Retreats – ongoing information

candleThe school of sufi teaching holds a number of retreats internationally on an ongoing basis. These are hosted by the different local groups of our order in several countries from Scotland and Poland to Australia and Malaysia and more. Information about these retreats is constantly updated on the our international website at www.sufischool.org (link opens in new tab).

There are also regular retreats held in London twice annually, in February and September. The confirmed dates for these can also be found on the link above.

 

Personal statement from a London student

From time to time, students write personal statements describing their experiences on this path, the events that led them to it, and how they have been affected. A few of these statements have been gathered in the testimonial section of the website.

A new statement has recently been added from a London student, excerpted below:

“Like many people who turn towards spirituality, I have been seeking something deeper in life since I was a teenager. Along the way have been many wrong turns and dead ends. In my mid teens I was drawn to using drugs. I started to develop a deep sense that there was more to life than I was being taught about in school and that my parents knew about. I used to have dreams where a friendly ice cream man would sell me brightly coloured LSD tabs and I would take them and have amazing adventures. I then started to use LSD in real life. After a few years I gave this up as my experiences were becoming increasingly unpleasant. One of my first experiences was of feeling like the universe was made of love, like an invisible substrate upon which all phenomena were built, and that one could utterly trust this all pervasive love.

I started to try to understand what had happened, but could find nobody who even knew what I was talking about!” [continue reading in testimonial section]

After meditation

microcosmI saw: the wonders of the human being –

The blood, the veins, the cells, the heart,

The heartbeat and the brain,

The alchemy of digestion,

And all the complex wondrous beauty,

The living complexity, the profound harmony,

The pulsing, breathing, flowing, rivers of life.

 

I saw these wonders as Divine creation,

As if in a deep red mist –

I saw the created world,

And knew it as Divine creation;

It took my breath away,

To see and breathe all this.

 

I also saw that we – as humans,

Are the self-awareness, the self-consciousness,

Of this creation.

 

We come from God, we are of God,

So we can see all creation and ourselves.

And in this seeing there is knowledge,

Since if we see the wonder of the flowers

And the trees, and the wonders of the human brain,

And heart, and senses, we are seeing

There the multiple faces of creation, and hidden there,

(Hidden deep within),

The single face of the Creator.

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Interview with a student, reflecting on their practice

(This interview is from a 2016 retreat)Jerusalem Street

Salamu alaykum

Wa alaikum assalam

 Can you tell me about your experiences when you first joined the order, and if you’ve been attending retreats regularly, if you’ve noticed any differences in how you feel from the time that you began, to this weeks retreat in London, and reflect on your experiences.

 Okay, so, I joined the Birmingham group in 2011, and one of the reasons I joined was because I did lots of other meditation practises which I found were beneficial in some ways, but in other ways they weren’t – the energies weren’t right, or the feeling wasn’t right in the group.

So I joined the group in 2011 and I found it really peaceful – I was able to meditate, I was able to sit. I think the key thing for me was that it was a practise that was focused on the heart. Lots of other practises focus on your breathing, the mind, the physical body. For me the eye opening thing was just to focus on my heart, to be with my heart rather than anything else.

So I’ve been with the group since 2011, and what I find is just peace. Really, just peaceful. It allows you to live in the world in a very different way. Normally when everything is chaotic and everything is busy, I tend to just focus back onto my heart. I don’t say the intention, but just be with my heart. And everything seems to then just flow. Even in general day-to-day life I find if I just go back to my heart and focus on that, things start to shift.

I think the key thing for me joining the Sufi group also was that I would go to lots of other places and the energy wasn’t right, I would get ill, and things like that. So I find with this practise, the protection is automatically in the practises, I don’t have to do anything.

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The Sufi is a servant

night sky“The Sufi is a servant. Although he or she may be master in terms of teaching others, his or her mastery comes from loving service. Service is a necessary means through which knowledge is expressed and the purpose of human life is fulfilled. Khwaja Yusuf Hamadani (r.a.) (d.1140), one of the foremost Central Asian masters of wisdom, said, ‘service to humanity is not just helpful to correct living. By its means the inner knowledge can be preserved, concentrated, and transmitted’. Sufis typically are not pietists, especially in this day and age. Striving to be ‘in the world but not of the world’, the Sufi attends to professional, domestic, and social duties, and then late at night or early in the morning sits in meditation. He or she is an ordinary person with extraordinary capabilities.”

