Having known Doctor Dahesh personally for more than twenty years, and being an avowed Daheshist heart and soul, I thought it might be helpful to the reader were I to proffer my own input on the mystery of Doctor Dahesh, hoping that it will help him or her decide what to make of Doctor Dahesh. And since it is his book “Words” that is in question here, I thought it better to use his own words to speak of him, knowing that no one knew Dahesh the way he did. I must admit though, right from the start: Dahesh was an unusual man, and this stems from the fact that he was endowed with a spiritual entity so difficult to believe, on account it is so incredible! But what do you do when that incredible knocks at your door?! As far as I am concerned, I came to terms with that incredible long time ago—in fact, from the first time I met him in person, in 1968. But regardless of what I personally believe, Dahesh is a mystery, whether we want to admit it or not, and that’s how he was viewed by those who knew him as well as those who didn’t, the degree of the mystery being contingent on how close they were to him, and how privy they were of his persona.
A word of caution here!
No one of those who were close to him will tell you in total honesty that they knew Doctor Dahesh “well”; for although they were fully part of his life, there was a part of his life they were never part of, simply because it was out of the reach of any mind and heart, so supernal it was! That’s why whenever we were in his presence, there was always an aura of profound reverence which kept in check any familiarity that might sneak up on us, being that he always made us feel at home. Mind you, this reverence was not an amenity mandated by Doctor Dahesh himself, since he was always very accommodating, affable to the extreme, and down to earth. No, we simply felt it proper, if not due, to act as such. It was just a natural feeling which we seem to have acquired the moment we understood what he stood for, and it kept growing deep in our heart the further we were given to be at his side. And that self-imposed reverence toward his persona, in spite of the genuine closeness felt on both sides, compels me to say that Dahesh shall always remain a mystery, but oh how rewarding it is to try to fathom that mystery! Take it from someone who never stopped trying, for in it is ensconced his true life.
Doctor Dahesh was an autodidact and he had two side-interests—say rather, side-loves: Books and Art in its multiform. His assiduity to reading was unequaled, as he said it in his book “Words”:
I love books the love of winebibbers for wine, but the more I quaff of them the soberer I become.
In fact, he loved Books so dearly that he made the following request:
When my heart ceases to beat,
And my body is laid to rest in its dreary silent pit,
I would like armies of clamoring books to accompany me
Wrapped round my body, reclined thus in its empty, cold, forgotten pit.
For the book was my best friend in life, and I wish to have him accompany me in death.
Doctor Dahesh spoke only Arabic—by personal choice—and wrote more than 150 books, none of them philosophy books, and that’s no wonder if we take into consideration what he thought of the so-called “philosophers”:
How awesome is this Universe, how profound is the secret of the stars, and how helpless we are in perceiving the mystery of the firmament! Rather, how stupid we are when we allocate to some people the epithet of “philosopher”! Oh what a disgrace and how shameful!
The scope of these books ranges from poetry, to epic and biblical stories, to short stories, to what we call black-books , to prayers and psalms, to even travel books wherein he relates his many voyages around the world, together with his impressions regarding the many places he visited. Frankly, that scope is too broad for me to tackle here, but that much I can say: Doctor Dahesh rarely talks about himself in his books. That fact is also true whenever he was in the presence of people, Daheshists and non-Daheshists alike. Hence the importance of this book “Words” in particular. In it Doctor Dahesh not only reveals what he thought and felt anent every aspect linked to man and life in general, but he also deigns to make us privy of the different inner feelings that were induced by some momentous episodes he lived through at a particular phase of his life, a rare treat if you ask me—something Prophets rarely do!
Now who finds mystery in a personality is bound to find some paradox there too, and Doctor Dahesh was no exception. Actually he was not only a paradox, but an enigma too for those who knew him personally and those who didn’t. Doctor Dahesh gives us a taste of this trait of his in the change of mood he expounds in the following lines:
Ah me! I have no hopes in this life. They have withered, died out, and vanished. They grow and flourish, but they embalm no more the air with their lost perfume. Oh how disappointed I am of this miserable wretched life! Ah to man! How hard he is and how cruel! Oh to these pains! They melt me with a small fire and leave me with a torn apart soul that wails the worsening of my lot, the embittering of my misfortune, and the scheming of destiny upon my entity, which is on the verge of being destroyed and torn down! The leaflet of my past has folded and I cannot unfold it after this day.
