The Sojourn of a Beggar
to the Abode of Love
BY LYN OTT
Dedicated to all lovers of God everywhere.
In them do I believe.
|PART I. GIFTS OF LOVE
|"Love is a gift from God to man.
Obedience is a gift from Master to man.
Surrender is a gift from man to Master.
"One who loves desires the will of the Beloved.
One who obeys does the will of the Beloved.
One who surrenders knows nothing but the will
of the Beloved.
"Love seeks union with the Beloved.
Obedience seeks the pleasure of the Beloved.
Surrender seeks nothing.
"One who loves is the lover of the Beloved.
One who obeys is the beloved of the Beloved.
One who surrenders has no existence other than
"Greater than love is obedience,
Greater than obedience is surrender.
All three arise out of, and remain contained in,
the Ocean of divine Love."
- Meher Baba, From The Everything and the Nothing
|When I went to India in 1965, I went for a specific reason. I understood inwardly why I went to India. I knew that I had come to receive the gift of love. It was very frightening for me, the prospect of receiving a gift of love from God. Who would not be afraid? I feared that I would be overpowered and destroyed by the gift, and I did not want that. Not even the saints want that and I am no saint. But I was not overpowered nor destroyed by meeting face to face the Divine Beloved. Baba held my face between His cool hands. It was a face flushed with the fever of anticipation. Those cool hands soothed my fever as Baba looked into my eyes with His face inches away from my face. At that moment nothing else in the universe existed. In that moment one tiny little atma came face to face with Paramatma - and atma miraculously was not destroyed. And I came away bearing with me the gift of His Love.
When I went to India in 1969, I went for a specific purpose. I went to receive the gift of obedience, which is a treasure greater than love. My very act of going to India was an act of obedience, and the gift was received in and by my very act of going to the appointed darshan. It was the greatest darshan of all because it was the darshan in which the Master of Masters bestowed His gift of obedience to those who had come for it.
What does it mean to say that Baba's darshan in 1969 was the gift of obedience? If we recall, those of us who went to the darshan of 1969, Baba said that this darshan was only for His lovers - that is, those who had already received the gift of His Love. Those who came, came because of Love; but this coming was actually the gift of obedience from the Master to His lovers.
That darshan was planned by Meher Baba in every detail to be the greatest darshan of all darshans. "Unparalleled", in which the very meaning of darshan was raised to a new dimension of spiritual significance.
For the lover to receive the gift of obedience from the Master, there must be a test; and by that testing the gift is given. The testing lay in the fact that the Master, who had so perfectly prepared every detail of His great darshan, suddenly stunned His lovers with the dropping of His physical body.
Who could dispute that in the act of Meher Baba's dropping of the body was present a very great challenge, a testing of the lovers' spirit of real obedience to the Master's wish? Most of those preparing to come in response to Baba's call had not yet met the Master in His physical form. It was with great expectation that they were joyously preparing to come when they heard that the Divine Beloved had laid aside His body.
I know, and have often thought of this, that it would have been very hard for me to have gone ahead to darshan after this event if I had not already met the Master in His physical form. I marveled at the faith and confidence displayed by those who did still come to India in spite of the disappointment.
So this very disappointment, it would seem, became Baba's instrument in lifting the fundamental meaning of darshan to a new level of significance for all future seekers of God.
And so it was that those who went in 1969 met the challenge of obedience in their response to that call, even now knowing that the One who had issued that call would not be seen in physical form by those who came. Our coming was the winning of the test of obedience. To receive the gift of obedience we needed only to obey by responding to His call to receive that gift.
We were asked to "walk a mile" to be in the company of True Love; and so we walked two miles in that Love - we went and we returned. We went all that way to walk the mile back alone carrying with us the Master's gift. This is obedience: to go simply because one is asked to go and to go for nothing else.
Obedience is a subtle thing. The test of obedience is, I think, most often to be met in responding to a suggestion rather than complying with a command. And that is why the great darshan of 1969 was indeed the gift of obedience.
In December, 1971, I went to India for a third time. But this time I went looking for nothing. I went and returned in a helpless and hopeless and aimless state of mind. Do not imagine that this state was one of unhappiness; it was simply devoid of anticipation, for I had already received my gifts in the times when I had come before as a pilgrim. This time I was not a pilgrim. The pilgrim comes seeking. But for me now there was nothing to seek. I know that there was nothing more to be given, that I had already received the entire gift. I came already knowing that there was nothing more to receive, nothing to be gained. This time I came to India purely because there was nothing to be gained by coming.
To go for nothing is a creative act; to go for something is not so creative; and as an artist I feel always inwardly compelled to try to do the creative thing with sincerity in the sight of God. To have a reason is guarded, protective, and conservative; it is ultra-prudent in its rationality. But to have no reason whatsoever for doing a thing is creative.
What did I get from going to India a third time? I don't know. The first two times I went the burden was on the Master, but this time the burden was on me.
And so I was brought to the threshold of surrender. If I came not to receive I had nothing whatsoever to give and I stood with empty hands before the throne of my Lord. I was a helpless beggar. What an empty creativity for one to come to give with nothing to give.
This will perhaps explain what I mean: One day at Meherabad, Padri asked, "What is surrender?" And before I could even think to try to answer, Padri said, "Surrender is when the beggar gives a gift to the king." I went away puzzling, "What is there to give, how can the beggar give a gift to the king?" The answer is clear: The beggar has absolutely nothing to give; then the only thing he has to give is his nothing. The beggar has two options, only two. One is to keep his nothing as his one possession. The other is to give his nothing back to the Master who is in fact the very creator of all this Nothing. That's the trick - to give back the nothing. I sat thinking seriously, "How do I get Meher Baba to accept nothing as my gift to Him?" It's impossible. In fact, it's a mighty joke, this whole thing of surrender. It seems to me now that surrender must be the moment when the lover and the Beloved merge together in one mighty laugh. It is the moment when, at last, the lover finally gets the joke and infinite happiness prevails. What is God-realization? It is when man's sense of humor finally equals God's.
I went to India not as a pilgrim, but simply to place my nothing of a head at the feet of my Master who is everything. The problem with bowing down to my Master's feet is that my head refuses to stay where I put it. It gets up and goes away with me, which is not my intention in trying to surrender my all of a nothing.
So I came away from India feeling that I had not succeeded in giving a gift to the king, and with a sharp awareness that the task of surrender is a task for heroes. In fact I am well convinced that surrender, like love and obedience, is a gift from Master to man, and that anyone who really sees the joke by transcending his own seriousness, wins Everything.
|PART II. THE GUIDE
|If a man be ninety-nine percent blind, that man may be said to see if he believes in what he sees. That one percent of seeing can become the spark of sight if the one percent of seeing be touched by the light of God-Man's beauty. Such a one am I, touched by the spark of God's holy face; but more than this. God has given me the vision to express the wondrous sight in colors of Divinity so that all those who love can see what I have seen.
To walk I must be held by the hand so that I may not stumble on my way; yet it has been given to me to teach others to see what has been shown to me. To do by God's grace what has been given to me to do is for me both a humiliation and an exaltation at one and the same time. I am simultaneously both humble and proud. I bow down in my heart to God-omnipotent, whom I see in the form: Lord, Meher Baba, King of the Universe.
To walk with the brother of that King through the bustling streets of His birth, is to tread the loftiest heights of imagination, happiness, and love. To spend a day with the brother of Avatar is to run and play again like a child.
It was morning in the city of Poona, India, birthplace of the Avatar of our age. One feels of Poona, "This is surely the home town of everyone and anyone who is in any way reaching out for the hand of God."
My trip to Poona in 1965 was truly the journey of a pilgrim. So also was my trip to that city in 1969. In the journey of a pilgrim there is much anguish and desperation. And in the progress of a pilgrim there is virtual despair when one reaches that point where all hopes, dreams and visions have fallen into ruin.
But in the sojourn of a beggar, even despair and disappointment are left behind, and one finds himself entering into a state of existence, an adventure that seems more truly charged with humor than with any other attribute of consciousness. This was a journey without hopes or expectations, a journey in which the funny side of this beggarly sojourn continued to show itself with a sparkling and iridescent humor.
We went out of our hotel into a beautiful Poona December morning. The shops were just beginning to open for the day's business. We decided to walk through some of the busy streets just to feel the atmosphere and aroma of India. How many young people from America now wander the streets of India amidst the millions whose karma gave them birth in that land? How many western-born souls now go a-searching in that land - for what they do not know, but with a kind of homing instinct that brings them? How many long to know what so few know, that the One for whom all ultimately search has already come and finished His mighty work, which is to rechart compassionately the course of each and every wandering soul towards its real destiny?
How fortunate we were, my companions and I, to simply know while strolling through these Poona streets that we had come simply to pay homage to the one God of Gods who has come down to human level in our time and made Himself known to us so that this morning's stroll had real direction. We were looking for the family home of a man who wandered out of Persia a hundred years ago in search of God - a man named Sheriarji, the man whose privilege it was to become human father to the living Christ.
Now it was the house of Baba's brothers, Behram and Jal, who are real disciples of that one Christ. It must surely be of profound importance to the God-Man that His own brothers follow and obey Him in His lifetime. We felt that we would find the house if we just kept walking through the neighborhood we were in, a neighborhood as full of amazing sights as of smells and sounds.
I could never figure out how it is that an American is always recognizable to the eyes of the Indian people. In Ahmednagar and even in Poona the American is met wherever he goes with the sound of "Jai Baba." As we were walking along one narrow street, we heard a "Jai Baba!" My companions told me it was a blind beggar. I didn't see the blind beggar myself, but the blind beggar easily spotted us as Americans and thus the "Jai Baba." I thought: "What a hallucination this great country is, what a Divine hallucination!"
Sure enough, we found the house of Sheriar Irani and were greeted most warmly by Behram who promptly showed us into the little room where Baba underwent the horrendous agony of "coming down" from the unlimited freedom, power and bliss of the Almighty to become the bound Prometheus for this kali yuga. No one can imagine that agony. All one can say in that little room in one's own little heart is, "Thank God, agony or no agony, that You came down." He had to come down to rechart the destiny of this lost universe. To be here on this planet is amazing enough. But to be in that very room of His coming down is beyond words.
Then Brother Jal came in and we embraced merrily. God would have to possess an infinite imagination to have produced for Himself a playmate brother such as Jal. One never forgets for a minute that this is Baba's brother - not that he reminds you, but because he is simply Jal. As you go about the city of Poona with Jal as guide, Jal does not remind you of who he is; but rather, he never lets you forget that this is the great city of Poona where the Avatar of the cycle was born into the world. Jal has all kinds of amazing statistics on the city of Poona to prove to you beyond a shadow of doubt that this is indeed the city of cities.
Jal took us to many places that day, including Guruprasad where in '69 we had that "unparalleled darshan." And we were told now that soon it will all be torn down, the scaffolding of work completed, and so no longer necessary. When one is with Brother Jal, one feels that this city belongs to Jal. It seems as if it is his city; Baba gave it to him.
In the afternoon Jal took us on a trudge up a high hill with seventy steps. Baba had climbed this hill even as a boy and had run down all the way in three minutes flat. Jal told us that Rick Chapman equaled that record with bare feet, but that after the three minutes dash, Jal had spent an hour bandaging up Rick's bruised and bleeding feet.
When we got to the top we found a highly decorated temple to Shiva. I found it impossible to be impressed with any aspect of the temple, but the view of Jal's city was really beautiful in the late afternoon sun. I was also impressed that a man over seventy years old could so easily climb those seventy steps.
We felt we had had enough sight-seeing for one day, but Jal told us he had one other place to take us as he pointed way far down in the center of the city. So from this hilltop with its gaudily painted temple to Shiva, we went back down into the teeming city. When one of us half-heartedly protested that it might be getting a little late for this next excursion, our guide said confidently, "I think Baba will hold the sun up long enough for us to go where we are going."
We got stuffed into a taxi at the foot of the hill and went off plowing through turbulent streets as all Indian taxis do. I suspect that I was less panic-stricken than most Americans are riding in a Poona taxi. That's because what you don't see does not frighten you. When I had sat at Baba's feet, Baba said to the mandali something like this: "Lyn is very fortunate, because he doesn't see so much of the illusion." Certainly in a Poona taxi ride these words prove to be most blessedly correct. I see just enough to know with some amusement what a terrifying sight it must be for those unaccustomed to the streets of India, packed with humanity together with almost every other form of land-creature and conveyance. It never ceases to amaze me what a lavish and extravagant Creator Baba the Creator actually is. I guess it is true that Baba does not create one thing more than is necessary for His purpose; but in India, His activity as God the Creator seems absolutely flamboyant.
