The Sufi Basis


The Taming of The Shrew



Mather Walker 


acon has followed his usual practice, in The Taming of TheShrew, of constructing an entertaining story on the surface, with an allegory which conceals two faces beneath the surface; one of which looks to the past, and the other to the future. But a look beneath the surface of this play does more than tell us what aspect of knowledge these face deal with. It opens a broader prospective, both on the Plays, and on the mystery of Francis Bacon himself.

 The main plot of The Taming of The Shrew (often referred to as the "frame") concerns a certain Christopher Sly, a drunken man who falls asleep, and, found in this state, is taken up by a great Lord, who plays a trick on him, which involves installing him in the luxurious dwelling of the Lord, and, when he awakes, persuading him he is the Lord of the dwelling. At first Sly thinks he is asleep and dreaming, but finally believes he is the Lord of the mansion. He then watches players act out the subplot, which is a play dealing with The Taming of The Shrew. The subplot of The Taming of The Shrew is derived from George Gascoigne's play Supposes (1566), a prose version of Ariosto's I Suppositi (1509). The main plot comes straight from the Arabian Nights.

The story titled, "The Sleeper and the Waker" in the one volume abridgement of Sir Richard Burton's famous three volume translation of The Thousand Nights And A Night, is the source for the main plot of The Taming of The Shrew.

In this story, a merchant who lived in the caliphate of Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad, died, leaving a great store of wealth to his son. The son then proceeded to squander his inheritance, but, unlike the Prodigal Son in the Bible, he first divided his wealth into two parts, putting one half aside and using only the other half. He gave himself up to eating, drinking, and companionship, until all the wealth he had with him was exhausted. At this point he found all those companions, who had been his friends while he had money, deserted him.

He swore he would never consort with any of them again but would keep company only with strangers, and them he would only entertain for one night after which he would never know the stranger anymore. So he fell into the habit of sitting every eventide on the bridge over the Tigris, looking at each one who passed by him. If he saw him to be a stranger, he made friends and led him to his house where he conversed and caroused with him all night till morning. Then he would dismiss him never to see him again. After he had passed a year in this practice there came to him one day, while he sat on the bridge, the Caliph Harun al-Rashid himself, disguised as a merchant.


The son followed his usual practice with the Caliph, but when the time came to dismiss the Caliph, the Caliph said,"O youth, who art thou? Make me acquainted with thyself, so I may requite thee thy kindness." This prevailed upon the son to tell his story. The Caliph, after hearing his story, decided to play a trick on him. He put something in the sons drink which caused him to fall into a deep sleep, then went to his aide and instructed him to take him to his palace and dress him in royal clothes, and to instruct everyone to treat him exactly as if he was the Caliph when he awoke the following morning. The next morning the son, finding himself in the palace, dressed as the Caliph, first thinks he is asleep and dreaming. Then finally comes to believe he is the Caliph himself.


In addition, to the obvious resemblance to the Parable of The Prodigal Son, there is an important point which should be noted about this story. The popular Thousand and One Nights is a Sufi book. Its Arabic title ALF LAYLA WA LAYLA is a code phrase
indicating its main content and intention: "Mother of Records." Both the main plot and the subplot of The Taming of The Shrew contains Sufi allegory and Sufi lore.


"The Sufis" by Idries Shah, who was himself a Sufi, is the best book on the subject. Shah says the Sufis utilized a secret language based on the numerical values of letters. He cites theAbjad scheme, a fairly simple substitution cipher, a basic system used in Arabic, which is often coupled with allegorization of the recipherment, and says this was widely used in literature, that many people read it, or at least look for it, almost as a matter of course, especially poets and writers.


According to Idries Shah the title of the book which is commonly referred to in the west as The Arabian Nights is just such an encoded title. Source of Records in Arabic is UMM EL QISSA. The sum of the numerical equivalent, utilizing the standard Abjad scheme, is 267. Next, a sufficiently descriptive, or poetic, title for the book was found, made up of letters which, when added, gave the same number 267. Rearrangement of these letters gave the phrase: ALF LAYLA WA LAYLA which means Thousand and One Nights.

