Category Archives: Poetry

The Happiness that Comes From Loving God


Their Discreet Silence of Blue

People are pleased.
They took your smile
As a personal matter

A stamp of approval
And while that’s
What it was too

I wonder if they’d be
So flattered
If they but knew
You were approving them mostly

Because they are
God in your face
When it’s also true
God is in everyplace

And that probably
Is why God’s prophets
Wearing their hint hats

Have stressed so the sky
The stars splattered in the night sky
And in the day
With their discreet silence of blue

Gentle Readers,

Sorry for the delay but I have been struggling with emotional problems and needed to wait on this.

To day (July 10) Silence Day for devotees of Meher Baba. I include myself in this group largely due to a miracle in my youth.

So to better understand my devotion I guess I should recount the miracle which finally turned the key in the lock of my previous atheism.

It all started with Allan Cohen a newly minted PHD graduate of Harvard under the tutelage of Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (now called Baba Ram Dass), two renegade Harvard psychology professors who pushed LSD as a means of zeroing in on God.

But Allan (Y.) Cohen, soon after leaving Harvard had heard of an Indian (para precisar, a Parsi who lived in India) who was called “the Avatar” of our age.*

The story goes that when Allan was high on LSD he fancied he was on Meher Baba’s so-described sixth plane.**

And he wrote that in a letter sent to Meher Baba who reportedly silently chuckled when reading it.  But soon Allan got wind of Meher Baba’s crusade against mind-altering drugs, and so spent evenings on the UC Berkeley campus giving anti-drug propaganda speeches. And I, both a student then at UC Berkeley, but also taking advantage of the free psychological counseling at the campus counseling center.***  I had a nasty way in those days of testing people (especially psychological counselors) by launching my usual witty put downs in their direction . . .

But the worst of it was of an evening I would get stoned on marijuana and show up at Allan’s lectures and heckle him.

Then see him professionally the following day.

See I was expecting to finally get his goat but he always just laughed, vastly amused that I would find fun in that sort of behavior.

So (upshot) I came to respect him and one day I was perusing the photos on his wall and they were of Meher Baba and Hazrat Inayat Khan the founder of the chief Sufi sect in the Western world (read Europe, the United States, Australia, etc.)

So I asked him about the photos and he had the suggested Sufi philosophy of not to proselytize, just be there to answer any questions. And any follow-up question. But when interest waned your good Sufi dropped te matter. The advice given (By my Murshida, Ivy Duce) was just go out in the world with a smile on your face, radiating the happiness that comes from loving God.

And people will wonder at that, will want to know more about where that came from.

But thanks to Allan’s preternatural ability to charm, my interest did not wane. And so one day I asked him if there was any interesting literature I could read, and he sent me to the fine old Berkeley bookshop Lewin’s Metaphysical Store.

When I got there before I could say what I wanted the sales lady took me to the Meher Baba nook.  (I wondered how she knew to do that) Allan had recommended the “Discourses” and so that’s what I bought. And I read those and they were plausible and, importantly, interesting.

But it was an intellectual thing, not a conviction of the heart.

But then I got more desperate due to a frustrated love affair.

Oops we’ve run out to time. (I TRY TO LIMIT THESE POSTS TO 1000 WORDS, MORE OR LESS.)

So more on **** this (including the love affair) next time (i.e. to be continued)

God be with you,

Eric Halliwell

*The term avatar means a representative like when your character is in Dungeons and Dragons.  Or your personal icon in other computer games.

But in this case it means God himself coming in human form (as in Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Rama, KrishnA, Zoroaster (whom the Parsis revere), etc

**Meher Baba wrote extensively abut the seven planes which denote the stages in the ascent to God Realization (which state fyi the Buddhists call Nirvikalpa or Nirvana.)

And Baba said for instance that Moses was on the sixth plane, which was described as still in duality but able to “see” God everywhere except in himself. A final touch for that being necessary through a direct miracle vouchsafed by God. And with such a fierce devotion as to be consumed with the desire for union with God.

*** I had for many years been a psychologically damaged kid whose mother put him in an orphanage farm near Ojai California. (at age five, and that lasted almost five years until my mother sprung me to live with her again which didn’t last so I bounced then around with my father’s succession of new wives and ping pong back to my mother and her new lesbian partner. And later lived with my Grandma Dorothy.

