The Abode of the Message
Photo of sign with Welcome at the top, winged heart below, and Abode of the Message at the bottom
|Founder||Vilayat Inayat Khan|
|Type||501(c)(3) nonprofit organization|
|Origins||Sufi Order Ināyati|
|Method||Spiritual intentional community; Conference & retreat center; Headquarters of the Sufi Order International|
|Spiritual leader, Zia Inayat-Khan|
The Abode of the Message is a Universal Sufi community founded in 1975 by Vilayat Inayat Khan. The Abode is the central residential community of the Inayati order (formerly Sufi Order International), a conference and retreat center, and a center of esoteric study. It is also home to the current spiritual leader of The Inayati Order, Zia Inayat-Khan. The Abode is located in the eastern heights of the Taconic Mountains in New Lebanon, New York, and housed in historic Shaker buildings built between 1834 and 1870.
The described intent of the Abode as a community is to "collectively embody spiritual awakening," through "mutual commitment to practicing...the Sufi teachings," "shared devotion to the ideals of Love, Harmony and Beauty, and to the specific transformational work whereby these ideals are progressively realized," for "mutual dedication and visionary collaboration."
History of the site
Most of the Abode's Main Campus structures were built in the mid-19th century by the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village community as housing and workspaces for their South Family group. Formally established in 1787, the New Lebanon Shaker Society (renamed the Mount Lebanon Shaker Society in 1861) was the second major Shaker society formed in the recently created United States of America. The society established its home at the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, which became the primary Shaker spiritual residential community.
The Mount Lebanon Shaker Village was organized into Family groups living in clustered buildings sited around the property. Three main groups of buildings survive as of 2010. The Church Family property is occupied by the Darrow School, a private residential high school. The North Family property is occupied and being restored by the Shaker Museum, Mount Lebanon. The South Family property was owned by the Shaker Village Work Group (a camp for urban teenagers established in 1947 as the Shaker Village Work Camp and later renamed) until it was purchased in 1975 for the Sufi Order International, which established it as a new residential spiritual community—The Abode of the Message.
Today the Abode continues as one of the few enduring intentional communities among those that arose by the thousands from North America's new spirituality movement and the 1960s counterculture. The Abode community meets for common meals in the Rezak Hall dining room, also used for that purpose by the South Family Shakers. There are also regular classes and events associated with the activities of the Sufi Order International. The Abode’s revenue sources include fees from residents, leasing space on the Main Campus to the Flying Deer Nature Center, operating a meditation Retreat Center, and event facility rentals of meeting and housing space on the Main Campus and the Mountain Camp.
The Abode community in 2010 included approximately 40 adults and 10 to 12 children living in houses along Chair Factory Road and apartments in Main Campus buildings, as well as off-site members living in the area. In 2016, the residential population was approximately 24 adults and 6 children. The population expands with temporary staff and students during the summer. The Abode’s extended community includes past residents and the many Inayati Order members who regularly or occasionally attend events at the Abode, numbering several thousand.
The Abode Programs Office administers event scheduling and oversees operations and services for the Abode. The Office operates the Main Campus and the Mountain Camp, and other Abode facilities that are available to rent for public events. Overnight accommodations are also available for individual visitors staying overnight. The Office manages programs for volunteer interns, work-exchange residents, as well as Khidmat, the Abode’s combined work service-study program.
The Abode Retreat Center arranges individual, spiritual meditative retreats of three to forty days, either in a private retreat hut or cabin, or a room in the Meditation Hall. A certified retreat guide meets at least once daily with the retreatant to suggest the day's schedule of practices and to offer feedback on the retreatant's experience.
The Inayati Order Secretariat is the headquarters for The Inayati Order, which founded the Abode of the Message. Suluk Academy is a school of esoteric studies that holds classes at the Abode as part of a program of two-year courses of intensive study, training and practice in the Sufi path. The Abode Farm includes 5 acres (0.02 km2) of organic vegetable gardens with 35 landscaped beds, a greenhouse, and flower and herb gardens.
Some additional activities based at the Abode are listed below under External links.
The Abode occupies approximately 320 acres (1.3 km2) of forest that spans the border between New York State and Massachusetts. Most of its shared community facilities are grouped within two areas, the Main Campus and the Mountain Conference Center.
