Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Sufis

The Sufis Cover

Book: The Sufis by Idries Shah

The most comprehensive book on the subject available in our culture. Has chapters on Classical authors such as Attar and Rumi. Also, the amazing Mulla Nasrudin; whose antics, jokes, and quibs have helped to inspire and instruct for centuries. Yet this is not an historical book or an academic one, but real, live Sufi teaching and instructional material, designed for contemporary culture. Never boring, often challenging, The Sufis sheds light on organizations and people who have throughout history, come and gone, leaving only the empty husk. I especially enjoyed the Seeker After Knowledge chapter, a teaching narrative that memorably illustrates deficiencies in our approaches to knowledge.

First published in 1964, Idries Shah's definitive work, 'The Sufis', completely overturned Western misconceptions of Sufism, revealing a great spiritual and psychological tradition encompassing many of the world's greatest thinkers: Rumi, Omar Khayyam, Ibn El-Arabi, Al-Ghazzali, Sadi, Attar, Francis of Assisi and many others.

This book, written after years of travel, research, and collection of an amazingly diverse array of materials, presents the reader with a series of startling revelations concerning the basis of the knowledge structure of Western and Eastern thought. The idea of an advanced knowledge in the custody of, for the most part, unknown and mysterious people with strange powers, may seem at first glance to be an absurdity. The idea that the unified knowledge of the Sufis concerning the developmental and evolutionary potential of mankind influenced or lay behind the organization and theories such as those of Chivalry, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, Roger Bacon, Geber, Hindu Vendantist teachings, the Troubadours, in Shakespeare, the Rosicrucians, the techniques of Japanese Zen, in Chaucer - to name only a few - is sure to clash with the conditioned thinking inculcated by submersion in conventional thought and maintained by our environment.
The spiritual and psychological tradition of Sufism was regarded, before this pioneering book was published, as the preserve of ecstatic religionists and a small number of Oriental scholars, who treated it in the main as a minority cult.

'The Sufis' is the pivotal work which heralded the revelation of the astonishing richness and variety of Sufi thought and its contribution to human culture contained in Idries Shah's many books on the subject.

The astonishing impact of Sufism on the development of Western civilization from the seventh century is traced through the work of Roger Bacon, John of the Cross, Raymond Lully, and Chaucer. Many of the greatest traditions, ideas and discoveries of the West are traced to the teachings and writings of Sufi masters working centuries ago.

But 'The Sufis' is far more than an historical account. In the tradition of the great Sufi classics, the deeper appeal of this remarkable book is in its ability to function as an active instrument of instruction, in a way that is so clearly relevant to our time and culture.

Today, studies in Sufism, notably through Shah's research and publication, are pursued in centers of higher learning throughout the world, in the fields of psychology, sociology, anthropology, and many other areas of current human concern.

Thus, Idries Shah takes us on a developmental journey through the past fourteen hundred years, from the angle of how, when, and where the Sufic stream was in operation in the East and West. Thought provoking and written like a finely crafted mystery, The Sufis is an astounding and unparalleled source of information on the totally unexpected basis of Eastern and Western thought. It will appeal to those interested in spiritual and metaphysical ideas, as well as those with a yearning to discover the impulses which are the basis of our humanity.

Find Idries Shah's book in
The Sufis

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