Saturday, 12 September 2015

"Come All Unto Me"

Baba said, 

"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 pervade 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 to come unto me."

Here we are, then.  His Call is totally unambiguous.  He does NOT say "Come all unto Me via so and so."  He does not say "Come all unto Me via a path that calls itself the 'fast track' to Me because they mistakenly believe that I promised them a 6th plane illumined teacher for the next 700 years.  He does not say "Come all unto Me by going to a 'living guru' who can raise your kundalini or awaken your inner consciousness or heal you spiritually or any other such diversions.  

His Call is direct.  "COME ALL UNTO ME."  He directs us to take the shortest route to the Avatar, by heeding His Call and making a bee-line for His feet, to hold on fast to His Daman and to remember Him as often as possible, preferably with every breath.  This is Meher Baba's Call.  

Later in the message Beloved Baba gave on 12th September 1954 He goes on to say,
"Age after age, history repeats itself when men and women, in their ignorance, limitations and pride, sit in judgment over the God-incarnated Man who declares 
His Godhood, and condemn Him for uttering the Truths they cannot understand. He is indifferent to abuse and persecution for, in His true compassion He understands, in His continual experience of Reality He knows, and in His infinite mercy he forgives."  

More and more we hear people who come to Meherazad and sit in Mandali Hall and ask Meherwan Jessawala if he thinks if so and so is a true guru?  "I feel very drawn to him or her, should I go there?"  Sitting in judgement on the Avatar Himself and feeling that He is not enough, that one needs a 'living guru' is at the root of such curiosity.  As Meherwan says, having come to the court of the Emperor, one does not need to bother with His clerks or ministers.  He also reminds people that those who claim spiritual advancement can only be recognized by one who is God-realized.  The likes of you and me, we are not fit to make this call.  In modern management speak, such things are outside your pay scale!!  Those who indulge their curiousity will have to pay the price, and sometimes the price is to lose the Kohinoor diamond that is the Avatar in exchange for a piece of glass.  If you do, He will forgive you, for forgiveness is His nature.  But you will have to take the consequences of your actions, because He won't take those away.

Baba has assured us that in each incarnation we go forward, never backwards.  However, we can go backwards in the same incarnation...and anyone who succumbs to the lure of the latest 'enlightened being' who comes along or the one who promises to get you an audience with someone who has passed over or claims to heal your aura, body, spirit or mind through occult means after coming to Meher Baba takes that risk with eyes open.  You makes your choices, you pays the price.  No other way, is there?  Choose wisely, my friends.  You have already been chosen by God Himself. Don't lose this priceless opportunity by going after mirages.  

Thursday, 9 July 2015

It's Silence Day at Meherazad...

Meherazad - as it looks today, but photographed by Robin Oppenheimer yesterday
10th July  ..Silence Day all over the world for Baba lovers.  90 years ago on this day Meher Baba started His Silence which is still reverberating in our hearts and lives today.  He speaks in His Silence, and we all have heard Him, or else why would we be observing this day?

Meherazad, Baba's home, goes from mad, mad rush of pilgrims coming to visit His home on 9th July to becoming a place of silence in the space of a few hours.  I woke up this morning remembering that I didn't talk to Baba aloud.  Went and greeted Meherwan Jessawala by joining my hands to him, then got everything ready for his breakfast and went outside to do my turning clockwise exercise and what happens?  Our dearest Gabby, Meherazad's 3-legged dog, does what he tries to do every day, spin with me!!  Without thinking I said "Good morning Gabby!" then had to smack my hand over my mouth for having broken my silence. And it was only 4.55 AM! 

Well!!  Perhaps that's it, and the rest of my Silence Day will pass, well, in is easy to be silent here.  Since the workers keep silent too (voluntarily) there is none of the usual shouting of instructions, petty squabbles, laughter and joking.  Instead you can hear the birds singing, and boy do they sing loudly!  The coppersmith, the Indian cuckoo, the Indian robin, parrots, crows ...all chorusing away.  Singing His Name, no doubt.  The plants rustle quietly, there is a loud creaking noise as the tin shade next to Eruch's cabin sways in the breeze and someone has just turned the outside tap on full, even though we are in the middle of a severe water shortage...

