Posted on April 1, 2013 by Eric Halliwell
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.”
I will call you that. It’s honorific, yes, and I do honor you and, as it happens, Gentle Reader was the name of the (now defunct) magazine in England where my first published poem appeared. There is a (very) little story behind that, so I will include the poem at the end.
Today I saw on You Tube a very short video of Kurt Vonnegutt’s advice to writers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmVcIhnvSx8). A key suggestion/point was to get to the reader as much information as soon as possible. So I start the blog rolling with this short bio that appeared in Umbrella, alongside my poem:
Eric Halliwell has spent many years as student, carpenter, flunked-out nursing student, and then a first grade school teacher. Through a tragic romantic misadventure he ended up in Guatemala where he lives on Lake Atitlan, writing poetry. It keeps him off the streets, or, rather, since there are no streets where he lives, off a dirt trail above the lake.
So that’s how I got to Guatemala, on Lake Atitlan, and the peace here seems to have facilitated a late blooming life-of-the-poet trip. In fact, I was just online and found an article
including Lake Atitlan on a list of ten most sacred spots on the planet. (I like that they use “sacred” as if it were objective fact. Because it is)
As you now see, my view is skewed toward the “sacred.” And as you might expect, my poetry is from a metaphysical, para precisar, Sufi perspective. Yes, because I was in a Sufi order in Walnut Creek California for seven years. This order was founded by Hazrat Inayat Khan, who died circa 1927. I will no doubt regularly regale you, my readers, with some favorite inspirations (quotes) of his. I trust you will enjoy as much as I have, his lucid common sense and inspired ecumenical focus on what is, after all, the science of happiness.
For this, it’s no surprise that my poems have a Sufi (read very broad-based) theme. I’m not sure how familiar my readers may be with Sufism, which is most famously known by the writings of Sufi ecstatic poets such as Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, Saadi, Attar, Ibn Arabi, and Omar Khayyam.
So I started out in Guatemala, hitching my wagon* to art (drawing, painting). But within a year, having read a book of poetry, Love Letters from God, by Daniel Ladinsky, I was inspired to try my hand at my own “ecstatic” poetry. I was ecstatic for sure in one sense: my intense happiness and gratitude to be given this sudden gift of a compulsion to listen to sweet stuff with its heart imprimatur, and write it down and even presume to call it poetry. My touchstone for that is if it touches the heart. And we know that by the metaphor that we find in our salty tears, small miracles which are a microcosm of the ocean. We know by these small miracles when we’ve written a poem from the heart. And blessedly now, for me, these small miracles keep coming regularly, like the lanchas on Lake Atitlan.
Indeed the first poem I got published, dealt with such “small” miracles:
A Grudgingly Budging Little Miracle
“con las manos en la masa: red-handed”
At this latitude: Guatemala
The water stops a lot
So it was foolish baking bread
With no water to fix my sticky fingers
So there was I with my hands
Fresh from the masa
Looking at the water faucet
Fully open yet nary a drip
I had a choice of whine or risa:
I just laughed and an instant later the water
Started again but only a fickle trickle of wet
Barely sufficient to clean my gooey hands
And then it stopped again
It was a grudgingly budging little miracle
But instructive: We do get what we need
(With the right attitude)
In upcoming blog posts, I will muse (as it were) about metaphysical themes, about poetry writing, particularly my own, (yours too, reader willing) art in general, favorite heart stuff. The wonderful thing about Sufism is it has relevance to every interest. You know it doesn’t matter what pebbles you install in your kaleidoscope. So they be of translucent colors and you see to a light source.
I promise to reply to any comments.
As my Grandma Dorothy used to say at bed time, “See you anonymous!”
God be with you,
PS–I believe “good-bye” is a contraction for God be with you. It’s a shame to have lost that.
*Full disclosure: Ralph Waldo Emerson reference: “Hitch your wagon to a star.”