Tag Archives: Voltaire

The Brass Tacks of Simple Truth

Joan of Arc by Mathieu Stern

Joan of Arc by Mathieu Stern


A Shy God Pinned Down

“Your faith was strong, but you needed proof.”
–Leonard Cohen (Hallelujah)

Scientists demanding evidence
Of God’s existence may be good at a lot
But they’re not so keen on irony:
Even in their favorite realm of observation

Their own guy Heisenberg
Famously showed that just the observing
Compromises the variables sending
Such a thing to beyond any certainty

And yet they expect to nail God down
Wings extended like insect specimens
Why if God were a mere atom
As we’ve seen they still would fail yet

They expect a shy God pinned down would
Not just haul out a Houdini of some pin-wheeled
Galaxy escape leaving the learned gentlefolk
Clutching either air or ether


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,

Last post (December 5, as I recall) was dedicated to a binary fusion of two issues, the first being the passing of the Buddhist Leonard Cohen, a favorite musician and songwriter. This was juxtaposed with the issue of the existence of God and disputes or speculations about that, facilitated by the Buddhist comparison in that Buddha never suggested there was a God. But (forgive me if I am oversimplifying this even to the point of erroneous opinions, and if so, I plead ignorance). And I mentioned how I thought it was probably because Buddha saw this as superfluous to the necessary understanding, and fraught with misinterpretations (e. g. the crusades, the Spanish inquisition, etc). Not to mention hypocrisy.

God is a good and golden thing, and can be suitably focused on by as Jesus would say, His fruits, as opposed to actually naming Him. Or Her, though obviously any God worth his ether would be beyond sexuality which is a form of duality, and God by definition is infinite, and thus has no opposite. But I say Him for convenience sake.

But I digress. (I should scrawl lipstick on a mirror saying stop me before I digress again!)

So good-bye to Leonard Cohen. You will be remembered.

And now, back to what was originally intended to be the main issue, proofs of the existence of God.

A favorite writer of mine is C. S. Lewis, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia, the Perelandra trilogy, umpteen essays on metaphysics, and a close friend of J. R. R. Tolkien, of Lord of the Rings fame.

One of the main reasons I like him so much is he has presented a convincing proof of the existence of God. Which is a neat trick if indeed God would rather leave the matter up in the air. * It was read many years back, and so I can’t remember the exact work. I suspect either his God in the Dock, or The Case for Christianity. Though as I recall it wasn’t necessarily Christian-specific. (Which is a good thing, since though I tend to adore Lewis, I am put off by his Christian chauvinism. Especially annoying to a Sufi, Sufism having as it does, largely Islamic roots. I expect Lewis had no problem with Dante’s having put Mohammed in the innermost circle of hell. Which is ironic, because I heard a Sufi give a talk that claimed that in fact the Divine Comedy was largely lifted–read plagiarized–from a work of the Sufi poet Ibn Arabi, who of course, had placed Mohammed in Paradise.)

But as usual, I digress.

Of course Lewis’ proof was necessarily a matter of circumstantial evidence. I imagine not least because in all honesty I am having trouble imagining what God could offer (even if God unaccountably felt some necessity to kowtow to our presumptuously demanding, judging egos) to definitively prove the matter, a la in a court of law.

Eye witnesses? Not likely. God is famously invisible. Except of course by Joan of Arc,
(for a wonderful Leonard Cohen song about her, see this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtwUyDPXROQ)

and that was merely the Virgin Mary. (and even that was never explicitly declared to be her identity) And why? A hint is in the bible, in Exodus, “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” **

That is usually taken to mean the sight would stop your heart. Stuff like that. As if God is scary looking. Inayat Khan of course refers to the ego as the referred-to thing living. In other words you must lose your ego to see God.

