Meher Baba/Teachings and methodology

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Meher Baba conveying points using his alphabet board that are later written up by a disciple. Dr. Abdulla Ghani right.
For a list of External Resources see Meher Baba.

No new religion[edit]

Meher Baba said repeatedly that he did not wish to establish a new cult or religion, but rather to revitalize the great religions of the world.

  • "I have not come to establish anything; I have come to put life into the old." [1]
  • "My object in coming to the West is not with the intention of establishing new creeds or spiritual societies and organizations. I see the structure of all the great religions of the world toppling... I intend to bring together all religions and cults like beads on one string and revitalize them for individual and collective needs." (Meher Baba, Paramount New Reel, London, 1932) [2]
  • "I have come not to establish any cult, society or organization - nor to establish a new religion. The Religion I shall give teaches the knowledge of the One behind the many. The Book which I shall make people read is the book of the heart, which holds the key to the mystery of life." [3]

Although Meher Baba did not establish a new religion, he does have a small number of devotees. An estimation is that there are about 100,000 in India, and consirderably fewer in the rest of the world. In spite of Meher Baba's small movement and pilgrimages to his various centers around the world, followers of Meher Baba take conscious pains not to organize into a formal religion with membership rolls, ritual requirements, priesthood, etc. There is no initiation or central authority or hierarchy. The Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust in Ahmednagar, India was established by Meher Baba to administrate his estate in Meherabad and Meherazad India. In addition The Trust performs other duties ascribed to it by Meher Baba in his Trust Deed of providing pilgrim facilities near his tomb, administrating several chartered charitable organizations, protecting copyrights of Baba's works, and spreading Meher Baba's name and written messages.

Emphasis on a feeling of Oneness[edit]

Meher Baba taught that the cause of current human difficulties stems from artificial man-made divisions and an intense feeling of separateness. We find many examples of such divisiveness in our modern world, including extreme religious and sectarian conflicts, exaggerated nationalism and race prejudice, castes, political disharmony, the divide between religion and science, and the pulling apart of spiritual and secular life. Baba addressed this problem in three main ways. First he upheld those metaphysical views of Vedanta, Sufism, and Western Mysticism which teach that divisions are an illusion caused by ignorance of the true nature of reality. His major book, God Speaks: the Theme and Purpose of Creation, as well as several of his smaller books of discourses and messages, The Everything and the Nothing, Life At Its Best, and Beams on the Spiritual Panorama, address this subject almost exclusively. The following are some exemplary quotes by Meher Baba on the topic of Oneness.

  • "I tell you all, with my Divine Authority, that you and I are not WE, but ONE." [4]
  • "The time has come for the preordained destruction of multiple separateness which keeps man from experiencing the feeling of unity and brotherhood." (Meher Baba, Final Declaration, September 30, 1954)
  • "God is everywhere and does everything. God is within us and knows everything. God is without us and sees everything. God is beyond us and IS everything. God alone IS." [5]
  • "It is my God-ordained work to awaken humanity to the inviolable unity and inalienable divinity of all life. Know that you are in essence eternal, and heirs to infinite knowledge, bliss and power. In order to enjoy your unlimited state all that is necessary is to shed your ignorance which makes you feel that you are separate from the rest of life. The separative ego or "I" can disappear only through divine love, which will be my gift to mankind." [6]
  • "When longing is most intense separation is complete, and the purpose of separation, which was that Love might experience itself as Lover and Beloved, is fulfilled; and union follows. And when union is attained, the lover knows that he himself was all along the Beloved whom he loved and desired union with; and that all the impossible situations that he overcame were obstacles which he himself had placed in the path to himself. To attain union is so impossibly difficult because it is impossible to become what you already are! Union is nothing other than knowledge of oneself as the Only One." [7]

The second way that Baba approached the feeling of division and disharmony was to make a great effort to syncretize three principle branches of mysticism: Vedanta, Sufism, and Mysticism.

  1. Vedanta is the main mystical branch of Hinduism. Meher Baba upheld the school of Vedanta known as Advaita. This view holds that the underlying absolute reality is in fact One and indivisible, while apparent diversity is an effect of ignorance and a total illusion. The purpose of life, ultimately, is to experience reality as it really is by shedding illusions over many lives. Advaita Vedanta was first perfected by the Indian medieval philosopher Adi Shankara.
  2. Sufism is the mystical branch of Islam. Baba upholds the school of Sufism known as Wahdat-ul-Wujood (Arabic: Literally, unity of existence) formulated by the Arab Muslim mystic and philosopher Ibn Arabi.
  3. Mysticism includes those diverse branches of western thought expressed most often in the poetic mystical works of philosophers and poets like Spinoza, Emerson, Goethe, Novalis and others who upheld views of Metaphysical Unity.

