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The Big Picture

A Consideration of Meher Baba’s Avataric Advent

Part 2: The Phases of This Advent

 

The Role of America

As the closing Avataric cycle of this vast Cycle of cycles, at the climactic moment of the outward movement of Divinity toward materialization, our current age, which began with Zoroaster, has been given a singular assignment. This is the divine task of redeeming and humanizing the most gross matter in Creation, basic physical matter itself. In another presentation, I described it this way:

It is as though the 7,000 years of this concluding Avataric cycle were dedicated to planting a flag in the farthest outpost of the gross world, to humanize it, too, so that the whole of Creation could at last be lifted upward and begin its progress back to the Source and the Goal.

The work of man in this cycle could be said to be to establish an outpost in the nethermost reaches of brute matter and to dedicate all his energy to mastering it and putting it in the service of subsequent, diviner phases of human evolution. Then the whole of Creation, reclaimed, could begin to make its way back to the Source in a new great spiritual age.

Compact power is locked in this bottommost realm. To fuel the “great turning” that will lead onward into Meher Baba’s New Age and New Humanity, this energy must be freed. The bottom must be reached and the inert matter there, too, reclaimed before the rise of all Creation and return to the Source is possible.

 

We might think of the central learning task of the last age as the mastery and humanization of most basic physical matter, wherein the consciousness of man, at the outset of this last-most, closing cycle, began by being virtually enmired in this most gross of all matter, basic and primitive sanskaras that emerged in the initial moments of Creation, and man was possibly the most gross-conscious of men ever to walk the Earth – in the words of the poet Francis Brabazon, “the most dumb of the most, most gross-conscious of human beings that ever were upon the face of the Earth, who have forgotten about [God] the most longest and most consistently”.[1] (Hence Baba’s saying that in this age, against the panorama of the entire Creation, human misery had reached its zenith and that this Kali Yuga is the worst of all time.)[2]  

In previous discussions, we also noted that one specific evolutionary purpose of the lower intellect, or mind, is to serve as a tool to help the incarnating soul, first to survive, and then to thrive in a world of gross matter. Hence, the last five thousand years of human history have seen prodigious development of the lower mind. This development culminated in the West in Europe with the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. Basic divine currents bathing the Western world have always especially inclined consciousness outward, toward gross matter and Illusion, and fostered the extreme differentiation of the ego and the lower mind and intellect.

During this period, Divinity had different plans for the evolution of consciousness in the East. Just as in the West the consciousness of incarnating man was strongly propelled outward toward material mastery and the application of the lower mind to do a great work in matter, Eastern lifetimes encouraged spiritual learning about man’s internal relation with God. And so, until now, the East and the West each followed separate, specialized arcs of growth.

 

This “great divergence”, as contemporary historians now call it,[3] was purposeful, actively fostered – not only by the divine currents that bathe the landmasses of the two hemispheres, but also by the Avatars and illumined figures of this 7,000-year Avataric cycle themselves, who introduced and later reinforced differing spiritual streams in the East and the West. From these streams evolved the cultural, religious, ethical, and national values unique to each hemisphere, which flourished separately for thousands of years. This divergence was nurtured and supported by the great religions brought by each Avatar.

The Semitic (Abrahamic) religions were embraced by the West. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam encouraged the focus outward onto the world, valuing individuality, personal effort and responsibility, and playing down the truths of karmic predestination, reincarnation, and the endless cycles of time.

By contrast, the Eastern Vedic religions regarded the entire material world, and even the individual self, as illusory. Consequently, Asia, and especially India, boasts a heritage of nearly all the Earth’s saints and masters, yet remained materially backward and even lacking in any ambition for material “progress”, with certain exceptions (notably China) in particular historical periods.[4]

Thus it was that Western civilization, emerging from its cradle in Mesopotamia, marched on through Greece, Rome, and the European Middle Ages, then accelerated during the Renaissance and the eighteenth-century European Enlightenment to mark triumph after triumph in the mastery of gross matter. This line reached its acme in Europe in the last centuries.

