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Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah

Tales of the Dervishes

by Idries Shah

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This is a collection of various Sufi tales---some more well-known than others. The stories are all entertaining and conducive to contemplation and edification, but being first published in 1970 it may be an early work of Idries Shah and thus suffers from an excess of eruditeness. The grammar and phrasing seem designed to elicit the flavor of the Arabian Nights tales and of an era of florid and stretched elegance in phraseology. I found it a bit distracting and unnecessary. Sure, this isn't the Mullah Nasruddin, but it just came across a bit stilted and unnecessary. In spite of this caveat it's a good read and you may (or may not) learn any lessons from it. ( )
  majackson | Jan 29, 2019 |
I first encountered this book in 1970 in what officially was an English Composition class but was really a class in, for me, radically different ways of thinking. Among the texts was this book, my first introduction to Eastern religion, a collection of Sufi teaching stories. The stories are a form of parable, but intended to be understood differently according to the ability of the listener/reader. Some of them I still vividly recall and have used in conversations with friends and therapy clients. I went on to study with a Sufi guide for a while, and learned from him a Sufi meditation practice aimed at increasing intuition and creativity that seemed to open up a kind of 6th sense while I was doing it daily. Remarkable stuff. I've since migrated to Buddhist practices, but I continue to find the Sufi teachings and practices intriguing, and for me they started here. ( )
  dbookbinder | Dec 31, 2016 |
This short collection gathers parables from a variety of Sufi teachers and traditions. Idries Shah retells them in modern English, and humor and pragmatic wisdom shines through. His notes frequently claim that a tale has multiple layers of meaning. Some were entirely lost on me; in other cases, I could see one or two layers, but have overlooked any others. Collectively, many of the tales build towards a certain ethical fatalism: we ought to do what we can to help other human beings and make their lives better, but it is also important to recognize that we can't save others from themselves -- they have to want to become wise, and in some cases have to figure it out mostly on their own. Similarly, we shouldn't expect our own spiritual growth to follow a linear path: key insights or a period of challenges may prepare us to be useful in unexpected ways in the future. Overall, the parables collected here emphasize patience, persistence, and basic decency, and appear to have little use for dogma or sectarianism. The extent to which that represents Idries Shah's vision of wisdom versus the actual heart of the dervishes' teachings is unclear, but it's a text that will repay multiple readings. ( )
  bezoar44 | Jul 5, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140193588, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:27 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Dervish tales are more than fable, legend, or folklore. For centuries dervish masters have instructed their disciples by means of these teaching stories, which are said to increase perception and knowledge and provide a better understanding of man and the world. In wit, construction, and piquancy, they compare with the finest tales of any culture. Idries Shah spent many years traveling through three continents to collect and compare oral versions of these remarkable stories. This anthology, presented in the dervish manner, contains stories drawn from the repertories of dervish masters over a period of more than a thousand years.… (more)

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