I can honestly say that in these past eight years of following and loving Meher Baba, I have acquired tremendous knowledge. But the crowning jewel of that knowledge is the knowledge that I am enveloped in ignorance. This is indeed the precious jewel of my knowledge because, knowing that I am enveloped in ignorance and also knowing that I am while yet in ignorance allied to the One who is the embodiment of Real Knowledge, I am confident that some day at long last I will be brought out of this ignorance to share permanently in that Real Knowledge. Baba says, "Blessed is the knowledge that is gained through ignorance." Until that knowledge is gained I remain a humble and helpless beggar, helpless before the whim of my Beloved. And to console myself I sometimes recall those words from the Song of the New Life, "Your beggarly life shall be the envy of kings of the world."
The taxi pulled up to its destination as our guide quickly stepped out into an open but crowded area, ready to show us what he had brought us to see. It was a huge general market place, spread over many acres under a vast building or network of buildings. This was a kind of distribution center for the produce, the fruits and vegetables grown all over India. It was an overpowering impression of sight and smell and sound. The sound and the smell were mysteriously one and inseparable. It was the odor of fermentation saturating the air and that sharp shrill sound of the venders' shrieks the like of which one hears only in India. You hear it in the railroad stations. But here in the huge market hundreds of such voices were ringing out all around us as our guide briskly led us amongst the labyrinthine stalls. Jal was able to move with remarkable swiftness through the confusion so that it was not easy for me and my companions to keep up with him. For this guide had learned long ago to keep up with the great stride of His Master, who had been the swiftest man alive.
We went up this way and down that way through crowded aisles until we were virtually lost but for our guide, now quite a bit ahead of us. He did not look back once to see if we were keeping up with him. My mind was saying, "What is this? What is happening? Why are we here?"
We passed under a large circular opening in the roof, which I took to be the very center of the market place. There, for a moment, was the blue sky over our heads, and then we were back amidst the stalls and the shrill venders. We moved on, and suddenly we were out of the compound and into a more open area.
I turned to look from where we had come, and lifting my gaze over the roof line I saw the most dazzling sight - an architectural wonder. I saw what appeared to be the towering heights of some great cathedral, but it became clear to me that it was the crowning superstructure of this incredible market. There it was, glittering and gleaming in the last slanting rays of the afternoon sun.
Yes, Baba had done as Jal said He would: He held up the sun, so that we could come down into all of this topped off with that golden cathedral sight.
Jal had shown us something without saying a word. He showed me in the flash of a moment that the temple of God is to found almost anywhere, not just on a hilltop. Here in this most worldly of places was Baba. This teeming market place was as much God's house as was that painted doll-house of a Shiva temple back on the hill. I will always think of that golden-spired market place as a Temple of Shiva. Surely Baba had walked here amidst the noise and confusion and the smells.
And I will long remember that day as the day when Baba held up the sun for His brother so that I could see the sight that Baba wanted me to see.
What I saw I pointed out to my companion, but he was not visibly impressed. Why is it that what I see others do not see? Sight must be, it seems to me, something that is given, like love. Perhaps sight is not in the eye at all; perhaps sight is in the heart. It seems that there are things given me to see. These are the things that Baba wants me to see. Sometimes I am amazed at the beauty of what I have seen, and I seem to be the only one who sees what I see, i.e., what has been shown to me by God.
There are many things that are not given me to see. These are the things that Baba wants me not to see. Not to see is an important part of seeing. To be shown one thing and not another is more significant than to be shown all things or to be shown no things.
To me Baba says, "Look here; do not look there. See this; do not see that." The Beloved selects for me what I will see and not see. Thus it is that I am the artist to whom it is given to represent in painting the face of the Almighty Beloved. For a painter light and color are the air he breathes. For me, however, the image of the God-Man is the very substance of art. Through my eyes Baba produces great and mighty works, while all along I remain the one who sees that which is given to very few to see.
It is as though a beggar were suddenly given a great fortune - yet he remains what he was, a beggar, while retaining the fortune.
The day was over for in India the twilight time is very short. The next morning Jal put us in the paper-taxi and sent us on to Ahmednagar.
|PART III. THE SAMADHI
|"There was and is no way out except by my coming in your midst. I had to come and I have come."
- Meher Baba.
There is no hope outside of You, Meher. So I trudge across the bosom of the Universe to bow down to Your samadhi. The Savior of the world, Thou art, so I cry out to you. If you will not save the world, then at least you will save that very Thou which is the Real Me encased within this framework of most finite limitation. To beings of the world you will not give your infinite treasure, Meher. But to a humble beggar - that is more likely.
When I was with Baba in 1965, He was very interested to hear of our visit the day before to the samadhi of Hazrat Babajan. Baba asked us many questions about it. Baba asked, did we bow down to the tomb. Phyllis said, "I don't know how." I at once thought what a marvelously humble thing for her to say. (Indeed, who knows how to bow down at the samadhi of a Perfect Master?) And Baba said simply, "You will."
I never could have dreamed at that time that I would be coming back to bow down to Baba's samadhi. We all thought Baba was going to live to be ninety.
I said to Baba, "It meant nothing for me to go to Babajan's tomb, except to make me thankful that I have a living Master." Then Baba said, "Babajan is in Me." I have heard of the "fourth journey," but what in God's Name could that be? All I know is this interminable "first journey."
Baba asked, "Did you see pictures of Me and Babajan at the tomb?" When we answered "No," Baba explained that the man who was taking care of Babajan's tomb is a Moslem, and believes that pictures of God must not be shown; but, Baba said, if we had asked, the attendant would have removed a curtain to reveal pictures of both Baba and Babajan.
On our first day in Poona this trip (before meeting Jal) we went to Babajan's tomb where I paid devout respects to Babajan who is now in Baba. The caretaker was prompt to notice that I could not see well so he was most generously solicitous, taking me around to show me the things of interest such as Babajan's bangles. He led me to two large framed pictures of Babajan, now exposed to permanent view. He took my hand and brought it up to touch the face in each picture. I noticed casually that the glass over the pictures was very encrusted with dust from the street traffic. Progress had been made, it was true; but this fellow was probably still a little too superstitious to be so bold as to dust them. We tend to expect Baba to change the world overnight, but Baba does not work that way. He has lots of time in which to get everything done.
