Sunday, March 19, 2017

Lost in the Heavens (Part 5.)

Perhaps it is natural to think of others as if they are basically just like us; maybe just a little smarter or dumber, a little better or worse, a little more right or wrong, a little more or less talented, etc. Maybe that is why we are sometimes so surprised when someone thinks or acts differently than we do—even when it seems so “obvious,” to us, what is appropriate and what is not, what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad…

 And perhaps, for some of us, just the possibility of the existence of masts and other spiritually advanced souls begins to chip away at those unchallenged beliefs and assumptions that we make about ourselves, others, and the reality of our material universe and material existence. But what if that “reality” is not a reality at all? I think that even science has begun to ask that question and has begun to find data that suggests that the core of “reality” is not what it has previously and even relatively recently assumed it to be—that the basis of reality is not material, but thought.

Listen to the words of Meher Baba:

“When you sleep and dream you experience association with people, speaking with them and doing actions in relation to them, see all manner of objects in your surroundings, and feel happiness or unhappiness in regard to them all. Where do all these people and objects come from? Not from outside yourself but from within you. You create them for your own experiencing—and no one but you sees, knows about and experiences what you are seeing, knowing and experiencing. They exist only for you.

“In like manner, you are sitting in this room seeing these other persons and the objects in the room, and, in like manner, no one but you is seeing them and experiencing them—that is, seeing and experiencing them as you are seeing and experiencing them. They exist solely for you and have come from nowhere but from within you—you have created them for your experience of them.

“What is called your "awake-state," your daily life with all its associations and experiences, is only you dreaming and in your dream creating all the persons and objects in that dreaming for your experience of them; what is called your dreaming when asleep is but another dream within this dream.

“When you awake from your asleep-dreaming into your awake dream you know that the asleep-dreaming was only a dream. When you awake from your awake-dreaming you will know that you were the sole creator of both the dreams, and all the people, objects and situations contained in them—that they existed only in you and were for no one but you and were nothing but dream experiences of your own dreaming; and that you alone have Real Existence. (But), when real light appears, this darkness which you think is light disappears” – Stay with God, p. 167, Francis Brabazon © copyright 1977 Francis Brabazon

 During dinner with friends last night, and somewhere between the second and third bottles of wine, the subject of my blog came up and with it the recent posts on the masts. Someone asked how a mast can be distinguished from an ordinary madman. I answered that an ordinary person usually cannot tell—that even Meher Baba’s closest disciples who were given the task to bring masts to Baba made errors.

As the conversation wore on, someone suggested that masts were a lot like the mad—that they were similar. I suggested that was not the case, and that, in fact, the mad are more similar to “normal” human beings than they are to the masts. I then quoted Meher Baba, who, with His typically eloquent way of clarifying complex spiritual ideas said, “Mind working is man; mind working fast is mad; mind working slow is mast; and mind stopped (but still conscious) is God.”

The largest and most well-known mosque in India is popularly called Jama Masjid Mosque. It is located in Old Delhi and is a place I’ve visited a few times over a number the years while wandering through India. There are three extremely crowded lanes that lead to the great Mosque. It is difficult to describe the density of humanity on these paths traveling in and out of the mosque; one feels swept along like a little raft in a raging current.

 On each of my visits I have noticed two individuals, the same two individuals, and I have wondered about them, and though I have no way of telling if they are spiritually advanced or not, my intuition is that they are indeed extraordinary.

I have rendered this experience in literary form in a piece I wrote in 1996. On the morning after a great storm, the lover walks out into his yard and observes the chaos and destruction wrought by a great storm. Feeling overwhelmed, he calls upon his Divine Beloved who immediately appears, takes the lover by the hand, and together they go on an incredible journey to various spiritually significant places. One place they go is the Jama Masjid Mosque in Old Delhi.

“No sooner did he take my hand but a kind of curtain was pulled around me. Then it was gone and we were standing in the middle of a crowded lane that led to, what appeared to be, a very large mosque. A sea of people surged around us.

‘Where are we now?’ I asked. ‘Are we here to see this mosque?’

‘No,’ he answered and began walking in the direction of the great building. We took no more than a few steps and he stopped.