By this practice the title of a book, or the author's name, would often give a most important indication of the emphasis which was to be placed upon the book, and what could be discovered from it.

Shah says that in Arabian Nights, the person who named the work intended to convey that it contained certain essential stories. According to Shah, a study of the stories, and their decoding in accordance with the rules of the secret language, demonstrates the intention, or concealed meaning of the stories. He says many are encoded Sufi teaching stories, descriptions of psychological processes, or enciphered lore of one kind or another.




Some have seen the Sufis as a parallel to the Kabbalists. They say that, just as the Kabbalists are the mystics of Israel, the Sufis are the mystics of Islam. What they do not know is that the Sufis belong to an altogether higher category of mystic. They are "Initiates" emanating from a Brotherhood which, from behind the scenes, has exerted a hidden influence on humanity throughout recorded history. The Sufis refer to themselves as "The Leaven of Humanity." No one knows where or when they originated. In Sufi tradition, the "Chain-of-Transmission" of the Sufis reaches back to the Mohammed by one line, and to Elias by another. Certainly their fraternity is very old. There is reason to believe that they antedated Mohammed, since Mohammed himself said, "He who hears the voice of the Sufi people and does not say aamin (amen) is recorded in God's presence as one of the heedless."


The Sufis appear in historical times mainly within the pale of Islam. The English word "Sufism" is anglicized from the Latin,Sufismus. It was a Teutonic scholar who, as recently as 1821, coined the Latinization which is now almost naturalized into English. Before him there was the word tasawwuf-the state, practice, or condition of being a Sufi.


Tarika-sufiyya stands for the Sufi Way; and makes a good English parallel because tarika stands for a way of doing something, and also conveys the notion of following a path,-the Path of the Sufi. Sufism is referred to by different names in accordance with the sense in which it is be discussed. Thus, ilm-al-maarifat (the science of Knowing) may be found; or el-irfan (the gnosis). The organized Orders or groups are called the tarika. Similarly, the
Sufis are known as The Near Ones, The Seekers, the Drunken men, the enlightened ones, the good, the Friends, the dervishes, knowers (gnostics), wise, lovers, esoterists.


Toward the middle of the seventh century, the expansion of Islam beyond the borders of Arabia challenged, and overthrew, the empires of the Middle East. The armies of Islam, originally composed mainly of Bedouins, later swollen by recruits of other origins, struck northward, eastward and to the west. The Caliphs fell heir to the lands of the Hebrews, the Byzantines, the Persians and the Graeco-Buddhists. Sufis accompanied the Arab armies which conquered Spain in 711 A.D. When the Moors conquered Spain, the country was placed under a Saracen rule which endured for centuries, and a strong Sufi influence was introduced into Spain.

The first, and most powerful, classical Sufi school in Europe was founded in Spain well over a thousand years ago. The Sufi teachings spread to the region of Provence in Southern France. Here wandering Sufi troubadours assimilated to the mystical Sufi doctrine the traditions of Courtly Love, whose deity was The Lady. Through service and sacrifice to The Lady the aspirant won the prize of the Rose,-Love and Beauty. This tradition engendered extended and complicated allegories dealing with love whose emblem was the Rose.


The Sufis also reached the valley of the Indus in the East. Those political, military and religious conquests form the nucleus of the Moslem countries and communities of today, which extend from Indonesia in the Pacific to Morocco on the Atlantic.


According to George Gurdjieff, who emerged from central Asia during the early part of the 20th century with a system composed mostly of Sufi knowledge, there exists, in a mountainous area, a few days journey from Bokhara a very ancient Brotherhood (whose original existence, at another location, goes back to at least 2,500 B.C.) which possesses great knowledge, particularly about man and his paraphysical potentialities.


The name of this brotherhood (Sarmoung or Sarman) means Bee.

These are the people who collect the precious 'honey' of traditional wisdom and preserve it for future generations. Moreover, the word bee has another significance for our present study. Anyone who has ever approached a beehive knows the population of bees becomes greater the closer they approach to the hive. The population of the Sufis increases with the approach to this region in central Asia where the Brotherhood is located.


