Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

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.

God (The Teacher Aspect of the Universe)

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Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

PR3–56

An Amazing Feedback Loop

This world is art: it’s a free museum
People complain about the price of admission
For this or for that other thing

But we’re already in the theater
And even when your play lasts only briefly:
How long does a camera take?

One exposure is all the necessary . . .
Not an art fan? A Philistine perhaps?
Still it’s an amazing feedback loop

(You can only go so far with that)
Because such is a symptom of ego
And the cure for not loving art

Is to admire at least ones self
Look in the mirror!
Have you ever seen such a painting?

Especially when there’s backdrop lighting
And there always is
With saints I hear it gathers about the head

(The eyes are the wick for the heart’s candle)
The only trouble is:
Some people do not admire themselves

~.~.~

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,
(This is another re-instated blog post from those which mysteriously and suddenly went missing. There were over a hundred posts in all dating from April Fool’s Day, 2013, and as I have occasionally mentioned, the vast bulk of them were wiped out by some apparently malicious entity who got access to the inner workings of my website. And as I have promised, I am gradually (and laboriously) reintroducing them, from back-up files. This is one in a series of those. Also, I should add, this whole debacle explains the gaps you will see in the Archives section. I generally choose which to put back, by those which a new blog post makes reference to. And this series is mentioned in my upcoming (soon) new blog post (watch this space).

Call me biased, but my personal experience is that art leads to happiness. Which is why there is so much emphasis on the arts in this blog, which was to have been called “Sufism the Science of Happiness.” Instead that became merely the title for my first blog post.

You can read (on the “About” page) about my history. I suspect it’s most people’s history, if they are acting wisely. I mean they with experience accumulate wisdom which then leads to happiness.* In the about section I quote Bob Dylan, “He not busy being born is busy dying.” And it is my firm philosophy that this “being born” is a guarantee of happiness. Which I deem basically to be the satisfaction of a job well done, a life well lived. And so each stage has its tag-along happiness. But as all wisdom comes from listening to the heart, and as art should be the product of the heart, so it is that the heart-practicing artist is a happy person. I suppose it may be more than just doing well the job of living, though I could argue there’s an art form right there. It may also be an extra happy kick in the pants to be learning to powerfully express your heart. I am sure we’ve all noticed how much better we feel after a good cry, on the shoulder of a friend. Just so, I think there is a magic in expressing the heart through art.

I do hope I am not like some of these Christians, etc. who are so moved by the feeling of Christ (Or whoever, or whatever) that they can’t shut up about it, can’t stop pushing it into others’ faces. And so I suppose I could play the prophet and declare a first commandment like “Thou shalt express your heart creatively.” (though actually, I think Emerson did give permission—even promoted that—See Self Reliance) On the other hand I suppose it’s fair to say that the opposite of a Philistine is not an art proselytizer. But let me say in my defense, with art the product is perforce individual. Art is like snowflakes, no two are alike. Or at least no two artists are. And so of course we art proselytizers can’t be accused of claiming we know any transferable truth. Unless of course it’s such a great poem etc. it leaves people in tears. But even then the reaction is an individual one, which only an idiot would try to universalize.

So in my blog posts there is often a propaganda push for art. In any case for the above reasons you will often read in my posts and poetry an emphasis on the production of art in some form. But please pardon me in that as is well known one should write about what one knows. And my art experience (Linked with any success) has been in either drawing and painting, and poetry.

And the story about that and its upshot is for next week.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*At least that’s my experience hence my hypothesis: that happiness is not an absolute state. It comes automatically when one is walking the road of progress, which is a relative thing. Because guess what? God (the teacher aspect of the universe) knows about Pavlov and the power of association. I guess you could say happiness is the carrot. (I won’t speak of the stick. It’s all too familiar already.)