Monthly Archives: June 2013

My Falling Dominoes Odyssey

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Lud Dimpfl's Sufi Mureeds (Initiated 1973)

Lud Dimpfl’s Sufi Mureeds (Initiated 1973)

(I’m in the top row, right in front of the door jamb)

(The sign above says, “God forbid that we should ever have to bear all that we are capable of bearing.”

–Old Jewish Proverb

PR–695

Turn Around: Face the Sun

(To Lud)

It’s all done with desire wires
(Yes it’s marionettes)

But we can sing an along song
Just like an astronaut growing
Old and bold in his orbit

–Who can with his little jets
Turn around: face the sun–

(Like a cat for fun pounces)
Announces
“I’m flying this thing!”

~.~.~

“Failure never let anybody down.”
–Murshida Ivy Duce

~.~.~

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,
(This is another re-instated blog post from those which mysteriously and suddenly went missing. There were over a hundred posts in all dating from April Fool’s Day, 2013, and as I have occasionally mentioned, the vast bulk of them were wiped out by some apparently malicious entity who got access to the inner workings of my website. And as I have promised, I am gradually (and laboriously) reintroducing them, from back-up files. This is one in a series of those. Also, I should add, this whole debacle explains the gaps you will see in the Archives section.) I generally choose which to put back, by those which a new blog post makes reference to. And this series is mentioned in my upcoming (soon) new blog post (watch this space).

It’s funny, destiny.

John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.” I remember in my Sufi classes, led by my beloved preceptor, Lud Dimpfl (Lud rhymes with blood) once he was using the metaphor of our lives as if we were astronauts in orbit. And we had to perforce conform to our orbit but we had access to little jets that could swing the ship around, pivoting on its center of gravity. And Lud quotes the astronaut, “I’m flying this thing!” Funny how little then we notice that really we aren’t flying this thing.

Take for instance my own falling dominoes odyssey. As I have mentioned, I started out as a marijuana-smoking hippie. I got busted of course (when it was a severe felony) and to afford a lawyer I switched from dish washing to apprentice carpentry. And I got off by a miracle (Long story, interesting but not enough spiritual theme to it to include here. Except that, as I said, it WAS a certified miracle. As I’ve had many times in this life, chief of which you can read about in the “About” section of this website (see above)

And I stayed with carpentry because:

Union scale.

Three raises a year. (From apprenticeship promotions)

And what else could compete? I had no college degree or skills. (I had dropped out of U.C. Berkeley) But something always kept me from getting on steady for any one company. You don’t have to, because the union keeps sending you out on new jobs. But only the fine work interested me, and though I single-handedly installed the walnut in the U. S. District judge’s chambers in San Francisco’s Federal Building, the quality of my carpentry ran hot and cold and also I was neither very good at nor interested in cozying up to bosses.

So I could never get enough jobs in my specialty and was often forced to go back to concrete work and other horrors.

But I had a girlfriend whom I got hired as an apprentice carpenter. She loved learning new things and was excited by the possibility but then discovered she was only being used for the federally mandated “girl hours.” They just gave her a broom and used her for a laborer, violating the unwritten contract that an apprentice be put in positions to learn carpentry in action. So she quit in disgust, resolving instead to study nursing. And I nursed her though the needed night school prerequisites, especially English. And she became a nurse. And so I too pulled a nurse reverse.
She couldn’t be a carpenter but by God maybe I could be a nurse. (I was better at her prerequisite studies than she was). So I went back to school and studied hard, acing all the prerequisites, and got accepted at Humboldt State, where I only lasted half-way through the three year program.

But here I want to make an aside, that women sure do seem to be nicer than men. The men were total shits to my girlfriend when she tried to be a carpenter. But when I tried to be a nurse, the nurses and professors (all women) and fellow students (In my class 22 women and 8 men) all were sweet to me, and encouraging.

But though I aced all the exams, etc., I flunked out. I bet I am the only one in the history of the Humboldt State Nursing program to ever flunk out with two nursing scholarships. True, they were based on academic performance not whether you could thread the needle on the floor of the hospital.

However, I once saved a homeless man’s life (from the clutches of a mis-diagnosing doctor), but that was all canceled out by the fact that I was drowning out there, working way too hard for just two patients, and not even enough time to make their beds. I just was not organized, blood made me dizzy, and my hand shook while I was giving an injection. I was a nervous wreck. They rightly pointed out that this was with just two patients. Next semester I’d have six (a full fledged nurse has 12). So they said they had to hold me back, not knowing that I was out of financial aid, and could not afford any such delays. I literally cried when I heard the grim news that I hadn’t passed.

