Shah’s Fables in The Way of Sufi

:: 3 Works Cited
Length: 977 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
Need writing help? Check your paper »

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓
Shah’s Fables in The Way of Sufi  


    When most people answer the question, "What is a fable?" they usually define it as a story with talking animals that teaches readers a lesson or moral. Although most fables do fit into this category, Idries Shah, an author of many fables, believes that there is more to a fable than just being an interesting story that teaches a lesson. In fact, Shah writes in the "Forward" of his book Reflections, "Do you imagine that fables exist only to amuse or to instruct, and are based upon fiction? The best ones are delineations of what happens in real life, in the community, and in the individual’s mental processes" (1, 2).

What Shah means is that the best fables describe life, one’s mental processes, and the surrounding community to the fullest. In "The Man, the Snake, and the Stone," from his book Caravan of Dreams, Shaw gives insight to the way humans’ mental processes are and how they should be. The fable seems to be a tale about a curious, yet ignorant, man who desperately tries to justify his action of releasing the snake from under the stone so that the snake does not kill him. However, this fable shows the reader how selfish, inconsiderate, and unreasonable humans are with their animal "friends."

One thing this fable demonstrates to the reader is how selfish humans are in their ways. The fable starts with the man who picks up a stone and releases a venomous snake. The snake, of course, threatens to kill the man, but the man pleas for his life because he claims he set the snake free. The man cries, "Give me one more chance. Please let us find someone else to give an opinion, so that my life may be spared" (904). The man cares nothing about how the snake has been inconvenienced. All he cares about is trying to keep the snake from killing him.

Another issue this fable addresses is how inconsiderate man is to the animals of this planet. The fable gives two examples of animals that are treated unfairly. The first example tells of a flock of sheep which have provided humans with wool for many years. Now, after all the years of helping the humans, the humans turn around and repay the favor by killing the sheep for mutton. A sheep sarcastically adds, "That is the measure of generosity of men" (904).

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Shah’s Fables in The Way of Sufi." 123HelpMe.com. 11 Dec 2017
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=8241>.
Title Length Color Rating  
Japanese Fables: The Influences Essay examples - Think back to when you were a child, and when your parents read you stories. Do you recall any of these stories being about animals. Chances are good that you heard fables as a child. For those who don’t know what a fable is, a fable is a story that uses animals in the place of humans. In relating fables to the Japanese culture, I discovered that animals play an important role in Japanese culture. And as in most cultures, stories play a big role also. So by using common sense, any person could assume, and be accurate, that there are many fables in Japanese culture....   [tags: Japanese Fables, Japan, Fables, ] 1100 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Use of Animals in Japanese Fables - Japanese Fables The influence from within and everywhere else. Think back to when you were a child and to when your parents read you stories. Chances are pretty good that some of the stories you encountered were fables. For those people who do not know what a fable is, it is a story that uses animals in the place of using human beings. In researching Japanese tales, I did not have a hard time finding an abundance of fables. In relating fables to the Japanese life, I discovered that animals play an important role in Japanese culture....   [tags: Japanese Fables] 1468 words
(4.2 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
All The Shah’s Men by Stephen Kinzer Essay - In the novel All The Shah’s Men we are introduced to Iran, and the many struggles and hardships associated with the history of this troubled country. The Iranian coup is discussed in depth throughout the novel, and whether the Untied States made the right decision to enter into Iran and provide assistance with the British. If I were to travel back to 1952 and take a position in the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) for the sole purpose of examining the American Foreign Intelligence, I would have to conclude that the United States should have examined their options more thoroughly, and decided not to intervene with Iran and Mossadegh....   [tags: All The Shah’s Men, Stephen Kinzer] 2087 words
(6 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on The Sufi Philosophy in Islamic Faith - ... Sufis believe that the path they have chosen is a path to God by seeking longing to be with their Creator, like many monotheistic religions today. Many Sunnis do not consider Sufis to be Muslims because of the mystical traditions of Sufism (Fisher 407). Sufi practices have many different foundations, conveying the purity of life, staying to the orthodox Islamic law, and imitation of Muhammad. Through self deprivation, deep introspection of ones morals, and mental struggles, they hope to purify themselves from all selfishness and achieve selflessness in all action, thought, and intention (“Sufism” 3)....   [tags: religious beliefs, Muslim branches]
:: 4 Works Cited
1275 words
(3.6 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
Aesop's Fables Essay - Introduction: I grew up reading fables. Such as, the Tortoise and the Hare, which taught me faster isn’t always better. I enjoyed fables the most because of the valuable lessons that were strung within them. Majority of the fables have life lessons that help you as a person throughout your life. Because fables are short, sweet and to the point, it makes it easier for younger children to grasp. Growing up listening and reading these stories taught me morals that I still live by to this day. Fables have helped me get through multiple life situations....   [tags: the tortoise and the hare, stories]
:: 6 Works Cited
1500 words
(4.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about Aesop's Fables - Introduction: Fables are great stories that teach lessons about life. There are many great fables that have been written, but for me I never really read any. The little bit I do know about fables are that they use personified animals as characters, and they use them to teach the readers valuable life lessons. Most of the fables that are made today are for children, and they are great for them because they are easy for kids to understand because of the fact that they use animals. But I know that the old fables have been censored because the old ones were a little too graphic for our young ones today....   [tags: literary analysis, stories]
:: 6 Works Cited
1049 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Aesop's Fables Essay - Introduction:  I chose to research the genre of fables, specifically Aesop’s fables. I only informed of the basics of fables. To be frank with you I don’t even think there is much to know about fables. What is there to know. They contain lessons, animals, and they are short. From time to time people use them in their quotidian day to back up their opinions. Especially authority figures like parents, teachers, and, well I can just think of those two. Personally I believe that “Don’t let things for the last minute” is their favorite one....   [tags: literary analysis, short stories]
:: 1 Works Cited
1374 words
(3.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about The Neoplatonist Roots of Sufi Philosophy - The Neoplatonist Roots of Sufi Philosophy Neoplatonism strongly influenced the development of Sufism. Neoplatonism, as developed by Plotinus conceives God to be the source and goal of everything. Islam qua institution is closed to all critical and philosophical thought, but Sufism enjoys a more liberal and critical approach. It is probable that the translations of Plotinus have provided the necessary philosophical ground for Sufism. An examination of both Sufism and Neoplatonism reveals close similarities with regard to the nature of God, the soul, the body, concepts such as goodness, evil and beauty, death and life, and creation....   [tags: Philosophers Religion Papers] 2391 words
(6.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about Aesop of Aesop's Fables - Some may say that Aesop is infamous for the life he led over 2000 years ago and mostly for the hundreds of fables that have been attributed to his name since. Aesop’s fables have reached countless generations since he is reported to have been alive, and they continue to be a part of the lives of many. Not every fable, however, that has been linked to Aesop is his own original material. In actuality, there are many fables attributed to Aesop that, for a variety of reasons, couldn’t possibly be his own....   [tags: Essays Papers]
:: 5 Works Cited
581 words
(1.7 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Aesop’s Fables Essay - Aesop’s Fables Introduction: I already know a good amount about the Aesop’s fables before doing any real research. Almost everyone as a child was introduced to the stories such as “the boy who cried wolf” or “the tortoise and the hare”. As a child many adults would read these stories to me because they have a very strong moral. It can guide children to do the right thing when they are in doubts. I have a very personal experience with the tortoise and the hare because since I am a tennis player, my coaches would always mention these stories in regarding to practice and how we should be playing....   [tags: literary analysis, the tortoise and the hare]
:: 7 Works Cited
1307 words
(3.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]

