Tag Archives: Reincarnation

A Reindeer Unto Caesar Thing

Charley Brown

That Ironic Stem of Stunted Light

I have never liked the phrase
“The better angels of our nature” and now

I find it was coined by Abraham Lincoln
Who suspended habeus corpus–
So stuff gets complicated one could argue

Because it connotes there might be some
Rotten angels in the barrel . . .
Though come to think of it the name Lucifer

Has that ironic stem of stunted light
And then also of course you have Lucy
With her Charley Brown football ploy

Like I say
Things are complicated

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,
Up to now, except of course indirectly (and poetry which is the epitome of indirection, is also included as a possibly more extreme form of indirect) I haven’t (or have I?) dwelt overmuch on my personal Sufi philosophy which in a bombshell nutshell consists of an interest (at least as a favorite hobby) in the nuts and (sometimes) lightning bolts of adhering to the often curving (sometimes a bucking bronco ride) road which leads to being happy.

And so to start with, okay, yes I do have a self-serving personal philosophy in which I coddle myself, justifying it by saying one needs to negotiate a peace treaty with one’s lower self. Kind of a reindeer unto Caesar thing, if you get my Christian drift. (ho ho ho)

But to “bribe” (too strong a word, really) it the way I bribed my erst first grade students. Which was like* “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.” (my picturesque way of presenting my personally-invented preventing boredom (the arch enemy of education) in the classroom ploy.

Yes, I would dance and make jokes and funny faces, sneak up behind to scare them (with the pretext of curing their hiccups) and, you know, your kiddie version bag of slapstick tricks. And Dani, my best friend (the nonpareil Venezuelan artist) in these parts has a nickname for me:”Payaso” (clown).

So I fancy myself suited to the role.

It kept the kids on their toes. They never knew if what’s next might be a pitiful (and thus amusing) teacher pratfall.

But in the meantime, in between time, I would be delivering reading lessons or a how-to-draw-nice-letters game which involved a contest between students which I called, “Pink Chalk Time!” Etc etc. (And there were much sought after gaudy prizes!)

But I digress (my guess though is that there’s more progress with more digress. But there I go again . . .(self-serving wise)

And I apply these same lessons to myself. Fortunately, half of my (aka my better angels**) personality is really of a “spiritual” bent. I mean things like I am (fortunately) fascinated by metaphysical speculation, just for instance, pondering the meanderings of the “spiritual” path. And suchlike ancillary Sufi fun. (Which interests do keep me on a sort of Sufi path)

But yup I have to admit there is another half that’s like first graders who need to be distracted to be attracted. So I have invented my own personal Gospel of Fun. (And yes, I do cheat a bit what with the head start of my as I say built-in fascination with for instance Al-Hallaj etc. *** in which I coddle myself but then I cleverly get away with it, justifying it by saying one needs to bribe the lower self with the pretext of fun and enjoyment (kiddie fashion). And yes I will stipulate that I am from a metaphysical school opposite those hair shirt lovers with their austerity artists (the whips and chain gang).

I have no such hair shirt philosophy.

Because it is just not fun. And I worship at the Gospel of Fun.

This may be the downside of believing in reincarnation. Meher Baba said we have over eight million lifetimes as a human being (before finally reaching god-realizatiion (aka nirvana, or as the Christians put it, the peace that passeth understanding) I refer to my lack of ambition as in “there’s plenty of time.” No hair shirt for me, not when I can just cultivate a situation in which spiritual progress is a fun thing. Even if arguably it takes longer. I guess I prefer what my erst dear friend Gail, the trance medium’s spiritual guide used to refer to as “the scenic route.”

But yes I do hear the self-accusing voice that says I have thus gone astray. But as I say, I was a first grade teacher (Just before I left for Guatemala twenty years ago) and too, thereby hangs a tale. (Which you can peruse in this post: https://rumi-nations.com/2013/07/01/the-fates-found-her/)

But I digress (like a fierce tigress!)

