In late 1999 I moved to a neighborhood three miles from Meher Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina—Meher Baba’s Home in the West. Soon afterward I heard an interesting piece of apocrypha: that Baba had said that his influence radiated out from the Center in a “seventeen-mile radius.” I also heard comments about how if you were caught in that seventeen-mile radius, you were finished—your life would be ruined.It seems common for Baba-lovers to remark that when you come to Baba, he ruins your life. If you want something, Baba will make sure you don’t get it. Or if you have something, Baba will take it away. A joke that made the rounds recently asked, “How do you make Baba laugh?” And the answer: “Tell him your plans.”
Admittedly, one also hears Baba-lovers attributing their good fortune to Baba. After all, didn’t Baba advise (in the message “My Wish”), “When you feel happy, think: ‘Baba wants me to be happy.’ When you suffer, think: ‘Baba wants me to suffer.’ Be resigned to every situation and think honestly and sincerely: ‘Baba has placed me in this situation.’”? We are asked to create a “provisional ego” that attributes all our actions and experiences to the Master (see Discourses, “The Dynamics of Spiritual Advancement”). So maybe those who complain that Baba has it in for them are really obeying his advice to make Him our constant companion and think constantly of Him.
Still, something in me resists the idea that Meher Baba is deliberately making me suffer. It seems discourteous to accuse Baba of such meanness. Does the Lord of the Universe really place obstacles in our worldly path out of some perverse motivation to make us miserable until we surrender to His will?
Well, there is a tradition for it. It is well known in Sufism that whomever the Beloved loves, He slays. When we give our lives over to His care, He sets about dismantling our false s
But what is that to a hopeless destitute passed out in the gutter of
These painful spiritual opportunities are not something that awaits us in the future when we are dignified pilgrims treading the higher planes—they are experiences available to us gross-plane slobs right now! As ordinary people we experience all the ups and downs, the losses and disappointments, the daily humiliations, s
Or so Baba tells us. If you believe Him, how blessed you are. Because if you really want to encounter unbearable suffering, just imagine a life without Beloved Baba.
It is impossible to explain, but at a certain point Baba actually makes suffering attractive. There is a strange kind of pleasure in it, even for those who are not advanced souls. If you haven’t experienced this pleasure yet, don’t make the insane mistake of thinking that such a bizarre experience is not meant for you. It is exactly meant for you. “Do not worry, because behind the curtain, undreamt-of scenes are being set in motion” (Hafiz).
But I think that in order to experience it, there may be a condition. It is expressed in a line found in the booklet Meher Baba Calling: “Either keep away from the wine of love of Beloved Baba or, if you taste it, seal your lips against complaints.” We must try not to complain too much about Baba’s ways, because part of His way is that He imparts His gift to those who remain outwardly cheerful and silent about the joys and sorrows of love. “Either peel off the layers of wounds of the heart and throw them out of sight, or accept the wounds of separation as positive signs of love” (Seemab). This may be part of the daring that Baba wants us to have on the path—the audacity to look beyond appearances to discover the treasure buried in the ruin.
If we do, who knows? We might find ourselves actually longing to live in that “seventeen-mile radius” (figuratively speaking), just to enjoy the pleasures of suffering for the Beloved!
“I tell mys
Whenever you find it, let the whole world slip by.”