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vatar Meher Baba’s dearest Katie Irani flew into her Beloved’s arms on 29th May 2009 at 410am. She passed away from heart failure in Meherazad; she was 89 years old. The cremation was at 5.3Opm that afternoon at Meherabad. Katie’s ashes will be interred by the east side of His Samadhi on Meherahad Hill. Born to a family of close Baba followers in Quetta, (India) Katie and her older sister Goher fell in love with Meher Baba as small children. From the time she joined Him on the Blue Bus tours in 1937, Baba gave Katie plenty of scope for her talents. She made Him laugh in funny skits and with amusing stories, entertained Him with her rich and beautiful singing, ,.s. ‘\ and cooked for His women’s ashram. Even after Baba sent her to stay in Bombay to live with Arnavaz and Nariman Dadachanji at the start of ,I the New Life, Katie lived Katie at the LosAngeles Sahavas, July 1991 under His direct orders always, and did so till the end of her life. She worked at the Japanese Embassy in Bombay for 28 years and during this time she often visited Baba and the women mandali in Meherazad and at Guruprasad, (Pune) where she
would regale Baba with the most recent comical events from her life in which the starring role always fell to her. In 1978 when Goher opened the new building for Meher Free Dispensary, she called Katie to stay at Meherazad permanently to assist her in the clinic. And eventually Katie helped in Baba’s kitchen—a job which she diligently performed despite her failing health till the very end. Katie’s vivacious and outgoing personality, wonderful sense of humour ( showcased in her hilarious ashram stories), sharing her delicious recipes both personally and through her hook, Cooking With Katie, and heart-stirring singing of Baba’s name and songs have delighted generations of pilgrims at Meherazad ever since. We, her Meherazad family, salute our dear Katie’s total dedication to her Beloved Avatar, and her untiring service to Him and His close ones. AVATAR MEHER BABA KIJAI I!!
Editor Note: Over the years Katie made many, many friends, especially here in the US during her tours. I know you would like to share your stories so please do send them to us. Also your photos preferably scanned at high resolution, but ifyou need to send a hard copy, please put your return address sticker on the back ofthe photo so we can make sure you get your precious photos returned. st• The deadline for submissions is August 1 Originally I was planning on putting the memorial to both Arnavaz and Katie in the one issue to save on the cost of the (very expensive) colour printing. However I have been convinced that the passing of the Avatar’s Mandali was of Universal significance and that each one deserved their own issue. So now I am leaving it up to Baba to so touch your hearts that you will open your wallets, take out your check books or credit cards and donate a little extra so we may do them justice and share the beautiflil colour photos with you all. —
The Meherazad family
Love &reerLamp J?osr f’lcome to Love Street Love 5treet £ampost is dedicated with love to Avatar Meher Baba. Itsprimarypurpose is to contribute to a sense ofcommunity among allHis lovers byproviding aplacefor sharing His remembrance. All members of the Baba family are invited to contribute to this feast of Love. Love Strect £ampJPost is mailed (approximately) eachJanuary, April,July, and October. SUBSCRIPTIONS: The LampPost now has its own credit card processor, so we are perfectly happy to take your donations via Visa, MasterCard or Discover, as well as checks (US banks only). Ifyou don’t want to put your credit card numbers in an email you can fax them to me at 310 839 BABA (2222), or call me at my home office 310 837 6419 between 9-5 Pacific time.
Coming Into the Country ofGod An Important Message for AU Baba Lovers Bookstore BadTimes are Good for Evangelical Churches Looking at Meher Baba Time and It’s Passing Humor for Huma Children’s Page To Be in Love with God PoetryPage ATreasure HuntThrough Old Manuscripts Why It Is Important To Remember
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Arnavaz Dadachanji: Living a Life of Love
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Coming Dnto the Country of9od Sky Wiseman, Meherabad October 2005, my late wife Shar and I traveled to Meherabad, India for a one-month stay, a month where we would celebrate our tenth wedding anni versary in the company of Avatar Meher Baba and His close ones. I had just retired from my position after twen ty-seven years, and we hoped this would be the first of many extended stays in India, perhaps a prelude to establishing a part-time residence on the back side of Meherabad Hill where the land basks in His luminous grace. I was looking forward to working less outwardly and more inwardly less “Show” and more Substance. We departed our woodland home, Meher Brindaban in Virginia on October 14, leaving behind our dogs, Hafiz, Niki, and Mehera; our cat Poona; and our turtles Darshan, Darshana and Bob Brown, in the hands of our Baba associates Ken and Dhonna. It was an overcast day and the woods were misty and fragrant, poised for the autumn symphony. We ascended into the evening skywith great anticipation, and I was not able to come to frill grasp of the idea that this was a different sort oftrip, less ofa vacation than a change oflife. I tried to
fathom the idea but my mindwas incapable of doing so. So I settled back for the ride and drank a glass of French red wine. We arrived to the lush smells ofBombay after midnight on October 16, the day Avatar Meher Baba started out on the great phase of His life known as the New Life, the life ofHelplessness and Hopelessness. We ate some luscious prawns and a garden burger in the Leela coffee shop before heading out on the road. As usual the rickshaws lined the quiet dreary streets in anticipation ofthe first rooster crows. A few dogs prowled in the trash, their heads barely visible between the mud puddles. We headed up and over the ghats, high mountains of tropical forest mist, in the early morning darkness. Everything was lush and pure and a ftill scale waterfall shot its power and freshness from across the deep valley.
October 21, 2005 I got up early this morning, about 4:30 and did some work on the computer looking at water and sanitation interven tions in Darftir, Sudan some lingering obligations that I had promised to complete. This is the first time I’ve been to India where I am not on a relatively short pilgrimage, but —
instead we’re trying to see about staying in Meherabad for ionger periods, and build a little house on the heights behind the Hill. So I’m going through some interesting and difficult transitions this week. Yesterday I got locked out ofthe house for several hours the lock had clicked behind us when we went out and there was no way to open it. That lock isn’t even supposed to come into play as we’re using a big padlock on the outside and our key fits it. We don’t even have a key to the lock that clicked. So I spent a couple ofhours trying to get a key, and finally ended up breaking in the back screen door, doing relatively little damage to the slide locks at the tops ofthe doors. Easily repaired. I went to the Darbar and bought a coke in the midst of the key search, as it was very hot and I was walking back and forth through Mehera bad trying to reach various people for help. When I returned to the house, right before I finally broke in, Sangheeta, who helps here at the house, told me to sit down in the comfortable chair on the veranda. My pacing back and forth was undoubtedly bugging her. So I woke up today feeling the thrill of a new day in God’s Country. All the years we lived in Montana people always called it God’s country, but no, this is the Real God’s Country I left the house near dawn and walked beside the newly formed ponds along the road, the product of an intense four and a halfinch downpour with violent thunder and lightning that met us on our first night here. Earlier that day, just after we arrived from Mumbai by car a throng ofBabalov ers came marching along the Alimednagar Meherabad road, celebrating the New Life Trail, singing and chanting Meher’s Name as theywalked. Shar and I could hear them in the distance as they approached Meherabad, and then we went out to the —
gate to watch them flowing along the road, several hundred strong. It was a powerful welcome and a bit surreal. These ponds are something quite new experience around Meherabad. They my in form a narrow serpentine body of shallow water, all along the road. Frogs chorus and remind me of Baba’s bridge and lagoon in Myrtle Beach. The clouds and trees reflect with absolute still vibrancy from the depths of the ponds, and the moon rises behind. I can feel the Samadhi high on the Hill, still more than quarter of a mile away. Many species ofbirds are using these ponds, relishing the newly formed habitat. A small kingfisher-like bird flashes across the water to the trees beyond, a sprightly turquoise body and a red beak, like some otherworldly creature. I need get to the bird book at the Pilgrim Center and figure out who that was. It surely reminded me of a kingfisher the halcyon bird that calms the stormy seas. I needed to see him this morning. I had planned to go to the Sama dhi for Arti, but the bird became a prayer in my heart as I walked slowly along the path. So I reached the Pilgrim Center and sipped chai until breakfast.
Arti with little practice needed. And I completely rearranged a Grateful Dead song, “All Around This World” from their acoustic album Reckoning, changing both the words and the melody to where it is quite different from the original. The fact that Charley had a banjo up on the Hill that morning courtesy of Harry was fortuitous, as he joined right in and it had a nice bluegrass feel to it. Some ofthe words to the original song are: In the Blue Ridge Mountains I will take my stand With a rifle on my shoulder And a six-gun in my hand LordPve traveled all around this world.
I changed it to: High on Meherabad Mountain I will take my stand With mypoor worried mind And my heart in thepalm ofmy hand LordIve traveled all around this world
October 29, 2005 I came into the Country ofGod expecting to write a little every day about these early days here, but one cannot come into the place with any preconceived notions. I’ve written very little about my experi ences so far, preferring to take long naps and walk back and forth between the Pilgrim Center and the house for meals and tea, or up to the Sama dhi. Hanging out with other Baba lovers is my joy. I’ve also spent a lot of time strolling by the Lower Meherabad Lakes watching the birds in their reverie and hunting expe ditions for water striders and frogs. I have written a few Baba songs, or better to say I adapted a couple of songs to make them Baba songs like I changed “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down” to “Maya Your Kingdom Must Come Down” and sung it one morning at
High on Meherabad Mountain Iwilltake my stand With my wounded heart And my hand in the Masterc own hand LordIve traveled all around this world
So writing hasn’t been so much the thing. But I’ve found my joy in walking along the Lower Meherabad “Lakes”. I identified my kingfisher, the WhiteThroated Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis I’ve seen him several times over the last week, and his turquoise body never fails to —
startle me when he moves from tree to tree across the pond. Now the past few mornings there has been a Great Egret wading the west shoreline. As I move along the gravel road with my walking stick in the grey dawn he takes offin a great display of wingspan and with ponderous, powerful wing movements barely clears the tree line at the edge of the cornfields and sails off towards the Samadhi. There are also many beautiful species offlycatchers that I haven’t begun to identifi I left my binoculars in the States and I’m debating getting a pair in Pune to leave here all the time. I’m always taken by the crows in India, their incessant cawing heralding both daybreak and the fading light of evening. In the morning they move in great flotillas towards the Samadhi, and in late evening they head back east over and around the house, even through the gardens at low al titude. On our anniversary earlier this week as we sat outside the Samadhi waiting to put on the special cloth Shar had purchased in Ahmednagar the day before, a sizeable squadron ofcrows swept out ofthe sky back behind the Samadhi near Beloved Baba’s Cage Room.Theyglided sharply down and then back up over the building and trees in a synchronized rolling motion, reminding me of a cascading Montana trout stream, or the path of a tilt-a-whirl at the county fair. I was mesmerized as I watched them while continuing to be very aware of the close proximity of the wondrous marble, —
Photo by Bif Soper
L or “marvel” as Bal Natu called it, that focal point of the Universe where the physical body of the Ancient One emanates His Divine Treasure. For in instant I felt very much in touch with the pulsation of His Divinity in all life. .just a smidgen of Love perhaps. It really isn’t so easy to even begin to fathom the magnitude of His Greatness, even while sitting so close to His Fragrance. I was able to catch the scent this morning as for a few seconds I was carried along on the turbulent flow of the crows. I tried to stay with that feeling, but then other feelings came and Shar and I were beckoned to come into His House and sweep a little around the door and then polish just a little around the letters, “Eternal Beloved, Avatar Meher Baba.” I felt so very fortunate as I watched my hand making little circling motions with the cloth, and I was very conscious of chang ing the position of the cloth so as to use a clean portion for each new section. If only I approached each undertaking in life with this much care and attention to detail. We are really doing everything for Him all the time, so everything deserves as much loving attention as cleaning His Marvel. I planted quite a few trees over the last week. One ofthe highlights ofthe gardening work was the delivery to my yard of a cart of cow dung in a bullock cart, with the two bnfis looking like creatures from another planet, their soft hides and blue horns glowing golden in the late afternoon slant of light as their master shouted and clicked his way up the rough gravel road to my doorstep. .
Some time later. Here in Meherabad both outer and inner events and processes come very rapidly at times, so if one is inclined to chronicle the goings on, it sometimes becomes nearly impossible. This afternoon a big “program” began at the new house next door to me. After 6
tea on my porch I wandered over to the program for the meal, as I received an invitation in my front gate yesterday. It’s a house warming of sorts, and many folks were working deep into the night preparing big vats offood including “sweet items” for the consumption of the great numbers of people who are coming from far and wide. The front yard of this new bungla filled up with motorcycles and scooters of all shapes and sizes. Earlier a man began broadcasting from a powerful public address system. Not exactly singing and not exactly talking. Earlier I heard a distinctive, “Om Parabrahma”, but that has been the extent ofmy comprehension thus far. Even though I know a little Marathi, and spend a good deal of time with a vil lage family conversing in my poor Marathi and their better English, I can never seem to understand Marathi when it’s spoken at a normally rapid flowing Marathi pace among villages here or by anyone intensely blasting away on a large sound system. I’ll return to this event in moment but first I should mention the dance of the dragonffies that occurred over the Samadhi Dome a couple of days back. I went up to Arti in the early morning light, skirting the edge of the sitafol orchard and then on up the path to Meher abad Hill. A very small group was there. I was standing back by Beloved Baba’s cabin while the prayers were being said, and noticed hundreds of dragon ffies cruising over the dome ofthe Samadhi. They really weren’t anywhere else around the area.Just over top ofthe Samadhi. I was mesmerized by the gliding, swirling, marauding motion, and I was swept back to a time fifteen years ago when I was fasting alone in the Montana wilderness for several days. It was a major change in life for me, as my two young daugh ters, four and seven, were going to be living with me full time beginning in the fail of that year. That time alone with Baba in the natural world was 1led with poignant moments and —
inner revelations. But one very small, almost insignificant incident near the end of my first day was brought to mind by the dragonfly display. I was feeling quite depressed and lonely on that first day. And I was conscious of the fast to the greatest extentlate that first afternoon. At one point I lay down on my back under a small pon derosa pine. This was high desert, rimrock country to the northeast of Yellowstone National Park. It was quite hot. As I lay on my back reflecting on life, I noticed a loose cluster of a few hundred black knats moving in a random fashion about ten feet above my head. They were dark black against a bright blue sk The longer I watched them the more I forgot where I was and the deeper I moved into this teeming,whirling pocket oflife. Eventually I began envisioning the knats as electrons whirling within atoms. I was taken out of myselffor a time. So the dragonffies above the Samadhi reminded me of that small event so many years back in the foothills of the Beartooth Mountains of Montana. As I say, in comparison to other events and feelings conjured up during my three day wilderness fast this was rather trivial, but from my experience, nature does indeed mirror the inner landscape and has much to reveal to one who enters a natural area with deep intention and reverence. But back to the housewarming next door: Now it’s round midnight and the bhajan singing is going right along. I slept for the last couple of hours. There is no power tonight so Ijust decided to sleep and had no trouble doing so, despite the loud singing and drumming. However, I was asked to come over and play a song on the guitar. When the music stopped at 11:30 I thought I had missed the event entirely, but as I type I hear the music going strong again and I expect it may go on for several more hours ifnot all night. So I will wander over and listen for a while, and see ifl can get by without playing anything. If they
insist I’ll come back to my house and fetch the guitar. It’s raining pretty nicely right now too, and we’ve been waiting for more rain. This is a gentle rain though, and we need a few good long downpours to relieve the stress on the wells around here. The next day... So I did wander over to the neighbor’s house for the last set ofbhajan singing. The rain continues to fall rather steadily. The program just wrapped up at a very reasonable 1:30 am. I was really thrilled to sit in on that last set, as the harmonium player! singer was a very well known professional music teacher, and I enjoyed listening for about an hour until the program ended with a resounding “Avatar Meher Baba ki” from Old Man Pund, followed by a chorus of”Jai” from the other 23 or so men sitting around the floor. There were perhaps five elderly women sitting or sleeping in the kitchen just off the main room. I happened to be sittingjust behind the puja fire near the middle ofthe living room floor, and from this vantage point I could not only hear and see the musicians very well (but perhaps not hearing as well as folks a couple of kilometers away like up at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat who might be able to receive the fhll force ofthe music over the sound system projecting from the roof). I could also see the large photograph of Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi, Baba’s Master, that sat prominently back in the area where there were many banana leaves, coconuts, incense sticks, assorted other types of leaves, bananas, candies etc., neatly ar ranged over the entire front ofthe room. I know nothing ofHindu puja ceremonies or what they do, etc, and I normally don’t enjoy the atmosphere of Hindu temples (any more than I did the Presbyterian Church where I grew up and used to beg my parents not to make me go to, but to please let me stay home and read stories aboutJesus). But this particular arrangement and atmosphere was very appealing to me. Many of the old men in the room were wearing the traditional Nehru white hats, and in fact one old fellow who remained with his eyes closed swaying to the music the whole time
I was there, looked an awful lot like the Nehru character in the film Gandhi that I just watched again on 15 August, Indian Freedom Day. The harmonium player was very ani mated, often circling his left hand and encouraging the young tabla player to play more strongly and directing the cowbells and the backup singers to come in at certain times. One young man came over and sat by me, saying “Jai Baba”, and then trying to explain to me the essence of the song to Krishna that was being played at that time. It was quite amazing and thought provoking to be sitting among this group ofmen singing songs to God at 1 am in the house next door. Quite different from what I have sometimes experienced elsewhere at that time ofthe morning. There was not a drop of alcohol there of course. So it was a bying, safe, beautiftil environment in which to sit and absorb a spiritual brotherly atmo sphere, here in this little India village 1000 miles from nowhere, butjust down the Hill from the Center ofthe Universe. Yes, I was asked to play a “Baba Bha jan”, but as I did not take my guitar and it was raining hard, I said I was so happy to just listen to the powerful singing. The bhajan singer asked about what music I play and folks said “Western Bhajans”.
He was happy to hear that. But there was no pressure for me to play and I was glad ofthat because I felt that the mood would have been broken had I gone up and the bhajan folks would all have had to move. The old Indian men and the few young guys I recognized were all so intent on the music at hand that I would not have wanted to impact that moment with a western guitar song. “Next Time”, as folks often say around here. It was Baba’s call for me, and I felt He was happy that I was able to graciously bow out and just listen to the music. At the end, prasad was given and I even got a little parcel to bring home with me. Old Man Pund turned to me and said in English, “Now, the house is happy.” The festivities had begun early in the day, and had now drawn to a close. Au is quiet. Only the gentle rain is heard outside my window. Power is back on and my fan will now cool me through the night which is a bit humid at the moment. The morning will no doubt be extra specially fresh and cool and there is nothing like going up Meherabad Hill on a fresh green morning with the sun creeping up through sharp clouds with fringes of orange out past Baba’s Jhopdi and the gigantic banyan tree there, and the Table House, Mandali Hall, and the Old Pilgrim Center. Whoops--the power just went out again... Goodnight from Aran gaon village. To be continued...peri odically.
LAri’tctvctz vatar Meher Baba gathered His dearest Arnavaz Dadachanji into His eternal embrace on Wednesday, 18th February 2009 at 2:34 pm in Meherazad. Arnavaz passed away from a heart attack; she was 90 years old. Cremation will be at Meherabad on Thursday, 19th February at 11 am. Arnavaz was blessed to be born into a close family who were brought into Baba’s fold by her uncle Chanji, Baba’s first secretary. From childhood she was in His frequent company as Baba often visited their home, and she grew up under His loving direction, obeying His every order. At Baba’s wish she married Nariman Dadachanji and they set up an apartment that was to become a home in Bombay for Beloved Baba, Mehera, and the women and men mandali. When Beloved Baba left on His New Life He gifted Meherazad to Narirnan andArnavaz who remained “pillars” of Meherazad when the Beloved returned to stay there and afterHe dropped His form. Nariman’s passing away in 1974 was a great
.Rctrimctn Dctdachanji Baba once said that He and Mehera were their children. Arnavaz always held that very close to her heart. Although she lived in the ordinary world, her one-pointed focus was on Baba, and she gave even her own fam ily the benefit of her wisdom and perspective on Baba and the spiritual life. This she also generously shared with pilgrims who came to Meherazad, through her loving advice and counsel, and through her beautiful book Gjft ofGod, titled after the meaning of her name Her inspiring life of obedience to the Avatar will serve as a luminous example for generations of Baba-lov ers to come of how to be in the world yet wholeheartedly be with the Lord. We your Meherazad family, salute you, dearest Arnavaz, for your vital support to Meherazad in your service to the Avatar, and especially for your life of love and surrender to Him. AVATAR MEHER BABA KI JAI !!! Meheru, Katie, Falu and all Mehe razad family. .
blow to Arnavaz, and soon after Arnavaz moved to Meherazad permanently to be near Mehera and serve Him there She and Nariman had never had children, and .
Celebration for .Arnctvctz in J44elierctzctd Shelley Marrich Meherazad, February 22, 2009 Jai Meher Baba,
o our darling Arnavaz is finally where she belongs: in the arms of her Beloved. Shortly after she passed away someone came up to me and said they were reading in LordMeherwhere Baba com ments on why one lingers for so long at the end oftheir life. Baba says it is because they are receiving liberation and therefore they need to finish up all the remaining sanskaras in this lifetime. Whether that is the case or not with dearest Arnavaz, she certainly did linger beyond our capacity to comprehend the why of it. On the morning of the 17th, the day that Meheru was returning from Pune,
Arnavaz went into a Cheyne-Stokes pattern of breathing associated with the end of life. She would intermittently stop breathing and then start again. And it was clear that she was once again in a coma. So we began our bedside vigil. Throughout the day there were times that Arnavaz would rub her chest repeatedly and when we took her pulse it was very rapid. So we began giving her injections which would relieve her pain and her rapid pulse. This went on throughout the day, and in the afternoon—shortly after Meheru returned—when Arnavaz’s breathing pattern appeared to change again, we thought she was going to Baba. Everyone in the household was alerted and Katie, Meheru, Manu, Meherwan and all
gathered around her singing and repeating Baba’s Name. But it wasn’t yet time. That night we took turns sitting bedside with Arnavaz so someone was always awake with her. And by morning her breathing and pulse became more normal and we wondered if she was pulling another fast one. But around 2:30 pm her breathing pattern changed once more and she opened her eyes. Itwas time. Again the household gathered around her to repeat Baba’s Name as she returned to the waiting embrace of her Beloved. Arnavaz was taken on a stretcher into Baba’s Room where she lay at His feet as we stood around her saying the prayers. Then she was carried into Mandali Hall where she lay in state until it was time to go
to Meherabad the following morning. Almost immediately people began arriving at Meherazad to pay their respects and soon Mandali Hall was full. Arnavaz looked so beautiftil. About 2-3 days before she passed away, Arnavaz began to resemble the young woman she was in her wedding photo with Nariman. All the strain and puffiness left her, revealing a stunning beauty and that is how she appeared to us lying in Mandali Hall. Meheru and Katie led us in the prayers and Arti and then the singing began. Some people stayed all night keeping darling Arnavaz company, and in the morning her beauty was even more striking. At 7 am on the 19th the Meherazad household and those who arrived early to follow the cortege to Meherabad stood before Baba’s chair with Arnavaz lying in repose at His feet and recited the prayers and sang the arti. Then to the chorus of”Avatar Meher Baba id Jai” she was carried into the Meherabad ambulance and out through the Meherazad gates for the last time. Several of us—Arnavaz’s family, Meherazad household and her caregivers- ac companied her in the ambulance to the Sa madhi where a crowd awaited her arrival. Arnavaz was carried into the Samadhi and placed at the foot of Baba’s marble—her head at His feet. Once again the prayers were said, arti was sung and darshan was taken by those accompanying her inside the Samadhi. We garlanded Baba, Mehera and Mani, kissed our darling Goher and
were on our way to Mandali Hall at lower Meherabad where she lay in state till 10:30 in the morning. And the crowds arrived. A steady stream ofpeople coming to pay their last love and respects to Arnavaz. More singing. It was incredible. The Iranis were there with their remarkable passion and love for Baba singing His Name in Persian and playing the daf, the national drum of Persia, a percussive instrument used to play in Sufi meetings and unlike any we have ever seen or heard. And this was counterbalanced by the Argentineans whose mellifluous singing floated through Mandali Hall like the woodwind section of an orchestra. Bhauji and Meheru arrived around 10:30 and witnessing their final farewell intensified the atmosphere of Baba’s Presence and His joy. As Arnavaz was being lifted and carried out ofMandali Hall, everyone shouted Baba’s “Jai” and then stood silently contemplating the next step in her journey. Arnavaz was brought to the cremation grounds at Meherabad in the ambulance and placed on the pyre still looking so beautiful. Flowers were offered to her and as the bits of wood were placed around her, Meheru and others continued to toss roses onto the pyre in a final, heart-full goodbye. Meheru placed a beautiful pink handkerchiefthat had been much-used by Goher over darling Arnavaz’s face and the pyre was completed over her body. Family and friends took turns lighting the pyre and soon it was so hot that we all had to stand
back. After some time some of the young Irani men, with their dafs in hand, began circumambulating Arnavaz’s pyre singing God’s Name in Persian and they were soon joined by many. It was beautiful and deeply touching beyond words as each one solemnly circled Arnavaz acknowledging their love and respect for this irreplaceable friend in Baba’s family. So we returned to Meherazad rather in a state of disbelief. The last few years have been so focused on dearest Arnavaz by the entire household and now we find it difficult to acknowledge she is no longer with us. For the last year or so every night we would all line up in her bedroom for our precious good-night hug. She would embrace each one and say “Have a good night” and stroke our faces looking deeply into our eyes with so much love. It was our nightcap, an elixir of Baba’s Love and we miss her. Now so many times during the day one or the other of us will say, oh, I should see ifArnavaz wants to eat this, or it’s time for Arnavaz’s injection, or I should check on her to see ifshe needs something.” Itwill take time to change our patterns, but the truth is we don’t want it to happen too soon. There is still great comfort in feeling her presence at Meherazad. Another stalwart in His Love has returned to His fold and how fortunate we all have been to know her and to share in her life of love and service and in her finaijourney to her Beloved Avatar Meher Baba.
7ctvem 7ctlk 2<eeps l1s in 7oucli Shelley Marrich In 1987, Shelley Marrich, who had been living in Meherabad, came to Meherazad to carefor Arnavaz after she suffered a heart attack. She never left, andfor thepast many years has been head nurse and caregiver round the clockfor all the Mandali. Amidst her myriad duties she always takes the time to keep us updatedas to the health ofherpre cious patients. She is our lifeline to the ups and downs ofthe Belovedc very special byers through Thvern Thlk. AlthoughArnavaz regained her health to some extent, she had frequentheart—relatedepisodes throughout the last twentyyears ofherljfr. ButBaba kept her here, and she continued to seepilgrims, right up untilthe end Forseveralyears, she seemed to be on a divine seesaw,first aloft andfeel ing well then sinking to an almost comatose
state. Close to the end, thatprocess speeded up considerably. During the last two months of Arnavazc ljfè, Shelleyc emails—senttopeople who had helped to carefor her or worked closely with her—provided a microcosm of the turns her health had taken ever since her heart attack. Thefirst email was sent right after Christmas, 2008:
EKG showed some abnormalities. Treatment for her angina brought her quick relief and she has been in deep, painless sleep ever since. Although one cannot say how long she will linger—as we know, making predictions about Arnavaz is the quickest route to humiliation—it does seem that she is closer than ever.
