Awakening the Heart

Shaikh Kabir Helminski on awakening the heart.

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February Theme

The drop that truly knows itself is aware of the Ocean.
~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski

We welcome your reflections on this theme.


Reflection on January theme: Consciousness aware of Itself is the beginning of marifah (gnosis). ~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski

Awareness is characterized by attention being drawn to or focused on one of our functions—thought, emotion, physical sensation, or behavior. We notice something when our attention is drawn to it. Commonly, our attention is consumed by what we notice: a fly on our nose, a beautiful person, a memory, a strong emotion. The attention is monopolized for a period of time, until something else attracts it.

This sensitivity brings attention to a single focus, but does not yet allow for all our functions to be held within a wider field of awareness. Attention is monopolized by the content of awareness rather than widening to include the context of our awareness itself. On the level of sensitive energy we may still be fragmented, identified with a momentary experience, unaware of more than one part of ourselves at a time. For instance, a person may be so identified with a daydream that his immediate environment is for all intents and purposes nonexistent. In the next moment something in the environment grabs his attention and the daydream vanishes from memory.

It is not until we come to true consciousness that we find a capacity that allows a wide field of awareness and thus a comprehensiveness to our perception and state of being. True consciousness opens us to wholeness, allows a total experience of being embodied, of thinking, and of emotion. Everything is revealed in the more comprehensive light of conscious energy. Above all, there is a different sense of “I”—no longer the I that identifies with each passing impulse of sensation, thought, or emotion, but a transcending awareness, a witness that stands apart. With consciousness it is possible to direct one’s attention and even to be conscious of where one’s attention moves, to see moment by moment what attracts it.

Every higher level of energy allows more interaction and more freedom. If human beings are to reclaim their own latent capacities, this higher attention is needed.

With true consciousness, in contrast to passive awareness, the present moment is a wide space. Daydreams, nagging memories, and the beckoning of an imaginary future have less of a hold on us, because the present is perceived as it is, in the perfection of its many dimensions. This is awareness conscious of itself. True consciousness is knowing that you are.

Presence is the state of having this conscious energy, this quality of attention activated. In the present state of culture and conditioning, the state of presence is normally unavailable to people except as occasional flashes. It is possible, however, to cultivate consciousness, to sustain it, and to make our home in it.

As human beings we can know that a single creative energy connects everything and that we are integral to it. We are one with the Whole. This is the Truth on the highest level. We can also know that we have within us different capacities for reflecting this one energy. Our physical form is a reflection of it. Our ability to learn new kinds of behavior and physical skills is another way of reflecting this energy. Our ability to notice and become aware of something is yet another capacity we are endowed with. But a critical distinction can be made between awareness and consciousness. A conscious presence is the perception from a state of wholeness; it encompasses thought, feeling, and bodily awareness. Conscious presence is the light of soul behind the fragmentation and unresolved conflict of the personality. It can therefore unify and harmonize all other fragments and capacities, because it transcends them.

Consciousness is the highest capacity a human being can experience at will, and its importance is that it opens us up to what is beyond the individual will: the creative and enlivening powers of the Divine Essence.

~ extract from Living Presence: The Sufi Path to Mindfulness and the Essential Self by Kabir Helminski.


A Poem or Two on Consciousness Aware of Itself

~ Kabir Helminski

When I said, consciousness aware
of itself is the beginning of gnosis

It was in the trust that
you would walk through your own door

And be recognized by yourself
as one most familiar yet strange

The way your years-long beloved
might suddenly become someone entirely new

a present to be slowly unwrapped
like a poem that gradually opens…

a state described by Derek Walcott,
a great Caribbean muse, in these words:

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.


Memories of Murshid Suleyman Dede on his Urs (Jan 19th)

~ by Shaikh Kabir Helminski

Suleyman Hayati Loras (1904-1985)

My first encounter with a Sufi Murshid forever changed my idea of what a spiritual master could be. Until that time I had met a number of highly developed human beings from Western and Eastern traditions. I imagined that enlightenment was a state of super awareness, desirelessness,  a continual “high”. Not that anyone I met actually embodied that state; but there was the assumption that with enough spiritual practice, which meant sitting still and quiet for long periods of time, supplemented, perhaps, by the continual repetition of some mantra, one would either gradually or suddenly attain such a state.

