June Newsletter 2019

(ECP Photo Archive)

On April 11, 1960 at Guruprasad Meher Baba said to a devotee: 

"Once you were a child and now you have two children. As one grows in age there is a nonstop flow of positive desires, 'I want this, I want that. I want a wife, I want children. I want position.'

Whether you become successful or unsuccessful in fulfilling these desires, at a later age there surges a wave of negative reaction, such as 'I do not want this. I do not want that…I am fed up with my wife, fed up with my position.'

The real thing is that you should neither feel over-enthusiastic nor bored. You have to remain nonchalant. 

Whether likes in the form of wanting, or dislikes in the form of not-wanting things or situations, they are equally binding. You have to leave wanting and not-wanting that emerge from self-interest, but try ever and ever to accept life as it comes, welcoming it as the will of God.

Then when life changes, you will not become bound by so-called plans. The feeling of boredom will fail to bore you.”

Meher Baba
Glimpses of the God-Man at Guruprasad  by Bal Natu p.156

Dear Meher Center Family and Friends, 

Greetings to you from Meher Baba’s home in the West. We are reaching out in this, our June newsletter, to share with you some of what happened in the past month at the Center, as well as some upcoming events.

June is always a busy and exciting month as we greet the many pilgrims who come in late Spring, and also prepare to welcome young people from across the world for our annual Youth Sahavas. The many dedicated volunteers working on the Youth Sahavas also bring to my mind another event close to my heart— the Center's first Volunteer Sahavas, which will take place October 4-6 th . This event will provide an opportunity for pilgrims of all ages to come together to connect with one another and provide service in a Sahavas atmosphere of Baba’s love. We hope you are able to make room on your calendars to joins us!

We look forward to seeing you at Meher Center one day soon.

In Meher Baba,

Buz Connor
For Meher Center board and staff 
Meher Baba visiting Meher Center 1958
(Shaw family photo)
Operational Projects Underway

Youth Sahavas 2019

The Why of Youth Sahavas

By Jamie Keehan

Center staff and volunteers are in full swing preparing for this year’s Youth Sahavas. It feels a little like being in an anthill: we’re swarming, putting in flooring and setting up tents and washing load after load after load of dishes. Every regular staff and volunteer has their duties, not to mention the over sixty young adults who are taking time out of their busy lives to volunteer as Sahavas staff, coming in days early to ensure everything is ready for the teen participants. If you caught a glimpse of all this without knowing the history or the impact of Sahavas, you’d wonder what kind of week-long event could possibly warrant such an expenditure of effort and love. And then, you’d talk to just one of the young people who was impacted by the event, and you’d understand.

Regina, a current member of the Cabin Crew, is one of those young people. Long before she spent her days on Center keeping it clean and beautiful for guests, Regina was a teenager who had been told about Meher Baba by her parents, but had no personal relationship with Him herself. She remembers her family praying before meals and everyone else saying “Jai Baba” while she stayed silent. “I didn’t believe in all that,” she says.

In part because of that lack of belief or interest, Regina didn’t come to Youth Sahavas for the first couple years. When she finally decided to try it out, it was with some trepidation— she still didn’t have a connection with Baba, and she was also afraid she wouldn’t be accepted by the group.

But when Regina arrived at Youth Sahavas, she was swept up by this wave of welcome. It’s something that you can still feel, when you walk onto the Center during the event: partly it’s those early-arriving young adult staff who create an intentional culture of acceptance, and partly it’s something more, this overtone of love that Baba tops it off with. Regina started feeling at home more quickly than she’d expected to.

Not long into the week, Regina decided to attend Dhuni, a ceremony begun by Baba many years ago. She found herself sitting around a fire with all these strangers who would soon become friends and family. After a while, they started singing a song— “Wagon Wheel”— that she’d never heard before. On the chorus, out of the darkness people started singing in harmony, these unique parts coming together to form something beautiful and whole. “That unity was crazy,” she says, and it gave her a new glimpse of how this community of teens and young adults comes together for Meher Baba.

Regina didn’t instantaneously develop a deep relationship with Baba. But in that atmosphere, and in a place where different beliefs were accepted, she started seeking— thinking about and talking about and feeling into what that kind of relationship might look like. At the same time, of course, as she ate burritos and taped ping pong balls to her face (don’t ask).

By the end of Youth Sahavas, Regina found herself standing in a long line, holding hands with dozens of the unique individuals who she’d sung with, laughed with, prayed with, and danced with over the past week. The line wound its way in silence toward Baba’s House. When everyone had arrived and had said Baba’s prayers together, she found herself looking out over the lake and feeling something she hadn’t felt before. “I don’t really know how to describe it,” she says, “It was like all I could really do was say ‘thank you Baba. Thank you so much.’ And that’s what I do every year, now. But it’s just… it’s just a crazy feeling. It’s like you’re filled up with love.”

Regina has come back to Youth Sahavas, as a camper and a counselor, year after year since then. When asked how Youth Sahavas has impacted her, Regina says she can trace so much of who she is— her love for Baba, her self-confidence, her identity, her living in Myrtle Beach and working at the Center— back to the Youth Sahavas. And she’s not the only one: time and time again I hear this story, each time totally unique but with that same thread, that the Youth Sahavas was what opened someone’s door to Baba’s love, and to a real relationship with Him that has become a foundation for the rest of their lives.