But more to the practical point, the very demand for a proof that is of this world, falsely presupposes that God is of this world.*** Or at least is at all restricted by this world, and as such any physical etc. sort of proof, would be perforce highly misleading, and would from God’s point of view, who wishes to emphasize His love aspect, highly beside the point, and dangerously confusing the issue of love with a power which can only persuade via a shock and awe more reminiscent of fireworks dancing in the air, or levitating pianos, the irony of which is this: these things even if vouchsafed would be nothing compared alongside the stupendous circus tent of the night sky, just for instance. And we don’t seem to be convinced on account of that.

And so, no, this incredible spectacle is not enough for the skeptics who want cheap tricks instead. Voltaire was the wiser one, an honest-to-God skeptic, by inclination, who nevertheless famously said, referring to the universe, “I cannot believe there can be a watch, but no watchmaker.”

To be continued, next post.
God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

* Which is an interesting business. Because these naysayers and skeptics have forgotten one thing. What if God WANTS to keep people guessing, having a choice in whether to believe or not? What if God is leaving clues about which believers (like me) can and often do, point to. But always leaving some plausible deniability to satisfy skeptics if they were so inclined. Let’s put it this way. If we posit the existence of an all-powerful but modest God who wants to be seen only by those He can trust, don’t you think He could obfuscate the matter? Many clever criminals can cover their tracks, so isn’t it obvious a supremely clever God could cloud up all the evidence, leaving only the tell-tale smell of a divine rose? Something that would never stand up in a court whose judge was the left brain (as opposed to the heart)? Indeed, this was the point made by the Indian (Parsi, para precisar) mystic Meher Baba, in his interesting short essay, “God Is Shy of Strangers.”

**You can find this here: Exodus 33:20. But I believe in a sense this is true, and what inspired this poem (one of my most popular, apparently):

A Game God, Likes to Play

God reveals Himself out of the corner of your eye
Then when you turn and look
He’s gone

It’s a game God likes to play
Of plausible deniability
A game of stay away

Because if love could hurt it would not be love
And it’s not good for your eyes
To look into a welding torch

It’s not good for your body
To be in the center of the sun
It’s this distance that proves God’s love

And the sneaky game of teasing then disappearing?
It’s because God can’t help cheating a little
It hurts to be so far from one you love

***My favorite mystic, Meher Baba, (If you want to see why, read the About section at the top of my main page, which is accompanied by other choices, such as Poems–all mine, Stories, and Quotes) said that to expect to understand God with your mind is like expecting to see with your ears. The apt instrument for that, Baba said, is the heart.

Your Heart’s Scope. Your Heart’s Hope

Gautama the Buddha

Gautama the Buddha


The Difficult Business of Watch Repair

“I cannot dream that this watch exists and has no watchmaker.”

I am fascinated by Vipassana Buddhism
I believe in that one merely observes:
No worries about changing

About guilt about ought
Just be caught aware
Of what you are thinking

What you are doing
Maybe too with a little thought
About the projected payout

I said to myself how practical
How easy a first step:
Become aware

Then of course you can fix stuff kind
Of like getting a new pair of glasses before
The difficult business of watch repair

But I now believe it’s easier than that
If you watch it
The watch repairs itself


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,

For starters, I want to apologize for the lapse of what has it been? Two weeks? Three?

I am starting to feel it was a rash promise, “New post every Monday.” (I really must amend that) Especially since some of them more than usually require research. (Like today’s). Also recently I’ve been ill, and the internet has been down. (Remember, this is Guatemala here, and we have regular power outages, etc. And when it rains I can’t see some of my favorite channels on television. Life is hard) But mostly it’s because this post is a victim of mission creep and now it looks like it may be a three parter, instead of the projected two (I refer to the current Aldous Huxley theme). Moreover, much more difficult to execute than my usual stuff I can at least do a good first draft of off the top of my head. But this is more like writing a paper for a literature class.

So I fear it’s a tattered flag I am saluting with this post-a-week promise. And I have noticed some other blogs which are far more intermittent than mine. And a wee voice talks about a happy balance between maintaining a schedule, and not having a nervous breakdown. If any are not into a faithful vigilance towards blogs, and yet would prefer not to miss one of these posts, remember, there is a follow button. Press that, enter your email, and one can relax and await notification by email when a new post arrives.