The Main Campus is a cluster of buildings at the south end of Darrow Road, most of which are the original South Family structures of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, demonstrating "preservation through use." Many of the buildings are named for spiritual qualities that Sufis value, drawn from the 99 Names of God in Islam. Rezak was the South Family's main communal building and now contains the library and community dining room. Vakil houses the Abode Programs Office, and served as the Shaker chair-caning shop. Mughni is the former Shaker trustees building. Fatah (the 1867 Shaker women's workhouse) holds men's and women's dorms. Recently renovated, the Shaker Barn was built in 1850 as a horse barn, but now hosts offices and art studios. The Meditation Hall was built in 1975 by Abode community members, and is used as a sacred space used for public events. Three personal retreat huts are located in the Retreat Hut Field on the hill behind the Meditation Hall, and several retreat huts and cabins are situated beside a stream south of the Shaker Barn.
The Mountain Camp hosts large group events for the Abode and The Inayati Order as well as being available as a woodland conference center. The Mountain Camp comprises dining pavilions and meeting spaces, along with shared bathroom and shower facilities for those staying on the mountain overnight. Meals are prepared in the distinctive octagonal Kitchen building. Housing on the mountain is provided by two shared cabins that hold a total of twenty two-person rooms, sixteen private huts that are simple, rustic retreat huts without electricity, and extensive space for tenting along the mountain's walking paths.
- Jackman 1982.
- Whilden 2004.
- Tulloch 2009.
- Tulloch 2010.
- Gutek 1998.
- Vision for the Abode Archived 2010-08-14 at the Wayback Machine.. Abode of the Message website. Retrieved 12 August 2010
- Stein 1994.
- "The Mount Lebanon Shaker Society". National Register of Historic Places (USA) website. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
- About Mount Lebanon Shaker Village Archived 2010-09-05 at the Wayback Machine.. Shaker Museum and Library website. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
- Becksvoort & Sheldon 2000.
- Darrow School: A unique sense of place Archived 2007-10-12 at the Wayback Machine.. Darrow School website. Darrow School. Retrieved 25 August 2010
- Museum history Archived 2010-06-04 at the Wayback Machine.. Shaker Museum and Library website. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
- Opdahl & Woodruff Opdahl 2004.
- Sutton 2003.
- The Early Years of the Abode of the Message Archived 2010-08-14 at the Wayback Machine.. Abode of the Message website. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
- Miller 1999, p. xviii.
- Webb 1995.
- Kuller 1977.
- Take Your Soul on Vacation. BeliefNet website. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
- Virtanen 2008.
- Abode of the Message: Individual spiritual retreats Archived 2010-08-15 at the Wayback Machine.. Abode of the Message website. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
- Newman 1989, p. 318.
Newspapers and magazines
- Jackman, Kule; Jackman, Barkat (April 1982). "The Abode of the Message". Communities: Journal of Cooperative Living. Louisa, VA: Communities Publications Cooperative (53): 27–28. ISSN 0199-9346. OCLC 3130385. — Issue entitled "Spiritual Communities." Magazine is now published by the Fellowship for Intentional Community.
- Kuller, Doris (28 March 1977). "Ten journeys for the spirit". New York magazine. Boulder, CO. 10 (13): 56–57. ISSN 0362-4331. — Reviews of several spiritual retreat centers in the NYC area, including the Abode.
- Newman, Cathy (September 1989). "The Shaker's brief eternity". National Geographic. 176 (3): 302–325. ISSN 0027-9358. OCLC 6451257. — A few paragraphs about a visit to the Abode.
- Tulloch, Tim (3 February 2009). "Abode of the Message hires a master planner". Country Life section in The Independent. Hillsdale, NY. pp. 1, 24. OCLC 25235262. Retrieved 9 August 2010.[permanent dead link] (also archived, 4 February 2009) — Extensive reporting about the Abode, its history, and activities.
- Tulloch, Tim (4 February 2010). "Abode plans to grow... carefully". The Columbia Paper. New Lebanon, NY. p. 11. Retrieved 9 August 2010. Volume 1, number 43. — A Master Plan was created for the Abode by Dennis Wedlick Architects LLC. Article reviews its contents in the context of the site's history.
- Virtanen, Michael (24 July 2008). "Religious retreats: Head to the Catskills". Associated Press at Yahoo! News. Archived from the original on 2008-08-21. Retrieved 9 August 2010. — Reviews of several spiritual retreat centers in the downstate NY area, including the Abode.
- Whilden, Megan (9 September 2004). "The Abode of the Message: A gentle center for a 'religion of the heart'". Berkshires Week magazine in The Berkshire Eagle. Pittsfield, MA. OCLC 61313402. Retrieved 9 August 2010. — Extensive coverage of the Abode and its activities.
- Becksvoort, Christian; Sheldon, John (2000). The Shaker Legacy: Perspectives on an Enduring Furniture Style. Newtown, CT: Taunton Press. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-1-56158-357-7. OCLC 38925149. — Describes some history of the South Family lands ownership by the Shakers, then the Shaker Village Work Camp, then the Sufi Order International.
