From the Introduction:
Welcome to the world in which fairy tales are true, where the prominent scientists of the day join together to seek wisdom from a great sage of the Himalayas at the fabled Kumbha Mela. Guided by a trusted myth-spinning storyteller, their journey and its preparation are peppered with tales of metaphysical adventures. From the bohemian Shangri-La of the Oceano Dunes to the ancient Ganges flowing from Himalayan heights, the group travels and discovers the realm of “silent reach”.
In the tradition of metaphysical fiction that was popular in the 1920’s and 30s, Fairy Tales are True sweeps the reader into a vortex of yogis, scientists, spies and fools. Unlike most of those forgotten novels of secret universal Buddhist brotherhoods and mystical Tibetan quests, this book is more than partly true. Bryn Beorse, who was known to the Sufis as Shamcher, was the real deal: an actual world-travelling yogi-sufi who also was an esteemed economist and engineer. Here he has created a fantastical autobiographical allegory in a book that defies categorization.
As one long teaching story comprised of nested teaching stories, Beorse’s book may take liberties with facts to illustrate truths, but not as often as you might think. It is not only autobiographical, it is also a novelized or storified account of concepts that cannot be easily grasped by the literal mind.
Many-faceted, the book can be seen as a comic or as an allegory, as a novel or as a collection of stories like 1001 Nights, as an autobiography or as a metaphysical encryption, all depending on your viewpoint.
Some of the astonishing tales are completely true, other more prosaic events may be literary fabrication. Some facts are condensed and seen as averages. Other events resonate a mythic dimension or parallel in which they become more than true.
Shamcher often said that we need to create new myths and he shows the way here by generating myths from real-life experiences. The myth of the union of the sciences, the myth of the free-living dunites, the myth of mystic Indian sages beaming integrating love-wisdom. These new myths become outlines for humanity to decode.
This book is a cycle of words and letters set to run as a sort of intuition-machine – generating insights in the reader who can approach it from the right angle, at the right time.
Our story begins in a shattering of the separation between disciplines and points of view. With a gunshot, the “burglars” break the barriers and enter one another’s realms of exploration. Breaking the sound barrier naturally causes a sonic boom. In one big Bang! the action begins, and characters, events and social/political situations all combine to seek the whereabouts of a secret being who draws them together.
As science writer Brian Clegg states, “Every point in the universe, including where you are right now, is where the big bang happened.”
The book’s characters and situations could be seen as cliché, but just as McLuhan observed, cliché expands into archetype.
Shamcher sketches a series of event patterns that demonstrate the action and effect of what he calls “silent reach.” In these narrative examples of communication without words, silent reach shows in the mental concentration shared by three yogis to save the life of a foolhardy swimmer in the Ganges. It is seen in a last-minute intervention in a drama of international relationships played out as a personal conflict in the Tale of Fu Kieng. Silent reach, throughout the book, leads up to an inspired integration of the disciplines in the presence of a mysterious sage.
Ranging from the highest physics to the social sciences, Beorse has created exemplars, characters partly based on actual scientists. They are the noble knights of France, America and England setting forth upon their quest, with the guidance of the troubadour, our storytelling narrator. Dr. Jacques and his Institute – all true, except his last name was not Miel but Ménétrier. He figures in several of Shamcher’s other books, including Planet Earth Demands and Every Willing Hand. Edmund Fitzgerald seems to be a composite character based on prominent innovative social scientists and economists of the day (with a dash of Beorse himself.)Sir James Oss is patterned on Sir James Jeans the eminent physicist, astronomer and mathematician. By creating a confluence of these great minds of the early and mid-20th century, Beorse is working a little bit of magic.
Shamcher gives to the boy who could see without eyes the name of one of India’s greatest poets, a man who learned the inner secret of the shared mind of all. When Rabindranath (the blind and simple seer) tells of future wonders, our engineer/narrator asks for hard facts on how to achieve the wonders on earth. The response shows delicate awareness of the process of humanity’s evolution on earth and the fulfillment of such prophesy that comes slowly, over time.
