Tag Archives: Failure

What They Do to 33 Year Old Carpenters

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Lud Dimpfl with Meher Baba

Lud Dimpfl with Meher Baba

 

PR3–131

Kissed on the Lips by a Lunar Eclipse

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’ve even tried?

And here’s atheists thinking small thinking
They’ve got me in a cul de sac of argument:
They say with their 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 fresh 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
On the lips 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.”

~.~.~

August 27, 2016:

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, (ironic, n’est-ce pas?) 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 pick this one to do today because a friend just asked me what happened with me and the Sufis and rather than reinvent the wheel I wanted to say hey just read this post. But lo it was among the missing posts. Which is exactly the sort of kick in the butt I generally need to put back another.

Fortunately I kept a text copy of these missing posts. But they require a certain format and secret codes, and that’s why I don’t put them all back immediately. It takes at least an hour for each one. But back to regular programming:

Gentle Readers,
first join me in remembrance: today is my sweet daughter Mehera’s birthday!

Since last week, I’ve found some Lud photos to illustrate my lately Lud (short for Ludwig, rhymes with blood) theme. Lud being of course my erst beloved Sufi preceptor during my seven years as an official (read initiated) Sufi, some thirty years ago. Last week, unable to find one of Lud, I featured a photo of his daughter, “Three B” (after Baba’s Beautiful Baby,” a name Meher Baba gave her, which stuck, for obvious reasons). She went on to be a fabulous painter who painted nothing but Meher Baba. And I emphasize fabulous.* in the photo one could see she was radiantly happy to be with Meher Baba. In this week’s, too, I show Lud with Meher Baba. And need I add, that Lud, too was radiantly happy.
(See above)

I have already posted, chronicling how Lud had been so sweet to me when I was dismissed from the Sufi order by Murshida Duce. How he rushed to see me and though I could not believe my ears, to apologize to me, for having suggested I write the letter I did to Murshida. And it was also sweet to thereby know that if it had been up to Lud that never would have happened, and obviously so, since the letter I’d sent Murshida contained nothing I’d not already told Lud, and which had elicited from him nothing but his saying how impressed he was with my honesty. And, of course, stressing the need for a plan to address the issues.

I had been worried, of course, so I had called Lud before I sent the letter off to Murshida. (I think I’ve already told of Murshida’s “Christmas Present” that year. Of how we should each send her a letter saying if we were happy as Sufi’s, functioning well under the requirements, or were having problems, even to the point of not wishing to continue, thus offering what I would have called an honorable discharge)

And Lud had said not to worry so it was an honest letter. But afterwards, when Lud rushed to say good-bye and comfort me, he said, it was indeed, too honest.

He said, (by way of explaining that he’d never told Murshida about it), “I saw you had a good heart, and then I just assumed it all would work out.”

Who knows the value of having someone like Lud say that. Perhaps it was just for that, that I was a Sufi.

I don’t know how many of my gentle readers have ever been thrown out of a group like the Sufis. I remember Murshida saying she’d been asked if Sufis should shun ex-Sufis who’ve been dismissed from the order. She said, that would be a horrible thing, since that’s when they needed friends the most. Of course, Murshida saying that, and it being taken to heart, well, while I did have pretty good luck with my close friends, and my wife, Sally, I certainly saw much evidence of being shunned. And there were others not so close, who proved my friend then, as well. And if any are reading this you know who you are and please know too you have my eternal gratitude. It’s so much easier to suffer judgment when the judgment isn’t shared by your friends, and even some objective observers.

But, and I cannot emphasize this too much, the real psyche saver in this was Lud.

As for the judgment police, I don’t judge anyone for judging. It’s not the worst sin I have forgiven. (Or committed) And fairness demands no double standards. And as I used to tell my first grade students, they should always feel free to appeal to my sense of justice, because “I am the fairest of them all.”

But I cannot over-emphasize my intense gratitude for Lud sparing me that horrible feeling of judgment and then, ostracism. If all the Sufis stood against me, but Lud was at my back, it would not have mattered. And so it was, at the end. Bless his sweet heart.

Because (and here’s a confession) it was Lud I loved. Though Murshida too, in a way, powerful enough to make me burst into uncontrollable tears at her funeral. But honesty bids me also say, that sure had come as a surprise to me.

