By Wendy Haynes Connor
I remember in the early ’70s sitting in Mandali Hall with Eruch and hearing him answer time and again that persistent question from pilgrims, “How do we find Him in our lives now?” With this, Eruch would often turn to Baba’s almost constant reminder to His lovers to always remember Him—to keep Him uppermost in our thoughts, words and deeds. I remember Eruch saying, “Yes, but this is not such an easy thing.” The mind is tricky—its habit is to keep us thinking of ourselves, not Him. The task, he said, is to find different ways to trick the mind into remembering Baba. The God-Man Himself, said Eruch, gave us many such tricks: His prayers; His own words to try to live by; the example of His extraordinary life; His beautiful form found in photographs and films; and the stories from His mandali. He also gives us many opportunities to share His Love with each other as a way of focusing the mind on Him.
All of these gifts from the Beloved, I hold dear, as ways of keeping Him close. I also have the added blessing to live at Meher Center where I have many opportunities to share about Baba and His life. But, with all of that, there seems to be great chunks of time when the world has a grip on me—when Baba seems so distant from my consciousness. Even then, when I’m so caught up with what I’m doing, a thought might suddenly pop up like: “Stop and say the prayers now.” But that’s often followed with something like: “I’ll just finish putting on my make-up and then I’ll say them.” Later, looking back, it’s as if Baba whispered through my unconscious to remind me to remember Him. And yet, Maya, the great distracter, crept in and I missed an opportunity to act on my first thought—to stop and remember Him.
On one of our visits to India, Mani, Baba’s sister, shared something that Buz and I immediately took to heart. To set the stage for this story, I have to give the background Mani gave. She told us that only once when Baba was in the form did she have what she thought of as an ‘occult experience.’ It was in the early days, when Baba took a small group of Westerners to see the Ellora Caves for the first time. They were gathered inside the cave known as the Buddha Cave, so-called because of the larger than life size statue of the Buddha situated in the middle. Baba spelled out on the board and Mani repeated aloud the words, “I am the Buddha.” As she heard them echo over and over in the cave, the words began to resonate deeply within her, and then seemed to overflow, echoing endlessly throughout the universe and beyond. Mani called it a once in a lifetime experience and it remained a treasured memory for her.
Later in her life, after Baba dropped His Body, Mani was completely surprised on three separate occasions by what she felt were otherworldly experiences. In fact, she said it was a long time before she spoke of them because Baba never gave importance to such happenings. But after a time she came to feel that Baba wanted her to share them with His lovers. The first experience happened one morning as she awoke from a refreshing sleep. In her mind’s eye, she saw a huge expanse of blue sky before her, “a sky swept clean—no clouds, nothing.” She heard a voice say, “I am the Bird, not the Cage. It was a voice that could not be denied—it was as clear as you and I are talking right now. About the meaning, I realized that the cage is our identity and the bird is our inner self. We get so involved in the cage that we forget we are the bird. We have to take great care to not focus on the body/the personality but instead exercise self-denial and focus on Him—our real Self.“
The second time, again, Mani heard a very clear voice, saying, “Let the world wait.” She interpreted the phrase to mean, “We are so apt to keep God waiting because we are so busy with other things. We say, ‘Please God, wait just a minute—I’ve got to do this first.’” Mani felt it was a reminder that “we have to attend to our Lord first.”
The third experience happened when the women mandali were on their annual vacation in Pune. As was their custom, they went to Guruprasad Memorial first to garland Baba’s photo and to take darshan at His chair. When it came Mani’s turn, she knelt down and as she was rising from the chair she heard the words, “God is not a Plus.” At first, Mani was puzzled and she said the meaning unfolded slowly, like a door opening slowly. It came to her that the words meant, “God always comes first—He is the first One—the One after whom everything else follows.”
The phrase that struck the deepest chord in me was, “Let the world wait.” I knew this was something I could say to myself daily to remind me to always put Baba first, to remember Him before anything else.
This brings to mind another story—this one about Kitty Davy. It takes place in the mid-1970s, when I was helping Kitty at Dilruba, the home where she lived at Meher Center. She wasn’t feeling well that day, and had me cancel a lunch she had planned at a restaurant with a family from England. I called to let them know and naturally they were deeply disappointed because they rarely came to the Center. Personally, I was glad because Kitty had already seen many people that morning and I knew she should have a rest. No more than half an hour had passed when Kitty called me and said “Please drive me to the restaurant.” I was taken aback and tried my best to talk her out of it. Not happy with me, she insisted, “No, I really feel I must see them.” She was determined to go.
Reluctantly, I drove her to meet up with the family. Of course, you can imagine the joy on their faces when Kitty appeared in the doorway. We sat down and had a lovely time. It’s not that something earth shattering happened or that anything momentous was said but it was a vivid demonstration of how Kitty put herself aside, let her world wait, and instead followed the promptings of her heart—what she knew would please her Beloved.