by Muhammad Nezhmi
THE Thirty-year-old si‘ Smit’, er, Smeeth had gotten himself into a rage because, he said, I was “a fake Sufi.” It seems he was disappointed when I said I didn’t know anything to tell him that would give him some sort of highly fictive-sounding “inner power” to deal with some longstanding family-troubles on his pending return from Morocco to America. All I did, he said, was “talk common sense!” Flabbergasted by this last especially, but mildly anyway (I hoped!), I asked where he’d gotten the idea anyway that I was a Sufi in the first place?
Si‘ Smit’, er, Smeeth now was flabbergasted in his turn:
“Why right from the start, when I asked you if you’d ever heard of him, you said you knew who Idries Shah was and that he had lots to offer the sincere student of inner truth….”
“Ah,” I said, “there we have it — YOU and some of the other [Peace Corps — ERS] volunteers made a Berber wizard for yourselves out of some hashish and the innocent endorser of a book….”
Si‘ Smit’, er, Smeeth did me the favor of looking abashed, and I could see he was perfectly aware — all in an instant — of how silly he seemed with his projection onto me of a fantasy of “secret spiritual knowledge.” Because of that circumstance of saving abashment, and for no other reason, I was able to continue:
“AS To whether I am real, or ‘fake’ as you put it, or any kind of Sufi at all is frankly not something you are capable of deciding at this time, si‘ Smit’, er, Smeeth. In fact the only sort of Sufis YOU could possibly come up with right now in your life necessarily HAVE to be the fake ones. I’ve seen you climbing into the buses to the mountain whorehouses to smoke more of this hashish on the weekends. So even if I am that apparently worst of all beings myself, namely a faker, I would have to frustrate you further by saying, so what? No harm in any of these accusations — least of all if true!”
Si‘ Smit’, er, Smeeth fairly spluttered with (embarrassed!) indignation.
“Holy Christ!” he blurted. “Only think of all the fools who are being cheated and deceived if (he was polite enough to stick in here “for example”) you are a hoax!”
(“Name one,” I murmured, but si‘ Smit’, er, Smeeth was going on too loudly to hear me.)
“And what about all the people who are suspicious to begin with — this kind of thing would only confirm their worst fears….”
“IF I am this humbug you now are intent on having me become,” I interrupted:
“NOW Listen! In the Sufi work even the fakers such as myself — have it your own way! — serve that work just because they amuse and distract the really awful pickleheads and so keep these self-deluded characters AWAY from the real people. As to the ‘suspicious’ personalities you mentioned, suspiciousness is something that cannot be helped as such and these folk simply have to work that sort of thing out of their system, if necessary finding one trickster after another and getting took repeatedly until they, the suspicious ones, really stop being cynical, at which point the con-artists automatically simply cease coming around. Real sincerity effectively makes people invisible to that sort of exploiter.
“And finally as to personal power in for example personal relationships the only way to get that is to HAVE relationships and try to learn clearly, and once and for all, what is your ‘fault’ and what is the other person’s — and, in the end, in this world of momentary light and dark to get it into your head that all blame is a great big waste of time.”
ANYWAY, si‘ Smit’, er, Smeeth and I parted friendly-like, Amin.
[Emmett R Smith
[all transcription rights reserved
[20 August 2006]