Saturday, January 18, 2020

Meher Baba's Tiffin Lectures

A few months ago my wife shared with me the details of a problem a friend of ours was having. My immediate response was that she should keep a card with Meher Baba’s picture with her at all times and then talk to Baba whenever she was experiencing her problem. Frankly, I was a bit surprised by my response, because our friend was not a “Baba lover,” although she had heard about Baba from my wife and me. I would say that my wife’s response to my suggestion was somewhat ambivalent. She said that she would take the card and give it to her our friend when she felt it was the right time.

I agreed, but then realized that I was actually out of Baba cards to give her and called Sheriar Bookstore the next day for a fresh supply. I also, decided to order the book, Meher Baba’s Tiffin Lectures, a book I was only mildly interested in and might not have ordered at all if it hadn’t been for the cards.

In a few days the package arrived from Sheriar Press and my wife and I picked out “the right” Baba card for our friend and I began reading the Tiffin Lectures. The timing could not have been more perfect. Each and every talk seemed to speak directly to me and to all that I was personally going through at the time—it was, indeed, the perfect book at the perfect time.

The Tiffin Lectures consists of a series of talks given by Meher Baba in 1926 - 1927 to a small group of close followers. The feeling is casual and spontaneous, similar to the six volume collected talks of Upasani Maharaj and quite different from the polished form of Meher Baba’s God Speaks of later years. Though casual in feel, the talks themselves are very deep and most profound.

Those who have read my blogs (Embedded with the Kali Yuga) over the years know that though they are totally dedicated to Meher Baba and constantly reference Meher Baba’s statements and stories, I very seldom write a whole blog on a specific Baba book, my reason being that I believe that Meher Baba’s books speak for themselves and really need no interpretation from me. That said, I would like to talk about the Tiffin Lectures, not so much to explain Meher Baba’s words as to, so to speak, share the news of this incredible treasure.

One of the many statements that struck me was when Baba said that behind the gross (body/world) is the subtle; behind the subtle is the mind; behind the mind is the intellect; behind the intellect is the ego; and behind the ego is the TRUTH. The consciousness of the average human is gross; yogis have consciousness of the subtle; even more advanced souls have consciousness of the mind, and then the intellect, and then, as is the case with those who have reached the final plane of illusion, the plane from which one sees directly and has knowledge of TRUTH (God/Self), consciousness of the ego. But the Goal is consciousness of the TRUTH, consciousness as in direct experience as opposed to belief, or assumption, or conviction, or even sight, consciousness of oneself as the TRUTH (God/Self).

For me, this statement is a reminder that my consciousness, the consciousness that I experience; the consciousness that I inhabit day to day, moment to moment, is the furthest consciousness from the TRUTH. It is a reminder to me that I should not take things too seriously, not ignore or be inattentive, not to be arrogant about, or aloof from, my life as I experience it, but to always try to keep somewhere in mind, that all this, this world, this life, is as Baba calls it, bhas (an appearance, a notion, an impression, a similarity…illusion which is experienced as real even though it is not so). –Tiffin Lectures, glossary, page 599.

 All these explanations defy comprehension by the mind and intellect. Trying to understand is practically useless, unless one has gained the true experience of Realization. Without this Experience, however much you exert your brains, it is all cats and dogs in the end. You will never succeed in grasping Reality itself, but will hold in your hand only the wind of that Reality.” – Meher Baba’s Tiffin Lectures, page 121.

Meher Baba is always reminding us that explanations and teachings regarding the Truth are not the Truth and are not the experience of the Truth. So why does He spend so much time giving us these explanations? And why do so many of us make the effort and spend the time trying to absorb them?

It was a mild sunny early winter’s day in North Carolina and I was sitting in the sun in our yard drinking coffee and reading the Tiffin Lectures. The leaves had already fallen from the trees and covered the yard. There must have been millions of them. Something I read struck me and I wanted to save the place in the book. I reached down and picked up a leaf to mark the place, and at that moment this thought came into my mind; “If over the span of many lifetimes I marked every place in every book with every leaf in the whole yard, I still would not be even one step closer to realizing the Truth.”

So why does Meher Baba spend so much time giving us these explanations? And why do so many of us make the effort and spend the time trying to absorb them? Certainly there are more than a few people who would be happy to offer their explanations, but as for me, I’ve stopped trying, long ago, to fathom why Meher Baba does the things He does, resting comfortably in the conviction that, as Hafez said; “I am the slave of the Master who has released me from ignorance: Whatever my Master does is of the highest benefit to all concerned.”