In the Sufi writers of Mystic Islam, the rose, symbol of beauty, of the generative force in universal nature, of the burning love for the divine, became the Mystic Rose which inspired the deathless longing in the heart of the mystic drawing him through all the forms of earth back toward his celestial origin. Here arose the oft repeated tale of the Nightingale (the mystic longing in the human heart) and his passionate love for the Rose (love and transcendental magnetic beauty, existing as an all powerful attractive center in the heart of deity.)


On the title page of Robert Fludd's Summum Bonum (The Highest Good), subtitled "True Magic, Cabala, Alchemy, of the True Brothers of the Rose Cross, is a curious emblem. In the center of the emblem is a picture of a huge rose with a bee in the air beside it. To the left of the rose is a spider's web, and to the right a bee hive. Over the rose in large letters is the legend "DAT ROSA MEL APIBUS", i.e. "The Rose Gives The Bees Honey." Robert Fludd was either a mask for Francis Bacon, or else they were very close. Francis Bacon was closely associated with the inception of the Rosicrucian Fraternity.


Idries Shah says there is a connection between the Sufi "Path of The Rose", and the Rosicrucian Fraternity. In the Fama Fraternity of the order of the Rosicrucians we are told that the founder of the Order became acquainted with the Wise Men of Damcar in Arabia. These "Wise Men of Damcar" could only have been the Sufis.


The fairy queen in A Midsummer Night's Dream is a character previously created by Bacon under his mask of Spenser to portray Queen Elizabeth. Unmistakable allusions to the 1575 entertainment at Kenilworth provides further evidence that the Fairy Queen in the play was Queen Elizabeth, and identifies Oberon as Leicester. This points to the "Changeling Boy" as Francis Bacon. According to tradition, in normal families there was sometimes found a baby, different from birth, a strange child with supernatural qualities.
The reason given for this was the fairy folk had substituted one of their infants and stole the human infant. The implication of the allegory in A Midsummer Night's Dream is Bacon was a "changeling", a supernatural being. It is possible this idea is related to a particular element of symbolism in The Taming of The Shrew, and in The Anatomy of Melancholy.


In the story in the Arabian Nights, which is the source for the main plot in The Taming of The Shrew, the son is taken to the palace of Harun el-Rashid. A part of the structure of this palace was the el-mudawwira (the round building) which was an alternative name for the Khidr Order. The mysterious Khidr, The Green One, from whom this order got its name is a supernatural figure who is the patron saint of the Sufis. He is the hidden guide, equated with Elias, who is referred to as the Ancient Sage, from whom many Sufis trace the chain-of-transmission of their fraternity.


Most Baconians are familiar with the symbolism of Shake-speare as Pallas Athena the Spear Shaker, but the name has another, more concealed meaning. In Syria, where the cult originated, Kidhr is equated with St. George (who is the patron saint of England).
According to Idries Shah, The Order of The Garter in England (whose patron saint is St. George) derived from the Sufi Khidr Order. Sufis have sometimes rendered Shakespeare in perfectly correct and acceptable Persian as Sheikh-Peer, "The Ancient Sage." William Shakespeare, and Miguel Cervantes, both of whom Bacon utilized as his masks, are recorded as dying on the birthday of St. George. In
the Anatomy of Melancholy, when referring to "that omniscious, only wise fraternity of the Rosie Cross" Bacon names their head as "Elias Artifex, their Theophrastian master" and then describes him as "the renewer of all arts and sciences, reformer of the world, and now living." Since, the Great Instauration, (the renewal of all arts and sciences), was Bacon's work, the implication is that Bacon himself was head of the Rosicrucian Fraternity, and that Bacon was Elias who was Kidhr, The Green One, the supernatural figure who is the hidden guide, and patron of the Sufi Orders.

The Sufis tell many stories about Kidhr. To give the flavor of these stories I will include one here:


"Once, while standing on the banks of the Oxus river, I saw a man fall in. Another man, in the clothes of a dervish, came running to help him, only to be dragged into the water himself. Suddenly a third man, dressed in a robe of shimmering, luminous green, hurled himself into the river. As he struck the surface, his form changed. He was no longer a man, but a log. The other two men managed to cling to this and get to the bank.