The summer before that fateful Christmas was my thirty-third birthday. And little did I know then the foreshadowing it was when, the night of my birthday my mother woke me up in the wee hours, drunkenly phoning to say, “Happy Birthday! Just had to remind you what they do to thirty three year old carpenters.”**

Sure enough, six months later, I felt crucified all right. Talk about synchronicity.

When Lud was dying, a few years later, we started writing to each other. I offered to get a marrow transplant if it would help with his bone cancer. But he said it wasn’t that type of thing. I wish though I’d have had a first hand way to judge how much better it is to actually make a sacrifice (I have heard it’s quite painful the procedure) for someone you love than it is just to know that you would.

And I loved him.

I still do, wherever he is now. I will always cherish my last physical interaction with him after I’d been dismissed, with us saying goodbye, hugging and both of us crying and me apologizing for not having been a better mureed, and him, incredibly, for not having been a better preceptor. You see, to Lud the hardest thing in the world would have been to be denied the Sufi order. And so he felt bad on my behalf, that that had befallen me.

I don’t have the vaguest notion what will be up blog-wise next Monday. A ver, as we say here in Guatemala. (We’ll see)

But if any of my readers knew Lud, and would like to share their stories, I’d love to post them in a blog post. Not to worry if they are short bits. I have some short bits myself that I haven’t gotten to, as it wasn’t enough to develop into a theme for a post. But if we all got together we could maybe do a charm bracelet thing, with a succession of freestanding anecdotes, quotes, or what have you. But about Lud somehow. Sort of like make up for that ill-fated birthday scrapbook. (To read about that, see December 23 post, “The Kind of Tears You Get From Laughing Too Much.”)***
God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*Three B rented a house from a Sufi, (a realtor who also got me into my house which when finally sold was a key to having enough money to retire to Guatemala and write this blog and website. But I digress) who hired me to paint the interior. (I was doing such odd construction jobs on the weekend to earn extra money.) While there I saw in Three B’s garage a multitude of paintings, many of which were crude and amateurish. Apparently it showed a history of her painting career, It also shows how with perseverance one can become extremely accomplished from quite humble beginnings. Of course she was aided by a passionate desire to do justice to the subject.

**33 year old carpenters is of course a reference to Jesus’ age when crucified

***I just checked and sure enough that is one of the missing posts (Just as is this). But it does kick my ass then to put it back. Stay tuned then for a soon new repost from lost blogposts. Thank God I at least kept text only back ups!

Because the Mind Is Powerful

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My drawing of the Virgin Mary

My drawing of the Virgin Mary

PR5–34

A Helpful Thing, Which Takes the Sting Out of Fear

Stuff is lurking and lying in wait there’s
No doubt about that
Or perhaps it’s just God’s end of a plan
And to execute a plan

I have often seen
(With the keen eyesight of the heart)
That one does need a kick in the butt
And so when stuff leaps out at you

(Even in the dark
Especially in the dark because there the contrast
With light is more stark and so God knows
That shadows have their place in your face)

It’s best to have a sense of humor–I hear
God likes it when you laugh for having seen through
His or Her ruses to the roses behind or
Is it angels God delegates the sense of humor to?

Even this speculation makes the whole thing more
Amusing which is a helpful thing
Which takes the sting out of fear
Takes the bite out of night

~.~.~

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. (Which I use as an excuse to reprise that post). And this (lately) series is mentioned in my upcoming (soon) new blog post (watch this space). I have kept with this particular series also because these latest from 2013 are a series of biographical stories about how I came to be a poet in Guatemala. Which I of course mention, not for some egofied notion that you all are interested necessarily in my life story, but (honest!) because I feel all this illustrates if not Sufi principles, at least it exemplifies my conception of them. And frankly that’s what this whole blog and website is for: to express how I feel about the broad category I call Sufism. Hence the title rumi-nations.com, which derives from Rumi, the best known Sufi in this part of the known universe.

Last week (from 2013) I left off with the decision to leave Oregon and go to Guatemala. (In 2001) And since Eve (Not her real name) soon had a new boyfriend, I thought about what to do next, since this clearly obviated the original plan which had been for me to return to her, after I had mastered Spanish enough to get a teaching job (e. g. first grade).

But the plan, as I mentioned last time, was a fairy tale. Then I soon discovered I was living in my own new fairy tale. And (knock on wood!) I will live happily ever after. And it’s been so for twelve years now and so why doubt it? Especially since according to Hazrat Inayat Khan, the Sufi murshid I have been following, (and who if you have been following this blog, you are vastly familiar with) such thoughts are poison.