I went for a walk this morning, around the foot of Seclusion Hill and around the new forest road back to Meherazad.  One of our dogs came with me.  Cissy was so good, she came each time I clapped.  Much better behaviour than when I am talking and call out to her to come!  Seclusion Hill looked beautiful and I wished I could climb it, but I can't right now because my damaged knees can't cope with the climb back down... maybe soon, yes Baba?

Yesterday we had a few hundred pilgrims come and take Darshan at Meherazad, they came from all over India to be with their Beloved at His Samadhi for this most important day of the Avataric advent. 

Pilgrims and volunteers outside Baba's room at Meherazad 9 July 2015. Photo Robin Oppenheimer.
Volunteers taking Darshan at the very end of the pilgrims' visit, 9 July 2015.  Photo by Robin Oppenheimer.
They came and cued for a surprisingly short time, visited with Baba in His bedroom and in Mandali Hall and then came around to greet Meherwan Jessawala who sat in his usual place on the men's side verandah and greeted each with joined hands.  Then they went off to absorb the beauty of the place, many of them lying prone on the benches in the garden and looking up at the leafy tree cover and, beyond that, the blue sky.  It was a happy day, and we Meherazad residents were so grateful to be part of this love feast.  Today the pilgrims are exchanging real things at His feet in Meherabad.. after all, Baba Himself said, "Things that are real are given and received in silence."  Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!!!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

5 Tibetan Rites - full demo so you can join in.....

I am posting the video I used to learn to do the 5 Tibetans, and I recommend them to anyone who has pain or is feeling that their body, mind and soul are getting weary and slow. 

There are other articles and videos about the 5Ts but this is my favourite.

Taking Baba's Name for Aam Aadmi (Us common folks) or Dummies.

Meherwan Jessawala entering Baba's bedroom to take Darshan. 2014.
Meherwan Jessawala has been remembering Meher Baba since he was very young.  When he first met Baba as a child, he called Baba "Krishnaji" because Krishna was his favourite Avatar, being mischievous and fun-loving.  However, as he grew older he so totally fell in love with Baba's current Avatar that it was all he would focus on.  So started the habit of taking His Name whenever he could.

Time passed, Meherwan and his mum and sister moved to Meherazad to be near Eruch Jessawala, and he had not many distractions so he started taking Baba's Name almost constantly.  Today you can see his lips move in silent remembrance, all the time. Sometimes, when he is asleep I go to check on him and make sure he is alright, and I hear him going "Baba Baba Baba Baba" in his sleep.  Meherwan is exceptional.  He wants all of us to focus on taking the Lord's Name continuously.  I have written much about this in the past and you have all read what I wrote. 

