A Perfumed Scorpion

A Perfumed Scorpion

Idries Shah / Jun 03, 2020

A Perfumed Scorpion The perfuming of a scorpion referred to by the great Sufi teacher Bahaudin symbolises hypocrisy and self deception Here Idris Shah directs attention to both the perfume and the scorpion the overlay a

  • Title: A Perfumed Scorpion
  • Author: Idries Shah
  • ISBN: 9780863040801
  • Page: 131
  • Format: Paperback
  • The perfuming of a scorpion referred to by the great Sufi teacher Bahaudin symbolises hypocrisy and self deception Here, Idris Shah directs attention to both the perfume and the scorpion the overlay and the reality in psychology, human behaviour and in the learning process.

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      Published :2019-07-27T17:21:31+00:00

    About "Idries Shah"

      • Idries Shah

        Idries Shah Persian , also known as Idris Shah, n Sayed Idries el Hashimi Arabic , was an author and teacher in the Sufi tradition who wrote over three dozen critically acclaimed books on topics ranging from psychology and spirituality to travelogues and culture studies.Born in India, the descendant of a family of Afghan nobles, Shah grew up mainly in England His early writings centred on magic and witchcraft In 1960 he established a publishing house, Octagon Press, producing translations of Sufi classics as well as titles of his own His most seminal work was The Sufis, which appeared in 1964 and was well received internationally In 1965, Shah founded the Institute for Cultural Research, a London based educational charity devoted to the study of human behaviour and culture A similar organisation, the Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge ISHK , exists in the United States, under the directorship of Stanford University psychology professor Robert Ornstein, whom Shah appointed as his deputy in the U.S.In his writings, Shah presented Sufism as a universal form of wisdom that predated Islam Emphasising that Sufism was not static but always adapted itself to the current time, place and people, he framed his teaching in Western psychological terms Shah made extensive use of traditional teaching stories and parables, texts that contained multiple layers of meaning designed to trigger insight and self reflection in the reader He is perhaps best known for his collections of humorous Mulla Nasrudin stories.Shah was at times criticised by orientalists who questioned his credentials and background His role in the controversy surrounding a new translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, published by his friend Robert Graves and his older brother Omar Ali Shah, came in for particular scrutiny However, he also had many notable defenders, chief among them the novelist Doris Lessing Shah came to be recognised as a spokesman for Sufism in the West and lectured as a visiting professor at a number of Western universities His works have played a significant part in presenting Sufism as a secular, individualistic form of spiritual wisdom.Idries Shah s books on Sufism achieved considerable critical acclaim He was the subject of a BBC documentary One Pair of Eyes in 1969, and two of his works The Way of the Sufi and Reflections were chosen as Outstanding Book of the Year by the BBC s The Critics programme Among other honours, Shah won six first prizes at the UNESCO World Book Year in 1973, and the Islamic scholar James Kritzeck, commenting on Shah s Tales of the Dervishes, said that it was beautifully translated.The reception of Shah s movement was also marked by much controversy Some orientalists were hostile, in part because Shah presented classical Sufi writings as tools for self development to be used by contemporary people, rather than as objects of historical study L P Elwell Sutton from Edinburgh University, Shah s fiercest critic, described his books as trivial , replete with errors of fact, slovenly and inaccurate translations and even misspellings of Oriental names and words a muddle of platitudes, irrelevancies and plain mumbo jumbo , adding for good measure that Shah had a remarkable opinion of his own importance Expressing amusement and amazement at the sycophantic manner of Shah s interlocutors in a BBC radio interview, Elwell Sutton concluded that some Western intellectuals were so desperate to find answers to the questions that baffle them, that, confronted with wisdom from the mysterious East, they abandon their critical faculties and submit to brainwashing of the crudest kind To Elwell Sutton, Shah s Sufism belonged to the realm of Pseudo Sufism , centred not on God but on man Doris Lessing, one of Shah s greatest defenders,stated in a 1981 interview I found Sufism as taught by Idries Shah, which claim


    1. This book is filled with surprises for thoughtful, adventurous readers who value questioning their assumptions about people and society. It helped me begin to see the perfume and the scorpion: the overlay and reality; the hypocrisy and self-deception in ourselves and our institutions. Compelling arguments, imagery and illustrative anecdotes from contemporary life appear to be scattered about haphazardly. But it's deliberate. It switches our attention and helps foster flexibility. The modern cont [...]

