A Perfumed Scorpion

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Octagon Press Ltd, 2000 - Philosophy - 193 pages
Using the powerful approach of classical teachers, Shah has crafted a contemporary teaching tool that blends a fastpaced look at today's world with the timeless teachings of the Sufis. The book brings into sharp focus the conditioned behavior and self-deception that are common in Western minds. Far more than a literary tool for breaking loose old mental habits, it is a blueprint for a process of self-development that precludes self-deceit. Truly a book among books, A Perfumed Scorption is treasured the world over for its clarity of wisdom and forcefulness of insight.

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Higher consciousness, deeper awareness, knowing more of the real facts about the world in which we find ourselves is a tricky thing. Most people confuse the former with either deep and profound emotions or else with a form of intellectual overdosing that connects this cool fact with that cool system with this cool philosophical school ad infinitum but, like a mouse scurrying randomly around the base of a mountain, never actually touches the meat of the matter, which is that mountain, which is meant to be climbed.
Climbing a mountain is not achieved by feeling deep emotions toward the mountain nor by making semi-random associations between the mountain and other objects. To climb a mountain requires the acquisition of both advanced skills and relevant knowledge. And you have to start at the right spot: the beginning.
Raising one's consciousness, becoming more aware of what is really around us, is far more complex than mountain climbing. Because the process is so complex, because not everybody is suited for it but nevertheless imagines they must become “great mountain climbers,” because it is a science that requires restraint, intelligence, self-control, rigorous commitment, resources, and all the other ingredients that go into making a successful endeavor, the real truth about bringing about such change is rare and to be cherished wherever found.
I am convinced that _A Perfumed Scorpion_ is one such “real” book. It may dizzy you with its wide-ranging topics, its rapid shifts from the stimulating to the boring to the incomprehensible to the insulting, but what it is actually doing is (a) responsibly introducing you to the _real_ art and science of higher consciousness in all of its vast complexity and (b) giving you the opportunity to experience, vicariously, just a little of the "feel" of reality so that you can determine whether it is what you seek—or else help you to recognize it later, even if it takes a very different form.
Words have magic, of that I have no doubt, although almost nobody knows how to use them in that way. By magic, I don't mean wrapping a "go to sleeep" spell or happy-love trance around you; instead they work real magic. They start to jar you awake, out of your ordinary living, walking-zombie sleep, andlet catch a little glimpse of what's actually out there. For some people it's too much. Such readers will disqualify themselves, discard the book in disgust. For others, those who are "riper,” the magic does its work. Books such as this encourage and inspire with their comprehensiveness, their uncanny ability to anticipate refutations and objections, and the way in which their projected memes slip through the cracks of the cage that is ordinary consciousness. All of this is awe-inspiring, once you start seeing the full picture. A person who is ready to accept the strange way in which certain books like _A Perfumed Scorpion_ operate will thrive and grow under their tutelage.
It can be hard for the intellect to accept that it's not "all about great ideas." It can be hard for the emotions to accept that "it's not about exciting thrills." It can be hard to accept that it's actually about a strange middle-ground, where some emotion is good, some intellect is good, but that neither should be allowed to rule because if they do, you risk driving off the faint, subtle, but most important elements--which cannot be named.
_A Perfumed Scorpion_ is just one of a series of books that, together, provide the full, immense, and deeply complex picture of what is involved in raising one's consciousness--for real. Like anything worth doing, acquiring a true understanding one's self and one's place in the world takes time, patience, commitment, and the strength to refuse to settle for easy answers you wait for the valuable pieces to drop into place. But if knowledge is what you feel you must have in this life, no matter what, then you have certainly come to the right place.

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About the author (2000)

Idries Shah (1924-1996), whose family lived in Afghanistan for a thousand years, is an internationally known authority on the region and his books on Sufism are considered seminal. "The Sufis," first published in 1964, is a first-of-its-kind modern statement on Sufism. Shah is the author of more than twenty books and has a readership spanning East and West.

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