By Wendy Haynes Connor
Like everyone, I have been stunned and saddened by the enormity of the tragedy that has been unfolding in Japan over the past few weeks. At times like this, when we are witness to suffering on such a large and dramatic scale, I cannot help but imagine that some people must be asking the one question that endures through the ages: Is there a God and, if there is, what kind of a God would allow so much suffering in the world? And what is the point of creating a world where people experience such pain, only to inevitably end in death? This awareness of the finality of our physical existence, that quietly shadows all of us through life, at times explodes with devastating force onto the world’s psyche.
When I think of Baba, I think of Him as the Lord of Love. I fail to remember that He referred to God as not only the Creator and the Preserver, but also the Destroyer. I forget, too, Baba’s explanation of how that which is created, preserved and destroyed is by its very nature impermanent. Impermanent though it may be, Illusion (as Baba describes it), as we well know, can be relentlessly terrifying and brutal. Intellectually, I know that Baba set creation up this way: the blinding duality of great joy and terrible suffering and all the shades in between. But especially in times like these, I have to stop and remind myself that the journey of the soul and the spiritual life is, as Baba Himself said, “no joke.” At one point, during the East West Gathering in 1962, Baba gestured that the spiritual life “requires great daring.” And, went on to say, “Here there is no room for those that are shortsighted and weak of heart.”
Some of my most precious memories are of watching Beloved Baba at the East West Gathering when He was listening to music. Sometimes, He would interrupt the singer to translate a ghazal. One afternoon, Baba translated this couplet: In the court of the Perfect Master, wavering faith has no place. He then went on to say: “It is no joke to love. If you have come to see this as fun, you will become fun yourself!” He added: “I am that drop that has swallowed the whole Ocean! If you were to really love Me, maybe one day you will see Me as I really am. Love Me wholeheartedly and you might one day get a glimpse of My Reality.” So, while I have little capacity for comprehending the incomprehensible in the world, I have this conviction about who Meher Baba is, and it gives me faith that all suffering is from God and is designed to bring all of humanity , whether consciously or unconsciously, closer to Him.
I have presented below a letter that is being circulated on the internet. It was written by a woman called Anne, in Sendai, Japan, who has been living through these momentous events. I was so struck by the beauty and simplicity of the letter that it inspired my thoughts for this column. For me it illustrates how much God is alive in the world. It is such a clear example of how God gradually awakens His presence in the soul’s journey through adversity and suffering. Through extraordinary and, sometimes, ordinary circumstances, Baba creates the opportunity to come into contact with the Divine. I find it especially touching and sweet to hear stories like Anne’s. As far as I know, she doesn’t have Baba in her life, consciously, but through the shared experiences of loving gestures, of caring and self-sacrifice, Baba is clearly awakening her heart to something larger than herself. By Anne’s own admission, she has gained an increased awareness of the superficiality of the material world – she “loves this peeling away of non-essentials.” As she put it, her heart is “opening very wide.”
We, who are blessed to live and breathe in the orbit of the Avatar, are being given yet another opportunity through this great tragedy to remember Him, and to remember that the Love of God transcends apparent good and bad, apparent life and death. And, that the very purpose of suffering and strife is to help the soul realize, “through great daring”, that which has been there all along — Divine love.
Hello My Lovely Family and Friends,
First I want to thank you so very much for your concern for me. I am very touched. I also wish to apologize for the generic message to you all. But it seems the best way at the moment to get my message to you.
Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friends’ home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.
During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.
Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.”
Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often. We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not.
No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non- essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.
There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.
Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The mountains of Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.
And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.
They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend’s husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.
Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that is much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.
Thank you again for your care and Love of me, With Love in return, to you all.