Tag Archives: Judgment

Finally the Cat Is Out of the Bag!


Lud Dimpfl’s Sufi class (circa 1973)

I am the dark guy in the back row just in front of the left door jamb.



Lud Dimpfl with Meher Baba


New Start—419
Let Hell Go To Its Favorite Abyss

What if you were a writer when
(You had an imagination)
You imagined a new way backwards

(For a new way towards)
To examine the apparently soulless behavior
Of someone who couldn’t budge

Because who had kept dammed his heart and if
Then instead of damning him for his lack of savior
What if instead of that you understood better

Who he really was or at least you understood that
To judge is to fetter
(Yourself as well and to them too)

And so then you stepped toward this bliss:
You let hell go (to its favorite abyss)
You let flow your tear-salted water

From your oceanic heart and then
(It’s a start)
You wept?



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.”


Note to Gentle Readers:

The company that administers this website blind-sided me with a new format for posting stuff which I didn’t understand. For that, this post is very much behindtime. (but all is better now. (Ojala and inshallah)


Gentle Readers,
Perhaps you haven’t been following my blog “religiously.” (There’s that nasty word again) And so perhaps a brief bit about my background is in order. In order that is to better understand where I am coming from, and better put my musings in the context of a useful framework.

So here’s why this is a “Sufi” website:

I was an initiate in a Sufi order in northern California, from 1972 to 1979. (If you aren’t familiar with “Sufism,” if it helps to place this in context, Rumi was a Sufi). This order was co-founded by Hazrat Inayat Khan, sent to the west (England, The United States, etc.) in 1914, by his murshid, Madani, as I recall, in Hyderabad, India. The mission was to establish a Sufism beachhead in the west.*

In Sufism, the “guru” is called a murshid. Or, in the case of a woman, a murshida.

Inayat Khan died in 1927 and in 1948 the then murshida, Rabia Martin, (Inayat Khan’s chosen successor), when dying of cancer directed that the order be put under the aegis of Meher Baba (which means, compassionate father) in India. She was convinced he was “The Qutub,” which means in Sufism, the highest spiritual authority on the planet at the time. He was of the large Parsi community in India. They had centuries earlier fled from their native Persia where they were ostracized by the Islamic influences that took over Persia, and as is frequent worldwide in these cases of differing religions, did not show tolerance to the “infidel” Parsis, who didn’t wish to renounce their ancient devotion to the prophet Zoroaster, not even in favor of Mohammed..

Meher Baba conducted then the order from a physical distance, (its headquarters being in San Francisco) naming Ivy Duce as the new murshida. When I joined, Ivy Duce was about seventy five years old. Basically we followed the practices which had been set forth by Hazrat Inayat Khan, with some changes–mostly additions prompted by Meher Baba (I can’t think of any subtractions).  Oops. Yes I can. One thing. Meher Baba wanted omitted some of the arcane practises which if taught to people not spiritually advanced enough to use them safely, could abuse them, both to their and others’ detriment.

And so we revered Inayat Khan (Hazrat is a title bestowed in the east upon one who is respected as a holy person). We studied his writings, and sang his Zikr to start each meeting. It was a round–or canon (like the famous canon in D by Pachelbel, or more familiarly (and aptly, the last line) “Row Row, Row Your Boat.” And we said his invocation also at the start of a meeting. This was, “Toward 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.”

As you may notice these are pantheistic in tone, and the invocation I do believe ranks as the most ecumenical of invocations. As such it is often the case that fundamentalists in their respective religions, take objection. As do others who imagine that “religion” inherently is imposed upon one from without, whether by a person such as Christ or Buddha, or usually, by mere priests of one sort or another who purport to speak for God.

Inayat Khan neatly sidesteps this (as do most Sufis I have come across in my readings) by the expedient of declaring that God has a way of adapting to the belief of the individual, who is encouraged to use the full range of her imagination to conceive of God as the embodiment of whatever most moves her heart. Since as Inayat Khan repeatedly emphasizes, the temple of God is the heart of man. Along these lines, he often quotes the Prophet Mohammed who said “Every man has his own religion.”

One of the practices prescribed by Inayat Khan is daily to say to oneself, “My thoughtful self, reproach no one, hold a grudge against no one, bear malice toward no one; Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite, and kind to all.”

