Special Illumination: The Sufi Use of Humour by Idries Shah

‘Special Illumination’ is a term used by the great poet and mystic Jalaluddin Rumi to stress the importance of humour in metaphysical experience. Of it, Idries Shah says, ‘Rumi directly contradicts such numerous sour-faced religionists as, in all persuasions, find that humour disturbs the indoctrination which is all that they usually have to offer.’ read more

Formats: Audiobook, Ebook, Hardback, Paperback
Translations: Dari, Farsi

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This book contains a series of linked teaching stories to illustrate how we hold ourselves back when it comes to wisdom and our own conditioning.

In one passage, Shah writes:

‘One of the paradoxes I have noticed is that people who do not remember things that would be useful to them are generally those who are in too much of a hurry: their very agitation and impatience slows down their progress in the end. People constantly write to say that they feel that they have so little time, or that they must do this or that urgently. If there ever was a case of “If that is your question, you will never be able to understand the answer” it is in this situation. But one can give a certain answer, again a joke, which has been observed to produce good results:


The way in which to answer this while giving an analogy is to mention the man who was asked why he was painting at such a tremendous rate.

“There is so little paint left, I am terrified that it will be finished before I have got this door covered!”’