Obsession

From An Interview with Shamcher Bryn Beorse

J=Jelaluddin Boru, S=Shamcher
J: The condition that Inayat Khan refers to as obsession:

“The course of some people who are apt to understand
the Message of God as the message of the mediums. They
understand the Message the same way they understand an
obsession; a man who is obsessed with a philosopher begins
to speak philosophy, and when his obsession is gone he can
no longer talk about it. It is true, that persons who are
in this condition will speak most intelligently on philosophy
and metaphysics in the time that they are obsessed. But then,
when the obsession is gone, they are just like a horse without
a rider; when they speak they are not themselves. This kind of
thing has nothing to do with the prophetic message. God does
not take hold of a certain body in order to give his message
to the world. This is to be distinctly understood…”

S: Inayat Khan spent the last four hours of his time talking to us about mediums, and explaining that many mediums have contact with spirits, but which spirits? There is so much cheating and confusion on the other side… Genuine teachers speak to their pupils directly if they want to make contact after they have left their body. Nevertheless, we have the incident that happened after Inayat’s death, where four of his closest disciples came forth with messages from him they “received” through mediums.
I know of a Turkish psychiatrist who travelled the world looking for people with psychic gifts. You know what she found? That the professional soothsayers, mediums and predicters had practically no ability but there were all kinds of gifted people among doctors, nurses, teachers and ordinary working people. But these people knew enough to keep their powers hidden…
As far as the prophetic message is involved, this is an admonition to help us remember that contact with the other side means nothing. It may even be dangerous, since there are all kinds of communication that are destructive.

J: That has triggered two thoughts: would you say that mediums are sort of dead to the possibility of making the future; and can we connect this idea of obsession, i.e. the entrance of something from the other side, with the kind of obsession that is the rigid adherence to a conceptual framework?
S: Most mediums, and so many mystics who “predict the future”, instead of helping to be creators of it are dead to it. And it is a pity that we listen so much to them and that they get so much space in the papers as opposed to those who are really trying to do something.
Let us take the area of engineering and physics with which I am acquainted. When a man has created something, that thing, and his opinion of it, weighs more than a thousand bureaucrats who pronounce judgment as to whether it is good or bad. How can they know anything about it? And yet it is the bureaucrats and the president, or whomever, who gets listened to, as if they know more than the man who has spent years and years doing the research, even sometimes when the researcher is backed by his university, or many universities across the country. It is the scientists who can judge on the basis of the sciences, and their opinion should weigh more than 1,000 bureaucrats, but such is not the case… I know of one case where seven major universities and four research departments of industrial companies recommended that a certain thing be done, and yet nothing happened because we had to wait for someone from the office of technical assessment, or some congressman, or the president’s energy czar to come and tell us whether it was really any good!
This is the same kind of obsession, on another plane, that Inayat Khan was speaking about. Some are obsessed with voices from the other side, some are obsessed with the bureaucracy or the government. Both are dependent on an external authority that has been chosen on the flimsiest excuse… Consider the way it works with research, for example. The University sends in a request saying “we need such and such an amount of money to complete our research.” It goes to Bert Lance or some other budget director, and he, on the basis of completely inadequate experience decides what should and should not be researched. And he complains that if everyone got his way with research, we would have ten times as big a budget for research projects. Well, that’s excellent, that’s just what we need! It is research and investigation that will bring us out of our inflation because then we would be actively doing [words missing here].
The true economists can explain this. But we listen to the economic opinion of a congressman who has arranged for his salary to increase in correspondence with the inflation, though it is exactly these increases that are causing the inflation. “Oh, he can’t live on $43,000; he must have $58,000!” But we who live on less than $10,000 wonder about these wonderful economic experts who are so stupid they couldn’t get by when they were making only $43,000…
And this is just an illustration of a principle expressed in our society. There are many cases that are the same, because there is nothing in the society that is not sacred, which is not as relevant to our spiritual development as the things spoken about by “spiritual people”…
*
J: Shamcher, I feel we’re approaching something here that is an important part of where I want this book to go. To understand that obsession is something much more than simply giving too much authority to beings from the other side. That we are also “obsessed” when we give that power away to people on this side…
S: Yes. Like in the example of the congressmen and the energy people etc. When we give absolute authority to any “expert” we are obsessed in a sense.

J: I don’t think this covers what I mean, but we can return to it. Will you talk about how we are to understand the difference between an intuition that is growing more powerful as we walk on the spiritual path, and the presence of beings from the other side in our consciousness? I don’t personally find this very easy. Sometimes, because I am using another part of the mind than the one usually associated with the ego part when I am using my intuition, it almost seems that I am hearing voices, or receiving instructions…
S: You must very carefully judge here yourself. Don’t be afraid to do this. Many people don’t judge, even many sufis, and they will say to themselves, “Oh, I had a vision while I was meditating, so that must be right.”
It isn’t always right.
A vision may be a spirit that is very eager to come in, or it may be simply a thought of your own that is interfering with your intuition. There is no way to tell this except by exercising your own powers of judgment. If you go running off to other people to tell you about your own spirit then you are weakening your powers every time you listen to such a person. Remember Buddha’s farewell address…
This gets a little bit difficult when you think about your teacher. But remember, the teacher is not someone who should tell you what to do. If he does tell you what to do then he is not a teacher. A teacher is one who helps you evolve and awaken your own latent powers of judgment and decision.

J: Well, Shamcher, I must say that things are not always like that within the Sufi Orders that I know. And oftentimes I see a greater interest in finding someone to act as an authority then actual self investigation…
S: Yes, well this natural, and it is only the people who expect Sufis to suddenly be angels who are disappointed. One should not be concerned with all the apparent conflict within the sufi order, but rather be encouraged by how much real service there is. For example, this conflict between SIRS and the Sufi Order is of minor importance in my view. I am more concerned with all these people we’ve been talking about who are running to soothsayers and people outside for help…

J: Do you feel that one should not seek help then, from the beings of the other side?
S: Yes, its not to be sought. It will come of itself at the right time and then you will act on it. For example, Pir Vilayat came to me once and said, “I meditated on my father and he indicated to me that I was doing a wrong by not believing in the ranks and titles; if I follow that line I will destroy the order and there will just be little flowers here and there instead of a concentrated order.” And he may be right or wrong but he’d had the feeling that this had come from his father, something very understandable, that a man who was trying to spread the message of his father would want to be led by his father.

J: Do you think that he was really in communication with his father?
S: Yes! Everybody is, everybody who has ever been initiated is in communication with Inayat Khan. In fact, Inayat once said: “People who have never seen me, who will be born after I’ve left, may often be in closer contact with me than you people who have known my person, because you will confuse me with my physical person…”

J: When one uses his intuition, sometimes it is hard to distinguish between spiritual guidance and the guidance that has been set up by the vibratory field of Inayat Khan and his teachings.
S: There is no distinction. There is definitely a set of vibrations that have been set in motion by Inayat Khan and his pupils… And anyone can tune into these.
But there is one thing that I will say about questions of this type.
All these things are subtle, and you can’t get a sudden easy answer, you have to discover the answer gradually for yourself. And then you may discover it to complete satisfaction, many have done that… But it is a gradual process, and so you shouldn’t feel discouraged if you are not entirely clear about it now.
It is not clear in any language, but it can become clear to you…

J: Isn’t it possible that you will need a human guide before you begin to tune in to these subtler vibrations?
S: I don’t think so. Others may feel this, but I definitely believe not. Rabindranath Tagore said in one of his poems that they had told him that he had to go through this gate or that gate or follow this leader to become close to God, but then God had grace on him and led him to Himself without any guide…

J: Well, it seems to me that you’re acting as a guide when you tell us not to follow guides!
S: No, what I say here is not for the purpose of guiding you. I express what I feel because I have been asked to, and one may or may not listen to that as they wish. That is not the same as guidance. The purpose is very important…

J: Back to obsessions: do you sometimes pick up on others’ pain and sorrows?
S: Yes, that is very possible. Inayat Khan did that all the time. And when that happens you have the right to notice it and not engage in it thereby ridding yourself of it, or you decide that that is a delightful feeling and go about discovering it more deeply.

J: Do people sometimes make you take on these feelings?
S: No. Some people have superstitions about these types of influences. They say, “This man is a vampire, he takes all my powers!” Well, I say to these people that if anyone is taking your powers its your own damn fault! No one can take your powers if you don’t let them, and besides, it is not that he has taken your power, it is that you have emptied yourself of it to him for some reason.

J: I feel this is a crucial point. Obsession is always volitional, and if the obsession is of the type where spirits enter, it is because we have invited them in, wouldn’t you say?
S: Right.

J: Is there a difference between obsession and possession?
S: Obsession applies to things of the earth as well as things of the inner plane. For example, it may mean obsession with an idea, or obsession with the authority of the worldly hierarchies, such as when we spoke of bureaucrats and the congress etc., as well as the other kind of obsession which means to be obsessed by a spirit. But possession as far as I understand it refers only to that instance where a spirit has possessed you.

J: This is what I was trying to get at once before, Shamcher. The more subtle side of obsession that deals with ideas and things rather than dealings with the other side. An example of what I’m thinking of could be the way an artist can become obsessed with his art, a poet can become obsessed with the need to make poetry, or a person can become obsessed with sex or romantic love. We can go on and on. Obsession with drugs, obsession with one particular teacher… The common factor seems to be that they are rigidities that thwart enlightenment. And yet they are, I believe, a necessary part of the process by which we learn, so they are a sort of positive obsession which are our perhaps best opportunities if we can only look at them in the right way… (answered somewhere else)

(Click here for a random post from somewhere else in this blog.)

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