A Tapestry of Meher Baba's Connections with the West

by Stephen Sakellarios
Creator of In Another Life

"Supposing we are just sitting with Baba on the veranda and talking to him, and Baba sees a man passing on the road, and he says "Padri, go and call that man. Just see who is that man."... The contact is established. And he may call him, ask him the questions, "Who are you, where are you from, where are you going, what are you doing," and what-not. And if he is down-and-out, he might give him something, some rupees or some clothes or food or something, and in like manner the contact is established. That's the start...he is on his way. Now, he has met God in person, he doesn't know it! The soul doesn't know it. What more does he want? ... There have been hundreds of such experiences during our travels with Baba, our stay with Baba. We never questioned it, mind you, but we could understand it, definitely." --Padri (Faredoon Driver) [listen to original audio recording (edited as above)]

I have been a follower of Meher Baba for just about 30 years, since, as a hippie in Coconut Grove, Miami in the early 1970s, I chanced upon a book called Listen, Humanity, in the "Oak Feed Store," a natural-foods store. In 30 years of studying Baba's history and hearing first-hand accounts, it's struck me how much Baba worked by making contacts. The full significance of these contacts may never be understood, but in hindsight one can get a sense of them. In this introduction to Meher Baba I'll be hitting some of the highlights of his dealings with the West, specifically as regards people and events that will be familiar to the reader. I'll intersperse these accounts with brief vignettes of my own personal history (set off in italics), to show how the same process seems to have been going on with obscure people like myself who never met Baba personally. As the story unfolds, a bit of the tapestry of Meher Baba's method of contacting people may be revealed.

Meher Baba made his first visit to the West in 1931, 10 years after his master, Upasni Maharaj, pronounced him spiritually perfect and he began gathering his first group of companions, who later became disciples. Meher Baba grew up as Merwan Irani, a young Parsi (Zoroastrian of Persian descent) growing up in Poona, India. He was a well-liked high school student, normal in every way and looked up to as a leader among his peers. His bicycle route home from school took him past a Sufi spiritual master named Hazrat Babajan, who was said to be well over 100 years old and who lived out in the open under a neem tree in all weather. He took to stopping and visiting with her on his way home, and one day she kissed him on his forehead. When he got home he began experiencing "indescribable thrills" or shocks, lost all outward consciousness, and entered the state of God-Realization. For several months he neither ate nor slept, wandering, by his own later description, as "an automaton possessed of intuition," slowly regaining the ability to function in the gross world but never losing this highest state of consciousness. Finally he was drawn to Upasni Maharaj, foremost disciple of Sai Baba of Shirdi (i.e., not the more recent teacher claiming to be Sai Baba's reincarnation). Over the course of the next seven years Upasni Maharaj established Merwan fully in normal consciousness along with the state of spiritual Perfection he had received from Hazrat Babajan (or that she had unveiled, depending on the point of view). At one point Upasni Maharaj declared, "Merwan, you are the Avatar and I salute you."(1) Avatar means Christ, Buddha, Messiah. Meher Baba (a name meaning "compassionate father", given by his early disciples) didn't publicly say he was the Avatar until much later, in 1954, though he revealed it privately to a small group of his Western followers in 1931.(2)(3) I will simply invite anyone wondering whether he could be the real one out of thousands of such claims, to study Baba's life and draw their own conclusions.

There are many other elements of Meher Baba's biography which I don't have space to go into, but one which I must mention for the sake of the narrative that follows is that Meher Baba began keeping silence on July 10, 1925. He maintained that silence until his passing in 1969, communicating at first by writing, then by using an alphabet board, and finally using a unique system of beautifully-expressive hand-gestures. In 1937, to a group of his close Western followers, Baba explained:

For nearly twelve years no word has passed my lips. Yet I am never silent. I speak eternally. The voice that is heard deep within the soul is my voice--the voice of inspiration, of intuition, of guidance. Through those who are receptive to this voice, I speak. My outward silence is no spiritual exercise. Once a devotee asked a Perfect Master why he fasted. The Perfect One replied, "I am not an aspirant; I am perfect. So I am not fasting to attain perfection. It is for others that I fast." A spiritual aspirant cannot act like One who has attained perfection, but One who is perfect can, for the sake of others, act like an aspirant. A person who has received a Master of Arts degree can write the alphabet on a blackboard to teach children, but it does not mean he is no longer a Master of Arts. Therefore, my silence has been undertaken and maintained solely for the good of others.(4)

We will learn more of Baba's silence as the story progresses.

Now that you have the briefest of introductions, let's look at some of the highlights of Meher Baba's interactions with the West. There are a number of historical people and events that are well known, but where the connection to Meher Baba is not so well known. I find them fascinating and I hope you will as well.

First trip to the West

In August of 1931, Meher Baba made his first of nine trips to the West. Baba often changed plans rapidly, and just before this trip, he inexplicably instructed the disciple making the arrangements to change the reservations from a ship that had already been booked, to the SS Rajputana. At that time, Mahatma Gandhi was considering attending a round table discussion in London regarding the independence of India (the decision hinging on the easing of conflicts between Hindus and Muslims), and at the last minute decided in favor of going and also happened to book passage on the Rajputana. Meher Baba had recently been the guest of the mayor of Karachi, Jamshed Mehta, who cabled Gandhi that Baba was on-board, recommending to contact him.

Gandhi sent word through his secretary, and the two met on September 8th in Baba's cabin. Baba's secretary recorded their conversation, and the transcript was later endorsed by both sides. Meher Baba related the narrative of his spiritual awakening, whereupon Gandhi remarked, "The divine truths that you have enunciated and your experiences are a regular feast which I would like to enjoy for hours." They talked about matters of spiritual discipline like silence and fasting (Meher Baba having kept silence for six years at that point). Baba also allowed Gandhi to read some pages from a book he had written "explaining all the secrets of the (spiritual) Path". Gandhi was the only person Baba ever showed this book to. Its whereabouts are not now known, except perhaps to whomever it was vouchsafed.(5)

The conversation then turned to Gandhi's political work, which Baba advised him on at length.(6) The following exchange was recorded:

"India has suffered a great deal. Will she have to continue suffering?" asked Gandhi of Meher Baba.

Meher Baba replied, "The situation as I see it is that if the British refuse to give you what is wanted, full Dominion Status to India, you will have to return empty-handed and be forced to start civil disobedience in India again. Despite your insistence on a non-violent revolution, if the atmosphere does turn violent, it will be difficult to check the situation. You have in recent months evidenced incidents of violence all over India. If such violence continues the spiritual cause of India will suffer tremendously. As long as civil disobedience in India is non-violently carried out, matters will work out successfully, otherwise India will have to continue suffering. But India will gain by this suffering, not lose, because suffering will prepare India to be courageous. Remember all good results after suffering.

"India has always been a land of spirituality and if spiritual greatness is to be maintained, the energy of suffering must remain. In order for it to remain spiritually great, India must be prepared to suffer, but non-violently."

