The Chisholme Institute was founded in 1978. It is based in the Scottish Borders, in a beautiful, deeply peaceful spot, surrounded by rich flora and fauna. An abandoned Georgian estate was found in 1973. Since then, the main house and its cottages have been lovingly restored by volunteers from the world over. The institute's purpose is education – literally to ‘draw out’ (from the Latin educare, to lead forth) from each individual, their full humanity.
‘Every human being has in essence, a good and noble nature. Chisholme is dedicated to being a suitable place for that nature to emerge’
The school was established by Bulent Rauf, who was born into Ottoman Turkey and emigrated to the UK in the 1960’s. A man of remarkable insight, Bulent recognised that the unity of being stands without any cultural or religious limitations. He translated the major works of Ibn Arabi into English ‘for the benefit of all mankind’. Ibn Arabi (1165 to1240) is known as one of the greatest exponents of the unity of all existence.
The education at Chisholme is built on the certainty that all life is one. Every person has, as a human, the potential to witness this truth and live each day according to it. This entails a knowledge of ‘self’ – not a limited, conditioned self, (the ‘my’ self) – but the human identity which is unique in each of us, yet shared by all of us.
To commit to the education at Chisholme is to be willing to be ‘cooked’
Chisholme is like a cooking pot, a kitchen where we are the basic ingredients – our experiences, hopes, abilities, insights and questions. As with cooking, time, patience and commitment are essential. And to be cooked, we must first recognise we are raw. So we start where we are in life, as who we are. The process here is well balanced, with no extremes or excesses. There is an intensity, yet still time for light touches of humour and pleasure. And always friendship, humility and simply gratitude for being alive.
Four pillars form the daily structure at Chisholme: mindfulness and meditation, study, work and practices. Work includes growing food, tending livestock, cleaning and restoring, communicating, creating and, of course, cooking.
Over fifty nationalities of all ages, activities, and outlooks have contributed to the school, so far. By giving of their time and energy as volunteers, wwoofers, workers and creatives, they have built this place.
For those who wish to go deeper, there are courses offered at Chisholme. From a weekend or week, to 40 days or 6 whole months, they include talks, walks, videos, music, poetry and always making friends.
By contrast there are also Retreats in the Woods, where you stay in yurts, light fires to cook your food, bake bread in a clay oven, heat eco showers & use earth loos. You’ll converse without books, meditate and work together. No phones, no links to anyone but the group for a week.
So what, then, is the ultimate aim of education at Chisholme? It is for each of us to make the most positive contribution to this life we are capable of – in whatever unique way we find is ours to give.
As one student wrote: ‘Existence is one, its movement is love. Its fullest expression is you.’
With all the contradictions we face in life, surely, this is an education whose time has come.
Chisholme is open 24/7, and everyone is always welcome.
For courses, events volunteering and detailed history see chisholme.org