But no, I am mighty strong, I am endowed with strength and might, and the events cannot triumph over me or subdue me to their will. They shall never succeed in killing what throng in my spirit of urges that are dying to be freed from their chains. Never! I shall never desist from attaining my goals and reaching what I was made for, till I get what I want sooner or later. I shall crush whatever stand in my way of scheming hindrances. I shall mock man, Nature and Destiny, and I shall fulfill my hopes and make my dreams come true with life’s nose into dust.
When the Palestinian writer, Ahmed Khalil Al-Akkad, exclaimed unwittingly in the piece he wrote in “Studies and Opinions”: “Oh God, Doctor Dahesh’s personality has changed, so too his feelings and tendencies. He has become vindictive, rebellious against this existence, people, friends, woman, even against himself too,” he was only voicing out his stupefaction toward a man he thought he knew “well.” Indeed, Doctor Dahesh was an unfathomable paradox, the paradox of Dahesh the Prophet versus Dahesh the Man: two entities bound together by a spiritual entity that answers to no human accountability and is regulated by no human jurisdiction, if I may call it so for lack of a better term, since it does not fall within the ambit of our world; therefore, the difficulty of accepting such a phenomenon in a man, any man. These two entities are inseparable, though not actuated by one another. They feed on each other’s strength and poise and they shore each other for one purpose and one purpose only: sing the Glory of God through their deeds. But in that song lies our redemption and our hope for a better-be; and no one knows how much we are in need of redemption like the One who sends us those rare Princes of the Spiritual to help us see the truth and lead us toward a better life.
If anything, this “spiritual entity” in Doctor Dahesh made him an out-of-the-ordinary man. This was the viewpoint of all who knew him or heard about him. It goes without saying that Doctor Dahesh was aware of the spiritual power bestowed upon him, as he said it in the following lines and many others throughout his book “Words”:
I feel that I possess deep inside of me a hidden awesome spiritual power that yearns to get out, in order to perform a momentous great deed; but I hold her back to a determined time, and not long will pass before her sources burst out in the open and dash whatever stand in her way of obstacles and hindrances, only to reveal herself to the eyes in a clear distinct way with no ambiguity or vagueness.
He was also aware of the difficulty of his task:
Sundry a sect, so many a creed, point of view and belief that they cannot be counted, and all of them are mistaken in the eye of truth and righteousness.
And his fate:
I think the events will keep going against me throughout the days of my life till I die.
His worst fear was that he would not be able to complete the sacred Mission he was sent for:
What I dread most is the passing of time, turning into years, and I am as I am, unable to fulfill any of the hopes rushing upon me and the great deeds roaming my head! Should I then tread on the reasons hindering me, and show myself to the world that all may witness upon my hands deeds that the books will immortalize in their loins, ever to be remembered and heeded?
Though he was sure that “things” will pan out in time:
O ye insolent envious, not long shall pass before you witness with the eye of amazement the great deeds that I can accomplish. Thereon you will despise yourselves and your personas will dwindle right in front of you till they cease to exist and become at the mercy of nonentity.
As to the outcome of his nisus, he was sure of it too:
Victory is inevitable however long the scorn of Destiny lasts.
The way he was sure he would not be here to witness it:
When the sun of my life sets, they will then speak of my marvels and miracles.
And by “they” he doesn’t mean the few Daheshists who believed in him right from the start. And knowing what I know of Doctor Dahesh, and having personally witnessed many of his spiritual manifestations, I have no doubt that this will happen, and sooner than people think.