I mention this in case you might be wondering why I felt I needed counseling. So in a nutshell I was a basket case of social anxiety and loneliness.

**** Moron! There’s that nasty word again!

Let’s Go Heisenberg on the Angst

Lud Dimpfl with Filis Frederick

An Opal to Suddenly Remember

My holy man introduced me
To a friend whose name is Equipoise

He deserves more respect:
I keep him in my pocket

A fine way to treat a friend!
Though he stays affably unflappably there

A Steinway unplayed yet
Unoffended for unattended

Equipoise and I we don’t go way back it’s
True as do I and alabaster

Turquoise moon or sapphire star
But I admire the unhand of mire

When I greet Equipoise like an old pal
An opal to suddenly remember

Who somehow also forgets
About who treats whom how

When things are scary disaster
He simply cuts through to the blue sky

Asking me why do I care?
Is the sky not still standing?

Aren’t amethysts still a pretty purple
And banded agate geodes

Aren’t they still
(As in silence)

Hollow inside
And hallowed?

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,

Sorry Readers.

This last month has been a challenge for me. and I stubbornly refused to post this sans my uusal photo of inroduction. But incredibly I couldn’tremember my compu expert lady’s advice (but she is suddenly awol) anent that and so it’s been postponed to the point that (in my despair) I post it without the photo I would have like to post of my beloved erst Sufi preceptor, Lud Dimpfl.

I do tend to feel I should follow the usual basic format of this blog which then involves starting with a poem that epitomizes my point du jour.  But as you will see (see below) todays

Points are varied.

So I  will choose a poem about attitude since that was the most important advice of my erst sufi preceptor Lud Dimpfl. He was always talking about attitude. So above is my favorite of my attitude poems.

Well this post is past due and would be even paster due if I as usual kind of started from scratch. So THIS TIME I am taking this opportunity to remind readers that there is much MORE TO THIS WEBSITE THAN MY (SORT OF) M0NTHLY BLOG POSTS.  In terms of poems, quotes, and Sufi stories. So here are some select items:

My poem section if you click on it shows headings like these:


That Ironic Stem of Light

I have never liked the phrase
The better angels of our nature and now
I find it was coined by Abraham Lincoln

(Who suspended habeus corpus–
So stuff gets complicated one could argue)

But still it connotes there might be some
Rotten angels in the barrel . . .
Though come to think of it the name Lucifer

Has that ironic stem of light
And then also of course you have Lucy

With her famous football ploy—
Like I say
Things are complicated . . .


“You can dissect a joke just as you can a frog.
But it tends to die on you.”
–E. B. White

An angst observed
Would make a good poem title
Because that would be a constructive thing:

Dissect the crap out of it so it will die
So here’s this:
Let’s go Heisenberg on the angst

Like just now for example
I had a little internal pique brewing
When something was mildly disappointing

Like I was shaking the ketchup bottle
And so I braced myself determined
To give it the front of my hand and when

Whack one hit the jackpot . . .
My angst was palpably disappointed
(Probably because it had wanted to whine some more)


Quizzical Eyes, Inquiring As to Your Faith

Life is like a cat sometimes
In your lap perhaps spurred on or purred out
She jumps off preferring the couch

And with muzzle-snide paw-licking slaps
Asides that seem such a cruel
And pale wraith of former moments

With cat larynx spherical music
Which champagne had gone
To your head but then you wake

And she’s in your lap again
With quizzical eyes
Inquiring as to your faith

Quizzical Eyes, Inquiring As to Your Faith


Wondering Now About Divine Communication

(To Lud)*“The one whom I have called God, whose personality I haverecognized, and whose pleasure or displeasure I have sought, hasbeen seeing His life through my eyes, has been hearing throughmy ears. It was His breath that came through my breathing . . . “
         –Hazrat Inayat Khan  (The Personality of God)

When I was a Sufi and I needed
To call my preceptor for advice
Even though he was at his work
He would sound like an excited child
At the prospect of an Eric interaction

One wonders about if God hears prayers
The same way as Lud (rhymes with blood)
Did my need for advice
And as for the advice
(Wondering now about divine communication)

It didn’t come in words
Even with Lud
His attitude was all I needed
And God Lud said is all about attitude:
The beatitude of love


Courage Is a Thing to Look Beyond

“Be valiant, and powerful forces will come to your aid.”

