Saturday, July 12, 2014

The New Life of Meher Baba

 “Grandfather, was your father one of Meher Baba’s New Life companions?”

“No dear, though he was a boyhood friend of Dr. Ghani who, as you know, accompanied Baba on the New Life and wrote the Song of the New Life. In the early days, father was not a part of Merwan’s (Meher Baba’s) circle of friends. Father was a little older and was already deeply attracted to and involved with Sufism. As a boy, Merwan was considered to be exceptional by all his friends, but He was still under the veil of vinyani sanskaras so neither he nor His friends had any idea of His Avataric status.”

“And that was the role of the five Perfect Masters of the time—to lift the veil of these vinyani sanskaras?”

“Yes my dear, to lift the veil and to establish His consciousness as the Avatar—to transmute His vinyani sanskaras into the Divine-free impressions called yogi-yogi sanskaras.

“Thank you dear grandfather.”

“And what, my dear, prompted your question?”

“It is because I have lately been thinking about Meher Baba’s New Life. Can we speak more about it?”

“Of course my dear. Please pour us a little more tea and we can sit here in the garden and talk until dinner is prepared.”

“I find it all so mysterious and so beautiful, this New Life phase of Meher Baba.”

“Yes, we begin by remembering that nothing that Meher Baba ever did was for Himself and, like His Silence, the New Life was no spiritual exercise or ceremony. Also too, we remember that Meher Baba always worked on many different levels and that most of the time we were only privy to the outer-most form of that work. No doubt, the New Life was sometimes a trying and testing time for His companions, but the New Life was not wholly and solely for them either.”

“It was also for us—for the future?”

“And perhaps for the past as well.  As you well know, Perfect Masters and their followers are seen to be in a Master-disciple relationship. This relationship is steeped in tradition and maintained by the disciples’ needs to establish their Master in a state and role of One who is beyond them and other than them. This is not altogether a bad thing—in order to see one’s own face one has to create a mirror to see oneself in.

“But the problem comes in when the person forgets that the face they are looking at in the mirror is his own face—and only a reflection of his face at that. In the spiritual case, the Perfect Master is the mirror for the disciple—is, in fact, the manifestation of the Reality of the disciple himself, but the disciple has long, long, ago forgotten that, forgotten that in Reality he is that very Master he worships as God in human form.

“But Meher Baba did away with that Master-disciple relationship in the New Life, while reminding His companions to not forget who He was—even when there was no outer manifestation of His divine state. In the Song of the New Life it is said:

‘There is no small or great now, for us all;
The questions of disciple, Master or Godhood no longer arise.
Brotherliness or fellow-feeling is the link that exists,
And this contributes to our present enjoyment of suffering

“And yet dear grandfather, there is also the reminder:

‘Dear ones, take seriously the words of Baba when he says:
"Although now I am on the same level with you all,
Yet all orders from me, good, bad, extraordinary,
You should all carry out immediately, leaving the result to God.”’

“Indeed, Indeed.”

“God exists indeed, and true are the Prophets
Every cycle has an Avatar and every moment has a Wali.
For us, however, it is only hopelessness and helplessness.
How else should I tell you what our New Life is?”
From Meher Baba’s Song of the New Life 

“You see my dear, the more practices and techniques there are, the more rituals, rites, penances, and codes of behavior, dress, and diet there are, in other words, the more external practices a teacher gives to his students, the easier it is for the student to give the appearance of following that teacher because the student’s ego is fed no matter whether the student succeeds or fails at the practices and techniques he attempts.

“The ego is a slippery fellow; he turns apparent success into pride and apparent failure into self-pity, but pride and self-pity don’t weaken the ego, on the contrary, they strengthen the ego—the nafs—the false-self of illusion. Beyond all the techniques and practices employed by spiritual teachers stands the teacher/student relationship itself.

“The teacher/student relationship is maintained through a series of both subtle and not so subtle cues and rules regarding how teachers and students speak to each other, approach each other, and, in general, behave in each other’s presence. Again, the more cues rules there are, the more room for the ego to assert itself and the more opportunities are created for both the teacher and the student to maintain the illusion of spiritual work and spiritual growth.