These consultations continued for three consecutive nights. On the last night Gandhi expressed the desire to join Meher Baba, that he longed for God-Realization, and that "...if God ordained he should retire from politics, God would create such circumstance as to relieve him of all obligations and responsibilities for which he was committed."(7)

During their talks, Gandhi mentioned that he had earlier met Upasni Maharaj, and had gotten a shocking reception--that master had told him, "So, you are a great man--what is that to me?" lifting the sackcloth he wore and showing Gandhi his private parts!(8) Gandhi, naturally, was taken aback and expressed to Baba that he could not accept Upasni Maharaj's spiritual authority, even though he could feel Baba's. Baba assured him that Upasni, as the master who helped Baba function again in the gross world after his Realization, was spiritually Perfect.

Mahatma Gandhi was not the only well-known religious figure who was aware of Baba and privately expressed respect for him. Mother Theresa was once interviewed by an Indian follower of Meher Baba. Having noticed that one of Baba's messages was printed on the back of the interviewer's card, she asked, "You are a lover of Meher Baba?" In Bengali, which Mother Theresa spoke fluently, the interviewer answered, "Yes, Avatar Meher Baba is the Living Christ." After making sure she wasn't being tape-recorded, Mother Theresa responded, "Meher Baba is a Christlike person." The interviewer, feeling prompted inwardly, said "Mother, Baba is God." Mother Theresa was silent for a few moments, and responded, "I am a Roman Catholic nun, governed by Vatican dictates, but I know this: Meher Baba started working on lepers, then we four became involved with lepers: myself, Baba Amte, Gandhiji (Mahatma Gandhi) and Albert Schweitzer. Following that work, the Government of India is now pursuing leprosy eradication, and the World Health Organization has a programme to wipe out the disease by the end of the century!" She then asked the interviewer not to divulge her comments while she was alive.(9)

Invitation to America

The Rajputana landed at Marseilles, France on Sept. 11, 1931. There was a large crowd of reporters waiting for Gandhi, but Meher Baba, slipping unnoticed through the crowd, was met by two disciples who had prepared a retreat for him in Devonshire, England. Gandhi is said to have remarked to reporters, "Tarry my brothers, behind me is somebody traveling incognito. I am not equivalent to the dirt of his nails. If he desires he can make the sun rise in the West and set in the East."(10) But Baba and his men had already left.

One of the attendees at the Devonshire retreat was Thomas Watson, then in his late 70s. Dr. Watson had been Alexander Graham Bell's assistant, the first person to hear a voice over the telephone (Mr. Bell in the next room, saying, "Mr. Watson -- come here -- I want to see you.") He had heard of the retreat from a protégé named Milo Shattuck who had spent some time there.(11) Framroze Dadachanji, one of Baba's men who had traveled with Baba from India, relates:

While entering the retreat, Baba stopped for a moment and placed his hand on Dr. Watson's head in blessing and patted him on the back. So deep was the impact that Dr. Watson's heart began to heave and he sobbed like a little child. I led Dr. Watson to the library and allowed him time to compose himself. After fifteen minutes he calmed down and asked me with tears in his eyes, "How long have you been with him?"

"For seven years," I replied.

Hearing this answer Dr. Watson put his hand on my back and said, "My son, do you know how lucky you are to be able to stay for seven years in the company of such a personality?"

"Yes, I consider myself fortunate for this. It is all his grace."

After a moment's silence, Dr. Watson continued, "In my life of 78 years, I have experienced for the first time what God's love can be. Only one touch of Baba's hand has made me conscious of it."

Dr. Watson went on to describe his long spiritual search, having collected thousands of spiritual books, but that the knowledge gained from them "remained on the fringe of the mind". But, he said, "My search has ended today. This experience cannot be explained to anybody. It is to be experienced by the self--that I have realized now."

Later on, however, Baba did explain to Dr. Watson and his wife a number of spiritual points with the help of diagrams. Thanking Baba, Dr. Watson said, "Baba, America is the country for you. If you permit, I invite you on behalf of the American people taking upon myself the responsibility of making all arrangements for you and your disciples."(12) Dr. Watson followed through on his offer and Baba traveled to America the following month, to stay at a large stone house made available for him in Harmon-on-Hudson, New York. Many of Baba's long-time disciples first met him at these two early retreats in Devonshire and New York. Malcolm Schloss describes the personal interviews, which were periodically permitted with Baba during the month-long stay in New York:

For one, two or three minutes at a time we would be silent with him. In those periods of silence we touched a depth in our inner being which we had never reached before. Tears of quiet ecstasy flowed from our eyes. Our hearts dilated until it seems as if they would burst the bonds of the body. What would have happened if the one, two or three minutes had been prolonged, only Baba knows--but they never were prolonged.(13)

Second Visit to the West

On March 24, 1932, Meher Baba again visited the West, sailing for England from Bombay on the Italian ship Conte Rosso. He did not want publicity or to give interviews, but the crew and passengers sensed something about him. In the extensive biography, Lord Meher, Bhau Kalchuri writes:

In spite of all the observance of strict privacy, Baba's personality was so powerful that he immediately impressed those who happened to glance at him or casually pass by him. ...Among them was a Christian missionary who asked for, and was given, literature about Baba. A young man proceeding to Oxford for study was always particular to pay his respects to Baba whenever they passed. The ship's Italian stewards, sailors and officers especially seemed to sense Baba's presence, and they were all very humble and deferential toward him. They vied with one another to render assistance and tried to approach Baba on one pretense or another whenever an opportunity arose." Baba met with only one person, Professor Ernest Wood, a Theosophist working at the Theosophical Society in Madras, to whom he gave an explanation as to what he meant by spirituality.(14)

On May 13, Baba left England for New York City aboard the S.S. Bremen. Near the end of the journey, Baba dictated a message and had it printed on the ship's press. On the 19th, newspaper reporters "swarmed into Baba's cabin" requesting interviews, but were handed the message Baba had earlier prepared. It began:

I have not come to establish any cult, society or organization, nor even to establish a new religion. The religion I will give teaches the knowledge of the One behind the many.(15)

Baba was particularly interested in the film industry. Accordingly, he spent one week in Hollywood, California beginning on May 29th, meeting with a number of people connected with that industry and visiting the Paramount and Goldwyn Mayer film studios. He met a number of film stars including Boris Karloff, Cary Grant, Tallulah Bankhead, Gary Cooper and Maurice Chevalier, and gave private interviews to some. Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford arranged for a private reception at their mansion, "Pickfair". Ms. Pickford had Baba sit on a sofa and she sat on the carpet at his feet. Her husband and the rest joined her, and Baba explained:

The whole universe and its structure, I have created. The universe is my cinema. But just as an audience becomes absorbed in witnessing a drama on the screen, and the film engages their emotions and sways their feelings by its influence, causing them to forget that it is not real--in the same way, the spectators of the world are charmed by this worldly film show, forgetting themselves and taking it to be real!

So I have come to tell them that this worldly cinema in which they are absorbed is not real. I have come to turn their focus toward Reality. Only God is real, and everything else is a mere motion picture!

