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Re: A New Book--Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 13, 2012 07:59AM

For a description of Idries Shah and what he got up to get and read Garrard's A Book of Verse.


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"The Path of Blame"- For Humility NOT to Justify Brutality and Greed
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 26, 2013 12:19AM


For full article read here. []


Speculations On How What Was Originally Advice For Humility Became a Rationalization for Guru Abuse

On his website Dr Shepherd has this article from which a few quotations are taken in my attempt to offer a possible way in which malamatia, a practice of privacy, was in some cases, taken to admirable extremes, but later reframed as crazy wisdom and a handy excuse for mere abusive or self indulgent behavior.

Those who cling to the crazy wisdom alibi usually insist that historical analysis cannot capture the real essence of spiritualty. All I can say is that a truly worthy leader and project need not fear the efforts of the historian or journalistic fact checking.

ENTRY no. 14 Kevin R D Shepherd, Ph.D


An objective of subsequent malamatis at Nishapur was to conceal saintly accomplishments, even if they were in this manner misconstrued as being ordinary men.

Their code of self-criticism was inverted and abused in later centuries by nominal malamatis who merely liked to draw attention to themselves by bizarre actions or unconventional behaviour.

The original ideal was discernibly very different, and evidently required a high degree of self-control and a determination to resist the limelight and attendant distractions. The aim was to reduce egotism and pride in imagined spiritual advancement.

Malamatism was interpreted in a variety of ways.

The subject of malamatism becomes complicated when it is understood that early exemplars at Nishapur gave different twists of meaning to the "path of blame."
There were both "extreme" and "moderate" malamatis, and at least among the latter, there were differences of emphasis between exponents. Hamdun al-Qassar (d.884) represented the "extreme" approach, his circle rigorously emphasising the programme of malamat al-nafs ("incurring blame on oneself"). The "moderate" party were inspired by Abu Hafs al-Haddad (d.c. 874-9) and his disciple Abu Uthman al-Hiri (d. 910).

Qassar was not only averse to the patched robe of the ascetic, but also to the subject of spiritual practices, which he is said to have criticised and denounced, his reason being that such exercises could create deceit. Whereas Haddad encouraged his pupils to undertake such exercises, although in a malamati context that apparently differed from the standard ascetic routines. His successor Abu Uthman al-Hiri taught a "middle path" between the two apparentlapparently contradictory forms of malamati teaching. "Both ways are correct; each, however, in its right time." (12)
According to Hiri, the disciple was initially to be trained in "the path of practices," as a result of which an attachment ensues, making the disciple dependent upon the favoured practices. The trainee had then to be shown the shortcomings of his pursuit, until he becomes aware that his spiritual practices have left him far from completion. (13)
Shepherd's article continues:

any of the external trappings of conventional Islamic asceticism. He did not dress as a zahid, did not give the popular sermons that attracted credulous crowds, and nor did he undertake the constant pilgrimages which filled the agenda of many professional ascetics. Yet the details are so sparse that different interpretations are possible. Many, or even most, of the men described as malamatis in ninth century Nishapur evidently lived in the artisan and mercantile milieu of the Nishapur bazaar. I

t is possible to view Haddad as a blacksmith who became a malamati, but there is no certainty that he severed his link with the bazaar, especially if his own disciples were artisans and merchants in many instances. His name al-Haddad means "ironsmith."
There was an extension to this factor. Early malamatis seem to have identified with the attitude of altruistic self-sacrifice that marked the tradition of futuwwa - the name given to the system of crafts and professions in Khurasan, a system which promoted strict ethical standards and awarded precedence to fellow members of the fraternity rather than to oneself. There is here the complexity that the social futuwwa was given a mystical complexion by malamatis, a feature which persisted in later Sufism. The malamatis are thought to have adopted the term futuwwa (chivalry, literally "youth") as a code-name for a mystical stage, possibly meaning a novitiate prior to reaching the stage of "manhood" (rujuliyya)

(Corboy note: 1 I suggest an analogy from baking. Under my mother's tutelage, I learned to knead dough and use commercial yeast as the rising agent. Got pretty good at it. Most of my pals didnt do home baking and thought my ability to do this was amazing. Nice for my ego and we all had a good time.

But when, years later, I met another baker who had had professional training, and knew techniques my mother had not heard of. Teacher #2 showed me how to use slow rise techniques, the use of levain and sourdough starters, the taste of these new recipes revealed to me that I had very much more to learn.

So, thats the analogy. Teach someone to master the basics. Then, show them what the results are from taking it to another level of practice--whether it is spirituality, or at the baker's worktable)

(note 2 from Corboy--imagine these futuwan fraternities as being roughly analogous to labor unions. Can tell you that from having watched my uncle, a life long union carpenter, being part of a work crew would have been a stabilizing influence for boys and young men, giving an outlet for energy, older men to advise and critique one's work. If you dont show up on time to join your work crew on a project because you've overslept or partied too hard the night before, that work crew will call you out on it.

For another source on these futwan societies in Anatolia, one can read Ibn Battuta's descriptions of the hospitality he received and how impressed he was when he met these societies in the 14th century--hundreds of years after the sources cited by Dr Shepherd--Corboy--A good overview is The Adventures of Ibn Battuta by Dunn)

**Ibn Battutua is worth reading by anyone who cares about Tassawuf. Ibn Battuta was a Sufi, and his Rihla (Travels) contain many descriptions of Sufi societies and teachers, for Battuta made a point of seeking out and speaking with as many Sheikhs and Pirs as he could--all the way from Egypt to Turkey, to Central Asia, Pakistan, Iraq and India.

Dr Shepherd's thesis may be supported by an independent source--a source that is not his bibliography.

David Edwards interviewed Pashtun refugees in Pakistan in the 1980s and published a book, Heroes of the Age: Moral Faultlines on the Afghan Frontier (University of California Press)
In a chapter tentitled The Lives of an Afghan Saint Edwards wrote:

"Despite the fact that there is no shame attached to following a pir (Sufi leader), it is the practice in some areas for disciples to keep secret their involvement with pirs. The reason for keeping this attachment a secret is difficult to ascertain, but it seems at least in part to keep the moral worlds of (Pashtun/Pakhtunwallah)honor and Islam separate and thereby avoid the kinds of contradictions that ensue when the two overlap.

"An alternative explanation is offered by an informant from Paktia Province (Afghanistan) who explained the practice as follows:

"Most disciples do not want to reveal that they are followers of a pir. They think that [revealing this fact] would be a way of projecting yourself as a good person, which is [an attitude] that Allah wouldnt like. Basically, one becomes a disciple to seek guidance on the right path to Allah. One doesn;t do it for any other reason, and it should be kept secret as much as possible.

In the case of our family, it happened so many times that one of our family members became a disciple without our even knowing about it. Because of this attitudeon the part of the disciples, it is difficult to know how many have accepted the tariqat.

The distortion of malamatia from privacy into an excuse for sheer bullying and other exhibitions of unrestrained ego may be attributed to Gurdjieff, Rajneesh and Choyam Trunpga, who completed the damage by giving it the label Crazy Wiscom.


One of the ways that Gurdjieff seemed to be using Path of Blame behavior was withhis appearance and personal habits, including his table manners and eating habits, use ofalcohol, foul language and hygiene.

Gurdjieff began gaining weight in the late 1920s andby the end of 1932 he was obese and, according to some students, terrible; Rather than being concerned about his looks and image, Gurdjieff drew attention to hisappearance in his later years by passing out unflattering photographs of himself in profile.

Although at times Gurdjieff could dress with great taste and elegance, on many occasionshe appeared seedy and unkempt, dressed in cheap, food-stained suits, or dressedinappropriately in public, such as the time he attended a posh restaurant in pyjamas,dressing gown and slippers. His table manners were atrocious by Western standards andhis personal hygienic habits were considered disgusting by some of his personal assistants. (21)

More citations concerning Gurdjieff and Path of Blame. He needed a way to have excuses made for him. Such is to live as a child, not as a Pir.


(Corboy--this contrasts with the earlier statement that Malamati behavior can only be used 'with great care.'

My mother would have rightfully been angry had I, as a kid, dared suggest that my messy room was a product of spiritual aspiration, rather than sheer laziness.

She would have refused to believe it had I dared suggest 'My room looks like a pig pen. But the chaos is for a noble cause. I dont have to clean my room. because I am a student of the Fourth Way and am practicing The Way of Blame'.

Rajneesh referred to Gurdjieff--a lot.


