Every week for several months, I have worked to share Sufi stories. This week, I'd like to talk about a remarkable individual whose very life is a Sufi story of sorts - Idries Shah. Here's an excerpt from a tribute that was published upon his death in 1996:
"By their nature, newspaper obituaries focus on public record. But it is necessary to say that Idries Shah's visible achievements, however profound and wide-ranging, may really have been the very least of his impact. His purpose and knowledge, his kindness, his seemingly limitless patience and generosity; the warmth of his companionship; the perceptive, zany humour in a range of wickedly accurate accents which could send serious-minded adults rolling on the floor in laughter; his sheer understanding and sanity, also operated invisibly in the realm of the human heart. The thousands of people who were his students and friends, and others who encountered him however briefly, were probably all affected in a degree and dimension for which it is hard to find words. It is impossible to assess his influence, and his legacy is incalculable. The Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, once wrote that the Sufis must be 'the biggest society of sensible men there has ever been on earth'. Idries Shah was indeed a sensible man. He was also, it is said, the Sufi Teacher of the Age."It's hard to argue with that last assertion. Read the full tribute to get the full measure of this remarkable man. If I can live my life in a way that bears even a small resemblance to this description, I'll die happy.
Idries Shah, writer and savant, born Simla, India, June 16, 1924; married Cynthia (Kashfi) Kabraji, 1958; one son, two daughters; died London, November 23, 1996.