By about the eighteenth century, seeds, representing the accomplishments of the European consciousness or mind, had been transported to the fruitful virgin soil of America by the many European settlers drawn here. On these shores, the signal achievement of this cycle, material mastery, would soar to hitherto unimaginable heights. America was destined to play a pivotal role in the great task of this Avataric cycle by laying hold of the central motives, ideas, and achievements of European material culture and infusing them with the unique, vibrant  blend of energy of the New World. Additionally, joining them with its own astonishingly abundant material resources, it produced prodigious, incomparable wealth, and highly advanced technology nearly overnight, in the closing minutes of the age.

After an astonishingly rapid rise, America’s thriving economy spurred the remarkable worldwide economic surge in the twentieth century. It resulted in a global transformation of material life such as never dreamed of by man. Economists have estimated that more goods and services were produced in the last century than in the entire prior history of man on this planet taken all together![5] The quarter-century before the recent economic downturn has been called a “golden age of [global] wealth creation and poverty reduction never before seen.”[6]

Thanks largely to the material progress achieved through the particular genius and resources of America, which is now being rapidly shared around the world, humankind is well on its way to its goal of mastering gross matter. Having been infused with a plasticity, flexibility, and serviceability never before even imagined, it can now be put in the service of the next stage of this ongoing experiment in the evolution of divine consciousness, which Baba called the New Humanity.

Just as Baba’s advent came to its close, we have even seen the East, especially India, unexpectedly and surprisingly, eagerly embrace material progress and what is more, show a special aptitude for it! At the same time, India underwent dramatic economic, political, and social transformation of its formerly undeveloped outer life: a modern form of government was adopted, the ancient caste system was gradually abandoned, and their GDP in recent years has risen more than nine percent a year, nearly double the growth rate of the United States.

As similar stories have unfolded across Asia, a report by the International Monetary Fund observed that the continent of Asia has “become richer faster than any other region of the world.”[7] Concurrently, the West has begun to explore spiritual principles along Eastern lines; so, for example, for several years running, translations of the thirteenth-century Sufi master poet Jalaluddin Rumi have topped the list of best-selling poets in America.[8] These are first visible signs of a central goal of Meher Baba’s work, the blending of East and West, which represents the melding of the age-old division between materiality and spirituality in a new integration of consciousness on Earth. And so, at the close of the vast Kali Yuga that concludes the first great Cycle of cycles, the seeds for Divinity’s coming New Humanity, New Age, and Age of Intuition are already sending up shoots.

The Highest of the High

We earlier identified Meher Baba as the important seventh Avatar of an Avataric cycle and the Kalki Avatar who comes at the end of the Kali Yuga. But more than this, we have also suggested that we are at the turning point in the entire life of the cosmos. And so, Meher Baba’s role within Creation is even more exalted, for he must work cosmically with the fundamental structures, processes, and energies of life that govern the very course of Creation itself. In this role, he is known preeminently as the Highest of the High, the personification of the Supreme Lord of the Universe, the most exalted form of Divinity within Creation, whom many ancient systems call Shiva.

Now that the initial goals of materialization have been achieved, Shiva’s immense task is to reverse the outward movement of the divine currents into crystallized material form and draw the totality of created life inward, closer to life’s fiery origin and core. The underlying energy and thrust of Creation must now change from evolution of all the separate forms to involution of consciousness back toward spirit. It is the task of the Highest of the High, in this incarnation as Meher Baba, to initiate, establish, and energize this new direction of growth for the entire “second half” of Creation, describing a path of return to God for the whole of Creation over the next fifty “Years of Brahma”, a time-scale beyond human conception. 

