Meher Baba seems to have been asked that question enough times that at one point he said to a questioner, “If you don’t understand what I’m saying, look it up in the dictionary.”
If we really believed that, and acted on it, it would certainly put a good-sized dent in the middleman business. A decent dictionary costs about $15 or $20. A professional middleman can, over time, run about $15,000 to $20,000.
We’re probably all aware these days that even Baba’s simplest statements can throw up that question – “What does it mean?” Now, some who ask that question really mean what they’re saying; they don’t understand what Baba said, even though most of what he said is very clear and you don’t have to be a genius to understand it. But I think many times, when that question is asked, it means “I get it, but I don’t like it.”
It is amazing to me what lengths some people will go to in order to avoid knowing precisely what Baba said on a subject, as well as who it was intended for. I have seen what amounts to dissertations aimed at proving to others – and to oneself – that what Meher Baba said doesn’t apply to them, either because they weren’t present when he said it, or because “he couldn’t possibly have meant THAT.” They then see both opinions as leaving them free to take it or leave it. Is it that easy to brush him off when his wish doesn’t suit our pleasure? Baba did say we were free to interpret what he said, BUT that can be a very slippery slope.
Among the more interesting interpretations I’ve heard over the years is the one that says if you don’t understand what Meher Baba said, then you apply the explanation that he gave concerning his Final Declaration. He made it clear that only very specific parts of his Declaration were said in “my language alone” and we would not be able to understand them, but that other parts were said in his language and in ours. The first part of that statement has become a very handy excuse for dismissing anything we don’t like, and the second part is totally ignored. But nowhere else does he say that any statements were made in “my language alone.” The most ludicrous interpretation of that one came from several people who felt Meher Baba’s very strong messages on not using illegal drugs couldn’t possibly have really meant that. There had to be some other explanation. As far as I know, some of these people are still looking for the “other explanation.” If we spent as much energy on trying to follow what Meher Baba said as we do on twisting it, we might actually make some progress. Granted, the progress is hard, but not as hard, I think, as sitting on our hands trying to figure out how to get Meher Baba to say what we want to hear. If that’s what we want to do, then why would we call ourselves Baba followers at all?
Then there’s the theory that if we weren’t present when he said it, we’re off the hook. In other words, when he said at the 1962 East-West Gathering that “the way of my work is the way of effacement,” if we weren’t there, we can go merrily on our way enjoying the biggest ego trips we can manage. If we weren’t there when he told his followers to start treating each other like real family, then whoopee, meanness can rein unchecked. Does that make any sense?
In the end I can only come to the conclusion that what Meher Baba really said about anything was extremely simple: try, and then try some more, and while we’re trying he will always be with us. What more could we possibly want?