Tag Archives: Biographical

A Counter Offer I Couldn’t Defuse

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Lunar Eclipse–
Photographer
Patrick McCullough

New Start–91

A Counter Offer I Couldn’t Defuse

In Sufism atheism doesn’t make sense
Unless our atheist has first tried God
(Tried the Sufi God)

Because fair is fairest of them all:
How can you judge a God you have denied
Before you even tried?

And here’s atheists thinking small thinking
They’ve got me in a cul de sac of argument:
They say with a clever entrapment smile

“Which God?”
And so I say to that well deny this:
The God that would be beautiful to you

Try to talk to that God
(In the walk-in closet of your heart)
Because in Sufism one picks one’s God

One chooses a God from the heart
A God specially designed closer than antibodies fit
With their locking ports which admit no strangers

Even my atheist friend
Said she wished she could believe
These reassuring fairy tales

But she never tried to talk to God
Not even the version of Whom
She’d have liked to believe in

Not even to present her terms of belief
She might be surprised
It worked for me in fact

God made me a counter offer
I couldn’t defuse: I was kissed
By a lunar eclipse

~.~.~

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,
First apologies for the lengthy lapse in posting. I have been travelling (each year I revert a few weeks worth to my erstwhile natural habitat. I refer to California, where I was born and raised. Well, raised is a loaded term in my case. I used to joke saying, (about some instance when I’d known what I was doing) “My mommy didn’t raise no dummies.” But then I would add, my mommy never raised anybody.

Indeed, she put me in a sort of orphanage at age five. There is a reference to that below, and the backstory of that will be dealt with in more detail by an upcoming blog post (s?), to replace one or some from an earlier set of biographical blog posts that were lost by some apparently malevolent hacker of my website (see asterisk below).

Just now, however I am committed to continuing with the current theme of the issue of the existence or not of God.
I am having trouble finding where I left off. There was a promised fourth part of a four-parter that dealt with the issue. I am having a difficult time organizing the fragments that were to make up that fourth one, and so I am giving myself a reprieve, since I came across an old post from August, 2013* which deals with this very issue. So, I will post this again, as a way of stalling for time vis a vis the fourth part mentioned above.

The good news is this one is largely ready to go, hence there will be less further delay in my long overdue postage due type derelict awol by our blog boy (Me).
And so here it is (or was):

Gentle Readers,
If you want, without further ado, an explanation for this poem (see above) being included here, best to go straight to the “About” section (see above) which deals with my miracle “conversion.”

At age twenty.

From a state of atheism.

The following stuff though deals with the roots of all that, which I do believe are relevant to my story of how I have dealt with the issue of if God or not.

For some reason I find it a fascinating issue, the one about the existence of God. I can’t remember if I’ve already done a post about that (You don’t post to be repetitive). But here’s a caveat; I do repetitive. But I hope each time it’s more like Cummings was repetitive always talking about spring, or John Donne, things that are rings.

So beware, there may be future posts as well on this theme (The existence of God). Come to think of it, my last (from August, 2013) post segues nicely into this issue since as I recall it ended talking about C. S. Lewis and his “proof” of the existence of God (i.e. The Case for Christianity and the radio commentaries that was based upon)

So, as a preamble to my no doubt subsequent posts on this subject, I may as well delve again into biographical hence explanatory (and to some, exculpatory) material. Even though some people might then say adversarily that I turned to God out of desperation rather than for any “good reason.” But the great mystic Meher Baba talked about a state of “divine desperation” which was given as the pretty universal explanation for these “conversions.”

I mean it’s even quite possible that what on the surface was a misfortunate orphanage situation, really was a roundabout long-way-around-is-the-shortest-way-home kind of thing. I mean it was a pretty useful desperation then if my happy now is rooted in it!**

Time for some backstory:
As a child, I adored Jesus. And Christmas, And not just for the gifts, more for the candles and the songs . . .

I wonder if I started out so pro-Jesus because I’d been “abandoned” by my mother. I put that in quotation marks because it was not a complete physical abandonment and in important respects, never an emotional one. But it makes sense doesn’t it? I mean to suspect a lonely child might sooner “turn to the Lord” than a happy child would. Every thing else being equal of course.

Honesty insists now that I tell you a bit of horrific sounding stuff but which wasn’t so bad (You had to be there) as abandonments go.***

Oops! Times up!

More next week . . .
God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*Some of my faithful followers may remember that a while back my website was hacked and mysteriously all but a few most recent posts had been deleted. Now I am a neophyte techie and so I don’t understand how and why that could have happened. But the good news is I have kept a separate documentation of almost all of my blog posts, going back to the first one (On April Fool’s Day, 2013). And guess what? This is one of the missing ones. (I am gradually refilling out the online archives).