So here’s an example from today. (aka the kick in the pants that started this post): As some who have been paying attention know, I tend to live in Guatemala. And in these parts, now and again, the electricity gets shut off, Ostensibly for maintenance and repairs.

And when this recently happened I decided to console myself with some sophisticated fun. Para precisar, I decided to sit down on my veranda, make up a tea tray (with muffins!) and read from my current favorite novel, Middlemarch by George Eliot****

I decided it was high class fun. And like with teaching first graders, I thought to teach myself via fun. Anyway but then I spied my sweet cat Dahlia (frequently an inspiration to me*****) with her contented post-exploratory look. And I noticed that I was noticing her and not so much my usually absorbing book. You see, I love Dahlia, and merely liked the book. Which made Dahlia the more interesting object of study. Which reminded me of what Inayat Khan had said about meditation. He was drawing a dichotomy between the study of meditation, and the spontaneous meditation of a mother as she gazed upon her child. He said that such love taught a better meditation than any study could have done.

And I succumbed to comparing myself to that mother with my cat as the child. But it was a pleasant feeling, thinking that. And I decided that sort of spiritual pride was okay. At least in my case. Perhaps because I lack ambition.

But to me it could be classified as a “good fruit” (as in when Jesus said, “by their fruits shall you know them.”)

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*I cribbed this reference from the Emmy-winning episode of the Mary Tyler Moore (“Chuckles Bites the Dust”) Show)

**Which reference now gives me the excuse to include my rotten angels poem (see above)

***A very interesting story of a yes hair shirt lover. So you see, I do keep an open mind on that. Perhaps someday I may take to that, but I bet if I do it will be because I have found it to be “fun.”

Any who are interested in Al-Hallaj, can find somewhat about him in the thoiusand year old Hujwiri treatise on extant Sufi saints circa 1200 A.D. (Kashf al-Majub–(Revelation of the Mystery) But a more accessible bit of Al-Hallaj explanation can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Hallaj

****FYI (in case you need a heads up) George Eliot was really a woman denombre Mary Ann Evans. I think she did this because when she wrote 150 years ago, women writers were discriminated against, and so (also as did George Sand aka Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin) wrote under a man’s name. Of course in those days writers didn’t travel every which place doing readings for the public, to garner publicity to help book sales. In which case the sex cat would have gotten out of the bag.

And bye the bye Middlemarch in my opinion was overflowing with spiritual insight.

***** Dahlia, incidentally inspired my book of poems The Cat Who Threw in the Tao.

A Certain Case of Tunnel Vision


Bob Dylan



An Opal to Suddenly Remember

My holy man introduced me
To a friend whose name is Equipoise

He deserves more respect
I keep him in my pocket

A fine way to treat a friend!
Though he stays affably unflappably there

(A Steinway unplayed yet
Unoffended for unattended)

Equipoise and I we don’t go way back it’s
True as do I and alabaster

Turquoise moon or sapphire’s star
But I admire the unhand of mire

When I greet Equipoise like an old pal
An opal to suddenly remember

(Who somehow also forgets
About who treats whom how)

When things are scary disaster
He simply cuts through to the blue sky

Asking me why do I care?
Is the sky not still standing?

Aren’t amethysts still pretty purple
And banded agate geodes

Aren’t they still
(As in silence)

Hollow inside
And hallowed?


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,
Once again, my de tigueur announcement that this purports to be a “Sufi” blog. And Sufis by definition are interested in transcendent stuff. And so, forewarned

Here is an Inayat Khan quote applicable to today’s theme:

“There is a phrase in the Bible, “Knock, and it shall be opened unto you”. The Message of God is an answer to the cry of humanity. Now, as to the instrument of the message — in reality the whole universe is an instrument, and every object and every being in it is an instrument; through whichever instrument He chooses He gives His message. One sees in one’s life, and especially at times when one is deep down in depression and sorrow, some answer coming to the difficulty of that situation. It may come from a friend, from a brother, from parents, from a beloved; even from one’s enemy one may get what was necessary at the moment.”

