life I lived was such that I would not resort to the tiniest wiles, let alone cunning and subterfuge. If trickery had been resorted to in this last five years, application would have been made to you in sycophantic manner. A wilely man tries to ingratiate himself. He does not hold back; he always tries to deceive and hoodwink. Whereas I have not condescended to lower myself by responding to the severest attacks and criticisms levelled at me. Saying, I place my trust in God, I turned my back on ‘the worldly.’ Moreover, one who discovers the reality of this world and knows the hereafter, is not sorry if he is sensible; he does not turn back to the world and struggle with it again. Someone after the age of fifty who has no connection with anything and is alone, will not sacrifice eternal life for one or two years of the chatter and deception of this world. If he does so, he is not cunning, but foolish and crazy. What can a crazy lunatic do so that anyone should bother with him? As for the suspicion of outwardly abandoning the world while inwardly seeking it, in accordance with the verse,
Nor do I absolve my own self [of blame]; the [human] soul is certainly prone to evil,1
I do not exonerate my soul, for it wants everything bad. But in this fleeting world, this temporary guest-house, during old age, in a brief life, it is not reasonable to destroy eternal, everlasting life and eternal happiness for a little bit of pleasure. Since it is not profitable for the reasonable and the aware, my soul has willy-nilly had to follow my reason.
T h e T h i r d S u s p i c i o u s Q u e s t i o n : ‘The worldly’ say: Do you like us? Do you approve of us? If you do like us, why are you stand-offish and have nothing to do with us? If you do not like us, that means you object to us, and we crush those who object to us.
T h e A n s w e r : Not you, if I had loved your world, I would not have withdrawn from it. I don’t like either you or your world. But I do not interfere with them. For I have different goals, different points have filled my heart; they have left no place in my heart to think of other things. Your duty is to look to the hand, not to the heart. For you seek your government and your public order. So long as the hand does not interfere, what right do you have to interfere in the heart and say, “the heart should love us too,” although you are in no way worthy of it? Yes, just as I desire and long for the spring during this winter, but I cannot will it nor attempt to bring it, so I long for the world to be righted and I pray for it and I want the worldly to be reformed, but I cannot will these