(From “Turning toward the heart by” by Hazrat Azad Rasool (r) 2002, p53)

The parable of the stream and the desert

The Tale of the Sands

A stream, from its source in far-off mountains, passing through every kind and description of countryside, at last reached the sands of the desert. Just as it had crossed every other barrier, the stream tried to cross this one, but it found that as fast as it ran into the sand, its waters disappeared.

It was convinced, however, that its destiny was to cross this desert, and yet there was no way. Now a hidden voice, coming from the desert itself, whispered: ‘The Wind crosses the desert, and so can the stream.’

The stream objected that it was dashing itself against the sand, and only getting absorbed: that the wind could fly, and this was why it could cross a desert.

‘By hurtling in your own accustomed way you cannot get across. You will either disappear or become a marsh. You must allow the wind to carry you over, to your destination.’

But how could this happen? ‘By allowing yourself to be absorbed in the wind.’

This idea was not acceptable to the stream. After all, it had never been absorbed before. It did not want to lose its individuality. And, once having lost it, how was one to know that it could ever be regained ?

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Am I fit to follow the Sufi path?

(Notes from listening to Hazrat Asad Rasool ( circa 1996)

Mosque ceiling, Uzbekistan1. Do not believe Shaitan (or your doubts) when he says, “you are not fit for this”. Use will power to sit regularly in meditation.

2. We are separated from Nature and from Truth and therefore from God.

3. What are the needs of people? They wish to be relieved from mental tension (suffering).

4. There are two kinds of cure (as in medicine), symptomatic and causal.

5. The cause of our suffering is estrangement from God.

6. Overcoming this estrangement requires the development of true spirituality. This is not the same as “spiritualism” or the cultivation of “cultic” practices or beliefs.

7. True spirituality is hard to define. In this Sufi path it is attainable via transmission from the teacher. The teacher is able to transmit the means of receiving blessings from the Almighty just as the transmitter enables the broadcast of TV programs.

8. Just as the TV receiver needs to be “tuned in”, in the same way the student of the Sufi teacher needs to be able to receive the blessings.

9. The aim of this is not the gaining of spiritual “powers”. The aim is only to achieve closeness to God.

10. God is merciful, and if we take one step towards him he takes 10 steps towards us.

11. This closeness can also be achieved by the love of the student for the teacher.

12. The teacher “offers up” the love received from the student towards God. In this way the teacher acts as a sort of channel by which the student can get closer to the Almighty, or the Holy Essence.

13. At the first step of the meditation the student turns their attention to the “heart”.

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Sufism attempts to light candles in the darkness

candle“Dedicated practice of Sufism makes for an increasingly integrated and transformed human being. Such a person can only benefit his or her community and society as a whole. There is, I am sorry to say, a pressing need for such people – for people who, while fulfilling their outer responsibilities, are also inwardly attentive and refined. Our societies need people who act from their hearts, with hearts that are refined and loving.

No-one can change the world single-handedly. Each person can change himself or herself and, having done so, influence others to do the same. Sufism is not now, nor has it ever been, a mass movement. It operates on an individual level. It attempts to light candles in the darkness. In this way, Sufism yields a particular harvest within society. Today, more than ever before, society needs the fruits of that harvest.”

(From Hazrat Azad Rasool, Turning toward the heart, 2002 p.20.)

I could not have imagined Jerusalem

Jerusalem archwayI could not have imagined you, Jerusalem.

The colour of your stones, and of the land

And of the terraced hillsides, and of the desert,

Was yellow ochre tinged with white,

With lemon yellow, and vermilion.

But that was just the detail.

 

The essence was the might, the mightiness,

The peacefulness, the power,

The deep and hidden majesty,

Of four eternal spirits mingled.

Of Adam, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad.

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