During the 20th century many great Spiritual teachers came from India, to bring the ancient teachings of our country to the West. Among these were Ramana Maharshi, Jiddu Krishnamurti and Sri Aurobindo, whom I have introduced you to already. Others include Paramahansa Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and the person I introduce to you today, Meher Baba. None of these great Souls came to bring a new religion to the West, but to deepen man’s understanding of what it is to be human, to open hearts and minds to the great truth that we are all one in the Supreme, there is no separation. Their message was one of Love of Truth. God is Love, and Love is Truth.
Meher Baba is a very interesting Soul. He came on this earth on February 25th, 1894, born to devout Zoroastrian parents in Poona, Western India. His birth name is Merwan Sheriar Irani. In some ways he was born into spirituality. Before marriage, his father had spent eight years roaming as a dervish in Persia, (his country of origin), followed by ten years wandering as a faqir in India.
His own spiritual journey began in 1913 when he began to spend time with an old Sufi Master, a woman, Hazrat Babajan.
One evening Babajan kissed him on the forehead and his third eye opened spontaneously. He spent the following three days in a state of bliss. For the next seven years he received her teachings as well as the teachings of other great Masters.
One of these was the Saint you all know, Sai Baba of Shirdi. At first Sai Baba did not want to teach him, but after seeing him in prayer one day, he declared three times:” Parvardigar, Parvardigar, Parvardigar.” This is a Sufi term for God the Sustainer, called Vishnu in Hinduism. Sai Baba introduced him to the great Hindu Master, Upasani Maharaj, who greeted him by throwing a rock at his forehead, the same spot that had been kissed by Hazrat Babajan. Upasani gave him Divine Knowledge over those seven years, and these teachings form the core of one his most famous books, God Speaks. This book reminds me of Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, in that it is a book with very high energy that reveals itself over many readings.
He began to attract followers of his own, and it was these first followers who gave him the name Meher Baba, which means Compassionate Father. He set up an ashram in central India which he called Meherabad. Spiritual seekers from all castes and religions were welcome, as he said his work was “to bring together all religions and cults like beads on one string, and revitalise them for individual and collective needs.” From the start, he dedicated himself to setting up projects for the education of children, opening hospitals and dispensaries, feeding and clothing the destitute, taking care of lepers, the mentally ill, and he had a special place in his heart for those he called Masts, people experiencing a Divine madness. Over the years he set up seven ashrams for these Masts, involving himself in everything, from cleaning the toilets, to feeding and bathing them, as well as working with them privately to help them on their spiritual journey. As he explained: “Mind stopped, is God. Mind working, is man. Mind slowed down, is mast. Mind working fast, is mad.”
In July 1925 Meher Baba announced that he would be silent for the rest of his life, saying “All things that are real are given and received in silence.” From this time he communicated only through an alphabet board, and later through hand gestures and facial expressions that his close disciples would interpret. He began travelling the world from 1931. His first trip was to Iran, and then London, via France. By coincidence, Mahatma Gandhi was on the same steam ship and asked to meet him. They met three times on that trip, and Gandhi had great respect for the political and spiritual advice Baba offered. He visited London a number of times over the years, as well as the United States, Australia, China, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Switzerland, France and Italy. On one of his trips to Italy he spent almost 24 hours in the cave of St. Francis of Assisi. In 1958 he travelled to the United States to visit the Meher Spiritual Centre in South Carolina for the third and final time.
Most of the last decade of his life was spent in seclusion at Meherabad, doing inner work “to give a spiritual push to humanity.” His health was poor during these years, but he continued to see his disciples privately, and kept in touch through correspondence with his followers all over the world. He left his body on 31st January 1969.
Meher Baba’s teaching was based on what he called the Realities, which were:
· The only Real Existence is that of the One God, who is the Self in each of us,
· The only Real Love is love of God, which brings an intense yearning to know and become one with Him,
· The only Real Sacrifice is that in pursuit of Real Love, all things, including the body, mind and status, are sacrificed,
· The only Real Renunciation is that which abandons all selfish thoughts and desires,
· The only Real Knowledge is the knowledge that God resides in everyone, saint or sinner.
It is, like the teachings of Christ, Buddha, Rama, Krishna and all the great saints, a teaching of love. I leave you with this quote from Meher Baba himself: “The Path of Love is a continual sacrifice; and what gets sacrificed are the lover’s thoughts of “I”, until at last comes the time when….he willingly surrenders his entire being to the Beloved and has no thought of self left….One who surrenders has no existence other than the Beloved.” May you be inspired to travel the Path of Love.