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  • Introduction, thoughts and questions

    Dear All,

    A couple of months ago, while surfing the web, I stumbled upon an ad for Joseph Henry Chakkour's 600 pages book called Reflections on my life before and after Dahesh.

    The name Dahesh spoke to me even though I did not know much about him. All I know is that my grandfather knew Dahesh well in the 1950's and used to visit him often. I do not think that he was a Daheshist but I know that he held Dahesh in very high esteem.

    So my curiosity was stirred when I found out that there were still Daheshists out there and I started reading everything I could find about Dahesh and daheshism.

    I registered on this forum a few weeks ago and read all the posts.

    I read the various websites, as well as Salim Umbargi's book.

    I read the Chakkour brothers books, and got to know everything about Dahesh, as well as funny stories about Collège de la Salle and Frère Ferdinand.

    I also read all the articles about the Museum that appeared in the US press.

    I still have a lot of questions to ask and I'll be doing so in the appropriate threads in the coming days.

    If you don't mind, I'll start by giving you the opinion of a (sympathetic) outsider who has been following your debates and reading your material :

    1) The Dahesh story is absolutely fascinating, from every point of view : human, spiritual, social, political... If it weren't so fascinating, I would not have spent so much time reading about it. I am not particularly religious, I am not a geek interested in paranormal stories. I am just a curious fellow who found a lot of human depth in the stories I heard.

    2) I think that what Darrick Evenson has been posting all over the web can potentially do an awful lot of harm to your faith. What is great about Daheshism is that it is spiritual yet very different from organized religions and that it does not engage in proselytising. What Darrick is doing risks giving the impression that Daheshism is a cult desperate to attract new followers.

    3) What happened within the Dahesh followers in the aftermath of his death is truly saddening. It was very moving to read your testimonies about his death when you were all united.

    I did no really understand what happened then.

    Maybe Mario or someone else can explain to me :

    -What happened in between 1984 and 1996 ? Were you close to the Zahids during this period ? Considering the fact that they are very rich, why did it take so long to have Dr Dahesh’s books translated into English and properly distributed ? Some of them are not even available in Arabic.

    -When Art News published its infamous article in 1996, did you get in touch with the Zahids to have an explanation ? What did they say ? Was their dismissal of Daheshism deliberate and ideological or was it merely a temporary strategy in order not to frighten the public ? I understand why you would be angry, but maybe they were just waiting for the museum to be fully established before revealing their background.

    -Why don’t you call for a general meeting of all Daheshists and discuss all issues calmly ?

    I am asking these questions because it would be terrible if internal misunderstandings prevent you from reaching your objectives. I think you have to get the house in order fast because today, Dr Dahesh is still fondly remembered by many Lebanese. Ten or twenty years from now, you’ll have to start all over because another generation will have passed away.

    I hope my questions do not appear intrusive. I just have the feeling that a fortune is being dilapidated.

  • #2
    Dear Ziyad,

    Everything you are raising is pertinent and timely and I pray that your post would send a wake up call to all those Daheshists who — for whatever reason— choose to remain silent and inactive, perhaps thinking that they are helping the greater good of Daheshism.

    On that front, I know of at least one young Daheshist who said "I am so frustrated... I have so much to give and nothing to do..."

    And lastly, on one of my favorite TV shows, I heard the following lines: "If you wanna make someone go insane, all ya gotta do is prevent them from doing what they are meant to do... like play chess"

    Ziyad: I am both very impressed as well as touched that you have taken the time to read the content on Daheshville. That is no small feet. I mean that.

    And although I might have refrained from referring to certain individuals by their actual names, I am almost certain that I have provided the answers to most of the key questions you raised—question that any logical mind would have had to formulate after pondering the vast Daheshist landscape. That is perhaps why, in a way, I don't feel I can go down that cathartic road again.

    Many are probably saying "Oh, thank God, he's not talking!"

    Rarely has a Daheshist (as young as I was at the time I was hand-picked by Doctor Dahesh) seen or heard all that has crossed my path. That is perhaps why I am often a target... Even recently, a member of Daheshville informed me what a Daheshist, in Beirut, in an effort to dissuade him from communicating with me, said about me.

    And yes, a lot has happened between 1984 and 1996.
    Our esteemed brother David Johnson will certainly attest to this fact.

    Personally? You should know that I was shunned with impunity by those I went to great lengths to protect.

    I've never known Doctor Dahesh to act an an emperor.

