April 20, 2024
233 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 6AB United Kingdom
Article Philosophy

SHAKING THE WORLD INTO WAKEFULNESS

MEHER BABA

Difficulties give us the opportunity to prove our greatness by overcoming them

Words: Victor M. Parachin

Though he did not speak from 1925 until his death in 1969, nearly half a century, Meher Baba nevertheless taught millions worldwide. Using only an English Alphabet board and hand gestures, he travelled the world – America, China, Egypt, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey and England – promoting Godconsciousness. Often asked when he would end his silence, Meher responded simply: “When God thinks my speaking would be heard universally, He will make me break my silence.”

Meher Baba was an Indian mystic who tirelessly lived and taught love for God. He was born on February 25, 1894, in Puna, India. The son of Persians who were active Zoroastrians, his parents named him Merwan Sheriar Irani. Like many Indians of their generation, the parents sent their son to a Christian (Jesuit) school. His interests were diverse: sports, especially cricket, music, poetry, and literature. Irani was also drawn to mystical subjects and was particularly fond of the Islamic Sufi writer Hafiz.

His rather normal life changed dramatically in 1913 when he was 19. While bicycling to his college classes, he felt compelled to stop and visit an elderly woman sage who was a fixture in Puna. Her name was Hazrat Babajan and, at the time, was believed to be at least 100 years of age. She embraced Baba and the two sat silently in meditation. Baba continued to visit her and then, one evening in January 1914, she kissed Baba on the forehead. Immediately he felt a transfer of God realization enter his being. This powerful experience appears to have disoriented him. For a brief period of time, he was unable to eat or sleep and began wandering randomly throughout Puna. His parents feared he had become mentally ill. His mother, distraught, visited Hazrat Babajan, wondering what she had done to her son. The sage informed Mrs Irani that her son was not insane but was “destined to shake the world into wakefulness.” Before long, Baba began acting normally, much to the relief of his family.

However, he continued to study with spiritual masters while holding a series of jobs including managing a theatre and working in his father’s tea shop. By 1921 he began teaching and attracted a dedicated group of devotees who began to call him “Meher Baba” or “Compassionate Father.” Other followers commonly referred to him as “The Awakener”. On July 10, 1925 Baba began what he said would be a short period of silence “to save mankind from monumental ignorance” and to promote the “universal awareness of God on earth.” His silence – the subject of both controversy and curiosity – would last for the remainder of his life.

In spite of his commitment to silence, he continued to teach and write, publishing a number of books. Seeking to reach the widest possible reader, Baba wrote in a popular, practical style. For example, when describing the “High Roads” which lead to God, he offered seekers six paths: “

  1. Love for God and intense longing to see Him and to be united with Him;
  2. Being in constant company with the saints and lovers of God and rendering them wholehearted service;
  3. Avoid craving, greed, anger, hatred, and the temptations for power, fame, and fault-finding;
  4. Leaving everyone and everything in complete external renunciation, and in solitude, devoting oneself to fasting, prayer, and meditation;
  5. Carrying on all worldly duties with equal acceptance of success or failure, with a pure heart and clean mind and remaining unattached in the midst of intense activity, and
  6. Selfless service of humanity without any thought of gain or reward.”

Baba not only exhibited a deep love and union with the Divine but also encouraged others to do the same declaring: “Every one of you, man or woman, of any caste, creed or colour, has equal right to attain Divinity. It has been possible for man to become God through love for God. External renunciation is not at all necessary. Each and all, man or woman, whilst attending to all duties in the everyday walk of life, can attain Divine Fatherhood and Universal.

Motherhood through honest love for God.” Seeking to promote Baba’s spiritual teachings in America, two of his early Western disciples – Elizabeth Patterson and Norina Matchabelli – left India for the United States seeking to find a property and establish a centre for his work. Baba had visited the United States three times and was impressed. He said “There is greater energy in America than elsewhere, but most of this energy is misdirected. I will divert it into creative and spiritual channels.” He told Patterson and Matchabelli that any property which would become the Meher Spiritual Centre had to meet these five conditions:

The climate should be equable. It should have more than ample water. It should be virgin soil, never built upon. It should be land that could be tilled. And it should be given from the heart.

For several years the two women visited various American locations seeking property but were unsuccessful until 1943. At that time Patterson was visiting her father in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and remembered seeing, years earlier, a large tract of undisturbed oceanfront property. Quickly revisiting the spot, she intuitively felt Baba would approve.

Interestingly, Patterson’s father was a partner in the company which owned the land. Out of deep respect for his daughter’s spiritual quest, he obtained the property and donated it to Meher Baba, thus fulfilling his final condition that the land “should be given from the heart.” Over the next decade, Baba would personally visit the Centre and meet with American seekers.

In 1956, Baba was seriously injured in an automobile accident. As a result of those injuries, Baba was in constant pain, limited to a wheelchair, and often had to be carried from venue to venue when he was teaching. By July of 1968, Baba announced that his work was complete, “one hundred percent” to his satisfaction. He died a few months later on January 31,

As word of his death spread, it became necessary for his body to have special preparation because of the vast numbers of people worldwide who wanted to have a final viewing. His body, cooled by ice, was covered with roses and displayed to the public for one week before being placed in a tomb. It has since become a pilgrimage destination with thousands of visitors annually traveling from all over the world, paying respect to Baba, whom they view as one of the most influential spiritual guides of the twentieth century.

Victor M. Parachin, M. Div. (CYT) is an author, Vedic educator, yoga instructor, and Buddhist meditation teacher. He is the director of Tulsa Yoga Meditation Centre (USA). Victor researches and writes extensively about eastern spiritual philosophy and is the author of numerous books. His work is published regularly in YOGA Magazine. His latest book – ‘Think Like a Buddha: 108 Days of Mindfulness’ was published by Hohm Publishers.
tulsayogameditationcenter.com

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