In a private meeting before dinner with Ms. Pickford and a few others, Baba commented on the film industry itself:

I do not need to tell you who are engaged in the production and distribution of motion pictures what a power you hold in your hands, nor do I doubt that you are fully alive to the responsibilities which the wielding of that power involves. He who stimulates the imagination of the masses can move them in any direction he chooses, and there is no more powerful an instrument for stimulating their imagination than motion pictures. People go to the theatre to be entertained. If the play is strong, they come away transformed. They surrender their hearts and minds to the author, producer, director and stars, and follow the example which they see portrayed before their eyes more than they themselves realize.(16)

Meher Baba would associate with people of high or low social standing, depending on their sincere interest in spirituality and also depending on the nature of the inner spiritual work he was trying to accomplish. Some of my favorite stories about Baba depict him following the reception plans laid out by officials and dignitaries, only to suddenly diverge from the mapped-out route, leading the bewildered officials down backs streets until arriving at the home of some poor or sick person who secretly longed to meet him.

This reception at "Pickfair" had a similar surprise in store. After dinner, Baba noticed a young woman standing at the far end of the room with her back to him and requested that she come forward, and she was called. She turned toward Baba but remained where she was. She was called again, and she came forward but stopped at a distance. Norina Matchebelli, one of Baba's disciples traveling with him, told her, "Come and shake hands with Baba, child." She demurred, and another disciple, Elizabeth Patterson, said, "Why are you afraid, dear? Come nearer and meet Baba."

Continuing with the account as told in Lord Meher:

She asked, "How can I touch him?"

"Why not?" Norina replied. "All can meet Baba!"

This brought tears to her eyes, and she pitiably asked, "But I am a sinner! How can I touch a holy being like him?"

Baba then went to her, and passed his hand over her head and shoulders. She started weeping, and Baba gestured to her, "I am the purest of the pure. I can purify the worst sinner. You have understood your mistakes and acknowledged them faithfully in the presence of others, and so you are forgiven. This penance from the depths of your heart is adequate, and you are now cleansed. Now, don't fear in the least and don't repeat your past mistakes. I give you my blessings!" The girl burst into tears, and Baba lovingly embraced her. The tears which Baba had drawn from her heart wiped out all her sins.

Those who witnessed this were deeply moved; their hearts overflowed and their eyes also teared. Before departing, Baba again embraced all the guests and putting his hand on the girl's head, consoled her, "You have received forgiveness for everything! Forget the past and don't worry at all." The girl pressed her eyes to Baba's hand and kissed it. As Baba left, all eyes followed him. In their films, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks had depicted scenes of deep human love, but witnessing this sight of pure divine love from Meher Baba was a rare experience indeed. Their hearts were full. (17)

The Hollywood Bowl

As mentioned earlier, Meher Baba had begun keeping strict silence on July 10, 1925. For a few years he communicated by writing, then switched to using an alphabet board, and in later years began using his own unique hand gestures. During this period of the 1930's, Baba was still using the board.

Meher Baba had many times said that when he finally broke his silence, it would be to utter the "Word of words", and that it would unleash a tide of spirituality which would help each person to advance toward the Goal (God-Realization) in their own way. There were also quite a few occasions when Baba would predict, or even promise, to break his silence at such and such a time and place, and then wouldn't do so, at least outwardly to anyone's knowledge. This scenario unfolded again in California, when some of Baba's Western followers urged Baba to break his silence on the radio in the Hollywood Bowl.(18) Baba agreed and set the date for July 14th 1932.

At that time there were a number of Westerners attached to Baba, some of them intimate disciples, who--as best I can describe it--had the Western "malaise" of taking things very literally, and of wrongly valuing certain things as highly spiritual and undervaluing other things which really were more the essence of spirituality. Just as Gandhi could not abide the ego-bruising, seemingly uncouth reception he got at the hands of Upasni Maharaj, so these spiritual seekers and metaphysicians apparently could not get past the way Meher Baba worked. There was great excitement about this literal breaking of Baba's external silence with publicity and fanfare, to be broadcast on the radio, from the Hollywood Bowl. My personal opinion is that this was the way Baba brought up to the surface all these tendencies of superficiality in spiritual matters toward which the West is so inclined. The women even had special "Hollywood Bowl" dresses made!

Behind the scenes, however, Baba's brother, Adi, expressed his concerns to Baba:

"Look, Baba, you're not going to break your silence at the Hollywood Bowl. Why go through all this fuss with the radio and newspapers? Why make these people go to all this trouble? People will be mad, very angry with you, if you do not speak. And I know you won't!"

"Upset, Baba scolded Adi, 'No, no, you don't know! Keep quiet! This time, I am going to do it!' Adi didn't say anything else, though he disbelieved that Baba would do such a thing, and actually feared that they might be beaten or killed by the angry people once they discovered what Baba was planning otherwise."(19)

In fact, Baba left for China by way of Japan on June 4, saying he would return to break his silence on July 14th, but subsequently sent a disciple back to cable that he had changed his mind. Baba also made arrangements to break his silence in London in February of the following year, and did not so do (i.e., outwardly and audibly) on that date, either. Probably as a result, a number of Western disciples, including prominent astrologer Dane Rudyar and long-time disciple Meredith Starr (who had first invited Baba to the West, setting up the Devonshire Retreat), eventually left Baba, convinced he was a fraud.

However, Baba stated a number of times that when he promises something, it will come about in his own way and in his own time.(20)

Hollywood and the "Dunites," 1934

Meher Baba returned to Hollywood in 1934, avoiding publicity and instead working with a number of screenwriters and filmmakers on proposed film projects. During the earlier 1932 visit he had met a spiritual seeker named Sam Cohen, a Theosophist and resident of a loosely knit freethinkers' community named "Moy Mell" nestled among the dunes on the beach at Oceano, California. The benefactor of this group of intellectuals, spiritual seekers, artists and social misfits was Chester Alan Arthur III, grandson of the 21st President, who went by the name of Gavin. For a time Gavin published a magazine called the Dune Forum, which included articles by such notables as Stuart Edward White (author of the spiritualist classic, The Unobstructed Universe), and photographic contributions by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston (whose dune photographs are well-known). Gavin would frequently entertain the intellectual and artistic elite of America at his cabin in the dunes. Although accounts differ somewhat, it appears that Baba sent disciple Meredith Starr and his wife to Moy Mell in 1932, and that they stayed on for a period of time (this was approximately a year and a half before Meredith's defection). When Baba returned to Hollywood in 1934, he agreed to visit the "Dunite" community. On the evening of Christmas day (accounts different as to the exact days), Baba arrived with eighteen of his followers, including Norina Matchabelli, wife of Georges Matchabelli, known for the popular perfume brand. Norina had previously arranged for a special cabin to be built for Baba, but he chose instead to stay in Gavin's cabin. Gavin was not in Moy Mell at the time, and it was decided that he wouldn't mind.

