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Shah, Idries - A Perfumed Scorpion - How Sufis teach



Type of spiritual experience

A description of the experience

A Perfumed Scorpion

The Sufi practice is to take a number of tales and ask a group of people to look at them. They then have to note down the points which interested them in the stories.

Instead of magnetizing themselves upon those points, they have to set them aside, and look at the points that did not catch their attention, and ask themselves why they missed these. What censorship or lack of understanding was operating?

People first make their notes separately, then study them in unison, so that everyone taking part is possessed of all the reactions of the others. In this way a mosaic is built up, people all contribute, one to the other's understanding.

Now a Sufi teacher goes through the results and indicates the points which nobody has
noticed, which are then fed back into the minds of the group, which is able to add to its individual and collective knowledge the material which it could not provide from among its own members.

When this process has been completed, one may expect a dramatic improvement in the understanding capacity of all the people involved.

This is what we regard as proper teachingand learning. First you do what you can. Then you profit from what others are doing, and they from you. Finally you get the additional element which was absent from your own knowledge stock, provided by your teacher.

The source of the experience

Shah, Idries