Tag Archives: Meher Baba

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/

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.

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.