Category Archives: Poetry

Joy and Sorrow and Stuff

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My painting of Meher Baba

 

New Start–178

Subtle Sorrows Are Borrowing Our Hearts

“Joy and sorrow are the light and shade of life; without light and shade no picture is clear.”
–Hazrat Inayat Khan

I’m thinking about life as a painting
As if I were an art critic
And even the painter

I’m also thinking about sadness
Yes because I am sad today but
It’s subtle this sadness

It won’t spoil my morning or the sun’s caress
It’s just an interesting object of investigation
(An objet d’art if you will)

Because I’m realizing different moods are
The colors of our life paintings and what
A strange painting it would be without dark contrasts!

Even the very dark ones–and the light grays?
Each day subtle sorrows
Are borrowing our hearts

They are the touches of gray
Which give our skin depth and volume
In the paintings of our lives

Clearly both sadness and joy
Breathe life and verisimilitude into our lives
(Not to mention artistic expression)

~.~.~

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,

“Joy and sorrow are each part of the other. If it were not for joy, sorrow would not exist; and if it were not for sorrow, joy would not be experienced.”
–Hazrat Inayat Khan

Pardon my double (or is it triple?) dose of Hegelian philosophy. But Hegel and his dialectic (read thesis antithesis, then, synthesis) are integral to my brand of Sufism. In a nutshell, you start with an idea and then you get an opposite idea, and the two fight it out til you reach a synthesis, which then becomes (In an upward spiral) the next level’s new thesis. (Yes we advance by successive approximation)

I am fascinated by Hegel. Have been ever since my UC Berkeley days where I came across Hegel in my European Intellectual History class. Of course it didn’t hurt that Meher Baba and Inayat Khan spoke in such Hegelian concepts. (e. g. all that talk about opposites)

Also for the above, I found intensely interesting the rumor that my beloved Sufi preceptor, Lud Dimpfl, was the reincarnation of Hegel.

And, speaking of opposites, here’s a bit from my daily dose of Hazrat Inayat Khan:

“We generally confuse truth with fact, and we often use the word fact for truth. When we look at it from the mystic’s point of view we find that words are too intricate ever to explain what is truth*. … Truth is that which cannot be pointed out, because all things that can be compared have their opposite, but neither God nor truth has an opposite. Names are to point out forms, and words are to distinguish one thing from another, while definitions come from the pairs of opposites or at least from differences. That which is all-pervading and is in all things and beings, that which every word explains and yet no word can explain, is God and is truth.”

Which brings us to Meher Baba (who in 1948 inherited my erst Sufi order–1972-79–which had been founded by Inayat Khan in 1921 ish).

As in this:

FREEDOM FROM OPPOSITES
Meher Baba

Every man is subject to agreeable and disagreeable experiences — of pleasure and pain, success and failure, good and evil, wealth and poverty, power and helplessness, honor and dishonor, gain and loss, fulfillment and frustration.

Each of these opposites invites a suitable response in emotion or in action. Mind is moved by these opposites, and is continually losing its equilibrium and continually trying to restore it while constantly meeting the impacts of environmental changes.

During its various lives as a human being the ego-mind can oscillate endlessly between the opposites, viz., indulgence and repression, secularism and religion, superiority complex and inferiority complex, self-aggrandizement and self-humiliation, introversion and extroversion, virtue and vice, pain and pleasure, “I” and “you” or “mine” and “thine,” without arriving at true poise.

True poise comes when the ego-mind, with all its accumulated inclinations, melts away through divine love, thus unveiling the supramental Truth in which there is a realization that one is — oneself — one with all life. Here there is no duality or division of life and therefore the soul is free from the opposite attitudes.

Having become one with the eternal and infinite divinity which sustains from within, the soul gains unending bliss, understanding, love and power, for the soul is free from duality.”