Because the mind is powerful.

But as I think perhaps you (who have been following this saga of the last few posts) might have noticed, things have had a way of happening differently than what I had been wishing for, working for. I guess it’s like John Lennon’s point about life being what happens while you are making other plans, which sounds bad, as if things may be out of control. But as I have seen over and over again, things that looked grim turned out well. (e. g. my carpentry failure led to my nursing school failure which led to my teaching first grade which in itself was successful, with the interesting interference of romance. But romance–perhaps you’ve noticed–is a part of life. (And please, I can’t let this go by without quoting my Sufi murshida, Ivy Duce, when she said, “Failure never let anybody down.” ) And when the romance failed, I ended up in Guatemala. Me, the historically geographically unadventurous, who like a blind man who depends on his heightened sense of hearing etc, became adventurous, daring even, once romance got into the equation. Interestingly I just did the typo, “roamance.” Because that surely was what got me to roaming.

As I left off last week, the issue now was what was to be my occupation. Here I was, having (due to decisions made in a romantic context) sold my house, and so sitting on 50,000 dollars in profit, having quit carpentry to become a first grade teacher, hence drawing an early retirement pension of just over $500 a month, and having quit my teaching job to be with Eve in Oregon.

So I found myself without any need to return to the states, and enjoyed the prospect of living in Guatemala where stuff is cheap, for the rest of my life, unencumbered by work (at least once an early social security pension would kick in, after a mere eight years).

And Inayat Khan has stressed that poets at least, (and all art is suspect here), function best where there’s no stress; they need a tranquil life of contemplation.

Intuitively, I knew that some art form was my destiny. It’s true, left to my own devices I probably would have just gone straight for the poetry. I had been writing poems since I was 14. And one at age 17 was in French (to impress my girlfriend when I sent her flowers for her birthday):

Ce sont de moi quelques fleurs
Qui expriment pour toi mon amour
Les fleurs, elles sont mortes dans des heures
Mais ton memoir vit toujours
Dans mon Coeur

(In the perforce fractured English translation):

Here are some flowers from me
That express my love for you.
The flowers will die within hours
But your memory lives forever
In my heart

Of course it can’t hold a candle to E. E. Cummings’ first poem (and at age six!):

There was a little farder
Who pushed his mother harder

But fate intervened and stalled all that, for a time, so I could study drawing and painting. And for all I know this was essential training for the poetry I now am dedicated to. After all, the poet E. E. Cummings was also a painter.* And there are scuttlebutts to the effect that it informed his poetry in for instance the manner of his odd pictorial typography, reminiscent of Guillaume Apollinaire. There are also–incomprehensible to me–rumors that he employed jazz rhythms in his poetry as well.

The fate that intervened, led me to an art instructor, one Daniel Casimiro a Venezuelan living in Antigua, Guatemala. He was trying to make a living as an art teacher, as well as what he is doing now, in spades, art restoration. He is hired to renovate 500 year old paintings and sculptures. Though these days pretty much exclusively paintings. (He can adopt the style of the painter and repair a painting with giant holes and tears in it, to the point that it looks good as new.) But as I say he also made his living teaching. And so of course once we became friends, I hired him to teach me to draw and paint. (for an example, see above)

And it’s an interesting fate item how I met Dani, my art teacher and close friend. But thereby hangs next week’s tale.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

* If you’re curious, here are a few of Cummings’ paintings:
http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/cummings/paintings.htm

My Falling Dominoes Odyssey

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Lud Dimpfl's Sufi Mureeds (Initiated 1973)

Lud Dimpfl’s Sufi Mureeds (Initiated 1973)

(I’m in the top row, right in front of the door jamb)

(The sign above says, “God forbid that we should ever have to bear all that we are capable of bearing.”

–Old Jewish Proverb

PR–695

Turn Around: Face the Sun

(To Lud)

It’s all done with desire wires
(Yes it’s marionettes)

But we can sing an along song
Just like an astronaut growing
Old and bold in his orbit

–Who can with his little jets
Turn around: face the sun–

(Like a cat for fun pounces)
Announces
“I’m flying this thing!”

~.~.~

“Failure never let anybody down.”
–Murshida Ivy Duce

~.~.~

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).

