Teaching Stories and Fables

Teaching stories, fables and tales are found in virtually every spiritual tradition of the world and are an important part of humanity’s cultural heritage. On one level they are entertaining and enchanting but on another dimension, through their allegorical and non-linear nature, they also reach the innermost depths of consciousness not normally accessible by other means and act as a ‘nutrient’ for the human spirit.



The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin
Idries Shah
Octagon Press (1966)

Mulla Nasrudin, who plays the role of the wise fool in these anecdotes, is an enduring part of the world's cultural heritage with his perceptive insights into human nature.

Tales of the Dervishes
Idries Shah
Octagon Press (1967)

For centuries Sufi teachers have instructed their pupils by means of teaching tales. This anthology, compiled by Idries Shah, is drawn from the repertoires of dervish masters over a period of more than a thousand years.

The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin
Idries Shah
Octagon Press (1968)

The appeal of Nasrudin is as universal and timeless as the truths he illustrates. This collection of teaching stories is both an anthology of humour and a book of Sufi wisdom.

Caravan of Dreams
Idries Shah
Octagon Press (1968)

Idries Shah's highly acclaimed volume presents traditonal teaching stories, jokes, contemplation themes and proverbs drawn from oral sources and storytellers in the East and Central Asia.

Wisdom of the Idiots
Idries Shah
Octagon Press (1969)

This collection of instructional teaching tales from the Sufi tradition provides both entertainment value and a blueprint for understanding human psychological processes.

The Book of the Book
Idries Shah
Octagon Press (1969)

This book was regarded as a literary joke when it was first published. Based on a traditional Sufi teaching tale, it acts as a psychological test that, in the words of one reviewer, "predicts the complete range of responses to itself."

The Dermis Probe
Idries Shah
Octagon Press (1970)

The title of the book refers to a traditional Sufi tale, "The Elephant in the Dark." This collection of entertaining teaching stories, like the title tale, examines human assumptions and the impediments in human thought which prevent higher understanding.

Thinkers of the East
Idries Shah
Octagon Press (1971)

Distilled from the teachings of more than one hundred sages on three continents, the book is a collection of entertaining anecdotes and "parables in action" illustrating the practical approach of Sufi teachers.

The Magic Monastery
Idries Shah
Octagon Press (1972)

The book contains traditional and contemporary stories illustrating the teaching methods employed by top Eastern sages during the last thousand years, gathered from both written and oral sources.


The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin
Idries Shah
Octagon Press (1973)

This third collection of Mulla Nasrudin tales by Idries Shah presents some of the most amusing anecdotes currently in use all over the world today.

World Tales
Idries Shah
Octagon Press (1979)

This anthology of folktales is international in scope, representing virtually every culture in the world. The book demonstrates that certain important stories are found at every time and place in the world: one of the tales presented in the book is an Algonquin Indian version of Cinderella.

The Tale of Four Dervishes
Amina Shah
Octagon Press (1979)

This traditional tale, translated by Amina Shah into English for the first time, contains multiple allegorical dimensions. The 13th century Sufi teacher Nizamuddin Awilyya placed a benediction on the book and it is widely believed in the East that the recitation of this story will restore health to the ailing.

Kalila and Dimna
Ramsay Wood
Granada (1980)

This humorous and wise collection of fables originally appeared in Sanskrit nearly 1700 years ago, and has since been translated through the centuries everywhere from Ethiopia to China. Ramsay Wood provides a highly acclaimed contemporary English translation.

Tales of Afghanistan
Amina Shah
Octagon Press (1982)

Amina Shah presents a wonderful collection of traditonal folktales carefully selected from her ancestral homeland of Afghanistan.

Arabian Fairy Tales
Amina Shah
Octagon Press (1989)

Amina Shah has travelled widely among Arabic speaking peoples collecting tales from living oral traditions. These haunting tales recreate the mystery, magic and enchantment of the Orient.

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones
Paul Reps
Anchor Books (1989)

Paul Reps has compiled an important collection of Zen and pre-Zen writings from original sources. The classic stories illustrate the experiences of Zen masters in their search for spiritual enlightenment.

Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart
Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield
Harper Collins (1991)

This collection of teaching stories draws from many diverse sources including Christian, Buddhist, Sufi, Zen, Hasidic, African and North American spiritual traditions. The stories portray the challenges of the spiritual journey in a wise and engaging manner.

Zen Antics: 100 Stories of Enlightenment
Thomas Cleary
Shambhala (1993)

For countless centuries the stories and anecdotes of Zen masters and their students have been used as teaching devices to exemplify the enlightened spirit. Thomas Cleary has collected these stories from a wide variety of sources including renowned Zen teachers, poets and artists.

Tales from the Bazaars
Amina Shah
Octagon Press (2002)

This collection of traditional folklore, gathered from Central Asia and India, Arabia, Europe and the Americas, is compiled by Amina Shah, widely recognized as one of the finest storytellers of the twentieth century.

The World of Nasrudin
Idries Shah
Octagon Press (2003)

This is the fourth title in the Nasrudin series by acclaimed Sufi author and teacher Idries Shah. Once again, Nasrudin's humorous adventures contain hidden wisdom, which helps us understand our world and ourselves.