To SAM: “We are all black bags.”

15 March 1967

My dear Sufi Achmed Murad Chisty Cheleby Samuel Lewis & Brother,

Among many other things, our communication of March 13 indicates you are willing to sacrifice yourself into serving the sufi movement in collaboration with Vilayat and the most humble and brutally proud undersigned and in this line any and all posts of confidence are open to you at your choice. The head of the Brotherhood? It is yours. The head of any other activity? It is yours. It is I who determine those things. Have I ever given the impression of not fully acknowledging and appreciating you? If so tell me when and where so that I may repent and strew ashes over my dinner jacket. (I have no dinner jacket but my suit may do.)

I was catapulted into my incongruous position without my knowledge and now has this enormous power which, also, I shall surrender to you if Vilayat so chooseth. Actually I was appointed by Allah, God, the Unfathomable at the age of 8 to revolutionize the religious temper of the world and I hoped to do it on my own terms, that is, God’s terms. I have temporarily lent a hand to the sufis because they are less errant than many other groups. They are not perfect, not one of them, not the greatest or smallest of their masters and I proposed to Hazrat Inayat we might drop the Sufi name. And one day, if no accident interferes, I shall again cut loose and set the world aflame. Posterity will dig up my past and all influences and say I was this and a that. Actually only God exists. The man in a black bag who attended the student meetings in Corvallis, Oregon had the right idea. The black robes of the Universal Worship is basically the same idea. We are all black bags, if we only knew. Therefore I am not as moved as I should be by all your negative experiences. What do you expect? What did friend Jesus expect? to be tortured to death. Well, he actually survived and was brought to India by yogis. He took in the entire yoga lore in addition to, previously, the sufi lore. Now he is a good teacher to those who tune in.
Love
Shamcher

[Written under a Sufi Movement letterhead.]

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To SAM: fana-fi?

19 October 1965
My dear, dear Sufi Ahmed Murad

Evelyn always reads your letters and mostly enjoys them very much except your last two letters to me and one letter directly to her which seemed to be in answer to some letter I guess she must have written to you. You know her.

Now,, why were these three letters unenjoyable to her? Because, like Moses and Jesus and most pirs and Rumi and others, once in a while you forget God are yourself. And I was the reason this last time. My slip of word that Vilayat “alone” represented his father’s group was not meant in regard to the mass of pupils and especially not in regard to you. It was simply that as titular head he was chosen and anointed by his father (not as channel to us others. He is great by never claiming such channelship). Simply in the humble manner of organiser. In the same vein, Ali Khan and later rather innocently Musharaff Khan, usurped this position.

This does not mean that you may not be further advanced, at least in certain respects, but nobody in the whole world is going to know that except God and all wise men will leave this knowledge to God and not speak it, but to whoever it be revealed, it is revealed and that is more than sufficient.

The other thing that irked you was that, in order to counter your demand that any one being taught by you must have the traditional sufi attitude of a pupil to a master a la fanafisheik or at least fanafi rassoul, I had to humbly (no really I am not humble at all, see later) tell you it was really physiologically impossible for me (as for so many others) to take any other stand than Fana-fi-Alla or Fana-fi Lillah, which is not (all sufi lore to the contrary notwithstanding) a gradual and natural development entitling you to titles, but simply a matter of temperament. And one of the things I always say is that the scientist type, who can never adopt a fana-fi sheik or even a fanafi-rassoul attitude is not therefore excluded from Sufism or any other line of training, and the Fana-fi-Allah or Fana fi-Lillah stage is not at all a sign of Pir-o-Murshidship as you say, though of course a Pir-O-Murshid also is on that stage, but for a Murshid his teaching urge in the special sufi lore is the first condition, then a lot more….Also, dear Sam, never say a person is “not a Sufi”. Every person really is, and Hal and Makam are terms that, as you know changes not merely with different sufi schools, but for the same person as he grows or diminishes, and they are unsuitable for public use. But for me sufism is not so central as for you. You are a great specialist. I am an absolutely nothing, disappearing behind the mask of God, know nothing nothing at all, and as such have a great demand on me that should not be disturbed. I have no respect whatever for the world etc. I was with Temple of Understanding for so many years. Vilayat and I are both ashamed of not having achieved what it has.

