Through constant remembrance of God I am freed from the spell, the allure of other attractions, free to reside in remembrance even as I utilize other aspects of myself. Maybe it’s more like an ebb and flow between the physical and the spiritual, flowing with the degrees of awareness; neither getting lost in negligence, in neglect of the spiritual, nor retreating from the world into the spiritual. By keeping remembrance running in the background when intellect and physical action are in the foreground, instead of a process of forgetting and remembering, constant remembrance can inform the intellect, can be a basis for action.
And so, as I sit waiting for the washing machine to stop spinning the laundry, I become aware of the constant remembrance of God in my heart. Is negligence dispelled? In this moment it doesn’t matter.
~ Connie Risley grew up in suburban St. Louis Missouri, gradually migrated west, and reached the Pacific Northwest in the early 1970s. After enjoying a career with the U.S. Forest Service in engineering and hydrology, she retired and settled in eastern Washington State near her children and grandchildren.
“A Sufi is not a real Sufi until he (or she) feels a responsibility for all humanity.”
~ Sulami (10th Century)
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
Moments with the Names
~ offered by Shaikha Camille Adams Helminski
Ya Khafid, O You Who Bring Us Low, Ya Rafi, O You Who Exalt us
“Ya Khafid, Ya Rafi, Ya Wadud, Ya Karim”
Ya Mu’izz, O You Who Raise us High in Honor,
Al Mudhill, the One Who Abases as Is Needed
“Ya Mu‘izz, Al Mudhill”
Ya Sami, O All-Hearing One, Ya Basir, O All-Seeing One
“Ya Sami, Ya Basir”
Van Jones at MPAC
“God would not place a great burden on a community, if they didn’t have the capacity to meet the challenge.” ~Van Jones
Konya International Symposium on “Rumi’s Love of the Prophet”
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.
Women of Sufism study group
Friends of the Threshold community are invited to a study group to read and discuss Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure, Writings and Stories of Mystic Poets, Scholars, and Saints by Shaikha Camille Helminski.
The book has been split into segments and we invite you to share your ongoing reflections. See the website for more details, guidelines and access to the discussion posts.
The password to access the discussion posts is khadija.
Join the discussion: womenofsufism.com
Feb 24-26: San Francisco, US. Mercy Center Retreat, book your place now. (KC)
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 (info forthcoming).
May 25-Jun 24: Ramadan
Jul 7-9: Whistler, Canada. Annual Retreat British Columbia, deep in nature, following Ramadan. (KC)
Aug/Sep: UK Retreat TBC
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 ~
I, a mother, come to You
to come quickly to me
with Your blessing
and protect my children
from any harm
that might truly harm them.
That they might sometimes be battered
by the storms of life,
but keep them from permanent harm,
let them move with Your Radiance,
let them sense Your Will,
and dance and work to fulfill it;
let them sow Your seeds.
Let them plant vineyards and orchards,
let them grow many flowers …
for generations …
and also, O You Who are All-Knowing,
feed them Your Knowledge,
that they may bring new benefit
to this old world —
innovating new solutions
to difficulties here.
Let them shine among men and women
that others may be lit by their fire;
always two logs burn better than one,
keeping each other aflame.
Oh may mothers everywhere
teach their children of Your Love,
and Your Care,
that each new generation
may spread Your Light farther
“I asked for one kiss,
You gave me six” …
may the worlds be filled with You,
May You flow more and more into our existence,
and may we and our children
flow more and more from and into You.
We’d love to hear from you – get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org