Through Every Willing Hand we can receive a glimpse of an extraordinary worldview, a simultaneous multiverse of intimate interconnection, fueled by love, aligned by wisdom, creatively expressing God’s love for this delicate and persistent human experiment. This is the world of Shamcher Bryn Beorse.
With this book Beorse views this vast scene through a lens of economics and full employment. He reveals artfully interwoven themes that all work together to show a complex picture of the forces and influences at play, both at the time of writing in the mid-1970’s and today. Shamcher had great compassion for those who are “half awake in the body of humanity,” and he worked tirelessly to expand the horizons of all individuals and communities.
In one glance the book reflects innumerable facets of our social communities and individual aspirations, all in the context of the need for social reform. Where does he suggest this reform comes from? Not from a revolution in the streets to restore or establish fair and equal opportunity, but from an implemented program ensuring full employment for all who want it. A program that had already been outlined back in 1946 by noted economist, John H. G. Pierson.
An economist himself, Beorse adds his voice to Pierson’s concept in his own inimitable way: by providing this swirling overview of the issues at hand, ranging from the personal to the cosmic.
A key to discovering the meaning of this book is to approach it visually. I invite you to see the whole book as a Diego Rivera-style mural. As in a mural, at one view all the major public figures and social influences can be seen interacting together symbolically on a wall in a public place. Time past, present and future are all represented. Such a mural can be understood by anyone. It is always a call to action, a statement of deep participation in life in our community, an acknowledgement of roots in the past, the reality of present problems and hope for the future.
Like any great muralist, Beorse includes specific significant details: some informational for future reference, some symbolic for contemplation. While reading this book, visualizing is key to comprehensive understanding. Taking the time to think and contemplate may open catalysts to insight and give inspiration for action. Let’s take a look at the vast mural that is Every Willing Hand.
The first chapter, Every Single Willing Hand, introduces the book’s purpose, touching on economics, full employment, and OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion). Beorse introduces the influential figures whose ideas form a basis for this discussion, including thinkers and economists who by now may have faded from the world stage. We can’t ignore the fact that this book began with a memory: the suicide of a talented man, whose enthusiasm and gifts were suppressed by his involuntary unemployment.
Children’s Hour uses the future generation as an inspiration for action, asking “what do the children of unemployed workers feel and think?” then leading directly into correspondence that reveals the efforts to create new initiatives. Moving from child to youth, in The Unsettled, he first asks the question, “How can youth build a viable society when unsettled?” His response includes the work of the esteemed Dr. Ménétrier in his Paris clinic, and touches on inner guidance and the “unseen friend”.
Generation Bridge, written at the time of the “generation gap” offers new approaches to gaps in understanding between any groups whose concepts and theories differ. While touching on teachings of the sufis, including yoga and meditation, a great deal of this chapter is devoted to Dr. Simonton’s work using visualization with cancer patients. If visualization is proven to help in individuals, can it not also be a clue to helping our communities, and our future?
The next chapter, Vendettas and Morality, takes another look at our society, from marriage to long term social planning, and the negative influence of unemployment. Here Beorse posits employment based on enthusiasm and skills, not merely abilities in reading and writing. The Good Samaritan and Computers outlines a very interesting juxtaposition. He states, “Computers, lie detectors and good Samaritans sway people, their communities, economics.” Here he shows us how the help of a caring human being restores the humanity in others, for in many ways we are being “beaten up” by the media and our dependence on the external. Incidentally, Beorse saw lie detectors as machines that measured feeling, and as such creating a whole new category of social influence that will emerge in the future.
Like his teacher, the Sufi Hazrat Inayat Khan, Shamcher had an intuitive awareness of the power and meaning of symbols. In A Symbol is an Ocean in a Drop, he examines the Cross, the Trinity, the Waters of the Sea, Bread, and Wine. This chapter is an entrance to the world of the spirit. It looks at concentration, prayer, and most important: developing an understanding of the physical aspects of thoughts and feelings. Stepping further into the mystic world, Communicators introduces examples of those who could operate beyond the limitations of body and mind. The figures of Inayat Khan, Samuel Lewis, Rabindranath Tagore, Dag Hammarskjold, and Al Ghazali appear to our view.
And then, War. Seeing from the economic viewpoint, Beorse gives a global overview, mentioning how economic despair opened the door to Hitler. He offers the choice of full employment and its related economic stability as a potential deterrent to future wars. In Riots: A Challenge? Shamcher significantly asks if riots come from ourselves, from “a mysteriously expanded multimind.” Invoking history, he describes riots and demonstrations as warnings to communities to take stock of assets and potentialities.
From war and riots, to we turn to love, and in Love, How Real? love is shown as a realization, as the basis for a society and its economics. From the human cycle of love to the love of God, this chapter reveals the stream of love in its many forms. Then from such a Bhakti yoga approach, the next chapter flows to a more Jnana approach. “I Am Just An Accident” takes a scientific view, contrasting “a” and “b” in a conversational dialogue between two characters, Ralph and Fred, a biologist and an astrophysicist.
Is there a way out? Freedom’s Gate begins with a well-known Sufi story, then goes right into the main teaching this story reveals: die before death. Shamcher shows the path of forgetting the self, losing the self in the wonder of Creation. All clashes and differences can be united in prayer. The chapter Clashing Minds decodes prayers with concentrations for each line of the Lord’s Prayer, and two Sufi prayers, including this healing prayer:
Beloved Lord, Almighty God
Through the Rays of the Sun
Through the Waves of the Air
Through the All-Pervading Life in Space
Purify and revivify us, and we pray,
Heal our bodies, hearts and souls.
Looking at states and stages of realization, this chapter shows prayer, meditation and contemplation as essential tools of education.
In Silent Reach Shamcher goes much further, into breath, yoga, Sufism, inner training and practice. He defines the seeker as an astronaut, stepping outside narrow mind, feelings and body into wide open space. This approach gives access to the solutions to all our social, economic, international and personal problems and ambitions.
Those solutions remain unfulfilled until they are applied, and that is where the work needs to be done. So from meditation and inner life it is back to That Unfinished Business where the book first began. Back to economics, and to the ideas of inventory, surveys and analysis to lay the groundwork for full employment. Here Beorse mentions the comprehensive 1963 meeting that had been planned to hammer out such basics for the US, a meeting that was tragically cancelled due to the assassination of President Kennedy. However, further correspondence included here indicates that the ideas behind this meeting were still in play.
This business is still unfinished, which is why Beorse wrote this book. For those who want further details, the Appendix contains the full statement Completing the Employment Act by John H.G. Pierson, as presented to the US House of Representatives in 1972.
This book is not only historical but completely in the present. Perhaps now could be the time to look back at the 1946 proposal for full employment. It is certainly not too late to examine the work of the economists Beorse so emphatically recommends. Nor is it too late to advocate the implementation of OTEC technology for the good of our planet, climate and our economy. And it is always the right time to develop the inner life. As outlined in Silent Reach, we can all expand ourselves to become explorers who step outside narrow mind and concepts, and enter wide open space.
by Carol Sill
See also: Reading on the book’s website.