THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ NOV 2019
Wash your hands of the cheap metals of existence like those who matured, so that you may find the philosophers’ stone of love and be gold yourself…
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
Reflection on October theme: Begin with contentment (rida); then follow the heart. ~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski
~ Zakiyah Gharib [Louisville, USA]
Spiritual amazement is the occupation for those possessing vision,
While thinking and worrying is for the blind.
A hundred happy branches scatter flowers on you from the unseen;
Why do you strike your axe upon the branches of contentment?
What does it mean to have contentment? What does it mean to follow the heart? So often in my life and especially before being on this path there were many times I felt I was following my heart. When one “follows their heart” and contentment is not present, the heart may not be healthy. Then the nafs surely is vying for that place of authority within you. Since contentment (rida) is an integral part of the theme this month, I’ve spent much time reflecting on exactly what that means, and also on my own personal path towards attempting to achieve this. Following your heart when you are content is having absolute faith in God’s divine direction for you and being content with that process. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Contentment is a treasure that never diminishes.”
There are steps within steps in the process of change. Whenever we start to look into making changes in our behavior or our perspective, one thing inevitably leads to another. Many years ago, towards the beginning of my spiritual journey on the Sufi path, I understood the need to start by working on my discontentment. While I felt very fortunate, in many ways I also indulged at times in what could only be described as a bad attitude. Being very pragmatic, I wanted to find a simple exercise to help me begin. I had already established salat, which was transformative, but I wanted a technique that would specifically address what had become habitual negative thinking. So, I challenged myself to go through my day without a single complaint. This turned out to be extremely helpful. At first, it was a bit disconcerting to see how often such thoughts arose. As soon as one did, I quietly stopped myself, and then shifted my thoughts to being grateful. Being grateful, always being grateful, I realized, was the key to having contentment. However, this can be an immense challenge when we’re being faced with the most extreme hardships in life.
For many of us, despite our faith, and our love for Allah, we still often desire to control the realities of our lives. We all at one time or other have our struggles with lack of gratitude, thus putting us in a state other than contentment. So much in this world seems to foster and promote discontent. There are a multitude of reasons why discontent is rampant. Rida, can be defined as acceptance, consent and perfect contentment with God’s will or decree. As Sufis, we’ve been given a wealth of tools to help us achieve this. Dhikr, prayers, fasting, the teachings of Qur’an, Hadith and Mathnawi, the loving guidance of our teachers, the brotherhood and sisterhood of our community, and the ever deepening practice of gratitude are all part of this beautiful path.
Allah has made the souls of the dervishes the vessels of contentment.
~ Mansur bin Ammar
There are many variations on the definition of contentment when referring to our relationship with God. For me, perhaps the most concise and meaningful of them is the one by our dear Shaikh Kabir Dede found in the glossary of Living Presence. He defines contentment as: “The awareness of one’s present richness, without precluding having more.” I have personally struggled with the thought of what true contentment is in relationship to the sometimes massive struggles we go through in times of great anguish. Life can offer up very difficult or complicated situations. Sometimes we can suffer a loss so intense it almost seems unbearable. I’ve come to realize that one can have great sadness and still be content. I would not have understood this when I was younger. Through our worse fears and sorrows our Beloved holds us so tenderly and comforts our hearts until we can breath steadily again. Our Beloved Prophet (pbuh) certainly was not without sorrow, but his love, certitude and absolute faith in Allah never wavered.
Each of us walks this path in our own unique way and at our own speed. For me, understanding the Reality of beginning with contentment, then following the heart started with realizing Allah’s Love and care for me, and my Love for Allah. From there, it was possible for me to delve into the mysteries of rida, which in turn cleared the way to following the heart. As with so much on this path, it comes full circle.
Beyond worldly taste there is a wondrously beautiful taste that is ripe and sweet and joyous. It is the taste of the Grace of the mirrored ocean of Divine knowledge called ‘ilm.
To partake of this taste, you must plant the tree of inner patience. Feed it with the fertilizer of contentment and pour onto it the water of iman.
~ Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen
~ Zakiyah has been on the Sufi path for many years. The last five have been with our Beloved Kabir Dede and Camille Ana.
Reflections on the Gathering
Saturday October 26th in Mountain View, CA
~ by a California Dervish
The day was just coming to an end as I stepped over the threshold to enter the house of dear friends who were hosting a gathering with our dear Dede, Shaikh Kabir. Friends arrived one by one, greeting each other with love and adab, everyone crossing the threshold in their own state of mind, hiding pleas from their hearts, needs, and desires, united in yearning for being with a loving teacher and other friends of the heart.
That night, the talk started with Ya Salaam: Peace.
I have realized, over and over again, that one attains what one searches for. “Ask, and you shall receive.” As the sohbet unfolds, one receives from it what one’s heart desires. One is struggling with family matters, and the teacher says “leave all your conflicts to Peace” and she does. One is entangled within her mind, hopelessly challenged, trying to explain everything and find meanings and faults using the mind, until the teacher reminds us, “Our minds are rather imperfect tools. Maybe the heart can answer some of our problems,” and she smiles, letting go of the analytical mind, just for a moment. One is unsettled, scattered, and in need. The answer comes through the teacher’s prayer: “Peace!”.
That night we were instructed to imagine our beloved Prophet, mercy to all worlds, Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him), along with Imām Ali (to him salaam), Hazrat Shams, and Hazrat Molana…it was an unbearable experience. How could this humble, brittle heart of mine, still shy with all the unfamiliarity of being gradually unveiled, still tender with all the exposed wounds, face them? Tears started running down my cheeks. Adding to the profound experience was the fact that it was the night before the 28th day of Safar in the Islamic calendar, the day that some believe our beloved Prophet passed away. It was only an imagining, yet the heart was innocently warm, visualizing the beloved Prophet up in heavens looking down on his followers. How blessed we were to hold, or at least try to hold, the skirt of Molana and his friends and maybe, God willing, reach him, somehow. My heart was in awe, yet content. As Dede has reminded me before,“It’s not due to our hustle that we attain what we attain; it is rather due to Divine Mercy.” Even for this humble, brittle heart of mine, as long as there is Mercy, there is hope. Peace.
Dede told us about an honest witness to whom anyone could bring anything, and that honest witness would just receive it with no judgment. “Only a purified heart can be that honest witness … be mindful of what you allow in your heart… ‘If the heart is pleased with you, I am pleased with you,’ God says.”
The Threshold Society
The Threshold Society, rooted within the traditions of Sufism and inspired by the life and work of Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi, is a non-profit educational foundation with the purpose of facilitating the experience of Divine Unity, Love, and Truth in the world. Sufism is a living tradition of human transformation through love and higher consciousness. Our fundamental framework is classical Sufism and the Qur’an as it has been understood over the centuries by the great Sufis. The Society is affiliated with the Mevlevi Order, and offers training programs, seminars and retreats around the world.
Each month we intend to highlight an article about our lineage and its principles.
Suggestions for Practice Within
the Threshold Society & The Mevlevi Tradition.
Most people who come to Sufism have preconceptions as well as questions about what Sufism is. What does the practice consist of and how will I learn and develop? Is there a detailed curriculum? Or hidden knowledge? What should I expect of my shaikh and what kind of relationship is possible? Some people might imagine that the shaikh has a detailed, objective technical knowledge of various inner states, spiritual energies, planes of reality, spiritual powers, etc. While there is some truth in this, it has been our experience that among the best teachers these subjects are seldom emphasized or talked about directly. An emphasis on secret, privileged knowledge, or encouraging a mystique or building a cult of personality, or intimations of end-time scenarios, have proven time and time again to be counter-indicators of spirituality. In other words, the more such tendencies surround a teaching, the less likely it is that the teaching will be balanced and authentic. If we look to the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet Muhammad, we see a sane and balanced presentation of the Way. Our approach, therefore, places a strong emphasis on developing our capacities for presence, remembrance, service, and humility.
