Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

A Certain Case of Tunnel Vision

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Bob Dylan

 

PR–224

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’s 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 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,
Once again, my de tigueur announcement that this purports to be a “Sufi” blog. And Sufis by definition are interested in transcendent stuff. And so, forewarned

Here is an Inayat Khan quote applicable to today’s theme:

“There is a phrase in the Bible, “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you”. The Message of God is an answer to the cry of humanity. Now, as to the instrument of the message — in reality the whole universe is an instrument, and every object and every being in it is an instrument; through whichever instrument He chooses He gives His message. One sees in one’s life, and especially at times when one is deep down in depression and sorrow, some answer coming to the difficulty of that situation. It may come from a friend, from a brother, from parents, from a beloved; even from one’s enemy one may get what was necessary at the moment.”

There is a thing called variously “God Realisation,” Nirvana (or Nirvikalpa—let’s not quibble), or (in the Christian tradition) “The Peace That Passeth understanding, or mostly in Eastern mystical tradition, a combination of “Infinite Knowledge, Infinite Power, and Infinite Bliss.”

Someone said that this “infinite bliss” must be boring. And I see their point. Up to a point. Because this:

“Interesting” connotes the unknown, a fruitful line of inquiry. And this I see in spades and is why I write this blog or even feel qualified to, due to a lifetime of interest and inquiry along “spiritual” lines.

But yet remains the issue of how “interesting” can it be once the goal of all-knowing is reached, since by definition it leaves nothing further to unravel. And so we get to the irony of the quest (AKA “the path”) being more interesting than the end.

Now of course all this is from my shortsighted, perforce ignorant perspective.

Which connotes that we would be judging without seeing all the relevant evidence in the case (a prosecutorial no no). But it is a question right up there with the proverbial why does all-powerful God permit harm to innocent people (for instance)?* Or even (if your taste runs to espionage (a la Graham Greene ); Or adventure (H. Rider Haggard). But if we take the completion of all that to involve no further investigation, well how can that be any longer “interesting?”

But let’s be real (and honest). Aren’t we presupposing that there might not be other forms of “interesting” available only to those who have no blinders on (read ego) or at best a certain case of tunnel vision? Are we really so presumptuous as to declare as obvious fact that the life of an angel is boring? If only because an angel seeing this discussion would laugh and laughter is intrinsically entertaining. So right there we have (even with our limited scope) an example that disproves the case.

The unfoldment of all of which, as I say (or at least imply) above, is supremely interesting, making our lives a Tolstoy novel, at least.

You know, a wise Sufi** once said, “I am the pupil of a youth!” the reason being he thereby came to see God in a gratifying new perspective and all from a strutting young lad clad in finery!

Which brings me to my close. If you look on the frontispage of my (this here) blog, on the right it says: Favorite Quote. Which is also from an unlikely source (The movie “Fistful of Dollars” by Clint Eastwood). But ain’t it the truth nonetheless?:

“Things always look different from higher up.”

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

PS—and of course there is the famous old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

*this issue by the bye is satisfied to me by the simple expedient of reincarnation. Heck, just study Nobel laureate Bob Dylan who famously said “. . . the wheel’s still in spin—there’s no telling who that it’s naming.” (The Times They Are A-Changin’) And as for the pain that was suffered, first remember it couldn’t have happened contrary to the laws of karma (which I believe are not for vengeance but rather as lessons in what leads to joy and what leads to pain. It’s an essential part of the point to free will.

Also (Bob Dylan again) my every time sign off of “God be with you” is derived from Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” Where he sings, “Good-bye is too good a word, so I’ll just say fare thee well.” And as I mentioned many posts ago, good-bye is a contraction derived from the old “God be with you.” Hence my habitual sign off.

**Ths is told by Sufi master Hujwiri, in his Kasfh al Mahjub (Revelation of the Mystery”) the twelfth century Sufi compilation of stuff about extant Sufi saints. A very interesting book by the way; full of many “interesting” anecdotes from the Sufi shaykhs of the time. Anyway, this certain (I forget which) famous Sufi guy was heard saying, “I am the pupil of a youth!” and when asked why, replied “I was in the market place and a strikingly well-dressed youth was bragging to all and sundry that his father was rich and would buy him anything that he needed!“ Which set our shaykh to thinking that it was certainly so for us all (referring to God as the father). And it amused him of course to admit he could learn from a vain and feckless youth in the marketplace.