Funny how one can be so attached to an outcome which in retrospect would have been utter disaster. I would have aged ten years for every year I was a nurse, always assuming that somehow I could have figured out how to be one.
But by God I was determined to at least finally get my bachelor’s degree at age 50. I took 18 units so I could graduate in the one semester I had remaining with financial aid, cobbling together a liberal arts general major with smidges of history and political science and literature and such.

So the dominoes were falling. I’d failed as a carpenter but it led to nursing. I failed at nursing but it led to a degree. I felt it would be a depressing defeat to go back to carpentry yet what can you do with a degree in “Liberal Studies?”

Teach, of course.

So I became a first grade teacher. And I didn’t even have to work as a student teacher. I just waded in with an internship credential (and a starting teacher’s salary) in the inner city where they couldn’t find anyone but untrained half-nurse carpenters willing to do it, (Another unshining example of racial discrimination) all while studying the craft in night school.

And so the next domino had toppled.

Next week: How I got to Guatemala, flirted with art, but got married to poetry. (I think I may have promised that last week, but you know how it is, when you have an expectation . . .)

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

God (The Teacher Aspect of the Universe)

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Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

PR3–56

An Amazing Feedback Loop

This world is art: it’s a free museum
People complain about the price of admission
For this or for that other thing

But we’re already in the theater
And even when your play lasts only briefly:
How long does a camera take?

One exposure is all the necessary . . .
Not an art fan? A Philistine perhaps?
Still it’s an amazing feedback loop

(You can only go so far with that)
Because such is a symptom of ego
And the cure for not loving art

Is to admire at least ones self
Look in the mirror!
Have you ever seen such a painting?

Especially when there’s backdrop lighting
And there always is
With saints I hear it gathers about the head

(The eyes are the wick for the heart’s candle)
The only trouble is:
Some people do not admire themselves

~.~.~

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,
(This is another re-instated blog post from those which mysteriously and suddenly went missing. There were over a hundred posts in all dating from April Fool’s Day, 2013, and as I have occasionally mentioned, the vast bulk of them were wiped out by some apparently malicious entity who got access to the inner workings of my website. And as I have promised, I am gradually (and laboriously) reintroducing them, from back-up files. This is one in a series of those. Also, I should add, this whole debacle explains the gaps you will see in the Archives section. I generally choose which to put back, by those which a new blog post makes reference to. And this series is mentioned in my upcoming (soon) new blog post (watch this space).

Call me biased, but my personal experience is that art leads to happiness. Which is why there is so much emphasis on the arts in this blog, which was to have been called “Sufism the Science of Happiness.” Instead that became merely the title for my first blog post.

You can read (on the “About” page) about my history. I suspect it’s most people’s history, if they are acting wisely. I mean they with experience accumulate wisdom which then leads to happiness.* In the about section I quote Bob Dylan, “He not busy being born is busy dying.” And it is my firm philosophy that this “being born” is a guarantee of happiness. Which I deem basically to be the satisfaction of a job well done, a life well lived. And so each stage has its tag-along happiness. But as all wisdom comes from listening to the heart, and as art should be the product of the heart, so it is that the heart-practicing artist is a happy person. I suppose it may be more than just doing well the job of living, though I could argue there’s an art form right there. It may also be an extra happy kick in the pants to be learning to powerfully express your heart. I am sure we’ve all noticed how much better we feel after a good cry, on the shoulder of a friend. Just so, I think there is a magic in expressing the heart through art.

I do hope I am not like some of these Christians, etc. who are so moved by the feeling of Christ (Or whoever, or whatever) that they can’t shut up about it, can’t stop pushing it into others’ faces. And so I suppose I could play the prophet and declare a first commandment like “Thou shalt express your heart creatively.” (though actually, I think Emerson did give permission—even promoted that—See Self Reliance) On the other hand I suppose it’s fair to say that the opposite of a Philistine is not an art proselytizer. But let me say in my defense, with art the product is perforce individual. Art is like snowflakes, no two are alike. Or at least no two artists are. And so of course we art proselytizers can’t be accused of claiming we know any transferable truth. Unless of course it’s such a great poem etc. it leaves people in tears. But even then the reaction is an individual one, which only an idiot would try to universalize.

So in my blog posts there is often a propaganda push for art. In any case for the above reasons you will often read in my posts and poetry an emphasis on the production of art in some form. But please pardon me in that as is well known one should write about what one knows. And my art experience (Linked with any success) has been in either drawing and painting, and poetry.

And the story about that and its upshot is for next week.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*At least that’s my experience hence my hypothesis: that happiness is not an absolute state. It comes automatically when one is walking the road of progress, which is a relative thing. Because guess what? God (the teacher aspect of the universe) knows about Pavlov and the power of association. I guess you could say happiness is the carrot. (I won’t speak of the stick. It’s all too familiar already.)

Advice to the Lovelorn

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E. E. Cummings' Beloved Marian Morehouse

E. E. Cummings’ Beloved Marian Morehouse

 

(First appeared in Word Catalyst and was republished in Tipton Poetry Journal)
PR–489

I Was a Prince

I was a prince who found you in a pond
Secure beneath a lily pad to hide
Your creamy body from the sun and me
But you squirmed from my grasp and dived so deep
I dared not follow so I placed a net
Which looked quite like a lily pad and I
Disguised myself and sat on top a frog
As any fool could see–when you came up
I quickly kissed your lips and magic things
Occurred like in the fairy tales to wit
I did become a frog and it turned out
You really fancied frogs’ legs but I squirmed
Out of your grasp and dived down deeper than
You dared to follow so you placed a net
Which looked quite like a lily pad and when
I came back up again to sit on it
You kissed me back into a prince once more
And it turned out you fancied princes too
So you apologizing for the frogs’
Legs dinner episode said “Still it was
A lot of fun” And so we lived and dived
Quite happy ever after til one day
You were especially hungry and you knew
That when I was a frog you were supposed
To kiss me but you ate me and you said
“It was a boring game after a while”

~.~.~

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.”

~.~.~

September 9, 2016,
I know I promised another repost about my erst beloved Sufi preceptor, the hero of last week’s repost, but a subject came up just lately with a couple of friends suggesting this theme, so pardon me, for this interlude. I expect Lud will be back soon. And as I say about each of these I repost:

This is another re-instated blog post from those which mysteriously and suddenly went missing. There were over a hundred posts in all dating from April Fool’s Day, 2013, and as I have occasionally mentioned, the vast bulk of them were wiped out by some apparently malicious entity who got access to the inner workings of my website. And as I have promised, I am gradually (and laboriously) reintroducing them, from back-up files. This is one in a series of those. Also, I should add, this whole debacle explains the gaps you will see in the Archives section.

(From June 3, 2013)
Gentle Readers,
Perhaps it’s time to talk about Romance. I don’t believe I’ve done that yet (The blog is young). I was just reading a favorite advice columnist (Carolyn Hax who appears regularly in the Washington Post—She often sounds like a Sufi). Of course a staple to the point of cliche in these columns is “advice to the lovelorn.” And today’s was no exception. A lady was lamenting that she still seemed to love and miss the guy she had by sheer dint of will, dumped. The guy who had chronically lied to her. Now, feeling lonely, she was thinking of inviting him back for some of the former laughs (Yes, there had been some). A reader left a comment that she really only loved the facade that he presented, not the real him and her grief was not for the loss of what she’d had, but rather what she wanted to have. I replied to her comment quoting Ashleigh Brilliant (Featured in my Quotes page—See above): “I will always love the false image I had of you.” (I also have another of his quotes I like: “I have seen the future! Go back!”)

So what is the Sufi advice here? Hazrat Inayat Khan has said that if deceived in love, it is best to walk away without rancor, albeit with a heavy heart. This he said, “is how the wise love.” Of course sometimes these issues are complicated, as for instance in the case of the famously devoted couple of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman.
Why was theirs complicated? Well, I wasn’t a fly on the wall, but suffice it to say, that when Newman and Woodward met (On the set of a movie they were in together) they fell in love and he left his then wife. But it obviously was not because he had a wandering eye, an adulterous nature. The proof of this is that he stayed happily with Ms Woodward for more than thirty years, until in fact, his recent death.

E. E. Cummings (one of my very favorite poets) dealt sensitively with this stuff, in his sonnet:

it may not always be so; and i say
that if your lips, which i have loved, should touch
another’s, and your dear strong fingers clutch
his heart, as mine in time not far away;
if on another’s face your sweet hair lay
in such a silence as i know, or such
great writhing words as, uttering overmuch,
stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;
if this should be, i say if this should be-
you of my heart, send me a little word;
that i may go unto him, and take his hands,
saying, Accept all happiness from me.
Then shall i turn my face,and hear one bird
sing terribly afar in the lost lands.

Of course it isn’t necessarily an issue of guilt. It wasn’t in Cummings poem, because he chose to focus only on the reaction of his own noble heart, without blame or rancor. Incidentally, he too was devoted to the same woman, Marian Morehouse, for over forty years, and that too lasted until he died.
God be with you,
Eric Halliwell