Tag Archives: Sufism

“I Too, Would Like to Weep”

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My Painting of Meher Baba

A Grudging Little Miracle

In Guatemala the water stops a lot
So it was foolishness baking bread
With no water to wash off my sticky fingers

So there I was with my hands
Fresh from the masa
Looking at the water faucet

Fully open but nary a drip
I had a choice of whine or risa:
I just laughed and an instant later

The water started again but only a trickle
Barely sufficient to clean my hands
And then it stopped again

It was a grudging little miracle
But instructive: We get what we need
(With the right attitude)

~.~.~

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 Reader,
(A rewrite reprise from 2013)

I will call you that, perhaps because (apart from apropos) Gentle Reader was the name of the (now defunct) magazine in England where my first published poem appeared. (See above)

Today I saw on You Tube a very short video of Kurt Vonnegutt’s advice to writers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmVcIhnvSx8). A key suggestion/point was to get to the reader as much information as soon as possible. So I start the blog rolling with this short bio that appeared in Umbrella, alongside my poem:

(http://www.umbrellajournal.com/fall2009/science/LikePicassoWhoNeverHadtoP.html)

Eric Halliwell has spent many years as student, carpenter, flunked-out nursing student (thereby hangs a tale) and then a first grade school teacher.

Through a tragic romantic misadventure he ended up in Guatemala where he lives on Lake Atitlan, writing poetry. It keeps him off the streets, or, rather, since there are no streets where he lives, off a dirt trail above the lake.

So that’s how I got to Guatemala, on Lake Atitlan, and the peace here seems to have facilitated a late blooming life-of-the-poet trip. In fact, I was just online and found an article (http://travel.yahoo.com/ideas/10-most-sacred-spots-on-earth.html?page=9) including Lake Atitlan on a list of ten most sacred spots on the planet. (I like that they use “sacred” as if it were objective fact. Because it is)

As you now see, my view is skewed toward the “sacred.” And as you might expect, my poetry is from a metaphysical, para precisar, Sufi perspective.

Yes, I was in a Sufi order in Walnut Creek, California for seven years. This order was founded by Hazrat Inayat Khan, who died circa 1927. I will no doubt regularly regale you, my readers, with some favorite inspirations (quotes and stories) of his. Indeed I start each new post with both his invocation, and suggested daily mantra (see above)

I trust you will enjoy as much as I have, his lucid common sense and inspired ecumenical focus on what is, after all, the science of happiness.

So it’s no surprise that my poems have a Sufi (read very broad-based) theme. I’m not sure how familiar my readers may be with Sufism, which is best known by the writings of Sufi ecstatic poets such as Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, Saadi, Farīd ud-Dīn Attar, Ibn Arabi, and Omar Khayyam (he of the Rubaiyat) .

I started out in Guatemala, hitching my wagon**to art (drawing, painting). But within a year, having read a book of poetry, Love Letters from God, by Daniel Ladinsky, I was inspired to try my hand at my own “ecstatic” poetry. It was ecstatic for sure in one sense: my intense happiness and gratitude to be given this sudden gift of a compulsion to listen to sweet stuff pouring out from my heart, and write it down and even presume to call it poetry. My touchstone for that is if it touches the heart. And we know that by the metaphor that we find in our salty tears, small miracles which are a microcosm of the ocean. We know by these small miracles when we’ve written a poem from the heart. And these small miracles keep coming regularly, like the lanchas on lake Atitlan.

Indeed the first poem I got published, (see above) dealt with such “small” miracles. (FYI that really happened)

In future/upcoming blog posts, I will muse (as it were) about metaphysical themes, about poetry writing, particularly proselytizing the art form, art in general, favorite heart stuff. The wonderful thing about Sufism is it has relevance to every interest. You know it doesn’t matter what pebbles you install in your kaleidoscope. So they be of translucent colors and you see to a light source.

As my late Grandma Dorothy used to say at bed time, “See you anonymous!”
God be with you,

Eric Halliwell

PS—In the original version of this post I was speaking of weeping, and though I seem to have edited that out, still this is worth mentioning: I am reminded of something from Jean Adriel’s memoir of Meher Baba **(Avatar). When she told her friend Princess Norina Matchabelli (yes of the perfume prince) that there was a holy man in the vicinity, and upon meeting him people would invariably weep. And Ms Matchabelli memorably replied, “I too, would like to weep.”

*Full disclosure: Ralph Waldo Emerson reference (“Hitch your wagon to a star”)
** Meher Baba, the silent Mystic, was co-founder (along with Hazrat Inayat Khan) of my erst Sufi order in Walnut Creek, CA (Sufism Reoriented) for a summary of the life of Meher Baba see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meher_Baba. For Hazrat Inayat Khan see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inayat_Khan

A Certain Case of Tunnel Vision

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Bob Dylan

 

PR–224

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 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.”