**This corroborates one of my favorite quotes from Hazrat Inayat Khan, the founder of the Sufi order I was initiated into: “For every loss, there’s a hidden gain. And for every gain, a hidden loss.” His point being since apparent “good news” has a hidden cost, which may exceed the apparent value, and vice versa concerning the apparent “bad news,” it’s best not to either get too excited about the “gain” or too depressed about the “loss.” I mean, I was put in an orphanage, which sounds bad. But if it made me unhappy and lonely such that I was desperate enough to successfully appeal to God, and then came out happy, it (the orphanage situation) was a great investment was it not? Another example is when I was fifteen I was hit by a car and suffered compound fractures, in a cast for nine months, resulting in a slightly short left leg, which kept me out of Vietnam! If it didn’t save my life I bet it at least saved my sanity! Goes to show you never can tell.

***Here I refer to the orphanage and how it came about, But that will be reposted after I finish with the existence of God theme. (Remember, there is a fourth part coming, though this does make it at least five.)

As for the orphanage, this poem shows the loss/gain thing also in perspective:

At the Orchard End of the Orphanage

I remember the sweet peach blossom breeze
At the orchard end of the orphanage
Where I would think endlessly and enviously
Of if no orphanage

Or of if again I felt
My mother’s fingers in my hair
(The mother who had abandoned me there
For a few years)

How it would be different then
In an unorphanaged situation
But now I think of when my mother
Finally did take me back

But struck me
(Through her tears)
With her fistful of wistful
For her lost true love:

She was earnest to explain
To show me in the mirror drain where
My now brown eyes this time
Would have been blue

Gratitude, Which Is a Kind of Grace

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Lud Dimpfl's Sufi Mureeds (Initiated 1973)

Lud Dimpfl’s Sufi Mureeds (Initiated 1973)

I am the dark haired guy in the back row, just in front of the left white doorjamb

New Start–75

Gratitude, Which Is a Kind of Grace

Mind if I ask you a personal question?
I don’t hear a yes so here goes:
Do you ever suddenly feel grateful?
For what?

Oh I don’t know but well
Like just now (out of the blue)
I was looking out of my own brown eyes
Just at the dinner I was fixing on the stove

And though I wasn’t fixing to cry
I started to anyway
I don’t know why
Oh yes I do (it has to do with love)

I was thinking of the many people
Who don’t have a dinner in front of them
And even don’t have eyes to see through
(On account of they haven’t been born)

And just for that you see I was torn
And all at once I started to cry
Just out of gratitude and too for even just
The beatitude of my own gratitude

Which is a kind of grace
(Comes from seeing the face of the stars)
And you know
Even those falling ones are tears

~.~.~

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,
For those just tuning in, this is the third of a four part (in this series, but no doubt this will be an ongoing theme, hence will be revisited from time to time. So many skeptics, so little time!) set of posts which discuss the question of the existence of God. The post of December 30 was getting too long in the tooth (but, I hope, not in the truth) and so it is continued here. And this too, will be cut short with the rest coming next post. (to spare you gentle folk a too long-winded analysis)

I had earlier talked about eyes. Since so many demanding proof of God have demanded to see it with their own eyes.

I quoted the revered seer in India, Meher Baba, as saying none can see God but with eyes divine. Which makes sense since our eyes are a finite instrument and God by definition is infinite. Meher Baba has said that to expect to see God with your eyes is like expecting to be able to see with your ears. They are not the apt instrument. The best instrument we have to “see” God is the heart.*. Otherwise we are blind to the business. Fortunately, our uncorrupted** hearts (“The heart of man is the shrine of God”–Hazrat Inayat Khan) are a sort of Seeing Eye God.

But back to eyes. They do of course make for a dandy metaphor, in the sense that the saints are said to “see” God.

In other words though you have to be God to see God, you can, as ascending saints, get a closer and closer successive approximation. Fortunately, said Meher Baba, (and yes, Buddha, in his fashion) this is an eminently possible thing. But perforce it is a slow process, as you might imagine. (Nothing as stupendous as God comes cheap and easy) But this is the purpose of reincarnation. (Count ‘em! 8,000,000 plus lifetimes, and that’s just as a human being!). Just as the cutting edge of water eventually created the Grand Canyon.***

But enough theoretical speculation. I have in my own life seen proofs of the existence of God.

