Monthly Archives: April 2013

A Matching Key, a Proof of Brotherhood

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The Best Translations

The best translations
Are from the author himself

He knows what he had in mind

That is why it is so important
To listen to your heart

“To ask for a purely intellectual proof of the existence of God is like asking for the privilege of being able to see with your ears.”
–Meher Baba

For various reasons, God is a controversial issue. I am an ex-atheist. I understand reservations that stem from that end. But I have to say, the anti-God atheists (as opposed to those with a live and let live attitude) have it easy, in that a lot of “religious” folk are embarrassing to be associated with. But it cuts both ways. The born-agains and the dinosaur/human co-habitationists who knock on your door are indeed to be criticized, on the grounds of they can’t see subtlety. Black and white is the name of their game; cartoon is their reality. Paint by numbers cartoon. (I clarify, so as not to disparage the true arts).

But often while ridiculing this incapacity for mentally manipulating subtlety, these anti-God atheists make the same mistake themselves, with a careless lumping together of all who believe in “God,” and then extrapolating down to the lowest common denominator and declaring that this is what this God business is about. And then they laugh at their funny looking straw man caricicature. And mind you, these are people who every day treat their children with love, their friends with kindness, and everyone with a smile of tolerance.

So I would say to these people, have a care. Use your famous better ability to discriminate and understand that others have a different view of “God,” which you by your own behavior have signaled you would not ridicule. To which, in fact, you are dedicating your life.

This is because to me and other Sufis, God is best defined by His or Her manifestations, since what lies beyond that is by definition infinite and so inherently ungraspable.” It’s kind of like the test for HIV. You see, they can’t find the HIV, it doesn’t show up anywhere. What they detect is the body’s key-in-a-specific-lock antibodies which would not be there if there were no exposure to HIV. And similarly, we know the presence of God by God’s fruits: of love, of kindness, of tolerance.

Let me tell you then my definition, my concept of God. And of course it’s absurdly off the mark. We’re all, with our finite minds, off the scent, which is why Inayat Khan so constantly emphasized the use of the imagination, as the means of seeing God. It’s like poetry really, where the poet has something to share, largely perhaps a feeling in her heart, and so, impossible to put into words. But one can point to it with metaphors, you can dance to it and this works especially well when you turn the whole thing into a sort of music. Now you see, I am doing it. Even the best poet cannot put “God” into words except by the power of a suggestion that can insinuate itself into your heart and find a matching key, a proof of brotherhood. And that is what poetry is: the attempt to express the inexpressible, as some famous person said (I forget who). And so yes, I am resorting to poetry. But what do you expect from a poet?

But I do confess I have a fascination with the amusement afforded by metaphysical speculation. Using the mind to try to sort out issues like this. So I will now tell you what I personally mean by “God.”
Well, it’s hinted at by the invocation of Hazrat Inayat Khan (The founder of Sufism in the Western world):

“Towards the one, the perfection of love, harmony and beauty, the only being, united with all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the spirit of guidance.”

I guess what bothers atheists the most is the concept of God having a personality, of having powers, of granting wishes, the stuff really of fairy tales. But how do we know the very existence of fairy tales isn’t an antibody-sign of reality of the principle behind the metaphor? (The reality being that there are indeed miracles, sophisticated miracles, much beyond these toy ones)

I will tell you this, I find it an incredibly fascinating concept, to think that love can have power. Inherent power. That love can coalesce like how interstellar gas turns into the central locus of a star, and can manifest as a personality or at least a power that reflects any and all objectively different personalities but which are all animated by the same light. And instead of complaining, the atheists should be thanking God for making everything so bloody interesting. And you know, that if God ever made God obvious to the mere mind, (and thus satisfy the atheists) God would then be ridiculed. And by the very atheists who had demanded the display of proof. And justly so. God just can’t win with this mindset. Hence the intense historical emphasis on the value of faith. It sure does save a lot of time, effort, and spurious analysis.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

