On this page you will find a selection of recollections. They give an impression of Eugene Halliday, both for those who remember him, and for those new to his work. It is interesting to bear in mind that testimonials say as much about those who made them, as well as those about whom they are made.
These personal reflections are from a questionnaire posed to members of Ishval by Carol Parkes in the mid-1990s, as part of her MA Theology dissertation Eugene Halliday: The Supreme Coherence of a Little Known Sage. Carol had never met Eugene, but had learned of him through attending courses run by Roger Home, who had met Eugene probably in the 1940s. Through her questionnaire, Carol gained an impression of Eugene from the responses of some of those who knew him personally, which added some context to her work.
When and how did you first meet Eugene?
“On November the Fifth 1955; I was too late for the fireworks, but arrived at his house at about eleven o’clock, at the invitation of his friend, now Mrs …”
“At a Church meeting. He was a guest speaker. The curate had met him at a Healing service in Manchester. The year was about 1957.”
“I met Eugene in the 1960’s introduced by a mutual friend.”
“1962 or 3 – attending the Sunday meetings at Parklands. Introduced by my husband ……… who met Eugene about a year earlier – and had some individual sessions with Eugene before I knew him.”
“In 1968 with my husband who already went to see Eugene privately.”
“1973 at a friend’s flat.”
“In 1974. I heard his name several years previously and I knew something of his reputation. He had helped friends when they were having problems.”
“I was introduced to Eugene by my parents when I was about eleven years old. At that time I was stealing money from my parents and despite being caught and punished I continued to do so. My parents thought that Eugene would be able to help.“
What was your initial reaction to him?
“That he had answers to some of the questions I was asking myself, mainly religious and philosophical and that he could be trusted if I disclosed intimate details about my life.”
“A strong person with a penetrating gaze. He included me in the session with my husband in a way which made me feel included without pressurising me.”
“Stunning – he looked into my eyes and I felt empty of content. His eyes were like a pure pool of water.”
“Very marked because here was someone who made logical sense of things and left no loose ends unanswered. He spoke of the letters A and B and their meanings. Was any one ever taught such things at school? If not WHY NOT.”
“I knew of him before I knew him – a mixture of awe, fear and suspicion – with instant feeling of trust and friendship.”
“I was hopeful that he would be able to help me. His quiet, receptive, controlled, attentive manner was reassuring.”
“Some of his etymological derivations of the meaning of terms were rather striking. I thought he was joking. I found out later that he wasn’t.”
“I thought he was a bit strange.”
“Immediately to know that I was in the presence of a Master. Like all truly royal persons he was expert at the art of putting the stranger at ease, but there was no doubt in me that I would always want to be in contact with him.”
Can you describe him please?
“I would be shown into the room and shortly the door would open and this tall thin figure would limp into the room. A quizzical expression on his face as he keenly observed you.”
“He was always in charge of himself in any situation. He attended to details in all he undertook and was never satisfied with second best.”
“His work is his best description.”
“Only by saying that he was totally true to himself and ever, ever willing ‘to help anyone” who asked for it.”
“An impossible task to describe such a being – first must be his presence as energy – quiet, eternal, converged and at the same time totally aware – I remember his love and his humour – his clarity and his persistence. His infuriating enigmatic answers to questions – which still give me the spur to further work – and his wonderful smile.”
“In appearance he was tall, thin, spare and austere. In relationship as a teacher he was the wisest most completely consistent and trustworthy person I have known. Often he was funny. Always he was interested and convergent on the situation we were dealing with.”
“I think the best answer to this question is No, because I felt there was more to him than I could describe. He was very sensitive to the immediacy of any situation. He spoke when the spirit moved him to speak. He would hear what was said, what was meant and what was not said and would answer all three. He was profoundly knowledgeable, he knew so much, in personal conversation he always talked at a level one could understand and join in. Eugene embodied what he taught. He would become interested in what you were interested in and often stimulate you to see it differently.”
“My first image was of great height, very slim and free moving with fine gestures – often I have walked with him and scarcely been aware of his limp. His expression was, to me, primarily compassionate, a fortunate thing, for his eyes looked beyond one’s superficial surface and penetrated into the heart of you – without that open, deep and understanding compassion, the look would have seared your soul! His laughter, quiet sometimes a quick staccato sound, (the laughter of acquired power, he called it), was nonetheless rich and infectious, and always told you something about the subject in hand. He held himself well, upright yet relaxed. Of course, always fully alert.”
Can you recall any anecdotes which illumine his character?
“The public and private faces of Eugene were not so different. He was a lucid and compelling speaker in what seemed to be an unprepared talk. I had the feeling that the subject was cogitated upon prior to the actual talk. There was always an element of spontaneity. He was well able to deal with a debating challenge. We always had a question time in the second half of the evening, irrespective of what happened in the first half.”
“I have been at parties where Eugene was present – he would sit quietly somewhere off the centre of activities, and yet in no time there was a strong sense of him attracting people to himself and forming a focus for peoples attention and energy. A natural centre – a real presence.”
“No, simply because he was at one and the same time very complex and very simple.”
“He told stories all the time – many of them funny and amusing which illustrated his grasp of the interaction of everything. When I first visited him and I was in need of kindness and gentleness we often talked as he ate his very simple lunch. Bits of the lunch he gave to me – feeding me like a bird – though I didn’t mentally register the quality of this at the time.”
“Not really. I am sure that there are many but is his ‘character’ the issue really?”
“He once gave me a lift to Altrincham station. There was a person hitch hiking on the other side of the road. In order to pick him up Eugene had to turn the car around and go over to where he was and offer him a lift.”
“He himself was illumined, and the speed with which he translated feeling into thought was magical to observe. The one time when I felt that he was the smallest bit irritated with me, was before he said quite sharply, `Oh, get on your donkey and ride up to Jerusalem!’ His patience was long-suffering; I am still amazed when I think what he had to put up with, being so far advanced and myself and others I observed so far behind; but he never lost his generous will towards us, and no matter how we fell or forgot he always picked us up and taught us again.”
In what way if any did Eugene influence your life or attitude?
(To be continued…)