Responsible for this return is the new blend of high radiant energy that Meher Baba has brought here from the Silence during his periods of universal work, to circulate in the atmosphere of the Earth. This is the most forceful blend of divine energy ever held within Creation. It silently and selectively stimulates the human heart, that is, the heart center, or chakra. This blend, energizing the archetypal patterns Baba worked out physically and outwardly, and also internally on the higher planes during periods of seclusion and universal work, will build the “Life Divine”, or Life, as Baba sometimes called it, of the coming vast new spiritualized Cycle of cycles in a world refreshed and renewed.

“A Rare Crescendo of Vibrancy”

Because of Baba’s labors during his advent in this darkest age, what we have called his “Avataric agenda”, we now look forward to the brightest of possibilities for transformation and growth toward Divinity in a new world growing ever more divine. Nearly all modern spiritual figures have observed that we are now living in an extraordinary time. The energy for growth and transformation on Earth has “reached a rare crescendo of vibrancy”.[9] There is more potential for spiritual progress now than there has been for billions of years. The energy available on Earth now can aid in dissolving limiting patterns of life that have persisted for millennia. In this climate of divine possibilities, even the smallest personal effort is magnified many times. This is why spiritual teachers in many traditions are echoing Meher Baba’s call to “awake now!” A moment like this will not come again for billions, even trillions, of years.  The Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, though outwardly unaware of Meher Baba’s advent, commented to an associate:

We are at a decisive hour in the history of the Earth. The Earth is preparing for the advent of the supramental being [i.e., Baba’s “New Humanity”], and because of this, the old way of living loses its value. One must launch oneself consciously on the path of the future in spite of the new exigencies. The pettinesses tolerable at one time are no more so; one must widen oneself to receive that which shall be born.

It is not just a turning point for the Earth or the cosmos – it is the intimate possibility of personal freedom from the binding past and joyous new life for every incarnating soul who makes any sincere effort to catch the fresh energy of what might be called Meher Baba’s “new breeze”.

This “Big Picture” and the monumental task of achieving the goals of his agenda for this advent were never out of Meher Baba’s sight from the very beginning of his work. With the “Big Picture” now in our minds too, we are in a better position to consider the individual phases of Baba’s agenda and see how it all fits together.

The Phases of This Advent

We will begin by reviewing the most visible phases of his work, those identified by prominent patterns of his external life. Since Baba was nearly always involved in a multitude of projects at once, this approach will inevitably result in some oversimplification. But it will offer a starting point for us to consider the sequence and character of these externally defined phases, the ones most often referenced in biographies of Meher Baba.

To begin, I’ll briefly outline the most well-known phases of Baba’s life without commentary or explanation, so we can fix their highlights and order them freshly in our minds. Then we’ll consider more deeply how they were necessary steps toward accomplishing his ultimate goal of the spiritual regeneration of Creation. Such an outline might look like this: 

A Brief Outline of Meher Baba’s Life and Work

Spiritual Unfolding: First came the phase of the Avatar’s spiritual unfolding, from Babajan’s kiss in 1913 through Baba’s final stay in Sakori under the guidance of Upasni Maharaj in 1921. During this period, “Merwan” (as he was then known) worked with the five Perfect Masters on his first task: to unfold his divine consciousness on the Earth and begin to integrate it with every level and realm of Creation.

Work with the Eastern Circle:  Beginning in 1922, Baba worked intimately and intensively with chosen groups of men, women, and children in India. These included his first circle of Eastern men disciples at the Manzil-e-Meem in Bombay (now Mumbai) and the Eastern women at Meherabad. Baba called the Avatar’s work for his Circle the most important thing an Avatar can do and his first responsibility.

Model Service Projects: By 1924, Baba had established Meherabad as his primary center and began there a series of what might be called “pilot projects” in childhood education, health care, and service to the poor and needy of all castes and creeds. In the midst of all this activity, Baba began his silence in 1925.

