Meher Baba's Home in the West
July Newsletter 2022
ECPPA photo collection
"Of all the forces that can best overcome all difficulties, is the force of love, because the greatest Law of God is Love, which holds the key to all problems."
Meher Baba
The Path of Love, p.67
Dear Meher Center Family and Friends,

Greetings from Meher Spiritual Center. I wanted to share a poignant experience that happened to Bernice Ivory, the sister of devoted Baba lover Beryl Williams, in New York in late July of 1956. 

When Beryl first began following Baba, she started talking “incessantly” to her sister about Him, even though Bernice had never been interested in spirituality or metaphysics. But Bernice noticed that her sister had changed for the better since meeting Baba, and when Beryl gave her a picture of Baba, Bernice started meditating on it. Bhau Kalchuri writes in Lord Meher: “One night while meditating on the photo, Bernice saw a golden light come from it. It filled her home and touched her sleeping family. She was convinced of Baba's divinity and had many further experiences of Baba's presence.”

In July of 1956, Bernice and her family had the opportunity to finally meet Baba in person before He made His way down to Myrtle Beach. Because of the intensity of her inner experiences, Bernice felt a bit nervous, thinking that she might well “disintegrate” in His presence! But then, as described in Lord Meher, “Baba peeked at her and her family from around the screen, and his eyes twinkled in recognition. ‘Oh, he knows me,’ Bernice cried. ‘Baba, you know me!’ and she fell into his arms.”*

In Baba’s love and service, 
Buz Connor
For Meher Center board and staff

* Lord Meher, Online Edition, by Bhau Kalchuri, pp. 3987-3988
The Final Embrace
In September, 1954 Meher Baba invited 968 men to Meherabad to hear His Final Declaration. The meetings began with Baba embracing all who were present. He stated that they were embracing for the last time. This is a beautiful art film in slow motion focusing only on those embraces.

Video, 11:54
Courtesy of Bob Fredericks
“Messiah who adores Ping-Pong”
By Valerie McKean
The Sunday Mercury published in Birmingham England, June 12, 1932, ran an article entitled, “The Silent Man ‘Messiah’ who Adores Ping-Pong”. The article read, “Meher Baba is a vegetarian, teetotaler and non-smoker, wears long hair and a plush blazer and plays an excellent game of ping-pong.”

Meher Baba did indeed enjoy a good game of ping-pong. It often appeared to His opponents that He was absorbed in much more than a simple game of table tennis. Here are several of the many stories of Meher Baba and His enjoyment of the game.  

In 1923 a ping pong table was set up in Manzil-e-Meem, Baba’s early ashram in Bombay. Dr. Ghani, Meher Baba’s childhood friend and early Mandali would often play a lively game with Baba. He was one of Baba’s fiercest competitors.

Will Backett, one of Meher Baba’s early English disciples, described Baba’s style: “At the ping-pong table provided for our relaxation, He was a doughty opponent, with unique grace and speed.” [I] 

William Donkin, author of The Wayfarers and Mandali member wrote, “He plays very fast, hitting the ball hard. No rules, no scoring: he says the ball, racquets, talk and play are all “Chanji”, which means higgledy-piggledy.” [II] Chanji also happened to be the name that Baba gave His devoted first secretary, Framroze H. Dadachanji. 

During the later part of April 1932, Meher Baba and companions from East and West traveled by train through France to Lugano, Switzerland. Kitty Davy recalled, “Baba always loved some kind of exercise and so we procured a ping-pong table from a neighboring house which the hotel put on the landing outside our rooms. Here we all played frequently at any hour of the day. Dr. Ghani gave Baba the best game…"

”Before we had our own ping-pong table, we would go to another hotel and play there. Baba enjoyed this too, but He played one day with a professional who wanted to keep score. This did not please Baba. He played when he wanted to work, doing the two simultaneously, hence scoring to Him was a hindrance. The quicker the game, the better for His work.” [III]

On Thanksgiving Day 1969, Kitty Davy gave a talk at the Center where she recalled that time in Switzerland. “We played games, and Ping-Pong was one of them. In the midst of our laughing and happy, carefree mood, Baba quietly put down the Ping-Pong bat, walked across the room and took down from the hat stand in the corner a black silk top hat. Holding it with the hollow going away from us and with Dr. Ghani interpreting, He then said, ‘This way you look outward’; turning the hat around, He then said, ’Now you look inwards - you must learn to look within. There you will find Me in the heart. You will experience My Real Being - Infinite Love.’” [IV]  

Rano Gayley was one of the fortunate ones who accompanied Meher Baba on the S.S. Majestic on its voyage from Cherbourg to New York. Rano and Baba played ping-pong every morning. She recorded, “He didn’t ‘play’ table tennis in the usual sense of the word, rather he simply swatted balls at you as hard as he could and you had to be alert enough to return them. Whatever Baba’s internal work was at the time, it must have been particularly strenuous, judging from the force he put on the ball.” [v]

In the summer of 1956, fourteen year old Peter Thibodeau, was helping out doing odd jobs at Meher Center. Peter had noticed the ping-pong table at Baba’s house and asked Baba if he and Baba could play a game. When He had time, Baba sent Adi to fetch Peter and the two played ping-pong. As usual, Baba won! 

Now, sixty-six years later, the ping pong table is preserved on the porch at Baba’s House and is available for viewing only. Day visitors and overnight guests are welcome to play ping-pong in the Recreation Room. There you can play a game, practice your forehand fast serve or be like Baba and not keep score.

On Silence Day Eve, 1979 Kitty Davy gave a talk at the Center. She said, “Looking back, however, I realize that above all other aspects of our early years with Baba, in India and in the West, there was one fine thread that went into or onto the canvas, and that fine thread, as I see it today, concerned consciousness. Baba silently and continuously was working on this one theme, consciousness. 

