Tag Archives: love

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.

A Handy Houdini Escape Ploy

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Grandma Dorothy and the four grandsons (I am the one to her left)

 

New Start–146
(Published in Ascent Aspirations)

Opening Stone-Henged Doors

Open sesame speak friend and enter
Roll the stone from Jesus’ tomb

There is always a latch trick
To opening stone-henged doors

When they work the tricks
Are slap your head simple

And when they don’t work
It’s at least amusing excusing proof:

You’ve let the situation get
Complex on you

When you’d been warned
Not to get any on you

Complexity that is
The opposite of Zen

~.~.~

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,
As followers might know, lately I’ve been waxing biographical. But people always say, can you give me an example? And if I were asked the question, how do I account for my (lately, if yes, belatedly) happy state, well, I being an honest boy would reply, it was from my version of Sufism. Which begs the same question, wanting an example showing how those two things might be connected.

And the only example I have at hand is my own life. And it has struck me that (at least to me) the path through that thicket was damned interesting, and instructive, such that now I can make a few observations.

So you see I have come full circle and so let’s circle back to my childhood-acquired Sufi inklings.

The nice thing about childhood is you have nothing to compare it to. If you are in an orphanage, (Yo! I was, as you would know from the preceding blog posts) and other kids aren’t, it’s just like getting used to the fact that some other kids have rich families (Better Halloween costumes and all). And too, it’s like the Lillian Gish line in the movie Night of the Hunter (Four stars! Charles Laughton’s only and yet masterful directorial attempt!) where she tells what she most admires about children: “They abide.”

So back to the story:
I guess I could tell about when at age eight I dressed up as a girl for Halloween and couldn’t use any restroom. Mostly to please (the Wagnerian honcho lady) Mrs. Hunt’s nine year old grand daughter Sandra Sue, who dressed me like a girl doll. When I tried to go into the boys’ bathroom, a man stopped me and admonished that little girls weren’t allowed. Fortunately the Halloween party was at the country school house and there was, just outside, an assortment of hidden places to pee.

Or I could talk about my infatuation with Sandra Sue and how we played post office but just when we got to holding hands we went for a walk at dusk and she sat down on a cactus and we had to go right back where she was sequestered by fellow females gathered to pluck the quills from her butt. (I kid you not)

It seemed after that that either I had painful associations, or it was too cacti-infected anticlimactic, but the upshot was no more Sandra Sue for you know who.

I hope your romances end better . . .

But this is all high school. I guess I should just mention the heart stuff and move right along.

I hope I have not painted an incriminating picture of Mrs. Hunt, the very large and intimidating matriarch who ran things in those parts. In actual fact the main (Dickensian!) punishment was having to go to bed early and not watch television with all the other kids. Each night we would lie on our stomachs on the living room floor in front of the television and lick salted lemons, and raw potatoes too now I think on it. The punishment was extra draconian if it involved not seeing Disneyland on Sunday night.

No the sins there were not so much of commission. More of omission, I believe the Catholic church calls them.They weren’t even sins, as in tell me in what real world venue is a Mrs. Hunt going to be a mother? But she never even smiled sweetly at us, with the notable exception of an imitation of life when the welfare lady turned up. (More on that anon). Quite a contrast occurred however between her behavior with us ward of the court kids and her genuine and obvious affection for her own family’s children, who lived also in our midst.

As I implied, the county child welfare lady would came round to check up on us. Stupidly, she didn’t just drop in. No, she made it by appointment and in the few days before she showed, Mrs. Hunt put on a semi-sweet vaguely convincing sweetness facade. And she always smiled beamingly upon us in front of the lady. But we were hip to the threat behind her eyes, if we should tell any stories about peach tree switches or the rampant unfairness with which she treated us, especially compared to the kids in her own family. (Who could do what they wanted to us with an impunity bought of knowing they could lie and always be believed . . .)

And yet justice demands we not call it Dickensian. C’est trop fort.

But we had to get tough, fend for ourselves, and cry every night for our mothers.

As for any religious impulses, I was big on Jesus.* Just like the negro slaves turned that way. When you have nothing in this world, you hope for a good next. And say what you will, what with all this talk about God being love and its corollary that when you see love in action it does say “God is here!”

And if you really feel that in your blood and bones, it’s a handy Houdini escape ploy. I refer to the wonderful glow of gratitude that you have been granted such exalted company.

More on this anon, or as my beloved Grandma Dorothy used to say when she retired, “I’ll see you anonymous!” (If you’ve heard that before, sorry but I never tire of it.)
God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*I was always talking to Jesus. It was a regular, if one-sided conversation. (Especially there when I felt I needed to go faster on my bicycle. Maybe next time I will tell about how I got that for Christmas.)

And I’ve heard that’s a good thing. At least it seemed so to me while reading in the (to me) inspiring and very short book about and by Brother Lawrence, (A monk from five centuries ago) called The Practice of the Presence of God.

Of course, I also talked to my bicycle. (Hey, company is where you find it)

But for heaven’s sake I was just a child. I am reminded (in my defense) of C. S. Lewis who was very pleased when he asked a boy what he liked about Easter. The boy replied, “chocolate eggs and Jesus risen.” Lewis thought Jesus would be flattered to be put on a par with a child’s love for chocolate.

Gratitude, Which Is a Kind of Grace

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Lud Dimpfl's Sufi Mureeds (Initiated 1973)

Lud Dimpfl’s Sufi Mureeds (Initiated 1973)

I am the dark haired guy in the back row, just in front of the left white doorjamb

New Start–75

Gratitude, Which Is a Kind of Grace

Mind if I ask you a personal question?
I don’t hear a yes so here goes:
Do you ever suddenly feel grateful?
For what?

