THRESHOLD SOCIETY NEWSLETTER ~ SEP 2019
The false self (nafs) will never be satisfied;
so strive with God to be near to Him.
~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski
We welcome your reflections on this theme.
Reflection on September theme: Practice submission to your higher self, and mastery over the impulses of your lower self.
~ Shaikh Kabir Helminski
~ Eric Evans [San Jose, USA]
Look and see:
Now. Let your inner ear open. And listen.
Do you hear one voice? Or many voices? Do the voices change and grow or do they fade over time? Can the listener cultivate particular voices? Bring them up in chorus? Gently guide others to quiet and silence? And who are you that is listening?
We are, and have been and will be, all the voices the you-listener hears. These voices sing within us of love and joy, fear and inspiration, determination and laziness. The entire range of thought and emotion. We may hear them singing solos or, more commonly, in chorus and fugue. And we are the listener. As the listener, we hear and have heard and will hear the voice of every self within us.
But the listener is not mechanical, like a microphone. It is subject to instruction. It can train itself and be trained. It can practice cultivating the selves and giving words and music to their songs, bringing out their voices and making them more pleasing. With time, the listener’s cultivation produces habits of proper subordination in these selves. It teaches them when it is proper to defer to a superior’s orders. It builds habits of mastery and command in the listener. Look at the face of the semazenbashi watching the semazens.
The higher voices’ subordination isn’t conquest, any more than the semazenbashi conquers the semazens. Their subordination grows from teaching the voices to sound together and make more-pleasing music. Again, the semazenbashi is the leader of the semazens. The leader’s duty is to protect and guide the semazens so that each fully experiences the recital and gains its full benefit. In the photo, you can see him watching the semazens with love, ready to pull them back should the recital take them too far.
Now look at the semazens. They turn together — but not in lockstep unison. Not like the cogs on a wheel. Imagine how disturbing the picture would be if every arm and head pointed in the same direction. At the same time. That would be conquest. Instead, the semazens are birds in a flock, moving each alone but also together. Or voices in harmony. In fact, there is a near-silent harmony. Each semazen turns deep in remembrance, remembering God and saying Her and His and The name once each turn. This quiet interior music only the semazens hear mirrors the harmony the listener cultivates in the voices that are us.
Not that a recital is easy or simple. The listener will also hear lower voices. Fear. Anger. Despair. Laziness. Greed. There are others. For most of us, they do not respond to the listener’s cultivation as fast as the higher voices. But still they are subject to cultivation, with love, time, and work.
Take fear: uncultivated and neglected, its voice can dominate the music and break its harmony, like blaring trumpets or screeching violins. We have all felt fear that fills us up and strangles our other voices. Fear’s harsh voice can distract the listener from the higher voices’ harmony. Left to dominate the music, it can drive out all other voices. But with love and acceptance and long work, the listener can train fear to take a proper and valued place in the music. Trumpets and violins, at the right time and the right volume, make a beautiful contribution. And fear, as one voice in the fugue, makes the others sharper and more focused.
All this cultivation and harmony produces a more-beautiful music within us. But that isn’t why we — or the semazens — do what we do.
Cultivation and harmony are a station on our path to the final melting of all voices into the pre- and post-eternal, pre-existent Voice. The great underlying song we catch echoes of when the wind is right. In a poem or mountain vista. In rose petals and deep conversation. In woven silk and cut stone. In recitation and contemplation. In silences that are their own music.
This melting strips away the many voices in favor of one Voice. And when a chord of this Voice sounds, all our voices, if we have trained them right, and we, the listener, will leap to join and disappear into the Voice’s song. To disappear into that song as two seas meet and disappear into each other.
Mevlana tells us:
ز آن سوی حس عالم توحید دان ** گر یکی خواهی بدان جانب بران
Zan sawa hass alam-i tawhid dan**gar yeki khawaha-i budan janib baran
The world of unity lies beyond sense**If you want unity, go that way
[Mesnevi, Nicholson lines I. 3099 (Masnavi.net). Transliteration and translation original]
Our cultivation and harmony are in service of that one command: “If you want unity, go that way.”
Eric Evans is an attorney practicing in California. He aspires to follow the path.
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: Responsibilities of Dervishood.
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).
Costa Rica Writer’s Retreat Feb 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.
Spanish Edition: Women of Sufism
We are pleased to share the Spanish edition of Women of Sufism, now available to purchase.
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.
We encourage you to leave reviews on Amazon.
And remember you can donate to Threshold Society through Amazon Smile.
We appreciate your support.
Oct 23-27: San Jose CA, USA. SAND Conference (K)
Nov 2: San Diego CA, USA. Day retreat, more details. (KC)
Dec 14: Bradford, UK. Urs celebration, more details soon.
Dec 20: London, UK. Urs celebration, more details soon
Jan/Feb 2020: 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)
UK Annual Retreat, Dorset
We’d love to hear from you – get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Receive this newsletter by email: sign-up here.