Chisholme Blog

Screenshot 2021-04-08 at 15.18.02.png

Ibn 'Arabi and the World of the Imagination
Frances Ryan | Thursday, 8th April, 2021

A beautiful, wide-ranging talk on Ibn 'Arabi and the World of Imagination.

This online talk was given by Cecilia Twinch as an online presentation on March 6, 2021, offered through the Monash University's 'The Hidden Treasure Seminar Series'.

To listen, please follow this link on the University website:

Link to post

Screenshot 2021-01-25 at 11.47.57.png

Entangled Life
Frances Ryan | Monday, 25th January, 2021

Merlin Sheldrake on the remarkable world of fungi; Beshara Magazine

Here is the review of a book which seems to be of particular relevance to us today.

From climate change, consciousness and modern farming practice to city planning, well-being, philosophy or the meaning of life – whichever way we look, fungi seem to have something important to teach us.
Isabella Tree – of Wilding fame [2] – has said that it ‘changes the way we need to look at life, the planet and ourselves’ and it does, indeed, seem that almost every page reveals some new, hitherto unsuspected wonder.

Read the full review here in the Beshara Magazine – Entangled Life

Link to post

Screenshot 2020-10-10 at 12.41.16.png

Penny Fund closes
John Brass | Saturday, 10th October, 2020

The Penny Fund was started in 1985 by Bulent Rauf, to support students at Chisholme.

The Penny Fund has been closed.

The Penny Fund for New and Needy Students, Santander R10841221BRA, was closed at the end of September 2020, and the remaining amount sent to The Chisholme Institute, as an aid to the students who are on the 40 day Course.

The Fund was started in 1985 by Bűlent Rauf, who was in Oxford at the time. He gave 50 pence to Adam Dupre and John Brass telling them to go into the Abbey National Building Society and open an account in their names, the purpose of which was for older students and friends to put in their loose change, and with this help new and needy students who wanted to attend courses.

Over the years an amount was sent to the Secretary at Chisholme for the beginning of each long residential course in October. The action resembled a slow breath, in that the fund would be almost depleted except for a token amount, and then slowly built again - emptied and filled up.

Bearing in mind the changes in banking since its inception, the present signatories, John Brass and Aliya Ryan, felt that the fund had served its purpose.

They would like to thank all those who contributed over the years.

If you have a red collecting box in your possession, please contact, so we can arrange for a new label for the box, with charity number and bank account details, to be sent to you.

You can also contribute directly to the Student Fund at Chisholme, by paying direct to this account:

The Chisholme Institute Project Fund
Lloyds Bank
Sort code 30-94-92
Account 07311214

Please quote as reference 'Student Fund'
Add link to Funding page and Student Fund

Many thanks!

Link to post


Update for the 2020/21 winter period
Frances Ryan | Friday, 11th September, 2020

The Chisholme Estate is open to visitors to walk the paths and woodland areas and visit the monument and graves. For ONLINE programme and residential winter courses see [Calendar](

Corona Virus and Chisholme:

Volunteers are welcome to come during the day and work in the garden and on the estate. Current social distancing guidelines and hygiene practices must be followed.

It might be possible to accommodate some visitors for overnight stays, but that will depend on government guidelines which are changing daily.

For ONLINE programme and residential winter courses see Calendar

Thank you all for your continued support from all at Chisholme.

Link to post


Corona Virus and Chisholme
Frances Ryan | Thursday, 12th March, 2020

Update September: The Chisholme Estate is open to visitors to walk the paths and woodland areas and visit the monument and graves. It is also possible for volunteers to come during the day and work in the garden and on the estate. Current social distancing guidelines and hygiene practices must be followed. A small number of visitors can be accommodated. Please read on...

Corona Virus and Chisholme:

In line with Government guidelines, Chisholme is unable to accept visitors or volunteers for the time being.

Please see Calendar for what is on offer now.

Thank you all for your continued support

from all at Chisholme.

Link to post

Screenshot 2020-01-19 at 18.41.42.png

The Ways of the Heart
Beshara Trust | Sunday, 19th January, 2020

An online Beshara course exploring a spiritual life and unified perspective in the contemporary world. 26 May – 13 August 2020

An online Beshara course exploring a spiritual life and unified perspective in the contemporary world.

