The Spiritual Meaning of Breath and the Inner Essence of Sufi Teaching


Reshad Feild (born 1934 as Richard Timothy Feild) is an English mystic, spiritual teacher, musician and author. He has written more than a dozen books on spirituality, the secret of breath and the inner essence of Sufi teaching. Over the past forty years, he has had a huge influence on thousands of western seekers after truth.

 

 

Following a typical British upper class education at Eton, he served in the Royal Navy for two years. In the early 1960s he became a folk singer and travelled the world as what, at that time, would have been called a “spiritual hippie”. On his journeys, among else, he met up with a dervish brotherhood and thus the mystical branch of Islam. This meeting was to bring about the beginning of a complete change in his life.

 

 

After his return to England, he became involved with the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky whilst performing as a ‘singing waiter’ in a famous London restaurant called “Luba’s Bistro”, owned and run by Gurdjieff’s niece. At that time he was still called “Tim”, as did his family. When he met Tom, the brother of the famous singer Dusty Springfield, his career changed from folk singing to cabaret, radio and TV. Together the three of them went on to form the vocal group The Springfields (see YouTube), which won an award as “the national vocal group of the year” in 1962. Tim then resigned from the Springfields, and although he was replaced by another singer called Mike Hurst, the group finally disbanded when Dusty started her successful solo career. Tim became an antiques dealer in London.

 

 

It was during that time that he met Pir Vilayat Khan, the Head of the Sufi Order International, who initiated him and changed his name from “Tim” to “Reshad”. Thus Reshad left the antiques business and went on to help organise and run a spiritual teaching centre in Gloucestershire. This centre was set up on former Swyre Farm in Aldsworth and was close to Sherborne House, the spiritual school run by John G. Bennett, to which there were friendly ties. The centre’s final name Beshara was chosen by a man who in the meantime had become Reshad’s most important spiritual teacher: Bulent Rauf, a Turkish author and translator who himself stemmed from a long line of Sufism going back to the Andalusian mystic Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi

(1165–1240) and whom Reshad called “Hamid” in his first book, The Last Barrier. This book was eventually translated into many languages and remains one of the classics of modern spiritual literature. It tells the spellbinding story of Reshad meeting Hamid in a London antiques store and the start of a journey which was to change the whole of his life. A description of events at the Beshara centre is given in the book I,Wabenziby Rafi Zabor (see Amazon).

 

 

In December 1971, at the suggestion of Bulent, Reshad and a group of students went to Konya (Turkey) to study the sacred ceremony of the Mevlevi order of dervishes, sometimes known as “the whirling dervishes”. While there, he met the then sheikh of the Mevlevis, Suleyman Dede, who initiated him as a sheikh of that order. In 1973 Reshad resigned his role leading the Beshara centre and was instructed by Bulent Rauf to go to Vancouver in Canada, where he started a teaching centre. Later, further centres were set up in California, Boulder (Colorado) and Mexico. In all these centres Reshad assisted in introducing the Sema ceremony, the sacred ceremony of the Mevlevis, which was declared a cultural world heritage by Unesco in 2004.

 

 

In the early 1980s Reshad moved to Europe, where he established and supervised a large teaching centre called Johanneshof at the Lake of Lucerne in Switzerland. Johanneshof became internationally known and, until his disbandment in 1995, received hundreds of people from many nationalities in its brotherly community, helping them on their individual search for the meaning of life. In the course of time, Reshad’s teaching has more and more abandoned outer form, although he never ceased to highly respect all authentic traditions. Always focussing on the inner essence, he regards form and labels as suitcases which may be necessary on parts of the journey but which can be left behind when the seeker resolutely advances.

 

 

Reshad now leads a secluded life in England, where he continues to write and advise seekers of what he calls “the Way of Love, Compassion and Service”. When asked which spiritual tradition or line this way follows, he says, “We seek for knowledge, but knowledge is not mere information. It is the knowledge of oneself. ‘He who knows himself knows his Lord.’ Little by little we have to discard all the labels and baggage that appear to have supplied our needs in the past, for there is only one Absolute Existence. In this sense we are just ‘People of the Way’.”