Doris Lessing’s personal letters indicate that Idries Shah’s re-presentation of Sufi teaching was a turning point in the later period of Lessing’s life and work. The Sufis was published early in 1964, and Lessing sent her first letter to Shah, the book’s author, shortly after reading it (8 April 1964).
‘I’ve been going through the process that you must have heard about dozens of times,’ she wrote, ‘trying to find out by myself how to be and what to do, and getting everything into a state of confusion. Everything in me and my life is turned upside-down; though I would never have believed, four or five years ago, that I could be as I am now, so there must be some very strong influence abroad to reach people as unlikely as myself, who have been a cheerful atheist for so long… this letter is simply an application to you, please to consider me as a candidate for when you start teaching.’
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