On Professor Rathore’s Posting
On Professor Rathore’s Posting
It is beyond the scope and intent of Neti’s editors to respond to Professor Rathore’s very extensive commentary on the October 2001 issue of Neti which was devoted largely to an analysis of an “Awakening” of Bhau extensively dissemi-nated on the Internet some weeks earlier.
Three of Neti’s editors have each selected a topic from Professor Rathore’s exposition which they felt to be of central importance. These three topics might be charac-terized as: 1- Sanskaras in a changing context. 2- Intuition: important or too elusive? 3- Mandali: infallible, exempt from criticism, or still fallible?
The issues selected by Neti’s editors will certainly not be resolved by this honest attempt to deal with central issues that relate to the Avatar’s ministry in His current advent, but hopefully a few sign-posts will have been laid out to Baba’s own words which bear on these issues.
Rob Ryder :
Professor Rathore has put forward some excellent and learned objections to the October Neti article (find at http://meherbhopal.tripod.com/babaswords.html). I am pleased that a fellow Baba Lover has taken the time and effort to offer an alternative opinion, and I hope that the Professor will accept that we at Neti welcome him to this exchange. Be assured that we are not dry academics or closed mind religious fundamentalists, but are sincere in our desire both to understand and protect Baba’s precious words. Although we may appear critical of Bhau in the October article, it was not done lightly or without respect or love for Bhau. No one who has ever met Bhau could fail to see or be affected by his deep and sincere love for Meher Baba.
The first point to review is why did the Neti team in fact need to respond to Bhau’s Awakenings at all? The real moti-vation comes down to the fact that we felt the nature and scope of sanskaras was being redefined in Bhau’s Awaken-ing and this was not acceptable to us. Unfortunately the debate has become a bit foggy because we are getting bogged down in terms. The Professor correctly asserts that Baba has used both "Non natural" and "Un natural" in refer-ence to sanskaras and makes the point that "so called" may have been used as a qualification in various versions of the Discourses in front of the term Non Natural.
In fact,C.B. Purdom's God to Man and Man to God (pp.76-77) states that, "The sanskaras are of two main types – natu-ral and the so-called non-natural - according to the manner in which they come into existence" . On the other hand the seventh edition of Discourses (pp.32-33) reads, " The sans-karas are of two types - natural and nonnatural -according to the manner in which they come into existence".
While conceding this point and recognising the warning the Professor makes, the important difference is in what is meant by the classification rather than the terms. If we ignore both "non-natural" and "unnatural" and just concentrate on natu-ral sanskaras we find Baba’s usage is completely different from Bhau’s usage.
“The sanskaras which the soul gathers during this period of organic evolution are natural sanskaras.”
Discourses: The Formation and Function of Sanskaras p.33 (references are to the Sheriar edition 1987.)
“Natural impressions take one forward towards progress of consciouness, that is towards the Reality of God.”
Bhau’s "Awakening" of May 15th
Baba’s definition of natural sanskaras relates to how and when they are generated. These sanskaras are created during the evolution of the physical body leading to the human form and the exercise of conscious volition. Bhau’s usage defines natural sanskaras as those which exert a positive spiritual pull towards the involution of consciouness.
This to me is is not a small change in usage but is simply contradictory.
The Professor then makes use of extensive quotations from In God’s Hand to establish two basic points: -
That Baba has given a new specialised meaning to the terms Natural and Unnatural.
Some sanskaras help us in pushing our way across the planes and lead us towards Reality, God.
The Professor rightly points out that the Neti team ignored many Baba sources in their classification of Baba material and most importantly that we did not consider the most authentic and undiluted source of Baba’s words, In God’s Hand. It is a major omission, but then how should Baba lovers treat this new find? Despite its obvious beauty and lack of any external interpretation, I differ in my view to the Professor in that I did not find there to be any staggering new revelations within it. To me it reads as an early formu-lation of ideas that Baba later developed, clarified, and sim-plified for us, as well as elaborating into much greater detail. I confess I am not overly keen on terms such as Unnatural Light (same for Dark) as I don’t understand them, so they seem to me to be allegorical. They may have very deep spiritual meaning, but if they do, I am afraid it has passed me by.
There are two considerations that need to be carefully weighed when comparing In God’s Hand with other Baba material: -
What was Baba’s intention in creating the work and who was the target audience.
