Learning How to Learn: Psychology and Spirituality in the Sufi Way

Overview

In response to the many inquiries he has received about the Sufi tradition from people from all walks of life, leading Sufi expert Idries Shah presents a clarifying series of questions and answers that illustrates how traditional Sufi concepts can resolve our social, psychological, and spiritual problems.

For everyone interested in alternative spiritual thought.

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Overview

In response to the many inquiries he has received about the Sufi tradition from people from all walks of life, leading Sufi expert Idries Shah presents a clarifying series of questions and answers that illustrates how traditional Sufi concepts can resolve our social, psychological, and spiritual problems.

For everyone interested in alternative spiritual thought.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140195132
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1996
  • Series: Compass Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 804,734
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.92 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Doris Lessing, whose many writings include The Golden Notebook, has received numerous awards, including Spain's Prince of Asturias Prize.

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Table of Contents

Learning How to LearnIntroduction by Doris Lessing
'Beginning to Begin'

1. Real and Imagined Study
Sufis and their Imitators
Attaining Knowledge
Secrets and the Sufis
When to have Meetings
The Ceiling
Conflicting Texts
Self-Deception
Journeys to the East
What a Sufi Teacher Looks Like
Books and Beyond Books
Saintliness
Secrecy
'You Can't Teach by Correspondence'
Background to 'Humility'
How Serious is the Student?
Social and Psychological Elements in Sufi Study

2. On Attention
Characteristics of Attention and Observation
Operation of the Attention Factor
Motivation of Transactions
Attention under Personal Control
Excess and Deprivation of Attention
Study of People and Ideas apart from their Attention Value
Identification of Underlying Factors
Raising the Emotional Pitch
Fossil Indicators

3. Sufi Study Themes
Assumptions Behind Actions
Exercising Power through Kindness
Copying Virtue
Finding a Teacher
What is gained from Repetition
Robes and Apparatus of the Sufi
Why you are asked to Help
Laziness

4. Things of the World
An Eastern Sage and the Newspapers
Basis for People's Interest
Thinking in Terms of Supply-and-Demand
The Effect of Tales and Narratives
Stories of the Miraculous
Continuous versus Effective Activity
Capacity comes before Opinion
Sanctified Greed
Psychic Idiots
When Criticism can Stop
Information and Experience
The Teaching is a Matter of Conduct
Knowing one's own Sincerity
The Would-Be and Should-Be people
Satisfactions and Purpose of Ritual
Real and Ostensible Self-Improvement
Roles of Teacher and Student

5. Action and Meaning
Real and Relative Generosity
Why do Sufis Excel?
Confusion as a Personal Problem
Being a 'Guru'
Systems
The Vehicle and the Objective
Concern and Campaign
Use, Misuse and Disuse of forms of Study
Potentiality and Function
Conditioning and Education
The Search for an Honest Man
How can one method be as good as another?

6. Twenty-Three Study Points
A Viable Unit
Being Supported
Being Physically present
Intensely Standardised
Organisations and Greed
Generosity as a Greed
What you do for Yourself
Graduating to a Higher Morality
Concluding that we are Worthless
That which attracts you about us...
Giving and Withholding and External Assessment
Standing between you and Knowledge
Direct Contact with a Source of Knowledge
Latent Knowledge
Provoking Capacity
Systematic Study
Consistency and System
Illumination and Information
Habit of Judging
Higher-Level Work
Games and Annoyance
Aspirations and Acquisition
Opinion and Fact

7. Overall Study
Learning and Non-Learning
Some Characteristics of Sufi Literature
Impartiality as a Point of View
Characteristics and Purposes of a Sufi Group
Prerequisites for a Student of Sufism
In Step is out of Step
'Dye your Prayer-Rug with Wine'
The Master-Dyer
Method, System and Conditioning
Western Culture
The Western Tradition
How does the Sufi Teach?
Idiot's Wisdom?
Attacking Fires
A Bridge and its Use
Deterioration of Studies
Community and Human Growth
The Value of Question and Answer Sessions
Dedication, Service, Sincerity
Sufis and Scholars
An Enterprise is measured by Intention, not by Appearance
Sufi Organisations

8. Sufi Studies
Coming Together
Concealment of Shortcomings
Saints and Heroes
The Levels of Service
Ritual and Practice
To be Present
The Way to Sufism
The Giving of Charity
The Number of Readings of a Book
Decline in Religious Influence
Why can't we have a British Karakul Lamb?
Teaching Methods and Prerequisites
Sorrow in 'Spiritual Enterprises'
Shock-Teaching
Emotional Expectations
Jumping to Conclusions
The Rosary and the Robe
Random Exercises
On the Lines of a School
Conduct-Teaching
The Curriculum of a School
Knowing all About Someone
Remarks upon the Matter of the Dervish Path
Meetings, Groups, Classes
Internal Dimensions
Explanation

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2001

    A Journey through the Human Mind

    In this book, Idries Shah describes how peoples' basic assumptions and conditioned thinking prevent them from learning. He portrays the average person's mind as a closed system which new information can't penetrate. Fortunately, Shah also casts light on ways people can break through their customary patterns of thinking. His suggestions, rooted in an ancient tradition based on observation and experience, may surprise you, as they did me. This is more than a book about 'creativity.' It is about the prerequisites needed to become fully human.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2001

    An Extraordinary Book

    This is an extraordinary book. It shows the reader how to approach the study of Sufism. It does so by highlighting the blocks to learning, blocks that abound in our own distorted thinking processes. But, like Shah's other's books, it does much more. It helps the reader gain access and insight into the part of her than is capable of learning. In so doing, the reader, prevented from using faulty mental wiring, is encouraged to bring the other, 'learnable' part into focus. The result is greater understanding.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2001

    Essential Guidance for Those Who Can Profit from It.

    We in the West tend to have a sort of 'Manifest Destiny' attitude toward spirituality. 'All that's required is to spend the time, make the effort, and all my goals will be achieved'. In Learning How to Learn Idries Shah shows how unproductive such an attitude can be. On the Sufi path, as well as many aspects of ordinary life, certain prerequisites are required before learning can take place. The book, also subtitled Beginning to Begin, provides essential information that allows the reader to arrive at a place where higher learning can begin. An essential book and key to the Shah corpus.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2001

    A Liberating Book

    The idea that higher learning is not something that automatically takes place in the presence of a teaching influence, but that how to learn may itself have to be learned before real learning can take place, may be new to many people. But on careful consideration it makes a lot of sense. For the fields of psychology, sociology and education provide us with ample evidence that such things as wrong assumptions, incorrect approaches and idées fixes can pose formidable barriers to knowledge. In this remarkable and fascinating book, Sufi author Idries Shah shows how these and other seemingly innocuous factors can be every bit as hindering as high walls and locked doors ¿ indeed even more so, since they are far less obvious to those whom they impede. I found LEARNING HOW TO LEARN to be a breath of fresh air and ¿ as with Shah¿s other books ¿ strongly recommend it to anyone interested in the development of higher forms of understanding.

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