THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ OCT 2017
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Give God your existence and God will give you His Life.
~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski
Today is September 30, Mevlana’s birthday and the 10th day of Muharram, remembered primarily for the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. On this day we are especially grateful for the wisdom that unites us with reality and the example of holiness of our spiritual ancestors.
The words of Abul Hasan Kharakani which form last month’s theme are the essence of this path. Virtually every page of Mevlana’s Mathnawi is telling us how it is possible to deepen in this relationship with God. Sometimes the message is very practical, as in this story:
“I am searching everywhere for a human being who is alive
with the life inspired by divine breath.
Does such a being exist?”
“This bazaar,” said the other,
“is crowded with human beings.”
The sage answered, “I want one
who is a human being on the two-eyed road:
in the moment of anger and at the time of desire.
Where is someone who is a human being
both when anger comes and at the moment of appetite?
From street to street, I search for someone like that.
Where in the world is one
who remains human in both these moments?
I would devote my life to such a human being.”
“To be alive with the life inspired by divine breath” is more than a metaphor, it is a key to a spiritual practice which can change the very quality of our being. Every breath we breathe with gratitude and awareness awakens the soul and frees us from egoism. Conscious breathing is one method that leads to the development of our very humanness.
Another way of talking about this merging with the divine is the idea of “selflessness,” an easily misunderstood concept. There are, of course, many levels to the realization of selflessness, but to begin at a very practical level: there’s a big difference between the state of being constantly preoccupied with thoughts of our selves, as contrasted with the state of simple awakened presence. In such a state, which we also like to describe as “heartfulness,” we are fully self-aware, empty, receptive, open in a direct experience of life.
Truly anyone who has become selfless
has become everyone’s self:
when he is not loved by himself
he becomes loved by everyone.
A mirror clear of all images
is the most brilliant.
It purely reflects all images.
[V: 2665. . .]
The clear mirror of the human heart is more capable of being in a true relationship with another human being, with one’s environment, and ultimately with the divine. Such a heart reflects what simply is, and may also be open to receiving the subtle intuitions and blessings of a higher reality.
If we don’t understand it one way, Mevlana freely gives it to us in another way. Here he reminds us of the possibilities of selfless service:
Serve God, so by chance you may become a lover:
devoted service is a means toward Love.
The servant desires to be freed from fate,
but God’s lover wishes never to be free again.
Some servants seek benefits and robes of honor;
the lover’s robe of honor is vision of the Beloved.
Not contained by speech or hearing,
Love is an ocean whose depth cannot be seen.
The drops of this Sea are innumerable:
in comparison all Seven Seas disappear.
As we have said so many times before, Mevlana is the embodiment of the archetype of the spiritual Lover. No state is greater than this, nor more beautiful. The one who accepts this spiritual servanthood becomes alive with God and “never wishes to be ‘free’ again,” for the ego’s idea of freedom is actually a form of slavery to countless contradictory impulses and desires.
And if we still don’t get it, Mevlana lures us into the state of divine intimacy with the tastes of sweet fruit:
Whatever is steeped in grape juice
will acquire the flavor of the grape.
Whether it be carrots or apples or quinces or walnuts,
you will taste in them the delicious flavor of the grape.
When your knowledge is steeped in the light of faith,
then wayward people will receive light from it.
Whatever you say will be luminous,
for the sky never rains anything but pure water.
Become like the sky. Become like the cloud and shed rain:
the spout rains, too, but it can’t produce the rain.
The water in the spout is borrowed;
the water in the cloud and sea is original.
Your thought and reasoning resemble the spout;
inspiration and revelation are like the cloud and the sky.
The rain water engenders all the colors of the garden,
while the spout causes quarrels with your neighbors.
If we could be steeped in the Divine Names, we would acquire the tastes and colors of the divine. And if we were steeped in faith, which is a lived perception of the spiritual nature of reality, all our knowledge, all our thoughts and actions, would more and more reflect the beauty of that spiritual reality.
We are being called to the pure water of life, the open sky of being, the direct infusion of spirit. Give God your existence and He will give you His life.
Translations of Rumi from Jewels of Remembrance, Kabir & Camille Helminski
Reflection on September’s theme: When you offer Him your existence, He gives you his Life.
~ Khadim Chishti [Oregon, USA]
In the Name of the One
The Arabic word for existence is Al-Wujud. Being.
On the one hand, Wujud signifies what truly is. For some people, therefore this implies material existence, but from the spiritual point of view, God’s existence or Being is more real than anything in the material creation, and all material things have derived their very existence from God’s Being.
