A Symbol is an Ocean in a Drop: Shamcher

You expected to reach a firm concept, know it, 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.

- Shamcher

Do you know of any Sufi and Mystic who have worked through sixty-seven countries as an engineer, banker, economist, seaman, jackaroo, soldier, airman, king-maker, kidnapper of a head of state, and United Nations mission head?

Murshid Shamcher Bryn Beorse was one such rare human existence. He has studied Yoga from age eight and Sufism, with Hazrat Pir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan, from age twenty-seven and were friends with a number of world teachers in spiritual discipline. Teacher of Sufism to many, and Naval architect for the U.S. government, he brings together, in his own being, spirit and science. Shamcher had a beautiful resplendent mind of a natural mystic who could touch the essential nature of things. His lucid understanding of Signs in manifestation of creation is shared in bits in one of his writing titled, "In Every Willing Hand." Here I share some highlights from the chapter titled, A Symbol is an Ocean in a Drop.

Playful Symbol of Cross

Many see the symbol of the cross as a backbone of a great tale, an object of reverence, reminding one of suffering for a mighty cause. Its earlier history was lighter, more playful: The vertical line symbolized your rapid rise, prompted by your ambition. Then a horizontal line, representing the requirements of others, of your community, challenged and often delayed your upward rise. But this broadened your scope, and you grew in a new direction. You became wider - ranging, nobler - a resurrection.

Waters of Sea

Life was pictured as the waters of a sea in the ancient traditions of philosophy and religion, particularly in the Middle East. When the storms and waves of the sea of life overpowered you so you couldn't stay with it, you were said to drown. When you barely made it, you were said to swim. When your philosophical and loving attitude completely mastered the difficulties and challenges of life, you were said to walk upon the waters. To calm and harmonize the minds and emotions of oneself or others was called to still the storm. To improve the taste of the ordinary life of hard knocks and blows by a loving and compassionate attitude was called to turn the water of life into wine.

Wine and Bread

In the Holy Eucharist, wine is given as a symbol of Divine Love. The wine is also thought of as the blood of God. With the wine is given bread, a symbol of Divine Knowledge. The bread is also thought of as the body of God.

He who gave up blood on a cross poured tragedy, actual drama into the philosophical symbol and impressed even those who would not have been interested in the subtle and real significance.

Before the crucifixion, as a symbol of the coming event, he gave his disciples bread to eat and wine to drink "which is my flesh and blood". He wanted to tell them that Divine Knowledge and Divine Love was his real flesh and blood - the real flesh and blood of every man rather than the physical molecules of the body.

The bread and wine also symbolizes the well-knit structure of this universe and that even such a flimsy thing as Love is more substantial than we first think, at least as substantial as wine, and that all we eat and drink and feel and think is from that same one source which we may call GOD. Now we know that love is also steam, electricity, atomic power.

Blood donors give of their physical blood for transfusion to sick fellowmen. Simultaneously, they give generous thoughts and good wishes. They receive in due time a corresponding amount of blood from the workshop of nature in their own bodies - and, so, also love, inspiration and generous thoughts in exchange for those they gave, and the latter much faster than the physical blood.

To the enthusiasts, this all points to a climax: That this whole world is held together and run by love, the vibration, bundles of love. Love? How can one explain war in Vietnam then - and riots in Detroit?

Well, the great scheme of love hasn't quite penetrated yet. Not every man is fully clear about it, not yet. God may be perfect potentially, in time, though not quite yet - if God is everything. If He is everything, then he has a few miles to go yet - through and with all of us.

The Story of Jesus, The Story of all

The story of Jesus, his son, is the story of one, anyone, in the forefront. Eventually, it will be the story of all.

Some people brazenly proclaim the exclusive greatness of Jesus, the man or the God. This man himself said, "Call me not good. Only One is good, that is God!" which seems to mean that his message was not for glorifying one man. It was concerned with the Spirit embodying all men. The greatness is in the Spirit. If so, this is good news for the Spirit is always with us. It is expressed in individuals, in nature, in the whole universe, in oneself.

If Buddha seems the perfect expression of the Spirit to some, Jesus to others, how could one be pronounced greater than the other? How could the Spirit be greater than itself? Who could feel capable of comparing and judging them, thus proclaiming themselves greater than either?

Measuring the greatness of men and comparing them belongs to the world of separateness below the spirit level. In the world of the Spirit, there are no measurements, no comparisons. All are like flutes of reed through which the Spirit plays its music.

The Immaculate Conception

There is breathtaking beauty in the symbol and fact of the immaculate conception. Each child is more than just flesh and blood. Before birth, the mother has been overshadowed by God's holy spirit and while the earthly father and mother provide the physical frame, God breathes into life the soul. It seems such a pity, then, that so many souls are born into festering ghettoes and can see no great promise in their physical existence. Churches have been watching this spectacle for ages with greater patience than concern.

Immaculate conception is operating not only among humans but in all the huge and tiny explosive events we call creation. Two forces were always involved: positive and negative, male and female, ying and yang, jelal and jemal. The irresistible positive and male force overshadows and fuses with the negative - the female - the jemal being, and new beings spring to life. On February 14, 1637, one such new life, mothered by Madame d'Aiguemere of France, was adjudged by three medical experts to have been born by real immaculate conception. This verdict was upheld by the Paris Supreme Court after the latter had called in several more experts.

