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The Big Picture

A Consideration of
Meher Baba’s Avataric Advent

Part 4: The “Second Word” and the Work of the Avatar

In this set of discussions, we are exploring the broad arcs of Meher Baba’s work and the central goals of his advent. Last time we identified two major phases of work spanning Baba’s lifetime.

The first phase, which Baba later called his “Old Life”, extended over about twenty-eight years, from 1922 to 1949. In his Old Life, Baba identified himself as Perfect Divinity – God Almighty, or God as God.[1] He allowed himself to be known as a Sadguru, a Perfect Master.[2]

This was a period of great outward activity. During this period, Baba gathered and trained his close circle of disciples; he created ashrams, hospitals, schools for children, and service programs for lepers, for the poor, and for others in need; he traveled extensively in the East and the West; and he actively sought to contact and work with masts and advanced souls.

Then in 1949, he seemingly turned his back on all he had done before and, for two years, lived what he called “the New Life”. During this period, as he explained, he assumed the role not of Almighty God, of God as God, but of Perfect Humility –ordinary man, or man as man. As a New Life “companion”, as he referred to himself, he donned the garb of a seeker and lived a life of total dependence on God. The New Life and its culminating four months of what Baba called “manonash” work charted the path toward a new kind of “life” for all in Creation. Baba defined manonash as the annihilation of the limited mind. Manonash dissolves the soul’s illusory identification with the personality or ego, that is, with limited individuality.

Following the New Life, Baba embodied neither “God as God” nor man as man, but rather a perfect blending of divinity and humanity in a new divine being. As he explains in his Discourses, this blending is the definition of true perfection.[3]

The period that followed the New Life, from 1952 to 1969, might be called the “universal phase” of Baba’s work. He now openly declared himself to be the Avatar, the Highest of the High. During these years he was acclaimed by tens of thousands at mass darshan celebrations, published his major books, and brought his Eastern and Western followers together for an important archetypal meeting called the “East-West Gathering”. However, this phase had dramatic effects on Baba’s physical body. In the 1950s, he suffered two major automobile accidents, one in America and one in India; and through the 1960s, he experienced many setbacks in health which, he explained, were directly related to the gathering and intensifying momentum of his universal spiritual work. In marked contrast to the vigorous outward activity of the Old Life and the arduous journeys of the New Life, Baba increasingly secluded himself, especially in his last seven years, fully focused on the intense inner work that he said would determine the fate of the entire universe.

We noted previously that Baba made three of his six visits to America in the 1930s during the Old Life and three visits in the 1950s during this universal phase. As we’ll see, America figured significantly in both periods of Baba’s work, and so it is very helpful to bear in mind our discussion of these two broad phases as we later review each of Baba’s visits to this continent. Of course, we will also want to hold in mind the relation of these two segments of Baba’s work to our “Big Picture”, the larger broad goals of his advent. We’ve summarized these goals as:

  1. To hasten the conclusion of a vast Cycle of cycles, in which the primary direction of life energy in Creation was “outward” toward its periphery and toward materialization of gross form; and

  2. To lay the foundation for a new Cycle of cycles, in which the fundamental direction of life currents in Creation is reversed. In this coming new age, life currents will sweep “inward”, back toward the divine spiritual Source.


Setting Aside Universal Law

In previous talks, I have tried to underline the extraordinary nature of Baba’s task and the magnitude and intensity of the forces he had to summon and direct in order to accomplish it. Baba himself indicated that it was really beyond human comprehension. Nonetheless, from time to time he gave some explanations that reveal the full import of his work in this signal advent. For example, as early as 1927, Baba told the mandali:

I have a law of my own in managing the affairs of the universe. But when I speak, that law will be kept aside because the spiritual push will be universal. So the law which I have created for the universe will be set aside.*

This is a truly remarkable statement. A rough analogy in the material world to such an action in the spiritual world would be to suspend gravity and the laws of physics! Physical laws dictate and uphold the structure of physical existence. But how much more fundamental than physical law is Divine Law, which upholds the organization of the entire universe. And yet Baba said that breaking his silence would override his own established divine universal law! Why would he wish to do that? Could it be that this unprecedented act was necessitated because his speaking will actually change the fundamental structure and organization of all life in Creation, indeed, of Creation itself?

Only the Avatar can modify Universal Law and change the Divine Plan. Since they are God, the Perfect Masters have the power to intervene on a limited scale, but only the Avatar has the authority to do so on a universal scale.[4] On another occasion (more than thirty years later), Baba explained how rare and difficult this is:

As Kabir has said: “Fate is inexorable and unavoidable; only Ram (the Avatar) can alter it. He can undo destiny. He is Omnipotent, but whatever has been divinely destined has been planned after full thought.”

The Avatar does not as a rule interfere with the working out of human destinies. He will do so only in time of grave necessity; for instance, when he deems it absolutely necessary from his all-encompassing point of view. For a single alteration in the planned and imprinted pattern in which each line and dot interdependently mingles with the other means a shaking up and reassembling of an unending chain of possibilities and events. The least diversion in the pre-drawn line of Fate requires infinite adjustments, not only with the orbit of the individual concerned, but also involving in its interminable repercussions all those connected by the bond of past sanskaras.*

If a single change entails so much, how much more difficult would a universal change be? Even so, Baba said that he intended to “set aside” the universal law he himself had created, thus temporarily “unlocking” the fundamental organization of Creation. He would do this in order to manifest at many levels in Creation the new energy associated with his speaking. In statements throughout his life, he gave clues to the nature, character, and consequences of that energy. For example, at the outset of his Fiery Free Life in 1952, Baba declared:

After ages and ages, the time has now come for the real revelation of the Infinite in the universe. So the Fiery Life . . . will reveal that only God is real and all else is illusion.*

About two years later, in 1954, during his mass darshan tour in Andhra, Baba made the following provocative statement, linking the Original Whim with the breaking of his silence:

I am a past-master in not keeping promises since eternity. The first promise I gave God I kept, and this whole Creation is round my neck. The last promise, when I speak, I will fulfill.*


This pithy idea of “the first promise” and “the last promise” recalls Baba’s catchy phrase “an artificial end to an artificial beginning, and the Real Beginning to the Real End”,[5] a statement that referred to the year 1949, the dividing line between the two large arcs of his work that we have identified. Could Baba’s notion of the “first promise” and the “last promise” also relate to the “turning point” we have spoken of in past talks, the mid-point of the “Lifetime of Brahma” – that is, the mid-point of the life of Creation itself?[6]

Over the years, Baba expanded on this provocative theme, providing analogies and comparisons to the notion of “the first promise” and “the last promise” to make the meaning clearer. For example, at various gatherings in the 1950s and early ’60s, he explained that when he spoke and broke his silence, “the First Original Song will be sung again”.[7]  He clarified that “the First Song” marks “the beginning of Creation”, which “brings about the apparent descent of the Infinite into the domain of multiple duality”.[8]

He declared, “The whole universe has come around my neck because of my speaking this Word in the beginning.”[9] Baba called that a miracle, saying, “Ages and ages back, one great miracle I performed, and that is this miracle of the whole Creation that has come out of me.” Then he added that in his present incarnation he would also perform a miracle, a sole miracle. He said, “I will perform one more miracle when I speak.”[10] [italics added] Of the nature of this miracle he clarified, “That which has never happened will happen when I break my silence,”[11] and this would be “the greatest miracle of all times”.[12] To make it even clearer, Baba said, “When I speak, I will utter the Original Word.”[13]

In all these ways, Baba equated the breaking of his silence now with the unimaginable power and force of the first moment of Creation. In this deceptively simple language of “promises” and “speaking” he described the extraordinary task of this advent: to bring into Creation the highest radiant force of God that can be held here at this point in its evolution, and to re-set the direction of Creation itself, moving the totality of its myriads of beings and realms back toward the divine Source.