Jai Meher Baba! I am writing to let you all know that darling Arnavaz appears to have turned toward Baba on her final ascent to Him. I have sent out a Tavern Talk but wanted to let you all know personally that she has been in deep slumber the past two days, not taking much food or water. She has been very comfortable until today, when it appears that she had angina pain and her
Jai Meher Baba! There have been several times in the last few weeks that I have started to write a Tavern Talk about dearest Arnavaz (in fact I did write one which I had to delete) teffing you all that she appeared once again to be seriously deteriorating—only to have her rallybefore I could complete it. An ex ample ofa typical daywould startwith her
in such a deep sleep that we couldn’t even rouse her to eat or drink, but by 6 p.m. she would be sitting up in bed eating chocolate custard and watching a Baba movie on the little TV in her room. So it was impossible to know in which direction she was going. Then some ofArnavaz’s family from Mumbai, Pune and the U.S. were here for the holidays, and during their visit she was as strong and animated as I have seen her in a year. She had a wonderful time with them, and they with her, but as their visit drew to a close Arnavaz began to falter. In the last two days she has once again slipped into a deep sleep, drinking and eating only small amounts, and today she has started having problems with her heart. Although only Baba knows the timing ofArnavaz’s reunion with her Beloved, it does appear that she has truly begun the final ascent. Bittersweet. January 3
Jai Meher Baba, Itlooks like Arnavaz is in the middle of what is called a coronary syndrome, which isn’t necessarily a discrete heart attack but certainly in that realm. The only thing we can do now is keep her comfortable, which is actually pretty easy to do with pain medication. As soon as she is in pain I simply give her an injection and she falls asleep. She does waken a little and sometimes the pain is gone and sometimes I have to repeat the injection. But be assured we will not let her suffer. When she awoke this morning she was more alert than I have seen her in days, but after some time she once again began complaining of pain and I gave her an injection. Fortunately she was able to take her pills and drink 500 ml water before this, so that should give her some reliefin the long run. January 4 Baba, Jai Meher It’s early morning at Meherazad and we are ready to start our day, but I wanted to send a quick message to let you all know how Arnavaz is doing. On the morning of the 3rd she began having severe chest pains again and her EKG showed that the condition ofher heart was becoming more unstable. Fortunately the pain medication gives her reliefand she is able to sleep com fortably. In the afternoon she awoke for a short time and took some water, but she doesn’t remain awake for very long—just long enough for those around her to have yet again another lovely moment with her. This morning she awoke around 5 a.m. I0
She drankwater and took some ofher necessary heart pills but was still complaining ofchest pain. Her EKG clearly shows that her heart is the source and as we are all committed to keeping dearest Arnavaz out ofpain, I gave her more pain medication. She has been resting peaceftilly ever since. The atmosphere in her room yesterdaywas so beautiful—you can feel Baba’s watchful Presence over His darling Arnavaz. January 5
J ai Baba everyone, J ust so you know Who’s in charge and who isn’t, Arnavaz woke up this afternoon, has been eating and drinking some and visiting with her family, AND her heart has returned to normal. As I have said in the past, go figure! I think I may go before her! January 5 Jai Baba! J ust so we know for sure Who is in charge and who isn’t, dearest Arnavaz woke up fully yesterday, had tea and toast for breakfast, visited with her family, drank water, ate soup for lunch and custard for dinner. But the most amazing turn of events is that her heart stabilized—and for no apparent reason. Though this is happy news, one cannot trust this phase will last, for she is indeed quite weak and her heart is obviously affected. However, her awakening has been a great boost for the household and we are grateful for the chance to spend time again in her lovely presence. As always, I will keep in touch! January 6
J ai Baba and good morning,
It’s about 6:30 a.m. so I can’t comment on Arnavaz’s present condition as she is still asleep, but yesterday was the most normal life around her has been in some time. She was lightly awake for hours from 11 a.m. on, drinking water occasionally, refusing food but eating a few chocolates, her favorite. Then at 3:30 she decided she was hungry and ate an omelette, toast and sitaful with great relish. And for the first time in days she fed herself. We can see she is getting stronger, but I haven’t a clue as to what this means—or what to do about it. If she remains stable over the next two days, we will try putting her in the wheelchair and giving her meals on the small veranda at Mani’s desk, as she has been taking them for several years. It was a sweet day but very low key, which seems to suit her. Just interacting with people exhausts her, so today, a pilgrim day, her
doors will be closed to visitors. After all she is still recovering from a serious cardiac event and we don’t want to push her back into that state. That’s all for now. Sending much love to you all and appreciation for all the prayers and support you are sending here. They are very much in evidence. January 7 Jai Baba and good morning on the 7th ofJanuary, I am happy to write that Arnavaz had a pretty good day yesterday. In the early morning she sat up in bed and with help washed up for the day, but it so exhausted her that she was deeply asleep until noon. Fortunately she managed to have toast and tea before she fell asleep. So soundly asleep was she that even moving her around in bed didn’t disturb her. At noon she woke up and dozed on and offtill 2 p.m. when she had a full lunch in bed with her family around her. She ate very well for the first time in at least a week and stayed awake until bedtime at 7:30 p.m. Arnavaz even watched “Meher Baba’s Call” on her little TV in the evening. Oh yes, and was hungry again at dinner time when she ate a bowl of mushroom soup. When Arnavaz is awake and eating, the mood in the household is so light and happy. It will be very difficult for them to lose another companion when there are so few left. We can only turn to Baba for comfort and support. January 8
Jai Meher Baba, It’s 6 a.m. on the 8th ofJanuary and I am writing from the darkened sitting room, as Katie is still asleep. The last couple days with Arnavaz have been fairly stable in manyways, but we see her declin ing slowly again. Yesterday she mostly slept, though she was fairly easy to awaken. Despite her wish not to drink throughout the day, she did manage to consume almost a litre offluid. Probably better than many ofus. And she did eat. She had toast and tea for breakfast, a delicious sandwich and tiny samosa that Alan sent for lunch, and some soup for dinner. So her caregivers felt happy. However, this morning she is having a lot of pain in the leg she broke over two years ago, which required medicine for pain. She’s now resting comfortably and we’ll wait a while until the medicine is completely on board before we move her. It seems that Baba is slowly weaning His
darling Arnavaz away from the household. I know how difficult it is for them to lose another companion, but I hope that this process of daily uncertainty will bring them to acceptance and release. After all, this is not a tragedy but a great moment in Baba history—although it feels like a tragedy to those ofus who love and cher— ish her. January 9 Arnavaz slept most of the day yester day, partly from the pain medication and partly from her general physical condition. She began having leg pain on both sides, but massage helped relieve it and she has been pain-free for the rest ofthe day. Fortunately, no more medication was needed. Although visitors were not al lowed yesterday, Arnavaz did get to spend time with her family from Mumbai when she awoke at around 2 p.m. She ate and drank a little but overall was much sleepier than on previous days. At 4:30 this morn1’ ing Arnavaz was once again in severe pain which required pain medication. So despite our efforts, we haven’t yet solved this problem of her leg pain. If she were stronger we could get her out ofbed, but she is so sleepy and the condition of her heart is still so uncertain that I am afraid the effort would cause her more harm than good. Arnavaz awoke around 11:30 and ate a piece oftoast and butter. Then her caregivers gave her a thorough full body massage which I hope will help prevent further pain in the early morning. It’s 3 p.m. now and I am hopefrtl that she will have lunch soon and drink lots ofwa ter. With heavy emphasis on “hopeful.”
the moment. This afternoon Arnavaz was able to sit on the edge ofher bed with her legs dangling down on a stool, and have her lunch. This is the first time in three weeks that she has sat up, the first stage in preparing her to get out of bed. Her blood pressure behaved perfectly—often after prolonged bedrest it tends to drop when one becomes vertical, but that didn’t happen. She sat resting her back against one of her caregivers for almost an hour, enjoying her rice and dal, chapatti and chocolate, and she looked so happy to be
January 9 6 p.m. I find myselfin a state of hopeftil happiness this evening—still mindful of Who has the last Word, but I am enjoying
up. If all goes well tomorrow, we will get her up in the wheelchair forlunch and take her to Mani’s desk on the small veranda where she has been taking all her meals the last two to three years. What a miracle that will be. Arnavaz’s hip pain is much better. It did begin to bother her this morning, but the treatment she received reduced the pain considerably, so I didn’t need to give her pain medicine. Arnavaz’s caregivers did passive exercises with her legs and mas saged her whole body, so this evening there
is no pain at all. The atmosphere here is actually buoyant. For however long Baba allows us to stay afloat, we are grateful. January 10 Congratulations are in order. .Arnavaz did it. She transfered out of her bed into the wheelchair and rolled out onto the veranda of the small cottage. She sat at the desk where Mani sat and wrote all the Family Letters, and ate her rice, dal, chapatti and okra, plus a lovely oatmeal cookie that Alan sent. And she seemed so strong. She wasn’t totally comfortable sitting up, but she had no difficulty navigating her lunch and those of us around her. It really started me thinking that maybe she will be able to walk again and stay awhile. But as we all know, that’s dangerous thinking. Best is to say, “Thank you, Baba,” and keep moving. Oh, no leg pain today! .
January 10 Jai Beloved Baba, I am happy to re port that Arnavaz slept peacefully through the night. Early morning yesterday she again had severe pain in her leg, so she received even more massage during the day. As you know by now, it’s impossible to make a prediction or assump tion about dearest Arnavaz’s condition, A/isa Genovese so I won’t! But her EKG was more normal yesterday than it has been in weeks. Arnavaz’s poise throughout her illness has never wavered. Despite her condition she continues to pour out love on all those around her and daily shows concern for her caregivers. Though she accepts all difficul ties with true grace, Arnavaz worries that she’s giving everyone too much trouble. As we observe how deeply darling Arnavaz resides in her trust and faith in Beloved Baba, we also glean how she has lived her life for Him. A remarkable woman. II
,— Arnavaz andAlisa Genovese
January 11 Hey there, This is a quickie—my apologies. But I am rushing and I did want to get something offto you all today. Arnavaz is slowly improving. Yesterday she slept most of the day and woke up at 6 p.m. feeling hungry. Sandy asked her if she wanted steak and potatoes, and she said, “What else?” So I suggested rice and dal, “What else?” she said. “How about pancakes?” And I received the happy little head wiggle that indicated yes. So she ate pancakes with real maple syrup (thanks to a helpftil pu grim) and of course 30 minutes later had a stomach ache. But a bottle of Chinese curing pills took care ofthat and she slept well throughout the night. However she is still waking with the leg pain despite the massage during the day and changing her position often day and night. She really needs to get out ofbed. But yesterday and today she was too low. Hopefttlly tomor row will be better. She did receive a few visitors today—a few people who were leaving and wanted to say goodby, and she was actually awake for this. But we are still hesitant to open the floodgates because she is not ready for the onslaught. January 15 JaiBaba,
Sorry for the silence but the days have been pretty busy and there really hasn’t been anything new to write—which actually is good news. So the good news is that Arnavaz no longer has leg pain in the morning. Sometimes during the day 12
her knee is painful on movement, but not severe and it doesn’t last. She was also having some problems with her stomach, but that too has resolved. However, she is not eating or drinking enough to support her getting out of bed. It’s 6 p.m. and since morning she has had a little chapatti with brown sugar (a special viilage treat) for breakfast and French toast for lunch. Presently she is drinking some mushroom soup. and that will be it for today. Yesterday was not much better, so you can see that she is still very weak and clearly not hungry. Today was a pilgrim day and Arnavaz did manage to see a few pilgrims who asked—but even though the number of visitors was small and the length of their visits short, she was exhausted afterwards. Right now she is watching a Baba movie and hopefully drinking her soup. And maybe tomorrowwill be the day to get her out ofbed. As Eruch used to say, “Another day, another life.” . .
January23 greetings ai Baba, from Meherazad, J So sorry I haven’t written but there hasn’t been much to say. Arnavaz sort of hit a plateau. She remained much better in many ways—heart stable, legs without pain, awake much of the day, eating and drinking fairly well, but she didn’t prog ress beyond that. Then a couple days ago she looked much stronger, so we decided to get her out of bed again. Arnavaz was clearly stronger during the transfer into the wheelchair and while eating her lunch at
Mani’s desk on the small veranda. Previ ously she had been a bit shaky and looked as ifshe was rushing through lunch so she could return to bed. But on Saturday she was relaxed and not at all in a hurry In fact, she looked so good I started fantasizing about her using the walker once again. I should know better, no? Yesterday she ate her breakfast in bed and then at about 10:30 a.m. she fell into a deep sleep and didn’t wake up till 4 p.m. And fully awake took another two hours. So at 6:30 p.m. Arnavaz discovered she was hungry. The first request was toast and tea—unheard of at this hour because tea always keeps her awake. She had French toast and weak tea and she relished that. Then at 7 p.m. Arnavaz asked for chicken soup. Fortunatelywe have a lot of Lipton’s on hand, so she had chicken noodle soup. Then at 7:30 she asked for more toast. And she was still hungry at 8:00 p.m. I heated up some corn bread pudding and Dolly’s delicious caramel custard. Satiation at last! Of course all of this was followed by Calm Stomach, the household’s favorite Chinese tummy remedy. So will my fantasies come true? Will she walk once again? Stay tuned!! January24 Friday morning Jai Meher Baba, Good morning, I was just rereading my last note to you so I would remember what I wrote last. Not terribly different from the present though my fantasies are definitely not manifesting. It seems Arnavaz is feeling restless in bed—really for the first time in several years, which is amazing—and she would like to get up and walk, but she isnt eating or drinking nearly enough to make this possible. However, two days ago she got in the wheelchair again and managed to sit up forlunch and a quick haircut, but by the end she could barely hold up her head. It’s hard to know if this is weakness or withdrawal from the circumstances around her. Yesterday she went into a deep deep sleep after breakfast and we couldn’t rouse her to see pilgrims. She remained in this sleep despite position changes throughout the day, but at 2:30 p.m. she was having a lively conversation with Falu and Meherwan. So what does that mean you ask? She likes them better?!! Really, I haven’t a clue! So yesterdaywhen I asked her what she wanted for lunch, she said, “Crispy chicken patties,” which was a surprise because normally she avoids chicken. Unfortunately the only
chicken patties we had were filled with green chills, so I had to substitute a BLT ofwhich she ate half That’s more than she usually eats. In addition to lunch she had a cup of tea (mostly milk, water, tulsi, mint and ginger with a tea bag waved through the solution) and 3 small pancakes with maple syrup (she seems to like the sweet food now). Not too bad an inventory but really combined with previous days, not enough to provide the strength she needs to walk. However I mayjust try getting her up on the walker for a few steps to pique her interest and engage her in better nutrition for the purpose of walking. January26 Monday morning Jai Meher Baba, Well, there was a moment ofgreat hope since I last wrote. Friday Arnavaz was doing so well she was able to get out of bed for both breakfast and lunch. She was awake most ofthe day and really engaged with life around her for the first time in days. So ofcourse I started thinking about the walker again. Saturday morning she was eager to go out on the veranda for breakfast, and so were we. However, after finishing her food she asked to be taken inside, but not quickly enough. Before we could get her back into bed, she descended into that deep somnolent state and stayed there until about 4 p.m. when she awoke for a little lunch. Sunday was much the same except we didn’t attempt to get her out ofbed at all. Arnavaz ate and drank fairly well yesterday but was either asleep or withdrawn most ofthe day. A few departing pilgrims stood before her sleeping form and quietly said good by, but she did not wake up. Meherazad is closed this week in preparation for Amartithi, so we get a little break. Hopefully Arnavaz will rally a bit so we can take her outside for meals again. But at this point, hope does not spring eternal—at least not in the direction of Arnavaz walking on the veranda. January27 Hi there,just keeping in touch because there isn’t much new to report. Each day is about the same. She looks somnolent in the morning, and really is deeply asleep. We turn her, which is a slightly aerobic event, and she never opens an eye—sometimes I think she’s playing possum—but most of the time it is clear she’s asleep. Then, in the afternoon she suddenly wakes up and eats lunch. However the last couple
[ Photo by Steve and Martha Aubin
days, lunch was a struggle—she would not open her eyes and had to be fed. But today at 3 p.m. she woke up when I called her and was surprised I was asking about lunch and not breakfast. And she sat up in bed and ate a fhll meal with her own hand. So, there it is. I don’t even know what else to say.
January30 Jai Meher Baba, The day before Amartithi and Arnavaz decides to wake up!! She’s alert, hungry, teasing her caregivers, up in the wheelchair for lunch and much more aware of what’s happening around her. After eating a mushroom omelette with a side of okra, chapatti and toasted bun, she looked at me and said, “I feel better.” Amazing. Meheru is in Meherabad, staying in the East Room where Mehera, Mani, Goher, Khorshed and she used to stay during Amartithi. In the early years when there were fewer people and we were allowed to sit inside the Samadhi during Amartithi (seems like another lifetime, doesn’t it?), someone told me they were inside the Tomb in the early hours of the morning of the 31st when darling Goher literally crawled on her hands and knees from the threshold to Baba’s marble, weeping in her grief at the loss ofBeloved Baba’s Presence, and I am sure for whatever responsibility she felt for not saving His life. Can you imagine?
February 3 Hello everyone, Jai Meher Baba! I thought I’d be writing to tell you that Arnavaz had taken another turn for the worse, but since I waited two days to write, she turned again. About three nights ago Arnavaz awoke at 4 a.m. with chest pain which was followed by about 48 hours of deep somnolence. This meant not eating or drinking, which always sets her back. Arnavaz’s family was visiting yesterday, but she remained asleep the whole time (in otherwords, she did notwake up even ifyou called her name or moved her in bed). One of her grandnieces is moving to Australia for school, and this was her last chance to say goodbye. She felt sad that she wouldn’t be able to greet her personally one last time, butjust as the familywas getting in the car, Arnavaz suddenly woke up. So they had their sweet goodbye after all. Today, for no obvious reason, Arnavaz woke up and has been awake and interac tive the whole day. She has been eating and drinking and is now watching That’s Entertainment on the TV. Nothing like the good old movie stars! So that’s the story for today. and possibly tomorrow, but who knows after that. .
February 4 Dear Everyone, Just a few notes today that I wanted to send. Arnavaz is awake now and again, but in a different state than a few days ago.
She doesn’t seem to be completely in our world. And sometimes when she awakens she spontaneously shares little pearls like, “Live for today. It’s the little things that are important, not the big things. When it happens just be practical.”
February 6 Hello again, Although Arnavaz has moments when she is fully awake, she is mostly not. And the quality of her sleep has changed. She is so absent from us—her body really does appear to be nothing more than a shell. Arnavaz does wake up, sort of. But yester day, despite the fact that she ate breakfast and some lunch (a few bites of toast and then pancakes), she actually appeared to be asleep while doing so. Her eyes are open and looking at you, but she’s not truly present. And then last night, just in time for her bedtime, she woke up frilly, having no recollection ofthe day, gave everyone a loving good night and went back to sleep. I think she’s fadingjust the way Goher did. She became lighter and lighter until she was no longer there—or rather until there was only Him.
February 7 Jai Meher Baba, Almost a month has passed since I’ve started writing, and there have been as many ups and downs in as many days. But overall it is clear that darling Arnavaz is steadily declining. About five days ago she had a recurrence of chest pain and then fell into a deep, deep sleep for three days. Even after she awoke, we could see that there had been a change in her condition. And for the last two days she has barely been awake, which means she has had very little to eat or drink. She clearly is in a light coma. However, she is very peaceful and not in any apparent discomfort. So for that we are grateful. I know I have said this many times in the past few months, but unless there is a change, I can’t see Arnavaz continuing this way much longer. Two nights ago she did awaken at 8 p.m. for a few minutes and was able to say good night to Meheru and the rest of us who line up every night for our hugs and kisses. She looked at us and said, “How wonderful that this is not a dream!” One can only imagine her experience. I will keep in touch.
Thursday morning, Jai Baba, Arnavaz truly had one of the best days she has had in weeks if not months after she woke from her coma. Most of the time now when she is awake, she is remote—sometimes not responding to us even though her eyes are open. But on this day she was joking and teasing, drinking with great thirst, eating well and anxious to get out of bed. Even after she finished her lunch she didn’t want to return to bed, something she has not said in years. She sat in the wheelchair in her room for a time looking out the window. Usually she can’t wait to lie down again. On Tuesday she greeted a few pilgrims with such joy—how wonderftil for them, especially since two ofthem were Rick and Sheryl Chapman. But by the end of the day she had expended what little energy she possessed and became remote and withdrawn again. And yesterday, Wednes day, she remained the same. Though she did get up in the wheelchair for lunch and she ate very well. The evening she awoke from the coma she told me she had been very close to going to Baba. She said she would have died, but she came back and from what I could glean, it seems she was worried about everyone she’d be leaving behind. Though we all reassure her that we don’t want her to worry, we know that that day is in Baba’s hands, not hers or ours.
Jai Meher Baba, Since the last health update on Arnavaz, she has mostly been asleep. She has not eaten since last Thursday and has barely taken any fluids. Arnavaz does surface about once a day and drinks water, but she immediately goes back to sleep. When she is awake, she is able to tell us that she doesn’t want to eat or drink anything besides water. But other than responding to our ques tions by nodding her head, she is not com municating with those around her. This is the longest Arnavaz has gone without food and we don’t see any sign of this changing. I hesitate to say more, but the feeling is that she won’t be able to continue in this way much longer. Only Baba knows.
February 14 Saturday, Hey there, Well, the news is not so great, but the fact that I am writing this may change Arnavaz’s condition for the better. Since two or three days she has not really been awake. She surfaces now and again, and often I can tell she’s not asleep—just not wanting to engage. For example, yesterday we gave her a bath in bed which she ostensibly slept through. However, when it was over she exclaimed, with her eyes closed mind you, “Why are you so rough?” So much for what we thought was our tender touch. Arnavaz isn’t drinking much—maybe a half litre a day, and eating less. And, as always, we have no idea what direction she is going in. ...
February 18 Jai Meher Baba, Since yesterday morning, Arnavaz has begun her final ascent to her Beloved Baba. Her breathing and EKG indicate that the time is near. We have begun a constant vigil at her bedside throughout the day and night and will continue to do so as long as she is with us. It is Baba’s miracle that she is still present, and all we can say is “Your Will be done.”
February 19 Another stalwart in His Love has returned to His fold, and how fortunate we all have been to know her and to share in her life of love and service and in her finaijourney to her Beloved Avatar Meher Baba.
A Postscript: Many days have passed since I last wrote and the household has been very busy. Baba’s birthday preparations soon prevailed after Arnavaz’s cremation, and we became engrossed in the busy-ness of each day preceeding the celebration. Arnavaz’s ashes returned to Meherazad soon after the cremation and were placed on her bed at her pillow. Theywere covered with a beautiful scarf that was a present by some of her caregivers, and a photo of Baba that she kept bedside for many years, an early picture of Arnavaz, and a photo ofArnavaz, Roda and Falu together were placed on her bed. The atmopshere in her room was beautiful. During open Meherazad days I would find a pilgrim or two sitting quietly in her room—Baba’s Presence was palpable.
)3 es, EBaba.’
by Deborah Smith and Nancy Wall rnavaz—her name means “gift of God”—and she ex emplified that name in the eyes of hundreds of pilgrims who made their way to her “office,” in the room where her husband Nariman had always stayed when he was in Meherazad, or to the porch outside her bedroom in the small bungalow directly across from Baba’s house. Arnavaz had an uncanny sense of knowing what person might need some special attention. Often, after the bus had arrived and everyone had greeted the mandali, she would look around the porch and zero in on someone. A few minutes later they would be walking away for a private talk. Because she had lived a married life in the world, many people, including the two ofus, brought their problems to her. This role she could never have anticipated, but she performed it with incredible grace and love. Without those qualities, she could not have helped so manywith the troubles in their lives—their relationships with oth ers, their health, their work, their difficul ties in living in a worldwith little emphasis on the spiritual. She could help not only because she had lived in that world, but, more importantly, because had learned so many necessary lessons directly from the Master’s hand: obedience, surrender, love, suffering and detachment. From her first meeting with Baba in 1927, when she was only eight, until the day she left us to go to Him just short of her 91st birthday, she was entirely His. Still, like all those who would follow Baba faithfully, Arnavaz had to learn how to please Him. Her first lesson in obedience was a difficult one, and Baba was very firm with her. He was visiting her parents’ home in 1934,just after she had passed her fifth standard exams; she had stood first in her class and was looking forward to finishing school and then attending college. After showing His pleasure in her academic achievements, Baba abruptly announced to Naroji, her father, that Arnavaz should be taken out of school. Shocked, Naroji started to protest, but Baba simply put His finger to His lips. Knowing that he had to obey, Najoji simply said, “Yes, Baba.”lBaba then asked Arnavaz ifshe would do as He
Nancy Wall, Arnavaz, Deborah Smith
asked. She, too, answered “Yes, Baba,” but her heart was not in the reply. She was stunned. Baba then told her if she would stay home for a year, He would then let her complete her secondary education. As Arnavaz said, “This was Baba’s first strict order, beginning the training which would lead me finally to resign myselffully to His will. We have to start saying ‘Yes Baba,’ even if it’s not from the heart. Ifwe start that way, slowly and graduallyMeher Baba teaches us to obey Him, wholeheartedly, without the reasoning of the mind. But that takes time.” Arnavaz spent a fairly miserable year away from her friends, bored with household chores, unable to study on her own. She could not even go out for a walk, as girls at that time were closely guarded. At first she felt sorry for herself but she found that the experience gradually began to weaken her attachment to having life the way she wanted it. Baba, true to His word, did allow her to go back after a year, and with extra work she managed to catch up. She took her university matriculation exam, confident that she had done well. However, Baba told her she would fail, and fail she did. He told her to retake the exam and four months later she passed, but Baba said she had studied enough, allowing her to take only a diploma class so that she could teach in order to help her family financially. Although Arnavaz had loved Baba from the time she was eight, that love deepened greatly ten years later when she was invited to celebrate His birthday with
Him in Meherabad. During the four days she was there, Baba, as she put it, “opened the floodgates, and love burst through,” leaving her in a weeping state of both ecstasy and agony. It was her first experi ence of the deep love she was to feel for her Beloved for the rest of her life, and when she returned to Bombay, she wrote a long series of sweet love letters to Baba and daydreamed of living an ascetic life of renunciation, focused only on God. Baba, however, had other plans for her, and in 1939 He asked her ifshe would like to marry. She told him no, adding that she wanted to devote herself only to Him. Then He reminded her of the story of Mira, who wanted to renounce the world and live only for Krishna. But when Krishna asked her to marry, she did so. Baba then asked Arnavaz if she would marry if He wanted her to. She said yes. And then he asked her if she would marry her cousin Nariman if that was His wish. Startled, again she said yes, though her heart belonged only to Baba. Arnavaz had become friendly with Nariman when in 1927 he came from Karachi to Bombay to make arrangements to sail to England, having received a scholarship for an advanced degree in chemistry. She saw him often during that time and again several months later when he returned to Bombay to finalize his ar rangements. During the second trip he had confessed his love for her. She told him she was not romantically inclined, though she very much enjoyed his friendship, and she agreed to write to him while he was in England. When he returned, he settled in Bombay and started a business. Once established in his career, he asked Arnavaz to marry him and wrote a letter to Baba asking permission. When Arnavaz next saw Baba, He asked her if she had seen the letter. When she told Him she had, He immediately said, without further discussion, that He would fix the time of their engagement. By this time Arnavaz, though distraught by the abruptness of Baba’s decision, had already learned that ‘All quotedpassages arefrom Gjft of God, ©BelovedBooks, 1996. Is
if she surrendered to Baba’s will, He would help her. And He did. Before they were married, Arnavaz, while lying in bed one morning, had a vision of Nariman in which she said, “a por tion ofthe pure love in my heart for Beloved Baba was transferred to Nariman for our coming marriage and life together.” Baba took care of everything: the engagement, the wedding, even finding them an apartment at a time (during World War II) when living quarters were almost impossible to come by. Baba had told them that they were to live alone, not, as was the usual custom, with Nariman’s mother, so they began their search. Before long someone told them of an apartment in a building called Ashiana, meaning “nest.” It was lovely, modern, and furnished with everything they would need, even dishes. They took it and moved in. Ashiana became Baba’s headquarters in Bombay, and He and both the men and women mandali came often to stay over the next many years, holding small darshan programs for close lovers and even one very large one, where people lined the sidewalk leading to the apartment for hours, waiting for the opportunity to bow down to Baba. Arnavaz had learned the importance of obedience and had found the ability to surrender to Baba’s wish and will, but many challenges still lay ahead. Even before her wedding took place, her family had experienced the first in a long chain oflosses when her brother Tehmton died oftyphoid at the age ofseventeen. A year later, Chanji, Baba’s secretary, the beloved uncle who had brought the whole family to Baba, succumbed also to typhoid while in Kashmir with Baba. Both Arnavaz and Nariman were devastated. Two years later Arnavaz’s mother died of cancer. Her brother Nozer, an Air Force pilot, was lost when his plane went down. Later her brothers Huma and Dara both died of heart attacks, as did her sisters Nargis i6
bay, but her stays became shorter and less frequent. In 1983 she had a massive heart attack; from then on Arnavaz’s health was compromised, though she looked healthy and Baba gave her the energy to perform the work He wanted from her. Living in Meherazad, she realized that Baba had granted her the wish she’d had as a young woman, to live a secluded life away from the world, devoted only to Him. Dur ing the last several years of her life, she did not leave
and Roda. Arnavaz, the eldest of seven children, survived all ofthem as well as her dear Nariman, Beloved Baba, and Mehera. Gradually, through the experience of deep suffering, she developed the detachment that allowed her to help others who were suffering. Although Arnavaz had assumed that she and Nariman would have children, they didn’t. Baba said at one point that He would give them a son; later He told them that He was their son and Mehera their daughter. And even later He told Arnavaz to be a mother to everyone. Looking back on all those years when Baba stayed at Ashiana, Arnavaz said she was happy that there were no children, because had she been busy caring for them, she would not have been able to devote her full attention to Baba and the mandali during their frequent visits. When Baba left Meherazad to go on the New Life, he had the deed to Mehe razad transferred to Nariman’s name, and in 1961 He wrote a confidential letter to Arnavaz, asking her to live most of her time in Meherazad and be close to Mehera in the event that Mehera should survive Him. Arnavaz immediately agreed. And just five months after Baba dropped His body, Nariman sold his factory and both of them lived much of their time in Meherazad until his death in 1974. Arnavaz continued to spend some time in Bom
Meherazad. One night in 1991, as she was prepar ing to go to bed, an internal voice told her to write her story. Her first thought was, “Oh, Baba, there is so much work to be done, and I haven’t the mental or physical energy to complete the task. I don’t even Again the voice spoke: have a title. Gift of God. Long accustomed to saying, “Yes, Baba,” she got to work, knowing He would help her. We, Deborah and Nancy, were the ones who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Often the three ofus worked together; at other times each ofus, primarily Deborah, worked alone with Arnavaz; and the two ofus worked together in the U.S. We sent material to Arnavaz for corrections, and she sent it back to us via returning pilgrims over the next few years. Here, then, are our recollections of those amazing years and the way in which Arnavaz brought Baba more frilly and deeply into both our lives, a process that continues, despite her physical absence. . .
