To SAM: OTEC and Middle East

1 Aug 58

Dear Sam (but I ought to have noted your sufi name including Mullah, the enlightened one)

It was delightful to read you again (as the French say) and hear of your continued interest in water. Yes, you are so right, while the foreigner’s interest in the Middle East (most Europeans and to some extent Americans) is oil, their own interest is water and also simple plain friendship as a former school teacher in Iraq said here. But we often act as the raw recruit who asked an oncoming person three times quickly “Friend or foe” and then shot, not waiting even for an answer.

Of course, a wise man never asks are you friend or foe but he makes friends, even of the foes, and in the waiting time, before they know they are friends he forgives and sees the future must, “for they know not what they do.”

The specific approach to sea water conversion I am concerned with (and which is the only cheap way so far) is only applicable under certain natural conditions including: Tropical enough to have 15-20 centigrade temp. diff between surface and 500-1000 meter depth and steep enough bottom slope to reach depth required not more than five miles from shore. Pakistan would most probably meet these requirements. But though after our meetings with Pak. officials in SF I made the whole Pakistan embassy in Paris meet my French friends in Paris last year, and though the commercial attaché at the embassy was both enthused and insistent on alerting his government — no measurements to make this point sure has as yet been made.

As to Egypt most coast lines have very faint slope so I am suspicious the method may not apply there but again, no measurement has been made to make sure. But for this reason the Aswan dam may be right for Egypt and I believe we should have helped finance it in spite of all. We are running around guessing who are our friends instead of making them so — making not meaning simply giving or financing dams of course, but above all feeling and knowing that they are friends, actual or potential.

When you wrote I had been thinking about you for a long time, thinking whether to write you and ask whether you would come here help establish or rather expand the sufi cause which has gone slowly, but I thought that perhaps SF was more important and your natural hunting ground. Have you caused Peter to establish and run a center yet? He has all the necessary qualities including stamina, silence and punctuality. SF is a natural center, nationally unique. Seattle is a much tougher spot, with loads of unsound spiritualism, racial bigotry — therefore sufism much needed but also in difficulty finding suitable people and getting a hearing and a setting. Please marry the Karachi fiancé and get things going.

Apropos Peter: We have sent him letters and things, no reply, so I thought he had gone to Paris or perhaps we know not right address? Please contact for us. All here greets you warmly


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Very late in my life, in 48 when I was 52 years old… I had chosen engineering before I knew Inayat Khan. In fact, I didn’t know what I wanted to study. My father asked me and I said, “Well, something in the line of physics, medicine, geology, jusrisprudence, the whole lot.” And finally I had to concentrate on one thing so I took engineering because then you can travel and see things in various countries, and I wanted to travel, I wanted to see if the world was round. So one time I when I was the managing director of a small company, and I was in Paris I saw in the National Science Foundation of France a story about energy from the ocean. There were tides, waves, but especially the temperature difference between surface water and deep water. You put in a steam engine there. The warm water of the surface near the tropics evaporates, boils in a boiler, when you lower the pressure, when you pump air out. That steam that develops from this boiling runs a turbine, the turbine runs a generator. And after the turbine, the steam is condensed and this steam apart from being condensed is then fresh water. So you do two things with this machine: you produce energy and water. In California we had a great water shortage at that time. We still have but we have forgotten that, now we have a power shortage. Our power and water government agencies cannot cooperate, they have nothing to do with each other. That is one reason why it is so difficult to promote OTEC. Anyway, I dropped everything else when I found out about this, I said to myself, “This is what the world needs. This is what California needs, the United States, Canada, the world.”

(From a talk given in the late ’70s)

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From An Interview with Shamcher Bryn Beorse

J=Jelaluddin, S=Shamcher

J: People could perhaps misunderstand darshan as an obsession.
S: Darshan is communication between two beings, and shouldn’t be thought of as anything else. I have described to you how Inayat Khan used the darshan, how you and he would suddenly open your eyes and look into each other… Some people got no feeling from such darshans and others felt their lives had been changed, that they had experienced a part of his mind and gotten from it just what they wanted, and were very happy because of it.

J: Perhaps the difference we could say was that such darshan is real with living beings, and there was no intrusion from the outside, that Inayat Khan was in a sense merely carrying out his role as a teacher and reflecting back to his pupils deeper sides of themselves that they were perhaps even aware of…

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Memories of Dayakland

From an interview:

I had the traveling fever you could call it. The only purpose I saw in life was to travel around until I find some fence. I did have a diploma, I had gone to the university. I was kind to my father – he insisted that I should have an education, so I started out with the engineering degree.
J: Where were you born?
S: I was born in Christiania, as it was called at that time. It is now called Oslo. And my father was from Bergen, which is the opposite side of the country.
J: Cold
S: Raining.
J: And you had your education in Norway?
S: Yes.
J: And that was what?
S: I didn’t know what I was interested in – everything and nothing. My father asked, “What do you want to study?” “Well,” I said, “Engineering, philosophy, jurisprudence, whatever.”
J: What did you study?
S: I had a mathematics professor who said, “The aim of the future is to build things that will save humanity. We are sinking down in the poor man’s world. We have to build things. Engineer everything.” So I started engineering just to be what I thought was the right thing. And after two years I was terribly upset and tired about engineering, I thought it was worth nothing and entered the services and became an officer in the Norwegian coast artillery.

And so in a (?) guard when we watched for airplanes coming in our Norway and we saw the stars moving on the firmament and thought they were airplanes. And then I came back to school and I made excellent marks and finished engineering. The reason I got such good marks was that just before my last finals I wrote a scathing article about the professors and how they talk and how they should talk. And so they said, “Why didn’t you wait until you had taken the examination? What if we give you bad grades?” Of course they did the opposite. They were so afraid of hurting me or showing partisanship that they leaned backward and gave me much better marks than I deserved, so I came out of school with very good marks.

Then I thought, “Now I can travel.” And I first got a job in East India, in what is now called Indonesia.
J: Jakarta?
S: No, Borneo. Through Jakarta and the Java Sea and ..
J: Who controlled that? That was the Dutch?
S: At that time, yes.
J: What did you do there?
S: I was working for irrigation, to bring rice fields to bloom for these poor people there. And also sugar for the sugar plantations. And we had to be just and see that the poor people on the rice fields got enough water. The sugar people tried to bribe us to give them more water, they had a big plantation.
J: Where did the water come from?
S: That came from rivers, in Borneo we had a river called the Amand River. And once, I thought, “Bryn, what about a little adventure going up into Dayakland and finding out about the sources of the…”
J: Dayakland? That dangerous country?
S: It certainly was. A few years earlier, a Dutch man and twelve envalets that went in there – they all disappeared. And they thought that their shrunken heads would be a decoration on some Dayak chief’s bed. So we went in there, thinking nothing of that. We were so stupid, we didn’t even think of the danger. And when we came in there things went rather well and the controller said, “Oh, I have to go back, you have to come back with me, Bryn.” “Oh no. I haven’t even seen the sources of the Amend River. I came here to see the Amend River’s sources. I have to go on on my own.” “I’ll give you my Malay policemen.” “Oh no, the Malay is in the dark, that means they’re enemies – they won’t help me.” “I’ll give you one policeman.” “No. No.” “I insist.” So again we want a policeman, so we walked up to the next village. Three Dayak carriers and a policeman with a gun behind us, together with one of the carriers.

Suddenly I heard, “Pip pip” behind me. I looked around, saw nothing. I rushed back, still nothing. And finally, the one guard, who had been along with the Malay came smiling, with a gun, gave the gun to me and said, “Malay no like us, he gone back.” He was of course killed. And so I went on.

And then we came to the next village. The other Dayaks refused to go close to it. I had to go on alone. I looked, and I saw all these grim figures standing there with crooked foreheads. I looked, “Have I no friends here?” Suddenly I saw an old man wink. That was a medicine man. I went right over to him and explained how a rainmaker was made – explaining it in my mixture of English, Malay and things, but he understood my thought, he seemed almost to read it, because he called to two people and explained something. His mouth went like a machine gun -akk kkaak aakk kkaak. He went out and came to me afterwards with a very presentable rainmaker and he explained to the chief first how this worked. I explained it to the chief without him understanding a word but I used the same signs as the medicine man. So he came to understand.