‘Look over there,’ he said, and pointed to the side of the road. I looked, but could not see what he trying to show me.

‘There,’ he pointed, ‘there, on the ground — the man!’

And then I saw him, a thin nearly naked man lying flat on the ground. His face was turned to the side and he was breathing in a very rapid rhythmic way. He was making strange sounds, but I couldn’t tell if he was saying anything.

Even more strange was that he had no arms, just two short stumps, one of which he continuously beat or flapped ferociously in the air. I was shocked and appalled by the sight and quickly turned away.

‘I don’t understand.’ I said. ‘Is he a beggar?’

‘Not a beggar, but a wayfarer,’ he replied.

‘What is he doing?’ I asked.

‘He is in a very high state of spiritual intoxication, he said. ‘He is totally unconscious of the physical universe, not even conscious of his own body.’

‘How did he get like that?’ I asked.

‘When he was just a child, he was given to a spiritual school. This school had knowledge of many ancient practices. You can say that this man is the result of certain experiments.’

‘Experiments!’ I exclaimed, unable to hide my revulsion. ‘What kind of experiments?’

‘Jesus referred to such practices when he said that there was once a time when the kingdom of heaven could be attained by violence.’

‘So what will become of this man?’ I asked.

‘I will help him,’ my companion replied, ‘he is very dear to me. But now, walk with me in the direction of the mosque, there is another man I want you to see.’

He gestured in the direction of a small gathering of people attending and man sitting on a raised platform in the middle of the road. He had no arms or legs and unlike the first man he was carefully dressed in clean white linen.

‘Is he spiritually intoxicated too?’ I ventured.

‘No,’ my companion said. ‘This man is very advanced, but he is salik.’

‘Salik?’  I asked.

‘Sober.’ He replied.

‘Is he the result of an experiment too?’

‘No, he is this way because of tremendous personal efforts he has made. He has undertaken great penances and made many sacrifices. His work has been intentional and conscious.’

‘Is there any connection between him and the other man?’ I asked.

‘Yes, this man is the first man’s spiritual master. He is his guide.’

I was very interested to know why my Beloved had taken me to see these two strange men, but before I could even formulate a question, the man on the platform had taken notice of my companion and began gesturing to his attendants who picked him up and turned him in our direction.

He and my Beloved stared into each other’s eyes. For a moment, they were completely still, I could feel it, and totally absorbed. Then, just as quickly as it had begun, it was over and my companion was walking away.

‘Come,’ he said. ‘This work is done!’

'That man seemed to know you,’ I said.

‘Yes, he is one of my few direct agents, and is the Spiritual Chargeman for this part of the world—he is responsible for all of its affairs.’”

(To be continued.)

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lost in the Heavens (Part 4.)

Meher Baba said that the third plane of the subtle world is a plane of incredible powers and in its heavens abides angels and gods.

In 1941 Meher Baba contacted Teli Baba.

 “A good mast, with an almost unbelievable habit of drinking whole bottles at a time of kerosene oil. His clothes and body were literally saturated with kerosene, and saliva flowed freely from his mouth, which was very dirty and ulcerated. He was brought to the traveler’s bungalow for contact, and Baba fed him and sat with him alone for two or three hours. He was then about forty years of age. He is a mast of the third plane.” The Wayfarers – Meher Baba with the God-Intoxicated, by William Donkin, © copyright, 1948, Adi K. Irani

He drinks kerosene! Yet he is conscious of the third plane of the subtle world—a world of incredible powers and experiences. As Bhau Kalchuri conveyed from Meher Baba in his book, The Nothing and the Everything,

… the third plane pilgrim can perform major miracles such as giving sight to the blind, making the crippled walk, bestowing speech to the mute or hearing to the deaf and giving life again to dead animals.”

Planes of consciousness have heavens. Heavens surround the planes like cities surround their railroad stations. The most efficacious way to get from plane to plane is to remain at the stations and not venture out into the allure of the cities. Such is the case with masts; masts drink the divine wine and become intoxicated; masts are lost in the heavens between the planes!

