The Sufis by Idries Shah offers a wide overview of the historical development of the Sufi Way, through the works of iThe prodigious Work of the Sufis:
The Sufis by Idries Shah offers a wide overview of the historical development of the Sufi Way, through the works of individual masters (many of whom were highly successful polymaths), schools and orders, and through a whole host of fields in which they were engaged or through which their work was projected, such as religion, ethics, learning, science, the arts, traditional psychology and (not least) humour. Though it came to maturity in the classical Islamic era, the Sufi Way (which may be thought of in part as the esoteric heart of [exoteric] religion), it is said to have been a vital "yeast" or leaven in societies since time immemorial.
The Sufis shows the extraordinary and largely unknown or unsuspected influence and shaping of society, of what some term the "Ancient Teachings" or the "Secret Doctrine", not only in the East but also gradually diffusing throughout Medieval Christondom, a process which continues to this day, being re-presented as ever in accordance with the needs of time, place and people.
There's little point in reading out a list of the many topics covered by the chapters in the book, but suffice it to say that the Sufis influenced or were behind a great many of our institutions, or that these institutions are relics of previously dynamic Sufic operations. At random, then, we can see this Sufic influence in our poetry; literature; mythology; magic; alchemy; freemasonry; and in the Troubadour movement (with the concept of chivalry, romantic love and hence much modern music that has come along in its wake).
However, this book is no mere historical or academic exposition. If The Sufis appears scholarly, then that is only really of secondary importance. It comes over not only as an authoritative work but it clearly shows that the author is thoroughly familiar with the Sufi Way itself, having trodden that Path like Sufi mystics and action-philosophers before him, and having returned to help others along the Way. The work offers a detailed explanation of Sufi thought and action, scattered throughout the book, and together these points not only slowly build up a more-and-more coherent picture in the reader's mind but form a constellation of minor impacts designed to bypass the mind's censors, and "loosen up" prejudices and fixed thinking patterns.
As well as providing information, which has its place in preparatory studies, Shah's many books are primarily works designed to provoke and bring about change in the reader, initially perhaps at the level of opinion and belief, intellect and emotion (not least through the use of specialist teaching stories). But ultimately – if the studies are followed with sufficient dedication, and ideally with the help of a teacher – the studies bring about a succession of real and lasting changes in his or her actual being, through the activation of latent, subtle organs of higher perception. First, however, much groundwork and seed-planting has to be accomplished, what the Sufis call "learning how to learn" (which, it has to be said, also involves a lot of un-learning), before the real "self work" can begin in earnest.
Re-reading the work, I felt deeply saddened about the vicissitudes that the various genuine mystical traditions, their teachers, their followers (and folk in general) have gone through over the years; and about how different things could have been for future generations, not least here in the West, "if only ..." Over the years, we appear to have lost, squandered, misappropriated, twisted, discounted or rejected so much of inestimable worth and ended up in an almighty jam (with rampant materialism in the West and zealous extremism in the East). And at the same time, I'm thinking: "Hey, without Grace and without the folk in the traditions or favourably disposed to the traditions, and the struggles and sacrifice that they have been through, things could have been a whole lot worse." And for that, I will be eternally grateful.
In the end, I'm compelled to concede that I still can't find the words to do this work, The Sufis, anything like the justice that it so richly deserves, and can offer no better advice than to read (and re-read) the book yourself, and other books in the corpus. As Shah's son, Tahir has noted in his own book "In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams", shortly before he died Shah stated that his books form a complete course that could fulfil the function he had fulfilled while alive. As such, The Sufis can be read as part of a whole course of study....more
Casablanca Blues is another exciting, gripping, fast-paced, well crafted and atmospheric read from travel writer turned fiction author Tahir Shah. PerCasablanca Blues is another exciting, gripping, fast-paced, well crafted and atmospheric read from travel writer turned fiction author Tahir Shah. Personally, I found this to be Shah's best fictional work thus far.
The central character of the book, Blaine Williams, is obsessed by the classic film Casablanca and its own stars, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, and is going through a mid-life crisis. This doesn't last very long, however, for early in the book, Shah pulls the rug from under him, again and again. Although written in different genres, this reminded me of Catherine Cookson's trademark, in which time and again, she'd shock the reader or wake them from complacency by deliberately thwarting a character or throwing them in the deep end.
As the story and Blaine Williams' character develops, however, we see that what seems like cruel fate or bad luck is perhaps a blessing in disguise. What impedes Williams and pushes him into crisis actually drags him out of a hole. Rising to the occasion – however challenging – he is propelled forward into a whole new life, and liberation, that until then he could only have obsessed and fantasized about.
All the while the author, who lives in Morocco with his family, paints an entertaining and perceptive picture of life in the land, enticing the reader to go there and share the wonderful experience. As for the eventual outcome, I don't want to give away the storyline, except to say that it greatly pleased me.
In summary, Casablanca Blues is a great read and I heartily recommend it.
Disclaimer: I first began reading Idries Shah's work (Tahir Shah's father) in the mid-1980s and later came across Tahir Shah's own writing. I was asked if I would read through a pre-publication draft of the work in PDF format, but I was not asked to write a review. This is a voluntary and honest review....more
An interesting read. Jean Vaysse actually explains the basics of Gurdjieff's teachings in a way even I could understand (though not remember in detailAn interesting read. Jean Vaysse actually explains the basics of Gurdjieff's teachings in a way even I could understand (though not remember in detail without a re-read), without going into difficult technical or practical details.
