15 August 2009

Bill Le Page at Meher Center

Bill Le Page at the Youth Sahavas; photo pilfered from Facebook.

Yesterday evening Bill Le Page gave an eloquent talk at Meher Center. That day, Friday, August 14, was Bill’s eighty-fifth birthday, and by chance it was also the day on which Lord Krishna’s birthday was celebrated this year. (Krishna’s a little more than five thousand years old!)

We learned that when Bill Le Page (at age thirty) went to India for the September 1954 Darshan, as one of a handful of Western men invited to attend, he had his first personal contact with Meher Baba (who was then sixty). At that time, Bill said, he was more aware of Baba as God than as man. Baba’s eyes were like two shafts piercing into him, and the sense was “Got you!”

He recalled watching rapt as Baba distributed prasad of Indian sweets to the immense crowds who came for His darshan in Wadia Park (Ahmednagar). The perfect curve of His back as He repeatedly bent forward to extend a handful of sweets to each person was like a powerful drawn bow. In the heat, Eruch would wipe Baba’s brow from time to time. The vitality and energy of Baba’s movements were amazing.

Bill became absorbed in the beauty of Baba’s constantly changing facial expression. Later, the three Australians—Bill, Francis Brabazon, and John Ballantyne—had an interview with Baba, and when Baba turned to gesture to Eruch, Bill was suddenly reminded that it was Eruch reciting Baba’s gestured words, not Baba’s own voice—so complete was the illusion that the Silent Master was speaking. His face was so alive, His glance constantly darting, the patterns of His expression ever changing.

Nudged by Francis, Bill asked Baba, “Will you come to Australia?” and He gestured, “Do you think I’m not already there?” That was the only question Bill ever asked Baba, because it was clear that He knew exactly what He was doing, and there was no need for Bill to query or to wonder. (Baba did visit Australia twice, in 1956 and 1958.)

Another glimpse of Baba’s perfection came when He was in the car conferring with Pendu, who was in charge of organizing the Final Declaration meeting that over 900 men would attend. As Pendu questioned Baba about some problem, Bill was watching Baba’s face and thinking: “The perfect CEO!” It was obvious He had everything all mapped out.

Bill loved watching Baba walk up the hill from Lower Meherabad, His incredible grace as He strode along with four or five of His mandali alongside Him. He was like a perfect dancer who forgets himself and becomes pure movement. With one fluid motion He would pick up a stone and toss it to the side.

Bill said: “My upbringing was such that I was completely shy—it wasn’t in our culture to be familiar even with my own father; there was very little personal physical contact, and I felt the same with Baba (although my father was very loving).” He watched Baba with the very elderly Will Backett. Baba asked Will how he was doing, and Will said, “Getting better, Baba.” After a few moments Baba asked with humor, “Does it really continue to get better? When does it end?”

When Baba gave messages and discourses, Bill became the serious student. Discourses were not to be taken lightly; Bill wanted to know everything there was to know about spirituality. He was writing down everything Baba said. When Baba paused for a moment, Bill looked up and watched Him as He inclined His head and glanced pensively to the right; all of a sudden a haunting sadness came over His eyes, a look that Bill found extremely moving. Bill thought to himself, “Baba, stop like that so I can gaze at You.” And at that moment, Baba said, “Let’s stop the discourse and you all can look at me for five minutes,” and He resumed that exact pose. Bill thought Baba was like one who was homeless, and all He sought was a home in each heart…

You can read about these and other stories in Bill’s own words in his book The Turning of the Key: Meher Baba in Australia. For another account of Meher Baba in Australia, see John Grant's book Practical Spirituality with Meher Baba. Grant's book will eventually be downloadable free at the Trust's online library.

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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.