Tag Archives: Jesus

A Secret Plan to Ask for a Bicycle for Christmas

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Lud Dimpfl with Parsi mystic, Meher Baba

New Start—243

Turn Around: Face the Sun

(To Lud)

It’s all done with desire wires
(Yes we’re 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!”

~.~.~

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 am in the usual quandary of if I should continue with the autobiographical stories, or go back to the Sufi musing genre (in re my views on the sources of happiness). I used to have a preponderance of those posts which you can verify by browsing through the last five years of archives, which are shown just under the posts’ titles on the right (At least on the main page you get with dialing up rumi-nations.com).

Sir Naïve Moi Person originally planned to have regular conversations with readers via comments, or even devote an occasional post to use to respond to any issues arising in comments. But alas I am comment poor, and so am flying blind, needing to decide on my own how to get my blog themes ducks in a row.

But back to flying blind, you could say that about the poem above, inspired by my old beloved Sufi preceptor, Lud Dimpfl *(rhymes with blood). He talked about astronauts in orbit and so of course the route was fixed, although (with little side jets) they could turn this way or that, giving the illusion he was (as Lud said he said) “flying this thing!”

Whereas scientist (chemist) Lud informed us (his Sufi class of 30 mureeds–AKA Sufi students) it was just a matter of wheeling about on the axis of the astronaut’s center of gravity, which was fixed out there in the proverbial “bowl of night.”**

Which brings up the interesting Sufi question of how much we are really in charge of our lives. I like the quote from John Lennon: “Life is what happens while you are making other plans.” And I have been given examples of this in my own life, things out of my control like breaking my leg (okay I DID foolishly run in front of the car) or a wife leaving. Yes, at least in these cases at the time seemingly disastrous things, but as to my leg, I recently mentioned*** how the slightly shortened left leg kept me out of the Vietnam war? How the loss of the wife was in a few short years looked back on with relief, etc.

Though we do get feedback and that makes the art of living truly an art. Certainly if you think of improvisational acting as an art, (and I most certainly do). And all these things guarantee surprises. And we do love those. It’s for instance the popular kiss of death for a novel to have no surprises, and same goes for a movie.

And back to my just now complaint (was it a complaint? I am not supposed to do that) about no comments, hence no guidance from readers. I mention this because I do have some feedback lately and of another sort. Para precisar (my favorite Spanish phrase, meaning to make precisely clear) I refer to a recent seeming influx of new followers of this blog, and timed to my recent heavy emphasis on biographical stories. (Maybe people like more real life drama and less Sufi philosophizing? Go figure)

And here I am (in the teeth of evidence of its popularity) eschewing biography.

So, I will get us back on track with that, before I sign off.

Let’s see, we (me and my three brothers) had just been dumped again by dear old Mom.

So where next? Maybe I will just focus on Uncle Frank. That’s a bite-size chunk not readily mixed with other family stories, so let’s get it out of the way.

Uncle Frank was a rich banker. He married my great grand aunt (sister to the great grandmother I don’t write about much because it would all be negative and a violation of the mantra (see above).
To reprise:
“My thoughtful self, reproach no one, bear malice toward no one, hold a grudge against no one. Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite and kind to all.”

And the first thing was “Reproach no one.”

Oops.

Anyway this aunt Bessie was a sweet shy lady I never got to know very well. But I was young. I remember at some early age visiting her and Uncle Frank, (A white-haired Scotsman, proud of his Erskine plaid) getting scared to the nth degree by a stuffed bobcat that they had which was baring its fangs.

Hard by the heater!

Even in the orphanage I saw Uncle Frank at least for every Thanksgiving. He being the rich guy and his wife childless, sort of adopted us as their family and so every year Thanksgiving Dinner was on him. Always at the old Colonial House restaurant in Oxnard, California, featuring (just across the street from the entrance) a dressed-like-a-chef black man who was waving to the passersby to come on in and enjoy southern cooking.

So I knew he was rich.

So I asked what his address was, saying I wanted to write him a letter.

How nice they may have thought, “he wants to say thanks for Thanksgiving dinner!” But I had a secret plan to ask him for a bicycle for Christmas.

You must know that Uncle Frank had to know I was relegated to an orphanage, poor kid, and all I wanted was a bicycle for Christmas. And living in a country way with half a mile between houses, etc. But he got me an adult size one with built up wooden pedals, assuring I would never have to ask for another bike.

