An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

Posts Tagged ‘mevlevi tradition’

Threshold UK Annual Retreat: Aug 30th – Sep 1st

In Meditation, Mevlevi Tradition, Religion, Spirit, heart & soul on August 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm

threshold logo

With Shaikh Kabir Helminski, Camille Helminski, & special guests: Celal Celebi & Jeremy Henzell-Thomas.

This year’s theme is Practical Sufism:

Sufism is a spiritual path that awakens and develops our latent human capacities; it is a uniquely subtle, comprehensive, and yet practical teaching. The nuanced poetry of Rumi, for instance, is not just great literature; it is an expression of a state of being that was cultivated through Sufi practice. During this weekend we will explore the practical side of the Sufi Path, including such subjects as: intention, presence, breath, meditation, dhikr, spiritual courtesy, right livelihood, and creative imagination.

Gaunts House, Dorset – set in 1600 acres of beautiful grounds and an 18th century mansion, join us for a weekend full of  spiritual practice, music and friendship.

We hope to see you there! For more information and registration form see here.

Gaunts House, Dorset

Gaunts House, Dorset


Soul & Food

In Food & Cooking, Mevlevi Tradition on January 5, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Today another fast food shop, serving fried chicken, opened on the high street near where I live in Hackney, London. There are now about seven all together now, all very busy. I saw how their half price deal attracted a throng of local sixth form students. Fifteen years ago, there was only a single fish and chips shop. For many, there doesn’t seem to be a problem with fast food. I have the occasional take away too. For others however, it is empty – and its not necessarily those who are counting their calories or exercising regularly. Some sensitive souls are receptive to the intention, energy and quality through which the food was prepared. One only needs to go to a cafe in Istanbul or a restaurant in Konya to feel an amazing sense of soul in the atmosphere.  The hospitality, lighting, music, quality of food all add together to give, in my view, a very therapeutic experience! (If you’re in London, I highly recommend Azizia Turkish restaurant in Islington)

In the Mevlevi tradition the kitchen is considered as sacred a place as the prayer hall. Derveshes would often bow before entering. The 1001 day dervesh training traditionally carried out in a dergha would include much time in the kitchen, preparing, cooking, serving and cleaning. I asked a Shikeh who had spent a number of years with Suleyman Dede what his teaching methodology included. He replied ‘ I spent most of the time just serving tea’.I know of some mystics who are very sensitive to the light or darkness contained in food. Food containing light would often be prepared with intention and infused with baraka (spiritual grace). In such cooking, its normal for the cook to engage in zikr (remembrance) while cooking.

Dinner time offers a good center for family and a good opportunity for tarbeyah as I’m discovering. It offers an opportunity for prayer, preparation, service, coming together, cleaning, adab (etiquette), humor, story telling amongst other things. With the right intention and receptivity, the dinning table may also be a place of sohbet (spiritual discourse).  I learned of one Shiekha who would often take her students out after Fajr (the morning prayer) to a cafe and engage in sohbet there.  Indeed, my own deepest experience during a Turkey retreat last year, occurred not in a mosque or formal zikr session but at the breakfast table.

Here’s a bowl of fruit for you
With apple pieces and pear bites too
With kiwi slices and banana rounds
Just the size for little hands
I don’t always have the words to say
Or the perfect bedtime tale to tell
To say I’m sorry things aren’t quite
The way we would really like
That even so, it’s still ok.
Perhaps you already know
You tell me
Every story has bad parts
Here’s a bowl of fruit for you
Of apple, pear and kiwi bites.

Poem by Rabia Saida Spiker

Is imagination more important than knowledge?

In Education, Mevlevi Tradition, parenting on January 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm

“Why is it that in creative writing courses today, the very first thing we teach students is write what you know. Perhaps, that’s not the right way to start at all. Imaginative literature isn’t necessarily writing, who we are or what we know or what our identity is about. We should teach young people and ourselves to expand our hearts and write what we can feel”. Elif Shafak

The paragraph above has give me, somebody who thinks in pictures, numbers and symbols, the courage to set up a blog and write. As a parent I feel. I feel authors like Elif Shafak, who have immense levels of creativity, have much to teach us and remind us through their imaginative story telling. But how are we to expand our hearts and express what we feel. I must confess I was poor at both verbal and written expression until I sat in sohbet (spiritual discourse). I don’t claim to be particularly good now but I think I’ve improved a great deal. The first thing Kabir Dede asked us to do when to speak was not worry about grammar or sounding eloquent- “speak from the heart” he said. For his own teacher, Suleyman Dede, didn’t know any English nor did Kabir Dede speak Turkish. Yet they got by; teachings were transmitted, hearts understood and souls were cooked. In sohbet students are asked to listen non-judgmentally with presence. Isn’t that amazing? listening opens up a space both inwardly and outwardly! Mevlana Rumi reminds us of the importance of listening:

“Since in order to speak one must first listen,

Learn to speak by first listening”


Today I found my daughter having a wonderful conversation on her toy phone with a police man. I listened attentively, as she used words I didn’t know she knew. She ended with “bye now, you too”. I asked her what she was talking about. She said she was phoning the police man because, Owais, her younger brother was being naughty.

Later I reflected on this incident and I realised what an active imagination children have. How much of it gets nurtured and how much gets covered by ‘things they are supposed to learn’ which has its place too but often at a price. Ask a class of year 7 if they can ‘explain what it feels like on the moon?’ and a dozen or more hands go up. Put the same question to year 11 and less then half a dozen. What went wrong in those five years? The goal of secondary and sixth form teachers nowadays is, from my experience, to create independent learners and thinkers. May be a way to start is give space to their inquisitive minds and imagination while they are young. How can we expects kids to be creative if they’re imaginations haven’t been given its due importance? Didn’t Einstein devise his theory of relativity with thought experiments such as ‘what the would the world look like if I sat on a beam of light?’ To complete the quote on imagination “Imagination is more important that knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand”. Albert Einstein. .