Being with Meherwan almost continuously, I can't help but absorb some of this "Taking Baba's Name" drive.  So I have been practising...and I found that though I can't do it even a fraction as well as he does, there are things that have helped me to improve.  Here are some of my own tips and tricks for getting into the habit of constant remembrance:-
  1. Decide that you will commit to this practice.  Vaguely saying, "I want to take Baba's Name all the time" just does not do it.  So, having committed, you will have to set aside a time and place for this most important activity.  In the beginning I found that if I set aside 15 minutes before I went to sleep, it worked best for me.  I'd fall asleep taking Baba's Name, and usually slept wonderfully well.  This is because there are no violent, angry, resentful or just stupid thoughts going through your mind at the same time as you are focused on His Name, and so you fall asleep peacefully.  Actually, I'd fall asleep within 5 minutes of starting to take His Name!
  2. When you wake up say "Good morning Baba!" before you even sit up or say anything else.  I say it aloud.  If you then want to offer thanks for a good night and offer whatever happens during the day to Him, go right ahead.  I just started off saying "Good morning." 
  3. Begin thanking Baba for things during the day.  A nice bit of fruit - Thank You Baba. A phone call from a close friend - Thank You Baba.  You get the picture??  I had severe pain in my knees for over 2 years, and I'd walk along and thank Him for the pain, because it helped me remember Him.  I'd also berate Him for His gift of suffering, but so what?  You can tell Baba anything, and He will listen.  I then discovered the Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation (see the separate blogpost with the YouTube video that I used, posted right after this one) and my knee pains disappeared within days.  So now I think of Him when I walk and thank Him for the absence of pain. 
  4. Use external aids to make this repetition automatic.  I recorded the Meher Dhun at Amartithi and then put it on my phone.  I can play it in a loop, and it is a most wonderful way of repeating His Name.  You can sing His Name and record yourself doing it, then play your own voice in a loop.  This is actually better because you know your own voice and it makes a deeper imprint on your subconscious memory than someone else's voice. 
  5. Ask Baba for help.  Baba has said that He will not grant you your wishes, but there is one exception.  If you ask Him for help in remembering Him constantly, He CANNOT refuse you this help.  
  6. Notice changes within, no matter how small.  My first sign that I was beginning to internalize the Naam-smaran was that I'd wake up in the morning without a feeling of "What do I have to do today?" Instead I'd wake up and have a few minutes of conversation with Baba, aloud if I felt like it.  This helped me to learn about letting go of (illusory) control and surrendering the day to Him.  Lower anxiety and a much happier start to the day. Then I noticed that I was going "Baba Baba Baba" while travelling in rickshaws, on trains and buses, was beginning to become more of a inner refrain and less of a conscious practice.  If you are travelling in India, the condition of the roads and the disorderly traffic certainly helps. 
  7. Listen to devotional music, stuff that uplifts you and makes you happy.  Avoid violent and loud music, films that depict human nature at its worst or are excessively full of gratuitous sex and violence.  When I started looking I found that there are many bhajans, chants and sholakas that are so inspiring that my day is better for starting with one of these forms of remembrance.  And there are so many sweet films that are being made that are filled with love, light and the better side of humanity.  I still love Queen's loud anthems, though...and Boston Legal.
  8. If you are falling asleep reading all the above, just forget about it all and offer it up to Baba.  It is all up to Him, anyway.  He will do whatever is best for you and you will get to the remembrance sooner or later.  

Meherwan Jessawala bowing down to Baba's bed on his birthday, 2014.
My uncle Eruch did say that sanskaras unwind when we take His Name.  As I've said before, he explained that when you are taking His Name whole-heartedly everything you do is done by Baba and not by you, so you get no further additions to your sanskaric load.  Instead your impressions begin the process of unwinding.  If you go by this, Meherwan is whizzing around and around very rapidly, unwinding all the lifetimes of sanskaras!!  For myself, I'm hoping I've slowed down the winding process, just a smidgen!  

What are the benefits?  I am less likely to jump to conclusions, start arguments, get upset, take things personally, become all judgemental and pompous.  I am still arrogant and still say what I feel, but I am trying to do it more gently.  I worry less about my parents and Meherwan dying, about what I will do when they are gone, stuff that I have no control over and is directly contradicting Beloved Baba's order "Don't worry, be happy."  I feel more love towards others, maybe because I am finally getting a very vague inkling that He really IS in everyone.  There are still people I cannot stand.  But right now I can honestly say there are only 2 people who fit into this category.  Pretty good, huh?  Others, well I wouldn't court their presence, but I don't shun it either.  Most important, I am happier and am letting go of stuff more easily.

OK, this dummy's thoughts on "Repetition of Baba's Name" are done.  You can share your own thoughts and tips in the comments below!  Avatar Meher Baba Ki Jai!!

Meherwan and my sister Dolly walking back towards Mandali Hall, Meherazad after Darshan in Baba's room.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Goodbye Dinshaw Kelawala..

Yesterday at 4.45 a.m. I got a phone call from my sister Dolly to inform me that Dr Dinshaw Kelawala had passed away in Panchgani, early in the morning.  He was 82.

Dinshawji had a very old connection with Baba and he didn't even realize it!!  Years ago, when he was a young boy, living in Satara with his grandmother, she rented out two of her bungalows (she was a very rich Parsi lady, with multiple properties) to a man and his companions.  They settled in, and he would often see this man walking around the compound, but since no one was allowed to disturb him, Dinshaw didn't think too much about it all.  The two bungalows were Rosewood and Grafton, and it was to Baba that his granny rented out the properties.   Of course, Dinshawji had no idea at all that this was Whom he had seen as a boy.