“Why, for instance, did He so frequently call us to be with Him, to sit with Him, to play various games with Him? Ping-Pong, volleyball, and numerous card games. And His various disciplines, His occasional orders, His assigned duties — why? He was working to try to bring consciousness away from self and away from the many objects of illusion and duality — its wants and desires —to the one object, Himself.”[VI]

[I] Three Incredible Weeks ,by Malcolm Schloss and Charles Purdom, p. 157
[II] “My Days with the Master, by William Donkin, Awakener Magazine, Vol 20 No 2, p. 6
[III] Love Alone Prevails, by Kitty Davy, p. 57-58 
[IV] One Fine Thread, by Kitty Davy, p.18-19
[V] Because of Love, by Rano Gayley, p. 8  
[VI] One Fine Thread, by Kitty Davy, p. 111-112
Caring for Meher Center:
Rebuilding the Playground
The quaint playground at Meher Center has hosted generations of children! Many of us have wonderful memories of swinging high on the swings, attending Youth Sahavas events or music concerts there, or just having a silent moment at the gazebo. After forty-one years since its construction, the Center playground was recently rebuilt.
It’s taken approximately a year to rebuild the two play structures. This big project has involved rebuilding of structural framing, all new decking, new staircases and new railing systems on both play structures. “When we started, the tops of all the big posts were rotted. Now both structures are rebuilt with pressure treated yellow pine which is strong and durable,” says Stuart Baker who has worked painstakingly to restore this beautiful space. How long does he think these new structures will play host to Baba’s young lovers? “It should last at least thirty years.” Happy playing!
An Extraordinary Pilgrimage
By Preeti Hay
First visits to the Center are always memorable. Whether they elicit awe, surprise, tears, or a deep sense of returning home, there definitely is a subtle string of magic that runs through these visits. And yet each story is different. Inimitable. One of my favorite parts of working at the Center is to witness and vicariously experience this authenticity of experience. And more often than not, in these exchanges, I receive more than I give. 
In late spring of this year, I received a rare phone call to make a reservation for an Indian family in Hindi. Glad to help, I complied. Mrs. Vijay Kapil and her husband, A.R. Kapil were visiting their daughter in Oregon. I learned that they hailed from Delhi, India, and had been with Baba for decades. We navigated possible reservation dates depending on their son-in-law’s availability to travel with them and talked about cabin placements to accommodate the mobility challenges that came with Vijay being quite elderly. In the repeated phone conversations I had with Vijay, one thing was clear: she was determined to come. In all her might, without inconveniencing anyone, her humble attempt was to not leave America without taking Baba’s darshan at His home.
The day after they arrived, I met them at their cabin to show them around. Vijay received me with a deep embrace as if she were meeting someone she had known forever. “Baba said that He had chosen His close followers for this advent in the time of His last advent of Mohamed. I feel like I know everyone here,” she said. That assertion of familiarity and lack of separation not only broke the ice, but set the tone for what was to follow: an immense dive into His ocean of love.
We drove to the Barn where she told me how it all began. “My husband’s brother, Dr. Hakumat Rai Kapil, first came to Baba in 1950. It was during the New Life. He was desperately looking for a guru. He had read that Baba claimed to be the Highest of the High. At the time, Baba was in Dehradun, so he decided to show up at His doorstep. To protect himself from the heavy downpour that night, Hakumat stood under an awning, determined to see Baba at any cost. Despite His seclusion, Baba clapped and asked a Mandali member about the young man waiting to see Him. He instructed the Mandali to give him dry clothing before allowing for His darshan. As soon as he saw Baba, he knew that He was God in Human form. His search had ended, and so had our whole family’s.” 
In keeping with Baba’s orders, Hakumat attended to his family. In the 1960s Baba invited seven people to observe a twenty-one day fast only on tea. Hakumat was one of them. It was through him that Vijay heard of Baba. She had been observing fasts on Monday that were dedicated to Lord Shiva. Every week she prayed to be able to have Baba’s darshan. One night, she dreamed of several feet of snow, and then a sculpture of Lord Shiva rose from it. She knew that this was related to her upcoming meeting with Baba.
In 1962, fifteen people from their family were invited to the East-West gathering. The memories of the event are still fresh in her mind. She remembers that the Easterners were allowed to see Baba during the afternoon hours. “Even though we saw Him for three hours every day, my heart was never full.” Does she still recall the clarity of that image? “Absolutely. My eyes see Him clearly, even today.”
On an impulse, I decided that it would be a shame if Vijay did not see the Guesthouse. Her close contact with Baba had surely involved a reverential interaction with the Mandali. When I took her to the Guesthouse, tears instantly welled in her eyes like she had found a lost treasure. One could see that there could be no greater pilgrimage that she might have embarked on. All of her hardship in getting here and her deep desire to fulfill this impossible dream culminated in this one experience. 
In that moment, every object touched by Baba and the Mandali became a means for a momentary union between the lover and the Beloved. Not a dry ritual, but a true flash of grace. I followed her outside where she touched flowers that grew from His soil and hugged trees that Baba might have touched. “People had told me how wonderful the Center in Myrtle Beach was, but descriptive words do not do justice, one just has to experience it to really know it. I have felt real happiness and bliss here.”
On her return to India, Vijay reflected that she had never dreamed of coming to Meher Center before coming to America but since she arrived in America there was nothing else that she wanted more. Now, she believes that her trip to the USA was successful because of this pilgrimage. “It is no ordinary Center. He is still present in Myrtle Beach.”