From Deborah: One day in January of 1992 I went to Arnavaz’s “office,” in the small building opposite the veranda at Meherazad, to ask her if she wanted a massage. I was in a bright mood; hopping up the steps to the porch, I walked in without thinking to knock. What I saw and felt upon entering
stopped me, and I stood still in the middle of the room. Arnavaz was sitting behind the desk, her head cradled in her hands, covering her face. Forgetting all about the massage I’d come to offer, I quietly asked with some concern, “Arnavaz, do you need some help?” She raised her head, looked deeply at me and replied, “Yes. Yes, I do need help. I have work to do and no one to help me to do it.” Without any idea of the work Arnavaz was referring to, I willingly offered myself. I could see the thoughts moving over Arnavaz’s face as she contemplated my offer, and I wondered what sort ofjob I hadjust volunteered for. “Well,” she said, “maybe you can help,” and motioned for me to sit down. She paused, seemed to choose her words carefully, and continued. “Beloved Baba has asked me to write my story, and I don’t know how. It is a very bigjob. Do you think you can help me write a book ofmy life with Baba?” I told Arnavaz I had always read a great deal, felt I knew what constituted a wellwritten book, and thought I was capable of helping her, even though I had done only small writing projects before. My answer must have been sufficient, because right then and there she began describing what she had at hand to begin her book: a collection of stories first recorded on tape by Dara Irani, Baba’s nephew, and later transcribed by Evie Lindemann and Meherrukh Mistry, Arnavaz’s niece. Now, J erry and Shirla Edwards were almost finished entering that material into a com puter, and what was preoccupying Arnavaz was that there was no one ready to take the next step with her in creating a book that would tell the whole story ofher life with Beloved Baba. That’s when I happened to walk in. What great fortune for me! Arnavaz gave me a copy of the tran scription to read and told me to keep our work private, just between us, as she did not want people knowing about it yet. While I had no idea ofwhat this challenge would entail or how long it would take to come to fruition, I left Meherazad that day feeling ready and confident about getting to the task. The transcription was a thick docu ment and at first read it did not seem to contain any noticeable coherence. Because the original tapes were answers to specific questions, every story that Arnavaz told was only a partial rendering of situations taken out oftheir original context. Fortu nately, it took Arnavaz and me little time to figure out an approach to the material
and to establish a comfortable working rhythm. I would read a portion of the material at home in Meherabad and come up with questions to prompt her memory. She, in response, would relate all she could remember about the circumstances involved. I took very few written notes, but worked from a felt sense of her sto ries. After writing them out, I’d return to Meherazad with more questions. I’d read aloud to Arnavaz what I had written, and she would correct facts, ff11 in blanks, and expand upon the thread of the story that was revealing itself. We repeated this process until one segment was truly fleshed out and then go to another. In addition to this aspect of the work, J erry Edwards was teaching me how to use a computer. He and Shirla were to leave India soon after Baba’s birthday, and I had to be competent before they left in order to enter the growing pages of new material. Thanks tojerry’s expert tutoring, I soon felt comfortable with the computer and began entering stories into it directly after sessions with Arnavaz. The project was underway. From Nancy: On the day Arnavaz asked me to work on her book, in July, 1992, we had been talking in her office, something she had made time for ever since I had been coming to India, my first trip following a series oflosses: my mother, my father, and my husband over the space ofless than two years. That day, many years after my early and confusing days with Baba, we had talked ofmy havingjust quit teaching after 27 years to take early retirement. I had acted on the feeling that I was supposed to do something else, and I was hoping for some sign from Baba that I had made the right decision. Arnavaz had, as always, been reassuring, telling me to leave it all in Baba’s capable hands. We finished our talk and walked out to the porch. My pilgrimage nearly over, I’d planned an excursion to the Ellora caves the following day with two young women who had traveled with me to India and a few other friends. Sud denly Arnavaz said, “Oh—I forgot to tell you my secret. Come.” I followed her back into the room, where she whispered, “I’m writing my book.” She pulled out a large folder containing stories of her life with Baba. She told me Deborah Smith was helping her. I was a bit surprised; I knew little about Deborah other than she was a resident living in Meherabad and a mas
sage therapist. “But I also need someone who knows punctuation,” Arnavaz said. “I know punctuation,” I told her, “that’s what I taught.” “Really? You can do it?” she asked and immediately thrust the huge folder into my hands. “Take this and read it. But don’t tell anyone what you are reading, or everyone will be asking questions.” I mentally rearranged the plans for Ellora. “I’ll read it tomorrow and bring it back on Thursday,” I told her. The next morning I found a quiet corner and started reading. Each page contamed some gem, but much was missing. The stories lacked context and they were jumbled together in no particular order. All ofthem needed more detail. Still, rough as the material was, I could see the makings of a wonderfril book. As I read, it seemed as though the entire population ofthe P.C. at that time walked past me at some point; and everyone asked what I was reading. Again and again I muttered vaguely, “just some stuff.” When I took the folder back to Arnavaz the following morning, I told her I thought the stories were a good start, that they could result in a lovely book, but they needed to be organized into some co herent order, and I had lots ofquestions to elicit more detail. She asked me ifl could come again soon for an extended stay, and I agreed to return early injanuary to work with her and Deborah. The next day I left forTucson in a state ofeuphoria over being asked to help with this project. Baba had given me my reason for deciding to retire, the sign that I had done the right thing in leaving teaching, though it has taken me years to realize more fully what a unique and precious gift He was giving me. From Deborah: This endeavor with Arnavaz went far beyond anything I could have anticipated. As the conversations between us evolved, they became more and more personal. It was evident that there were experiences in Arnavaz’s life that paralleled my own, and Baba’s arranging for me to help her was most certainly His grace, to both ofus, as Arnavaz said many times, though needless to say, monumental for me. The impact of sharing so personally with Arnavaz, whose whole life was intimately directed by Baba’s own hand, enlivened the possibility that my own life could be understood in the same light; that I could come to believe, to really know in the very core ofmy being, that my sorrows and sufferings, failures and mistakes were
about her emotional life, and was doing so only because it was Baba’s wish. I remember telling Arnavaz that I had already been married and divorced, that due to my own inadequacy it had been a very painfiii experience, and that I was downright fearful of marriage. It was a very telling confession, for at that time there was a man who sincerely wanted me to marry him and was astonishingly persistent against many odds——1O,000 miles for starters. I felt I had made the choice to Summer 1994, working on the manuscript leave the world forever, also lovingly given by Baba to wear down that in the spiritual panorama this was the sanskaras and release His love more and highest choice I could make, and that I more within me. And for someone whose had honestly made the decision for purely self-image had been ravaged by fear and spiritual reasons. insecurity, adopting this perspective of In mid-July of that year Phill Smith, Baba as our complete and unconditionally the man who wished to marry me, came benign creator, meant a revolution had to to Meherabad, planning a six-month stay occur to bring down the Bastille surroundthat would ultimately confirm or deny a ing my heart and mind. I am grateful that marriage between us. Unable to dismiss it was dearest Arnavaz who lovingly stirred my feeling for Phill despite overwhelming Baba’s storm. fears and the commitment I had made to It began rather innocently, as Arnavaz live in India for Baba, I told him that if described her early wish to be an ascetic; she anything was to come ofthis, Baba would hadlost all interest in the world and wanted have to make it perfectly clear it was His to be able to spend her time in renunciation wish that we marry. I did not trust my like the yogis in the Himalayas. Though own decision-making process, except that under very different circumstances, I had I was sure I wanted to continue living in come to live at Meherabad for what I India. Determined not to make a mistake, thought were similar reasons. Even as I wanted to be guided by Baba, and it goes Arnavaz confessed her own immaturity at without saying that Arnavaz was my ap that time in her relationship with Baba, it pointed mentor. did not dawn on me that my own thinking Arnavaz liked Phill immediately upon was also naive. I was feeling so thankful to meeting him. That is not to say she inti have found my spiritual home where I could mated to me in anywaywhat I ought to do; live happily in service to Baba; Meherabad she neither encouraged nor discouraged and Meherazad were my safe haven, the me. She assured me that Baba would make healing balm I desperately needed, and my me aware of His wishes and that she was thinking would simply not go beyond that available to me if I needed her counsel. perception. Our work together was in frill swing, and Next came the telling of how Baba with each meeting Arnavaz kept inspir asked for Arnavaz’s obedience to His re ing me, revealing more and more of her quest that she marry, dashing her dreams single-pointed effort to love Baba as she ofliving a single life in total dedication to knew He ought to be loved—no matter Him. Arnavaz took a great deal of time how difficult, painful or challenging it was. conveying to me what a heart-wrenching Her relationship with Baba contained proexperience this had been for her. She also found inner contact and experiences with confided that she had never imagined she Him despite the fact that He had been would be publicly revealing such details physically present throughout much of i8
her life. She made no bones about the fact that Baba ‘spoke’ to her inwardly, guiding her through intuition and revealing things to her through visions. As I am predomi nately right-brained and used to feeling my way through life on intuitive clues, her words were tremendously reassuring. I told Arnavaz of my own inner experi ences with Baba, and she encouraged me always to respond to what Baba prompted inwardly. Arnavaz actually tutored me in my relationship with Baba, particularly in how to respond to His inner promptings. One day she emphatically instructed that whenever Baba asked for something from me, I should immediately say yes, that I could always think about it later, but it was most important to say yes without thinking. I don’t remember contemplating this advice afterwards; at the time it was one bit in the volume ofwisdom Arnavaz was imparting to me. After three months of visiting with Phill, I knew what I had already known when he arrived: that I cared deeply for him and was afraid. Afraid ofthe relationship of marriage and afraid that marriage would be the end of my spiritual oppor tunity to live and serve at Baba’s precious home. One day in October Phill came to me with his ultimatum; we would either go to the mandali and talk to them about getting married, or he was throwing in the towel—and rightly so. He had been pursuing our relationship for six years and had been driven just about crazy with my double and triple messages. “But Baba hasn’t given me the green light yet,” I pleaded. And while I can smile now, I felt then as ifl were in a life or death situation. Most certainly Baba was drawing a line in the sand, and something had to give. One morning shortly after that day, while getting ready to go out to Mehe razad, I developed a splitting headache. As I pushed on with preparations to leave, it became so severe that I ended up sending a message to Arnavaz that I was not well and could not come out to work. While crawling back into bed, in a moment of sudden clarity in the storm of pain within my head, I heard Baba say to me, “I want you to be 100% receptive to me today.” I could only peep,”Yes, Baba,” before I collapsed on the bed and fell asleep. An hour and a haiflater I woke up feeling fine. Though somewhat bewildered by the sudden com ing and going of such a painful headache, I began to relish the idea that I now had a whole day with nothing scheduled.
This thought, however, was immediately followed by the memory of what Baba had said to me: “I want you to be 100% receptive to me today.” Knowing that distractions abounded in the house where I was living, I thought about where to go and settled on the Study Hall up the Hill as the quietest place I knew. Armed with water and a hat, I headed out the door. Then it occurred to me that I might want to have something to write on, so I grabbed a small journal that I had almost never used. Arriving at the Study Hall, I imme diately felt it was the right choice—cool and dark, it was ftlled with Baba treasures, desks for writing and total silence. Sitting down and opening the journal, I saw that I had made only two short entries, both pondering the same question: “What is the purpose ofthis incarnation for me?” Is this why I am here? Is this why Baba wants my complete attentiveness? I wondered. I had no memory of writing those entries, but I felt that I had to erase the idea of mere coincidence from my thinking, so I opened myself to Beloved Baba, focused my awareness within, centered myself and set to listening. In this receptive state I walked around, gazing at the treasures circling the room until I stood in front ofBaba’s cushioned divan chair that had been used at Guru Prasad. I pulled up a chair for myself and sat quietly in meditation facing the picture of Baba that sits on the divan. Inwardly I saw a peculiar image of myself sitting right where I was. Not knowing what it meant and with the intent ofbeing 100% receptive to Baba, I felt I ought to assume the position of the image, but it involved doing something that was taboo. It meant I had to spread my legs and rest my calves on the corners of the foot rest part of the divan. Putting one’s feet toward Baba’s photo is a gesture ofdisrespect, simply not done. In the Tomb people never straighten their legs and point their feet at Baba’s image. So I didn’t do it. But the image persisted until I said to Baba, “Only you and I here, so this is just between us.” I assumed the position and immediately perceived its meaning. Inhaling sharply, I gasped to myself, “My God, this is a birthing position.” No sooner than I said those words than I heard within a question from Baba: “Are you willing to give birth to Me?” Before I could even begin to think, I was flooded with the words Arnavaz had impressed upon me: “Whenever Baba asks for something, you should immediately say
yes, and think about it later.” I blurted out, “Yes, Baba,” and He followed with, “Then a husband is necessary.” There was no doubt about the person to whom Baba was referring, and a torrent of feelings, images and thoughts began pouring into my awareness, but before I could form even one coherent question, I was assured by Baba with these words. “Don’t worry, I have prepared him 100%.” I sat quietly for along time,just breathing, and slowly formed a question. “Baba, how do I tell Phill?” That may seem an odd re quest, but after putting this man offfor six years and the unusual circumstances under which I hadjust been given a “green light,” it seemed appropriate. Without a pause I heard Baba say, “Tell him I have opened the gate.”This answer made absolutely no sense to me, but at that moment it didn’t matter. The heightened sense I had been experiencing started fading, and I became aware oftime. Remembering that Phil and I had agreed to meet at the Samadhi after his shift as MPC receptionist, I glanced at my watch and saw that he was due within minutes. I went outside and watched from the tower for his approach. Soon I saw Phil marching up the Hill, and I called out and waved for him to come up. He indicated that he would go to the Samadhi first. When he came up to the Study Hall, I could see that he was feeling emotional. Straight away he started teffing me that an arriving pilgrim had brought a music tape from friends in Athens, Georgia, and one particular song had re ally touched him, brought him to tears, and he couldth figure out why. Curious after my own amazing experience, I asked what the song was about, and Phill said it was a country/western number about a cowboywho hadlost everything—his girl, his horse, and most of his money. All he had left was his saddle and enough cash to enter one more rodeo, take one more ride on a bucking bronco. Ifhe lost, it was hopeless. “What about it made you cry?” I asked. “Well, you have to know that in
Arnavaz with Phil
a rodeo, a perfect score for a ride is eight, and you can lose a point just for coming out ofthe corral poorly. I cried at the line that went like this: ‘I hope this old judge ain’t blind and he gives me an eight when they open the gate.” Astonishing! Baba had perfectly arranged this mo ment. I took a deep breath. “Baba said to tell you He has opened the. gate and we can get married.” Iflife were a country/western song, you might imagine that we rode away at sunset to Pune, got married and lived happily ever after. But, no, we did not. It was very complicated for Westerners to get married in India then, and we would have to get permission from Mani to do so first. All my fears of marriage and having to leave India boiled up, and I was in a panic. All this happened on a Saturday, and on Monday morning Arnavaz was waiting for me in her office to begin our work. I came in and told her everything from start to finish, followed by an outpouring of my fears. “Baba would never ask something of you and then not take care of everything, my dear,” Arnavaz said. “Take strength in how clearly He made His wishes known and what a beautiful, precious summons he issued to you. You must do your best to please Beloved Baba by being brave with whatever He ordains.” I wish I could say those words calmed me right down and I was able to take in Arnavaz’s strength and wisdom, her poise and absolute trust in Baba. But I was “still ‘9
raw in Baba’s ways” as she used to say, and it appeared to me that all my fears were rapidly coming true. When I went to Mani for her permission, she listened lovingly to the story and our request to stay in India, and then kindly told me that Phil and I would have to go back to America to marry because to live in Meherabad was too much of a fishbowl for a new couple. Baba’s way of asking me to marry was otherworldly, but walking through the steps to carry out His wish was painfully ofthis earth. Phil decided to return to the U.S. before Christmas and prepare for my arrival; I was to stay until April and continue working on the book. Arnavaz kept inspiring me, slowly leading me to want to obey Baba. Although I felt incapable ofdoing so, she bolstered me to surrender bravely to “Baba’s ways” and to accept the working, however difficult, of His Love inmylife. Fortunately Baba provided a wonderful distraction from my fears. In June of that year Nancy had come to India and Arnavaz asked her to help with the mechanics and other aspects ofputting the book together. She was arriving in January so we could collaborate with Arnavaz to begin molding the amassed material into a manuscript. Nancy is writing about the experience of our working together, but I want to say right now that neither ofus had an inkling of the special relationship this collabora tion would bring to our lives. From Nancy: When I got back to India in January, Deborah and I set up my new laptop computer in her quarters in Meherabad and started to work. We would write a few pages and then take them to Arnavaz with our questions, always looking for more details and trying to get the stories into some workable order. On a couple of days we spent hours looking through Arnavaz’s family photographs with her, choosing all those we wanted to consider including. We got a decent start during that time, but only a start. Though I’d had a few short articles published, none of us had ever written a book. But what came through clearly as we sat in Deborah’s room, trying to find the right words, was that neither she nor I could have managed without the other. I may have been better at sentence structure and mechanics, but Deborah had a much better sense of exactly what Arnavaz wanted to convey, and her phrasing was often eloquent. We’d 20
barely known each other when we started, but when I left Meherabad in March, we parted as sisters. Once Deborah had returned to the U.S. in April and she and Phill were married, it occurred to me that if they wanted to live in Tucson, they could stay in a small apartment attached to my house that had recently been vacated. They decided to give it a try, so once again Deborah and I took our positions at the computer to work through the difficulties. Sometimes the words came easily and we covered much of a chapter in a short time. Other times we would find ourselves endlessly discussing how to phrase something, laboring over a paragraph or two for an hour. Deborah would tell me that I wasn’t getting to the heart ofwhat Arnavaz wanted to say, but when she proposed a sentence, I would announce that her syntax was confusing. Once, when we had struggled long over a passage without making any progress at all, we decided we needed to quit for the day. The next morning we literally ran toward one another in the hallway next to my study. Deb told me she had solved the problem. I thought I had, too—it had come to me during the night. I wish we could remember the precise passage, but it doesn’t matter. Baba had given both of us the same push, to our delight (and no doubt His), we had come up with exactly the same words!
Chanji’s letters to the family, Nariman’s letters and poems to Arnavaz, and her father’s diaryThey had come out from deep inside Arnavaz’s cupboards the last week Nancy was in India, so the three ofus had barely glanced over them. What treasure they held, what extraordinary insights. Baba’s loving touch upon all their hearts was so vibrant, so real and alive. While Nancy and I were reading and contemplating them, Baba worked on us as well. We felt tremen dously inspired, and the manuscript began to come together. The exchange of letters between Baba and Arnavaz highlighted the themes of obedience, surrender and love which drew us into the true focus of her story. From that point on, the writing moved more easily. It seemed to carry us.
From Deborah: I can’t begin to say how many blessings came from our decision to accept Nancy’s loving offer for us to come stay in Tucson. Living in the apartment attached to her house made it possible for us to continue writing Arnavaz’s book side by side. Hon estly, I don’t know how we would have pulled it offany other waywhen I think of the hours that we worked daily. The work was captivating. Arnavaz had instructed us to begin each session with a prayer asking Baba to make us think what He wanted us to think, say what He wanted us to say, and write what He wanted us to write. I am sure Nancy agrees that the prayer set the tone ofour work and helped keep har mony between us. We would often repeat it when we were stuck, unable to relate what Arnavaz intended or having difficulty finding transitions to weave the stories into a coherent whole. Another great help was the gold mine I had brought from India, xeroxed copies of Arnavaz’s collected letters: her letters to Baba, Baba’s letters to her,
.1 bow down to our Precious Beloved for sending you to help me with the book. I have little energy left physically and mentally, and I would not have been able to do without Deb, and then Beloved Baba sent you. He said, “Only I do My work.” And I have experienced His words so many times in my life. I was in extremely poor health when He told me, “Print your book.” I felt a heavy burden on my chest. I just said, “Oh Baba, I am in no condition and I have no one to help me but You. I leave it to You and give my book to You. Help me do what You want.” Then I said, “So much has to be done. I have to give a title, and my brain doesn’t function. The voice said, ‘Gift of God.” Oh, I felt such a relief “It took me back to reminisce about the scene that took place twenty-five years ago in Beloved Baba’s bedroom. When dear Mehera asked Baba, “What is the meaning ofArnavaz?” Baba said “Gift of God.” At that time I felt His words had a deeper meaning, and He answered me now. “My story isjust the story ofone of the
From Nancy: Throughout much ofthe writing process, Deborah and I worked inTucson and Arnavaz in India, but we maintained an extensive correspondence over the book. In September ofl992, even before I returned to India to work with the two of them, I received a letter from Arnavaz showing clearly that she had no wish to write an ordinary autobiography; this book was another act of obedience to her Beloved Baba, a tribute to His eternal loving pres ence in her life. Her description of her health in this letter also shows how fragile she was even sixteen years ago: “. .
souls in thousands as to how God—Man Baba in His boundless love deals with each one in a different way, according to one’s sanskaras and need at the time. Therefore Beloved Baba should shine and be the important figure and not the individual in whatever way one narrates. The choice of words and expressions used for Him should have an impact on the readers for Him.” As Deborah and I sat at the computer, knowing that we had to pay far more attention to Baba and less to the external events of Arnavaz’s life, we tried to keep our focus by selecting quotations from Baba relating to the subject of each particular chapter. Another letter, written in August of 1994, shows how the original manuscript was already being expanded and deepened as Baba became more and more the primary focus of the story Before I received your letter I al ready felt that the beginning of the first chapter with only 2-3 lines about Baba was insufficient. So I added some to give more emphasis on Him. Therefore I was happy that you agreed with my thoughts and appreciated your ideas to write more about Chanji’s first meeting with his Beloved, and I am doing likewise with other incidents too “Certain stories give the idea that though God-Man works on all levels and planes, when God takes physical Form He works on the gross plane. He is all knowing and all unknowing; e.g., He showed anxiety when an expected letter did not arrive; He would feel sad receiving news of the death ofa lover. When the newspaper was read out to Him or He heard any particular news on the radio, Baba would say, “Why did they do this?” or “Why didn’t they do that?” Not a leaf moves without God’s wish and will. And yet when God takes the human body, He acts on the hu man level in perfection in order to make us realize that one has to do his or her part according to how God has ordained for each one. Thereby the God-Man on the human level gives us the opportunity to obey Him and surrender to Him with unquestioning faith. “I have already written about my mother, father, and brother Nozer. So I would write something about my sis Roda and brothers Dara and Huma. (Why? Because we were all equally close to our Beloved Baba and suffered in common as well as individually in different ways. Except my sis Roda all have died, so I want to add a little ofeach one. ‘( . . .
. . .
“I know it will be bulky, but when you come [in November of1994] I would like you to bring a copy ofthe manuscript with all the corrections, and with the placement ofphotos and letters. I realize you’ll need to xerox the photos and letters and that is fine. Just so I have an idea of how the whole book will look before you and I sit down to go through the manuscript. I un derstand everything will be on the disc, but I want you to print the manuscript there and make sure it is correct so that when we begin to work we will not be handicapped by missing pages or paragraphs, etc. Arnavaz wrote again in September, further expressing her feelings about the way the manuscript was taking shape: “ . .
.Whatever you two dears have done is from your hearts. You have worked hard and if everything Baba does everything, then you have done as Baba wanted you to do. So remember I am not disappointed with the script. You are doing what you think best and I am doing what I think best. Therefore I will correct and suggest what I feel and you do the same and Baba will bring the balance. So don’t ever think that I am disappointed. “We arejust stationary pawns on Baba’s chess board and He moves us in whichever square He wants to, up and down and in between, giving us somersaults. “It is not you, it is not me, it is Baba Who for His own reason is making the book very heavy for me and sometimes putting me through the rigmarole. My physical and mental health do not co-ordinate with the work Baba is doing. (Yet His love keeps me floating. Ofcourse, the same with everyone.) “What is tiring and fritters away my energy is I am constantly searching for something. Sometimes the article is right in its place and in front of my eyes, and yet I don’t see it and wonder where it is. Ofcourse Baba bounces me back, but time evaporates When I travelled to India a couple of months after Deborah and I received this last letter, Arnavaz and I spent hours gomg over the manuscript painstakingly and making lots of corrections and additions. During that stay we also looked through her family photographs again, making sure we had selected the best ones for the book. Many ofthem reminded her of some forgotten story that I immediately wrote down and added to the manuscript later. By the time I left, India, I felt we were . . .
getting close, though there were still many details to be worked out. We didn’t get through the entire manuscript, and before I left, she asked that Deborah and I come in the summer, when the Pilgrim Centre was closed and we could work nearly every day. A letter that arrived in February shows how increasingly difficult it was for her to work on the book by herself
.After sending you corrections of four chapters I have hardly done anything. If it was not for the help from Shelley [Marrich], even these four chapters would have been impossible. “I have crossed many difficult hurdles in the past but now with age and physical health, what I would have dealt with more easily is becoming like climbing a steep mountain, the last leg always difficult and exhausting. Even my manuscript, I don’t like to look at it. If Baba hadn’t told me to write my book, I would have dropped it. But I know that after Beloved Baba’s birthday I will get into it by the time you come. Baba will surely make me ready. Mind you, I am all right and relaxed in a way, but frmnctioning ofthe mind is either very slow or doesn’t work. Of course Beloved Baba is helping me to understand to some extent what is going on. “With all the heaviness and pressure I am quite light because I live hour to hour, day by day, and do not worry whether this will be done or that will be done. This is the grace of our precious Beloved God, Meher Baba. “Mani, Goher and Meheru will go to Poona on 3rd April for a month, so we will have a good free time to work on the book without disturbing anyone. You come at your convenient time, but only if it is possible arrive at Meherabad round about 28th March or so and stay at least for a month because we will need that much time “Thank You, our loving living God Meher Baba for giving me support of Your dears Deborah and Nancy to do Your work, to write Your book on my life with You, My Beloved Baba and Your Beloved Mehera.” “. .
. . .
I went for six weeks April-May, 1994 (summer in India), staying in town with Dara and Amrit Irani, who had graciously agreed to have me as their guest. Almost every morning I took a rickshaw out to Meherazad—except for Fridays, when it was closed to visitors. Occasionally I took an extra day when we had worked 21
through a lot of material that I needed to get into my computer. (I was afraid to take it to Meherazad with me, bouncing around in a rickshaw; also the electricity was more predictable in town.) The work went slowly during those hot summer days, but I have to say that this time with her in Meherazad was for me a process of learning, deepening, growing. As ie worked, Arnavaz always stopped to explain whatever she wanted a reader to understand from her stories, and I began to realize that this process of writing a book was much bigger than it had initially seemed. I was receiving, through the experiences Arnavaz had gone through and her explanations ofthem, some much needed instruction, and what I was given during those days with her was priceless. I had offered my help to her, but she was helping me in a far more importantway. By the time I left, I felt myselfopening more and more to Baba, finally beginning to understand that everything I experienced in life was necessary for me to go through in order to learn what it really means to love Him. The process was not always easy. In our conversations she often quoted Baba, and at first I would think, “Yes, I know that,” but often she would emphasize something that I knew I needed to work on, and her stressing it repeatedly made me more aware ofwhat I had to do. I also remember all too clearly the day I had crossed out the word “wish” from a sentence including the words “Baba’s wish and will.” Arnavaz told me to put it back in. “But Arnavaz, it’s redundant,” I told her in my best English Teacher voice. Her eyes flashed. “It is not redundant.” She followed up with an ex planation ofthe difference, and I realized how little I still understood about Baba. I felt humiliated. When I later apologized for arguing with her, she laughed, saying that it was not an argument, but a discussion, and gave me a hug. And her expla nation went into the book: “Baba has said that nothing happens without His will, but His wish gives us the privilege of choice; we can choose to obey Him.” In a letter written a few months later, in response to my further apologies, Arnavaz made reference to this incident: “Dear Nancy, if you had not come in April, the book would never have come to its winding end. You were wonderftil and your feeling of being grumpy and
impatient was your own feeling of what our Beloved was putting you through, as usual with everyone He loves, for one’s own benefit. We are very fortunate ones He has taken in His loving embrace. Anyway, two weeks back I started working on the final script and I am really happy on the whole except some ten pages from 151-160 need some minor changes. I could have corrected and sent it to you but then again, two days after I started reading, I developed flu and stomach infection and other stupid problems and [was feeling] down and out. I have corrected some of it, but with no help, I am physically and mentally exhausted and I wanted to throw everything to the winds. But Beloved as always will take care in His own way and in His time. I am just writing what’s goingon.... “Beloved Baba’s loving care has taken Zarin [Mavalwalla] from over again. Karachi is here and is helping me to correct the script. Without her I would not have been able to send as much as we have done. I am enclosing whatever we have done, and the rest we will finish and send with someone as early as possible.” . .
Once she had been able to reread the entire (though far from final) draft of the book, we realized that she was still not quite satisfied with the manuscript. .Before we started the work we bowed down to our Beloved Baba and said to Him, “Beloved Baba, help us to do what You want.” So whatever has happened is exactly the way He wanted. But sometimes He makes us go in circles. I say this with experience. There is no beginning and no end and then in His time He cuts the circle and, holding the two ends, makes a straight line. And then we say, “Oh! This was so clear and how is it that we didn’t see this before?” But we needed to go into circles because in desperation we learn to leave everything entirely to Him. Unless we are cornered, the mind does not give in. So Baba dear makes use ofeach situa tion. He churns everything up for double purpose. One for each individual to come a step closer towards Him through com plete surrendrance and another for His own Universal Work. So my book is one of the instruments and with great poise and the above understanding we have to proceed with the book. This book I have dedicated to our Beloved Baba; therefore it is His book the way He wants it. I want to give much more prominence to Baba “. .
( His words, His ways—no matter how [ seemingly] insignificant, they are, were,
important.) I want our Beloved to shine in the book. Everygesture, everyword was like a pearl or precious jewel coming out ofHim. There was some meaning behind Sometimes, even in whatever He said. jokes, He conveyed some deeper meaning, some lesson, some wisdom we lacked. Beloved Baba worked with each individual in various and different ways. “This book is the story of Baba from my point of view, less than the story of my life. Beloved Baba in His own way has helped us andwill help us to write what He wants. Whether it is right or wrong is not important. What He wants is important. I appreciate all the time and energy you dears have put into the book, but we have to go along as Baba wants. “After reading my original script and your final one, I felt that from your point of view what you have done is ffilly justified. But I am not satisfied with myself. “This book of my life with Beloved Baba is hardly 20% ofwhat actually happened. The more important part of my life I cannot write. Therefore even a few omissions from this 20% makes me feel I have not portrayed my Beloved properly. I feel mybook is incomplete and that I have left out certain details which are necessary. It does not convey the importance and force ofBaba’s suffering and pain, and does not convey His ways and His work as it should. This is important because most of the readers do not have the idea of how Baba worked on the human level, on the gross plane. Many times Babajust gave the impact offeeling, some ofwhich one could understand at the time, and some later. “In my script I have not written properand explained Baba’s suffering and pain, ly for example, when the record “Precious Lord” was being played at the very end of 1968 when we could not bear to see Baba’s helplessness and hopelessness. Therefore I am sending you what I have rewritten to include in the story. What is already written does not give any importance to Baba’s silent agony and why Baba told Maul to type the words of”Precious Lord” and give them to each ofthe mandali present. “Our Beloved Baba’s every word, ges ture, story, even a slight passing remark, has a deep meaning, for if they are not important, why would the God-Man say them? Baba once said, “Heed My words most attentively. . .
She wrote again in September, this time to Deborah, and talked more about the intimacy of the material she had agreed to put into the book. Until it came out, very few people knew about some of the experiences Arnavaz had gone through. Much she had kept to herself, but despite the fact that she felt uncomfortable about making certain details public, she also felt that Baba wanted them to be included. .You and Nancy write me regularly, and I didn’t write, but my dear you and Nancy are close to my heart and I think of you both with much love. More so because you two have shared so much of my life with our precious Beloved. Most of my life has been a closed book which I thought would always remain folded. But dear Baba opened it for His purpose. It flows more naturally now. because He wants it. Beloved Baba has brought a sort of mental fatigue which rarely allows my pen to flow [but] there is no worry. In a way I am more relaxed. Thoughts and emotions come, but they get dissolved in the Beloved.” “. .
