THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ NOV 2018
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
The Spiritual Challenge of Artificial Intelligence,
Trans-Humanism, and the Post-Human World
This talk by Shaikh Kabir created quite a stir at the
Science and Non-Duality Conference, The Mystery of Being Human,
Oct 26th 2018.
What compels me to speak about the challenge of trans-humanism, artificial intelligence, and the post-human world is our culture’s lack of a metaphysical framework to understand what’s happening. With the disintegration of religious thought and its replacement with the dogma that only what is measurable is real, even those of us who are spiritual but not religious are a bit weak in the intellectual tools to consider questions of ontology and metaphysics. We have lost the idea of a human nature embedded in a divine order; it has been replaced by the idolization of human personality or ego, with its purely subjective and incoherent impulses.
Trans-humanism is not merely some geeky tech subculture, nor a futuristic daydream, but a pervasive phenomenon that is already impacting our humanness itself. We’re talking about the merging of human beings with technology, and not just at the physical level, but possibly a merging that encroaches upon the most intimate dimensions of the soul.
Ramadan Love Songs
An excerpt from Shaikha Camille’s forthcoming book, Ramadan Love Songs, due March 2019:
Wonders Never Cease
dear beloved one,
to remind us
there is no door—
it is, already,
to the heavens.
And we stand
before the stars
to feed us
from another realm,
where time is vast,
and space disappears
in the Eternal.
Reflection on October’s theme: Only when distress turns to remembrance and blame of others is erased, is pride extracted from our egos, humbleness settles in our hearts, and the door of grace opens. ~Ali (r.a.) freely paraphrased by Shaikh Kabir
~ David Ginsberg [California, USA]
Oh, the things that distress me! When have health, money, politics, relationships, injustice, and the ravages of aging and loss, death and grief not weighed heavily on my soul? When have the petty injustices not adamantly asserted their equal emotional import to those darker affairs of existence?
Yes, I watch videos of starving children in Yemen but complain about the misbehavior of my phone. I vote for people who bomb one nation after another but mentally insult the driver next to me. I find much of life’s habitual distress is petty and distracts me from seeing reality clearly and replenishing from the well of wellbeing. Left on its own, my mind prefers to thrust and parry with trivia and phantasms while the world of Haqq (Truth) stands before its eyes but is lost to its awareness.
To see reality but live from fantasy is perhaps the definition of insanity, and in this post-truth world we are encouraged to be insane. Instead, where in this dunya is an Ali who will cease blaming the world and instead remember the good, the true and the beautiful; remember character, coherence and love — remember God?
Even at the gatherings of the dervishes where we are told by our sheikh “bring your finest attention”, we may bring our finest nafs making its finest demands and its finest complaints about the finest faults of the finest dervishes. “When Muslim turns against Muslim, only Satan rejoices.” When dervishes fault dervishes, grudges and contempt endure; people leave.
As Sufis, our remembrance is that we come together for Mevlana’s sake; for God’s sake. All the rest is ego desire and personality frictions. For every turn left of our personality, two dervishes will turn right. It is our own willingness to set aside differences for the sake of experiential love, coherence and truth that makes these gatherings unique, resonant and beneficial. Our leadership truly deserves our sympathy; for no matter who or what they choose, someone will be distressed. We can only offer up love, sympathy and a warm touch of humor towards their plight; and an “eyvallah” towards their service.
Our leaders cannot win the “battle of the nafs”, and neither can the dervish ruled by the conflict of their unexamined desires. How can Love itself become the conqueror of our soul while we strive in the lesser desires and complain of the lesser grievances, all with the fervor of pride and self-righteousness? Remember God, Remember God, Remember God:
It is in the remembrance of God that hearts find rest.
From this I have come to see remembrance as experiential. Remembrance of God is not mentally holding onto a thought or word or image of God; for God is not a person, place or thing. God is perhaps better likened to the milieu or mirror, the canvas or emptiness, from which these things appear and fade into. Our inner, “empty” landscape of love and beauty, vibration, coherence and resonance seems closer to the consciousness that we call Divine.
It is good for me to remember those times when I have been petty and prideful, when I have insisted on getting my way — collateral damage being an afterthought. Remorse helps me remember that I have blamed others for what I myself have done in those less examined, less experienced moments. May I be spared from having the same regret twice. Eyvallah.
Arrogance is a mirror to arrogance; contempt is a mirror to contempt. For when I assert my own importance, others will reactively assert theirs: “I am not lesser than you.” “The faithful are mirrors to the faithful.” If there is an upwelling in pride and argumentation around me, it is my own: “Extract pride from your ego until humbleness settles in your heart.” It is true: we are the change we wish the world to become.
Humility is to see oneself as milieu and mirror, canvas and emptiness. While seemingly the lowest of the low, humility is the highest of the high. It is in the giving up of prideful arrogance and self-righteousness that the rising and falling of ego desires fades away. When we leave behind the assertion of our personality agendas, the ego-assertions of those around us also fade back into the source of being. The world around us is at peace only because we are at peace; salaam. This peace may be personal at first, local second, but coherence and resonance expand with a momentum and force of their own. “You did not throw when you threw.” Grace finds us.
Humility is not the suppression of ego and ego desire. Humility is not “force of arms” against the nafs. If this were so, the nafs would win. Instead, humility is in seeing that the source of what we have battled for and defended against is more valuable, more desirable, more beautiful, than the various things and points we sought to gain. As Mevlana says, love of the baker is greater than love of the bread. Set down the bread for a time and make love with the baker. It is in doing these things consciously, making them experiential, that possibilities unfold and the nonexistent becomes the existent, the Real, the Truth.
What arises from humility is this love-without-object; or Grace. Grace, because love is ever-upwelling to need, and God is the satisfier of need.
