A Favorite Face of God
If you don’t know where to start
(What to give someone
Who has everything)
Just do sweet things for God
Whose heart’s conveniently at hand:
Just pick like a flower
A favorite face of God
Just do sweet things for a friend
And speaking of friendship, here’s another. (Which was published in the Berkeley Poetry Review*):
Master the Perverse Impulse
“To make a friend, forgiveness is required which burns up all
things, leaving only beauty; but to destroy friendship is easy.”
–Hazrat Inayat Khan
I don’t know . . . I think
It’s similarly easy
To throw oneself off a cliff
It’s true and that’s probably why
I have always been
Supremely scared to be on a ledge
I think I would visit the Grand Canyon
On my belly with only my head
Projecting over the rim
I figure by the time I got up to jump
I could master the perverse impulse
So friend you’re pretty safe with me
I’ll take a lot lying down
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.”
Perhaps some of you gentle folk would like a break from my autobiographical posts. If so, it’s good that I have decided to get (for a bit) a bit back to some more directly Sufi speculation. This post as you may have already surmised, is about friendship, a concept much talked about by the founder (Hazrat Inayat Khan**) of my erst Sufi order which I was lucky to be accepted in between 1972 and 1979.
However, I will still start with a biographical reference:
When I was young my favorite television show was Science Fiction Theater. At the beginning of the show, the emcee, with a dry wit sparkle in his eye, strolled onto the stage and said, “Let me show you something interesting.” He would then walk over to an experiment which demonstrated the scientific principle upon which the current episode was based.
I often like to do the same thing, in my poems. For instance today’s poems each feature an introductory quote from Hazrat Inayat Khan, about friendship. Kind of a springboard.
Why start with friendship? Friendship is a thing frequently addressed by Hazrat Inayat Khan, the founder of a Sufi order in the United States, circa 1920 (Yes, the one I was in for seven years). Indeed, in Sufism, their saints were called “friends of God.” I would summarize Inayat Khan’s approach then to friendship as a sort of “God Practise.”
There is a lot of controversy over what may or may not constitute “God.” But let’s escape from the “fundamentalists” by stipulating that at least for Inayat Khan’s brand of “God,” God is explicitly stated to be what you “imagine” Him/Her/Whom to be. Imagination, Inayat Khan says, is a holy thing. Reminds me of a favorite quote of the heroically tragic*** yet great, English poet, John Keats:
“I am convinced of only two things, the sanctity of the heart’s affections and the truth of the imagination.”
So Inayat Khan would say, whatever makes your life worth living, whatever to you is “holy,” then go ahead, imagine that as a manifestation of God. (And don’t be surprised when God again “appears” in that disguise.)
Yes, and the bit about the heart’s affections nicely leads back to friendship, does it not? Which is the theme of today’s blog post. (Que vivan las coincidencias!)
I love it when (as so often happens in Sufism) the spiritual practice called for is so much fun (Friendship is fun, verdad? E. g. who wants to go to the county fair alone?). And so it was easy to fall in love with my “religion.” What’s not to like about fun?
I want to say “more anon” but that sounds disconcertingly like the name of the black gate of Mordor.****
God be with you,
PS–perhaps you’ve noticed a touch of pantheism in my poem. But fyi, that’s too a Sufi thing.
*which poetry journal by a strange coincidence was founded many years ago by my old Cal Berkeley poetry professor, Josephine Miles (see photo above). What an inspiration! She from childhood was confined to a wheel chair with crippling arthritis, and yet she went on to become a foremost academician of poetry, not to mention a noted poet herself. Here’s the Wikipedia article:
**Hazrat Inayat Khan died in 1927, leaving behind a Sufi order whose mureeds (students) were drawn from the Western world (e. g. Europe and the United States). Here is a short and moving bio from Wikipedia:
***Tragic because he died of tuberculosis at age 25. But wait that’s not the time for your tears, which are occasioned by this: He died from the contagion contraction of caring for his dying of tuberculosis brother.
****”Morrannon, though as the white wizard Gandalf used to say, “Name it not!” And for all youse non-Lord of the Rings fans, allow me to explicate. Morrannon was the name of the Black Gate of Mordor (the entrance), home of the (in)famous Dark Lord, Sauron.
Also the anon bit again, reminds me of my beloved yet oft drunk Grandma Dorothy who on retiring would call out “I’ll see you all anonymous!”