Tag Archives: Biographical

Finally the Cat Is Out of the Bag!

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Lud Dimpfl’s Sufi class (circa 1973)

I am the dark guy in the back row just in front of the left door jamb.

 

 

Lud Dimpfl with Meher Baba

 

New Start—419
Let Hell Go To Its Favorite Abyss

What if you were a writer when
(You had an imagination)
You imagined a new way backwards

(For a new way towards)
To examine the apparently soulless behavior
Of someone who couldn’t budge

Because who had kept dammed his heart and if
Then instead of damning him for his lack of savior
What if instead of that you understood better

Who he really was or at least you understood that
To judge is to fetter
(Yourself as well and to them too)

And so then you stepped toward this bliss:
You let hell go (to its favorite abyss)
You let flow your tear-salted water

From your oceanic heart and then
(It’s a start)
You wept?

 

~.~.~

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.”

~.~.~

Note to Gentle Readers:

The company that administers this website blind-sided me with a new format for posting stuff which I didn’t understand. For that, this post is very much behindtime. (but all is better now. (Ojala and inshallah)

Apologies.

Gentle Readers,
Perhaps you haven’t been following my blog “religiously.” (There’s that nasty word again) And so perhaps a brief bit about my background is in order. In order that is to better understand where I am coming from, and better put my musings in the context of a useful framework.

So here’s why this is a “Sufi” website:

I was an initiate in a Sufi order in northern California, from 1972 to 1979. (If you aren’t familiar with “Sufism,” if it helps to place this in context, Rumi was a Sufi). This order was co-founded by Hazrat Inayat Khan, sent to the west (England, The United States, etc.) in 1914, by his murshid, Madani, as I recall, in Hyderabad, India. The mission was to establish a Sufism beachhead in the west.*

In Sufism, the “guru” is called a murshid. Or, in the case of a woman, a murshida.

Inayat Khan died in 1927 and in 1948 the then murshida, Rabia Martin, (Inayat Khan’s chosen successor), when dying of cancer directed that the order be put under the aegis of Meher Baba (which means, compassionate father) in India. She was convinced he was “The Qutub,” which means in Sufism, the highest spiritual authority on the planet at the time. He was of the large Parsi community in India. They had centuries earlier fled from their native Persia where they were ostracized by the Islamic influences that took over Persia, and as is frequent worldwide in these cases of differing religions, did not show tolerance to the “infidel” Parsis, who didn’t wish to renounce their ancient devotion to the prophet Zoroaster, not even in favor of Mohammed..

Meher Baba conducted then the order from a physical distance, (its headquarters being in San Francisco) naming Ivy Duce as the new murshida. When I joined, Ivy Duce was about seventy five years old. Basically we followed the practices which had been set forth by Hazrat Inayat Khan, with some changes–mostly additions prompted by Meher Baba (I can’t think of any subtractions).  Oops. Yes I can. One thing. Meher Baba wanted omitted some of the arcane practises which if taught to people not spiritually advanced enough to use them safely, could abuse them, both to their and others’ detriment.

And so we revered Inayat Khan (Hazrat is a title bestowed in the east upon one who is respected as a holy person). We studied his writings, and sang his Zikr to start each meeting. It was a round–or canon (like the famous canon in D by Pachelbel, or more familiarly (and aptly, the last line) “Row Row, Row Your Boat.” And we said his invocation also at the start of a meeting. This was, “Toward 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.”

As you may notice these are pantheistic in tone, and the invocation I do believe ranks as the most ecumenical of invocations. As such it is often the case that fundamentalists in their respective religions, take objection. As do others who imagine that “religion” inherently is imposed upon one from without, whether by a person such as Christ or Buddha, or usually, by mere priests of one sort or another who purport to speak for God.

Inayat Khan neatly sidesteps this (as do most Sufis I have come across in my readings) by the expedient of declaring that God has a way of adapting to the belief of the individual, who is encouraged to use the full range of her imagination to conceive of God as the embodiment of whatever most moves her heart. Since as Inayat Khan repeatedly emphasizes, the temple of God is the heart of man. Along these lines, he often quotes the Prophet Mohammed who said “Every man has his own religion.”