Here is an excerpt from an Rajneesh Osho talk. Listening to Rajneeshes tales of Gurdjieff's strange behavior might have set his listeners up to accept Rajneesh/Oshos bad behavior. And Raj/Os's talks went on and on and on. Ugh. Probably a form of trance induction--tiring and confusing. Persons have reported that Rajneesh was interested in trance induction as quite a young man, long before setting up shop as a guru.

Osho on Gurdjieff;s Strange Methods

Ouspensky remembers that they were traveling from New York to San Francisco in a train, and Gurdjieff started making a nuisance of himself in the middle of the night. He was not drunk, he had not even drunk water, but he was behaving like a drunkard ; moving from one compartment to another compartment, waking people and throwing people's things about. And Ouspensky, just following him, said, "What are you doing?" but Gurdjieff wouldn't listen.

Somebody pulled the train's emergency chain, "This man seems to be mad!" ; so the ticket-checker came in and the guard came in. Ouspensky apologized and said, "He is not mad and he is not drunk, but what to do? It is very difficult for me to explain what he is doing because I don't know myself." And right in front of the guard and ticket-checker, Gurdjieff threw somebody's suitcase out of the window."

The guard and the ticket-checker said, "This is too much. Keep him in your compartment and we will give you the key. Lock it from within, otherwise we will have to throw you both out at the next station." Naturally Ouspensky was feeling embarrassed on the one hand and enraged on the other hand that this man was creating such a nuisance. He thought, "I know he is not mad, I know he is not drunk, but." Gurdjieff was behaving wildly, shouting in Russian, screaming in Russian, Caucasian he knew so many languages and the moment the door was locked, he sat silently and smiled.

He said to Ouspensky, "How are you?"

Ouspensky said, "You are asking me, 'How are you?'! You would have forced them to put you in jail, and me too because I couldn't leave you in such a condition. What was the purpose of all this?"

Gurdjieff said, "That is for you to understand. I am doing everything for you, and you are asking me the purpose? The purpose is not to react, not to be embarrassed, not to be enraged. What is the point of feeling embarrassed? What are you going to get out of it? You are simply losing your cool and gaining nothing."

"But," Ouspensky said, "You threw that suitcase out of the window. Now what about the man whose suitcase it is?"

Gurdjieff said, "Don't be worried it was yours!"

Ouspensky looked down and saw that his was missing. What to do with this master! Ouspensky writes: "l felt like getting down at the next station and going back to Europe... because what else would Gurdjieff do?"

And Gurdjieff said, "I know what you are thinking you are thinking of getting down at the next station. Keep cool!"

"But," Ouspensky said, "how can I keep cool now that my suitcase is gone and my clothes are gone?"

Gurdjieff said, "Don't be worried your suitcase was empty. Your clothes I've put in my suitcase. Now just cool down."

But later, when he was in the Caucasus and Ouspensky was in London, Gurdjieff sent Ouspensky a telegram: "Come immediately!" ; and when Gurdjieff says "Immediately," it means immediately! Ouspensky was involved in some work, but he had to leave his job, pack immediately, finish everything and go to the Caucasus. And in those days, when Russia was in revolution, to go to the Caucasus was dangerous, absolutely dangerous.

People were rushing out of Russia to save their lives, so to enter Russia and for a well-known person like Ouspensky, well-known as a mathematician, world famous.... It was also well-known that he was anti-communist, and he was not for the revolution. Now, to call him back into Russia, and that too, to the faraway Caucasus.... He would have to pass through the whole of Russia to reach to Gurdjieff who was in a small place, Tiflis, but if Gurdjieff calls.... Ouspensky went.

When he arrived there he was really boiling, because he had passed by burning trains, stations, butchered people and corpses on the platforms. And how he had managed ; he himself could not believe that he was going to reach Gurdjieff, but somehow he managed to. And what did Gurdjieff say? He said, "You have come, now you can go: the purpose is fulfilled. I will see you later on in London."

Now this kind of man.... He has his purpose ; there is no doubt about it ; but has strange ways of working. Ouspensky, even Ouspensky, missed. He got so angry that he dropped all his connections with Gurdjieff after this incident, because this man had pulled him into the very mouth of death for nothing! But Ouspensky missed the point. If he had gone back as silently as he had come, he may have become enlightened by the time he reached London ; but he missed the point.

A man like Gurdjieff ; may not always do something that is apparently meaningful, but it is always meaningful..."

(Corboy to paraphrase Freud, sometimes a tyrannical person is just that--a tyrant
, but with a great cover story

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