[NetBehaviour] Doris Lessing pays tribute to a great exponent of Sufism
marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon Nov 18 12:27:33 CET 2013
Doris Lessing pays tribute to a great exponent of Sufism
The Times 1994.
Thirty years ago there appeared The Sufis, a book which at once
announced itself as unlike any other. Hundreds of books by non-Sufis
appear every year, disappear without trace or wash up on obscure shelves
in academic libraries. This book was at once "recognised" -- a Sufi term
which may be summed up by "like calls to like" -- by a remarkable range
of people, many of them poets. The Sufis is a classic, and was by Idries
Shah, who represents a genuine mystic tradition -- there are many imitators.
Since then he has written or compiled over 30 books, providing a
comprehensive experience of the Sufi view of life. The whole body of
work, together with his reissuing of still relevant Sufi classics, adds
up to a many-faceted whole. There are people who have taken part in this
process, book by book. Others have found this or that book useful or
entertaining. The Commanding Self is both a summing up of a third of a
century's work, and a development. People who have stayed the course
will find similar ideas here, but put into a new context or taken a step
further, sometimes unexpectedly.
"The commanding self" is a Sufi term for the false personality. Their
contention is that we are all products of ideas put into us by our
parents, by our culture, by the time we live in, and that what is real
in us is very small (and precious). It is this part the Sufis aim to
reach and teach. Some people, hearing that nearly everything they seem
to be is only a mask made by conditioning, will say, "Well, of course!"
-- and want more information, while others may feel threatened. The
picture on the cover is a photograph of an ancient figurine, a
representation of the commanding self, like a savage dog. "Do you want
to live an angry biting life?"
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