[The Book of Language by Kabir Helminski]
In this month’s theme Abul Hassan Kharaqani tells us, “When we offer God our existence; He will give us his life.” The Creative Word of God, Kun (Be), brings wujud (existence). I offer my existence to the One who brought me into existence out of non-existence. What is this existence I am offering to God? We are endowed with individual existence. A sense of “i-ness.” This individuation comes with a veil of separation from our Real Self. The “i” believes it is the center of what is and acts accordingly. It is the nafs (illusion of our existence) that veils us from understanding our true existence and keeps us turned from receiving “his life.” Living in our provisional identities, we claim existence as ours and the ego asserts its soveignty. But this existence we claim is ours is an illusion. Living with the “i” at the center is an illusion. Kharaqani is guiding us to move away from “i am” the center to making Ya Haqq the center. We are offering to God our illusion of existence and in return we are given Real Life that is free of illusions. Making Allah the center clears away fear, judgement, and loss. Life is given. Truth is the center, the compass, the guide.
What beautiful wisdom Mevlana offers us about letting go of our limited notion of existence:
It Is All For His Creatures
Lay the whole of your “we “and “I” before Him –
it is really His kingdom, so give it up to Him.
When you become poor in the right Way,
both the Lion and the Lion’s prey become yours.
He is holy, and Glory is His attribute,
so He has no need of anything, whether kernel or rind.
Every prize and every gift of grace that exists
is for the sake of His servants.
The King has no desire –
He has made this whole dominion for His creatures.
Happy is the one who knows this!
Of what use is the possession of any realm,
to the Creator of all realms and both worlds?
[Mathnawi I: 3138-3142]
The Holy Qur’an tells us:
O you who have faith! Respond to the call of God and the messenger whenever He calls you to that which will give you life; and know that God intervenes between man and his desires, and that you shall be gathered back to Him.
[Surah al-Anfal 8:24]
What are my barriers to offering my illusion of existence to God and receiving “his Life?” It’s fear and loss. It’s being caught in the veneer of personality, the illusion of “i,” snared by my “i” being the center.
As an example, when asked to write on this month’s theme, my first thought was how might I avoid the request. The pieces I’ve read in the Threshold newsletter and in the Patheos Blog are well written. For this one writing is risky. It’s out in the world for all to see and to be judged. What if the way I understand and experience this month’s theme is not understood? What if I don’t write as well as someone else? There is fear and vulnerability of being seen as not quite up to the task. Maybe even a disappointment. As I mulled this over and over in my mind, my heart became more troubled. I found myself on the floor with my head on the ground asking for help. The request to write is a call from the Beloved. It is an invitation to give up my attachment to self-image. I responded. I listened. The guidance came. Why am I doing this? The only way clear is to do the best I can for the sake of Allah. Not for His approval but for love. That is laying the whole of myself before Him. “So give it up to Him.” This is an offering of my illusory existence. Offer the illusion of my existence and receive “His Life.”
It does not happen all at once. The offering is made again and again. May I continually make this offering to Allah. The gift of His Life, Ya Hayy, is the life that never dies. It is the Life that is present in every atom of creation. It awakens and enlivens the heart with vitality and love. In this awakened heart God’s attributes are activated. This Life is luminous and everlasting. I pray to be immersed in the continual flow of Hayy, His Life.
The Waters of Life never cease. His call is heard in the trees, in the wind, in the face of family and friends, in the early morning and when darkness covers the day, when another suffers, when the Holy Qur’an is recited and in prayer and in dhikr. Allah calls with every inhale and exhale. I do not always respond and the Beloved keeps calling. Alhumdulillah.
Khadim lives in Lake Oswego with her husband Kilian. She has a counseling and hypnosis practice, Creative Catalyst, in Portland. She is a khalifa of Threshold Society and leads a circle in Portland.
Courtesy costs nothing and buys everything.
~ Imam Ali, may he be blessed.
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
Rumi: Living from the Heart
A Workshop With Shaikh Kabir Helminski
Saturday, October 28th. 1 PM to 5 PM
Event will be at The Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston, 1625 Wiehle Avenue, Reston, VA 20190 (near Washington, D.C.)
LIMITED SPOTS – PLEASE REGISTER FOR FREE – DONATE AT DOOR. Sign up here.
Rumi still offers an important message for humanity about how to live a fully human life. To understand Rumi is to penetrate into the mystical heart of Islam, as well. In a rare public event, Shaikh Kabir will guide us in a balanced program of teachings, meditation, poetry, zikr, and conversation.
Suggested donation: $40.
Kabir Helminski is a Shaikh in the Mevlevi lineage of Rumi, and co-director of The Threshold Society (Sufism.org). In 2009 and subsequent years Kabir was named as one of the “500 Most Influential Muslims in the World” by the Royal Strategic Studies Center (Jordan). His translations of Rumi and books on spirituality, Living Presence and The Knowing Heart, have been published in at least eight languages. In 2017 Living Presence is being published in a commemorative 25th anniversary edition in the Spiritual Cornerstones series by Penguin Books. His newest book (2017) is Holistic Islam: Sufism, Transformation, and The Challenge of Our Time.
This event is hosted by Beloved Yoga, Threshold Society and the Reed Society for Sacred Arts.