Doctor Dahesh always wrote in a simple concise style, mindful more of the marrow than the lyrical form. His eloquence was innate rather than sought-after: it just flowed naturally. It is “a hard-to-emulate simple style,” as Mr. Kalagy points out in his “Studies and Opinions” section. His words are plain, explicit, and simple, and they lend themselves to no interpretation, nor do they commit themselves to any justification. Granted, some of them might need some sugar-coating to make them easier to swallow, especially when a pronounced dislike for bitter truth governs our taste buds. I say this because some of his words are so blatant that they slap us in the face¾literally! But it is the kind of slaps we get when we lose conscience, and they are administered¾as a last resort, mind you!¾to bring us back to our senses and reanimate true life in us. For that’s exactly Doctor Dahesh’s aim: bring us back to our senses, good-senses, by exposing us to our truth. It is a kind of shock-therapy, if you will. One thing I am certain, though: Doctor Dahesh did not write those hard passages I am referring to, in order to “play” the role of the rebel with a cause, or the one of a moralist; no, he wrote them because “he had to”; and I am sure that, like Martin Luther, he too must have said to himself: ‘I must act as such—God help me!’ The question is, are we able to recognize the voice of downright wisdom when we have been living in a status quo of mendacity, as he points out repeatedly? Everybody lies and everybody is happy, so why should we mind as long as no one gets hurt? Not in the eyes of Doctor Dahesh, though:
We human species deserve all the misfortunes we are stricken with, whatever their kind. For mendacity has invaded our spirits, and calumny is an inseparable part of us; treachery dwells snugly in our hearts and mortal greed is flourishing in our loins, ugly conceitedness has set camp with its armies in our quarters, and hypocrisy, with its sibling and its slyness, have settled down in the most favored place in our bosom! Wherefore then, do we grumble when disaster and calamity swoop down on us since these are our whishes in life?!
The trouble with us is that we keep looking at the glass of our life as half-empty or half-full when prophets are telling us, “What matters if your glass is half-empty or half-full when its content is naught but vanity upon vanity?” We keep looking at appearances, and they are looking into our marrow. I know: nobody likes to hear bashing criticism, but someone has to do it, someone of Doctor Dahesh’s caliber, of course, to give weight to what is being said—that is, if we really care to listen to the voice of reason and wisdom. But who would listen to the voice of reason and wisdom when it doesn’t serve our proper and immediate interest? In fact, we are more likely to be mad at people like Doctor Dahesh for ruining things for us: aren’t they calling for the demolition of all the orders that took us painstaking ages and ages to establish—and agree upon—and build new ones on their ruins? How could they deem these orders—which we consider indispensable for our survival—a threat for our survival? The nerves!! Establish a New Order? Leave our cozy village and all the good memories we garnered along the years, and rebuild a sturdier new village, far from the inundation zone? How dare he? Yes indeed, how dare he tell us that all the values we are living by are nothing but a sham? How dare he say that “the philosophy of the world is a shaky philosophy” and that when it comes to religious beliefs we are all “groping in ignorance and wading through a sea of intolerance that is bound to sweep us all…”—with no exception? How dare he refuse to cajole us into believing that everything is honky-dory in our life? Well, it is neither in his nature nor in his modus operandi, as he clearly stated throughout his words. He would rather confront us with a hurtful truth, even if it means alienating himself from us completely. Isn’t that the proper of prophets? And knowing how recalcitrant we are when it comes to listening to the voice of reason—spiritual reason, mind you—Doctor Dahesh surprises us, if not shocks us, with a totally unexpected reaction—unexpected, that is, from a spiritual man who is proverbially supposed to guide us and save us, even from our own self. Who today, when thinking about Jesus Christ, doesn’t see Him as the epitome of self-sacrifice and forgiveness? But what about His “rebellious” side—rebellious, that is, against the pitiful state man has dragged himself into through the ages? Whether we care to acknowledge it or not, Jesus was also a “revolutionary” man—that is if we care to look at Him in His truth.Doctor Dahesh sings the redeemer of mankind in those words:
To the Redeemer of Mankind [written in December 25, 1942]
O Lord Christ!
