Tag Archives: Mysticism

The Mind Can Be Hard To Like

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Lud Dimpfl’s Sufi Mureeds (Initiated 1973)

A Diligent Student of Entertainment

It is said that I’m lazy
(I even say it)

But that’s not a fatal flaw
Not when so much of enlightenment

So much of the spiritual path
Is like a ride at Disneyland

Okay yes
I’m a diligent student of entertainment:

Of the cheap thrills of discovering
That the dark side of the moon

Is still the same potent symbol for love
(Aka beauty)

~.~.~

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, about the photo above of my Sufi class, I am the dark guy in the back row just in front of the left (white) door jamb. The framed saying on the wall above says, “God forbid that we should ever have to bear all that we are capable of bearing.”
–Old Jewish proverb

In case any newcomers have wandered in, this is a metaphysical blog, heavily influenced by my personal experiences with Sufism (a branch of mysticism). And my Sufi exposure started from membership in a Sufi group in San Francisco (Sufism Reoriented, 1972-79) originally founded by Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927)*

You must know that each day I receive a set of quotations from Hazrat Inayat Khan (You can too**).

Which often gives me ideas for new blog posts. As in today’s daily excerpt of Inayat Khan quotes:

“By a study of life the Sufi learns and practices the nature of its harmony. He establishes harmony with the self, with others, with the universe and with the infinite. He identifies himself with another, he sees himself, so to speak, in every other being. He cares for neither blame nor praise, considering both as coming from himself. If a person were to drop a heavy weight and in so doing hurt his own foot, he would not blame his hand for having dropped it, realizing himself in both the hand and the foot. In like manner the Sufi is tolerant when harmed by another, thinking that the harm has come from himself alone. … He overlooks the faults of others, considering that they know no better. He hides the faults of others, and suppresses any facts that would cause disharmony. His constant fight is with the Nafs (the self-centered ego), the root of all disharmony and the only enemy of man.”

But this raises an interesting question. “Suppress facts?” Isn’t that a slippery slope? Or if harmony-seeking is your North Star, maybe it cuts through all the exception objections. The mind as we know, is always clever both at interpreting stuff in ways to undercut any attempt to bring it under control, and as well is clever at covering its tracks, when wreaking its will*** (e. g. like as not in this case, denouncing the repression of facts as an unscientific and dishonest practice. And next thing you know, calling the heart a hypocrite).

Which is a good reason for trusting more ones intuition than one’s reasoning faculties, which can be misled. But intuition . . . what a useful thing! Of course you must pardon me here; I am biased toward art forms. Who knows? Maybe that’s why I gravitated to this branch of Sufism. ****

God Be With You,
Eric Halliwell

PS—this blog was started in 2013, and so there is a vast accumulation of blog posts, which I imagine my current followers by and large either haven’t seen or have forgotten. And this sort of thing (these themes) is inherently timeless. And so I have decided to occasionally reprise a former blog post. One which I consider among my “greatest hits.” (forgive my effrontery)

Full Disclosure: I likely will rewrite them. Asi es la vida.

* (for more on Inayat Khan see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inayat_Khan

**see this url: https://wahiduddin.net/saki/saki_new.php

***Just to give an example from my own experience. You must know we mureeds (student Sufis) were given homework. We had to meditate 15 minutes every day, stipulating it was a spiritual theme connected to our raison d’etre. Now I have to hand it to my ego how cleverly it would derail my fifteen minute meditation. Clever because to have interjected some low desire or delicious bit of sarcasm about someone I didn’t like, etc. would have appalled me, a sincere student. But my ego would derail the spiritual theme with some really useful train of thought like a great invention for quickly making large quantities of homemade yogurt. (I did you know. I could go into business and make a bundle if I A. weren’t too lazy and B wasn’t busy with this blog, etc.) You know, really useful and “innocent” stuff. But it was like a sacrifice fly in the ointment of my meditation attempts. As another for instance, maybe I would get an epiphany about a solution to a problem I had been pondering, e. g. how to keep my melons from rotting on the ground. (Put them on a matt of straw!) Yes it’s worldly not spiritual (though I could argue that everything is spiritual at least in that the long way around proves the shortest way home. Hence reincarnation. But I digress.

