One of my favorite quotes of Baba’s is: I speak eternally. The voice that is heard deep within the soul is my voice, the voice of inspiration, of intuition, of guidance. Through those who are receptive to this voice, I speak. (Lord Meher, p. 6533)
This naturally leads to one of those enduring questions in life with Baba: “When struggling to make a decision, how do I know if the voice I hear within is Baba’s voice, the voice of the intuition, or the voice of my ego? How do I know if I’m making the right decision or the wrong decision?” When I’m asked a question like that, I naturally search the storehouse of my memories for nuggets of wisdom gleaned from those far wiser than I. One such nugget that I have turned to often in my own life is from a story Kitty once shared with me.
When I was living with Elizabeth and Kitty at their house, Dilruba, at Meher Center in 1974, one of my most delightful tasks was helping Kitty answer the mail. In the later years, getting the mail was one of the highlights of Kitty’s day. Everyday, around noon, she would watch to see if the postman had come. She couldn’t really see the mailbox from her office but she could see him drive by in his little white truck. Her custom was to send me out to fetch it – “it” was usually a huge stack of letters from all over the country – bring it back to her, and leave her alone to read through it. When she was ready, she would call out for me to come and have me read certain letters out loud. Then, with pencil and paper in hand, I would take down the points Kitty wanted to include in her reply. The funny thing was that the letters literally consisted of points: Point #1, Point #2, and so on. Mani often remarked how the women always looked forward to Kitty’s wonderful point letters – one letter even had up to 23 points!
One day, Kitty had me read her a long letter covering three legal size pages, front and back. It was from a couple having a terrible time making a decision about whether to buy a condo or a house. Now, while I’m reading this, I’m feeling very critical and having thoughts like, ‘Oh, come on, three legal size pages!? How could they burden Kitty like this?’ When I finished reading, to my surprise, without any discussion and with an uncharacteristically serious manner Kitty said, “Now take this down. Point #1, Baba loved challenges, obstacles; it is His way of working. Point #2” and then she began to recount a memory of something that happened on Meherabad Hill in the ’30’s. It was a story I had never heard before.
To paraphrase Kitty, one day the women were gathered outside in the compound on the Hill and they were arguing about something (Kitty didn’t remember what). One group was saying, “Yes, that’s the right decision!” and the other group was saying, “No, that’s the wrong decision!” And so it went back and forth. Suddenly, Baba strode into the compound and was clearly not happy with the group. He spelled out on His board: What are you doing?! Don’t you know I made the decision long ago? The decision is not in your hands. There is no right or wrong decision. There is no such thing as a mistake. All I care about is the motive behind the decision – is it for Me or is it for yourself?”
That story was a lovely gift, not only for the real estate challenged couple, but for me as well. In my experience, the hardest part of the struggle is letting go of the results once I’ve made the decision. There is that space between doing my best and leaving the rest to Him that presents the biggest challenge. That’s the space where trust has to live and breathe. To totally trust that Baba has already made the decision and that I have no control over the outcome – that I can only be vigilant about my motive and act in a manner pleasing to Him.
The answer to the question of how to know if my inner promptings are the voice of intuition or of the ego is, of course, I don’t always know. Often times, it simply isn’t possible to have absolute inner clarity. Rather, my inner voice has the all too familiar feeling of persuasive self-focus so characteristic of the ego. Happily, there are times when the inner promptings of the heart are unequivocal and crystal clear. Often I find what is happening within is an admixture of these two extremes. This is where trust comes in again for me. Here I feel Baba wants me to gradually learn to listen and recognize His voice within, and to trust it when I do. I have to make the best decision I can, take His Name, then let it go and not worry. And I have to trust that there is, as Baba said to the women that day on the Hill, no such thing as a mistake – He made the decision long ago.
For me, this act of trust takes practice. And, as it’s part of our journey from ego-centeredness to Baba centeredness, it is natural that we will grow in fits and starts as we slog our way through this maya-jungle world and back into His arms.