- Fellowship for Intentional Community, ed. (1995). "Abode of the Message". Communities Directory: A Guide to Cooperative Living. Langley, WA: Fellowship for Intentional Community. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-9602714-3-6. OCLC 32418632. — The page number and the book's name differ slightly in other editions (1990 edition, ISBN 978-0-9602714-0-5; 1996 ed., ISBN 978-0-9602714-4-3; 2000 ed., ISBN 978-0-9602714-8-1; 2005 ed., ISBN 978-0-9718264-2-7; 2007 ed., ISBN 978-0-9718264-3-4; 2010 ed., ISBN 978-0-9718264-5-8)
- Gutek, Gerald Lee (1998). Visiting Utopian Communities: A Guide to the Shakers, Moravians, and Others. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. pp. 43–48. ISBN 978-1-57003-210-3. OCLC 36343343. — Extended history of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, including the South Family site.
- Melton, J. Gordon; Clark, Jerome; Kelly, Aidan A. (1990). New Age Encyclopedia: A Guide to the Beliefs, Concepts, Terms, People, and Organizations... Detroit, MI: Gale Research. pp. 1, 127, 142. ISBN 978-0-8103-7159-0. OCLC 20022610.
- Miller, Timothy (1999). The 60s Communes: Hippies and Beyond. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. pp. 115–116. ISBN 978-0-8156-0601-7. OCLC 41662601. — Describes the origins of the Abode as a spiritual commune.
- Opdahl, Robert C.; Woodruff Opdahl, Viola E. (2004). A Shaker Musical Legacy. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England. pp. xvii–xviii. ISBN 978-1-58465-360-8. OCLC 56550805. — Describes the purchase of the South Family property in 1947 by Jerry and Sybil Count, who established the Shaker Village Work Camp, later renamed the Shaker Village Work Group in 1967, and finally the Shaker Village Educational Work Foundation.
- Stein, Stephen J. (1994). The Shaker Experience in America: A History of the United Society of Believers. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-05933-5. OCLC 185691696. — An extensive history of the Shakers.
- Sutton, Robert P. (2003). Communal Utopias and the American Experience: Religious Communities, 1732-2000. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. pp. 161–163. ISBN 978-0-275-97554-8. OCLC 50725639. — Some detailed history of the Abode.
- Sutton, Robert P. (2005). Modern American Communes: A Dictionary. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 3–4. ISBN 978-0-313-32181-8. OCLC 56894538. — An abbreviated version of Sutton 2003.
- Webb, Gisela (1995). "Sufism in America". In Miller, Timothy. America's Alternative Religions. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-7914-2398-1. OCLC 30476551. — A short history of the Sufi Order International, with a few paragraphs about the Abode.
- "Abode of the Message". Communities Directory online. Fellowship for Intentional Community. Retrieved 10 August 2010. — The entry for the Abode in the FIC database (outdated and in need of revision as of August 2010).
- "About Mount Lebanon Shaker Village". Shaker Museum and Library website. Shaker Museum and Library. Archived from the original on 5 September 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2010. — The museum preserves historic records of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village and area.
- "Take Your Soul on Vacation: A selection of our favorite spiritual retreat centers. April 2003". Beliefnet website. Beliefnet. Retrieved 10 August 2010. — A brief review of meditation retreat facilities.
- "The Mount Lebanon Shaker Society". National Register of Historic Places (USA): Shaker Historic Trail. National Park Service (USA). Retrieved 26 August 2010. — A brief history of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village.
- Official website for the Abode of the Message
- Abode Programs Office — Oversees operations and services for the Abode; operates the Main Campus and the Mountain Camp conference centers, and other Abode facilities that are available to rent.
- Sufi Order International (SOI) — Official website for the Sufi Order International. The SOI Secretariat (central administrative office) is located at the Abode.
- Suluk Academy — School of esoteric studies that holds classes at the Abode as part of a program of one-, two-, or four-year courses of intensive study, training and practice in the Sufi path.
- Sufi Healing Order — Promotes healing practices as taught by Hazrat Inayat Khan, and maintains its central office at the Abode.
- Sacred Spirit Music — Publishes and distributes sacred music and spiritual teachings, emphasizing but not limited to the Sufi tradition. Based at the Abode.
- Flying Deer Nature Center — Operates a summer camp on the Abode grounds.
- Omega Publications — Publishes and distributes books associated with the Sufi Order, Sufi path and other sacred paths. Based at the Abode.
Part of a series on Islam