Courage is a thing to look beyond:
I think it’s just a bent grass blade
For Aragorn* to track
But Aragorn can do that

And he isn’t even God not yet
Yes things aren’t what they seem
And my probably Midas hunch
(Or call it an angel in a dream)

Is that just beyond certain thresholds
Which divide this world
From the next most real one
Is a diaphanous (light-porous) screen

And on the other side this courage
Is something else:
A sweet smile perhaps
The smell of a rose . . .

*A hero of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings

Bumper Stickers:

It’s Never Too Late to Have a Happy Childhood

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

The Floggings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Let Go Let God

Other Quotes

“I cut it and cut it and it’s still too short.”
–Old Carpenter Joke

“My friends tell me I’m asking for a lot. Are you a lot?”
–A line in a personals ad

“You don’t paint objects, you paint the way the light strikes them. Paint the light.”
–Bertram Abramson

“A thing can be explained only by what is more subtle than itself: there is nothing subtler than love; by what then, shall love be explained?”
–Abu ‘L–Hasan Sumnun (As related in Al-Hujwiri’s Kasfh Al-Mahjub –The Revelation of the Mystery–Circa 1100 A.D.)


Related by Joseph Campbell

      “There is a charming story told of the great nineteenth century Indian saint Ramakrishna. A lady came to him in some distress because she realized that she did not actually love and truly worship God. ‘Is there, then, nothing you love?’ He asked her; and when she replied that she loved her baby nephew, ‘There,’ said he, ‘there is your Krishna, your Beloved. In your service to him, you are serving God.’ ”

(from Myths to Live By)

Stories Related by Murshida Ivy Duce of Sufism Reoriented

      A story Murshida Ivy Duce used to tell about Meherjee, one of the  mandali of  Indian (Parsi) mystic, Meher Baba. She had always an odd feeling that there was some wonderful thing of peace about him but she couldn’t put her finger on it and then one day she said, “I have it!  He never worries!”

And when she confronted Meherjee about that worrying thing, he said, “Of course not! The master forbids it!”

 At sea amid a violent storm which threatened to capsize the ship, a woman asks the captain what is to be their fate.
He replies, “Can’t say, Ma’am.  It’s in the hands of God!”
To which she replied, “Oh! It’s as bad as that?”

Story Related by Hazrat Inayat Khan

      The Prophet (Mohammed) and his companion Siddiq were hiding behind a rock when a troop of men were following to attack them and when the noise of the hoofs of horses came to their ears, Siddiq said, “Hark they are coming!”

 “Why fear?” said the Prophet.

“They are very near!”

 “What matter?” said the Prophet.

 Siddiq said, “They are many and we are only two.”

 “No”, said the Prophet,“We are three: you and I and God.”

God be with you,

Eric Halliwell

*My old and yet beloved Sufi preceptor, Lud Dimpfl.

Some Deep Spiritual Common Sense that Pervades the Universe

My drawing of the Virgin Mary

Why Is Poetry So Respectable an Itch?

Why is poetry so respectable an itch
And not so, beer
Or worse, whiskey which,
Too, provides rye verse, a peer

Perverse for its reputation only?
For from the spell of lonely
I cast or dwell in
With my poem I fell in

More with booze than muse:
I did but choose
To while in idle dream
My time away from seem.

The mood, once written, is broken
Just as Ginboy’s smitten token
Leaves ache and aching pain
When morning comes breaking again.

But it’s some consolation
From angels or some flower:
Last night’s lines were exhalation
Still redolent of power.

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,

I want to speak briefly of my poetry and how (and the fact that) I use it to clarify issues important to me, as a Sufi.

Of course as a Sufi (particularly my personal sort, these days*) I am quite free to decide things on my own, using my imagination and my own conception of religion a la Mohammed. That is, for instance, instead of following a catechism or other schism in the religious community, cleaving to one over another, I am free to pick and choose, inventing my own religion**

But I don’t want to veer off the main message of this post, which is how does my poetry fit in with my “Sufism?”

