Friday, 23 March 2012

Sources of inspiration

I would say that the primary inspiration for my works has been the writer Idries Shah who did so much to introduce the way of the Sufi mystic to western audiences from around 1960 to the present day, beyond his death in 1996. One of the ideas of which he wrote was that the realm we live in and call the 'real world' (the concrete, physical plane) is in fact a lesser world of decay and degeneration, and that beyond that, and our destiny, is what the Sufis call the Real World; that behind the everyday world of illusion lies a blueprint or design (a naqsh) in the Real. C.S. Lewis mentions the shadowlands in a similar vein.

This idea in turn inspired one of Shah's pupils, the author Doris Lessing who wrote in her Canopus in Argos series of a catastrophe of cosmic proportions severely and adversely affecting our link to the Source, which provides us with a higher nutrition and higher contact. My novel Escape From the Shadowlands was also inspired by Doris Lessing's Briefing For a Descent into Hell.

Shah encouraged certain books to be written by students and personalities associated with his work (and also himself wrote works using pseudonyms) and I've found addition inspiration in these works, such as Bashir M. Dervish's Journeys with a Sufi Master; Omar Michael Burke's Among the Dervishes; Ernest Scott's The People of the Secret; and also Desmond R. Martin's Account of the Sarmoun Brotherhood, a mystical hidden community said to reside in the mountains of Afghanistan (also known to the mystic George Ivanovich Gurdjieff as the Sarmoung).

Prior to my involvement with the Sufis, I was also inspired by the likes of [the fraudulent] T. Lobsang Rampa's The Third Eye; Carlos Castaneda's teachings of Don Juan; the explorer and theosophist Alexander David-Neel's With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet; Helena Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine; James Hilton's Lost Horizon (twice made into a film); and by the publications and practises of British Buddhist and Zen societies.

These early interests lost their appeal once my studies with the Sufis began to kick in. Indeed during that time I felt so many of my assumptions, beliefs and conditioning being slowly eroded, challenged or at times unceremoniously sandblasted. The last thing the Sufi mystics do is pander to or collude with the ego or Commanding Self: quite the converse.

This went on until at one point, around the time of Shah's death in 1996, I was no longer sure who I really was any more; beyond the "black hole" that had been me: it was so much more a process of unlearning and uncovering than learning or adding to the stock of information and opinion that lay folk call knowledge. It wasn't until perhaps a decade after Shah's death that I was again able to look at these former interests with fresh, new eyes.

Though preceded by two prequels, the best place to start reading the Shadowlands series is book 3, Escape From the Shadowlands.

Painting: Inspiration by Jean-Honoré Fragonard.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

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