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The troop of determined Western seekers-after-truth :-)

Apr 18, 2006 01:03 PM
by M. Sufilight

My views are:

Some of the recent ongoing debate sort of reminded me of the following emails,
which I gave to Theos-talk af year or so ago.

The article "The Wisdom of Sufic Humor" is an interview of Idries Shah, and  was divided into four emails.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Especially following is interesting to relate to some of the recent emails here at Theos-talk.
At least I find it interesting.

Here is an excerpt:

"Incidentally, a lot of diversionary activity such as musical assemblies, 
dressing up, and incantations -- well but erroneously known in the West and 
among ignorant people in the East as "spiritual" or "esoteric" -- originates 
in attempts to satisfy the demand for "real mysticism" by unsuitable people 
(or by suitable people who are thinking wrongly). Sometimes the only 
shortcoming is that they lack the right information.

One of the subjective attitudes that effectively keeps one from the 
possibility of mystic learning is a mind filled with thwarted acquisitive 
aspirations. People are greedy, but they are told that they should not be. 
So, all unknowing, they sometimes render avarice in the form of greed for 
"higher things." There is an excellent Western story that freezes this 
situation on a lower, illustrative level, allowing us to see the relative 
absurdity of meanness and also its comparative unproductivity.

There was once a miserly man from Aberdeen who was learning golf. His 
teacher suggested that his initials be put on the ball, so that anyone who 
found it could return the ball to the clubhouse where he might later claim 
it. The Aberdonian was interested. "Yes,' he said, "please scratch my 
initials, A.M.T., for Angus McTavish, on the ball. Oh, and if there is room, 
add M.D., as I am a physician." The instructor did this. Then McTavish 
scratched his head. "While you are about it," he said, "you might as well 
add, 'Hours,11:30 to 4' "

A lot of the stories that seem to be aimed against gurus are not really 
antiguru. They are only meant to remind us of ways in which real teachers 
can be distinguished from practitioners who are interested only in gathering 
tribes of followers. As an example, there is the one in which two mothers 
talk about their sons.

One says, "And how is your boy getting on as a guru?"
"Just fine," replies the second. "He has so many pupils that he can 
afford to get rid of some of the old ones."
"That's great," says the first. "My son is getting on so well that he 
can afford NOT to take on everyone who applies to him!"

One of the values of such narratives is seeing whether gurus themselves 
can laugh at these stories; if they cannot, then they should not be 
considered spiritual teachers at all, because they are so insecure. Paranoid 
behavior, too, is often seen in the manifestation of hostility towards such 
tales, when the listener thinks that he or she is being challenged by what 
sounds like an antiguru story. Would-be disciples who do not enjoy such 
jokes are often rejected by genuine Sufis.
There is another story that infuriates some second - rate teachers:
One guru tells another, "Always say things that cannot be checked."
"Why?" asks the second guru.
"Because," replies the first guru, "if you say 'Mars is peopled by 
millions of undiscernible beings, and I have met them,' people will not di
spute it. But if you say, 'It is a nice day today,' some fool will always 
reply, 'But not as nice as it was yesterday'. And if you put up a sign 
saying WET PAINT, who will take you at your word? You can tell how few by 
the number of finger marks the doubters leave on it."

- - -

Or this one:

"Rationalizations, association of ideas, and lack of humor often go 
together and can usually be disentangled. I was once standing at a corner of 
the huge market street called the Bhindi Bazaar in Bombay, when a bus stopped 
and a troop of determined Western seekers-after-truth descended and clustered 
around an old man who was squatting on the side of the road. They 
photographed him and chattered excitedly. One of the visitors tried to start 
a conversation with him, but he only stared back, so she remarked to the 
guide, "What a sweet old man; he must be a real live saint. Is he a saint?"

The Indian, who had a sense of humor as well as an interest in not 
wanting to tell a lie and a need to please his clients, said, "Madam, saint 
he may be, but to us he is the neighborhood rapist."

She immediately replied, "Oh, yes, I've heard of that; it involves their 
religion. I guess he must be a Tantrist!"

M. Sufilight with peace and love...

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


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