THE ISLANDERS (part 1of 3)
Sep 24, 2003 01:40 PM
by Morten Nymann Olesen
HI all of you,
Here is an interesting piece of teaching.
It is taken partly from Idries Shah's book - the bestselling "The Sufis" (1964)
- This is the first chapter of the book !!!
I have cut size - so it runs three emails.
Part 1 of 3
The ordinary man repents his sins:
The elect repent of their headlessness.
Most fables contain at least some truth, and they often enable people
to absorb ideas which the ordinary patterns of their thinking would
prevent them from digesting. Fables have therefore been used, not
least by Theosophical teachers, to present a picture of life more in har-
mony with their feelings than possible by means of intellectual
Here is a Theosophical fable about the human situation, summarized
and adapted, as must always be, suitably to the time in which it is pre-
sented. Ordinary "entertainment" fables are considered by Theosophical
authors to be a degenerated or inferior form of art.
Once upon a time there lived an ideal community in a far-off
land. Its members had no fears as we now know them. Instead of un-
certainty and vacillation, they had purposefulness and a fuller
means of expressing themselves. Although there were none of the
stresses and tenstions which mankind now considers essential to its
progress, their lives were richer, because other, better elements re-
placed these things. Theirs, therefore, was a slighty different mode
of existence. We could almost say that our present perceptions are a
crude, makeshift version of the real ones which this community
They had real lives, not semilives.
We can call them the El Ar people.
They had a leader, who discovered that their country was to be-
come uninhabitable for a period of, shall we say, twenty thousand
years. He planned their escape, realizing that their descendants
would be able to return home successfully, only after many trials.
He found for them a place of refuge, an island whose features
were only roughly similar to those of the original homeland. Be-
cause of the difference in climate and situation, the immigrants had
to undergo a transformation. This made them more physically and
mentally adapted to the new circumstances; coarse perceptions, for
instance, were substituted for finer ones, as when the hand of the
manual laborer becomes toughened in response to the needs of his
In order to reduce the pain which a comparison between the old
and new states would bring, they were made to forget the past al-
most entirely. Only the most shadowy recollection of it remained, yet
it was sufficient to be awakened when the time came.
The system was very complicated, but well arranged. The organs
by means of which the people survived on the island were also made
the organs of enjoyment, physical and mental. The organs which
were really constructive in the old homeland were placed in a special
form of abeyance, and linked with the shadowy memory, in preparation
for its eventual activation.
Slowly and painfully the immigrants settled down, adjusting themselves
to the local conditions. The resources of the island were such
that, coupled with effort and a certain form of guidance, people
would be able to escape to a further island, on their way back to their
original home. This was the first of a succession of islands upon
which gradual acclimatization took place.
The responsibility of this "evolution" was vested in those individuals
who could sustain it. These were necessarily only a few, because
for the mass of the people the effort of keeping both sets of
knowledge in their consciousness was virtually impossible. One of them
seemed to conflict with the other one. Certain specialists guarded
the "special science".
This "secret," the method of effecting the transition, was nothing
more or less than the knowledge of maritime skills and their application.
The escape needed an instructor, raw materials, people, effort
and understanding. Given these, people could learn to swim, and
also to build ships.
The people who were originally in charge of the escape operations
made it clear to everyone that a certain preparation was necessary
before anyone could learn to swim or even take part in building
a ship. For a time the process continued satisfactorily.
Then a man who had been found, for the time being, lacking in
the necessary qualities rebelled against this order and managed to
develop a masterly idea. He had observed that the effort to escape
placed a heavy and often seemingly unwelcome burden upon the
people. At the same time they were disposed to believe things which
they were told about the escape operation. He realized that he could
acquire power, and also revenge himself upon those who had under-
valued him, as he thought, by a simple exploitation of these two sets
He would merely offer to take away the burden, by affirming that
there was no burden.
He made this announcement:
"There is no need for man to integrate his mind and train it in the
way which has been described for you. The human mind is already a
stable and continuous, consistent thing. You have been told that you
have to become a craftsman in order to build a ship. I say, not only
do you not need to be a craftsman- you do not need a ship at all! An
islander needs only to observe a few simple rules to survive and re-
main integrated into society. By the exercise of common sense, born
into everyone, he can attain anything upon this island, our home,
the common property and heritage of all!"
The tonguester, having gained a great deal of interest among the
people, now "proved" his message by saying:
"If there is any reality in ships and swimming, show us ships
which have made the journey, and swimmers who have come back!"
This was challenge to the instructors which they could not meet.
It was based upon assumption of which the bemused herd could
not now see fallacy. You see, ships never returned from the
other land. Swimmers, when they did come back, had undergone a
fresh adaptation which made them invisible to the crowd.
The mob pressed for demonstrative proof.
"Shipbuilding," said the escapers, in an attempt to reason with the
revolt, "is an art and a craft. The learning and the exercise of this
lore depends upon special techniques. These together make up a
total activity, which cannot be examined piecemeal, as you demand.
This activity has an impalpable element, called baraka, from which
the word 'barque'-a ship-is derived. This word means 'the Sub-
tlety,' and it cannot be shown to you."
"Art, craft, total, baraka, nonsense!" shouted the revolutionaries.
And so they hanged as many shipbuilding craftsmen as they could
end part 1 of 3
M. Sufilight with peace and love...
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