By Bruce Felknor
“When are you going to realize that it is all because of my will?”
That is what I heard Baba say, as I got settled in on the first leg of my recent journey to Meherabad and Meherazad.
When I have experiences of Baba like that, I find that I instantly know exactly what he’s talking about. In this case, it was about how I came to be on that flight, heading for Meherabad, homeward-bound; and why I had not made pilgrimage to Meher Baba’s Samadhi during the past seven years.
There had been a number of formidable, challenging experiences in my life over those years. From a worldly perspective, these issues ranged from the mundane to exquisite and uncommon tests, and would garner no little bit of sympathy from any worldly person who would be interested to hear about them. As Baba lovers, however, we can recognize them as my excuses for not returning to India; for giving importance to these things in and of themselves, which is exactly the opposite of what Baba wants for us. He says: “I want you to remain undisturbed and unshaken by the force of life’s currents, for whatever the circumstances they too will be of my own creation.”
That’s not to say I was without Baba. I wasn’t, but I drew those experiences close about me and celebrated them with my attention. The result was an increasing arc of depression, and much of life became something to be endured and labored over. It was all very dry, and I fell into a love-deficit / labor-surplus cycle that lasted for years.
Ultimately, through the perseverance of friends and family, I came to see that, perhaps, going to India wasn’t out of the question at all. I gradually, gradually resisted the idea less and less, until finally I translated the notion into action.
Thus, I found myself on that plane, hearing Baba say to me: “When are you going to realize that it is all because of my will?” It is so perfectly natural, the way Baba expresses himself in our heart-mind; his voice is so intimate and familiar. I knew, instantly, exactly what he was talking about. He was saying to me, all this is mine and of my doing for you: the impediments, the endurance and the resolution. It is all for you to come to me, to draw closer, closer¬—because I love you. Whatever happens, be happy, because I have created it for you. Blame me for it. Thank me for it. It doesn’t matter, as long as you don’t take it to be your own.
It was a major lesson given in a moment, and I could clearly see how it all happened. I also saw that, in posing the question, Baba promised that one day I will realize that everything happens because of his will.
I was suddenly completely free of all I had experienced. I felt bathed in Baba’s love—and it was everywhere: in the places I stopped along the way, in all the people I met on my journey, and in the sights, smells, and pre-dawn sky that greeted my arrival in Pune.
I met my driver there, and we immediately headed toward Ahmednagar. As the car emerged from the Pune sprawl, the most beautiful vista in all the world was before me: the Deccan Plateau and, still distant and as yet unseen, its crowning glory, Meherabad. The sun was rising, painting the entire sky an impossible, glorious pink. I knew every mile of the journey now, by heart: dipping down into this village, crossing that river, stopping for tea mid-way, and then rising high onto the plain itself, where all thoughts subside and yield to the increasingly urgent and exclusive focus of concentration: searching for Meherabad on the horizon.
O damn good Meherabad, mandali mahal [palace],
In face of storm or rain or gale,
Attacked by thunder, lightning, hail;
You must not fail, you must not fail!*
At Meherabad, it was as if I’d never left at all. Baba’s Samadhi was as it ever is: the seat of Divine Love and Truth—the place where I have no words and hear no words, with only the knowledge beyond explanation that my Divine Beloved Meher Baba IS.
For the past 37 years or so, pilgrims have been greeted at Meherabad with this message from Baba, originally given for the Sahavas at Myrtle Beach in May 1958:
I may give you more, much more than you expect—or maybe nothing,
and that nothing may prove to be everything.
So I say, come with open hearts to receive much or nothing from your Divine Beloved.
Come prepared to receive not so much of my words, but of my silence.
I had always taken this message as my guidance for pilgrimage, not only in terms of how to approach Baba, but as an urging to approach Baba: Come with an open heart. . . but, come! And now, after a long separation. . . here I was.
As it turned out, the physical circumstances of my pilgrimage were not ideal, as I got a bad cold right away and I slept very little during my entire stay there. But none of these things had any impact on me at all, and with the exception of one full day of downtime, I participated actively in Meherabad life and received the love of my Beloved.
I had gone a bit early with friends one day to Meherazad, and happened to have some time alone in Baba’s Room. I reacquainted myself once again with the particulars of that place: the photographs, Baba’s hair, the castings of Baba’s feet, the furniture—all of it.
Then, I stood quietly before Baba’s bed. A simple, beautiful bedspread was there, in pale blues and pinks, and on the bed was the familiar photograph of Baba, seated in a chair. In that photograph, Baba has the bearing particular to a person who is greeting, or attending to, only one other person. Gazing at his photograph, it is just you and he.
I heard him say, “What did you expect?” He was being a bit playful. I just gazed at his beautiful form.
“This is what I do!” he said. “This” I knew to mean: Love. He Loves.
I got a sense of how thoroughly pleased with himself he was: with the successful completion of his work, part of which was me experiencing his love right there and then. He was pleased as only the Avatar can be pleased, having given his all for the sake of all.
Part of that pleasure was his great victory: revitalizing the path of love, and thus assuring a successful outcome for each and all. There was much more in it but as a friend pointed out the other day, no one fully understands or appreciates Baba’s pleasure. We are all just drenched and drunk at his feet in those moments.
“I love you!” he exclaimed. “I have always loved you, every moment. It’s what I do.”
That “I love you”—even beyond my ability to process it—I knew to be infinite and eternal. There has never been a moment I was without Baba’s love, and there never will come a moment that I will be without it.
I’m back in the West now, and, as with every pilgrimage I’ve ever made, I find that many of life’s circumstances remain unchanged. Things continue, superficially, as before. Yet, I am different; having received (in this case) more, much more than I expected from my Divine Beloved. And I have a new on-going conversation with Baba, which comes in the form of a question that promises its own answer: “Baba, when will I realize that this is all because of your will?”
*Baba composed this poem on Saturday, October 5, 1935, which he directed the mandali to read aloud in the evening.
Published February 2018.