There is a thing called variously “God Realisation,” Nirvana (or Nirvikalpa—let’s not quibble), or (in the Christian tradition) “The Peace That Passeth understanding, or mostly in Eastern mystical tradition, a combination of “Infinite Knowledge, Infinite Power, and Infinite Bliss.”

Someone said that this “infinite bliss” must be boring. And I see their point. Up to a point. Because this:

“Interesting” connotes the unknown, a fruitful line of inquiry. And this I see in spades and is why I write this blog or even feel qualified to, due to a lifetime of interest and inquiry along “spiritual” lines.

But yet remains the issue of how “interesting” can it be once the goal of all-knowing is reached, since by definition it leaves nothing further to unravel. And so we get to the irony of the quest (AKA “the path”) being more interesting than the end.

Now of course all this is from my shortsighted, perforce ignorant perspective.

Which connotes that we would be judging without seeing all the relevant evidence in the case (a prosecutorial no no). But it is a question right up there with the proverbial why does all-powerful God permit harm to innocent people (for instance)?* Or even (if your taste runs to espionage (a la Graham Greene ); Or adventure (H. Rider Haggard). But if we take the completion of all that to involve no further investigation, well how can that be any longer “interesting?”

But let’s be real (and honest). Aren’t we presupposing that there might not be other forms of “interesting” available only to those who have no blinders on (read ego) or at best a certain case of tunnel vision? Are we really so presumptuous as to declare as obvious fact that the life of an angel is boring? If only because an angel seeing this discussion would laugh and laughter is intrinsically entertaining. So right there we have (even with our limited scope) an example that disproves the case.

The unfoldment of all of which, as I say (or at least imply) above, is supremely interesting, making our lives a Tolstoy novel, at least.

You know, a wise Sufi** once said, “I am the pupil of a youth!” the reason being he thereby came to see God in a gratifying new perspective and all from a strutting young lad clad in finery!

Which brings me to my close. If you look on the frontispage of my (this here) blog, on the right it says: Favorite Quote. Which is also from an unlikely source (The movie “Fistful of Dollars” by Clint Eastwood). But ain’t it the truth nonetheless?:

“Things always look different from higher up.”

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

PS—and of course there is the famous old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

*this issue by the bye is satisfied to me by the simple expedient of reincarnation. Heck, just study Nobel laureate Bob Dylan who famously said “. . . the wheel’s still in spin—there’s no telling who that it’s naming.” (The Times They Are A-Changin’) And as for the pain that was suffered, first remember it couldn’t have happened contrary to the laws of karma (which I believe are not for vengeance but rather as lessons in what leads to joy and what leads to pain. It’s an essential part of the point to free will.

Also (Bob Dylan again) my every time sign off of “God be with you” is derived from Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” Where he sings, “Good-bye is too good a word, so I’ll just say fare thee well.” And as I mentioned many posts ago, good-bye is a contraction derived from the old “God be with you.” Hence my habitual sign off.

**Ths is told by Sufi master Hujwiri, in his Kasfh al Mahjub (Revelation of the Mystery”) the twelfth century Sufi compilation of stuff about extant Sufi saints. A very interesting book by the way; full of many “interesting” anecdotes from the Sufi shaykhs of the time. Anyway, this certain (I forget which) famous Sufi guy was heard saying, “I am the pupil of a youth!” and when asked why, replied “I was in the market place and a strikingly well-dressed youth was bragging to all and sundry that his father was rich and would buy him anything that he needed!“ Which set our shaykh to thinking that it was certainly so for us all (referring to God as the father). And it amused him of course to admit he could learn from a vain and feckless youth in the marketplace.

The Slow Path to Sainthood (and Beyond)


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 . . .