O Lord of eternal glory and never-ending Love!
O Messiah of God and His supernal Word!
O Quintessence of Purity and fountain of clarity!
O You who sacrificed His immaculate blood in martyrdom to save us!
O You who suffered so much for our sake and loved us the whole love!
O You whose name the Universe praises, and whose shadow the angels in Heaven sing!
O Lord of the pure souls and Father of the virtuous spirits!
O You who taught us righteousness and implanted in our spirits the seeds of faithfulness!
O You who sacrificed everything to deserve Eternal happiness!
O You whose path was a beacon for us to keep us from stumbling!
O You who was chased by lewd priests and criminal prelates!
O You who called in the Desert of this World and the Universe reverberated His echo!
O You the renown of whose teachings spread through all the Worlds, the known of them and the unknown!
O You whose pure words were acclaimed in the Eastern parts of the earth and its Western!
O You who rescued us from the precipice of crime and sin, and averted from us the darkness of horrible death!
O You whose truthful teachings led us to the Eternal Divine Fountains!
O You whose name the Universes exalt and whose parables the planets repeat!
O You who folded the Old Covenant and spread the New Covenant!
O You who agonized on the Cross for our sake, with a glow on His brow and a smile gilding His mouth!
O You who redeemed us with the fountain of His guiltless ruddy blood!
O You for whom our sores yearn, once we leave our forlorn ephemeral world!
O You whom we implore to send us a sparkle of His Divine lights,
To guide our footsteps toward the road of light, truth, and certainty,
That we may be happy at the end of our life of so short a span,
And evolve to enchanting lofty worlds,
There to live beneath the shadow of Christ the Redeemer,
Singing with the immaculate Angels,
Chanting the chants of rapture and delight upon the lyre,
And from those up-high places overflowing encompassing happiness,
We forget those tears and sadness we left behind
In the world of wickedness all fraught with miseries and sorrows!
But he also praises him as a “rebellious Spirit” with these words:
Circa two thousand years ago, Lord Christ proclaimed His sweeping revolution against the corrupt orders; a mighty shriek that the Lord of the Noble Revolution uttered to shatter the chains of iniquity and fetters of oppression, and rend free the shackles of dominion and servitude! He despaired none, retreated none; rather, He took it upon Himself to attack the Caesar of Rome, in the person of Herod, the tyrant of Palestine, where the Son of Heaven grew up and flourished.
Dahesh looked at our world with the eye of a divine witness, and he didn’t mince his words when he decried the unjust and cruel orders prevailing therein:
O powerful leaders, I saw you take advantage of the weak, then I saw you gull each other before gulling those who deem themselves weak.
Cain, Cain! Where is your brother Abel, O Cain?!…
O men of law and justice, your laws are one of the mockeries of this world and its ridicules. For laws are not laws if they are enforced only on the weak and poor and not on the powerful and rich. You force the free to feed herself from her own breast then you bring her to justice. He that steels a loaf of bread, you throw him in the gloom of prison; whereas he that steals the thousands, you share with him the spoil, distributing it among yourselves. Oh, what a disgrace!
We keep looking at our prophets through a reality we are comfortable with, when they keep looking at us through the realities we are living with. So, it should come as no surprise when Daheshthrows up his hands in utter despair and utter those damnatory words: they are our realities, whether we care to acknowledge them or not.
Indeed, Dahesh must have been really disheartened by what he saw, heard, and felt to voice out those words and leave them as an indelible testimonial of his passage on Earth. And to think that he tried his utmost to awake us to our sad reality and warn us of our impending demise, should we not heed this last call to reason! I don’t deny it: his “enlightening” methods are rather unorthodox, and the more endowed we are with a “delicate” soul reared on “good etiquette,” the more likely we are to deem that his manners leave a lot to be desired! But Dahesh did not come to win popularity contests, or tickle-happy our acceptance, or coax us into complying. No, his aim is much more supernal, and his words, miracles, and deeds more than proved it. Oh, he longed to have us rally to his call:
If only people would listen to the prophets’ exhortations whose aim are to break us loose from the bondage of this life filled with iniquity!
