The Kinship Concentration
‘Spiritual realisation is attained in practical life by observing the ideal of brotherhood/
sisterhood. At this time when the world needs the ideal of brotherhood/sisterhood more
than ever before in the history of the world, it is our privilege and destiny to do all that we
can to bring about this ideal in our own lives first, and thus to spread it in the world. Any
problem or theory, or doctrine studied, is of no value unless it be practiced.’
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Kinship cultivates the natural connection from one heart to another, fostering harmony, goodwill, and caring action. Kinship nurtures the flowering of the individual and carries it outward through friendship, collaboration and service. Kinship inspires people to work together to help those in need, to protect and restore the web of life on Earth, and to create a more beautiful world. Kinship awakens the conscience, and builds the spiritual maturity needed to address the planetary crises we face. Kinship aims to serve as a nucleus of understanding, sympathy and dedication to help unite humankind in the spirit of universal loving kinship.
“True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings.”
Pema Chödrön (Tibetan Buddhist Nun)
- Love expressed in acts of service, kindness and compassion.
- Honouring our interdependence and our mutual need for support and connection.
- Upholding the intrinsic worth and dignity of all.
- Cultivating friendship as the foundation of all relationships.
- Nurturing gratitude, and sharing our bounty with others.
- Responding to suffering with caring and generosity.
- Comforting those in need and acting from an awakened sense of justice.
- Welcoming people of all colours, creeds, classes, sexes and cultures.
- Practicing kindness and consideration in our relations with others.
- Working together in a collaborative, sharing, embracing manner.
- Cherishing and protecting the web of life on Earth.
- Celebrating beauty in each other and in our world.
- Promoting the spirit of peace and soothing the spirit of agitation.
Kinship embodies a host of teachings, values and practices that can foster spiritual growth, particularly when applied in one’s relationships with others. For Kinship is based in friendship. Starting with befriending oneself and gradually expanding outward, the path of friendship offers rewards and challenges that carry powerful potential for transformation.
Five features of the Kinship Concentration
The first is being respectful to all whom we encounter. This begins with recognising deep value in ourselves and then extending this to others. Doing this in a world teeming with negativity can be a daunting task, so we practice close to home. In our personal friendships we learn to overlook shortcomings and to focus on what is beautiful. Once we do this we can learn to extend this same courtesy to all whom we meet.
The second is cultivating sympathy, that quality that allows us to reach out and experience the condition of another. It acts as a balm or lubricant that eases the natural friction of relationship, especially with those who upset us. It is developed by considering the feelings of others. Sympathy opens the door to deeper understanding and closeness, and resonates in the hearts of those with whom we connect.
The third is deepening our understanding. Increased capacity for respect and sympathy enables us to see more deeply into people and situations. Enlarging our understanding allows us to expect no gain from a relationship and to be constant in our connection. In doing so we raise ourselves and others to a condition that transcends differences and enmity. Seeing all beings and conditions with the eyes of friendship can change the world from a hell into a paradise.
The fourth is practicing tolerance and forgiveness as a way of life. Our understanding and sympathy provide a vantage point so broad and compassionate that we naturally extend the hand of love and support to others, tolerating their shortcomings and forgiving their indiscretions.
The fifth is developing a practical and very real sense of unity with each person we meet.
We begin to recognise the seed that blooms in the heart of all, the spirit of friendship, and we see it everywhere. Our thoughts and actions spring from this source, and we easily and freely accept it from others in turn. In this manner we learn to see ourselves in others.
“We are all visitors to this time and place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love and then we return home.” Aboriginal Proverb
Current Activities of the Kinship Concentration (UK)
There are many ways in which individuals and groups are currently bringing the work of Kinship into a tangible presence within our world. Within the Sufi Order UK, the Kinship concentration has a network of individuals who are available to support those in need of consolation in difficult times, or those who perhaps need more practical support, such as befriending and offering to be of service.
We also meet annually to meditate upon the meaning of Kinship and how each of us as individuals can carry the principles of love and harmony and beauty into our relationships, near and far. To contemplate our connections with all living beings, including the living being of the earth.
Those who have a particular leaning towards the kinship concentration also work in their localities, wherever there is opportunity, by reaching out to those of all faiths and belief systems. Engaging with and building closer relationships with the ‘other’ and fostering greater understanding and tolerance. Gaining an understanding of what gives life meaning and purpose for each of us. Initiates from a number of European countries, including the UK, commit to recite a short healing prayer each month on behalf of those who are suffering violations of their human rights. This is called the Nayaz project and is based upon the healing prayer given to us by Hazrat Inayat Khan.
Bi-annually the European Kinship Council organise a Pilgrimage to Suresnes in Paris, the home of the founder of the Inayati Order, Hazrat Inayat Khan. Here we meet with those from other Sufi linages and other invited guests to contemplate and celebrate our kinship with all beings.
The kinship concentration also has a supporting presence at The Zenith Sufi camp which is held in Switzerland each summer. See http://zenithinstitute.com for more information about the camp.
One of the international projects of the Inayati Sufi Order is the support of the Hope Project in Delhi which was founded in 1975 by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. The Hope Project http://www.hopeprojectindia.org is driven by the spirit of service to humanity and respect for all religions. It strives to provide people, especially the poor and vulnerable, with opportunities and resources so that they can realise their hidden potential and are able to help themselves. The kinship concentration helps to raise donations toward the continuation of this project. Individuals can also volunteer to work with those in need at the Hope Project for brief, or for longer periods of time, embodying the guiding spirit of kinship with love in action.
If you would like to know more about the activities of the Kinship concentration or would like to get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
‘There are people in the world that are so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.’
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi