By Jenny Keating
Growing up without television, I became an avid reader devouring the books I found in my parents’ strange assortment. These included ones that Francis left with us when he went in 1959 to India to stay with Baba: tales from various lands full of great love and heroic deeds, Norse sagas, Chaucer tales, Shakespeare, as well as poetry and literature from what was for me, faraway lands such as South America and India. For one of my childhood birthdays I received Persian tales and legends from my parents and still remember vividly the story of the great Persian warriors Rustom and Sohrab and how enchanted I was by the famous tale of Scheherazade and the Thousand and One Nights.
In contrast, there were the books being read to Baba in the 1960s that my parents avidly collected – authors such as the English humorist P. G. Wodehouse, and the detective novels of Edgar Wallace, Rex Stout, and Agatha Christie, full of murder and mystery. I loved the humour (the comic antics in the Wodehouse stories would have us all rolling on the floor with laughter) and the unraveling of mysteries, but looked more for the passages that expressed something of the sweetness of love and the excitement of heroic deeds. Stuck as I was in a sheltered suburban life, that is what inspired me and I lived vicariously through these stories of adventure and love.
But I had a strange habit that my family often teased me about: before starting a book I would check the last pages to make sure it had a happy ending. I didn’t mind reading the sad and terrifying passages as long as I knew that it finished well. I always wanted to be happy and I felt reassured over the years that this is what Baba wants for us too. In His messages which I started reading in my teens He makes clear that hardships and suffering are a part of the story of life and necessary for our spiritual growth but then He adds the long view and the deeper assurances that in the end everything will turn out alright. Passages like the one below from Life At Its Best would uplift and inspire and confirm for me the ultimate ‘happy ending’:
“Learn the art of taking your stand on the Truth within. When you live in this Truth, the result is the fusion of the mind and the heart and the end of all fears and sorrow. It is not a dry attainment of mere power or intellectual knowledge. A love which is illumined by the intuitive wisdom of the spirit will bless your life with ever-renewing fulfillment and never-ending sweetness.”
Later in the 1970s on one of my visits to India I shared a room with some girlfriends at the Sablok Hotel. At night we would ponder life and its meaning and bemoan our fate and life’s struggles and conflicts – but we would always end up laughing – somehow Baba’s presence in our lives would make us feel that nothing was too serious, nothing was worth being upset about for too long. And when we next visited Meherazad we told Eruch of our evening complaints about the struggles and conflicts in life and how we ended up laughing – and I remember him saying in his inimitable way: “how fortunate you are that you can laugh at your struggles – this is what Beloved Baba makes possible – because the Truth is that it is all a dream – we are guaranteed a happy ending.” And he concluded by saying “how wise you are to laugh at your struggles knowing He is the only Real One.”
And what a joy it was, during these visits to India, to also hear Mehera, Baba’s beloved, speak of how she loved fairy tales and all stories with happy endings and how Baba loved these too. Mani, Baba’s sister, confirmed this: “. . . when I read a book to Baba (and Baba being all-knowing would appear unknowing, because He would play the game perfectly) — He would usually have me stop at a very critical juncture: where Pauline was hanging over the cliff or something, and we didn’t know if the train would be going over her or not. Baba, playing His role so perfectly, would then ask me, ‘Do you think it will turn out alright? Will there be a happy ending?’ And because He had told us not to look to see what happened . . . not to look further to find out, I would say, ‘Well, Baba, we can’t look, so we will have to wait until tomorrow to find out.’
And in the following excerpt from the book Mehera-Meher by David Fenster, Mani shares her thoughts on the deeper significance of ‘happy endings’:
“. . . suppose you are reading a book that I have read already. I know it will end happily, but you are reading a terrifying chapter where all looks hopeless. In the same way, in life, Baba knows that it all has a happy ending, but we are involved in the chapters – so caught up that we don’t know it has a happy ending. He knows and comes to reassure us with his Divine Knowledge. Baba always liked a happy ending to His stories, because to His story there is a happy ending. There are not all happy chapters – we go through ones that aren’t happy. ‘Don’t worry, I can’t tell you the ending’, He says, ‘but these are only sad episodes'”.
Another story I loved hearing, one that Eruch told in Mandali Hall that further illustrates the dreamlike nature of our existence and the assurance of a happy ending when we awake from the dream, is the story of the dog at Baba’s feet: Mani’s dog, Peter, would often sleep at Baba’s feet in Mandali Hall, Meherazad, while Baba was attending to correspondence. One time Baba called Mani to come and look at Peter – he was asleep dreaming but was particularly active in his dream state, making noises and moving his legs. Baba pointed to Peter and gestured to Mani:
“See how he is dreaming, he is so caught up in the dream he is moving and making noises totally involved in whatever is happening in the dream. But when he wakes up, he will find himself at My Feet, safe and sound, not having gone anywhere or done anything. In the same way, we are dreaming, although we feel we are awake and everything is real, going through different experiences, some happy, some sad, some frightening, some exciting. But I tell you truthfully it is all a dream, and one day, like Peter, you will wake from this dream and find Me as the only Reality.”
So as time passes, and in the most difficult of situations, the light that shines through for me is this assurance from Baba of a happy ending, one lifetime or another. We all come from the same Source and we will all reach the same Goal. The challenge is to approach the journey in the way Mani explains:
“. . . we have to trust Him so wholeheartedly when He says there is a happy ending . . . while we are holding His Hand, let Him be the guide, don’t argue, follow Him . . . not just follow Him, but follow what He has said – obey Him.”