Meher Baba tells us that most masts become masts at some point in their lives, sometimes as a result of performing certain spiritual or yogic practices, but more often them not, it just happens to them without any real effort on their part. A madar-zad is one who is born a mast. In The Wayfarers, Dr. Donkin offers this description of a madar-zad contacted by Meher Baba in 1949. His name was never known;

“(He was) a moderately rare type of mast who appears to be an ordinary madman, is most of the time naked, and commonly roams about in dirty muddy places. His tastes in food are abnormal, and he will eat even raw flesh. He is a very restless fellow, wanders about by night and day, and seldom sits down or rests.

Another encounter with a madar-zad;

“A mere boy, about eight years old, who slept very little, and used to constantly repeat ‘La ilaha il allah’ (there is no God but the one God), while tossing his head. He was much revered in the locality of Uri, and people would come to him and ask that their prayers be fulfilled. He was brought to Baba for contact, at which time Baba ordered Ramju (one of Baba’s disciples) to give him a sheet the next day. Though he was a madar-zad mast, he had not at the time developed the traits of a typical madar-zad in full.” The Wayfarers – Meher Baba with the God-Intoxicated, by William Donkin, © copyright, 1948, Adi K. Irani

I have been in the presence of a mast named Mohamed on a few different occasions, and then there were a couple of times on the steps of an old and famous mosque in Old Delhi that I observed what I believed was another mast.

Mohamed the mast lived in Meherabad—Meherabad is home to Meher Baba’s tomb shrine and is the place of world pilgrimage for followers of Meher Baba. Mohamed’s story is amazing and unique. Here is a link where you can learn more about him and how he became a mast and how he came to live at Meherabad.

There is also a short video of him which, perhaps, conveys more about masts than anything that can be put into words. I highly recommend taking the time to visit this link. I will continue with my story on the other side, in the next post.

(To be continued.)

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Saturday, March 04, 2017

Lost in the Heavens (Part 3.)

Meher Baba took His group of disciples along the banks of the sacred Ganges to the Dashashwamedh Ghat, which is used for cremation and for those ceremonies that take place on the tenth day after death. Harihar Baba is an old mast, is blind, and sits on top of a boat there. He is on the fifth plane and is the Spiritual Chargeman of Benares…” The Wayfarers – Meher Baba with the God-Intoxicated, Page 209, by William Donkin, © copyright, 1948, Adi K. Irani

The fifth plane of consciousness is the first of the two planes that comprise the Mental World. Fifth plane pilgrims experience themselves, and all of creation, as thought. It is not that they think, “I am thought,” instead, they are thought itself, and their thinking bears little resemblance to the thinking of a gross conscious individual. Likewise, with regard to their “seeing,” they “see” thought and do not see the Gross World—the world experienced through gross consciousness—the world experienced during evolution and reincarnation.

It is said, that after reading a good story, one is left with more questions than when they began. Perhaps that is why I enjoy these stories of the masts. For instance, take the term, “Spiritual Chargeman of Benares.” What does that mean? In fact, it is some kind of a title, like a job description. We are used to thinking that the affairs of the world are in the hands of our governments and other power possessing individuals and organizations, not an old blind mast who sits on top of a boat?

The Wayfarers – Meher Baba with the God-Intoxicated, describes a number of different categories of masts. Generally speaking, masts often appear to have little or no concern for their outer appearance, the state of their hygiene, their food, lodgings, etc. though, in fact, they are often quite particular about these things, just not in the same way that ordinary human beings are.

In other words, masts are often quite particular about their non-particularity! For example, if a mast is not interested in bathing, and many masts have not bathed for decades, it is nearly impossible to get them to do so.  If a mast wishes to drink kerosene as his tasty beverage of choice, as was the case with one mast they encountered, then that is what he will drink — apparently with no harmful effects. Meher Baba tells us that the reason for what appears to us the bizarre behavior of masts is that they have no gross consciousness; that is, they are not physically conscious of their or other’s physical bodies, or indeed anything at all in the whole gross physical creation.

In speaking about the differences between the consciousnesses of various souls in creation, Meher Baba explained that what we call the individualized soul is a drop of the eternal, indivisible, infinite, ocean of God. In the case of an ordinary human being, that soul — that reality — is covered by three bubbles, one of mind called the mental body, one of energy called the subtle body, and one which is gross or physical.

