I know I was not the only one in the early 70’s who thrilled to hear the mandali’s accounts of their life with Meher Baba. Not only were we learning things about Baba which we had never known, we were also gaining a sense of His ways, and what it might have been like to be around Him.
One of the things a lot of us wanted to know was how to get closer to Baba, although this was phrased in different ways. How do we know what Baba wants us to do? What would please Baba? How do we hold on to His daaman? Eruch cut through all the complexities of the almost infinite variety of ways in which we asked these questions, with all of the countless circumstances we enumerated, in attempts to get very specific answers by simply declaring, “Just be determined to be His”. And, when we seemed unable to grasp the import of this statement, he clarified it by saying, “It’s simple. Baba, Himself, gave us the guidelines. Only do those things which you would not hesitate to do in His presence, only say those things which you would not hesitate to say in His presence, and only think those things which you would not hesitate to think in His presence. If you just do that, you don’t have to worry about anything else”.
At first this answer seemed to satisfy. It was so straightforward, so unequivocal and equally applicable to any and all situations we might find ourselves in. But, of course, with time, our minds, or at least my mind, started to work. “Yes,” it would counter, “that sounds good, but I don’t know what I would do or say or think in Baba’s presence because I don’t know what that experience is like.” And the more I heard Eruch answer increasingly complicated questions with a simple dictum, “Just be determined to be His”, the more I felt as if Eruch was fobbing us off with a kind of kindergarten maxim while he kept the esoteric secrets, pertinent to more advanced or dedicated aspirants (like me!) to himself.
Being a bit slow on the uptake, it’s taken me almost forty years to begin to understand just how profound Eruch’s answer really is. Baba’s answer to almost all questions seemed to be “Love Me”. But love is not something we can control. Baba, Himself, admits it is a gift from God to man. So we are left trying to obey Baba, but without specific orders it is easy to deceive ourselves into thinking that apart from not using drugs, or having sex outside of marriage, there aren’t many guidelines to follow.
Yet all of us can try to be determined to be His. I think the key word here is “determined”. This automatically means making an effort, being steadfast in the face of adversity or opposition, persevering even when motivation lags. These are all things we can control; they are all products of our will. I find, as I struggle with temptations and desires, that my mind is almost always able to convince me to give in. “What difference will it make”, “it’s no big thing”, “it’s not going to harm anyone”, “you want to do it and simply repressing the desire will only make you focus on the desire and not on Baba”, and so on and so forth until, eventually, I give in. It is almost impossible to out argue one’s mind because the mind knows your weaknesses; it knows exactly how you think, and how to use this against you. Being determined to be His, however, ignores this endless wrangling. Determination is not an intellectual conclusion but a willful declaration.
If I were truly determined to be His, I would not try to convince myself to resist temptation; I would find the whole argument irrelevant, because determination requires doing certain things even if I don’t want to do them. While it is true that few of us have the first-hand experience to be able to say what we would do, say, or think in Baba’s presence, all of us, to varying degrees, do have more than an inkling of what Baba wants us to do (or not do). The trick isn’t so much to figure that out, the trick is to short circuit the mental gymnastics and just be determined to do (or not do) those things. And without love as the motivating force, what we have left is determination. If we are determined to be His, we find that things start to become clearer, the path is less mysterious, the answers to our questions become more self-evident. This doesn’t mean that we will be able to instantly succeed, but as we try, we see our failures could have been avoided had we been more determined to be His. And I can see for myself, how all of my difficulties can be overcome, if I can only be determined to be His.