Tag Archives: Friendship

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.

A Favorite Face of God

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Professor Josephine Miles

PR–72

A Favorite Face of God

–To Dani

If you don’t know where to start
(What to give someone
Who has everything)

Just do sweet things for God

Whose heart’s conveniently at hand:
Just pick like a flower
A favorite face of God

Just do sweet things for a friend

And speaking of friendship, here’s another. (Which was published in the Berkeley Poetry Review*):
New Start–162

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,
Perhaps some of you gentle folk would like a break from my autobiographical posts. If so, it’s good that I have decided to get (for a bit) a bit back to some more directly Sufi speculation. This post as you may have already surmised, is about friendship, a concept much talked about by the founder (Hazrat Inayat Khan**) of my erst Sufi order which I was lucky to be accepted in between 1972 and 1979.

However, I will still start with a biographical reference:

When I was young my favorite television show was Science Fiction Theater. At the beginning of the show, the emcee, with a dry wit sparkle in his eye, strolled onto the stage and said, “Let me show you something interesting.” He would then walk over to an experiment which demonstrated the scientific principle upon which the current episode was based.

I often like to do the same thing, in my poems. For instance today’s poems each feature an introductory quote from Hazrat Inayat Khan, about friendship. Kind of a springboard.

Why start with friendship? Friendship is a thing frequently addressed by Hazrat Inayat Khan, the founder of a Sufi order in the United States, circa 1920 (Yes, the one I was in for seven years). Indeed, in Sufism, their saints were called “friends of God.” I would summarize Inayat Khan’s approach then to friendship as a sort of “God Practise.”

There is a lot of controversy over what may or may not constitute “God.” But let’s escape from the “fundamentalists” by stipulating that at least for Inayat Khan’s brand of “God,” God is explicitly stated to be what you “imagine” Him/Her/Whom to be. Imagination, Inayat Khan says, is a holy thing. Reminds me of a favorite quote of the heroically tragic*** yet great, English poet, John Keats:

“I am convinced of only two things, the sanctity of the heart’s affections and the truth of the imagination.”

So Inayat Khan would say, whatever makes your life worth living, whatever to you is “holy,” then go ahead, imagine that as a manifestation of God. (And don’t be surprised when God again “appears” in that disguise.)

Yes, and the bit about the heart’s affections nicely leads back to friendship, does it not? Which is the theme of today’s blog post. (Que vivan las coincidencias!)

I love it when (as so often happens in Sufism) the spiritual practice called for is so much fun (Friendship is fun, verdad? E. g. who wants to go to the county fair alone?). And so it was easy to fall in love with my “religion.” What’s not to like about fun?

I want to say “more anon” but that sounds disconcertingly like the name of the black gate of Mordor.****
God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

PS–perhaps you’ve noticed a touch of pantheism in my poem. But fyi, that’s too a Sufi thing.

*which poetry journal by a strange coincidence was founded many years ago by my old Cal Berkeley poetry professor, Josephine Miles (see photo above). What an inspiration! She from childhood was confined to a wheel chair with crippling arthritis, and yet she went on to become a foremost academician of poetry, not to mention a noted poet herself. Here’s the Wikipedia article:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephine_Miles

**Hazrat Inayat Khan died in 1927, leaving behind a Sufi order whose mureeds (students) were drawn from the Western world (e. g. Europe and the United States). Here is a short and moving bio from Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inayat_Khan

 

***Tragic because he died of tuberculosis at age 25. But wait that’s not the time for your tears, which are occasioned by this:  He died from the contagion contraction of caring for his dying of tuberculosis brother.

****”Morrannon, though as the white wizard Gandalf used to say, “Name it not!” And for all youse non-Lord of the Rings fans, allow me to explicate. Morrannon was the name of the Black Gate of Mordor (the entrance), home of the (in)famous Dark Lord, Sauron.

Also the anon bit again, reminds me of my beloved yet oft drunk Grandma Dorothy who on retiring would call out “I’ll see you all anonymous!”

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.”