Author: Idries Shah
Publisher: Penguin Books (October 1993)
Pages: 224 Binding: Paperback
Description from the publisher:
A mysterious chest is buried unopened. A wondrous caravan brings fortune to a simple cobbler. An outcast princess creates a new life in the wilderness. Some of the 78 tales in this remarkable book first appeared in print over a thousand years ago, others are medieval classics. Yet, each has a special relevance for us in the 21st century. All are told with Idries Shah's distinctive wit and grace and the author's own commentary notes.
Although enormously attractive as sheer entertainment, dervish tales were never presented merely on the level of fable, legend or folklore.
They stand comparison in wit, construction and piquancy with the finest stories of any culture, yet their true function as Sufi teaching stories is so little known in the modern world that no technical or popular term exist to describe them. For centuries, dervish masters have instructed their disciples by means of these tales, which are held to convey powers of increasing perception unknown to the ordinary man.
These are teaching stories in the Sufi tradition. Those who probe beyond the surface will find multiple meanings to challenge assumptions and foster new ways of thinking and perceiving.
Sold all over the world in many languages, this is deservedly a classic and an essential reading for anyone interested in Sufi thought, the significance and history of tales, or simply superb entertainment.
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
THE IDIOT, THE WISE MAN AND THE JUG
An idiot may be the name given to the ordinary man, who consistently misinterprets what happens to him, what he does, or what is brought about by others. He does this so completely plausibly that - for himself and his peers - large areas of life and thought seem logical and true.
An idiot of this kind was sent one day with a pitcher to a wise man, to collect some wine.
On the way the idiot, through his own heedlessness, smashed the jar against a rock.
When he arrived at the house of the wise man, he presented him with the handle of the pitcher, and said:
"So-and-so sent you this pitcher, but a horrid stone stole it from me."
Amused and wishing to test his coherence, the wise man asked:
"Since the pitcher is stolen, why do you offer me the handle?"
"I am not such a fool as people say," the idiot told him, "and therefore I have brought the handle to prove my story."