One of the practices prescribed by Inayat Khan is daily to say to oneself, “My thoughtful self, reproach no one, hold a grudge against no one, bear malice toward no one; Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite, and kind to all.”

And this brings us to today’s theme, that of judgment. (Ha! Finally the cat is out of the bag!) Of course some religions or philosophies emphasize the concept of reincarnation (e. g. Jainism, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, some subsects of Islam, and others. Most recently–to my knowledge–also, Meher Baba.) Indeed, though Inayat Khan never explicitly references such a doctrine, in my opinion, his philosophy connotes this. He often refers to the human being’s gradual development in terms that simply haven’t a possible timeline without reincarnation. I suspect this stemmed from the fact of Sufism being born of Islam, and steeped in a tradition of obfuscation. So as to avoid fundamentalist persecution—an example being poetry ostensibly written to an opposite sex beloved, or reference to “wine” when the cognoscenti knew what was meant was to a reference to God or divine intoxication. And had Inayat Khan spoken directly of reincarnation, it would have aroused controversy and Sufis are noted for keeping a low profile.

And again sticking to the no no of judgment, once one is hip to reincarnation there obtain obvious corollaries, such as the concept of “young souls” or “old souls.” The older souls, for their greater experience, are wiser. And a corollary to that is the injustice of judging a “young soul” by the standards of an older one. It would be like demanding calculus from a kindergartner. Because we are all on different rungs of the ladder, as it were. And God knows (as opposed to we) who is higher and who is lower or by how much. There can then be no absolute standards of even good and evil. Inayat Khan says the virtue of a regular person would likely be a sin for a saint. And Meher Baba has said, “There is no such thing as evil. Only relative degrees of good.”

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*By an interesting coincidence, Inayat Khan’s wife was either the cousin or sister (I forget which) to Mary Baker Eddy who founded Christian Science.

Giving This Famous God a Dare

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A Reprise of My Painting of Meher Baba

Giving This Famous God a Dare

–To Allan Y. Cohen

“He not busy being born is busy dying.”
–Bob Dylan (It’s Alright, Ma, I’m Only Bleeding)

At age eighteen
I made a deal with the night air
Under stars and the influence
Of a desperate sense

I was tired

Like someone swimming at sea
So I didn’t care about talking to the air
Pretending God was real or even
Giving this famous God a dare

They say God won’t make deals
You have to love Him first
(First water, then the thirst)

But I swear it’s not gone to my head
Instead after forty years still
I’m heart over heels
On my knees crying

For no longer dying

~.~.~

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 have the impression that none, or few, of my now 582 blog followers have actually read the “About” button (see atop the main page of rumi-nations.com).

And so since it in itself is pretty much a blog post, I dedicate this July post basically to a reprise of that, which gives an overview of my life and how it led to becoming a Sufi mureed, and to this website and blog..

So, here goes:

When I was five my mother had me declared a “ward of the court” and placed in a sort of orphanage, (same principle, but often parents were living, as were mine, but who for various reasons couldn’t or didn’t want to continue in the parental responsibility realm) paid by the state to provide my room and board, board not being so difficult because being farmish, Mrs. Hunt raised most of the food in house. Farmish because of raising rabbits, chickens, the odd hog and a cow, etc. and she got some other cash from when the children were expected to do what work our age level and physical state permitted.*

Five years later my mother took me and my three brothers back, but within six months released us again, this time into the custody of my father, whose new wife had stars in her eyes and notions of child-rearing experiments thinking to (like Aunt Polly in Mark twain’s Tom Sawyer) “civilize” us. These family experiments bounced us around on average every six months or even a year, dispersed among various family members on my mother’s side, punctuated by episodes with my father’s newly subsequent wives. (He ended up with four).

As it was difficult under these circumstances to make and keep friends, I became very lonely. Later, when I was eighteen and a student at UC Berkeley, I had a “religious” experience, which delivered me from this loneliness. I had until then been an atheist, mostly to please my two older “freethinking” brothers, who were then my only friends.