The course will run from 26th May – 13th August 2020
Cost: £35-50

“You start at a point beyond religion and go inwards from there.” So said Bulent Rauf, consultant to the Beshara Trust from 1971 to 1987. His striking and intriguing statement is the starting point for the Beshara online courses, whose aim is to acknowledge the one reality that underlies all religious and secular beliefs and to allow for the exploration of inner meanings.

The Ways of the Heart courses are designed to facilitate an understanding of the deepest aspects of the human being. To find out more, and to book, please see here...

Link to post

Screenshot 2019-12-15 at 20.26.17.png

Let us go toward Union...
Frances Ryan | Sunday, 15th December, 2019

Listen, O dearly beloved! So starts one of Ibn 'Arabi's best known pieces of writing.

The Theophany of Perfection

Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi

Listen, O dearly beloved!
I am the reality of the world, the centre of the circumference,
I am the parts and the whole.
I am the will established between Heaven and Earth,
I have created perception in you only in order to be the object of My Perception.
If then you perceive Me, you perceive yourself.
But you cannot perceive Me through yourself.
It is through My Eyes that you see Me and see yourself,
Through your eyes you cannot see Me.

Dearly beloved!
I have called you so often and you have not heard Me.
I have shown Myself to you so often and you have not seen Me.
I have made Myself fragrance so often, and you have not smelled Me,
Savorous food, and you have not tasted Me.
Why can you not reach Me through the object you touch
Or breathe Me through sweet perfumes?
Why do you not see Me? Why do you not hear Me?
Why? Why? Why?

For you My delights surpass all other delights,
And the pleasure I procure you surpasses all other pleasures.
For you I am preferable to all other good things,
I am Beauty, I am Grace.
Love Me, love Me alone.
Love yourself in Me, in Me alone.
Attach yourself to Me,
No one is more inward than I.
Others love you for their own sakes,
I love you for yourself.
And you, you flee from Me.

Dearly beloved!
You cannot treat Me fairly,
For if you approach Me,
It is because I have approached you.
I am nearer to you than yourself,
Than your soul, than your breath.
Who among creatures
Would treat you as I do?
I am jealous of you, over you,
I want you to belong to no other,
Not even to yourself.
Be Mine, be for Me as you are in Me,
Though you are not even aware of it.

Dearly beloved!
Let us go toward Union.
And if we find the road
That leads to separation,
We will destroy separation.
Let us go hand in hand.
Let us enter the presence of Truth.
Let It be our judge
And imprint Its seal upon our union
For ever.

Link to post


Ecosystems as Love Processes
Frances Ryan | Tuesday, 22nd October, 2019

The Beshara Lecture From biological war ideology to understanding reality as alive Speaker: Andreas Weber; Saturday 16th November 2019, London

Does nature practise love?
Why is our economy still destroying the natural environment?
Is it built on a wrong image of life, where the strongest wins and fitness grants success?

Biological life is never about one winning, but rather an endless celebration of reciprocity.

Ecosystems are ways to organise giving that allow the whole to flourish and the individuals to take what they need. If we understand this desire for mutuality as inbuilt in the living world will we be able to imagine a culture that does not destroy life, but that mimics ecology, enacting what may be seen as a practice of love?

The Beshara Lecture is a lecture held annually, for the furtherance of the knowledge of the unity of existence and its ramifications in areas of human endeavour. Sponsored by the Beshara Trust

The Beshara Lecture: Speaker Andreas Weber, Saturday, 16th November, 2019 from 2pm
Venue: Royal Asiatic Society, Stephensons Way, Kings Cross, London NW1 2HD

See here for an article on this subject by the Andreas Weber, published in the Beshara Magazine

Link to post

Screenshot 2019-08-29 at 11.40.32.png

Seeing something for the very first time...
Jane Clark | Thursday, 29th August, 2019

On Christmas Eve 1968 the first picture ever of our whole planet from ‘outside’ was taken. It has become one of the most powerful symbols of our age.

Jane Clark contemplates the view of Earth from the moon, first captured in the famous photograph ‘Earthrise’ in the following article, published this summer in the Beshara Magazine

Link to post

Screenshot 2019-06-22 at 10.11.52.png

A message for our time
Message from the Hopi Elders | Saturday, 22nd June, 2019

At this time in history we are to take nothing personally. Least of all ourselves.

Message from the Hopi Elders

To my fellow swimmers:
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hang on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The Elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the stream, keep our eyes open and our heads above the water.

