The Divine Theme of Meher Baba
The Divine Theme
This essay is intended as a brief introduction to the Divine Theme of Meher Baba. It originated as a series of emails I sent to a friend who was only minimally acquainted with the teachings of Meher Baba.
Most all of the material used in this introduction can be found in greater detail in the books God Speaks, The Discourses, and The Nothing and the Everything. These books are available through Sheriar Press in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and other online sources.
I would like to begin with the words of Meher Baba from the conclusion of his book God Speaks:
“God cannot be explained, He cannot be argued about, He cannot be theorized, nor can He be discussed and understood. God can only be lived.
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 the Reality must be realized and the divinity of God must be attained and lived.
To understand the infinite, eternal Reality is not the Goal of individualized beings in the Illusion of Creation, because the Reality can never be understood; it is to be realized by conscious experience.
Therefore, the Goal is to realize the Reality and attain the ‘I am God’ state in human form.”
Meher Baba talks about ten states of God. Since nothing exists beyond, or before, or outside of God, the ten states include everything. To create an overview, these original ten states can be condensed into three.
1.In the first state, God is asleep. He is so asleep that he is not even aware of his own existence. It is comparable to our own deep sleep state. It is dreamless.
2.In the second state, God is beginning to wake up. This is the intermediate dream state between deep sleep and the fully awake state. In this state, God dreams himself to be the entire creation and everything and everyone within it. It is comparable to our own dream state.
3.In the third state, God has awakened and experiences his true nature as eternal, infinite, all knowing, and all-powerful. God experiences Reality, it is a state of unendingly bliss. In this state, creation and all of its beings and paraphernalia are seen to have been an illusion—just vacant dreams within a dream.
Meher Baba suggests an analogy that likens God to an ocean—a shoreless, fathomless ocean. The ocean awakens drop by drop. When a drop begins the process of awakening it begins to dream the dream of creation. Baba refers to this drop as an individualized soul. The goal of the ocean, manifested through each drop, is to bec ome aware of itself as God—to awaken. Creation, through the processes of evolution, reincarnation, and involution is the mechanism of this awakening.
In the Original First state of God, (Meher Baba calls this state the Beyond Beyond State), there is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness, though both are latent. Without consciousness, God cannot know himself as God. Consciousness is like a mirror that God uses to see himself. It is acquired through the process of evolution, but this evolution is not the Darwinian evolution so well known to science. The fundamental difference being that Darwinian evolution is concerned with the connectivity and relationship of gross forms from lower to higher, while Meher Baba’s evolution is concerned with the consciousness gained by the individualized soul through associations with the various forms of creation.
As consciousness is gained through the process of evolution, sanskaras are also acquired. Sanskaras are impressions that serve a dual function in evolution. First, the existence of sanskaras impels experience that furthers new gains in consciousness, and second, because the sankaras tend to cling to consciousness like dust on the surface of a mirror, sankaras prevents the mirror of consciousness from reflecting to the eye of the soul, its reality as God.
The New Testament speaks of this relationship between consciousness and sanskaras in the metaphor of the tarries that grow up with the wheat. It is only during the later process of involution that the wheat can be separated from the tarries.
Between evolution and involution is reincarnation. It begins automatically once full consciousness is acquired during the process of evolution and the human form is achieved.
Reincarnation is the mechanism through which the hold of the impressions on consciousness is sufficiently loosened so that they can be totally removed, i.e. wiped away, during the next phase of involution.
Meher Baba tells us that reincarnation occurs on other planets that support human life, but that involution only occurs on our planet, the planet earth. Reincarnation and involution always occurs in the human form.
During the process of reincarnation sanskaras are spent. The term is used by Meher Baba to describe an exchange of sanskaras. In reincarnation, the sum total of sanskaras is generally neither increased nor decreased. This exchange, or spending, loosens the hold of these impressions on consciousness so that they can be removed later, during the process of involution. Through this process, gross impressions get exchanged for finer impressions, and so there is a general thinning out of gross impressions.
All of creation is comprised of three spheres of existence named the gross, the subtle, and the mental. What science identifies as the universe, with all its planets and stars, matter and anti-matter, planets, stars, black holes, etc. is contained in the gross sphere. The subtle and the mental spheres, let alone Reality, are beyond its capacity for inquiry.
