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The Abode of the Message

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Title: The Abode of the Message  
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Subject: Universal Sufism, Spiritual organizations, Spiritual retreats, Shaker Village Work Group, Retreat (spiritual)
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The Abode of the Message

The Abode of the Message
Welcome to the Abode!
Founded 1975 (1975)
Founder Vilayat Inayat Khan
Type nonprofit organization
Origins Sufi Order International
Area served
Method Spiritual intentional community; Conference & retreat center; Headquarters of the Sufi Order International
Key people
Spiritual leader, Zia Inayat-Khan
Mission To collectively embody spiritual awakening, for mutual dedication and visionary collaboration

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 Sufi Order International, a conference and retreat center, and a center of esoteric study.[1][2][3][4] It is also home to the current spiritual leader of the Sufi Order International, Zia Inayat-Khan.[4] 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.[3][5]

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."[6]


  • History of the site 1
  • Community 2
  • Activities 3
  • Facilities 4
    • Main Campus 4.1
    • Mountain Conference Center 4.2
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

History of the site

Photo of a red barn.
Shaker Barn, the Shaker community's horse barn

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.[3][4] Formally established in 1787, the New Lebanon Shaker Society (renamed the Mount Lebanon Shaker Society in 1861[7][8]) 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.[5][7][8][9]


  • The Abode of the Message — 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.

External links

  • "Abode of the Message". Communities Directory online. — 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. — 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. — A brief review of meditation retreat facilities.  
  • "The Mount Lebanon Shaker Society". — A brief history of the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village.  

Web sites

  • Becksvoort, Christian; Sheldon, John (2000). The Shaker Legacy: Perspectives on an Enduring Furniture Style. Newtown, CT: Taunton Press. pp. 54–55. — 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". — 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. , including the South Family site. Mount Lebanon Shaker Village — Extended history of the  
  • 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.  
  • Miller, Timothy (1999). The 60s Communes: Hippies and Beyond. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. pp. 115–116. — 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. — 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. — 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. — Some detailed history of the Abode.  
  • Sutton, Robert P. (2005). Modern American Communes: A Dictionary. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 3–4. — 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. — A short history of the Sufi Order International, with a few paragraphs about the Abode.  


Newspapers and magazines

  1. ^ Jackman 1982.
  2. ^ a b c Whilden 2004.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Tulloch 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Tulloch 2010.
  5. ^ a b c Gutek 1998.
  6. ^ Vision for the Abode. Abode of the Message website. Retrieved 12 August 2010
  7. ^ a b Stein 1994.
  8. ^ a b "The Mount Lebanon Shaker Society". National Register of Historic Places (USA) website. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  9. ^ a b About Mount Lebanon Shaker Village. Shaker Museum and Library website. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  10. ^ a b c Becksvoort & Sheldon 2000.
  11. ^ Darrow School: A unique sense of place. Darrow School website. Darrow School. Retrieved 25 August 2010
  12. ^ Museum history. Shaker Museum and Library website. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  13. ^ Opdahl & Woodruff Opdahl 2004.
  14. ^ Sutton 2003.
  15. ^ The Early Years of the Abode of the Message. Abode of the Message website. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
  16. ^ Miller 1999, p. xviii.
  17. ^ a b Webb 1995.
  18. ^ Kuller 1977.
  19. ^ Take Your Soul on Vacation. BeliefNet website. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  20. ^ Virtanen 2008.
  21. ^ a b Abode of the Message: Individual spiritual retreats. Abode of the Message website. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  22. ^ Newman 1989, p. 318.


See also

The Mountain Conference Center, also called the Mountain Camp, hosts large group events for the Sufi Order International as well as being available as a woodland conference center.[3] The Mountain Camp comprises dining halls 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.

Photo of a large white tent on a wooden platform with stairs leading up to it.
Main Tent, at the Mountain Conference Center.

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."[3] 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. The Abode Healing Arts Center is in Mughni, the former Shaker trustees building. Several B&B-style rooms are in Mughni, and 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.[3][4][21][22]

Photo of a wooden building with a winged heart logo over the door.
Meditation Hall on the Main Campus, the former Shaker apple barn.

Main Campus

The Abode occupies approximately 430 acres (1.7 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.[4]


Some additional activities based at the Abode are listed below under External links.

The Sufi Order International Secretariat is the headquarters for the Sufi Order International, 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 one-, two-, or four-year courses of intensive study, training and practice in the Sufi path. The Abode Organic Farm includes 5 acres (0.02 km2) of organic vegetable gardens with 35 landscaped beds, a greenhouse, and flower and herb gardens.[3]

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.[2][18][19][20][21]

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 conference centers, and other Abode facilities that are available to rent for public events. B&B-style housing is also available for individual visitors staying overnight.[3] The Office manages programs for volunteer interns, work-exchange residents, as well as Khidmat, the Abode’s combined work service-study program.

Photo of a small lean-to style wooden hut with a sliding glass front door.
Meditation retreat hut, for individual spiritual retreats


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.[3][4] The population expands with temporary staff and students during the summer. The Abode’s extended community includes past residents and the many Sufi Order members who regularly or occasionally attend events at the Abode, numbering several thousand.[3][17]

Today the Abode continues as one of the few enduring intentional communities among those that arose by the thousands[16] 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.[3] There are also regular classes and events associated with the activities of the Sufi Order International.[17] The Abode’s revenue sources include rent 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 Conference Center.[2][4]


[15][14], which established it as a new spiritual residential community—The Abode of the Message.Sufi Order International) until it was purchased in 1975 for the [13] (a camp for urban teenagers established in 1947 as the Shaker Village Work Camp and later renamed[10]Shaker Village Work Group The South Family property was owned by the [12][10].Mount Lebanon, Shaker Museum The North Family property is occupied and being restored by the [11][10], a private residential high school.Darrow School Three main groups of buildings survive as of 2010. The Church Family property is occupied by the [9][5]

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