Excerpts from: J.G. Bennett, Witness, The Story of a Search.
London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1962. Chapter 24.
I must return to March 1955, when I received an invitation from Paul Beidler, an American architect and former pupil of Gurdjieff, to visit him and his wife Margaret in Baghdad where he was stationed. By then, my wife had recovered sufficiently to make it safe to leave her for a short trip to the East. I decided to go for a fortnight with Elizabeth Howard, profiting by cheap excursion tickets available via Cyprus.
We left by night on 11 May, expecting to arrive in Cyprus in the early morning, but were diverted to Benghazi where, for a few hours, we tasted the sights and sounds and smells of Africa. We did not reach Cyprus till evening and had barely time to transfer to a plane for Beirut. We were met by friends, Ronimund von Bissing and his wife. They told me that a Turkish dervish had been waiting all day to give me a message. I spoke to the young man, who asked me to visit his murshid, Sheikh Abdullah Daghestani, who lived in the Kurdish quarter of Damascus. I said that it would not be possible, as we were to leave early in the morning for Baghdad. He did not insist but said that the sheikh would expect to see me.
At this point Paul Beidler, who had been speaking animatedly in Arabic to two of the dervishes, came up to us and said that he had been told that there was in the village a dervish tekke of the Djellalis, that is, the Order of the Perfectionists. I asked Ahmad Tebrizi's opinion, and he said: "These brotherhoods are good. They call constantly upon the name of God. In my opinion such practices are unnecessary, for God's angels constantly watch over us and they know the secrets of our heart. Nevertheless I advise you to go and visit them. You will see for yourself who and what they are."
When we reached Cyprus, we unexpectedly met Rodney Collin-Smith and his wife. They had made a quick journey in the Near East, impelled it seems by much the same need as mine, to find evidence that the ancient traditional wisdom had not been lost.
The Endless Search © 2004 Ian C. MacFarlane