He also wrote a 300-page manuscript that he said contained “spiritual secrets” that had never before been disclosed. For several years, Baba traveled widely with the manuscript, which he had one of the mandali carry everywhere in a locked metal case.[10] You may recall that Baba showed several pages of the book to Gandhi when they met on a voyage to England in 1931. The book was later stored in a safe-deposit box in a Bombay bank for many years, then returned to Baba at Meherabad in 1959, where the mandali lost track of it. It has since become known as “the missing book”, as the original manuscript has not been found, though Baba later explained that he had given ninety percent of it in God Speaks and the other ten percent in The Nothing and the Everything.[11]

Baba’s series of “pilot projects” culminated in the late 1920s in the Prem Ashram, Baba’s extraordinary “school for love”, when he raised the consciousness of at least one, possibly several ashram boys to the sixth plane, or plane of divine vision. The service projects and the Prem Ashram might be thought of as early efforts to create channels through which the high radiant energy he intended to bring to Earth could begin to flow.

World Travel: A period of almost constant travel followed during the next decade, not only throughout India, but also to Persia, the cradle of spirituality in this current cycle of Avatars, which began with Zoroaster, followed by ten trips to the West between 1931 and 1937, including two trips around the world. On these tours, Baba was not just sightseeing! His travels in the outer world were tangible, concrete expressions of his inner work with the nets of consciousness interpenetrating the gross, subtle, and mental realms, which unify the fabric of Creation. The nature of his inner work with the consciousness or energies of a region required his physical presence on the land mass and direct contact with the people of that nation.

In the early 1930s, when asked about the difference between the inner and outer work of the Avatar, Baba explained (this is the rendering of a disciple rather than a verbatim quote): His interior work is executed for the good of humanity by the means of his spiritual body and divine will, on the spiritual and the subtle planes directly, or through the intermediary of his agents. The exterior work is accomplished through his physical body by personal contact with individuals. By passing through different countries, he turns their minds toward spirituality; he enhances their progression toward the subtle planes and from these toward the spiritual planes. [The two ways of working can be used simultaneously.]

In 1930, nearly a year before his first trip to the West, Baba told the journalist Paul Brunton, “Whenever I visit a place and stay there, however short a time, its spiritual atmosphere becomes greatly elevated.”[12] Then he added, “And I intend to visit America.”[13] Baba is saying that his very presence on the North American continent would help America become “a spiritually-minded nation” in the future. It was during this phase of world travel in the 1930s that Baba made the first three of his six visits to America.

Work with the Western Circle: During these journeys to Europe and America, Baba contacted and gathered his closest Western disciples, both women and men, but predominantly women. He also began to blend the hemispheres by bringing a few of his Eastern mandali with him to the West, including a Prem Ashram boy, a mast, and his beloved Mehera, and by inviting Westerners to India for short stays. As we’ve discussed in earlier classes, Baba used these occasions, such as at Harmon-on-Hudson, Italy, Nasik, and Cannes, to give spiritual training to his Western close ones as he had done with his Eastern circle in India the decade before. At the end of 1937, Baba invited a select group of Westerners to join his Eastern group in India for an extended stay. By the early 1940s, the work of training his circle, both East and West, was essentially complete.[14]

The Blue Bus Tours: Between 1938 and 1941, during the years when the Second World War was gathering momentum in Europe, Baba took a large group of Eastern and Western disciples all over India in a specially built blue bus. One purpose of these journeys, in addition to the role they played in the war, was to find a suitable location for a “universal center” that would represent and anchor his divine mission on Earth. A foundation for the center was laid in late 1939 at Byramangala, near Bangalore in southern India, a place that Baba dubbed “the spiritual capital of the world” for the coming New Age.[15] In essence, its architectural blueprint gave outward form and expression to his entire Avataric program. Having created a plan for the “Universal Centre” (as it was called), to be realized in the future, and having laid its foundation stone, Baba did not stay there; he returned to Meherabad and continued to work mostly from there, where, he said, the “major portion” of his universal work in this advent was done.