Universal Energy and Universal Work

Most of the outward activity associated with Meher Baba’s work, as we began to outline it in the last talk, can be seen and understood in the light of this great task: laying the foundation for the descent into Creation of this most powerful divine energy. He worked at this archetypally through many of his activities in the world, and he worked at this almost continuously through the vessel of his own physical body. He worked at this internally in higher realms during his seclusions and through his contacts with masts and advanced souls. On the day before he died, January 30, 1969, as spasms rocked his body, after the years of intense work in seclusion had utterly shattered his health, Baba turned to Dr. Donkin and gestured, “All this, all that I have been through all along, has been a preparation for the Word – for just the One Word!” And with a quizzical smile, he added, “Just imagine!”[14]

Marshaling this supreme divine force from the limitless ocean of the Silence, containing its unimaginable power, directing it into Creation in ways that would not simply dissolve and destroy the world of forms but sustain the consciousness that has been achieved and nourish the new life to come, these were the central tasks of Baba’s universal work. The release of this primal divine energy into the world of duality and its gradual expression in new forms of life is what we mean by his manifestation.

Among the dictionary definitions of the word manifestation are “public demonstration” and “materialization of spirit.” But its literal meaning, from Latin, is a slap – “to be struck by the hand.”  We could play with this Latin root and describe Baba’s “manifestation” of high divine force in Creation as a “slap” of the divine hand designed to awaken Creation from ages of slumber!

To achieve this awakening, Baba inundated his Creation with energy so refined, radiant, and powerful that it would begin to dissolve, at long last, the most ancient, most rigid, persistent, and habitual patterns of thought, feeling, and action that condition consciousness to focus outward. These patterns are based on the seven root desires, which, when impressed upon primordial matter, give created forms their illusory sense of separative existence and build the world of duality.[15]

You’ll recall that Meher Baba announced in his “Final Declaration” that “the time has come for the preordained destruction of multiple separateness.” This extraordinary statement was, in effect, a declaration of war on the very patterns of consciousness that had held sway on Earth up to the close of the first Cycle of cycles. Divinity was now going to plant its flag deep in “enemy territory”, in the most basic gross matter, with its blind, ferocious, implacable, instinctive will to separative existence, described so vividly in Sri Aurobindo’s poetry as:

. . . the stark resistance huge and dumb

Of our inconscient and unseeing base,

The stubborn mute rejection in life’s depths,

The ignorant No in the origin of things.[16]

This is what Baba set out to reclaim and redeem, not by opposing and destroying gross matter, but by divinizing it, that is, by infusing it with high radiant energy and light, freeing it from the restrictive patterns of unconscious or semiconscious life that have so long defined it, and raising its vibration. Sri Aurobindo described this work of the Avatar in gross matter: “He must call light into its dark abysms.”[17] Essentially that means dissolving the age-old sanskaric threads, the long-solidified impressions of conditioned existence that have imposed the dense illusion of multiple separateness. Then the primordial, pure divine energy that has been locked for eternities within the core of physical matter can be freed to participate in processes of transformation and move upward with what will now and in the future be the general trend of Creation. Ultimately, then, Baba’s goal is the raising of all the matter of Creation, from the lowest to the highest, to reflect and hold more of divinity here, within Creation.[18]

Descendent Spirituality: Divinizing the World

We have noted elsewhere that this goal is a fundamentally different approach to joining God from that practiced by all spiritual paths of the past. The great pathways of return sought to disentangle conditioned consciousness from the material world and rise above it, while purifying and refining individual consciousness until it can merge with the transcendent God beyond Creation. That is mukti, the bliss of liberation, the object of nearly all yogas and spiritual practices of the past. We have called this pattern “ascendent spirituality”. Meher Baba’s goal, to divinize the world, suggests a new path of return that might be called “descendent spirituality”, for its approach is to bring higher force into Creation, to anchor it here and use it to purify, refine, and transform Creation itself. The result of this work is not mukti, liberation, dissolving into the Infinite, but embodied Perfection living the divine life here on Earth. Baba himself describes this principle perfectly in three elegant sentences:

From the spiritual point of view, the only important thing is to realize the Divine Life and help others to realize it by manifesting it in every-day happenings. To penetrate into the essence of all being and significance, and to release the fragrance of that inner attainment for the guidance and benefit of others, by expressing, in the world of forms, truth, love, purity, and beauty – this is the sole game which has any intrinsic and absolute worth. All other happenings, incidents and attainments in themselves can have no lasting importance.*

Descendent spirituality is destined to become the primary subject matter of seekers on the path of return in the coming Cycle of cycles. When, in reference to the spiritual and religious paths, Baba told Murshida Duce and her Sufis that the Ocean would now flood the rivers, he was referring to this fundamental change of direction of spiritual energy. No longer must the seeker ascend to join the Ocean at its source; instead the radiant energy of the Ocean of Divinity will flood the riverbanks where they are, here on this physical plane of life. Baba’s word for this change was “reorientation”. He established his prototype for the spiritual paths of return of the future with his reorientation of universal sufism, which he called “Sufism Reoriented”.

A hallmark of this new “re-oriented” path was that it would be practiced in the midst of everyday life; in turn, this was to be a means toward a larger universal goal: not only to advance the seeker on the path, but also to aid Meher Baba in his task of spiritualizing the everyday world. As seekers take his name and remember him in the midst of their daily activities, they summon more of his transformative energy and light into Creation and concentrate it in the ordinary walks of life. As this process uproots and dissolves ancient, habitual modes of separative thinking and replaces them with creative new forms and patterns of life informed by the new energy of his manifestation, and as these new forms spread in the material world in time to come, Baba is aided in his aim to reorient all life on Earth.

With this background, we can now turn to the two major phases of Baba’s work we’ve outlined, “zoom in” on the individual outward activities associated with them, and see how they relate to this universal framework. Let us turn first to the Old Life.


The First Phase: The Old Life

As we would begin the day by assembling and organizing the tools we will use in our work, so Baba began his advent by gathering his Circle of close disciples, the mandali, first in the East and then in the West. They were to become direct and intimate living channels for his divinity to flow out to his Creation. Baba compared them to the parts of his body – eyes, ears, hands, feet – through which he would interact with the world,[19] and he said that his initial work with them to cleanse their lower natures was his most essential and first duty as the Avatar.[20] In an astonishingly short time, he prepared and trained them to serve as vessels for his work, purifying their sanskaras, inspiring in them an unshakable, lifelong devotion, and teaching them the fundamentals of discipleship. When we consider the enormity of Baba’s Avataric task and the magnitude of the universal forces he was working with, we can only marvel at the remarkable qualities of these extraordinary men and women, East and West, the “fortunate slaves” chosen to serve the Avatar as close members of his Circle in this most crucial and demanding of advents.

As I noted last time, though he finished his apprenticeship with Upasni Maharaj at the end of 1921,[21] Baba indicated that he did not come into his “full power” in his role as Avatar until twenty years later, after his final meeting with Upasni in late 1941.[22] Thus, during this period when Baba was gathering and training his close Circle of Eastern and Western disciples in the 1920s and ’30s, he was also discovering and exploring the dimensions of his own Avatarhood, a process that took many years.


“Spiritual Opposition” and Work with the Hierarchy

In this process, Baba had to win his authority as the Avatar at every level of created life. This includes the higher planes, with their well-established hierarchy of exalted spiritual beings, both incarnate and discarnate, many of whom would not automatically recognize and accept this new, young divine figure who was suddenly changing the rules! Those of you familiar with the business world will know how difficult it can be for a new CEO to take charge of a large corporation and change entrenched ways of doing business. It is a pattern familiar in any large institution, be it government, education, or even, or perhaps especially, the church. The “old guard” nearly always strives to protect their “turf” and undermine any apparent threat to the status quo.

Surely that can’t apply to the spiritual hierarchy – or can it?  Well, in some ways it does, since the work of the hierarchy is to preserve the existing order established by the previous Avatar. The members of the hierarchy are the guardians of forms associated with the old order. The new Avatar, by contrast, is the embodiment of sweeping universal change. He works continually to open and extend the possibilities of life, ultimately to draw Creation ever closer to its divine core.

In duality, change of any kind will automatically generate resistance; the more significant the change, the more powerful the resistance, and the more vehement the opposition will be. This is the “law of resistance and reaction”, a principle that is built into the design of Creation itself.[23] Its purpose, as Darwin discovered in relation to his theory of natural selection in the field of natural history, is to test, temper, and ultimately strengthen evolving life. The principle is that in every arena of life, perhaps especially in the spiritual arena, mastery can only be achieved when it has been earned and then demonstrated.

