A Person on the Path is Never Lost
This issue features Shamcher quotes from Sabira Scott, expanding to an excerpt from correspondence, followed by Toni Lyons’ account of Shamcher and Abdul Aziz Said meeting at her home for lunch.
“My head is a receiving station” (When Shamcher wanted to remember something he would tap his head — and the idea/thought would pop out).
“Optimism and pessimism are both wrong — there is no right or wrong. A man does what he does.”
“Reality is the most unrealistic thing there is.”
(Sabira Scott shared memories of Shamcher in 1980, soon after his passing)
ON DEATH AND GOD
(from a letter to Prof. Merchant in India)
“My sister died and I am so glad for her. She worked hard and often suffered. When we make our loving bonds here on earth, I think our love should extend to their parting into their next and often more exciting world. We will see them there. We are going too. This is not “some act of fate.” lt is part of a scenario. She is taking a long journey — to us an unknown journey. There is no difference in her continued usefulness - and enjoyment. There is not as lively communication as before, but that is just temporary. I don’t see a stern ‘God’ distributing fates. We are all in this creation and distributing, we are all GOD or part of Him. We often act strange — to the despair of others who act more normally. To me there is not an all-powerful monster directing our lives. We are directing it ourselves, through known and unknown parts of us. It is only temporary that the unknown parts are unknown. I don’t pray to some stern God. I don’t see one. I see playmates and co-sufferers. We are all in this. We all created this world — and ourselves. You are ‘god’ and so am I.”
When Two Sufis Meet
An article by Toni Lyons on the passing of Abdul Aziz Said last month includes a lovely account of what happened when she introduced Shamcher to him. Shamcher often quoted him, saying, “A person on the path is never lost.” Read the full article linked at the end of this excerpt.
In the summer of that year, Shamcher Bryn Beorse, who was then eighty-three years old, came to stay in our apartment in Maryland for a few days. It was the first time we had met. We somehow had volunteered to take him to a spiritual conference we were all attending in the countryside north of Toronto. Little did I realize what an amazing human I had invited into my home. A Norwegian by birth, he had been part of the Norwegian secret service during the war. He studied in France to become an engineer.1 There he had met the Sufi teacher, Hazrat Inayat Khan. He travelled widely, meeting spiritual teachers of many traditions, experiencing, transforming, knowing. Heading a United Nations mission to Tunisia in 1964 to study the feasibility of a saltwater conversion plant, he encountered the idea of using the temperature differentials of the ocean to not only desalinate the ocean water but to also create electricity that can be harnessed to do work.2
He continued to work as an engineer in the Civil Service until almost the end of his life, tirelessly advocating for the creation of OTEC plants. While he stayed with us, I went with him to the halls of Congress where, like a white-haired, blue eyed sprite full of energy and light, he button-holed Senators coming out of Committee meetings and actually managed to engage them in prolonged conversation.
After he’d been with us for a couple of days, I decided that Shamcher and Abdul Aziz must meet. I boldly invited Abdul Aziz to come to lunch one day in our spare apartment. I probably cooked curried lentils and rice with vegetables, something Shamcher seemed to like. Abdul Aziz rang the downstairs bell and I ran down with great anticipation to see him up. As he walked into the apartment, he seemed to tower above Shamcher, the spare old Norwegian. They embraced.
Having no table, we sat and ate from plates on our laps as we talked. They shared a lot in common, these two intensely committed men, steeped in spiritual practice. From time to time, I saw Shamcher glance at Abdul Aziz’s plate. Seeing he was observed, Abdul Aziz said, “I think you’re interested in the way I’m eating.”
Shamcher acknowledged he was curious. “I notice that you begin eating at the bottom of the plate, go clockwise around the edges and then to the center.”
Abdul Aziz responded “Yes, exactly. You observe well. It gathers the energy of the food so that little is lost;” Shamcher said, “I supposed so, but I wanted to make sure. It seems like a good way to eat.”
They talked of a few things – OTEC, their origins in Syria and Norway, their ties to universities and much more I can’t remember. As we all stood to say our good-byes, it was clear to me they were really both the same size, the space within each being expansive beyond knowing.
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The Shamcher Bulletin is compiled from the Archives of Shamcher Bryn Beorse and edited by Carol Sill, whose newsletter, Personal Papers, is HERE.
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Footnotes to the main article:
Shamcher became an engineer in his early days in Norway, and worked as an engineer world-wide. While in France he learned of Claude’s OTEC technology, then brought the system to the US after WWII.
Shamcher’s time in Tunisia was as an economist, and wherever he went he found ways to introduce OTEC technology.