“You have been, my dear, to various ashrams and darbars, tell me how they differ from the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle, Beach, South Carolina."

“Grandfather, I find the Baba Center to be quite a different thing than any ashram I have ever visited. In most ashrams there is always a specific time that one awakens in the morning and go to sleep at night. There are also specific times for meditation, exercises, and satsang. Diet, which is usually vegetarian, is almost always regulated and even fashions of dress are sometimes encouraged if not enforced. In almost all cases, guests at ashrams come with the intention and purpose of trying to work on themselves under the guidance of the yogi or teacher. Ashrams and darbars, in my opinion are all about one’s own efforts—about what one does for oneself.

“And, dear granddaughter; how is it different at Meher Baba’s Center?”

“It is very different grandfather, as you know; there are, of course, some rules that mostly deal with external things—like wearing closed-toe shoes because of the snakes, like how the boats can be used, and the trails can be walked—there is the injunction against drugs and alcoholic beverages, and there is a time that guests are requested to return to their cabins at night. But, when one sleeps and when one wakes up is up to the individual guest. Should guests choose to eat their meals at the Center, they prepare their own food anyway they want to. They can eat vegetarian and they can eat meat.

“There are some beautiful places at the center, like the Lagoon Cabin, the Barn, and Baba’s House, where one can go to sit with Baba in His Silence, but meditation and prayer is not required—these practices are left to the individual. It is my feeling, that what one does in Baba’s places do not matter really—what one does is what one feels one needs to do to be comfortable—because it is really all about what Baba does. I go to Baba’s places, not to work on myself, but to let Baba work on me.”

“Do you make any effort to stay open to Baba’s atmosphere—to Baba’s love?”

“Not really, just being there is enough—is everything—is all I can do. My little boat is so small, Baba’s Ocean of Love is so vast—what can I do except to remember that He is the Captain of my ship?”

“Yes my dear, Baba’s Ocean of Love swallows His Ocean of Life; what possibility exists for us to resist?  That is the helplessness and hopelessness and promise of the New Life.”

“Baba’s New Life seems a bit like walking on the edge of a sword.”

“How do you mean that granddaughter?”

“There has always appeared to be two sides, the worldly life and the spiritual life. The worldly life is about family and fame—the pleasures of material success and the pain of dashed dreams. The spiritual life is about religious and spiritual practices, penances, teachers and techniques. But Meher Baba’s New Life seems neither worldly nor spiritual.”

“Quite true my dear, Baba’s Song of the New Life says, ‘this world or the next, hell or heaven, we no longer bother about; shaktis and siddis, occultism and miracles, we no longer think of. All these false impressions have been purged from the mind. What has value and importance for us now, is to live in the active present.’”

“Grandfather, please repeat Meher Baba’s New Life message; I find it so beautiful—like gazing at a distant star and simultaneously recognizing something closer to me than my own self.”

“Baba said;  “This New Life is endless, and even after my physical death it will be kept alive by those who live the life of complete renunciation of falsehood, lies, hatred, anger, greed and lust; and who, to accomplish all this, do no lustful actions, do no harm to anyone, do no backbiting, do not seek material possessions or power, who accept no homage, neither covet honor nor shun disgrace, and fear no one and nothing; by those who rely wholly and solely on God, and who love God purely for the sake of loving; who believe in the lovers of God and in the reality of Manifestation, and yet do not expect any spiritual or material reward; who do not let go the hand of Truth, and who, without being upset by calamities, bravely and wholeheartedly face all hardships with one hundred percent cheerfulness, and give no importance to caste, creed and religious ceremonies. This New Life will live by itself eternally, even if there is no one to live it.”

Even if the heavens fall,
Do not let go the Hand of Truth.
Let despair and disappointment ravage and destroy the garden of your life;
You beautify it once again by the seedlings of contentment and self-sufficiency
– From, The Song of the New Life – Meher Baba/Dr. Abdul Ghani Munsiff

“Grandfather, that is such an incredible statement; ‘Let despair and disappointment ravage and destroy the garden of your life…’ Please share with me your understanding of its meaning.”

“Yes, my dear, you are wise beyond your years to contemplate this statement. In one of the published versions of the New Life song it was even misprinted as let not despair and disappointment ravage and destroy the garden of your life. In both worldly life and the vast constellation of pseudo-spiritual teachings a tacit homage is paid to the apparent reality and importance of worldly existence. Both in life and in the pseudo-spiritual life there is the attempt to avoid that which stirs and disturbs. All contradiction is eschewed; mechanisms are put into place so that one is not able to see the various contradictory sides of his or her nature. What did our friend Mr. Gurdjieff call them?”


“Yes dear, like the buffers between railway cars absorbs the shocks of the cars when they bang together. But, the atmospheres that surround the Avatar and Perfect Masters are very different. Indeed, the Avatar and Perfect Masters are always seen to be stirring things up, disturbing the peace of their followers, bringing out the worst of them in a way that all can see—doing what life does in its own way for the man of the world, shaking him, disturbing his sleep by putting thorns in his bed and mosquitoes in his ears—doing what life does, but more intensely and more surgically.

“No doubt, this worldly dream is an essential component in the process of the awakening of the soul—for the intermediate dream state is necessary in order to pass from the deep-sleep state to the awake state. But to give it more importance than that—to ascribe to it significance in itself is to ascribe to it an importance that it does not deserve. To resist any aspect of worldly life, be it despair or happiness, disappointment or elation, takes us down the wrong path, because, in both the beginning and in the end they are aspects of an illusory and transitory dream-state. In Meher Baba’s New Life, despair and disappointment aren’t avoided, they are welcomed.

“God alone is real in both Its deep sleep state and Its fully awake state. Indeed, both are aspects of the same One Eternal State. Eternity has no beginning and therefore, no need of preservation. If there is no preservation there is no need of dissolution. It is only in God’s dream state that there is a beginning, a preservation, and a dissolution. Consider then animals and all the lower forms of creation. What is common to them all? Eating, sleeping, keeping from being eaten, and procreating. Are not all of these activities the pursuit of preservation?

“When consciousness inherits the human form, it inherits all four of these pursuits. Of course it is the myriad of sanskaras carried over from the lower forms that impel action in these four domains of activity and for many many lifetimes, no energy is left free to pursue any other actions. Eating, sleeping, keeping from being eaten, and procreating dominate the lives of human being.

“Even what passes for education and also recreation, on close inspection, reveals the working out of these four pursuits. And that is why you are so correct when you say that the statement; ‘Let despair and disappointment ravage and destroy the garden of your life…’ is so incredible, for it flies in the face of everything connected to the preservation of life. It denies the importance of life, not life as it represents the dream state and its role in awakening, but life as something that has reality in itself.

“But also too, let us not forget the rest of the statement; “You beautify it once again by the seedlings of contentment and self-sufficiency.” What does that mean to you my dear?

“Something I remember from Shams-e-Tabriz, “Ours is not a caravan of despair.”

“Indeed my dear, indeed.”

“God exists indeed, and true are the Prophets
Every cycle has an Avatar and every moment has a wali.
For us, however, it is only hopelessness and helplessness.
How else should I tell you what our New Life is?”
– From, The Song of the New Life – Meher Baba/Dr. Abdul Ghani Munsiff

“And Grandfather, please tell me your understanding of this statement, “For us it is only hopelessness and helplessness.”

“My dear, if one cannot find salvation in any of the three worlds, then one is indeed hopeless and helpless. Do you remember the story in the “Mahabharata,” when Yudhisthira, the Pandava king, after losing everything in a game of dice, including himself, then goes on to wager his wife, Draupadi, and loses her as well?”
“Yes I remember the story and the question she asked him, ‘If you had already lost yourself, then how could you have wagered me?’”

“Yes my dear, for if her husband was already lost, even to himself, then he could no longer win or lose anything, because there was no one there to win or lose—to take the experience of winning or losing.”

“This is very deep, grandfather.”

