The history of the school at Chisholme – some background notes:
The school at Chisholme came about in response to a need, felt by many people at that time, to explore the depths of the spiritual path directly, free from formalised religion or dogma, free of gurus, teachers or other intermediaries.
A unique educational programme was developed to serve this need, based on the unity of existence and the simple truth that the means to discover who we really are is present within each one of us, and that we can learn to uncover this for ourselves. This meaning and this education became known as ‘Beshara’. The Beshara Trust was founded in 1971, and an open centre set up at Swyre Farm, in Gloucestershire, headed initially by Reshad Field (1934–2016).
It soon became clear that something more was required: a place secluded from the pressures of contemporary life, where people would be able to study, meditate, work and learn about their essential nature with single-minded attention and concentration. Chisholme was found, and despite its very needy and derelict appearance – or maybe because of it – it turned out to be the perfect place to serve this education. It became known as the Beshara School.
Purchasing the estate was a slow and complicated process. An independent Scottish charity, the Chisholme Institute, was set up in 1978 in order to complete the purchase, and this continues to administer the school, its courses and the place.
The Institute acknowledges the huge debt of gratitude owed to countless people who have helped to bring about the school and maintain it to this day…
Very special thanks goes to Bulent Rauf, a man of wisdom, scholar, guide and dear friend to so many, without whose vision and foresight none of the things described in these pages could have happened. He discouraged anyone who wanted to treat him as a spiritual teacher or guru figure. On the contrary, he never tired of reminding those he was with that it is through identifying with the reality of their own selves that the profound lessons of the spiritual path are learnt; for this there are no intermediaries. He loved Chisholme and cared for it with the greatest diligence and attention until his death in 1987.
Bulent never veered from the premise that union with God was the sole purpose for the existence of man and this certainty coloured all that was accomplished through him.
Thanks and gratitude also to Peter Young, who served as principal from 1984 to 2015 and during that time looked after the school and its students with single-minded attention. He continues to develop and supervise courses and acts as consultant to Chisholme.
Thanks also goes to those whose generosity and sponsorship helped initiate and promote this project from the outset, including The Hon. H.J.H.Tollemache, The Marquess of Bute, The Historical Buildings Society of Scotland, The Georgian Society, the Right Hon. David Steel, Lady Ginette Darwin, Lady Elizabeth Hornsby, Mr Roy Tucker and of course the Beshara Trust.
As part of a recent re-appraisal of Chisolme, the operating name 'Beshara School’ was changed in favour of it now simply being known as the Chisholme Institute. However, the essential remit of Chisholme has remained unchanged since 1978. The Institute is committed to providing a superlative and comprehensive education in self-knowledge in the light of the unity of existence. However, it also continues to engage in educational research and development, so that its courses accurately reflect the changing times. Recently a course of evening classes and on-line courses have been developed, making this education available worldwide. In March 2009 the school gained accreditation from the British Accreditation Council (BAC) to receive students from abroad.
What is learned and experienced at Chisholme has found expression through its students in many places around the globe. Today, a number of independent groups and charitable organizations set up by long-term students offer courses, study groups, seminars and lectures in many locations worldwide. Details and contacts can be found on beshara.org, which is administered by the Beshara Trust. This website also hosts an online magazine which serves as a platform for interesting and intelligent material which represents a spiritual perspective.