The Slow Path to Sainthood (and Beyond)


My Painting of Meher Baba

I Have Invented a Theory

“It is perilous to study too deeply the arts of the Enemy.”
–Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings)

Yeah but that’s probably safe from me the dilettante
And so I say (In spite of what Gandalf said)
There’s nothing wrong with studying the ego
Because I have invented a theory
In which the ego is not evil unless children can be

And yes so they can
(Another proof of reincarnation)
But it worked for this teacher of first grade:
It’s the carrot of love and attention
Against the stink-stick of detention


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,

An interestingly perennial issue among mystics is the question of reincarnation. First, I will give my off-the-cuff seat-of-my-pants speculation:

I look at it from a teacher point of view. Perhaps because I was in fact (for three years, 1997-2000) a first grade teacher.

And as such I thought a lot abut teaching, and what it entails.

I want to keep the focus on reincarnation, but it seems to me an education issue.

And I love education, for instance I loved geometry. Especially proving theorems.

Most especially the honesty involved: Geometry is a science whose practitioners admit right off that all these calculations and logic start with a basic premise, an a priori judgment (one requiring no proof) called an axiom.

The famous example:

Axiom A (which axiomatically is taken as provisional truth): the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

And so if you want to argue against this theorem you can’t say but maybe it’s an illusion being straight. Maybe in fact a crooked path is the shortest way home (don’t get me started on that interesting metaphysical issue). Because Axiom A above is an axiom (AKA an a priori judgement)

And so (again) I wish to (anent my belief in reincarnation) stipulate this axiom:

Axiom A: God is our teacher. So now is your time to deny that. But beware , if you don’t, soon looms a logical trap. Which is this. If God is a teacher, it’s very obvious that with even our three score and ten years we are proceeding Godwards at a glacial pace. (As in it took that river of ice a thousand years to advance a yard.)

And it would also explain the vast discrepancy between cruel narcissistic idiots and even the general run of the population. According to the co founder of my Sufi group, Meher Baba*, there is indeed reincarnation, and to the tune of over eight million lifetimes just as a human being. And that leaves a vast swath of sweet people on the slow path to sainthood. (and beyond)

Okay back to the teaching analogy. How would it be for a first grade teacher (yo!) to know that his pupils instead of graduating on to second grade and ultimately perhaps a doctorate, etc, instead graduated into the grave?

What a waste of a good start of basic education!

Or else you can embrace the alternate theory that this famous Almighty God couldn’t manage a system of reincarnation lessons in which we all matriculated in the same curriculum (albeit at different levels)

What say you? Too much like three dimensional chess for an omnipotent and omni-loving god to manage?

Okay that’s my two cents. Argument about reincarnation-wise.

But in Sufism we have recourse to experts. (As in how Buddhists had recourse to Gautama)

And what do the Sufi experts say?

Sorry, but it’s time for another axiom. I stipulate two experts, Hazrat Inayat Khan (see, the founder of Sufism in the western world circa 1920. and Meher Baba, ( the silent avatar who lived (mostly) in India who in 1948 became the next Murshid (in effect).*

As I have already mentioned, Meher Baba explicitly explained that we are subject to millions of lifetimes.

And what about Inayat Khan?

This is a tricky issue because Sufism was founded by Islamic mystics more than a thousand years ago. And the Koran says nothing about reincarnation, and so Inayat Khan would have stirred up trouble if he talked explicitly about reincarnation. And an important Sufi practice is to sow peace and lack of controversy whenever possible (and there always seems to be a way) I could give you some interesting Inayat Khan stories showing this practice but that would digress–a dangerous habit I have, especially if I want to keep these posts under 2,000 words.**

But implicitly Inayat Khan supported reincarnation.

Here’s an example:

“There are some who are content with a belief taught at home or in church. They are contented, and they may just as well rest in that stage of realization where they are contented until another impulse is born in their hearts to rise higher. The Sufi does not force his belief or his thoughts upon such souls. In the East, there is a saying that it is a great sin to awaken anyone who is fast asleep. This saying can be symbolically understood. There are many in this world who work and do things and are yet asleep; they seem awake externally, but inwardly, they are asleep. The Sufi considers it a crime to awaken them, for some sleep is good for their health. The work of the Sufi is to give a helping hand to those who have had sufficient sleep and who now begin to stir in their sleep, to turn over. And it is that kind of help which is the real initiation.”

Let me put it this way, if they only had 70 years to wake up and get cracking, well, good luck with that.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*A bit of history:
Inayat Khan founded my order circa 1920, when he died, And according to Sufi tradition before dying the Sufi murshid (guru, master, etc) names his or her successor. And Hazrat Inayat Khan chose (just before he died in 1927) a certain mureed (follower) to succeed him. She was Rabia Martin, a Jewish American woman. Now sad to say that there was in the high echelons of the Sufi movement a certain animus towards Jewish, toward American, and yes even toward woman. So they instead named as the next Murshid, Inayat Khan’s brother (Vilayat Khan as I recall) and Murshida Martin went her way with twenty or so who kept loyally following her.

This went on for twentish years until on her deathbed from cancer Murshida Martin told one of her followers, My Murshida, Ivy Duce, that she wanted her to succeed her as Murshida, And when Ms Duce (Mrs, actually) didn’t feel up to the responsibility, was prevailed upon to at least travel to India to consult with a certain mystic named Meher Baba, whom Murshida Martin (in Sufi lingo) declared to be the Qutub, or “pivot,” the highest spiritual authority on the planet at that time.

**Okay what the hell. Here’s an Inayat Khan example of spreading peaceful capitulation:

He tells of a time when on a train he made the mistake of saying he and the man he was talking to “were brothers.” The man took great offence at Inayat Khan assuming such an equality. The man had deemed himself higher socially than Inayat Khan (who wikipedia attests, was of noble blood in India).

But Inayat Khan smoothed it over, begging his pardon and saying, “I am your servant, Sir!” which Inayat Khan explained in an aside was true, because we are all each other’s servants . . .

About Eric Halliwell

I am the creator and sustainer of, a website which features (among a few other things, like interesting and inspiring quotes, and Sufi stories) my poetry and illustrative blog posts, about one 1000 word essay a month. It is Sufi-themed, probably because for seven years I was an officially initiated Sufi mureed, in San Francisco circa 1970’s. My poetry has appeared in these publications: Penwood Review, Ascent Aspirations, Umbrella Journal, (since defunct), Shine Journal, Ashé Journal, Berkeley Poetry Review, and Tipton Poetry Journal. I can be reached at

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