The classical Sufi masters often behaved in dramatic and unexpected ways in marketplaces, palaces, village streets, wherever people assembled. The purpose of these demonstrations was to create an event that people could think about and learn a lesson from.
In 1969, Idries Shah, author of over thirty books on Sufi teaching and learning, used modern methods of mass communication to create a teaching-event for the modern world.
"The Book of the Book", first published in that year and now in its seventh printing, transmits a 700-year-old narrative on the theme of "do not mistake the container for the content". But it projects this lesson in a highly unconventional way.
Reactions to "The Book of the Book" ran the gamut. Some people were infuriated. One "expert" at the British Museum said it was "not a book at all". Others either thought the cover price was too high for a "book that was not a book", or simply bought it for novelty value and kept it on hand to mystify their friends.
In time, the pendulum began to swing in the other direction. Readers and reviewers now understand that unlike any other literary product ever published, "The Book of the Book" offers the opportunity to participate in a major Sufi teaching-event ... for the price of a book.
Expect the impact of "The Book of the Book" to continue to ripple through the literary marketplace for decades to come.
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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 LawReview:
"... designed as a whole for evoking special effects and responses ... -- International Philosophical Quarterly, September 1975
"... something new for the West." -- The Guardian, November 26, 1970
"An astonishing book." -- Sunday Mirror
"Beyond words" -- The Observer, January 18, 1970
"Idries Shah makes a reviewer's job impertinent and superfluous; one can only direct attention to the book." -- The Enquirer, February 21, 1970
"Our familiar responses are ruled out" -- New Statesman
"Shah's transmission of the story holds surprises - to help us distinguish between the values of a container and its contents." -- Tribune, June 12, 1970
"Shattered the literary world" -- Irish Press
"Tantalizing" -- World Medicine
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Book Description Octagon Books, 1986. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P11090086012X
Book Description Octagon Books. Book Condition: New. 090086012X Sixth Impression 1987. New Inside & Out. Clean & Crisp! ( z1s108D ) The dust cover is awesome. ** Fast Shipping! **. Bookseller Inventory # SKU1012886
Book Description Octagon Books, 1986. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 2nd. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX090086012X