Jul 2016: Wealth of the Seeker

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July 2016

Sacred Practice

Sufi Practice with Shaikh Kabir at the Festival of Faiths in Lousiville, May 2016

Watch on YouTube

Festival of Faiths

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Reflection on June’s theme: The wealth of the seeker is emptiness (fakr, poverty).

~ David Ginsberg (Sunnyvale, USA)

David Ginsberg“The wealth of the seeker is emptiness.” What an odd statement. How much of our life is filled with seeking work and livelihood, home and family, food and comforts; and yes, religion and God? And doesn’t the ‘seeking’ of emptiness negate the very emptiness we would seek?

Perhaps the emptiness of seeking is more like this: a space, a gap, a quietude that opens before us unannounced. Perhaps it comes in that moment of resignation when the seeking of ‘things’ becomes tiring, the seeking of ‘comfort’ becomes boring and the fatigue of chasing ‘necessity’ weighs on our mind as a subtle, or not so subtle, anxiety that will never truly leave. Perhaps even the seeking of love and friendship disappoints us; sullied by our expectation of reciprocity for time invested and resentments over a litany of misdeeds and neglects. In a world (dunya) built on the back of duality, there are always two shoulders and arms in motion. It is in the emptiness between these alternating strikes to the forge of existence that we glimpse Reality; where the silent, whispering heart longs for rest and Oneness and the mysteries of meaning.

The emptiness that is of real value (wealth) is found, invisibly, between the ‘things’ of life. Things meaning anything that can be named: Possessions, places, ideas, emotions. Even people and ‘love’ may be things to the mind. How much arrogance, violence, sexism and bigotry are caused by ‘object’-ifying people? How much compassion and empathy are lost in our mechanical projections and disappointment towards those we love?

But love itself is of a different quality than the object-word ‘love’. Who in the history of the world has successfully defined Love and transformed it into a ‘thing’ to be purchased? If we would still lay our claim to love, it is by inference: from its manifestation as thoughts, feelings, acts, people, beauty and such; not to its mystery.

Love itself can be found in the empty cracks between things: in the abandoned field along the fence between city and country that nobody notices and no one ventures; where the Unseen Breath blows in the seed of an invisible flower. Love exists in the borderland between the beloved people, places and things of one’s life, and the grief of their separation. It spreads roots between the hurtful words said by the tongue and the loving words left unsaid, but continuously cradled within the heart. It branches between the faceless, nameless people scurrying about us and The Living One walking amongst us along The Way.

Life is not different than The Way of Love; which imparts a certain quality, a color or hue, to existence. Love projects its direction and intentionality onto the universe no matter the protests of entropy and decay. The order and symmetry that Love imparts to the world we call ‘beauty’. “God is Beautiful and Loves Beauty” says the Hadith. “Everywhere you turn is the Face of God” says the Qur’an. Beauty is the Face of God made manifest; yet the “face” is only the surface of existence. Do we love the Face, or the soul of the soul of the soul within? The outer order and symmetry of beauty imply an inner intentionality; and therefore an awareness and purpose. Beauty announces the conscious presence of the Creator within the created.

Beauty will always be the door to Love. Some stand at its threshold admiring beauty, boastful of having seen it, desirous of purchasing it, prideful in extolling its qualities. But the poor one (fakr) wafts as dust on its threshold; whispering “Destur?” (Permission) on the fresh morning breeze; hoping for a glimpse of The Beloved One beyond.

It is not our strength and striving, forceful effort, which opens this door. It is said, “We are the Slaves of Love”. But slavery is of two kinds: When strength captures beauty, this is the slavery we despise. When beauty captures our strength, we call this adab (courtesy), futuwwah (chivalry), service and generosity. This is the slavery of the lovers. There is a mystery within it: It takes us from the fullness of ourselves into the emptiness of God. “These things are signs for people who reflect” (Qur’an). Permission is of a different quality than tugging at the veil without consent.

In our lives we both know and witness friend and friend, parent and child, lover and beloved, helper and helpless, self and other. But the ones who have made a friend of their losses and grief tell us that there is a third among these pairings; that we have been blind to Love itself in all of its radiant splendor. Love is different than the comings and goings of paired ‘beloveds’. Love lies suspended, almost invisibly, at the unvisited borders between awesome beauty and tragic devastation, thought-silencing ecstasy and life-shattering grief, inexplicable bewilderment and razor-sharp reason, selfless compassion and selfish cruelty. It is inferred from the morning dew of life and the dawn-light of consciousness touching upon this golden meadow of earth; bringing the hidden, gossamer web of Glory momentarily into view.

The very breath of God blows from “where two seas meet” (Qur’an). The heart that blossoms there contains both, yet is neither.

How to speak of an empty page or that place of emptiness within? Why extol the triumphs of love or tales of grief when we can meet silently, experientially, in the meadow between these things where love itself speaks? “There is a field, I’ll meet you there” (Rumi). In that space, the flowers do not bloom nor wilt nor live nor die. By God’s leave, they grow a heart that is these things and beyond these things. “The angels were amazed” (Qur’an). Alhumdullilah.

God said to the Dhu ‘l-Nun Misri:
I divided humanity into ten parts.
I presented worldly desires to them. 90% of humanity chose worldliness.
Of those who remained, I presented them with heaven.
90% headed to heaven.
Of those who remained, I gave them a taste of hell.
90% were scattered away due to their fear of hellfire.
Only a handful remained:
not enamored by worldliness, not seduced by heaven, and unafraid of hell-fire.
I said to them: “My servants! You did not look at worldliness. You did not desire heaven,
and were unafraid of hell-fire. What are you here for?”
They humbly put their heads down and said: “You yourself know Who it is that we desire.”

