Memory of Shamcher

In honor of Murshid Shamcher Bryn Beorse I offer these stories of my interaction with this delightful man.

This relationship happened in the early 70’s in northern Seattle. I did not at this time know that Shamcher was a ‘Murshid’, only that he had at one time been a pupil of Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, who was the founder of the Sufi Order in the United States. Shamcher did not feel that titles or degrees of initiation were beneficial on the Path. He honored friendship, economics, and freedom.

There was an upcoming teacher named Atiya north of Seattle. He was coaching her and encouraging her to be a Sufi teacher and take on pupils. She objected on the basis that her level of initiation was too low. Immediately Shamcher conferred upon her the level of a “32nd” degree Sufi. (There’s only 12!)

He told me once that ‘Shamcher’ means ‘tongue of flame.’ Shamcher stunned me every now and again. I lived seven years in a wonderful commune called the “Growing Family” in Seattle just north of Lake Union. I began leading a Sufi group there and Shamcher came to my room upstairs for a visit. I had pictures all around the room of different spiritual teachers. He pointed to a picture of Sant Kirpal Singh and asked, “Who is this?” “Well,” I said, “his pupils consider him a perfect master.” “And do you think he’s a perfect master?”, he asked. “Well, I don’t have any idea what a perfect master is,” I replied. “That’s a good answer,” he responded.

One day a couple came to the house to look about. Later that evening, they revealed that they had sought out Shamcher as a former disciple of Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. He then said, “I’m flattered that you have come to see me, but there is a Sufi Perfect Master living in Seattle in a commune.” He directed them to the “Grey House” where I lived and they came to check me out. I laughed and assured them that I was fallible and this was Shamcher’s humor.

As I got to know him a little more, he allowed me to call him long distance collect and chat with him about spiritual matters. One evening, as we talked, he said something that so astounded me that I was speechless for about 30 seconds. He broke the silence by asking, “Confused?” “Yes,” I replied. “Wonderful, confusion is often a sign of spiritual progress.” “In that case,” I said, “I must indeed be a Perfect Master.” Shamcher paused and replied, “Merlyn, that’s a whole lot funnier than you think it is.”

He encouraged me to keep on and contributed money for our group expenses. He explained Wazifas occasionally, and answered my questions. Once I took the ferry across to Bremerton. He picked me up and we chatted at his house for a while. Then he said, “This is all very nice, but you must have had some questions you wanted to ask.” At this point I was a bit blissed out and replied, “I don’t remember them.” He excused himself from the room for a few minutes and on returning we engaged in a a delightful exchange. The he asked, “Does that answer your questions?” “Yes it does, thank you.” “I went in the next room,” he said, “and asked Murshid what your questions were.”

He was always supportive and kind. When Shamcher was retired at Bremerton, he moved to Berkeley, CA, and was known to chat with people on the street. One young woman he often engaged with was encouraged by him to run for President of the United States!

Bless you Shamcher, may the Beloved enrich you with His Peace and Blissful Sanctuary.

P.S. Shamcher related to me once, his interim in the Russian Revolution. He was well liked by the soldiers of the Red Guard and traveled with them on a train. He had no papers so they hid him from the officers. “In the barracks,” he said, “some of the men had their wives with them in their cots, and when they got it on, the others would applaud and shout encouragements.” He said the camaraderie was close.

==Malik Marvin Kruger

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