There was also a Theosophical center called the Temple of the People in nearby Halcyon, founded in 1904 with the intent of preparing for the arrival of the next incarnation of the Avatar, but there is no record of Baba visiting it.(21)

L-R: Sam Cohen, Meher Baba, Hugo Sellig, John Doggett
Baba and his group stayed overnight and spent the following day visiting with Sam Cohen and other Dunites, many of whom were eccentric characters and spiritual seekers who gave little importance to social convention. Hugo Seelig was a seeker of truth from an early age, who, after his father's suicide, roamed the coast of California meeting other seekers and visiting places where they could be found. At Stanford University, he met a resident of Halcyon who told him about Oceano and the little dune colony there. When WWI broke out and America entered the war, Hugo went to live in the dunes and became part of the community, pursuing his writing.

George Blais was an ascetic who despite being in his 60s, was in splendid physical health with long white hair and beard. He was strictly celibate and a vegetarian who lived on grains and fruits, especially fruits which had fallen to the ground (he believed that vegetables like carrots and lettuce suffered because they remain alive after being pulled up or cut off). He seemed impervious to the elements, living naked in the dunes and only putting on a loincloth if he had to enter the nearby town. George was a reformed alcoholic and a lay preacher who attracted attention from outsiders, eventually developing a small following.(22)

Both of these men, along with Sam Cohen, were the "Dunites" who spent the most time with Meher Baba during this visit.

In a letter dated July 1st, 1966 written to another of Baba's followers, Filis Frederick, Sam Cohen wrote:

Baba arrived with his group the day before Christmas... The next day Baba spent in granting interviews to different people who had heard of his coming. In the late afternoon we all trekked to the beach to escort Baba back to town, from where he would resume his drive back to Hollywood. As we walked along the beach single file, Baba's car had broken down, and we all kept looking at Baba in the hope that he might perform a miracle, but Baba decided to let the law of mechanics take its course. So the car was pushed forward and Baba and I walked on ahead.

This was when a most unusual experience took place: Baba looked at me, and then pointed to the Pacific Ocean. I said, "Oh yes, it is very big." Baba shook his head, as if to say "No." Again he waved his hand, and I said, "Oh, yes, it is very beautiful." Once again, "No." Finally, a loud speaking voice said, "I AM AS BIG AS THE OCEAN." And you know Baba does not speak.(23)

The '50's, '60's, and Beyond

Meher Baba visited the West, and America, several times after 1934. With the help of Norina Matchebelli and other close disciples, he established a permanent retreat called the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, SC, which he visited on three occasions, in 1952, 1956 and 1958. However, he didn't come into public view again until the time of the cultural renaissance in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In 1964, a booth dedicated to Meher Baba was set up in the American Interiors Pavilion of the New York World's Fair, not far from the Coca-Cola Pavilion. The pamphlet that was prepared to be handed out, as approved by Baba, included his "Universal Message," "The Seven Realities," and eight points on "How To Love God," along with a brief biography. A portion of the Universal Message reads:

I veil myself from man by his own curtain of ignorance, and manifest my Glory to a few. My present Avataric Form is the last Incarnation in this cycle of time, hence my Manifestation will be the greatest. When I break my Silence, the impact of my Love will be universal and all life in creation will know, feel and receive of it. It will help every individual to break himself free from his own bondage in his own way. I am the Divine Beloved who loves you more than you can ever love yourself. The breaking of my Silence will help you to help yourself in knowing your real Self.

Among the people who passed by the booth and took one of these pamphlets, was President Richard Nixon.

I had "close brushes" with two of these events as a child. When I was two years old, my parents drove from South Hampton, New York to Miami, staying overnight in a motel in Myrtle Beach during the last night that Meher Baba was at the Meher Spiritual Center in 1956 (I'm told I cried that night, ostensibly from a "stomach ache"). Meher Baba also had been in New York City just prior to traveling to Myrtle Beach. When I was ten years old, my parents took me to the Fair in New York, and I remember feeling strongly that the "something" I was always looking for was very close. I remember visiting the Coca-Cola Pavilion (the "Bavarian" exhibit) and feeling this very strongly. My parents never visited the Meher Baba exhibit or received the pamphlet, but I would be handed a copy of this same pamphlet (from the same printing run) by a high school psychology class intern, as my first introduction to Meher Baba, in 1971.

In the latter portion of the 1960s, many people in the West embarked on a search for spiritual values. That search took them down a number of alleyways, including experimentation with drugs.

Some of Baba's long-time followers found themselves mentoring hippies who had a sincere interest in the spiritual path and had approached them for instruction. Don E. Stevens, author/narrator of Listen, Humanity and co-editor of Meher Baba's most important book, God Speaks, came from a scientific and corporate background and had a conservative temperament. At this time he was a member of Sufism, Reoriented, the branch of the organization started by Sufi master Inayat Khan and put under the guidance of Meher Baba by Inayat Khan's successor, Rabia Martin. When several hippies approached Martin's successor, Ivy Duce, regarding Inayat Khan's poetry, she referred them to Don, who recounts:

I had said, "Well, you're asking questions that are so right, and so profound and so important, that we can't go about it in just the hit-and-miss fashion you're doing. The only thing I can suggest is that if you want to sit down one night a week, for three months, I'll try to bone up and do some homework and we'll talk about basic mysticism through the centuries, from as far back as we can trace it up through Meher Baba at present." It wasn't designed to be totally Meher Baba, just basic mysticism.

Of course I knew, and they eventually knew, that Baba was the apex, the current, great chapter in it. Those four kids came, but when they came to the first meeting, I think they were seven or eight, and that surprised me. And the next meeting it was fifteen, and the next meeting it was twenty-five. So I said, "Now look, we've got to have an understanding. The absolute limit for this group is thirty-five people. If more than that (any of your other friends want to come) we'll form a new group at the end of three months."

Three months later they finished and another group of thirty-five came. We did that for two, somewhere between two and three years. They were some of the most incredibly, beautifully exciting people I have ever been around in my life.(24)

Darwin Shaw is a long-time follower of Meher Baba who met him in the 1930s. In 1964, the same year as the New York World's Fair, Darwin gave a talk on Meher Baba in Woodstock, NY. In attendance were two professors from nearby Harvard: Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass), and Timothy Leary, along with a number of their graduate students. Both were experimenting with LSD and advocating its use for the purposes of spiritual exploration and "mind expansion," and they had heard that Baba was the leading authority on consciousness. Some time after attending this talk, one of these graduate students, Allan Cohen, brought along a copy of Meher Baba's Discourses to a quiet spot, and took a dose of LSD. He then wrote of his experience to Kitty Davy, another long-time follower of Baba who ran the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, SC, saying, in part:

...the feasibility of this type of experience, is one of the most exciting prospects in freeing oneself and man (concomitant with the path of love and service of course). One might liken it to a technique, such as meditation...which can break through our ego's 'games' and traps extremely efficiently.

Somewhat alarmed, Kitty then passed the letter onto Baba in India. Baba, through his secretary Adi K. Irani, recommended that Allan read Baba's book, God Speaks, and explained:

All so-called spiritual experiences generated by taking "mind-changing" drugs are superficial and add enormously to one's addiction to the deceptions of illusion, which is but the shadow of Reality.

The experience of a semblance of "freedom" that these drugs may temporarily give to one is in actuality a millstone round the aspirant's neck in his efforts toward emancipation from the rounds of birth and death!"