The Old Guy Has a Cast Iron Stomach

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J. R. R. Tolkien

 

New Start–68

Science Proves the Existence of Love

“At his right hand, holding a trumpet, stood Hussein,
his bodyguard, a giant Oriental, wicked as a monkey . . .”
–Nikos Kazantzakis (The Greek Passion)

Now hold on!
I must speak in defense
Of the essential goodness of monkeys
For instance an experiment I read about
In psychology class with monkeys charged

To keep safe their monkey friends
They had to push a button
When a red light appeared or their friend
Would receive an electric shock
But they could intervene

(They had their own countermanding button)
But guess who got the ulcer?
Not the victims being protected
Though they knew the risk they were under
No it was the undertow of monkey love

The left hand of their friend’s fervent
Yet ulcer-producing defense
That had cost the monkey friend
And I’m sorry about that ulcer business
Though in general I like it when science proves

The existence of love
Speaking of which you’d think
Poor God then would get an ulcer
But I hear the old Guy
Has a cast iron stomach

~.~.~

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, an apology if any recognize any of this post. Though it has been quite changed, it was cannibalized and adapted from pre-post records of an earlier post, that some hacker vandal erased from the archives; God knows why)

“Daddy! Daddy! I crossed the street all by myself, and I didn’t even get runned over!”
–Mehera Halliwell
(At age five, demonstrating proper gratitude for what she receives in life)

Something there is that doesn’t love a friend.*

Hell, something doesn’t love ceramics. Or so you could conclude by how often dishes break. Even valuable antique ones.

Not that I am suggesting paranoia.

No. it’s just like we look before we cross the street. So I think some “paranoia” is healthy. Indeed, some wise guys have suggested taking care, with reasonable precautions.

Yes, danger is there. That’s probably why with Jesus it wasn’t enough we be as gentle as lambs. It was good also to be wise as serpents. And sometimes the threat’s a spy behind our lines like some Wormtongue** within, whispering fear and/or other negativity. But in Sufism, it’s kind of an echo of Jesus when he said “By their fruits shall ye know them.” If afterwards (or during what you are doing) you are sick at heart, well, I believe in signs.

But the scary times are when that is too late. Meher Baba, the co-founder of Sufism Reoriented*** (the other being Hazrat Inayat Khan) had a favorite song, Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine.” There’s a telling lyric there which refers to cursing “the chance that was wasted.”

We’ve been talking about friendship.

I say “we” because I am expecting company on this blog–why? Well I am just being here a good Sufi. Keeping an optimistic attitude. Because it is always sweet to find there are people who share our concerns. It can even come to feel like family, such sharing. I start with friendship, but soon perhaps I will segue to another form of love: family, for instance. Of course too, I also think of my friends as that and in the very best tradition of that.

So as you may have surmised, today I will talk about how careful we have to be with friendship. But whenever I can, I will ditch the prose and rely on my poetry. If only because when a poem is any good it gets right to it and my prose likes to play Ring-around-the-Rosie. And gets to fall down a lot (on the job). But not in the other sense. It’s pulling teeth to get it to shut up. So my prose tends not to want to ever fall down (read: shut up).

Indeed.

Sometimes I think I became a poet as pure therapy for long-windedness.

And so without further ado, to the rescue.

I refer to a switch to poetry.

But for that you must see the above poem. It’s a poem about a true friendship that is a little off the beaten path of such poems, but to paraphrase James Thurber, “I think you will be amused by its presumption.” And speaking of poetry, I must digress to mention that just today I posted on Facebook two quotes about poetry. (FYI I am big on collecting interesting and/or inspiring quotes. As you will note if you check out the Quotes button up top. Along with Poems and Stories), Yes and though this is a pro-Sufi blog, suffice it to say it’s also a pro-poetry blog. Of course, that is tainted by my fierce belief that poetry is a very Sufi thing. Largely because it is therapeutic to the heart, and Sufism is the religion of the heart. So it’s hard to nail down stuff like connection/causation.)

“In the Eskimo language, the words for ‘to breathe’ and ‘to make a poem’ are the same.”
–Lyn Lifshin

“Poetry ought to be a by-product of living, and you can’t have a by-product unless you’ve got a product first.”
–Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety

So I am at my putative word limit and so time to say good-bye. Which customarily has been with this sign off: “God be with you.” But maybe it’s again time to explain how I came to that. I had an epiphany which helped me to choose. There is a line in a Bob Dylan song (Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right) that always puzzled me, “Good-bye’s too good a word, Babe, so I’ll just say fare thee well.” I remember good-bye is a contraction for “God Be With You” which is clearly a better word than a mere fare thee well.

