THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ NOVEMBER 2016
The Soul that Moves the Body of the World
~ An excerpt from a talk given by Shaikh Kabir at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., October 8th, 2016
You who are relatively conscious, relatively compassionate human beings have an awesome responsibility. Whether you believe in God or not, whether you believe in an eternal soul or not, whether you are totally secular, religious, or spiritual, there must be something you hold sacred, something before which you feel humble, something you want to serve or honor. You may call it wisdom or truth, you may call it God’s law, you may call it enlightenment. Whatever it is, align yourself with that truth, with that presence, with that higher consciousness. It is in that presence that we will find the clarity, guidance, and courage we need. Ask for the guidance and inspiration that can be found deep in the human heart, and when we have found that, each of us must also become effective, committed activists working for justice and truth, putting our lives on the line.
Instead of trillions of dollars being spent on senseless, unwinnable wars, we could work toward a foreign policy based on magnanimity and compassion. We could create a global Marshal Plan and put the resources of war toward bringing clean water to the planet, toward ending hunger, toward increasing the bonds of friendship with other nations instead of threatening them.
Sacred activism is the bridge between the invisible and visible worlds, between the world of possibilities and the everyday world we live in. If we are going to bridge these two, we need to connect through our own deepest being, through our inner presence, our spiritual heart. We can do that right now, fulfilling the purpose of our being here together today.
Reflection on October’s theme: Faith (iman) bears the fruit of happiness and positive energy. All negativity is a form of faithlessness (kufr).
~ Joseph Simpson (Morehead, USA)
They say the wise jokester Hodja Nasreddin was once walking his donkey along a cliff, when his donkey tripped. The donkey tried to catch its footing, but the unfortunate animal ended up falling to its death. Hodja would explain, “Apparently, the donkey had learned to fly, but had not learned to land properly.”
So often we cling to moments when our faith has made us fly. It may be a retreat. It may be a pilgrimage. It may be a walk in the woods when the leaves have shown their true colors. Flying is a delight. And when we have that experience, we are full of happiness and positive energy.
The question, though, isn’t always how well we fly, but how well we land. How do we reply when someone’s sarcasm cuts us? How do we respond when we lose a job? How do we face false accusations or deal with a spouse who has stopped loving us or react to something as simple as the contents of a trash bag emptying across the kitchen floor? Do we embrace our faith in those moments and still allow the happiness and positive energy to flow through us, or do we turn our backs, if for a moment, on the Reality that is Love.
Throughout my mother’s life, she tried to teach me how to land. But it was her last year with us—a year when cancer ravaged her body to the point where she didn’t even look like herself anymore—that she taught it the best. Near the end, she said, “I don’t fight cancer. I don’t need to. Either God heals me, and I get to see you another day. Or God doesn’t heal me, and I get to see God.”
Yes, she still experienced sadness and pain and would have been happier to have avoided all of it. She did not deny that. But at the same time, she also never repented for her faith; she never turned her face away from God to dwell in negativity. And this buttressed her to her very last breath.
The last words she offered came to us after she was already gone. A devout Christian, she asked for her favorite bible verses to be read at her funeral:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
[Philippians 4:4-9, NASV]
The Mevlevi tradition teaches us the same. In The Rumi Daybook, we read how Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him) was once asked how to avoid the wrath of God. Jesus replied that when you feel the urge to complain, give thanks instead. Exaggerate your gratitude. He didn’t say difficult circumstances would necessarily change. What he said was that, by showing gratitude, you will generate love. And this generating love is an act of Creation. This is an act of Healing. This is an act of Power. In this act, may we fly.
And for those who don’t “feel” it? There’s no need to despair, no need to lash out at oneself and succumb. Give thanks anyway. Because even in giving false thanks, Allah sees it as an act through which we are seeking Hu’s love. Yes, we will land…but unlike Hodja’s unfortunate donkey, we will do so safely in the tender arms of the Most Compassionate Beyond All Measuring of Compassion, the Most Merciful Beyond All Measuring of Mercy.
~ Joseph Simpson lives with his family in Morehead, Kentucky. He turned up on the Helminskis’ doorstep one day in 2015.
Kindness is not found in anything except that it beautifies it,
and it is not removed from anything except that it disgraces it.
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
Rumi’s Circle annual UK Urs celebrations will be taking place this year with Latif Bolat and Zeliha Akdan. More details will be posted on the website next week but save the dates in the meantime!
Fri Dec 9: Manchester
Sun Dec 11: Bradford
Sat Dec 17: London
Threshold Canada will be hosting Urs celebrations in Vancouver and Toronto, more details on Facebook soon.
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.
From the Sacred Feminine gathering in Kendal
We had a phenomenal gathering in Kendal last month, honouring our teacher, Shaikha Camille, and the Sacred Feminine. We will be making the audio from the talks available soon but Beth Hin’s talks are already available:
We also have some initial reflections on the weekend here.
Dec 9: Manchester, UK. Rumi’s Circle Urs celebration, more details soon.
Dec 11: Bradford, UK. Rumi’s Circle Urs celebration, more details soon.
Dec 17: London, UK. Rumi’s Circle Urs celebration, more details soon.
Dec 17: Toronto & Vancouver, Canada. Urs celebration, more details soon.
Dec 13-17: Konya/Ankara, Turkey. Shaikh Kabir will speak at the Celebrations for Rumi’s Urs. Other guests include Cemalnur Sargut & Omid Safi. (K)
Feb 24-26: San Francisco, US. Mercy Center Retreat. (KC)
May 5-9: Paradise Island, Bahamas. Meditation Symposium at the Sivananda Ashram. Sivananda.org (KC)
July 7-9: Whistler, Canada. Annual Retreat British Columbia, deep in nature, following Ramadan. (KC)
Events with Sh. Kabir and Sh. Camille marked (KC)
Words from the East
~ Shaikha Camille Adams Helminski ~
“Tell my people
this world is a reflection for them
of My Voice,
vibration made visible …
‘Be’ and the world began.
Humanity suffers in separation …
draw back the veil.
Be still, and know that I am God;
then listen, then taste
with the whole of yourself
and every impulse you receive
will be the Name of God”.
We’d love to hear from you – get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org