THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ OCT 2019
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
WHAT IS LIFE? The Philosopher and the Sufi Shaikh
An in-depth conversation between Tim Freke and Shaikh Kabir Helminski
Reflections on the meaning of life, the problem of AI,
and the practicalities of awakening the heart.
I’m very thankful to Tim for giving me the opportunity to participate in a conversation of this depth. I have long admired his work and, since meeting him a few years ago, I have recognized a congruence in how we see life. Our conversation is an example of how to reflect on the deepest questions of life as existential realities, beyond the identifications and labels of tradition. Yet anyone who listens to this may perceive the deep structure of Sufism behind my words. Having read two of his many books — The Jesus Mysteries, and Jesus and the Lost Goddess — I already knew that Tim was someone with a fine appreciation for the underlying metaphysics behind the world’s sacred traditions.
~ Shaikh Kabir
Yesterday (September 30th) was the 812th birthday of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi!
May his soul be blessed and may his light continue to shine upon humanity,
illuminating and guiding our souls to the One Reality. Nur ala Nur, Ya Huu..
Image by Ashfia Ashrif.
Reflection on September theme: The false self (nafs) will never be satisfied;
so strive with God to be near to Him.
~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski
~ Grant Wray [London, UK]
Recently I was setting up some equipment used in broadcasting that I thought might be useful in my workplace. The technical expert from the equipment company was an amateur astronomer and had never before seen the brain images that our microscopes produce. As the pictures came up he gasped and asked what these were. I replied that they showed the early formation of structures in the embryonic fish brain, something smaller than the smallest speck of dust that would be just a flash of light if it caught in a sunbeam. The engineer said he’d mistaken it at first for a certain nebula thought to be a star nursery where coalescing dust and gas forms new suns; a region of space that could contain our entire solar system a trillion times over.
This made me think about what some might call the fractal nature of reality – that as one looks closer and closer, one sees further and further away. Not a mere reflection of the larger in the smaller, but the reality of it; the drop contains the ocean, the infinite that scales in all directions, across all dimensions.
The wisdom passed down to us through our tradition and all faiths, holds that He/She transcends all dimensions, and that which we call “infinity”. He/She has chosen to reveal to us 99 beautiful names, 99 facets of a single gem, and in those we might know the majesty of the whole.
As the microscopic contains the universe, so it is that our bodies, our souls and our lives are themselves comprised of facets. Contemplation of these draws us closer to ourselves and to the Divine. But an inevitable truth of this is that as we resolve each facet, as we bring it into focus, it can only reveal further depths, and demand ever finer inspection. Even the most practised and even the very best of humankind, are just humans like all others; limited in lifespan, limited in capacity, limited in perspective, imperfect, egoistic. There can be then, for these limited forms, no end to the work. If we are ever satisfied that we have seen enough to know God, then know this; as the desire for knowledge of Him/Her can never be fulfilled, so can the false-self never be satisfied, but in seeking to draw on our limited capacity for attention the ego can and does distract us with a cloak of false satisfaction. There is no great harm in this if we see it for what it is, if anything it drives us on when we do recognise it. We must be careful, though, not to seek to extinguish these distracting egos – the temptation to do this is yet another trick of the nafs that seeks our attention – they are part of the whole and when in balance lend context and definition.
We must instead refine them, but without allowing them to feast on that attention. The facet of love might be thought of as the desirable positive, sitting in a frame of undesirable negatives like desire, obsession and selfish annihilation. As we attend to the facet, as we polish away the dirt, and grind that gem face, we reduce and remove the frames of “I will have”, “I want all” and “I will become” without directly working on them; they become merely the names given to the places where facets touch. They give definition without dominance or substance. Without knowledge of the container, how will we ever know the contents?
