Knowing How to Know : A Practical Philosophy in the Sufi Tradition

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9780863040726: Knowing How to Know : A Practical Philosophy in the Sufi Tradition

Contemporary esoteric systems almost invariably play on the desire of mankind to seek or acquire knowledge. Almost universally neglected in such systems are the--often-unrecognized--barriers that prevent knowledge and understanding. Before learning can take place, certain conditions and basic factors must be in place, in the individual or the group.

Building on the foundations laid in Learning How to Learn and The Commanding Self, Idries Shah illuminates those factors in Knowing How To Know. Like an ultra-violet light shone onto the petals of flowers, it reveals concealed patterns, normally invisible to our customary modes of thought.

"This would not be a book by Shah if it were not often very funny. In short, those who know Shah's work will not need to be told it is a cornucopia of very various delights; those who do not may find it a fascinating introduction to the Sufi view of life." --Doris Lessing, The Sunday Telegraph

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About the Author:

As the urgency of our global situation becomes apparent, more and more readers are turning to the books of Idries Shah (1924-1996) as a way to train new capacities and new ways of thinking. Shah has been described as "the most significant worker adapting classical spiritual thought to the modern world."

Shah was educated in both the East and West, by private tutors and through wide-ranging travel and personal encounters - the series of journeys which characterize Sufi education and development. In keeping with Sufi tradition, his life was essentially one of service. His knowledge and interests appeared limitless, and his activities and accomplishments took place in many different countries and in numerous fields of endeavor.

Shah was Director of Studies of the Institute for Cultural Research, an educational organization sponsoring interdisciplinary and crosscultural studies of human thought; a founding member of the Club of Rome; a Governor of the Royal Humane Society and the Royal Hospital and Home for Incurables; and the founder of publishing house Octagon Press.

Shah's landmark book, "The Sufis", invited readers to approach Sufi ideas and test them out. The evident and common sense made it clear that here was a sane, authoritative voice in the wilderness of the gobbledegookish mysticism of the sixties. The lively, contemporary books on traditional psychologies, literature, philosophy and Sufi thought that followed established a broad historical and cultural context for Sufi thought and action. These have so far sold over 15 million copies in 12 languages worldwide and have been awarded many prizes. They have been reviewed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Times, The Tribune, The Telegraph, and numerous other international journals and newspapers.

University and college courses throughout the world are employing Shah's books, or works based on them, in a wide variety of disciplines including sociology, psychology and literature.

In 1969, Idries Shah was awarded the Dictionary of International Biography's Certificate of Merit for Distinguished Service to Human Thought. Other honors included a Two Thousand Men of Achievement award (1971), Six First Prizes awarded by the UNESCO International Book Year (1972), and the International Who's Who in Poetry's Gold Medal for Poetry (1975).

According to his obituary in the London Daily Telegraph "it is impossible to assess his influence, and his legacy is incalculable".

He was, it is said, the Sufi Teacher of the Age.

"The most interesting books in the English language." Saturday Review

"A major psychological and cultural event of our time." Psychology Today

"One is immediately forced to use one's mind in a new way." New York Times

The instrumental function of Shah's work is now well established among people from all walks of life. Stockbrokers, scientists, lawyers, managers, writers, physicians, and diplomats have found Shah's literature for human development "extraordinary".

"It presents a blueprint of the human mental structure." Robert Ornstein, Ph.D.

"Extremely useful in teaching students about management and computers." Thomas Malone, MIT

"Idries Shah provides the unique perspective that allows us to assess real motivations and social biases in a more accurate light." E. Neilsen, Attorney at Law

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

PREFACE

A book of 200 pages may contain nothing of any value at all.

Another may contain as little as one hint, one fact, which is of supreme importance to readers.

Most books could be better written, and very many of them are padded in order to produce a length which the author, the publishers--or the readers--(or all three) regard as worthwhile.

This book contains material which, if expanded even in the most acceptable way, could easily fill many hundreds of pages. Such expansion, however, would not necessarily be of any use.

If you are influenced by some prestige-content in a fat book, this book is not for you, for you will be disappointed because it is not crammed with words.

If you could, however, have benefited just as much from seeing the same materials printed in pamphlet form, then you would not have thought that you needed to read this book: you would already have the information which it contains, and would not be reading books like this.

If you can take its message and apply it, while benefiting from its handling qualities, bulk and unspoken communications: this book is for you.

ETERNALISM AS A VICE

People often shuffle restlessly when you talk about spiritual techniques being of value for a limited time, merely for attaining specific objectives.

But the reaction is only due to the infantile desire for 'something permanent' which is so vague that they have in that part of themselves failed to distinguish between what needs to be permanent and what not only does not need to be but must in fact not be permanent: unless it is to become a barrier when it is no longer needed.

It is, of course, this primitive desire for 'permanency--in the wrong sense--which is played upon by people who peddle externalist panaceas.

A technique or a working hypothesis dies when it becomes thought of as a rule or a law. A permanent apple which could not be consumed would not be much use for nutrition, no matter how pleasant a plaything.

Copyright © 1988. The Estate of the late Idries Shah. All rights reserved.

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