Of course that was at least through a useful (but note, unspiritual) distraction, though worldly. But worldly was preferable to this bit of less subtle chicanery my mind pulled. Yes, I do remember an intransigent and domineering ego like when I was supposed to be imagining my breath as a swing back and forth. Well perversely my mind wouldn’t play along. Either it would do it out of rhythm like such as would cause hyperventilation, or more memorably, just bring the swing to a sudden halt. (The mind can be hard to like)

****My branch of Sufism was founded by Moinuddin Chishti , (1142–1236).and is one of four main branches of Sufism. I confess I can’t remember the other three. Perhaps becaused I am a Chisti chauvinist. Being an art lover will do that to you, because a distinguishing feature of the Chisti branch is it brought the arts into the service of (Dre I cll it god? Some fine people I have noticed aare pit off by the term. My belief is it’s due to the hypocrites who have taken over the main religions and who presume to speak for God. But it’s not a problem if you just cling to what doesn’t hurt the heart. It cuts through a lot of Gordian knots, and is reminiscent of when Jesus said, “By their fruits shall ye know them.”

The Slow Path to Sainthood (and Beyond)

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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 . . .

Giving This Famous God a Dare

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A Reprise of My Painting of Meher Baba

Giving This Famous God a Dare

–To Allan Y. Cohen

“He not busy being born is busy dying.”
–Bob Dylan (It’s Alright, Ma, I’m Only Bleeding)

At age eighteen
I made a deal with the night air
Under stars and the influence
Of a desperate sense

I was tired

Like someone swimming at sea
So I didn’t care about talking to the air
Pretending God was real or even
Giving this famous God a dare

They say God won’t make deals
You have to love Him first
(First water, then the thirst)

But I swear it’s not gone to my head
Instead after forty years still
I’m heart over heels
On my knees crying

For no longer dying

~.~.~

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 have the impression that none, or few, of my now 582 blog followers have actually read the “About” button (see atop the main page of rumi-nations.com).

And so since it in itself is pretty much a blog post, I dedicate this July post basically to a reprise of that, which gives an overview of my life and how it led to becoming a Sufi mureed, and to this website and blog..

So, here goes:

When I was five my mother had me declared a “ward of the court” and placed in a sort of orphanage, (same principle, but often parents were living, as were mine, but who for various reasons couldn’t or didn’t want to continue in the parental responsibility realm) paid by the state to provide my room and board, board not being so difficult because being farmish, Mrs. Hunt raised most of the food in house. Farmish because of raising rabbits, chickens, the odd hog and a cow, etc. and she got some other cash from when the children were expected to do what work our age level and physical state permitted.*

Five years later my mother took me and my three brothers back, but within six months released us again, this time into the custody of my father, whose new wife had stars in her eyes and notions of child-rearing experiments thinking to (like Aunt Polly in Mark twain’s Tom Sawyer) “civilize” us. These family experiments bounced us around on average every six months or even a year, dispersed among various family members on my mother’s side, punctuated by episodes with my father’s newly subsequent wives. (He ended up with four).

As it was difficult under these circumstances to make and keep friends, I became very lonely. Later, when I was eighteen and a student at UC Berkeley, I had a “religious” experience, which delivered me from this loneliness. I had until then been an atheist, mostly to please my two older “freethinking” brothers, who were then my only friends.

However, as a student at Cal, I was allowed free psychological counseling and had the good fortune to be the patient of Allan Y. Cohen, a newly minted Ph.D. from Harvard, who’d just had his own Odyssey, having been under the tutelage of Harvard psychology professors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (latterly denombre Baba Ramdass) at Millbrook, famous for prescribing the rampant use of LSD under the philosophy of “Turn on, tune in, and drop out.”