From Deborah: Finances had made it impossible for me to return to India for further work with Arnavaz on the manuscript. Though it was painflil to watch Nancyleave without me, Phill and I were able to stay and care for her dogs and keep watch over everything, happy to repay her generosity in that way. In May of1994, when Nancy arrived back from India with the work she and Arnavaz had done on the manuscript, we both felt there were still specifics that needed working out, but overall it finally stood in good form. Enough so that Phil and I started making plans to move back to the East coast in the fall. After I had spent well over a year in Tucson working with Nancy, Baba made the “arrangements” for Phill and me to settle in Myrtle Beach by providing us with an inexpensive place to live and enough employment to survive. Although our jobs were not permanent, both Phil and I worked at Meher Center and we were very grateful to do so. I felt I had returned home after a long trip and was so happy to be in a place with a continuous presence ofBaba lovers—both living there and visiting. It was as close to India as I could get. Our living in Myrtle Beach made it easy for Sheila Krynski, who was creat ing the layout of the photos in the book as well as the cover design, to show me
proofs and ask ifl thought Arnavaz would approve. Photos were very important to Arnavaz. She had a vast collection of Baba photographs, and we had shared hours together, pouring over her many albums, especially discussing what should be on the cover of her book. After trying different ideas, Arnavaz had decided that she wanted only Baba’s photo on the cover, specifically the one known as The Ancient One. I knew exactlywhat she wanted, so it was not surprising that Baba arranged the synchronicity for me to be in Sheila’s office when the proofs for the cover arrived on her desk. Together we were able to decide on the final adjustments to the image that, when she saw the finished book, pleased Arnavaz very much. Nancy continued to make adjustments to the manuscript itself also working on the front and back matter until Arnavaz was happy and all was ready to send off to the publisher, Naosherwan Anzar at Beloved Books. And when we received the proofs, we met, as Arnavaz had specifically requested, to do our final proofreading together. Nancy came from Tucson and we stayed together on Meher Center for an un forgettable week, pouring over every word of the manuscript. We had a book! Nancy and I felt that it reflectedwhat Arnavaz had wanted—to show by example ofher own life how Beloved Baba draws to Himself those who yearn to love Him and how through His grace, love and compassion, He gives us the opportunity to do what He wants, to trust Him and follow His lead for our lives. In some ways it was a reliefto be at the final step of the work begun so innocently years earlier. But it was bittersweet. Gone were the hours of Arnavaz’s personal tutoring, her wise and very practical attention to the details of surrendering all to Beloved Baba. Surely this measure of grace could never be repeated, not as it had occurred in those precious long hours at Meherazad. I could not know then that I would return to Meherazad in 2003 to be Arnavaz’s personal companion for three and a half years. From Nancy: Deborah has captured perfectly the nearly euphoric nature of our stay on the Center while we corrected the final proofs of Arnavaz’s book. We hardly left our cabin except for short walks. It had been five years since Arnavaz had heard Baba tell her to write her story, and I recalled times in India with her when she had shown some frustration with the length
of time the project was taking. Once, her eyes flashing with mock seriousness, she had announced that she did not want her book to be published posthumously! As it turned out, she had little to fear in that regard, as Baba kept her with us for another thirteen years—almost to the day—from the moment she first held a copy ofher book. When Gfl ofGodwas released in Feb ruary of 1996, both Naosherwan Anzar and I were able to carry the first copies to India. Arnavaz asked us to come to Meherazad on the day she dedicated the book to Baba, placing it on His chair in Mandali Hall. That same morning Mani returned from Poona after medical treatment, and it was clear that she was gravely ill. Only six months later, she returned to her God-Brother’s waiting embrace. Arnavaz later told us that she felt the book had come out at exactly the right time, as she had written much about the many losses she had suffered during her life, each one taking her further and further toward detachment, and drawing her closer to her Beloved. Some ofthe residents of Meher abad and Meherazad told her that reading her book had helped to soften their grief over Mani’s leaving. I had wondered what it would be like to arrive in Meherazad without work to do on the book, but as it happened, on my next trip I spent hours with Arnavaz, talking with her about her fan mail from pilgrims all over the world. For years she had corresponded regularly with many, many people who had come to her with their difficulties. Pilgrims poured out their hearts to her because they trusted her; she was a special friend to all those who sought her counsel. Just weeks after the book was released, the letters started arriving, everyone telling Arnavaz how touched they had been by the story of her life with Beloved Baba, and how, in dif ferent ways, they could apply the lessons ofher life to theirs. Whenever I returned to Meherazad after that—and I was fortunate to be able to continue coming nearly every Novem ber after the publication ofthe book—our long talks continued, and I sometimes helped her with little projects she wanted done, organizing a cupboard or putting labels on folders. During the last three years, however, when I was with her, she was usually in her bed; at times it looked as though Baba might call her home before my departure. During those times 23
we seldom talked. It was as though the words had all been said. Her hands were almost always cold, so I held them in mine to warm them, content to gaze into those loving eyes or simply to watch her sleep. It was enough just to be near her, and the memory ofthose quiet days helped me to accept that I couldn’t be with her at the end. When I saw her for the last time, in November of 2007, she was actually in better health than she had been during the two previous years. Just before I left, she gave me one of those radiant smiles she was known for. “Shall we see each other again?” she asked playfully, just before giving me a surprisingly strong embrace. I told her I wouldn’t place any bets either way. We both knew and accepted that the decision was not ours to make. From Deborah: Living for many years far from India, I was thankftil that although Arnavaz no longer kept up the busy correspondence she did in earlier years, I did receive oc casional letters from her in response to mine. Ever steady in her wisdom concerning Baba, Arnavaz never missed the angst in my heart, no matter how positively I couched the news of our life. Her words bore witness to the difficult lessons I was going through. Grateflilly, I read her letters now with understanding, ten years later. Meherazad 14/4/99 “It is only after the painful experiences which help us to increase our trust in Him and remind us [of] His words, that whatever He does is all for our best. Now every moment reminds me what our Beloved said, even for Himselfin 1957, that whatever is ordained happens. So He is in ftill charge. So don’t you worry. you just plan and do and live your life the way your heart prompts you now, in the pres ent. Without worry. Our precious Lord is with us, with our very breath, and He will tide us through everything. What more do we need? Our Beloved has got a sharp pin, which pricks the ego-balloon for the air to squeeze out. Lovingly,Jai Baba Arnavaz Meherazad October 1999 . .
No amount of suffering, pain, difficul ties can compensate for the increased un derstanding and loving [of] our precious Lord more and more. Ultimately it brings about such a vacuum inside us where only 24
our God Meher exists and resides and fills Himself; with everything going around us So and doing whatever we have to do. dear don’t worry about future. Do what your heart prompts you and wants and leave the rest to Him in His Trust. In His Ocean ofLove and Mercy, Lovingly, Arnavaz . .
Fortunately I was able to journey to India three times between 1993 and 2000 and spend hours with Arnavaz, talking of Baba, how His work in the world was growing more and more evident every year and, the ever-present question in my heart, would He ever bring us to live in India? In October 28, 2002 Arnavaz wrote to me about surrendering to and trusting in Baba. Precious Beloved’s very dear Deb, BABA said whatever has happened had to happen, whatever is happening has to happen and whatever is ordained will happen. So according to us, this is right and that is wrong but according to God BABA everything is right. He takes a human form to give the whole universe a greater push by taking upon Himselfthe Herculean load ofsuffering and excruciat ing pain. for us, because of His Love. In 1967 December when Nariman and I arrived in Meherazad for a month’s stay and after He embraced us, He inquired about our health and business. He said, “I suffer so much I give you drops.” So dear He takes our suffering and pain and He wants us to carry a tiny bit which also feels like a huge mountain. He said, “Do what you have to do, try your best and leave the result to Me.” So our part is to try our best and leave it to Him—We have to give [to] Him by saying, “Beloved Baba make me do what you want, help me to do what you want” and then we use our hearts and heads and do whatwe thinkbest. Whether everything turns out right or everything turns out wrong, we must keep implicit trust thatTHIS is what HE wants. So dear in your situation our Beloved will make you do exactly what HE has ordained. For the present carry on, make plans and worry not by leaving it to Him and it will be exactly as HE wants. Jai Baba, and much love to you and Phil. Lovingly, Arnavaz Then suddenly Phil and I received a letter from Meheru, on behalfofthe Meherazad mandali, asking us ifwe would be . .
willing to come live in India and eventually live at Meherazad as caretakers. Though we had been saving for years, Phil and I were still thousands ofdollars short ofeven the minimum amount we would need to make such a move. But as Arnavaz had told us in her letter, “Baba will do exactly as He has ordained and we should make plans and not worry by leaving it to Him and it will be exactly as HE wants.” To our joy and amazement Baba im mediately started bringing money into our hands in uncannyways. So much so that by Oct 2003 we flew to India, arriving on the 16th to start a ‘new life’ in India. During our preparations for the move Arnavaz wrote several times, expressing her pleasure about our coming. She truly wanted someone familiar with whom she was comfortable to be at her side daily. Even then she had lived longer than expected with such a serious heart condition, and she was growing frail. She also expressed that she felt Phil would be a real asset and help at Meherazad, which was always in the front of her mind. Arnavaz had also written me that she wanted to write another book. She had spoken ofthis to both Nancy and me, but after I arrived in India she soon told me that she just did not have the strength or wherewithal for another project. This was a disappointment, but Arnavaz was of course right about her physical limitations. During the next six years she suffered one serious health crisis after another. We often expected an episode to be the end of her, and then Baba would remarkably turn her condition around and she would continue on, sometimes appearing better than before. These bouts of suffering continued to the very last days of Arnavaz’s life, but never did it stop her willingness to be a source of love and guiding direction to pilgrims and residents alike. Witnessing her strength and determination to sur render to every experience Baba gave her was extraordinary. One time someone asked her if she wanted to die, to end her suffering, and her reply was that she would never say such a thing, that it was Baba’s wish that she live or die and not her place to want one or the other. Her ability to accept unconditionally whatever Baba ordained in her life stands forever in my heart. When circumstances demanded that Phil and I return to live in the U.S., Arnavaz’s strength helped ease the burden of our departure. Her knowing assurance
to me was that it is only Baba who gives and Baba who takes away. It was my good fortune to be able to visit Meherazad a month and a half before Arnavaz returned to her Beloved. At that time she was not often conscious, but Beloved Baba gave us two visits and we were able to exchange a few sweet words. When the time came for me to leave, Arnavaz was surrounded by a roomful ofloving people who were relishing the opportunity to be by her while she was awake. Someone had just fed her a piece of chocolate and I tasted it as we kissed goodbye. Drawing away from her lips I was pulled deeply into the gaze of her beautiful eyes and she delivered her final gift oflove silently to my heart. We would like to end by sharing part ofa letter dearest Arnavaz wrote to Nancy and me about Gjft of God, her story of Baba’s Supreme Love. When we read the letter now, we hear Arnavaz’s voice speaking a message to all ofus who love Baba, to help us remember what is important as we tread our way back Home to Him: It is not my story It is Beloved BABA’s, a drop in His Ocean. Beloved wanted this book now, always His timing. Now is the time because Baba-lovers need the understanding and strength from our Beloved to accept and face whatever they have gone through, are going through and will go through. Times are getting from bad to worse and our merciful God wants His dear children’s total reliance on Him, the strength to sustain themselves and to lie in His loving arms with total surrender and faith. With much love to you, Beloved BABA’s dear ones, Yours lovingly, Arnavaz Jai BABA . .
Cherished Jll4emories of Arnctvctz by many loving contributors Louise Berry
This house hath been afairyc dwellingplace, With love beaming and surrenderedfrom head tofret Was she who stayed with usfor a space, Then, as was meet, Toward her immortaljourney went her ways. So wise was she, and the beauty ofaflowei Body old, yet still heryouth with Him could be. More than the stars Your love hath allpower Glimmering in Your hands a beauteous meteor shower And thus she went in her appointed houi Your love it was that called her and she went. In Meherazad we had lived with her Knowing the errand on which she was bent- a traveler To sojournfor a while, then strike her tent. How sweet it was on many a summer day On the outside verandah by the garden Th be with hei withjust this and that to say. And all the while in her heart, she was running to Him away. Why would we blame herfor leaving us so? She was called by the King ofLove and His Queen Back to her hiddenpeople she must go, Behind the screen One day, we’llsee them allagain, this much we know. -
r two years in a row (‘07 and ‘08) I had the good fortune to spend a month with Arnavaz, as a caregiver. I was there from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., with a midday break. When I would first arrive in her room she would be dressed, teeth brushed, etc., but she would be dozing, having gone back to sleep. When the bell would ring for Arti, I would gently wake her and she would put her hands together for Arti. She faced a beautiful photo ofBaba on the wall. I faced Baba’s room where the women were saying Arti. After the prayers, I handed her a photo ofBaba (kept at her bedside) with also a photo ofMehera put into the same frame. This she would kiss and hold to her heart, sometimes for a long time. Then, she would greet me—so lovingly. We would inquire of each other, how we had slept. One day I said to her Everyday I ask you how you’ve slept. You always say you’ve slept well, no matter what.” She said, “It’s better to be positive.” Then we would go through the day. She would take her meals on the verandah, just outside her bedroom door. I would have tea and chapatis with her and we would chat. She especially loved the garden “
during the monsoon. For me, it was un questionably paradise. The atmosphere in Meherazad vibrated with the human side ofBaba’s divinity with love. Many times she said to me, “Repeat His name so that it becomes like breathing.” One day I asked about her doing it. She said, “It happens automatically for me now. Oh! I was taking His name.” In her last days, I heard that sometimes when she would come out of a light coma, she would be saying His name. At one point she told me that Baba had said, “Leave tomorrow in My hands.” And also, “Endure what cannot be endured.” Arnavaz said to me many times, “Just accept what He gives and deal with it.” (with the emphasis on the ‘deal with it’.) She said, “Whatever comes your way, say, OK, Baba, OK. Whatever You want, OK.” I said, “So that’s your mantra, OK Baba?” Arnavaz: “Yes”. She said, “We have to pass through everything. Life is always up and down....just go through the day, one thing at a time.” One day I said to her, “You remind me of Baba in the way that you are so loving to the pilgrims when they come, and I know sometimes you don’t feel well. But when . .
they come in, you’re so loving and welcom ing. You make them feel good. Arnavaz said, “It’s my duty to do this.” Then, she said, “Thank you, thank you.” In beingwith Arnavaz, Baba has shown me what surrenderance looks like and also love. Surrenderance in the way she went through her life, through her day, and love in the way she treated others.
Barbara Katzenberg, Myrtle Beach Beloved Baba gave me the great gifts of twice being able to stay at Meherazad and help look after His dear Arnavaz. The first time was in 2008 from Amartithi through Baba’s birthday. This year He allowed me the great good fortune to be there with her when she went to Him. When I arrived at Meherazad on Febru ary 6th, she was in a light coma. However, the next morning Meheru left for 10 days in Pune and shortly after she left, Arnavaz began regaining consciousness, drinking, and eating a little bit offood. (Shelley had said she felt that Arnavaz would not go to Baba with Meheru away.) Itwas wonderful to be able to greet and talkwith her again. She looked very beautiful and radiant to me. She even wanted to go outside and sit on the verandah again. I asked her ifBaba was waiting for her and she nodded “yes” and her eyes filled up. She told me not to be sad when she went. During the next few days, she took some liquid and few bites offood, but she was mostly sleeping. We were massaging her and trying to keep her comfortable. But, gradually, she was withdrawing more and more. on the day Meheru returned from Pune, Arnavaz began breathing in the Cheyne-Stokes pattern, indicating that death was near. (This pattern is characterized by the breath stopping and restarting.) Meheru, Katie, Manu, Meherwan, Falu, Shelley, Davana, Kacy, Bob Ahrens, Michael Ramsden, Heather Nadel, Janet Judson, Camilla Glen, and myself all gathered in her room that afternoon and began singing Baba songs. After the singing continued for some time, it became clear that Arnavaz was not quite ready to leave us yet! Later that evening, Shelley set up a night schedule so that at least one ofus was always with Arnavaz: 10-12 pm: myself 12-2 am: Janet, 2-4 am: Camilla and Davana, 4-6 am: Bob, and 6-8 am: Heather, with Shelley checking on her at various intervals throughout the night. By the next morning, her breathing changed to more shallow breaths. Her heart had 26
begun speeding up to 160 beats/minute and then fluctuating. Arnavaz would sometimes move her hand to her heart and so nitroglycerin and pain meds were administered to try to ease this very un pleasant state. At about 1:30 pm, a newly arrived cou ple on their first visit, the Driscolls from Chapel Hill, were given permission to sit with Arnavaz for a few minutes. After they left, we turned Arnavaz onto her other side. A few minutes later, her breathing became even more shallow and labored. I called Shelley and Dr. Bob and then we called everyone at Meherazad because we felt she was ready to go to Him soon. As she departed into the waiting arms of her Beloved, her eyes opened wide. A photo of Baba was held up to her but I believe she was really seeing Him! It was 2:34 pm on February 18th. We began singing as she was leaving us and we continued for some time. A group of us took turns washing her body andwe dressed her in a beautiful pink saiwar chemise. She was then carried on a stretcher to Baba’s bedroom where we recited the prayers. Then on to Mandali Hall, which was beautifully decorated for Baba’s upcoming birthday. Pilgrims and residents came from Meherabad and there was lots of singing and people paying their love and respects to Baba’s dear Arnavaz. As she resided in Mandali Hall through the night, there were some who stayed there with her to keep vigil until morning. At 7 am the next morning, Meherazad residents and some ofher family members gathered in Mandali Hall to perform Arti and then escort her body in the ambulance to Meherabad. Zumber, her night servant, accompanied herwith us in the ambulance. As we approached the main road from the Meherazad approach road, whom do we see but Kowshi, Arnavaz’s day servant, coming to work. We picked her up and she was extremely touched to be included in accompanying Arnavaz to Meherabad. Baba’s timing is so perfect, and He doesn’t forget anyone! At Meherabad, her body was brought inside Baba’s Samadhi and her family and caregivers went inside for prayers and Dar shan. Afterwards, Arnavaz was brought down to lower Meherabad to Mandali Hall. For two hours, people came to pay tribute to her. Music and singing filled the hall. As her body was carried outside, many threw flowers on her. It reminded
me ofa wedding in the happy feeling that surrounded her. Finally, we brought her to the crema tion ground and her bodywas carefully and lovingly lifted onto the pyre. More flowers were thrown on for this final farewell. Meheru placed a beautiful pink scarf belonging to Dr. Goher over her face. Logs were below and above her as ghee was applied to them. Her pyre was lit and people sang and danced as a feeling ofjoy and sweetness filled the air. It was a true celebration of a special disciple’s life completion and reunion with her True Beloved. Words do not begin to convey my grati tude to Beloved Baba for allowing me to be a part of this very intimate and special time in His darling Arnavaz’s journey back to Him.
Wendy Kura, Canada Over the last few years, I would go out to Meherazad and give treatments to Arnavaz and some of the other Mandali. I always felt so good being out there. It was so peaceful; Baba’s presence was everywhere. When Shelley asked me ifl would like to come and stay at Meherazad to help with Arnavaz’s care in 2007/8, I was so happy and humbled to be asked. It felt to me that Baba was whispering into my heart, “I have allowed you to come all these years at your own timing. Now I am asking you to come when it is mine.” There was only one answer to give Shelley, “Yes!” I went from October to the end of De cember. During that three-month period, I experienced such love with Arnavaz. I remember the first night there, singing Arti in her room, and I could not stop crying. I was overwhelmed with Baba’s gift, allowing me to be part oftaking care ofone ofHis close ones. Arnavaz allowed me my transition with such grace, through her silence and sometimes her humour. Every day was an opportunity for me to grow closer to Baba, and I took it with open arms. I did my best and left the rest to him. When my husband Martin arrived at the end of December, we both came out to see Arnavaz on Meherazad days, and she would always give us that beautiful smile and her loving hugs. When I left in January, I did not know if she would be there the next year, but I told Shelley I would come for November and yes, I once again had the opportunity to be with her. Her health status had changed, but not
her ever-present love and total surrender to Baba. Arnavaz never complained. We spent some very special moments together with her talking about her life with Baba and periodically giving me a gem to place in my heart space. I would thank Baba before I went to sleep for that second opportunity to be with her again. One of the gifts Arnavaz gave me was, “Never ask Baba to change things; ask Him for the strength to go through them.” I can hon estly say, I do not think more than a day has gone by when I have not asked Baba for the strength to go through something, and He always does give me the strength I need. I also reread her book while I was with her in November, and I was able to thank her in person for writing such a beautiful book. I told her that I would probably read it a few more times in the future. I think that pleased her. I love you, Arnavaz, and I am happy you are with Baba once again. I will miss your physical presence, however your words on how to love Baba are in my heart forever.Jai Meher Baba, Arnavaz, my friend. Thank you. Evie Lindemann, Connecticut Although I cannot do justice to Arnavaz in a few paragraphs, still, I will try. I first met Arnavaz and her husband, Nanman, at Meherazad injanuary 1971. I felt comfortable with her immediately, and we began having chats on the porch. In the ensuing years when I returned to India, we continued our chats. These conversations were always focused on Baba and how to understand myself and my relationships from a spiritual perspective. I was also really fortunate to work with Arnavaz on her autobiography Gift of Goc4 which began with tapes that Dana Irani recorded ofArnavaz’s life stories. I took these tapes back to the US, had them transcribed, and spent a good part ofone hot summer working with her at Mehenazad and at Ashiana, the flat in Mumbai owned by Arnavaz and Nariman. Ashiana developed a life ofits own through their one-pointed devotion to Baba, and His frequent visits there, which are narrated by Annavaz in her book. It is to Arnavaz that I owe everything I have learned about applying Baba’s teachings to the ant of living. However, whenever I thanked her, she would look at Baba’s photo and tell me: “He does everything.” She embodied a kind of love
and feminine understanding that I very much needed, delivered over time with exquisite care and sensitiv ity. In December 2007 I returned to India to stay at Meherazad and help with her medical needs. I think of the word “help” rather loosely because, although she was in bed much of the time, I felt that the oppor tunity to do a few things for her was helping me. It also required me to adjust my view of Arnavaz, now that she was more elderly and unwell. I had always seen her as marvelously in command of herself even when she had physical problems. In spite of the changes in her, I continued to notice moments when her lucid frame of mind leapt out to alert me when I did something uncaring or impatient. Her fo cus was sharp and she noticed everything. Although there were only two incidents of this type, the lessons have informed my behavior since then. In the evenings before bed we watched videos ofold films. She was a fan of“Singing in the Rain,” “Carousel,” and “An American in Paris.” Musicals and fine dancing won her over. We also viewed “Life as a House,” and “Doctor.” The evening always ended with the Master’s Prayer and the Gujerati anti, which I somehow had learned to sing, but not with much confidence. After hugs all around and a massage of her feet and hands, she went to sleep. In the mornings our rou tine began again. On several occasions, we ventured into the arena of resistance, control, and loneliness. She told me that it is a basic human weakness to want to control, but at the same time, there is a great deal of sorrow on the path because so much must be relinquished. I told her that I often felt lonely. I continued: “Does it have to be lonely?” Arnavaz: “Yes.” Me: “Why?” Arnavaz: “How else can He draw us to Him?” She also told me, when we were discussing psychotherapy, that it can help to unwind sanskaras. Her comment made me wide-eyed with curiosity and interest. Having been a psychotherapist for many years, I felt a sense ofwonder that this could be true. I have always considered Arnavaz to be the one mandali who had a deep understanding of marital relationships. This perspective gave me a renewed appreciation for the inherent value in my
Arnavaz and Evie
professional practice. On the last morning, before my departure for the US, I wondered if I would ever see her again. She replied: “Only Baba knows.” Her farewell to me was tender. She spoke words to me that I had never heard from her before, words and feelings conveyed in such a way that they continue to energize and connect me with Baba when I feel at a loss. If I had to summarize what Arnavaz embodied and helped me to understand, it would be this: Life is lived in moments. Pay attention. For example, she always noticed what I wore, especially bright colors and jewelry. When I realized that this brought her some kind of happiness, I made a point of dressing in a way that would please her. My take-home mes sage was to realize that, although my appearance is not central to my identity, it brought color and joy into her life and lifted her spirits, and therefore, it mattered. Arnavaz read widely, and once gave me a copy ofM. Esther Harding’s The Way of All Women. After I returned from India, I reread the book. It reminded me that feminine psychology has its own rhythms and cadences, and the journey is about our willingness to venture into unknown territory, embrace the unknown and the dark, and return with fewer burdens, more clanity and a greater capacity to love. Baba was right about the meaning ofher name, and how she lived it. She trulywas a “Gift of God.” Cindy Lowe, Meherabad Arnavaz loved Baba movies and watched them frequently in recent years. Her favorite was Peter Booth’s beauti ful film, Meher Baba Grace. A song I wrote in 1989 called “A Pilgrim’s Arti” is part ofthe sound track, and she loved that song very much. After she became mostly 27
bedridden, I would visit her in her room at Meherazad and sing it for her from time to time. She especially liked the last line of each chorus, “My heart belongs to You, Meher,” and she usually sang along, at least on those few words, when I played it for her. Even if I visited her without my guitar and didn’t sing, she would look deeply into my eyes and repeat that line to me--she seemed to take pleasure in just saying it. And how true it was that her heart belonged to Him. When Baba finally swept her into His arms for all time, I hadn’t seen her for a couple ofweeks. But my last two visits to her room had been particularly memorable because I felt with absolute certainty that Baba was there too. The atmosphere was sublime, and Arnavaz was reflecting and emanating His love in an extraordinary way. On the first ofthose last two precious visits, I sang “A Pilgrim’s Arti” and then sat on the bed next to her, holding her hand for a long time. Caren was sitting on her other side, and the love flowing from heart to heart was almost too much to contain-she was pouring Baba’s love into us! Her hugs were always pretty amazing, but I especially remember the embrace she gave me that day--she held me close for a very long time and I had a taste, as I often did when she held me, of what it must have been like to have been in Baba’s arms. During the past year I’d done almost no performing because of an injury, but I played for Arnavaz because she enjoyed hearing “A Pilgrim’s Arti” so much. On my very last visit Marge urged me to sing it again for her, and even though she was quite weak, she listened intently and whispered along with the words as best she could. I cannot tell you how sweet it was. I sang a few more songs at Marge’s prompting, which was good because Arnavaz reallywasn’t up to talking. Although she seemed very fragile, when I said goodbye she gave me a last hug that could fill an ocean. On Feb. 18th, Adair called to tell me that Arnavaz had gone to Baba and we quickly drove to Meherazad. Only a few people, mostly from Meherazad, were already in Mandali Hall sitting near Arnavaz, where she had been laid at the foot of Baba’s chair. She looked radiantly beautiful. Meheru was sitting on Eruch’s side ofthe Hall, and I sat down across from her on the opposite side, close to Arnavaz. I felt that everythingwas absolutely perfect and I was most fortunate to be at that most 28
holy place at that most holy time. Although everyone was relieved that dear Arnavaz was finally with her Beloved Baba, the hearts of those who loved her were woven together in a wreath ofloss. In the stillness I could hear the clock ticking, although we seemed to be somewhere beyond time. There was little talking; the atmo sphere was absolutely calm and peaceftil. After awhile Meheru asked me to begin the singing, and she commented that Arnavaz really liked my songs. Fortunately, I’d brought my guitar. Although I hadth practiced for months, I was totally relaxed as I played “A Pilgrim’s Arti” because I knew it would please Baba, Arnavaz, and all those present. And since it was a song everyone associated with her in her last months, it was powerful. It was a great honor to play for this small group who deeply loved Arnavaz- -mandali, do se ones, and dear friends of mine for many years. I knew it was a gift from Baba to be there and to have such an oppormnity Again there was some silence and again there was some talking as more and more people arrived. Rick read out a beautifttl eulogy he and Sheryl had written. I was asked to play again, so I sang until Heather, Ward, and others started singing. People kept arriving by car, and then the Trust buses came and the Hall got incredibly crowded. Interestingly, while Ward was singing a song in which the name ofAllah is enthusiastically repeated over and over, the Iranians, some ofthem new to Baba, arrived in a dervish whirl of divine synchronicity. Some ofthem had never even met Arnavaz, but I could tell they all felt something everlastingly profound. Each person who wanted to was able to bow down to Arnavaz and offer a flower or two. When I hugged her and kissed her smooth check before the crowds came, she was still very warm and I could feel the love still emanating from her. Eventually, even Katie and Manu came to sit in the Hall, quite extraordinary these days. Bhauji also came with his helpers and offered flowers and bowed down to Arnavaz as best he could, supported by people on either side of him. His group sang a couple of songs too. I knew I was in the company of angels, saints and byers of God, and I could not imagine being anywhere else. The singing continued until around 6 p.m., and then it was time to go. The next day, Arnavaz’s body was brought to the Samadhi in the ambulance and again, I happened to be in the right place at the right time. An amusing thing hap-
pened: after her body had been removed from the ambulance, so many people piled out of it that it looked like one of those old clowns-coming-out-of-a-Volk swagen stunts. I was grateful to Baba for the moment of comic relief since everything the day before had been so solemn. Arnavaz was carried into the Samadhi and laid at Baba’s feet while most ofher closest companions and relatives gathered inside for prayers and arti. Because the ambulance had arrived about half an hour earlier than expected, very few people had gotten there yet and most ofthose present had had a deep heart connection with Arnavaz. Just as the ambulance was leaving, many more people arrived, surely Baba’s will and Baba’s timing. The next stop was down the Hill at Mandali Hall. I’d lingered a bit at the Samadhi, so I didn’t get there right away and when I arrived, Arnavaz, surrounded by flowers, had once again been laid at the feet of Her Master’s chair. The Hall was packed and since there were many musicians this time, I sang only one song, “A Pilgrim’s Arti,” of course. I also got a chance to offer flowers again and give one last hug to Arnavaz that I felt Baba return to me ten-fold. But this time her cheek was slightly cool when I kissed her and I knew that soon her body would be no more, although her light would continue to light up our hearts. Meheru, who’d arrived from Meherazad during the singing, and Bhauji, who arrived later from town, were again seated on opposite sides ofher body. I was sitting to the right of Baba’s chair and I felt once again that there could not possibly be any better place than right there in the company of God’s saints and servants, lovers and friends. Then we made our way to the Cremation Ground. The sun was fierce; it was very hot. Only the intimate family and friends could get anywhere near the pyre, and since I was far back in the crowd I couldn’t see much. There was singing, but I felt my song had already been sung and besides, there was nowhere to stand with my guitar. After the Arti, as the flames got high, I said one last Avatar Meher Baba lii Jai to Arnavaz and I left. There was nothing more I needed. I had been filled to the brim. I’m sure that each person who had the great good fortune to know Arnavaz has a beautiful story about her too, for she was a constant source of love, guidance, and inspiration to so many. For me, her presence was a gift and I am deeply grateful to have been close by during the time ofher passing. And from now on, whenever I sing “A
Pilgrim’s Arti,” I will always remember her singing along, especially the line “My heart belongs to you, Meher.” Her heart was, and always will be, completely His.
A PilgrimcArti Oh beloved, Ihave come To bow down to theAncient One Accept my heart; accept my mind Ibow before Your love divine Mehei, Meher! Let Your love songfill the air— Meher Meher! My heart belongs to You, Meher I am Yours, take all ofme My lift Ilay down at Yourfret Ibring my cupfor You tofill Ibow before Yourperfrct will Mehei Meher! Let Your love songfill the air— Mehei Meher! My heart belongs to You, Meher Igive myse’f and allldo This song ofpraise, loffer You Iput my life into Your hands— Ibow before Yourperfectplan Mehei Meher! Let Your love songful the air— Mehei Meher! My heart belongs to You, Meher With heartandsoull’llfoiow You I’llfindYou in all things Ido Drown me in Your holy name Consume me in Your sacredflame Mehei Meher! Let Your love songfill the air— Mehei, Meher! My heart belongs to You, Meher © CindyLowe, 1990/Recorded on NowTill The End
Madhur Dutta, Ahmednagar My first meeting with Arnavaz was around August 2006. I was going to Meherazad more often than usual as I had developed an interest in hearing Meherwan Jessawala reminiscing on his time spent with Baba. I also asked questions I had about Artificial Intelligence. One such day—by complete accident—I ended up on the verandah outside Arnavaz’ room, where I saw her surrounded by a group of people. I was mystified by the eminent charm of the verandah, it felt so fresh and new,
yet strangely famil iar. An absolutely peaceful area. I re member her referring to us young folks as Baba’s babys! Whenever she saw a small baby, she would tell us one of Baba’s close disciples had come back. She was sitting on her couchlike chair, calm and at peace, talking about her life spent with Baba. My first time listening to her was absolutely a great experience, I was captivated by the simplicity and grace with which she talked about Baba. As I started visiting Meherazad more often, I noticed Arnavaz would stress a few points more so than others; she would ask us to say Baba’s name as much as pos sible; she would tell us to ask for Baba’s forgiveness whenever we did something wrong and then leave it to Baba. Whenever anyone was in pain, she would tell them to ask Baba to help us through it, and then leave it to Him and accept it as His wish. She would then nar rate the countless excruciatingly painful situations she had been through. It was a marvelous experience for me, on how to live a life as Baba would want me to, and yet still be practical. After a few months, when I was going to Meherazad, Ainavaz was not meeting people as she was not in good health. I used to go to Meherazad, find out she wasnt meeting anyone and come home sad. Time and again however she would bounce back and surprise everyone, including the doc tors, from what I have heard. I used to be so excited to meet her. And even though she wasn’t in the best of health for the period, she was still full of radiance and warmth. It was a very humbling experience for me to have the privilege to meet her, even when she was so sick. It has taught me the value of selflessness. The most striking aspect ofit all though, is the strength with which she passed throughthe period ofillness. With complete acceptance, it could have only been done by living a life with Baba. It is amazing how the simple words of Arnavaz have helped me lead a fuller, more meaningful life. As she recounted the
experiences ofher long life, it forced me to think and reshape my ideals and my point of view. I think knowing her has helped my practical life more than my spiritual life. That was the charm of knowing Arnavaz: it did not feel like I was talking to a long-time Baba devotee, it felt like I was talking to a teacher, a mentor, or an elder in my family. For me, knowing Arnavaz was such a privilege. Everything she said to us was so simple yet so profound. It has completely changed me and it remains one ofthe few memories I treasure. I feel it was truly a gift of God—to know her—to learn so much from her.
JeffMaguire, Los Angeles On the morning ofAugust 19, 1996,
my family and I were in Meherabad when Baba’s dear sister Mani passed. After breakfast, the Meherabad pilgrims boarded buses to Meherazad where Mani
was lying in Mandali Hall, looking radiant and peaceful. I remember thinking how wonderful it was that my son Danny, age 11 at the time, was for the first time expe
riencing the death ofsomeone he loved in such a positive setting, for although there was sadness among those who would forever miss Mani’s delightftul presence, there was alsojoy that she was reunited with her Beloved brother, after a long and painful bout with brain cancer. Ijoined the queue to bow at Mani’s feet, then decided to go to Baba’s room. Since
everyone was gathered in Mandali Hall, I was alone, except for Arnavaz who sat by herself on Mehera’s porch. She smiled brightly when our eyes met. (Will any of us ever forget that smile? It could light up a village!) 29
I sat down beside her and asked, “Arnavaz, you’re not going to Mandali Hall?” “No,” she beamed happily, “Mani’s not there. She’s with Beloved Baba. It’s a happy day for her.” I don’t remember exactly how the conversation got there, but somehow we arrived on the subject of pleasing Baba. Most conversations with Arnavaz came around to this. And she told me, “Our prayer must be, ‘Baba, help me to want what you want. Help me to do what you want me to do.” There it was, so simple, so direct, so complete. Make that prayer whole-heartedly and you don’t really need to say anything else, do you? I’ve remembered that moment ever since, and I reminded Arnavaz of it when we visited her bedside this past November. At the time, we were told she might sleep through our visits or fail to recognize us, but she always managed to rally into radi ance, gift us with her love and comfort us over Danny’s loss last year. So many times, especially since Danny’s accident, I’ve offered up what I lovingly call “Arnavaz’s Prayer”: “Baba, help me to want what you want. Help me to do what you want me to do.” That’s the answer, isn’t it?” Rosie Jackson, England In a telegram for her birthday in 1965, Baba addressed Arnavaz as ‘one of the brightestjewels in my divine treasury.’ She certainlywas. She embodied a rare beauty, depth and radiance as she reflected back to us some ofthe splendid loving presence she had absorbed from her long time in Baba’s company. After Baba dropped His body in 1969, Arnavaz and her husband Nariman moved from Bombay to live at Meherazad, where she remained for the rest of her days, sharing responsibility with Goher for the running ofthe household. It was here that I and countless others sought her out, not only for advice on personal issues—relationships, marriage, divorce, work, children—but for inspiration and help in finding our way through the whole maze ofworldly life, impressed by the example of her loving devotion and firm hold on Baba’s daaman. Although she never had the children she would have loved, Baba bid her ‘Be a mother to everyone’ and she was that to so many of us, unstinting even to the very end. As Irene Holt wrote after her passing, She gave and gave and gave.’ ‘
stress the prime importance of literal Certainly she fed my own heart for more than thirtyyears with her love and wisdom obedience and surrender to Baba, emand encouragement, imparting some of phasizing how vital it is to think of Him, her courage and making me feel—along obey Him and resign ourselves to His with everyone she loved—precious and will, even—especially—when what He gives is not of our personal liking. Baba special. Although—at Baba’s behest—Arnavaz knows best, she said. So do not ask Him spent much ofher life in the world, there for our own ends, for this puts too great a strain on Him, whereas our suffering may she felt as ‘a fish out ofwater.’ It was the sweet times spent with Baba in His ash- just lighten His burden a little. Surrender, ram, ‘dipped in His Ocean of love,’ that she insisted, was all in all. ‘Ifwe obey, we mattered most to her. Always she yearned benefit; ifwe don’t, then we go the way of destiny. Obeying Baba is always challeng to be more ftilly with Him—a rare longing, as Baba acknowledged in a letter to ing but it is the most precious offering we can make to Him.’ herfrom 1938: Arnavaz never pretended it was an “Such faith and love, so deep and intense, is wonderful indeed. What gives easy route, nor did she ever complain. She you this thirst and hunger for love? It is had such wonderftil caring from Shelley your Beloved Baba. It is your Beloved Marrich and the small band of care-givers Baba Who also loves you so dearly. You Shelley organised from over the globe, and have no idea what it means!. You will I feel that her prolonged lingering—she know it all one day. Go on loving me was expected to die many times—was anmore and more and love will make you other example of Baba’s sweet generosity, affording us the chance to be with her and one with your Beloved. Everything else is illusion—only Love is Real and Eternal to absorb Baba’s presence through her. On the two occasions I was gifted —the pearl of great price. Seek it both within and without. I am within you as with the chance to care a little for her, well as outside you. Move the stone and in 2007 and then again the week before her passing this year, I was so moved by there am I!” (Gift of God p. O) 3 I remember this theme of the illusory her love for Baba, her one-pointed focus, quality of the world becoming more and her unquenchable generosity, and by her more a major strand of Arnavaz’s talk in endurance, tolerance and patient forbearthe last few years. Looking back at her ance. As I ineptly did what needed doing, full earthly life, she would keep repeating wishing I could do it so much better, I couldn’t help remembering the passage in to me: ‘Did I really go through all that? It is all a dream. It seems like a dream.’ her autobiography, Gift ofGoc4 where she And, with a sense of wonder, she would describes similarly trying to serve Baba just gesture to Baba’s photo pinned above her before His passing: ‘In His love and compassion Beloved bed, raising her hand in a gesture of love and saying in a tone of incredulity at our Baba allowed me to feed Him that day, good fortune and proximity: He is God. knowing He would be with us for only a con1 onp 35 God in human form.’ She suffered much in her life, from many bereavements and persistent illnesses, but through this, Arnavaz was able not only to empathise deeply but to impress on us the unfathom able enormity of ‘ :sS Baba’s suffering, and the inevitable •‘ . . ;* pain we must en% ;.4 •,.,rp dure in our pas F sage back to Him. M :• Always she would Rosie with Ar,zavaz . .
LA Life Lived in Love
Arnavaz was eightyears old when she met ]1/[eher Baha
Arnavaz tit Guruprasad 1969 i)arshan
Narirnan took thisphoto of Arnavaz when she was 18
Nariman andl were married, according to Babac wishes, on December 21st 1944 in the hail attached to the Zoroastrian Fire 7hmple in Ahmednagar
Top and bottom left, top and bottom right used Courtesy of the Photo Collection of Beloved Archives. Top middle photo courtesy ofArchives of Sufism Reoriented.
Photo I)uncan Knowles
Goher andArnavaz by the blue bus, Meherazad Two oldfriends in 1989, both now with Baha. Diana Snow was 9Oyears old in this, her last trit to India.
7he9reat Dctrshan 40th 4 .Anniversary —
t’t’1:vo1’ had it:! 1 the meeting room in (Jumuprasadlsizzick back in tintl took thisphoto, only noticing decades /eih’r that my reflection had been ccipturetl in the dooi:
Forty years have passed since many hundreds—perhaps as many as a thousand from the West—made their sorrowful our next issue we would like to mark that momentous occasion by publishing your remembrances. Please send them to us via email (no hand written sheets please) or on a d15c. Photos of the Mandali at that time as well as your group or the surrounding areas—Guruprasad or iVieherabad Hill—would be nR)st welcome. Again we prefir email, if you can scan the photos please do so at high resolution (at least 300 dpi) or ifyou need to send an old fitshioned photograph please place your return address sticker on the backside so we can he sure to get the photo back to you. The deadline ftr all
way to india. In
submissions is August
J)ina, A’Iani, 7 li ’ingt’ i)onaldcon, Aieht’oi, I)iana Snow, A4ehern Arnavaz.
.Jei:v Franklin with Eruch
7he Australian cvonzt’izc group
7 ! r .
4;â€™ I Guruprasat4 1 969 Darshan
Top and above, middle right and bottom photos, Guruprasad, 1969 I)arshan
photos by Charmian Knowles. Courtesy ofArchives of Sufism Reoriented
Photo Flana Peterson
—:-c I :
I With Suzie limura
At Sarosh and Meherukhc 25th wedding annivercary December 2007
Garlanding Meheni on Bahac birthday 2006
With her two nieces
0fi’ring ajiower bejbrt’ dawn on Bahac birthday morning 2006 in PVlflfldtlli [Jail in JYleherazad
After taking Bahac darshan in Mandali hail on His birthday (2006) 1 to r.Jessica, I)evana, Zumhar(hehind), Arnavaz, Kristin and Flint.
With Laurie Bloom and ]1/1ehera With II/Ierwan Luck
With Lori Lei
1 999 at Meherazad
Pam and Danny Rubenstein, aka The
short time more. He was finding a mo ment to give each ofus as much love as He could in the time He had left.’ She did this for all of us. Then, only a week before she died, as she was moving in and out of consciousness, Arnavaz said to me very clearly: “All is over now. Do not feel for anything. Baba is in everyone. Baba is there. Baba is always there”. (By the way she said this, I felt she did not mean do not feel anything, as much as do not fret over anything). Also amongst those visiting her towards the very end were Rick and Sheryl Chapman, and as he witnessed her incredible beauty radiating Baba’s presence, Rick commented: “As Arnavaz’s ordinary human activity recedes, her essence—which is Baba Himself—shines out all the more.” This indeed was how it was: sensing Baba coming so much closer through her, as if the veils were being lifted. I was with herjust the day before she died, murmuring my thanks and farewells, then the next daywas high above the clouds flying back to London, when I sensed the hour of her leaving, feeling the palpable joy and radiance and light of her welcome home. So now she is where she wanted to be from the beginning, at one with her Beloved Lord and her darling Mehera. And I am backin the UK, repeatedlyplaying the beautiftul CD by Cathy Riley(wholoved singing to Arnavaz), “Everything is Music”. One particular track, based on Rabindranath Tagore’s poem “Peace my heart”, evokes so exquisitely some ofthe flavour ofArnavaz’s precious company those last days: . .
Peace my heart, let the timefor the p arting be sweet Let it not be a death but completeness. Let love melt into memory andpain into songs. Let theflight through the sky end in the folding ofwings over the nest. Let the last touch ofyour hands be gentle like theflower ofthe night. Standstil/ 0 beautfulEndfora moment, andsayyour last words in silence. Ibow toyou andholdup my lamp to light you on your way home. How kind of Baba to let us spend time with her and to have given us such a wonderftil example of life lived in His service. Till we meet again, darling Arnavaz, much love.
Rubensteins, Tampa, Florida In 1996, on Danny’s and my trip to India, we met dear Arnavaz and played songs for her and the other women Mandali. As we were leaving the women’s porch, Arnavaz stopped me (Pam) and asked me to write a song around these lines: “Sitting on the porch, holding high the torch of His Love”. Mulling over the words and trying to re-create the poignant feeling of missing the women Mandali, with Baba’s Grace, I finally wrote the song “Days at Meherazad” (which we recorded on our CD entitled Love Man). The lyrics ofthe first two verses are as follows: I remember days at Meherazad “Talkin’ ‘bout the man who said He was God. Look at all the flowers, swayin’. And on the porch, a guitar’s playin’ Songs for Goher, Katie, and Arnavaz. The stories that they tell are something rare. And when I think ofthem, I wish I were there. You know they won’t be there forever, They’re going home, it’s now or never! Come and hear the treasures that they share.” They are sitting on the porch, holding high the torch, of His Love... We remember Arnavaz with great fondness.
Judith Shotwell It was my good fortune to spend some time this past year helping Arnavaz. It was a wonderftil opportunity to put aside what had been my longtime shyness around her regal presence and simply be with her in whatever way might best serve. How graciously she allowed even those of us who were not personally close to join in her care. I often was very aware ofmy own bumbling and uncertaintc All it took was one ofArnavaz’s gentle, radiant smiles to remind me ofour oneness in His Love and to melt away my worries. One of my “tasks” was to do Arti with Arnavaz in the morning and evening. To say the prayers and sing the Bujawe Arti alongside one who had surrendered her life so fttlly to Meher Baba was a most precious gift from Him. The words and the singing took on ever more heartfelt meaning as the days passed. It seemed to me as if Arnavaz used Arti as a threshhold, a way to enter deeply into the dwelling place ofHis Love, a place that was her dearest Home. How lucky I feel to have caught even the faintest whiff of the fragrance of her sublime love for her Beloved.
Baba Saves ..Arnctvaz Judith Garbett* Baba left Bombay on 1st November, saying He was coming back on 17th De cember to celebrate Mehera’s birthday. Then He told Arnavaz that she and Nanman were to come to Meherazad on 4th December for ten days. She was surprised at this, for He would then be coming to Bombay three days after she returned, and there was always much to do in the flat preparing for His visit. But later she understood the meaning of it. Arnavaz and Naniman were to take the night train on 4th December to go to Mehenazad, and at 4:00 pm that day Arnavaz was being driven in the car on an errand connected with Baba. She had two Baba photos in frames, some eatables and other things for Him, and was surrounded by all these. Then the car was involved in an accident. She was not hurt, but the car bonnet [hood] was crushed, and she heard a very loud noise of breaking glass. She thought everywindow in the car must have broken, but this was not so. What had broken was the glass in the two Baba photo frames, both ofwhich were smashed into small pieces. She realised then that Baba had taken the full impact of the accident. On their arrival at Meherazad Baba asked her ‘Did you sleep well?’ She said ‘No, Baba,’ and then told Him about the previous day’s happening. Baba called Goher: ‘At what time did I have the prayers said yesterday?’ She replied ‘Baba, it must have been at 2:00 or 3:00 pm.’Then Baba told Arnavaz to have tea and relax. Goher related to her what had happened: Baba usually retired to His room at 5:00 pm, but yesterday it was at 2:00 pm. He was very upset, had the prayers read, and was very restless. They felt He was striving to save someone from some disaster, and thought of Harry Kenmore who was flying back to America at the time, but now they realised it was Arnavaz He was saving. When the women were all with Baba having lunch in the dining room, He turned to Arnavaz and said ‘You have no idea from what you have been saved,’ repeating this to her, then saying the same to the others. *Lives of Love. Judith Garbett © AMBPPCT
E13abaLovers : 9 iViflfj from the 11eart—!.Regularlj LAn Dmportant J44essage for .}1ll :Ravi Crrabolu—1eorici, Dilinois, Lt&/1
few weeks ago Bhau Kaichuri, Chairman of Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust, in his weekly Sunday evening Internet chat, was mentioning how he was not able to sleep thinking about how the bank accounts of the Trust are running low in cash. There are so many expenses for the Trust, includ ing the salaries of its 300 employees, but there are not enough resources. Bhauji says that every morning he waits for the postman to show up with any donations. The postman comes every day, and Bhauji was getting disappointed, as he was not seeing the donations that the Trust needs. Our heart aches to realize that our beloved Baba’s home is short of money. This situation seems to contradict our false presumption that the Trust must be overflowing with money. In fact, the Trust neither urges pilgrims to donate nor attempts to make moneywith the Meherbad hostels. When we go to Meherabad, we stay at hostels and pilgrim retreats, and many ofus feel we are getting a ‘good deal’. With present-day costs it is much cheaper to stay there than in our own home! But we should not think ofit as a “good deal”—in stead, it is an opportunity to experience howlittle importance is given to money at Meherabad, while major emphasis is given to Divine Love. This ever reverberating melody of love is something available at Meherabad for all of us to experience. The world we live in, on the other hand, holds money in high esteem, and we are constantly bombarded with the idea of commercial and material gains. Beloved Baba said that “Meherabad is the most important place. It is the best place to be for those on the spiritual Path. In the fttture Meherabad will be like Jeru salem. A big town will grow up here.” The numbers ofpeople from all over the world visiting Meherabad have been increasing rapidly. As more and more people are visiting, there is more work for the Trust, and the harsh reality is that all ofthis costs more. The Trust not only needs resources just to maintain itself for now, but also it has to be prepared to accommodate many 36
more Baba-lovers in the ftiture. It also uses fttnds to contribute to society through its work with Meher Health Center, Pilgrim Dispensary Center, The Meher Hospital, Laboratories, Veterinary Aid Center, Meher English School, Physical Education Center and Spiritual Academy. It is almost impossible for the Trust to take up the re sponsibility ifthe economic situation is in this condition of scarcity As Baba-lovers, ifwe do not assume this responsibilit who else will? We should not think that it is a responsibility—but more importantly—an opportunity for us to participate in Avatar Meher Baba’s Manifestation. We may wonder: How can we, who are struggling financially for our own families, solve the Trust’s money problems? There is strength in numbers: There are many thousands of Baba-lovers all over the world, and they are increasing day by day as Baba’s Manifestation spreads. If we all unite in Baba’s cause, it will not be a problem. If every Baba-lover committed to regularly donating at least one dollar per month, the Trust would have an abun dance offtinds. In realistic terms, however, it is not possible to collect a dollar from everyone every month. A more realistic and humble expectation is to convince about 20 percent ofall the Baba-lovers to contribute. The important thing is to contribute on a regular basis, and by pooling all of these monthly donations, the Trust will be able to meet its needs. The fact is that we love money; and we are very careftil with what we earn. We work because we need money. We need money to eat, to have a shelter, and for all our wants and needs for ourselves and families. The value of money has become such an important thing in this world that some of us think that money is the most important thing in the world. Let us just ask ourselves, “How much value do I give to money in my life?” My mind says “I can never have too much money” while my heart says “A lot more than what I really need!” on introspection I realize that the reason my mind is giving a lot more im
portance to wanting more than I need is because I am fundamentally greedy and selfish, owing to the accumulation of impressions from former lives. What is greed? A selfish and excessive desire for more of something (such as money) than is needed. I don’t mean to stand on a high pedes tal and deliver a highly moral lecture on generosity I have a long long way to go in my own spiritualjourney. Greed, anger, and lust are some ofthe problems that we all suffer from. We do not even notice that we are all suffering from these weaknesses. When we get over these weaknesses, only then we will realize how much we used to suffer from them. These weaknesses do come in the way of our being able to love Babawholeheartedly. Itwould be verywise ifwe choose to get rid ofthese weaknesses for our own good. I don’t claim to have overcome these weaknesses but constant remembrances of Baba and love for hu mankind will hopeftilly bring me closer. Whether one is rich or poor Baba gives us more money than we really need. Whether one is earning $50 a day or thousands ofdollars a day, the important thing is how generous we really choose to be. The ability to give is something we have to learn, to wipe out some of our seffish impressions. A good start will be replac ing our greed with love and surrender to Baba. As a matter offact, the more we give, the more we get; this is something every religion teaches. How many people have we seen ac cumulating piles of cash? They not only have no idea how to enjoy them, but also do not share with anyone else. And the joke is that when people die, they can—
not even take it with them. How many people we know want to enjoy life, but do not have the resources? In order to really
enjoy, one has to have the ability to enjoy and also the resources; only when these two ends meet can one get the maximum enjoyment. What is the way to obtain these two aspects? One has to learn how to enjoy and also one has to work to gain the resources.
I believe that the current economic revolution that our world faces is Baba creating His storm to clean up the dirt of greed and materialism that has been hurting us for a very long time. But Baba always takes care of His lovers. All we have to do is hold on to His daaman more tightly than ever before. Please give from your own heart to the Trust for Baba, an amount that you feel is not a burden for your regular life. Let us not worry whether other people are giv ing or not, but make sure you contribute regularly. Whether you are rich or have nothing, you can still send regularly at least a dollar monthly. Ifyou save by sacrificing your desires and then send, Baba would be very pleased. In fact, Baba does not need our money; all He needs is our love, our wholehearted love from the heart. Even if you give one simple flower with wholehearted love, He will run forward to receive it. It is good for us to give. It is a medicine to cure our greed problems. If all the Baba-lovers in the world also do what you will be doing, then there will not be any problem to our Beloved Baba’s Home. As Baba-lovers if we do not take up the responsibility, who else will assume it? Meherabad is our real Home, and the most important place in this universe. Meher Baba said, “The whole universe is mine, but this place [Meherabad] is especially mine”. Americans can send donations through your local Trustwala or through Susan and Emory Ayers at: Avatar Meher Baba Foundation Inc., P.O. Box 182096, Mystic, CT 06355-0398. Indians can send their donations directly to: The Chairman, Avatar Meher BabaTrust, P.O. Bag No.31, King’s Road, Ahmednagar, MS, India 414 001. Or visit the Trust website for further details: http://wwwambppct.org/trust/where-to contribute.php For U.S. tax-deductible contributions, please visit the above web site for details.
I am the Truth. No amount of voluminous praise will raise me highei nor can any calping criticism p ullme down. Jam whatlam and will ever be so. Whatever I do, I do .Ibr my work, which encompasses and sees to the welfizre of all.
Well, 3 L1se L)I/ly Power Only 11 fF1or 7I4ctking People /1wctre of9od
Ei3hau 2<alc1turi, .Ahmednagar 5th ofJuly 2001 understand how [Thefoiowing is the power was one ofBhauc 4wakgenerated. Beauenings’, times when tiful gardens all hefeels Baba is talkover. People would ing directly to him, have come from either while walking around the world alone, meditating or to witness this sleeping.] miracle, which I eloved Baba’s would have done silent voice in a moment. But stopped, and I they would have did not think that come to see all I would hear His this, not for Me. voice again. But When people within five minutes, come for Me, I I heard His silent prepare them. I voice again: work for them in“Now, I will tell ternally. I create you the important longing in them thing, and what for Me. That is is that? You were lasting and takes keeping watch near people towards Photo by Paul Comar Me, and at night, the Path ofTruth. ghosts would come. Because you were “I want Mylovers to build Meherabad. awake while keeping watch, they would They have been doing this, and there is not be able to reach Me. After I dropped beauty because they cooperate in building My body, they started coming to you. Meherabad in different ways. I have cho When youjoined the Trust and were putsen Meherabad, a place where there was no tmg everything in proper shape, you had water. It was lying barren. The lands were to contact so many government officials. hilly, and no one liked to be there. But I They would harass you like anything. At chose this place, and you just see what a that time, you were considering sending a change has happened! ghost after the officials, so that they may “And why this change? Because of My feel scared and do your work. Was it proper lovers. They are building Meherabad. I for you to think in such a way? work for them, and they work for Me. “I know everything that you were They work for Me externally, and I work thinking at the time, and I was watching for them internally. Only then, because of you. You were also praying that the super- love, is beauty there to see Me. I always structure above the Tomb be constructed provide the opportunity for My lovers to overnight. All the new buildings should serve Me, and this is the opportunity for be constructed around Meherabad. Roads them provided by Me. The fortunate ones should be constructed in just one night. serve Me willingly, joyfully and without You were praying to Me for some power. any hesitation. Realizing this fact, they What a fool you are! Is it difficult for Me to silently serve Me, and I feel pleased. I also do anything? I could have made Mehera create situations that make it very, very dif bad a paradise in a moment. Big buildings, ficult for those honest and sincere persons all over, with all facilities. Water in every who work for Me. But since they work for building, and clean water at that. All this, Me in order to please Me, they do not lose I could have done in a moment. Electricity heart. They face these situations lovingly, would not come from some government sincerely and honestly. department, but it would have been “For example, Meherazad is My resi ranged in such a way that nobody could dence. There was only one well when I
was physically present. The farmers who tunity for them to collect as much money in renewed wonder at all the little things as possible from the Trust, and they have that make Meherazad what it is, but we owned the property close to the Mehe razad buildings were trying their best to been doing so. Outwardly, they work for can never completely take its blessings take possession of that well. As the well the Trust, but they don’t work for Me. for granted. In the moonlight, when the did not belong to them, it would have not Theywork for money. They don’tlove Me. jasmine bushes look like leafy nets that been difficult for Me to change their minds They love money. I do not interfere with have caught a shower offallen stars, we still those who own lands the Trust needs for gaze fascinated. And when at dawn these so that they did not give Me any trouble. I asked the Mandali to find outlegal ways to development and who expect an exorbitant fragrant little flowers cover the garden prove the well belonged to the Meherazad price for them. Because they can get more paths like white carpets, we still find time property. The Mandali did so, because money, they collect the bad sanskaras to stand and stare. of course there is the other side to when the property was purchased, the well of My lovers who sincerely and lovingly Nature’s coin, and competing with the donate money to the Trust. was included in the deed. “No one understands this exchange of profusion of the jasmine are the midges “These farmers would go to any extent sanskaras. That is why I repeat and repeat and the mosquitoes that seem immune to harass Me. When the women were har vesting their crops in the land adjoining what Hafiz has said, ‘I torture my friends to all our attempts to outwit them; and the property they would sing very loudly and make my enemies flourish, and no when on an evening we hear the sound of outside My room, even though I would one has any right to ask me why I do so.’ vigorous slaps and claps, it is no cause for retire around four o’clock in the afternoon. Actually, I torture those who love Me, but I concern one or the other ofus is up in Mehera wanted them to be told not to lessen their burden. And for those attached arms against these humming horrors. However, pleasing form oflife has also make any noise. When Dr. Goher asked to their false self, I go on fulfilling their them to lower their voices, they started wants. As I am them, they will also have been on the increase, and it is already dif making an even louder noise! Though the opportunity to lessen their burden of ficult for us to tell the babies apart from sanskaras. But it will take time. They will the parents I’m talking ofcourse of the they were disturbing Me, I had to keep also have to suffer and suffer later on in birds: the bulbuls, sunbirds, mynahs and quiet. You all know that I am all powerful. others; Mrs. Swift is in the process of Could I not have stopped them by using their next births. Then they will receive My power? I could have done so. But know awareness through suffering and thus lose hatching her family in her little mud bowl of a nest outside our cottage wall. When well, I use My power only for making their sanskaras. some restless or curious fledgling would Game. Divine game The My “This is is the reason This of God. aware people drop out of its nest, we would put it back different suffer in who in those I also suffer people discouraging been I have why in its frantic mother’s care. We played the which lose impressions order to in ways any miracles. to importance from giving role ofanxious aunties when they ventured selfishthrough greed, collected have they some attribute would Whenever people on their first non-stop flight from one tree jealousy, slander, backbiting, pride, ness, ‘This always say, would miracle to Me, I to another; for not all of them are little and anger lust. miracle The do it. is news to Me. I did not Lindbergs, and more than once we’ve I have to well, though that “So know faith.’ happened because ofyour picked up a bewildered and bedraggled of because I do it I whatever do, suffer and the Trust, “Now, I have created from one of the water tanks young bird everyone. I for compassion love and My difficulties the Trustees are facing a lot of the garden. for in am I and of everyone, very life the am in developing it. They want to purchase Whenever this happens, after the bird land adjoining Meherazad, but those everyone, though I have to play different, dried by the log fire until thoroughly is there is person For each roles. innumerable people who were creating trouble when I are feathers fluffy and it has regained its producer, director, I am role. the different a was physically present there have become lungpower, before setting and its aplomb I play and for everyone, in one, and actor very, very greedy. They have become most take it to Baba. The invariably free we it perfectly well.” role dishonest, most selfish, most greedy, and My its sleek head, caresses gently Beloved am. I 6:00 It was The Voice stopped. most deceptive. They want an exorbitant with it a kiss. That blesses and sometimes energy of happy, full price for the land. But why do I not help was really very, very how of the blessings see we as far as is of company my My Mandali members and Trustees, so andjoy because I had the How depths? unseen its fathom can we that those people may sell the land at a Beloved. can we understand the silent miracle of reasonable market value? Because I know His presence that wipes out hordes of the Trust receives money through dona sanskaras, the alchemy of His touch that tions from My lovers. These donations are turns the consciousness ofa bird or animal the gift oflove from them to share in the into that ofa human being in its next life? fulfillment of My cause. If these greedy As Kabir has said: people receive an exorbitant price from One moment, haifa moment, even half the Trust, theywill collect the impressions ofa halfmoment spent in the company of from Mylovers whose gift made it possible a Perfect Master, cuts away crores of one’s to purchase the land. So these greedy ones .7VItini DTctfli sanskaras. will collect the burden, though externally they will feel very, very happy, thinking The year has grown some twelve 82 Family Letters, p. 173 that they are very clever. weeks older since our return from Poona. © 1976 AMBPPCT “The same thing is happening at Me- After the first refreshing plunge into herabad. People think this is the oppor Meherazad’s quiet life we cease to gasp --
7he .Silcnt Jll4irctcle of :2-Iis J2resence
_J_,ove ‘treet ‘iiooistore teeas 3our ).ove! Kathy Hill
it the downturn in the economy? Is it the missing mail at the LA Center? Is it the change of management? Is it the lack of good information in the LampPost? For whatever reason, sales at Love Street Bookstore have been disappointing all year. Just when the movie business that has long supported the overhead of Meherabode dries up, the bookstore income falls flat. But we send every order out within a week (mailing everyThursday or Friday), and we enclose so much LOVE! So if you have in mind a gift for a friend, or for yourself here is a list of the latest and greatest. If you want to know more, email Kathy at email@example.com. (The phone number for the store is 323.730.5281 but responses will be delayed, sorry: we only man the office while packing orders there midweek.) Shipping: A rough estimate is in parentheses below for every item, and is for “slow mail” (Media Mail) which may take around a week or so; light packages like 1 CD or movie can go First Class for the same amount, but go faster; double the estimate for Priority taking about 3 busi ness days; triple it for shipments outside the U.S. And ifyou are in California, sorry, the sales tax has risen, and is rising again! . We have plenty of copies of Growing Up with Goc4 the new 800-page opus from Sheela Kalchuri and David Fenster. People are reporting it to be very readable and engrossing, and an important addition to any Baba bookshelf. $50 (+$5). . Bhauij’s lengthyMeherBabacNew Life is also 800 pages but weighs twice as much. Packed with fascinating details about this important facet of Baba’s advent. $50 (+$8). . Our collection of top-quality lovely handwoven Himroo shawls and scarves from Baba lovers in Ajanta has been replenished with a rainbow of colors and some new styles. 100% silk orwoolfor $30. Cotton and blends are $25. Solid color thin Pashminas are $20. Tell me your fa vorite colors and whether you want dressy or warm or casual and you will be delighted with what I send. Pictures will go up on the web page one ofthese days. (+$5.) . Finding God in North Carolina was long awaited, and did not disappoint. It includes interesting personal tales from some ofthe earliest groups ofBaba lovers back in the sixties, $25 (+$4).