But where was the picture of Meher Baba at Babajan's samadhi? I was taken to a dark corner where a drawer was opened as if going into an inner chamber. There was Baba's picture, tucked neatly away. I think this is the kind of thing that would definitely strike Baba as funny, especially considering that Babajan is in Baba. We might almost say that the whole of Babajan's samadhi is in that drawer.
One cannot imagine the Maha-Samadhi of the "Supremely Perfect One" to be at any one place. Nevertheless a point of identification for such an imagined place has been set up for us by Him, the Supremely Perfect One. That place is Meherabad Hill.
I have visited the samadhi of three Perfect Masters, not including the Avatar. We went to Sherdi and Sakori for one day to visit the samadhis of Sai Baba and Upasni Maharaj. They are only two miles apart. From these visits I feel that there is a vast difference between the samadhi of Perfect Masters and that of the Avatar of the Cycle. Perhaps this feeling that I have of the difference is to a degree subjective, because Meher Baba is my own personal Master and Friend. But I think that there is a real difference and that the difference lies in the fact that there is an atmosphere of religion and of tradition surrounding the samadhi of a Perfect Master; whereas around the tomb of Meher Baba there is. no such atmosphere of religious tradition. One feels at Baba's samadhi something fresh, pure, and pristine, something untarnished by the past or by the customs and attitudes of time-worn religion.
The Perfect Masters do not seem to entirely step out of the framework of religious thinking from which they were primed into perfection. The Perfect Masters seem to stay within the boundaries of precedent and custom. But the Avatar always and invariably steps free of the narrow religious boundaries in which He is brought up as a child. The Avatar always seems to set about to tear down religious subdivisions and to erect in their place an entirely new way to approach and love God. That is what I feel at the tomb of Meher Baba, gleaming in the sun like the crown jewel of creation.
I had a talk with Eruch about the Creation on my very first visit with him at the-Meher Baba Trust office. There seemed an unspoken understanding between us-that we should straightway dispose of philosophical questions so that all "that" would be out of the way.
I said to Eruch, "Where is Meher Baba now?" And Eruch replied directly;
"Better you should ask, 'Where is He not?" He reminded me that there never was a time when Baba was not. Universes come and go like great waves on the Ocean. Myriads of universes have swelled and burst, but there never was a time when the Creator was not. And so there never was a time when creation was not, for without His creation, the Creator would not be. The Creator being the Creator, necessitates creation.
Eruch pointed out that God's creation is His imagination and that as soon as God imagines anything, that anything takes form in illusion. The very instant God imagines a thing it exists in illusion as an apparent reality.
Eruch further pointed out that everything in God's imagination, though it be illusion, nevertheless carries with it the stamp of Reality from which the imagination has sprung. Everything in illusion carries with it the stamp of Baba's Reality. And this is what it means to say, "Where is Baba not?"
What is Meherabad? To some it is a place of historical importance, a place saturated with loving memories. To some it is the place where God lived once again the Divine Hero's life on earth. But to me Meherabad is the singular place where Soul is; the one Soul, the only Soul, the only Soul that ever was, the One without a second, walked and talked and ate and slept and mingled and sat alone and laughed and cried and hoped and despaired and suffered and rejoiced. Meherabad is the place where I can walk and talk and eat and sleep and mingle and sit along and laugh and cry and hope and despair and suffer and rejoice with the one everlasting Soul. If Soul can be said to exist anywhere in particular, it is surely here.
It was at Meherabad that I most of all enjoyed the company of my American companions as well as the mandali. Even the sun shines differently at Meherabad. It is true; it is not just being rhapsodic. In the account of my 1969 visit to Meherabad I mentioned the sunlight on the Hill. Now on this visit I was convinced that this particular sunlight is more than an illusion. I could see with my eyes the sunlight carrying the stamp of Reality as it struck sublimely the dome atop Meher Baba's tomb.
Brightest of all did it gleam there on the celebration of Mehera's birthday.
I was told that Meher Baba was always careful never to trample on an ant hill and would caution the disciples when seeing an ant hill in His path not to step on it. Such was His tenderness and compassion. But when it comes to the conventions of religion the Avatar never seems to hesitate in trampling right on those conventions to get to where He is going.
As I have said, the samadhi of a Perfect Master seems pervaded with the atmosphere of religion; and for one such as myself who has always had a loathing for religious trappings and ceremonies, this atmosphere is not at all pleasant.
But at the samadhi of the Avatar it is entirely different. There is no religion in Baba's tomb; there is only the Father Himself with no paraphernalia, no priestcraft. When we come to the tomb of Meher Baba we feel ourselves to be once again like the real children of Abraham in whose presence religion is replaced by the genuine feeling of family.
Strongest of all was this feeling on the birthday of Mehera, when we gathered on Meherabad Hill to bow down after Mehera to our Beloved Father, and to sing and pray in the presence of our Father.
Always does the Avatar, age after age, gather around Himself His little band of lovers who are His real family. When we were in the tomb together with Mehera that day I was so struck with the confidence and contentment of being a part of that real family. And I was so happy that we had dearest Mehera holding us together in love for our Father, God, Baba. When one comes to the tomb with Mehera one knows that Baba is no mere God, but rather the God of Gods, One without a second.
Our family on that day, though small, was far too large to all fit into the tiny enclosure of Baba's samadhi. I was the last one to be able to squeeze over the threshold to fit just inside the doorway.
And we were lifted up on that tidal wave of the Master's Prayer. Within the stone-structured walls of Baba's tomb, sound is no ordinary thing. One is in another dimension of sound so that when one sings the Arti the sound of that singing, one's own and everyone else's, is heard reverberating not from the tomb but from within one's very self. When we sang in unison all of the sound within the tomb was experienced as coming from within me.
I stood right in the doorway, not facing in, but standing sideways for lack of space with one ear facing in and one ear facing out. When we sang the Western Arti, I could hear that reverberating inner sound of the tomb in one ear and the exterior sound of the singing just outside the door of the tomb on the patio in the other. Baba had put me this day in a rather unique position, a position of being able to hear simultaneously with two ears both the inner sound and the exterior sound at one and the same time. Those further into the tomb and facing in could, I am sure, hear only the inner sound of the tomb, and those singing wholeheartedly outside the tomb could not hear well the sound of the same Arti being contained within the tomb.