Hardly able to believe what I was seeing, I followed at a distance, using the bushes that grew there as a cover. The men crawled panting onto the bank, and the log floated away. I watched it until, out of sight of the two men, it drifted to the side, and the green-robed man, soaked and sodden, dragged himself ashore. The water streamed from him so quickly that before I reached him he was almost dry.

I threw myself on the ground in front of him, crying: 'You must be the Presence Khidr, the Green One, Master of Saints. Bless me, for I would attain.' I was afraid to touch his robe, because it seemed to be of green fire.


He said: 'You have seen too much. Understand that I come from another world and am, without their knowing it, protecting those who have service to perform." When I looked up, he was gone, and all I could hear was a rushing sound in the air."

One scarcely knows what to make of all this, but there still remains another shoe which has to fall. Elias was Elijah the Prophet. If we are to believe Jesus of Nazareth he was also John the Baptist. In Matthew 11:14, referring to John The Baptist,

Jesus says:

"And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come."


In the astronomical symbolism, which permeates the Gospels, John is Janus. Like Janus, John look backward toward the past, and forward toward the future. He is a relic of the old religion, and yet he is the prophet of the new dispensation of Jesus. The name of the month January is derived from Janus. It is Janus' month. Janus is the god of beginning, and January is the month which begins the year. This is also the month of the astrological sign of Aquarius. On some star maps Aquarius/Janus can be seen with his water pitcher from which flows the stream with which he was always associated. This was the stream in which John baptized Jesus.

The line of the ecliptic on these star maps cuts through the throat of John. This was the symbolism which gave rise to the story of his beheading in the Gospels. Janus has two faces, one of which looks toward the past, and the other toward the future. In adopting his device of the two faces in the plays, one of which looks toward the past, and one of which looks toward the future Bacon indicated an association not only with Janus, but with Elias as well.


Idries Shah says there are numerous Sufi elements in the Plays, that they contain not only many stories of Persian, Arabian, and other Eastern origins, but also what seems to be literal quotations from Sufi literature. From the beginning of the First Folio one notices many Sufi features. This begins with the portrait, that "horrible, hydrocephalus head", which according to Ben Jonson is made of brass. The "head of brass" has an important connotation in the Sufi tradition. In Arabic, "brass" is spelled SuFR. Pope Gerbert (Silvester II) who studied in Moorish Spain, is said to have made a head of brass, and Albertus Magnus, who was influenced by the Sufis, spent thirty years making his own marvelous brass head. Idries Shah equates this head with the Sufi ras el-fahmat (head of knowledge), which in the secret Sufi tradition means the mentation of man after undergoing refinement-the transmuted consciousness, an emblem for the purpose for which the plays were designed.


Just as Sufi works are coded with a special number, the Plays are also coded with a special number. The number with which the Plays are coded is 287. The number with which the Arabian Nights was coded is 267. The 267 coding of the Arabian Nights implies "Mother of Records." I suspect that the number associated with the Plays also has some significant meaning which relates to the basic content of the Plays.


Another feature at the beginning of the Plays in the First Folio is the Archer Emblem with the bunches of grapes. In Edward Fitzgerald's rendering of the Rubaiyat of the Sufi Omar Khayyam we see constant references to "wine" and to the "grape":


And lately, by the Tavern Door agape, Came shining through the Dusk an Angel Shape Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder, and He bid me taste of it; and 'twas-the Grape!"


The use by the Sufis of the symbols of "wine", "the grape", and "The Drunken Men" all refer to their experiences in certain higher states of consciousness where they have experienced a condition which has some similarities to intoxication, of the divine influx, like a fire into the brain. After Pascal died a servant found a folded parchement which had been sewed into the cloth of his doublet. The parchement began with the words:


"The year of grace 1654, Monday, 23 November, day of St. Clement, Pope and Martyr. From about half-past ten in the evening until about half-past twelve, midnight, FIRE,"
 and was a record of a higher state of the consciousness which Pascal had experienced and which had a profound effect on him.
The Sufi doctrine of love is seen throughout the plays. The Rose is connected with this doctrine. In the sonnets we read:


For nothing in this wide universe I call Save thou, my rose; in it thou art my all.


