THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ MAR 2018
In order to become human, we need to always be within the Divine Presence—to be aware of God, to hold Him in our hearts. ~Suleyman Dede
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
A talk offered by Camille as part of a multi-faith intergenerational panel of women for the launch, “Listen! Feminine Wisdom,” January 27th, of the 2018 Festival of Faiths “Sacred Insight, Feminine Wisdom.” This offering was delivered at the last minute in shorter form by Anna Rohleder from notes Camille texted from the emergency room when Kabir was rushed to the hospital with a heart attack. Subhanallah, Shukrulillah, we are so grateful he has recovered well, shows no signs of heart disease, and we give thanks for all the prayers that have flowed for his well-being, for all our well-being.
Bismillah arRahman arRahim
We begin in the Name of God, and we ask the help of that One, to listen to the moment and to speak what might be needed.
The reception of the Revelation of the Qur’an, the basis of the Way of Islam (and its mystical path of Sufism), through the heart of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him, was a profound act of listening.
Within the Qur’anic text, specifically Ninety-Nine Names of God are mentioned. Among them, is As Sami, The One Who is All-Hearing. As we open to the Presence of that One Who Is All-Hearing, here among us, As Sami, we can awaken that quality, that capacity within ourselves to hear, to listen. With the breath, calling upon As Sami, O You Who Are All-Hearing, deep within us, listening to the voice of our Beloved Sustainer within everything, listening for guidance, listening into that Presence. [continue reading]
Be in Love
Some reflections on relationships within a community of seekers
Sh. Kabir Helminski
Sufis live contrary to “the world” in many ways. Their calculations are different from the calculations based exclusively on the ego’s self-interest. They return hostility with kindness; they meet immaturity with patience; in a world of role-playing, they are guileless.
Be in Love. Behind this simple phrase is a metaphysical principle: The awakening to true Being is the attainment of conscious, objective love. So we emphasize the first word of this phrase: Be in love, but learning to be is a process that involves our being awake and relatively free of the incessant, habitual demands of our false self.
These demands are motivated by illusory motivations based in an unrealistic notion of how things should be. These four basic motivations are:
1. The urge toward pleasure and comfort, to avoid all pain,
2. to gain attention, to avoid being ignored or rejected,
3. to gain approval, to escape disapproval and blame,
4. to gain a sense of importance, to have control over other people, and to escape the sense of inferiority, or the inability to control others.
Furthermore these basic motivations typically lead to counterproductive behaviors.
We have several strategies that we apply in order to actualize this imaginary, unrealistic, non-disturbed state. [Read more]
Holistic Islam, The Audiobook
Read by its author Kabir Helminski [also now available on Kindle].
Reflection on February’s theme:
Disengage from the ego realm; enter the Reality of the Sacred.
Whether in worship or in the ordinary acts of life, contemplate the Divine Beloved.
~ Daliah Merzaban [London]
In the name of God, the Infinitely Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful.
I work in a busy newsroom in London situated at the nucleus one of the world’s two busiest financial districts, so I’m quite literally surrounded by very palpable fuel for the ego and potential distractions from the Divine Beloved.
On my desk sit three giant screens blasting out a constant stream of e-mails needing urgent reply, breaking news headlines and blinking stock, bond and currency prices. It can be very easy to get swept away by the enormity of noise, information and the pressure of real-time deadlines that frequently lurk over me.
Yet this backdrop, which seems so contradictory to the Reality of the Sacred, feels like an appropriate starting point to begin reflecting on this month’s theme. We’re informed in Surah Al-Baqarah that, contrary to what may at times seem to be the case, Allah’s presence is everywhere: To He/She belong the east and the west — Wherever you turn is the face of God.
These lines suggest that the quest to cultivate a deep heart connection with the Beloved can be nurtured against any backdrop. Disengaging with the ego realm is, perhaps, not so much about detaching from life, but rather from a way of being and engaging with it whereby the compulsions of my nafs dictate my daily interactions.
It seems to call us, in every moment, to interact with the world from the highest part of our selves that we can access. If I can bring the same presence of heart I have in prostration during five daily prayers, in silent or loud zhikr, or sohbet with fellow seekers into this “real world” context, surely something beautifully human has space to unfold. It’s in our daily lives, after all, where we put our spiritual teachings into real-time practice.
Which brings me back to my workspace. Aside from the inordinately large computer screens, two precious objects adorn my desk — a copy of the Pocket Rumi and a beautiful illustration of a Mevlevi dervish turning in the centre of a wreath of colourful flowers, drawn by Ashfia Ashrif.
I frequently gaze at this image and it reminds me that a Vibration of Love encircles me, too, if only I remember to return my attention and receptivity to it. Every few hours, I might open the Pocket Rumi for some inspiration from Mevlana, particularly when I’m agitated, anxious or nervous about an impending deadline or an interaction with a colleague.
At 10 a.m. each work day, a timed message pops into my inbox that reads: “One hour of presence starts now!” It’s a reminder that I set up while doing one of the first assignments of the Ninety-Nine Day Program in 2016. Working through the program over many months helped me cultivate a deeper awareness of my shifting states and reactions, and begin the very rich and at times painful process of disentangling from unhealthy patterns that aren’t in service to my highest potential. I haven’t been able to bring myself to delete the reminder, perhaps acknowledging the assignment will never truly be complete.