Work with Masts: Even before the Blue Bus tours, Baba had begun to work with masts, advanced souls, and spiritual pilgrims throughout India. You will recall Baba’s statement that his mast work was the most important work of his incarnation. This was his primary focus in the twelve years from 1937 through 1949, and he pursued it with special concentration and intensity during the six years of the Second World War, 1939 to 1945.

Meherazad and Myrtle Beach: Beginning in 1944, as World War II entered its final year, Baba shifted his activities to a new residential center a few miles from Meherabad, which was to serve as his home in the East for the remainder of his life. It became known as Meherazad.[16] At roughly the same time, in America Elizabeth Patterson and Norina Matchabelli established under Baba’s direction a “universal spiritual center” at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Baba would call this his “home in the West”.

The New Life and Manonash: On New Year’s Day 1949, Baba issued a circular that contained the enigmatic statement, “The year 1949 marks an artificial end to an artificial beginning, and the Real Beginning to the Real End.”[17] Later that year Baba startled everyone by dissolving his ashrams and all his activities, calling everything that had gone before the “Old Life”. He now set out to live what he called the “New Life”, traveling from place to place with a small group of “companions”, as he called them (eschewing the term “disciple”), and himself assuming the role not of God but of an ordinary man, begging for food, and practicing a life of “helplessness and hopelessness” in which he and his companions were to depend “wholly and solely upon God” for sustenance and direction in life.

The New Life journeys lasted for two years, culminating in a four-month period of intense work in seclusion Baba called manonash, meaning “mental annihilation”. Completing this phase in February 1952, no doubt in reference to his statement about the “Real Beginning to the Real End”, Baba announced he could now celebrate his “first real birthday”.

Highest of the High: Over the next decade, from 1952 through the early 1960s, Baba was hailed as the Avatar by tens of thousands of people around the world. He gave his company freely in darshan and sahavas programs in India, America, and Australia, often, as in India, on an enormous scale. Now Baba openly proclaimed his divinity in a series of definitive statements: The Highest of the High, Meher Baba’s Call, the Final Declaration, and the Universal Message. These messages revealed and underlined the universal scope of Baba’s work, as did his major book, God Speaks, also published during this period. In addition, in this decade, Baba sustained his two ordained major automobile accidents, one in America in 1952 and another in India in 1956.

These dramatic moments in Baba’s advent form the background for his final visits to America, in 1952, 1956, and 1958. This expansive decade could be said to culminate with the East-West Gathering at Poona (now Pune) in 1962, in which Baba met with his lovers from all over the world. He dubbed it the most important meeting of his advent.

Universal Work in Seclusion: After this great gathering, Baba increasingly secluded himself at Meherazad, absorbed in an intense, final phase of his universal work for nearly seven years. His lovers were told (this is a quote), “The fate of the universe hangs on His Seclusion, and the redemption of mankind depends upon His Manifestation.”[18]

As the seclusion neared its end in 1968, Baba told the mandali, “None can have the least idea of the immensity of the work that I am doing in this seclusion. The only hint I can give is that compared with the work I do in seclusion, all the important work of the world put together is completely insignificant.”[19] At the end of July 1968, he announced that his work had been completed “100 percent to [his] satisfaction”. Six months later, at the end of January 1969, Meher Baba dropped his physical body. The goals of his advent had been achieved.

Approaching the phases of Baba’s incarnate work in this way can be compared to looking at a map on a computer: we can “zoom out” to see the whole landscape, as we have been doing, or “zoom in” to look more closely and in detail. While we’re “zoomed out” and can see its scope from beginning to end, I will make some general observations about the pattern of the whole. Then we will “zoom in” to consider at closer range the way the individual phases of Baba’s work support the “Big Picture” —the goals of this Avataric advent.

 

 

[1] Francis Brabazon,  Stay With God, 3rd ed. (Melbourne, Australia, New Humanity Books, 1990), 109.  The poet is referring specifically to speakers of the English language, noting that Meher Baba chose to write his major work, God Speaks, in English, the language of the “most gross” of human beings.