It is not easy to describe this phenomenon in words and perhaps it is not really worth so many words. But I feel Baba would want me to try to express something simultaneously technical and mystical; Baba works in many ways both great and small.
I noticed with my two ears that those singing the Arti outside on the patio had gotten out of time with the singing of the Arti in the tomb itself. As an artist I have always been deeply interested in the problem of coordination of inner and outer experience. On this day I feel that the Master of coordination of all things gave me a chance to play in a small way with the problem of coordination. Being at the door, yet one of the singers inside the tomb, singing with that marvelously reverberating inner sound, I found that by just turning my head a little to the right and directing my voice out the doorway, the sound within the tomb could reach the ears of those singing just outside. And with apparently no effort at all the outside singing was brought perfectly in time with the inside singing. As soon as this was accomplished I turned my head back to rejoin the singing within. Only one who has been in Baba's tomb can know what this inner sound is like.
Then a second time I heard with my right ear, I could hear the singing outside the doorway getting out of time with the singing inside. Once again I turned my head slightly to the right to let the singing from inside issue through the doorway, and once again without any apparent effort the singing of the two groups was coordinated and made as one.
Then each one in turn, after Mehera, bowed down to Baba's samadhi and took darshan on this birthday of the beloved of the Beloved. My turn came and as I knelt down I could feel the tears coming to my eyes. But those tears did not pass the threshold of my eye lashes. This was not the moment for tears to flow. Baba would not have wanted me to display tears in front of Mehera, especially on her birthday. After bowing down at Baba's feet I rose and left the tomb, joining those outside on the patio. Others remained inside with Mehera.
I sat down on a bench facing squarely the doorway and felt most peaceful. A young woman named Heather came to the doorway and sang for Mehera the loveliest of songs, a song composed by her just for this day; a song to Mehera for Baba or a song to Baba for Mehera - I can't remember which it was, but it was profoundly touching to me. As I listened to the words of this song, sitting there with those outside, those dammed up tears rolled down my cheeks and fell into what seemed to be Baba's own lap. And only Baba saw.
The words of that song are as follows;
"Meher, she is nodding when the evening light grows long; and
Meher, she is smiling when the flower smell is strong; oh and
Meher, she is laughing when your lovers come along; but
Meher, she'll be shining when her Baba sings His Song.
Meher, You give her starlight when the winter sky is blue; and
Meher, You give her lamplight when a summer day is through; oh and
Meher, You give her God's Light, for her love jor You is true; but
Meher, she's Your darling, and so all she wants is You.
Meher, she is nodding when the evening light grows long; and
Meher, she is smiling when the flower smell is strong; oh and
Meher, she is laughing when your lovers come along; but
Meher, she'll be shining when her Baba sings His Song."
|PART IV. THE HUMAN SIGHT OF GOD - TO MEHERA
|In my paintings of Meher, pigment in and of its very substance, becomes by His Grace the alive image of His actual Love manifested as Art.
Art, as you know, was meant for the glorification of God-Man. But art, as was inevitable, gradually became entangled in illusion, and the artist fell under its hypnotic spell. And when he fell, all of the beautiful elements of painting fell apart, and chaos ruled painting.
I came to Baba, looking neither to one side nor the other but straight into His eyes. And He sent me back straightway into the world of painting to gather up the scattered elements of painting and bring them to Him, so that He could remake them into an art of His own liking, an art forged in the fire of His Love on the anvil of His Truth.
Painting is made from the interpenetration of light, color and form. But when painting loses its hold on the Personal God as Avatar, it loses its power of expression and so falls into confusion and aimlessness. If the aim of life is to love God, then surely the aim of painting must become once again to see the Beauty of Avatar and express that Beauty through the elements of sight.
Before I knew of Meher Baba, painting was my religion; I knew no other. On that blessed day when Baba sent that long gaze into my eyes. He made Himself the substance of my religion. That was the day when the painter and the artist met. Baba is the only Artist, and when we left His presence, the Artist said, "I am always with you."
What does it mean to make a painting of the God-Man? Perhaps I had come to India to find out what this means. Baba is saying, "Look, look! I am man; I have become a man!" That is what painting Baba means. The Divine can never be seen fully except in a man. The Divine is fully manifest only in a man - nowhere else.
What did I discover by going to India? I understood what Baba meant when He said, "I am either an ordinary man or I am the Highest of the High, but I am nothing in between." It means that God stooped down to become an ordinary man. Baba was in the truest sense an ordinary man. So profoundly ordinary was He in His human form that He created all around Him marvelous and amazing specimens of ordinary men and women. Only a "Perfectly" ordinary man can create a truly ordinary person. A truly ordinary person is one who gives no importance to himself and all importance to the Divine Beloved. Such an ordinary person is the most extraordinary that can be found! Mandali are those rare ones, ordinary people reduced to the natural state of being just human and nothing more. Just to go and touch these ordinary ones is in itself a holy thing.
I know that Baba wants me to think of Him and hold on to Him as being completely human. I know this because He told me so when I was with Him in 1965. He told me when we were discussing shaving.
Baba says in God Speaks that there are always the perfect ones, and there are the most perfect ones, and there is the Supremely Perfect One which is Himself. He is the Supremely Perfect One because He is the only One who ever becomes a supremely ordinary human being.
It is this supremely ordinary human being, full of everything sweet and lovely and perfectly sublime, that we must come to know and love and give ourselves up to.
And this is what painting means, really: to see Baba stooping down to show the most extraordinary thing that ever happens when God becomes an ordinary man. What else could He have shown to the eyes of a painter but the face of a man? No artist will ever paint the face of God, except God Himself when He paints it in the state of Fana-Fillah for the eyes of the Majzoob alone when He is drowned in the Reality of the Beloved.
Before I went to India this last time, I still had some lingering hope of glimpsing some spark of the Divine which would transport me into the heights of vision. Now I have given it up. Now I am resigned to face squarely my Beloved as the One who for the sake of all has crushed Himself down into the finite and helpless form of an ordinary man.
Beloved Baba, I bow down to You in my paintings. You have brought me face to face with You, and in so doing You took away from me the art of painting and gave it back. I stand now at the delta of a mighty river that was once the great tradition of western painting flowing down through the centuries. It is all over. Now there is only the ocean, and that ocean is Your shining face.
