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Nov 28, 2010 02:12 AM
by M. Sufilight

Dear friends

A few views:

Here are three short stories taken form Idries Shah's book: Knowing How to Know.
I have only rewritten a very few minor sentences in them.


Q: What exactly is the Sufi criticism of the learned profession? Surely the acquisition of knowledge is in itself good and to be encouraged?

A: The professionally learned are constantly criticised by the Sufis for two obvious far-reaching faults. The first is the claim to have a virtual monopoly of learning, so that only their limited way of approaching things is recognized as the 'learned way'. The second is the consequence of this: the wastefulness of dealing in innumerable facts and arguments at the expense of self-development. The hypertrophy of the drive towards wisdom is the obsessional collection mania which sometimes takes it over. 
 Al Ghazzali, himself a former academic and the Islamic worlds greatest explainer of Sufi principles, deals with this at length in his Book of Knowledge in the Revival of the Science of Religion (Ilhya al Ulum al Din).

He states that the man who avoids experiential religion and instead discusses it is like a man who is ill and has many ailments who encounters an able doctor; but with little time to ask for a cure, talks and asks all the time about the medicines and treatments, and about the profession og medicine. He does not deal with his own sickness. He has wasted his time.
 This is still a major affliction of scholarship. Ibrahim ibn Adam tells of a stone which he saw on the ground at Mecca. On it was written: ' Turn me over and read a warning'. He turned it over. On the other side was inscribed:

'If you are not acting on what knowledge you already have, why are you seeking to know more?'

The Sufis are not purveyors of information, but initiators of experience. And there is an old saying in the mysterious West, that someone may be a fool, but he cannot become a really big one without a scholarly education.

You can't make a fool of biggest pattern
Until he's leanrt both Greek and Latin.


There are men of learning who have not been transformed by their studies. 'Knowledge' may be carried about by them as a virtuality, awaiting development.
Almost everyone who has not been in a real school has something of this in him: undigested learning.

There are people who have not even acquired undigested learning after being in contact with it. They confuse others because they give the appearance of being learned.
But far more unpleasant is the fact that there are people of learning who have learnt at wrong times or in incorrect circumstances.

One can only hope for protection from them.


There was a man passing by some days ago, who did not like the way he was spoken to.
His reaction, in hos words, was to say: "I did not come here to be insulted!" - I almost felt like saying: 'Oh, where do you usually go?'

What he had not allowed himself to see, but what was more than evident to the other people present, was that he could very well have been described as having come exactly for that. If you go up to an electric socket, place your finger in it, and are thrown across the room, the appropriate remark is not: 'I did not come here for an electric chock!'
People can only be insulted if they decide - consciously or otherwise - to be insulted. An insult is not an objective thing, like a piece of rock. If you call some men women they will be insulted; if you call women men, some of the women will feel themselves insulted. And so it is with a million other things.

What is more to the point is that people who have this kind of reaction mechanism - and, in the culture in which we are living, people who have not absorbed enough of the culture's information about neurosis, about conditioning, about attention-desire and the annoyance caused by this frustration - all such people are to us like people who have not learnt the alphabet yet and want to be writers. There is a small formality first: you have to be capable of understanding more than you do at present. And it is not necessarily OUR duty to teach you these elementary things. We may have the time, we may not. Learning the alphabet may be a step towards becoming a great writer. But at the level of learning the alphabet, its connection with literature is hardly to be dignified with long words to describe it. 

First things first. First things may be absolutely necessary. There are not, however, to be looked at as being of a higher nature thereby.

- - - - - - -

I had  some good heartily laughs. Maybe some of you will have some as well.

M. Sufilight

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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