Dahesh came to tell us the truth … our truth, and beating around the bush is not the proper of prophets! Thus, he first announces,
I came from the world of truth naked, because truth needs not to cover itself with secrecy.
Then he proceeds to lay us bare of all our lies, illusions, pretenses, idiosyncrasies, abeyant complacency—individual and collective, and vainglories, but to reveal to us what is hidden in reality deep inside of us, unveiled to him—to our detriment, alas, judging from the effect it had on him:
Sometimes things are unveiled to me that kill in me the feeling of compassion toward this fallen humanity.
The trouble with us is that we don’t like to hear the truth, we would rather hear a truth that we like; and this sad propensity of ours we more than proved it time and time again along the ages, by persecuting every prophet and man of light who came to enlighten us. Dahesh was no exception, and he knew it. That is why he uttered those heart-wrenching words:
God bless it not that hour in which I opened my eyes but to find myself in a place they call “World.”
It is utter madness to burn yourself so that you enlighten the path for others.
I am the son of grief, sadness, and pain, and a close friend to misery, anxiety, and melancholy!
I am a lonely bird with broken wings, and I have no one to tend me.
O beautiful Death, make me one of your victims so that you rescue me from the sons of this damned Earth.
But he uttered those words in response to the inhumane way his persecutors (mostly the Lebanese Government under Bechara el-Khoury) treated him. That’s why it is meet that we read his revolt and despondency in the context he wrote them. For Dahesh is all love! And his love is not only beyond measure, but it cannot be matched too, since it emanates from a divine and pure heart… the kind only God’s Protégés are endowed with. What is also proper of these Protégés is their self-assurance, and this nature is a prominent trait in Doctor Dahesh—to an exasperating point, especially when he speaks about the principles and values that man ought to uphold, and when he lays claim to his God-given sacred human rights, a right given to all men without exception:
I am a man of explicit right, clear as the sun in broad daylight, and if I insist on demanding my preyed-upon freedom, it is because God bestowed this celestial boon upon us. Hence, I shall never ever let any creature subjugate it.
Had my stormy rebellion against my enemies not been right, I would have listened to whoever wanted to discuss with me or debate me. But I am a man of legitimate right, preyed upon by opportunistic and iniquitous rulers. That’s why I refuse to compromise my stand and convictions. And I will remain in my unwavering fierce offensive this, till I wrest back my usurped right and regain my taken-by-force freedom.
So, if some “law abiding rulers” depict a certain “civil disobedience” in those lines … so be it. To fight for one’s rights is the proper of great men of integrity and principles, and Doctor Dahesh had to fight alone a whole nation—with its governors, Medias, and people—who wanted to silence him and make him disappear for good. Thus, if now and then we depict some arrogance and irony in the tone of his voice, it is only fair that we view them in light of what provoked them: for Dahesh was but paying back Cesar with his own currency. Oh yes, Dahesh didn’t flinch despite all the acrimony thrown his way. Furthermore, he was certain of his victory, as he said it in those concise words:
When will you bow your head in reverence to me, O Destiny?
But Dahesh also knew what his role in life was:
I long to go to the haven of the aggrieved and tired ones to bring them the good tidings of those mansions where the merry and laughing ones abound!
And he knew it since his childhood:
How sweet is that vision that kept abreast with me since my tender age, and how difficult is its fulfillment!
His hope was sublime: (To be followed soon …)
 Blacks-books are a series of “revealing” pamphlets wherein Doctor Dahesh exposes in a virulent style the ignominy of the governmental personalities who persecuted him iniquitously, banished him, and stripped him of his Lebanese citizenship, simply because they did not like his ideas.
READ MORE from JOSEPH H. CHAKKOUR
Dahesh through his own words
Dahesh sings America
Daheshism in a Bird’s Eye view
Letter from Dahesh to his Attorney Noon
Open letter to Jesus
Copyright © 2009 Georges H. Chakkour – Tous droits réservés