Years later, my sister Dolly went to work at the Dastur School Administrative Office.  As a trustee of the school board and also of the charitable trust's board that funded the 3 schools, Dinshawji was one of the persons she had to answer to, as the chief accountant and office manager.  Not only that, his wife Zerene was the principal of the primary school, and she became very fond of Dolly and adopted her, sort-of.  As time went on Dolly became an honorary member of the Kelawala-Divecha family, and Zerene's sister Najoo Divecha was like a foster mother to her, especially after my parents moved to Meherabad.  Since Dolly talked about Baba to them all, Dinshawji became interested and started reading Baba books.  It was then, in one of the books, that he realized that Baba had stayed in Satara at his family's bungalows!!!  And that he had seen Baba as a boy.

Time passed and he and the whole family became very close to Baba and to Eruch and all the Jessawalas.  They did in fact, become part of our family.  So it is with a very heavy heart that I, personally, say goodbye to Dinshawji.  He was a very intelligent, thoughtful, humorous, loving and kind man.  He was the Dean of the Symbiosis Law School for some years, and a very well-known authority on Trust and Contract Law.  His generosity was such that he would help anyone who came to him and asked.  Affectionately known as "Kaka" (Uncle) to many in Satara and Panchgani, his smiling face will be so missed by all who knew him.

Happy trails, Dinshawji.  Baba has you safe in His arms now, and we are happy for you.  But we will surely and sorely miss you.  Jai Meher Baba!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The True Meaning of Surrender - Mandali-style.

Surrender has been a subject that has been much discussed at Meherazad and elsewhere.  On my trip to the west coast of the USA Meherwan Jessawala asked me to make it a part of my talks in each group I visited, and I did so.  A lot of those present were able to benefit from his wisdom and so was I.

Today I am going to share two stories of surrender, one so poignant that it will break your heart and gladden it at the same time, the other a more humorous one that will amuse you.

Baidul and his family lived in a poor part of Iran.  There was not much work, life was hard.  He and Soltoon had three sons and two daughters to raise.  Things were so bad for the family that the two older sons died of, well, deprivation. Baidul was very scared that the third son too would die, so he sent him to Pune, to his younger brother's home.  He asked his brother to take in his son, treat him like his own and give him an education. His brother promised him he'd do just that, so Baidul left his son with his brother.

The brother did not, unfortunately, fulfill his promise.  Instead of sending the boy to school he worked him mercilessly.  The boy was nothing more than an unpaid servant, often starved and beaten for not doing enough.  He was a mere child but was expected to do a man's work and more.  One day he could do no more, and collapsed.  His uncle, instead of realizing that the boy was exhausted and weak, lost his temper and kicked him hard in the stomach.  So hard did he kick him that the boy had internal bleeding and died.  Baidul knew nothing about this. 

A few years later the whole family moved to India and settled in Poona.  Baidul found himself serving Beloved Baba as a member of His mandali.  However, somehow the news came to Baidul that his only son had died at the hands of his brother.  He was devastated and went to Baba to ask Him what he should do now.  Baba gestured, "Go to your brother, fall at his feet and beg his forgiveness that you burdened him with the care of your son."  Baidul didn't wait to be told again.  He left Baba and went to Bombay, where he met his brother and did exactly as Baba had told him to do. The brother didn't say anything, remorseful or otherwise.  Having carried out Baba's order, Baidul returned to Him, and Baba told him, "It is over now.  All finished."  That was it! Neither Baidul nor Baba ever mentioned the matter again.

Such is surrender.  

Here's the funny story, which Meherwan told me to specially share with a friend who was having to face a lot of criticism, but which is specially about total surrender to Him, no matter what he dishes out (pun intentional):

When Beloved Baba, the women and men mandali were staying at Rishikesh, Naja feel ill and could not cook for the group.  So Manu Jessawala and Katie Irani had to take up the cooking.  Both were young girls, and both were very timid.  Yes, Katie was really timid too.  She never lifted her head up or spoke back to anyone.  There were certain ladies in the group who took great pleasure in constantly criticizing and poking at both of them.  They would go complain to Baba about each meal, find fault with whatever they did, no matter how hard they worked, it was never good enough.  Things got so bad that Manu had a nervous breakdown, and she was out of action.  Katie now had to cook for the whole big group single-handed.

