Tag Archives: Loneliness

The Gamut from Roses to Humility

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Hazrat Inayat Khan

New Start—448

All My Life I Have Wanted

–To Anna Lovell

All my life I have wanted a species of peace
In which I enjoyed being alone instead

If I saw a wonderful movie something listless restless
Probably tasteless certainly useless couldn’t enjoy it

For the lack of someone to share it with
But now I share it with myself

Who is getting to be
A sweet and interesting guy

~.~.~

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 at a quandary. I imagine my readers are not all in the same camps. For instance, some are agnostics or even atheists (Though here I must confess to while immersed in tolerance, yet I am perplexed. Agnostic is one thing. You just don’t know. There is evidence on both sides . . .

But an atheist . . .That requires a solid belief (irony alert: a belief in disbelief). But on what evidence? It’s notoriously difficult to prove a negative. Again for instance if a thousand years of evidence points to there is no such being as a blue dog. And yet one single blue dog appearance disproves a thousand years of no blue dog sightings.

Besides which how about this? Is it unreasonable to expect that if there were a God, might He be at least as picky in picking his friends as we are? (Especially if you throw in reincarnation, in which no one is ever permanently left out. But that would digress)

Which would you entertain as a friend, the one predisposed to friendship, or the one who is not? Don’t know about you but I am biased towards those who are biased toward me. Why should God be any different? (Especially if there’s truth to those rumors that man is God though writ small–yet cut from the same cloth)

Anyway God knows the reasons for hiding from some and revealing to others . . .There are countless stories from Bernadette on down . . .

And if, Gentle (not necessarily gentile) Reader, you check out the above section named “About” you will read of my own personal odyssey from atheist to belief. But in my case there was a verified blue dog sighting. And not only a blue dog but a rescue dog, that pulled me out of the mire I had been stuck in (and sinking too).

But since you can read all about that as I say above, I will move right along.

Might I make a suggestion to those readers uncomfortable with the oft misused word, “God”?

It is this: How about you take up a collection of all the things you admire. Go the gamut from roses to humility. Dance perhaps around a beautiful sunset or a returned smile, even find the charm of chekk-turning (because you won’t be alone, as God goes (faster than an ambulance) where relief of that special kind of loneliness may be vouchsafed.

Yes just take an inventory make it a charm bracelet of all you love (which must make the leap to mean “all that your heart loves”)

And then call it God.

In whatever form your imagination may fancy. As per this favorite Inayat Khan story:

(Inayat Khan frequently quotes Mohammed saying “Every man has his own religion.”)

MOSES AND THE BOY

There is a story told of Moses. One day he was passing through a farm, and he saw a peasant boy sitting quietly and talking to himself, saying, ‘O God, I love you so; if I saw you here in these fields I would bring you soft bedding and delicious dishes to eat, I would take care that no wild animals could come near you. You are so dear to me, and I so long to see you; if you only knew how I love you I am sure you would appear to me!’

Moses heard this, and said, ‘Young man, how dare you speak of God in this way? He is the formless God, and no wild beast or bird could injure Him who guards and protects all.’ The young man bent his head sorrowfully and wept. Something was lost to him, and he felt most unhappy. And then a revelation came to Moses as a voice from within which said, ‘Moses, what have you done? You have separated a sincere lover from Me. What does it matter what I am called or how I am spoken to? Am I not in all forms?’

You have the freedom to use your imagination (Inayat Khan says this too) and create your own concept of “God” if only as a collection of all the things you love
And God will coalesce around all those things condense them into a dense cloud, and on down to the central core of your heart, remembering that’s how stars are born.

From the poem above you might suspect that I am grateful. Grateful that as I got older I got wiser and so waxed happier.

And though I can’t be sure due to the mind’s perhaps merciful tendency to forget. Yet I remember at age fourteenish I looked at my reflection in the mirror with loathing. And so there was a lot of room for improvement. And improvement splits atams, releasing energy to propel you to the next step. But it’s most use is you have then a recurring flash of happiness, which indeed feeds epiphanies.
God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

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!”

I Became an Expert Fruit Pirate

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This is a not-nearly-as-tall version of Scotch Broom (See below for the Scotch Broom reference.)

New Start–123
I Crossed the Rural Road to Brave the Creek

I crossed the rural road to brave the creek
With its terribly clawed crawdads
But barefoot feet wet I pressed on to a sandy
Stretch studded with cactus and yucca spears

And I toured towards the much taller than I
Scotch Broom patch of yellow flowered thicket
With the inner (for pow wows) clearing
Featuring fallen logs for Indians to sit upon

A wary warrior (It was scary at dusk)
I was thinking each clicking cricket
Was perhaps a rattlesnake
Yet Sir Bold Boy advanced

Until he chanced to glance under a rock:
Where there was hiding a horned toad
And I ran back to the road
Screaming that I’d seen a dinosaur

~.~.~

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,
This is a continuation in the saga of my youth, which turned me toward Sufism. Last time I was still describing the “orphanage” farm I was early relegated to. But as I hope you will see, it was a mighty interesting place, and experience.*

On this farm there was fruit growing everywhere but it was forbidden that any of the children should steal any. Foster children, that is. There were other children belonging to Mrs. Hunt’s family. I already mentioned Sandra Sue, the granddaughter, that I’d had a crush on. But, most notably, there was also younger and scrawny Donald Lee, another grand child. And of course Donald Lee had carte blanche to raid any tree, and eat the fruit in front of me to show what he could have and I could not.**

It was a small farm, but it was too big to police. So I always figured, let them prove it in court. Or even, let them find witnesses–so I became an expert fruit pirate! And the truth was, there was an incredible amount of fruit, and often in out of the way places, and daily available, was the cover of darkness. Actually, I think the rule was mostly designed to minimize thievery, forcing it underground.