I was about 17 years old when I left behind religious concepts of doing penance for sins, earning merits through rituals and sacraments, and being rewarded for having dogmatically correct beliefs. By the age of 20, a new universe had opened for me. I had seen through the veil of conventional consciousness and had a number of experiences of literally ecstatic bliss and white light. But when, at the age of 32, I met a master of love, everything changed for me.

He could have been someone’s grandfather from Sicily, dressed in a three-piece suit, walking with a cane, the bearer of a mischievous yet innocent smile. But, somehow, contained within this merely earthly form was a powerful generator of heart-melting love — a love free of any sentimentality, sanctimony, or possessiveness.

I had been used to teachers who cultivated a respectful distance with their students, preserving that fine edge of awareness that one should bring to the teacher-student relationship. Yes, there was an air of entitlement, of privilege, as if the teacher lived on a different plane of reality, both in public and in private. But with this Ottoman gentleman from Anatolia there was no hint of anything artificial separating us. Suleyman Dede was always ready to go one step further in generosity, service, patience, and affection. When we visited him in Konya, he and his wife, then in their 80s, offered to do our laundry (of course we didn’t let them).  If I kissed his hand, he held my head to his chest. If we brought grapes to the home, we left with a watermelon.

[Read more…]


New York Open Center, March 21. 9:30-5:30
The Journey of the Seeker: From Presence, to Heartfulness, to Intimacy

with Shaikh Kabir Helminski

© Lateefa Spiker Art

Early Registration discount ends on February 13.

A day retreat with Shaikh Kabir, exploring the comprehensive nature of presence, a state of self-awareness that encompasses a spectrum of human functions: bodily sensation, breath, emotion, thought, intuition, all the way to the subtlest state of non-dual experience.

Book your place now.



Annual West Coast Retreat
April 3-5 2020


There may be many paths to Divine Truth, but for the Sufi beauty awakens love, love awakens glorification, and glorification frees us from the prison of the false self.

Join us for this weekend of spiritual practice, music, poetry, conversation, and friendship.

More details and registration.


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: Practical Aspects of Dervishood by Mahmoud Mostafa.

For me, dervishhood is a total commitment to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet, Mevlana Rumi, Shams, and all the blessed ones who traveled the way of love. There are many aspects to this following and over the years it has been shown to me that the sincerity of commitment to this path is manifest in knowing that one is a servant and living one’s life in this truth. What are the practical aspects of this way of living? For me there are several dimensions, there is a state of being, an active practice, a quality of self-reflection and self-knowing, and a way of conduct in daily life.

[Read more…]


Circle Spotlight: St Louis, USA

by Shakira Shatoff

The St. Louis, MO, USA Threshold Circle began in December of 2018 as the “English-Speaking Sohbet” for Turkish refugee families wanting a sohbet in English.  We are growing and now “international” with 8 adults and 5 children originating from Turkey, Bosnia, Iran, Taiwan, and the USA.  Children are an important part of our circle with a lesson prepared just for them and offered at the end within the circle of the adults.  We are studying with them, Name by Name, from Daniel Thomas Dyer’s book, The 99 Names of God. The group meets weekly at 7pm on Friday evenings in Shakira’s home, creating a much needed “home away from home,” a tekkye, for our beautiful dervishes. We begin with a group Mevlevi zhikr, followed by silent meditation.  We then study a passage from the Holy Quran and a reading from Mevlana Rumi, before bringing in the children.  The children play quietly in a nearby room with lots of toys from Shakira’s now grown son but are always welcome to join in, sometimes snuggling next to their parents during zhikr.  We always end with tea and amazing home cooked treats from their home countries. Perhaps we’ll have to begin writing the first International Threshold Society cookbook! 

If you would like to visit our circle please get in touch:

See all international circle details here.


Threshold’s collaborative blog channel The Living Tradition on 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 and “follow” The Living Tradition.

Recent articles:

Considering Time: New Year Reflections by Daniel Thomas Dyer

“God appears in the one in whom poverty is complete.” by Kabir Helminski


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Mar 21: New York, Open Center. Journey of the Seeker in Sufism. More details.   (K)

Apr 3-5: San Francisco, USA. Annual Retreat.   (KC)

Jul 10-13: Dorset, UK. Annual Retreat.   (KC)


Events with Kabir (K) & Camille (C)


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