10 December 2011

Phyllis Ott Tweets

Yesterday I helped Phyllis Ott set up her Twitter account, and today I urged her to post her first tweet. This is what she submitted: 

If you men don’t start shaving, we girls are going to stop shaving.

She elaborated: What’s with the unshaven look? She doesn’t like it. I tried to explain the evolution of grunge fashion, but she said, “They’re wearing it [the unshaven look] with tuxedos. … it’s not right. Meher Baba always had a very good shave.”

When Phyllis and her husband, Lyn Ott, met Meher Baba in India in 1965, the following exchange took place:

As Baba “spoke” through Eruch, he patted Lyn on the back. Sometimes he would caress him tenderly around his chin. Suddenly, Baba turned to Lyn and asked, “Did you shave today?” In response to his reply of yes, Baba remarked, “Well, you did not do a very good job of it! Just feel my chin.”

Baba’s face was soft and he had a splendid shave. Lyn said, “While I was shaving, I was thinking: ‘Does Baba shave?’”

Baba replied with surprise, “Why shouldn’t I shave?”

Lyn could only think to say, “Well, Baba, before this morning, I had never associated shaving with God!”

Baba looked at him seriously and stated, “I am more human than you are. Someday you will see my face as it really is.” (Lord Meher 19: 6389)

In the East, especially the Muslim world, the beard is regarded as a sign of manliness, and being clean-shaven indicates cowardliness, an allegedly feminine attribute. But the poet and Perfect Master Jalaluddin Rumi wrote (Masnavi V: 3345):

If one could become a “man” by virtue of beard and testicles,
Every buck would have sufficient hair and beard!

For Rumi, the Sufi concept of the “man of God” had nothing to do with gender, as explained by the late Annemarie Schimmel, the great scholar of Rumi (Schimmel, Rumi’s World, p. 103); thus, even a woman could be a “man” in that sense. Hazrat Babajan, the Muslim Perfect Master of Meher Baba’s time, rejected being addressed respectfully as “Mother” and insisted that she was a man.

Lord Meher reports that Baba shaved daily (2:404). Dr. Goher once told me how Baba once complained to the women mandali about the tedium of shaving, and he said that when the Avatar comes again in 700 years, it will be women who will have to shave their faces. The women mandali pleaded with Baba not to give women more troubles, since we already suffer so much with our periods and other problems. So Baba relented.

Still, I think it is wise to heed Phyllis Ott. Better get out your razors, guys, or Phyllis says that we women “will start to look like Chinese philosophers.”


David Raphael Israel said...

Thanks for the heads-up about Phyllis's twitter-venture.

Regarding the topic of Meher Baba and shaving . . .

Yes, but -- Meher Baba did not ALWAYS shave his chin.

As for instance:










Also note (a later image, with what might be called a "poor shave"):


Jay Mohler said...

Lets not forget the 1920's early days, when his men mandali were under strict orders, among them, only allowed to shave twice a week!

Kendra Crossen Burroughs said...

I appreciate these comments. I should make clear that I don't pretend to know exactly what Phyllis meant by her tweet, other than what she said to me, which I then expanded on by looking up a few items. I guess Phyllis doesn't care for the unshaven look and supports it by saying that Baba was cleanshaven. She did not mention what Baba had said to Lyn, but I looked it up. I think her tweet was meant to be provocative and I think it has succeeded. Kendra

Anonymous said...

good stuff Phyllis. karl gallagher

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.