This Allan Cohen, had since become a Sufi and a follower of a mystic, Meher Baba, and was dedicating himself to the furtherance of Meher Baba’s crusade against drug usage.

I had then a fierce chip-on-my-shoulder way of testing people (partly why I hadn’t any friends).** And when I’d come for an appointment after the night before showing up stoned at one of his anti-drug lectures, exhibiting what most others would have taken to be insulting behavior such as heckling etc., he invariably reacted with good humor. He simply looked vastly amused that I would find any fun in that sort of thing.

As for whether I might believe in his metaphysical stuff, he didn’t seem to care. Not viscerally. Though with helpful enthusiasm if and when I ever showed any interest.

Which was fortunate, in that any sort of proselytizing would have driven this atheist away. But I came to respect his unorthodox shrink methods and noticed the pictures on his wall of Meher Baba and Hazrat Inayat Khan, the founder of Sufism in the western world, which aroused my curiosity. And as I became curious about this curious man, I began to ask questions.

Like who were the pictures of?

Now, you must know that the Sufi philosophy or at least the Hazrat Inayat Khan brand of Sufism–pretty much the only kind I’ve studied, (apart from the 1000 year old wonderful Sufi treatise, by the Sufi shaykh Hujwiri, Kashf Al-Mahjub, which translates as The Revelation of the Mystery)–features the opposite of proselytizing, almost to the extent of indifference, except for the reinforcement of any pre-existing enthusiasm. Queries are answered, but unless there are follow-up questions, the matter is dropped.

I think Allan Cohen created a sort of Buddhist vacuum, that pulled me in.

So I asked if there was anything I could read by way of an introduction. But even after reading his suggested mystical writings, *** intriguing and plausible though they were, still it was just an intellectual concept. I guess I was like a later dear friend, an atheist who admitted to me she would surely like to be able to believe such stuff, but couldn’t believe in fairy tales, thank you. It is an interesting question what leads one to such a belief. Meher Baba has written (familiarly, to me at least) about a state of “divine desperation.”

Well, one night in 1968, visiting a friend in Portland Oregon, with the television blaring news of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, I was feeling so lonely that I went for a walk under the stars, and started to talk out loud saying things like I felt stupid talking to the air but as there weren’t any witnesses, okay, I’d give it a shot. I simply said, I was desperately sad and lonely and if Whoever you are would take away that feeling, I would believe. And instantly I was ecstatic. It was as if God was afraid I would change my mind, and struck while the offer was there. Tears streamed down my face, I was so happy, so grateful. And I went on to become a Sufi, in the same order that Allan Cohen was in. After seven years things happened and I moved on, but I have considered myself a Sufi ever since. And I can justly claim to be that since the essence of this Sufism is the belief that God is only accessible through an experience in one’s own heart, independent of priests and intermediaries.

Of course, this intense, ecstatic feeling wound down after a few days, but it is still there today, as a floor beneath me that I feel I can never fall through. It is rumored in Sufism that the best virtue is gratitude, and I do have that, though many troubled waters have since passed under the bridge.

But in my generative years, as Erik Erikson would say, I wish to share these Sufi ideas which I have come to love and which are the inspiration for my poetry. This “about” section begins with a poem I wrote concerning the situation I’ve just described, and my gratitude. (See above)

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*such as getting up before sunrise to feed and water 100 rabbits, or things like being farmed out to local walnut growers to harvest walnuts, for which Mrs. Hunt the Wagnerian lady from Oklahoma who ran the place was paid so much per stuffed gunny sack of walnuts. Or on Hallowe’en stuffed into a car and ferried all over the rural countryside to (like honeybees) collect large quantities of candy most of whch Mrs Hunt confiscated to furnish her baby showers or other such social life.

**To see how I’d gotten so feisty check out the Johnny Cash song “a Boy Named Sue.” Or to put it otherwise, I got tough from having been abandoned and as I say, bounced around.

***Mostly Meher Baba’s three volumes of “Discourses.”