Tag Archives: Sufism

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 . . .

Joy and Sorrow and Stuff

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My painting of Meher Baba

 

New Start–178

Subtle Sorrows Are Borrowing Our Hearts

“Joy and sorrow are the light and shade of life; without light and shade no picture is clear.”
–Hazrat Inayat Khan

I’m thinking about life as a painting
As if I were an art critic
And even the painter

I’m also thinking about sadness
Yes because I am sad today but
It’s subtle this sadness

It won’t spoil my morning or the sun’s caress
It’s just an interesting object of investigation
(An objet d’art if you will)

Because I’m realizing different moods are
The colors of our life paintings and what
A strange painting it would be without dark contrasts!

Even the very dark ones–and the light grays?
Each day subtle sorrows
Are borrowing our hearts

They are the touches of gray
Which give our skin depth and volume
In the paintings of our lives

Clearly both sadness and joy
Breathe life and verisimilitude into our lives
(Not to mention artistic expression)

~.~.~

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,

“Joy and sorrow are each part of the other. If it were not for joy, sorrow would not exist; and if it were not for sorrow, joy would not be experienced.”
–Hazrat Inayat Khan

Pardon my double (or is it triple?) dose of Hegelian philosophy. But Hegel and his dialectic (read thesis antithesis, then, synthesis) are integral to my brand of Sufism. In a nutshell, you start with an idea and then you get an opposite idea, and the two fight it out til you reach a synthesis, which then becomes (In an upward spiral) the next level’s new thesis. (Yes we advance by successive approximation)

I am fascinated by Hegel. Have been ever since my UC Berkeley days where I came across Hegel in my European Intellectual History class. Of course it didn’t hurt that Meher Baba and Inayat Khan spoke in such Hegelian concepts. (e. g. all that talk about opposites)

Also for the above, I found intensely interesting the rumor that my beloved Sufi preceptor, Lud Dimpfl, was the reincarnation of Hegel.

And, speaking of opposites, here’s a bit from my daily dose of Hazrat Inayat Khan:

“We generally confuse truth with fact, and we often use the word fact for truth. When we look at it from the mystic’s point of view we find that words are too intricate ever to explain what is truth*. … Truth is that which cannot be pointed out, because all things that can be compared have their opposite, but neither God nor truth has an opposite. Names are to point out forms, and words are to distinguish one thing from another, while definitions come from the pairs of opposites or at least from differences. That which is all-pervading and is in all things and beings, that which every word explains and yet no word can explain, is God and is truth.”

Which brings us to Meher Baba (who in 1948 inherited my erst Sufi order–1972-79–which had been founded by Inayat Khan in 1921 ish).

As in this:

FREEDOM FROM OPPOSITES
Meher Baba

Every man is subject to agreeable and disagreeable experiences — of pleasure and pain, success and failure, good and evil, wealth and poverty, power and helplessness, honor and dishonor, gain and loss, fulfillment and frustration.

Each of these opposites invites a suitable response in emotion or in action. Mind is moved by these opposites, and is continually losing its equilibrium and continually trying to restore it while constantly meeting the impacts of environmental changes.

During its various lives as a human being the ego-mind can oscillate endlessly between the opposites, viz., indulgence and repression, secularism and religion, superiority complex and inferiority complex, self-aggrandizement and self-humiliation, introversion and extroversion, virtue and vice, pain and pleasure, “I” and “you” or “mine” and “thine,” without arriving at true poise.

True poise comes when the ego-mind, with all its accumulated inclinations, melts away through divine love, thus unveiling the supramental Truth in which there is a realization that one is — oneself — one with all life. Here there is no duality or division of life and therefore the soul is free from the opposite attitudes.

Having become one with the eternal and infinite divinity which sustains from within, the soul gains unending bliss, understanding, love and power, for the soul is free from duality.”

Sounds a lot like what Buddha said (and reportedly, experienced), nicht wahr?**

But back to Inayat Khan:

There is going forward and there is going backwards, there is success and there is failure, there is light and there is darkness, there is joy and there is sadness, there is birth and there is death. All things that we can know, feel and perceive have their opposites. It is the opposite quality which brings about balance. The world would not exist if there were not water and earth. Every thing and every being needs these two qualities in order to exist, to act, and to fulfill the purpose of life; for each quality is incomplete without the other. … by a deep insight into nature we discover that the creation is the same as the Creator, that the source is the same as the goal, and that the two only mean one. There are two ends to a line but the line is one, and this oneness is manifest in all things, though man seldom gives any thought to this subject. This amazing manifestation, this world of variety, keeps us so puzzled, so confused, and so absorbed in it that we hardly give ourselves any time to see this wonderful phenomenon: how the one and only Being shows Himself even in the world of variety.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*Which reminds me of I forget who said, “Poetry is the art of the attempt to express the inexpressible.” Which would be a fool’s errand if it weren’t for the reader’s imagination coming to the rescue. Indeed, it’s an oft stated thing, (Inayat Khan-wise): the vital importance of the imagination.

**Coincidentally or not, I just finished rereading (after thirty years) a great Buddhist book, “Footprints of Gautama the Buddha, by Marie Beuzeville Byles, which I think is out of print, but which is still orderable online. In it is the life of Buddha (at least onwards from the episode under the Banyon tree). It tells it as a story but with extensive source notes after each chapter (in case you want to verify the incidents).

It portrays an interesting Buddha, whose gentle wit also shows through.