In nature, in beauty, in friendship
awaken your heart
We are in the process of creating the programme for next summer 2015!
The dates are Monday 20th July to Saturday 15th August 2015.
To find out more about Zenith institute and the camp, go here
Here is our latest newsletter.
Newsletter November 2014
The journey from Gratitude to Interconnectedness
It is hard to believe that we are entering into the winter months after such a wonderful summer. We in the camp team have taken some time to reflect on our experiences and are very grateful to all the participants, staff, teachers, donors and those of you who helped us make the camp such a success. We have included some of the highlights from the summer on our website. We have a blog from Masoom Ansari from the Hope Project, and a beautiful book of photos from the last week of camp created by Michael Stillwater. Michael also shared a process called the "honouring ceremony" where he spontaneously created songs with participants and you can listen to those on our website as well.
We are in the last stages of doing our financial accounting and it looks like we will break even! We will share the final figures with you at the end of the year. This means that we still have a strong reserve as we go into the next year, which for those of you who don't know will be in Ticino again.
Dates for Camp 2015 are Monday 20th July to Saturday 15th August.
We are also delighted to say that our carbon neutral project went very well, and we made connections with some great people who we know will help us to make the camp more environmentally sustainable. We had some good and heated debates in trying to work out the best way to achieve a carbon neutral status and this has brought clarity about where to invest funds. We will share news about this as soon as it is done.
The theme of gratitude has allowed us to become more open, heal, feel the joy of being a vibrant and strong community and revel in the beauty of the meadow, which has been our home for so many years. Under the leadership of Pir Zia, we carry on learning many lessons on how we can improve the camp and this involves looking at everything, from our ways of working (including our governance structure), to refreshing the programme, how we become more transparent and how we keep the spirit of the camp while considering the best location for all within our community.
We really appreciate all the feedback we have received and hope you will carry on sending us your thoughts. Please email us at email@example.com
Our sense of gratitude is a perfect way of moving into our theme for next summer, which is interconnectedness, and to inspire us we are sharing a prayer that was written by the young adults during their retreat. It is a reminder of the interconnectedness that we can feel when we truly allow ourselves to open to the unity behind all things, to open to the One.
The Zenith team
thank you for being here
thank you for holding us
kissing us hugging us
being us and more
thank you for showing us
thank you for guiding us
thank you for your emptiness
allowing us to rest
sorry for not trusting you
sorry for not meeting you
the way you would have liked
sorry for pushing sorry for not
being patient sorry for not
waiting for you to be there
sorry for trying to know what to do
please help us please offer
us strength and peace
please let us be gentle like
you please dream us
please free us that we
may live in tune please
lift us please ground us
please stretch us wide open
that we may hear thy voice
please please please
let us go out into the world and see
your love in the people we meet
like a pillar of light
from the feet to the skull
let us invite it and bring
it out of others who are also
ourselves, who are also you.
please let us remember to remember
hello, be loved!
Newsletter July 2014
Come join us...!
“Gratitude immortalizes one's experience because in gratitude one lives life vividly. That for which you are grateful engages your full attention and comes alive in you.”- Pir Zia Inayat Khan
Hi, my name is Emmanuel O'Kane. I first came to camp as a 12 year old, 20 years ago. Last year I felt an inner call to return. During my time at the camp I made a deep connection to the camp, the staff, and the community. After such a heartfelt experience I followed my inner guide and returned to the camp again this year where I am working closely with the fabulous Deepa/Gulrukh as her assistant. I am very happy that gratitude is the theme of this years camp, and I will start this newsletter by invoking some of the reasons that I am grateful to be here.
After a busy year of work, travel, and changes in my own life, I am very grateful to be immersed in a beautiful and supportive environment of family and friends. I am especially grateful that we have all come together to celebrate the divine qualities of life.
For me in these increasingly difficult times of conflict, uncertainty, and worry in the world, it is reassuring and more important then ever to be part of a community and be able to create and rest in a safe harmonious space. The focus of the first week of the camp has been on healing. The setting and atmosphere of the camp has been an ideal place to hold us and heal us. During the week, in their respective workshops, the teachers have lead us on powerful healing journeys at both an individual and a collective level.
