Tag Archives: humor

The Rules Are Cut and Dried

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Arden

 

Arden Again

(Published in Ascent Aspirations)

The Rules Are Cut and Dried

–To Arden

These are the rules:
A found penny is lucky heads up
Two found pennies together doesn’t matter
Any nickel or dime or better
Doesn’t matter

The rules are cut and dried
But I conceive a primitive
Experiment in power: For instance
If I turn a tails penny over to heads
For someone else to find

That makes now
Heads in charge
And so my hypothesis
Being that one has the power
To create luck for someone else

You may say
“But you will never know the result
And so it’s a worthless experiment”
To which my reply:
Au contraire mon frère

(Establishing a tone of camaraderie)
I already know
The rules are cut and dried
Happiness is the given
You work backwards from there

~.~.~

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,

Well here it is again (or was when I started this post) November 7, Arden’s birthday (Arden is the lady who died a bunch of blog posts ago and to whom was dedicated some posts,* most recently:

https://rumi-nations.com/2018/11/18/it-makes-me-cry-remembering-arden/

Earlier arden posts (where since she was a still living and private scorpio, I had called her “Eve”:

https://rumi-nations.com/2013/07/01/the-fates-found-her/

and:
https://rumi-nations.com/2013/07/08/my-heart-was-in-panajachel/

It’s an interesting situation why she has always stuck so much with me for 18 years after we stopped being together.

As I wrote in previous posts, she was an atheist (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and well, in my opinion I was a lot more tolerant of her atheism than she was of my religion.** I even laughed at one of the buttons she had on her refrigerator door, which said, “Jesus is coming! Look busy!”

I surely do, and any self respecting Jesus would also have a sense of humor, and be secure enough in our beliefs not to feel threatened by somebody else thinking differently.

Of course in retrospect I was at fault as well. And I thought I was being so generous and ecumenical when I told her (to her face) that I didn’t believe she was really an atheist because I had never seen a more generous heart and of such is the kingdom of God.

But thereby I was depriving her of the respect that should be given to someone’s estimation of themselves.  I as much as said, what do you know? You are not really an atheist!

It sure is funny how one time one can be so cock sure of something and then later look back and slap your head aghast at having missed something so obvious. Along similar lines there is the Hazrat Inayat Khan story of a lady who often hurt people’s feelings with accusations, justifying that by saying, “I only tell the truth.” I can’t be sure of the exact wording of Hazrat Inayat Khan’s comment on that, but the gist was, it was in violation of a far greater truth, that of the human heart being the shrine of God, and woe to one who would visit hurt upon that.**

I am traveling now to California to visit family and old friends, and I wish to focus on that, so I will cut this post short (and yes, a day late both for a post being overdue, and Arden’s birthday having been ten days ago (November 7).

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*Posts which I have written because she has been so pivotal in my life. As well as gratitude for her generous heart, and as you might surmise from what I have written above, a source for much Sufi-ish speculation, about my gratitude to her, which I think is among the top three of my idea of the most  important virtues. Para precisar, along with gratitude, avoiding hypocrisy, and (agreeing with Inayat Khan), patience (for how one’s fate is often determined by an apparent God’s plan for a string of falling dominoes, at least in my case, some of the latest being occasioned by my affair with Arden. Which has led directly to my moving to Guatemala, thus enabling a retirement devoted to my Sufi poetry and ancillary contemplation.

**As an example, once she told me “I don’t ever want to hear about your religion!” To which I relied that to make sure of what she meant, I said, “In other words you want never to hear me speak of that without which I might want to Kill myself? (This in the spirit of this quote from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina:

“…life was impossible like that, and that he must either
interpret life so that it would not present itself to him
as the evil jest of some devil, or shoot himself.”

***FYI here I am not referring to hell, unless by hell it’s meant unhappiness. An unhappiness which comes perforce from trying to be what one is not. By that I mean deep down we are all manifestations of a loving God, and to act otherwise must set up a civil war in one’s heart. Hardly a state of happiness.

How Long Has This Been Going On?

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eric-as-child

Me at age eight or nine

PR–329

A Wish Dash of Dignity

The baby speech was bad
A touch like Elmer Fudd
Or a duckling daffing

All aglower was his little face
From His Highness’ chair
From a store he’d had before

Of vestigial kingly air
Or some such mannish mime
Some earlier authority

As he cried
“Stop faffing!
I’m fighting mad!”

