Tag Archives: Attitude

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”.

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Edmonton Declaration 1978

Concerning the Edmonton Sufis’ Declaration
By Carol Sill

During the split between the Order and SIRS, Shamcher sent me this Declaration, telling me it was from me, and that we were to send it out to all Sufis. He gave me the names and addresses of many I did not know, and then pushed this Declaration whenever and wherever possible. No one knew that he had written it, and even with me he insisted that I had done it. This is what it said:

We the undersigned Sufis of Edmonton, in the province of Alberta in Canada, reached the Sufi world through the message of Hazrat Inayat Khan.
We are a nucleus of the Brotherhood of all beings united in the ONLY BEING – humans, animals, plants, bacteria; all other beings, including the events appearing as bodies or objects on the earth, in the solar system, the galaxies – the entire universe.
We are members of the Sufi Order headed by Pir Vilayat Khan, and accept as equal members all of this order and respect the tenets of that order at all times. Pir Vilayat was the initiator of some of us. We equally are members of the Federation of Sufi Groups formed under the friendship-guidance of Hidayat Khan and all members of these groups are members with equal rights accepted by us. We equally are members of SIRS based in San Francisco and established by Murshid Samuel Lewis, now headed by Moineddin Jablonski, and all members of this organization are accepted equally with us.
We are members of and accept the members of each and every Sufi group in the world, every religious group, every group of any other character; every individual, of any type, human, animal, plant, mineral, or, in terms of modern physics – events. All these form the brotherhood in the fatherhood of God.
All titles, all ideas, all structures of any mind are respected and honored by us, though not held sacred. Only ONE is sacred: THE ONLY BEING.

( then it is signed by 17 of us – some who are still very much involved in the sufi effort.)

Comments on this decaration poured in to us, and to him. Here he comments on two responses:
“Thanks for mailing me the Declaration. Once you become a really sensitive Receiver of Vibrations, though, how do you filter out the “bad” and allow only the “good” to pass through?”
Shamcher: You accept all as they are, then let your own influence play. How long does that take? No matter.
“Your message put into declaration the feelings of “One single Brotherhood in the fatherhood of God” that we also feel.”
Shamcher: This is the answer for the individual sufi. Whatever or however this can be embodied in an organisation such as the Sufi Order depends of course on circumstances which only the official of that organisation can know.

Comment:
I wish that I were finding the sense of more unity which you mentioned in your letter to friends, but I am still coming across many people who are either totally confused by the present situation or are vehemently taking sides. The confusion one can understand, but antagonistic side-taking is more difficult to deal with. Found a quote from “the Message” papers by Hazrat Inayat Khan that I felt worth sending to you. This particular section is entitled “Private Lecture for Mureeds and Friends” given in Brussels, December 17, 1923, notes taken by Madame Graeffe. “It is a great pity that religions, whether in the East or West, have their own creeds and Church. When it comes to brotherhood they say: ‘We have our brotherhood, you have yours’. Each thinks: they have their own brotherhood, But the way to look at it is as one brotherhood. Therefore the work of the Sufi Movement is not to create a Sufi Brotherhood. It is not a brotherhood, but a means to create a brotherhood, it is working for human brotherhood.”

30 January 1978

Dear ___,
Your quote from Inayat Khan in your letter of January 4 (which I received today) shows that your have found the sense of unity. Another and more exuberant expression of the same is the Edmonton Sufis’ declaration, which should be enough for any one to see and find the sense of unity.
Inayat Khan publicly dissociated himself from a “murshida” appointed, by himself, who had disturbed the sense of unity. Inayat Khan repeatedly told stories of how even Prophets had failed, as for example in his story about Kidr and Moses. So why do people look transfixed at “leaders” and forget to look at plain people like the ones from Edmonton?
Sam Lewis wrote me letters containing the most ridiculous accusations of sufis he had never seen. Yet, his heart was mostly good. Only when you look sternly at “leaders” do you see division, and you see division among others who also look sternly and expectantly at “leaders”. But “leaders” are not leaders in that sense. Before you have learned dependence on yourself alone and on whoever you find who represents unity, whether they are “leaders” or floor-sweepers, you can find no “unity”.

Love and devotion,
Shamcher

(Shamcher adds this comment: How lucky for all of us that the Edmonton group chose to talk rather than keep “silence” which is the advice of so many “mystics”. Or should Inayat Khan, Sam Lewis, and Jesus have kept silent rather than talking? Or, can you see gold where it appears? Hierarchies are games, which, rightly understood and used, have a purpose, but which most often are not rightly understood or used.)