Now back to business:

This post might properly be titled, “My Aldous Huxley Angle, Part Two.” (Because the last post was part one)

But that sounds unpoetic and I usually at least try to be dramatic.

Which suggests what they always tell you in writer’s school: You need a “hook” atop your oeuvre to pique the reader’s interest.

So no doubt this will have a different title.*

Oh dear. Digression ataque de nuevo. Sigh.

But onward:

Back to Aldous Huxley. Even in high school I was fascinated by his work. I read almost every one of his novels including of course, his famous cautionary tale of a future dystopia, Brave New World, often paired with George Orwell’s 1984,** which provides a darker future of a Stalinist police state that can practically read minds. Huxley’s was less dark, but the point was, that even though they ruled more by drugs and hedonistic mind conditioning than by threats of pain and such negative feedback, yet the horror was achieved. The horror being what happens when you are denied your humanity, your heart’s scope. Your heart’s hope.

There. Maybe that’s my title!

Aside from Brave New World (which fyi is the less depressing read, of the dicho dystopias) there was Ape and Essence, Eyeless in Gaza, Time Must Have a Stop, Chrome Yellow, Antic Hay, Point Counterpoint, After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (another wry fantasy novel dealing with a “breakthrough” in the direction of human immortality), and importantly, his last novel, Island, which had a more mystical bent,*** and also featured a future alternate society, but this time beneficent.

Even if it was a Jesus parallel. In that this society got invaded and lost everything to their non-mystical neighbors. Kind of a crucifixion of innocence kind of thing.

I have always remembered Huxley’s Island, or at least the incident with the young boy being bitten by a large snake, which of course terrified him. The elders would not be content to let the boy who survived nicely, forget the incident. No, they made him relive it by constantly describing how it was, down to remembering all the details, so it would be a part of conscious memory instead of being forced underground into the subconscious where otherwise it would live and do its dirty work in dreams or a generalized sense of dread.

All of which showed a marvelous understanding of the human psyche and how to deal with it without doing any harm, and beyond that, to actually cure mental damage and maintain mental health.

It was essentially Buddhist philosophy.

To encapsulate, here’s a quote:
“Nobody needs to go anywhere else. We are all, if we only knew it, already there.” ****

I think I will add it to this websites quote collection (See “Quotes” button above)

I looked Island up online and found some interesting stuff (See below)*****

More next week.

God be with you,
Eric Halliwell

*A ver cual. I usually pick titles the way I do for my poems. If you look at any of them, you will note that almost invariably the title is a verbatim extract from the body of the poem. It does solve a lot of the problems one has picking titles. There is in my poems usually a dramatic sequence or colorful bit or something which Samuel Johnson (the famous British man of letters immortalized in Boswell’s Life of Johnson–Which I intend to read someday) might have called “exceptionally fine.”

Even though what Doctor Johnson actually said was, “If you think you have written something exceptionally fine, strike it out!”

It’s best of course if this title eloquently encapsulates the idea of the poem.

If the poem doesn’t feature any such highlights perhaps it’s time to go back to the drawing board (poem-wise)

**By an interesting coincidence, when Huxley briefly taught writing, one of his students was George Orwell, whose also dystopian (plenty scary) cautionary tale, 1984, is usually paired with Huxley’s Brave New World. Such a small world. As this post also demonstrates when you get to the coincidences.

***In his later years, Huxley became focused on Eastern mystical ideas, such as mentioned above, Buddhism.

****smacks of Zen do it not?

*****I did some research for this post and found an article by Velma Lush who argues that it’s Buddhist stuff, giving these examples:

“Over a thousand birds inhabit the island mimicking the word, ‘Attention,’ reminding people to pay attention to everything they do.”

“From the beginning, children are taught to do things with ‘the minimum of strain and maximum of awareness’ “.

“By being fully aware of what you’re doing, work becomes the yoga of work, play becomes the yoga of play, everyday living becomes the yoga of everyday living.”

The article can be found here: