Because the Mind Is Powerful

My drawing of the Virgin Mary

My drawing of the Virgin Mary


A Helpful Thing, Which Takes the Sting Out of Fear

Stuff is lurking and lying in wait there’s
No doubt about that
Or perhaps it’s just God’s end of a plan
And to execute a plan

I have often seen
(With the keen eyesight of the heart)
That one does need a kick in the butt
And so when stuff leaps out at you

(Even in the dark
Especially in the dark because there the contrast
With light is more stark and so God knows
That shadows have their place in your face)

It’s best to have a sense of humor–I hear
God likes it when you laugh for having seen through
His or Her ruses to the roses behind or
Is it angels God delegates the sense of humor to?

Even this speculation makes the whole thing more
Amusing which is a helpful thing
Which takes the sting out of fear
Takes the bite out of night


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. (Which I use as an excuse to reprise that post). And this (lately) series is mentioned in my upcoming (soon) new blog post (watch this space). I have kept with this particular series also because these latest from 2013 are a series of biographical stories about how I came to be a poet in Guatemala. Which I of course mention, not for some egofied notion that you all are interested necessarily in my life story, but (honest!) because I feel all this illustrates if not Sufi principles, at least it exemplifies my conception of them. And frankly that’s what this whole blog and website is for: to express how I feel about the broad category I call Sufism. Hence the title, which derives from Rumi, the best known Sufi in this part of the known universe.

Last week (from 2013) I left off with the decision to leave Oregon and go to Guatemala. (In 2001) And since Eve (Not her real name) soon had a new boyfriend, I thought about what to do next, since this clearly obviated the original plan which had been for me to return to her, after I had mastered Spanish enough to get a teaching job (e. g. first grade).

But the plan, as I mentioned last time, was a fairy tale. Then I soon discovered I was living in my own new fairy tale. And (knock on wood!) I will live happily ever after. And it’s been so for twelve years now and so why doubt it? Especially since according to Hazrat Inayat Khan, the Sufi murshid I have been following, (and who if you have been following this blog, you are vastly familiar with) such thoughts are poison.

Because the mind is powerful.

But as I think perhaps you (who have been following this saga of the last few posts) might have noticed, things have had a way of happening differently than what I had been wishing for, working for. I guess it’s like John Lennon’s point about life being what happens while you are making other plans, which sounds bad, as if things may be out of control. But as I have seen over and over again, things that looked grim turned out well. (e. g. my carpentry failure led to my nursing school failure which led to my teaching first grade which in itself was successful, with the interesting interference of romance. But romance–perhaps you’ve noticed–is a part of life. (And please, I can’t let this go by without quoting my Sufi murshida, Ivy Duce, when she said, “Failure never let anybody down.” ) And when the romance failed, I ended up in Guatemala. Me, the historically geographically unadventurous, who like a blind man who depends on his heightened sense of hearing etc, became adventurous, daring even, once romance got into the equation. Interestingly I just did the typo, “roamance.” Because that surely was what got me to roaming.

As I left off last week, the issue now was what was to be my occupation. Here I was, having (due to decisions made in a romantic context) sold my house, and so sitting on 50,000 dollars in profit, having quit carpentry to become a first grade teacher, hence drawing an early retirement pension of just over $500 a month, and having quit my teaching job to be with Eve in Oregon.

So I found myself without any need to return to the states, and enjoyed the prospect of living in Guatemala where stuff is cheap, for the rest of my life, unencumbered by work (at least once an early social security pension would kick in, after a mere eight years).

And Inayat Khan has stressed that poets at least, (and all art is suspect here), function best where there’s no stress; they need a tranquil life of contemplation.

Intuitively, I knew that some art form was my destiny. It’s true, left to my own devices I probably would have just gone straight for the poetry. I had been writing poems since I was 14. And one at age 17 was in French (to impress my girlfriend when I sent her flowers for her birthday):

Ce sont de moi quelques fleurs
Qui expriment pour toi mon amour
Les fleurs, elles sont mortes dans des heures
Mais ton memoir vit toujours
Dans mon Coeur

(In the perforce fractured English translation):

Here are some flowers from me
That express my love for you.
The flowers will die within hours
But your memory lives forever
In my heart

Of course it can’t hold a candle to E. E. Cummings’ first poem (and at age six!):

There was a little farder
Who pushed his mother harder

But fate intervened and stalled all that, for a time, so I could study drawing and painting. And for all I know this was essential training for the poetry I now am dedicated to. After all, the poet E. E. Cummings was also a painter.* And there are scuttlebutts to the effect that it informed his poetry in for instance the manner of his odd pictorial typography, reminiscent of Guillaume Apollinaire. There are also–incomprehensible to me–rumors that he employed jazz rhythms in his poetry as well.

The fate that intervened, led me to an art instructor, one Daniel Casimiro a Venezuelan living in Antigua, Guatemala. He was trying to make a living as an art teacher, as well as what he is doing now, in spades, art restoration. He is hired to renovate 500 year old paintings and sculptures. Though these days pretty much exclusively paintings. (He can adopt the style of the painter and repair a painting with giant holes and tears in it, to the point that it looks good as new.) But as I say he also made his living teaching. And so of course once we became friends, I hired him to teach me to draw and paint. (for an example, see above)

And it’s an interesting fate item how I met Dani, my art teacher and close friend. But thereby hangs next week’s tale.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

* If you’re curious, here are a few of Cummings’ paintings:

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