Saturday 5 April 2014
Saturday is Shah-t'day: Some more Idries Shah selections
KNOWING HOW TO KNOW
A Practical Philosophy in the Sufi Tradition
by Idries Shah
The Octagon Press: London, 1998
Previous post, HERE.
To help others, to try to be kind and to avoid cruelty, to heal the sick and to protect the weal: these are among the elementary social, not spiritual, duties incumbent upon man as a social animal.
Those who have confused social uplift and psychological ministrations with 'higher' endeavour, end up being in a state of bewilderment or forced into sophistry when they find that they no longer have the monopoly of social service.
The fault is at least partly theirs; they should not so readily have taken the easy way of equating something 'other' with something merely civilised.
A teaching attracts an artificial selection of students (those interested in the way in which the teaching is projected) unless its sponsors are careful to prevent this.
No 'teaching' with a single dogma or unified message can avoid processing its adherents.
Selections from SOCIAL CONCERN
"If you love other people, for instance, because it is you who really want to be loved, you are not loving at all, and people (especially the object of that 'love') will hate you, at least in part, and will turn against you, perhaps by turning against your dearest beliefs or practices. There is something in men which can detect real love."
"Knowledge may not be superior to love, but it is the essential prerequisite. If you do not understand, you cannot love. You can only imagine that you love."
TO BE REMEMBERED
People in history who were bad are remembered much more than people who tried to make others bad. The same is not the case with goodness. You will notice, if you care to verify this, that it is not the people who were only good who are remembered, but the people who told others to be good, whether they themselves were so or not.
THERE COMES A TIME
There always comes a time when instruction-materials originally employed to direct the attention of certain people towards a certain aim are adopted as 'gospel', or else simplified out of all usefulness and shallowly interpreted.
An example of the latter is the current idea of the meaning of Diogenes' looking with a lamp in broad daylight for an honest man.
People think that he did this to indicate how rare were honest men. In fact, this procedure is a perfectly obvious example of directing attention to the whole question: not only to the rarity of honest men, but to the whole question as to how they might be found.
THE INFLUENCE OF TEACHING
The influence of teaching is very little greater than the capacity of its pupils. When pupils are mainly of low quality, teaching momentum is lost, and the pupils dominate what is taught. The teacher has to select, therefore, who can best benefit, for the sake of all.
WORDS AND VIOLENCE
First, man had no words. The he learned to use words instead of physical violence.
Now he uses words to lead him into violence. He has to unlearn the misuse of words. He has to learn the use of the physical and of words. This is the creature which is called man.
WHAT SELF-EXAMINATION IS
Keep a journal. Write daily about the things that happen to you or strike you as significant. Start studying it after a lapse of time and see how your behaviour was partly due to a desire for self-inflation. Also try to see what useful or interesting concomitants there were to each event.