Idries Shah Recorded Lectures


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On the Nature of Sufi Knowledge

A lecture by Idries Shah before a live audience in 1976

This recording of a live lecture by Idries Shah presents his ideas about the purpose of Sufism and the method and expression of its aim. He compares Sufi education with that obtained from a university or school. He emphasizes that the learner must have some stability of mind in order to approach Sufi studies correctly. His topics cover many subjects, including assumptions that prevent understanding; the difference between Sufis and idealists or 'good' people who base their conduct, beliefs, and actions on principles; sincerity versus emotionality; familiarity with the material; and developing the right attitude towards it.

I want to clear away the brushwood, I want to give you indications of Sufism which will connect with your existing institutions, with your psychology, with your sociology, with your idea of spirituality, with your cultural institutions, with your literature. --From On the Nature of Sufi Knowledge 1976, 1982 The Estate of Idries Shah

[SND] On the Nature of Sufi Knowledge, Part 1 (mp3, 21.7MB)

[SND] On the Nature of Sufi Knowledge, Part 2 (mp3, 20.2MB)


An Advanced Psychology of the East

A lecture delivered by Idries Shah before a live audience in 1977

In this lecture Shah talks about the correct approach the student needs to take in order to learn, as well as the characteristics that aid the student in his study of Sufism and those which are detrimental to it. He also outlines the duties, qualities, and attributes of the Sufi teacher and describes the 'Five Subtleties,' or centers of spiritual perception, the student has to experience in his development.

People read stories and they ransack books for Sufi exercises and psychological or spiritual techniques and, then, remarkably often to our way of thinking, they set about trying to employ these things. Well, of course, it does surprise us because if I were to find a textbook on surgery, I wouldn't try to take out my own appendix, just because I'd read it and there were diagrams. --From An Advanced Psychology of the East 1977, 1982 by The Estate of Idries Shah

[SND] An Advanced Psychology of the East, Part 1 (mp3, 21.4MB)

[SND] An Advanced Psychology of the East, Part 2 (mp3, 21.2MB)


Learning from Stories

A lecture by Idries Shah before a live audience in 1976

In this lecture Shah talks in detail and with many examples about the Sufi teaching-story and its instrumental function. He emphasizes the way in which one might approach this vast and comprehensive body of literature to benefit best from it. Shah's delivery is lively, witty, entertaining, and always instructive.

The knowledge of the time-lag and the perception of it between the telling of a story, or the happening of an event: the realization of something and its integration into one's own mind, and its digestion into one's own psychology, has itself to be learnt. This is one thing which most people don't realize. They either laugh at a gag and dispose of it, or they understand what it means: they take its moral application and, as it were, abolish it. They do not take any interest in general in this question of the digestion of the impact. --From Learning From Stories 1976, 1982 The Estate of Idries Shah

[SND] Learning from Stories, Part 1 (mp3, 18.9MB)

[SND] Learning from Stories, Part 2 (mp3, 18.7MB)


Overcoming Assumptions that Inhibit Spiritual Development

A lecture by Idries Shah delivered before a live audience in 1976

This lecture, delivered in 1976, was previously entitled A Psychology of the East. Shah addresses the nature of assumptions, those that inhibit understanding and those that might be useful at certain stages of study but need to be set aside by the student at a later time in order to progress. This requires a flexibility of approach that is not customary in the West, one cultivated by study and exposure to Sufi ideas. It's a very humorous and lively lecture, full of stories and anecdotes. Among the other topics Shah addresses are the difference between emotionality and spirituality, the danger of looking for easy answers, and the way in which the paths of East and West are converging.

So one must learn to be flexible, one must learn to question assumptions, one must learn to put up other assumptions than one's customary ones to study things...some of the things are, for example, our narrative materials which I have published... Now various points of view on these produce a certain kind of flexibility. Trying too hard doesn't work, trying to make out what they mean doesn't work because this material is instrumental not indoctrination. --From Overcoming Assumptions That Inhibit Spiritual Development 1976, 1977 by The Estate of Idries Shah

[SND] Overcoming Assumptions that Inhibit Spiritual Development, Part 1 (mp3, 20.3MB)

[SND] Overcoming Assumptions that Inhibit Spiritual Development, Part 2 (mp3, 18.7MB)



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