Oops. I ordered too many calendars. Hafiz, Rumi and Baba. Do you want some for a craft project or to frame? Let me know, and pay the shipping ($3.), maybe make a donation? Free, no limit on quantity while they last. . Real Treasure II. Published in India, these popu lar little booklets by Rustom B. Falahati are subtitled “Life of a Resident with Avatar Meher Baba’s Mandali.” 125 pages, describes daily life in Meherazad and brings the personalities of the mandali to life. Little gems ofthe les sons inherent in daily drudgery ifyou have such wisdom around you. Unforgettable and inspiring. Hand-carried from India, limited supply. $5 (+$3). . Journey in Consciousness, compiled by Rose Reed. Slim hard-cover nicely produced volume, densely packed with Baba thought, organized by subject, carefully sourced from original material like God Speaks, Discourses, Family Letters, etc. More than one source for most topics. What did Baba say about X, Y or Z? All here, easy to look up, well put together. Limited quantit hand-carried from India; makes a very good gift for any ‘seeker,’ .
Remembering Darshan. A slide show ofimages from the famous 1969 event on a DVD. If you were there, this will really take you back, or at least it did me. $12 (+$3). . Baba’s rainbow-flag inspired items from Prithvi. I have tote bags, I have flags, I have little zipper bags, I have cell phone bags and water bottle totes, I have little pockets to hang on the wall or doorknob so you never lose your keys again, straight from the Amartithi bazaar. Most items are less than $10, some are less than $5, and the bright Indian cottons will lighten your mood. Best of all, sales support big improvement in the lives ofvillage women in India, who learn to sew, to sell, to manage, to market, and to survive the death of .
their loved ones from AIDS. E-mail me to request the details. Shipping on most items is minimal. They make nice gifts. . Limited time only, by request, free sample issue ofthe Glow. Don’t forget to ask for yours. .
Free gift wrapping! All you have to
do is ask. Every order packed with extra love! Some early reader’s comments about Growing Up With God: a treasure trove. This book is not like any other. It was writtenfor the child in us all.” ‘lam having the time ofmy l/è reading this gem!” “Ijust have to tellyou again how incredible this book is! I’m crazy about the book.” ‘7t is such a treat to learn new aspects about our Belovedc ljfefrom an entirely fresh and djffèrent perspective. [It has] addedhugely to my experience ofcelebrat ing our Divine Beloved.” “What an amazing bookyou both have resentedto us Thankyou, Baba,from p the depth ofmy heart.” a warm, funny, heart aching, heart-leaping, honest andfrank account This book made mefall in love with Meher Baba all over again. His pres ence is drzpingfrom everypage. Itc the BEST” a. what a beautjful book. It is truly stunning! Really well made Many of the photos, especially the color photos ofBaba in Meherazad garden, take my breath away.” a glorious book I have only one complaint: It too short!” “. . .
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c/Jo )3ou iReally 0vVctnt to Worrj?! A reader, inspired by the cover story in our last issue, sent us these pithy sayings. Read, and take them to heart.
not be afraid of tomorrow for God is already there. “-Author Unknown You can never worry your way to enlightenment. ‘--Ed Northstrum Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere. ‘-Glenn Turner Drag your thoughts away from your troubles... by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it. ‘-Mark Twain Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday. ‘-‘Author Unknown Let us be of good cheer, remembering that the misfor tunes hardest to bear are those which will never happen. ‘James Russel Lowell Ifthings go wrong, don’t go with them. ‘-Roger Babson Worry never robs tomorrow ofits sor row, it only saps today ofits joy. “-Leo Buscaglia I’ve developed a new philosophy.. I only dread one day at a time. “-Charlie Brown (Charles Schulz) Troubles are a lot like people they grow bigger ifyou nurse them. ‘-Author Unknown Ifyou want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today. -‘-E. Joseph Cossman I keep the telephone of my mind open to peace, harmony, health, love and abundance. Then,whenever doubt, anxiety or fear try to call me, they keep getting a busy signal and soon they’ll forget my number. ‘-Edith Armstrong You can’t wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time. -‘-Pat Schroeder The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will
make one. Elbert Hubbard For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe. -‘-Unknown We do experience moments absolutely free from worry. These brief respites are called panic. -‘-Cullen Hightower If you treat every situation as a life and death matter, you’ll die a lot of times. ‘--Dean Smith As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey. Thomas A. Edison Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow. Swedish Proverb Never bear more than one kind of trouble at a time. Some people bear three all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have. -‘-Edward Everett Hale That the birds ofworry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent. ‘--Chinese Proverb Never worry about your heart till it stops beating. -‘-E.B. White There are two days in the week about which and upon which I never worry... Yesterday and Tomorrow.
‘--Robert Jones Burdette A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work. -John Lubbock As a rule, what is out of sight disturbs men’s minds more seriously than what they see. -“Julius Caesar If worrying were an Olym pic sport, you’d get the gold for sure. -Stephenie Geist Don’t chain your worries to your body. The burden soon becomes heavy and your health will give too much of itself to pick up the extra load. ‘—Astrid Alauda Heavy thoughts bring on physical maladies; when the soul is oppressed so is the body. ‘--Martin Luther I have learned to live each day as it comes, and not to borrow trouble by dreading tomorrow. It is the dark menace of the future that makes cowards of us. Dorothy Day It is not the cares oftoday, but the cares of tomorrow, that weigh a man down. ‘George MacDonald I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. C—Mark Twain How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened. ‘--Thomas Jefferson Only man clogs his happiness with care, destroying what is with thoughts of what may be. ‘—John Dryden Love looks forward, hate looks back, anxiety has eyes all over its head. Mignon McLaughlin Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due. —Wiffiam Ralph Inge My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened. ‘-‘Michel de Montaigne There are more things, Lucilius, that frighten us than injure us, and we suf fer more in imagination than in reality. -—Seneca
continued onpg 59
i3ad 7imes ctre9ood for Evangelical Churches n article from the Rew )3ork 7imes © 1 __/ Editorc note: On talking about ¾ of the world being destroyed (in His language), Baba warned us that things were going to get very bad until the whole world set aside materialism and cried outfor God. Sounds like it is starting in the Christian commu— nity, who have not heard ofBabac words. Interesting...
he sudden crush ofworshipers packing the small evangelical Shelter Rock Church in Manhasset, N.Y.—a Long Island hamlet of yacht clubs and hedge fund managers—forced the pastor to set up an overflow room with closedcircuit TV and 100 folding chairs, which have been filled for six Sundays straight. In Seattle, the Mars Hill Church, one of the fastest-growing evangelical churches in the country, grew to 7,000 members this fall, up 1,000 in a year. At the Life Christian Church in West Orange, NJ., prayer requests have doubled almost all of them aimed at getting or keeping jobs. Like evangelical churches around the country, the three churches have enjoyed steady growth over the last decade. But since September, pastors nationwide say they have seen such a burst ofnew interest that they find themselves contending with powerful conflicting emotions deep empathy and quiet excitement as they re-encounter an old piece of religious lore: Bad times are good for evangelical churches. “It’s a wonderful time, a great evangelistic opportunity for us,” said the Rev. A. R. Bernard, founder and senior pastor ofthe Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York’s largest evangelical congregation, where regulars are arriving earlier to get a seat. “When people are shaken to the core, it can open doors.” Nationwide, congregations large and small are presenting programs ofpractical advice for people in fiscal straits from a homegrown series on “Financial Peace” at a Midtown Manhattan church called thejourney, to the “Good Sense” program developed at the 20,000-member Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., and now offered at churches all over the country. Many ministers —
have for the moment jettisoned standard sermons on marriage and the Beatitudes to preach instead about the theological meaning of the downturn. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, who moved much of their door-to-door evangelizing to the night shift 10 years ago because so few people were home during the day, returned to daylight witnessing this year. “People are out of work, and they are answering the door,” said a spokesman,J. R. Brown. Mr. Bernard plans to start 100 prayer groups next year, using a model conceived by the mega church pastor Rick Warren, to “foster spiritual dialogue in these times” in small gatherings around the city A recent spot-check of some large Roman Catholic parishes and mainline Protestant churches around the nation indicated attendance increases there, too. But they were nowhere near as striking as those reported by congregations describing themselves as evangelical, a term generally applied to churches that stress the literal authority ofScripture and the importance of personal conversion, or being “born again.” Part of the evangelicals’ new ex citement is rooted in a communal belief that the big Christian revivals ofthe 19th century, known as the second and third Great Awakenings, were touched off by economic panics. Historians of religion do not buy it, but the notion “has always lived in the lore ofevangelism,” said Tony Carnes, a sociologist who studies religion. A study last year may lend some credence to the legend. In “Praying for Reces sion: The Business Cycle and Protestant Religiosity in the United States,” David Beckworth, an assistant professor of eco nomics at Texas State University looked at long-established trend lines showing the growth of evangelical congregations and the decline of mainline churches and found a more telling detail: During each recession cycle between 1968 and 2004, the rate ofgrowth in evangelical churches jumped by 50 percent. By comparison, mainline Protestant churches continued their decline during recessions, though a bit more slowly. The little-noticed
study began receiving attention from some preachers in September, when the stock market began its free fall. With the swelling attendance they were seeing, and a sense that worldwide calamities come along only once in an evangelist’s lifetime, the study has encouraged some to think big. “I found it very exciting, and I called up that fellow to tell him so,” said the Rev. Don MacKintosh, a Seventh Day Adventist televangelist in California who contacted Dr. Beckworth a few weeks ago after hearing word of his paper from another preacher. “We need to leverage this moment, because every Christian revival in this country’s history has come off a period of rampant greed and fear. That’s what we’re in today the time of fear and greed. Frank O’Neill, 54, a manager who lost his job at Morgan Stanley this year, said the “humbling experience” of un employment made him cast about for a more personal relationship with God than he was able to find in the Catholi cism of his youth. In joining the Shelter Rock Church on Long Island, he said, he found a deeper sense of “God’s authority over everything I feel him walking with me.” The sense of historic moment is underscored especially for evangelicals in New York who celebrated the 150th anniversary last year of the Fulton Street Prayer Revival, one ofthe major religious resurgences in America. Also known as the Businessmen’s Revival, it started dur ing the Panic of 1857 with a noon prayer meeting among traders and financiers in Manhattan’s financial district. Over the next few years, it led to tens of thousands of conversions in the United States, and inspired the volunteerism movement behind the founding ofthe Salvation Army, said the Rev. McKenzie Pier, president of the NewYork City Leadership Center, an evangelical pastors’ group that marked the anniversary with a three-day conference at the Hilton New York. “The conditions of the Businessmen’s Revival bear great similarities to what’s going on today,” he said. “People are losing a lot of money.” —
But why the evangelical churches seem to thrive especially in hard times is a Rorschach test ofperspective. For some evangelicals, the answer is obvious. “We have the greatest product on earth,” said the Rev. Steve Tomlinson, senior pastor of the Shelter Rock Church. Dr. Beckworth, a macroeconomist, posited another theory: though expanding demographically since becoming the nation’s largest religious group in the 1990s, evangelicals as a whole still tend to be less affluent than mem bers of mainline churches, and therefore depend on their church communities more during tough times, for material as well as spiritual support. In good times, he said, they are more likely to work on Sundays, which may explain a slower rate ofgrowth among evangelical churches in non-recession years. Msgr. Thomas McSweeney, who writes columns for Catholic publications and appears on MSNBC as a religion consultant, said the growth is fed by evangelicals’ flexibility: “Their tradition allows them to do things from the pulpit we don’t do —like ‘Hey! I need somebody to take Mrs. McSweeney to the doctor on Tuesday,’ or ‘We need volunteers at the soup kitchen tomorrow.’ In a cascading financial crisis, he said, a pastor can dis card a sermon prescribed by the liturgical calendar and directly address the anxiety in the air. “I know a lot ofyou are feeling pain today,” he said, as ifspeaking from the pulpit. “And we’re going to do something about that.” But a recession also means fewer dollars in the collection basket. Few evangelical churches have endowments to compare with the older mainline Protestant congre gations. “We are at the front end of a $10 million building program,” said the Rev. Terry Smith, pastor ofthe Life Christian Church in West Orange, N.J. “Am I wor ned about that? Yes. But right now, I’m more worried about my congregation.” A husband and wife, he said, were both fired the same day from Goldman Sachs; another man inherited the workload of four co-workers who were let go, and expects to be the next to leave. “Having the conversations I’m having,” Mr. Smith said, “it’s hard to think about anything else.” At the Shelter Rock Church, many newcomers have been invited by members who knew they had recentlylostjobs. On a recent Sunday, new faces included a hedge fund manager and an investment banker, both laid off who were friends of Steve Leondis, a cheerftil business executive who
has been a church member for four years. The two newcomers, both Catholics, de dined to be interviewed, but Mr. Leondis said they agreed to attend Shelter Rock to hear Mr. Tomlinson’s sermon series, “Faith in Unstable Times.” “They wanted something that pertained to them,” he said, “some comfort that pertained to their situations.” Mr. Tomlinson and his staff in Manhasset and at a satellite church in nearby Syosset have recently discussed hiring an executive pastor to take over administrative work, so they can spend more time pastoring. “There are a lot ofwalking wounded in this town,” he said. How long Baba? How long before Your Manfèstation when the whole world will know ofihe One True God
3loridct 7emple Dnvites ctges to Speak of the Le 2 JVIeIier i3aba 14eherabad 1 rema Camp, J 2 i August 24th and 25th (2008) in Alachua, Florida, Bill and Diana Le Page were the first Meher Baba lovers invited to The Temple of the Universe to share their stories of how they came to Baba. His Lovers came from the Gainesvile and Tampa areas, joining the TOU community in the woodsy setting ofa rus tic building, filling the main room where photos of Meher Baba were among the many holy faces adorning the walls. At the Sunday afternoon gathering, Bill and Diana were welcomed with attentive listening followed by questioning, then tea in the kitchen with those in the large group eager to continue talking with them. Monday night began with founder Mickey Singer asking the Le Pages and invited Baba lovers to share the special night dinner prepared by his wife and TOU community members. After a delicious meal, Bill gave a presentation of Meher Baba that was lively and historical with the warmth and surprise ofintuitively chosen memories. Peter Booth’s original proposal of this special event was planned and coordi nated by Brian Bagheri, Willene Johnson, J esse Massa, Jes Maron, Leslie Haswell, Micheline Voets, Koti Chandra Dasi, Pat Pagano, Stephen Henry, and Prema Camp.
Looking itt JI4eIier ‘7ictba 7he 5igniftcance ofthe9od-J’I4an”s 3orm and Dmage by 2<endra Crossen i3urroughs, J4lyrtle Beach nter the home of a Baba-lover and you are likely to see several photos or portraits ofMeher Baba. Although some Baba-lov ers prefer to be discreet about their decor, others shamelessly place numerous pictures of Baba in every room—everything from tiny refrigerator magnets and bedside knickknacks to framed photographs and large oil paintings. While the display of devotional pictures is common in India, having “too many?’ pictures of Baba in an American home could lead visitors to worry that you’re involved in a strange cult of guru worship. It’s not always easy to explain why you need to have so many pic tures of”that man”—in your residence, workplace, car, wallet, around your neck, and anywhere else you can think of.
Seeing God is Darshan There is a special word in India for the act of seeing a Master or an image of God: darshan. We often think of “taking darshan” of Meher Baba as simply referring to the blessing received through being in His presence, embracing Him or touching His feet, or bowing down at His Tomb-Shrine at Meherabad, or from contact with objects associated with Him, such as a chair that He sat in. But literally the word darshan means “seeing,” the auspicious act ofvisually beholding the sacred image. For Hindus, darshan is an essential part ofworship and means standing in the presence ofthe deity ( or a holy person) to see and be seen by the sacred personage. The scholar Diana Eck offers interesting observations about this tradition in
Washington DC 1956 Chase Studios © Reiter -
her book Darfan: Seeing the Divine Im age in India. She notes that whereas the “people of the Book”—Jews, Christians, and Muslims—rely on the Word for their inspiration, among Hindus the visual image (murti) is given more prominence. It makes sense in a way: To study a holy book, you need literacy (or a good memory ofhearing it recited), but to see God you have only to look. Even a blind person might be granted this privilege. When the visually impaired painter Lyn Ott met Meher Baba in 1965, a light was shone on Baba’s face while He
held Lyn’s face close to His own, so that Lyn could re ceive a strong impression of Baba’s face, which he went on painting despite his impairment. Seeing is not just a gross activity of the physical senses and need not be considered exclu sive to those with normal eyesight. It has its inner counterpart in insight, inner vision, and “conviction through sight,” in which the advanced pilgrim ofthe sixth plane of consciousness sees God face to face. Not for nothing are the sages are known as “seers” (rishis). Baba’s image may be considered an essential supplement for spiritual health. Daily, when we tune in to the Internet or TV, we are assaulted by visual impressions of lustful actions, ostenta tious materialism, violent destruction, and gruesome deaths. Is it really so weird to hang a dozen pictures of the God-Man on the wall? Or is it an enlightened form ofimpressional self-defense and the height of sanity in a world gone mad? The reason for my dis playing all those pictures could be as simple as the fact that I enjoy seeing varied images ofsomeone I love. Or I might explain it as a spiritual practice, a reminder ofGod’s presence or the Master’s inner companionship. It is also a way of pleasing the Beloved: Baba encouraged His lovers to keep His photograph and meditate on it or pray to it. With total attention and adoration, Mehera would tenderly touch and kiss each image of Baba she encountered. Eruch Jessawala describes Baba as telling His lovers: “Now that you have seen Me in this coat, this form, keep My photographs or whatever 43
will remind you ofMe and help you to continue to remember Me. Keep My picture in your house and in your toilet also, so that even there you can remember Me all the time. Before you start your day, remember Me” (The Ancient One, ed. Naosherwan Anzar, pp. 97-98). Baba used to bless stacks of photographs of Himself to be distributed to His lovers around the world. Keep Him Before Your Mind’s Eye There are some profound reasons why looking at Meher Baba is a transformational act. In the discourse “TheTypes of Meditation: V” Baba talks about concentrating on the form of a spiritually perfect person—the Avatar or a Perfect Master of the past or present—as one of the principal types of“personal meditation.” Gazing at the form has great significance, because such a person literally embodies the Truth that is our spiritual ideal
(hence the title of the Meher Baba pho- Ahmednagar 1925 photo by Gulab M. Shah © Reiter
tograph book Love Personfle4 When we look at Meher Baba’s face and form, we are absorbing His divine qualities: “Just as a man who admires the character of Napoleon and constantly thinks about him has a tendency to become like him, so an aspirant who admires some spiritually perfect person and constantly thinks about him has a tendency to become spiritually perfect” (Discourses, 1987, p. 230). Baba has made clear that “thinking about Him” includes looking at His im age as well as repeating His name. During the 1954 meeting at Meherabad known as the Three Incredible Weeks, Baba asked the Western men to picture Him in their minds. The instructions were “to think exclusively of me for half an hour every day for seven days. You should each sit aloof select your own spot, close your eyes and try to bring Baba’s figure before your mind’s eye. If you find that you cannot do that, then just look at my picture and 44
mentally repeat Baba. If thoughts bother you, do not be concerned. Let them come and go, but try your best to keep Baba’s figure clearly in your mind’s eye” (Lord Meher, vol. 13, p. 4454). On another occa sion Baba asked them to picture Him for one minute with their eyes closed after first looking at Him. Afterward, He asked how it went. Francis Brabazon said, “It comes and goes.” Baba replied, “Because you come and go! I am there always” (Darwin Shaw, As Only God Can Love, p. 260). Although Baba sometimes gave medi tation instructions to individuals, what is generally important for Baba-lovers is not formal discipline so much as spontaneous love. If one is drawn to contemplating Baba’s form as a regular practice, it can nurture spontaneity. We do the looking and Baba does the rest, gradually awakening us more and more to His omnipres ence. I like to take a favorite photo ofBaba
gazing directly at me and look at it attentively for a period, allowing the feelings it evokes to flow freely. The image itself seems to elicit the spontaneous intimacy between lover and Beloved that He encourages us to cultivate. Baba points out in the Discourses that meditation on the form ofthe Master is facilitated ifwe start out by thinking about the qualities ofthe Master, like universal love, infinite knowledge, or selfless action. These are not abstract concepts but very tangible qualities that we come to appreciate when we read or hear stories of Baba’s interactions with His lovers and others, in addition to reading His own words. Once we become familiar with Baba’s divine qualities through deliber ately reflecting on them, we are more apt to think about them spontaneously: \ that occur naturally Things 1 in the course of life remind us of Baba—or perhaps I should say He reminds us ofHimselfthrough our daily experiences. We cultivate an internal experiential dialogue with Him, by means ofwhich we are discerning and absorbing His qualities. Increasinglywhen we look at His photos and try to mentally visualize His image, we are deeply contem plating His qualities without deliberately thinking about them in an analytical way. It comes about as a natural process born of our love for and attraction to Him, not from being “religious.” “Ifyou are really keen about the Truth,” Baba told a visitor at Guruprasad, Pune, in 1960, “try to meditate with love on the Divine Form ofyour choice, or remember the name of God wholeheartedly. Then, with Divine Grace, a fortunate one sees God face to face, everywhere and in everything, far more clearly and intimately than you see the things in this room now with your physical eyes” (Darshan Hours, p. 3). Another visitor at Guruprasad ex pressed the desire for Baba’s “Real Dar shan” (Darshan Hours, pp. 5-6). Baba replied, “A rare one is fortunate enough to -
have that Darshan—seeing Me as I should be seen.” Baba distinguished Real Darshan from the famous scene in the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 11, where Lord Krishna grants Arjuna the sight of His Universal Body. Arjuna pleaded for this cosmic vision, but the resulting form—with its myriad faces, innumerable eyes and limbs, and terrible jaws swallowing up armies of men and entire worlds—frightened him so much that he begged Krishna to withdraw it and restore His familiar merciful appearance. Meher Baba explained that this cosmic vision was not Real Darshan; in the latter there is only “ever-renewing bliss,” not fear. “The onlyway to have such Darshan lies through love,” Baba said. An especially delightful form ofdarshan occurs when one beholds the Beloved’s image in natural forms or other objects. The mind ofcourse projects imagery onto things that we look at, so that patterns of foliage, the markings on rocks, or cloud formations may suggest the familiar face ofBaba onwhichwe have focused so much attention. (I am reminded here ofa painting by Roger Stephens, showing Baba’s face appearing repeatedly in the clouds.) Aside from these more commonplace yet nonetheless heart-warming occurrences, there are a few truly exceptional events, most notably the distinctive image of Baba’s face that appeared on a tree trunk outside Mehera’s bedroom window in 1969 after Baba had dropped His body.
Meherabad 1938 Photo by Elizabeth Patterson, used with permission of Buz and Wendy Connor
The Many Faces and Forms ofthe Avatar It is one ofthe remarkable things about the current Avataric advent that images of Him are so widely available in photographs and films and on the Internet, so that even after His passing, one can have darshan of His image. With none ofthe other Avatars identi fled by Meher Baba—Zoroaster, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Muham mad—can we know for certain what they looked like. Rama and Krishna lived so far in the past that their images are thoroughly mythologized, with features such as blue skin. In the case of Muhammad, little iconography exists, since most branches of Islam forbid images of the Prophet’s unveiled face. The taboo against portraying images of living things comes not from the Qur’an but from the Hadith, the extra-Qir’anic sayings attributed to Muhammad. (Judaism has a similar
prohibition, against making any picture, image, or statue of God, as commanded in the Torah.) Despite this iconoclasm, a beautiful tradition of figurative painting developed in Iran, the land of Meher Baba’s heritage. Meher Baba has remarked that each time the Avatar comes, He has certain features in common:
Upasni Maharaj, Narayan Maharajandsuch p resent Perfect Masters have one personal defect or another. Upasni Maharafc stature is too big—like agiant. Narayan Maharaj is too small, short in stature—like a dwarf But this physical djfference between the Avatar and Sadgurus makes no real dffèrence in theirspiritualstatus, which is always divine. (Lord Meher 4. 1259)
the Avatar is always perfect in all respects, spiritually as wellas materially, and in particulai physically. TheAvatar always has a charmingpersonality with a beautjful, symmetricalface and body, while the Perfect Masters are generally ofodd size and shape physically, with certain defrcts sometimes so abhorrent that one does not even like to look at them. Christ, Muhammad, Zarathustra, Buddha, Ram and Krishna were Avatars and hence hadcharmingpersonalities. So is mine.
David Fenster reports in Mehera-Meher that Mani believed that the Avatar looks the same each time He comes, with a characteristic arch and long length of the eyebrow, slim legs, aquiline nose, and moderate height. But Mehera did not agree with this. She strongly felt the uniqueness of Baba: “Everything about Baba was perfect. His way oftalking, his singing, his gestures, his movements, his face. That’s why I tell Baba that every Avatar comes, but I want to be withMeher Baba, with our
Baba. I love Baba. [She began to cry.]” (vol. 3, p. 423). Mehera tenderly noted each lovely feature ofBaba’s physical form (vol. 3, pp. 423-424): eyes, eyebrows, skin, nape of the neck, hands, legs, and feet. Many have tried to describe the luminescence ofBaba’s skin, the effulgence ofHis form. Mani marveled that each part of Baba’s body was so individualistic—His ears, His shoulders. The color of Baba’s hair, sometimes described as reddish brown or auburn, was also unique. When Jane and Bob Brown recorded the haunting tradi tional folk song “Black Is the Color ofMy True Love’s Hair” which most ofus would be content to understand in a metaphori cal sense, Mehera insisted that the word “black” be changed to “brown,” teaching us that it is important to be aware ofthe de tails ofBaba’s specific features. We do not love Meher Baba as a symbolic template or archetype, but as a living, breathing hu man individual. By contemplating Baba’s humanity, we glimpse the significance of our own. Baba’s nose deserves mention. The septum ofHis nose was broken in the 1952 car accident in Oklahoma. “I had a very shapely nose before the accident, but due to the injury it is no longer so,” He later commented (LordMeher,vol. l ,p. 5507). 6 Mehera noted that the shape of Baba’s nose was different after the accident. His nose also suffered contusions in the 1956 car accident in Satara, India. Casual ob servers who joke about the size of Baba’s nose, or who find it fanny that God should
Poona 1957 Meelan Studio, © Reiter
have such a nose, have no idea of the suffering and significance that lie behind that appearance. There are several photographs of Baba that resemble fa miliar paintings of Jesus, includ ing those known as the “Ancient One” photo and the “Young Christ” photo. Dma Snow Gibson once assembled, for the Love Street Bookstore in Los Angeles, a series ofphotos ofBaba in which He re sembled each of the six other Avatars of the present cycle. In the case of Zoro aster, Rama, and Krishna, Baba ac tually dressed up as these Perfect Ones and posed for photographs. Baba sporting Poona 1959 “The Darbar Pose” © Panday an Arab headtaken on the same day could be markedly dress can stand for Muhammad, different. Sometimes Baba looked “abun and seated in a lotus-like posture dant,” as Bal put it, at other times thin and he reminds us of the Buddha. drawn; one moment radiant and powerful, (Interestingly, in Buddhist ico the next meek and helpless. At first one nography the Buddha to come, may prefer the smiling, loving Baba, only Maitreya, often has a distinctive later becoming touched by those images pose unlike that of any other that look frowning or exhausted. In photos Buddha image: He is seated on a from the earlyyears, Baba at times appears chair. Although it is not the kind dazed, solemn, or fierce. Later ones look of armchair we associate with more gentle, and over time He seems to Meher Baba, this detail seems like look “more universal,” so to speak. Each a meaningful coincidence.) Baba-lover has several favorite photos, or I have collected many photos different ones that we prefer for differof Baba, because He looks so ent times and moods. Many Baba-lovers different in each one that I had in India seem to favor the more formal to have many different shots— photographic portraits, such as the regalincluding ones ofjust his feet and looking “Darbar Pose,” (above) taken by D. the back of His head. Bal Natu D. Rege ofPune (see LordMeher, vol. 16, once pointed out, while leafing through a photo album in Manp. 5583). I imagine that we each also find certain photos difficult to look at, for one dali Hall, how photos of Baba
reason or another. The final photograph of Baba’s face after He dropped His body has a powerful aura of holiness, and it can be painful to see it casually displayed. Darwin Shaw, when describing the first occasion on which he met Baba, mysti cally commented that one can actually “see Love.” To discover what this might mean, we may not have to be so advanced as to have “eyes divine,” but surely we must have the eyes of a lover. This vision can be developed, I believe. It starts just by looking at Him.