Alas, it is all too vast. How secure the raging stream by comparison to that Ocean! Before these eyes spreads the shorelessness of Your Face, and my task is Oceanic.
|PART V. THE HELPLESSNESS AND HOPELESSNESS
|"About what you hear from the Master, never say it is wrong, because my dear, the fault lies in your own incapacity to understand Him. Whatever my Master does is of the highest benefit to all concerned."
Mastery of painting is not for me; I leave that to the Master; mastery of writing is not for me; I leave that to my Master. Mastery of anything is not for me, but is held safely for all concerned in the hands of my Master, Meher Baba, who is eternally the Master. My hope is merely to help my Master to accomplish in me His Will; my only help is hope in my Master. This is helplessness and hopelessness; it is the New Life in its stark reality. It is an awesome thing, this New Life of helplessness and hopelessness, and its one good fortune is in seeing the humor of it all, that Divine Humor smiling there in every situation.
For example, when we were staying as guests at Meherabad, my companions and I had reached that point which almost all westerners reach sooner or later, that point of being fed up with the eastern cooking, even when that cooking is so lovingly toned down by those Baba-loving cooks who have come to appreciate compassionately the gastro-sensitivity of the western digestive system. The point is reached when every American, no matter how constitutionally rugged and adaptable he may be, longs for a simple hot dog or something like that, even though he may rarely eat things like hot dogs in America.
At Meherabad we would eat our evening meal, the eight of us, (seven Americans and one Australian) sitting by kerosene light in one little room. The food there was plentiful and good, cooked to western palatability by those taught to understand it. I think we all loved and relished and appreciated the food as it was prepared at Meherabad.
As for me, I could have taken it with just a little more spice. So I asked Padri one day if I couldn't have a little chatani (spiced relish) on the side. That night the chatani was there alongside the other warm pots of vegetarian food. My companions, knowing that I had ordered it, were quick to point it out to me, while all avoided it as if a scorpion were sitting there ready to attack. My companions watched wide-eyed as I mixed a little of the chatani into my food, and all broke into peals of laughter when I took my first mouthful. The chatani did not reappear again nor was it asked for.
Another night we came down from the Hill to find our supper as usual waiting for us in the room. Every evening there is a little darshan program at Baba's samadhi. And we could always come down from this with our lanterns and, full of Baba's love, eat our evening meal. On this one night some one casually looked into each of the waiting pots of cooked food. He suddenly exclaimed, "There's macaroni!" Everyone rushed over just to look and be sure. Then dancing and jubilation broke loose in the little room.
Baba works through His lovers in many ways but perhaps in no way more effectively than through their stomachs. I have sometimes thought that there is nothing more pitifully helpless about man than the fact that he has to eat. If man did not have to eat, it seems to me that he might never experience fully the sense of his own helplessness, and his utter dependence on God. If he did not have to eat, he would never reach that feeling of hopelessness which ultimately can bring him face to face with the Divine Beloved.
One morning I came into the kitchen of Mansari's house where she sits with lovers come from afar and tells her tales endlessly, tales for which she is already world famous, of the Master of Masters and His mighty feats of love-conquest. My first visit to that room was the most memorable; it was the day when Mansari served tea and some very special baked cookies. I say special because these cookies had in them the taste of Love. I had never tasted anything like these cookies, and I could not resist eating one after another still hot from the oven. Never before had I been made to realize so vividly that Love is something that can be made to be experienced and felt through the gross senses. These cookies were not ordinary cookies. There is no doubt that these cookies, baked by Mansari, were not only from Baba, but of Baba. And so I sat eating love cookies one after another and listening happily to the endless chatter.
Somewhere in all the ceaseless chattering and clamor of the mind there is a point of Real Silence to be seized. Because of Meher Baba, we know this to be true. As long as this chatter and clamor of the mind continues, any practice of outward silence is a mere pretense, a sham, because it does not partake of the Real Silence. Some day, we hope, this point of Real Silence will break within, bringing to calm the endless turbulence. Some day, we hope, that point of Silence will come to rule the mind, and this will be the Real Breaking of Beloved Baba's Silence. It is to reach that point that we struggle to get closer and closer to the Beloved in our hearts. He sits enthroned in infinite bliss within that point. Helplessly we travel all the way to India, hoping to touch that point. God has surely delivered His Son to the world, but when will the world be delivered by his Son? Little by little, I suppose, as we struggle Home one by one to place our heads at His feet. All this helplessness and hopelessness can at last end through His grace only by the final breaking of His Silence within. Meanwhile I am the beggar traveling the endless journey to Man-o-nash.*
(* Annhilation of the Mind, "God Speaks")
One day the companion sitting next to me in the taxi asked, "What is that haze over the landscape?" I answered, "That's not haze; it's dust." I have been told that after the monsoons the dry haze vanishes and one with sharp eyes can see all the way from Meherabad Hill to Seclusion Hill. It must be quite a thing to see from the point of samadhi to the point of man-o-nash or vice versa. We Americans found ourselves engaged in the sport of shuttling back and forth from point to point with Ahmednagar as our badminton net. We would shuttle back and forth to see and be with and listen to and laugh with Baba's closest ones.
I could never pretend that this visit to India was like my first. It would not be truthful for me to say that traveling to see Meher Baba is the same thing as traveling to bow down to Baba's samadhi and see His mandali. To meet Meher Baba is something so highly transcendent that it cannot be described. To come to meet His mandali is an experience far more easily described.
The opportunity and joy of being in the physical presence of Meher Baba passed away with the dropping of His physical form. Now is the time for being with His mandali, which was not so possible while Baba was in the physical body. The time is now, this golden opportunity to be with His people in such a leisurely and casual fashion. But this time likewise will pass away, when the world will no more have the opportunity to avail themselves of this experience.
Then, I suppose, after this time has passed, the time will come when the millions will come as Baba said they will come, simply to bow down to the feet of God the Most High in His infinite samadhi.
Let's face it; the time will come when people will not be able to come and sit and talk in intimate fashion with the intimate ones. And it will not be the same then, no one will be able to pretend that it is the same as it was.
The time to come to be with Baba, the man, has passed. Now is a new time full of gaiety and fun in spite of His physical absence. But this time will also pass, and then perhaps the sincerest of all will come, the most blessed, not the least. They will come across the world simply to bow down and for nothing else. Perhaps these ones of the future will be the greatest ones of all, whose purpose is most true and straight.