For instance, the divine is in our nature. And like seeks like. A proof of that is this: we all like to be in the presence of love.

Okay well, that would only be a proof of God (read love) if you were a pantheist (like me, and like Meher Baba) who said that nothing exists but God.****

And this is also a Sufi thing as per Hazrat Inayat Khan’s invocation (see above):

“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.” (Pantheism strikes again!)

But back to loving to be in the presence of love; children love to hang with their loving parent. My cat sleeps on my lap.

And there’s a divine quality we often see in people, (and yes, animals*****) which is called gratitude. And right there is a proof I am part divine, because boy am I grateful. (See poem above)

For part four, see next post (when I get into the nitty gritty of the proofs)

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

* Hazrat Inayat Khan and all the Sufi mystics say this. And as I keep saying, this is a Sufi blog. Because Sufism is close to my heart and I have spent more than half of my life in the study of it (in my fashion). I was even officially initiated by an authenticated Sufi murshid in 1972. True, she threw me out unceremoniously seven years later. (I had confessed too much, you see). But guess who came to my defense? Lud Dimpfl, her assistant, my preceptor. And it was him that I loved, and without whom likely would have left the order of my own accord. So my heart rests satisfied. The story of my gratitude for Lud is told (among many others) in this old blog post, What They Do to 33 Year Old Carpenters. Here’s the url: https://rumi-nations.com/2014/01/13/what-they-do-to-33-year-old-carpenters-2/. It also deals with how I got thrown out of the Sufi order.

I do believe that I was accepted as a Sufi because of my display of gratitude. I remember Lud being impressed by my tears when I explained about the miracle that had turned me from atheism to a believer at the age of 19, when I said to him I was so grateful not to feel alone . . .

If you are curious about this miracle, it is explained in the “ABOUT” section above.

**I need to clarify here. I do not believe the heart can ever be “corrupted.” But it can be unjustly imprisoned, and just as a light can be obscured by putting a blanket over it, the heart can be put out of action. Can pine away for not being attended to. Which in Sufism is the source of all unhappiness. I think that’s what Jesus meant when he said (Matthew 5:15) “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, (archaic word for bowl) but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”

***To get accepted as a Sufi in the San Francisco Group (in 1972) I had to be interviewed by the eighty year old Murshida, (the successor to the successor of the founder Hazrat Inayat Khan, who died in 1926). We (my then wife Judy and I) were informed as we were leaving that Murshida had decided to accept us as two of her 300ish mureeds–historically, no mean feat. (Sufi initiates are called mureeds). And her parting words were an admonition that it was an incredibly long haul getting to the goal of being God. But she was happy with my reply which basically said, that didn’t bother me. Even a small percentage increase in the direction of such a vast store of light was by comparison to the relative gloom I had been suffering under, such a wonderful contrast that I believed at each step, at each increment of advancement, my cup would be overflowing as was said in the psalms.

****And here I refer you to Baba’s also short essay, “God Alone, Is.” Strange when you stop to think about it how it should involve such a long process just to arrive at one’s own true identity. I guess we will just have to bear up and accept that we must live (read: have adventures!) for millennia . . . (Sigh)

*****(in re gratitude in animals)
I remember seeing on PBS or such a documentary, part of which concerned a man who had lovingly raised a lion cub. And then he turned him over to a nature preserve, thinking he would be happier in his natural habitat. But he came back for a visit a few years later and when the lion saw him he rushed him as if to attack, and all around were worried. But it was just the lion’s eagerness to stand upright and lick his face in pure excitement to see him again.

Reincarnation Is a Handy Tool

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Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

(Published in Umbrella Journal)

New Start–33

Like Picasso, Who Never Had to Pay for Anything

Einstein thought things were pretty mysterious
And he said that made him “religious”

You can’t handle coal without getting your hands black
So I guess he couldn’t touch the universe
Without some of its numinous dust sticking to him
Probably because it’s such a big place

For instance if it isn’t distance it’s time:
Think about the Jurassic if you will
I mean actually seeing dinosaurs
Whose genes and digestive juices

Were just like ours
Only in a different pattern

The style of the Artist is instantly recognizable

God I think is like Picasso
Who never had to pay for anything
He would just write a check which never got cashed

It was far more valuable as a collector’s item

~.~.~

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 recommend a curious mind.

They say curiosity killed the cat but that got neutered down. It was (or should have been) curiosity skilled the cat. For instance I see out my window overlooking my garden my cat Dahlia like an Olympic athlete wending her way up a set of branches, such as had at a glance looked cat-impregnable.