And as for why I make the effort and spend the time trying to absorb them, all I can say is that it just brings me ineffable joy to do so.

Words that proceed from the Source of Truth have real meaning. But when men speak these words as their own, the words become meaningless.” – Meher Baba

I can’t explain why, or how, but I feel the truth of this statement whenever I hear the explanations and revelations of Meher Baba.

As a child, I would ask teachers, religious leaders, relatives, anyone who I thought might know, questions regarding things I could feel and yet not see or understand. I had questions, deep questions, about God and me and the relationship between us. Those who I asked were generally always eager to explain, but their explanations lacked authority—I now think it was because they did not really experience, and maybe not even fully believe, the truths that they espoused. They certainly did not appear to be leading their lives in light of these truths.

But Meher Baba it was different, right from the beginning I was quite sure that he knew what he was talking about and that his knowing was the result of his experience and his experience was the result of his knowing. I felt, I knew, that Meher Baba was the very Truth that he espoused and lived fully the Truth that he espoused, and  perhaps that is why his explanations and revelations touched that same one Truth in me in a way that nothing and no one ever had or could.

I have a friend who I met many years ago. He was very knowledgeable on the subject of wine, while I, however, knew next to nothing about wine. And so my friend took on the task to teach me about wine. One of the first things he did was to invite me to a dinner at which he opened a world class wine—it was a white Burgundy. He didn’t start with lesser wines and gradually work his way up; instead, he wanted me to experience the best first. Then, on other occasions, he did the same thing with other types of wines, always opening the best of what he had. Those wines became, for me, yardsticks by which I would later measure other wines that I drank.

I remember one of my early music teachers said something similar regarding the great classical guitarist Andre Segovia. He said that when he first heard Segovia he realized that Segovia was here (indicating with his hand at his chest) and that all other guitarists were here (indicating a lower position with his other hand—perhaps about a foot lower). He went on to say that after decades of listening to Segovia he came to realize that all the other guitarist were here (again indicating with hand  the same place as before), but that Segovia was here (indicating a much higher place than before—a place above the top of his head).

Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream;
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.”

How many times have I heard this said, in one form or another? But when Meher Baba says that this is all bhas, I feel, though perhaps seven veils away, an inkling of that Truth about creation and that part of creation that I experience as myself.

Do not feel at all anxious about anything. Do not fear anything. For what is it that you are anxious of, what do you feel or fear? All this that you see is mere bhas or imagination, since the very universe itself is bhas, a creation of imagination.” Meher Baba’s Tiffin Lectures, page 73.

It occurred to me that if bhas, aided and abetted by the powers of Maya, can be so compelling, could seem so real, could produce experiences that leave no doubt at all about their authenticity, then what must the experience of Reality be like? How much more compelling, real, authentic must be the experience of Absolute Reality and its expressions of Infinite Knowledge, Infinite Power and Existence, and Infinite Bliss—most especially Infinite Bliss?

I am reminded of the story of Hafez. As a young man Hafez was neither good looking nor wealthy. His chances of winning the attention, let alone the affection, of a beautiful young woman of royal birth were less than nil. Yet that was exactly his predicament after being totally smitten after, by chance, catching sight of a beautiful young princess one day in the marketplace.

Now there is a powerful, but incredibly dangerous, austerity that is known in the East as Chilla Nashini. It consists of staying inside a circle one draws on the ground around oneself for forty days and forty nights while complying with numerous severe injunctions regarding eating and sleeping. It is a very dangerous penance that can lead to insanity and death. But if one succeeds, any wish or wishes one may have are granted and then, upon one’s death, one achieves the state of Indra—King of the gods!

And it so happened, that Hafez undertook and successfully completed the penance and on the fortieth day an angel of God came to him and asked him what he wanted. Hafez looked at the angel and the angel was so incredibly beautiful that he totally forgot about the princess. If an angel of God is this beautiful, he thought, then how beautiful must be God. “I want to see God!” Hafez replied to the angel, and as the story goes, the angel led Hafez to a God-Realized Perfect Master who eventually made Hafez like Himself.

So if bhas, aided and abetted by the powers of Maya, can be so compelling, could seem so real, could produce experiences that leave no doubt at all about their authenticity, then what must the experience of Reality be like? How much more compelling, real, authentic must be the experience of Absolute Reality and its expressions of Infinite Knowledge, Infinite Power and Existence, and Infinite Bliss—most especially Infinite Bliss?