But greater even than these greatest ones will be those few who, without going anywhere at all, bow down in their hearts in love for Him. These are the ones in whom Meher Baba's long awaited breaking of the Silence will be broken. And out of those ones in that generation will bloom the New Humanity.
I was once told that Gertrude Stein when she lay on her death-bed asked of those gathered around her, "What is the answer?" and when no one replied, she asked, "Then what is the question?" and she died.
Here is a question, a typical question: Where did the first bird come from? The answer is in Baba's book, God Speaks. The first bird appeared in the world as "The consolidated mould of the impressions of the most-last species of fish form." In other words, the most-first species of bird form was the inevitable outgrowth of the most-last species of fish form.
But then, if fishes never made any sound, who taught the most-first bird to sing the most-first song? The answer to that is easy; it was the Avatar, Himself, who having reached, in His drive to become consciously one with Himself, the most-first bird form, rejoiced in song of triumph for having gained at last the wings for flight, wings wherewith to survey the earth before taking His stance upon the land as animal.
And where did man come from? He appeared on earth as "no other than the consolidated mould or cast of the impressions of the most-last species of animal-form."** But who taught the most-first man to sing the most-first song? Truly it must have been the Avatar, Himself, the Ancient One who took that most-first form, and sang the most-first human song of rejoicing at His Triumph of having gained at last the complete and perfect image in illusion of Himself as Man.
Soon He will sing that most-last song that was the most-first song sung in the beginningless beginning - soon He will sing again that final song that will herald His day of ultimate Triumph, the Triumph of Avatar manifested in the creation as God, Himself. All will come to know that He is God in human form.
Blessed are those who believe on faith in this time of darkness. They will continue to come trudging down that dusty road from across the world, and over the railroad tracks and up the Hill. They will continue to come, one by one, even in the depths of hopelessness, because the very fundamental nature of man is hope. But they will come not just because of the eternal struggle between hopelessness and hope, not because of a possibility, not because of a probability, but because of a certainty in the heart that Meher Baba is none other than God.
They will come not with a hope but with faith "driven like a post" deep into His Divinity. Hope they will have also, but it will be the hope of hearing again His singing of that long forgotten Word, the Word that will breathe into their limbs the living spirit of His boundless grace. They will be the real beggars, who, in hoping for nothing will have arrived at the Only Hope.
There was a time when we were happy to sing the song of man as man. The song taught to us long ago by that first God-Man who remains always the God-Man, One without a second. But now we have been given a new song to sing, for this time, the song of man as the lover of God, the song of the New Life. And who taught us this new song? Meher Baba, the same One Avatar that always was and always will be. Man can no longer be just man. He must now begin to express his latent divinity as man, the true lover of God. And men who cannot strive for this new state of man will vanish to appear no more on the face of this earth.
It is a terrible thing, this helplessness and hopelessness; I had to go to India this last time to experience this, and God saw to it that I experienced it as He wanted me to.
It is a terrible thing, this helplessness, because it is the age-old habit of men to struggle against helplessness, to overcome the hopelessness. It is the age-old habit of men to make for themselves illusory environments in which they can feel safe and secure and comfortable. All along men could have had their comfort and security in the Ancient One, who eternally is. But we in our anxiety did not choose this way but went on chasing after self-created security - comfort at the cost of understanding.
To taste of the New Life we are obliged to let go our clutching hold on what appears safe. Baba is saying, "Give up safety; nothing is safe but God."
Man has struggled and struggled for safety in illusion. And I, being man, have struggled along like the rest - until I met Baba and saw a glimpse of truth. We go on tearing the environment to shreds in our desperation to make a safe environment for ourselves.
To make it safe, rip away the mighty forests and build secure little suburban houses. Don't leave a bird or an animal anywhere. Drive away the cooling rain, rip and gouge the earth land and send its soil gushing down the Mississippi. Burn out all life in the oceans from which came all life, to make our little life safe and secure and comfortable. Make a dead earth on which to create a perfect dream, the safe illusion. How many times has this nightmare happened in the cosmic creation?
But now God is fed up; Baba said so, and He will not let it happen this time. He will make us give up the false safety of false creations. He will make us live the New Life, all of us, whether we like it or not.
Many times in India, Baba made me face and endure my helplessness and hopelessness. Here in my home in Myrtle Beach I do not often feel that helplessness as I did in India. Here in my lovely paradise home, I do not feel hopeless; I feel both secure and useful in Baba's Love and in Baba's Cause. I have my work and my life which is in Baba, all protected and sweet with His grace.
But in India I felt something else which was not so sweet, for I felt not only helpless but useless. I felt myself a burden on all those around me, my companions and those close ones whom I had come to visit. I felt I had nothing to give. Sometimes I would sit on my bed in this hopeless state just thinking, "Baba, why am I so useless?" I thought, "Is this what the New Life really is? And if it is, then I must smile and laugh with my companions, useless as I feel."
My companions were just so loving and considerate all the time. They took care of me in every situation as if I were not a burden to them at all. And I had to ignore this feeling of being useless and a burden. There is no greater helplessness than the helplessness of having to be helped, I would take consolation in thinking, "Just look how Baba in His infinite omnipotence, even Baba had to be helped in those later years."
Baba once said to me, "You should be glad to share a little bit in my suffering." Oh, Baba, you were God sitting helplessly as man on an illusion-maddened planet. I know you meant that to share in your suffering is to share in your helplessness.
Isn't it amazing that the God-Man when He comes arouses in us, even in our ignorance, feelings of pity and compassion for Him? We have been given the answer, and yet even with that answer we go on asking, "Baba, why must you suffer? How can you, the Lord, be helpless and hopeless?"
In India I saw around me thousands of people helpless in their poverty. And yet I felt myself in this land even more helpless than they. I felt helpless in the helplessness of Baba. I was a beggar gone a-begging in a land of beggars, a beggar come across the world to give a gift to the King. What was my gift? It was the gift of seeing the uselessness of my having come again all this way.
I came to remind you, Dear Lord, that there is no hope at all but the breaking of Your Silence. Yes, I know, you have broken Your Silence; but the Breaking has been too silent for my poor heart to hear.
|PART VI. THE SILENCE
|When the mind finally gives up its relentless clamor, then the voice of Meher Baba's Silence will ring clear, pealing the Avataric Hour of Glorification. That voice rings now, but the mind is full of noise deafening the heart. The Hour is not yet at hand.