    True, to some (myself included) his spiritual essence is powerful and vast enough to embrace the heavens. Yet, it was humble enough to dwell in one's heart.

    The fundamental problem we have always had is the following:

    Some people (because they are human) took it upon themselves to act as if they were emperors.

    I personally noticed that when you go to great length to treat an individual as is they were emperors, they actually begin to believe it.

    But why did I treat certain people as if they were emperors? I suppose guilt and fear... plus, you have to remember that the "Daheshist Family" is essentially an "Arab" family. At the risk of being presumptuous, from your name, and the reference to "College de La Salle," I can see you can relate. And even though I am half Armenian, the Daheshist experience had mainly an "Arab" flavor.

    So, imagine people with passion, with fervor, etc. somewhat (alright, let's face it, totally) different from the typical "American" family.

    As a side note (or joke) I often said that, if Daheshism was in fact a cult, it would have been the only cult you couldn't join!

    Furthermore, one of the definite proofs that it is not a cult is the inherent turmoil that occurred after the departure of Doctor Dahesh.

    Well organized cults that are (ultimately) here to make money, do not have those types of turmoils because, after all, they are manufactured.

    Daheshism is not. It was born, it grew, it endured great hardship, and now, hopefully, it will finally "gel" into the positive force it once was when Doctor Dahesh was alive.

    In fact, the personal experience I have had with Doctor Dahesh was so positively enriching, that — despite all that I have personally endured at the hands of some of his "disciples" — I am not giving up!

    But what do I mean when I say "Emperors" anyway?

    By that I mean that there is no room for discussion and unless their word is followed to the letter, those who as much as dare present a different point of view shall be shunned. And that is (theoretically) because those "emperors" are acting out of "love."

    And the shunning is not immediate, by the way. It is slow and torturous on the mind and soul.

    As I have indicated, I been shunned and I can tell you that the process is destructive.

    And incidentally, Ziyad, that "Letter that Shook the Daheshist World" pretty much raised all the issues you raised. From what I heard, the response to that letter was not positive.

    As for me personally, and Logically I should not have any reason to be a Daheshist nor to be loyal to Daheshism— given the way I was treated which is nothing less than shameful!

    But I am a Daheshist and I am loyal to Dahehism whether that pleases "the emperor" and CO. or not.

    And any true Daheshist would never have allowed what were supposed to be mere stewards to turn into "emperors" and to lead (or mislead) the Holy Daheshist Message into the state it currently is in.

    Silence and inaction is what gave rise to the likes of Darrick Evenson and that will eventually bring a new wave of irrational and unfounded hatred towards Daheshism in Lebanon and this time, Lebanon will suffer the fate of Atlantis!

    Hold that thought please...

    And what adds insult to injury is that a well respected Daheshist would put his reputation on the line and willfully chose to empower Darrick Evenson with information and to publicly humiliate me, here, in Daheshville, which he referred to as "Mario's Site"—using Darrick as his messenger.

    Dear Ziyad, once, and before my eyes, the Doctor rose in anger and declared :"Haydi mannaha risaalat, haydi da3aarat!" (I believe I've already written about why he said that. I also believe I was fair and balanced in my reports: I have, on numerous occasions, described what certain Daheshists (even those who have shunned me) endured and at what cost. In essence, you are right, the solution is that we all "put down our weapons" and talk and that is why DAHESHVILLE is here.

    On that note, I would like to turn my attention to the Daheshists in Lebanon:

    Dear esteemed Daheshists living in Lebanon, doing nothing... thinking that you are making Doctor Dahesh happy by being quiet...

    Even IF "so and so" were to travel to Lebanon and convince you that the policy of the Museum (pertaining to lying on the record about Doctor Dahesh and denying his role as a prophet publicly) was all necessary, and that you should all sit tight:

    Don't JUST sit tight.


    Have the courage to see if "So and So" (again, this is a hypothetical scenario) is not engaging in a double-standard.

    For example, If you read the article that Zionic found (http://groups.google.com/group/alt.p...a5173db91ae17b)
    you will clearly see that Dr. Ghazi Brax himself is (supposedly) openly creating a new religion (again, according to the article).

    If Ghazi Brax himself is THAT open and that proactive, why aren't you?!

    It's NOT as if HE told you NOT to openly discuss Daheshism... why, THAT would be a double-standard!