Many of his letters dealt with this issue, using the Declaration of the Edmonton Sufis as a point of dialogue.

1 February 1978
Dear G.,
Thank you very much for your letter of 26 January. You are perfectly right in your characterization of the non-hierarchial attitude of the International Federation. In a sense I am the initiator of this organization. I realised these things from my 25 years. Today, at 81, I have seen how, not only philosophical-religious organizations but also whole nations, their “civil service”, their hierarchical working places, businesses, departments are destroyed by the hierarchial systems. You are right and you and I are ahead of most of the other members of this organizations.
It is essential, furthermore, that a close contact is maintained with those who have not yet discovered or realized this. This is where the Edmonton Sufis declaration beautifully and timely comes in. It does not break with anybody. It certainly does not accept any hierarchy but manages to keep their mouths shut on that particular issue in order to serve its very special purpose. Its message has cheered and enlightened people all across the sufi community. Their particular declaration was not issued by you or your federation. And perhaps could not be, at this time. It was issued by the Edmonton Sufis, for a purpose completely in accord with you spiritually, yet fulfilling another and as important function in its own way and manner. If you don’t see this yet, please do not answer yet, until you have meditated upon it in the light of Inayat Khan or, as he would say, in the light of God, for he was the most humble of prophets, who even wrote about Kidr, whom the prophet Moses tried to follow but Moses was not wise enough. So Inayat Khan even admitted that a prophet may be wrong. And he repeatedly corrected his own “murshidas” in front of all of us, one time Murshida Green, when she said something wrong to me, (I did not tell him, he knew.)
Of course, I would like to see a copy of your rules, as also the Edmonton group will, and since your organization now requires me to get that from the D. I shall ask them, even though I knew you before I knew the D., I know you better than I know the D., but they have humbly asked my forgiveness for throwing me out of their “Movement” after having had me conduct all their universal services every Sunday — by now, as you know, they have themselves left the “movement”.
Hidayat Khan and I are in deep communication with each other. If in the future you should again doubt my understanding of or loyalty to yours and his federation, please ask Hidayat.
Love,
Shamcher

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God, Spiritual Balance, Groups

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.

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Balance

From An Interview with Shamcher Bryn Beorse

J=Jelaluddin Boru, S=Shamcher

J: Let’s talk about balance, Shamcher.
S: Yes. Hazrat Inayat Khan often said that “the message for today is balance”. And he meant that in many ways. For example the balance between heart and mind. This kind of balance emanates from yourself and not from adventuresome spirits on the other side.
He also meant by this balancing your being in the world with your work on yourself. Some people think that they can’t do anything for the world until they have perfected their work on themselves. Well, there is no way of perfecting yourself except through working in the world. That’s why we are here. If you don’t want to work in the world before you have perfected yourself, you might just as well have remained outside it. You didn’t have to be born. To me, this has become more and more clear the longer I live. You work on yourself by achieving the little things in your home, your face [?] among your coworkers etc. And yet so many teachers today are telling pupils to take long vacations or retreats and so on. In Inayat’s time we had a summer school which was like a vacation, but apart from that we had no retreats.
But I must admit at this point that when I was younger–around 18 or 19- (this was before I met Inayat Khan) I was a student at the university and very, very busy and suddenly I thought, “I can’t stand it anymore, I must go.” And so I put on my skis (I didn’t want any transportation–no buses or trains for me!), and walked into the mountains towards a white beautiful one I saw far, far away. These were the Trolheimin mountains, which means ‘home of the trolls…’
Anyway it took me weeks, and some would say later, “You went into the mountains in the wintertime? You must be crazy!” And in a sense I might have been crazy…
A dog came along who had the same kind of urge that I was having, and I saw this and tried to push him back but he kept with me anyway. And then we had a terrific snowstorm, and we had to go against it for days and days, usually not knowing whether we were going up hill or downhill the storm was so strong. Finally one day I thought to myself- “I can’t last anymore…Let me just go over to those rocks and lie down.”
(It is known to the people of those parts that it is very dangerous to go to sleep in a snowstorm in the mountains but I had no thought of this, none at all.) Anyway, I went to the rocks, but they turned out not to be rocks. I fell down and stood before a little door, and there was a cabin there. I knocked on the cabin door and heard bare feet running over the stone floor, and then the door was opened, and I was invited inside and slept in the hayloft. In the morning we had a beautiful breakfast of goat’s milk and things and so I said, “Now what should I pay you?” And they laughed and said they couldn’t use my money up there anyway, and they never went down into town, not for the last ten years when they first came up from the valley. But they said that I could pay them 25 cents if I wanted to feel that I had paid them something…
And so after tramping around in the mountains I returned to civilization, first sign of it being the smell of coffee. Though all the impressions of civilization are thrust at you again, you are a different person. For two or three weeks, I was what the sages call enlightened, that is, nothing affected me. Before this, when I looked at women, I would say, “How can I stand not coming very much closer to her?” But now there was no such question inside me… I enjoyed her beauty, she meant nothing more to me, everything in life was in calm balance. I needed this for my balance at that time, and maybe many people do need it, and I think they should obey the urge when it comes.
It is by knowing when I should go to the mountains or the beach, that all my life I have stayed not in good balance but fair balance all the time. But the balance that is required to root up your earthly desires, comes from looking at your person as something that you are not too much concerned about.
Later in life this came to me, and I realized that this person is not really “Mr. so and so”…
And through this I have gradually come to discover the numerous agents of the body that keep it in shape, and became friendly with them instead of opposing them. It is through this that you become a master of yourself and have balance. Everything is an attitude of the mind, and this “mind” that I am talking about of course is the mind and heart.

J: Shamcher, if disease is, as you say, an attitude of mind, why then are not all people who have faith and want to be healed, healed?
S: I have never met a person, including myself, who has faith in the complete sense. It is something one can develop but faith doesn’t mean to say “I believe in God”; that is not faith, that is not balance. The balance is to flow with the universal process…

J: Obsession in a sense is when one can’t tear himself away from the sense of physical pain of the body, or at least this is a good metaphor for it. . .
S: Yes, it is very difficult when you have physical pain. The war was a great test of that. Some were tortured, and it is worse in a sense when a person is imposing the pain, but some people even used this to help them develop. There was a person in Norway who was repeatedly tortured by the Nazis and knew he would be tortured again. And when I asked him how he could stand it he said, “There comes a point when all these things don’t matter to you.” “But the pain,” I said. And he answered me that half of the pain was the fear of death…
“I don’t fear death anymore so there is only half the pain. It is bearable. And I now know only one thing, I will never give out a name or anything else they want of me.”
What do you think of this man? I don’t know if he was a Sufi, but that is the kind of balance that is required.

J: A tremendous sense of balance! He had been at the extremes, and learned not to fear them. Perhaps we can say that such extreme things are very useful, in that when one returns from them your balance is so deep, because you have felt what it is like to be at the poles…
S: That is very true. There is of course not a single thing in this life which does not have a purpose and which does not help the soul in its development. Even the wildest kinds of obsessions, even those states of the mind that may cause you to be put in a hospital, are useful. Many psychiatrists say these days that they are not only useful, they are in a sense superior to ordinary experience, in what they help you become afterwards. They are looking at them insofar as they bring you to mystical balance…
Obsession, like everything else in life, helps the community and the individual advance and to realize the need for balance. For example schizophrenics and depressed maniacs, they are supposed to be so bad, but they are often actually helping themselves and those around them to reach the state of mystical balance by taking another path.
One time a friend of mine was in a hospital, and I heard a group of psychiatrists talking. They were talking about a physicist who had come in and told them, “You know, this table isn’t really a fixed table. I put my hand on it and I feel the sub-atomic particles running down from my hand meeting the particles running up from the table. And some interpret this as a calm solid surface but it really isn’t.” And these psychiatrists were laughing at this poor physicist for being off his mind! He was actually explaining the truth, but they didn’t realize it. He had ‘schizophrenia’ they said.
It is the same in the case of many others.
Fortunately it is realized now by many psychiatrists that schizophrenics have reached another end of the balance and together with what is called his ‘sane’ state, which is not so sane, he is working towards a new balance.
*
Excuse me, I was thinking of another question you asked me, the one about faith. Well, do we mean ‘faith’ in the sense that a person will visit a dear saints’ burial place and get in touch with him through the body that is left there? A lot of saints and sages in the past have left their bodies in a place where people can come. I don’t know why. . .
There is not much connection between a saint’s consciousness and the body that he has left. There is oftentimes a much better connection with a young mureed who has never seen the saint or the Body. And this running back to the burial place is not contributing too much to our development towards balance, though it is very popular nowadays. . . It is a looking back into the past, a long past expression of a teacher that you have come beyond. When I was in India, I visited Inayat’s burial place for only one reason: I knew that everyone would ask me when I came back if I had visited it. Only for that reason. It is not through the place that one contacts him. It is just like going to some rock where people know where a great saint has been, or you go to a place on the beach where he has left his footsteps and touch them, or you have a photograph…
Remember the story of Inayat Khan giving me his photograph? The moment when he sensed my reaction is a great example of balance. For he realized at once that there was something else that I should do.
There is not one path that everyone should follow. Everyone has his specific path, and everyone should be following that or finding out what it is, for that is what will bring him fastest into a state of balance.
This is why you can’t ask another, even some ‘great master’, to tell you what you should do.

J: Balance always emanates from the inner planes, and not from external authority, be it a ‘master’ or anything?
S: Right. Exactly! As Buddha says in his farewell address: “Look to the Light within yourself, look at no other person or teacher or connection outside of yourself!”

J: Speaking of Buddha, what is the ‘middle path’?
That is the path of balance.

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Power (exoteric)

From An Interview with Shamcher Bryn Beorse

J=Jelaluddin Boru, S=Shamcher
J: Do we have power over the elements?
S: We don’t have power over them. If we behave right they will gladly cooperate with us. The elements have much more power than the present civilization. We have very little power even over ourselves, even over our health and bodies. We are almost morons in the way we behave, and the elements are much more effective in their operations than we in ours. Although we could become even better than the elements in time…

J: Can humans concentrate on bringing rain?
S: Of course. Don’t you know that the Indians have done that for ages with their dances? Their dances express what they deeply feel. But it is not really the dances but their minds which are enticed by the dances which are making the rain…

J: This is what I’ve always heard you say about exoteric forms. It is not the dance but what the dance invokes… Would you speak on obsession and exoteric forms?
S: Yes. The exoteric form is the outer ritual that you see. For example, people taking part in parades, and the rituals one uses at devotional services. These are what one would call obsessional when the persons doing it are not aware of the symbolism and essence within it. They think that the services and the parades themselves are the essential meaning, and this may be dangerous.
The more so when the exoteric form involves the structure of society, and how that structure interacts with peoples’ lives.
I already gave you the example where the government believes itself capable of deciding which scientific technologies are important enough to be developed, whether they know anything about the particular technology or not. By adhering to the form of the society, or what people have come to believe is the form, people resign themselves to the decision of the government without questioning the process by which the decision has been reached, and hence we are stuck on the rather low level of technological advancement that we have today.
This goes for church organizations too, the way people will believe that a man simply because he has the title of Bishop or something must be right.
In sufi organizations of course, we are supposed to be better off than this because we are particularly aware of the unity of things. But there is even there some of this happening, and there are people who take it very seriously when someone who seems to have a higher responsibility says something. But actually the “higher responsibility” in the given situation means nothing more than someone had the particular idea that something should be said. Everyone has the right to say what he feels, in fact it is his duty to see that it gets said. You have the right not to believe that a certain thing must be right or wrong simply because a certain person has said it. Everything which is expressed in words is of rather inferior quality anyway. And it should be remembered that nothing that has ever happened is important, it has been made to be important.

J: It would seem that the exoteric form and the authority of the hierarchy are actually the lesser part of the Message. Like they are the discriminatory part of the mind which divides things into compartments so they may be communicable in words. But it is really the heart, the essence and the feeling which is the most important… How does this fit in all the recent talk of “resigning initiation” from the sufi order, Shamcher?
S: No one has a right to tell a person what he should or should not do, but the person himself. And as for initiation, initiation is as much as the initiated one accepts of the initiation, and nothing else and nothing more. Some are now afraid that initiation obliges a man to acknowledge his membership in a certain order. An initiator may think so, but in that fact I feel sorry for him. The only thing that initiation makes is a contact, which may be very important, or it may be rather unimportant, it all depends. For instance, initiation into the Sufi Order may mean that your spiritual contact has been cleaned up. That now you are better able to keep out the undesirable spirits and be close to the sincere, knowledgeable and desirable ones. Anyone can get in touch with Inayat Khan or his teacher, Seyyed Madani, or any of the spiritual beings, for example, but if you are initiated it is easier because you have been reminded to them. Your name has been told… and so from that point it is easier to be in contact with them. It may be easier the more sincere you were in the moment of initiation. But once you have had that initiation no one can take it away from you. It goes beyond lifetimes…

J: So in a sense initiation is being completed in other realms, something much more than where anyone could simply say whether one is officially a sufi or not.
S: Yes, it should be that. It isn’t always. It depends on both the initiate and the initiator. It is meant to attune your vibrations to the Order, and it sometimes does.