Perhaps our minds are like one huge clock that was wound up long ago and is simply running out its time. But that clock does not tick on forever because now it is set to ring. At Baba's samadhi one feels that the clock is set to ring, and when it rings we shall all awake to meet a new day.
In that moment when I approached Baba and He embraced me and held my face so close to His, at that moment I could actually hear the sound of Baba's breathing, so mighty was the silence. All I could hear was the long, extended rhythm of Baba's breathing. And this sound amplified for me my own awareness of His fathomless Silence. Now that Silence is no more. It is gone, that Silence, from our midst. The illusory silence has given way to the Real Silence.
Who can understand that Silence? Surely only the genuine mystics can ever begin to fathom the Reality of that Silence. Listen to the words of Kahlil Gibran:
"I go, but if I go with a truth not yet voiced, that very truth will again seek me and gather me, though my elements be scattered throughout the silences of eternity, and again shall I come before you that I may speak, with a voice born anew out of the heart of those boundless silences.
"0 Mist, my sister, my sister Mist, I am one with you now. No longer am I a self. The walls have fallen, And the chains have broken;
I rise to you a mist,
And together we shall float upon the sea until life's second day,
When dawn shall lay you, dewdrops in a garden,
And me a babe upon the breast of a woman."
- The Prophet
|PART VII. SURRENDER
|Baba says, "For those concerned, the Avatar is greater than God." Well, that Avatar has made of me one of those who are concerned.
What does it mean to say the Avatar is greater than God? For me it means that Baba is so vast, so boundless, so fathomless, that there is no room left for anything at all outside of Baba. He is the Drop in which is contained the Ocean.
Baba says, "It is truer to say that the universe is in a man than to say a man is in the universe." In the same way it is truer to say that God is in Meher Baba than to say Meher Baba is in God. How astounding to the mind it is to actually consider that Baba in the declared magnitude of His Self-knowledge leaves no room actually, for the existence of God outside of and beyond Baba, Himself.
The claim of infinity is a claim that can never be grasped or comprehended or even confronted by the finite mind alone. Meher Baba's claim of Godhood, with all that it implies, is a claim that can only be surrendered to. One can never take Baba's claim to one's self, but one must give one's self completely to that claim. And this giving of one's self is only made possible through love and the subsequent obedience arising from that love.
Babajan was God, God in human form and God Beyond as well; yet Meher Baba said to me, "Babajan is in Me." There are many gods with many manifestations, many forms, aspects and attributes; but all of these have their existence in Meher Baba.
When one is with Baba one feels the urge to say, "Baba, you are so wonderful!" But one does not say it because one realizes that such words are silly and trite in the face of Reality. All words, adjectives, verbs, nouns, pronouns are meaningless in the presence of that Reality. That is, I am sure, why Meher Baba was silent.
Those who came to Baba in the early days did not know who in fact Baba really was. And so they were able to swallow the Ocean little by little. Those who come to Him now, however, are obliged to swallow that Ocean in one gulp.
When I heard of Meher Baba there was no time left in which to test out or get adjusted to His claim. I had to simply take it or leave it, or the opportunity would be lost in the flickering of human doubt.
To go to see a Master might be a nice thing, and very rewarding. But to go to see God, believing God to be Him, is a prospect so far beyond nice that it is entirely terrifying. It is this state of complete terror that accompanied me on my way to see Meher Baba that October morning.
As I stepped out of my sandals and across the threshold into Baba's presence, the terror left as if it were stuck to the sandals rather than to me. As I stepped into that room everything stopped, everything except my feet which carried me straight, without faltering, into the waiting arms of the Divine Beloved.
Everything had stopped when Baba embraced me and held my face in front of His and looked into my eyes. The first thing Baba said to me was, "Can you see my face?" (How He said this with hand gestures I don't know, because His cool hands were on my feverish face all the while.) I replied in a whisper, "Not very well, Baba." In my reply there was something apologetic, something of disappointment in not being able to give Baba the happiness of my seeing His face. And I think this disappointment, shared by Baba and me, was the closest point that I have ever come to the point of real surrender, for looking back, I see that at that moment I realized that I had no hope and that I was completely and utterly helpless in the hands of God.
Rather than giving me strength, He had taken away all of my strength, so there was nothing for me in that moment but surrender. The tension was gone. I had made my last move, and I had lost. This was a moment of surrender; I know it was because Baba then said, "Baba wants you to bow down to His feet." And instantly I obeyed Him.
It is a very rare thing to reach the point of surrender; it is so hard; it is only by the grace of God. It is a rare thing, and it was a very rare thing for Baba to allow any one to bow down to His feet, especially in these last days.
When I went to India in 1965 it was as a seeker, a pilgrim on his way to find and touch the very source of the river of my Self. It was a literal pilgrimage created for me by Baba. By that pilgrimage I received the gift of His Love. This was for me the end of all search, the pilgrim's goal and the beginning of a pilgrim's progress. I became what is conventionally called a disciple. It was as a disciple that I came to India in 1969. It was as a disciple that I received the darshan that had been prepared for me.
But when I came to India in December, 1971, it was not as a pilgrim nor as a disciple. I came not knowing what I was at all. I came not having any identifiable relationship to Baba. I came without a label. I came like an archeologist, to uncover if possible the secret of surrender itself. Three weeks later I went away, leaving that secret as yet uncovered, perfectly at rest in Meher Baba's Tomb.
It is not necessary for me to go to India ever again, for no matter how many times I go and come, I know that I will come away empty-handed. God does not want commuters; he wants instead the individual soul, wherever it finds itself abiding on earth, living from day to day in the Reality of His Love.
So the beggar, having finished his last sojourn to the feet of the Beloved, went away with nothing - nothing, that is, but a prayer. This prayer was learned while on the hilltop of God's samadhi:
Beloved God, help us to hue you more and more, and
more and more, and still yet more
Until we become worthy of union with you.
And help us to holdfast to Beloved Baba's daaman
Til the very end.
- Meher Baba
|Reprinted here by permission of the copyright holders, the Lyn Ott estate. Originally published in 1973 by The Universal Spiritual League in America Incorporated. Awakener Magazine Vol. XIV, Nos. 3 and 4. All rights reserved by the Lyn Ott estate. Protection secured under the International Copyright Convention and the Pan-American Copyright.