-Omid Safi, translations from Farid al-Din Attar,

[Attar, Tazkerat al-awilya’, 140-141] “May we always remember to love the Cosmic Gardner more than the Garden.”

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July Theme

To know reality remember: Reality is Love

We welcome your reflections on this theme.

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Rename Louisville’s Airport after Muhammad Ali

Camille at Muhammad Ali's grave

Camille at Muhammad Ali’s grave

Muhammad Ali brought the world together, his homegoing service was his greatest contribution to our global community. His message was simple: peace, love, understanding, and using inspiration to maximize our human potential. In Louisville, for 8 days, the city stood still in remembrance of this great man as there was not a single murder in a time when we have seen a continuing rise in violence.

Renaming Louisville International Airport, often times referred to as Standiford Field (SDF), will bring attention to the humanitarian legacy of Muhammad Ali and our great city.

Although some may see this as a simple name change, we have an opportunity to show the world our appreciation for Ali’s legacy and his life. It’s an opportunity to unite Louisville and the world in the name of Peace and Love. It’s what Ali was all about.

We call upon people all over the globe to participate in our efforts. Ali inspired people all over the world to come together and shed our differences. This is an opportunity to unite in Ali’s life mission.

We humbly invite you to join our effort to rename our airport to Muhammad Ali International.

In solidarity,
Robert Holmes III (via MPower Change)
Louisville, Kentucky

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Living Tradition 01Threshold’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.

Recent articles:

Bringing Ali Back Home by Shaikh Kabir
The Saints: Reviving Hearts by Daniel Dyer
The night of a thousand months by Daliah Merzaban

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Personal Sovereignty, Divine Sovereignty

Annual Threshold Society UK Retreat, Gaunts House, Dorset, England
Aug 26-28/29, 2016

With Shaikh Kabir Helminski
& special guests, Jeremy Henzell-Thomas, and Mevlevi master musician, Selcuk Gurez

UK-Retreat-Gaunts

Sufism is to be authentically yourself in cooperation with the Divine. One of the gifts of the spiritual path is to come to a true experience of your self. In these times we are bombarded by countless influences, impressions, distractions, most of them coming from a false reality which breeds false values. The Sufi path is a path of deconditioning, reconditioning, and unconditioning. Psychological self-awareness, adequate metaphysics, a comprehensive practice, and the support of the conscious community help us to know ourselves at the level of the soul, and to be infused with divine grace and love.

Join us for a long weekend to deepen our understanding and practice. At Gaunts House in Dorset, we will be close to nature, at a distance from the habits and demands of our everyday lives, with friends who share this beautiful quest.

This year we will also have as our special artist in residence, Mevlevi master musician, Selcuk Gurez, to deepen our appreciation of Mevlevi music, culture, and practice.

Registrations are now open. The main retreat will start on Friday 26th August at 5pm with arrivals/registrations. We will again have an additional day with a lighter, more informal schedule. The main retreat will end at 2pm on Sunday and the additional day will begin from 4pm, ending 2pm Monday (Monday 29th August is a UK bank holiday). We ask attendees leaving on Sunday to kindly vacate the grounds before 3pm.

FRI-SUN ADULT Boarding £265, Camping £205
MONDAY ADULT Boarding £100, Camping £65

More details and registration form.

Please register your place as soon as possible. Please read all the information carefully and contact Saimma if you have any questions: thresholdsociety@yahoo.com

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Women of Sufism study group

women-of-sufismFriends 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 to be studied over six months. At the start of each month we will post an invitation for you to offer reflections. See the website for more details, guidelines and access to the monthly discussion posts.

The password to access the discussion posts is khadija.

See the Resource page for the recording of the community call last month and an excerpt from Shaikha Camille’s poetry collection Words from the East.

“Reading about Noor-un-Nisa brought tears to my eyes as I sat in a coffee shop this afternoon. The awful euphemism of the remark she “perhaps had some bad experiences” at the hands of the Gestapo. What light and what courage! A great example of heroism without machismo. The story of this remarkable Muslim woman should be told in schools.”

~ Daniel Dyer

Join the discussion: womenofsufism.com

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Calendar

Wishing you a blessed and joyful Eid al-Fitr!

Jul 7: Eid al-Fitr

Jul 9: Manchester, UK: Healing Srebrenica. Prayers and remembrance, more details.

Jul 29: London, UK: SoulScript, scriptual reasoning from the heart, more details.

Aug 26-29: Dorset, UK. Annual UK Retreat at Gaunts House, more details. (K)

Oct 14-16: Kendal, UK. Unveiling the Divine: Honouring the Sacred Feminine. With Elizabeth Hin, more details soon.

Events with Sh. Kabir and Sh. Camille marked (KC)

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Pictures from last month’s Vancouver Retreat

“What a blessing, we give thanks for the opportunity
Universe provided and brought us all together.”
~ Farzad AttarJafari

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Words from the East

~ Shaikha Camille Adams Helminski ~

The dawn is coming …
the dark sky begins to lighten
and I feel Your nearness.
May the false flames that awakened me
be real flames in my heart,
burning up all that is not You.
The dome and tower of Your mosque,
the local lighthouse calls,
beckoning me to the path of safety.
Help me to follow your call
to find my place on the rug,
the beautiful carpet of Your Being,
that the birds may sing
at the rightness of all this world …
“Wait, and listen,” You say …
The birds are singing Zikr
as they wait for the rising of Day.

Download an excerpt from the poetry collection.

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We’d love to hear from you – get in touch at eyeoftheheart@sufism.org

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Find out how to support the work of Threshold Society

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