However, as a student at Cal, I was allowed free psychological counseling and had the good fortune to be the patient of Allan Y. Cohen, a newly minted Ph.D. from Harvard, who’d just had his own Odyssey, having been under the tutelage of Harvard psychology professors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (latterly denombre Baba Ramdass) at Millbrook, famous for prescribing the rampant use of LSD under the philosophy of “Turn on, tune in, and drop out.”

This Allan Cohen, had since become a Sufi and a follower of a mystic, Meher Baba, and was dedicating himself to the furtherance of Meher Baba’s crusade against drug usage.

I had then a fierce chip-on-my-shoulder way of testing people (partly why I hadn’t any friends).** And when I’d come for an appointment after the night before showing up stoned at one of his anti-drug lectures, exhibiting what most others would have taken to be insulting behavior such as heckling etc., he invariably reacted with good humor. He simply looked vastly amused that I would find any fun in that sort of thing.

As for whether I might believe in his metaphysical stuff, he didn’t seem to care. Not viscerally. Though with helpful enthusiasm if and when I ever showed any interest.

Which was fortunate, in that any sort of proselytizing would have driven this atheist away. But I came to respect his unorthodox shrink methods and noticed the pictures on his wall of Meher Baba and Hazrat Inayat Khan, the founder of Sufism in the western world, which aroused my curiosity. And as I became curious about this curious man, I began to ask questions.

Like who were the pictures of?

Now, you must know that the Sufi philosophy or at least the Hazrat Inayat Khan brand of Sufism–pretty much the only kind I’ve studied, (apart from the 1000 year old wonderful Sufi treatise, by the Sufi shaykh Hujwiri, Kashf Al-Mahjub, which translates as The Revelation of the Mystery)–features the opposite of proselytizing, almost to the extent of indifference, except for the reinforcement of any pre-existing enthusiasm. Queries are answered, but unless there are follow-up questions, the matter is dropped.

I think Allan Cohen created a sort of Buddhist vacuum, that pulled me in.

So I asked if there was anything I could read by way of an introduction. But even after reading his suggested mystical writings, *** intriguing and plausible though they were, still it was just an intellectual concept. I guess I was like a later dear friend, an atheist who admitted to me she would surely like to be able to believe such stuff, but couldn’t believe in fairy tales, thank you. It is an interesting question what leads one to such a belief. Meher Baba has written (familiarly, to me at least) about a state of “divine desperation.”

Well, one night in 1968, visiting a friend in Portland Oregon, with the television blaring news of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, I was feeling so lonely that I went for a walk under the stars, and started to talk out loud saying things like I felt stupid talking to the air but as there weren’t any witnesses, okay, I’d give it a shot. I simply said, I was desperately sad and lonely and if Whoever you are would take away that feeling, I would believe. And instantly I was ecstatic. It was as if God was afraid I would change my mind, and struck while the offer was there. Tears streamed down my face, I was so happy, so grateful. And I went on to become a Sufi, in the same order that Allan Cohen was in. After seven years things happened and I moved on, but I have considered myself a Sufi ever since. And I can justly claim to be that since the essence of this Sufism is the belief that God is only accessible through an experience in one’s own heart, independent of priests and intermediaries.

Of course, this intense, ecstatic feeling wound down after a few days, but it is still there today, as a floor beneath me that I feel I can never fall through. It is rumored in Sufism that the best virtue is gratitude, and I do have that, though many troubled waters have since passed under the bridge.

But in my generative years, as Erik Erikson would say, I wish to share these Sufi ideas which I have come to love and which are the inspiration for my poetry. This “about” section begins with a poem I wrote concerning the situation I’ve just described, and my gratitude. (See above)

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*such as getting up before sunrise to feed and water 100 rabbits, or things like being farmed out to local walnut growers to harvest walnuts, for which Mrs. Hunt the Wagnerian lady from Oklahoma who ran the place was paid so much per stuffed gunny sack of walnuts. Or on Hallowe’en stuffed into a car and ferried all over the rural countryside to (like honeybees) collect large quantities of candy most of whch Mrs Hunt confiscated to furnish her baby showers or other such social life.

