In a darkened room a group of men once sought to examine an elephant. Taking hold of a different part – an ear, a leg, the tail – each one mistook his particular part for the whole. In the darkness, each of the men became convinced that the elephant was the object he himself had felt – a fan, a rope, a pillar – and so on. With this ancient fable, first described by the Sufi Master Jalaluddin Rumi, Idries Shah presents the Sufi perspective that Christianity and Islam stem from one, inner, origin. Based on Shah’s celebrated Geneva University lectures, this book dazzles with the breadth of its scholarship, and the profound depth of its message. In a world riven by cultural and religious differences, The Elephant in the Dark offers fresh thinking, hope, and the ability to look at what we think we know in new ways.
The ‘perfuming of a scorpion’, referred to by the great Sufi teacher Bahaudin, symbolizes hypocrisy and self-deception: both in the individual and in institutions. In A Perfumed Scorpion, Idries Shah directs attention to both the perfume and the scorpion – the overlay and the reality – in psychology, human behaviour and the learning process. Crammed with illustrative anecdotes from contemporary life, the book is nevertheless rooted in the teaching patterns of Rumi, Hafiz, Jami, and many other great Oriental sages. It deals with the need for and the path to knowledge and information.
A remarkable conspectus of philosophical contacts between East and West through the ages. This important monograph constitutes the whole text of Idries Shah's Seminar at Sussex University, fully annotated, indexed and with a bibliography and notes. It knits together the available knowledge about Sufi thought and literature in its passage through many deforming influences, such as the development of cults, the misinterpretation by literalist scholars, and the fallacious comparisons of committed "specialists".
Release date: February 2020
Based on university lectures at the New School for Social Research, New York, and the University of California, San Francisco, Neglected Aspects of Sufi Study deals with many of the problems of Sufic methods of study and those which militate against its effective progress in the modern world; notably the unrecognized assumptions which we make about ourselves and about learning and its process.
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