    And, while you're at, go ask those who many consider as the leaders of the Daheshist faith: "How can publicly denying the existence of our prophet not be a sin before God?"

    And if they tell you: "we, as a family, and for a host of reasons, cannot be publicly tied with the Daheshist Movement" then tell them the following:

    "Fine, you should have then appointed others to be the spokespeople and to be the shield that would take the bullet instead of unilaterally refusing to listen to good advice and shunning anyone who dared present a different point of view."

    Why am I raising all this?

    Simple: Go and read (if you can) page 49 of "Strange Tales and Wondrous Legends Part 3"

    As the prologue to the lengthy chapter that contained (in part) a reprint of the warning that poet Haleem Dammoos ( "Father Halim" ) published in the forties and which ended up being a true prophecy about the Lebanese Civil war, you'll find an equally chilling warning. This time, from the pen of Doctor Dahesh himself.

    This passage—written after the bloody civil war began— is a warning to Lebanon: That if it repeats its behavior, it shall suffer the fate of the City of Atlantis and that it shall disappear from existence and that it would be nothing more than a legend handed down from generation to generation.

    And, now, allow me to repeat what I have a little earlier in this message:

    Silence and inaction is what gave rise to the likes of Darrick Evenson and that will eventually bring a new wave of irrational and unfounded hatred towards Daheshism in Lebanon and this time, Lebanon will suffer the fate of Atlantis!

    Dear brothers and sisters in Lebanon: The best thing that could ever happen to you is that the DAHESH SOCIETY OF AMERICA becomes legal and recognized.

    But, many of you who are told to avoid me by your "emperor" have convinced yourself that Daheshville is not a community and is merely "Mario's web site."

    Nothing can be further than the truth.

    Yes, Sandrine and I are (technically speaking) the "landlords." In other words, we created it, we fund and manage it and we even police it.

    Think of us as "necessary evils."

    Ponder this, however: even Doctor Dahesh had a landlord!

    But I dare anyone to prove to me that Daheshville is not a true community where freedom of expression reigns supreme!

    And I want you to image that Daheshville never existed. Would individuals such as Ziyad and others (too many to mention) have proven (once again) that it is a sin to remain silent?!

    Still, if you are unhappy with the fact that "Mario" is involved with Daheshville, fine, say it to my face.

    Create a true and legal organization, and we'll give you the keys to Dahesh.org and Daheshville and Sandrine and I will disappear from your lives.

    At least, and by being brave and courageous to face us openly, history would have noted that Sandrine and I merely acted as stewards of these domain names until those who claim to be the rightful bearers came to claim them!

    Furthermore, and back to the issue of why it behooves you to organize in the USA: Even Gibran was rejected from Lebanon, only to be accepted and revered after he was established in the U.S.A.

    Once again, Daheshists of Lebanon, The fate of Lebanon may be resting on your shoulders.

    I don't want to bore you with my personal story. But, let me just say this to anyone who might be inclined to say "What does Mario know about hardship? He's living the good life in the U.S.A.! It is easy for him to say all of that!"

    For starters: I came within meters of dying from the explosion of an R.P.G. Then I survived the battle of the hotels. Then I lived in exile for years. I was merely 14 when (like many of you of my generation) my life was brutally altered. It is not by my choosing that I ended up in the USA, where I am desperately appealing to you.

    Please know that when I was in Lebanon, my best friend (who lived in the same building as me) worked closely with Daheshism's sworn enemy. He became an important military commander... and was like an older brother to me.

    I loved him to the point I revealed that I was a Daheshist. I even tried to convince him to leave the "group" he had joined... I did it because I cared for him.

    True, I might not have carried a banner saying "I am a Daheshist."

    But I never publicly denied who Doctor Dahesh was. And let me tell you: living where I was living during the war, surrounded by my "natural enemies" that was not easy—partly because I built strong human ties with many people who belonged to that "group" whose founders were bent on eradicating the Daheshists, and who would not have hesitated to issue an order to kill me or my family who was residing in their midst.

    Yet, I had no problem handing over Ghazi Brax's conference to a young man who was the ambassador of that "group" in our school. He sat right next to me in class. He read the booklet from cover to cover—during class (he had the booklet hidden within the pages of the textbook were all reading in. The next day, he called the Doctor's house and asked to see him. And that is perhaps why, when a lunatic fired a pistol at him, right in the hallway, as we were all in class, his life was spared. (He was trying to talk sense to his cousin, who, after having been beaten by a thug from the same "group" had gone home to get his revolver... Imagine THAT. One cousin shooting another! Thank GOD his life was spared. The bullet buzzed right by his ear, and "Elie" fainted. We all, of course, threw ourselves on the floor, the minute the bullet went off.

