13 October 2007

Companionship in the New Life

Companionship in the New Life

Notes from a talk by Filis Frederick,

from the 1985 Los Angeles Sahavas

This talk on video was played at Meher Center in connection with the approaching anniversary of Meher Baba’s New Life. Baba began this important phase of His Universal Work on 16 October 1949. The New Life was a phase of “hopelessness and helplessness” in which Baba led the life of an ordinary seeker of God and traveled incognito with a group of companions across India, begging for their food. “The New Life became a dramatic example of Baba’s assertion that in the Avatar, God must become fully human in order that humanity can once again seek God. For Baba this required that the One who is sought become the one who seeks, thereby clearing a new path in consciousness for others to follow him” (Charles Haynes, Meher Baba, the Awakener, p. 52).

Filis defined a companion as someone who travels alongside you on a journey — in this case, the spiritual journey. She outlined some of the principles of being companions on the path of Meher Baba.

Obey the leader. Baba said that obedience is greater than love, so the real test is obedience. Although Baba is not physically here to give us direct orders, we know what things He emphasized, such as the importance of honesty (not being hypocritical), avoidance of drugs, and so on.

Baba-lovers should behave like a real family. When you are traveling with a group, your behavior with others is a test. We may have detached ourselves from our family or other people in our life, but now we are tested by those who are the most difficult to get along with — other Baba-lovers! Accept that you will travel with people of different levels of understanding, different backgrounds. You have to learn to tolerate their faults and idiosyncrasies. And before you can accept others, you have to learn to accept yourself.

Baba says we shouldn’t interfere in each other’s family affairs. But although we shouldn’t meddle with their sanskaras, we should try to help them on their journey. We share hardships as well as joys with one another. Baba tends to exacerbate a situation, to stir things up. In traveling especially, there are a lot of irritations. Baba typically put people together as roommates or companions who didn’t like each other.

Be cheerful. When we are cheerful, it helps others. Filis said Baba didn’t like people around Him to have a “prune face” (however, I remember the expression in this quote as “garlic face”). Although Baba loves everyone equally, if you want to be intimate with Him, you have to be able to lighten up the atmosphere, take things easily, not make heavy scenes. Filis recalled a friend who had a plaque on her wall that said, “Thou shalt not make scenes.” This is why we have to let go (jaane do in Hindi —“”Let it be”— a phrase Kitty Davy liked to quote).

Filis spoke of “the grinding machinery of ego against ego.” Once, at the 1954 Western men’s gathering in Meherabad, Baba asked people to close their eyes and picture His image; He then asked Francis how that was. Francis said, “It comes and goes.” Baba replied, “That’s because you come and go.” Baba’s light and presence are always there, but our ego gets in the way. Our sanskaras are like clouds concealing the beauty of the moon.

Negative emotions shut Baba out. If you’re angry, you can’t feel His presence. When you’re depressed, it’s like a fog obscuring His light. The aura of a depressed person gets grayer, Filis has observed, whereas Baba is all light and color.

Feelings of worthlessness are another negative emotion that shut Baba out. We need to work on ourselves within, or see a therapist, to overcome these negativities.

Forgive. Forgiveness is an important quality for New Life companionship. Baba has said that it’s easy to forgive but hard to forget. In 1956 at the Barn at Meher Center, Baba asked those who loved Him to raise their hands. Then He asked, “Who will obey Me?” Everyone except one person raised his hand. Baba questioned the man, who said “Baba, I don’t think I can obey you.” Baba replied, “But you must try.” Then Baba also told the group, “Now I forgive you for everything that happened up till today.” Someone later wondered about the actions they performed after the forgiveness was granted. Filis said it was as if Baba had stopped the car but the wheels were still spinning.

It’s important to forgive others, Filis said, because allowing resentments to pile up is like not flushing the toilet for a week. “I’m sorry I’m so gross, but this is Los Angeles!”

Remember the goal. On the journey, you have to have your goal firmly in mind. You need a map and must decide you’ll get there no matter what. Filis has seen many people wobble away from the goal after getting sidetracked. In this period of Meher Baba’s Manifestation, we have a direct path to God, so we don’t have to take detours. The full force of a prayer to Baba today is more effective than one in the year 3000.

Filis recalled that as a toy designer for Mattel, she had a young assistant who was a master magician, and she learned that the secret of a magic trick is misdirection—distracting the audience’s attention. The same is true of Maya, the cosmic principle of illusion that is God’s shadow. Maya tries to fool you, making you believe, “That’s what’s happening, over there,” when what’s really happening is in here (within you). Baba used to refer to the newspaper as the “bogus news,” and there are many kinds of bogus news that Maya tries to put over on us. One example, Filis said, was when doctors told her she had breast cancer and had to have a mastectomy. By indirection, Maya makes you think that’s reality, but the actual Reality is that “I am not this body, not this mind.”

While traveling, we mustn’t worry about petty things like “I forgot my toothbrush”—and on the spiritual path “everything is petty except love for God.” Stick with what is truly important. Baba gave the image of the twirling umbrella, and the souls clinging to it like drops. Those on the outer edge will be thrown off, and only those that stay close to the center will remain with Baba. The world speeding up, becoming more and more stressful every day, is like the twirling umbrella.

I found this quote from Baba online, from a letter from Mani to Bili Eaton: “You must stick as close as you can to Me or you may find yourselves falling off. Like raindrops on an open umbrella that is twirled round, those that are farthest away (in love not in distance) are shaken off. Those that are really close are unmoved. You all love Me greatly, for you stick on — I love you more, for I hold you to Me.”

Love is simple. “Just love Me,” Baba says. Forget all the complicated intellectual stuff about the path and how to follow Baba. Be simple and childlike, and hold on to Baba’s daaman (the hem of His garment), like a child who clings to her mother’s skirt while walking through the crowded marketplace. In our relationships, too, we can be simple. Relax! Take things lightly; only God is to be taken seriously.

Do not let go the hand of Truth. At the 1969 Darshan, Dr. Deshmukh, a close Baba-lover who was a philosophy professor, was asked to give a talk. There was some concern he would be long-winded, especially now that he was aged, and Adi had warned him that he had only two minutes. Deshmukh got up and said, “Do not let go the hand of Truth!” (a line from the Song of the New Life — see below), and then sat down.

Truth means Oneness, Unity. The Song of the New Life also speaks of the Shaikh and the Brahmin (typifying all castes and creeds) being in the same boat—we’re all together on this journey, and distinctions of superior/inferior, or rich/poor, or male/female/gay, are illusions. To be a real companion on the journey, we must get rid of separativeness.

Not letting go the hand of Truth also means discovering who you really are. In God Speaks, Baba describes the original question: “Who am I?” and eventually, after many false answers (I am stone, I am vegetable, I am worm, I am fish, I am bird, I am animal, . I am man, I am woman ...), we arrive at the true answer: “I am God.”

Let us all be true companions on this New Life journey.

Jai Baba.

The Song of the New Life

(Written in Hindi by Dr. Abdul Ghani Munsiff and also translated into English by him;

the first couplet was dictated by Baba himself)

Listen to the silent words of Meher Baba;

The life story of all lovers of God is based on the practice of these words.

If you are serious about living this New Life,

Then wholeheartedly renounce this ephemeral existence.

We have taken to this life, in which we rely only on God;

In this, our will (to do or die) is strengthened by the oath taken;

We are merrily singing the song of hopelessness;

We are inviting all calamities and difficulties.

We neither wail over lost hopes, nor complain about broken promises;

We neither covet honor, nor shun disgrace;

Backbiting we know not, nor do we fear anyone;

This is now the color of our New Life.

No confusion in the mind now, nor any ties left;

Pride, anger, lust and greed we know not.

We have no religion, nor care for physical and mental fads.

The Shaikh and the Brahmin are now sailing in the same boat.

There is no small or great now for us all;

The questions of disciple, Master, or Godhood no longer arise.

Brotherliness or fellow-feeling is the link that exists,

And this contributes to our present enjoyment of suffering.

This world or the next, hell or heaven, we no longer bother about;

Shaktis and siddhis, occultism and miracles, we no longer think of.

All these false impressions [thoughts] for us

have been purged from the mind.

What has value and importance for us now is to live in the active present.

Dear ones, take seriously the words of Baba when He says:

"Although now I am on the same level with you all,

Yet all orders from me, good, bad, extraordinary,

You should all carry out immediately, leaving the result to God."

Even if the heavens fall,

Do not let go the hand of Truth.

Let despair and disappointment ravage

and destroy the garden (of your life);

Beautify it once again by the seedlings of contentment and self-sufficiency.

Even if your heart is cut to bits, let a smile be on your lips.

Here I divulge to you a point worth noting:

Hidden in your penniless hands is Treasure untold;

Your beggarly life will be the envy of kings!

God exists indeed, and true are the Prophets.

Every cycle has an Avatar, and every moment a wali.

For us, however, it is only hopelessness and helplessness.

How else should I tell you what our New Life is?

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All quotes of Meher Baba © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust unless otherwise indicated. Writings by Kendra are © Kendra Crossen Burroughs unless otherwise noted.