A suggestion: Ignore people narrating home movies of Baba when they divert the audience’s attention to other people in the frame—”At Baba’s right, His secretary Adi K., Irani,” or “BerylWilliams holding the umbrella over Baba.” Find some other occasion to learn the names and faces of Baba’s lovers. While the Avatar is there before us, with the chance of even meet-
God Is Watching You! We are extraordinarily fortunate to have movies of Meher Baba. Baba has said that seeing Him in films would help viewers toward the goal of liberation. In another remark, whose exact source was not given, Filis Frederick wrote in the The Awakener that Baba said that one day someone would get God-Reahzation from a film. In both films and photos, Baba sometimes looks right at the camera, and then we can look directly into His eyes and feel Him look at us. Surely He knew in that moment that one day you and I would be viewing the film. A friend who ran the projector at Baba meetings used to slow it down at those moments so we could all relish the experience. The recent restored DVD of 0 Parvardigar has several such moments, where His gaze is held on ours. Shaligram Sharma of Hamirpur has described how, in 1961, Baba asked him what he wanted, and Shaligram replied that he wanted surrenderance. Baba asked him why did he want that? He would become useless to the world. Sharmaji recited the Hafiz verse that Baba quoted to him: “When my eyes met His eyes, I became useless to the world.” Many videos ofBaba are now available to be watched at home, yet there is something special about sharing the experience with a group at a Baba gathering. When watching these films, I usually don’t take my eyes offBaba (or Baba and Mehera).
Bangalore 1939 courtesy MSI Collection India
ing His eyes for a split second, maybe we shouldth waste the moment by taking our attention from Him. The Beloved’s glance, or nazar, imparts protection, intimacy, and blessing. Baba once told a group of Indian lovers: “The Perfect Master has the key that opens the last gate which opens to the Infinite Treasure. To aspire to have a look at or to become one with this Infinite Treasure— God—is in a way sheer madness. It has to be that degree of madness which remains unaffected by the most alluring pleasures or the most painful sorrows. The infinitely affectionate look—’Nazar’—ofthe Perfect Master can awaken such ‘madness.’ But for
this you have to lead your life according to His Will. It makes no difference whether you are physically near or away from Him” (Darshan Hours, p. 57). See Him as He Really Is Baba has said that we must learn to see Him as He really is: “You do not see me as I really am. This body is not me. My real self is far more beautiful” (Lord Meher, 4: 1597). What would it mean to see Him as He really is? It is beyond imagination, for the ego-mind has to go before God comes. Meher Baba has made the intrigu ing statement that “In the beginning of creation, I defecated, and all the suns, moons, stars and universes came out. They are all my excrement! But just imag me! When this dirty thing is so beautiful, how can you ever imagine My real splendour? You will lose your senses ifyou ever see a glimpse ofit” (Lord Meher, vol. 4, p. 1161). But perhaps even more startling than the equation of our universe with excre ment will be the realization that who He really is, is our own Self. With His human charm and beauty, the God-Man tricks and entices us into the romance oflover and Beloved, which He tells us is the highest and quickest of the high roads to God-realization in this age: love for the Divine Beloved, constant longing to see Him, be in His presence, serve, obey, and surrender to Him. But this game of duality holds the seeds ofits own destruc tion, for its finale is Oneness. At the East-West Gathering in 1962, Baba interpreted the words of a qawwali singer who was performing for Him: The singer is saying. ‘[ tried to see you a thousand ways, but I could not see you! Isee a beautfulface, eyes, nose, limbs, but I cannot seeyour Oceanic Form. Ihave knocked my head on a thousand
thresholds, but I cannot seeyour Real Form.”
But only one in a billion can see me as I really am, in my Real Form. The meeting in Oneness is quite different from this sort of darshan. For that, unique love for and unffinching faith in me are essential. But do not worry. In this hall, all the cups of wine are empty Butwhen the Divine Wine-seller opens his eyes, simultaneously all cups will be filled with love. Let us hope it will be soon! When I break my silence with that Word ofWords, all your cups will be filled full of love—then you may drink to your hearts’ content. I am that Drop that has swallowed the whole Ocean! Ifyou were to really love me, maybe one day you will see me as I really am. Love me wholeheartedly and you might one day get a glimpse ofmy Reality (Lord Meher, vol. 18, p. 6022) At Nasik in the 1930s Baba told the Western women: “Though your eyes are small, they see the world. Through these tiny openings, you can see vast landscapes. But when you close them, you will be able to see me!” When Delia DeLeon then stated that she saw nothing when she closed her eyes, Baba responded, “When have you closed them? Real closing means that there should not be a single thought in your mind. The death of the mind makes the eyes close and you will only then see me as I really am. For this reason, I tell you to be ever mindftil of me and not to pay attention to outside attrac tions” (LordMeher, 1764). In a cryptic statement, Baba referred to one particular photo of Himself: “I really like this photograph. In this photograph I am depicted as I really am” (Eruch Jes sawala, Thats How It Was, p. 31). At the Jessawala home in the early 1930s He took darshan of it, bowing to His own feet in the photo. Itwas taken in 1926,with Baba in His kamli coat, a kerchief tied around His head, seated in front of a painted backdrop (see Love Personfled, p. 11). 48
walls—”I don’t quite understand what you mean when you refer to his great beauty” On Baba’s birthday years ago, Darwin I looked at the images she was pointing Shaw appeared on a radio program in New at and tried to see them through her eyes: York City, and it was announced that he Was this merely an ordinary man? I don’t remember what Darwin replied, would give a public talk later in the day at Meher Baba House. Several people but the exchange leads me to think that it from the radio audience turned up for is Baba’s grace that allows us to see Him, the talk, in which Darwin described the if not yet as he really is in His divinity then at least as an extraor dinary human being who is divinely beautiful, both physically and spiritually. In December 1934, Darwin and his wife, J eanne, were sitting in a New York City hotel lobby, hoping to unob trusively catch their first glimpse of Baba as He arrived. Jeanne, all antici pation, was disconcerted when Baba suddenly entered the lobby dressed Western-style in a long overcoat and a fedora hat pulled down, almost coyering His face, with His long hair tucked up inside. She thought to herself, “Is this what God looks like?” As a young woman in her twenties, she had a different expectation of how God should appear. But later, when they were invited to come up and meet Baba in His suite, she beheld a transformed vision. Darwin writes in his book As Only God Ahmednagar 1927 photo by Gulab M. Shah © Reiter Can Love, “This time he looked completely differevents leading up to his first meeting in ent. His long, dark hair was hanging down person with Baba. When he came to the to his shoulders; he wore a long, white part where he said, “And then I saw Baba Indian sadra and had sandals on his feet.” he closed his eyes and stood silently Jeanne felt that Baba had responded to her lost in the memory, a look of utter bliss thought and now revealed to her a divine on his face. After several long seconds, he image that deeply touched her, causing opened his eyes, continuing brightly: “And tears to flow uncontrollably (until Baba With palpable feeling, Darwin placed His hand on hers, turning off the then had conveyed more than words could tears “like a faucet”). In Baba’s presence, many people, even ever express. question-andthe talk came After the strangers, could not take their eyes off “You said, woman him, and in India many lovers, just like answer session. One beautiful times how mentioned several the Shaws in America, traveled far in order you’ve what Meher Baba was. From to glimpse him from a distance for only a But man. moment as he stepped out of a bungalow said, he seems like a wonderful gestured looking at these pictures”—she or appeared briefly at a window. Baba’s at the many photos on the Baba House graceful movements and facial expressions Beauty in the Eye ofthe Lover
languid eyes (or “her” in some transla tions; pronouns in Farsi do not distinguish gender), apple chin, eyebrow’s arch, moon face, musky tresses, sugary lips, and mole or beauty spot. Dr.Javad Nurbakhsh, head ofthe Nimatullahi Sufi order, has collected brief commentaries and exemplary cou plets from Sufi literature on the Beloved’s form in volume 1 of his marvelous Sufi Symbolism series. Here we learn that the parts of the Beloved’s body represent various states and stages of the lover’s inner path as well as divine attributes. For example, the “radiant face” (tal’at) is said to symbolize the theophanies (visible manifestations) of Beauty:
The glowing ofyour radianiface the moon could never render; Before afiower like you allplants lack beauty. —Hafiz
Bombay 1932 photo by N. V. Virkar © Reiter
were so striking that people would turn their heads to look at him, or be irresist ibly drawn to him while he was traveling. However, if Baba did not want people looking at Him, He could withdraw this magnetism. The dancer Donald Mahler told me how he once observed Baba standing on the street in New York and none of the passing crowd gave Him so much as a glance, even though He was dressed in distinctive Indian clothing. Baba generally liked to keep the atmosphere around him normal and natural, and did not want people gaping at him with ostentatious adoration. But at times He granted an intimate glimpse. A number of people have spoken ofgazing into the pools of infinity that were his eyes—an experience described as overwhelming byTex Hightower, the dancer who first met Baba in the Lagoon Cabin at Meher Center in Myrtle Beach in 1952. Another lover, who was drawn to Baba just from seeing his photo, said that she came to Him when she “fell into His eyes.”
Symbolism ofthe Beloved’s Face and Form The classic Persian poets exalted the parts of the Beloved’s face and body: his
Various traditions recognize that the human body is a sacred replica or model of the cosmos. Baba once described how the seven planes of consciousness cor responded to seven parts of the physical body:
lstplane: the navel, 2ndplane: the lefipart ofthe chest 3rdplane: the rightpart ofthe chest 4th plane: the lower part of the throat 5th plane: the center of the throat 6th plane: the third eye (be tween the two eyes) 7th plane: the top or center of the head [LordMeher, vol. 3, p. 1001] Although Meher Baba fre quently reminded His lovers, “I am not this body,” at the same time His physical form pos sesses enormous significance. It is through His gross body that He appears to us and allows us to see and embrace Him, and it is His body that suffers and bears the burden of His Universal Work. The different parts of the Master’s body have symbolic import—the feet, for example. The feet, which are physically the lowest part of the body, are 49
spiritually the highest. Physically, the feet go through everything—good and bad, beautiful and ugly, clean and dirty—yet they are above everything. Spiritually, the feet of a Perfect Master are above everything in the universe, which is like dust to him. When people come to a Perfect Master and touch his feet with their heads, they lay the burden oftheir sanskaras on him. A Perfect Master’s feet collect the sanskaras from all over the universe, just as an ordinary person when walking collects dust on his feet. This is the burden to which J esus referred when he said, “Come unto me all you who have labored and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”
active, it signifies spiritual help for the person concerned to aid him in realizing God. Similarly, his left hand and left foot denote material happiness or miracles” (Lord Meher, vol. 3, p. 799). Injuries that Baba sus tamed from his two car ac cidents and other mishaps had meanings that we can barely imagine. One remarkable example will suffice, in which Baba explained the painful boils that appeared on His body:
Those who love the Perfect Master deeply, and wish to lighten his burden as much aspossible, wash hisfiet with honey, milk or water. Honey represents red sanskaras (mental); milk represents white sanskaras (subtle); and water represents yellow sanskaras (gross). Some devotees p lace at hisfeet a coconut which represents the mind and symbolizes their complete surrenderance oftheir will to him. (Lord Meher, vol. 6, p. 2114)
These boils are ofdjfferent types—one irritating, one itching, onefull ofpus, one very smal4 one very large. Why are they all so djfferent andpeculiar? The explana tion is that each represents aparticular country or continent. For instance, that one on my anus represents India, the other on my buttocks represents Persia and so on—different types ac cording to the sanskaras ofthe country it represents. This means, in short, that there are no physi cal defects on my body. Whatever physical ail ments you see are due to the sanskaras taken on from the world at large, for whose benefit and we(fare I work. It is similar in the case ofthe other Sadgu rus. Upasni Maharaj has piles; Sai Baba regularly had high frvers. I have stomach trouble, dysen— tery, blisters and these boils. (Lord Meher, vol.
And Baba once explained, “When a Sadguru’s right hand and right foot are
11 I Ahmednagar 1925 photo by S.S. Deen © Reiter
4, p. 1326)
Meditation on Baba’s Form through Art It would take a much longer essay or a book to do justice to the subject of artistic representations of Meher Baba (and I am sorry I can only give
I Nasik 1936 NV. Vurkir © Reiter
a few examples of the many artists who have portrayed Baba). We know that Baba highly valued art as “a process toward the realization of the sacred within,” as He told the painter Tom Riley. It is not pho tographs but paintings ofBaba (by Charles Morton and Helen Dahm) that grace the interior ofHis Samadhi. I have heard some people say that they prefer a photograph ofBaba to a painting. With photographs of Baba available, why do we need artistic renderings? Several answers can be given. One, contemplation of the form of the Divine Beloved may be considered the supreme activity of art, so from the artist’s point of view at least, to dra paint, or sculpt the God-Man is the highest meditation. Furthermore, art has the power to communicate truth—the emotional or inner truth of a thing—in a way that so-called reality often does not. Photography itselfis an art, and to look at a photo is not necessarily equivalent to seeing the real subject. Some photos distort the way a person really appeared in life. And since most photos of Baba are black and white, the creative use of color can transform the image (as in Laurie Blum’s work). Artistic temperaments vary. Stylistic clarity and technical precision can produce
startlingly realistic works (Nadia Wolin ska, David Barison), which often convey a sense of intensely focused attention and observation. However, there are also portraits that charmingly capture Baba’s moods and mannerisms without being photographically exact (Rano Gayley, Diana Le Page, Katie Rose). Portrayals of Baba in an imagi nary scene lead us into inner worlds of meaning or the realms of myth and fantasy (Phyllis Ott, Tom Riley, Anthony Davis, Diane Cobb, Wodin), and impressionistic styles and painterly brushwork powerfully evoke the energy and presence of Baba (Lyn Ott, Charles Mills). Charlie Mills, who says he prefers to use a balance of the painterly and photographic approaches, feels that a looser rendering delivers “a lighter, breathier expression,” allowing the eyes and minds ofa broad range of viewers to “fill in” or interpret the image for themselves. From the artist’s perspective, he adds, the painterly approach enables a
more dynamic spatial sense. In the realm of sculpture, I imagine it could be a challenge to render the form of Meher Baba—who was so fluid and ever-changing in His graceful movements and lively expressions—in a way that is not static. Jurgis Sapkus, Vivian Agos tini, Marianne Principe, and the jewelry designer Randel Williams are among the sculptors of Baba in the West. In India, with its ritualistic worship of”idols,” Baba allowed His Hindu lovers to produce lifesize bronze or marble statues ofhim at various locations (Meher Dham in Nauranga and Dehra Dhun, and Meherst han in Kovvur, Andhra), but also asked them to display His messages about the importance of tearing away “the curtain of set ceremonies and rituals.” Meher Baba’s image has inspired cre ativity in many other mediums, including the knitted pictures of Mayan, the inlaid woodwork of Sha Painting by Diane Cobb Courtesy of Sufism Reoriented
heen Khorsandi, the whimsical polymer figures of Theus Malmberg, and the inimitable refrigera tor magnets of Jane Vigodsky Undoubt edly the future will see an explosion of arts as creative genius realizes the supreme object ofits attention in the God-Man, Meher Baba. Those now painting or sculpting Baba out of love, without valida tion by “the world,” are blessed. Mehera was ex quisitely sensitive to ©Wodin how Baba was por trayed in both art and photography. She didn’t like works that failed to capture Baba’s likeness accurately, and wouldn’t hesitate to point this out to artists showing her their work. She also did not favor photos where Baba appeared sad, angry, or in pain. Others have wanted the impres sion of Baba presented to the public to be the warm, loving, jolly, or masterfullooking Baba rather than the impatient, solemn, irritated, or suffering Baba. This can be debated. One might argue that a person whom Baba contacts by means of His image will see what Baba wants them to see; what is important is the link that is established, not whether on the surface the person experiences the image favorably or unfavorably. For artists, photographers, filmmakers, and spectators alike, focusing on the form and image of the God-Man is an activity that can suspend mental activity and selfconsciousness—a variety ofmeditation in action. Baba told one artist: “When you paint, you forget everything except your object. When you are too [very] much engrossed in it, you are lost in it. And when you are lost in it, your ego diminishes. And when the ego diminishes, love infinite ap pears. And when love is created, God is attained. So you see how art can lead one to find infinite God.” “Who is that man?” countless people have asked on catching sight of a Baba card, button, photo, or picture. Looking at Meher Baba, they may have been reminded of Jesus or Krishna, a famous continued onpg 53 SI
ctssing 7ime and Dts 2 LAn
introduction to, and excerpt from, a just compl&d ten-part prose poem by Jf4ickej 2<ctrger, Jlorida
I dont know about you, but Pve always been obsessedwith time: its irrevocability and impregnability, its seeming ruthlessness and cruelty, and conversely its majesty and mercy, p oignancy andpathos. When a writer obsesses about a particular theme or subject, it either drives him or her crazy, orproduces a work the writer is deeplyfu(filledby, ispleasedby, and one that hopefullypleases the reader After nearlyfifteen years ofwriting, then not writing, then revising and generally obsessing, I’m happy to say that Time and Its Passing is now, thank God, complete. I’ve introduced the completed poem with some wonderful passages from the writings ofMeher Baba, who expresses perfectly everything I could hope about the drama of the lfè ofthe soul and its many acts, all a seemingly never-ending play in which “the actors disappearfrom the stage ofearth to reappear in new capacities and new contexts,” only to discover that ‘the sojourn ofthe soul” is and has been all along, ‘z thrilling divine romance” in which the lover “ultimately disappears and merges in the divine Beloved” For this issue ofthe Lamp Post, I’ve selected just thefirstfive stanzasfrom Parts One and Two ofthepoem (really twoparts combined as one section,). By the time this issue appears, a printed paperback of the poem should be available, which willbefree ofcharge to any individual or group. In the event that the paperback is still unavailable, I would be most happy to send anyone a PDF of the completed manuscript as it now stands, and/or a hard copy. I can be reached at mickkarger@aol. com, and/or at 561-638-3114. By way of thanks, Id/ike to mention that it was Kendra Crossen Burroughs who kindly andgenerously suggested the idea ofintroducing thepoem in theLampPost; it wasDina Snow Gibson who just as kindly andenerously accepted. And, mostparticularly, ztc been Pam Rubenstein (ofThe Rubensteins, as in Pam and Danny Rubenstein, the wonderfullygifted musicians whose three CDs of music to their Beloved sing their love), from the Baba Lovers of Tampa Bay, Florida, whofirst gave me the confidence to read this poem aloud to the group, and have been a continuous source of supportandencouragement. Pamc, as well as the groupc response to these readings, has led to the completion ofthis work.
From Parts One and Two of “Time andlts Passing”: Long Time, BriefTime I. Long time, dark time, thick with sunlight and stars and a thousand dreamings flows on, its tide of remembrances and ebb of forgetfulness washing away the footprints ofeachjust-passed lifetime, leaving no footprints behind. Long time, 52
ofmemory? And which one ofus is strong enough to resist it, or would resist it if we could? Long time dark in its flowing and terrible in its pull, our chests aching with remembrance. Long time wide and dark and kind, a huge shadowing hand that wipes away pain and joy and singing and laughter too and the thronging memories of a thousand lifetimes, washing each one away but leaving the shore clean and unmarked for the next one. Long time and the still sad music, each life a single unbroken note in the longwide symphony of time, its strains coming resoundingly to life in the crowded moments of a day’s hour or minute. This crowded hour, this teeming hour filled with hurrahs and huz zahs! So soon fading, fading, limp sounds in a slowly closing ear. Thus do we fade from our scenes, like poor actors from their lines, the stage growing slowly dark, the seats empty, the curtain coming down; yet behind the wings a brand new play is being rehearsed, with new lines to be spoken, new parts to be played, and new lessons learnt. And in one moment a whole life may change, be unhinged from its past: a word, a phrase, a message delivered with a hammer stroke or a kiss, a sudden collision with an idea, or another object heavier and weightier than itself a collision whose course’s end had its beginning at the very beginning of time. III. The country of remembrance is a little one; its season short; we pass through it, sleeping. We sleepers wake in the folded arms of sleep, wake in a cool shaded nurserywhere the soft gray light of a rainy afternoon late in August is stealing in between the blinds, the drone and whir of an electric fan pulsing the warm, moist air. We wake on a bed of beast-fragrant straw spread over a cow dung floor, the air thickwith wood smoke and ghee; wake in swaddling clothes coarse and homespun or in clothes soft and finely embroidered by hands untouched by sunlight, hands groomed from birth to tirelessly tend the ceaseless looms of the rich. IV. And dying. Passing away on palan quins or in an elegantly carved four-poster II. Which one ofus does not hear time bed whose ancient canopy has itself witsinging in our hearts? Which one of us nessed births, deaths and couplings that does not feel the pull and tug of the tide would produce new births and deaths;
dark and wide and deep, sings its quiet music in the hidden recesses ofthe heart, sings its one long note of infinite forever singing, whose beginning was before all things were and whose end will be after all things have passed away. Long time and its brief music singing softly but clearly of grief and lost love, of hopes unhoped by trials and disillusion, of tendernesses hardened, of kindnesses rejected, of the long dull ache ofan emptylife lived for no one, uncluttered and unrevealed, of songs unsung and words unspoken, ofbigness in little things and littleness in big things. Long time oflong ago, remembered at the oddest moments: a sudden memory of rooms long ago vacated, the echoes of doors closing and laughter behind walls, the ends of sentences lost in tears or rage, of music played on a summer night long, long ago, of hands held and fingers intertwined and perfume rising from a strong and shapely neck, of starshine and moonplay and cloudbursts and showers of comets that surprised the sky with it’s brightness, now faded, fading, so dimly felt, far faint echoes heardjust barely above the noise of living, as in a dream. Long time and the vaulting arch of memory: of a waltz played on a Viennese balcony on NewYear’s Eve at the turn ofthe century, the fireworks bursting in your heart, of coming home from a war broken but not whole and almost fainting in the embrace ofyourwife, her hair still smelling ofroses. Long time and the crushing weight of remembrance: of the lie you told simply by keeping silence, of the truth you told that ruined a reputation and a life, of promises made but never kept, of trans gressions avenged instead of forgiven, of help withheld and pity too, ofmea culpas murmured on weakened knees in a dank and empty church, of too many sins that even long time in all its width and depth can never fully erase. Long time and the long reach of retribution: every action having its consequences, each thought and word and deed either credited or debited, but payment somehow exacted, sooner or later.
passing away in the arms of lovers and friends, husbands and wives, on battlefields and playing fields, in darkness and in light, in the iron-webbed machinery of ships and planes, under trees and stars and under ground, in every imaginable pose and position, most of them embarrassing; dying and sleeping again and waking again, as woman and man, as villain and hero, as saint and sinner, as rich and poor, as famous and unknown, short and tall, fit and lame, whole and divided, pampered and abused, alone and never alone, drowning in a sea ofsiblings. Coming and going, coming and going, endlessly tired of the game but endlessly coming back for more and more and still yet more, each new play dissolving into the next, plays whose entrances and exits are endless, each act ringing with fresh hellos and goodbyes, with promises pledged and apologies screamed, with pleas for forgiveness ut tered in the last seconds ofa last desperate hour. And each lifetime the set changes: now a house deep with rooms, now a hut or hovel through whose gaping spaces the winds ofevery season blow, now a dweller in a concrete box rising thousands of feet into the air. V. Long time and the starless dreams of a thousand between-life sleeps. Sleep me now my tired soul, sleep me now a dreamless sleep but fill it with ships and stars and a swaying mast; sleep me now a sleep to last a thousand years, and do not let me wake again, at least not too soon. But all too soon is untroubled sleep awakened to the dream ofa newlife, the echo ofthe last one fading in an infant’s ear. Long time, kind time that wipes the slate clean each time, that smoothes the sad wrinkles and sagging flesh ofage into the taut pink flesh of the newly born. And so we fall out of one lifetime and into another, as easy as falling asleep, as easy as waking, as easy as time passing...
Looking at Meher Baba continuedfrompg 52
rock star, their Jewish grandfather, Jerry Colonna (a mustachioed American comedian ofthe 1940s and ‘50s), an Italian organ grinder, a handsome Persian prince, or—if they have eyes to see with—the personification of Love Divine. Meher Baba says, “I am whatever you take me to be. Love me, and do not try to understand me. I cannot be grasped by the intellect. I am only reached by love.”
Opportunitj of a Lifetime 3ctck Small, 2<entucky
nce I was sitting in the Tomb. Suddenly I became aware of this feeling of love that just seemed to pour out of my heart flowing towards Baba. It became very clear it had nothing to do with me. It was as if Baba was reaching into my heart and pulling Himself out of my heart to Himself in the Tomb. Baba was claiming what belonged to Him. His love in my heart belonged to Him, not to me. The best I could do was try to stay out of the way and not interfere with this flow oflove to Love. I described this to Eruch later on and he said, “Imagine you are in a very small room and there are two people in love and they are being very affectionate with each other. What would your attitude be if you couldn’t get out of the room and leave them alone? You would try and get out of the way as best you could. You would at least try not to watch. But if you are forced to watch, you would try to shrink in the corner and allow the love-making to go on and try not to interfere.” So the best we can do is to try not to get in the way of Baba loving Himself through us. Then Eruch added, “Of course, it’s Baba in us who gets in the way, and it’s Baba in us who gets out of the way!” Baba explained that He is connected to each one ofus with a very fine thread from our heart to His, and He doesn’t want that thread to break. So when we go on our own way and do what we want, when we disobey Him and follow our own minds, He unreels the thread so it doesn’t snap or break. When we stop resisting Him and obey Him He reels us in. So to love Meher Baba, there is nothing we can do, but at least we can try not to resist His love. He is always calling to us, pulling us, but our minds and our attention are focused elsewhere, in other directions and towards other interests. If we would
just let go ofour own selfish desires we could experience His love. The things Baba tells us to do are only things that keep us from getting further involved in the world, in illusion. By avoiding lust, anger, drugs, other masters etc., He can pull us to Him, He can pull our hearts to His heart. He can pull out of us what belongs to Him. He cuts off our attachments through suffering. If we can accept these difficul ties as coming from Him, we will be drawn closer to Him. It isn’t easy to wake up from a nightmare if we think that the dream is real! How can we experience Baba’s love in the midst of all these many distractions, difficulties, and temptations? It is because of the many distractions and temptations that we can experience His love even more, He gives more ofHis love to us to counterbalance the attractions of maya. Mehera explained this so beautifully. She indicated that Baba has said that a little bit of effort means a great deal because the temptations are so great in this difficult age we are in. During the so-called Age ofTruth, it took a great deal ofeffort to advance spiritually because it was easy to love God. Gener ally people were loving and obeying God during the Golden Age. But because the temptations are so difficult now during this Kali Yuga, everything we do has so much more significance. I feel because it is so difficult nowadays to be faithful to one’s husband or wife, to be honest, to avoid lust, drugs and other masters etc., that obedience to Baba has so much more significance, so much more meaning now. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, the opportunity of many lifetimes. From TheAwakenei AjournalDevot
ed to Meher Baba, Volume XXI, Number One, © 1984 by the Universal Spiritual League in America
:iumor for 21uma will forever remain a lesson to me: “I’ve been chosen to clap and cheer!”
t1ie Devil and the9olfer stranger walks up to him and whis pers, “Would you give up a fourth of your sex life?” The golfer thinks the man is crazy and that his answer will be meaningless but also that perhaps this is a good omen and will put him in the right frame of mind to make the difficult putt and says, “OK.” And sinks the putt. Two holes later he mumbles to himself, “Boy, if I could only get an eagle on this hole.” The same stranger moves to his side and says, “Would it be worth another fourth ofyour sex life?” The golfer shrugs and says, “Sure.” And he makes an eagle. Down to the final hole. The golfer needs yet another eagle to win. Though he says nothing, the stranger moves to his side and says, “Would you be willing to give up the rest of your sex life to win this match?” The golfer says, “Certainly.” And makes the eagle. As the golfer walks to the club house, the stranger walks alongside and says, “You know, I’ve really not been fair with you because you don’t know who I am. I’m the devil and from now on you will have no sex life.” “Nice to meet you,” says the golfer. “My name’s Father O’Malley.”
A small boy is sent to bed by his father. Five minutes later: “Da-ad...” “What?” “I’m thirstyc Can you bring me a drink of water?” “No. You had your chance. Lights out.” Five minutes later: “Da-aaaad...” “WHAT?” “I’m THIRSTY...Can I have a drink of water??” “I told you NO! If you ask again I’ll have to spank you!!” Five minutes later. “Daaaa-aaaad...” “WHAT??!!” “When you come in to spank me, can you bring me a drink of water?” . .