He was generous but to a degree not to surpass an embarrassing frivolity!

Later on when Aunt Bessie died, this Frank had his eye on my Grandma Dorothy. You may recall when recently (https://rumi-nations.com/2018/04/16/the-grim-tale-of-the-first-domino/) I quoted her saying, “Thank God I will never be bothered in bed by a man again!”

Well, this was when the subject came up. So she refused him and he latched then on a twenty years younger lady named Zethal, (rhymes with lethal) who conned him into a phony marriage and dared him to denounce her when she claimed a wife’s share in a divorce. He was sensitive to what he figured would be public ridicule, and so let her have her way.

There. I have used up my uncle Frank stories. At least any suitable for a positive outlook blog like this purports to be. though what I could add reflected on my brother Jim, whose insanity was being shown by a selfish solipsism. And not at all Uncle Frank.

Fairly soon (August?) I will be traveling to California for a month or six weeks. Not sure if I may have to take a month off from blog writing. As we say here, “A ver!” (loosely translated, “to be seen.”)

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*Lud, bye the bye was widely rumored to be the reincarnation of Hegel, the famous (and my favorite) philosopher aka the dialectic guy).

**A reference to Edmund Fitzgeralds’s ( (1809 – 1883) translation of (Sufi poet) Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, which opens with:

Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultán’s Turret in a Noose of Light.

Most famously quoted from The Rubáiyát is “a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.”

Which brings me to Sufi history. The big heyday of Sufi poetry was between 1000ish and 1200ish years A. D. Which was several hundredish years after the death of Mohammad. And with no Mohammad figure around except of course certain Sufi cognoscenti (Poets and like that) who were scarcely attended to by the extant religious authorities (Yes, giving organized religion a bad name) unless they dared to proclaim “heresy” in their poems. But wine women and song was okay! So it was a simple universal expedient in Sufi poetry that the apparently utterly charming love object was a woman, when it was in fact, God. And the wine? It was another metaphor for the intoxicating state to be found in a close study of God. (To be found within, not from the mouth of some priest. And you will not be surprised to hear that if this got out, this was offensive stuff to those who ruled the same kingdom formerly claimed by the Pharisees.)

But back to The Rubáiyát. My beloved Sufi preceptor, Lud, told us mureeds about this Edmund Fitzgerald guy and his translation of the The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. But Lud said, dissatisfied, Fitzgerald kept tinkering with it. Seven ensuing versions appeared, each one worse than the erst. And Lud said that what had been “a first rate mystical poem,” had tragically degenerated.

So. Caveat emptor!

******https://rumi-nations.com/2017/05/07/a-counter-offer-i-couldnt-defuse/

To a Child, New Stuff Is Inherently Interesting

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Yellow Rose Heart

New PR–337

An Obscure Divine Signature

Do you ever wax nostalgic about the wind?
Me I remember walking over a bridge of light
When I was eight the muse was slumming

And I was humming the song
The Yellow Rose of Texas
While thinking of a yellow rose

And I remember it was some
Sun-drenched wind
That etched it on my heart

Like a yellow diamond might
Leave an obscure divine signature on
The stained glass in Sainte-Chapelle

~.~.~

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 had been meaning to get back to the story of my youth (good practice for my memoirs!). I have been distracted lately with metaphysical issues, but I dimly remembered a promise to get back to my personal tale (which after all, was the one that led me to Sufism, and then finally, this blog stuff.) In fact I just did some research and found I ended last September 23’s (see archives!) post with these words:

“But there was a dénouement to this. Three years after leaving (the orphanage), to supposedly live with my mother again (wait til you hear about that one!) I came back for a visit, and Donald Lee (Mrs. Hunt’s spoiled grandson) had every aspect of being ashamed and apologetic for his earlier treatment of me. ”

Yup and so now comes the tale of my orphanage exodus.

Perhaps you will recall that my mother did come to visit me every two or three weeks. No doubt it would have been more often but the orphanage was out in the sticks, and it probably took her an hour and a half to get there.

And interesting things happened on her last visit to me there. I had gone to church on my faithful bicycle Hiawatha, which involved a steep hill on up to the metropolis called Oak View (a suburb of Ojai, which was a suburb of Ventura, California. My mother lived further on of course, in Camarillo. She needed to live there because she worked as a “psychiatric technician” at Camarillo State Hospital (the one dedicated to the non-criminally insane).

