“The Sojourn of the Soul is a Thrilling Divine Romance,” Meher Baba said.
“Romance” is a key word here for most of those who find Meher Baba (or are found by him) and who begin their long journey with him. Aspects of the word are the same in a spiritual romance with the Divine Beloved as they are in a worldly romance. One thinks all the time of the Beloved, gifts are exchanged, and the smallest of love tokens becomes a very precious possession.
Which makes it hard to understand a recent argument over the value of possessing items Baba had owned or touched. It was one of those senseless exchanges which doesn’t really form a basis for an argument, anyway. It was on a par with a family member or friend butting into a love affair, only in this case that’s Love with a capital “L”. And the butting-in usually comes from some cold heart, which has never experienced the joys of a romance – worldly or spiritual. The balance between head and heart is obviously missing.
What’s even more disconcerting about the romance-bashing is that accounts of Meher Baba’s participation in that Divine romance are easily found.
Surely, many of us remember that participation: a handkerchief that had wiped his own face, given by his own hand to an old lover. A sadra, a pair of well-worn sandals, a strand of hair, a rose from a garland pressed in a copy of Seven Stars to Morning, that even touched the heart of a customs officer; Baba sent flowers from those garlands around to his lovers staying at hotels in Poona in 1962. He sent as well the coconuts his eastern lovers had laid at his feet, and we cracked them open and ate them at once – prasad from the hand of the Master. A piece of the stone floor from Baba’s room in Guruprasad. A pillow on which his head rested on a train journey, treasured by one of his western mandali. A ring given to an early western disciple. It never left her finger and it was buried with her when she died.
Baba with his own hands distributed gifts sent to western women by Mehera at the 1958 Sahavas at Meher Spiritual Center. Over the years when Baba’s sister, Mani, sent photos of Baba to his lovers, each photo was touched by Baba before it was sent, and he knew the individuals who would receive them. He frequently did the same for the small buttons which held his picture. Some were fortunate enough to receive Baba’s signature, cut from original letters. Archival-minded people hate that one.
All of that tells me that the romantic mementos were Meher Baba’s idea. When you come right down to it, I never saw one speck of evidence that Meher Baba was given to meaningless gestures of any kind. So if you haven’t yet come to the romantic part of the “Sojourn of the Soul,” just wait. If you are ever to balance head and heart, then your turn is coming. In the meantime, you might try to be a hair more understanding of people for whom the romance is an important part of their relationship with Meher Baba.