Ode to a 7oad
The Most Caring Child Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he had been asked to judge. The purpose ofthe contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four-yearold child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.” What It Means to Be Adopted: Teacher Debbie Moon’s first graders were discussing a picture of a family. One little boy in the picture had a different color hair than the other family members. One child sug gested that he was adopted and a little girl namedJocelynnJay said, “I know all about adoptions because I was adopted.” “What does it mean to be adopted?” asked another child. “It means,” saidJocelynn, “that you grew in your mommy’s heart instead of her tummy.” Roles And How We Play Them: Whenever I’m disappointed with my spot in my life, I stop and think about little Jamie Scott.Jamie was trying out for a part in a school play. His mother told me that he’d set his heart on being in it, though she feared he would not be chosen. On the day the parts were awarded, I went with her to collect him after school. Jamie rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and ex citement. “Guess what Mom,” he shouted excitedly, and then said those words that
Oh Toad! Toad ofthe Samadhi, Holy Toad! You made this sacred place Your own abode; You knew that from this place AU love flowed; And, deep inside your toad heart Sweet love glowed, And made you Such a happy toad! Sarah McNeil, Meherabad, November 2008 Sarah wrote this after observing a toad quietly sitting by the entrance to the Samadhi.
1.The roundest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference. He ac quired his size from eating too much pi. 2. I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian. 3. A rubber band pistolwas confiscated from algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption. 4. No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery. 5. A dog that gave birth to puppies near the road was cited for littering.
JlI4eher Ei3aba The Silent Father The Wise Magician The loving brother The Proud leader The one who gave everything The one who inspired all The one whofilled hearts
The Thllest tree The Wildest wave The gentlest breeze The warmest hug The one who holds the world The one who willalways come again The kiss upon the brow
The Calm mentor The Ruling sun The Silverfiower The Playful child The one who healed The one who saved The one who is the infinite teacher
BABA Aspen Weichberger, (14 years old), Arizona
What Does Love J44ectn? A group ofprofessionalpeopleposed this question to a group of4 to 8-year-olds. The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imag med.
Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.” Bobby age 5
go up and down and little stars come out of your eyes Karen age 7
“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend whom you hate.” Nikka age 6
“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ un less you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” Jessica age 7
“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.” Billy age 4 -
“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Tern age 4 -
“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” Karl age 5 -
“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.” Chrissy age 6 -
“There are two kinds oflove. Our love and God’s love. But God makes both kinds of them.” Jenny age 4 -
“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.” Noelle age 7 -
“Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken.” Elaine age 5 -
“Love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.” Chris age 8 -
“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.” Mary Ann age 4
“When my grandmother got arthritis she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got ar thritis too. That’s love.” Rebecca age 8
“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones Lauren age 4
“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.” Danny age 7
“I let my big sister pick on me because my Mom says she only picks on me because she loves me. So I pick on my baby sister because I love her.” Bethany age 4
“Love is what’s in the room with you at
“When you love somebody, your eyelashes
rCo Be in Love with9od J71/Iadhur, Dudia I am Madhur. I am a 19 year old
JJello, Indian from Ahmednagar, India, and have been around Baba’s infinite orbit for a while. Now I want to share some views I have towards Baba. I first started to accept Baba as God when I made a pilgrimage in Meherabad early 2005. I made a whole bunch of friends who were very kind. After leaving I read God Speaks, and this book, a medium for Baba’s UniversalWork, answered questions I had when I was growing up. What questions, you may ask. Questions of existence, questions of God, and ques tions ofBaba as God. As I read more and more about Baba, I realized the one and only truth, Baba alone exists, and I started to see how beautiftilly He has carved not only my life but millions ofothers in vanous stages of evolution. I have a confession: my life before Baba was the opposite of a spiritual life. I did everything that I was not supposed to do as a teen, as a kid, maybe even as an infant—but now Baba’s books help me live life as it ought to be lived. I started out just believing in Baba, not much love in there, but now as I think about Baba, my heart begins to melt, thinking ofhow beautifully He planned everything in my life, how tactfully He got me out of a tough situa tion. Also, because ofMehen Baba, I now have a love: playing guitar. I was taught by Baba lovers,Jamie Newell and Cindy Lowe, among many others. Baba says suffering is good; many of us might disagree, many of us might find it amusing, but suffering is indeed good. Even for the most material people, it’s a necessity it teaches you. How do I know? I’ve had my share of it and it only made me a better, more loving and kind person, and who was helping me through it?—Baba. He is a constant companion. He is always thinking about you. Baba is very special and to be in love with Baba not only means loving Baba, but it means loving everything, even that guyyou really hate, that’s what being in love with Baba has taught me: to love everyone—maybe not equally—but to love everyone. I would not say I practice everything Meher Baba wants us to. But loving everyone is the only way you will genuinely feel one with the world, which is a very special way to
feel in the state our world is in night now. And one thing we are lucky to have: Baba’s love. Hold on to it. Also to everyone who is young, my message from India is hold on to Baba. Au your so-called friends may not be there for you at some point, but Baba will. Baba will make your life complete. Also youn love for Baba cannot be measured by what kind ofperson you are: sinners and saints, beggars and kings, all are God. A huge influence over my life has been Annavaz Dadachanji, how much she has helped me! She guided me through every step and is turning me into a better human with her kind advice. Also there is another huge influence in my life, my love, and she, I think, is a gift from Baba. Baba gaye me her love so I could be a complete man. And that’s really special for me. I am also grateful to my guitar teacher Cindy Lowe, who has been very loving to me this year, and has guided me in my spiritual and musical life. A warm hug to all my friends, and a J ai Baba to anyone new.
‘3/ Llfr’Ioses and the Drunk 11 21azrat Dnctyat c_An old story b 11 Don 3ohn. rkltan, retold b Many many years ago, Moses needed to talk with the Lord, so he started up the trail that led to the summit of Mt. Sinai. On his journey he came upon an old drunk sitting by the side of the trail. Now, this old drunk was “three sheets to the wind” and he saw Moses walking and he cried out in a loud voice “Hey Moses where ya going?” and Moses said “To talk with the Lord” and the drunk said “Well tell God ‘hey’ for me” and Moses shook his head at the old drunk and said “I will brother, I will.” A little farther up the path, Moses came upon a priest. The priest was sitting in all his fine regalia, very propen very proud and a little condescending and he saw brother Moses coming up the path and he said to
Moses, “Moses where goeth thou?” and Moses said “To talkwith the Lord” and the grand priest said “Tell the Lord that I’m keeping his covenant and I will await with great anticipation the rewards of heaven” and Moses said “I will.” Well, Moses gets to the top of Mt. Sinai and toward the end of his visit he mentions coming across the drunk and the priest and the Lord says “I am aware ofboth” and Moses said “but Father what is to become ofthem?” and God said “The drunk is headed for Hell and the priest for Heaven” and Moses says “Yes Lord.” Well coming down from Mt. Sinai Moses walks by the priest and the priest says “Did you give God the message?” and Moses says “Yes” and then the grand priest says “It shall be.” Well, down the trail a bit he sees the drunk still three sheets to the wind and the drunk sees Moses and he takes another drink and calls out “Hey Moses did you tell God ‘hey’ for me?” and Moses says, “Oh yes brother and God says you’re headed for Hell.” Well, the drunk heard none of this, he leapt up and did a little jig, laughed, had another swig of booze andjust kept dancing and laughing and crying out “The Lord actually thought of me!” Moses finally grabbed the drunk and said “But the Lord said you’re bound for Hell” and the drunk said “Let’s have a drink, the Lord remembered me!” So Moses went on. Many months later the Lord called Moses to Sinai and on his walk to the summit Moses came by where the drunk had been and all he saw was a discarded liquor flask, the drunk was nowhere to be seen. And a little farther up where the priest sat, the place was also abandoned. Well, Moses went up to the summit and after finishing his business with God, Moses said in a matter offact voice: “Lord, whatever happened to the priest and the drunkard?” and the Lord replied “Why Moses they’re both dead.” Moses said “But Lord what happened to them?” The Lord said, “Why, the drunk is in Paradise and the priest is in Hell!” Moses protested “But Lord, how can that be?” And the Lord answered “The priest thought he’d make a deal. I DO NOT MAKE DEALS! But the simple drunk, he rejoiced just at being remembered. He expected absolutely nothing, he could have cared less about Heaven or Hell, he was happy at just being remembered and the nothing for the drunk became the everything.”
,t: ove rDoes Tht AU day long a little burro labors, sometimes with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries about things that bother only burros.
And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting than physical labor. Once in a while a kind monk comes to her stable and brings a pear, but more than that, he looks into the burro’s eyes and touches her ears and for a few seconds the burro is free and even seems to laugh, because love does that. Love Frees. ,
( Love Poems From God. Twelve Sacred
Voicesfrom the East and West by Daniel Ladinsky)
Along the line of ‘7here
-L —I’m- s
no coincidences’ here is the story behind this issues poetry page.
I no longer have time to read the Baba Listserv, butfriends send me items they think wouldgo well in the LampPost. I received this deligh’fulpoem one day and immediatelyfired offthis email to our resident cartoonist—Brian Narelle:
Jai Baba Brian, Didyou happen to see this lovely littlepoem that Danny Ladinskyposted on the List?As soon as Istarted reading it I could see a cartoon by Narelle! Wouldyou care to illustrate it?” I received an immediate response: ‘Ron Greensteinjust sent me thatpoem yesterday. Whatc really weird is that Ijust &ot a box ofpresents (includingfreshfruit) from a client ofmine whose last book I illustrated, and this morning—for thefirst time in years—I ate afreshpear. Andjust a few weeks ago, a songwriterfriend who wrote a great song called ‘Tove Can Do That” took me to a nearby miniature donkey farm. The owner invited us to go into thepasture where the two ofus up squatted down and were surrounded by an army of little donkeys. We were both totally blissed out by the experience! I think I’llgo back over there this afternoon and seek some long-eared counsel about this andget back to you. Jai Baba, Brian Iguess the burros counseled him well. He came back and drew this adorable little creature! Have you ever seen such a loving ecstatic animal? I think Baba would be very happy! Dma —
L.A 7rectsure 21unt 77irough Old Jll4ctnuscripts Ward ¶J2arks, 7frkherabad
the Avataric tation progresses—or at least, so it seems to me— newlayers progressively un fold, like a flower opening at dawn: and those who come after, though they can no longer so easily breathe the immediate atmosphere and feel the personal presence of that Man of men, can, as a compensating gain, see more clearly and completely the gift to humanity that He brought. One domain in which at the present time many new doors are opening and new vistas coming into view has to do with the recent sur facing of old manuscripts dating from the early de cades ofMeher Baba’s advent. As many in the Baba world know, a wealth of this new material has been published over the last few years in various books and articles; and more re search is in progress. In the course of such investiga tion, priceless little gems and surprises from the past with Baba keep popping up, and workers in this line often find themselves scurrying out on intriguing little treasure hunts. For those who acquire the taste for this kind of thing, ferreting out these details and flash insights from Baba’s life and teaching can become an addictive pastime. What I wanted to describe in this article is one such point of information, small but intriguing, recently discovered in the course of editing a talk that Baba gave at Meherabad during the 1920s. But before I start, let me first issue a warning! What follows will be ofspecial interest to those whom I might style as “God Speaks Freaks”—that is, people who love to pursue those arcane little details that you might dig out in the appendixes to God Speaks and other such cubby holes. Those ofthis tribe find no end to the fascination in such little snippets of esoterica; but to others, they (that is, both the esoterica and
the people) might seem a bit absurd. So with that caveat attended to, here we go. The manuscript in question, bearing the embossed title “Tiffin Lectures,” is a bound sheaf of 174 carefully typed pages containing about fifty talks Baba gave to the men mandali in 1926—27. Originally we knew nothing about this manuscript beyond what could be inferred from the document itself. But over the last few years the Trust archives has scanned and put online another manuscript entitled “The Combined Diary,” and from this it was possible to ascertain that the “Tiffin Lectures” must have been compiled by Baba’s disciple Chanji. Chanji stands foremost among the great diarists of this Avataric advent; and manyvolumes ofhis records and accounts have recently been scanned and put online on the Trust web site, where they are avail-
able to the public for review and study. Just in the last few months, however two new notebooks have sur faced that contain original source material from which the “Tiffin Lectures” were compiled. This informa tion is immensely helpful in the editing process; it corrects errors, fills gaps, and supplies contextual details that immeasurably enrich the primary text. So that’s the background for our treasure hunt. Now one particular “Tiffin Lecture,” deliv ered by Baba on 28th June 1926, treats the subject of the Sadguru’s circle. Of course, Baba lovers today already know (from Baba’s Discourses) that the Perfect Master’s circle has twelve members plus two appendages. The Tiffin Lecture speaks ofthe twelve; yet it supplies certain additional facts. Evidently one of the twelve is the Sadguru’s “chargeman,” who in due course becomes a Sadguru in his own right. The circle contains another member however, who, as the Tif fin Lecture puts it, “goes off”—whatever that means. Apparently he either dies or otherwise fails to gain God-realization. In any case, his departure leaves eleven circle members, whom Baba calls “Acharyas.” So far so good. But at a certain point in the lecture, Baba suddenly makes reference to “the fifty-five,” ofwhom one, He says, is a Majzub. This number does not appear previously in this Tiffin Lecture or any of the earlier ones. Yet Baba brings it up without explanation as ifHe could assume that the mandali would know what He is talking about. What is going on here? Well, we searched through Chanji’s Diaries, and as luck would have it, struck gold. In the diary that contained the im mediate source for that particular Tiffin Lecture we found that the true number
was fifty-six, not fifty-five; the typist miscopied it. Students of God Speaks —and especially the appendixes to that volume; see earlier comments about “God Speaks Freaks”—will know that there are always fifty-six God-realized souls in the physical body; of these, the five Perfect Masters head the spiritual hierarchy. We might reasonably infer, then, that Baba was presenting this same piece of information to His mandali in 1926, almost thirty years before God Speaks was published. Yet the other diary of Chanji’s tells us far more. On the twelfth ofJune, fourteen days before delivering the Tiffin Lecture in question, Baba was talking specifically about the fifty-six and how this number breaks down. All fifty-six, He said, are God-realized. Five are heads and fiftyone are “workers.” But more significantly, the fifty-six subdivides into five groups of eleven “Acharyas,” plus one “Majzub.” Though Baba does not specifically say so, that fact that (in the Tiffin Lecture) Baba applied this same word “Acharya” ( a rare term in Baba’s spiritual lexicon) to the disciples in the Sadguru’s circle suggests that the eleven circle members, after Realization, take their place col lectively as one of the five eleven-person blocks making up the fifty-six. The group of fifty-six God-realized souls, in other words, is composed for the most part of the God-realized fellow circle members of the five Sadgurus. Actually, Baba says more about these fifty-six in a lecture He gave on another day; but those remarks are too complicated to go into here. But the meaningftilness of the number fifty-six, and its deep relationship to the role of the Sadguru and His circle, reveals another beautiftil pattern in the profoundly coherent cosmology that our Lord has given us. Though nothing can match time spent in the living physical presence of that Person of persons, happily for us, Beloved Baba has left behind a legacy that will sustain and feed people of all types—metaphysics buffs included, as this article illustrates. Sometimes I feel like a little field mouse who has stolen into the store room in the dead of night to find that the Master has left half the sacks untied and the grain spilling out on the floor. Meher Baba’s Avataric Granary will indeed suffice for a whole world’s worth ofNew Humanity field mice for the next seven hundred years.
7;Iie Established Divine 3acts ..,7Vteher E13aba ssentially we are all one. The feeling of our being otherwise is due to ignorance. Soul desires consciousness to know itself but in its progress towards this Goal—which it cannot realize indepen dently of creation—it must undergo the experience that it gathers as the individu alized ego, which is all imagination. Thus it is faced at the outset with ignorance instead of Knowledge. Dual forms and illusionary creations are the outcome of ignorance: birth and death, happiness and misery, virtue and sin, good and bad, all are equally the manifestation ofthis same ignorance. You were never born and will never die; you never suffered and will never suffer; you ever were and ever will be, as separateness exists only in imagination. Soul undergoes experience through innumerable forms such as being king and beggar, rich and poor, tall and short, strong and weak, beautiflil and ugly, ofkiiling and being killed. All these experiences must transpire as long as the soul—though it is one in reality and undivided—imagines separateness in itself. When soul is bereft of the impres sions of these illusionary experiences it becomes naked as in its origin, to become now filly conscious of its unity with the Oversoul which is One, indivisible, real
and infinite. The soul becomes free of the binding of impressions through various paths. And love is the most important of these paths leading to the realization of God. Through this love, the soul becomes entirely absorbed in God, ultimately forgetting itself completely. It is then that suddenly Knowledge comes as swiftly as the lightning bolt that burns to ashes all that it falls upon. This Knowledge uproots illusions, doubts and worries, and apparent sufferings are instantaneously replaced by everlasting peace and eternal bliss, which is the Goal ofall existence. Soul, now free from its illusions, realizes its original unity ofbeing. Let us not hope, because this Knowledge is beyond hoping and wanting. Let us not reason, because this Knowledge cannot be comprehended or thought of. Let us not doubt, because this Knowledge is the certainty of certainties. Let us not live the life of the senses, because the lusty, greedy, false, impure mind cannot reach this Knowledge. Let us love God as the Soul of our souls and in the height ofthis love lays this Knowledge. The divinely Perfect Ones can bestow this Knowledge on any one they like and whenever they like. May we all gain this Knowledge soon. ThePath OfLove,pp. 119-120 ©1986 AMBPPCT
Why Worry continuedfrompg 40
We are more disturbed by a calamity which threatens us than by one which has befallen us. John Lancaster Spalding Grief has limits, whereas apprehen sion has none. For we grieve only for what we know has happened, but we fear all that possibly may happen. Pliny the Younger Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the daytime and too sleepy to worry at night. Author Unknown Real difficulties can be overcome, it is only the imaginary ones that are uncon querable. Theodore N. Vail No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today that the
weight is more than a man can bear. George MacDonald Rule number one is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it’s all small stuff. Robert Eliot He who fears he shall suffer, already suffers what he fears. Montaigne No human thing is of serious impor tance. Plato Fear can keep us up all night long, but faith makes one fine pillow. ‘Philip Gulley Every evening I turn myworries over to God. He’s going to be up all night anyway. Mary C. Crowley
(Why it is Dmportant to iRemember and i: J44eher 73aba J4/tichael Da Costa, Cngland We are not what we think we are. We experience ourselves as real, but limited. We are in fact limitless and one with God. We are asleep, dreaming, within the greater dream which is creation. God, taking on the limitations of the human form, draws the focus of our consciousness away from the dream towards He who is Reality itself. His purpose is to awaken us from the dream, so that we may experience ourselves as we really are. His means of awakening is love, His ever-present DIVINE LOVE. He does not expect us to to be passive receivers ofthis LOVE, because its path is blocked by our sanskaric debris; our wants and desires; our worries and fears; and all the distractions that life in the dream creates. Once we have been stirred by the initial impact ofHis WHIM, it becomes our responsibility to clear a channel for this LOVE to flow through to us. We do that, not by agonising over our faults, not by fretting over our sanskaras, but by constantly remembering Him; by constantly thinking of Him; by constantly taking His Name; by making Him our constant companion; by accepting His Will in all that happens; by living a life according to His Wish; and by, above all, loving Him more and more, and more and more, and still yet more. When we sincerely try to be in these ways, then the sanskaric blockage begins to dissolve, and His LOVE can seep through, stirring the beginnings of awakening. And the more we persevere in remembering and loving Him, then the more the blockage dissolves, and the wider the channel opens, enabling a greater and greater flow of His LOVE, until at last it bursts through our remaining resistances and we finally awaken in glorious union with the Divine Beloved. AvatarMeher Baba kiJai!
Sickness and 21ealth Zjuniiier J.esnik ately, I’ve been thinking about this experience ofbeing in the body—and particularly the fluctuations ofenergy, the ebb and flow ofwellness we all experience to different degrees. When I was much younger, I felt like I could command my body to do whatever I wanted it to do. In my young adulthood, aches and pains set in and I slowly became aware of the body having limits and it insisting it would call the shots from now on. But of course I didn’t listen. I kept dragging my body from here to there insisting it be a good sport. And to prove it had the upper hand, I started getting sick. Just enough of a sore throat or an aching body to make it absolutely clear that I must stay in bed and cease all my big plans for a day or two. And what I found was: it was nice being forced to slow down. I secretly loved letting plans go and surrendering my will at the hands of sleep and tea and warmth. Of course, as is often the case when I manage to be aware that my experiences—seemingly good or bad—are teaching me something, I felt Meher Baba’s hand in that realization. It always struck me as so gentle of Him to teach me a valuable lesson about letting go with a simple cold or flu. And, often, in those slowed-down times, I would re member more to keep His company and a different kind of freedom would result. By His grace, I have been spared any serious illness so far in my life. But as more people close to me struggle with sickness and physical challenges, I continue to wonder what it means to have a spiritual experience in bodies that often fall ill or otherwise restrict the freedom of our ex ternal experience. The push and pull between me and my body these days is about sleep. I am more tired than I want to be most of the time. And it seems many people in our culture are walking through life this way: exhausted by all oflife’s demands and desperate for space and rest. Yet, many of us don’t do anything about it. We continue to chase our careers, social lives, travel plans, homemaking and all of life’s tasks as if there is no room to step back from any of it. We even relax with a vengeance. Maybe so many ofus live at this speed because we would rather ignore the idea oflimits, we’d like to believe that we can do it all and that doing things matters. We
are afraid ofsurrender. I know that I find it incredibly difficult to do less and rest more. So much ofmy identity comes from being on top of things and following through. After all, Baba did tell us not to shirk our responsibilities for the sake of a “spiritual life.” I think I really absorbed that part of His message. But Baba also reminded us, gently, beautifully that “It is Maya that makes you identify yourself with the body and which makes you forgetful ofyour eternal, indivisible, resplendent divinity” Maybe experiences of our bodies letting us down are opportunities to dip in that eternal lightness. And, like each time we take His hand to accept and surrender to the experience we are in, surrendering even to the ebb and flow of our own health is a chance to remember that we are in this body, but we are of something far more limitless than that. Originallypublishedon the SheriarBooks website http://wwv.sheriarbooks.org/abtc/ index.html in the column 4ll (Baba) Things Considered
as a 2ath to9od Excerpt from
Francis (to Bro Leo): You told me that your whole life you’ve been searching for God. How have you done this? By calling, weeping, singing songs, fasting? Each man must have his own special route to lead him to God. Which route did you take? That is my question. Bro Leo: I lowered my head in thought. Should I tell him or shouldn’t I? I had meditated on this many times and knew which my route was, but I was ashamed to reveal it. To be sure, I was still ashamed before men at that period, because I was not yet ashamed before God. Francis: Why don’t you answer me? I am passing thru a difficult moment and and seek your aid. Help me! Bro Leo: I felt sorry for him. With agitated heart I made the decision to tell him everything. My route, brother Francis—and don’t be surprised when you hear it—my route when I set out to find God was laziness. Yes, laziness. If I wasn’t lazy I would’ve gone the way of respectable, upstanding people. Like everyone else I would’ve studied a trade, cabinetmaker, weaver, mason, and opened a shop; I would have worked all day long, and where then would I have found time to search for God?
I might as well be looking for a needle in a haystack: that’s what I would have said to myself All my mind and thoughts would have been occupied with how to earn my living, feed my children, how to keep the upper hand over my wife. With such worries, curse them, how could I have had the time, or inclination, or the pure heart needed to think about the Almighty? But by the grace of God I was born lazy. To work, get married, have children, and make problems for myself were all too much trouble. I simply sat in the sun during winter and in the shade during summer, while at night, stretched out on my back on the roof of my house, I watched the moon and the stars. And when you watch the moon and the stars how can you expect your mind not to dwell on God? I couldn’t sleep any more. ‘Who made all that?’, I asked myself. And why? Who made me, and why? Where can I find God so that I may ask Him? Piety requires laziness, you know. It requires leisure, and don’t listen to what others say. The laborer who lives from hand to mouth returns home each night exhausted and famished. He assaults his dinner, bolts his food, then quarrels with his wife, beats his children without rhyme or reason simply because he’s tired and ir ritated, and afterwards he clenches his fists and sleeps. Waking up for a moment he finds his wife at his side, couples with her, clenches his fists once more and plunges back into sleep.Where can he find time for God? But the man who is without work, children and wife thinks about God, at first just out ofcuriosity, but later with anguish. Do not shake your head, Brother Francis. You asked and I answered. Forgive me. SaintFrancis by Nikos Kazantzakis (C) 1962 by Simon and Schuster Translated from the Greek by P.A. Bien
Godalone is Real, and as we arepermanently lodged in the Divine Beloved, we are all One!
/4nnouncmens Excellent Vebsite Comes to Our .Attention! L-/Ifl
Read what Baba really said about coming again as a Japanese scientist in His next incarnation. www.meherbabadnyana.net/life_eternaU Book_Two/2_False_BelieJi.htm#08
It is commonly believed that Baba forbade the use ofmind altering drugs, but approved of the use of alcohol and tobacco. This is not true. Read on for the answer. Many people believe that Baba advocated meat eating. The opposite is true. Check it out. The answers to these and many other false statements are to be found at the false beliefs website mentioned above, with the source ofthe refutations clearly defined.
EPctssings 7}irginia Small .9 aes to Ei3aba irginia passed away at the age of 94 onJune 11th at 4:45 pm. She was one of Meherabad’s first western residents moving here in 1976 to join her son Jack, who was already living here working in the Trust office. She had so many friends amongst the pilgrims, so if anyone would like to send in some remembrances, please do so deadline August 1st. —
NEW YORK CITY AREA
UNITED STATES AR IZONA
Tucson—Irma Sheppard: 520-3211566, firstname.lastname@example.org. Flagstaff—AMB Lovers of Northern Arizona: 928-774-8305 laurent@ ompoint .com.
/leetinjs 4 J
Bronxvifle, NY—Meher Baba House, 212-97 1- 1050, MeherBabaHouse.org. Metro—biweekly meetings Saturdays at 4 PM, Frank Bloise, 856-696-4374, email@example.com. Albany/Saratoga/Schenectady— Regine Brate, 518-383-0598 NORTH CAROLINA
Asheville—Winnie Barrett, 828-2747 154, firstname.lastname@example.org. Peter and Debbie Nordeen—nordeeni@ beilsouth.net. Greensboro—Sheldon Herman, 336288-8090 or 336-235-2730, bikewalla@ gmail .com. Chapel Hill-Durham-Raleigh—Carol Verner, 919-933-3550; carolverner@ nc .rr.com.
Los Angeles—Sundays, 1 1 rvi to 1 PM, at Meherabode: 323-731-3737, 1214 5. Van Ness Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90019 just east ofihe intersection ofArlington and 12th StreeE Avatar Meher Baba Center of So. Cal. news and announcements, www.Meherabode.org. Ojal—Meher Mount: 805-640-0000, Ray Johnston & Elizabeth Arnold, email@example.com. San Francisco Bay—Information: 510845-4339 or Ben Leet: 510-351-8259, Benleet@earthlink.net. No. California Avatar Meher Baba Center, 6923 Stockton St., El Cerrito 94530-2931, www.MeherBabaMeherBaba.org. Sacramento Marilyn Buehler: 9 16-8 12-9496, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.premsay.com/MeherBaba.
Prague—Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center, retreat and Baba’s accident site. 405-567-4774. email@example.com, www.ambhc.org. TEXAS
COLORADO & SoUTHwEsT Denver— Sundays at 7 pm at homes in the Metro area. For Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Arizona info, contact Barbara A. Roberts, 303238-4649, firstname.lastname@example.org. FLORIDA
Tampa/Clearwater— —Jane Paladino, 813962-8629; Tom Decker, 727-536-9282. Defray Beach— —Mickey and Wendy Karger, 561-638-3114. GE0RGI A
AtlantaJAthens —Contact Ed Legum, 770-552-8980, email@example.com. HAwAII
Maui—Meredith Moon, 1940 Olinda Rd, Makawao, HI. 96768; Mail: P0 Box 1269, Makawao, HI. 96768 808-573-1188 or 808-572-6556, Fax 808-573-1 189; meredithmoonl@mac. corn; firstname.lastname@example.org. Molokai— Shirley Alapa, 808-567-6074 or 808-567-6383, fax: 808-567-6363, message: 808-567-6363; salapa@aloha. net. ILLINOIS
Chicago —Meher Baba Information Center, Carol Kovalevych 312-633-0696 email@example.com. LOUISIANA
New Orleans—Avatar Meher Baba Center monthly meeting and film program; Joe Burke 504-616-1111, firstname.lastname@example.org. 62
Nacogdoches—Chris and Anne Barker, 936-560-263 1 email@example.com. ,
Pamela Butler-Stone, 202-946-0236, Friday and Saturday meetings, www. lifeimages.com/MeherBaba. MAINE
Midcoast—Our meetings happen and are planned spontaneously and irregularly by the Maine Baba regulars. Contact Noreen O’Brien 207-273-3173, firstname.lastname@example.org; Ken Lux 207-594-6391, email@example.com; Daniel/Carolyn Montague 207-594-4115. MA55ACH USETTS
Cambridge—Meher Baba Information Center, Michael Siegell 617-864-3997.
M ISSISSIPPI Jackson—Peter Rippa, 601-317-0848 MONTANA
Missoula—Andy Shott, 406-549-5949. Emigrant—Anne Haug, 406-333-4582. NEW HAMPSHIRE
Liz Miller 603-749-3668 mceliz200l @ yahoo .com. ,
Seattle—Fridays at 8 PM and for special events. Info: Cynthia Barrientos, 2067 13-9905 firstname.lastname@example.org. ,
London—Meher Baba Centre, 228 Hammersmith Grove, London W6 7HG, (0044) 020 87 43 44 08, www. meherbaba.co.uk. FRANCE
Marseille: C. Dallemagne, 4 91 39 02. Cannes: Debby Sanchez, 4 94 41 39 02. St. Nazaire: Christine and Phihipe Joucla, 2 97 46 13 19. Connerre: Andre Grimard, 2 43 8901 94. Paris: Claude Longuet, 1 44 59 30 06. ISRAEL
Santa Fe—last Thursday of the month at 7 PM in home of Robert Reser and Edle Andersen, 505-983-6621 ; robertreser@ yahoo .com. NEVADA
Las Vegas —Dick and Carol Mannis host, 702-326-170 1 email@example.com. ,
J erusalem—Michal Sivan, babalove@ netvision.net.il.
Mexico City, Cancun, Acapulco— meetings about every month at 7 PM, Rafael Vifiafane, email preferred: raal@ royerlabs.com. From US: 01 1 52 555 295-0512. Cell from US: 011 52 555 502-7225.