It’s been a very long time since I’ve heard anyone mention the word “obedience” in connection with Meher Baba. When I first learned of Meher Baba, it was a word spoken and discussed often in relation to his orders, general and personal.
Why isn’t that so anymore? I’m not sure, but maybe it’s partly due to cultural changes, some subtle and some not so subtle. The idea of “following” a spiritual master was popular thirty or forty years ago, and following meant obeying. Not true anymore. Also, once Meher Baba announced he was the Avatar, the phrase “perfect master” was seldom applied to him. Cultural changes included, I think, the growth of a much stronger sense of independence, particularly by women, who began to feel they weren’t about to “follow” anyone. And it has included rejection of one traditional authority figure after another.
Ignoring the part of a spiritual commitment that demands obedience isn’t easy, either. You’re giving over part of yourself to another being. But, in the end, that is exactly what Meher Baba demands. “Obedience is greater than love,” he said. Sometimes he asked his followers if they “were willing” to obey him, as when the invitation went out for the 1958 Sahavas in Myrtle Beach.
I expect this is one of those things that one comes to over time, possibly over many lifetimes. I think that you would have to come to such a state of complete love for him that the only thought in your mind would be to please him, and you simply could not help doing so. Not a “sometimes” thing, at all.
Certainly, there are examples of that kind of obedience to Meher Baba. The mandali, of course. One of my favorite examples of it is Nonnie Gayley, who never once so much as asked Baba “why” when he told her to do something. She simply said, “Yes, Baba,” and immediately went off to do what he asked.
I suppose the rest of us are just going to have to get over our resistance to authority, even to Meher Baba’s authority. We’ll have to stop arguing over whether something is “an order.” And we’ll have to quit putting off obedience by spending years trying to interpret those orders, or requests, or wishes. Wouldn’t it be much easier to just give in and get on with the work of really following him?