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Meher Baba - Avatar of the Age
by Andrew Thomas

Mahatma Gandhi said of him without reservation, "I am not equal to the dirt of his nails. If he wanted, he could make the sun rise in the West and set in the East." Mother Teresa said that he was Christ-like, but asked that this affirmation not be repeated while she was alive. He has inspired, through Pete Townshend, the most memorable and successful music of the rock band The Who. "Don't worry, be happy," a worldwide hit song performed by Bobby McFerrin, was also inspired by him. Renowned actress and creator of the Matchabelli perfumes, Princess Norina Matchabelli, was his disciple and lived on his ashram in India for several years. This individual, considered by many to be the Avatar or Christ - the direct descent or incarnation of God - of this age, has had a profound impact not only on these well known few but on millions of people from all backgrounds and corners of the world. This person, this spiritual being, is known as Meher Baba.

Born Merwan Sheriar Irani, in Poona, India, in 1894, his parents were of Persian descent and Zoroastrian background. His childhood was essentially ordinary, and he had no cognizance as to his spiritual destiny. But with a kiss on the forehead from an old woman, the revered and remarkable Sufi saint Hazrat Babajan, Merwan, now aged 19, had a dramatic awakening to the experience of his Godhood. Just as had happened with the unveiling of Jesus during his baptism by John in the river Jordan, Meher Baba's true nature as Avatar was revealed to him in this moment.

The unveiling of Avataric consciousness is a subtle but pervasive event of universal significance. The Avatar might be thought of as a door, and intermediary, between God unmanifest - the God of infinite and eternal pure Being - and the creation, which is the manifestation of God. The times during which the Avatar is physically on earth and the period of his manifestation are the spring tides of creation: God is more accessible; life as a whole is stepped up to a new rate of vibration; all and everything gets a push toward the ultimate goal of conscious oneness with God. The continual reintroduction of this divine influence through the incarnation of the Avatar is integral to the maintenance and progressive development of the creation itself.

The Avatar is that same being come again and again who first attained the goal of God Realization countless eons ago, and who, through this achievement, is responsible for ensuring the eventual freedom of all others in creation. For humanity, the Avatar is thought of as being God descended as man, but in reality it is more appropriate to say that the Avatar is God and that God becomes human for all humankind and simultaneously God becomes a sparrow for all sparrows in creation, an ant for all ants in creation, a particle of dust for all particles of dust in creation, etc., and equally so for each and everything that is in creation.

It is essential to understand how absolutely unique the Being of the Avatar is. The Avatar is not someone who has ascended to become God - and there are always several such souls on earth - but is, on the contrary, God having descended to become someone and something for all and everything in creation. Therefore, the Avatar is not God Realized, but God manifested. Thus, the incarnation of the Avatar, though a relatively rare occurrence, is an event of unparalleled importance and impact.

Although the consciousness of the Avatar who descends from God is the same Universal Infinite consciousness as that of the Perfect Master who ascends to God, the nature of the mission and scope of their authority are of entirely different orders. The Perfect Master comes primarily for their circle - those who have developed a close contact with them over many lifetimes; while the Avatar's incarnation is truly universal in nature and scope and is for all and everything. The Avatar is God, as reflected in creation, and, as God is always One and the same, the Avatar is always One and the same.

The mission of the Avatar is always one and the same: to push all and everything along in the journey toward the experience of God as God. To attain this experience of conscious infinite Godhood is to completely unmake the self that imagines itself as being the "I," "my," "me" and "mine" of ordinary experience - that is, anything other than conscious infinite and eternal God without a second. It is not possible for the imaginary and limited or separative self to completely achieve this unmaking, because every attempt on its part to do so serves in one respect or another, however subtly, to confirm what this self already imagines itself to be: an illusiorily separate individualized consciousness. The attainment of conscious Godhood requires complete annihilation of this limited self, which is, in the end, only facilitated by an agency that is "outside" of oneself and already perfected. This is the true nature of the Grace of God. The Avatar, as the very descent of God, is the medium par excellence for the dispensation of this grace.