    So, please, I lived a little... and my words are not the words of a mere politician.

    Do it because you care about Lebanon.

    Daheshism is not a hobby and God's chosen people cannot remain silent forever!

    And Ziyad, thank you for giving me the reason to say what I've been wanting to say for a long time. Your thoughtful, enlightened, and kind letter pushed me (and I mean this in a positive way) to express those, perhaps, difficult to read words.

    Mario
    Last edited by Daheshville; 07-08-2008, 11:13 PM. Reason: Typos and we received a request to remove some information... so we did. But we reworked the text (in Green) for continuity
    "Fail, to succeed."

    Comment


    • #3
      Dear Mario,

      Thank you very much for this thorough, thoughtful and moving response.

      First of all, you and Sandrine can be proud of Daheshville.com. I read all the other websites and they are often interesting but Daheshville is the only place where I found a Human Touch. Not only is there a wealth of information in Daheshville, but it is also "lively", in the sense that we feel a community of spirit. There are great "spiritual fluids" over here if I may use your Daheshist terminology.

      Second, I think you should follow the family tradition and write your own book about Dahesh. You wrote plenty of stimulating posts on this forum and you should gather them, add to them and turn them into what could become the ultimate book on Dahesh.

      This book could then be used as a basis to write the script of the movie you are thinking about. I saw those sketches you drew for the movie and they are terrific. Ideally, your book should cover the whole Dahesh story from the very beginning.

      Your brother's books were great in describing their personal encounters with Dahesh, they were also great in describing their personal spiritual quests, but they only briefly addressed the events of the 1940s and the events that took place after Dahesh's death.

      I was interested in the 1940s, if only for historical reasons, so I had to go to the Arabic website and read on Pdf the books published by Marie Haddad and Halim Dammous to get the full story on the events.

      It would be great if you could write the full authoritative biography of Dahesh. The story is fascinating. If published by a mainstream publishing house, it could become a new Da Vinci Code. It has everything in it. Politics, Spirituality, Enigmas, Miracles, Human Conflicts...

      In order to attract a mainstream publisher, you'll have to show some distance between yourself and your subject, it will be difficult considering the subject and the emotions involved, but your posts here demonstrate that you can be objective without denying your faith.

      The book could put an end to the cycle of silence and inaction, and if it is successful, it would then become impossible for anyone to "smother" or "hijack" Daheshism, be they Saudi emperors or American newagers shopping for a new religion.

      I guess you have already thought about a book project, but I really think it would be great, and if published in the US and given a chance in the market, it could be quite an event.

      Finally, with regard to Lebanon, it is important to focus not only on Daheshists, but on the many people like me who heard positive stories about Dahesh but do not know exactly what the story is.

      It is my understanding that Dr Dahesh was opposed to institutionnalized religion and to any kind of "clergy", so I am surprised to see many people waiting for the "pope" to take the lead.

      Best

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Ziyad View Post

        First of all, you and Sandrine can be proud of Daheshville.com. I read all the other websites and they are often interesting but Daheshville is the only place where I found a Human Touch. Not only is there a wealth of information in Daheshville, but it is also "lively", in the sense that we feel a community of spirit.
        Dear Ziyad,

        Thank you for your extremely kind words and especially for the depth of your analysis on the current state of The Daheshist Mission.

        You have described with much refinement a situation that we’ve always deplored and which has motivated the creation of Daheshville.

        We felt the urge to do something, we felt that there was such a need to restore "sparkle of life" in our Mission, to see people expressing themselves, to see them becoming true friends, to see a true communication possible even if we are not always agreeing on certain subject, at least we are talking ... That's what matters.

        The energy created by a spiritual community is so precious, how would it have been possible to live any longer our faith in an absolute isolation and in such loneliness? ... This would have been crazy !

        In fact, we wanted to avoid to our younger brothers and sisters to experience the kind of feeling that we've had to solve alone. What would be a faith if people are not able to share their joys, laughter and find support when they are in pain ?

        The Doctor's message will be alive if we know how to make it live and not only for our own sake, in our own ivory towers, but in trying to build all together, fixing the damage and to restoring The Honour of The Daheshist Message.