On this path, we’re frequently reminded that the Divine deserves to be at the centre of our consciousness at all times. Cultivating this level of awareness is daunting to say the least, especially for someone with feeble attention like me whose mind tends to wander, daydream and be very self critical. This is why I have found that intention and repetition are absolutely paramount in awakening consciousness of Allah, both in worship and ordinary acts of life.
Many years ago, I came across Al-Ghazali’s Revival of Religious Sciences, Invocations and Supplications, and the following words left a deep imprint on me:
Verily, the soul becomes accustomed to what you accustom it to. That is to say, what you at first burden the soul with becomes natural to it in the end. So if intimacy and invocation of God takes place, man is severed from anything else but the invocation of God and from what is other than Him.
This speaks to me of the deep importance of creating beautiful habits in order to foster conscious presence and contemplate the Divine in all aspects of life. Mevlana alludes to the fruits of this careful harvest here:
Everyone who delights in some act of devotion
can’t bear to miss it,
even for a short while.
That disappointment and grief
are as a hundred prayers:
what is ritual prayer
compared with the glow of humble longing?
I have numerous small routines to help draw my attention back to the Beloved in what otherwise might seem to be unlikely places. Reciting an invocation when I dart out the door of my home, listening to HeartSpace readings of the Wird while sandwiched between fellow commuters in a packed morning train; always stepping over the threshold when I enter and exit the busy Pret a Manger where I get my morning porridge, to name a few.
Perhaps I won’t always work in such a distracting environment, but somehow I know distractions will have a way of finding me, anyways. By sprinkling various acts of worship throughout my days, it’s my hope that each will bring me that tiny step closer to recognising the sacred in every moment. InshaAllah.
Daliah is a Mevlevi dervish who draws on inspiration from day-to-day life to write blogs about her spiritual journey for Threshold’s Living Tradition group blog on Patheos. She currently lives in London and works as a journalist and editor covering Europe, Middle East and Africa.
The Journey of the Seeker in Sufism
A One-Day Workshop with Sh. Kabir
Saturday March 17, 2018
New York Open Center
One key to meditation is the phenomenon of “presence.” Mindfulness, meditation, contemplation, and remembrance are all based in the fundamental human capacity of being present—which, unfortunately, is rarely experienced in our fast-moving, depersonalized, technological existence.
In this workshop exploring Sufism, we will examine the comprehensive nature of presence, a state of self-awareness that encompasses a spectrum of human functions: bodily sensation, breath, emotion, thought, intuition, and the subtlest states of non-dual experience.
Awakening with Rumi
Weekend workshops with Sh. Kabir & Sh. Camille
Apr 13-15, 2018
Beloved Yoga, Reston, Virginia
Outside the founders of the great traditions — Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad — Rumi may currently be the most universally respected spiritual figure in world history, as well as a reconciling figure among all traditions. Many have experienced the transforming power of Rumi’s poetry, but even more than this is the transmission that comes through a living tradition and the practical application that awakens a presence in our hearts. Within a world that harshly competes for our attention, this presence can help us move through our daily lives with dignity, compassion, wisdom, and awareness.
Join us for a weekend of spiritual practice, poetry, music, conversation and friendship, so that we may awaken to our spiritual essence and discover greater purpose in our lives.
Coping and Thriving with Catastrophe eCourse
Apr 2 – May 10
This e-course provides a multifaith and interspiritual guide to “Coping and Thriving with Catastrophe.” Each week will feature a different teacher who will share the wisdom and practices from their tradition. Sh. Kabir and Sh. Camille will be guest teachers during week two.
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.
Registration available soon on Spirituality & Practice.
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.
Patience: The Key to Joy by Daniel Thomas Dyer
Thanking Big by Daliah Merzaban
We encourage you to leave reviews on Amazon.
Mar 17: New York, US. The Journey of the Seeker in Sufism, a one-day workshop with Sh. Kabir. More details. (K)
Apr 13-15: Reston, Virginia. Awakening with Rumi, weekend workshops with Sh. Kabir & Sh. Camille. More details. (KC)
May 15: Ramadan
May 14 – Jun 15: Ninety-Nine Names of God online e-course through Spirituality & Practice, more details next month. (C)
Jun 15: Eid al-Fitr
Aug 24-27: UK Annual Retreat, Gaunts House, Dorset (KC)
Events with Sh. Kabir and Sh. Camille marked (KC)
February California Retreat
Make Use of the Light
Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of God be upon him) has said, “O My God Most High! We could not worship You as You ought to be worshipped.” But Bayazid said, “Glory be to me; how great is my glory!” When things come to this, if someone looks at these words of Bayazid and thinks that his state is stronger than Muhammad’s state, then he is an ignorant fool.
If you are looking for the reality of the Law, yes, there is the Law, and there is the Way, and the Truth. The Law is like a lamp, and the purpose of the lamp is to give you light when you journey. You can trust it simply— you put a wick into it and hang it up, and you can see the surrounding area by its light. But if you don’t go anywhere, what is the use? How can you reach the Truth with a light that just stays put? It is essential that you reach the Truth! Journey on the Way!
[Rumi’s Sun: The Teachings of Shams of Tabriz]
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