Now I suppose they think Dahlia was born with that. I think not. I think it’s a finely honed skill, a product of long practice and longing. Yes longing is the mother of invention.

But, back to me (Remember, it’s my blog and I have no other than myself to craft it from).

I remember when I was four years old or so, and was wondering about things. Things like why when the conveyer belt-clawed ditch digger machine that was preparing a ditch for the sewer pipes, left a neat hole that was wider than the width of the iron claws? (I have since decided on a simple explanation: two or three inches of previously solid soil had been loosened and then fell into the hole, thus widening it)

And too, I wondered why it was when the driver got into the car and sat on the driver’s side, the car didn’t tip over to the left?

And I was curious about muffins, how they were made. I must have asked, (and flour must have been mentioned) because it had seemed a miracle. You see you take a muffin tin and put a flower (I think with a pinch of baking powder) in each slot and the next day there were newly transposed, fresh muffins. Which smelled good indeed. (Unsurprising, since the flowers had as well).

And what does this famous curiosity have to do with metaphysics? Y para precisar, with Sufism?

Well, in an earlier post I didn’t call Sufism “the science of happiness” for nothing.

Yes, and do you know what is the prime mover of scientific inquiry? Curiously, it is curiosity. Newton reportedly puzzled about what had made the apple fall on his head. Einstein puzzled about what was the interconnection between matter and energy and gravity?

His curiosity led to a shed light on the subject. Which light turned out to be pivotal, considering that in his final basic equation E=mc2 C referred to the speed of light.

Frustratingly though, Einstein couldn’t figure out how gravity fit into all this. He reminds me of a cat I once saw out the kitchen window, which gave onto my back yard, which cat was puzzled as to the nature of flowing water. You see I had a sump pump in my basement that after a rain drained the water out through a hose and onto my back yard, creating a gusher of water coming out of the hose. And as I looked out the window I saw a cat fascinated by the phenomenon. He would put his paw in, then pull it out. Paw in, paw out. Over and over. You see, it looked solid like something he could bat around like a toy mouse. But it just made his paw wet. And so there he was , transfixed for it seemed like an hour; paw in, paw out and each time a witness, staring at his paw, pondering it’s wetness.

And Einstein kept putting his version of a paw in, but never could pull out an equation explaining how gravity figured in. But he knew intuitively in his gut that there had to be an interconnection between gravity and electromagnetism. (Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch)

Which is why his long sought-after Unified Field Theory kept coming up short.

Oh well, maybe in his next life.

Yes reincarnation is a handy tool, because after all, clearly in this one life, we are only in first grade. Or maybe if we are saints, students at the university.

But the driving force is curiosity. Which is a curious thing. You might call it the other mother of invention (though both longing and curiosity might be termed a necessity).

and you might call it a gift from God.

And now I will give you a real life example. Those who have read all my posts (including those that have been vandalized, which I am gradually reintroducing from back up files), know that I had a challenging childhood, (e. g. put in an orphanage by a living mother) and suffered thereby (by the law of indirect consequences) for years from a paucity of friends.

Well, when later it was in vogue, I took LSD (I do not recommend it. It led for instance to the death of an older brother, but often there is a good by-product of a bad experiment). This was many years ago, a couple of years earlier than the miracle I describe in the ABOUT section atop my main webpage. (rumi-ations.com)

But I was curious why I had so few friends. Not that I hadn’t been trying to be popular. I even bought an au courant pea jacket and Beatles-style bell bottomed pants, but to no avail. No outward change was going to attract people. To paraphrase Professor Higgins, I had to clean up the mess that was inside.

Anyway, I spent the whole night (you don’t sleep on LSD) pondering the problem. And I hit upon a bold experiment.* A two-fold bold experiment. First, I would be nice to people, as opposed to my usual chip on the shoulder insult-prone behavior. And secondly, I would always wear the same clothes (to free me my from delusions that I could pass for “with it.”). I mean I always wore a blue work shirt and jeans. Multiple pairs of course to always be clean.

And just like Dahlia learned to climb trees, and just as a baby learns first to crawl, then to stand and finally, run, well, so I took the feedback of people smiling at me, to learn to be nice. And smiles coming from the heart are world class feedback, and a contagious thing. (Who knew?)

And all from being curious about what would happen if I followed my intuition. I know it sounds like a stupid thing to call wanting to be nice to people a product of intuition, but you would be underestimating the anti-intuitional power of a stubborn hurt ego.

God Be With You,

Eric Halliwell

*A favorite quote from the universe-class mystic Meher Baba is, “You must make bold experiments in life.”