Tag Archives: obsession

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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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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