And I say,
See who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history we are to take nothing personally.
Least of all ourselves.
For the moment that we do our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Gather yourselves.
Banish the word ‘struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Link to post


Happy Birthday, lovely table!
Charles Verey | Saturday, 8th December, 2018

The fabulous dining-room table at Chisholme is 40 years old this winter. Charles Verey tells its story.

The fabulous dining-room table at Chisholme is 40 years old this winter. It can seat up to 26 people and was custom-made to fit the room, by Charles Verey. He was a novice carpenter at the time, and – as he recounts below – had never made a piece of furniture before in his life…

Charles writes: It was made in 1978, in the workshops on the lower ground floor at Sherborne House in Gloucestershire, in response to a specific request for a dining-table for Chisholme. It was delivered to Chisholme 40 years ago, in or around the second week of December.

I had been a student on the first Beshara 6-month course held at Sherborne from Michaelmas 1976. My only experience of joinery came later from a 6-month government-funded retraining course in Carpentry and Joinery. I had lived in Radnorshire for several years and was eligible to do this course in Wales: and in the event I signed in at Wrexham in Clwyd in the winter of 1977-78.

While I was doing this carpentry course I took a room in a boarding house in Ruabon and drove down every week-end to the original Beshara Centre at Swyre Farm. It must have been around this time that a company called Beshara Crafts Ltd was set up, because when the Wrexham course ended in April 1978, I was given access to the large but rather dark workshop at Sherborne and started to work as Beshara Crafts Woodworking Division. I invested in two machines, a heavy mortice machine and a well-engineered German-made multipurpose woodworking machine with planer/thicknesser, saw bench and a spindle attachment. At the time however I had no experience in making furniture.

Chisholme House had been painstakingly restored by volunteers after the first 6-month course held there in 1975-76. In the summer of 1978 I was asked to make a dining table that would be suitable for the first advanced ‘second-course’ planned by Bulent Rauf, who at the time was consultant to the school. I was told that it would be needed in October. In the event it was delivered in time for Christmas.

Shape, size and style were specified by Bulent and the specification was passed on to me by John Boyd-Brent on a simple descriptive pencil drawing. It was to be 18 feet long by six wide and it was to be made using a felled Yew tree from the grounds at Sherborne House.

The yew had not been planked, but it was clear that it would need to be cut through into thicknesses that would suit the cutting lists for the table. It was also clear to me that it would be too difficult to make a flat surface of the required size of the table-top out of solid timber. In any case there was nothing like enough yew to even consider it as an option. I decided to make the top in three sections and to use the best quality ply-wood. In principle the table would be made in ply-wood and beech and the structure would be hidden under applied pieces of cut and shaped yew. The twelve legs are the only solid yew pieces.

So before we took the trunk to the Sherborne Estate wood-mill, plan and elevation scale-drawings were needed, as well as a good calculator and a lot of rough paper. Experiments had also to be made to find out how wide a board could be cut back to three-millimetre-thick fillets on the table-saw. The final width of the yew boards that are laid down onto the ply-wood tops would initially be dictated by the capacity of the multi-purpose machine: but in the event when we came to planking the yew-tree trunk it was clear that although I could calculate optimum thicknesses for each plank, the width of boards would be dictated by the markings, knots and irregularities of the timber.

Finally after many hours’ work, I had help from Judy Kearns and others, away from the dusty workshop in the great hall at Sherborne House, to clean the surface in order to take the finishing oil. The long hours of wood-working had come and gone: in spite of lack of experience and the narrowest of margins between the amount of yew required and the potential of the timber that was given for the work, the process had progressed with a sense of ease.

Some concern has recently been expressed about the fading from the morning sunlight and from heat marking. The surface however has its own natural mellowness. I am not however the right person to advise on any treatment that might help its further natural aging: a good antiques restorer would surely give better advice.

The dining-table, like every act of recognition that Chisholme has inspired both in its interior facing and in its exterior face, is held without any possibility of doubt under a single order of hearing and taste. For this there is only gratitude to the unknowable author of the mysteries of absoluteness.