A Dance Between Science and Art

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New PR–225
Where the Flowers Are

what if a much of a which of a wind
gives the truth to summer’s lie;
bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun
and yanks immortal stars awry?
–E. E. Cummings (One Times One)

Do you ever wish you were invited
To an educated cocktail party where
You could ask an entomologist
About insect instincts like

How a bee scout does a figure eight dance
In the air and bingo the bees all know
Where the flowers are or ask a zoologist
Why each tiger in the wild

Needs forty square miles of territory
And what would happen in the same space
If there were two tigers?
Is it that they are territorial and only

One would survive the wrestling mismatch
Or there just aren’t enough zebras
Per square mile to meet their zebra
Needs and so they’d starve?

Or maybe you want a party astronomer to ask
About job-killing black holes and that planet
That I hear is a giant uncut diamond
And of course a physicist who could say how

Things were before the big bang on the other
Side of that microscopic om point through which
The universe sprang like a genie from a bottle
(To grant us wishes)

And why it’s all radiating outwards
Like spokes in Ezekiel’s wheel or some real
Estate bubble that some dark day will burst
Like fireworks when the sky falls like Niagara?

~.~.~

“Look homeward, Angel, now, and melt with ruth.”
–John Milton (Lycidas)

Gentle Readers,
I suspect there will be a lot of chat about science on this blog. I think science is great. It opens a lot of doors and if at the end of doors, we enter the realm of the mystical, well, if science leads us there, why lads, that can’t be bad, right? I mean the scientific method’s fraught with the linchpin of metaphysics. I refer of course to empirical observation. Because though your heart’s good with stars it’s also a veritable empirical observatory. So, look inwards, Angel, and keep track of the results. Write them up like a lab report. Only in the science of this, these notes are called poetry, music. The arts.

Yes, the heart must do a dance between science and art.

My personal opinion is that artists are more honest. I mean sure we artists have our views, our opinions. But we know all that is subjective. And if then you just can’t pin down the artist, well Mister Frustrated Butterfly Collector, your problem is you are using the wrong instrument. (Yes it’s a musical thing) Use your brain sure. But your brain is the scalpel. Your heart is the surgeon. Choices are instrumental too. And choosing well is an art. A holy well you might say. But you need a big dipper to access its water. And as for finding this famous well, how’s this for a start? Head towards your heart. (Dance toward your heart.)

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

A Big Blog Emphasis on Poetry Production

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Kelli Russell Agodon

Kelli Russell Agodon

New PR–444

Say a Sweet Good-Bye to Less than Mirrors

Dance while drunk
Put it on a balance beam of light
Forget the dismount
Forget wrathful

Remember the carnelian faithful
The obsidian wrought by fire by yellow
Flowers and by far you first must swear
You must like some sapphire swing low

And deep into a sea of doubt
Yes look out for and through
The blue sky of why to past know
(All the way to now and to grow)

But anoint then your sigh say a sweet
Good-bye to less than mirrors a shy
Welcome to the azure glow
Of a Christmas in Fresno

~.~.~

Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Invocation:

“Towards the one, the perfection of love, harmony and beauty, the only being, united with all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the spirit of guidance.”

~.~.~

Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Prescribed Daily Mantra:
“My thoughtful self: Reproach no one. Bear malice towards no one. Hold a grudge against no one. Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite, and kind to all.”

~.~.~

Gentle Readers,
(Gentle Reader alert:; as you may recall I was hacked apparently and most of my posts went awol. I am gradually reintroducing them. This is one from 2013.)

This is mostly a poetry blog. It’s a Sufism blog, yes, but I believe Sufism is best expressed as poetry (certainly that has historically been so: see Rumi, Hafiz, Khayyam, Kabir, Saadi, etc). Also, poetry (especially our own) is the best access we have to the heart. And so here there will be a big blog emphasis on poetry production. It’s how I came to this website, and as already suggested in my beginning posts, there will often be encouragement for my readers to try their hand at writing poetry. And so there will be a lot of poetry commentary. Especially if, as is hoped, my readers wish to leave their own poems in the comment section–the part of the blog readers have access to. This is especially urged if readers find their own poem supports or comments upon the subject of the blog post, as these issues won’t all deal with poetry production, but also reams of other Sufi themes.