Related Searches




The second example tells of an old horse that had served a man for many years. The horse explains, "Now that I am too infirm to work, he has decided to sell me for horsemeat. I am hobbled because the man thinks that if I roam over the field I will eat too much of his grass" (904). In both cases these animals are treated fairly until they are no longer any use to the humans who own them. This is the kind of flaw Idries Shah want us to see in ourselves—and to change.

Furthermore, the situation between the fox and the man shows how the man is unreasonable. This is ironic because the man defines "reasonable" in the fable by saying to the snake, "But I have released you. How can you repay good with evil? Such an act would not accord with reasonable behavior" (903). The fox generously helps the man by tricking the snake into going back under the stone. According to the man’s definition of "reasonable behavior," he should have repaid the fox with something good in return for the good deed the fox performed. Instead, the man leads the fox into a group of hunters and to its death. This idea of doing good in return for nothing is also seen in a lesson of the Sufi tradition that comes from a man named Saadi of Shiraz, whom Idries Shah recognized in his book The Way of Sufi. The passage is called "Doing Good to the Evil" and it says, "Merely doing good to the evil may be equivalent to doing evil to the good" (86). This is saying that if one does a good deed for someone who is evil, it does not mean that the good person should expect something good in return. If the reader assumes that the fox is good and the man is evil, then the lesson here is saying that the fox helping the man is foolish because he should not expect good in return. Indeed, the fox is foolish and the evil is done unto it.

The purpose of this fable is to make humans recognize the way they are and the way they should be. A jacket blurb in the back of Thinkers of the East describes the book Caravan of Dreams, from which this fable comes. The blurb says:

The collection as a whole makes delightful reading, but it also has a deeply serious purpose: to illustrate a kind of thinking that has been neglected in the West for the past thousand years, but which psychologists and sociologists now see as offering new keys to present-day problems. (201)

This kind of thinking that the blurb is speaking of is called Sufism. In Shah’s book, The Way of Sufi, a man named Sheikh el-Islam Zakaria Ansari writes, "Sufism teaches how to purify one’s self, improve one’s morals and build up one’s inner and outer life in order to attain perpetual bliss" (240). Idries Shah wants humans to become aware of their flaws and to consider new ways of thinking to better ourselves and the Earth as a whole.

Works Cited

Shah, Idries. Reflections. Baltimore, Maryland: Penguin Books Inc., 1970.

_________. "The Man, the Snake, and the Stone." The Harper Anthology of Fiction. Ed. Sylvan Barnet. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.

_________. The Way of Sufi. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1970.

_________. Thinkers of the East. Baltimore, Maryland: Penguin, 1971.

 


Return to 123HelpMe.com