To experience the subtle sphere a subtle form and subtle consciousness are necessary; to experience the mental sphere, a mental form and mental consciousness are necessary; and to experience Reality, Divine Consciousness and a Divine body are necessary. (The need of a proper form and consciousness to obtain a certain experience is spoken of in the parable in the New Testament about the man who was barred entrance to the wedding because he did not have the appropriate garment to wear.)
The sojourn of the soul usually proceeds without consciousness from the state of Reality through the mental, the subtle, and into the gross sphere to begin the process of acquiring and then perfecting consciousness necessary to eventually return consciously through the subtle, and mental spheres to complete its journey in the place it began—Reality.
Meher Baba names the first phase of the process evolution. During evolution, the soul systematically associates with and dissociates from (identifies with and loses identity with) the numerous gross forms from stone to metal, vegetable, insect, fish, reptile, bird, and animal forms. Through these associations, the soul acquires consciousness.
The final evolutionary form is the human form and, being the last, contains within itself all the previous lower forms.
Continuing to describe and explain the details of this incredible journey, Meher Baba continually reminds us however, that this journey is a journeyless journey. In reality, the soul never goes anywhere or does anything. The whole journey is, in fact, an illusion within Illusion for it takes place in the dream state of God. Yet, it is a necessary illusion. Meher suggests the nature of the relationship that exists between Illusion and Reality in the dedication to his book God Speaks.
“To the Universe—
the Illusion that sustains Reality”
With the achievement of the human form, consciousness is full and complete—but it is not perfected. (The dust of sanskaras still obscures the surface of the mirror.) The soul now enters reincarnation, the second phase of its journey.
It generally takes millions of incarnations in the human form, sometimes as man or woman, rich or poor, healthy or sick, sane or insane, Hindu or Muslim, Christian or Jew, etc. etc. etc. for the soul to complete the phase of reincarnation.
During this time, consciousness and identity continues to be centered in gross sanskaras and the soul continues to identify itself with the gross human body living in the gross world. In reincarnation, there is awareness of thoughts and feelings that emanate from the subtle and mental bodies, but there is no direct consciousness of these bodies or identification with them.
Only during the process of involution, does the individualized soul loses consciousness of the gross body and the gross world and becomes conscious of the subtle body and the subtle world. At this stage, the consciousness of the individual soul, while still inhabiting a gross human form, experiences the higher planes of the subtle sphere and becomes aware of itself and the universe it finds itself in, as pure energy.
The spiritual planes consist of seven different stages. The first three planes exist in the subtle world. The fourth plane stands half in the subtle world and half in the mental world. The fifth and sixth planes are both in the mental world. Meher Baba tells us that the seventh plane is the goal and the destiny of all souls and ultimately, all souls reach that goal. There are many formulations used to describe this achievement; God Realization, The Self, Self Realization, Union with God, Becoming God, The Kingdom of Heaven, The Real Awakening, Reality, etc.—many ways of describing the same one thing.
Meher Baba once drew a picture of Himself as chicken. He called it the Mischievous Chicken and explained that it was the first chicken to emerge from under the wing of the Mother Hen (the Original First Deep Sleep State of God) and journey through evolution, reincarnation, and involution to realize the Goal. After reaching the Goal he looked back and saw all the other chickens that had followed him out. It was there and then that he took on the burden of helping all the other chickens to realize the Goal also. The name given to this first soul to reach the Goal and take upon Himself this burden of responsibility is the Ancient One, Avatar, Christ, Rasool, or Messiah.
The Ancient One comes again and again and though the form of His message is seen to change to conform to the needs of the times the essence of His message is always the same, “God alone is Real and the destiny of all souls is to recognize that Reality as oneself.” Likewise, though the form of the work of the Avatar changes with the exigencies of time and situation, His work also, always remains the same—to give to all of creation a universal spiritual push towards the Goal and to take upon Himself the burden of the suffering acquired by each soul in its journeyless journey to Self.
Meher Baba has identified Krishna, Ram, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus, Mohammed, and Himself as a few of the more recent Avataric incarnations. He tells us these historical personages are, in essence, unique garments that informed the Avataric Presence at particular times in particular places. For example, Jesus was the name of the man who informed the Christ, i.e. the garment that clothed the Avataric presence. That garment was used and then discarded. All of the garments of the Avatar are discarded and not used again. Therefore, the Avatar as Jesus will not come again, but the Avatar, the Ancient One, continues to come again and again—Meher Baba tells us, every seven hundred to fourteen hundred years.
