Link to Carol Sill’s article on Medium: Shamcher Bryn Beorse, 20th Century Elder
Category Archives: Sufi
As listed in the Autobiographical Information on the early mureeds of Hazrat Inayat Khan:
Bryn Beorse (Björset) (Shamcher)
In October 1923 when I was 27 years old and had traveled all over India looking for a teacher of Yoga, which I had studied from when eight years old, Sirkar van Stolk telephoned to me in Oslo: Would I translate a lecture to be given at the Oslo University by the World’s greatest mystic? “We know that you have traveled in India …” A Theosophist friend insisted on going to the Grand Hotel together, where Inayat Khan was staying. I was irritated: this friend, too talkative, would ball up my serious interview about how to proceed with the translation – sentence by sentence or a script? Wondering how I would be able to get in my practical questions amid the heavy spiritual artillery fire I expected from my friend, I entered the room, a worried man. – Inayat Khan looked up at us with laughing eyes. “Shall we have silence?” The gentle, sincere, almost apologetic tone of his voice contrasted the startling sense of his words. With a graceful bow he asked us to sit down. We seated ourselves in opposite corners of a sofa and he sat down between us and closed his eyes. So did we… . I woke up, refreshed, when a bell rang. The interview was over, not a word was exchanged.
Next evening Inayat Khan gave his lecture and I translated it, after it had been given in full, without taking notes. People said I did not miss a word. I don’t know how.
I told him I liked his Message but I was already a member of the Theosophical Society and the Order of the Star in the East, so of course I could not join him. “No, of course not.” Four days later he came back from a trip. I said: “I think my membership in those other organizations was a preparation for something to come. I believe this may have come now. May I join you?” “With great pleasure.” Then he gave me practices and initiated me in a railway compartment. The people around us seemed unaware of what was going on.
I had played with God as a lusty playmate from early childhood, so could never be quite as serious and awed as some other mureeds and once, in the middle of the first Summer School in Paris, I suggested to Inayat Khan that perhaps I was not really fit for this life. He reassured me smilingly that I was, and protected me against assaults by other mureeds, in very subtle ways.
Murshida Green had asked us “What does Murshid mean to you?” “Well,” said I, “a friend, an example.” “Oh you don’t understand at all. Murshid is so much more than all that.” That same evening Murshid gave a talk but before he started he looked thoughtful, then said: “Before I start my talk I want to mention that sometimes a teacher’s best friends become his worst enemies – by lifting him up onto a pedestal and making of him an inhuman monster instead of what he is and wants to be: Just a friend, an example …”
Nevertheless, I want to ask forgiveness for my lack of respect. I even once asked Inayat whether we could give up the “Sufi” name on the Message since people misunderstood it for some Muslim sect. He said: “It could happen. But for the time being the name seems right to me, and if we did not put a name on ourselves, others would put a name on us and it might be worse.” More important is that Inayat pushed into my mind worlds of impulses that will take me eons to unravel and use.
When mureeds asked if Sufis should not be pacifists, Inayat replied: “If people of goodwill lay down their arms today, they will still fight: they will be forced to fight, and not in defense of their ideals any longer, but against them.”
In September 1926 I saw Inayat for the last time. I said: “I look forward to seeing you next summer.” “From now on,” he replied, “you will meet me in your intuition.” Then, during the first days of February 1927 I had a strange urge to travel to Suresnes, a three-four day trip by boat and rail from Norway. When I arrived others had had the same urge. Early on fifth February came the answer to why we had come. Now the Message was with us.
Inayat Khan often said “Mureeds who have never met me, never seen me, will often be closer to me than you, who know me as a person”. I am meeting such mureeds, closer to him, every day.
Berkeley, CA. U.S.A. From Shamcher’s autobiographical data. 27th July 1977.
Economist, engineer, generalist and mystic, Shamcher Bryn Beorse, reveals his comprehensive overview of the forces and influences shaping humanity in the latter half of the 20th century. Concerned with the fate of the earth environmentally, socially and politically, he offered both advice and warning, peppered with personal anecdotes. The cry of mother earth, the complexity of social issues, and the needs and desires of human beings living in this world today all combine in Beorse’s bird’s eye view.