You may not have considered that such resistance to positive change might be found in higher realms; that the Avatar might not be instantly recognized and welcomed and his new pattern of life spontaneously adopted by the illuminati of the time. Yet as early as the Manzil-e-Meem, Baba warned the mandali: “advanced saints and mahatmas will disgrace and beat me, because at this moment the spiritual world is against me.”[24]

It was during this period that Upasni Maharaj shocked the mandali by cursing and denouncing Baba with great force.[25] As Baba explained, Upasni was actually aiding him. By drawing onto himself, personifying, and then personally intensifying the forces of opposition, Upasni accelerated what could have been a long, drawn-out process into a brief, concentrated phase. Baba’s calm, measured response to the violent resistance mounted by Upasni demonstrated his mastery clearly and effectively.[26]

Lord Meher documents other instances during the early 1920s when Baba said that saints and sadhus wanted to abuse and insult him. Sometimes Baba even took it on himself to personify such opposition, telling the mandali, “I am not a Baba; I have no ‘stuff’ in me!” He even denounced his own masters as frauds and said he wished to seek out advanced souls to punish, abuse, and humiliate him.[27] When the mandali asked him why he would say such things, Baba replied, “Divine law compels me to say it” (i.e., the law of resistance and reaction). In effect, Baba himself was now personifying the opposing forces.

Describing these incidents in Lord Meher, Bhau Kalchuri points out that such episodes ultimately had salutary effects on the mandali, bringing any remaining doubts they may have had about Baba’s divinity to the surface so they could be dissolved.[28] Bhau adds: “By criticizing himself, Baba was giving [the mandali] a lesson in humility and self-effacement” that ultimately strengthened their conviction of his Godhood; Baba was thus able to use these episodes as part of their training.

We can also note that in personifying the forces of opposition so forcefully and perfectly, Baba demonstrated that he, the Avatar, was in all and could understand and duplicate every point of view, even points of view directly opposing his own. That is only possible for a Master of the Mind. But there is also this to consider. When Baba told the mandali “I am not a Baba”, the statement contained a grain of truth: in 1924, he had not at that time yet assumed his full role of “Baba-hood”.

As he moved more fully into his office, Baba’s growing command of the spiritual hierarchy was demonstrated quite dramatically through a remarkable series of “conferences” or “meetings” convened in different parts of the world. One was held in 1928 in the crypt-room that later became Baba’s tomb, during which the timing of the Second World War was decided.[29] Another was held in 1932 in the cave at Assisi, which Baba said was an unprecedented gathering occasioned by the coming of “an upheaval in the world that has never before been experienced as the greatest spiritual revolution of all times takes place.”[30] A third meeting was held in 1934 on the mountain in Switzerland called Fallenfluh (which means “Falling Rock”). Baba’s Swiss disciple Hedi Mertens recalled that this meeting “had made Baba so extremely happy that we heard soft yodeling sounds coming from his throat when, on top of the hill, he heard the peasants sing.”[31] And a fourth meeting with masters of the sixth and seventh planes took place in 1937 at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.[32] One such meeting would be extraordinary; to have had four is astonishing, and indicates the enormity of the changes Baba was mapping out for the universe during this period.


* Lord Meher, 821. (All Lord Meher page numbers refer to the online edition of 2018 at


* Lord Meher, 4514-15.


* Lord Meher,3169.


*Lord Meher, 3462.

* Discourses, 6th ed., vol. 2, p. 113.


[1] That is, one “abiding in God as God” with infinite individuality, who “lives God’s life on Earth as Man and God simultaneously”, as Baba describes in “The Four Journeys”. Meher Baba, The Everything and the Nothing (Beacon Hill, Australia: Meher House Publications, 1963), 22-26.

[2] For example, as early as 1926, he told his disciples, “I am Prabhu—the Lord. I am all Knowledge-Power-Bliss. You see me, talk with me, and touch me, but I dwell in Infinity. My state is indescribable.” Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher, 687. (All Lord Meher page numbers refer to the online edition of 2018)

[3] Seeing Baba in Myrtle Beach in 1952, Murshida Duce observed, “A comparison stabbed my mind. He was God when I met him in India [in 1948], now he seemed a human man, and when we saw him in later years he appeared the perfect blend of the two. So he was the perfect exemplar of what he had patterned out for future humanity!” Ivy O. Duce, How a Master Works (Walnut Creek, CA: Sufism Reoriented, 1975), 84. In the Discourses, Baba explains, “Perfection does not belong to God as God, nor does it belong to man as man. Perfection is attained when man becomes God or when God becomes man. . . . When there is a happy and a conscious blending of the finite and the Infinite, we have Perfection. Then we have the Infinite revealing itself through the finite without getting limited thereby and the finite transcending its sense of limitation in the full knowledge of its really being the revelation of the Infinite.” Discourses, 6th ed. (San Francisco: Sufism Reoriented, 1967), vol. 1, p. 123.