        Also, we do not have the right to hide ourselves from the rest of the world. Our duty is to offer the opportunity to the people to learn about The Doctor's life and about The Daheshist Faith (and on that issue, we know that many brothers or sisters have received spiritual messages concerning this necessity) ...

        It does not mean trying to convince anyone about anything nor trying to convert anyone, but people have to be able with the information that would be available to choose for themselves and by themselves...

        That can only be realized if we talk openly about our experiences, if we let people like you Ziyad - as well as others - ask questions, and if finally The Doctor's books are translated.

        That's the way we think that we honor The Life that our Beloved Prophet has endured. A life made of sufferings, of injustice and persecution… as well as joy towards even the smallest things …

        He worked so hard during his life ... the least that the member of his "spiritual family" can do to show Him their Love and Gratitude is to work on translating His books …


        Originally posted by Ziyad View Post

        It would be great if you could write the full authoritative biography of Dahesh. The story is fascinating. If published by a mainstream publishing house, it could become a new Da Vinci Code. It has everything in it. Politics, Spirituality, Enigmas, Miracles, Human Conflicts...

        In order to attract a mainstream publisher, you'll have to show some distance between yourself and your subject, it will be difficult considering the subject and the emotions involved, but your posts here demonstrate that you can be objective without denying your faith.

        The book could put an end to the cycle of silence and inaction, and if it is successful, it would then become impossible for anyone to "smother" or "hijack" Daheshism, be they Saudi emperors or American newagers shopping for a new religion.
        You are right, I have always said that to Mario but, in some of his dreams in which Mario saw The Doctor ...The Doctor often expresses His extreme frustration about the fact that the work is not being done fast enough, which prompted Mario to think that his effort should now be focused on this specific direction.

        Even the morning of July 4th (New York city time) Mario had this dream where he saw again The Doctor who was sitting at a table speaking, and Mario saw a small tape recording machine on the table in front of The Doctor but it was not recording what The Doctor was saying.

        So while The Doctor was speaking, Mario tried to operate the machine. This prompted the Doctor to stop His speech and ask Mario what he was doing.

        Mario explained to The Doctor that the machine wasn’t on and he asked The Doctor if he could record His voice. Mario then explained to Him that he would like to use His voice and words for certain projects including the Web. So Mario asked Him permission to do so.

        In the dream, the Doctor’s face lit up and he said "Of course !"

        So for the time being, it would appear that we are supposed to focus only on the Doctor’s books but of course, we will not say "no" if a mainstream publisher comes to us.

        In any case, God forbid if anything should happen to Mario (for example Darrick Evenson already threatened him, others tried to destroy him financially … ), he has left me all his notes so, I have the whole history from his perspective : the details, the people involved, what The Doctor said about "so and so", about "this and that" etc …

        And you are right, it is definitively another Da Vinci Code !

        Originally posted by Ziyad View Post
        Dear Mario,

        Finally, with regard to Lebanon, it is important to focus not only on Daheshists, but on the many people like me who heard positive stories about Dahesh but do not know exactly what the story is.

        It is my understanding that Dr Dahesh was opposed to institutionnalized religion and to any kind of "clergy", so I am surprised to see many people waiting for the "pope" to take the lead.
        Speaking about Lebanon what you are saying is great news Ziyad because we are not telling that people risk to be punished - or have already been punished – because they did not believe in Doctor Dahesh as being a Prophet or because they did not accept His Message (The Doctor himself had friends from The Clergy or other faiths…).

        What we are saying and asking for is the simple and God given right of freedom of speech, of faith and expression in a country who has always promoted itself as The only Arab Country where freedom of speech is a constitutional right …

        Again, Thank you for your enlightening thoughts and insight.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks a lot for these clarifications. With dedicated people lile you and Mario, I think Daheshism can overcome its current crisis

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Ziyad View Post
            Thanks a lot for these clarifications. With dedicated people lile you and Mario, I think Daheshism can overcome its current crisis
            Again, Thank you Ziyad for your very kind words ...

            These are words of Hope for all of those who joined us on this journey and who are contributing each day to make Daheshville "The universal place" that it is today.

            The only public place where everyone can openly speak about Doctor Dahesh and Daheshism.

            And "Universal" in the sense that, whatever might be your origin, your faith, or the place where you live on this fragile planet ... you can enter This Virtual City if you wish to do so ...

            Comment

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