Economist, engineer, generalist and mystic, Shamcher Bryn Beorse, reveals his comprehensive overview of the forces and influences shaping humanity in the latter half of the 20th century. Concerned with the fate of the earth environmentally, socially and politically, he offered both advice and warning, peppered with personal anecdotes. The cry of mother earth, the complexity of social issues, and the needs and desires of human beings living in this world today all combine in Beorse’s bird’s eye view.
This expanded and all-inclusive vision of the cry of the earth is as important today as when it was written over 40 years ago. What seemed radical at that time is commonplace today – an awareness of the totality of the environment including ourselves as well as the development of the inner life. In Beorse’s world-view there is no separation between the areas of energy, economics, employment, the individual’s pursuit of happiness and his own personal life-experiences. He subtly includes the spiritual life, touching on yoga and Sufi thought and practice as necessary and meaningful tools to address our current problems – not only at a personal level, but in the areas of city life, the environment, education and the media.
He puts his message into simple everyday language of the time, and makes sense of daily life in the broader environmental context. But this book is not merely an overview or a philosophical explanation. It is an urgent call for help from Earth Herself. As a serious meditator, Beorse had heard this cry throughout his life and dedicated his expertise and abilities to answering it. He travelled the world as an engineer and economist, finally settling in the US in the 1950s to work on OTEC, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, a system that produces benign solar power from the sea. At the time of writing this book, OTEC had yet to be adopted as an energy system of choice; instead coal, oil, and nuclear interests held the center stage despite OTEC’s proof, promise and possibility. Beorse emphasizes this technology as one of the answers to the demand of the planet.
Inside the book, each chapter connects with a specific aspect of the totality of our environment. At first poetic, the first chapter, Who is Mother Earth?, is seen from a planetary view, but zooms in to an individual at the corner of Wall St. and Broadway. Soon after it shifts to introducing OTEC, which is immediately followed by the economic chapter, Money, Money, Money, and includes many excerpts from the writings of others in the field. The Subtle Game of Choice again picks up on OTEC as an energy system, also discussing politics. The chapter on education, Are You Educated?, examines experience from birth to school to the world at large, finishing with a spiritual teaching tale.
Also ending with a Sufi story, the chapter on our dense social environment, What is America All About?, looks at our work environment and touches on the tragedy of involuntary unemployment. Making Cities Liveable discusses people and urban planning, while Lover and Beloved asks the question:How can we hope to manage our common environment if we cannot even stand each other’s idiosyncrasies? Beorse touches on the rich variety of human experience and the love of these individual qualities, ending with a tale of his encounter with the King of Afghanistan. In The Swallowed Environment, discussion of diet soon gives way to yogis, mystics and non-eating saints.
Our overwhelming information and entertainment environment is the main topic of The Printed, the Videoed and Audioed, while accounts of personal experiences in Australia and Borneo in Neighbor reveal personal economics, sharing and understanding. A Closer Neighbor: Your Body, goes into acupuncture, yoga and Sufi approaches to knowledge and awareness of the body. The Gold Mine Between Our Ears is the mind, here seen as the source and substance of our non-physical environment. Yoga and Sufism are discussed alongside mind training and brainstorming. The next chapter, Beyond Mind?, examines out of body experience and transfer of consciousness, through his true story of an adventure in Dayakland.
Inter-environment shows how one phase of the environment influences and merges with other phases, and through true wartime stories reveals non-hierarchical working as an effective way of channelling this interpenetration of environmental phases. Are You Emotional? discusses emotions, IQ, intuition and telepathy, and mentions an encounter with the Sufi teacher, Inayat Khan as a vibrant example of thought-transfer. Questioning “loyalty” and tackling the folly of top-down organization, This Delightful Disobedience shows the shift from theory to insight. Celebrating generalists and their influence, Comprehensive Designer examines the work of Buckminster Fuller, the benefits of small ventures and the power of the individual computer.
The final chapter, Bird’s Eye View, is the overview that shows through study and story the need for comprehensive ecological awareness and action. It ends the book with a sad tale of the effect of involuntary unemployment, revealing how one man’s experience has left an impression in nature and the environment.
As an elder and Sufi, Beorse taught and guided many younger people of the day to find the inner guidance that would help them develop their life’s purpose. He was insistent that the time for one-sided passive meditation was no more, and that the inner spirit of guidance, our intuition, was to be awakened and developed to serve humanity. Just as technology is the application of science, so is serving humanity the natural application of the meditative life. All we have to do is learn to listen, and put intuition into action.
Beorse points us to the yogis he describes in the book who do not identify themselves with their bodies but see the whole environment, the whole planet, as themselves.
The personal anecdotes that he shares here can be seen in the same light. Not only illustrations of wider principles, the autobiographical accounts are the book’s backbone, revealing an approach that radically defies all topic categorization and specialization.
It has been nearly 40 years since Shamcher wrote this book which he revised and kept current until his passing in 1980. Are we ready now to respond?
It was his love of this life and of this precarious human experiment that urged him to write and add his voice to the increasingly urgent call of our planet. At the center of this book is a message of a love that dissolves all the seeming separations between the various disciplines he addresses here. With love as the integrating force and intuition as our inner guidance, humankind will be able to answer the demands of Planet Earth, and survive.
Carol Sill, Vancouver BC, 2014