Interfaith Peace Conference
Lake Junaluska, NC
Shaikh Kabir will be leading a sema at this weekend interfaith retreat.
Saturday 14th Dec 2019, 7:30pm (doors open at 7pm)
First Unitarian Church, 809 S Fourth St, Louisville, KY 40203
Celebrate Mevlana Rumi’s union with the Beloved, the anniversary of his passing away into the Unseen. Join Shaikh Kabir and Camille Helminski for an evening of remembrance with zhikr, poetry, music, and whirling. With Bosnian Sufi singers, Hasan and Emil.
Let us know you are coming on Facebook.
Bradford & London
Rumi’s Circle with Mevlevi dervishes from The Threshold Society invite you to celebrate Mevlana Rumi’s Urs, the anniversary of his union with the Beloved.
Join us for an evening of remembrance with zhikr, poetry, music, and whirling.
We will be sharing poetry on the theme of “Light upon Light”.
Saturday 14th Dec: Delius Centre, 29 Great Horton Rd, Bradford BD7 1AA
Friday 20th Dec: St John’s Waterloo, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8TY
Doors open at 6.30pm, we begin promptly at 7pm.
Tickets: £5 ~ limited capacity
Rumi’s Circle invites you to celebrate Mevlana Rumi’s Urs, the anniversary of his union with the Beloved.
Join us for an evening of remembrance with zhikr, poetry, and music.
We will be sharing poetry on the theme of “Light upon Light”.
Saturday 14th Dec: Unity Church, 601 Tompkins Dr, Madison, WI 53716, USA
Doors open at 6.30pm, we begin promptly at 7pm.
Tickets: $10 ~ on the door
Costa Rica Writer’s Retreat
Feb 1-8, 2020
7 nights from: February 1st to February 8th, 2020
We have broadened the vision of our Costa Rica retreat from writing to creativity, realizing that once the imagination of the soul is set free, anything is possible. Far removed from the pressures and conventions of modern life, in this pristine environment, amazing openings have taken place…
A video about the 2019 Costa Rica Writer’s Retreat:
Awakening Expression, Beyond the Matrix. Finding our voice; working with metaphor, symbols, sensory detail; escaping our own cliches, breaking through expectations; perfecting our craft; finding the sacred in the mundane. From stream of consciousness to the classical forms of quatrains and ghazels, creativity is something authentic, individual, and mysterious. Creativity is about awakening the powers of imagination, and also about emotional honesty. What we mean by “the Matrix” is everything that keeps us stuck in a false reality — some of it socially engineered, some of it self-imposed.
A spiritually oriented creativity retreat at the beautiful Zen Spirit Yoga Retreat located right at the pristine Playa Coyote on the Pacific Coast, Guanacaste, Costa Rica (zenspiritcr.com). This event is appropriate for anyone who wishes to improve their capacity for expression, access their imagination, and increase their appreciation of spiritual arts, literature, and culture.
Special Double-Book Offer
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.
Being in Love Together by Daliah Merzaban
How Beauty Evokes Love in Sufism by Kabir Helminski
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Nov 2: San Diego CA, USA. Day retreat, more details. (KC)
Nov 23: Lake Junaluska, NC, USA. Interfaith Peace Conference. More details. (KC)
Dec 14: Louisville, USA. Urs celebration, more details. (KC)
Dec 14: Madison, Wisconsin. Urs celebration, more details.
Dec 14: Bradford, UK. Urs celebration, more details.
Dec 20: London, UK. Urs celebration, more details.
Dec 26-30: Nassau, Bahamas. Sinananda Yoga Retreat, Unity in Diversity. More details. (K)
Feb 1-8: Costa Rica Writer’s Retreat. More details. (KC)
Mar 21: New York, Open Center. Journey of the Seeker in Sufism. More details. (K)
Apr 3-5: San Francisco, USA. Annual Retreat. (KC)
Jul 10-13: Dorset, UK. Annual Retreat. (KC)
Events with Kabir (K) & Camille (C)
We’d love to hear from you – get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
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