[2] Murshida Carol Weyland Conner, “The Work of This Avataric Cycle and the Role of the West”, unpublished lecture transcript, Sufism Reoriented, 2010.

[3] The term “great divergence” generally refers to the material ascendency of “the West” (Europe and America) over the past five hundred years, a phenomenon explained and explored in different ways in the past fifty years by scholars such as William McNeill (The Rise of the West, 1964, rev. 1992), Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel, 1997), David Landes (The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, 1998), Kenneth Pomeranz (The Great Divergence: Europe, China and the Making of the Modern World Economy, 2001), and more recently Fareed Zakaria (The Post-American World, 2008) and the British scholar Niall Ferguson (Civilization: the West and the Rest, 2011).

[4] China, for example, with the longest continuous cultural tradition in the world, had phases of great material and scientific innovation; they developed the “four great inventions” on which much of our modern life is based: gunpowder, paper, printing, and the magnetic compass. In the early 1400s, their “treasure fleet” of enormous wooden ships was the largest armada assembled until the twentieth century. Time and again, however, China turned away from this line of development. In the case of the treasure fleet, for example, the Ming rulers determined they had no need for resources outside their kingdom, and by 1470, the skills needed to build the great ships had been lost.  Scholars are divided about the reasons for this recurring pattern in Chinese history.

[5] “The transformation of the world economy in the course of the twentieth century would have been impossible for even the most acute observer living in 1900 to forecast or perhaps even to imagine. Output per capita, the structure of production, and the domestic and international financial systems that sustained the growth of economic activity over this period have been altered almost beyond recognition. . . . Technological change has driven an enormous increase in the production of goods and services, sufficient to support both vastly higher living standards and vastly larger populations than ever before in history.”  International Monetary Fund, “The World Economy in the Twentieth Century: Striking Developments and Policy Lessons”, World Economic Outlook, May 1, 2000, 149.

[6] “In little more than two decades, the global free market experienced an unprecedented doubling of its labor force—from 2.7 billion to 6 billion, with no revolution, no serious riots in the streets, not even a threatened, across-the-board shutdown of the trading system.” David M. Smick, The World Is Curved (New York: Penguin Portfolio, 2008), 15.

[7] This presentation was given in 2012 and reflects the general economic picture up to that time. “In 1970, 50 percent of Asians were poor, defined at [an income of] a dollar a day of the population. By 1990, that number had come down to one-third. By 2003, it had come down even further to about 20 percent. And now it is slightly under 19 percent. So in one generation, it has gone from one in every two Asians being poor, to less than one in five. That's a tremendous achievement, and one that is matched by no other region of the world.” Rajat M. Nag (Asian Development Bank), “Two Faces of Asia”, speech at US-Asia Institute, Washington, DC, September 8, 2009. A report by the International Monetary Fund in 1996 (before the 2007 recession) elaborates: “Since 1960, Asia, the largest and most populous of the continents, has become richer faster than any other region of the world. Of course, this growth has not occurred at the same pace all over the continent. The western part of Asia grew during this period at about the same rate as the rest of the world, but, as a whole, the eastern half (ten countries: China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan Province of China, and Thailand) turned in a superior performance, although variations in achievement can be observed here too. The worst performer was the Philippines, which grew at about 2 percent a year (in per capita terms), about equal to the average of non-Asian countries. China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand did better, achieving growth rates of 3–5 percent. This impressive achievement is, however, still modest compared with the phenomenal growth of Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan Province of China, known as the "Four Tigers" because of their powerful and intimidating economic performance. The Tigers have had annual growth rates of output per person well in excess of 6 percent. These growth rates, sustained over a 30-year period, are simply amazing. While the average resident of a non-Asian country in 1990 was 72 percent richer than his parents were in 1960, the corresponding figure for the average Korean is no less than 638 percent.”  Michael Sarel,“Growth In East Asia”, Economic Issues, #1, International Monetary Fund, 1996. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/issues1/ /index.htm.