    2. Whoever might perfume a scorpion Will not thereby escape its sting. -- Hadrat Bahaudin Naqshband, el-Shah.As with several of Idries Shah's other books, such as The Commanding Self, Knowing How to Know, or Learning How to Learn, A Perfumed Scorpion focuses on barriers to learning, and helps toward their removal -- so that one may progress on 'The Way to the Way,' in the words of the volume's subtitle. There are fascinating sections on Sufi education, on what Sufi knowledge is, on 'The Path and th [...]

    3. ‘A Perfumed Scorpion’ contains the substance of lectures Shah delivered in the US in 1976 and 1977. Audiotapes of the original talks can be heard on YouTube. There are four: ‘An Advanced Psychology of the East’, ‘On the Nature of Sufi Knowledge’, ‘Learning from Stories’, and ‘Overcoming Assumptions that Inhibit Spiritual Development’.The book is explicit, forthright, and sometimes startling. Saadi, Shah tells us, stated that human ideas of knowledge are so fallacious that, e [...]

    4. A challenging book to review - the title refers to the saying 'whom so ever perfumes a scorpion, will not thereby escape its sting' but between its covers this idea is built upon in a way that undermines individuals' and cultures' assumptions and allusions in a humorous yet serious way, that leaves them intact and able to operate: has to be read.

    5. Published in 1978, "Contains the substance of lectures given by Idries Shah at universities in the USA. I was particularly interested in Shah's explanation of what he calls "the teaching story" (particularly pp 97-136), but he interweaves principles and narratives throughout that are penetrating and provocative. One jewel: "the teacher, the teaching, and the taught must be in harmony and in alignment; otherwise only distortions leading to a cult or other low-level stabilization are most likely t [...]

    6. This is not a straight-line exposition, scarcely a “religious” book at all. On page 14 you have a reference to indirect teaching. On pages 104 and 105 you have a traditional story, The Indian Bird, that exemplifies this, and a modern corollary about jewellery give-aways. On the same p.104 you have an apparent definition of “esoteric knowledge” as “'simultaneous' knowledge”, and, elsewhere, Shah comments, amusingly, on someone’s use of the phrase “Holy Dervish” with– “…pre [...]

    7. This attractive newly reissued book, like the others from Idries Shah, demands a different approach from my normal consumption of print, which is perhaps like eating a meal while busy doing some trivia online. There is so much here that almost any page could engage you for days if not years. One long quote:‘Hindsight,’ he said, ‘shows how often yesterday’s so-called truth may become today’s absurdity. Real ability is to respect relative truth without damaging oneself by refusing to rea [...]

    8. I can only recommend this book. It has to be read. I don’t know what to say about it. If I select a quote what about all the quotes I haven’t selected. If I attempt a paraphrase of an idea what clumsy misinterpretation has been written down. I suppose it to be possible to learn from clumsy mistakes but only after the book has been read. Headings on page 28: THE AIM FLEXIBILITY. ASSUMPTIONS AND POINTS OF VIEW. Better expositions found here, than in any run ‘off the mill’ Philosophy course [...]

    9. I like it very much, though it would be very hard at this point to say what exactly I like about it. It is cryptic but laden with good stories. Difficult ideas have never been so fun.

    10. In very simple yet approachable language Shah uncovers wisdom that has a great psychological and emotive value. I found this book gave me insight and allowed me to grow during a difficult period.

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