This book was described by Idries Shah as the key to understanding his entire corpus of work.
Written in response to requests for clarification, interviews, question-and-answer sessions, lectures, the book presents study themes intended to enable the student to observe the functioning of their own emotional and conditioned responses.
Shah states that 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’.
Upon its publication, Nobel prize winner Doris Lessing wrote:
‘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.’