The message of the Avatar is always the same: Love God. God is love and love must love. Thus: "If anything ever touches my Universal heart [as God] it is love. Love and coercion can never go together, but while love can never be forced upon anyone, it can be awakened through love itself. Love is essentially self-communicative; those who do not have it catch it from those who have it. Those who receive love cannot be its recipients without giving a response which in itself is in the nature of love. True love is unconquerable and irresistible. It goes on gathering power and spreading itself until eventually it transforms everyone it touches. Humanity will attain to a new mode of being through the free and unhampered interplay of pure love from heart to heart. The only thing that I have been repeating ever since the first time I came is love God. Age after age I have been saying nothing but love God."

History knows the most recent incarnations of the Avatar by the names of Zoroaster, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. These are the greats of spiritual and human history and their impact upon the course of our evolution as humanity is inestimable. Although these figures are closely associated with the great religious traditions of humanity, the Avatar never comes to establish any religion. Religions are often inspired by the Avatar and may form in his shadow, but the Avatar does not need any religion to achieve his ultimate purpose, nor does one need religion to attain the goal of Godhood. Religion can be useful in one's spiritual evolution, however, and Meher Baba states that one need not give up their religion. Rather, it is important that one fully live the highest ideals of their religion, which are based upon mystical truth and the divine example of the Avatar or some other perfected being. Indeed, Meher Baba said that he would breathe new life and purpose into all the old forms so as to "bring all the religions of the world together as beads on one string," while simultaneously creating a revitalized and unmediated direct link to divinity through the channel or "open door" of his very being.

Just as an Avataric "door" may be said to open, so too it can be said to close with the passage of time. The consequent waning of divine influence eventually makes the time ripe for a new incarnation, and the Avatar must come again and again to rekindle the flame of divine influence in creation. Although archetypically each advent serves the same function of providing a fresh dispensation of Divine energy to the creation to push all and everything along on the journey toward God, each is also unique in terms of historical context and precise nature of the means used to manifest this influence. The "door" that the Avatar creates could therefore be said to differ in size and shape, so that the shadow of his light play, corresponding to his universal subtle and mental energy work, similarly varies depending upon the conditions and context encountered. The Avatar is both the incarnation of God and a symbol of God: every action of the Avatar, as the embodiment of infinite, eternal God, has a profound and universal significance.

Meher Baba referred to himself not as a teacher, guru or Perfect Master, but as the Awakener, and began a silence in 1925 that was maintained for the final 44 years of his earthly ministry. But the silence that humanity saw was just a superficial sign pointing to something unimaginably profound in his inner universal work. God is hidden from the intellect, and its machinations and words only get in the way of the direct experience of divinity. Infinitely simple, God is love and can only be reached through a clean heart full of pure selfless love.

"I have come not to teach but awaken. Understand therefore that I lay down no precepts."

Throughout eternity I have laid down principles and precepts, but mankind has ignored them. Man's inability to live God's words makes the Avatar's teaching a mockery. Instead of practicing the compassion he taught, man has waged crusades in his name. Instead of living the humility, purity and truth of his words, man has given way to hatred, greed and violence.

Because man has been deaf to the principles and precepts laid down by God in the past, in this present Avataric form I observe silence. You have asked for and been given enough words - it is now time to live them. To get nearer and nearer to God you have to get further and further away from "I," "my," "me," and "mine." You have not to renounce anything but your own self. It is as simple as that, though found to be almost impossible. It is possible for you to renounce your limited self by my grace. I have come to release that grace.

I repeat, I lay down no precepts. When I release the tide of truth which I have come to give, men's daily lives will be the living precept. The words I have not spoken will come to life in them. I veil myself from man by his own curtain of ignorance and manifest my glory to a few. My present Avataric form is the last incarnation of this cycle of time, hence my manifestation will be the greatest. When I break my silence, the impact of my love will be universal and all life in creation will know, feel and receive of it. It will help every individual to break free from his own bondage in his own way. I am the Divine Beloved who loves you more than you can ever love yourself. The breaking of my silence will help you to help yourself in knowing your real Self.

