Tag Archives: spirituality

Look Homeward, Angel

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Lionel Barrymore and Joan Crawford

Lionel Barrymore and Joan Crawford

 

Look Homeward, Angel

“Look homeward Angel, now
And melt with ruth.’
–John Milton (Lycidas)

Even though “proven” a lie
I still believed it

It was too beautiful not to believe . . .
And so the “lie” was the truth

Go figure

~.~.~

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, forgive me for the delay in blog posts. I have been fighting on several fronts lately, and my health and poetry production comes first. (It’s part of my pantheistic religion!)

Anyway,

Last post (April 22, I believe) I promised to reveal the identity of the subject for my drawing, the lady popular with the Anatolian (In Turkey) Sufis. It is the virgin Mary. Here’s the link for that post, if any wish to review it: https://rumi-nations.com/2016/04/02/rachmaninoffs-huge-hands/

But on to today’s theme:

Hazrat Inayat Khan said,

“What is really good? The answer is, there is no such thing as good or evil. There is beauty. That which is beautiful, we call good. That which is ugly compared with the beautiful, we call evil: whether it is custom, idea, thought or action. This shows that this whole phenomenon of the universe is the phenomenon of beauty. Every soul has an inclination to admire beauty, to seek for beauty, to love beauty, and to develop beauty.”
–Hazrat Inayat Khan

“There is no such thing as evil. Only relative degrees of good.”
–Meher Baba

There is a truth and there is a deeper truth. Inayat Khan used to tell the story of a lady (using the term loosely) who justified her hurting others’ feelings saying in her justification , “I only tell the truth.”

And Inayat Khan said something like the essence of truth is beauty. And what sort of beauty is there then when with this “truth” it “hurts as hard as a hammer?”

Or to phrase it another way, cadging from John Keats,
“Truth is beauty
Beauty is truth”*

And to put things in a synchronistic perspective, I want to mention the movie “Grand Hotel” which was Meher Baba’s favorite. (And not only Baba, it won best picture Oscar for 1930. I mention synchronicity because just after I got these above words off my chest, and was taking a break,  next thing in my face was the movie Grand Hotel, at the end of which has old, lonely, and dying-soon (and knows it) Klingalein, who is suddenly best friends with the much younger and beautiful-but-with-a-good heart Miss Flemmchen. And as the movie ends Klingalein with flowing tears and in the teeth of his imminent death, says, “I never thought anything this beautiful could come to me.”
How’s that for putting beauty in perspective?

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*Here’s the John Keats
poem that’s from:

Ode on a Grecian Urn

THOU still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape 5
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? 10

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave 15
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair! 20

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearièd,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love! 25
For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue. 30

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea-shore, 35
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul, to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e’er return. 40

O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! 45
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’ 50

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.”

My Philosophy Has Saved My Life

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Robinson Jeffers

Robinson Jeffers

PR4–393

The Sweet Birdsong and Beethoven’s Tears

Look!
Up in the sky!
Stars and moons
A planet that’s a huge diamond

And earth!
(Look down now)
All manner of wonder
Look around

Turn to the roses
The smiles
The sweet birdsong
And Beethoven’s tears:

They want proof of existence
But one thing has been proven
Beyond any reasonable doubt:
Somebody knows how to make an entrance

~.~.~

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,
Hmmm . . . Looks like this post is going to be a two or three parter. Which explains a part of my delay since the last post. You pretty much have to get all three posts done first, if only to know where to break them up. And I do put a lot of effort into getting these as good as I can make them, just as if I were in an English class and I was being graded on these essays. And I take these things seriously. Like when I got into nursing school, I had all A’s on the seven prerequisites. And when I graduated from Humboldt State, I had a perfect score from all three judges on the de rigueur for a diploma, exit essay-writing exam. Only because I bore down, just on general principles. And this bearing down, blog-wise, involves a lot of time and effort. Especially since I tend to have to also do research.

So–I am pushing three thousand words, and I haven’t yet covered all the issues that seem to be connected to the theme I have started with, which is how my poetry relates to my “mission” which is–to put it succinctly–to express my feelings about metaphysical issues. And by metaphysical I mean Sufi things–things that can be analyzed by the heart, as opposed to the mere mind. I say “mere” even though it’s true, the mind is the glue I use to fuse these things together. I read somewhere that poetry itself (and fiction-writing too) is not like some arts, like say dance, which is all heart, and the mind is pretty apart from that. But poetry is a partnership with the mind. With even the left brain part of it. It’s true that my words must be imbued with some manifestation of love (which has myriad manifestations and ramifications, and so I do have trouble understanding complaints about “writer’s block.”).

And yet my mind’s facility with words I think is like a nurse at the operating table who hands the surgeon her tools, as necessary (e. g. scalpel, etc). And this nurse gets very intuitive about what the surgeon will need and ask for. Often I am told (I was, don’t forget, a student nurse at Humboldt State University), this nurse doesn’t need to even be asked.

However, though this post today is about poetry, it’s only ancillarily about the nuts and bolts of poetry production. Of course ancillary does not scare us digression freaks, and so hang on to your hat (and fasten your seat belts, as Bette Davis would say) there is still more to come today (or as I say, perhaps another day since this is going to be a three parter, looks like) about poetry production.

(Have I mentioned my secret hope that I am with my blog and poetry encouraging people to write poetry?* I think it’s a shortcut to happiness, frankly. But so many people seem to be intimidated by it, it seems in order to have an occasional thread dealing with how a poem is or can be arrived at, how so many things often thought to matter really don’t, you know as E. E. Cummings would say, “a lot of sweet bull like that.”)

That segue aside, I wish to say this:

I have a confession to make.

About my “profession” to be a poet.

