What About My Wood: 101 Sufi Stories is designed and written to present the authentic, centuries-old Sufi tradition of storytelling to the contemporary readership first-hand, from a living Sufi shaykh, or teacher. This strongly appealing and marketable collection is unique in that it represents the distilled wisdom of a tradition as well as a spiritual teaching method. The stories in What About My Wood are funny, poignant and transformative all at the same time. They provoke thought and inspire contemplation in a simple but powerful way.The book is of obvious appeal to readers of Sufi literature. Its stories come through a line of masters within a specific Sufi teaching lineage, the Qadiri Rifai Order. As such, they bear a concentrated atmosphere and quality of attention to the layers of significance within each element of the story. A section following each chapter offers some of the interpretive keys to the stories. The reader can enjoy a sense of the presence of the Shaykh, because the stories are written as he would tell them in person. Presence during the oral teaching of one's shaykh is a cornerstone of Sufi practice that is difficult to convey in book form. One can discover something of the intimate spiritual atmosphere of a shaykh's discourses through this book.Beyond the Sufi literature market, the book has the potential to reach many others, who fall into three categories. First are those with a general interest in spirituality and spiritual psychology. This group is looking for an approach that is simple, accessible, creative and experiential, rather than analytical. The book is immediately attractive to this general reader by virtue of its brief, digestible sections and its eye-catching illustrations. The reader will be surprised to find much more thought-provoking substance than would be expected in stories of such a short length. A key factor in the value of this book for such a reader would be that the stories teach without the need for explanation or persuasion. It is not a book of sermons.The second category of reader comprises those searching for an introduction to Middle Eastern culture. The book offers historical background and detail to help situate the stories. Sufi stories speak for the spiritual center of the religious traditions of the Middle East, particularly Islam, without didacticism or rhetoric. Sufi stories are ubiquitous throughout the region, and inseparable from the fabric of daily life for many millions of its people. Readers may be pleasantly shocked to discover, in this grassroots oral tradition, a deep regard for the ambiguity of the human condition. This speaks for a strong underlying tendency to subvert the authority of religious fundamentalists, and a leaning toward mercy and tolerance. The stories in this book invite readers to see the Islamic faith beyond the shell of literalism. This alone makes the book extremely timely and valuable.The third category comprises those who enjoy being entertained by stories and storytelling of all sorts and from diverse cultural traditions. The precious collection of stories in What About My Wood, with its delightfully approachable format, will appeal to a wide readership. Shaykh Taner's work represents a long heritage continued in the present day. What About My Wood is a living discourse of a Sufi shaykh and is therefore a unique and invaluable collection.
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