Tag Archives: Meher Baba

“I Too, Would Like to Weep”

Standard

My Painting of Meher Baba

A Grudging Little Miracle

In Guatemala the water stops a lot
So it was foolishness baking bread
With no water to wash off my sticky fingers

So there I was with my hands
Fresh from the masa
Looking at the water faucet

Fully open but nary a drip
I had a choice of whine or risa:
I just laughed and an instant later

The water started again but only a trickle
Barely sufficient to clean my hands
And then it stopped again

It was a grudging little miracle
But instructive: We get what we need
(With the right attitude)

~.~.~

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 Reader,
(A rewrite reprise from 2013)

I will call you that, perhaps because (apart from apropos) Gentle Reader was the name of the (now defunct) magazine in England where my first published poem appeared. (See above)

Today I saw on You Tube a very short video of Kurt Vonnegutt’s advice to writers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmVcIhnvSx8). A key suggestion/point was to get to the reader as much information as soon as possible. So I start the blog rolling with this short bio that appeared in Umbrella, alongside my poem:

(http://www.umbrellajournal.com/fall2009/science/LikePicassoWhoNeverHadtoP.html)

Eric Halliwell has spent many years as student, carpenter, flunked-out nursing student (thereby hangs a tale) and then a first grade school teacher.

Through a tragic romantic misadventure he ended up in Guatemala where he lives on Lake Atitlan, writing poetry. It keeps him off the streets, or, rather, since there are no streets where he lives, off a dirt trail above the lake.

So that’s how I got to Guatemala, on Lake Atitlan, and the peace here seems to have facilitated a late blooming life-of-the-poet trip. In fact, I was just online and found an article (http://travel.yahoo.com/ideas/10-most-sacred-spots-on-earth.html?page=9) including Lake Atitlan on a list of ten most sacred spots on the planet. (I like that they use “sacred” as if it were objective fact. Because it is)

As you now see, my view is skewed toward the “sacred.” And as you might expect, my poetry is from a metaphysical, para precisar, Sufi perspective.

Yes, I was in a Sufi order in Walnut Creek, California for seven years. This order was founded by Hazrat Inayat Khan, who died circa 1927. I will no doubt regularly regale you, my readers, with some favorite inspirations (quotes and stories) of his. Indeed I start each new post with both his invocation, and suggested daily mantra (see above)

I trust you will enjoy as much as I have, his lucid common sense and inspired ecumenical focus on what is, after all, the science of happiness.

So it’s no surprise that my poems have a Sufi (read very broad-based) theme. I’m not sure how familiar my readers may be with Sufism, which is best known by the writings of Sufi ecstatic poets such as Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, Saadi, Farīd ud-Dīn Attar, Ibn Arabi, and Omar Khayyam (he of the Rubaiyat) .

I started out in Guatemala, hitching my wagon**to art (drawing, painting). But within a year, having read a book of poetry, Love Letters from God, by Daniel Ladinsky, I was inspired to try my hand at my own “ecstatic” poetry. It was ecstatic for sure in one sense: my intense happiness and gratitude to be given this sudden gift of a compulsion to listen to sweet stuff pouring out from my heart, and write it down and even presume to call it poetry. My touchstone for that is if it touches the heart. And we know that by the metaphor that we find in our salty tears, small miracles which are a microcosm of the ocean. We know by these small miracles when we’ve written a poem from the heart. And these small miracles keep coming regularly, like the lanchas on lake Atitlan.

Indeed the first poem I got published, (see above) dealt with such “small” miracles. (FYI that really happened)

In future/upcoming blog posts, I will muse (as it were) about metaphysical themes, about poetry writing, particularly proselytizing the art form, art in general, favorite heart stuff. The wonderful thing about Sufism is it has relevance to every interest. You know it doesn’t matter what pebbles you install in your kaleidoscope. So they be of translucent colors and you see to a light source.

As my late Grandma Dorothy used to say at bed time, “See you anonymous!”
God be with you,

Eric Halliwell

PS—In the original version of this post I was speaking of weeping, and though I seem to have edited that out, still this is worth mentioning: I am reminded of something from Jean Adriel’s memoir of Meher Baba **(Avatar). When she told her friend Princess Norina Matchabelli (yes of the perfume prince) that there was a holy man in the vicinity, and upon meeting him people would invariably weep. And Ms Matchabelli memorably replied, “I too, would like to weep.”

*Full disclosure: Ralph Waldo Emerson reference (“Hitch your wagon to a star”)
** Meher Baba, the silent Mystic, was co-founder (along with Hazrat Inayat Khan) of my erst Sufi order in Walnut Creek, CA (Sufism Reoriented) for a summary of the life of Meher Baba see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meher_Baba. For Hazrat Inayat Khan see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inayat_Khan

The Slow Path to Sainthood (and Beyond)

Standard

My Painting of Meher Baba

I Have Invented a Theory

“It is perilous to study too deeply the arts of the Enemy.”
–Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings)

Yeah but that’s probably safe from me the dilettante
And so I say (In spite of what Gandalf said)
There’s nothing wrong with studying the ego
Because I have invented a theory
In which the ego is not evil unless children can be

And yes so they can
(Another proof of reincarnation)
But it worked for this teacher of first grade:
It’s the carrot of love and attention
Against the stink-stick of detention

~.~.~

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,

An interestingly perennial issue among mystics is the question of reincarnation. First, I will give my off-the-cuff seat-of-my-pants speculation:

I look at it from a teacher point of view. Perhaps because I was in fact (for three years, 1997-2000) a first grade teacher.

And as such I thought a lot abut teaching, and what it entails.

I want to keep the focus on reincarnation, but it seems to me an education issue.

And I love education, for instance I loved geometry. Especially proving theorems.

Most especially the honesty involved: Geometry is a science whose practitioners admit right off that all these calculations and logic start with a basic premise, an a priori judgment (one requiring no proof) called an axiom.

The famous example:

Axiom A (which axiomatically is taken as provisional truth): the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

And so if you want to argue against this theorem you can’t say but maybe it’s an illusion being straight. Maybe in fact a crooked path is the shortest way home (don’t get me started on that interesting metaphysical issue). Because Axiom A above is an axiom (AKA an a priori judgement)

And so (again) I wish to (anent my belief in reincarnation) stipulate this axiom:

Axiom A: God is our teacher. So now is your time to deny that. But beware , if you don’t, soon looms a logical trap. Which is this. If God is a teacher, it’s very obvious that with even our three score and ten years we are proceeding Godwards at a glacial pace. (As in it took that river of ice a thousand years to advance a yard.)

And it would also explain the vast discrepancy between cruel narcissistic idiots and even the general run of the population. According to the co founder of my Sufi group, Meher Baba*, there is indeed reincarnation, and to the tune of over eight million lifetimes just as a human being. And that leaves a vast swath of sweet people on the slow path to sainthood. (and beyond)

Okay back to the teaching analogy. How would it be for a first grade teacher (yo!) to know that his pupils instead of graduating on to second grade and ultimately perhaps a doctorate, etc, instead graduated into the grave?

What a waste of a good start of basic education!

Or else you can embrace the alternate theory that this famous Almighty God couldn’t manage a system of reincarnation lessons in which we all matriculated in the same curriculum (albeit at different levels)

What say you? Too much like three dimensional chess for an omnipotent and omni-loving god to manage?

Okay that’s my two cents. Argument about reincarnation-wise.

But in Sufism we have recourse to experts. (As in how Buddhists had recourse to Gautama)

And what do the Sufi experts say?

Sorry, but it’s time for another axiom. I stipulate two experts, Hazrat Inayat Khan (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inayat_Khan), the founder of Sufism in the western world circa 1920. and Meher Baba, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meher_Baba) the silent avatar who lived (mostly) in India who in 1948 became the next Murshid (in effect).*

As I have already mentioned, Meher Baba explicitly explained that we are subject to millions of lifetimes.

And what about Inayat Khan?

This is a tricky issue because Sufism was founded by Islamic mystics more than a thousand years ago. And the Koran says nothing about reincarnation, and so Inayat Khan would have stirred up trouble if he talked explicitly about reincarnation. And an important Sufi practice is to sow peace and lack of controversy whenever possible (and there always seems to be a way) I could give you some interesting Inayat Khan stories showing this practice but that would digress–a dangerous habit I have, especially if I want to keep these posts under 2,000 words.**

But implicitly Inayat Khan supported reincarnation.

Here’s an example:

“There are some who are content with a belief taught at home or in church. They are contented, and they may just as well rest in that stage of realization where they are contented until another impulse is born in their hearts to rise higher. The Sufi does not force his belief or his thoughts upon such souls. In the East, there is a saying that it is a great sin to awaken anyone who is fast asleep. This saying can be symbolically understood. There are many in this world who work and do things and are yet asleep; they seem awake externally, but inwardly, they are asleep. The Sufi considers it a crime to awaken them, for some sleep is good for their health. The work of the Sufi is to give a helping hand to those who have had sufficient sleep and who now begin to stir in their sleep, to turn over. And it is that kind of help which is the real initiation.”

Let me put it this way, if they only had 70 years to wake up and get cracking, well, good luck with that.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*A bit of history:
Inayat Khan founded my order circa 1920, when he died, And according to Sufi tradition before dying the Sufi murshid (guru, master, etc) names his or her successor. And Hazrat Inayat Khan chose (just before he died in 1927) a certain mureed (follower) to succeed him. She was Rabia Martin, a Jewish American woman. Now sad to say that there was in the high echelons of the Sufi movement a certain animus towards Jewish, toward American, and yes even toward woman. So they instead named as the next Murshid, Inayat Khan’s brother (Vilayat Khan as I recall) and Murshida Martin went her way with twenty or so who kept loyally following her.

This went on for twentish years until on her deathbed from cancer Murshida Martin told one of her followers, My Murshida, Ivy Duce, that she wanted her to succeed her as Murshida, And when Ms Duce (Mrs, actually) didn’t feel up to the responsibility, was prevailed upon to at least travel to India to consult with a certain mystic named Meher Baba, whom Murshida Martin (in Sufi lingo) declared to be the Qutub, or “pivot,” the highest spiritual authority on the planet at that time.

**Okay what the hell. Here’s an Inayat Khan example of spreading peaceful capitulation:

He tells of a time when on a train he made the mistake of saying he and the man he was talking to “were brothers.” The man took great offence at Inayat Khan assuming such an equality. The man had deemed himself higher socially than Inayat Khan (who wikipedia attests, was of noble blood in India).

But Inayat Khan smoothed it over, begging his pardon and saying, “I am your servant, Sir!” which Inayat Khan explained in an aside was true, because we are all each other’s servants . . .

Joy and Sorrow and Stuff

Standard

My painting of Meher Baba

 

New Start–178

Subtle Sorrows Are Borrowing Our Hearts

“Joy and sorrow are the light and shade of life; without light and shade no picture is clear.”
–Hazrat Inayat Khan

I’m thinking about life as a painting
As if I were an art critic
And even the painter

I’m also thinking about sadness
Yes because I am sad today but
It’s subtle this sadness

It won’t spoil my morning or the sun’s caress
It’s just an interesting object of investigation
(An objet d’art if you will)

Because I’m realizing different moods are
The colors of our life paintings and what
A strange painting it would be without dark contrasts!

Even the very dark ones–and the light grays?
Each day subtle sorrows
Are borrowing our hearts

They are the touches of gray
Which give our skin depth and volume
In the paintings of our lives

Clearly both sadness and joy
Breathe life and verisimilitude into our lives
(Not to mention artistic expression)

~.~.~

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,

“Joy and sorrow are each part of the other. If it were not for joy, sorrow would not exist; and if it were not for sorrow, joy would not be experienced.”
–Hazrat Inayat Khan

Pardon my double (or is it triple?) dose of Hegelian philosophy. But Hegel and his dialectic (read thesis antithesis, then, synthesis) are integral to my brand of Sufism. In a nutshell, you start with an idea and then you get an opposite idea, and the two fight it out til you reach a synthesis, which then becomes (In an upward spiral) the next level’s new thesis. (Yes we advance by successive approximation)

I am fascinated by Hegel. Have been ever since my UC Berkeley days where I came across Hegel in my European Intellectual History class. Of course it didn’t hurt that Meher Baba and Inayat Khan spoke in such Hegelian concepts. (e. g. all that talk about opposites)

Also for the above, I found intensely interesting the rumor that my beloved Sufi preceptor, Lud Dimpfl, was the reincarnation of Hegel.

And, speaking of opposites, here’s a bit from my daily dose of Hazrat Inayat Khan:

“We generally confuse truth with fact, and we often use the word fact for truth. When we look at it from the mystic’s point of view we find that words are too intricate ever to explain what is truth*. … Truth is that which cannot be pointed out, because all things that can be compared have their opposite, but neither God nor truth has an opposite. Names are to point out forms, and words are to distinguish one thing from another, while definitions come from the pairs of opposites or at least from differences. That which is all-pervading and is in all things and beings, that which every word explains and yet no word can explain, is God and is truth.”

Which brings us to Meher Baba (who in 1948 inherited my erst Sufi order–1972-79–which had been founded by Inayat Khan in 1921 ish).

As in this:

FREEDOM FROM OPPOSITES
Meher Baba

Every man is subject to agreeable and disagreeable experiences — of pleasure and pain, success and failure, good and evil, wealth and poverty, power and helplessness, honor and dishonor, gain and loss, fulfillment and frustration.

Each of these opposites invites a suitable response in emotion or in action. Mind is moved by these opposites, and is continually losing its equilibrium and continually trying to restore it while constantly meeting the impacts of environmental changes.

During its various lives as a human being the ego-mind can oscillate endlessly between the opposites, viz., indulgence and repression, secularism and religion, superiority complex and inferiority complex, self-aggrandizement and self-humiliation, introversion and extroversion, virtue and vice, pain and pleasure, “I” and “you” or “mine” and “thine,” without arriving at true poise.

True poise comes when the ego-mind, with all its accumulated inclinations, melts away through divine love, thus unveiling the supramental Truth in which there is a realization that one is — oneself — one with all life. Here there is no duality or division of life and therefore the soul is free from the opposite attitudes.

Having become one with the eternal and infinite divinity which sustains from within, the soul gains unending bliss, understanding, love and power, for the soul is free from duality.”

Sounds a lot like what Buddha said (and reportedly, experienced), nicht wahr?**

But back to Inayat Khan:

There is going forward and there is going backwards, there is success and there is failure, there is light and there is darkness, there is joy and there is sadness, there is birth and there is death. All things that we can know, feel and perceive have their opposites. It is the opposite quality which brings about balance. The world would not exist if there were not water and earth. Every thing and every being needs these two qualities in order to exist, to act, and to fulfill the purpose of life; for each quality is incomplete without the other. … by a deep insight into nature we discover that the creation is the same as the Creator, that the source is the same as the goal, and that the two only mean one. There are two ends to a line but the line is one, and this oneness is manifest in all things, though man seldom gives any thought to this subject. This amazing manifestation, this world of variety, keeps us so puzzled, so confused, and so absorbed in it that we hardly give ourselves any time to see this wonderful phenomenon: how the one and only Being shows Himself even in the world of variety.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*Which reminds me of I forget who said, “Poetry is the art of the attempt to express the inexpressible.” Which would be a fool’s errand if it weren’t for the reader’s imagination coming to the rescue. Indeed, it’s an oft stated thing, (Inayat Khan-wise): the vital importance of the imagination.

**Coincidentally or not, I just finished rereading (after thirty years) a great Buddhist book, “Footprints of Gautama the Buddha, by Marie Beuzeville Byles, which I think is out of print, but which is still orderable online. In it is the life of Buddha (at least onwards from the episode under the Banyon tree). It tells it as a story but with extensive source notes after each chapter (in case you want to verify the incidents).

It portrays an interesting Buddha, whose gentle wit also shows through.