In Arabian Nights intersperses daily events of Tahir Shah’s home life at the Caliph’s House, his meanderings in Casablanca and around Morocco, and folks’ tales especially related to Joha/Nasrudin and the sourcebook: Alf Layla wa Layla, A Thousand and One Nights. In this orchestration, Shah offers entrance into the deceptively enigmatic medium that his father Idries Shah brokered, the “teaching story,” while simultaneously reflecting Tahir’s pursuit for “the story in his own heart.” I think both Shahs would agree with me in saying that a person cannot find the heart-story in any printed text, including this one; but I’m confident that In Arabian Nights offers a rare and wonderful companion for the journey because it’s enriched with Tahir’s memories of Idries and it features the rich texturing of a father’s nurturing the child, including the responsibility for tending a legacy, bridging the East and West.
I just counted on my home library’s shelves 28 books of Idries Shah and over 20 on the Arabian Nights (more are at work), but I only recently discovered that Tahir Shah was Idries’ son and that this work illuminates the bridge between worlds and particularly the mysterious interweavings of story, most especially the lamp-trimming of teaching stories. In Arabian Nights arrived just as I was packing up materials I’d take to the Conference on Quantum Storytelling. It made the 3-book cut, my limit for an already stuffed computer/camera bag for that airplane carry-on. The 4-day conference was even more packed so the book returned home scarcely opened; the timing could have been scarcely more perfect due to the way it’s engaged those post-conference musings, the inevitable let-down, and the integration of new friends--so many complexities of timespacemattering.
Quantum Storytelling and Teaching Narrative were two of the three constituents in my conference presentation title, the third HorseSense. Similar to the way Tahir Shah composes apparently distinct layerings In Arabian Nights, perhaps the strands are one. Living story unites and vitalizes. One reason, probably primary, that I committed to participate in the Conference stemmed from my desire to read the persons, vastly more important than the words or even recordings of proceedings. Shah notes repeatedly the derision among Moroccans for written text (and for televised soap operas); personal discovery, coffee-shop conversation, full-sense perception and silence clue the discovery and incorporate matters of the heart (and soul).
Perhaps today, Rumi might say “like every other day,” is the end of a world. Time and space and what matters have spun together yet more amazingly. I’m more certain of the story in my heart and filled with gratitude for living story and for friends, both new and old.