“Indeed. I remember how, as a boy, I was drawn to the state of silence. I did not care for much of the world—I did not desire wealth, or success, or fame, or women. I just wanted to be happy, and happiness for me meant quiet, a feeling of peace, avoiding disturbing activities. I did not like school, found it uninteresting and void of meaning. Interest and meaning I found within myself and the only outward activity that brought me happiness was listening to and playing music.

 “When I learned about spiritual teachings, I found that their goals and promises were in-line with what I sought. And so I began the various practices of meditation, self-remembering, conscious breathing, and the reading of sacred literature. All of them brought me some measure of inner peace.  I tried to shape my external life around these activities. I tried various drugs too, finding that they gave me experiences that were a glimpse and a taste of what I sought. But the problem was that all my efforts, even when moderately successful, were all temporary and could be sustained in the face of life. I began to lose hope and feel helpless.

“Then, by the grace of God, I learned about Meher Baba and began to explore His teachings. His teachings, and those of the Perfect Masters I learned about through Him, were something quite different than the spiritual teachings I had been following. This difference was very well expressed when earlier you talked about the difference between ashrams and the Meher Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and His Pilgrim Center in Meherabad, India.

“When my path finally ended in Him and I chose Him above everyone and everything, always and forever, my inner world began to transform and I felt some happiness—a different kind of happiness than I had ever experienced. A huge burden had been lifted from my shoulders, for I was no longer responsible for captaining my ship, He was now the Captain and a right good seaman He was, and all He asked from me was my love.

“But then a new kind of hopelessness and helplessness overcame me, because in the Kingdom of Love I was less than a pauper— I felt unworthy to even beg for crumbs at the table of my Beloved. After some time, it occurred to me that when asked, I would say that I loved Baba, but that I had never really told Meher Baba that I loved Him. I questioned myself; did I really love Him or did I love everything about Him? Did I love Him for Himself, or for what He represented and what I hoped would come to me from being with Him?

“I decided that I must tell Him that I loved Him, to just say simply and directly, ‘Meher Baba I love you.’ But if I had no love, then how could I give love—how could I tell Him I loved Him?”

“Grandfather, not unlike Yudhisthira wagering his wife after he had been lost.”

“Indeed my dear, indeed. But I concluded that if I tried, if I said the words from my heart, then He might help me. If my words were only an empty goblet, then perhaps, out of compassion, He would fill the goblet Himself with the wine of His love so that I could give it to Him. And so I began to tell Him that I loved Him. What more was there to say then, ‘Meher Baba, I love You; Meher Baba, I choose You; Meher Baba, I love you…”?

“Indeed Grandfather, indeed.”

We neither wail over lost hopes, nor complain about broken promises;
We neither covet honor, nor shun disgrace;
Backbiting we know not, nor do we fear anyone;
This is now the color of our New Life.
– From, The Song of the New Life – Meher Baba/Dr. Abdul Ghani Munsiff

“Granddaughter, in the three worlds of creation there is no freedom, only the illusion of freedom, and yet the eternally free soul identified with the three bodies that experience the three worlds continues to seek freedom in the worlds and not within itself. The musk deer run here and there in search of the source of the delicious scent which issues from its own body. Man searches for the key in the dark, believing that it will be found where it was lost rather than under the streetlamp—in the light.

“What is the opposite of freedom? The answer is slavery. A slave is not free. Man believes that to be free he must first stop being a slave, but beloved Eruch Jessawala often pointed out that the way to freedom lies in first becoming a slave—a slave to freedom—a slave to the One who is already free—a slave to a Perfect One—in his case, and ours, a slave to Meher Baba.”

“And Grandfather, what does the New Life mean to you?”

“My dear, I was blessed to be sitting in Mandali Hall in December of 1991 when Eruch Jessawala was asked by a young man when he first heard Meher Baba use the expression ‘The New Life.’ Eruch and a small group of followers had been with Baba on the New Life in 1949. It was a time of wandering and begging for food with Meher Baba playing the role of their beloved companion.

“But Eruch said that he had heard that Baba used the term, ‘The New Life,’ much earlier in London in the early 1930’s. He had heard the story from a woman who had been with Baba in those days, before Eruch was even with Baba.