Sounds a lot like what Buddha said (and reportedly, experienced), nicht wahr?**

But back to Inayat Khan:

There is going forward and there is going backwards, there is success and there is failure, there is light and there is darkness, there is joy and there is sadness, there is birth and there is death. All things that we can know, feel and perceive have their opposites. It is the opposite quality which brings about balance. The world would not exist if there were not water and earth. Every thing and every being needs these two qualities in order to exist, to act, and to fulfill the purpose of life; for each quality is incomplete without the other. … by a deep insight into nature we discover that the creation is the same as the Creator, that the source is the same as the goal, and that the two only mean one. There are two ends to a line but the line is one, and this oneness is manifest in all things, though man seldom gives any thought to this subject. This amazing manifestation, this world of variety, keeps us so puzzled, so confused, and so absorbed in it that we hardly give ourselves any time to see this wonderful phenomenon: how the one and only Being shows Himself even in the world of variety.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*Which reminds me of I forget who said, “Poetry is the art of the attempt to express the inexpressible.” Which would be a fool’s errand if it weren’t for the reader’s imagination coming to the rescue. Indeed, it’s an oft stated thing, (Inayat Khan-wise): the vital importance of the imagination.

**Coincidentally or not, I just finished rereading (after thirty years) a great Buddhist book, “Footprints of Gautama the Buddha, by Marie Beuzeville Byles, which I think is out of print, but which is still orderable online. In it is the life of Buddha (at least onwards from the episode under the Banyon tree). It tells it as a story but with extensive source notes after each chapter (in case you want to verify the incidents).

It portrays an interesting Buddha, whose gentle wit also shows through.

The Gamut from Roses to Humility

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Hazrat Inayat Khan

New Start—448

All My Life I Have Wanted

–To Anna Lovell

All my life I have wanted a species of peace
In which I enjoyed being alone instead

If I saw a wonderful movie something listless restless
Probably tasteless certainly useless couldn’t enjoy it

For the lack of someone to share it with
But now I share it with myself

Who is getting to be
A sweet and interesting guy

~.~.~

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 am at a quandary. I imagine my readers are not all in the same camps. For instance, some are agnostics or even atheists (Though here I must confess to while immersed in tolerance, yet I am perplexed. Agnostic is one thing. You just don’t know. There is evidence on both sides . . .

But an atheist . . .That requires a solid belief (irony alert: a belief in disbelief). But on what evidence? It’s notoriously difficult to prove a negative. Again for instance if a thousand years of evidence points to there is no such being as a blue dog. And yet one single blue dog appearance disproves a thousand years of no blue dog sightings.

Besides which how about this? Is it unreasonable to expect that if there were a God, might He be at least as picky in picking his friends as we are? (Especially if you throw in reincarnation, in which no one is ever permanently left out. But that would digress)

Which would you entertain as a friend, the one predisposed to friendship, or the one who is not? Don’t know about you but I am biased towards those who are biased toward me. Why should God be any different? (Especially if there’s truth to those rumors that man is God though writ small–yet cut from the same cloth)

Anyway God knows the reasons for hiding from some and revealing to others . . .There are countless stories from Bernadette on down . . .

And if, Gentle (not necessarily gentile) Reader, you check out the above section named “About” you will read of my own personal odyssey from atheist to belief. But in my case there was a verified blue dog sighting. And not only a blue dog but a rescue dog, that pulled me out of the mire I had been stuck in (and sinking too).

But since you can read all about that as I say above, I will move right along.

Might I make a suggestion to those readers uncomfortable with the oft misused word, “God”?

It is this: How about you take up a collection of all the things you admire. Go the gamut from roses to humility. Dance perhaps around a beautiful sunset or a returned smile, even find the charm of chekk-turning (because you won’t be alone, as God goes (faster than an ambulance) where relief of that special kind of loneliness may be vouchsafed.

Yes just take an inventory make it a charm bracelet of all you love (which must make the leap to mean “all that your heart loves”)

And then call it God.

In whatever form your imagination may fancy. As per this favorite Inayat Khan story:

(Inayat Khan frequently quotes Mohammed saying “Every man has his own religion.”)

MOSES AND THE BOY

There is a story told of Moses. One day he was passing through a farm, and he saw a peasant boy sitting quietly and talking to himself, saying, ‘O God, I love you so; if I saw you here in these fields I would bring you soft bedding and delicious dishes to eat, I would take care that no wild animals could come near you. You are so dear to me, and I so long to see you; if you only knew how I love you I am sure you would appear to me!’