Love
Shamcher

(I asked for Shamshuddin’s address, not Major Sadiq’s.)
(Maheboob Khan was indirectly appointed by Hazrat Inayat to rein(sic) for Vilayat until Vilayat would be of age. Nobody accepted Rabia Martin.)
(Abu Bakr Cheleby, 21st descendant from RUMI and head of the Mevlevis, whirling dervishes, is head and organiser but certainly not the most enlightened man of his order. Vilayat is far more than that for his order, but not, either, necessarily the most enlightened. The great thing with Vilayat is that he does not claim to be, in fact claims nothing.)

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to SAM: Titles and Mysticism

4 October, 1966

My dear Sufi Ahmed Murad,

Thank you for that beautiful test! Every or almost so — teacher tests their man by saying or writing what should rightly upset him. Now as for me, I have lost the upset-met, but let me try to respond: All titles that can be expressed in words are shams, but by shams we learn and shams we shall have. I often had to laugh seeing how Hazrat Inayat, a great soul, shammed his Pir-O title and those of his four angels who had received the glorious title of Murshidas. I visited the Grand Murshid of the Mevlevis in Aleppo and saw a humble fellow in the court yard who of course had no title for he was a teacher. These call themselves by all names or no names.

The fanafi-lillah or Fana-fi-alla state is often held by people who have no claim to even interest in learning or teaching. George Washington, Ben Franklin, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln were all Fana-fi-Allahs though they may never have heard that word.

In the sufi communities there have been many teachers titled up to Pir-O-Murshid who were just for the local stage, and in that religious community (Qutubs) then others had a wider range, could accept anybody on this earth, at least, and others again, accepted and held pupils far beyond their own passing into the next world, and from there, accepted new pupils living here and led them successfully toward their goal. Now as for you, glory be that you are taking upon yourself the almost impossible yoke of teaching, constantly, accepted mureeds. Bravo. We need you desperately. As for me, no such path at all. I am the man in the desert. Whomever I meet he will receive my shelter and food for so long as he stays and when he returns, and my answers to his questions, differing as he develops. But essentially he and I walk alone, our different paths. Most people today can only act this way and it is a safe and quite good way.

Many happy years with great triumphs

Shamcher

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Space Has All the Qualities You Need

Space has all the qualities, all the treasures you need. Figure the sweet life of space (which is yourself) rush from the farthest end of space toward and through the length of your body, from toes to head and then off again to the farthest end of space in the other direction. This a line or slender body. Then repeat, then have you whole body shrink to just a point, stay there awhile and then expand to the entire reach of the universe in all directions. You are a mighty ball, beyond all dimensions. Contract again. You will have absorbed all the powers and wisdom and grace of the universe. Many details of knowledge will still escape you, but that does not matter any longer. You are free — and noble. Our so-called civilization imagines that we know or ought to know, and should run to some “teacher” who is supposed to know if we don’t. All wrong. Wisdom (not knowledge) is pressing in from all sides and we ignore it seeking fabled, non-existing “knowledge” from imagined (dangerous) teachers.

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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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Fana-fi, Darshan

From An Interview with Shamcher Bryn Beorse

J=Jelaluddin Boru, S=Shamcher

S: There was one thing that I forgot to say about fani-fi-sheikh and fana-fi-lillah. I was initiated in October of 1923, and then in 1924 saw Inayat Khan again, in Suresnes.
At that time he gave me some practices. One of which was to look at a photograph of him for concentration. And I thought, look at a photograph? What a silly thing! It is impossible to do this, but all right, all right, if he says to do it I’ll do it…
And then as I was walking home, there was this great clacking of shoes, on the pavement in back of me, and a man was shouting, “Oh Mr. Beorse, Inayat Khan wants to see you right away.” And so I came right back and Inayat said, “Shamcher, I am so sorry, I made a mistake. You should not look at photographs. You should think of the great teachings of the world, those of Buddha, Christ, etc…”
So what he had done was give me the fana-fi-rassoul instead of the fana-fi-sheikh, because he knew it was right for me. What would have happened had he rigidly adhered to the step by step process of fana-fi-sheikh, fana-fi-rassoul, fana-fi-lilah…?