Balancing the Divine Feminine & Divine Masculine
within ourselves, within our world
Nov 10-12th ~ Kendal, UK
With Beth Hin, Shaikh Kabir, Rahima McCullough, Mahmoud Mostafa, and friends
Book now at rumiscircle.com
It seems evident that deep respect and harmony between the masculine and feminine principles of existence is necessary for the well-being of individuals and society as a whole. We recognise that our spiritual heritages offer much guidance as to how we might authentically manifest these principles, yet we recognise that cultural and socially mandated “norms” concerning gender can often hinder genuine self-discovery and expression. We trust that human beings can be free to discover and determine for themselves how to manifest and express the Divine Feminine and Masculine, and that what might generally be described as masculine can be within the realm of the feminine and vice versa.
Rumi’s Circle began this conversation in 2016 by honouring the feminine aspect of the Divine. We were driven by a concern both for the degradation of the Divine Feminine and the imbalance we perceive between the masculine and the feminine in the wider world. We are now continuing the conversation by exploring the Divine arrangement of the patterns in nature and in ourselves that show the integration of the feminine and masculine principles.
Join us to experience diverse spiritual practices that bring us to balance and wholeness, including work with prayer, meditation, sound, breath, and movement.
The weekend begins on Friday at 7:30pm and ends Sunday at 5pm.
Quaker Meeting House, Stramongate, Kendal LA9 4BH, UK.
Registration is £140. Book now at rumiscircle.com
Practical Aspects of Dervishood
~ Mahmoud Mostafa
For me, dervishhood is a total commitment to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet, Mevlana Rumi, Shams, and all the blessed ones who traveled the way of love. There are many aspects to this following and over the years it has been shown to me that the sincerity of commitment to this path is manifest in knowing that one is a servant and living one’s life in this truth. What are the practical aspects of this way of living? For me there are several dimensions, there is a state of being, an active practice, a quality of self-reflection and self-knowing, and a way of conduct in daily life.
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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.
Oct 19-23: San Jose, US. Science & Non-Duality Conference. Kabir will deliver a plenary talk on “Sacred Space And Conscious Community.” Book your ticket. (K)
Oct 28: Washington D.C., US. Rumi: Living from the Heart, workshop with Shaikh Kabir. Book your ticket. (K)
Nov 10-12: Kendal, UK. Sacred Pattern in the Feminine & Masculine, with Beth Hin, Shaikh Kabir, and friends. Registration now open: book now. (K)
Feb 23-25: California, US. Annual San Francisco retreat. Theme to be announced. (KC)
Events with Sh. Kabir and Sh. Camille marked (KC)
UK Annual Retreat Aug 2017
Ya Shakur, Ya Wahhab, Ya Wadud, Ya Karim
~ from Ninety-Nine Names of the Beloved
by Camille Adams Hamilton Helminski
publishing October 2017
We give thanks
the Creator of All Gratitude,
for instilling these hearts
with a Way
toward Your Abundance
and Ever-present Grace.
You give us cause
to be grateful—
for our health,
for loved ones,
precious in our remembrance,
nurtured by Your Sustenance,
for all the beauties
that surround us
in the birds, and trees, and streams,
the graceful hills
and caverns deep with gems
that sparkle with Your Light,
igniting the fire of appreciation
in our souls
for all the blessings
of this life
and the Nearness
to which You draw us
with the magnetism
of Your Love
all our complaints
before the Power
of Your Giving,
Ya Wadud, Ya Karim.
Forever, we sing Your praise,
You Who inundate these hearts
with waves of thankfulness,
to know Your Name
in all its facets
and to sing,
“Glory be to God!”
Ya Wahhab, O You Who Overcome Us with Your Infinite Giving,
Ya Wadud, O Infinitely Loving One, Ya Karim, O Infinitely Generous One,
Ya Shakur, O Creator of All Thankfulness, Ever-Responsive to Gratitude.
Of all His/Her servants, only such as are endowed with knowledge stand in awe of God:
[for they alone comprehend that,] truly, God is Almighty, Oft-Forgiving.
They who follow God’s revelation and are constant in prayer, and spend on others,
secretly and openly, out of what We provide for them as sustenance—
it is they who may look forward to a bargain that can never fail,
since He/She will grant them their just rewards, and give them yet even more out of His/Her Bounty:
for, truly, He/She is Oft-Forgiving, Ever-Responsive to Gratitude.
All praise is due to God, who has caused all sorrow to leave us:
for, truly, our Sustainer is indeed Oft-Forgiving, Ever-Responsive to Gratitude.
Say [O Prophet]: “No reward do I ask of you for this other than loving those who are near you.”
For if anyone gains [the merit of] a good deed, We shall grant him through it an increase of good:
and, truly, God is Oft-Forgiving, Ever-Responsive to Gratitude.
“Gratitude is a key to Joy.” ~ Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi
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