Sufi Initiation and Early Work of Shamcher Bryn Beorse

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.

“Planet Earth Demands”

Planet Earth Demands front coverNow released!

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.

Find out more at the website for the book, or see it on Amazon.

Letters: Shamcher Beorse and Carol Sill, 1974-1977

Now released!

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.

Find out more at the website for the book, or see it on Amazon. Also available on Kindle.

Postcards

(Photo Shamcher Archives: Creative Commons Share-Alike Attribution 3.0)

We have just created postcards of this image of Shamcher holding the OTEC model. If you’d like some to pass around, add a comment with your address and we’ll send some to you!  (Don’t worry, your address will remain confidential.)

Yogis and Sufis

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)

The Future is (Still) Ours

Jim Dempsey added this inspired and thoughtful comment which I felt should be foregrounded here in the archives.

After reading this post I decided to purchase the book The Future is Ours.

It was extremely interesting and covered the banking system, money, inflation, deflation and basic stabilizing the economy but with a focus on allowing all citizens to have enough money/buying power as they needed to get by. This current economic crisis that began in 2008 is very relevant to the discussion in the book. It is clear that some of the solutions in the book are based on economic theories and are used to varying extent in our current economy. Likewise infrastructure spending is recommended as a mechanism to increase the money supply when excess capacity exists, but no money in the system to access this capacity. It is quite interesting because economics is about human energy or ability and the interaction between humans in the utilization of their energy or goods/services is the essense of economics.

In the quotes and theories section of the book Shamcher has questions and then answers them. One is: “How do most of us want it to be?” The answer is “Prosperous, adventurous, unrestricted, secure. We want opportunities for realizing our abilities and resources. We want free choice in every walk of life, no shortages in our stream of supplies, good and happy neighbors”

Economics is about people not money. Economic instability creates imbalance and can cause problems for all society. We need to work towards economic balance for all this will allow our minds to be free to explore more important areas of human existance.

The chapter quoted in this blog on clearing centres was of extreme interest to me. While Shamcher discusses inflation, deflation, deficits, surpluses, money supply, etc. and the associated solutions to a balanced system. The clearing system discussed above was interwoven into the discussion and its benefit of minimum inflationary impact on the money system was very interesting.

But more interesting was the idea of a mechanism for people/businesses to get credit for goods/services and use these to access others goods/services through a clearing system. I recognized this as a way to generate an economy and not being dependent on the money supply. How many communities are money poor but human energy rich and if these energies could be tapped through a clearing system described in this posting we could allow people/businesses to access the goods/services they require in exchange for their goods/services therebye rejuvenating the community and its economy.

Another quick thought is look at developing countries and specifically places like Afganistan or Iraq or any other country in distress. Many of the problems stem from lack of jobs which creates money to purchase the goods/services needed to survive. A bank where people could deposit goods/service credits and exchange with others for their requirements would create an economy from the human energy in these places. Likewise it would strengthen the community as they would be creating most of their needs internally.

Another interesting quote from Shamcher in the book is: “The scientific method can be used to explore the the atom, but let it be applied to human affairs and at once the pressure of …. party loyalty, of nationalism, or merely of established customs prevent the acceptance of valid conclusions. It is the full revelation of the spirit of science, and the fact that it envisages all of civilization and not merely useful gadgets that will bring us to the age of science. To call on present science for help is futile. To call on politicians, lawyers, clergymen, economists, is equally futile until they have learned, from science perhaps, the spirit and method of research.”

The interesting thing about this quote for me is that it suggests that we have to understand research the concept of critical thinking and looking at the facts and coming to a conclusion that makes sense.

The “Future is Ours” discusses the facts and issues trying to create understanding. There is so much that needs to happen in the world and the process of faciliating this is through researching and understanding topics and coming to balanced approachs that can be tested and adjusted helping stablize humanity.

Within the context of the above context I am currently interested in two areas of research and development:

1. The clearing bank model: I am interested in more information on this topic with the goal of fully understanding the various models available. I then plan to develop a framework for these type of bank(s) that could be used to start actual banks. I then hope to start a bank of this type and work with others to do the same. If anyone has further information on these types of banks from the past or current models please let me know.