[4] In the “Highest of the High” message, Baba says, “If I am the Highest of the High, my Will is Law, my Wish governs the Law, and my Love sustains the universe.” Amplifying this, Adi K. Irani explained, “The five Perfect Masters only carry out, they are merely the executors of, the planning that is done by the Avatar during his lifetime.”  Quoted in How a Master Works, 431.

[5] Lord Meher, 2691.

6 “Brahma is said to live for one hundred of his years¾that’s 311 trillion human years¾311 followed by twelve zeroes. That is how long the entire Cycle of all Cycles in Creation is said to last. At the end of one hundred Brahma years comes a ‘final’ mahapralaya, that is, ‘the greatest of the great dissolution of everything’. As I noted last time, Baba explained that mahapralaya is not the end, but simply a form of sleep. Presumably, after a hundred Brahma years of sleep, God and Creation are born all over again to continue the divine game!

“You may not be surprised to know that the rishis, who had worked out the full lifespan of one hundred Years of Brahma, also suggested where we are now in this grand cosmic continuum¾a Lifetime of Brahma. According to the Vedic tradition, we are nearing the midpoint of the first day of the first month of the fifty-first year of Brahma’s one-hundred-year life. In other words, Brahma Himself is now just a little more than halfway through his allotted lifespan.” (These cycles are described in the Bhagwatam and Vishnu Puranas. Scholars differ about the interpretation of the ancient cycles in terms of modern measurements. The various viewpoints are summarized in Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, The True History and the Religion of India (Delhi: Motilal BanarasiDass, Ltd., 2001), 452, 519-21; Bibhu Dev Misra, “A Day and Night of Brahma: the Evidence from Fossil Records”;  Joseph F. Morales, “The Hindu Theory of World Cycles in the Light of Modern Science”

[7] Lord Meher, 3463.

[8] Lord Meher, 4547.

[9] Lord Meher, 3530.

[10] Lord Meher, 3828.

[11] Lord Meher, 5272.

[12] Lord Meher, 3467.

[13] Lord Meher, 3530. Baba also said: “[T]he moment I break my silence and utter that Original Word, the first and last miracle of Baba in this life will have been performed. It will be a miracle as I have never performed. I will not raise the dead, but will make those who live for the world dead to the world and alive in God. I will not give sight to the blind, but will make those who see Illusion blind to Illusion, so that they can see God as the only Reality.” Lord Meher, 3504.

[14] Lord Meher, 5297.

[15] “In the time before Creation, fire, energy, and space manifested near the OM Point.

These forces arose out of the Whim.

But out of that Original Whim also surged seven major desires, which poured into the Ocean of Nothing before and after Creation.

These seven desires pervade the mental world (seed form), the subtle world in subtle form (germination), and the gross world in gross form (action).

Mankind knows these desires as lust, anger, greed, hatred, pride, selfishness, and jealousy, and these desires pervade all Creation.

Consequently, at every stage of life you will find this figure SEVEN has significant meaning because of the pervading seven major desires.”

Bhau Kalchuri, The Nothing and the Everything (North Myrtle Beach, SC: Manifestation, Inc., 1981), 34. Also see “The Sevenfold Veil” in Meher Baba, God Speaks 2nd ed., third printing (Walnut Creek, CA: Sufism Reoriented, 1997), 67 et seq.

[16] Sri Aurobindo, Savitri, a Legend and a Symbol, The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo, 33, 34 (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1997) bk. 3, canto 3, 317.

[17] Ibid., bk. 6, canto 2, 450.

[18] “I intend, when I speak, to reveal the One Supreme Self which is in all. This accomplished, the idea of the Self as a limited, separate entity will disappear, and with it will vanish self-interest. . . . When I speak, I shall manifest the divine will, and worldwide transformation of consciousness will take place.” (Baba’s message at the Knickerbocker Hotel, Hollywood, 1932.) Lord Meher, 1431-32.

