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One of the best minds of he past century. His book "Learning How To Learn" is one of my primary texts when I'm trying to teach this stuff. If you get "Learning...", and it pleases and excites you instead of pissing you off, there's a good chance you can handle advanced work -- like really facing your own idiocy.
Idries Shah is a complex figure, who has been criticized from many quarters, especially by those whom one could consider his own people, Muslims and various scholars and leaders of the existing modernday Sufi schools and lineages. In the west he has been regarded by many as another in a long sucession of rascal gurus. His early books included many with a definite "popular" bent, potboilers filled with stories and folklore and occultism. I imagine he needed to make money, as everyone needs to do, and he's not the first to turn to popular writing and publishing.
I happen to think quite well of Idries Shah, I think he's done an excellent job of bringing middle eastern, muslim, and sufi philosophy, stories, and really very high quality esoteric teaching into the libraries and minds of the west and modern eurpean and american society. I can't think of another human that is comparable in this regard.
I had been practicing and working with a number of traditions and methods for 20 years before the intense experience of really re-discovering Shah and devouring all of the best works he produced in the later part of his life. His no-bullshit don't-be-an-idiot approach was a tremendous catalyst for me.
Read his stuff and make of it what you will.
In case you haven't figured it out yet, "Learning How to Learn" is one of my basic training manuals for the self-development of consciousness. I strongly recommend it.
Commanding Self is one of the last books he was writing before his death.
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