As an engineer, Shamcher had an intimate understanding of technology, its inspiration and application for the good of all. For decades he worked to develop and promote OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion) as a benign source of power from the sea, a system he outlined in his book, Planet Earth Demands. He refers to it again in his book on full employment, Every Willing Hand.
Interweaving teaching stories with personal accounts, Beorse brings life to ephemeral concepts. He allegorically illustrates world events, such as the influence of Chinese expansion into India in the Tale of Fu Kieng. Putting himself directly into the center of the most dramatic action in the book, he once again weaves in his own life experience with that of the field he wishes to illustrate. Is it factual or is it true?
After gathering together, the sciences are led to the greatest of the sages in a journey that catalyzes them to greater realization in their fields through interdisciplinary dialogue in a very high place, guided by an unknowable presence. This is all stimulated along the way with true tales of adventures or mystery, pointing always to the silent communication of the wise.
This book is also an allegory of the life of the seeker, who gathers all forces together, with the help of a guide, to seek the truth, much like Attar’s classic Sufi tale, The Conference of the Birds. It could be said that the whole tale occurs within each of us – the sciences, the events, the guide (our narrator) and the great one whose appearance inspires and unifies, while daily we are engaged with the surging crowds of humanity within – our own personal Kumbha Mela.
Over and over again Shamcher emphasizes the power of communicating without words. His ability to do just that was one of his remarkable qualities. His being was a locus of energies and forces which urged, emerged and converged within him. Not only did he have access to the minds of others, and areas of interest created through merged minds of scientists, and engineers, and economists, he had access to the great mind of the entire being of humanity, the earth and our whole human experiment. Through Sufi yoga he attained awareness and flexibility to play in this vast God-mind, and through his loving heart he connected with other souls who could, perhaps, understand.
As a servant of this great mind Shamcher did its bidding without hesitation and he remained in contact at all times toward the end of his life. This inner urge and direct guidance was for him a force of great loving action. He said that the further you go in this way, the greater the minds you swing with. He was not only referring to remarkable people with fine gifts and abilities, but he also meant fields of awareness – physics, cosmologies, religions, beings of all life – animals and plants and unseen life. All “minds,” all aware and communicating silently.
This deceptively simple and slim volume could be seen as a blueprint for experience, for the book invokes a natural participation from the universe. It can amplify our awareness of quantum entanglement, what Einstein referred to as “spooky action at a distance.”
There are mythic tropes that Beorse expands upon, such as the effects of yogic concentration or the sacred unification of the sciences. Intuition stimulated through the lens of this book may awaken a recognition of such event templates as quantum patterns, living symbols that could seem to leap off the page and into everyday reality. The Tale of Trailanga is echoed in Dreamwood’s arrest, but it is not confined to this novel. It is also echoed in the story of Big Bear, an aboriginal shaman arrested in Winnipeg during the Metis rebellion in Canada. He too could not be confined; his story is one of several that mirror Trailanga’s, despite separation in both time and place.
When Shamcher wrote this book in the late 1960s-70s, he placed some of the action in decades past. The original book description read:
From California pre-hippy communes of forty years ago, to the mysterious convening of the sages in modern-day India, this story sweeps the reader along following the secret thread whose strands have held mankind together for the last few thousand years. Visits to simple villagers with amazing powers alternate with the adventures of an expedition of the world’s most important scientists, as Bryn Beorse takes us into the “inner sanctums” of our own everyday world.
The inner journey is reflected here as outer. The signs along the path all point to the silent way. We sense and discover it through stories that map the way and help encourage faith in the unseen.
As Shamcher said in the book, “If the great one wished to see us, he would somehow arrange it.”
Reading this book intuitively can reveal a deeper symbolic truth – something ultimately even more direct than a tale of scientists and sages working together to understand the truth of our existence and the meaning of the cosmos. As this compendium of nested teaching tales was intuitively written, it can speak to the heart of each reader in the silent reach of communication beyond words.
Carol Sill, Vancouver BC, 2014