Moses heard this, and said, ‘Young man, how dare you speak of God in this way? He is the formless God, and no wild beast or bird could injure Him who guards and protects all.’ The young man bent his head sorrowfully and wept. Something was lost to him, and he felt most unhappy. And then a revelation came to Moses as a voice from within which said, ‘Moses, what have you done? You have separated a sincere lover from Me. What does it matter what I am called or how I am spoken to? Am I not in all forms?’

You have the freedom to use your imagination (Inayat Khan says this too) and create your own concept of “God” if only as a collection of all the things you love
And God will coalesce around all those things condense them into a dense cloud, and on down to the central core of your heart, remembering that’s how stars are born.

From the poem above you might suspect that I am grateful. Grateful that as I got older I got wiser and so waxed happier.

And though I can’t be sure due to the mind’s perhaps merciful tendency to forget. Yet I remember at age fourteenish I looked at my reflection in the mirror with loathing. And so there was a lot of room for improvement. And improvement splits atams, releasing energy to propel you to the next step. But it’s most use is you have then a recurring flash of happiness, which indeed feeds epiphanies.
God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

The Only Vacation

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Thomas Wolfe

 

New Start–30

Attend to Falling Water

“A voice, sleep-strange and loud,
forever far-near, spoke.”
–Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward, Angel)

Do you ever hear voices?
It has a bad reputation but what if
It’s an angel whispering in your ear?

This I suspect because I hear
Voices who say things like this:
Stop and listen

Watch for what glistens
Attend to falling water from
The deep well of the stars

Haul up those dippers
Put on some Cinderella slippers
Shield your eyes to see from afar

~.~.~

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.”

~.~.~

“There are many ideas which intoxicate man, many feelings there are which act upon the soul as wine, but there is no stronger wine than the wine of selflessness. It is a might and it is a pride that no worldly rank can give. To become something is a limitation, whatever one may become. Even if a person were to be called the king of the world, he would still not be emperor of the universe. If he were the master of earth, he would still be the slave of Heaven. It is the person who is no one, who is no one and yet all. The Sufi, therefore, takes the path of being nothing instead of being something. It is this feeling of nothingness which turns the human heart into an empty cup into which the wine of immortality is poured. It is this state of bliss which every truth-seeking soul yearns to attain.”
–Hazrat Inayat Khan (The Privilege of Being Human)

Gentle Readers,
I apologize for the delayed post. I have been much under pressure all of January due to a complicated move. I still have boxes everywhere but my conscience is calling and so here we go:

This is a Sufi blog, and so it’s about love. Which is by definition a lovely theme. And there being various kinds of love, (as you may have noticed) I am pursuing various sub-themes. And it is a poetry blog, featuring my poems, (and those poems offered by readers in any comments) since that is both my meditation, and what I know about. If I know anything. Of course, this “knowing” is (I refer now to poetry) not to be disconnected from my audience. At least I hope not. Not if it’s successful, because good art doesn’t just lie in the heart of the artist. Good art is half in the audience. Just as electricity is a flow, an interaction between positive and negative poles. I mean I believe good art is good because the audience takes the ball tossed out by in this case the poet, and runs with it. Makes something of it in their own heart. I mean then, that if it’s good my audience turns artist and my poem is just the prompt, the jumping off place. And my personal belief is if it’s good, if it came from the heart, that is, it really came from outside oneself. Or outside one’s ego. It’s as if someone is whispering words in one’s ear and one is just writing them down, almost in a trance. And as soon as we think we’ve personally done it, something gets strained, damaged, and that voice is less likely to come again. Which is why I presume to call it a meditation, as who could call something not steeped in humility a meditation?

Of course, whatever “force” is doing the whispering, is privy to what I know, to my experience and just as in a kaleidoscope if you break it open there are only colored simple and translucent pebbles. But the light that passes through turns it beautiful. Gives it form and symmetry. But I and any poet, any artist, are just a set of tools for the use of this “voice,” this light. Which probably explains the refreshing response one has to making beautiful art. Hazrat Inayat Khan says in fact that all cure is a matter of getting outside oneself. It is the only vacation. And to get there requires a certain point of view. I called this the “romantic view” in a poem, which was one of my very first published poems (In 2007, in the Penwood Review):

The Romantic View

The romantic view
Is that if you give it your voice
It will speak

And also the romantic view
By definition

Reflects the heart
The way moonlight
Glints on glass

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell