The Divine Theme of Meher Baba
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. The essay is fairly long so I have broken it up into a number of entries. Since the thoughts expressed are at times rather deep and dense, I would very much appreciate hearing from my readers any questions or comments the ideas inspire.
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 these 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 unending Divine bliss. In this state, creation and all of its beings and paraphernalia are seen to have been an illusion — mere 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 become aware of itself as God — to awaken. Creation, through the processes of evolution, reincarnation, and involution is the mechanism of this awakening.
Meher Baba names the Original First state of God — God’s deep, dreamless, sleep state — the Beyond the Beyond State of God. In this Original First State of God there is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness, though both are latent therein.
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, sorted out through the process of reincarnation, refined in the process of involution, and serves as God’s seeing of Himself in the state of Realization.
Of these four stages of process, perhaps the most familiar term is evolution, but Meher Baba’s 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 embodied soul through its association with the various forms of creation.
As consciousness is gained through the process of evolution, sanskaras, or what Meher Baba calls impressions, are also acquired. In can be said sanskaras are the by-product of the process of evolution — the process of acquiring consciousness.
These sanskaras/impressions serve a dual function in evolution. First, the existence of sanskaras impels experience that furthers new gains in consciousness, and second, because the sanskaras tend to cling to consciousness, like dust on the surface of a mirror, sanskaras prevent the mirror of consciousness from reflecting to the eye of God as embodied 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.
Through the process of reincarnation God as embodied soul identifies Himself in various and false dualistic states as woman and man, rich and poor, healthy and sick, intelligent and dull, white and black, etc. etc.
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 uses the term spending to describe this process of loosening of sanskaras. The spending, or exchanging of sanskaras during reincarnation does not generally increase or decreased the total number of sanskaras, but does, over the span of many life-times, loosen the hold of these impressions on consciousness so that they can be removed later during the process 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.
All of creation consists of three spheres of existence named the gross sphere, the subtle sphere, and the mental sphere. These three spheres comprise illusion. Reality, the experience of God, lay beyond the three spheres.
Science is aware of and explores the gross sphere only. The gross sphere consists of the universe, and all its matter and anti-matter, planets, stars, black holes, and life forms from stones, to vegetable life, to insects, worms, birds, animals, and human beings.
The subtle and the mental spheres, let alone Reality, are beyond science’s scope and capacity for inquiry because consciousness of these spheres is dependent on consciousness which is subtle and mental and forms (bodies) that are subtle and mental.
The human form has within it all three forms (bodies) but the average human being is only conscious of his gross body. When he becomes conscious of his subtle body, he loses consciousness of his gross body, but the body itself is retained.
As is the case with illusion, to experience Reality, Divine Consciousness and a Divine body are necessary. This requirement of a proper form and consciousness 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.
Like the human experience of waking up from the deep, dreamless sleep state proceeds through the intermediate dream state before achieving the fully awake state, so God’s awakening through the experience of the individualized soul also proceeds through the intermediate dream state. God’s intermediate dream state is what we are calling creation.
In most cases, the soul passes without consciousness first through the mental sphere and then the subtle sphere and gains first consciousness in and of the gross sphere. This first consciousness is most limited.
Gaining more and more consciousness through the process of identifying with and associating with and experiencing higher and higher forms, the soul finally achieves the last gross form, the human form, and then eventually “turns around” and passes again through the subtle and mental spheres, but this time with full consciousness of these spheres and all there experiences, before returning to its original state of God with full consciousness — God’s fully awake I am God state
Meher Baba names the first phase of the process evolution. In short, 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.
While 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 Baba 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”
Rumi puts it all so beautifully when he says,
“I died as mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet, once more, I shall die as man,
To soar with angels blessed; but even from angelhood
I must pass on;
All except God doth parish…”
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, experiencing the play of infinite opposites, sometimes as woman or man, rich or poor, etc. for God as an embodied soul in creation to sufficiently loosen the bonds of sanskaras accumulated during evolution and reincarnation before it can enter the phase of the Divine process called involution.