Which wish dash of dignity
A knock-off from a former race
Didn’t make it to the finish line

But held us helpless as the more
He tried the more we died
Faffing on the floor

~.~.~

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 fear last post may have left you with an unpleasantness from hearing the stories from my family. Especially one of them (to quote Gandalf, “Name it not!”) So I have this time decided to balance that out a bit with some amusing sometimes sweet family anecdotes.

But first, I am not sure how much more I will write about my beloved Aunt Edel, who starred in a recent post, and so I want to start off with an anecdote I forgot to tell of in my recent mention of her. To refresh this for new readers, recently I talked about having been rescued every summer for a week or two (rescued, for instance, from the “orphanage”) to hang with her and her husband, in their old Hollywood mansion (which later Aldous Huxley died in)

Her husband, a colorful native of Estonia, who had escaped from impressment (read cannon fodder) into the Czar’s army during World War One, and who stowed away on a steamer to San Francisco where he learned the tailor trade, ended up making suits in Beverly Hills, for the movie stars, as well as his Nobel Prize winner friend William Faulkner, then a Hollywood screenwriter, about whom he would tell us amusing stories. But I digress. To the meat of the anecdote:

I remember once when Aunt Edel said to me, “I don’t understand about you, Eric. People tell me you are unruly and resistant, and yet here with us you are so sweet and well behaved.”

I am not sure I had my wits about me then cause-and-effect-wise, but what I should have told her was the mere thought of displeasing her and possibly causing thereby a withdrawal of my annual invitation, was a horror I did not care to flirt with happening.

So, on to amusing family anecdotes!

Last post I already told my (brother) Mike anecdote (about his world class triple pun).

And so to segue, here’s one about Jim and Mike together. (Mike as usual representing the practical common sense side of discipline, Jim the dreamy poet musical type, not so much)

When Mike was six and Jim was five Grandma Dorothy said she had given them both a chance to learn about earning money, by raking leaves and putting them in boxes. She was to pay a nickel for each box they collected. Well, Mike set to in his industrious way, but Jim just sauntered about, whistling.

Finally when all the leaves were gone into boxes and it was time for payment, it turned out that Mike had done it all (and Jim not more than none). Grandma Dorothy was distressed telling Jim she felt bad that she could only give money to Mike, since Jim had done diddly squat. And Jim just smiled, she said, and put his arm around her waist (as far as he could reach) saying “Gamdorfy you don’t have to worry about things like that!”

I can’t resist one more Grandma Dorothy Jim story. She said when she had explained to a young Jim about the facts of life, he exclaimed, “How long has this been going on?”

And if you want a story about a young me (still in a high chair!) I refer you to the incident my father liked to tell. It is the story I covered in the poem at the top of this post.

I have no suitable amusing thing from Robin, perhaps because it would ring hollow here since he lived in tragedy all his short life (at least post age four) but I would feel bad leaving out about Robin, the one that killed himself. He just (I think)*did it because he had no friends, was socially inept, dressed like a scarecrow** and yet had a stubborn belligerent attitude. I and my older brothers should have been more careful with him, since because of his emergency tracheotomy at age four, he was not the sharpest knife in the drawer, He would say such stupid things, and we always seemed to think we could shame him out of them, with scathing words of how stupid what he said was. We decided he needed shock therapy. Which I think was his undoing, God help me and my older brothers. In a way I can’t seem to shake I feel responsibility for his death. I guess we should have humored him, but we ironically decided we had too much respect for him, too much hope he could pull out of it.

And here’s another bit from Grandma Dorothy:
She who often drank (but who believed in reincarnation) used to regularly tell us all (garrulous after a few shots of her cheap pale dry sherry) “Next time I’m gonna be a man!”

There. That should hold you.

But I want to acknowledge that I originally started this blog as a vehicle for Sufi-themed stuff. At least indirectly, with perhaps examples from life. My life in this case, mainly, because that’s the life whose inner working I have access to, which also is a Sufi thing, in which like Socrates had said, “Know thyself!” and in that analysis, I do go back to my roots (aka my biography).