And so, God be with you. Hasta la proxima.
Eric Halliwell

*Full Disclosure: Robert Frost reference: (Mending Wall) “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”

**Wormtongue was a weaselly advisor to the king of Rohan in the Lord of the Rings. (Happy to say, he got his comeuppance!)

***The Sufi order I was initiated into and which I belonged to from 1972–1979.

Master the Perverse Impulse

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Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

This poem was published in Berkeley Poetry Review:

Master the Perverse Impulse

“To make a friend, forgiveness is required
which burns up all things, leaving only beauty;
but to destroy friendship is easy.”
–Hazrat Inayat Khan

I don’t know . . . I think
It’s similarly easy
To throw oneself off a cliff

It’s true, and that’s probably why
I have always been
Supremely scared
To be on a ledge

I think I would visit
The Grand Canyon on my belly
With only my head
Projecting over the rim

I figure by the time
I got up to jump I could
Master the perverse impulse

So friend you’re pretty safe with me
I’ll take a lot
Lying down

~.~.~

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,

To start off, I wish to quote my daughter:

“Daddy! Daddy! I crossed the street all by myself, and I didn’t even get runned over!”
–Mehera Halliwell
(At age five, demonstrating proper gratitude for what she receives in life)

And then I will segue to this, paraphrasing Robert Frost: Something there is that doesn’t love a friend.

Hell, something doesn’t love ceramics. Or so one could conclude by how often dishes break. Even valuable antique ones. Not that I am suggesting paranoia. It’s just like we look before we cross the street. So I think some paranoia is healthy. Indeed often the wise have suggested taking care, with reasonable precautions.

A favorite quote comes from Mohammed. When asked if one should tie one’s camel, or trust in God, he replied, “Tie your camel, AND trust in God.”

Yes danger is there.

Skulking about.

That’s probably why with Jesus it wasn’t enough to be as gentle as lambs. It was good also to be wise as serpents.

And sometimes the threat’s behind our lines like some Wormtongue** within, whispering fear or Devil knows what other negativity.

But in Sufism, it’s kind of an echo of Jesus when he said “By their fruits shall ye know them.” If afterwards (or during) you are sick at heart, well that too is a fruit.

Of course, I believe in signs. But the scary times are when that is too late. Meher Baba, the co-founder of Sufism Reoriented (the other being Hazrat Inayat Khan) had a favorite song, Cole Porter’s “Begin the Beguine.” There’s a telling lyric there which refers to cursing “the chance that was wasted.”

As gentle readers probably have noticed, I’ve talked a lot about friendship. A big reason is this is a Sufi blog, and Inayat Khan often talked about friendship. Seemingly as an apprenticeship in the process of destiny. Your destiny being the stars.

I wouldn’t be surprised then if when Emerson said to “hitch your wagon to a star,” he was talking about friendship.

I should mention that in Sufism saints are referred to as friends of God. (Yes, they have friends in high places)

It is always sweet to find there are people who share our concerns. It can even come to feel like family, such sharing. Or perhaps I think it would best be stated in reverse, that sometimes family can come to seem like friendship.

So maybe you won’t be surprised, if today I will talk about how careful we have to be with friendship.

Which is he point of the poem I started off with (see above). I know these posts are perforce prose, even though whenever I can, I prefer to ditch the prose and rely on my poetry. If only because when a poem is any good it gets right to it and my prose likes to play Ring-around-the-Rosie. (Or as we say in Guatemala, andar por las ramas–not exactly beat around the bush–literally to walk through the branches)

Except my prose tends not to want to ever fall down. Sometimes I think I became a poet as pure therapy for long-windedness.

In case you have been wondering why I always sign off with God be with you, well here is why:

It’s from a favorite Bob Dylan song, Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.

There is a line in a that song that always puzzled me: “Good-bye’s too good a word, Babe, so I’ll just say fare thee well.” But then I remembered good-bye is a contraction for “God Be With You”; which is clearly a better word than a mere fare thee well.

And so, God be with you,

Eric Halliwell
**Wormtongue was the weaselly advisor to the king of Rohan in the Lord of the Rings.