During reincarnation the consciousness of the soul remains centered in gross sanskaras and continues to identify itself — take itself to be — a gross conscious human being 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 involution does God as the individualized soul in creation lose consciousness of the gross body and the gross world and become conscious of the subtle body and the subtle world. At this stage, the consciousness of the soul, while still inhabiting a gross human form, begins to experience itself as pure energy inhabiting the higher planes of the subtle sphere.
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—and all six of these planes are still illusion and the experiences of God as embodied soul are also illusion. For all their powers, all their experiences of angels and gods and divine beings, the first six planes are all illusion, vacant dreams within the vacant dream state of God.
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, the Mischievous Chicken looked back and saw all the other chickens that had followed him out. It was there and then that he felt his responsibility and took upon himself 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 the more recent Avataric incarnations. He tells us these historical personages are, in essence, unique garments that inform 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 “worn” by the Avatar are discarded and not used again. Therefore, for example, the Avatar, as Jesus, will not come again, but the Avatar, the Ancient One, continues to come again and again every seven hundred to fourteen hundred years.
Since the whole process of awakening is about consciousness, the mechanism that works through all of creation to create and perfect consciousness is very significant. Meher Baba explains this mechanism fully in his book Discourses — (available through Sheriar Press.)
I will attempt to summarize the process, but first I would like to say something about my use of the word mechanism; I chose this word to convey the sense that the process we are talking about is mechanical — that one thing automatically leads to the next — in other words; the whole process is under the law cause and effect.
There is an old saying that even God cannot beat the ace of spades with a deuce of clubs, meaning, that once the game has begun, the rules of the game must be observed or else the game itself would be destroyed. Meher Baba explains that God, in the state of the Avatar and the perfect masters, can adjust and temper the process i.e. He says, the Avatar does not take on the sanskaras (impressions) of an individual, but can take on the suffering, in whole or in part, which is the result of that individual’s sanskaras. This is the meaning behind the statement that Christ took on our sins.
Returning to the process, the mechanism itself, Meher Baba tell us that the whole thing — the process — the mechanism — the creation — began with a first action that occurred 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 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, the Word of the New Testament, 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 throughout all of the gross, subtle, and mental spheres of creation.
The result of action is consciousness, but this consciousness is always stained 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 an impression is not the form that is capable of experiencing that impression. Therefore, a new form must be taken which is capable of experiencing the impressions previously formed.
This new form is, in fact, nothing other than the consolidated mold 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 in this way:
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 sanskaras that need to be experienced.
This cycle characterizes the process of evolution. As stated previously, evolution is complete when full consciousness has been gained and God in the state of an embodied individualized soul begins to associate with the last evolutionary form — the human form. During reincarnation, since consciousness is already fully developed, no more consciousness remains to be achieved and consequently the sum total of sanskaras is not further increased. Therefore 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. An example of this spending of sanskaras is the envy of the beggar at the king. By the action of envy, the beggar sews the seeds that will make him a king in another life. Conversely, if the king is haughty and looks down upon the beggar, then he has sewed the seed of experiencing a future life as a beggar.
As a result of this experiencing of opposites over numerous lifetimes, gross sanskaras get thinned out sufficiently to bring God as the embodied individualized soul to the door of involution. Involution is the next step in the process. 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 own 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 their gross physical bodies; instead, he sees and interacts with them as pure energy or, in the case of the mentally conscious pilgrims on the fifth and sixth plane, as pure thought and pure feeling respectively.
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’s consciousness is fully established on the first subtle plane this astral link is severed 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 to the gross world.
Every plane has a heaven. These heavens are not the heaven and hell referred to by many Christians and Muslims. Meher 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 of that plane. One must come to the station, i.e. leave the heaven, before he 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 by the pilgrim on the first plane. The pilgrim on the first plane is bursting with inspiration inspired by experiences of subtle colors and sounds, light that dazzles and enchants him, and the celestial music of angels that inhabit the higher planes of the subtle world. The inspiration the first plane pilgrim experiences effects 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 gross years for the pilgrim to progress to the next plane, but with the help of a perfect master the journey can be speed 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 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.
Heaven and hell, as well as 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. After death — the dropping of the physical gross body — gross conscious individuals in the state of reincarnation do not directly experience the second plane. What they do is experience is the subjective states of heaven and hell, according to the unique sanskaric patterns carried by each individual.
Heaven and hell are a kind of mechanism that helps the individual to balance out their sanskaras in preparation for their next incarnation, but once the individual achieves the state of involution, i.e. is on the higher planes, or is directly connected to and under the guidance of the Avatar or a Perfect Master, the need to experience the heaven and hell states between incarnations become unnecessary.
Unlike gross conscious individuals who experience their gross sanskaras in the states of heaven and hell, but do not direct experience the plane itself, the pilgrim of the second plane experiences the plane directly and 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. It is from this plane 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 into creation from the deep sleep state of God, 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 God Realization they do 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 is all about power and the mental world is all about mind. Though very advanced in the realm of 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 about something, then that thought is instantly actualized. Instigated by the thought itself, entire worlds can be created or destroyed in an instant.
Obviously, the fourth plane pilgrim’s position is very precarious and needs help to avoid misusing his power. This help is given by God in the form of the nazar (watchful gaze) of the Avatar, perfect masters, or the masters of the fifth plane who keep his mind in check and his eyes perpetually roving.
The power of the fourth plane pilgrim is so incredible that if he, for even a moment, fixes his gaze on anything — man or god, planet or sun, etc. it is instantly destroyed. 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.
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 experiences himself as the aspect of mind which is thought and the sixth plane pilgrim actually experiences himself as the aspect of mind which is feeling.
The fifth plane pilgrim still retains his gross and subtle bodies, but now identifies only with his mental body. Gross and subtle conscious individuals see his gross and subtle bodies respectively, taking him to be those bodies, but the fifth plane pilgrim has no consciousness of those bodies at all.
Similarly, the sixth plane pilgrim retains his gross and subtle bodies, but now identifies only with his mental body. Gross and subtle conscious individuals see his gross and subtle bodies respectively and take him to be those bodies, but the sixth plane pilgrim has no consciousness of those bodies at all.
The fifth plane pilgrim has knowledge of God. This knowledge is real knowledge, real knowing, but the fifth plane pilgrim does not identify with this knowledge and consequently does not experience himself as God.
The sixth plane pilgrim “sees” God everywhere and in everything. His “seeing" is feeling, and although his state is indeed exalted, his journey is incomplete because he continues to experience himself as someone other than God. He “knows” that he is God, but does not experience himself as God.
Thus, 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, because all of evolution, reincarnation, and involution with all its powers and experiences are still illusion.
This posting concludes the summary of Meher Baba’s Divine Theme. It is, of course, only a summary and I highly recommend that those who are interested go to the source and read Meher Baba’s book God Speaks. I also highly recommend Bhau Kalchuri’s book The Nothing and the Everything. All of the points in this book, as well as the title, were given to Bhau by Meher Baba. I especially like it because it fleshes out the descriptions and experiences of the higher planes and sheds more light on what happens between God’s Whim and the beginning of creation.
If any of the readers of my blog wish further explanations or commentary on anything written in these eight posts, please leave a comment on my blog and I will follow up.
With the help of one who has achieved the perfection of the seventh plane, God, as pilgrim on the path, enters the seventh plane of consciousness. God as pilgrim, and simultaneously and without distinction, pilgrim as God, is now fully awake and blissfully experiences Himself as Infinite and Eternal — the All in All — the Drop who has become the Ocean.
This final step from illusion to Reality is, with one exception, always taken in a human body, living in, but not experiencing, our gross world. In most cases, after achieving Realization, God as pilgrim, pilgrim as God, drops his physical, subtle, and mental bubbles i.e. bodies within about forty-eight to seventy-two hours.
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 seven hundred to fourteen hundred years.
But not all God-Realized souls drop the body so soon, some stay in the body longer — for years or even decades — experiencing the same Divine Consciousness of God, but, depending on the degree of Divine Responsibility for Creation that was destined for each individualized soul in the beginning-less beginning, different degrees of consciousness of creation is retained. From least to most, Meher Baba names these God-Realized beings, Majzoob, Paramhansa, Jivan Mukta, and Perfect Master.
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.