13 January 2009

A Religious Anarchist

Rogier Gregoire posted on Facebook that his religion is "anarchy." I asked Gregwho at the age of 18 met Meher Baba in personwhat he meant by religious anarchy. I like his reply:

“I'm an anarchist in the strict sense of the word inasmuch as I have always thought that there are as many Meher Babas as there are lovers of Meher Baba. I tend not to let the conversation about Meher Baba, including the quotes attributed to Meher Baba, intervene on my direct experience of Baba. I hold on to that—not what Baba said to others in different circumstances and for different purposes. It’s just that simple and it stands as a bulwark against the mindset that seems to move irrevocably towards religious orthodoxy. I am informed by what Meher Baba said, but being informed and being in love are different events, and I'm sure that you can appreciate the differences. I can't say that I am aware or insightful enough to define other views in this area that others might hold. But there is enough of a difference in what is said and my own experience for me to embrace religious anarchy.”

—Rogiere Gregoire


Anonymous said...

I liked what Roger said, it is never what the master said, what brings about orthodoxy is what the followers accept. Marc Flayton

hdtnkrwll said...

[This is a rambling comment, but was pleasantly surprised to run across a Baba blog mentioning "anarchism"!]

There are also (albeit minority) trends within the major religions to align theological/metaphysical orthodoxy itself with "anarchic" social-political ideals (in the sense of striving for anti-authoritarian political forms, yet more radically egalitarian/democratic ones than just liberal or socialist States, and basing the justification in orthodox theology itself). Jacques Ellul (Protestant Christian, sympathetic to Karl Barth) articulated his own take on it in his book Anarchy and Christianity (1988), but there are also "anarchist Catholics," anarchists of other faiths, etc. Christians like Ellul have fairly well-developed theology-to-radical-politics frameworks (usually extrapolating from the symbolism of Jesus' crucifixion, taking it as God's repudiation of the value of any & all worldly power-claims whatsoever), yet they (not surprisingly) often can't make the extra step of accepting the validity of more than one divine revelation throughout history (there are some unfortunate denigrations of all of Islam in some of Ellul's writings, for example, that book just mentioned included; apparently it's demanding enough just being a "political anarchist" within a single religion/revelation!).

I've often suspected, since "coming to Baba" -- even while accepting Baba's admonitions to avoid politics/statecraft as commonly thought of -- that governmental forms that are more genuinely people-based, or from-the-ground-up, could possibly someday allow "politics" to become (if only relatively) "spiritualized" in the positive sense of the term, as one passage within the Discourses seems to hint at ("...[political enthusiasm] can also be rightly handled and spiritualized" -- from "The Life of the Spirit" section). Because the practice of detached-action would have to include the option of being practiced within future, and hopefully more just, political forms -- that is, even if the nature of impressions and evolution dictate that there will always have to be some level of conflict or injustice within the gross world, that logic need not also be a perennial justification for any & every heavily-exploitative (vs. potentially more just) governmental form, even if all governments will by definition fall short of the goal (of real spiritual freedom, etc.). The other extreme -- reflexive complicity with authoritarian or coercive governments and social relations, or even certain strains of "feel-good" market liberalism that can't or won't acknowledge its true impact on the rest of the planet -- surely perpetuates karma just as much, to say the least.

Anyhow, to me there does seem to be a certain unavoidable tension, within a lot of Baba's public statements and life antidotes, between, on the one hand, advocating for the highest ideals and spiritual truths and what they imply (unconditional and universal love, unity, etc.), and, on the other hand, acknowledging a certain inevitable sense of political realism (that life has to be engaged as one finds it, "accepting the world as it is," etc.). Of course, I don't see this tension as stemming from any fault or limitation of Baba (!), but just reflecting the often-tragic structure of (gross) reality since the Whim, while we're all still "stuck here in Maya" at any given point in time...

Chris Ott said...

Bravo Roger. I just saw this relevant quote in Lord Meher.

"Baba concluded with this sarcastic remark, 'If I ordered the mandali to wear hats and not to ever go out in the sun bare-headed, after some years it will be considered a religious practice to always wear a hat in the sun.'" (LM 815)

Copper Asetemhat Stewart said...

The sure words and the hadith both seem to militate against orthodoxy and promote diversity.

It seems to me that true spiritual anarchy is born of faith and trust in or awareness of God, and that systems of control are born of egos suspicious that God is not really "on the throne" and not any temporal authority.

No Apology said...

I am in agreement with Roger's view. Having been "out of the loop" of Baba Lovers for some 35 years, I visited the Baba House in New York (Manhatan) in the late 90's.. Don Mahler and some other notables were there on that night, and it should have been an enjoyable experience, but it wasn't. There seemed to be little cliques who got together, and I couldn't engage anyone in conversation. Gone was the openness of the Baba House on Barrow St. (If anyone remembers that one).

I tend naturally to look within for my relationship with Baba, having had in 1970 an epiphany which turned out to have all the elements of the agony and ecstasy of turning one's life over to the Godman. It hasn't been an easy path, but I always seem to find myself back in His sphere of authority. No matter how badly my own sanskaras turned out, He has always been at the focus of any tendency on my part towards spirituality, in the same way as a child I turned toward Jesus as the only real, personal face of God. The older I get, the easier life gets.

In the beginning I thrived on "Baba stories" from the Mandali and others, who always brought home for me the human-ness of Baba's love. Now it is a matter of striving to keep the same humanness in my own life and relationships.

Without His love, I am helpless as a kitten.

- David Ready

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.