2. The second area is the topic of research and development or the scientific model. More specifically this is an area I have been interested in a while in conjunction with some reading I have been doing of Harold Innis works on communication and media as well as some thoughts regarding frameworks for creating venues for dialogue on topics for those interested in researching and developing thoughts and projects in specific areas of human/planetary/universal interest.

Again I have a similiar idea of development of a framework for dialogue on topics through multiple medias that could help progress thought and development patterns influencing social/human development. The “spirit and method of research” Shamcher quotes aligned with the ideas regarding dialogue and information that have been percolating in my mind lately.

If anyone has any interest in either of these areas or ideas please feel free to contact me for further discussion. I have started writing on # 2 and plan on working on #1 in the near future, further information will be available somewhere on the internet as they progress. I can be reached at jim.dempsey@shaw.ca.

Full Employment and Inflation

From the Appendix to Every Willing Hand, Shamcher’s book advocating full employment for all which is particularly relevant today.

A concluding word about inflation. If full employment were, as so often alleged, bound to generate inflation, amending the Employment Act to give it real teeth might have little point. But two recent developments have brought that gloomy thesis into the most serious question — first, the ample demonstration that inflation now tends to occur even without full employment, and second, the not unrelated shift of informed public opinion into favoring an incomes policy of some kind to help maintain price stability. Thus full employment need no longer carry such burdens as do not, properly speaking, belong to it.

More than that, however, it is here submitted that a program of guaranteed full employment along the lines suggested would not only not feed inflation but actually be the best cure for inflation. This is asserted for two reasons in combination. First, the ceilings on employment and on consumer spending that would be imposed under this approach would choke off upward demand spirals almost entirely. That is the built-in “mechanical” aspect. It would limit “demand pull” directly, as already emphasized, and indirectly it would also moderate the wage-demand side of the “cost push” by holding down the prices that make up the worker’s cost of living. Second, there is the psychological point that cannot be proved but that should appeal to common sense-a point that would arise from the very fact of the government’s readiness to commit itself in this unprecedented way. An agreement on the part of the government to assure a total market adequate for business prosperity, and to assure continuous full employment for labor, should be enough to persuade business and labor leaders to agree to abide by some reasonable set of price and wage guidelines.

Those who blame inflation on the incurable wickedness of Big Business or Big Labor or both often seem unaware of how far the behavior of both has been caused by the malfunctioning of our economy — its cyclical instability combined with secular weakness — the inevitability of which is precisely what needs to be denied. Once the government stood ready to assure continuously adequate total demand for products and for workers, (1) all businesses would have more chance to spread their overhead costs and hold prices down; (2) management in areas of administered pricing could logically give up planning for extra profits in boom times to cushion losses in future slumps; and (3) union leaders would feel less pressure to demand extreme hourly wage rates on the one hand, or annual pay guarantees on the other, to fortify their members against the return of unemployment.

To put this in context — as these words are being written, the country is deep in President Nixon’s economic Phase II. Whether this experiment with a Wage Board and a Price Commission will, be followed soon by selective permanent legal controls or by some other incomes policy is impossible to say. But what the government commitments proposed in this article would in any case contribute, when it comes to resolving the ultimate hard-core part of the “cost push” phenomenon, is to open the door as wide as possible to achieving essential results by voluntary cooperation.

Full Employment

From Planet Earth Demands (unpublished ms.) regarding a proposal for full employment:

While there will always be periodic changes in business activity, it may be maintained at levels that are at all times satisfactory. While some may still dislike their jobs, it is possible, in view of our many urgent options, to offer a choice of several jobs to any applicant. The Kennedy Administration planned a supersurvey that would list resources, manpower and potentials and thus put the entire nation to work based, less on workers’ previous experience, rather on being taught and trained at work in the new procedures of coming decades.

A slam-bang meeting, a talkaton of all the groups working on various parts of this jigsaw puzzle was planned when tragedy struck. [the assassination of Kennedy] These workers, who had toiled with financial nightmares in many corners of the world, scattered. The effort collapsed.

These repeated efforts to bring sense and reason into the chaos of our economy has been followed by keen observers abroad, not the least because the whole world’s economy and happiness is so closely related to America’s. Sir William Beveridge, one of England’s clearest and most dedicated thinkers, said on various occasions, “If the United States, possibly the only nation able to achieve full employment here and now — would actually accomplish this, she would thereby do more good than by all her aid and all her wars — not only for herself but for all of us.”

Teachers, Successors

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”.

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