The third way Baba encouraged unity was to integrate spiritual life into ordinary life, which he saw as artificially divided. In his book Discourses, and in other works, Meher Baba takes pains to mend the divide between so-called spiritual life and ordinary life. Meher Baba emphasized that, in order to be meaningful, spiritual life must be practical and applied in daily living. He discouraged monastic isolation and ascetic practices for most people.

  • "For the spiritual aspirant, however, it is not enough to exercise merely intellectual discrimination between the false and the true. Though intellectual discrimination is undoubtedly the basis for all further preparation, it yields its fruit only when newly perceived values are brought into relation with practical life." (Discourses, 6th ed. Vol. 3, p. 115, Meher Baba, 1967)
  • "So the purely intellectual search for God or the hidden spiritual reality, has its reverberations in the practical life of a man. His life now becomes a real experiment with perceived spiritual values." (Discourses, 6th ed. Vol. 2, p. 16, Meher Baba, 1967)

It is important not to misinterpret Baba's concern that "newly perceived values are brought into relation with practical life" as meaning he endorses a blurring of the lines between church and state. Meher Baba was opposed to the mixing of religion and politics. Rather, Meher Baba was emphasizing that the spiritual values of the individual be expressed in daily life, such as in treating others well, being honest, etc.

Meher Baba's definite claim to be the Avatar[edit]

Meher Baba was not hesitant to say what he took himself to be. He said he was the Avatar, the same soul that takes birth again and again thorughout the ages every 700-1400 years. He said he was Zoroaster, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad and that he has now appeared on Earth as Meher Baba.

  • "Age after age, when the wick of Righteousness burns low, the Avatar comes yet once again to rekindle the torch of Love and Truth. Age after age, amidst the clamor of disruptions, wars, fear and chaos, rings the Avatar's call: 'Come all unto me.' Although, because of the veil of illusion, this Call of the Ancient One may appear as a voice in the wilderness, its echo and re-echo nevertheless pervades through time and space to rouse at first a few, and eventually millions, from their deep slumber of ignorance. And in the midst of illusion, as the Voice behind all voices, it awakens humanity to bear witness to the Manifestation of God amidst mankind. The time is come. I repeat the Call, and bid all come unto me." [8]
  • "All this world confusion and chaos was inevitable and no one is to blame. What had to happen has happened; and what has to happen will happen. There was and is no way out except through my coming in your midst. I had to come, and I have come. I am the Ancient One." [9]
  • "Irrespective of doubts and convictions, and for the Infinite Love I bear for one and all, I continue to come as the Avatar, to be judged time and again by humanity in its ignorance, in order to help man distinguish the Real from the false. Invariably muffled in the cloak of the infinitely true humility of the Ancient One, the Divine Call is at first little heeded, until, in its infinite strength, it spreads in volume to reverberate and keep on reverberating in countless hearts as the Voice of Reality. Strength begets humility, whereas modesty bespeaks weakness. Only he who is truly great can be really humble. When, in the firm knowledge of it, a man admits his true greatness, it is in itself an expression of humility. He accepts his greatness as most natural and is expressing merely what he is, just as a man would not hesitate to admit to himself and others the fact of his being man. For a truly great man, who knows himself to be truly great, to deny his greatness would be to belittle what he indubitably is. For whereas modesty is the basis of guise, true greatness is free from camouflage." [10]
  • "Thus it is that God as man, proclaiming Himself as the Avatar, suffers Himself to be persecuted and tortured, to be humiliated and condemned by humanity for whose sake His Infinite Love has made him stoop so low, in order that humanity, by its very act of condemning God’s manifestation in the form of Avatar should, however, indirectly, assert the existence of God in His Infinite Eternal state." [11]

Meher Baba's Metaphysics[edit]

Meher Baba unequivocably upheld the idea of Unity of Being. Everything was, is, and remains, in the Oversoul. Baba states that Evolution is the soul's journey through ignorance to inevitably find its real nature and identity with God. To illustrate this, here is an excerpt from his book God Speaks in which he is describing the state of consciousness a soul experiences while identifying itself as a plant in the course of its evolution.

  • "When the consciousness of the soul associates now with the most-first species of vegetable-form, the soul, thus conscious, tends to identify itself with that form and actually finds itself as that species of vegetable-form, quite oblivious of the reality that it (soul) is infinite, eternal and without form—eternally in the Over-Soul (Paramatma)." (God Speaks: The Theme and Purpose of Creation, by Meher Baba, 2nd ed. p. 17)

To summarize Meher Baba's theme: the beginning of creation is caused by God's original urge to know himself, expressed in the question "Who am I?" This results in an imagined journey which culminates when the soul, experiencing itself as a fully evolved human being, and after innumerable lifetimes of searching, comes to know and actually experiences its true answer, "I am God." This, Baba says, is called God Realization and to have this experience is the ultimate destiny of all individual souls and the true purpose of creation.

For a more in-depth review of Meher Baba's metaphysics see the Wikipedia article on Meher Baba's main book God Speaks.

Further Reading[edit]

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For a list of external resources see Meher Baba.