Oh I don’t know but well
Like just now (out of the blue)
I was looking out of my own brown eyes
Just at the dinner I was fixing on the stove

And though I wasn’t fixing to cry
I started to anyway
I don’t know why
Oh yes I do (it has to do with love)

I was thinking of the many people
Who don’t have a dinner in front of them
And even don’t have eyes to see through
(On account of they haven’t been born)

And just for that you see I was torn
And all at once I started to cry
Just out of gratitude and too for even just
The beatitude of my own gratitude

Which is a kind of grace
(Comes from seeing the face of the stars)
And you know
Even those falling ones are tears

~.~.~

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,
For those just tuning in, this is the third of a four part (in this series, but no doubt this will be an ongoing theme, hence will be revisited from time to time. So many skeptics, so little time!) set of posts which discuss the question of the existence of God. The post of December 30 was getting too long in the tooth (but, I hope, not in the truth) and so it is continued here. And this too, will be cut short with the rest coming next post. (to spare you gentle folk a too long-winded analysis)

I had earlier talked about eyes. Since so many demanding proof of God have demanded to see it with their own eyes.

I quoted the revered seer in India, Meher Baba, as saying none can see God but with eyes divine. Which makes sense since our eyes are a finite instrument and God by definition is infinite. Meher Baba has said that to expect to see God with your eyes is like expecting to be able to see with your ears. They are not the apt instrument. The best instrument we have to “see” God is the heart.*. Otherwise we are blind to the business. Fortunately, our uncorrupted** hearts (“The heart of man is the shrine of God”–Hazrat Inayat Khan) are a sort of Seeing Eye God.

But back to eyes. They do of course make for a dandy metaphor, in the sense that the saints are said to “see” God.

In other words though you have to be God to see God, you can, as ascending saints, get a closer and closer successive approximation. Fortunately, said Meher Baba, (and yes, Buddha, in his fashion) this is an eminently possible thing. But perforce it is a slow process, as you might imagine. (Nothing as stupendous as God comes cheap and easy) But this is the purpose of reincarnation. (Count ‘em! 8,000,000 plus lifetimes, and that’s just as a human being!). Just as the cutting edge of water eventually created the Grand Canyon.***

But enough theoretical speculation. I have in my own life seen proofs of the existence of God.

For instance, the divine is in our nature. And like seeks like. A proof of that is this: we all like to be in the presence of love.

Okay well, that would only be a proof of God (read love) if you were a pantheist (like me, and like Meher Baba) who said that nothing exists but God.****

And this is also a Sufi thing as per Hazrat Inayat Khan’s invocation (see above):

“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.” (Pantheism strikes again!)

But back to loving to be in the presence of love; children love to hang with their loving parent. My cat sleeps on my lap.

And there’s a divine quality we often see in people, (and yes, animals*****) which is called gratitude. And right there is a proof I am part divine, because boy am I grateful. (See poem above)

For part four, see next post (when I get into the nitty gritty of the proofs)

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

* Hazrat Inayat Khan and all the Sufi mystics say this. And as I keep saying, this is a Sufi blog. Because Sufism is close to my heart and I have spent more than half of my life in the study of it (in my fashion). I was even officially initiated by an authenticated Sufi murshid in 1972. True, she threw me out unceremoniously seven years later. (I had confessed too much, you see). But guess who came to my defense? Lud Dimpfl, her assistant, my preceptor. And it was him that I loved, and without whom likely would have left the order of my own accord. So my heart rests satisfied. The story of my gratitude for Lud is told (among many others) in this old blog post, What They Do to 33 Year Old Carpenters. Here’s the url: https://rumi-nations.com/2014/01/13/what-they-do-to-33-year-old-carpenters-2/. It also deals with how I got thrown out of the Sufi order.

I do believe that I was accepted as a Sufi because of my display of gratitude. I remember Lud being impressed by my tears when I explained about the miracle that had turned me from atheism to a believer at the age of 19, when I said to him I was so grateful not to feel alone . . .

If you are curious about this miracle, it is explained in the “ABOUT” section above.

**I need to clarify here. I do not believe the heart can ever be “corrupted.” But it can be unjustly imprisoned, and just as a light can be obscured by putting a blanket over it, the heart can be put out of action. Can pine away for not being attended to. Which in Sufism is the source of all unhappiness. I think that’s what Jesus meant when he said (Matthew 5:15) “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, (archaic word for bowl) but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”

***To get accepted as a Sufi in the San Francisco Group (in 1972) I had to be interviewed by the eighty year old Murshida, (the successor to the successor of the founder Hazrat Inayat Khan, who died in 1926). We (my then wife Judy and I) were informed as we were leaving that Murshida had decided to accept us as two of her 300ish mureeds–historically, no mean feat. (Sufi initiates are called mureeds). And her parting words were an admonition that it was an incredibly long haul getting to the goal of being God. But she was happy with my reply which basically said, that didn’t bother me. Even a small percentage increase in the direction of such a vast store of light was by comparison to the relative gloom I had been suffering under, such a wonderful contrast that I believed at each step, at each increment of advancement, my cup would be overflowing as was said in the psalms.

****And here I refer you to Baba’s also short essay, “God Alone, Is.” Strange when you stop to think about it how it should involve such a long process just to arrive at one’s own true identity. I guess we will just have to bear up and accept that we must live (read: have adventures!) for millennia . . . (Sigh)

*****(in re gratitude in animals)
I remember seeing on PBS or such a documentary, part of which concerned a man who had lovingly raised a lion cub. And then he turned him over to a nature preserve, thinking he would be happier in his natural habitat. But he came back for a visit a few years later and when the lion saw him he rushed him as if to attack, and all around were worried. But it was just the lion’s eagerness to stand upright and lick his face in pure excitement to see him again.