Some History

This excerpt from a letter to Murshid SAM (Samuel Lewis) of 2 Feb 67 indicates that Shamcher had been working on this book even in the mid-1960’s:

“You have a prominent place in a book that will catapult this civilisation, you are compared with Dag Hammarskjold, a mystic who kept so secret about his mysticism out of a modesty that was pride-colored while you make mysticism a common heritage by crying from the housetops, out of a selflessness that needs neither pride nor humility. And when that book appears you will become desperate because you will be flooded with pupils, newsmen, requests, some proper, some dumb, but that’s the way the ball bounces…”

John H. G. Pierson was a proponent of this book and added his positive comments to Beorse’s submission to a publisher in the 1970’s. In the edition finally published by Hu Press, NY, in 1979, Beorse included his remarks:

“I understand that you may be considering publishing Mr. Bryn Beorse’s book, Every Willing Hand. Having read the manuscript with fascination, I venture to write to say that I hope you do decide to publish it.

“This espousal by me may appear suspect in view of the favorable notice which my work on full employment receives in Mr. Beorse’s closing pages. Please believe, though, that my main reasons for hoping to see this book in print are impersonal ones. One is my conviction that Mr. Beorse renders an important public service by stressing as he does how much our success, or lack of it, in providing jobs for all who want them will really matter, i.e. how profoundly it will affect our ability as a nation to weather these tough times by facing up to fundamental human and material problems. But my chief reason is not economic at all–rather it is the extraordinary effect that this wide-ranging, philosophical essay has produced on me as a general reader. And will, I believe, equally produce on other readers who have the opportunity to view it whole.

“One doesn’t have to agree with all of Mr. Beorse’s opinions — I don’t[…]”

Later, in the 2000’s, some Sufis connected with Shamcher’s dear friend, Shahabuddin Less, scanned a remaining copy of the book then they compared the scanned version line by line with the book originally published in 1979 by Hu Press.

Cover of 1979 edition
Cover of 1979 edition

Included in that old online version is a “Transcriber’s introduction” which reveals that from the Sufi aspect of the book, the transcriber was in tune with Shamcher’s sufi work and world view, sensing and appreciating the inspiration included here, although the more worldly areas of the book weren’t as clear to her/him.

“This work by Bryn Beorse, known to his Sufi friends as Shamcher, is remarkable. . . . about half-way through you will be rewarded with an 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, 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. Consequently, we got to read the book quite carefully. It has been a privilege and a joy.”

One small bio correction: Saying Shamcher “spent his latter years leading a simple life on the beach at Malibu..” is not exactly correct. He did spend some time before WWII living in the dunes in Oceano, in an idyllic existence as a beach bum. However this idyll ended not only with the coming World War, but also with the tragic suicide of a fellow dune resident, whose talents had been thwarted due to unemployment. This book and its message are dedicated in part to him, and to those in a similar situation. He may have been yearning to be back in the dunes by the ocean, but instead Shamcher pushed forward actively throughout his latter years, remaining at the University of California Richmond Field Station as Emeritus, tirelessly working to bring OTEC forward and completing his books.