...When you study the book God Speaks, you will understand how very impossible it is for an aspirant to realize God without the grace of a Perfect Master, and therefore, it is of paramount importance for a genuine spiritual aspirant to surrender himself to the Perfect Master, who has himself realized God.

In the spring of 1965, a 22-year-old senior at Boston University named Robert Dreyfuss visited Allan Cohen at Harvard, and noticed a quote by Meher Baba on Allan's office door:

To penetrate into the essence of all being and significance, and to release the fragrance of that inner attainment for the guidance and benefit of others, by expressing, in the world of forms, truth, love, purity and beauty--this is the sole game which has any intrinsic and absolute worth. All other happenings, incidents and attainments can, in themselves, have no lasting importance.

Robert had been planning a trip to India for some years, and when he learned of a "sahavas" (gathering) to be held in December, and not having money to travel with the group that was going over, he decided to fly one-way to London, and then hitch-hike across Europe, Turkey and Iran to India. His trip included such adventures as riding deck class on a boat from Kuwait, because the border between Pakistan and India was closed due to the war at that time.

Robert arrived in Bombay on November 14th, not knowing that the sahavas had been cancelled on September 4th, and that Meher Baba was in seclusion. Baba did, however, make an exception and allowed Robert to see him. Robert, who like many spiritual seekers of the time used drugs, described LSD to Baba's "mandali" (close disciples) in conversation before meeting Baba, and they shared with him Allan Cohen's letter. At about 3:00 pm they brought Robert to Baba's room:

Suddenly, there he was! Sitting on his bed, unclothed from the waist up, beaming--the Emperor of emperors. What occurred then I shall never forget--a great loosening, a shaking from within. I am not given to visions, or 'seeing things,' or hallucinations, but on beholding his form, what I saw was his resplendent face at the center of an effulgence so brilliant, of a light so complete in its all-encompassing radiance, that tears blurred my vision in rivers of delight. There was no way I could stop it. The light was so brilliant, it was like looking into the sun, and so tears naturally had to flow. Here he was, the One who in his compassion had granted this speck of his imagination a glimpse of the Sun!

Baba instructed Robert to take a hot bath after his long trip, and to read certain sections of God Speaks before the sun set, to get a good dinner and a good night's sleep, and that he would see Robert in the morning.

The next day Baba asked to see the route that Robert had taken. He then asked Robert if many people in America were taking drugs like LSD. Robert said they were, and Baba answered, "Tell those that are, that if drugs could make one realize God, then God is not worthy of being God." Baba instructed Robert:

Tell those who indulge in these drugs that it is harmful physically, mentally and spiritually, and that they should stop the taking of these drugs. Your duty is to tell them, regardless of whether they accept what you say, or if they ridicule or humiliate you, to boldly and bravely face these things. Leave the results to me, I will help you in my work.(25)

In 1975, while pursuing a bachelor's degree in social work, one of my many volunteer jobs found me trying to start a conversation with a young man who had taken too many doses of LSD. I asked him, "Do you play any musical instruments?" There was no response for about two minutes, and I had given up all hope of conversing with him, when he finally answered, "Drums".

After Robert returned to the States, Richard Alpert also wrote to Baba. An excerpt of his letter reads:

I am confused and would value your counsel. In 1961, as a professor at Harvard, I had the opportunity to ingest a chemical derived from the Mexican mushroom, which has been treated as a sacrament by the Mexican Indians through their recorded history. For my colleague, Timothy Leary, and I it appeared to pierce the veil of illusion that our limited reality was indeed the only reality and show us, albeit briefly, the possibility of man's true identity. Because we were social scientists interested in helping our fellow man, we set about a systematic exploration of psychedelic chemicals, including LSD.

At first it appeared as if the chemical would do it all--truly and everlastingly bring one to God. With time, however, we realized that the chemicals but showed one a possibility experientially when previously there appeared to be no possibility, or at best only an intellectual one. ...

Recently Allan Cohen, one of my past students from Harvard, visited us. Because you are present in such a real sense in our home, he felt at home with us. Yesterday we received a letter from him reporting the message Bob Dreyfus was bringing from you--No drugs! We called and spoke with Bob, but I, for one, felt the need for a little additional clarification.

Inside of me I feel that LSD has been a major influence in my own life of a positive nature and that the work I have been doing in the United States is humanly good. I also hear your message and understand that you probably do know.

At first I entertained the possibility that you did not understand that LSD is quite different and, in fact, quite opposite from the opium derivatives. But reflection and communing with you via your written word, has failed to support my initial reaction. Thus, at present, I feel you do understand. I should like to understand also. Can you help me?

Baba replied, through his secretary, Adi K. Irani: "Your letter and the book sent by you to Meher Baba have been received and brought to his attention and he sent the following telegram to you: "Your letter made me happy. I know you are a sincere seeker of Truth. My love will help you. My love blessings to you and those with you. Letter follows. Meher Baba"

The letter stated:

No drug, whatever its promise, can help one to attain the Spiritual Goal. There is no short cut to the Goal except through the grace of the Perfect Master, and drugs, LSD more than others, give a semblance of 'spiritual experience,' a glimpse of the false reality.

The experiences you elaborate in your letter and book are as far removed from Reality as is a mirage from water. No matter how much you pursue the mirage you will never reach water and the search for God through drugs must end in disillusionment. ...

To a few sincere seekers such as yourself, LSD may have served as a means to arouse that spiritual longing which has brought you into contact with Meher Baba, but once that purpose is served further ingestion would not only be harmful, but have no point or purpose. Now your longing for Reality cannot be sustained by further use of drugs, but only by your own love for the Perfect Master, which is a reflection of his love for you. ...

Meher Baba has pointed out that the experiences derived through drugs are experiences by one in the gross world of the shadows of the subtle planes and are not continuous. The experiences of the subtle sphere by one on the subtle planes are continuous, but even these experiences are of illusion, for Reality is beyond them. And so, although LSD may lead one to feel a better man personally, the feeling of having had a glimpse of Reality may not only lull one into a false security, but also will in the end derange one's mind. ...

Only the One who knows and experiences Reality, who is Reality, has the ability and authority to point out the false from the real. Hence, Meher Baba tells those who care to heed him that the only real experience is to see God continuously within oneself as the Infinite Effulgent Ocean of Truth, and then to become one with this Infinite Ocean and continuously experience infinite power, knowledge and bliss."(26)

A later communication added:

Meher Baba indicated that medically there are legitimate uses of the drug LSD. LSD could be used beneficially for chronic alcoholism, for severe and serious cases of depression, and for relief in mental illnesses. Use of LSD other than for specific medical purposes is harmful physically, mentally and spiritually. LSD is absolutely of no use for any kind of spiritual awakening. Use of LSD produces hallucination, and prolonged use of this drug will lead to mental derangement, which even the medical use of LSD would fail to cure. Proper use of LSD under the direct supervision of a medical practitioner could help to cure insanity. It could lead to insanity if used for purposes other than strictly medical.(27)

Rick Chapman, who had graduated from Harvard in June of 1966, was granted a Fulbright scholarship to teach in India. He had applied for this particular grant accepting that he would not be able actually to meet Meher Baba, who was in very strict seclusion at this time, but with the aim of meeting Indian Baba-followers who had met Meher Baba and who could share their experiences with him. As it turned out, however, Baba did invite Rick to meet him in the midst of his seclusion, and Rick described the first moments of that meeting as follows:

As I leaned over to lay my heart onto my 'Heart' I glanced into his light-flashing eyes--moment of Sun-brightness, moment of wordless joy, moment of moments in the arms of God!