So that’s what I think about, as I’m scouring the linen garage or moving dozens of mats back and forth. And I know that the tumult of June, full of activity and love, is totally and unequivocally worth it.

Upcoming Events

Silence Day Celebration 
July 10th

On July 10th, the Center commemorates the day that Meher Baba took a vow of Silence in 1925. “I have come not to teach, but to awaken,” He said on July 9th, 1925. He spent the remaining 44 years of his life in silence. For the anniversary of His silence in 1968, Baba asked His followers to observe silence on that day. Honoring that tradition, many Baba lovers around the world spend the day in silence, and silence is kept at the Center. The reflective spirit of Silence Day is welcomed with a Silence Day Eve program at the Barn on July 9th at 8 pm. All are welcome to join the program of readings, music, Arti and prayers.

Avatar Meher Baba Trust

Master Plan Engagement
July 20 & 21

A Master Plan has been drafted to guide the long-term development of Meherabad, Meherazad and Meher Nazar. The Trust is planning a world-wide effort to engage His lovers in an effort to share the draft Master Plan.

The Trust understands that the future of these sacred sites is of immense interest and importance to His lovers. Therefore, the Trust is conducting a world-wide effort to engage the broader Baba family in the planning for this future. In these meetings Merwan Dubash and Daniel Stone will present a summary of the draft Master Plan. Feedback will also be solicited from participants, which will then be used to finalize the plan.

The Meher Center is one of only two locations in North America where these meetings will be held. Also the meetings will not be filmed, so the only opportunity to hear firsthand about these plans will be to attend one of the meetings.

July 20 and July 21
1-5 pm on both days 
Location: Meeting Place, Meher Center

Attendance to this meeting will be by reservation only; to make a reservation please contact Dilruba administrative offices at 843-272-8793

(Note there are two separate sessions to accommodate all who might be interested; please let the Center know which one you want to attend)

For those who have been to the Center over the last several years, seeing Carole Kelly at the Gateway has been a quiet but definite part of the ‘Welcome Home’ experience. It is not a bombastic welcoming nor is it monastic; it is reliable and very thorough. Carole has been the silent pillar of stability and strength at the Gateway. With its complex functioning of reservations, accounts, volunteers and countless behind the scene projects, the Gateway is almost its own creature. To manage this adventure requires no less than faith and poise. In her over thirty years of managing the Gateway and working closely with Jane Haynes, Carole brought forth those skills and much more. Now that she has passed on the baton, but still continues to work part time, all her colleagues rely on her for her very wise last word. They know very well that Carole has seen it all.

Carole first found out about Meher Baba in 1975. She was baptized Catholic and raised Christian Scientist. She was open to the idea of God and of Reincarnation but following a Master did not make sense at the time. Her deep curiosity was answered when she was guided inwardly to read God Speaks. “When I got to the part about the planes of consciousness, it felt like an inner explosion of recognition. I knew this was the truth. This was not what I was looking for but I could not deny it. This was when I came to understand that Meher Baba was God, not a master or an intermediary, and from that moment on, I have been with Baba one hundred percent,” she says.

In Minnesota, New York and California, Carole taught special education to learning disabled and emotionally disturbed children in public classrooms and trained graduate level teachers to do the same. She was questioning what her next step would be, when during her first visit to India, she felt strongly that she should move to Myrtle Beach to be near the Center. She then got a job in Conway teaching at a middle school. Following that year of teaching, Jane Haynes (the President of the Meher Center at that time) asked Carole if she would like to work at the Center. She first started working at the Gateway in 1987, but by 1988 she was Jane Haynes’ administrative assistant.

Working with Jane was challenging but gratifying. The rush, the stress, the juggle, the quest of doing well and of pleasing Baba kept this relationship going. One could imagine working for a spiritual Center as relaxing and even keel, but just like life with Baba, it was anything but that. “Those years were so bizarre that it was often comical. I had to step back and tell myself that none of this is real and that I just had to do my best.” Through all this Baba found a way for Carole to survive in Myrtle Beach as a single mother. Almost miraculously she paid her bills, found housing, raised her child and continued work at the Center.

As all things change, Kitty passed away and Jane retired. Just then, the opportunity to be the Coordinator of the Gateway opened up for Carole. “I had missed the Gateway very much. It felt like returning home. From then until now, I have thanked Baba every day to be able to work where I am supposed to be.”

When asked what her favorite part about being at the Gateway is, Carole chuckles. “I love it when I am the only worker there and the phone keeps ringing, while four new guests from India are arriving, a maintenance truck pulls up, the administrative office calls for something and two drop in visitors enter the door! I love when I am just one of three there and the phone has rung only once all morning!”

Carole personifies that very readiness to give and receive at all times. But it is bereft of the presumption that this is for the benefit of anyone but her own good fortune to be here. “It has been so important to remember the message Baba gave to his lovers in Poona, October 1962, called My Dear Workers: ‘You should never think that in your work for me you are benefiting others, for by being my instrument in bringing others to me you are benefiting yourself.’”

It is through this work that she experiences love that has grown, “slowly and quietly without my even noticing it.” Her work is her meditation. “The realization, looking back, is humbling- especially considering my personal human frailties, and the awareness of how much farther I have to go. Just knowing I’m on the road, though, is enough.”