The Rose was closely allied with the doctrine of love which was very important in the traditions of the Sufis. Their number included many poets who espoused this doctrine. The Sufis used special measures in their written word. They said that an idea would enter the conditioned (veiled) mind only if it is was phrased as to be able to bypass the screen of conditionings of the outer mind. Both the Book, "All And Everything" by George Gurdjieff and the Plays are constructed in this manner.


The fact that the non-Sufi has so little in common with the in every human being, and which are not entirely killed by any form of conditioning. These elements are precisely those which underlie the Sufi development. Of these the first and permanent one is love. According to the Sufis, love is the factor which is to carry man, and all humanity, to fulfillment.


One of the most basic ideas of the Sufis is that man is asleep in this world. He experiences only illusion instead of reality, because is caught up in a vast waking dream. His whole life is a dream.


In order to approach the Sufi Way, the Seeker must realize that he is a bundle of what are nowadays called conditionings,- associative thinking, which is a completely automative process fed by outside stimuli. This realization can be arrived at by the use of those disciplines which have been tradtionally used in the West, and which are called Introspection and Retrospection. If these disciplines are followed long enough one reaches the point where one has strengthened the retrospective memory sufficiently that one can be aware of and follow the inner stream of thought. One can then arrive at a realization of the completely automatic process at its basis. For example, you are riding along on a bus and think of someone you have not thought of for years. You trace the stream of your thought backwards and see that you passed a billboard which had something on it that started the stream of thought which eventually led you to think of that particular person.


Let me give an example so this will be clearer. Some years ago I was driving home from where I worked in Washington, D.C. I was listening to the radio as I drove. Every few minutes the music would be interrupted to give an advertisement for a sports supply store near Baltimore. In this advertisement the phrase "Backrack Raissonne on the Beltway" was frequently repeated.


I drove home, and when I got there I sit down to read a book. After I read for awhile I got up to get a glass of milk. Just as I reached in the refrigerator to get the carton of milk the phrase "Backrack Raissonne on the Beltway" flashed into my mind. I didn't give it any thought. I poured my milk and sit down to read again. After awhile I decided I wanted another glass of milk. I went to the refrigerator, and reached in again for the carton of milk. The phrase "Backrack Raisonne on the Beltway" flashed into my mind again. That this had happened twice just as I reached into the refrigerator for the milk carton was too curious to ignore. I stopped to analyze the situation, and I saw immediately what had happened.


The carton of milk was sitting on the BACK of the RACK in the refrigerator. The mechanical associative functioning of the conscious mind, plus its pre-programming by the repeated hearing of the phrase on the radio advertisement, added to the act of seeing the carton of milk on the back of the rack in the refrigerator had been sufficient to trigger the phrase twice almost as if it had been a post hypnotic suggestion. The automatic, associative functioning of our mind works in this fashion all the time. We are machines, although normally the light of our consciousness is so dim we are not aware of this automatic associative process which takes place hundreds of times each day.


The letters on this page are another example. Try to look at them and see merely the characters without being aware of the associated letters and the words. From years of reading, the automatic associative process has been programmed into your mind. It is now extremely difficult for you to penetrate behind this screen of conditioning to the state of pure perception. Your mind during all of your daily life is trapped in an analogous associative thinking web like a fly caught in flypaper. This prevents your mind from operating in what should be its natural state, the state of pure perception. The mind of children normally operate in the state of pure perceptions until they are six or seven. At this point a number of pernicious factors kick in (the main one being our education system) which operate to degrade the consciousness into the travesty found in adults.


The main character in the main plot of the play is Christopher Sly. In the First Folio Sly is a beggar, which further identifies him as a Sufi. In the famous poem by the Turkish Sufi, Mohammed Fasli, The Rose and The Nightingale, the Nightingale is a beggar, a wanderer whom the Rose has claimed for her slave. The Sufi is often depicted as a beggar at the door of love. In modern editions of the Play the references to the beggar has been expunged. This is one of many instances where modern editors through their lack of understanding of the Plays have deleted important portions of them.


The name of "Sly" also identifies the character as a Sufi. The way of the Sufi is sometimes called the way of the "sly man". The "sly man" has special knowledge which the fakir, monk, and yogi do not have, because a special chain-of-transmission has given him this knowledge. The "sly man" has special secrets which enable him to outstrip the fakir, the monk, and the yogi.


One of the first things Sly says in the play is:


".......the Slys are no rogues.|
Look at the Chronicles; we came in with Richard Conqueror."


The "experts" are eager to tell us this was Sly's error for William the Conqueror. However, it is quite likely that Sufis came to England along with the armies of Richard the Lion Hearted when they returned from the wars with the Saracens. The Knights Templar were associated with the Sufis and were well established in London by the first half of the 12th century. A part of the structure of Al-Rashid's palace, to which the son was taken in the Arabian Night's story, was the el-mudawwira (the round building) which was an alternative name for the Khidr Order. It is significant that the Knight's Templar temples were round buildings, built on the design of the Khidr Order. The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem| appear to have been connected with the Knights Templar and with Sufism. There is evidence that, over an extended period of time, Bacon met with members of his Secret Society in Canonbury Tower, a part of the complex of buildings which belonged to The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. This was also a round building. Jean Overton Fuller says, "At first sight there seems to be no way in. A rounded, high, old wall wraps itself round much of it."


In the play we see Kathrina and Petruchio riding double on the horse when they return from the wedding. This parallels the Knights Templar legend where, when they began, they were so poor Hugues de Payens had to ride double on his horse. The Knights Templar were also known as the Red Knights because of the big red cross worn on the shoulders of their mantles. The first traces of Rosicrucian thought may be found in the story of The Red Cross Knight in the Fairy Queen.


Sly is also identified as a Sufi because he is a drunken man. The Sufis are known as the "Drunken Men." In the drama the "Sly" man is looking within at his own inner consciousness. When he views Petruchio he is viewing himself, and one should expect something in the allegory which identifies "Sly" with Petruchio. Bacon does this in his usual brilliant fashion, bringing in an allusion to his compass dial at the same time he has Grumio refer to Petruchio:


GRUMIO: Nay, 'tis no matter, sir, what he ledges in Latin. If this be not a lawful cause for me to leave his service - look you, sir: he bid me knock him and rap him soundly, sir. Well, was it fit for a servant to use his master so, being perhaps, for aught I see, two and thirty, a pip out?


A "pip" out means the number is one and thirty. John Ray's Collection of English Proverbs (1678) says that to refer to someone as "one and thirty" is to imply they are a drunkard. So Petruchio is equated with Sly because they are both "drunken men."


What, exactly, is implied in the allegory of the son in the Arabian Nights tale, being set up as Caliph, and Sly in The Taming of the Shrew being put in the role of The Lord of Mansion? The answer is pretty obvious if one thinks about it. One of Bacon's friends, Sir Edward Dyer, gave the answer in the name of one of his poems: My Mind to Me A Kingdom Is. Each man is a Caliph, or Lord, in domain of the inner world of his own mind.


The Lord in the play who finds the "drunken" Sly "asleep" is the Sufi Master or Sheik who causes the Sufi to look within himself at the drama taking place there, but Sly becomes that Lord in the process of beginning his introspection. The automatic, associative process controls the mind, and must be "tamed". This is symbolized in the person of Katherina the Shrew. The word Shrew has an interesting orgin. In old english it was schrewe,-a maliciousperson; but its ultimate origin was from the even older german word schrouwel which meant devil. This word is used repeatedly to describe Katherina in the play. And, since the state of consciousness describes the man, the word is also used repeatedly to describe Petruchio.


In the special language of the Sufis "angel" and "devil" refer to particular states of consciousness. Angel referred to revelatory states of consciousness; devil to the automatic, associative, formatory consciousness, which keeps us vassals to sleep, and to our waking dreams, and illusion. The Sufi must find some way to "tame" this "associative process" which is always active and controls our mind. We experience joy and sorrow not at our will, but involuntarily through the automatic associative process.


Gurdjieff tells a story in which the Sly man makes a deal with the devil. In return for the devil telling him how to make souls, the sly man gave the devil a sign to show which people have souls made by him, but the sly man had made a plan to deceive the devil at the same time he made a deal with the devil. The Sly man realizes there are things which cannot be accomplished directly. There are situations that are so difficult that one cannot go straight, it is necessary to be "sly".