But as you may have guessed, today’s post will deal with poetry production. It was not the original plan but I follow the blog, Book of Kells, by the poet Kelli Russell Agodon. And the other day she published a “poetry prompt” (a springboard to use for beginning a poem). So, since I am pushing poetry production, I thought why don’t I do as I say, and follow Kelli’s instructions and see what pops up (poem-wise). Might thereby hang a tale. So I gave her instructions a shot. To save you researching Kelli’s–albeit recent–archives, I include here the instructions, and what I did with them. (The final product being the poem at the top)

(To follow Kelli’s blog : http://ofkells.blogspot.com/)

The Over-Achiever Muse–

Writing Exercise for Poets-
1. Make a list of twenty words

2. Add a place, a proper noun, the name of person, a planet and a color

Now look at your words and pair them up by sound the best you can (use half/slant rhyme, for example: greed could go near underneath, and futility could go with vanilla pie)

Begin writing in the form of a poem (use line and stanza breaks, not just a “free write”) and picking up your words in order so the words that sound similar are near each other in the poem.

Try to use as many sets of words as possible and feel free to bring in new words with similar sounds to complete your poem.

Revise, revise, revise.

(End of Kelli’s prompt)

In addition to my word list below, I had a mental flash of these words, which I decided to start the poem with:
Dance while drunk
Put it on a balance beam of light

I often, perhaps usually, start off a poem with a clutch of words that for some reason have come to me. And in a way that defies description, with practice (One of the very best reasons for much practice) I have come to recognize something about it though I don’t know why I recognize it. I guess it’s akin to how my cat knows me in the dark. It’s as if an angel (read muse) is whispering an idea in my ear. It’s amazing the high percentage of these angel-generated “prompts” that result in a satisfying poem. (Just another proof of the value of faith, I expect.) Aside from the first two lines, then, I decided on this word list:

yellow
star
faithful
wrathful
simple
flower
carnelian
obsidian
story
poem
heart
deep
azure
sky
why
sigh
good bye
excite
exotic
wine
Fresno
Christmas
Christina
Saturn
blue

As I say, see the top for the resulting poem.

This isn’t quite the first time I’ve written a poem this way. When I was a first grade teacher, at Christmastime, I wanted both to introduce the children to poetry writing as well as have something to present as a group at the Christmas assembly. So I asked the children to suggest thirty or so words which I put on the blackboard. And on the spot I made up this poem, using the children’s words:

New New PR–1

The Party for Santa Claus

Crybaby Pig wore a purple hat
To the party for Santa Claus
The Red Nosed Reindeer was gone
(He stole a cookie from the rhinoceros)
Little Bo Peep’s sheep were at large
(They’d run off to join the circus)
But the little girl leprechaun
Rode in on a black shiny cat
How about that?

The class very much enjoyed reciting their poem to the school’s Christmas Assembly.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

PS–I should probably advise my readers that normally they will understand my poems more. Perhaps because of the nature of pushing to go in certain directions, I kind of soared into a headwind of extravagant imagery. But still, it felt satisfying almost as if I’d gotten stuff off my chest.

PPS–You will on this website tend to notice strange codes above poems (as in today’s, “New PR–444” and “New New PR–1”) The reason for this is I have written thousands of poems, divided up into groups of five hundredish, with titles like PR, or New PR and finally it has settled into PR3, 4, 5, and on upward. The reason for the PR is embarrassing and so will go unexplained. But also the codes are handy if anyone wishes to comment, say in re poem pr–333 (etc), I think thus and so. So thus they don’t have to keep remembering and/or keying in titles.