It is the nature of the mind to notice the dust on the mirror rather than the self that is reflected in it, as it is the nature of the mind to hear the scratches and pops on the record rather than the music it contains.

The only solution is to eliminate the dust, the scratches, and the pops, but one cannot do this for oneself—for one’s Self. The yogi can go only so far by his own efforts; at the end he needs the Sadguru to help him to make the final leap, the real leap, the incalculable leap, from illusion to Reality.

“You are like a stream that flows through all of time seeking union with

the sea. Nearing journey’s end, the stream flows into a vast desert and

is trapped in the sands. Weakening more and more, it tries to struggle

on, but finds its way to the sea blocked by a great mountain. Hopeless

and helpless, its life ebbing away into the sands, the stream cries out,

‘Oh help me Lord!’ and is answered by the voice of the wind.

‘I am the wind; you must give yourself to me. In my arms I will carry

you over the mountain as a cloud and as rain you will merge with the

‘But I will cease to be a stream. I will die!’

‘You will not die,’ whispered the wind. ‘Only your dream of yourself

as stream will end. Besides, where is your choice? A stream you can

no longer be. Give yourself to me, or be lost forever in the sands.’

And so, totally helpless and without hope, exhausted beyond belief, the

stream gave itself up into the arms of the wind and was carried as a

cloud beyond the mountain’s peaks. The cloud drifted over the sea

where seeing itself reflected in the water below, began to weep.

‘I await you. Come,’ welcomed the sea.

And the cloud released itself as tears of joy

and fell as rain into the sea.

‘We are not we, but one,’ spoke the golden sea and the stream, being

no more, heard the voice and recognized it as its own.”

The sea is God.
The sand is God.
The stream is God.
The wind is God.
The cloud is God.
And the rain that falls into the sea is God.

God is all and everything; God plays the roles of all and everything; and God is also beyond all and everything.
God as the wind speaks to Himself as the stream.
God as the cloud is the Sadguru who carries the stream to the sea.
And God as rain falls into Himself as the Sea.

Meher Baba reminds us of this. He has always reminded us of this. And because He is the Ancient One, All Merciful and Compassionate, indeed He is that Reality which is our Real Self,  He is always helping us to awaken to this Reality—helping himself as us to awaken to this Reality.

 If I had to choose one excerpt from Meher Baba’s Tiffin Lectures, one excerpt out of so many, that reminds me of who I really am and who I’m really not—the one excerpt that answers the question I began with as a child and have lived my entire life, I might choose this statement—so profound in its simplicity:

We are all playing are parts on the stage of this world, and only when the play of life finishes do we realize that this was all a dream. Therefore, do not throw your heart and mind into this imaginary world! Do not get attached to Maya. Take the name of God, and seek and surrender to those who have become one with God that they may safely advise and guide you aright!” – Meher Baba’s Tiffin Lectures, page 73.


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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Relationship -- the game that the Infinite plays with Itself

Relationship is a game that the Infinite plays with Itself.  If you want to learn about this game, read Meher Baba’s book God Speaks.

In the dedication Meher Baba states; “To the Universe—the illusion that sustains Reality.”

An amazing statement! Even some of Meher Baba’s closest followers thought that He had got that wrong! Illusion sustains Reality, how can that be? But, as the Perfect Master Hafez once said;

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.” – Hafez

Perhaps the first most obvious question is; if the Infinite is Infinite, then nothing exists that is not the Infinite; so how is it possible for the Infinite to have a relationship with itself?

And secondly, why would the Infinite even need, or want, to have a relationship with Itself?

Of course the mind, especially the Western mind, is addicted to knowing—to trying to know—  and so Meher Baba was generally very patient with our questions and our doubts. But in the conclusion of God Speaks, Meher Baba reminds us;

Nevertheless, all that is said here and explained about God to appease the intellectual convulsions of the mind of man, still lacks many more words and further explanations because the TRUTH is that Reality must be realized and the divinity of God must be attained and lived.

In human terms we can say that relationship is something—a something—that can exist between two entities. It is also something—a something—that can exist among more than two entities.

We speak about a marriage between two people—two distinct individuals, but one marriage—one relationship. By its very nature, a relationship is something—a something—that makes one thing out of two or more entities.

There are all kinds of relationships; between the bird and the tree, the tree and the earth, the earth and the sky;  relationships between a man and a woman, the rich and the poor, the good and the bad, the sane and the insane, the heathy and the sick….

Relationships exist among all the people of a nation and among all nations in the world. Planets are in relationships with other planets and in relationship to the sun, the sun with other suns, galaxies with other galaxies… on and on throughout all of creation. It might be said that the very nature of creation itself is relationship and that the ultimate question is about the relationship that exists between this creation and its Creator.

