THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ SEP 2018
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
The Coherence of our Souls
~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski
The Essence of Our Practice
We place a great emphasis on being—the quality of attention and presence that we practice. Being is our capacity to be awake with full attention and an open heart.
Being is also the source of coherence.
Being is our capacity to connect the transcendent with the concrete. What is going on right in front of us—the interplay of personalities, the requirements of the physical world, and all our thoughts and feelings—seen from the spiritual perspective, seen from the eye of God, known through the mind of God.
What is coherence and why is it important?
Coherence is an aspect of the Divine Reality that we will increasingly embody.
Our tradition offers us practices and ceremonies of coherence: salaat, sema, as well as muraqaba, meditation, and adab. Sometimes, too, coherence is strengthened from being alone, in a reflective silence.
Coherence of community can facilitate the experience of the divine. Like an arrangement of antennas or transceivers in a phased array, our vibration is strengthened far beyond the capacity of any individual. Through this common vibration we are given a taste of the divine that would be very rarely experienced alone.
We do not realize how much we, our souls, are entrapped in a matrix of false reality. Many influences combine to create this false reality: systems of false belief, political propaganda, consumerism, and negative aspects within ourselves.
What we call Islam, Iman, and Ihsan only become real through the marifa of the nafs and al Haqq, the gnosis of the self and reality. In other words, our liberation is through knowing ourselves from the perspective of the Real.
Do not think that this marifa is a merely mental experience. We need a certain ilm (knowledge or science) to prepare us for real marifa, but marifa is essentially of the heart.
Reflection on August’s theme: Whatever God’s decree may be, ask for interior illumination to be truly content with it. ~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski
~ Amira Abd El-Khalek [currently Yemen]
“Discernment is the innate capacity within the human being to make distinctions, especially to discern the good and the true from the bad and the false. In the realm of our own experience we can come to discern the qualities of the Spirit from the qualities of the compulsive ego.” [Kabir Helminski, The Book of Revelations]
Facing all fears, “There is no God but God” – la Ilaha Illa Allah.
My contract in Yemen, where I currently work, will end in a few weeks. As I await a new assignment somewhere else, I will have to take a leave of absence. This is a situation I am not used to, having worked almost non-stop for the past 3.5 years for a prominent humanitarian agency, at times in emergency settings and difficult conditions. As I grapple with the anxiety of being without a job to do for several months, together with speculation about what lies ahead, I remind myself that guidance will come when the time is right. When God wills it. At the same time, I am still faced with questions as to the work I am doing, my purpose in life, my next steps, and where the world is going.
Facing all events of destiny, “I trust in God” – Tawakaltu ‘ala Allah.
I am a researcher by training. An anthropologist. My work allows me to use my research skills to go into the field where I can meet people in crisis situations, listen to their stories and write about them. In the assignment I will soon be leaving, the purpose of my reports was to show how refugees and displaced people have benefited from our assistance, or to showcase the projects we do, but also to inform donors that their money was well spent. Though I would like to write about every experience I witness, I don’t always get the opportunity to do so.
Facing all scarcities, “Allah is enough for me” – Hasbi Allah.
Facing all calamities, “We belong to God and to Him we shall return” – Inna l’Illahi wa inna ilayhi raj’ioun.
I was drawn to the humanitarian field out of a desire to serve. But also to understand people’s resilience. To try to comprehend, if ever I could, what drives people who have had to flee their homes, because of persecution, to survive. I often wonder what compels Palestinians for example, to remain in their villages and towns, to resist and stand their ground even though the occupier is destroying their homes and their lands. I try to understand how survivors of atrocities in South Africa face their aggressors and forgive them; how people who have been detained and imprisoned for months and years, even decades, in Libya, Guatemala and South Africa can come out of prison and call for peace and understanding and the rebuilding of a nation. I wonder about people who have been displaced in Iraq and in Yemen, Syria, and most recently the Rohingyas of Myanmar, people who have lost members of their families and have had to cross borders, encountering the risk of death at every turn. What is it that drives them to carry their children and their elderly relatives, and walk for miles and miles in the line of fire, to risk their lives at sea, to run barefoot for days in forests or desert lands, or wade through rivers, in the hope of finding safety?
Facing all benefits, “Praise be to God” – Al Hamdul’illah; and facing all abundance, “Thanks be to God” – Al Shukru l’Illah.
Witnessing a fraction of this and listening to people say “Al Hamdul’illah”; “It is what God has willed”; is to me a deeper understanding of faith, acceptance, and submission to the will of God; more so than I could myself have imagined. I have come to realise that there is something about human beings that, while sadly capable of extreme harm, are also wonderfully capable of extreme forgiveness and acceptance.
Facing all sorrows and sadness, “May it be as God wills” – Ma Shaa’ Allah.
Witnessing the journeys of others has helped me to reflect upon my own. It took me years to get my first posting with an international agency in an emergency context. Yet there was an inner conviction that I would eventually get what I was dreaming of. There was also guidance from the Divine, small signs, that things would eventually unfold. This was through the support of people I met, or an opportunity to do research in South Sudan, a country seeking peace and reconciliation after decades of war with Sudan. In parallel, my relationship with our spiritual community grew in a variety of ways: by attending weekly sohbets, going on retreats and pilgrimages, experiencing the artistic beauty of the Mevlevi tradition and by witnessing love and service through the hearts of our friends and the guidance of our teachers. Indeed, I got my first posting after a pilgrimage to visit Hz Mevlana Rumi; a trip that strengthened my bond with the community, and opened up new doors, not only professionally but also spiritually. I felt I was home.
Facing all astonishment, “God is subtle beyond all knowing” – SubhanAllah.
Now after working in this job for three years, I am deeply saddened at the state of the world; yet still feel a desire to serve. For me it is a thrill to explore and work in countries where the average traveler would not go, and I am also compelled by people’s experiences to understand more about the human condition and the faith that keeps them going.
However, questions also arise for me as to what service I truly am doing. Is it enough to tell stories, or report on events and activities? Would I ever be able to understand what refugees and displaced people have gone through? Is understanding their experiences a means of satisfying my own compulsive egoism to “do good” or is it to strengthen my own faith?
I travel to seek answers and I only come back with more questions. But I do hope that by asking for inner illumination, I may be content with the choices I have made.
~ Amira is a wanderer and seeker on the Mevlevi Path. She finds refuge in people’s life experiences.
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.
800 Jews, Christians, Muslims sing ‘One Love’ in Jerusalem on Eid al-Fitr. Initiated by the visit of Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, secretary general of Indonesia-based Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organization with more than 60 million members. Last year Kyai Yahya invited Shaikh Kabir to Indonesia to address an international conference and for some collaboration on the Declaration of Humanitarian Islam.
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.
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Oct 13: London – Khadim Chisti on Women of Faith. More details soon at rumiscircle.com
Nov 10-11: Reston, Virginia (Washington, D.C.) The Seven Stages of the Spiritual Journey with Shaikh Kabir and Camille. For more information contact Skip Maselli firstname.lastname@example.org (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 soon. (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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