by Majid David Vowells, Kinship Coordinator, New Zealand
There are many rhythms in our lives marking the passage of time, and those of an annual event bring a particular sense of anticipation and pleasure. So it was when we met on another Saturday morning in July for Kinship weekend, celebrating Hazrat Inayat Khan’s birthday, and this year, our beautiful Jamia Haqq, who is moving on from running our centre. As usual Hadia Penton led the dances through the weekend, joined on the first day by Dakini Maris.
Logically enough, our theme for our time together was kinship. Led by Jamila, we made a deep inquiry into what kinship means to each of us, how we practice it, and what Murshid’s teachings on the subject were;
The message of kinship is a message of sympathy; a message of sympathy is a message of harmony. The person who is not in harmony with themself cannot be harmonious with another. –HIK
The main source we used was the Social Gathekas on Brotherhood, and although written just after the first world war, how apposite for our own times too. Murshid spoke of the spirit of agitation of his time, the one that we know, and that comes from disorder of the mind and body. He uses the metaphor of a silken thread which at one end has become knotted:
The same soul who represents God on earth, when it is turned into a knot, then finds difficulty with itself, difficulty with the others, others find difficulty with it…
. If there is anything most important to be done in the work of kinship – sister -brotherhood, it is to develop that spirit (of sympathy) in ourselves by getting above all knots and difficulties.
In sohbet we explored the qualities that we all need to do this – kindness, harmony, generosity of spirit, openness, tolerance, and many, many more…. It’s beautiful to see how the study of one word, and one activity, grows to encompass the whole path.
We were blessed with a warm afternoon and took to the land with the challenge of looking at the iron, copper, silver and gold rules, and asking ourselves, if I lived them, what would happen in my relationships? This proved very fruitful and lead to an interesting discussion on the Sunday morning about some of the more opaque ones, and rules in general; (not all of us like them). Some of us are already on the path of chivalry, and several more decided to contact Suhrawardi and enroll.
Most years we enact one of Murshid’s plays, but with several of us involved in the Suluk course this year we had a reading of Farid ud-Din Attar’s Conference of the Birds instead, and the evening was spent dancing and listening to Jamia Haqq tell stories of Halima, the founder of Sharda. Sunday morning was a time for diving into practices, putting into action everything we had learned the day before.
As I write this New Zealand is back under lockdown and it leads us to appreciate even more the time we spent together. As the silver rule says;
Let not your spirit be humbled in adversity.
From the land of the long white cloud, Aotearoa, blessings to our sisters and brothers on Turtle Island, and may you all stay safe.