October Newsletter 2019
Photo ecppa collection
To get nearer and nearer to God you have to get further and further away
from “I”, “My”, and “Mine”. You have not to renounce anything but
your own self. It is as simple as that, though found to be almost
impossible. It is possible for you to renounce your limited self
by my Grace. I have come to release that Grace. 

Meher Baba
Universal Message, 1964
Dear Meher Center Family and Friends,

I hope this newsletter finds you well and happy in His loving companionship. As many of you are aware, Meher Center's board has begun an initiative to inform our family of the ongoing financial needs involved in maintaining His Home in the West. To quote from the recent letter:

It has never been the Center’s way to talk very much about money. The focus on
Meher Baba’s life and message has always come first, as the miracle of His love 
is the sole reason for the Center’s existence. At the same time, for those who feel 
a deep connection to the Center, being aware of the Center’s financial needs can
become an opportunity to help take responsibility for the ongoing care of His 
precious home. On a practical level, as has always been the case, the current 
and future stability of the Center’s financial wellbeing lies in the hands of His lovers.

We want to thank all of you who hold His center close to your hearts, and who have responded in heartfelt ways to the Center’s needs over the years. No matter what shape or size, we view all contributions as gifts of love inspired by His grace. 

As always, we remain resigned to His will, and with the conviction that the future of His home lies in His hands.  

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

In Meher Baba's love and service,

Buz Connor
For Meher Center board and staff 
Photo by Bob Ochtrup

This New Life is Endless

By Jamie Keehan

On October 16th, 1949, Meher Baba began His New Life.

What does this mean? And Baba’s promise that “this New Life will live by itself eternally”?

I do know that, seventy years ago, on an early rainy morning when it was still dark, Baba and twenty companions started down the road. A month before, Baba’s ashram had been bustling with projects, personalities and routines. Now Baba and these companions let it all go, gave everything away, and started walking. 

Hundreds of people felt the anguish of possibly never seeing Baba again, as He declared that embarking on the New Life meant cutting external links with those left behind. For the few He’d selected to go with Him, there were not only physical hardships like freezing temperatures and interminable walking, but the grinding adherence to conditions Baba set out— like never expressing anger in word or deed, and not expecting Baba to protect them from pain or adversity. Baba Himself took on the additional suffering of lengthy seclusions and severe medical conditions attributed to bowing down to thousands of holy men. 

Then, two years after the New Life began, Baba returned, opening the gates to His lovers, and celebrating what He called His “first real birthday.” 

In my attempt to understand what this work meant and how it continues, I read accounts of the New Life from those who lived it, and also talked with Baba lovers about how the New Life continues to be part of their lives. One story in particular had an impact on me. In 2011, Helen didn’t know much about Baba, but her friend had convinced her to read a book called Lord Meher. She was sixty pages into the text the first day, reading about the Perfect Masters, before she fell asleep.

She dreamed of Baba and the New Life. In the dream, she was an old woman, hungry, alone in her hut, when two men in white robes came through the door, one of whom she later recognized as Baba. They were holding empty begging bowls. She was humiliated that the only thing she had to give them was a few grains of crusty old rice. But as she handed her last food to Baba, the crust turned to jewels.

“When I woke up,” Helen says, “I was a Baba lover.”

As she read more, Helen learned about the New Life, and learned the New Life prayer and Baba’s statement that starts, “This New Life is endless,” by heart, saying them over and over. She could feel that the New Life was important, even though she couldn’t fully grasp what it meant.

A few years later, Helen began her current job working with homeless people in a big city. It’s been agonizing work, in some ways, seeing the beauty and the suffering of the people she meets on the street. But there’s one thing she knows: these folks come to her with empty bowls. And more than that, in order to really serve them, she has to come to them with an empty bowl— just human beings, seeking and serving God in one another.

How to understand the New Life: God in human form becoming an aspirant, cutting ties with His lovers, spending months in seclusion, then returning? But there are moments when I think I can catch its scent: an empty bowl at a homeless shelter; Baba’s continued loving journeys through our dreams into our waking life; and even the rain that drizzled down during the Center's New Life gathering on the morning of the 16th, like it did seventy years before. 