The manifestation of these bodies is first from the Mental World, then to the Subtle World, and finally to the Gross World. In other words, the patterns experienced by gross consciousness is first determined in the Mental World, then energized in the Subtle World, and then manifested in the Gross World. For the typical soul entering creation, their consciousness is first centered in the Gross World and not the Subtle World or Mental World. It is very rare that a soul entering creation first becomes conscious of the Mental or Subtle Worlds. If they do, they acquire the states of Archangels and Angels respectively. But perhaps, that is story for another time…

Meher Baba has always been consistently clear on this point; consciousness can only be in one place at a time; those who are gross conscious are not experience subtle or mental consciousness; those who experience subtle consciousness, do not simultaneously experience gross or mental consciousness. Masts have either subtle or mental consciousness. They have gross bodies, but are not aware of them grossly. Subtle consciousness experiences the subtle world, the world of angels, and powers, and enchantments that are unimaginable to the ordinary human being. As Kabir said, “Until it is experienced, it is not true.”

Mental consciousness experiences itself as the mind, as thoughts and feelings. It is in the Mental World that one directly experiences God, though one still does not experience oneself as God! It goes without saying that the power of all these experiences encountered in planes and heavens of the Subtle and Mental worlds that are so powerful that the individual experiencing them can become overwhelmed and trapped in their enchantments. And this is the situation of the masts.

Chapter five of The Wayfarers is called “Those Who Bear Witness.” It consists of a number of encounters with masts and other spiritually advanced souls who spontaneously recognized Meher Baba without ever being given any information about him or his status.

Azim Khan Baba; (Described by Meher Baba as a high mast of Muttra. The date was October 14, 1946). When Meher Baba contacted him, Azim Khan Baba said to Him;

“You are Allah; you have brought forth the creation, and once in a thousand years you come down to see the play of what you have created.”

I remember once that Eruch Jessawala, one of Meher Baba’s closest disciples, was reflecting on a line from an Arti dedicated to Meher Baba. The line was, “Truth and Truth’s body, Divine Avatar.” Eruch said that if Truth ever descended into illusion without first cloaking Itself in a body—Truth’s body—it would annihilate all of illusion—all of creation. How many people look at photographs of Meher Baba and see everything from Einstein, to Frank Zappa; from devil, to angel, to God in human form.

Gross consciousness sees only the exterior of things—only the gross bubble; subtle consciousness see deeper—it sees the subtle bubble; and mental consciousness sees the mental bubble. Azim Khan Baba was a high mast, probably on the fourth or fifth plane of consciousness; what was he seeing when he said, “You are Allah; you have brought forth the creation, and once in a thousand years you come down to see the play of what you have created.”
In January 1947 Bhorwala Baba said of Meher Baba, “Meher Baba has in him the whole universe, he is the Master of everyone, and he is within every disciple. He is this world, that which is above it, and below it: he is in me and in everyone. He is the saint of saints; he is Tajuddin Baba; in one glance he sees the whole continent of India.” 

Meher Baba said that Bhorwala Baba was an Adept Pilgrim. Adept pilgrims are on the sixth plane of consciousness and experience themselves and all of creation as feeling. They are, they have become, feeling itself; their seeing is feeling. 

To get some kind of glimpse at the difference between an adept pilgrim’s state and that of a gross conscious individual, imagine sitting in your chair in North Carolina and thinking about something — like being on a beach in a tropical paradise. With your mind you imagine the ocean and the sand, the sun, and the feeling of the sun warming your skin. Then you open your eyes and there you are again, sitting in your chair in North Carolina. “Ah that was a great fantasy,” you say, tacitly affirming to yourself that your reality is your gross body, gross world, and gross consciousness. 

But the adept pilgrim has no gross orientation or identity at all—time and space, in the usual sense, does not exist for them at all.  Whatever it is that they are feeling is what they are and where they are. That which the average person of the world distinguishes as internal and external holds nothing of the same meaning for an adept pilgrim. They have no gross world or gross body to come back to, to re-orient to.

The sixth plane of consciousness is the highest plane before God-realization. Meher Baba says that sixth plane pilgrims see God everywhere and in everything, including themselves, and yet do not experience themselves as God. Try to imagine that!

(To be continued.)

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