Idries Shah


Hi I was wondering if anyone was finding Iries Shah's Knowing How to Know book a bit difficult going?

>>By sid   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 17:58)

it's a large book, but what do u mean by difficult

>>By faha   (Saturday, 25 Jan 2003 17:58)

how can you learn how to learn if you cant learn yet?

>>By mysterio   (Wednesday, 23 Apr 2003 05:49)

All of Shah's books teach according to a series of "impacts" which may not hit you for years, but then suddenly, out of the blue, you understand what the story really meant. Idries Shah wrote that in the Mulla Nasrudin stories alone, there are at least 7 meanings for each tale, and you may only grasp a new meaning a decade if you are lucky. Books can only teach so much, and "Learning How To Learn" is no exception. The books simply familiarize people with Sufi concepts, words, and ideas, and are meant to help ready the student for working with a Sufi Teacher. I have found after 4 years of reading Shah's books (and I have read them all multiple times) I continue to find new understanding with each reading, and I see the connections better between the stories and how they relate to my personal life and path.

>>By Lori   (Monday, 21 Jul 2003 20:48)

It is certainly true that Sufi teaching relies on making a series of impacts, but not everyone can benefit from these impacts – even if they are expecting them – just by random reading. Repeated reading is still random reading. Adding together the products of random reading does not produce order out of chaos – no matter what the source material is. If these products are added to random thought – that is; undirected thought – then the overall product is still random thought. A fact little appreciated is that thoughts can become more random ; not less - as more reading is added - whatever that reading is. Random thought can be obvious to observers. It may take the form of a random response to a question where a phrase reminds the respondent of something that may or may not be relevant.

"Knowing How To Know" is subtitled; "A Practical Philosophy in the Sufi Tradition" so it is obviously intended to be useful. If you are finding it difficult then something may be stopping you from benefiting from it or it may just be that you are resisting the impact of the book. It may be that the material is unfamiliar or expressed in a way that is unusual. Or it may in some other manner run counter to your 'experience' - that is your conditioning. Finding it easy could indicate the opposite - that the material is passing by with only the slightest 'recognition' resulting in an increase in the random nature of thought.

In other words, the material can be to someone's 'taste' because it reminds them of something irrelevant that gave them emotional satisfaction. but they are only deriving further emotionality from it. 'Difficult' can be an unconscious euphemism for 'unexciting' or 'threatening' or even both of these at different times. One of Shah's favourite methods of teaching was to "bore people to death"! So finding it 'difficult' could be a sign that learning is taking place in a way that matters. Sometimes it pays to lay aside a 'difficult' book and return to it later. Trying to read the book too quickly can be unconscious greed and being disappointed that a book is not 'unputdownable' could be mistaking one kind of book for another.

>>By Zawiah Saki   (Monday, 26 Apr 2004 15:52)

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