Afterwards, he wrote:

I did not clearly recall for about two weeks that Baba had kissed me on the forehead--it was so gentle, so natural. I had just embraced him for the first time in this life, though it was as if he were my oldest friend, beaming, radiating joy as I entered his arms.(28)

By Baba's expressed wish, Allan Cohen, Robert Dreyfus and Rick Chapman became the three principle spokespersons to spread Baba's message via articles, talks and appearances on radio and television shows, that drugs are "harmful physically, mentally and spiritually" to the West, and they continue in this work today.

In 1970, Pete Townshend, guitarist for the rock group The Who, wrote an article entitled "In Love With Meher Baba" which was published by Rolling Stone Magazine, including a full-page photograph of Baba on the front cover. This article was responsible for bringing Baba to the attention of large numbers of young spiritual seekers. In a brief sampling from the article we read:

After about six months of Baba following, Baba was still alive then, I met a guy in San Francisco who had met Baba in India called Rick Chapman. Rick lives in Berkeley and runs Meher Baba Information from Box 1101 at the Post Office there. He is the man responsible for the glut of DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY cards that you must have seen if you live in San Francisco. As we sat in a shared hotel room in San Diego I rolled a joint, spouting some high flown guff about being a happy Baba lover. Rick took it very calmly considering that he spends a good part of his time lecturing on the spiritual side effects of "soft" drugs and what Baba had said about them. Anyway, that day was my last stoned day in the normal sense. ...

Baba washed the religious preconception from my heart with my own tears. I love Jesus far more now than I ever did at infants school as I sang, "Yes, Jesus loves me." Now I know he really was the Christ. Remorse came naturally through Baba, so does love, it can't be forced and it can't be limited. ...

So I never met Baba. Never wrote him a letter or received one. How am I hanging on? I'm not hanging on, I'm stuck on. People could easily get the idea that I'm an unwilling Baba lover, or "Baba Tryer" as I prefer to call myself. No, it's just that I was unwilling to let go of that incredible piece of happiness, that unqualified stab of love that I didn't even ask for, didn't expect, and it's made my life, which I know to be as colorful as any, gray in comparison.(29)

In addition to people who became long-time followers, there were also people who had a period of being attracted to Baba and then distanced themselves for one reason or another. This was true in the 1930's of feminist Mary Antin, author of The Promised Land and a close personal friend of Thomas Watson (though her daughter, Josephine, became a devoted follower).(30) In the 1970's, it was also true of folk singer Melanie Safka, who dedicated her popular song "Candles in the Rain" to Baba. In fact, Pete Townshend describes in the above-mentioned article having briefly discussed the matter with Melanie, who attributed her waning interest to "overly gushing Baba lovers." I suspect that who she met was partly a selection process, since, a folk singer recording emotionally charged, poignant music would be more likely to draw emotional types of personalities. In any case I've always been fascinated by how universal Meher Baba's appeal is, and how the personality types of his followers cross the entire spectrum of humanity.

I was among the ranks of the hippies in the early '70's, and as stated in the opening of this article, in 1973 I felt drawn to buy a copy of Don Stevens' book Listen, Humanity from a natural foods store in Coconut Grove, Miami. A year or so earlier, during my period of spiritual search and experimentation, I had also felt especially drawn to the music of The Who and Melanie. I saw Melanie perform "Candles in the Rain", never knowing these artists had any connection to him.

Woodstock, New York, where Allan Cohen first heard of Baba in Darwin Shaw's talk, had also been the home of many artists since the establishment of an artist's colony there in 1902. It had also seen visits by such spiritual notables as Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore. Two of the artists living in Woodstock in contemporary times, Lyn Ott and Tom Riley, were followers of Meher Baba.

When Tom Riley was a young man and had come home to Woodstock after graduation from Temple University in 1954, he took out an ad looking for part-time work. A man named Raoul Vidas, a Hungarian violinist who had come from California to sell his summer home there, answered the ad and put Tom to work boxing things up for the movers. While boxing in the big library, suddenly Tom saw the wonderful photograph of a most extraordinary man on the cover of a "biographical sketch." It was the face of Meher Baba, the photo taken around 1940. Tom inquired about this person and was told by Raoul how, as a young musician, he'd met Meher Baba at the reception at Pickfair in Hollywood in 1932, given by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Baba had liked him, and had invited him on an overnight tour to a "cabin colony" (which sounds very much like the Moy Mell community, though no visit by Meher Baba to the Oceano dunes can be established for 1932). Baba had even invited Raoul to India, but had laid out two conditions--that Raoul quit smoking, and that he give up women. Raoul thought about it and decided he could not give up women and so could not accompany Baba to India--a decision he later regretted!

Tom owned an antique shop near Woodstock which had, in the 19th century, been a big country store with a vaudeville theatre on the 2nd floor. As you entered the big doors of the shop, there was a post office case to the left. One day Tom was working behind the cage when Garth Hudson, a friend and a member of Bob Dylan's "the Band," walked in with another man. The man looked at the large poster of Meher Baba that Tom had placed on a post close by the entrance. The poster showed Baba with his arm around Mohammed the mast(31), and the caption read, "True love is no game of the faint-hearted and the weak; it is born of strength and understanding." As Tom worked, Garth's friend proceeded to question him at length about Meher Baba. Suddenly the man walked around the post office cage, through a half-high swinging door, and gave Tom a big embrace. Tom didn't recognize this person but the next day Garth arrived and asked Tom what he'd thought of George. The visitor was George Harrison.(32)

Keeping in mind how Baba used personal contacts as described in the opening quote of this article, we see that there were several points of contact with Meher Baba at the famous music festival in Woodstock in 1969. In the documentary about the festival, you see briefly a poster of Meher Baba as a young man. During the Who's performance you can briefly see the cameraman try to zoom in on the button with Baba's photograph on Pete Townshend's lapel. (As a cameraman myself, I know this is a very risky shot, especially going hand-held as these cameramen probably were, and it would be extremely unlikely he would have attempted it in a crucial situation like this unless he felt it was highly significant.) Melanie also performed there while it was raining, and later wrote "Candles in the Rain" to commemorate the event.

Beyond these connections, there was a group of Baba's followers working at the festival. Bruce Hoffman, a professor at Oglethorpe University who, like Allan Cohen, had made the transition from using drugs to spreading Baba's message to get off drugs, was among this group and recalls:

I went to Woodstock, and I remember looking at all these beautiful young girls and boys and seeing how sweet they were and yet how deluded they were. And simply hoping that their beautiful dreams would find a way of being transformed into something more practical and more real. Some of us Baba lovers were active helping people off bad drug trips. Most of it was simply holding hands until people came down.

