The Commanding Self by Idries Shah

‘What Sufis offer is learning, through experience… The Commanding Self… and other books Idries Shah has been publishing are designed to introduce the interested to this way of looking at life, as well as teaching students. An analogy they use is that a dried peach is not a peach, but may prepare you to recognize fresh peaches when at last you eat one.’

Doris Lessing

Available worldwide in all formats – including ebook and audio – on Amazon. In the USA go to, in the UK, in India You can also order The Commanding Self in paperback and hardback from your local bookstore — and in the UK and USA we also recommend; and in Australia and New Zealand Booktopia.

‘The Commanding Self’ is the Sufi technical term for the false personality, that mixture of survival reflexes and conditioned responses common to all of us, which inhibit and distort human progress and understanding.

Idries Shah’s The Commanding Self is a collection of tales, anecdotes, letters, lectures, and question-and-answer sessions that highlight one of the fundamental barriers in the Sufi developmental process: the false self.

Upon the book’s publication, the author and Nobel prize winner Doris Lessing described this false personality as also ‘made up of what a culture puts into a person – parents, schools, the zeitgeist’.

Shah states that in genuine mystical traditions there is no intention of destroying or undermining the Commanding Self. Instead, would-be students are encouraged to ‘divert vanity from the spiritual arena ... to channel the Commanding Self’s activities to any worldly ambition: while continuing to study the Sufi Way in a modest and non-self-promoting manner’.

The Commanding Self enables readers to observe the functioning of their own emotional and conditioned responses. The book was described by Shah as the key to understanding his entire corpus of work.