First thing that must be said (or admitted) is that my poetry is my Sunday School. It keeps me in line. You see, the thing with the poem is two-fold; one I am full of gratitude not just for saving me from the ignominy of writer’s block (there is always a new theme or better said, a descant on a familiar one (Was it Solomon or Goethe; I forget which, that said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”)

The second thing is it is tailormade for me who perhaps has only one principal virtue (I am like Oscasr Wilde and temptation***) which is by God there is one “shit I will not eat.” **** Which is I will not be a hypocrite. If an idea comes to me in a poem suchwise I proclaim it as if I were a prophet (a proper thing according to Emerson; See his Self Reliance essay) well then I am honor bound to be bound by the wisdom of it. It’s interesting how easy one finds it to obey what is prompted by a grateful heart.

And it’s not just gratitude for no writer’s block; no, it is the appreciation of the honor of having been invited by something divine whispering what to write in my ear. It makes one humble to the point of tears. And you can imagine then how less difficult it is to reorient oneself towards a new conception of the light. (Like any well behaved plant would do)

It is also a meditation, and a true meditation on anything is a relaxing thing.

That’s what I liked many years back when I first hit Guatemala and started studying art. Just the intense focus on the drawing came out as a meditation. And again I was grateful. Of course I hadn’t thought I could do art worth a damn and it turned out if you just focus right, the spirit comes through like my principal chez d’ouevre, my drawing of the Virgin Mary***** (funny I just typed her as the virgin memory! Must be a lesson there somewhere). See above drawing for that. Sabes que it made me a professional artist? I sold it for $150 dollars! True it was to my best friend’s wife but Kebi never buys what she doesn’t want.

Anyway I was astonished how well it came out. Even Ralph (the best friend) and his usually Eric-deprecating daughter averred it showed “an amazing sensitivity.”

And what’s a corollary to this latter? (and ladder!) It’s this: all God (or angels, or some deep spiritual common sense that pervades the universe) comes to your aid when you are on the right road.

And so my main point is, I use my poetry largely as a meditation and a vehicle to clarify issues of importance to me. Issues such as what are the most useful metaphors for God?  Or in my case since God is inherently unknowable by the finite mind (yo!), it makes more sense to me to think of “God” in terms of His or Her ambassador. As in Kindness is God’s ambassador. As in tolerance and humility is God’s ambassador. As in whatever whichever quality that moves the heart is God’s ambassador.

But my mainest point here is I had been hearing all my Sufi life about the importance of meditation and breathing exercises.  But I struggled with both of these. Now the above-mentioned is how I substituted a to me miraculous meditation. But alas, I have never gotten the hang of breath exercises, which Inayat Khan (see above stuff just below my drawing) places an embarrassing emphasis on. See the ****** below and I will tell you an example of my moron status when it comes to breathing exercises. But I at least have “solved” the meditation problem. A shame about the breathing exercises. (probably why I can’t levitate) But one out of two ain’t bad. Looks pretty good; in fact in baseball . . . But I digress, which is a sign it’s time to sign off for this time.

God be with you,

Eric Halliwell

*As opposed to days of old, when I was an official (read “mureed” accepted by a bonified murshid, or guru in lay terms, and of course previous to my ignominious boot from the order (yes thereby hangs an interesting tale you can read about here:

**referring to: “Every man has his own religion.”

–Mohammed (as cited by Hazrat Inayat Khan)

***  “I can resist anything, except temptation.”

          –Oscar Wilde

****The reference is to E. E. Cummings’ poem panegyric to the pacifist (“I sing of Olaf”)

***** Interestingly there is a subsect of Sufis in Turkey’s Anatolian Plateau that evinces an intense interest in the Virgin Mary.

****** Go fiqir!  We Sufis were taught a trick for deciding an important life issue. It was called “fiqir.” In that, one imagines the breath as a playground swing with inhaling and exhaling at opposite ends of the described arc. We were told to keep that in mind while thinking of the important decision. And if while contemplating the proposed course of action the breath faltered, then that was a sign it was not a desirable thing.  And here’s the humiliating part: I couldn’t even maintain the swinging. My perverse mind would step in and immobilize it and I’d be stuck motionless at the bottom of the arc!