And we distributed at least ten thousand cards with a picture of Meher Baba and his universal message, "Don't worry. Be happy." ...

I would just sort of knock at the tent, and people, somewhat with a sense of annoyance at being disturbed, would say, "Yeah, what is it?" And I'd say, "Hi, I just want to give you this," and we'd give out this lovely picture of Baba smiling. The responses were always, "Oh, wow! Hey, he's a beautiful man. This is wonderful. (33)

A couple weeks after I saw Melanie in concert, around 1972, the young woman who had accompanied me left for Costa Rica with a man she hadn't even mentioned to me until that evening. I had a crush on her, and found myself driving down Old Cutler Road in Miami feeling very sorry for myself, listening to Sugarloaf's "Gold and the Blues" on my 8-track. I got in traffic behind a VW van with a big poster of Meher Baba looking out the back, smiling and saying "Don't Worry, Be Happy", and I remember complaining to myself, "How does this man expect me to be happy in this situation?"

Don't Worry, Be Happy

This saying of Baba's, "Don't worry, be happy," became quite well known. It was something Baba would frequently emphasize in a variety of contexts. Regarding worry, Baba said in his Discourses:

There are very few things in the mind which eat up as much energy as worry. It is one of the most difficult things not to worry about anything. Worry is experienced when things go wrong, but in relation to past happenings it is idle merely to wish that they might have been otherwise. The frozen past is what it is, and no amount of worrying is going to make it other than what it has been. But the limited ego-mind identifies itself with its past, gets entangled with it and keeps alive the pangs of frustrated desires. Thus worry continues to grow into the mental life of man until the ego-mind is burdened by the past. Worry is also experienced in relation to the future when this future is expected to be disagreeable in some way. In this case it seeks to justify itself as a necessary part of the attempt to prepare for coping with the anticipated situations. But, things can never be helped merely by worrying. Besides, many of the things which are anticipated never turn up, or if they do occur, they turn out to be much more acceptable than they were expected to be. Worry is the product of feverish imagination working under the stimulus of desires. It is a living through of sufferings which are mostly our own creation. Worry has never done anyone any good, and it is very much worse than mere dissipation of psychic energy, for it substantially curtails the joy and fullness of life. (34)

Not worrying also had deeper implications when the instruction came from Baba, as some of the cards indicated by adding the phrase, "I will help you." In a written account of personal interviews with Westerners, we read:

Baba is handed over a written statement by an aged man. It is the confessions of the confused state of his life which makes him believe that he is fallen and feels utterly broken.

BABA: I know. No need to tell me, and I will explain. Don't worry. When one is meant for spiritual advancement, one has either love or lust to the extreme. This lust must be converted into love. What is lust, but a craving to satisfy physical senses, and love is the craving of the soul. I know all about you and will spiritually help you. Never think that you have fallen so as not to rise again.

And in another interview:

BABA: Ask if she wants to speak about anything to me.

(She nodded refusal.)

BABA: I understand, because what can explanations mean when internal help is at hand? Real help is spiritual help, and not by words and explanations. I'll help her. (A tear trickles down her cheek. She feels intensely and lays her hand in Baba's, and sits there for about a minute, when Baba asks her to leave, she goes away full of feeling and much affected.) (35)

Even beyond Baba's ability and authority to help people spiritually, Baba's injunction not to worry rests ultimately on his teaching that God is the only Reality and all else is illusion:

The phenomenal world of finite objects is utterly illusory and false. It has three states: (1) the gross, (2) the subtle, and (3) the mental. Although all these three states of the world are false, they represent different degrees of falseness. Thus the gross world is farthest from Truth (God), the subtle world is nearer Truth, and the mental world is nearest to Truth. All three states of the world owe their existence to cosmic illusion which the soul has to transcend before it realises the Truth.

The sole purpose of creation is that the soul should be able to enjoy the infinite state of the Oversoul consciously. Although the soul eternally exists in and with the Oversoul in an inviolable unity, it cannot be conscious of this unity independently of the creation, which is within the limitations of time. It must therefore evolve consciousness before it can realise its true status and nature as being identical with the Infinite Oversoul, which is One without a second. The evolution of consciousness required the duality of subject and object--the centre of consciousness and the environment (i.e., the world of forms). (36)

This phrase, "Don't worry, be happy" has come into the larger culture, but many times the origin of the quote is forgotten. In 1988, Bobby McFerrin's hit song, "Don't Worry, Be Happy" was included in the sound track of the movie "Cocktails", and became a hit single the following year. In an interview by Bruce Fessier for USA Weekend Magazine (37), Mr. McFerrin is quoted as saying, "Whenever you see a poster of Meher Baba, it usually says 'Don't worry, be happy,' which is a pretty neat philosophy in four words, I think."

This song instantly broadcast Meher Baba's most popularly known saying across the entire world. It conveyed one aspect of Baba's teachings about not worrying, namely, that "Cheerfulness is a divine quality--it helps others." (Compare, "If you worry your face will frown, and that will bring everybody down.")

Meher Baba conveyed this message many times in many different contexts, and each instance reveals its own nuance and depth. The following is taken from a recording made in New York on July 20, 1956 when Meher Baba was visiting America. Baba's disciple Eruch Jessawalla is translating Baba's hand-gestures, which Baba used to communicate at this point in his life while observing silence.

Baba: Baba told Ella, that all this is nothing but a dream, only God is reality. And God is in everything, in everyone. When Ella goes to sleep and sees the dream in her sleep, her body is on the bed. Yet, she goes about, goes to a party, enjoys a good dinner, eats well, feels happy; and there is a situation when she feels really sorry. She suffers. Both pain and pleasure are there; although the body is there on the bed! (It) doesn't go anywhere, doesn't leave the bed. And yet, Ella enjoys. When Baba comes there in that dream, while she is enjoying or, while she is suffering or weeping, and Baba tells her, "Ella, don't worry: all this will disappear--it is nothing but a dream!"

Lady: (in audience, at back of room) Louder.

Baba: (Eruch speaking louder) --Baba appears there in dream, and tells Ella, "Don't worry, Ella, don't weep--all this is nothing but a dream--it will disappear."

But she says, "Baba, how?! I suffer! How can I forget all that? I see you, I see others. Some are troubling me, some are giving me pleasure. How can I believe that it is nothing but a dream? And how will that dream disappear? They are all there, actual, they are like reality!"

But, no sooner she wakes up in the morning, then she suddenly realizes that she saw a dream, and Baba had come in (the) dream, and Baba was explaining that it was nothing but a dream, and she should not suffer, or should not weep. But she didn't listen to Baba. And then she starts weeping while she is doing her daily work, remembering the dream of the night.

Then Baba told Ella, "Ella, that was a dream when you were sleeping, but Baba says this is another dream. While you are living and working, while you are sitting here near me. All that you see here, this New York City, and the Baba-lovers here, and Baba Himself sitting here, and the siren that you hear, are nothing but illusion. It's a dream!"

Then Ella would say, "Baba, this is too much! I can't believe that. Because, I see them actually! (some people are giggling) They talk to me, I hear it, I hear them talking to me, I see you here sitting near me, explaining (to) me."