Baba’s sister Mani was one of the four women permitted to accompany Baba on the New Life journey, setting off at dawn on that October morning. Mani speaks eloquently to the fulness of the New Life, the imperishable truth of it that still permeates our lives today:

“There was this feeling of freedom. Not a miniature or imitation freedom, where you are in the mood for renunciation, or putting on a long robe and declaring that you’ve renounced everything. Not that. It was like a breeze coming from an ocean of freedom …

Anything Baba plans or starts—lays the foundation for, or plants the seeds of— is going to happen a thousand times in the future. If that freedom is really to blossom, to be for the entire world, I cannot imagine what that time must be—as that freedom is bigger than life. Maybe that’s going to happen. But it won’t be just a breeze that we feel a whiff of; it will be a wind that will spread all over.

Then nothing matters. It’s not that one needn’t desire, one wouldn’t desire—as there is not room for other desires. It is so complete, so whole, so total. That’s the only answer. That’s why Baba said the New Life will live, even if there is no one to live it. That freedom is so total,” (Mehera Meher, 535).

The Lustrous Beauty of Meher Baba's Words
By Preeti Hay
Plato said, "Beauty is the splendor of Truth." According to Ward Parks, a scholar on Meher Baba's words, the Truth and power in Baba's words bring out His beauty.
This month, the Center hosted a seminar on 'Reincarnation and the Purpose of Life' given by Ward Parks. Ward came to Baba in 1970 when he was a freshman at Harvard. In 1993 he gave up his career as a tenured professor of Medieval Literature at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge to go to Meherabad for spiritual training. "I had the natural disposition to study texts. My journey into editing Baba's words began when I was Bhauji's secretary. In 1997 the manuscript to what became Infinite Intelligence was discovered and ever since, my main job has been editing Baba's works for publication." At present Ward is working on Baba's talks to the Meher Ashram boys in the early years.
Ward's seminars, that started organically in 2011 at Avatar's Abode and then took the form and shape of multi-day seminars all across the world, have been quite the subject of conversation in the Baba world. Baba's path is seen as primarily devotional and yet Baba said that He can be approached through all the three yogas. So how does studying His texts fit into the seeker's life? "I feel that Baba's path is as various as His lovers. Every kind of seeker can come to Him. The general path He gave is a blending of the three yogas: Bhakti, Gyan and Karma. In the Discourses , Baba talks about the integration of the heart and the head. That means not dismissing the intellect but using the heart to set aims while using the head to implement those aims." Some people are not attracted to this form of Sadhana, and Ward has no criticism towards that. "Baba can be found deep within your heart, or just looking into a photograph of Him might be your path, but for those who are prompted to do this study, it provides an illuminated framework for that very integration."
In every advent the words of the Avatar have been colossally important, be it the Gospels, the Quran or the Bhagavad Gita. Ward believes that in Baba's case several factors have kept Baba's words in the background until now. The exquisite personal encounter with the Mandali had been the main spring source that His lovers drew from. But now as people who had physical contact with the Avatar are passing on, it's only natural to wonder how one can get closer to Baba. A disciple wants to obey, but to obey he has to know what exactly Baba wants him to obey. "His words are a huge resource because they are a channel to Him. I believe they will assume more centrality going forward," says Ward.
As any old timer, Ward understands the dangers of interpretation of God's words. In his own study he tries to stick to Baba's direct words with clear and obvious inferences. If anything involves his own understanding, he states that very clearly. "We have to be careful of people propounding their own philosophies and assumed spiritual authority. But I think there is nothing wrong with the attempts to understand what Baba said and share and explain to others who would like to learn."
Holding these seminars on the Center has been a wonderful experience for Ward and many who have attended. "The Center is bathed in His presence. So, it allows us to dive deep into that treasure house and we realize that of all the treasures we chase, this one is the most lustrous."