Whatever the procedures, as the earth is made fertile by rays of the sun and as the moon takes light from the sun and gives out heat and light in its turn, so a woman takes on a ray of the Spirit along with conception and, in due time, bears a soul with a body-frame.


What are prayers? Asking favors? To some they are just that. Others live their lives in constant prayer although they want no favors, they think of nothing but giving. To such, a prayer is tuning the mind and heart to the vibrations of the Spirit. Prayer is leading one's thoughts and emotions along a certain path. Then one may wish to stop at choice points of beauty and take in the view. This is called meditation or contemplation. There is no agreed difference between these two words although some consider meditation more or less haphazard thinking as compared to the more concentrated attention which they term contemplation. Concentration these same people define as focusing your thought - on anything. When you focus on God or any religious concept, then, only, they say, do you meditate or contemplate. All three activities lift the mind and heart above the daily chores, worries, fears or grudges, and make one receptive to inspiration.

Those who study the physical aspect of thoughts and feelings - as far as they may be studied at this time (New discoveries are made almost daily and during the time it takes to have this printed and brought to the shelves, we may know vastly more. . .) - feel that prayer and contemplation affect not only he who prays but spread throughout the universe as bundles of vibrations, like all other mental and emotional activities affecting with varying strength all other minds and hearts. Many religious people always believed this and, so, prayed in the solitude of monastaries or mountain caves to help, not only themselves but others as well. This influence on others may not always have come up to the expectations of the pious and is not usually a good enough excuse for running away from the world. The urge to run away, to seek long periods of complete solitude often stems from fear or over - sensitivity. Before acting, a look at oneself and a sober evaluation may be in order. But this looking should be exercized by oneself, not by others.

The Nazarene never permitted himself long sessions of solitude. The suffering of people around him kept him in their midst. Similarly, in the Bhagavad Gita, the most popular (in the West) of the holy books of India, the Lord's advice to his disciple, Arjuna, is not to abandon his worldly duties, not to give in to his urge to quit the coming battle but - while retaining his prayerful attitude - to go in there and fight.

Life in this world with its responsibilities, wars, worries and jarring influences, was made by man, for man, for his spiritual awakening and evolution, and is not to be shunned by him who wants to know and grow. There is no progress for him in leaving this world for the luxury of solitude - except for occasional refreshments. There is no sweeter fragrance than of prayers rising from the work bench or the din of battle.

- Highlights from Chapter 7: A Symbol is an Ocean in a Drop (Every Willing Hand by Bryn Beorse).
Click here to read the chapter in full

... who am I (or anyone) to "initiate" another person? Well, say the pious, it isn't you but God who initiates him .. I was initiated by Inayat Khan. I have no objection, nor any inclination...

Actually, whenever my glance strikes another human being, or a tree, a dog, it, she, he, is initiated by me and I by him, her, it, in a whole lot holier unity than any formal words or sign. 

And all this appears to be accepted heartily by Pir Vilayat, by his father Inayat Khan (who left his body in 1927) and especially by Inayat Khan’s musician son, Hidayat.

- from the Letters of Murshid Shamcher, Allah's perfect grace be with his soul

About the Book: Every Willing Hand

This work by Bryn Beorse, known to his Sufi friends as Shamcher, is remarkable. About half of it is a rather tedious, sometimes almost whining, account of his efforts to convince various important people of the merits of a plan to provide full employment for everyone who wants a job -- hence the title, Every Willing Hand. One does not learn the exact details of the plan until the Appendix. Few people, I imagine, would bother to wade through the whole thing. But if you do, about half-way through you will be rewarded withan extraordinary gem of an essay about the esoteric meaning of various religious symbols. And then one about the nature of mystical communication. And further on, a beautiful treatment of the power of love to reveal the underlying unity of all creation. And on and on, a series of stunning essays from a life-long student of Yoga and Sufism, one of whose teachers was Hazrat Pir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan, the founder of the Sufi Order of the West.

Bryn Beorse was born in Oslo in the late 1890s. An early interest in Yoga led him to become active in the Order of the Star of the East, a Theosophical organization. When Hazrat Inayat Khan came to Europe before the first World War and lectured in Norway, Beorse found himself translating for him and almost immediately became his student. His teacher gave him the name Shamcher, meaning "tongue of fire." He led an active and varied life, working in World War II as an intelligence agent behind the German lines, then as an engineer designing torpedoes. He was an early proponent of renewable energy in the form of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), and spent his latter years leading a simple life on the beach at Malibu. Shamcher was beloved by the students of Hazrat Inayat Khan and his successor Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, many of whom regarded him as a spiritual elder brother. The essays in this book reveal a deep wisdom that comes from years of practice.

Every Willing Hand was published in 1979 in paperback by Hu Press, the publishing arm of the Sufi Order Khankah (communal house) in New York City. At the request of our spiritual guide we scanned one of the few remaining copies of the book and then cleaned up the scan by comparing it line by line with the book.

- From Transcriber's Introduction of Every Willing Hand's (web version) | Read the Book online

+ The Sufi Remembrance Project: Shamcher Bryn Beorse



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Technology of the Heart: A Symbol is an Ocean in a Drop: Shamcher
A Symbol is an Ocean in a Drop: Shamcher
Technology of the Heart
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