And this brings us to today’s theme, that of judgment. (Ha! Finally the cat is out of the bag!) Of course some religions or philosophies emphasize the concept of reincarnation (e. g. Jainism, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, some subsects of Islam, and others. Most recently–to my knowledge–also, Meher Baba.) Indeed, though Inayat Khan never explicitly references such a doctrine, in my opinion, his philosophy connotes this. He often refers to the human being’s gradual development in terms that simply haven’t a possible timeline without reincarnation. I suspect this stemmed from the fact of Sufism being born of Islam, and steeped in a tradition of obfuscation. So as to avoid fundamentalist persecution—an example being poetry ostensibly written to an opposite sex beloved, or reference to “wine” when the cognoscenti knew what was meant was to a reference to God or divine intoxication. And had Inayat Khan spoken directly of reincarnation, it would have aroused controversy and Sufis are noted for keeping a low profile.

And again sticking to the no no of judgment, once one is hip to reincarnation there obtain obvious corollaries, such as the concept of “young souls” or “old souls.” The older souls, for their greater experience, are wiser. And a corollary to that is the injustice of judging a “young soul” by the standards of an older one. It would be like demanding calculus from a kindergartner. Because we are all on different rungs of the ladder, as it were. And God knows (as opposed to we) who is higher and who is lower or by how much. There can then be no absolute standards of even good and evil. Inayat Khan says the virtue of a regular person would likely be a sin for a saint. And Meher Baba has said, “There is no such thing as evil. Only relative degrees of good.”

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*By an interesting coincidence, Inayat Khan’s wife was either the cousin or sister (I forget which) to Mary Baker Eddy who founded Christian Science.

The Left Hand of God

Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson


The Apt and A Priori Pristine Axiom of Love

–To Marjorie

This is reality: nothing exists for us
But the enchantment of what’s just beyond
Our gloved finger tips our lips the keen

Yet screened golden thing we stretch for:
The phosphor of our night
Our famous “zone of proximal development”

Which varies from person to person
From vantage to advantage point
Hence too beware of seem because bewitched

Judgments might dream in unaware to eclipse
The apt and a priori pristine
Axiom of love


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 the news in the last week is a controversy about continuing to honor Woodrow Wilson by keeping Princeton’s buildings etc. (where he was president before becoming president of the US) named after him.

Because it turns out, he was a racist.

I mean full blown. He was a segregationist who showed in the White House, the infamous (Yet somehow mysteriously still on some lists of the greatest movies in the Americana archives) D. W Griffith “classic,” The Birth of a Nation.

It is an incredibly egregious example of a racist film. So much so that (when I was a student at U.C. Berkeley in my youth) my old American History professor, the wonderful Leon Litwack*, showed it to all his U. S. history students, in the cavernous (yet packed) Wheeler Auditorium. In the movie for instance, the “house nigger” little black girl was referred to in the caption (It is a silent movie) as “The little pet sister.” It has a scene in which a leering black would-be rapist causes the chaste white girl to hurl herself off a cliff to avoid the proverbial fate worse than death.

And there was claimed to be such an epidemic of such black-instigated injustice that the heroes donned white sheets and rode in on horseback to save the nation.

Now I am reading a recent and persuasive article by Matt Bai:

In it he makes a very good point. He says,
“But history is complicated, and so are the people who make it. The messy reality is that great people sometimes do terrible things, and terrible people sometimes do great things. To discard all the actors we find abhorrent, along with all the things they might have accomplished, is to deny the vexing contradictions of humanity–which is exactly what real knowledge is about.”

And then he asks where we should stop. Should we rename the Washington monument because founding father George had a slave plantation? (Of course, much of the recent to-do about Wilson has to do with the fact that he was much more racist than was extant at the time.)

And then you’ve got the case of the composer Wagner whose Lohengrin, for instance brings me to tears. Whose Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla makes me want to stand at attention, to honor the power of beauty. But he was a virulent anti-Semite. And so, it turns out was an old favorite of mine, H. L. Mencken. The man who famously said, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.” The newspaperman who chronicled the 1922 Scopes evolution trial in the movie, “Inherit the Wind.”

