Tag Archives: metaphysics

The Brass Tacks of Simple Truth

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Joan of Arc by Mathieu Stern

Joan of Arc by Mathieu Stern

PR3–53

A Shy God Pinned Down

“Your faith was strong, but you needed proof.”
–Leonard Cohen (Hallelujah)

Scientists demanding evidence
Of God’s existence may be good at a lot
But they’re not so keen on irony:
Even in their favorite realm of observation

Their own guy Heisenberg
Famously showed that just the observing
Compromises the variables sending
Such a thing to beyond any certainty

And yet they expect to nail God down
Wings extended like insect specimens
Why if God were a mere atom
As we’ve seen they still would fail yet

They expect a shy God pinned down would
Not just haul out a Houdini of some pin-wheeled
Galaxy escape leaving the learned gentlefolk
Clutching either air or ether

~.~.~

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,

Last post (December 5, as I recall) was dedicated to a binary fusion of two issues, the first being the passing of the Buddhist Leonard Cohen, a favorite musician and songwriter. This was juxtaposed with the issue of the existence of God and disputes or speculations about that, facilitated by the Buddhist comparison in that Buddha never suggested there was a God. But (forgive me if I am oversimplifying this even to the point of erroneous opinions, and if so, I plead ignorance). And I mentioned how I thought it was probably because Buddha saw this as superfluous to the necessary understanding, and fraught with misinterpretations (e. g. the crusades, the Spanish inquisition, etc). Not to mention hypocrisy.

God is a good and golden thing, and can be suitably focused on by as Jesus would say, His fruits, as opposed to actually naming Him. Or Her, though obviously any God worth his ether would be beyond sexuality which is a form of duality, and God by definition is infinite, and thus has no opposite. But I say Him for convenience sake.

But I digress. (I should scrawl lipstick on a mirror saying stop me before I digress again!)

So good-bye to Leonard Cohen. You will be remembered.

And now, back to what was originally intended to be the main issue, proofs of the existence of God.

A favorite writer of mine is C. S. Lewis, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia, the Perelandra trilogy, umpteen essays on metaphysics, and a close friend of J. R. R. Tolkien, of Lord of the Rings fame.

One of the main reasons I like him so much is he has presented a convincing proof of the existence of God. Which is a neat trick if indeed God would rather leave the matter up in the air. * It was read many years back, and so I can’t remember the exact work. I suspect either his God in the Dock, or The Case for Christianity. Though as I recall it wasn’t necessarily Christian-specific. (Which is a good thing, since though I tend to adore Lewis, I am put off by his Christian chauvinism. Especially annoying to a Sufi, Sufism having as it does, largely Islamic roots. I expect Lewis had no problem with Dante’s having put Mohammed in the innermost circle of hell. Which is ironic, because I heard a Sufi give a talk that claimed that in fact the Divine Comedy was largely lifted–read plagiarized–from a work of the Sufi poet Ibn Arabi, who of course, had placed Mohammed in Paradise.)

But as usual, I digress.

Of course Lewis’ proof was necessarily a matter of circumstantial evidence. I imagine not least because in all honesty I am having trouble imagining what God could offer (even if God unaccountably felt some necessity to kowtow to our presumptuously demanding, judging egos) to definitively prove the matter, a la in a court of law.

Eye witnesses? Not likely. God is famously invisible. Except of course by Joan of Arc,
(for a wonderful Leonard Cohen song about her, see this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtwUyDPXROQ)

and that was merely the Virgin Mary. (and even that was never explicitly declared to be her identity) And why? A hint is in the bible, in Exodus, “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” **

That is usually taken to mean the sight would stop your heart. Stuff like that. As if God is scary looking. Inayat Khan of course refers to the ego as the referred-to thing living. In other words you must lose your ego to see God.

