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Letters: Shamcher Beorse and Carol Sill, 1974-1977 Paperback – November 27, 2011
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About the Author
Carol Sill is a writer, editor, and publisher living in Vancouver, BC, with the abstract artist James K-M and their beagle, B. A grandmother of two, she has been engaged in the practical application of ancient spiritual wisdom for over four decades. After founding and encouraging the development of Sufi centers in Western Canada and teaching meditation in the open tradition of Inayat Khan, she now brings this awareness to publications - connecting media, culture and consciousness. She applies her training in the Sufi tradition of Hazrat Inayat Khan in everyday life. Her most recent book is Attars, and other titles include Human Ecology: Notes on the Sacred Element Work, Documentary Print, and Letters: Shamcher Beorse and Carol Sill. Carol was the editor of Ann Mortifee’s acclaimed best-seller, In Love with the Mystery. In addition, she has republished several books by her Sufi teacher, Shamcher Bryn Beorse, including Fairy Tales are True, Every Willing Hand, Man and This Mysterious Universe, and Planet Earth Demands. For these, she has also written extensive introductions for the contemporary reader. She currently manages the Shamcher Archives. As an editor and publisher, she also assists authors in self-publishing their fiction, poetry and non-fiction titles. Also produced websites, interactive artwork, and led various international workshops and events.
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Who was Bryn Beorse?
Bryn Beorse worked his way 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. He has studied Yoga from age eight and Sufism, with Hazrat Pir-O-Murshid Inayat Khan (who brought Sufism to the West), for many years.
Bryn Beorse served in the Kennedy Whitehouse as an aide, and later as a Naval architect for the U.S. government.
He brought together, in his own being, spirt and science, student and teacher, master and novice, even seeker and sought.
Who is Carol Sill?
When the letters start, Carol Sill is a young mother who has lost her son to a tragic accident. Seeking healing from the pain and grief of her loss, she reaches out to a stranger, who might give her spiritual resources to survive.
What Are The Letters Like?
Bryn Beorse had a practice to keep every letter short. Usually 1 typed page or less. The letters start with giving Carol some simple and powerful meditation practices, along with practical advice.
You can feel the intensity of the yearning student, and the power of the old man, sharing a lifetime's esoteric teachings, one short page at a time.
If you have heard the word Sufi, and wondered what it's all about, then this book is a wonderful introduction to Sufism.
If you have never heard the word Sufi, then perhaps these words will help.
"Sufism, as a religious philosophy of love, harmony, and beauty, aims at expanding the soul of man until the realization of the beauty of all creation enables him to become as perfect an expression of divine harmony as possible. It is therefore natural that the Sufi Order should stand foremost as a spiritual power in the East, and that it is rapidly becoming recognized in the West."
"Many Sufi saints have attained what is known as God Consciousness, which is the most all-inclusive realization of the meaning of the word 'good' attainable by man. Strictly speaking, Sufism is neither a religion nor a philosophy; it is neither theism nor atheism, but stands between the two and fills the gap."
If anybody asks you, "What is Sufism? What religion is it?", you may answer, "Sufism is the religion of the heart, the religion in which the most important thing is to seek God in the heart of mankind."
from The Religious Gathekas by Hazrat Inayat Khan
What is Sufism? It is... the art through which the music and symphony of life can be preserved, and through which man can enable himself to become the proper servant of God and humanity.
from The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Art of Being, Part I
This letter book is in many ways a unique experience .... the training of a Sufi mystic in a unique way.
And, in other ways, it's universal. It shows a heart yearning for healing and happiness, and the path that she (Carol) found that gave her healing, happiness, and spiritual connection to the Divine in simple and surprising ways.
I loved this book, and I suspect you will too.
This is an important and lovely book about the relationship between a young woman undergoing the worst tragedy that could befall a mother, and the teacher she found to see her through her tragedy, Murshid Shamcher (Bryn) Beorse. Shamcher was one of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan's chief students, named by him as "the esoteric inner head of the Sufi Order" (now Sufi Order International, [...] revered for the diplomatic work and transmission of Sufism he gave during his lifetime, a very special containment for the nascent Sufi Message of that time. At Inayat Khan's direction, Shamcher was referred to on many occasions by his son and successor, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan as "the esoteric inner head of the Sufi Order," a vital role at the time, and one he was uniquely suited for at that time of transition between East and West. He was many things to many people in his long life: Shamcher has been described by another of his students, Carol Sokoloff, as "the ideal of what a contemporary western mystic can be -- an activist, an artist, a spiritual guide -- working in all realms, the scientific, the literary, the political and the spiritual." He was known to his students as all these things, but he refused to take the titles or roles people wanted to give him, and he was a law unto himself in the Sufi Order, working tirelessly to be the glue that held the organization together during troubled times. He was at the same time a diplomat and an outlaw, but most of all, to some of us, he was a friend beyond compare. He was a unique illustration of the Sufi mystic, fully "awake" in life and beyond life.
Shamcher lived a spotless life, yet as he himself said, he "loved women," and while he had many friends of both genders, these letters are not for the faint of heart, for he understood and revered women in a way few men can, and he was entirely capable of pouring out his devotion in words if not acts, reaching inside the emotion of divine love in a way that could be daunting to the timid, yet always transformative. Carol, the author, was one of the few who was able to answer him in kind, and this collection of letters is particularly searing, because Shamcher came into Carol's life at the time of the tragic drowning death of her seven-year-old son, and supported her while she lived through that very special agony. As a result of their relationship, Carol became a teacher and priest in the Universal Worship of the Sufi Movement in Canada, and worked hard for the Message for many years. Shamcher particularly wanted these letters to be published, yet I know that she has hesitated, as many of us who knew him well have, because not everyone might understand the depth of his devotion and the strength of his love for his friends and students and his special way of expressing these. Those who read the book may want to access additional material on Shamcher and his teaching through [...] and [...]
Among Shamcher's last words were "there are NO teachers! YOU are the teacher!" and he seldom took students nor gave initiations. He was a devoted correspondent, however, typing his letters on the backs of torn-off holiday cards quite often, on a manual typewriter, with little attention to mechanical details. He protected the confidentiality of those who wrote TO him, but he left all his own written correspondence to Carol, and she has worked for years to put his letters into readable form. I was one of Shamcher's students, and I have my own stack of his letters, so I personally know what kind of work that must have been, yet what a tremendous gift to those of us who received those letters and those of us who can now read them.
For those following a spiritual path, an understanding of the history, of the STORY of our early teachers and the evolution of the containers we form for the path we follow (aka the "organization) is vital, for it is in understanding our past that we can create the future.
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If you want a genuine glimpse in to the student teacher relationship between mystics, please read this book.