In the introductory chapter of "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" Gurdjieff describes how before his Grandmother died she told him "In life never do as others do." and how from this point he began to do just the opposite of what would be the normal manifestation in any situation. In this allegory the Grandmother represents traditional knowledge passed down through the chain-of- transmission. The same idea is expressed in the play by filling the plot with traditional beliefs and superstitions, folk wisdom, proverbs and snatches of popular ballads. Bacon expresses the idea of going opposite to what would be one's normal inclination in his essay, "Of Nature in Men" when he says, ""Neither is the ancient rule amiss, to bend nature, as a wand, to a contrary extreme, whereby to set it right..." The idea is that, to counter the control of the automatic, associative, inner consciousness, one must always react just opposite to the way one would normally react in any situation. If one feels like laughing, one must cry. If the situation calls for solemn decorum one acts exactly as Gurdjieff did at his Grandmother's funeral. If this practice is followed long enough the hold the automatic, associative thinking has on the mind can be nullified. It is apparent in the play that Petruchio is applying the same principle when, referring to Katherina he says:


" I'll attend her here-
And woo her with some spirit when she comes!
Say that she rail, why then I'll tell her plain
She sings as sweetly as a nightingale.
Say that she frown, I'll say she looks as clear
As morning roses newly washed with dew.
Say she be mute and will not speak a word,
Then I'll commend her volubility
And say she uttereth piercing eloquence.
If she do bid me pack, I'll give her thanks
As though she bid me stay by her a week.
If she deny to wed, I'll crave the day
When I shall ask the banns, and when be married."


The characters in the subplot represent the various aspect of an individual's being. Baptista makes it a condition that Katherina must be married before Bianca can be married. Katherina and Bianca represent states of consciousness. Katherina is the recalcitrant, automative, associative state of consciousness. Bianca is the higher state of consciousness with which there can only be a union after the lower state of consciousness has been dealt with. The name Katherina means "pure". The name Bianca means "white". The state of consciousness symbolized by Katherina must be brought into its "pure" state, which is designated by the name before there canbe contact with Bianca whose name "white" apparently signifies that inner light often seen in higher states of consciousness.


An analogy often seen in books on meditation is that the mind is like a pool filled with muddy water. One must employ stillness so as to not stir it up even more, and wait for the silt to settle so it is brought into its pure state. The lower consciousness in its habitual, untamed state, imprisons, or ties up the higher consciousness, just as Katherina is depicted doing to Bianca in the Play. But, when the Katherina consciousness has been tamed, it can actually be sent to bring back the higher consciousness, as we see at the end of the play. Bianca has three suitors, which symbolize the threefold nature of man as suitor for the higher consciousness.


It should be noted also that the allegory of the Taming of The Shrew is subject to two interpretations. The subject can be the recalcitrant automative, associative thinking process, which is a specific matter, or it can be the more general matter of dealing with the "devil", i.e. the evil which exists in the world.


This brings to the fore a peculiar aspect of the subject which scholars have grappled with from time to time. Their enquiry has been complicated by the existence of two closely related plays: "The Taming of the Shrew", printed in the Shakespeare First Folio of 1623, and "The Taming of a Shrew", a different version whose connection with the Folio play has been a great puzzle to the people who have studied the play. If they had understood the play enough to see that it was subject to two interpretations, and that one was a particular interpretation, dealing with the specific "devil" of the human consciousness, and that the other was a general interpretation, dealing with the "devil" and the presence of evil in the world, then they might not have remained "clueless"|as to the reason for the existence of two different versions of the play: "a Shrew" and "The Shrew."




In the first 32 speeches of the play we see Sly falling into a state of sleep. Which is, according to the Sufis, the normal state of men in this world. This is the particular which is the subject of the enquiry of his discovery device, the face looking toward the future. The form of this particular is shown to be the "Shrew" which continually assumes an unwarranted control of our inner world. The remedy is to "Tame the Shrew."



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 - Sir Francis Bacon's New Advancement of Learning