Reshad Feild, who passed away on May 31, 2016, was a colourful and sometimes controversial character; an important figure in the early days of Beshara who opened doors for many. Here, we share a series of tributes to a remarkable man: his obituary on the website of Chalice Publishing, memories from Suzanne Bartlett, a poem-song by Richard Twinch, a poem by Helen Kidd, and a tribute from Paul Finegan. 

From Chalice-Publishing.de

Reshad Feild (born 1934 as Richard Timothy Feild) was an English mystic, spiritual teacher, musician and author. He has written more than a dozen books on spirituality, the secret of breath and the inner essence of Sufi teaching. Over the past forty years, he has had a huge influence on thousands of western seekers after truth.

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 others, he met up with a dervish brotherhood and thus the mystical branch of Islam. 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. At that time people still called him “Tim”, as did his family. When he met Tom, the brother of the 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 which 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 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 was declared a cultural world heritage by UNESCO in 2004.

In the early 1980s Reshad moved 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 its 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 has more and more abandoned outer form, although he never ceased to highly respect all authentic traditions. Always focussing on the inner essence, he regards 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.

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 says, “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 May 31, 2016 in Devon.

By Suzanne Bartlett

Charisma is the one word that has repeatedly been associated with Reshad, and its application to him was the first time that I really understood its meaning. Reshad was like a magnet in the way he drew us into his vision of spirituality. And we were hungry for it. Many of us in the late 1960s and early 1970s were convinced that we were going to change the world. Mind-altering drugs may have taken some of us towards this imagined future, but it was not one that was sustainable – more like an empty promise than a genuine movement for change. For as we know, the “work” is hard – there are no shortcuts and there are many pitfalls along the way. Reshad was there, in those early days of Beshara, to guide and goad us in our pursuit of knowledge. He also saved many from despair, giving them hope for a better life.

My personal acquaintance with Reshad lasted for about two years – considerably less time than many of those who got to know him in the early Beshara days. I probably spent no more than an hour or so alone in his company during that time. I wasn’t around at the very beginning – I never went to Gandalf’s Garden in London or Chamonix to meet Sufi Pir Vilayat Khan in Switzerland or to the first Glastonbury. I eventually met Reshad at Swyre Farm in the summer of 1972 and ended up running the kitchen for the community a few months later.

People came from all over the world to this Cotswolds farmhouse, bringing with them their practices and beliefs that were shared and discussed – from yoga and tai chi to reflexology and radiology. And central to all this was study. From the welcome embrace I received on arrival, to the meditation sessions, the amazing food and the open discussions about God, I was hooked. I found it liberating to make the remembrance of the One a way of life, and not just restricted to Sunday worship. The chiming of the bell for our five “stops” during the day made so much sense. Having been brought up by agnostic parents but sent to Church of England schools, religious worship had an appeal but was something that was compartmentalised and not central to day-to-day living. Spending time at Swyre Farm changed my whole perception about religion and spirituality. This later led me to go on to study religion with the Open University as a mature student.

There are so many memories I have from that time, but what stands out for me is the boundless energy and enthusiasm that surrounded Reshad. He was like a whirlwind that gathered us up as he swept by. There was much music-making, from singing grace at the beginning of each meal to the tune of Amazing Grace to sing-along sessions at the gatekeeper’s cottage, including our version of “There’s no business like soul business, there’s no business at all” sung with gusto to guitar accompaniment. We listened to the mesmerising and ethereal sounds of drumming and sitar playing in the Temple, but there was also time set aside for silence and reflection. On one occasion a group went up to London to record The Prayer that Reshad put together  and the first visit to Konya to experience the Sema ceremony of the Mevlevi Dervishes in December. I opted out of both of these expeditions, preferring to stay enveloped in the security of Swyre Farm.

I left Swyre Farm in May 1973. Before I departed I had one final meeting with Reshad where he asked me to go out into the world with renewed vigour for life and to set an example by putting into practice what I had learnt during my time at Swyre Farm. I would like to think that this is what I did. Reshad sent me away from Swyre Farm with a blessing and a promise that I would find my dancing partner through my commitment to the “work”. I did. His name is Gareth and we had thirty-six fulfilling years together before his time was up. Thank you so much, Reshad, for leading me to this place.