Throughout the book, the author hammers away at all the difficulties under the sun that we ordinary men and women face; the dire position we are in with our lack of wakefulness and our forgetfulness, pulled this way and that; and virtually all personality at the expense of a stunted essence. He makes clear the necessity of finding a school or at least a master who has already walked the Way and who is willing and able to take on students.
And then, at the end of it all, the author presents a simple, practical first step. Without divulging a spoiler, let's just say that it came as a surprise that he should suggest this first exercise, and yet (having studied other allied traditions) it didn't come as such a surprise, because it seems so apropos and achievable....more
129+ Ways To Market Your Business: A plethora of ideas for marketing your business online and offline.
As the author points out at the beginning of the129+ Ways To Market Your Business: A plethora of ideas for marketing your business online and offline.
As the author points out at the beginning of the work, "This book isn't going to tell you how, it simply signposts you the what and the where, it's up to you to decide the which, the why, the perfect and the how." So if a topic like "google alerts" (say) grabs your interest, then obviously it's up to you to do your own research and sign up to the service.
Until I read this book, I perhaps had a vague idea about half a dozen means by which I could market my work (in my case ebooks), but I hadn't ever really sat down and given it much rigorous thought, nor followed up on the many alternative possibilities. Here, however, the author comprehensively lists over 129 means of marketing your goods or services online and offline, together with useful links to online services, and a few tips, pros and cons. Many of these services are free, too (though of course you have to account for your time), so marketing need not cost you the earth.
Some of the entries may appear obvious and do not require description, and yet you may find, like me, that until now you've overlooked or even dismissed many of these perfectly workable methods, both traditional and modern. Others are well described or, in certain cases like search engine optimization (SEO), are the subject of lengthy explanation elsewhere, in which case useful links have been provided, should you decide to explore a particular subject further.
If you were to explore and adopt only 2 or 3 of the 129+ ways presented in this short but idea-packed book (gleaned by the author over a lengthy period of involvement in the industry), you would have no difficulty in recouping your $2.99 (£2.00). So this book represents far greater value and you are sure to derive many hours of use and re-use from it, if you follow up the pointers, work through them and implement them.
Therefore, I heartily recommend this book and wish you the best in your own marketing endeavours....more
Tahir Shah has always had a penchant for the oddball, not only in his travel writing but also in his own, well-documented life. With Shah having now tTahir Shah has always had a penchant for the oddball, not only in his travel writing but also in his own, well-documented life. With Shah having now taken to writing fiction, "Eye Spy" has to be his wackiest read yet.
You know that what Dr. Amadeus Kaine is up to is really offensive to the prevailing norms of supposedly civilized society, and yet you just can't help but become engrossed in, even hooked on, the work; even wondering what human eyeballs might taste like with a little garnishing, if you were to perhaps taste just one. But then, that's all it took to get Amadeus Kaine well and truly hooked....more
This book really shows up our brains' egocentric delusion for what it is and reasserts the sadly-neglected heart's central role in connecting, nurturiThis book really shows up our brains' egocentric delusion for what it is and reasserts the sadly-neglected heart's central role in connecting, nurturing and integrating (not only in the individual, but transpersonally).
The book details profound implications for maintaining good physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and healing, going far beyond the blinkered biomechanical view of health that, like the brain, so dominates our modern world.
You may find the repetition in the first half of the book a little annoying, if necessary for the message to really sink in; but stick with it: the second half of the book, which is more practical, gets better and better.
I'm not saying that Pearsall has got it all right, but there is something in what he says, and perhaps much may come of the new cardio-centric model (brain/heart/body Mind), rather than the old encephalo-centric (brain/body) paradigm?...more
Tahir Shah has been steeped in traditional storytelling, folklore, legend and creative mythology from an earScorpion Soup: Dancing to a different drum
Tahir Shah has been steeped in traditional storytelling, folklore, legend and creative mythology from an early age and he was brought up in a family gifted in the art and possessing vivid creative imagination. This shines through in the interlinked short stories which comprise Scorpion Soup: A story in a story, which was inspired by the One Thousand and One Nights.
As each tale is recounted and segues into the next -- as if hinting at and mimicking the world itself emerging and blossoming in a stream of consciousness -- the reader is tantalized by what he has read and drawn into and drawn along by what "moreish" tale might come next. Tales not only of creative imagination, but also -- as is the way of the world -- partly-cautionary tales about its wayward cousin, spurious imagination; at times recurring tales of wondrous destiny and also of less happy fate; tales whose apparently-opposing warp and weft are craftily and necessaily woven together to augment the rich tapestry of life.
As a Westerner, brought up with the literary and technical products of the modern Western world and -- alas -- possessed of an all-too-analytical mind, I would have liked to have seen more clearly delineated dénouement along the way, and I must admit that I felt a certain discomfort and sadness in leaving behind one, not as yet fully resolved, story and moving onto the next. But the Eastern realm, in which these tales are set, dances to a different drum, has its own technical ways of operating and appeals to altogether different and more subtle faculties, and the world is that much richer as a consequence.
I think the whole point is that this is a never-ending tale, with 1,001 possibilities and that it rightly leaves much to the reader to exercise their own imagination so that he or she may fill in the gaps. "What happened to the old witch?", they might ask, and yet another vivid story might be invoked in response, and this can happen because this fairytele framework is inherently open, fertile and liberating, rather than the often closed system, paradigm or prison to which we in the West are, alas, more accustomed.
All in all, then, I heartily recommend Scorpion Soup to both the young and the young at heart....more