The traps of the ego are to be found even in the Mureed.There are those who come to the path whose innermost hearts seek Truth; they long for Truth, and they remember Truth. Their Baraka resonates and grows in their community, though they may be unrecognised by others within it, such is their humility. Those who join a community to follow the path of love may do so seeking acceptance or belonging from that community; they have a desire emerging from the false-self, and they are most likely not even conscious of this. They may join in sincerity, seeking enlightenment, peace, knowledge to stand them well in the eternity that follows, but this in itself, it seems to me, is still the demanding little-self, more subtle this time, but all the same suckling at the milk flowing from the breast of desire, seeking rewards. These Mureeds may still align with Truth, and the enlightened Shaikh will know the steps each may take to lift their personal veil, and those steps will always require taming and retraining the nafs.
When we contemplate this, it is inevitable that the ego distracts again, demanding to know of the Dervish which of these types of Mureed they sit amongst, as if it matters to belong and be labelled, either pushing pride in being a true seeker of truth, or undermining with guilt or self-doubt that one is of those whose “striving is misguided, yet they imagine that what they do is beautiful.” [Quran 18:104] I too was distracted by this, though I don’t understand the answer.
This is supposed to be a piece of personal reflection and in my short biography written to accompany this piece it says when I came to Threshold but not how or why. So…
I came to Threshold when I followed beauty and love, besotted, to a doorway. Through that doorway was a community joined in beauty and love. I stayed because I succumbed to the contentment that follows the privilege of seeing this realm.
As it is within us, so it is between us, without us and beyond us.
Light in my heart, light on my tongue.
Light in my ears, light in my eyes.
Light above me, light below me.
Light to my right, light to my left.
Light before me, light behind me.
Place light in my soul. Magnify and amplify for me light.
Make for me light and make me for light.
Light upon light. Light upon light.
[The Light Prayer, rendered by Grant Wray]
“If you desire the self, get out of the self. Leave the shallow stream behind and flow into the river, deep and wide. Don’t be an ox pulling the wheel of the plough; turn with the stars that wheel above you.” [Rubaiyat 62, The Pocket Rumi, Helminski].
~ Grant was born and raised in Lancashire, England. He moved to the south coast in 1987 to study neurobiology at Sussex, before settling in London at the start of a 30 year career in the brain sciences and science communication. He came to Threshold in 2010 and hasn’t left yet.
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.
This month it is: Adab; The Courtesy of the Path.
The 99 Names of God Patchwork Quilt Project
~ Tazeen Dhunna
I was a hidden treasure
and I longed to be known,
so I created both worlds,
the visible and the invisible,
in order that My hidden treasure
of generosity and loving-kindness
would be known.
For years Mevlevi women have woven their hearts together through needlework projects and the moment opened at the start of this year to begin the task of weaving 53 hearts from all over the world, revealing a hidden treasure through their union. Our dear Camille Ana planted a seed over a year ago through the names al Khaliq (the Creator), al Bari (the Evolver), and al Musawwir (the Shaper).
The cluster of these three names describe the metaphysical process of divine creation, and through stitching a patchwork quilt of the 99 Names of God we took a journey into them.
Science and Nonduality
San Jose, California
October 24-27, 2019
Shaikh Kabir will offer a one-hour workshop on Spiritual Intelligence
on Sunday 27 Oct at 11am.
See the full programme and book your tickets here.
Self-Realization on the Sufi Path
San Diego, Nov 2
Saturday November 2, 10:00am – 5:00pm
$40 (suggested donation, includes lunch)
Old San Luis Rey Mission
4050 Mission Ave., Oceanside, CA 92057
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.
Join us for an exceptional and experiential day 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).
Interfaith Peace Conference
Lake Junaluska, NC
Shaikh Kabir will be leading a sema at this weekend interfaith retreat.
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.
Meeting Silence: Sitting with Presence by Saimma Dyer
Prophet Muhammad and the Man Who Ate Too Much by Anna Rohleder
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Oct 23-27: San Jose CA, USA. SAND Conference, more details. (K)
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: Bradford, UK. Urs celebration, more details soon.
Dec 20: London, UK. Urs celebration, more details soon
Feb 1-8: Costa Rica Writer’s Retreat. More details. (KC)
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 email@example.com
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