Meher Baba said that suffering was a gift from him. An old friend of mine, who had a very large helping of that suffering during his short life, still had a sense of humor about it and one day called out, “Please, Baba, no more gifts. Surely someone else needs some of them.” That humorous response was a rarity, I’ve noticed.
Suffering comes in all guises, of course, but there’s an interesting phenomena among Baba people. Most human beings see suffering as a part of life, whether it be emotional or physical, and they deal with it as best they can. And they enjoy their happy, peaceful, non-suffering times to the hilt.
But I have seen many Baba people over the years who somehow came to the conclusion that life with Meher Baba meant suffering, period. They’re the other side of the coin, I suppose, the flip side from those who thought life with Meher Baba was going to be one long rose garden. It is, of course, neither. Life for a Baba lover in that regard isn’t much different than it is for anyone else. Where is gets tricky for us is the assumption that it’s going to be one or the other. As a result, I have seen Baba lovers fall over themselves to voluntarily take on as much suffering as possible, without waiting for the timing of Meher Baba’s “gift.” And I’ve seen them look for it again and again in the same places.
Delia DeLeon told the story of a time in India when she was being brow-beaten by another Western follower of Baba’s. Baba noticed and said to Delia, “Why don’t you resist?” That idea came as a surprise to Delia, who had assumed she was supposed “to just take it.”
Nowadays, I see Baba people constantly putting up with abuse, harassment, putdowns, laughter from people who purport to be their friends. Friends? They’d get more courtesy from sworn enemies. When I was younger, I had a serious incident of this sort of thing, trying to work at the Meher Center with someone who thought the job I was doing was rightfully hers. After many months of harassment, I went to Elizabeth Patterson. Now, Baba was, as indicated by the Delia story, a very practical person, and longtime disciples like Elizabeth evidenced the same practicality. She heard me out, then said, “Life will do that sort of thing to you, but you don’t have to seek it out. We’ll simply separate you.” She had made simple what I had insisted on making complicated. I’ve never forgotten that statement and it has served me well over the years.
I guess the point is, we all have a choice. We can live in a constant state of seeking complete acceptance in all the wrong places and complaining when we don’t get it, or we can go for the gold. As Meher Baba once said to Kitty Davy, “I am the only friend who will never let you down.”