It’s this:
I am not sure if my “poetry” is perhaps more propaganda for my mystical point of view than it is poetry in its own right. Can there be both? Of course many poets (especially including my big favorite E. E. Cummings, and John Donne as well, and Gerard Manley Hopkins . . .the list goes on) have pushed their mystical point of view. (And their political one too) In Cummings’ case, for instance he disdained artificiality (as opposed to the sciences which can be allied with the heart. And they surely can, just as in poetry-writing the mind and heart cooperate).

As in this:
(from voices to voices, lip to lip)

bring on your fireworks, which are a mixed
splendor of piston and pistil; very well
provided an instant may be fixed
so that it will not rub, like any other pastel.

(While you and i have lips and voices which
are for kissing and to sing with
who cares if some oneeyed son of a bitch
invents an instrument to measure Spring with?

Or this, by Robinson Jeffers:

The Eye

The Atlantic is a stormy moat; and the Mediterranean,
The blue pool in the old garden,
More than five thousand years has drunk sacrifice
Of ships and blood, and shines in the sun; but here the Pacific–
Our ships, planes, wars are perfectly irrelevant.
Neither our present blood-feud with the brave dwarfs
Nor any future world-quarrel of westering
And eastering man, the bloody migrations, greed of power, clash of
faiths–
Is a speck of dust on the great scale-pan.
Here from this mountain shore, headland beyond stormy headland
plunging like dolphins through the blue sea-smoke
Into pale sea–look west at the hill of water: it is half the
planet:
this dome, this half-globe, this bulging
Eyeball of water, arched over to Asia,
Australia and white Antartica: those are the eyelids that never
close;
this is the staring unsleeping
Eye of the earth; and what it watches is not our wars.
 
 

So I’m not saying here that there is anything wrong with my using my poetry as a vehicle for my philosophy. Indeed, since the essence of poetry is to make very concise what would otherwise wander all over the map, it brings me to the old writer’s edict to show, don’t simply tell. If it doesn’t “sell the sizzle, not the steak” the poem is perforce (possibly per farce) a big mistake.

But not so many people are into philosophy of any sort, let alone the more metaphysical variety (Of the proverbial religious experences). But fortunately, the relatively few people who do follow my blog are concerned, if not in fact preoccupied, with my brand of metaphysics. Or open to it if only as a way to put in some relief their own beliefs.

Yes, I do tend to focus on the sort of “spiritual” issues which would apparently be boring to more than a few self-selected aficionados.

But that’s cool.

It’s not like I need to make a living with this blog and poetry. Which does though bring me to want to say this to the over two hundred followers of my blog:

THANK YOU!

It’s not important that I have a mass audience (indeed, which could well be a danger to my ego. I refer here to the “sin” of pride.**). But it’s so nice to have an audience. Therapy really for me. And you guys don’t charge a hundred bucks an hour!

A further confession:

I may value my philosophy more than my artistry as a poet. (Though this is complicated by the fact that my philosophy does ordain the concern of doing my best at whatever I undertake) Because for instance my philosophy has saved my life.*** As for the artistry, I was reassured today to read a Facebook post from a poet friend,**** quoting Gary Snyder, one of the last remaining of the Jack Kerouac/Allan Ginsberg old north beach hip poets. (Have I mentioned that I once met met Allen Ginsberg?)

Speaking about his new collection of poems, Gary Snyder (who is now 85), said: “Its strength is that I let it be imperfect. [Laughs] That’s what I’m learning. There’s a Japanese saying: “Imperfection is best.”… I decided I’m not going to hold it down to the line and get it just right. There are things in there that I don’t know what I think of.”

I especially am struck by this: “There are things in there that I don’t know what I think of.” Indeed, sometimes when I am contemplating an editorial change in one of my poems, I remember the old dictum about fools rushing in where angels fear to tread.

And this reminds me of the old (was it from the Navajo?) story of the American indigenous tribe that deliberately included an imperfection in their basket weaving so as not to “compete with the gods.”

Well, this post has gone on too long, and this is the best place to stop. I didn’t want to stop it sooner as it needed to include the news (see below at ****) of the pre-Christmas sale of my friend Alice’s book.

So I will carry on with the rest of this post next time.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*I stress this because it sure happened to me that way. As I related in the first blog post,

https://rumi-nations.com/2013/04/01/sufism-the-science-of-happiness-2/

the one for April Fool’s Day 2013,in which I was on my way to learning to paint with oils, and suchlike art stuff, when I came across a book of ecstatic mystical poems from Dan Ladinsky, called “Love Poems from God.”

And they were so much up my alley that I said to myself, So that’s poetry? Hey I can write that kind of stuff!

And so I switched back to my original art form. (I’d been writing poetry (even in French!) since I was fourteen.

What fun! And that was ten years and six thousand “poems” ago. And coincidentally I have never been happier (I think expressing the heart as eloquently as you can does that). And I don’t even have a girlfriend!

** I am not so naïve as to believe in the fairy tale of a non-existent ego. Or even a necessarily subordinate one, when it comes for instance to roses, or other such beauty emblematics. I draw support in this from Benjamin Franklin who I believe in his autobiography spoke of attempts to quash pride with humility. I remember him saying that even if he found that mythical unicorn, it would in itself go to his head because he would then “be proud of my humility.”

***A reference to that is in this old post:
https://rumi-nations.com/2013/05/

Suffice to say it’s like in this Tolstoy quote from Anna Karenna:
“…life was impossible like that, and that he must either interpret life so that it would not present itself to him as the evil jest of some devil, or shoot himself.”
–Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina, Garnett translation)

**** This friend Alice Klein is the author of a fine book of poetry denombre “What the Heart Wants” a book I very heartily recommend. And which is available here (with a great for the holidays special sale price):

http://www.sheriarfoundation.org/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=9780913078822