Since the whole process of awakening is about consciousness, the mechanism that creates and perfects consciousness is very significant. Meher Baba explains this mechanism fully in his book Discourses. (Also available through Sheriar Press.)
This mechanism can be seen in the cycle that begins with a first action that occurs in the Original Deep Sleep State of God. Meher Baba names this first action Lahar. He said that no word can adequately describe the phenomena, but Lahar comes the closest.Literally, Lahar means whim, and the implication is that this first action is without any cause. It just manifests spontaneously. The Lahar is the first action and this first action is also the first cause. The first cause results in a first effect and thereby establishes the law of cause and effect that manifests all of creation and its gross, subtle, and mental spheres.
The result of action is consciousness, but this consciousness is always tinged by the unique qualities of that action. This tinge is called a Sanskara. A sanskara is an impression that is formed as a result of some action. Once this impression is formed, and consciousness becomes aware of it, then a need is created to experience that impression. To experience these new impressions an appropriate new action is necessary and for this action, an appropriate new form is necessary because the form that creates the new sanskara is not capable of experiencing it. Therefore, a new form must be taken to experience the new sanskaras. This new form is, in fact, nothing other than the consolidated mould of the impressions gathered in the previous life or form. Ironically, we are always living, i.e. experiencing, one lifetime behind the one we are currently living.
The cycle can be summarized thusly:
1.Action creates consciousness and sanskaras are the by-product of the process.
2.Consciousness of the sanskaras creates the need to experience the sanskaras.
3.To experience the sanskara, a new action and a new form are necessary.
4.This action then leads to more consciousness and more sankaras that need to be
This cycle characterizes the process of evolution. As stated previously, evolution is complete and its purpose fulfilled upon achievement of the human form. During the process of reincarnation that follows, the cycle continues, but with one important difference. Since consciousness is already fully developed, no more consciousness remains to be achieved and consequently the sum total of sankaras is not further increased.
The purpose of reincarnation is to loosen the hold of the already accumulated sanskaras on consciousness and this is achieved through the spending (exchanging) of one sanskara for another. A further result is that, over time, the gross sanskaras also, get thinned out sufficiently to enable involution, the next step in the process, to proceed. During the process of involution, the consciousness of the soul enters the subtle and mental spheres and experiences the higher planes of consciousness.
In addition to God Speaks and Discourses, numerous points were dictated by Meher Baba to Bhau Kalchuri, See. The Nothing and the Everything for a most descriptive view of the planes of consciousness.
The planes of consciousness are not in the gross, physical universe and the pilgrim, experiencing involution on the planes, is neither conscious of the gross, physical universe nor even his gross, physical, body. Though not conscious of his body, the body is retained and other gross conscious individuals can see and interact with the pilgrim through it. For his part, the pilgrim on the planes is generally aware of gross conscious individuals, but does not see there gross, physical bodies, instead, he sees and interacts with them as pure energy or, in the case of the mentally conscious pilgrim, as pure mind.
Between the gross sphere and the first plane of the subtle world is a connective membrane that links the gross sphere to the subtle sphere. This connective membrane is the sub-subtle sphere, or what is generally called, the astral world. Once the pilgrim is fully established on the first subtle plane this link is dissolved forever. Most, so-called, channeling occurs between the gross and the sub-subtle sphere. Pilgrims on the higher subtle and mental planes do not channel as such.
Every plane has a heaven. These heavens are not the heaven and hell referred to by many Christians and Muslims. Maher Baba offers this explanation. Planes are connected to each other. One journeys from plane to plane as one journeys from place to place by a railroad network. The station from which one journeys is like a railroad station in the center of a city. The station is the plane. The city, with all its unique experiences, is like the heaven. One must come to the station, i.e. leave the heaven, before they can journey to the next plan.
The pilgrim on the first plane sees gross forms as shadows. These shadows are energy because everything, including himself, is experienced as energy. The pilgrim on the first plane is bursting with inspiration inspired by unimaginable sights and visions, colors and sounds, light that dazzle and enchants him, and the celestial music of angels inhabiting the higher planes of the subtle world. The inspiration he feels affects other gross conscious people near him. Nothing in the gross sphere can match the unimaginable beauty and experiences of the first subtle plane.
It could take thousands of years for the pilgrim to progress to the next plane, but with the help of a perfect master the journey can be speeded up. In the second plane, the pilgrim becomes seized by subtle powers and gradually gains control of these powers by becoming their possessor. With these powers, the pilgrim can perform at will, minor miracles like transforming a withered tree into a green one, or visa versa. He can stop moving cars or trains, prevent airplanes from taking off, or fill dry wells with water.