And there is the question of if Mencken were alive today, would he still be an anti-Semite? If he were, and showed it, he would be constant cannon fodder fuses, lit by the fire-starting withering stares from people who are modern enough to have a heart. And who have clout these days, and in the circles of the intelligentsia which Mencken was prominent among. (Sometimes peer pressure is a wonderful thing)

Say what you will about the horrors in the world today, but I do hear a drumbeat of undercurrent afoot in the land, that seems to take on the rhythm of a heartbeat.

Of course, it is one thing not to cast into the inner circles of hell those who in the past held abhorrent views, understanding the exigencies of having lived in that time, when it was considered respectable to utter Nazi slogans.

And it’s quite another to keep holding them up to be honored. Except perhaps as an object lesson in forgiveness, for they knew not what they did.

As for Wagner, I think although the anti-Semitism had infected his mind,  the universe is such that there is what Humphrey Bogart exemplified once, in his movie,  “The Left Hand of God.”

In which even in the midst of darkness and in the depths of the very hell hole of not really fire but rather the coldest dark, is to be found a gently warming flame that came straight from the dream of God, and it is a portable hearth, and if you tap into it, you miraculously have a taste of the restful relief to be found when you are truly at home. I think Wagner’s heart just didn’t let its left-handed ham-fisted mind know what the right hand of his heart was doing.

Of course (full disclosure) I am a Pollyanna type who prefers to put a good face on things. (Believing in reincarnation helps!)

So I choose to believe that even now, in a new incarnation, a reborn Wagner is about to revert to his former tricks but suddenly it comes to him the access he’d once had, to such a beauty as was his music, and the difference is that now it is embedded in his soul such that the soul cries out in rebellious pain if he should ever try that other crap again.

And too, his own music comes back not just to haunt him but also to make him smile.

So, I guess what I am saying is we should give only short rope to our desire to judge, and a very long rope to forgiveness, and understanding. If only for this: judgment is a pointless distraction from what we really do have some control over. The extreme makeover our heart bids us make in our own life. (But not to worry–there’s no hurry. That is what reincarnation is for. Of course too you have to make sure it’s not more a case of reincarceration)

But that doesn’t mean we have to honor these famous bigots. Forgiveness, forbearance, these are fine things. But as for naming buildings, why not one to Bernadette instead?**

Or Marian Anderson,*** the all-around wonderful world famous singer. I remember a story my old beloved Sufi preceptor Lud Dimpfl used to cite:

She was talking to someone, and hugged her good-bye. And then another “friend” came up to her and said, “Marian, don’t you remember what she said about you?”
To which Ms Anderson replied,
“I distinctly remember having forgotten about that.”

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

PS–I especially like her singing the song about God, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

PPS–Remember two or three posts back, when I was talking about Karl Jung’s synchronicity concept? Well sincronicidad ataque de Nuevo! Tonight, just after I posted “The Left Hand of God” I was watching television, and guess what’s on the Turner Classic Movies channel? Guys and Dolls, with Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons. Got 90% rating on Rottentomatoes.com!

The synchronicity? Well! Talk about the left hand of God! The movie was a perfect example. And it was one of Murshida Duce’s favorites. She regularly had a movie night for her mureeds (student Sufis), and one of them was Guys and Dolls. Also I remember, the Bishops Wife, with Loretta Young and Cary Grant. And another was Bell, Book and Candle, with I think Kim Novak and Jack Lemmon. Oh and also To Sir with Love, with Sidney Poitier.

So, I add this addendum. (I can do that because it’s my blog).

*Go Professor Litwack! I liked him so much I just looked him up on wikipedia. Quite the guy, and still alive, though born in 1929. Here’s the url: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Litwack

**Here’s a wonderful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Song of Bernadette:

Or this version, sung by Jennifer Warnes:

***She was important in the civil rights struggle. An interesting thing happened in the course of that. She was denied by the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) the right to a desegregated concert in Constitution Hall. Then Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband the president arranged an alternate venue. She sang on the steps of the Lincoln memorial instead. Wikipedia reports: “She sang before a crowd of more than 75,000 people and a radio audience in the millions.”

Here she sings the spiritual, My Lord, What a Morning: