From An Interview with Shamcher Bryn Beorse
J=Jelaluddin Boru, S=Shamcher
J: The Sufi path is supposed to be the path of direct experience. To me this means the acquiring of a sense of presence: the presence of God within you, the presence of God coming through your teachers within you, an awareness of the presence of your soul.
S: When you use the word “god” you have to be careful. For instance, many so called ‘great’ mystics say, “God told me this from the other side.” So whenever they hear a voice from the other side it’s God? Well, what kind of God is that?! Sometimes it is a very immature spirit that is trying to get back to this world because this is the only one he understands, and so he will come back to anyone that will listen. These people who are always going around saying that they are in direct contact with God are not the real mystics… What an inadequate expression of God!
J: Perhaps they have made a “god” of the object of their obsessive desire.
S: Yes! That’s why even the word “god” can be misused and is misused. I saw an advertisement in the newspaper once of someone who said, “I talk to God”. Well, isn’t that wonderful, I thought, so do I…
J: Superstition, Shamcher, I see as a craving for a higher sense of order significance in one’s life. And I see it arising after a long period of time where one has lacked that kind of meaning and sense of higher significance. So when one suddenly gets a glimpse one seizes on it and says “yes, this is explaining my whole life”…
S: This is what I would call the high form of superstition. The low form is when one has all types of negative interference, and thoughts that tomorrow the world is going to end and you’re going to go to hell.
It is a positive sort of superstition when you feel the urge to expand because you think that you have found a solution to everything. You may get caught up in this, but usually after awhile you finally see that you don’t really know it yet, and then finally you come to the point to where you say, “Well, I don’t know it yet, but it doesn’t matter, I am beginning.” And this is beautiful because you are listening now instead of making assumptions. From that point on you have no superstitions anymore, or at least not serious ones…
A very common form of this superstition is when people read about karma and reincarnation. “Oh yes, now I understand everything!” But each of us understands the concepts of karma and reincarnation in a different way. lnayat Khan was very careful to explain–in a sense explain away–the ideas of reincarnation and karma to us. He said that what most people think of reincarnation is not you, not yourself that was reincarnating, but the mind stuff… Look at Buddha, His whole life was to try and get us away from the idea of karma and reincarnation, so we would not have to be born again here.
J: ls the Soul subject to states of obsession?
S: No. The soul is supreme and is always as it is. It is only that the soul forgets itself in the mind that is subject to superstition or obsession.
Of course very few people really live in the soul or remember the soul.
J: Shamcher, Inayat Khan stressed moderation in the undertaking of spiritual disciplines, didn’t he?
S: Yes, I could give you an example of what he meant from my worldly experience. . . .
In the dunes near Oceano in California there lived a man who was an abstract painter. He was a recluse and his occupation very well fitted his life. He lived about a mile from me, and whenever I would come walking past he would say, “O, Bryn, Bryn, come in.” And then he would talk for an hour without interruption because he hadn’t mastered the art of being alone and was rather desperate for company. He had exaggerated to himself his ability to live in solitude and now he had to have these outlets. He talked and talked and he would even say things like, “You know that Moon Mullins next door is running up and down the beach stealing all my lumber.” It wasn’t his lumber of course. This shows his unbalance. And the danger of being alone when you are not really capable of it. So many do this. Run up to the Himalayas or something…
I almost succumbed to this in 1959. I was in the Himalayas and I found myself walking up along a streamlet. The water was fresh and fresher the higher I went, and it was so beautiful and easy that I did even feel myself moving after awhile. And I began to think that this was the place that I should spend the rest of my life. Then, just as I was thinking this, I saw a cave, you know, one of those caves where you’d expect a saint to be looking out from the opening. So I said to myself “Oh, this is exactly where I should stay, but how am I to get in?” And then I discovered by climbing higher that there was a way of getting in.
It was really dark. And as I was feeling around I felt something soft that went GRRR-GRRRRR, and then I felt again and it went GRRRRWHHAHHHHHHWHAHHH
and l got out of there.
Later on I looked at this bear, for that’s what it was I think, as something pushed by Inayat Khan to tell me to get out of there and get out in world again. So I went back to the world and began once again to fight for OTECs…
Before this, you see, I had been fighting rather in vain for OTECS. And had had an experience where I was talking to Prime Minister Nehru and a room full of scientists, where I felt that they were listening, and were interested, but that nothing would come of it so I might just as well go on retreat.
But then I got thrown out of that cave. And before I knew it, all of America was talking OTEC, and I was in the middle of it, so there were some very good reasons why I couldn’t just sit in solitude…
J: Didn’t a yogi once tell Pir Vilayat that the holy men in the Himalayas were a dying race because the way for us now is to stay in the world?
S: Yes. They are a dying race because the world is now ripe to take care of itself. It doesn’t need saints sitting back there keeping us in touch. And this is coming! You see young people everywhere, and many old people too, who have become aware of the need for balance in the spiritual realities, of the need for a balance that will make them much more than simply the heirs of religious traditions.
One time the Dalai Lama said that a certain Trappist monk was the only person from the West that he knew of that could meditate, but you see it coming among all the young people around us now, so there is a direct contact with what I would call the stream of the universe among them or at least some of them.
J: I understand that Inayat Khan talked about a sort of progression among the Spiritual masters and that since the time of Mohammed, the message that he completed, there is no longer any necessity to use a go-between for enlightenment.
S: Yes. Except that when you say the word “master”: Inayat Khan never used that expression about any human being. And he was the first to say that he was not a master. He would always say, “There is only One master, the spirit of guidance that leads every soul to its destination.” So I become offended when I hear people talk of Inayat as a “master”, of course, though he may have been in a sense the greatest one for us.
I really don’t like this word “master”.
J: What is the spiritual path?
S: If one would be facetious one would say that there is no such thing. But if one is kind, and accepts it, one would say that in the line of Inayat Khan, it is annihilation of the false ego.
This annihilation of the false ego is much different and bigger task than is usually realized. For some it may take a million years. Others may seem almost as if they are born with it. Some people work really hard at it and never seem to succeed, and then they’ve apparently got it, until the next day when they haven’t got it anymore!
You know, humans are so crazy sometimes they really succeed! The funny thing is, many times it is the less you try, the better you do. All life is for this purpose, whether one calls it a spiritual path or not. The difference between the other paths and what we call the “spiritual” path is that the spiritual path has an element of knowing and conscious seeking. But then again, for some people, it may not be such a good thing to be conscious of it…
J: So what’s the point of joining any spiritual path or order?
S: So why join an order if you feel like that?
J: No Shamcher, I’m only asking a question.
S: There is every point and no point at all. The person who doesn’t join may be every bit as wise. One follows an impulse, and that impulse is the best one can do at the time.
I know people who are, in a sense, more conversant with sufi attitudes and ways than many of the sufis, yet who would find it a horror to join the group. Others join, of course, and are very successful because they join, so there is no attempt at a general rule here. I myself have always been in doubt about groups: “Should I join or should I perhaps not join?” And after I have joined: “Should I stay in or get out?”
It doesn’t really matter! But sometimes I have felt like I was cheating the people who were not in the group but were trying so hard to get in, while I who was in the group wasn’t really sure that I wanted to be there, so was perhaps giving the wrong impression ..
But then I would decide that to leave would be wrong against all the people who were still in who would wonder, “Why does he leave us now?”
J: It sometimes can be really frightening to have only God and yourself to depend on…
S: Personally I don’t see any difference. I am very happy alone, and I have often felt that I joined with Inayat Khan not to receive comfort from him but for what I could contribute to his movement. Not that he personally needed anything…
One time Inayat was approached by a man who said that he liked his message very much but that he couldn’t join the organization because he had to be free. And Inayat answered him, “Well, I think I am free and yet I am in the organization, but I don’t think you are so free because you are afraid of organizations.”
So if you are afraid to join or not to join, you are not free. If you join as a matter of your own free will, join with the thought that you are doing so because you want to help its cause. Because if you join with the idea that it is going to give you comfort you may be extremely disappointed, because it may not give you comfort. You shouldn’t want anything from the organization. About this you shouldn’t care…
J: But you think it’s all right not to join and just to depend on your own being?
S: Yes. It is quite all right just to depend on your own being. God, to me at least, is all the comfort one ever needs, and more. And I don’t take comfort from anyone else.
(Click here for a random post from somewhere else in this blog.)