Among the dervishes we seek a particular flavor of Grace; Baraka. Baraka is the wordless conversation of a heart polished clean of the transitory; therefore radiating, communicating, its love, coherence and resonance with the Divine. When we punctuate the silence of baraka with a few words, it is called sohbet.
Mevlana concludes the Mathnawi with:
I sit before him in silence and make patience a ladder climbing upward.
Patience is the key to success.
And if in his presence there should gush forth from my heart
a speech from beyond this realm of joy and sorrow
I know that he has sent it to me
from the depth of a soul illumined like Canopus rising in Yemen.
The speech in my heart comes from that auspicious quarter.
For there is a window from heart to heart.
Silence and patience are the outward signs of humility, and humility is success. Presence is how we sit in humility facing the polished mirror of reality (truth, God). We may speak in sohbet, or not; while inwardly baraka offers up the ocean — one experiential candle lighting another’s experience of Grace. “Return to the silence”, for baraka flows from the fount of Grace.
How does one speak of this silence? The pen breaks, the door opens. Hu…
~ David Ginsberg is a lover of Mevlana and Melami, Shams and Kwajagan, chai and sohbet.
Finding Love with Rumi
We are delighted to offer this talk by dear circle member, Shazreh Hussain, from the Threshold Islamabad group. Shazreh was invited to deliver a talk on Rumi by the Asian Study Group in Islamabad on Oct 23rd at the Marriot Hotel, Islamabad.
Virginia & Maryland Nov 10-11 2018
with Shaikh Kabir and Shaikha Camille
We invite you to two interwoven events, the first is in Virginia and the second is 15 easy miles away in Maryland — the drive between them is 20 minutes.
The Heart of Sufism:
Transformation through Practices of Coherence
November 10, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
The Sanctuary: Beloved Yoga, 11109 Sunset Hills Road, Reston, Virginia
Join us for an exceptional and experiential evening to engage in conversation with two extraordinary teachers, Kabir and Camille Helminski. They are keepers of the wisdom of Rumi. The evening will be soaked in dialogue, poetry and dhikr (a ceremony of remembrance).
We live in times where perceptions often feel limited. Come and expand perspective and see how similar we are, when we walk in love.
Register by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Restoring Authentic Spirituality
November 11, 9:30am – 5:00pm
9053 Holly Leaf Lane, Bethesda, MD 20817
Many people are thirsting for an authentic spirituality—a practical spirituality beyond the programming of exclusive and divisive beliefs, beyond promises of heaven or threats of hell.
Rumi spoke of a religion of Love—it begins with the recognition that the essence of Reality is Divine Generosity and Beauty. The religion of love opens to a relationship with the Divine through a knowing heart.
The Sufi Process, at its best, is the conscious development of our human capacities—the renovation of the natural faculties of the Soul to restore spontaneous virtue and a living experience of the Divine.
At a time when our humanness is being challenged by so many forces, Sufism is a living tradition that holds the keys to unlocking the treasure of our human nature.
Online pre-registration: $60 (with lunch), $75 by check or cash day of event. Register online.
Bradford, UK ~ Sat Dec 15th
We invite you to celebrate Mevlana Rumi’s Urs, the anniversary of his union with the Beloved. Join us for an evening of zhikr, whirling, and poetry on the theme of Warriors of Love.
Saturday 15th Dec, 6:30pm
Delius Arts & Cultural Centre, 29 Great Horton Rd, Bradford BD7 1AA
The Language of the Soul
Playa Coyote Writers Retreat
7 nights from: February 2nd to February 9th, 2019
With Kabir Helminski, Author, Poet, Translator
A spiritually oriented writer’s retreat at the beautiful Zen Spirit Yoga Retreat located right on the pristine Playa Coyote on the Pacific Coast, Guanacaste, Costa Rica (zenspiritcr.com)
We will focus on the power of writing to explore the soul, the world we live in, and the nature of reality.
A few hours each day will be spent in scheduled sessions, including one meditation session per day, leaving abundant time to appreciate the natural beauty of the ocean and the Costa Rican environment. Limited to about 22 people.
Ten Practices of Spiritual Intelligence
San Francisco Annual Retreat, March 8-10 2019
With Kabir & Camille Helminski, and special guests including
Robert Abdul Hayy Darr, internationally respected author, Sufi teacher
and Sufi musicians Amir & Nasreen Etmenazade.
The Mercy Center, Burlingame, California (a few miles from San Francisco Airport).
Join us for these days of spiritual practice, music, poetry, conversation, and friendship.
To understand the nature and purpose of our human intelligence is vitally important to our fundamental well being and happiness. Every human being carries an inheritance of spiritual intelligence, which is the reflection of Divine Intellect on the human plane. The particular, individualized intellect of each human being is potentially a portal for the streaming of Universal Intellect, the awesome intelligence that nourishes our individual intellect.
The Mercy Center requires us to send a list of attendees one month in advance.
Registration will be available online soon.
Shaikh Kabir’s talks from earlier this year:
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.
We encourage you to leave reviews on Amazon.
Nov 10: Reston, Virginia (Washington, D.C.). The Heart of Sufism: Transformation through Practices of Coherence. More details (KC)
Dec 15: Bradford, UK. Rumi’s Circle: Rumi’s Urs. More details.
Nov 11: Bethesda, Maryland. Restoring Authentic Spirituality. More details (KC)
Feb 2-9: Costa Rica. Writers Retreat: The Language of the Soul. More details (K)
Mar 8-10: San Francisco Annual Retreat – Ten Practices of Spiritual Intelligence. More details. (KC)
Events with Sh. Kabir and Sh. Camille marked (KC)
We’d love to hear from you – get in touch at email@example.com
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