But more to the practical point, the very demand for a proof that is of this world, falsely presupposes that God is of this world.*** Or at least is at all restricted by this world, and as such any physical etc. sort of proof, would be perforce highly misleading, and would from God’s point of view, who wishes to emphasize His love aspect, highly beside the point, and dangerously confusing the issue of love with a power which can only persuade via a shock and awe more reminiscent of fireworks dancing in the air, or levitating pianos, the irony of which is this: these things even if vouchsafed would be nothing compared alongside the stupendous circus tent of the night sky, just for instance. And we don’t seem to be convinced on account of that.

And so, no, this incredible spectacle is not enough for the skeptics who want cheap tricks instead. Voltaire was the wiser one, an honest-to-God skeptic, by inclination, who nevertheless famously said, referring to the universe, “I cannot believe there can be a watch, but no watchmaker.”

To be continued, next post.
God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

* Which is an interesting business. Because these naysayers and skeptics have forgotten one thing. What if God WANTS to keep people guessing, having a choice in whether to believe or not? What if God is leaving clues about which believers (like me) can and often do, point to. But always leaving some plausible deniability to satisfy skeptics if they were so inclined. Let’s put it this way. If we posit the existence of an all-powerful but modest God who wants to be seen only by those He can trust, don’t you think He could obfuscate the matter? Many clever criminals can cover their tracks, so isn’t it obvious a supremely clever God could cloud up all the evidence, leaving only the tell-tale smell of a divine rose? Something that would never stand up in a court whose judge was the left brain (as opposed to the heart)? Indeed, this was the point made by the Indian (Parsi, para precisar) mystic Meher Baba, in his interesting short essay, “God Is Shy of Strangers.”

**You can find this here: Exodus 33:20. But I believe in a sense this is true, and what inspired this poem (one of my most popular, apparently):

PR4–228
A Game God, Likes to Play

God reveals Himself out of the corner of your eye
Then when you turn and look
He’s gone

It’s a game God likes to play
Of plausible deniability
A game of stay away

Because if love could hurt it would not be love
And it’s not good for your eyes
To look into a welding torch

It’s not good for your body
To be in the center of the sun
It’s this distance that proves God’s love

And the sneaky game of teasing then disappearing?
It’s because God can’t help cheating a little
It hurts to be so far from one you love

***My favorite mystic, Meher Baba, (If you want to see why, read the About section at the top of my main page, which is accompanied by other choices, such as Poems–all mine, Stories, and Quotes) said that to expect to understand God with your mind is like expecting to see with your ears. The apt instrument for that, Baba said, is the heart.

Reincarnation Is a Handy Tool

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Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

(Published in Umbrella Journal)

New Start–33

Like Picasso, Who Never Had to Pay for Anything

Einstein thought things were pretty mysterious
And he said that made him “religious”

You can’t handle coal without getting your hands black
So I guess he couldn’t touch the universe
Without some of its numinous dust sticking to him
Probably because it’s such a big place

For instance if it isn’t distance it’s time:
Think about the Jurassic if you will
I mean actually seeing dinosaurs
Whose genes and digestive juices

Were just like ours
Only in a different pattern

The style of the Artist is instantly recognizable

God I think is like Picasso
Who never had to pay for anything
He would just write a check which never got cashed

It was far more valuable as a collector’s item

~.~.~

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 recommend a curious mind.

They say curiosity killed the cat but that got neutered down. It was (or should have been) curiosity skilled the cat. For instance I see out my window overlooking my garden my cat Dahlia like an Olympic athlete wending her way up a set of branches, such as had at a glance looked cat-impregnable.

Now I suppose they think Dahlia was born with that. I think not. I think it’s a finely honed skill, a product of long practice and longing. Yes longing is the mother of invention.

But, back to me (Remember, it’s my blog and I have no other than myself to craft it from).

I remember when I was four years old or so, and was wondering about things. Things like why when the conveyer belt-clawed ditch digger machine that was preparing a ditch for the sewer pipes, left a neat hole that was wider than the width of the iron claws? (I have since decided on a simple explanation: two or three inches of previously solid soil had been loosened and then fell into the hole, thus widening it)

And too, I wondered why it was when the driver got into the car and sat on the driver’s side, the car didn’t tip over to the left?

And I was curious about muffins, how they were made. I must have asked, (and flour must have been mentioned) because it had seemed a miracle. You see you take a muffin tin and put a flower (I think with a pinch of baking powder) in each slot and the next day there were newly transposed, fresh muffins. Which smelled good indeed. (Unsurprising, since the flowers had as well).

And what does this famous curiosity have to do with metaphysics? Y para precisar, with Sufism?

Well, in an earlier post I didn’t call Sufism “the science of happiness” for nothing.

Yes, and do you know what is the prime mover of scientific inquiry? Curiously, it is curiosity. Newton reportedly puzzled about what had made the apple fall on his head. Einstein puzzled about what was the interconnection between matter and energy and gravity?

His curiosity led to a shed light on the subject. Which light turned out to be pivotal, considering that in his final basic equation E=mc2 C referred to the speed of light.

Frustratingly though, Einstein couldn’t figure out how gravity fit into all this. He reminds me of a cat I once saw out the kitchen window, which gave onto my back yard, which cat was puzzled as to the nature of flowing water. You see I had a sump pump in my basement that after a rain drained the water out through a hose and onto my back yard, creating a gusher of water coming out of the hose. And as I looked out the window I saw a cat fascinated by the phenomenon. He would put his paw in, then pull it out. Paw in, paw out. Over and over. You see, it looked solid like something he could bat around like a toy mouse. But it just made his paw wet. And so there he was , transfixed for it seemed like an hour; paw in, paw out and each time a witness, staring at his paw, pondering it’s wetness.

And Einstein kept putting his version of a paw in, but never could pull out an equation explaining how gravity figured in. But he knew intuitively in his gut that there had to be an interconnection between gravity and electromagnetism. (Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch)

Which is why his long sought-after Unified Field Theory kept coming up short.

Oh well, maybe in his next life.

Yes reincarnation is a handy tool, because after all, clearly in this one life, we are only in first grade. Or maybe if we are saints, students at the university.

But the driving force is curiosity. Which is a curious thing. You might call it the other mother of invention (though both longing and curiosity might be termed a necessity).

and you might call it a gift from God.

And now I will give you a real life example. Those who have read all my posts (including those that have been vandalized, which I am gradually reintroducing from back up files), know that I had a challenging childhood, (e. g. put in an orphanage by a living mother) and suffered thereby (by the law of indirect consequences) for years from a paucity of friends.

Well, when later it was in vogue, I took LSD (I do not recommend it. It led for instance to the death of an older brother, but often there is a good by-product of a bad experiment). This was many years ago, a couple of years earlier than the miracle I describe in the ABOUT section atop my main webpage. (rumi-ations.com)

But I was curious why I had so few friends. Not that I hadn’t been trying to be popular. I even bought an au courant pea jacket and Beatles-style bell bottomed pants, but to no avail. No outward change was going to attract people. To paraphrase Professor Higgins, I had to clean up the mess that was inside.

Anyway, I spent the whole night (you don’t sleep on LSD) pondering the problem. And I hit upon a bold experiment.* A two-fold bold experiment. First, I would be nice to people, as opposed to my usual chip on the shoulder insult-prone behavior. And secondly, I would always wear the same clothes (to free me my from delusions that I could pass for “with it.”). I mean I always wore a blue work shirt and jeans. Multiple pairs of course to always be clean.

And just like Dahlia learned to climb trees, and just as a baby learns first to crawl, then to stand and finally, run, well, so I took the feedback of people smiling at me, to learn to be nice. And smiles coming from the heart are world class feedback, and a contagious thing. (Who knew?)

And all from being curious about what would happen if I followed my intuition. I know it sounds like a stupid thing to call wanting to be nice to people a product of intuition, but you would be underestimating the anti-intuitional power of a stubborn hurt ego.

God Be With You,

Eric Halliwell

*A favorite quote from the universe-class mystic Meher Baba is, “You must make bold experiments in life.”

Happiness Has a Small Door

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Adrienne Shamszad

Adrienne Shamszad

PR4–420

Happiness Has a Small Door

You’d think God would balk
At being manipulated
But it turns out

God will kiss your ass
If that’s what it takes
To make you happy

But it never looks that way
Because it turns out the only way
For you to be happy is to stop

Denying the reality that you have
To be humble enough
(Be small enough)

To fit through that eye of the needle
That Jesus talked about
And it turns out that

Happiness has a small door
And your ego is too big to fit through it
(It’s all very ironic really)

~.~.~

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 looks like it will be a two parter. It was for starters going to be about the interesting intersection of romantic and divine love, as occasioned by a song and comment by Adrienne Shamszad (see just below). But it has segued into time consuming and yes (it’s confession time!) self-promoting asides anent my own poetry. And as my Sufi philosophy is not to undo my ego (Good luck with that!) but rather (in a successive approximation type deal) steer it in the direction of improvement, Es decir emphasize its more wise (and smaller sized) aspects. I believe this is called sublimation.

So, yesterday I was at a gathering of people celebrating the birthday of the Parsi mystic in India, Meher Baba. Readers who have read the “About” section above, or indeed, who have regularly read my blog, will know that I’ve been powerfully influenced by Meher Baba, who “died” in 1969.

At this meeting, at the Baba center in Los Angeles (where I am currently visiting my daughter and friends), a fabulous musician person denombre Adrienne Shamszad played for us, including a wonderfully spiritual song, addressed to God, called “Not Just Roses,” written by Brian Darnell.

You can hear her perform the song here:

When Adrienne credited Brian Darnell with this song, I recognized his name as one who lately has been marvelously supportive of my poetry which I post to friends on Facebook.

You can see Brian perform his (the same) song here:

As I said, Brian (on Facebook) has said encouraging things about some of my recent poems. Not to mention many uses of the “like” button. So, of course now I have an excuse to reprise at least the poems he made comments on, (e. g. “Wow!” “Wonderful poem!” and “Love it!”)

So, here are my poems that had elicited these comments:

PR4–412
The Lioness of Loneliness

It’s ironic all this concern with maintaining
Individuality and so we say so what
If some good essence may survive

What about my ego?
What good is it to existential me
To see some other beauty be immortalized?

What about me?
But as C. S. Lewis said
If you put first things first

You do get those rose things
With their ancillary angel wings
But with second things (like egos) thrown in

But if you put second things first you’re dead
All you get is the lioness of loneliness:
And then you drown in her unquenchable thirst

And,

PR4–425
Some Beautiful Tune Will Come Out of Hiding

I’m getting tired of stepping around stuff
I’m thinking of stepping in it instead
Willy-nilly no worries and all because of those
(Like a rose without the thorn)

Newly now considerations like as if
It’s turned into clouds of swirling color
All infused with angel harmonies with
All ego baggage fainted and harmless

(And comatose too)
On the floor which frees up
(Like the smell of freesias does)
All the angles of the constellations

And with a giant pinwheel galaxy
Eye of-a-hurricane peace inside
And then by golly you can step lively
Yes finally

It’s a no-distance dance and in that trance
Some beautiful tune will come out of hiding
(Just to keep your happy memories company)
And you come out shining and all just-born

And,

PR4–427
Sometimes It Rhymes with Tears

There’s an amazing connection
Between music and poetry
And here’s my evidence:

When I hear beautiful music
I hear powerful words
At least if you define that

By what moves the heart
Because Beethoven was not
The only one who dealt in movements

Whether major or minor
It all came down like the rain and yes
Sometimes it rhymes with tears

 
 

The original idea of this post was the intersection of love for God, and romantic love. Which was occasioned by one of Adrienne’s wonderful songs, and even wonderfuller comment. But that will have to wait til next week.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

Ps–the poem at the top was merely liked (i. e. no comment) by Brian. But it is a favorite of mine, and I do need always a poem on top, and of course I favor those which seem to illustrate a Sufi principle. And what could be more Sufi-principled than getting rid of the ego? As Meher Baba once “said,” “I know only one yoga: You go.”