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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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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From An Interview with Shamcher Bryn Beorse

J=Jelaluddin Boru, S=Shamcher

J: Didn’t Inayat Khan set up a program of fana-fi-sheikh, fana-fi-rassoul? That one begins with surrender to a teacher, and then one surrenders to someone of a higher lever, say Inayat Khan or Buddha or someone, a rassoul.. isn’t this correct?
S: That is almost correct. It is a fine way, one of the sufi ways. Fana-fi-sheikh means you look up to a person as if he were God. You are very noticeable of him, you find him so kind and so generous, that you begin to think that he is so developed that he is a person that you’d rather be than yourself. That is one way…

J: Are you saying that it is not necessary?
S: Yes. Nothing is necessary. This is only one way among many sufi ways. There is no “way” in fact, that is not a sufi way…
But let’s go on. After fana-fi-sheikh there comes fana-fi-rassoul. Meaning that you can no longer feel that way about one man, or one teacher, but you can feel that about the theme of the rassoul present in Buddha, Christ Mohammed or whomever. And then you come to the final surrender in which you are not even satisfied with that. You think, “Well, Buddha was all right Christ was all right, but I want to surrender to God only, what is called in this progression fana-fi-allah or fana-fi-lillah. This is where you want to end up. There is nothing that says that “this is the way to go and there is no other way”… A Sufi doesn’t say that. Inayat Khan never said that…

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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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On Teachers

In the sufi line, in the message line, you do not have to look up to any single person anywhere. But you can suffer and love and sympathize with all without rancor. Yes, you may even give your humble advice whether you are asked to or not, as I have done to all – all.

Also, there is no sin that is more forgiveable than fiddling with other teachers. For it is all in the process of the eagerness to learn. A mistake in the way of giving way to anger, passion, greed, — all those are so much worse.

Everybody today worships concepts. But concepts are not holy or sacred. They can be suffered, ignored, laughed at and changed. The spirit, the message is beyond concepts, beyond logic, beyond any words. So what is there to worry about? You have only ONE teacher: Hidden inside your own heart.

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On the Sufi Path

(from various correspondence)

And tell me what you thought it all would be, and how we became so different, so confusing to you, so upsetting. Is it because you expected to reach a firm concept, know it all, and found you know less and less? But that is excellent, the exactly right direction. All “knowledge” will drop from your mind like useless toys, and you will begin to see – but not with your mind though.

Sufis are average people. Putting on the sufi label does not make them (us) angels, does not even change us immediately. Just a longing, a hope that we add to life to make it richer.

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 dependance on yourself alone and on whoever you find who represents unity, whether they are “leaders” or floor-sweepers, you can find no “unity”.

What could I have done for you? I am not a teacher. Wonder if any one is.

God never punishes, but some souls punish themselves. So unnecessary. Masochism. They even try to “punish” others.

Cheer up. “Oh Lord, liberate me from all the obscuring veils, allurements and chains of attachment” This the cry of the seeker after truth.

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