This expanded and all-inclusive vision of the cry of the earth is as important today as when it was written over 40 years ago. What seemed radical at that time is commonplace today – an awareness of the totality of the environment including ourselves as well as the development of the inner life.
In Beorse’s world-view there is no separation between the areas of energy, economics, employment, the individual’s pursuit of happiness and his own personal life-experiences. He subtly includes the spiritual life, touching on yoga and Sufi thought and practice as necessary and meaningful tools to address our current problems – not only at a personal level, but in the areas of city life, the environment, education and the media.
It was his love of this life and of this precarious human experiment that urged him to write and add his voice to the increasingly urgent call of our planet.
This book of letters reveals an intimate and unique relationship between a teacher and pupil on the Sufi path.
A contemporary western mystic, Shamcher Beorse had been a pupil of the great Sufi, Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan in the 1920’s. Carol Sill was a young beginner on the spiritual path, grieving the sudden death of her only son. Fly along as Shamcher intuitively guides her through the winding routes of Love’s progress, growth and development.
With Shamcher by her side she opened to a world that had been previously closed to her. Share her discoveries as a dazzled and astonished neophyte, learning how to live without her body, and to proceed beyond eyes, ears and even beyond mind.
This process of inner development is all documented here – in real time, through the original correspondence, for Shamcher mailed all Carol’s letters back to her, with copies of his own, asking her to publish them.
Read this book as it was written: as an unfolding correspondence of the soul.
The yoga culture and its healing methods are wider-ranging and older than generally realized in the West. Most people think Yoga is certain posture and exercises. These are all a tiny part of one single branch: the Hatha yoga. Nevertheless, this is important: without any drug, needle or diet, certain simple postures and exercises may dramatically change bodily health, with beneficial consequences on the mind. Then there are the Gnana yogis, yogis of the mind, who use little if any physical exercise or postures but reorient and revitalize the whole personality through their mind. Which of these two methods or systems is to be used depends on the patient or the pupil. In this, the yogis are ahead of most of us: they recognize that humans are as different as night and day. What is poison to one is cure for another.
A third type of yoga is Bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion or love. the whole personality, mind and body, are cured by emotional input. Then there are the Karma yogis, the yogis of action. Soldiers, statesmen, business men are often cured or satisfactorily developed merely through their actions. There are the Mantram yogis, who develop through repeating magic words or chants, “mantrams”, and all of them pay attention to their breath.
Yoga, therefore, is not a narrow special practice or philosophy. It is the whole past civilization or culture of a continent, its science, religion and behaviorism rolled into one.
In the Near East a corresponding wide-ranging discipline or philosophy is and was Sufism, the inspiration behind the Hebrew, Zoroastrian, Christian and Muslim cultures and religions. The present popular fashion of connecting Sufism exclusively with Islam is deplored as much by knowledgeable Muslims as by other scholars.
Sufis have for millenniums been living side by side with yogis in India and other parts of the world. Both have benefitted and expanded their concepts. Both, again, are closely related to the Buddhists, particularly to Zen.
(excerpt from Planet Earth Demands)
From various correspondence:
You opened your eyes and let me look into your mind and beyond to your heart and soul. A “thank you” is too feeble to express my feeling. Didn’t you give me glimpse of The ONLY BEING?
And “manners” – are signs of the heart.
Please forgive me when, like that sufi in one of Idries Shah’s stories, I tell some people what they want to hear, because, as this sufi explained, “I am not his teacher, so I just support his belief in his own way, which is all he can take.”
In the West, discipleship are not and cannot be exactly as in the East. Pir-O-Murshid learned this gradually, painfully, but at last perfectly. There will always be different degrees of discipleship, not merely “mureeds and true mureeds” but a million finely distinguishable degrees.
No “successor” is a copy of the predecessor.
You have no slightest obligation to admire or approve what one pir thinks or does, not, for that matter do you need to criticise him, but, like me, you see the flame from within your own heart and so you can storm ahead and work and suffer all kinds of people, the devoted pir–worshippers , the equally devoted God–worshippers who see no “pir”.
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