[8] “Rumi Rules!” Time, September 30, 2002.

[9] Murshida Ivy Duce and Dr. James MacKie, “Springboard to a New Life”, Conversations with a Western Guru (Lafayette, CA: Searchlight Seminars, 1981).

[10] Baba would keep the key to the metal box tied on a string around his neck. He warned the mandali that they could not read the book for their minds were not prepared for the material, so no one at that time had read extensively anything of what Baba had written. Baba had once shown a few pages to Adi K. Irani who afterward could not recall what he had read though it was written in different languages. On November 26th, [1926,] Baba told Chanji, “You find these explanations of mine very interesting, but they are nothing compared to what I have written in my book at Meherabad. Its three hundred pages cover only short points, and when they are fully amplified and rewritten, the points will comprise several large volumes. It is full of secrets which no previous saint, Prophet, or Avatar has ever divulged.” Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher (online edition, lordmeher.org) 746. (All Lord Meher page numbers refer to the online edition of 2018.)

[11] Lord Meher, 5290. When Eruch asked Baba about it a few days before Baba’s passing in January 1969, Baba replied that the book was “in good hands”. Lord Meher, 5392.

[12] In the course of his interview with Brunton, Baba gave the journalist an illustration of how his mere presence had influenced the direction of a nation’s development. Here is Brunton’s account, published in 1934: “In 1924 Meher left India for the first time. He embarked on a journey to Persia with a company of half a dozen disciples, telling them that he would tour the country of his ancestors. When the ship touched port at Bushire, he suddenly changed his mind and left the place by the next homeward boat. Three months later rebel forces captured Teheran, the Persian capital and deposed the old regime. A new shah [Reza Shah Pahlevi] came to the throne. Meher Baba then turned to his followers and said: ‘Now you see the result of my mystic workings during my visit to Persia!’ His disciples told me that Persia was a happier land under the new ruler, and that Muhammedans, Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians were living amicably together, whereas there had been constant strife and cruel outrages among them under the old regime.”  Paul Brunton, A Search in Secret India (Mansfield Centre, CT: Martino Publishing, 2010), 56–7. Reza Shah Pahlevi, founder of the Pahlevi dynasty (1925–1979) initiated a significant program of modernization and introduced many political, economic and cultural reforms. (A brief summary can be found in any encyclopedia entry on Iran’s recent history.)

[13] Lord Meher, 1209.

[14] In May 1942, Baba announced that he had completed twenty-one years of work, seven years with men, seven years with boys and seven years with women. Now, he said, “From June (1942), I will be quite different . . . my work will be much greater.” David Fenster, Mehera-Meher, a Divine Romance (Ahmednagar, M.S., India; Roswell, GA: Meher Nazar Publications, 2003), 2:185.

[15] When the foundation stone for the center was laid on Dec. 17, 1939, Baba said, “Mysore [state, in which Byramangala was located,] will surely realize, at no distant date in the future, its singular good fortune in possessing, among many progressive features, the spiritual capital of the world as well. I bless every one of you, participants and non-participants, in the greatest scheme of spiritual regeneration, the foundation of which you have witnessed today. This scheme of a Universal Spiritual Centre symbolizes the character of my divine mission on Earth.” Lord Meher, 2058.

[16] “Abad” means ‘flourishing’; “azad” means ‘free’ or ‘relaxed’. Lord Meher, 2668.

[17] Lord Meher, 2738.

[18] “Life Circular 66, October 1, 1967”, The Life Circulars of Avatar Meher Baba, ed. Swami Satya Prakash Udaseen (Hyderabad, India: Meher Vihar Trust, 1968), 138.

[19] Circular, March 1, 1968, quoted in 76th Family Letter, Mani S. Irani, 82 Family Letters (Myrtle Beach, SC: Sheriar Press, 1976), 312.

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