Tag Archives: Idris Shah

When the Waters Were Changed

Once upon a time Khidr, the Teacher of Moses, called upon mankind with a warning. At a certain date, he said, all the water in the world which had not been specially hoarded would disappear. It would then be renewed, with different water, which would drive men mad.

Only one man listened to the meaning of this advice. He collected water and went to a secure place where he stored it, and waited for the water to change its character

On the appointed date the streams stopped running, the wells went dry and the man who had listened, seeing this happening, went to his retreat and drank his preserved water.

When he saw, from his security, the waterfalls again beginning to flow, this man descended among the other sons of men. He found that they were thinking and talking in an entirely different way from before; yet they had no memory of what had happened, nor of having been warned. When he tried to talk to them, he realized that they thought that he was mad, and they showed hostility or compassion, not understanding.

At first he drank none of the new water, but went back to his concealment, to draw on his supplies, every day. Finally, however, he took the decision to drink the new water because he could not bear the loneliness of living, behaving and thinking in a different way from everyone else. He drank the new water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had miraculously been restored to sanity.

From ‘Tales of the Dervishes’ by Idris Shah

(This version of the story is attributed to Sayed Sabir Ali-Shah, a saint of the Chisti Order, who died in 1818)

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… precious hopes …

The buzz of web-traffic can be exhilarating, a universe of stimulation, stories, advice, facts and know-hows. We put our name out there, mingle with travellers, seek adventure, share our thoughts, fulfil a task, meet like minds, exchange or sell something, and hopefully find synchronicity, resonance – yet at times …

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Nasrudin rode the train to work every day. One day, as usual, the train conductor came and asked him for his ticket. He begun fumbling around in his coat pockets, and his pant pockets, and then in other people’s pockets. He looked in his briefcase, in his bags, and then in other people’s bags.

Finally the train conductor said, ‘Nasrudin, I’m sure you have a ticket. Why don’t you look for it in your breast pocket? That is where most men keep it.’

‘Oh no,’ said Nadrudin, ‘I can’t look there. Why, if it wasn’t there, I would have no hope.’

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‘Why, if it wasn’t there, I would have no hope.’ What spooked the legendary fool’s mind that day? What do you make of the story? What does the ticket symbolise/represent for you? A hope can be so deeply meaningful to us that we keep it hidden at times, even from ourselves. Then we look for affirmation elsewhere because we couldn’t stand having our faith dashed.

Yes, I have such days. Where is the ticket to your hopes and dreams to be found? Are you keeping it close to your heart, holding it there, to remind yourself of inspirational instances when grace happened in your life, so when grace visits again you can seize the moment?

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I chose the particular version of this wisdom tale from a lovely book edited by Elisa Davy Pearmain, Doorways to the Soul. She calls the story The Lost Ticket. You find a link to Elisa’s website in my blog roll.

A classic collection of wisdom tales I treasure is in Caravan of Dreams, by Idris Shah.

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… a rare book – now on-line …

Following an eight-months labour of love, between my co-editors, the Archventures group, and contributing writers, a small edition of 250 beautiful copies of a book were published in 2011 – Heart of a Sufi – A prism of reflections on Fazal Inayat-Khan (1942 -1990.) As of now, the book is affordable on-line, see below.

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Fazal at Four Winds. 80s

Hand printed wood engraving by Susanne Harding inspired by Fazal's signature.

Hand printed wood engraving by Susanne Harding inspired by Fazal’s signature.

The book contains stories, essays and poems written by those who were inspired by the controversial and innovative nature of Fazal’s work, or by the creative spirit that pervaded the place and people he left behind.

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In the way mystics talk about the right time, place, and the right people, Fazal offered a timely and challenging spiritual education that embraced wit and the complexities of modern life. During the 1970s – 80s he attracted people from many backgrounds and countries who had very little in common, other than being exiles from tradition and hungry for truth. The book gives a flavour of encounters, stories charting the edge of learning and unlearning, relationships with one’s self, the groups, the world, intense experiences, affecting deep peace and change, often achieved after games of orchestrated struggle and conflict, peaking in performances on the stage of a magical theatre – live and experience first, then reflect. Debriefings after workshops were sobering, humorous and mind-blowing events. And something ineffable was transmitted in these transformative setting, through music, through silence or through a glance.

Fazal, 84 inside page for Heart of a Sufi

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A short history:

In 1968, at the age of 26 Fazal Inayat-Khan became the head of the Sufi Movement founded by his grandfather, Hazrat Inayat Khan, accredited with introducing Sufism to the West. By 1982 Fazal embraced his personal style to honour his grandfather’s legacy of spiritual liberty by surrendered his leadership of the Movement and chart his own path. His approach to Sufism resembled Idris Shah’s, whose writings had perked my initial interest in Sufism as a timeless practice of wisdom pre-dating Islam, a teaching kept alive through adapting its essence to new times and people. Adaptation in many fields was called for during the 1960s – 80s. The psychological and scientific insights of that period were so radical their social assimilation has yet to happen.

Conceiving of a book that offered a window to Fazal’s work, the editors had wondered if anyone would be brave enough to come forward and share their interactions with this passionate man, the groups and the tumultuous conflicts worked out during that period. We thank again those who contributed. And there must be many more stories of regret, pain, delight, disillusionment, new found coherence, inspiration, and significant life-changes.

Sufi Way gathering - Four Winds 1991

Fazal, 80s with children at Four Winds

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The rights for Fazal’s hundreds of talks, poetry and musical tunings rests with the present leadership of Sufi Way. Our book contains some of Fazal’s quotes and the extraordinary poem – Qalandar – but the purpose of Heart of a Sufi is to show the potent seeds of love this remarkable man placed into the hearts of people he touched, seeds now unfolding in new settings for generations to come.

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Archventures are pleased to offer Heart of a Sufi as e-book, making it affordable:

http://www.troubador.co.uk/book_info.asp?bookid=2180

On amazon you can peek into some of its pages: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Sufi-InayatKhanReflectionsebook/dp/B00BFUO0T6/ref=sr_1_22?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363426951&sr=1-2

 

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Relevant links can be followed up from the e-book.

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