The section of the second plane called the heaven of the second plane has two sections and these sections are the heaven and hell that are experienced by the gross conscious soul after death.
All the planes of the subtle and the mental spheres are internal states; they have no physical reality and cannot be located in gross space. Individuals in the state of reincarnation, after death, do not experience the second plane but only the subjective states of heaven and hell, in accordance with their unique sanskaric patterns. Heaven and hell is a kind of mechanism that helps the individual to balance out their sanskaras in preparation for their next incarnation.
Once the individual achieves the state of involution, the need to experience the heaven and hell states between incarnations become unnecessary.
The pilgrim in involution, who has consciousness of the second plane, can imbibe the blissful state of heaven and avoid the pain of hell by the exercise of their will.
The third plane of the subtle world is a realm of even greater powers. This plane is where major miracles such as giving sight to the blind, speech to the mute, and hearing to the deaf are performed. Dead animals can be brought back to life and the minds of all gross conscious individuals, anywhere in the world, can be read at will.
In the heaven of the third plane, the pilgrim can see and interact with angels, for this heaven is the realm of the gods. It includes all the Hindu gods and deities who are, in fact, the Greek and Roman gods as well.
Meher Baba explains that archangels and angels are souls who, in their journey from the deep sleep state, become conscious while descending through the planes. The average soul does not experience any consciousness until reaching the gross sphere.
Meher Baba further explains that for archangels and angels to complete their journey to awakening they have to take one lifetime in the human form and condition.
The fourth plane pilgrim is between the subtle and the mental world with, so to speak, a foot in both. The subtle world was all about power and the mental world is all about mind. Though very advanced in power, the pilgrim of the fourth plane has not yet mastered his mind. The combination is very dangerous because if a fourth plane pilgrim so much as has a thought, then that thought is instantly actualized. Instigated by the thought itself, entire worlds can be created or destroyed and the minds of men and angels can be influenced. Obviously, the pilgrim needs help at this stage and the Nazar (watchful gaze) of perfect masters and masters of the fifth plane is on the fourth plane pilgrim. Meher Baba tells us that Kuber is the name given to a fourth plane pilgrim.
The fifth and sixth planes are in the mental world. The fifth plane pilgrim gains mastery over the section of mind that controls thought and the sixth plane pilgrim gains mastery over the section of mind that controls feeling. In fact, the fifth plane pilgrim actually becomes thought and the sixth plane pilgrim actually becomes feeling. The fifth plane pilgrim knows everything and hears the divine sound of God while the sixth plane pilgrim sees God everywhere and as everything.
All that remains for the sixth plane pilgrim is to become one with God. His state is indeed exalted, yet his journey is incomplete because he continues to experience himself as other than God. Retaining the sense of false individuality, he is still in illusion—the second state or dream state of God. Meher Baba explains, that the gap, or distance, between all of evolution, reincarnation, and involution is infinitesimally smaller than the chasm that exists between the sixth plane and the seventh plane of reality i.e. the third and fully awake state of God.
With the help of one who has achieved the perfection of the seventh plane, the pilgrim enters the seventh plane of consciousness. He is now fully awake and experiences the infinite power, knowledge and bliss of God. He becomes God eternally. Usually, after achieving this state the pilgrim drops his physical, subtle, and mental bubbles i.e. bodies within about forty-eight to seventy-two hours. This dropping of the body, in no way affects the experience of the individualized soul with regard to experience of his Godhood, but does affect his consciousness of creation. After dropping the body, all consciousness of creation is lost and no further lifetimes are lived. In other words, God conscious souls never reincarnate. (The only exception is the very first realized soul i.e. the mischievous chicken, who out of compassion for and responsibility to all of creation, comes back again and again, every 750-1,400 years.)
Some God realized souls stay in the body longer—for years or even decades. The divine consciousness of all these beings is the same but the degree of creation consciousness differs depending on the duties and responsibilities they take on with regard to the working and execution of the Avatar’s Divine Plan. There are always 56 God-Realized beings on the planet, five of which are Perfect Masters. These five maintain the most consciousness of and the most responsibility to creation. It is also their function to bring down, i.e. precipitate, the advent of the Avatar in the Avataric periods.
© Michael Kovitz 2003