There were upsides besides, to this abundance of fruit. And there was an exception to the child no eating fruit dictum, during harvest times. For instance finally we could roam marauding-free up and down the berry aisles, eating with impunity. Just so we returned regularly (albeit with massive purple stains around the lips) with our pots filled with ripe berries.

Another upside was Mrs Hunt set her female kitchen crew to prodigious canning exercises. There were stored row on row of mason jars full of pre-sugared fruit, ready to pour into a pie crust. It was mass production, and so every night we had desert, most memorably, berry pie.

Of course this surfeit of food didn’t stop me from getting a reputation, after dinner, for raiding the pigs’ slop bucket. What can I say? Pirates have no shame.

There was another upside to all that fruit. Perhaps you have heard the rumors that on a farm everyone eats well. Well, it at least was true out there, in Live Oak Acres. Every night there was roast beast, or (especially) fried rabbits. It was horrible to hear, but Mrs. Hunt regularly tied them up to a clothes line by their hind legs then sawed their heads off with a butcher knife. And once she put me in a pen with a flock of ironically-named ring neck doves, and told me I would be locked in there, until I’d wrung the neck of all the doves so she could freeze them (she had wall to wall freezers). I only remember my predicament. I don’t remember how it got resolved. I think it got repressed.

I don’t remember either (later story down the road) the moment when I began denying Jesus. Repressed again, I expect. But more on that later, if I stick with this mini-memoir. (I started out a fierce Jesus lover, but later fell under the fiercer influence of my atheist older brothers.)

Yes, we ate well. Though not so much as vegetarians. And not only because Mrs. Hunt raised her own meat, (pigs, the occasional Brahma steer, rabbits, chickens, Guinea fowl, pigeons and doves). But also she (who must be obeyed) had a Seventh Day Adventist brother (they are by rule vegetarians) who loved to hunt and because he couldn’t eat the deer himself, he donated his umpteen carcasses for his sister to freeze; and so we ate a lot of venison too.

(It was refreshing how her brother kept to the spirit of the Seventh Day thing . . .)

I guess I should mention the wild quail we ate a lot of. They would land en masse in a field back of the main orchard, and Mrs. Hunt’s son loved to take his shotgun to that shooting quail in a barrel exercise.***

This (small) “farm” was set like a jewel in a frame across the street from a creek with crawdads in it and beyond that, desert-like sandy land with yucca everywhere and in the far corner of Mrs. Hunt’s property was a big cluster perhaps thirty yards across of six foot tall Scotch Broom, which we named “The Green Weeds.” This was penetrated by trailing entry points like milk canals in oatmeal, and had a central clearing with fallen logs to sit on and pretend we were Indians. The photo seen above is of Scotch Broom, though of a stubblier, shorter variety.

Yes, physically, it was a child’s paradise. Natural beauty everywhere, rural roads, few cars, five hundred yards between the houses, and if you hiked toward Sled Hill for fifteen minutes you could indulge in daredevil entertainment. It was a pretty steep hill with matted straw in the summertime, which was slick to the runners of sleds which could be made to go I guess thirty miles an hour hurtling downhill. You could just take your pick of the best sleds always waiting at the bottom because why take them home? There was no fear of theft as they were only useful on this hill, and too heavy to cart around, anyway. They were all hand made out of old lumber and the rails were nailed with tin strips to make them slick.

And there was nearby a dammed-up creek swimming hole and in heart of the summer Daddy Bill would put the kids in the back of his pickup and take us all screaming to the swimming hole.

And once over Sled Hill, it was a two mile walk down a rural lane (there was an apricot tree growing wild on the side of the road. What fun!) to the two room country school house I went to for first through third grade. I had the same teacher for the second and third grades, because there were only two classrooms, and three grades in this school.

This teacher, Mrs. Hicks, knew who I was ward-wise, (of the court) and she would often invite me to hang with her at her house, helping in the garden. She was a mother away from home to me and even now, I am crying with gratitude just remembering her fresh-from-the-garden tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches. Of course I am easy, when it comes to tears.

Well, again, times up. Mini-saga continues next time.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell
PS: Need I mention that I was terribly lonely?

* Interesting like the old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Just kidding. Sort of. And also bearing in mind a favorite Hazrat Inayat Khan quote, “For every loss, there is a hidden gain, and for every gain, a hidden loss.” Implicit in the context of this was the fact that the gain doesn’t necessarily equal the loss, and vice versa. In fact, there often are vast discrepancies.

The corollary to which reinforced frequent Sufi wisdom, which says best not to get too excited when you get a “gain” nor too depressed when you receive a loss. Hard to tell how you came out. A very useful thing for keeping an even keel. (Sufis are big on that)

** This is not the worst I received at the hand of the spoiled brat Donald Lee. We often went without shoes, and Donald Lee, for instance would follow close behind with a shovel in hand, which he used to jab violently down just behind my bare heels. Kind of like in the westerns when they would shoot at your feet and tell you to dance. Of course I was a year or two older and bigger than Donald Lee, and so sorely tempted to just punch him out and have an end on it. But if and when I did, he would run to the formidable Mrs. Hunt who of course believed her beloved grandson over me whom she used to regularly accuse of stuff, saying “Evidently it was Eric. He’s the ring leader!”

And then I was banished from television at night, a punishment I wished was a whipping instead, especially when Disneyland was on.

But there was a dénouement to this. Three years after leaving, to supposedly live with my mother again (wait til you hear about that one!) I came back for a visit, and Donald Lee had every aspect of being ashamed and apologetic for his erst treatment of me. Also interesting . . .

***He was drafted into the army, sent to Germany, but soon got a dishonorable discharge for having attacked a black man with a razor, and justifying it because he was “only a nigger.”