THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ JUNE 2018
Holy Spirit can accomplish anything through the human being purified of egoism.
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
Universal Human Being
~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski
Recently a group of us completed a beautiful journey through Turkey together. The sacred sites, spiritual communities, and the beloved teachers we visited will never be forgotten. Yet the overriding experience was the alchemy of love within the group itself. And yet I want to remind us all that whatever we experienced, whatever beautiful states we remember and cherish, were made possible by a coherent knowledge of love and the practice this brings about.
Once the spiritual journey begins, we leave the circumference of the circle and begin to travel along the radius of divine wisdom to reach the Center. This is a journey in and through the self of the human being. The End is the experience and knowledge of yourself as infinite eternal spirit. Along the way we leave behind every identification of gender, family, nationality, race, and religion, and understand ourselves as the Universal Human Being, the Child of God. In the past, the Greek mystery religions called this Logos; the Christian Gnostics called it Christos; the Sufis call it Insani Kamil.
Some have experienced the inbreath of Holy Spirit — whether through a murshid, a realized being, a community of lovers of God, a living tradition — and this has initiated a process of transformation that, if nurtured and protected, will lead to the actualization of the divine in the human being. Such a person will relate from the divine in himself or herself to the divine in another. Such a person will express in their actions and behavior the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Above the entrance to Rumi’s tomb are the words: Those who entered here became complete. And for this we thank Mevlana, Hazrati Shams, and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings).
Dark Night of the Soul
Shaikha Camille shares reflections on embracing compassion during times of darkness and contraction. From the Festival of Faiths 2018 on Feminine Wisdom.
Watch all the speakers on Festival of Faiths YouTube Channel.
Reflection on May’s theme:
Real Love has no limits; it is not defined by “like” or “dislike.”
~ Skip Maselli [Virginia, US]
Al-Ghazali spoke of One Love, preexisting creation:
I will write you a book on Radical Love
Provided you do not bifurcate it
into Divine Love
And Human Love
[Translation by Omid Safi, Radical Love, 2018]
So, let us begin before the beginning; before the toil of explaining the separation of divine and human love. Here we find the true meaning of the extreme and subtle nuances of both discomfort and hope. We discern the real signs of fulfilment, not fretting over the heart’s progress along the path of Love. Why dwell in the distinctions of liking and disliking, when they dissolve in the limitlessness of Real Love?
There are those who, for the love of this or that, will like one thing and dislike another. But for those who love Love – who taste the sweetness of longing in the midst of joy and throes of sorrow – there is no lasting effect in likes or dislikes. For them, Real Love is not the fulcrum on which penchants teeter, rather It is the essence of balance; a placeless place shown in the nexus of the mirror’s surface, where illusion and reality harmoniously converge; the “me in you and the you in me – the us in God and the God in us.” There is no distinction in God’s light, whether it be from the blinding Sun by day, or the soft light cast by the moon-faced lover in a night sky.
Whether he (the lover) loves God for something other than He (God),
that he may continually partake of His (God’s) good,
Or whether he loves God for His very Self,
for naught besides Him, in fear of separation from Him;
the quests and seekings of both (these lovers)
are from that Source:
this captivation of the heart
is from that Heart-ravisher.
[Jalaludin Rumi, Masnavi, Book III]
This one reflected to Kabir Dede, that the sublime path of Love (ishq majazi to ishq haqiqi) has been both heart rending and enchanting and that love’s attar, once released, can never be returned to its vial. Our dear teacher replied,
“…so we turn our hearts beyond all forms,
giving thanks for the Origin and Source
of Love and Beauty,
knowing that it was the Bestower
of the experience of Love
Whose fire transforms us.”
Real Love is an endless torrent of rain into the vessel of a human heart. Unable to contain it, we overflow, swimming in the oceanic bounty of God’s Love… yet sip only drops from the tiny cups of our limited eyes and ears. It is as if one’s heart is so filled with Love’s Source that there is no more room for “I” and “thee.”
So what is limitless Love? It is the secret of God’s beauty, without beginning and end, neither begetting nor begotten, without time and dimension, uncontainable, and all encompassing. This might seem unsettling to those who observe limitless Love through revealed limited forms. We cannot attach to limitlessness. Yet, some submit Love to tests of logic, standing outside of love, wailing off-key into its harmonious essence, grasping at incapable explanations. Mevlana said,
…Love is the astrolabe of God’s mysteries.
A lover may hanker after this love or that love,
But at the last he is drawn to the King of love.
However much we describe and explain love,
When we fall in love we are ashamed of our words.
Explanation by the tongue makes most things clear,
But love unexplained is clearer…
In the hapless struggle to explain what is Real, we wear the trail between the heart and mind. Limitless Love is not unrealizable and the ultimate realization of Love is not limited. We should not fret over the tribulations of this path nor gloat in the imagination of its ending (or beyond). The summit of Real Love is not built upon the buttresses of fetish, nor succoured by the wincing from physical discomfort. Rather, these are debris along the path of Real Love. Our journey is to clear the path and endure the transient and easily weathered nature of “likes and dislikes.”
For love of the rose,
the Nightingale suffered the thorn.
For the love of bread,
wheat suffered the grinding stone.
For the love of night,
even the Sun sets,
and to belong to love,
the lover welcomes nothingness.
I disliked the cobbles
which wrenched my ankles,
but I liked the sound
of Her chiming bangles.
My beloved and I
danced, stumbled, and wept;
for along the Beloved’s path
there is no misstep.
Often, with undue focus, we mistake the rose florets of loving as the thorns of liking and disliking. They are the majaz of loving on this path of Love. Do not break the thorny stem from the rose, as their essence is from the same Source of One Love. The path of Love is lined with likes and dislikes. There is a subtle difference between clearing oneself of expectation and emptying oneself in surrender so that we experience Love’s infinite capacity.
This Love is a hot air balloon,
we lovers are the gondolas,
and we carry the ballast of likes and dislikes.
Toss them over the sides of our containers,
release their weight,
and rise in Love!
How does wheat nourish,
without first listening to the grindstone?
How can the neyzen make beautiful music,
if the reed avoids the axe, bore, and flame?
Austerity (disliking) and serenity (liking)
neither absolves or blames.
If we seek only Real Love,
then everything comes to us Lovingly.
There is nothing to like or dislike,
when we plunge
into the “unfathomable everything
of really Loving.”
Behold beauty beyond the limits of form. Draw the breath of mystery and exhale into the embers in the heart. The stirred flame of Love lights the lantern by which we see and are seen by the Beloved.
“Whoever falls in love passionately,
a radical love that spills over, finds God.”
[Omid Safi’s translation of Abul Hassan al-Kharaqani, ibid.]
~ Skip is a lover of the Mevlevi path and writes belletristic poetry brushed with Sufi nuances. He lives in northern Virginia, outside Washington D.C., with his two children, Camerin and Aidan.
The Subtle Ablution
~ Shaikha Camille
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.
We can recognize that there are many levels of purification of our beingness. As we feel the refreshing quality of the water (or sand), we open to that refreshment and cleansing, both outwardly and inwardly, and within our hearts and subtlest senses and energetic perceptivities, as well, in all the realms of our being, restored to our true nature (fitrah), allowing the light to awaken more and more fully within and all around us:
O children of Adam!
Indeed, We have given you garments to cover your nakedness, and as a thing of beauty;
but the garment of God-consciousness is the best of all.
This is one of God’s messages—that human beings might take it to heart.
“Ablution upon ablution is light upon light.”
~ Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad
Nur ala Nur ala Nur
Bradford Literature Festival
Shaikh Kabir Helminski and Rumi’s Circle will be at the Bradford Literature Festival this year over the second weekend, July 7-8, 2018. Book your tickets for each event:
Sat 7th July, 4pm: Rumi and the Mystery of Being Human, with Sh. Kabir. Book your tickets
Sun 8th July, 10:30am: Translating Spirituality, with Sh. Kabir. Book your tickets
Sun 8th July, 10:30am: Rumi’s Circle Whirling Workshop. Book your tickets
Sun 8th July, 4pm: Holistic Islam, with Sh. Kabir. Book your tickets
Sun 8th July, 6:30pm: Rumi’s Circle Zhikr, with Sh. Kabir. Book your tickets
Ninety-Nine Names of God eCourse
A Journey of Discovery and Renewal
May 14 – Jun 15
Shaikha Camille Hamilton Adams Helminski
& Daniel Thomas Dyer
This 15 session course is intended to explore the Qualities or “Names” of God, intrinsic to the Islamic tradition, in their interplay in our lives, as a doorway to self-knowledge and intimacy with our Sustainer, a journey of discovery and renewal. Especially during the coming month of Ramadan when our material food is limited for those who are fasting, focusing with these Qualities can provide substantial nourishment in other realms—for heart and soul, for anyone who engages with them in yearning for a deeper connection with Enlivening Spirit.
Register now on Spirituality & Practice.
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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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May 15: Ramadan
May 14 – Jun 15: Ninety-Nine Names of God online e-course through Spirituality & Practice, register now (C)
Jun 15: Eid al-Fitr
Jul 7-8: Bradford, UK. Shaikh Kabir and Rumi’s Circle will be speaking at the Bradford Literature Festival, book your tickets. (K)
Aug 24-27: UK Annual Retreat, Gaunts House, Dorset. Registrations open in July (KC)
Events with Sh. Kabir and Sh. Camille marked (KC)
Turkey Trip 2018
I dreamt I came to a great city whose palace was nothing but roses.
The crown and the throne of its Sultan,
his garden and chambers were roses, roses.
Here they buy and sell nothing but roses,
and the scales they used to weigh are roses, roses.
Weighing roses with more roses, the market and the bazaar, all roses.
The white rose and the red rose were coupled in the garden.
Both their faces turn toward the thorn.
Both the thorn and the petals are roses, roses.
The soil is the rose; stone is the rose;
withered is the rose; fresh is the rose.
In the Lord’s private gardens the slender cypress and the maple are roses.
Roses are turning the water wheel; roses ground in the mill.
As the wheel turns round and the water flows,
its power and its stillness are the rose, the rose.
And from the rose a tent appears
filled with every kind of offering. Its gatekeepers are the Prophets.
The bread they make, the wine they pour are the rose, the rose.
O Ummi Sinan, heed the mystery
of the nightingale’s sorrow and the Rose.
Every song of the longing nightingale is for the Rose, the Rose.
[Ummi Sinan (16th century, Istanbul),
translated by Latif Bolat and Kabir Helminski]
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