The order in which things were created by Baba, that can allow even for the Avatar himself to supercede earlier writings with later works.
We should not assume because other people were involved in the production of Baba material that the work is neces-sarily diminished by that involvement. We know the purpose of God Speaks, Listen Humanity (Part II) and the Discourses and we know that Baba was meticulous in reviewing and approving the material. We also have been promised that a spiritual push was left by Baba for us within these sources. We do not know the target audience (if any) of In God’s Hand and neither do we have a clear idea of the purpose Baba had in writing it.
The order in which work has been developed is very import-ant. I think it is assumed generally that if Baba has infinite knowledge then he should be able to describe the truth in one pass. However, I think that the Avatar in each incarnation, has explained the same truth in very different ways to mankind. I think it reasonable to assume that the spiritual explanation gets developed over the course of his lifetime, and therefore that later works in general supersede earlier works, as Baba decides the best way (this time around) to explain the same ancient truth. On this basis Baba lovers should look at In God’s Hand candidly, as it is written in 1925 and represents one of Baba’s earliest works.
It is quite clear from the Discourses and elsewhere the importance that Baba places on intuition and its rele-vance as a spiritual tool in the daily life of the New Humanity, as well as a tool to be used towards God-realisation,
'The transition from instinct to reason was one such step: the transition from reason to intuition will be another.' (Discourses – p. 268)
'Realisation of God comes to the aspirant who uses discrimination as well as intuition about true and lasting values....Everyday life must be guided by the discrim-ination and inspired by the highest intuitions.' (Discourses – pp. 261-262)
It has also been said that intuition is the gift to humanity that Baba has made in this advent, as love was in the time of Jesus.
In any discussion about intuition there could be said to be three major questions that need considering: what actually is intuition?; What are the sources or origins of intuition?; What are the impediments to intuition? Unfor-tunately, although Baba refers to intuition frequently, He does not appear to answer any of these questions in a way that leaves no room for speculation. However, I do feel that from the material we have, we can go a long way in determining the characteristics of an intuition and its origins. For example, intuition is said to come from within, is connected to wisdom and is in some way related to the soul,
'Tuition is impressed from without, while intuition dawns from within.' (Life At Its Best – p. 38)
'Developed intuition is consolidated and compressed understanding distilled through a multitude of diverse experiences gathered in previous lives. Different souls start with different degrees of intuitive wisdom as their initial capital for the experiments and adventures of their earthly lives. This intuition may be said to have been the product of past experiences, thus adding to the equipment of the psyche; but it is more truly an unfoldment of what was already latent in the individu-alised soul....from the very beginning of creation.' (Discourses – p. 312)
Intuition might even originate from one specific aspect of the trio-attributes of the soul/God,
'Infinite knowledge is latent in everyone, but it has to be unveiled. The way to increase knowledge is to put into practice that bit of spiritual wisdom a person may already happen to have.' (Discourses – p. 261)
And it is also mentioned as having a source in the Avatar Himself,
'I am never silent. I speak eternally. The voice that is heard deep within the soul is My voice - the voice of inspiration, of intuition, of guidance.' (Love Alone Prevails – p. 166)
But if intuition is to be so important, as Baba suggests, how are we to determine when we are actually having an intuition as distinguished from wishful thinking, instinct or even desire ? Though it may be hard to sep-arate intuition from these other aspects of our daily lives, surely we have a responsibility to Baba and our-selves to make at least an effort to do so. Here it might be useful to look more closely at some of the terms that Baba Himself associates with intuition, predominately - heart, love, faith, unity, values, service, discrimination,
'....the aspirant makes real progress by putting into practice the best intuitions of the heart....' (Discourses – p. 185)
'....The heart intuitively grasps the values that are pro-gressively realised in the life of an individual....The heart which in its own way feels the unity of life, wants to fulfil itself through a life of love, sacrifice, and service. It is keen about giving instead of taking. It derives its driving power from the inmost spiritual urge, expressing itself through the immediate intuitions of the inner life.' (Discourses – p. 95)
'True faith is grounded in the deeper experiences of the spirit and the unerring deliverances of purified intuition. It is not to be regarded as the antithesis of critical rea-son, but as the unfailing guide of critical reason. When critical reason is implemented by a deep and living faith based on pure intuition....' (Discourses – p. 367)
Perhaps, it is when such factors come to play in the life of an individual that intuition can begin to take place. We might even be able to determine the characteristics of an intuition in relation to these terms. That is, if an inner experience gives one a taste of such ideals as selflessness, unity of life and spirit, love, sacrifice, wisdom, and even prompts one to put such things into practice, then it could be termed an intuition. If it though, as Baba puts it, 'is saturated with experiences of multiplicity and separateness and therefore feeds the egocentric tendencies that divide humanity and make it selfish and possessive', then it is not. Another charac-teristic of a true intuition may be that it has actually been trued by one’s own intellect and reason and/or by that of ones companions, where
'....the assimilation of Truth, grasped through lucid and unerring intuition, which never falters and never fails, because it has emerged out of the fusion of head and heart, intellect and love.' (Glimpses Of The God-Man, Vol.VI – p. 87)
Mandali – do we need to create institutions?