Instead of giving her a break and helping her, the critics continued without any consideration or thought of her condition.  One day, after a particularly bad bout of complaints Baba lost His temper with KATIE!  He told her that because of her incompetence He had to listen to these complaints and it was interfering with His Universal Work, so what was the use of her being with Him?  In Gujarati He said to her, "Go, blacken your face and never show it to me again.  I don't want you here with Me."  Katie was shocked and deeply hurt.  She didn't care about the critics, but that she had interfered with Baba's Work and caused Him any problems, that was unbearable for her.  She immediately left Baba's presence and went to her bed to pack and leave.

As she was packing, tears ran unchecked from her eyes.  She was crying so hard that she didn't see Baba come up behind her.  He turned her around and seeing her crying, gestured, "What?  Why are you crying?  Do you know how much suffering I go through each second for the whole Universe?  Can't you even bear this much from Me?"  Katie wiped her eyes and said, "Baba, I am crying because I have caused a problem for You, interfered with Your Universal Work.  I don't care otherwise for anything.  I am going away, Baba, because I don't want to be a hindrance and load on You."  Hearing this Baba embraced her and said, "I can say anything, but remember that I know your heart.  I know that you do everything for Me, and so I am pleased with your work.  From now on, if anyone says anything to you about the food, you have My permission to tell them to eat what you cook or stay hungry."  

This was the best prize Katie could have wished for.  That her beloved Baba recognized her work for Him was the only thing that mattered.  From that day forward she never took any nonsense from anyone, and would give them back as good as she got.  In fact, this became a game in later years.  She would come over to the men's side at Meherazad in the evenings, and Eruch, Aloba and Falu would tease her about the food.  They would say, "Katie, what is all this grass you constantly send us?  Send us some big chunks of meat!!"  And Katie would reply, "Yes, you go buy the meat and bring it and I will cook it.  Otherwise, shall I just cut some chunks out of my arms and thighs so you all can have a feast?"  It cheered everyone up and was a lot of fun to watch!  

My Creation, My Rules!

The subject was obedience, and how to be obedient.  This was in Mandali Hall, last Tuesday.  There was quite a crowd, and someone who was listening to Meherwan Jessawala talk about obedience asked, "Does Baba get displeased or angry with us when we fail to obey Him?"  I said "No." and simultaneously Meherwan said "Yes."  It must have confused the hell out of the poor pilgrim who asked this question!  

I asked my uncle to explain and he said, "When Baba gives an order and we don't obey Him implicitly, He is displeased. He's our Divine Father and our disobedience makes Him sad. We can't give the Lord anything, but we can give Him our obedience."  If we are always questioning and challenging Him, it is not only displeasing to Him, but could also be a hindrance in His Universal Work, because Baba does not ask us to do anything without a definite (and divine) purpose behind it.  Thinking about this, I shared with the group that when I was a kid I'd constantly question my mum, and often disobey her instructions or wishes.  Because she was bound by Baba's order to not punish me, she would sigh and say, "When you are a mother yourself, you'll understand what I am going through."  Of course, I used to scoff!!  Oh, the arrogance of a child!  Years later, when I had my son Sheriar to bring up, he started on the "Why" refrain, and I always said to him, "Because you are my son and I am your mother. You live in my house, and while you are in it, it is my house and my rules."  Everyone laughed.

As Meherwan was about to continue, a very smiley Jeannie MacDonald spoke up from her corner, "Oh, I get it!  Baba is like a mother, He is saying, "My Creation, My rules." so if you don't like them then you have to go find another creation, if you can."  I thought that was absolutely perfect!  Of course, that is how it is.  His Creation, His argument! Because we have nowhere else to go, do we?

Meherwan Jessawala walking out to wave goodbye to the bus, with Suzie Imura (R) and Ma Meher's father (L)

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