Anyway on the way back from church, going downhill on the steep slope out of town, I pedaled as fast as I could and prayed (both to Jesus and my bicycle–See, even then I was a pantheist!) to make me go faster and faster. But I had little reckoned on the sudden gravelly hairpin turn at the bottom of the hill and I went flying and landed unconscious. A nice man came by in a pick up and shook me awake and put my bike in the back and drove me to the orphanage, and guess what? Waiting for me (and yes, my younger brother Robin) was my mother who was all smiles and enthusiasm saying this was the day we were finally all going to live together again (me, Robin and the two oldest, Mike and Jim) with her in scenic Camarillo.

But I wouldn’t let us leave before first saying good-bye to Mrs. Hicks*, my sanity-saving surrogate mother and teacher for both the second and third grade. I wanted to give her a good-bye gift and my mother convinced me what would be a good one was her half-used deodorant stick. Later I got a letter from Mrs. Hicks, wishing me well and saying my note and gift had given her “a warm feeling inside.”

I was to attend Pleasant Valley elementary school. They called all of the seaside town of Camarillo area “Pleasant Valley.” And rightly so, what with the sunny breezes and the nearby seascape. In fact the above ode to a yellow rose poem, was written with the memory of hearing the famous song (The Yellow Rose of Texas) in my head as I crossed the overpass bridge, with just such a sun and wind at my back.

Our time there didn’t last, but it lasted long enough for me to fall in love with a nine year old girl denombre Ellen Jones. I had fought for her for six months trying to wrest her from a certain Brian Muldoon. And finally, just before summer vacation, she said she was mine! (Cue in the ecstatic trumpets!)

But there were flies in the ointment (I guess that killed the medicinal properties?).

Mom told us that our Dad had gotten married again and he and his wife wanted to have us stay with them for the summer.

Which was okay. But we were not close with my father** (a story for perhaps another time) and certainly not his wife, a sophisticated Barbara person***. But she was a bit cool, and unfairly favored her own son from a previous marriage. Another spoiled brat named Robby Jano.

But to a child, new stuff is inherently interesting, so it wasn’t so bad.

And so the summer passed, but no sooner were we back sighing with relief, that Mom said “Don’t bother to unpack. You are going right back. It was all an experiment for them to size you up during the summer and then decide if they wanted you to live with them or not, and they did. And you can’t stay here. I work nights and need to sleep during the day and you guys are just too noisy.”

Which seemed dishonest and unfair. Because she had never complained, certainly not enough for us to suspect that our staying or going hung in the balance. But a night of tears and pleading and promises did nothing, and so we were sent right back. I think that was the straw that finally sent reeling my love for my mother. Though I was still to live with her off and on, for the next few years, alternating with the father, and finally Grandma Dorothy. More on that (perhaps) later.

But she let me come back for a last date with Ellen. (we went to the county fair). And we wrote for several years . . .

This girlfriend separation stuff had also brought me tears when a one named Penny at age six (my bright spot in the orphanage) moved away.

I remember seeing her drive away looking at me out the back window, just like in the wonderful movie “A Little Romance.” (Diane Lane’s first, age 13, and Laurence Olivier’s last. Age 80?)

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*Have I mentioned my second and third grade teacher, Mrs. Hicks before? But even if so she is worth mentioning again. She knew I had no mother at hand and so pitched in, inviting me to help her in her garden on week ends and summers, and who fed me a version of ambrosia she called tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches (tomatoes we picked from her garden!) ‘Nuff said.

** To epitomize why: when I was threeish years old, and he was still with us (He soon after this incident divorced my mother, and largely disappeared from our lives. Until later of course–see above for an instance), a neighbor lady had given me a tootsie roll, which my father confiscated, saying it would spoil my appetite for dinner. But he let me put it in the refrigerator for a dessert later. But when after dinner I came for it there he was in front of the fridge eating it himself.

***Who interestingly had lived in China ‘til she was sixteen (her father was one of the later famous missionaries who were jailed by Mao Tse Tung, but then he got dramatically released as a “humanitarian gesture.” Not much of one because his cancer was so advanced he died in his wife’s arms in the Philippines, which was as far as he could make it. (His wife and daughter–my father’s bride–had escaped the Red Army and got to the states, during the Chinese Revolution. The story of their brief reunion was front page news in the U. S. : The Dramatic deathbed visit by the grieving widow.

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.