Charles Verey 5th December 2018

{CGSmartImage src='uploads/images/page-images/Yew multi.jpg' class='img-responsive'}

Link to post

RachelG blog.jpg

What Is Private About the Private Face?
Rachel Gordin | Friday, 12th October, 2018

It was in 1989 that I first came to the school at Chisholme House. In the exterior, it was an invitation to a wedding celebration... writes Rachel Gordin

It was in 1989 that I first came to the school at Chisholme House. In the exterior, it was an invitation to a wedding celebration of a friend which served as an excuse for my visit. Interiorly, it was in response to a poem by Ibn 'Arabi included in that letter of invitation, and which I perceived as a wild call of my heart to be known and recognised. It was written as a love letter from God, and said:

"Dearly beloved, I have called you so often and you have not heard me. I have shown myself to you so often and you have not seen me... Why do you not see me? Why do you not hear me? Why? Why? Why?... I am nearer to you than yourself, than your soul, than your breath..."

Ever since then my relationship with the school has had this unique taste of an almost paradoxical combination between the most vast impersonal perspective, and the most intimate secret, sweet as well as piercing, whispered to the heart. On the one hand - the metaphysics of Ibn 'Arabi, telling us that there is only One Unique Being, and that coming under this truth, and letting it be realized in us, can define a new space of unfathomable possibilities; and on the other hand - this secret invitation, as if special to you, that no one else can understand or touch. And "your life" is suddenly perceived as a Moebius Ring, in which the Exterior and the Interior constantly change places. And you yourself seem to be a puzzle in which time is of no consequence and things that happened years ago are seen in a completely new light in the most unexpected way.

Love takes so many forms! There is love for that which is unknowable, unimaginable and entirely other than you; that which is completely pure and cannot be contaminated by my "selfness". Ibn 'Arabi writes about this sort of love: " Wild she is. None can make her his friend". There is love which derives from similarity to anything human. Meister Eckhart writes that he wakes up to pray at night like a mother hearing her baby calling her. There is love that takes shelter under the wing of a Divine Name, which serves a more or less specific quality, like giving praise, or serving beauty or subtlety. This can be private and personal according to the Names each of us is destined to serve, according to our taste and capacity. But there is also the mysterious possibility that Ibn 'Arabi calls "the Private Face of God", which seems to be not private at all. Or, maybe more correctly, it's privacy is not ours but God's. And it is not according to our capacity or value. The Private Face of God seems to be entirely the work of the Wahab - that aspect of God which is of pure Opulence and Richness-Beyond-Need; Which grants gifts because it's in its nature. That aspect which Ibn 'Arabi was advised to take as his sole companion on the Way. The Private Face is not personal, yet it is most unique. There is nothing like it, and apparently no one ever experiences it in the same way. This is apparently what is hinted at when we say about a saint: "Let God sanctify his secret".

It is said that Beshara, or the school at Chisholme House, is not offering a way. The way, says Ibn 'Arabi, is created by the feet that tread it. The only function of the school is to clear the obstacles that might prevent advance. And the invitation to us, as students, is to love the Real as deeply and sincerely as we can, and receive with gratitude whatever comes. Let It find Its unique way into our heart. I have trod, and am still treading, my own path: There are times of pure magic, when that which is given abundantly is almost too much to bear, and there are times of helplessly being exposed to myself (and others) as false and pretending. But all extremes are engulfed by the love and compassion that cover the whole issue. Paraphrasing Simon Veil: 'Thank you, God, for exposing all my faults. Not necessarily in the aim of correcting them, but so that I'll be in the presence of Truth.'

In speaking about the intimacy of the Private Face one can easily fall into pretence, thinking that something was gained, deserved and owned. But love (for truth or beauty) is not like that. I've lately read about a Japanese poetess who is over ninety years old and she writes that when she is sad - she cups in her hands the sunlight that creeps under the door and dips her face in it. As for me, at the present stage of "my life" (closer to the end than the beginning) I pay attention to what it is that people lean on as the meaning of their life, and I feel extremely grateful for what was given to find as meaning by Ibn 'Arabi and the school. And I ask for no better than to be able to say, in the words of my dear friend and companion on the way, shortly before she died (said in a heavy Lancashire accent): "Gee-e-e, We are such ordinary people, all of us, and yet we were given to see a glimpse of our potential".

Link to post

Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 07.05.37.png

Beauties of the night, and of the day…
Frances Ryan | Tuesday, 17th July, 2018

A walk on the wild side with the Scottish Wildlife Trust, around the Chisholme Estate

Beauties of the night, and of the day…

In early July the Scottish Wildlife Trust arranged a walk around the Chisholme Estate.

We were fortunate enough to have as our guides Alison Smith, Malcolm Lindsay and Sarah Eno, all extremely well versed in things to do with nature. Malcolm, who knows a lot about moths, suggested setting traps the night before. The day could then start with a look at what the traps had to offer, followed by a tour of the estate, ending with a hike up to Chapel Hill and back down for afternoon tea at Chisholme. Would that be enough to fill a day, we wondered?

Saturday morning arrived, and more than 30 people assembled from all corners of the Borders; for many this was their first visit to Chisholme.

Malcolm had set two traps – one near the house and one at the top of Whitrig Wood. There is a good variety of deciduous trees around the house, and an abundance of birch in Whitrig which would attract different kinds of night-flying insects. Once in the trap, moths tend to crawl into shelters made up of egg-boxes, where they can safely stay until daytime, and after inspection be released unharmed.

Everyone collected near the garden table on the front lawn and Malcolm opened the traps. Taking the greatest possible care he gently prised out the egg-boxes one by one, to see what the previous night might have yielded.

{CGSmartImage src='uploads/images/page-images/Moths1.jpg' class='img-responsive'}

You may be forgiven to think that of all the lovely things the Chisholme Estate has to offer, moths would be somewhere very low down on a list of priorities….but for those of us present on that Saturday morning, there was a very pleasant surprise!

{CGSmartImage src='uploads/images/page-images/Moths3.jpg' class='img-responsive'}
Starting top right and going clockwise:
Poplar Hawk Moth; Green Carpet; Lt Emerald & Burnished Brass & Dark Marbled Carpet; Beautiful Golden-Y; Brimstone moth; 2 Mottled Beauty (above and below) then from the left Lesser Swallow Prominent, Green Carpet, Lempke’s Gold Spot, Pebble Prominent

Just two traps in one night in July produced over 65 different species of moth – each with a beautiful and poetic name, doing justice to their delicate and subtle differences – such as Common Lutestring, Angel Shades, True Lovers Knot, Smoky Wainscot, Burnished Brass, Mottled Beauty… We spent a spellbinding hour delighted by these lovely creatures, who gave us a glimpse into just one tiny facet of that extraordinary world of the night, of which most of us are usually quite unaware.

{CGSmartImage src='uploads/images/page-images/Moths2.jpg' class='img-responsive'}
Lesser Swallow Prominent; Lempke's Gold Spot; Garden Tiger and Peppered Moth; Elephant Hawk Moth

We then moved to Jili’s beautiful woodland garden, overflowing with foxgloves and other woodland flowers, to look for red squirrels, admired the swan family on the lake, and proceeded down the drive to enter Whitrig Wood.

Whitrig Wood, or the Wild Woods, as many call them, is indeed a wild and wonderful place. The woods had been partly clear-felled in the early 1980s and then left virtually untouched to re-generate of their own accord. For unknown reasons, a few trees, including oak, rowan and Caledonian pines, had been left standing and these have now matured into magnificent trees of great character. They stand between the half-rotten trunks of old windfalls and thickets of young birch, adding a touch of magic and mystery to these woods and providing food and shelter to a myriad of creatures, from fungi and lichen to orchids, woodpecker, deer, fox and buzzard.

We spent hours in the woods, being shown countless details large and small, in particular by Sarah Eno, who is a very experienced botanist. Here are some of the things she pointed out: the easily visible woodland plants at that time year are typical ferns like Male Fern, Broad Buckler Fern and very fine scrambling Bedstraws - Marsh Bedstraw especially. Many flowering plants like Marsh Avens had finished flowering and were left with their little spiky seed burrs like a bad hair day. There was a beautiful 'Melancholy Thistle' in flower in the lower part of the woods; it is named so because apparently it was used to treat melancholy; certainly when in flower it does! There were several Heath Spotted Orchids, which flower slightly later than other orchids, and up on the moor there was the very bright yellow of the iris family plant, Bog Aspodel. It is known also as Bonebreaker (Narthecium ossifragum) because it was thought that lambs feeding on it got brittle bones, but the truth is, that it was calcium deficiency in the pasture. However a known side-effect of eating the plant is apparently that it increases the sensitivity of lambs skin (esp. ears) to sunburn, if they eat the plant.

Once we reached the top of the hill, there was only time for a quick sortie to the moorland, and then it was time to return to the house.