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."

Meher Baba said that his coming and work would create a spiritual New Life, lived by a New Humanity that would have immediate access to the world of intuition. The transition to this new way of being will not necessarily be easy, however, for it entails a fundamental shift in our psychic make-up. For many it seems as if the very foundations of their being are being challenged and dismantled. Behind the scenes in the subtle and mental realms of consciousness, though, the stage is set. This shift is becoming ever more apparent. We are experiencing a change of truly Avataric proportions, which is being effected through an unprecedented dispensation of divine love. "The new humanity will learn the art of cooperative and harmonious life; it will free itself from the tyranny of dead forms and release the creative life of spiritual wisdom; it will shed all illusions and get established in the truth; it will enjoy peace and abiding happiness; it will be initiated into the life of eternity."

As a human being, Meher Baba was a truly amazing and unique personality who lived a remarkable life. He contacted and attracted people from all religious, economic and national backgrounds and yet made no distinction between them on these grounds. He traveled widely throughout India and the East, and also made several visits to Europe, the United States and Australia. He established a center in Myrtle Beach, SC, which he called his home in the West. The Center is maintained to this day as a place of rest, meditation and renewal of the spiritual life as well as a wildlife preserve in what has become a highly developed stretch of coastline.

Meher Baba was not interested in worldly recognition, and would often spend long periods of time secluded from the world in order to completely engage himself in his inner universal work which only the being of the Avatar can do. And yet at other times he would hold weeklong programs where he would contact several thousand people each day. Meher Baba worked and traveled tirelessly throughout his life for the spiritual upliftment of those around him, for humanity, and for the creation as a whole.

He was incredibly perceptive and acutely aware of everything that was going on around him, yet never in a way that would make people feel uneasy with him. Naturally playful and warm with a highly developed sense of humor, he was involved and very adept at relating to everyone whom he came into contact with on their level.

He had an uncanny knack of being able to make things "just happen." He always worked entirely in his own unique way, and was never predictable. He would take up projects only to drop them just as they were appearing to bear worldly results, and in many other ways work in a manner that often seemed irrational to those around him. Yet, with the passage of time, those around him came to experience a deeper significance to his working, where, perhaps years later an event would occur where they could finally ascertain a purpose behind something he did that initially made no sense or seemed insignificant. Meher Baba contacted and touched the lives of millions while alive and continues to do so to this day even after his physical passing. He worked with many groups during his lifetime, and was directly involved with such projects as free health clinics, hospitals and a school for spiritual training. Yet for him these were always only temporary vehicles to achieve some deeper and larger purpose: to touch the lives of all he met with a love divine and to provide a divinely human example.

Meher Baba emphasized a very simple spirituality, in which there is no absolute good or bad, right or wrong. God alone IS and all and everything is a manifestation of God which will eventually attain conscious realization of Godhood. God can be reached and attained by anyone who loves God sincerely and completely. One need not renounce the world and become an ascetic in order to achieve this quality of love. God is best loved deeply and silently in the midst of one's worldly duties and responsibilities: so as to master the very circumstances in which God has placed one with the sole purpose of facilitating our greatest spiritual growth. God is ever present, ever accessible, and is found in the silent depths of one's inner being, purified by love. Meher Baba came to establish no religion, but rather came to make accessible a way of life based on the experience, love, and remembrance of God every moment in all and everything.

The author, Andrew Thomas, has been involved with Meher Baba for the past 14 years and has made many visits to his ashram and the power house of his tomb-shrine in India. He invites all to attend a free public talk by Bhau Kalchuri, close disciple of Meher Baba, on Wednesday, September 8th at PSU in Shattuck Hall Rm. 212. Bhau has lived a unique and remarkable life with Meher Baba and has a profound insight both into Meher Baba and his exposition of the spiritual life. For further information, call Andrew at (503) 977-9713