Still Baba insists by saying, "Ella, no, it is nothing but a dream!" Then, after years, after Baba's Grace, Ella suddenly wakes up from this vacant dream. Then what does she find? She finds only God is real. And infinite. And that bliss, the experience of that infinite bliss, unlimited, continual, is there. Then she will realize that what Baba said was true.

Christ had said the same thing. Why did He undergo crucifixion? Because humanity would never listen to Him. He said the same thing: "I am the Reality. All follow Me. Wake up from the dream!" None listened. Few, of course were there--the "circle" was there. The same thing is repeated. That's why I tell you, "Love Me, more and more." And... make others love Me.

Through your own example, make others happy. God will listen to that. No sooner you make others happy, God knows immediately. He is pleased. No amount of prayer, meditation, rites, rituals and ceremonies will please God. He is deaf then, totally deaf. But, to help others, to serve others, at the cost of your own happiness, immediately, God knows about it, God hears it, your actions, your activities and is pleased.(38) [Listen to the original audio recording of the above quote (used by permission).]

In this article, I have tried to trace some of the highlights of Meher Baba's contacts with the West and with America in particular. If one accepts the explanation given in the recorded interchange above, we are seeing only the outward and historical side of a two-sided process. If Meher Baba was, as I believe, the true Self in each of us, then these contacts were tantamount to our own Self coming into our dream to wake us up to who we really are. Baba might contact famous Hollywood actors and filmmakers one day, and then visit with a few penniless seekers living on the beach the next. A baby who was destined to dedicate his life to Baba might just happen to end up in the same town for a night, or have a near-brush with Baba's close followers as a boy. Learned experts might become disenchanted over some point of philosophy or inexplicable method of Baba's working, while a young girl who had gone down paths that left her burdened with guilt might experience his forgiveness. I don't think we can hope to entirely understand Baba's method of working as he made these contacts. We can, however, gain a sense of the grandeur and scope of one who, having awakened from this dream we are all dreaming, is tapping each of us on the shoulder in turn, "Wake up, wake up!"


I have discovered yet another personal synchronistic connection with Meher Baba. My parents retired in Franklin, NC in the late 1970's, and I always felt there was something magical about that area. In 2007, I learned that Meher Baba and party drove through Franklin in 1952, and that Baba remarked on the area a bit further north (near Lake Ocoee) as having a spiritual atmosphere owing to its connection with the Native Americans who had lived there.

1) Listen, Humanity, pg. 250 paperback

2) Glimpses of the God-Man, Vol. V, pg. 73

3) Lord Meher page 1419

4) Ibid page 2122

5) Baba wrote this book under extremely austere conditions, and it appears to have either been something for posterity, to be released at a future date when mankind is ready for it, or (in my opinion) a part of what Baba called his "universal work" so that the writing of it had a direct impact on humanity, or perhaps both.

6) A spiritually perfect being can express perfection in any field, including an understanding of politics, whenever necessary. Don Stevens, a former vice-president of Standard Oil who worked professionally with many of the best business minds in the Western U.S., told me that he was surprised to find in discussions of business matters with Meher Baba, that Baba was equal or superior to the top people in this field as well.--SS

7) Glow International, Feb. 1991, pp. 11-12.

8) In effect, as I would interpret, helping him by dealing a blow to his "spiritual ego", since Gandhi was popularly called "Mahatma", and perhaps was developing creeping ideas of his own importance and how pure he was being, which is an ever-present danger to even advanced spiritual aspirants. One cannot put a genuine spiritual master in a "box" and expect only polite behavior from him, though this is not to be used as an excuse for the behavior of pretenders.

9) Glow International, November 1977, page 20.

10) Ibid Feb. 1991, pg. 12

11) Ibid Feb. 1996, pg. 5

12) Ibid Nov. 1991, pg. 11

13) Ibid Nov. 1991, pg. 16

14) Lord Meher page 1546

15) Ibid page 1616

16) Ibid page 1656 (See also this discourse by Meher Baba on the same subject.)

17) Ibid page 1659. See also this similar account from "The Dance of Love: My Life with Meher Baba" by Margaret Craske

18) It appears that Meher Baba was pestered into this decision, as a reference in Glow International, Nov. 1997, page 7, mentions "The attempt on the part of some followers to get Baba to break His silence to an audience at the Hollywood Bowl..." I confirmed that it was Baba's Western followers who initiated this idea, in private correspondence with the editor of Glow International. One of Meher Baba's methods was seemingly giving in to people who pestered him to agree with some particular course of action, but the results never turned out as expected by the pesterer.

19) Lord Meher, pg. 1664

20) Meher Baba's silence, and the breaking of it, remain a mystery and there are many opinions and interpretations, even regarding whether he did in fact break it or not. In my personal opinion, it was a symbolic statement on many levels. At the same time it will be an actual in-flooding of spirituality into the modern world which will spiritually "jump start" each person, depending on his or her inner receptivity, in a way most conducive for that individual's progress. Finally, I feel it stands as a kind of grand "koan," the full understanding of which would require being in Baba's own state of consciousness.

21) The Dunites, pg. 12. See also www.beachcalifornia.com/halcyon.html. Many of Meher Baba's followers came from Theosophy, and Baba met with some prominent Theosophists, but that organization had its eyes set on another teacher, Krishnamurti, as being the Avatar (he later disavowed it) and as an organization does not seem to have accepted Baba's spiritual authority

22) Ibid pg. 22

23) The Awakener Magazine XI, No. 3, 1966

24) Meher Baba's Word and His Three Bridges, Done E. Stevens, pp. 82-83

25) Lord Meher, pp. 6398-6404

26) Ibid pp. 6412-6414

27) Ibid pg. 6468

28) Ibid pg. 6476

29) Rolling Stone Magazine, No. 71, Dec. 26, 1970

30) Glow International, November 1997, page 7

31) "Mast" is a term that Meher Baba coined for spiritual pilgrims who become dazed and enchanted by their overpowering experiences of the inner planes of consciousness, who lose the ability to function normally in the world and outwardly appear to be mad. Baba went to extraordinary lengths to contact and help such persons, who, he said, also helped him in his spiritual work.

32) Per private conversation by author with Tom Riley

33) Glow International, February 1990 pg. 18

34) Discourses, Vol. III, page 121

35) The Answer: Conversations with Meher Baba, 1972

36) Discourses, Vol. II, page 139

37) USA Weekend, October 21-23, 1988

38) Glow International, August 1988, pp. 3-5

Special thanks to the following people who agreed to take the time to read the draft, give feedback and check for historical accuracy:

Naosherwan Anzar
Rick Chapman
David Fenster
Bruce Mattys
Valerie McKean
Tom Riley

Visit Pete Townshend's MBF website, where you can view in streaming video the remake of his film, "O Parvardigar," about Meher Baba. The soundtrack of the body of the film (after the introduction) is Pete Townshend singing his song by the same name, the words of which were derived from Meher Baba's "Master's Prayer." (Registration required.)

See a Stereo image of Meher Baba. (Click here for viewing instructions.)