And this of course has led to the inclusion here of biographical material. Hence my recent biographical posts. But my old friend Ralph has often said I have led an interesting life. And I do promise that even if I blend my life into this Sufi-themed discourse, I do hope to include only the interesting parts.

And it does seem to be going over. Since I have been emphasizing stories from my life, the followers have been increasing much more rapidly than usual.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*I say I think he killed himself because he got no respect for his intellect (remember, he had choked on peanut butter at age four and no doubt thereby lost many brain cells waiting for his emergency tracheotomy) from his brothers, and he seemed to have no friends. Tragically, I cannot know for sure. You see just before he killed himself, he and I had quarreled. Maybe it was when he denied that the Indian Mystic Meher Baba (whom I followed) was the reincarnation of Krishna, as he had claimed. Which is a defensible view no doubt but Robin (who had joined the fundamentalist sect claiming to adore Krishna (aka “Krishna Consciousness) said he had seen the picture of Krishna in the temple and he had six arms and his skin was blue, something that could hardly be said of Meher Baba. So there!

And tragically, when Robin had come to see me just before he killed himself (He was seen undressing on the beach in San Francisco, leaving his clothes and driver’s license there. And witnesses says he swam out to the horizon and when hours later his body was washed ashore and linked to his ID, I received a weird phone call in the middle of the night, from the apparently weird coroner asking me to come and identify the body, which I did, next day. Horrible.) I was on the toilet and when done there I was curious as to the doorbell, and saw out the window that it was Robin departing. I wish I had called to him but we had just fought and it was unpleasant and so, not knowing Robin was in danger, I just let him go. And that was just the first of several futile attempts to find solace in family. I later learned he had called my mother and her stepson answered and to play a prank said she wasn’t at home. I forget the details but I remember that in retrospect he had tried for someone anyone to buck him up and stop him from his suicide plan.

He had committed himself just before to a psychological crisis clinic but as he had done it himself, he was also free to sign out, which he did just before his attempts at family contacts.

**Okay so now this does remind me of an amusing Robin story. Though tinged with the sadness of Robin seizing finally on something he could do better than his brothers.

You must know that we four brothers were a competitive bunch, always inventing ways to compete. Once we decided to see who could hold his arms extended like a scarecrow the longest. Try it and you will see it’s not that easy. After a while your arms ache and which happened and so we said to the keeping-going Robin, “Yep you win!”

But that wasn’t enough for Robin who wanted to humiliate us further and so he kept his arms up. Every so often we would look out the window and there was Robin, still doing his long-lasting scarecrow imitation. But when he finally figured he’d rubbed our noses in his victory enough, and decided to lower his arms, they wouldn’t stay down. They would keep flying up as if they indeed wanted to be his airplane wings. So even when he won, the poor guy ended up a laughing stock.

The Heart Is an Infinite Thing

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George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw

PR4–272

When You Feel Alone In These Woods

It isn’t much
it’s just a hunch like an illumined
Yet apparently ill-omened over
Or undertone in those movies

You don’t know where it comes from
Yet you know something is up
(There is something in the line of the trees
Or how the breeze rattles the leaves)

Like in Wyeth’s painting that suddenly
Alert-to-danger dog
Beside the sleeping woman
So it’s got your attention

When you feel alone in these woods
But the ominous coloration
Like the deep red of turning rose petals
Turns back black lavender then on to

Cream then light steps out to your rescue
And says
Sorry I scared you like that
I had to get your attention

~.~.~

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,
In case you haven’t noticed, this is a personal blog, though also advertised as a poetry and Sufism thing.* But that’s to be expected since this stuff is personal to me, as a Sufi poet.

And so I tend to write about what is going on in my mind and heart. And a good thing too, or soon I would run out of material. But the heart is an infinite thing, much like how a kaleidoscope never runs out of different patterns (or snowflakes either, for that matter).

Which as I say tends and bends toward Sufi themes.

So too, this website and blog features “Sufi” poetry. I do have a plausible claim to that, since indeed I was officially initiated into a Sufi order founded in 1912 by the renowned mystic Sufi Murshid (and acclaimed musician from Hyderabad) Hazrat Inayat Khan. And I even lasted seven years there!

Which is why atop every post are two of my favorite Inayat Khan quotes, his invocation, and his prescribed daily mantra. See above–which is always good advice, because as my featured quote on my main page says, “Things always look different from higher up.” (Clint Eastwood–For a Fistful of Dollars)

But I digress.