It’s funny, destiny.

John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.” I remember in my Sufi classes, led by my beloved preceptor, Lud Dimpfl (Lud rhymes with blood) once he was using the metaphor of our lives as if we were astronauts in orbit. And we had to perforce conform to our orbit but we had access to little jets that could swing the ship around, pivoting on its center of gravity. And Lud quotes the astronaut, “I’m flying this thing!” Funny how little then we notice that really we aren’t flying this thing.

Take for instance my own falling dominoes odyssey. As I have mentioned, I started out as a marijuana-smoking hippie. I got busted of course (when it was a severe felony) and to afford a lawyer I switched from dish washing to apprentice carpentry. And I got off by a miracle (Long story, interesting but not enough spiritual theme to it to include here. Except that, as I said, it WAS a certified miracle. As I’ve had many times in this life, chief of which you can read about in the “About” section of this website (see above)

And I stayed with carpentry because:

Union scale.

Three raises a year. (From apprenticeship promotions)

And what else could compete? I had no college degree or skills. (I had dropped out of U.C. Berkeley) But something always kept me from getting on steady for any one company. You don’t have to, because the union keeps sending you out on new jobs. But only the fine work interested me, and though I single-handedly installed the walnut in the U. S. District judge’s chambers in San Francisco’s Federal Building, the quality of my carpentry ran hot and cold and also I was neither very good at nor interested in cozying up to bosses.

So I could never get enough jobs in my specialty and was often forced to go back to concrete work and other horrors.

But I had a girlfriend whom I got hired as an apprentice carpenter. She loved learning new things and was excited by the possibility but then discovered she was only being used for the federally mandated “girl hours.” They just gave her a broom and used her for a laborer, violating the unwritten contract that an apprentice be put in positions to learn carpentry in action. So she quit in disgust, resolving instead to study nursing. And I nursed her though the needed night school prerequisites, especially English. And she became a nurse. And so I too pulled a nurse reverse.
She couldn’t be a carpenter but by God maybe I could be a nurse. (I was better at her prerequisite studies than she was). So I went back to school and studied hard, acing all the prerequisites, and got accepted at Humboldt State, where I only lasted half-way through the three year program.

But here I want to make an aside, that women sure do seem to be nicer than men. The men were total shits to my girlfriend when she tried to be a carpenter. But when I tried to be a nurse, the nurses and professors (all women) and fellow students (In my class 22 women and 8 men) all were sweet to me, and encouraging.

But though I aced all the exams, etc., I flunked out. I bet I am the only one in the history of the Humboldt State Nursing program to ever flunk out with two nursing scholarships. True, they were based on academic performance not whether you could thread the needle on the floor of the hospital.

However, I once saved a homeless man’s life (from the clutches of a mis-diagnosing doctor), but that was all canceled out by the fact that I was drowning out there, working way too hard for just two patients, and not even enough time to make their beds. I just was not organized, blood made me dizzy, and my hand shook while I was giving an injection. I was a nervous wreck. They rightly pointed out that this was with just two patients. Next semester I’d have six (a full fledged nurse has 12). So they said they had to hold me back, not knowing that I was out of financial aid, and could not afford any such delays. I literally cried when I heard the grim news that I hadn’t passed.

Funny how one can be so attached to an outcome which in retrospect would have been utter disaster. I would have aged ten years for every year I was a nurse, always assuming that somehow I could have figured out how to be one.
But by God I was determined to at least finally get my bachelor’s degree at age 50. I took 18 units so I could graduate in the one semester I had remaining with financial aid, cobbling together a liberal arts general major with smidges of history and political science and literature and such.

So the dominoes were falling. I’d failed as a carpenter but it led to nursing. I failed at nursing but it led to a degree. I felt it would be a depressing defeat to go back to carpentry yet what can you do with a degree in “Liberal Studies?”

Teach, of course.

So I became a first grade teacher. And I didn’t even have to work as a student teacher. I just waded in with an internship credential (and a starting teacher’s salary) in the inner city where they couldn’t find anyone but untrained half-nurse carpenters willing to do it, (Another unshining example of racial discrimination) all while studying the craft in night school.

And so the next domino had toppled.

Next week: How I got to Guatemala, flirted with art, but got married to poetry. (I think I may have promised that last week, but you know how it is, when you have an expectation . . .)

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell