The Sufi and author Idries Shah was as a person and with his books a bridge between east and west. Read this and Idries Shahs other books.
The book is, in the words on the back cover, "a rich collection of Eastern oral and written literature." It is itself like a caravan of small treasures (which seem to grow bigger as one reads). It seems more reminiscent of Middle eastern classics like Rumi's Mathnawi, Saadi's Rose Garden, or the Thousand and One Nights, in being a collection of many different types of written materials -- autobiography, poetry, jokes, proverbs, prophetic traditions, information or exposition, tales, table-talk, teaching encounters. "Caravan of Dreams" is arranged into several sections: Traditions of the Prophet, Adventures of Mulla Nasrudin, travels (on the Red Sea and the pilgrimage to Mecca), Thoughts from Omar Khayyam, Meditations of Rumi, Short Stories, Extracts, and Table Talk by Idries Shah. The Short Stories alone have a great range of moods and styles, from the lurid 'Prince of Darkness' to the stately goofiness of 'The Tale of Melon City,' to the strange magic and wonder of 'The Story of Mushkil Gusha' and 'The Magic Horse.' The Extracts include a wide variety of material, like passages from Gibbon's "Decline and Fall," more tales, and remarks by Sufi teaching masters. -- thought is commented on in 'A Few Short Miles' in the Table Talk section.) Following some of the suggestions in the book can open up what almost seem like new worlds to the observer. Different meanings open up with time, thought, and successive readings, such as the 'Definitions of Mulla Do-Piaza' or the short statements in the Table Talk.
Shah hopes to assist readers of his work in many ways, one of which is to provide a kind of immunity to prolonged bouts of extremist thought and action, whether localised in an individual mind, or manifested within a larger group or culture. In 'Caravan' the breadth of which is kaleidoscopic, he starts with 'Traditions of the Prophet' which could be interpreted as 'things what Mohammed said' to his companions, family, friends and community.
- Things aren't what they seem, especially when you're a fool.
To benefit from a book like this needs more than passive reading. This is not the first time I have read this book, and I am still far from exhausting its riches.
Idries Shah: Show me a man who thinks that he knows what 'good' is, and I will probably be able to show you a horror of a person.
Idries Shah (Persian: ), also known as Idris Shah, né Sayed Idries el-Hashimi (Arabic: ), was an author and teacher in the Sufi tradition who wrote over three dozen critically acclaimed books on topics ranging from psychology and spirituality to travelogues and culture studies. A similar organisation, the Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge (ISHK), exists in the United States, under the directorship of Stanford University psychology professor Robert Ornstein, whom Shah appointed as his deputy in the U.S. In his writings, Shah presented Sufism as a universal form of wisdom that predated Islam. Idries Shah's books on Sufism achieved considerable critical acclaim. Some orientalists were hostile, in part because Shah presented classical Sufi writings as tools for self-development to be used by contemporary people, rather than as objects of historical study.