Colin, Julie, Hiroko, Lucy and the many volunteers at Chisholme House had prepared a magnificent afternoon tea for us, with poppy seed cake and banoffi pie, and we all left happy, well fed and deeply nourished by the beauty of the day.

{CGSmartImage src='uploads/images/page-images/Moths 4.jpg' class='img-responsive'}

Read and download the full moth survey

Link to post

Screen Shot 2017-05-13 at 15.11.11.png

Building Peace: with Scilla Elworthy
Frances Ryan | Saturday, 13th May, 2017

Sunday 28 May: How can we be useful? A workshop with Scilla Elworthy

Many people feel powerless in the face of what they see on TV or read in the news - a world in crisis, with wars and violence erupting across the globe.

Chisholme is delighted to be hosting a one-day workshop on Sunday 28 May, for all those who want to step out of helplessness.

Come and apply your own personal skills to do something about the challenges now facing us.
We’ll spend time responding to the question“what can I do about all this?”
We’ll investigate not only the myriad opportunities for service opening up, but also look into the skills we all need if we are to be effective in our chosen actions.

Scilla Elworthy PhD has been three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She is founder of Peace Direct, which works with local peace-builders in conflict areas, and was adviser to Peter Gabriel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir Richard Branson in setting up ‘The Elders’. She co-founded Rising Women Rising World in 2014, and teaches self knowledge to young social entrepreneurs.

We need individuals like Dr Elworthy to start the work of preventing war…This has been my personal dream for many years.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Find out more...

Link to post

Tinning a kazaan.jpg

...leaving all the space to God
Frances Ryan | Friday, 13th January, 2017

What is the intimate inner work of a person aspiring to live life in complete awareness?

Osman Fazli, one of the great Ottoman saints of the 17th century, lived in interesting times. His response to the needs of his particular era, informed as it was by his education in the Unity of Existence, may illuminate our own, no less interesting, times. He brought himself to mind and heart during the current ‘Single Vision’ conversation week at Chisholme.

Man does not possess anything else but his sensibilities
as his real organ of intelligence
and without Divine action man cannot even use his memory
which is his sacred treasury of experience acquired long ago. The initiate, the saint, the insani kamil, is he who possesses
the faculty of being able to recognise the true non-existence of his faculties of thought
and his own impotence in putting them in motion. It is he who leaves all the 'space' to God
and who passes all his life in controlling his intimate faithfulness,
in actions, 'thought' or in the acts that materialise them. It is he who prays constantly to God,
even if it be only by a breath or by a movement of the heart,
when he perceives the natural and constant phenomena of thought. Osman Fazlı

To read an account of Osman Fazli's life and times, see here...

Link to post


Chisholme Blog | Tuesday, 18th October, 2016

A poem from Shane Jagger, our resident poet


soon they visit some hearts
though they won’t find them
except by singular
intention and concentration
on the giver of all hearts

here they will be found
in the love of an open mind
free of worry
and clean of all clutter

here they will be waiting
knowing they are to be found
and accepted
like an old memory
of long before

These hearts are blessed
with eternity
and extraordinary happenings
will subtly occur

December 3, 2015

An excerpt from the review by author Roger Norman:

'This little book of poems arrived out of the blue one morning, at a postal address where nothing ever comes except gas bills. I read the first poems to see what was afoot and was caught by these lines: ‘Soon they visit some hearts / though they won’t find them / except by singular / intention and concentration on the giver of hearts’. There was no mistaking the weight of singular intention and concentration, as the seven ‘n’s sounded their gong-like chimes. By the end of the poem, we still don’t know who are ‘they’ of the first line, but we suspect that it might be ourselves – the uncertain ones, the seekers. Probably it is of us that the ‘singular intention’ is required.'


You can still order copies of the first edition of the book here

Link to post

Hannah D.jpg

Where is home?
Chisholme Blog | Monday, 17th October, 2016

Hannah Dalgleish speaks of her experience of Chisholme for Ignite London


September Newsletter
Chisholme Blog | Friday, 23rd September, 2016

We prepare for winter and look back on the highlights of the summer

Winter is coming

If the sun did not always shine on Chisholme this summer, there was never any shortage of warmth and light here. We have been able to put on a great variety of courses and all the feedback from those on them has been as good as could be wished. Along with satisfied students, there has been a steady stream of visitors and youthful volunteers, and their appreciation of this place has been very real. But now summer is nearly over and the winter period approaches.

Regrettably this winter will not feature the 40-day retreat and the other elements which together replaced the traditional six-month course (i.e., no Turkey trip, no 99-day retreat). Though a number of people showed very real interest there were too few to allow the courses to run. Instead a programme of weekend and week events is being put together.

The first of these will be a conversation week starting on 23 October. With the fee kept very low,we hope many of you will be able to come. More details of this week and other events will be posted on the website shortly.

The 40-day retreat itself will be offered again next winter and also in the early summer – probably starting around mid-May. But before thinking about summer 2017 there are still a couple of events to round off this very memorable one.

Richard Gault

{CGSmartImage src='uploads/images/page-images/Autumn path.jpg' class='img-responsive'}

Looking ahead

The major event this month comes right at its end - the conversation with Colin Tudge about the future of food and farming. For humanity there is no future without food and there’ll be no food without farming. Right now there are real doubts about the way we farm and feed ourselves. Exploring ways of bringing about change is vital. Chisholme can serve this future in three ways. Firstly, we do indeed offer an ideal venue for conversation. In fact ‘ideal’ is too much of a cliché to do Chisholme justice. This is a very special place. We offer a space for conversation that cannot be found anywhere else. Here those who normally might never easily and freely talk with another, such as organic farmers and representatives of major food processing companies, can do so and find support in doing so. Secondly Colin argues that right food and farming practices can only emerge out of proper understanding of humanity’s relationship with reality. This school enables the search for this understanding. Thirdly, on a more practical level, Chisholme can offer examples of good practice. Ambitious aims perhaps but this is a time to be ambitious.

The Future of food and farming: deepening the conversation
30 September–2 October

Colin Tudge joins a weekend conversation that examines how the future of food and farming can be shaped to lead to a happier future for everyone on the planet. We are delighted that Chris and Denise Walton from Peelham Farm will be joining us, and they have kindly invited participants to visit their organic farm on the Monday.

Winter Wood Week, 8-15 October
Winter is coming – and we need to prepare for it. Would you like to help as a volunteer? The Winter Wood week will be a week spent gathering winter fuel. There’ll be sessions in the wood yard splitting logs for the boiler or chopping hard wood for the wood-fired stoves, such as the one in the Mead Hall. You will also go out on the estate helping gather wind-blown wood. In addition to healthy, outdoor activity there will be opportunities for study, informal conversation and, of course, you will enjoy fine meals. We will also be happy to accept help in the kitchen and house during the week. The usual financial contribution is requested: £10 per day or £6 student concession.

Single vision: the spirit of the starting place, 23–30 October
This will be the first of a series of conversation weeks to be held over the winter. Forty years on and the world has changed. But what are the truly significant changes? What do these changes mean for us? Are we being asked to serve in new ways? How do we do so while remaining ever true to the unchanging starting vision? More details on the website soon. To enable as many people to come as possible, the fee has been set at just £150 (£100 non-residential). Course fees are always charged at less than their actual cost and are subsidised thanks to the generosity of covenanters and donors. If you can afford more than the £150 fee please think of adding a little more if you can. This can help others come to Chisholme in the future.

Devotional Practice Retreat, Saturday 4–Sunday 19 February 2017
A two-week Retreat Course, led by Peter Young
This intensive retreat is for those with some prior experience of reading Ibn 'Arabi and who have an ongoing spiritual practice. Applications are invited both from those who have done this form of retreat (Wazifa retreat) in the past and from those who are new to it. Week 1: Intensive week of study of selections from Ibn ‘Arabi’s Tarjuman al-Ashwaq and the Lawa’ih of Jami, together with daily practice and group conversation. Week 2: A week of private seclusion engaging full-time in devotional practices, as prescribed by Ibn ‘Arabi for his students. These practices are undertaken for the completion of the various levels of the self through the realisation of their unity with the One Absolute Self. The retreat will be limited to ten participants. If you would like to take part please apply to Cost: £700 fully residential with single room.

And further ahead...

