Tag Archives: humor

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 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.