**To see how I’d gotten so feisty check out the Johnny Cash song “a Boy Named Sue.” Or to put it otherwise, I got tough from having been abandoned and as I say, bounced around.

***Mostly Meher Baba’s three volumes of “Discourses.”

Of Such Is the Kingdom of Happiness

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New Start–134

The Sacred Duty to Be Happy

Sure we hear all the military talk
About enforcing discipline
Dry stuff it is too so of course
I prefer to bother with yet wet babies

Who have not gotten confused from the blather
Of the bathwater
I mean sure it’s a wonderful thing
This discipline

But it’s an unmilitary irony that
The discipline we are most duty bound to enforce
Is the one that stands with happiness
Which doesn’t betray happiness

Like Benedict Arnold did when he turned
Over his fort to the British
And we must not turn over our heart
To its enemies

Which though legion (and ironically un-American)
All bear this mark of Cain:
This ignoring the cries of our purple
(Yes wounded) heart

Whose oak leaf clusters symbolize
Wood from the true cross
Testifying to the sacred duty
To be happy

~.~.~

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,
If you go to the word cluster on the right look for “happiness.”

It’s in pretty big letters, is it not? Which means there are lots and lots of emphasis (read blog posts) on that.  Which you can access by clicking on the word.

Indeed still embedded (with redirects bringing you to the final product: rumi-nations.com) in my title files for this blog is the original concept (yes I was going to call the blog “Happiness Poetry.”

And an early post (circa 2013) was one titled, “Sufism, the Science of Happiness.”

Because it is a science in the sense of you keep trying things, and gradually the water runs clear, the gold appears, more and more types of gold.

It’s a long haul of course. I have done a lot of mouthing lately about doing “my next” post about reincarnation. (But like the carrot on the donkey stick it seems to recede each time when juxtaposed with a new idea.

Like today’s out of the blues try at discussing the concept of happiness. (Happiness uber alles!)

This popping up is not surprising since happiness has been a big question mark (you might say, an obsession ) for me all my thinking life (starting when I was a grown up adolescent.)

Which brings us to my famous acid trip back in the day.*

I was a hippie in Berkeley and so I took some LSD. But at least I used it for a purpose. One night I meditated all night (on acid!) pondering the issue of why I didn’t have many friends (just one, really) and consequently was lonely. Well I had an insight. Maybe people were repelled by the fact that I insulted them (for instance). Also you must know I had taken to wearing bell bottom pants and a pea coat imitating the Beatles (thinking it would make me cool) It was cool all right at least insofar as my reception from people. Who knew they didn’t like phonies?)

That night I got the gut for naught feeling of the shallow nihilism of posing as what I was not.

So, two upshots.

Two resolutions.

As for the problem of posing (in this case via clothing options) I hit on the simple expedient of always wearing the same clothes. So I bought sets of jeans and blue work shirts, which became my de rigueur attire. My uniform, you could say.

And as for the friend problem, I would try a radical experiment. I would be sweet to people instead of insulting. (who knew?)

I guess this begs the question of why was that ever even an impulse.

I think it’s a chicken and egg thing. I was mean to people out of resentment for feeling they didn’t like me. And they didn’t like me because I was mean to them. (Full disclosure: I had a chip on my shoulder perhaps related to my mother putting me in an orphanage for a few years–age five through nine.

Anyway, it worked. That night’s epiphany pulled me out of the quagmire. Of course it helped a lot when I noticed it  was fun being nice.

I guess this leads to a discussion of gratitude but this post is too long in the tooth to add a different theme.

So happiness has always been my goal. Except in the eighties I took one of those human potential seminars and they had everybody write down what was their bedrock goal, and I wrote “inner peace.”

But then maybe of such is the kingdom of happiness.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*I do not of course recommend LSD but I was a hippie (In Berkeley!) and inspiration is where you find it. See, I figure God in a pinch can make honey out of horseshit. And the LSD did give me what felt like a powerful focus on the issue. But my older brother Jim the musical genius, now he took massive doses and perhaps not coincidentally became certified insane and died young in a mental hospital.