I suspect this is never going to be a hugely popular blog, because it is so personal to me. And I tend to focus on what other people might think of as small beer stuff. For example (and indeed for what started this post) I was thinking about signs. Little tiny signs, perhaps, but if you got even a short note from a beloved in the mail, it tends to be cherished. And well, let me stop beating around the bush and come to the point.

I am referring to little whiffs of angst, little daily frustrations, and small disappointments, that (oddly) leave the heart feeling blemished.

I take these to be signs. In fact I just wrote a little poem about that:

Say Hi to Angels

What’s nice is when stuff goes awry
Especially when it’s unaccountably awry

Because then you know
That angels are playing with your head

That’s why it’s then your big chance
To say hi to angels

Sure, on one level this could be dismissed as trivial stuff, but to me it is a sign post. I think it’s not for nothing that these days I have a low tolerance for even traces of angst. Or rather a low tolerance for not exploring what’s going on, once I receive such a sign.

You know Jesus for instance prescribed a constant vigil never knowing, he said, at what hour he may appear. Well, I have come to see these whiffs of angst as a message from God. That is to say an anti-message, a sign that God had gone missing. Not AWOL, I mean it’s all on me. It’s like the bumper sticker said, “If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?”

And this angster stuff has a clear message, a kind of SOS, a sign of mayday.

I guess it’s to me like reading tea leaves is supposed to be. (if you know what to look for)**
And here’s a poem I wrote day before yesterday, which is along these lines:

The Rapt Gift of Second Sight

Perhaps you remember the old trick
Of opening a bible at random
And thus hitting upon a certain apt verse
Or the famous I Ching thing

Where you throw sticks of yarrow stalks
And then read the rede from those?
Or tarot cards too I suppose
Now I used to be a cynic but in everything

I am a cynic until I understand the reason behind
Even in math when my teacher was
A good woman who loved math
And could explain the truth behind the graph

Well I suddenly got the highest grades
And now I understand about tea leaves
Coins tossed and such:
It’s much more a matter of plausible deniability

See if angels sauntered down and spread around
Diamond wings and things and rang golden chimes
And sang bars from the music of the spheres
Well what would the common lot worship

Who love the warship rumpus of gaudy fireworks?
No–God (and all the seer stars)
Want you to worship the subtlety of cupid darts
That lurks embedded in our hearts

Not the detracting distracting of tinsel on the tree
Overlooking the Christmas glow below
The rapt gift of second sight
(Your compass in the night)

Anyway my point is angst is a good thing if you take it as a signal. Just as pain is nature’s way of telling you your body is in danger. And as we know, knowledge is power. And to quote Don Juan in Shaw’s Don Juan in Hell, “To be in hell is to drift. To be in heaven is to steer.”

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*As for the definition of Sufism, well, let’s just say it is the religion of the heart. If all the dogma or mystical theories, statements, et al of priests rabbis, gurus of all stripes were on one side, and what your heart told you were on the other, it’s a simple and always choice.

You go with your heart.

Indeed I remember once asking my beloved preceptor Lud (short for Ludwig, rhymes with blood) Dimpfl, what we should do if the advice of the Sufi Murshid or preceptor, was in conflict with our interpretation of what our heart told us. Lud said, you follow your heart. And he said we do ask however that you keep our advice handy on a shelf, and take it down from time to time, dust it off and see if it may make more sense this time.

Just that.

Which I thought was quite the reasonable request! One (among many) reasons I am so fiercely devoted to Sufism.

**Inayat Khan was always talking about how the wise could read the leaves in the trees. Maybe it’s something in the way of the wind that shook the branches or God knows what but the sages he said could read the word of God in such things.

Indeed I read I think it was in a book by Idries Shah that for the Sufis of old there was a convention in which the wind was a metaphor for a message from God.

Idries Shah devoted his life to bringing Sufism to life before the public, yes, even down to the amazing and amusing Nasrudin stories–of which you can find a sampling in this website’s main page Stories button, if you scroll down to Nasrudin. I recommend it. It’s a true kick, his sense of humor and how thereby mystical truths are revealed. Shah was an interesting man–for more info see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idries_Shah