The Spiritual Meaning of Breath and the Essence of Inner Teachings
Reshad Feild (born 1934 as Richard Timothy Feild) was an English mystic, spiritual teacher, musician and author. He wrote about twenty books on spirituality, the secret of breath and the inner essence of Sufi teaching. Since the 1970s he has had a huge influence on thousands of western seekers after truth. He is father of three sons, among whom is the British actor JJ Feild [/].
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. 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 Luba (later portrayed by Reshad as “Sophie” in his book To Know We’re Loved).
At that time he was still called “Tim”, as did his family. When he met Tom, the brother of 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 whom 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 ‘hidden’ 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,Wabenzi by 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 later was declared a cultural world heritage by Unesco in 2005. During his stay in the United States, Reshad invited Suleyman Dede to Los Angeles; a time which is lively depicted in Bruce Miller’s book Rumi Comes to America – How the Poet of Mystical Love Arrived on our Shores (see Amazon [/]).
In the early 1980s Reshad moved back 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 more and more abandoned outer form, although he never ceased to highly respect all authentic traditions. Always focussing on the inner essence, he regarded 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.
He thus consistently followed in the direction which Bulent had shown him through the words:
We are not involved with religion or with form. We are involved with the inner meaning, the inner stream of truth that underlies all religion. Our way is not a way for those who cannot go beyond form. It is for those who wish to go straight to essence.
In his last years, Reshad led a secluded life in England, where he continued to write and advise seekers of what he called “the Way of Love, Compassion and Service”. When asked which spiritual tradition or line this way follows, he said,
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”.
Reshad passed away on 31 May 2016 in Devon. His ashes were scattered over the river Dart, where he loved to walk and sit during the last years of his life.