The whole camp came together on Tuesday night in the big mediation tent and joined in with the Abrahamic reunion dinner in Nazareth via phone. This was a symbolically beautiful and meaningful event for us as a community as we reached out across the world. The Iftar dinner brought together 140 Jews, Christians and Muslims and was a much needed positive contrast to the events that have recently taken place. Over the speakers in the meditation tent we deeply connected with the calls for unity and peace as we listened to the circle of prayers offered by the different leaders of each faith.
I am especially grateful to be able to share the experience of being here with my good friend Masoom from the Hope Project. I have been lucky enough to have met Masoom at the Hope Project several times and am proud to see him honored for his 7 years of hard work and service at the Hope Project - a project that not only gives people hope but helps heal some of the wounds of poverty.
It is Masoom's first time outside of India. He has told me that the setting of the camp is marvelous (a new word for him) and that it is very, very beautiful. He's been full of smiles since he arrived and finds everything and everyone so friendly, clean, and pure.
Looking ahead to the coming weeks of the camp. There is such a rich program in the next 3 weeks. I am personally looking forward to changing my journey with gratitude into more of an esoteric and inward form in Pir Zia's silent retreat.
In week 3: I am excited and intrigued that Pir Zia and Karma Lekshe Tsomo's are co-teaching a program that combines both Sufism and Buddhism. The slightly younger version of me (and older) is also attracted to the idea of Radical Aliveness and 'the art of being before doing', which is the theme of the young adults program (Ages 18-29)
And in week 4 I hope to learn how to “Live with and in a Life of Gratitude” .
I hope to see and share some gratitude and wonderful experiences with all of you.
All the best,
A beautiful world of beautiful people
The fourth week of camp is a turning point in our journey in the mountains as we start to think about coming down and returning to our homes.
The activity of this week is the Universal Worship. Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan was inspired to manifest a worship service where all religions are celebrated equally. Imagine what our world would be like if there was no fighting between Muslims and Jews, Protestants and Catholics, Hindus and Sikhs, Shiites and Sunnis and the many others, in the name of religion.
To help us explore the different faces of the Universal Worship we have three programmes, which embody the joy and gratitude that arises from friendship and which remind us of how we are connected in Oneness.
Imagine what our world would be like if we would affirm that God is One, irrespective of dogmas and rituals! All in One and One in all.
We have a great group of teachers who will be collaborating in the programme "The Many Voices of the One” to bring to life Hazrat Inayat Khan's words: that music is the religion of the future, bypassing cultural and geographical differences.
The team of collaborators will be exploring something new and experimental during this week. Each session will be devoted to a quality that is associated with one of the different religions, and through music, silence, movement, practices and being we will endeavour to live, embody and manifest these qualities both within the microcosm of our Camp as well as in our return into daily life. The great Sufi mystic Ibn Arabi said:
“By realising the Divine qualities in my being, I give God a mode of existence, by manifesting these Divine qualities through my personality, I give God a mode of knowledge."
This is a wonderful chance to try and deepen these qualities, in the attunement of our boundless creativity and the warmth of our big collective heart in the Universal Worship caravan.
Alongside this Zamir Roehrs and Ulrike Greenway who have been travelling on the Sufi and Zen path will be guides on living a life in and with gratitude. In their tent you have an opportunity to reflect and share stories, glean new insights and hear wisdom on how to find and feel gratitude in all of life's experiences. Here the joys, pains, failures and successes are all given equal voice and seen as places from which to dig for the treasure that lies hidden in all that has happened in our lives and allow the gratitude to help shape each moment.
One of the joys of the last few years has been the development of the youth camp for teenagers aged between 14 and 18 years old. This has been skillfully led by Jessica Bromby and Igor Ezendam who have taken as their inspiration for this year a phrase from Pir Vilayat Khan - "Dare we have the courage to be who we really are!”. They will be working with the qualities of the Universal Worship by creating a container where the young people can deeply share from their hearts, sing and dance, have fun in the mountains and see the beauty in us and around us. The group will be building their own tent and Jessica, Igor and team will provide treats and the opportunity for everyone to be seen, heard and truly grow into themselves.
So come, come whoever you are…
Message from Pir Zia June 2014
In this tenth year after my father’s passing, I hope I will have the happiness of seeing many of you in a place that he loved, the Zenith Camp in its panoramic perch in the mountains of Ticino, Switzerland.
My own offerings will be an alchemical retreat in the spirit of Pir Vilayat and an exploration of Sufism and Buddhism with my respected friend of bygone times Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo, whom I have not seen for decades!
The Sufi-Buddhist dialogue will take place during a week in which Ziraat is the focus. Ziraat, as you know, is the Sufi activity dedicated to honoring the elements and understanding human awakening as a natural part of the natural world, a world that is in our care. I am calling, at this time, for an Order-wide conversation and collaboration regarding our role as stewards of the life systems of our planet, and I envision the Ziraat week at Camp as a special opportunity to advance this important undertaking.
During the same week, for the young adults concentration, the esteemed contemplative activist Adam Bucko will be coming to work alongside our wonderful Camp Director Gulrukh Patel.
I should mention also that there are remarkable programs related to the themes of Healing and Universal Worship scheduled for the first and last week of the Camp, and that the Kinship activity will be a strong presence through all four weeks.
I hope to see you in the mountains.
The activities in the third week will be supported by a team of people involved in the Ziraat concentration from across Europe. To find out more click here.
Newsletter April 2014: The uniting power of healing
“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”
In this newsletter our blade of grass is the first week of the Camp and the activity of healing. It is an invitation to those that are steeped in the healing practices of the Sufi Order, healing practitioners, body workers in other traditions and those who are in need of and want healing to help us to build a healing field of unity. A field that will allow all of us to enter into, cultivate, rest and be nurtured by this unity. A field, which in reality, encompasses and at the same is the whole of Life, of Existence.
Before I share with you the words from programme descriptions that have started to create this magnificent world in me, I would like you to know that all the teachers and I will be working collaboratively to develop a week of unity as we participate in the different programmes that will enable us to experience their work separately but will also weave us all together. You will have to come to this week to find out exactly what we will do!
At the heart of each programme are experiential practices of breathing, chanting, meditation, sound and in some workshops music, the Dances of Universal Peace and Yoga.
Sarida Brown, Amat-un-Nur Naila Tiwana, Peter Dewey and Josine Zon are coming together to lead a workshop on Healing and Spiritual Alchemy.
“Healing and alchemy unfold in the mystery of the sacred marriage; in both, the work is to reconcile matter and spirit, the goal is wholeness, the ideal is the unity of divine and human. This workshop is an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the culture and practice of spiritual healing, enriched by the wisdom of Sufism, Christianity, Islam, Sanskrit mantra.”
Shahabuddin Less will be guiding us to Awaken to the healing power of joy. Yves Oberlin will be joining him to teach yoga.
“Healing requires us to move from one state of being into something we do not yet know. When we are serious about healing, on any level, we are really expressing a longing to be delivered from a state in which we have not been free to become fully realized. In this seminar, we will bring the element of joy to the work of healing. Joy is a pre-condition for, as well as a by-product of, purifying our habitual conceptual structures.”
Anna Less will be bringing her expertise in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Sufism to lead a workshop on Healing the body, heart and soul with Himalayan gongs and meditation.
“Most imbalances in life are due to disharmony between the rhythms of our deepest selves and that of our bodies, minds, and emotions. Using these practices together with Himalayan Gongs, we will open pathways of healing and gratitude, allowing our souls to recalibrate our emotional, mental and physical rhythms.”
Waliha Cometti and Alev Naqiba Kowalzik will be holding and teaching on The Healing Grace of Creating.
"The healing powers and properties that are in the heavenly gardens of splendor and beauty - we will discover them, experience them, and make them ours, to the good of all."
