Tag Archives: Signs

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.

The Heart Is an Infinite Thing

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George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw

PR4–272

When You Feel Alone In These Woods

It isn’t much
it’s just a hunch like an illumined
Yet apparently ill-omened over
Or undertone in those movies

You don’t know where it comes from
Yet you know something is up
(There is something in the line of the trees
Or how the breeze rattles the leaves)

Like in Wyeth’s painting that suddenly
Alert-to-danger dog
Beside the sleeping woman
So it’s got your attention

When you feel alone in these woods
But the ominous coloration
Like the deep red of turning rose petals
Turns back black lavender then on to

Cream then light steps out to your rescue
And says
Sorry I scared you like that
I had to get your attention

~.~.~

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,
In case you haven’t noticed, this is a personal blog, though also advertised as a poetry and Sufism thing.* But that’s to be expected since this stuff is personal to me, as a Sufi poet.

And so I tend to write about what is going on in my mind and heart. And a good thing too, or soon I would run out of material. But the heart is an infinite thing, much like how a kaleidoscope never runs out of different patterns (or snowflakes either, for that matter).

Which as I say tends and bends toward Sufi themes.

So too, this website and blog features “Sufi” poetry. I do have a plausible claim to that, since indeed I was officially initiated into a Sufi order founded in 1912 by the renowned mystic Sufi Murshid (and acclaimed musician from Hyderabad) Hazrat Inayat Khan. And I even lasted seven years there!

Which is why atop every post are two of my favorite Inayat Khan quotes, his invocation, and his prescribed daily mantra. See above–which is always good advice, because as my featured quote on my main page says, “Things always look different from higher up.” (Clint Eastwood–For a Fistful of Dollars)

But I digress.

I suspect this is never going to be a hugely popular blog, because it is so personal to me. And I tend to focus on what other people might think of as small beer stuff. For example (and indeed for what started this post) I was thinking about signs. Little tiny signs, perhaps, but if you got even a short note from a beloved in the mail, it tends to be cherished. And well, let me stop beating around the bush and come to the point.

I am referring to little whiffs of angst, little daily frustrations, and small disappointments, that (oddly) leave the heart feeling blemished.

I take these to be signs. In fact I just wrote a little poem about that:

Say Hi to Angels

What’s nice is when stuff goes awry
Especially when it’s unaccountably awry

Because then you know
That angels are playing with your head

That’s why it’s then your big chance
To say hi to angels

Sure, on one level this could be dismissed as trivial stuff, but to me it is a sign post. I think it’s not for nothing that these days I have a low tolerance for even traces of angst. Or rather a low tolerance for not exploring what’s going on, once I receive such a sign.

You know Jesus for instance prescribed a constant vigil never knowing, he said, at what hour he may appear. Well, I have come to see these whiffs of angst as a message from God. That is to say an anti-message, a sign that God had gone missing. Not AWOL, I mean it’s all on me. It’s like the bumper sticker said, “If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved?”

And this angster stuff has a clear message, a kind of SOS, a sign of mayday.

I guess it’s to me like reading tea leaves is supposed to be. (if you know what to look for)**
And here’s a poem I wrote day before yesterday, which is along these lines:

The Rapt Gift of Second Sight

Perhaps you remember the old trick
Of opening a bible at random
And thus hitting upon a certain apt verse
Or the famous I Ching thing

Where you throw sticks of yarrow stalks
And then read the rede from those?
Or tarot cards too I suppose
Now I used to be a cynic but in everything

I am a cynic until I understand the reason behind
Even in math when my teacher was
A good woman who loved math
And could explain the truth behind the graph

Well I suddenly got the highest grades
And now I understand about tea leaves
Coins tossed and such:
It’s much more a matter of plausible deniability

See if angels sauntered down and spread around
Diamond wings and things and rang golden chimes
And sang bars from the music of the spheres
Well what would the common lot worship

Who love the warship rumpus of gaudy fireworks?
No–God (and all the seer stars)
Want you to worship the subtlety of cupid darts
That lurks embedded in our hearts

Not the detracting distracting of tinsel on the tree
Overlooking the Christmas glow below
The rapt gift of second sight
(Your compass in the night)

Anyway my point is angst is a good thing if you take it as a signal. Just as pain is nature’s way of telling you your body is in danger. And as we know, knowledge is power. And to quote Don Juan in Shaw’s Don Juan in Hell, “To be in hell is to drift. To be in heaven is to steer.”

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*As for the definition of Sufism, well, let’s just say it is the religion of the heart. If all the dogma or mystical theories, statements, et al of priests rabbis, gurus of all stripes were on one side, and what your heart told you were on the other, it’s a simple and always choice.

You go with your heart.

Indeed I remember once asking my beloved preceptor Lud (short for Ludwig, rhymes with blood) Dimpfl, what we should do if the advice of the Sufi Murshid or preceptor, was in conflict with our interpretation of what our heart told us. Lud said, you follow your heart. And he said we do ask however that you keep our advice handy on a shelf, and take it down from time to time, dust it off and see if it may make more sense this time.

Just that.

Which I thought was quite the reasonable request! One (among many) reasons I am so fiercely devoted to Sufism.

**Inayat Khan was always talking about how the wise could read the leaves in the trees. Maybe it’s something in the way of the wind that shook the branches or God knows what but the sages he said could read the word of God in such things.

Indeed I read I think it was in a book by Idries Shah that for the Sufis of old there was a convention in which the wind was a metaphor for a message from God.

Idries Shah devoted his life to bringing Sufism to life before the public, yes, even down to the amazing and amusing Nasrudin stories–of which you can find a sampling in this website’s main page Stories button, if you scroll down to Nasrudin. I recommend it. It’s a true kick, his sense of humor and how thereby mystical truths are revealed. Shah was an interesting man–for more info see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idries_Shah