J: Do you think that he was actually experiencing what you were going through?
S: Yes. I think he felt the vibrations. He did that always…

J: Again and again in the life of Inayat Khan we see how important his ability to attune himself to vibration was…
S: Yes. It should be remembered that he was an extremely sensitive musician. Sound and vibration were to him tremendous things. He was more in touch with them than anyone else I’ve ever seen. He could even use this to throw thoughts into my mind. For example, when I first met him I was to translate his lecture. We didn’t get a chance to talk about it. So he just gave the whole lecture, and then I gave the lecture again, in Norwegian. It was really him of course. He had this ability to not only be in touch with me but to completely be in my mind. Nobody else has ever been able to do that..

J: How does this differ from mediumship and the use of oracles?
S: The Greek oracles used drugs and fumes and things like that. And sometimes they would get into an entirely different world in which they did get in touch with spirits and things on the other side. But what kind do you think? Very crude spirits, and ones that might do the worst things…
Inayat was not like that. He was clear. Sufi means pure, a clear perspective without mixtures of anything. You know, he was the first man I met with whom I felt I could not make circles around him. He knew things. He had the right feeling, and he could make me feel him…

J: When Pir Vilayat gives Darshan, is he attuning himself to vibrations in the same way?
S: That’s what he is trying to do, yes.

J: Or is he predicting?
S: No, not predicting…

J: In Toronto I heard you say that there is not any such thing as prediction, that the future is fluid and even God doesn’t know the future…
S: Yes, that’s my opinion. That’s beautiful…

J: That day you disintegrated a certain kind of dependency I had had on the I ching. This was very painful at first, but then I felt a tremendous freedom, in the thought that we can make our own future. But you do like the I Ching even if you separated me from using it as an oracle, right?
S: The I Ching has beautiful practices which I do. For instance, its practices stressing a breathing out. These practices are in the same vein as spiritual disciplines…
About breath: you know, most people in this culture don’t breathe out. In a stingy sense they keep it in, thinking ‘I have this breath inside, l can’t let it out, its very precious’. And it is this kind of obsession that some try to overcome when one fasts so long one almost starves, or goes into very prolonged retreat. (One doesn’t need to do that, by the way. I have a lot of work, for example, and could never go on a retreat like that, because I have to finish this work while I am still alive.) Anyway, the purpose of these disciplines is to learn how to give up food, to give up air, whatever one is too full of.

J: Would you speak more on darshan?
S: Yes, in darshan, Inayat would sit with a mureed before him, and he would close his eyes and then the mureed would close his eyes and then suddenly, they would both open their eyes and be in touch–the mureed may not have been in touch but he was in touch–and then Inayat would feel the longing and wishes of the mureed without them being otherwise expressed.
Darshan is not the kind of thing that I would go for, because, in my case at least, it would be a sort of almost an imposition. Rather, I would advise everyone to sit–or stand or whatever–and simply get in touch with what emanates from the silence within them. This is the thing, drop the personality, the worries, everything and just be in touch with that silence within yourself…
And there are many people who understand this…

J: Would you say that this practice breaks up the descriptions we hold of ourselves in our everyday life, and lets us view ourselves once again as a center of possibilities instead of as an object…?
S: I so agree with that! To me now, if you ask who I am, I don’t really think that I am anything… But there is a center here that collects, or at least takes charge of a lot of beings–thoughts, feelings and beings. An example of this is how the human body is constantly being served by all of the devoted beings. It is not yourself, really, it is they who take care of you…
People will go to a doctor, and he will say, “Oh, you have a disease!” And they will think, Oh my goodness, I have a disease! What do I do now? They shouldn’t care about all that. It is these beings that can restore and heal you, and your mind prevents them through fear, and through the thought projected by the doctors saying this and that.
In a moment of silence you would feel that you are not really ill…
In the Dhikr we say, “This is not my body, this is the temple of God.” And you needn’t even use the name “god” if that is offensive to you, the important thing to know is that it is a temple, and so it is sacred…
It’s really strange when we get caught up in who we think we are, or who others think we are…Take my image for example. If I took these things seriously, I’d have to be a little ashamed. In the first place, because all the descriptions are wrong since I don’t really exist, in the second place because I can never live up to what I am supposed to do. Too much is expected of one, one can’t do all that, and so one is always a disappointment to somebody else …When this happens, it is time to think, well if I am all that important then at least I’m somebody, and then it doesn’t matter anymore.

J: The key–the attachment to the description…?
S: Yes.

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