“We will discover the healing powers of sound in modern and traditional Sufi chants and we will be inspired by the teachings of Waliha, so that new songs may arise in every moment.”
As you can see, this is a rich week and it connects to not just our individual healing but also to our healing collectively, as Hazrat Inayat Khan has written:
‘Humanity is one body, the whole of life being one in its source and in its goal, its beginning and its end. No scientist will deny this. And if part of the body is in pain, sooner or later the whole body is affected; if our finger aches, our body is not free from pain. Thus no nation, race, or community can be considered as a separate part of humanity.’
And in the name of this unity, this morning I was talking to the friend that introduced me to the camp and I am very grateful to her for that. In that gratitude I wondered about who had introduced you to the camp. In remembering them maybe you would be willing to reach out to someone in your life whom you think might appreciate coming to the camp. We also hope that you will share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in healing, and any healers you have worked with.
I would be grateful to you for doing this.
Until next month.
Deepa Gulrukh Patel
For more information on the work of the Sufi Healing Order please go to:
PS: We hope to see you at the Easter Retreat in Germany
Newsletter 2: The beauty of silence
“The seers, the saints, the sages, the prophets, the masters, they have heard that voice which comes from within by making themselves silent. I do not mean by this that because one has silence one will be spoken to; I mean that once one is silent one will hear the word which is constantly coming from within. When the mind has been made still, a person also communicates with everyone he meets. He does not need many words: when the glance meets he understands. Two persons may talk and discuss all their lives and yet never understand one another; and two others with still minds look at one another and in one moment a communication is established between them.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Welcome to our second Zenith newsletter, where we are focusing on the activity of the Esoteric School. At the very heart of the camp there is a commitment and aspiration to provide a place where people can be on silent retreat; in fact that was why the camp was started. So this summer, throughout the four-week programme there are a number of ways that you can take part in this type of retreat, but before we tell you those we thought we would start by outlining what we mean by this process.
“Retreat time is an opportunity to withdraw temporarily from the outside world, to reduce worldly activities to a minimum for some time, to restrain the chatter within one’s mind, to keep silence, and to concentrate on the inner worlds. Silence is the key to experiencing new dimensions of one’s Self. During reclusion we reconnect with our spiritual source and regenerate our subtle energies. The paralysing routine of everyday life is interrupted. Concentrating on our spiritual exercises, our personality undergoes a transformative process. This is the time when we are confronted with our shadows, our fears and other obstacles within. We learn to develop forgiveness and other needed qualities in order to heal inner pain and to proceed on the path. Our aspiration is for the eternal source above diversity, the unfathomable light, the ecstasy of the Divine beyond any idea, indescribable and yet more real than anything we have experienced with open eyes. It is a gift to drink the wine of Divine bliss, which we thankfully cherish, but this is not the goal of the Sufi. When we reconnect with the inner source we discover fresh perspectives on all kinds of topics and problems. That is why we feel as if reborn at the time when the retreat is finished, and we return into the world.”
Munir Voss, Senior Teacher, Sufi Order International
There are two kinds of silent retreats that you can participate in:
The Individual Retreat
Tucked away in one corner of the camp is the silent retreat area, where you are surrounded by the soothing sound of water, and held in the beautiful container of the mountains. The sacred space that has been created here by all those that have been on retreat over the years is one of the most special things about the camp. This is where we do our individual retreats; this process is carefully structured and led by a qualified retreat guide. We have a wonderful group of guides from around the world who come for the summer and you can find out more about them and the retreat process by clicking here.
The Group Retreat
In the first and third week of our programme we have a retreat with Munir Voss, and Malik Hirschberg will join him in the first week. The second week is a special one, as Pir Zia Inayat Khan will be leading a silent retreat for the whole camp. For the fourth week, for those who participate in the Many Voices Of The One programme, there will be an opportunity to withdraw to the retreat area for a focused period of deepening our inner attunement each day. Through the music of silence we can come to a deeper contemplation and realization of the living source.
If you have never done a silent group or individual retreat but feel called to do so, please rest assured that you will be fully supported in this process and feel free to ask the retreat guides or us any questions. firstname.lastname@example.org
As much as we love the mountains, we also enjoy being in other places where we can meet as a community and share this journey of life, and so the camp team, as well as some members of the advisory group and friends of Sufi Camp will all be at Pir Zia’s Easter Seminar on the Path of Love and Light. The seminar is from Friday April 18th to Monday 21st April in Gersfeld, Germany. We hope to see you there.
And of course this summer, we also look forward to meeting those of you who wish to join us in imbibing the beauty that is found in silence.
Deepa Gulrukh Patel
PS for details of retreats in the USA please go to www.sufigatherings.org
As I have been contemplating writing my first newsletter as the Camp Coordinator I have been thinking about the thousands of us on our email list. Some of you are known but most are unknown to me and yet I think what we all share is, that we are seekers of the Real. It is this one thing that allows me to feel that I can start this newsletter with the words dear friend.
It gives me great pleasure to invite you to join us once more at the Zenith summer camp in Ticino. Under the guidance and leadership of Pir Zia Inayat Khan, President of the Sufi Order International we have been busy developing a programme that takes us to the roots of the Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan and builds on the requests that were made of us last summer by the participants who came to the camp.
In the autumn last year, as Pir Zia and senior teachers in the Sufi Order were envisioning our coming together this summer, Pir Zia found himself thinking about the Benedictine Monk Brother David Steindl-Rast and his commitment to the practice of gratitude. It seemed very natural in that moment to make gratitude our theme for this year, for as Brother David says “One single gift acknowledged in gratefulness has the power to dissolve the ties of our alienation.”
This theme of gratitude is being woven into every part of our camp and especially into the programme, which is based on the five activities of the Sufi Order (Healing, the Esoteric School, Ziraat, Universal Worship, and Kinship).
We will begin our four-week programme with a healing week; we have a number of teachers from the Sufi Order and other faiths who will be sharing different healing modalities. In the second week, you are all invited to participate in a silent retreat with Pir Zia, where we can dive into the depths and soar to the heights of our inner life. The third week of Ziraat, where we focus on the cultivation of the sacred relationship between the spiritual and material world, we are grateful that the Venerable Karma Leske Tsomo will join Pir Zia and they will share teachings and practices from the Sufi and Buddhist traditions. We will also have an interfaith young adults retreat that week, where we shall try to discern our deepest personal call and find the courage to act to answer this call. And in our fourth week we will be celebrating and exploring the wisdom and gifts of many spiritual traditions by working with the Universal Worship and with music. Please look at our website for more details of each seminar and the teachers who will be leading them. (Programme overview 2014)
From now until the last tent is packed away we will pay special attention to the nurturing and building of community, which is the work of the Kinship activity.
It is not easy to capture in this newsletter the richness and depth of all that we hope to do, so we will tell you more in the coming months through regular newsletters and through updates on our website.
One of the key things that emerged in the evaluation of last summer was the cost of the camp so we are pleased to announce that we have brought our prices down!
I am lucky to be supported by a dedicated board and team in bringing all of this together, and to this group we have added an advisory committee to ensure that we take the step of becoming transparent about financial matters and our decision-making processes, a wish that was expressed loudly and clearly last year. You can contact the group at email@example.com.
You are also invited to share your thoughts and opinions on the discussion forum set up by “the Friends of the Sufi Camp": a group that was formed spontaneously last summer. Members of this group are also involved in helping us in the process of opening and sharing how we work.
My other commitment is to making the camp even more environmentally sustainable. I am currently putting together a small group of those with knowledge about sustainability and issues relating to climate change. Please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join us.
Finally, it is almost impossible to talk about this camp without thinking about its founder Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, whose love of the mountains and retreats has drawn so many of us to the camp and whose presence remains in our hearts as we honour the 10th anniversary of his passing this year.
I hope, dear friend, that you are inspired to come and will also consider passing on news of the camp to those in your life. Please get in touch if you wish to help with spreading the news by emailing: email@example.com.
In gratitude, and hoping to meet you this summer.
Deepa Gulrukh Patel