When I heard of Meher Baba in 1981, my first question was, is Meher Baba still alive? My second question was, are there any people, who lived with Meher Baba, and are they alive?
My first book about Meher Baba was Tales >From the New Life. I was struck by the flavour, the clarity of the words, as if rags of old clothing had been pulled off ancient spiritual figures. It felt so young, there was air. Next I needed to ascertain whether his close companions reflected that clarity, openness and directness, or whether the usual mirage of holi-ness and dogma had already set in.
I need to say that in my later childhood my father let me read amazing books like The Secret of the Golden Flower, with the Foreword of Richard Wilhelm, a classic of esoteric world literature, and from our earliest conversations he pointed to that inner honesty, the need to discern and beware of spiri-tual institutions, dogma and hypocrisy. When I met Baba’s companions in India and Don Stevens in London, I was struck by a spirituality so alive, so moving.
In later years, I asked myself often, what are these people, what role did these close companions play in that unique (always unique) re-appearance of the Avatar?
Charles Haynes described them to me in Meherabad as Baba’s limbs. I observed in Meherazad Hall that many questions asked by the visitors could not be answered by these companions, which puzzled me at first. Then it became apparent to me that, as they accompanied Baba, they were in the middle of the action and the ‘action’ was demanding.
The workload, the required focus and speed of ever present changes were breathtaking. Eruch often said the ‘why’ and ‘what’ had no place at that time. It was through the many questions of the visitors that they came to realise the spiritual landscape they had travelled.
In the Discourses it is written that Vidnyani sanskaras are given to the mandali. I would like to propose that these sanskaras were given to the mandali as a working kit to be able to sustain the work they had to do with Meher Baba.
But as God Speaks explains, the storehouse of sanskaras is huge and not only recent but ancient - to be sublimated, balanced and to attract grace. Many stories, written and told by some mandali, describe the moving inadequacies of their understanding and their difficulties in living with Meher Baba. This never diminished my admiration and wonder-ment for these close companions. What puzzled me, how-ever, in later years, was that I found a growing assumption that these mandali were infallible, that their messages and talks were on a par with Meher Baba’s words. They are not and don’t need to be. Their contribution to Baba’s work is only fully known to Baba, who bestowed it. Their roles are ancient.
It is interesting that Baba never clarified with names who are mandali and who are not. It is always the people who come later who dish out titles, attributions, dogma, and of course build institutions.
But as it has been said – the Avatar will descend anew because of that need to lift the truth from under the rubble. Renate Moritz
It would not be just for Don to remain silent and leave Renate to bear the full brunt of having raised the issue, regardless of how tactfully and charmingly done, of exemp-tion from error and/or criticism of Baba’s close mandali. In fact I was horrified on the first occasion when I found myself alone with Baba and one of his closest and most beloved mandali in a New York hotel room when Baba chose to raise a storm of anger and criticism when the man-dali reported having failed to complete successfully a request made by Baba.
A day later exactly the same scene was repeated, and again I was the only witness.
Perhaps ten years later a similar drama was played out at Meherazad with, if possible, an even more beloved close mandali. Both were individuals I adored and always will.
And what did all this mean to me? Finally I saw that Baba meant me to understand that even the closest of his mandali, even in the closing years of their lives, were still going through the process of balancing and refining and correction. And that even if the Avatar Himself were not there, this would continue as He had planned until the process had finally been completed as He had known it to be.