18
THE SUFIS

Sufism has a considerable history, predating Islam. It is difficult to provide an accurate description of it and in a way it defies characterisation. In Western terms, Aesop's Fables ( sixth century BC) may give an insight into Sufi methods or teaching of the Sufi masters which are often given by way of fable and parable. That which seems to be the case is often not. The Sufis are masters of indirect communication and readily appreciated that their words and teachings often fall on deaf ears. Indeed when people come to a Sufi master for instruction, the master is more likely than not to send them away because they are deemed incapable of receiving the teaching, at least in their present state.

Sufis have been among the foremost philosophers of the last thousand years, while recognising that reason and philosophy are but partial and limited ways to truth. Human beings, Sufis consider, have been conditioned and indoctrinated by their upbringing and culture, and breaking through this conditioning may be the most difficult task of all. The parallel to Kierkegaard seeking to indirectly communicate Christianity into a country that thinks it is Christian is obvious. Sufis also have a suspicion of institutional religion and of clerics, and they believe that each individual has to tread the path for themselves.

Sufism is about transformation of the self, helping someone to become a new individual. This means stripping away the laziness,

-151-

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What Is Truth?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page III
  • New College Lectures and Publications V
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Dedication and Acknowledgments xi
  • Part One - What is Truth? 1
  • 1 - The Implications of a Denial of Truth--Or the Claim to Have It 3
  • 2 - Realism and Anti-Realism 12
  • 3 - Foundations Without Indubitability 29
  • 4 - Anti-Realism in Religion and Morality 38
  • 5 - Constructivism in Psychology 49
  • Part Two - There is No Truth Out There 63
  • 7 - Ontology and Epistemology 65
  • 8 - Hegel and Marx 74
  • 9 - Nietzsche and Ivan Karamazov 79
  • 10 - The Denial of a Real World 89
  • 11 - Post-Modernism 95
  • 12 - Post-Modernism and Self-Identity 105
  • 13 - Interim Conclusion 117
  • Part Three - The Centre Can Hold 121
  • 14 - The Path to Truth 123
  • 15 - The Kotzker 126
  • 16 - Soren Kierkegaard and Subjectivity 132
  • 17 - Wittgenstein and Perspicuity 141
  • 18 - The Sufis 151
  • 19 - Vaclav Havel and Living the Truth 156
  • 20 - Fear and Freedom 164
  • 21 - Bringing the Threads Together 182
  • Notes 190
  • Index 201
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