Summer 2017
Missing from this summer’s programme were any specifically family-friendly events. Children should be welcome here. We hope to offer something special for families next year beginning perhaps over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

And looking back: recent courses and events

Discovering Unity Seven-day Retreat: Service and Freedom, 13–20 August
A new course which will probably be offered again. It also suggests similarly structured thematic courses. “Fantastic! At times overwhelming, at times reassuring.” (L)

Discovering Unity, Introductory weekend 19-21 August
“I have had a weekend of true communication.” (O)

Ibn ‘Arabi Study Retreat week 27 August–3 September
Peter Coates led study of the 29 Pages and the chapter on Jonah from Ibn ‘Arabi’s Fusus al Hikam. Students from Australia, Egypt, the USA as well as the UK greatly enjoyed this course which benefited from the experience of Peter Coates. ”An enlightening experience, an affirmation of the value that study provides.” (E)

Retreat in the Woods: Foundations of Natural Intelligence, 27 August–3 September
Chisholme staff were privileged to be invited to coffee in the yurt camp kitchen at the end of this FNI week. On arriving it was immediately clear that the participants had shared a really special experience. This is an extraordinary course. “It was so much more than I could ever imagine or explain.” (V)

Rememoration, Sunday 4 and Monday 5 September
The annual Rememoration for Bulent Rauf took place early this month. Zikr on the Sunday evening was followed by conversation the next morning and a delicious celebratory lunch of roast lamb. Conversation flowed. A question was posed which all were invited to reflect upon: “What is your passion? Theophanic prayer and the revelation of God to man was also mentioned. Importantly, we have been reminded again recently that Bulent never veered from the premise that union with God was the sole purpose for the existence of man and this certainty coloured all that was accomplished through him. Read more>>

{CGSmartImage src='uploads/images/page-images/Monument600.jpg' class='img-responsive'}

Youth weekend meet-up, Friday 9th to Sunday 11th September
Over the weekend a good number of young people came together for conversation. Along with talking there was walking, wood-oven baked pizzas in (of course) the woods and more. A fuller report next month.

Come to stay or to work

Working at Chisholme
Hannes, our development officer, left a few days ago and our secretary will go at the end of October. Can you fill their shoes? Learn more about working at Chisholme: here or email to find out more.

Weekly programme
Visitors and guests are welcome to join our morning meditation at 7am daily and come for zikr on Thursday evenings at 9.30pm. There is a Fusus reading most Saturday evenings after supper (8.30pm) and another study session on Thursday mornings at 8.30 am. A walk is usually organised after lunch on Sundays.
Please email or phone 01450 880 215 to confirm.

{CGSmartImage src='uploads/images/page-images/FNI walk700.jpg' class='img-responsive'}

We look forward to welcoming you and to hearing from you

Link to post

Andy Forsythe.jpg

What can I say?
Chisholme Blog | Friday, 9th September, 2016

A tale of the unexpected

Posted by Andrew Forsythe

Hello. What can I say? I am from the Scottish Borders. I was expelled from school at fifteen and spent most of my youth in and out of jail. I finally straighten out and worked as a painter and decorator for some years. A change in my career took me to working on estates as a gamekeeper and in estate maintenance in different parts of Scotland.

Somewhat disillutioned with the UK I moved to Canada, and there I worked painting skyscrapers in Toronto. I then moved to rural Ontario where I won a bar on the flip of a coin. Tails... I won!!!

After a few hard slogging years at that I sold the business and went to live on a Native Indian Reservation with the Mohawk warriors. There I did seasonal work on an apple orchard, then being involved in the growing of marijuana which was a great insight.

I returned to Hawick in 2009 and never really settled down. I was a volunteer at Artbeat Studios for five years, which is a grassroots group helping people with physical or mental difficulties. I really enjoy helping people or just being there for them. After squatting in a property in town for four years I was evicted and on the streets again.

A friend told me about Chisholme House and I went there as a volunteer, and then I was fortunate enough to do a six-month course there. Doing the course was an amazing journey into my truer self. I now work there maintaining the lawns, splitting wood, and looking after the chickens. Its a great place to work and I really enjoy the study sessions.

Link to post


Bulent Rauf: a personal account
Chisholme Blog | Sunday, 4th September, 2016

In a very personal account written in 2012, John Brass pays tribute to this remarkable man.

A man of wisdom, scholar, guide and dear friend to so many, without whose vision and foresight the school at Chisholme would never have come about.

In a very personal account written in 2012, John Brass pays tribute to this remarkable man.

Read the full article here

Link to post



Receive our newsletter


Please consider supporting the Chisholme Institute



The Red Sail
Katharine Tiernan writes about St Cuthbert's years
in retreat, for Beshara Magazine


The Twenty-Nine Pages
An Introduction to Ibn 'Arabi's Metaphysics of Unity
is available from Beshara Publications