And so the night came and I was invited to eat with them. Then I was to sleep alone in a kind of hotel, and that has a ceiling, and a bed of woven palm leaves but no walls. I heard the jungle animals cry and scream and it was very comfortable and I went right to sleep, deep sleep. Suddenly I was up onto the ceiling, and looked down at myself lying on the bed. And the me over the ceiling said, “Get up, get up! Don’t you see this big Dayak chief is coming with this crooked sword.” The man on the bed was also conscious but he wasn’t motivated. “Ya, I’ll get up, it isn’t that much of a hurry.” Suddenly my consciousness from above clicked into my consciousness from below and up I went and carried my gun under my arm, and walked out. After this experience, I felt very happy meeting the Dayak man, I felt this was more interesting than the Dayak. And so I bowed and said in my best English or Norwegian or whatever, “What gives me the honor of your company?” He couldn’t have understood a word, but he immediately, “aakk baakk aka kk.” From that I felt the definite feeling he said, “I came to protect you against wild animals, wild men or whatever.” I said, “Oh no, that is not necessary, thank you very much but this gun is so made that it goes off automatically at anyone who approaches me at night.” He looked down at the gun, like that. So he must have understood, I think. He bowed and went back.

I sat down on the bed and thought – can I go to sleep again? Will he come back again? While I sat there, there was a rustling in the leaves, and I looked, and there was the medicine man. And he just motioned me to come. So we climbed up the ladder to the community house, and there were little cubicles around the walls and one was empty. He put me in there on the mattress, and he put himself along the door as a mat, that people had to tread on it to get in. And so I slept beautifully there for the night.

All these young Dayaks were naked, and in the morning a naked girl came over to me. I felt – what do I do now? And then the medicine man nodded Tumpong(?) that is your girl. And I thought, this looks very dangerous, what is there to get now? So I stroked the girl’s forehead hair and walked her back to her parents.

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All Eventually Dissolves

You know about the stages one goes through: After enthusiastically accepting sublime mental and heart teachings there comes a time when all that dissolves into an at first amorphous nothing, then gradually to be perceived in an entirely different form or rather in no form whatever, and one even conceives how one’s original teacher had gone through all that and taught, with a grin of apology, the words he emanated and which he knew would be eventually dissolved. In his last year on earth Inayat Khan chose to show exactly this, and all remembered and noted by his son Hidayat and by the unhumble undersigned, but only recently digested or experienced.
At such a phase one has no or little right to talk or even appear at meetings where attendants expect the straight teachings of the faith. Except if one is extremely careful in the choice of words — more than most of us can muster.

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In World War II I could at least run, sometimes. I ran better then, at 44-49, than any other time in my life. And it didn’t matter whether I ran to or fro, attack or retreat. Same difference. As Inayat said,” If the people of good will would lay down their arms today they would still fight, they would be forced to — by people of not such good will — and against their ideals, not in defence of their ideals.”

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From a Desk to a Desk

Me, I “retired” from a desk in Keyport to a desk in Sea Water Lab U of Calif — same desk I had had fifteen years ago, can you think of anything sillier? Only on Saturday do I go to the beach, rain or shine, run (as you run at 82, not fast) and that’s the only day I live. I envy you in your mountain cabin. I envy your hard muscles. Keep it up! Cram for the finals? Don’t worry. Not you. Sometimes I go to sufi events. Why? Then in the middle of a dozing dribble my name is called, “Do you remember that, Shamcher? In Suresnes?” Pir Vilayat is interrupting his beautiful guided meditation to play hommage [sic] this old desk-fellow.

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Reply to a Letter

From correspondence

Your dear letter is not only glowing with love, it is also more intuitive than any other message I have received lately. “Forgive me for not getting in touch sooner” you write. Do you know why? Because in your unusual unselfish love you, of all people, understand that I am going through a period when I must or should be alone. Also a trip to Egypt and Brazil is in the offing, and I prepare thunderoudly [sic] for the things we have to do on that trip. Other friends come dropping in and keep me away from my task for hours deep into the night. Even when I tell them in advance I really should not see any one, they still come, saying “But I have to see you, Shamcher” not paying any attention to what I have to do or see.

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