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.

Death, Physics, Initiation

From An Interview with Shamcher Bryn Beorse

J=Jelaluddin Boru S=Shamcher

J: How about death?
S: That is another reason for the misunderstanding. Death is a different thing than we usually picture it. And death doesn’t come from a disease. A disease may come at the same time, and then people will say, “Oh, he died from cancer.” You can’t prevent death, and why should you want to? That is why healing groups make a great mistake when they say, “These people mustn’t die, we must heal them.” Cancer may be a hideous disease, but there is nothing hideous about death. It is merely a certain rhythm which says “now this form of life is out.”
Many people ask about Inayat Khan’s death. Well, there are many theories, but I see that he had simply lived out his life. He wasn’t physically exhausted or anything like that, in fact he was fresh enough to be able to go to India and live a comfortable last year there, but his life as a constant stimulator of people’s vibrations was finished. So he said as he went to India that he wanted no one to go with him. A couple of disciples disobeyed.

J: Had you intimations of his death before it came?
S: Well, one time he said to me, “Murshid has no more interest” and I had a feeling about it then, and another time when I told him that I was looking forward to meeting him the following summer he said, “From now on, Shamcher, we will meet in your intuition.”

J: Did you say once that he died of a broken heart?
S: No, I never said that, that was —– who said that.

J: Some say that he was poisoned.
S: These are all superstitions. He was very happy that last year, and when he died there was the scent of roses in the room.
J: What are your thoughts on your own death?
S: Oh, I was in it once, when I had my accident, and the doctors told my children that I was dead. And during that time I met my parents and everything was fine, but then I was insolent enough to come back.
That experience of death was a very pleasant thing. My mother and father spoke to me as if I had been there with them all the time. They weren’t surprised, and the whole thing felt like it was just a continuation of a conversation. Probably I had been there before and not remembered it. Or perhaps without being aware of it.
By the way, when you were speaking about the mystic sciences before, were you including the atomic theory and the Quantum theory? I would include these as well. Because when you have a light photon you can explain it mathematically as a wave, that is, you have a certain set of equations which describe it as a wave, but then simultaneously you have another set of equations that describe it as a particle, an entirely different set of equations. So the old physicists say, the ones still bound to the old form of cause and effect, that this is impossible, it can’t be two things. But the Quantum theory people say, “Yes, the two things seemingly opposite are two poles of the same reality…”
In a sense we can explain it like this. Imagine you have a circle. When you look at it from the end it looks like a straight line. So in this dimension it is just a line. But stand it up in the second dimension and it appears as the circle. Now, if you put it in the third dimension you may have a doughnut; cut a line through it, you have two circles, but actually these two circles are just another way of expressing the doughnut in the third dimension.
J: I am always very interested when we talk about the concept of opposites. Isn’t that how linguistics tries to explain language, as a system embodying a relationships of opposites?
S: Yes, language is built on the relationship of opposites, but not so much in Chinese or the other Oriental languages as our own.

J: I found that out a couple of years ago when I worked for a time as a Vietnamese interpreter, Those languages are so much more fluid and less suggestive of what we sometimes call the “subject-object dichotomy”…
A line from Hazrat Inayat Khan has just entered my head here. He says: “Everything is apprehended by its opposite, And that’s why God is so hard to apprehend because He has no opposites.”
S: That’s very good. That’s very true… It is we who are living in the opposites. Good or evil, dark or light…
J: What is enlightenment?
S: Oh, enlightenment, yes. Well, let us just say that enlightenment is something you are looking forward to, and when you reach it then you can begin looking forward to the next enlightenment.
You see, there is always more…
Even God himself gets better all the time! When you have begun to be enlightened you feel, “Yes, I have a lot more to learn, but now at least I am happy because there is no doubt anymore.” And in this state you can look at the mistakes you have made, and passed and know that they are fine, that they belong. So you are enlightened in the sense that your doubts aren’t giving you such trouble, and you are ready to begin learning a thousand things…

J: Enlightenment is the point at which you realize that you don’t know?! Ya! (chuckles)
J: There is something that happens like that in initiation, where you begin to “know that you don’t know” only it’s so sudden that it can be tremendously confusing. After I was initiated by Neaatma at that Canada camp, the same time that I met you, Shamcher, I entered a period of bewilderment in which I felt completely disconnected from my normal habits and routines. Like I am a writer, and I couldn’t get myself to sit down and write, except for brief intense bursts, for about four months!
Now I think that a lot of what was happening to me was that I was learning to communicate without words, what the sufis call “tawwajeh” or heart to heart, and in the midst of this lesson I couldn’t immerse myself in the same old ways of analyzing and describing everything…,
It’s not painful to me anymore. Probably because I am finally coming out of it. But what would you say to someone who is still going through it…?
S: You just have to wait, be in touch with the silences as we’ve talked about, and it will work itself out.

J: Is that all? Do you think it is bad to struggle against it?
S: Yes. That is useless, and will make the experience worse.

J: I wish I understood this more. The point where I stopped being angry with myself for being unable to transmit the images that I was being bombarded with through my pen, to just feeling wonderful about the deep change that was going on in my being.,.
S: You know, this is really wonderful for me to hear. I didn’t realize that the initiations being given by the present initiators could still do that… When I was initiated by Inayat, I hung around in Suresnes for six weeks and then–blam!

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From various correspondence:

It seems to me that you, like myself, are diffident, non-elective about life or “death” and that you are extremely well-suited to take care of the choice yourself, without any interfering or “healing” from any one except the unseen agencies always at your site or side. As for myself, always ready to go, it seems I have to defer, to renounce any personal wish and let agencies more conversant with the development of the world (Energy, economics, these being vital expressions of humanity’s spiritual state) — make the decisions for me.
There is complete agreement between us that a person who has parted from this life should not be disturbed by any effort to “contact” him, specially not through “mediums”.
Here in the West we get often rather rigid when we “take over” eastern traditions, such as Karma and Reincarnation. These are not one but many many many theories, but some see and don’t need theories, and if oneself does not see clearly enough, companionship with one who does may help.
Your childish faith in a distant God outside yourself had been shattered, and good riddance! God is in us and we are god, but not always our thoughts and feelings. Beyond our thoughts (which should be controlled) is the soul, and most people don’t yet know their soul. When you do, life and death are just two phases of the same real life — the life of the soul.
And you can follow your friends after they die and know where they go, what they experience. When my mother died, she was not very clear and I thought: Good for her to go. Soon afterwards she contacted me (not I her) and told me all about how unclear she had been and now everything was all right. When I died in 1965, after my accident, I was with my father and mother and all my departed friends as if we had ever been together though before that time I didn’t know.

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Life and/or Death

14 March 1980
Dear ____,
On a gloomy threateningly cloudy day your “clear crystal” words lifted me up above the clouds to where light always shines .. yes yes, true, life and death belong together.  If you deny one, you deny the other.  Like twin sisters, you accept both or none.  I love you,  ___, with the passion of sun, moon the stars (planets or otherwise ) and .. passion-love, life and/or death…
Shamcher, Bryn, whatever

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Shamcher Article #1 – Phase-Out

In Phase-Out, Shamcher describes his own near-death experience, but uses the name “Jack”. He describes some of what he saw and felt on the other side. Of particular interest to Sufis is his description of the meeting he had there with Inayat Khan, his Sufi teacher, who he simply calls “a friend”.

As this article is too long for a blog post, it is here as a downloadable pdf. You can download it here: Phase-Out

Some Memories of Shamcher’s Passing

I flew suddenly to Berkeley from Toronto – right after Sabira had called. He had had a stroke. ….. I came the day after Joe Miller and Shahabuddin had sung the zikr with/for Shamcher. Stayed at Hayat's place, in Oakland, and went in to see Shamcher every day. We sat around together, in the living room, while he laid in the little bedroom. Sabira read to him from Tagore, which he had asked to hear.  

On Friday, at 4 or so he was resting and suddenly I had to go in to him. To my surprise he was very alert and well. He said, "How long has this been going on?" I told him. "I seem to be something of a case," he said.” The children are here, everyone is here." He made jokes and talked very lucidly and clearly. It was such a shift. He asked me, "Well, do you think I'm more alive or more dead?" "It depends on your point of view," I said. And there followed a rapid dialogue. From this time on he seemed to me to be doing a gracious impersonation of a living man. Daphne fed him one strawberry. He began "lying in state" on the couch for most of the day, only going in to rest at 4.    

Yes, Shamcher started “getting better". We would take him for short walks, which he seemed to enjoy. The first time, Evelyn and I took him almost to the University grounds – I know that was what he intended, but we only got as far as the driveway. This was Saturday morning. Daphne had managed the day before to get him to eat something. Ghani came, and we had lunch together – walking on air outside in the crazy Berkeley streets of heaven with Sabira and a friend. We talked of life and organization – spoken and unspoken meeting of hearts.    

Sabira made a birthday party. Ghani was there too, Muhaima, Bryn and Linda, Daphne, Evelyn of course, – we ate chocolate cake or something. Bryn's photographs of the mountains were everywhere in piles (there must have been millions of them) and Daphne had brought old photos of when they were children. Shamcher couldn't see them but he enjoyed them all the same. At 4 he needed rest, and went to lie down. He had called Mansur an Assyrian.   

Once, when I was sitting by him, passing between worlds and we were gone, Evelyn came in with some food. It was suddenly as if everything was reversed. The food was disgusting – it was intended to keep him dead and here in this land of death. The real life, shimmering, was not fed by such food. Then I shifted thoughts and felt grateful instead. Shamcher obediently ate a few bites.    

I asked him, "Should I go tomorrow or stay?" My flight had been arranged for Sunday noon but I wasn’t certain if it was right to go. He thought, then said, "Go back to Gary and Rosie." It was a strong and subtle order.    

All the while as he was resting, there was music from other apartments. Rock and roll guitar solos whirling down like demons. Once, suddenly, very loud The Beatles sing "Baby you can drive my car." And people arriving with flowers, mail to be answered, gifts of love. Someone brought him a black tulip, which looked very ominous to me. Someone came with a guitar and sang him a song.  

Sunday was the day. Wadood and Judith arrived, and Judith and I took Shamcher for an early morning walk, then Sabira read him Blondie from the comics. Sitting there in the apartment suddenly became too much for me. The thought came – I can be closer to him away from him and I jumped up to go for a walk. The first and only thing I did alone in that entire time.     

I was sobbing, in tears, very confused. I walked to the university grounds, to the place where we had been headed the day before. I felt all the times Shamcher and I had walked there before, and felt him with me and yet not with me. It was very big. I came to a spot, which he had pointed out to me:” There is a spot where a very dear friend of mine dropped dead." I had looked concerned, and he explained, "my car."  I walked to that spot, past it to a place on the grass where I sat and sobbed. All the people coming to Shamcher at his dying, displaying themselves to him egos ablaze with their own glory and I thought, "Oh how can they?" Then I realized I was included in this parade, "Oh, how can we?" Then it changed – For we love him, and I knew that each one shows his or her best – and in fact from God's point of view it is a delight to see the children dance. And a blessing to the dancers. This is his gift: he has seen us, and loved us. And we have seen and loved him. I dried my tears and returned. He welcomed me back warmly, letting me know that he had been with me all the while.    

Then everyone gathered: Jelaluddin, Sarah, Wadood, Judith, Evelyn, Sabira, Muhaima, Bryn, Linda, Daphne and me. Here were we all together and in harmony as Shamcher gave his discourse. We were in a circle on the floor as he "lay in state" and it was almost formal. We each heard what we needed to hear. For me it became most prominent at this point: "we are constantly being bamboozled as to what is the truth. The Koran, any scripture is only a version. Nature is the only scripture." And so much more – it was the same as Buddha's last words which he so often quoted. Depend on no one, nothing. Follow that which is within. No one can hold or contain it. Be it.    

(He had also said, "Everyone here is named either Carol or Jelaluddin.") 

When it was done, we all immediately dispersed for various places. I was first to leave, with Sabira taking me to the airport. I touched his hand, said a brief goodbye – everything was totally understood. "Go back to Gary and Rosie" he had told me.     It was as I was going to the airport that he collapsed with the final stroke.

Back in Edmonton, I was under the impression that he was getting better. Then Wadood called me on Tuesday, I laughed and laughed – he was free. After that I was in shock until we had a simple universal worship service, the evening before Hayat's on the beach in California. And it was then I could cry in indescribable gratitude.    

This is only a sketch, and only my little version, but I had to write it down. There are so many conversations and experiences I couldn't write – I'm wasn't ready for them yet. Many people, coming and going, all part of this passing, receiving the incredible light which he had restrained (in a way) for so long – it was rich perfume pouring without stop through all our beings – irradiating and forever changing us.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" he had said to me.

– Carol Sill (from my journals)


It was touching to see how fine you took your father’s passing to a, for him, happier and more rewarding world.  I almost envy him.  But well, there’ll be a time for all of us.  Especially if we fill this present life with worthy acts.

(from correspondence)