The Spiritual Meaning of Breath and the Essence of Inner Teachings
There are only a dozen or so English families whose established family tree can be traced as far back as Reshad Feild’s. His earliest known ancestor was Hubertus Hugh de la Feld, who came from near Colmar in Alsace and accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066. Another prominent ancestor, John Field (1522–1587), was the court astronomer and astrologer of Queen Elizabeth I.
Tim, as he was called in his youth, received an education at Eton like it was typical for the British upper class. When his mother, after the early passing of his father, decided to remarry, Tim refused to give up his family name Feild and also to leave the Communist Party, of which he was then a member. As a consequence, he was completely disinherited at the age of 21 – a possibility peculiar to English inheritance law – which meant his renunciation of one of the largest private fortunes in the England of the time.
After serving in the Royal Navy for two years, he became a folk singer in the early 1960s and travelled the world as what, in those days, 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).
When he met Tom, the brother of famous singer Dusty Springfield [/], Tim’s 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, confered on him the title of a sheikh 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 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 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.
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.