Tribute to Reshad (Tim) Feild by Richard Twinch
 

He’s packing them in now

Packing them in

In the sky, in the sky

With a twinkle in his eye
 

He was the Pied Piper of the Spirit

Gathering, garnering

We heard the call one autumn day in Cambridge town

Me, gentle Hazel, Pete, John, Steve and the other Richard – and many more besides

The magic hands stroked the strings of the guitar and

Thrummed the graceful neck of the sitar

The soft voice beckoned us in

We were mesmerised, moved by a power we had never felt before

Gathered and garnered
 

He’s packing them in now

Packing them in

In the sky, in the sky

With a twinkle in his eye
 

And then we had joined the merry band of followers

That strung along behind

At Sion Chapel, Attingham Park and at Glastonbury in 1971

Where we pitched plastic domes

And danced and sang

And later at Chamonix in the Alps we joined the high Pir

And bathed in ice cold waterfalls and sat in silence

Amidst the flowers as bees buzzed contentedly around us in the clear crisp mountain air

And then we were all together at Swyre in Cotswold Farm
 

He’s packing them in now

Packing them in

In the sky, in the sky

With a twinkle in his eye
 

Our numbers grew from far and near

Our troop of hairy dervishes parading with Reshad at our head

Gathering , garnering

And then one winter’s day

our band and ‘roadies of the spirit’ took off to

Konya to stand before the presence of the great Jelaluddin of Rum

‘Come, come whoever you are’

And drink directly, with the throngs, from his cup of grace

That’s where we saw where our friend Reshad’s cup was filled from
 

He’s packing them in now

Packing them in

In the sky, in the sky

With a twinkle in his eye
 

At Swyre the Great and Good all gathered too

Mountainous John Bennett who spoke

Reverentially, in the great barn, of the Hu

And of course Reshad ‘s ‘Hamid ‘ who we knew as Bulent

Always quietly watching, prodding, cajoling and encouraging

His love-scoldings would come later to us – Reshad it was who took the brunt then

We didn’t know then that those who were gathering, were themselves ‘the gathered’ by the One and Only
 

He’s packing them in now

Packing them in

In the sky, in the sky

With a twinkle in his eye
 

At Swyre the festival was in full swing- our own

Summer of Love

We were married by Reshad beneath the dome that had sprung up in

The crossing of the great barn – a rhombic icosododecahedron I hear you say

Not just us but Keith & Helen, and the Americans Bob & Leila

And afterwards a Zoroastrian wedding on the lawn

With Khojusti chanting over bowls of milk and floating roses

We slept in Brenda’s tiny caravan
 

He’s packing them in now

Packing them in

In the sky, in the sky

With a twinkle in his eye
 

And then little but a year had passed

We gathered in London again

Reshad was gone – off to pastures new

There was talk of rifts

But he was off on his own again, as he had always been

Riffing away

Tim and the guitar and the soft voice
 

He’s packing them in now

Packing them in

In the sky, in the sky

With a twinkle in his eye
 

He’s still around you know, he’s still around

Gathering, garnering with his books, his words and his gift of the gab

God bless you Reshad – our lives would have been poorer without you

Ya Hamid

 

Oxford 17/6/2016

SEMA, by Helen Kidd.

For Reshad

The loom sings; the shuttle’s heart-
beat and the quiet- voiced threads
fill the weaving room with their breath.
The warp is plied by colours, the weft,
with indigo, madder, allium yellow,
sumac, ochre. The shapes’ notes
gather, gleaned from the spindles’
vat- dipped yarns; dance in light motes.

Unique, this life-work, in kufic and guls;
double-knotted, double helixed, strung
on the frame. The intricate syllables
voiced amidst doves and nightingales,
fill the threaded grove, where the palm,
the pomegranate, fig and olive gleam
and flourish with stars in a greening shade.

This lightness and pattern finished now;
the web complete; the prayers tuned
by the steady breathing tread and beat;
turning, turning, turning, returning.
Woven, remembered, still. You’re known,
as we here cannot.
And the space within
the arch of the Heart, is where you sing
in that blue arc. You are gathered. Home.

Helen Kidd 2016

By Paul Finegan

For many people, Reshad Feild acted as a doorway, inviting them to question who they were and what their purpose in life was; inviting them to knowledge, and to Love: that Love which is the very fabric of all that is, and of which we are all compounded, whether we know it or not.

For many, Reshad was a finger pointing at the Moon. He would be the first to acknowledge that if people came to him as seekers it was only because of their own desire and taste for Truth; for knowledge, and, whether they knew it or not, for love of the Real.

In Konya many years ago, someone once said to Bulent Rauf, “You come here for Rumi’s nuptial night every year – you must Love Rumi very much.” The reply from Bulent was: “No, we love what Rumi loves.”

Reshad was a very open door and many passed through it on their onward journeys. As the story about Bulent reminds us, if many came to Reshad it was not for him, but for that for which they were searching. His job was to help show them that it was their own longing that had brought them to him, and to point them towards “that which Rumi loved”.

So we thank Reshad for being who he was; for being that open doorway. We wish him well on his own journey of return. May it be made easy for him.