[19] Bhau Kalchuri suggested that each member of the Circle unconsciously performed a specific function in relation to Baba’s universal work (e.g., “the heart feels but it does not know what it is feeling”), that each one embodied an archetypal set of qualities in Illusion that formed a field of the Avatar’s working. Bhau Kalchuri, Avatar of the Age: Meher Baba Manifesting (Myrtle Beach, SC: Manifestation, Inc., 1985), 115.

[20] “In short, the greatest duty of the Avatar is first of all to prepare his Circle members and give these people Realization. I cannot delay this work; I must make sure the preparedness of my inner circle is complete. Then secondly, I must give some spiritual push to others outside the Circle. And thirdly, I must grant some material advantage to others who prove deserving of my help.” Baba in 1926, Lord Meher, 734.

[21] Baba spent six months with Upasni in Sakori, from July to December 1921, during which he “completely regained his normal human consciousness of the world to begin his divine mission . . .” Lord Meher, 241. At the end of December, Upasni told many of his followers that he had “made Merwan perfect”. Although Baba was not to assume his full role as the Avatar until the 1940s, even at this early time Upasni said, “Merwan now has all that Sai Baba gave me. Everything has been transferred to him now. . . . The whole burden is on his shoulders now!” Baba actually left Sakori to begin his work in Pune early in January 1922; though Lord Meher describes the event, an exact date is not given. Lord Meher, 257.

[22] Dr. William Donkin, Donkin’s Diaries: Travels in India with Meher Baba, 1939-45, comp. Sarah McNeill (Noth Myrtle Beach, SC: Sheriar Press, 2011), 207.

[23] Murshida Carol Weyland Conner, “Understanding Spiritual Opposition” (unpublished Sufi class transcript, 2009).

[24] Lord Meher, 353.

[25] Baba’s mother, Shireen, said, “When I went near Maharaj’s cage in Sakori [in February 1923], he slapped me. Maharaj put out his hands from behind the bars and, catching me with one hand, severely slapped me with the other. My bangles were broken. Not being accustomed to such harsh treatment, I was very upset and immediately prepared to leave Sakori. But I was detained for a day, during which Maharaj called me to him four times. He not only abused me each time but shouted against Merwan and some of you men [the mandali]. Warningly, he said, ‘Your son, Merwan, pretends that he is a Sadguru! He is impersonating a Guru!’” Lord Meher, 394.

[26] At the 1958 sahavas in Meherabad, Baba explained more about this early collaboration with Upasni to create opposition: “Things started happening on a certain night soon after Upasni Maharaj told some devotees to hold fast to me. . . . Maharaj and I were sitting in a hut. Maharaj folded his hands and told me: ‘Merwan, you are the Avatar.’ Maharaj then told me to leave him, adding that soon he would create such an opposition as would make it difficult for those whom he had asked to stick to me to follow his advice. ‘Even those who want to hold fast to your daaman will abandon you!’ he said.” Lord Meher, 4280.

[27] Lord Meher, 554.

[28] Bhau writes, “Despite their attempts to control their minds, the men still became fed up with Baba for repeating the same enigmatic subject again and again. He would do so morning, noon, or night, until they could not tolerate hearing how saints and sadhus were out to destroy his Baba-hood. It would not be a matter of him saying he was ‘not a Baba’ for a few minutes—the mandali were made to listen to the same haranguing monologue for hours, until they could stand it no longer, and would plead with him to stop and put an end to such enigmas.

“At times the Master would also curse at them to arouse them out of their laxness. He also tried to create doubts in their minds by confronting them: ‘What do you know? You only say I am God in human form. Do you really believe I am God? What have you gained from me? Have you lost or gained? Why do you believe I am God? Tell me what you are thinking! Speak up!’” Lord Meher, 555.

[29] Lord Meher, 881.

[30] Lord Meher, 1457.

[31] Hedi Mertens, “Baba’s Stop in Switzerland”, The Awakener 4, no. 2 (Winter 1956): 9.

[32] Jean Adriel, Avatar (Santa Barbara, CA: J. F. Rowney, 1947), 231.

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