J: Would you say that from the original moment of Bayat every successive step on the sufi path is really a movement towards freedom, a movement towards what you’ve called elsewhere the fluid future, dispensing of the rigidities and obsessions that have prevented one from their natural contact with God?
S: That’s really true. Excellent! One who was initiated by Inayat Khan would say that…

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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)

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Reincarnation, the Soul

From An Interview with Shamcher Bryn Beorse

J=Jelaluddin Boru, S=Shamcher
J: What do you think of reincarnation, Shamcher?
S: The Soul may be thought of as something individual regarding you, but the Soul is also something deeper, and in this sense the soul is the same Soul for everyone. And in this sense the soul doesn’t reincarnate, it receives an impression. It gathers around it impressions, or vibrations you may call them, of heart and mind and body.
Take as an example a soul that is coming to the world of matter to make and receive impressions again. On the way it meets the soul of Beethoven, which is departing. Beethoven doesn’t need his music anymore, which is a product of the vibrations of his mind and heart, and so he sheds the impression that is his music, like a coat he no longer needs. And the soul that is approaching the physical world, and wants things of this sort, looks at this field of vibrations and thinks, “This is good, I like this,” and so he absorbs a little of the coat and comes here and plays like Beethoven, and then people say, “It is Beethoven reincarnated!” Even this soul may begin to think it is Beethoven reincarnated, but it is not, it is an impression of Beethoven in the form of vibrations of his mind and heart.
There is reincarnation, but not in the sense that some of us superficially believe. There isn’t a changing soul that comes down and then goes up again, the soul is more aloof and impersonal than that. It is sort of sitting there and looking down on the whole play…
Just look at the way the idea of reincarnation is sometimes abused in India: They see a man crawling along in the street, with leprosy, stretching out a half-broken arm, but the Indians say, “That’s his own fault, he did something wrong in his last life and so he reincarnates in this form.” That’s superstition and cruelty and not reincarnation!

J: How does the Soul get here in the first place?
S: The Soul  exists forever and has no beginning or end, or at least any beginning or end that anyone here can imagine.

J: Then why does it take a body?
S: To get experience. A metaphor would be that you have a finger, and then you put a glove on it, and stick it down in some hot water to experience the feeling… The Soul makes this kind of impression in this world of mind and matter to sift up the experience. That is why God has created the universe in the first place. And why he is continually creating it through each soul.

J: I don’t really understand what you are trying to say about reincarnation and the Soul.
S:  What I think doesn’t matter. But what I am trying to do here is to quote Inayat Khan: that the Soul is part of the eternal God, the Light. It is in a sense One with God, and in a sense it is separate.
And, as we said before, every opposite thing is really part of the same thing. The Soul doesn’t have any opposite. It doesn’t go down or up. The Soul is immovable. It doesn’t need to move…

J: Is the Soul in the body?
S: Only insofar as it gives the body life. For instance the moment that you die there is nothing in it…
You may picture it as you want. No one can draw an adequate picture from the physical world that can truly explain it. You can picture it all you want, but there is no final understanding of it. For instance, is it like that wall over there? These kind of things can’t be answered. Perhaps one could say that as the flower has a fragrance, so the body has a “fragrance” which is the Soul… The Soul is a very subtle vibration which is too subtle for our minds to comprehend.

J: How about the concepts of Soul and spirit. Is there any difference?
S: Not really. Sometimes they are not used synonymously, but there is no real difference, or the difference is too subtle for us to appreciate.

J: From what you’ve said, it would seem that you don’t accept the idea the reincarnation is a process by which we are attempting to reach perfection.
S: The soul may try various impressions to attain to more knowledge, but not really perfection. ls there anything you can call perfection?
One of the silliest notions going around in this line is, “Well, he is a perfect master.” There is no such thing as a master, except maybe in shoemaking, mechanics or making books perhaps. When you come to a spiritual life there is never a master, there never was and never will be a master. As Inayat Khan said: “There is only One master, the spirit that leads every Soul towards its destination.” “Master” is a spiritual concept and nothing more, and to hear people talk about the “perfect master”, so very sad.

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