“So the woman’s story, as told by Eruch in Mandali Hall in 1991, began with Baba’s first trip to the West in the early 1930’s. The woman said that Baba’s meetings with those few early Western followers were very intimidate. Baba never said much about Himself, but there was a feeling about Him that He was the One—He was the One Come Again and it was a time of bliss and love for these followers—how can it even be described? As Rumi said, ‘The tale of love must be heard from love itself…’   

"And so after a couple of weeks, after Baba had left, these followers returned to their families and friends. ‘Where were you?’ they were asked and they told them. ‘But why didn’t you tell us? Why could we not come to meet this Mr. Meher Baba?’ They explained that in Baba’s atmosphere of love and bliss that everything else was forgotten—that He was not just an extraordinary man—He was something else altogether.

“Baba visited two more times and again the same thing happened and the friends and families were left out. They were all quite upset by this and so the close followers contacted Meher Baba to apprise Him of the situation and ask what they should do. Meher Baba responded by telling them that on His next visit a day would be arranged for new people who wanted to meet Him. And so it happened…

“Now on the day that they came to be in His presence the atmosphere was relaxed and intimate and filled feelings of love and bliss. At some point a woman appeared in the doorway; no one knew who she was. As she stood in the doorway her attention was naturally drawn to the center of attention, to the man sitting in the chair—to Meher Baba. Seeing Him she fell to the floor and began sobbing and weeping.

“When she was brought to Meher Baba, she fell at His feet, continuing to weep and sob. Baba reached down and brought her up to rest her head on His lap. After a while the sobbing and weeping died away and Baba through gestures interpreted by one of the Mandali said to her, ‘You are so young and so beautiful, you are so healthy—why are you weeping and sobbing like this?’ ‘Yes, replied the woman, I know I am young, I know I am beautiful and healthy, and I am wealthy too, yet I am so miserable that all I want is to do is to commit suicide.’

“‘Commit suicide,’ said Baba, ‘then why don’t you commit suicide? Who is stopping you?’ And with that Baba took the woman’s head and pushed it down to His feet and said, ‘Do it now! Commit suicide at my feet!’ Again there were more sobs and weeping and again it died down and Baba said, ‘Now you have done it, you have committed suicide! Your old life is over, now it is time for you to live the New Life by loving and remembering Me.’

“And that’s how it was that Eruch came to understand the meaning of Meher Baba’s New Life.

“My dear, how else should I tell you what our New Life is?”

“O Parvardigar! O Ocean of infinite mercy! Baba, with great humility, implores You to bestow upon him courage and help him so that he will not retrace his steps during the Manonash phase. Forgive him for his trespasses due to weakness of his mind and give him such courage that he will never tell a lie, never hurt the feelings of anyone, will not do any injustice to anybody, and that he will not harass his companions who are serving him faithfully and wholeheartedly. And, bestow upon him such grace that, while abiding by all the conditions and fulfilling them, he brings about the end of the endless New Life in four months through the Manonash phase.” In December of 1951, Meher Baba culminated the New Life in a phase called Manonash (the annihilation of the mind). He had dictated this prayer a month earlier in November on 1951.

“Grandfather, what is your understanding of the meaning and significance of the Manonash phase of the Baba’s New Life?”

“Granddaughter, Meher Baba lived all of the various phases of the New Life, not for Himself, but for all souls in creation. In this living, Baba became a seeker with strengths and weaknesses, desires, cravings, and weaknesses. Was He acting? Was He playing a role? My feeling is that He consciously became what He appeared to be—a man with a mind—a limited mind. In the Old Life Baba’s mind was Universal—God’s mind in man—but in the New Life He dissociated Himself from His Universal mind and began associating Himself with the limited mind of an ordinary human being.

“Why would He do this? Again, it is only my understanding; He needed to associate with this limited mind in order to abnegate it—to renounce it—and then annihilate it, without annihilating the consciousness which was acquired through it. Once the house is built and can stand alone, the temporary scaffolding initially erected for its construction is torn down.”

“And so Grandfather, limited mind is lost but consciousness remains?”