Meher Baba reveals the essence of any and all relationships on page one of  God Speaks:

All souls were, are and will be in the Over-Soul.
Souls are all One.
All souls are infinite and eternal. They are formless.
All souls are One; there is no difference in souls or in their being and existence as souls.
            There is a difference in the consciousness of souls;
there is a difference in the planes of consciousness of souls;
there is a difference in the experience of souls and thus there is a difference in the state of souls.”

What is a soul?

A soul is a drop of the Ocean of the Over-Soul. The drop is of the Ocean; the drop is the Ocean; the drop is one with the Ocean.

What is the Ocean of the Over-Soul?

The Ocean is all of the drops of the Ocean. In Reality no distinction exists; but in illusion distinction exists as consciousness, planes of consciousness, and experience.

But how can there even be a drop of an Ocean which is Infinite? Does not the state of a drop imply some part of the Ocean as being, as becoming, separated from the Ocean?

And if the Ocean is Infinite, than nothing can be other, or outside, of the Infinite; therefore, how can a drop even exist?

Meher Baba explains that the existence of the drop is an illusion—a delusion—an imagination of the Ocean Itself.

Then, what gives the drop its apparent reality as a drop?

Meher Baba tells us that three bubbles apparently surround the drop—the soul. There is a bubble of mind He calls the mental body, a bubble of energy that He calls the subtle body, and a bubble of form He calls the gross body. It is these three bodies, actually the consciousness of these three bodies, which creates the illusion of existence of the drop and its separateness from the ocean.

So might we ask what’s the point of it all the apparent-lies, the illusions, the delusions, the bubbles, etc.?

Again, Meher Baba tell us that the point—the purpose—of this game of drops and bubbles is for the drop to gain consciousness of itself as the Ocean.

So that original one, in order to consciously experience itself—its oneness—makes itself appear to itself as two, so that these two can, in the end, unite and experience consciously and eternally its  original oneness that it always was, is, and will be. 

But is there another word, perhaps a better word, than relationship to describe this game? Do we dare say the word is love?

Rumi once said; “The tale of love must be heard from love itself, for like the mirror, it is both mute and expressive.”

And on another occasion he was heard to say; “And when the subject turned to love, the quill broke and paper tore!” – Ibid

But can more be said? Is there anything more to say? And to whom can we turn to for the truth? No doubt, that is for each to decide for oneself, but as for me, I turn to the words of Meher Baba:

The development of love is conditioned and sustained by the tension of duality. God has to suffer apparent differentiation into a multiplicity of souls in order to carry on the game of love. They are His own forms, and in relation to them He at once assumes the roles of the divine Lover and the divine Beloved. As the Beloved, He is the real and the ultimate object of their appreciation. As the divine Lover, He is their real and ultimate savior, drawing them back to Himself.” – Discourses, 7th edition, pp. 115-116

The attraction and repulsion of one magnet to another; the orbits of the planets circling the sun; and what about the hunter and the prey; are these not all the expression of love at different levels?

Then, there is human love and hate, and there is also Divine love—the love of the Creator for the creation? Does not relationship exist at the core of all and everything in creation and therefore, does not love exist as the core—the reality—of all of creation, no matter how much to the contrary it may appears to the limited mind?

There is the story of a king who asked his minister why God periodically takes birth in His creation in human form. The minister put off the question, saying it was far too weighty a question for such a beautiful day and that instead the king should have a nice picnic aboard the royal barge.

And so the barge set sail on the river with the king, his young son, the minister, and a whole royal retinue of soldiers, guards, and servants.

It was indeed a beautiful day, for a while, but soon the weather changed; the sky turned dark and rainy, and winds whipped the waters into menacing waves. And then, at the height of the storm, the minister picked up the king’s young son and through him into the raging waters! Without the slightest hesitation, the king leapt into the water and saved his son.

As soon as they were safely aboard, the weather again abruptly changed, and the sky was clear and sunny, the winds were gone, and the waters were calm.

Of course, the king was furious and demanded an explanation from his minister who immediately replied; 

“You yourself jumped into the water to save your son, even though you had a whole retinue of soldiers and guards who were ready, willing, and able to jump into the water to save him. But you saved him yourself because of love, and that is the answer to the question you asked me this morning—this is why God comes again and again into His creation—the answer is always the same, the answer is love!”

    (c) copyright Michael Kovitz 12/13/2019

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