“Yes. You know dear, in the dreamless deep sleep state of man mind is stopped. When mind is stopped, there is God. But in the deep sleep state when mind is stopped, consciousness is lost and consequently there is no experience of the state of God. As Baba said, if you can be in the deep sleep state and remain conscious, you would experience the state of God—specifically the first state of God called Nirvana. Come with me to my room and I will read you something…”

“What is it Grandfather?”

“It is a message from Meher Baba that was printed and sent out in February of 1952 to Baba lovers around the world. Please read it out loud to us my dear.” (My deepest gratitude to the Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Trust for making this message available to all).

“‘God is everywhere and does everything.
God is within us and knows everything.
God is without us and sees everything.
God is beyond us and IS everything.
God is beyond us and IS everything.

‘To try to understand with the mind that which the mind can never understand is futile; and to try to express by sounds of language and in the form of words the transcendental state of the Soul, is even more futile. All that can be said and has been said, and will be said by those who live and experience that State is, that when the false self is lost, the Real Self is found; that the birth of Real can only follow the death of the false; and that dying to ourselves the true death which ends all dying is the only way to perpetual life.

‘This means that when the mind with its satellites, desires, cravings, longings, is completely consumed by the fire of Divine Love, then the infinite, indestructible, indivisible, eternal Self is manifested. This is Manonash, the annihilation of the false, limited, miserable, ignorant, destructible “I”, to be replaced by the Real “I”, the possessor of Infinite Knowledge, Love, Power, Peace, Bliss and Glory, in its unchangeable existence.

‘Manonash results in this glorious state in which plurality goes and Unity comes, ignorance goes and Knowledge comes, binding goes and Freedom comes. We are all permanently lodged in this shoreless Ocean of Infinite Knowledge, and yet are infinitely ignorant of it, until the mind, which is the source of this ignorance, vanishes forever: for ignorance ceases to exist when the mind ceases to exist!

‘Unless and until ignorance is removed and Knowledge is gained, the Knowledge whereby the Divine Life is experienced and lived, everything pertaining to the spiritual seems paradoxical.
‘God whom we do not see, we say is real: and the world that we do see, we say is false. In experience, what exists for us does not really exist: and what does not exist for us, really exists.

‘We must lose ourselves in order to find ourselves. Thus loss itself is gain.

‘We must die to self to live in God. Thus death means life.

‘We must become completely void inside to be completely possessed by God. Thus complete emptiness means absolute Fullness.

‘We must become naked of self-hood by possessing nothing, so as to be absorbed in the infinity of God. Thus nothing, means everything.

‘To sum up my Manonash work in short:
  1. I feel in all truth that the four months’ Manonash work has been done by me, by the help of God, to my entire satisfaction.
  2. The result of this work must bear fruit, sooner or later; either in the immediate present, or sometime later, or in the distant future.
  3. The result will bring Freedom to us all in proportion to our merits of Love, Faith and Service.
  4. This Freedom will be freedom from ignorance, and will be the Knowledge that we always were, are and will be One with God.
  5. This Knowledge will make us realize and experience Infinite Love, Power, Bliss and Peace, which we always possessed and knew not of.’” – Meher Baba
“My dear you appear very thoughtful.”

“Indeed I am Grandfather. I enjoy my life mostly and enjoy it most especially when I am thinking about Meher Baba and talking about Meher Baba in one way or another to others. Still, every day after I repeat the three prayers that Meher Baba gave us and I sit for fifteen minutes trying only to think about Him, I find that my mind wanders here and there and I cannot control it and keep it for very long on Baba.

“It is as if I am sitting at His door waiting for Him to open it but am unable to stay awake and keep from dreaming. I see now that the door is none other than my own mind and it is the annihilation of that mind, without losing consciousness, which leads to Unity, Freedom, and the unchangeable existence of which Baba speaks.”

“And how long are you ready to wait?”

“As long as it takes—but not one moment longer.”

“Indeed my dear granddaughter, to live one’s life at door of the Beloved’s abode, not concerned with the worldly life or the spiritual life, to attend, without attachment or interest in personal gain—or loss—to the life that is put in front of us to live, that is indeed the living of Meher Baba’s New Life.”

“Yes, dear grandfather, that must be it.”

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