M EHER S PIRITUAL C ENTER

September Newsletter 2019 
Meher Baba with Mehera in Meherazad
(ECCPA Collection)
God is absolutely independent. The only way to approach Him is through love, through constant repetition of His name and invocation of His mercy.

Meher Baba
Online Lord Meher, p. 4845
Dear Meher Center Family and Friends,

A loving Jai Baba from Meher Baba’s home in the West. With the advent of autumn, cooler weather has finally, though only gradually, begun edging its way into Myrtle Beach. Along with this welcome change, I’m happy to report that the Center has made it through another hurricane season with minor aftereffect. While all things happen according to God’s will, and so-called good and bad are both blessings, it’s still somehow preferable when things are less messy.
 
This reminds me of a story that Elizabeth (Patterson) used to tell about Norina – who, along with Elizabeth, founded Meher Center on Meher Baba’s behalf in the 1940’s. Once, when she and the other Western women were traveling with Baba by boat in the 1930’s – all lodging third class – the ship's captain recognized Norina and offered her a first class cabin. She was a famous actress in her day known as Princess Norina Matchabelli. Conflicted, she went to Baba and offered the cabin to Him. But Baba said that she should keep the cabin. When Norina protested, Baba said to her: "When I give you the hard, take the hard. When I give you the soft, take the soft."

So, with that in mind, we will take the soft, and count it as God's blessing!

As always, I hope this note finds you well and happy. 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 
Meher Baba at the Meher Center.
(Shaw family photo)

Creating Access

By Jamie Keehan

I was in the Original Kitchen a few days ago when a young woman entered in a wheelchair. She was glowing. She had been to the Center numerous times over the years, but had never before been able to enter the Lagoon Cabin due to her disability. She told me
that that morning, she was able to go inside for the first time.

During the last few years, there have been more and more conversations about how to make sure that Baba’s lovers with different physical needs are able to spend time in His sacred spaces on the Center. One of our community members who is herself in a wheelchair, and has contributed a lot of time and love as a member of the Center’s Accessibility Committee, put it beautifully:

“Overall, I’ve thought so much about this. In His later years, Baba could not have gone to His own Barn the way it is now if He were not in a lift-chair. Through His suffering, He has given the example for how we should treat those with disabilities … We are getting older. He wanted us to be practical and inclusive. It is especially important for those who are injured, ill or disabled to be able to commune and feel Baba’s healing places.”

This doesn’t mean that the process will be easy. There is an inevitable tension between making changes that feel loving and pleasing to Baba, and retaining the integrity of these sacred buildings that Baba used and that are so important to all of us. It can be hard to see any changes to the buildings, and of course builders, architects, and staff working on the projects are deeply sensitive to that.

For example, a leader of the team working on the Lagoon Cabin ramp describes some of the considerations that went into the project. The ramp is made out of pine, which, when weathered and treated, will blend in visually and not detract from the overall appearance of the building. It doesn’t actually touch the wall of the Cabin itself, to preserve the building’s historical integrity. And it takes a meandering path, in the style of the brick walkway that had been there since the 80's, the end of which was left in place as an approach. Even the bench, which has been used by devotees for decades to take off their shoes before greeting their Beloved, was raised and preserved. 

Baba’s lovers were working together for access when He was still in the body. After Baba’s accident in 1957, when His hip joint was shattered, causing Him constant pain and making it difficult to walk, Elizabeth created the second door to the Lagoon Cabin where the ramp is now. During His 1958 visit, Baba went from place to place using a Lift Chair, which gave four lucky people at a time the chance to carry Him (a highly in-demand role often vied for by Margaret Craske’s dancers). And now, going forward, the Center's board and administration is committed to continuing this balancing work, between creating access and caring for these precious places—Baba’s House, the Original Kitchen, the Lagoon Cabin, and, next, the Barn.

Baba’s House, which is where this process started, is perhaps where the work and the balance strike me most vividly. Before the alteration, the member of the Accessibility Committee quoted above describes the process of getting into Baba’s house as nerve-wracking at times because of the steep grade of the temporary ramps, and requiring multiple people to help. For people with certain disabilities, or without the right helpers, it would be simply impossible.

A change was needed if many of Baba’s lovers were to be able to spend time in the home He left for them, today and in the future. But that change was completed with the incredible devotion and care that we have come to expect from our workers: for example, the original steps are in fact still there under the brick, painstakingly coated in rubber sheeting. “We didn’t just throw a bunch of cement and bricks on top of the old steps that Baba used,” says a leader of the team. “They’re there. But covered.”

It’s somehow striking that once this dynamic labor of love was complete, the first person to use the ramp was Tex Hightower. Decades before, Tex was one of the dancers who had jostled with the other young men to have a chance to carry his Beloved on the lift-chair, so that Baba Himself could enter every building of His home.

Recent Events

Meher Center Artists in Residence

September, 2019

Sally Pearson & Patrik Widrig brought both their love for Meher Baba and for dance to Meher Center this month as the Center's Artists In Residence.
 
Among the lively and loving presentations were talks about their spiritual lives with Baba and their lives as dancers and teachers, as well as a dance workshop for pilgrims and community members.  On Friday and Saturday night they gave extraordinary performances highlighting their life’s work as performers and teachers of modern dance, dedicated to Meher Baba. 
Upcoming Events

Meher Baba's New Life Day

October 16th, 2019

This year marks the 70 th anniversary of Meher Baba's New Life. On October 16, 1949, Meher Baba ventured into this new and important period of His life. He chose twenty disciples to go with Him on an endless journey of complete reliance on God. “This New Life is endless, and even after my physical death it will be kept alive by those who live the life of complete renunciation of falsehood, lies, hatred, anger, greed and lust,” He said.

To honor this anniversary and the endless spirit of the New Life, the Center holds a remembrance gathering at the Meher Abode compound with a brief program of readings, prayers, and arti. The program will begin at 10:45 a.m. (and in case of rain, will be held at Dilruba). In addition, Meher Abode will be open from 11 a.m. to noon, and there will be extended Center visiting hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ward Parks Presents: 
 "Reincarnation and the Purpose of Life Sanskaras, the Divine Theme, and the Reincarnationary Cycle"

October 25-27, 2019

Daily sessions from
10 -11:30 a.m.
and
 2 - 3:30 p.m.

Meeting Place

Man’s search for immortality is as old as man himself. Does the spirit, does the subjective experience of the personal “I,” continue after the death of the physical body? Avatar Meher Baba has explained that the spirit never perishes and the Self at the root of all our individual selves is indeed eternal.

The aim of this three-day study program, conducted by Ward Parks, will be to bring into sharper focus the role which reincarnation occupies in Meher Baba’s account of the long journey of the soul. Major topics will include: mortality and the human predicament; the Divine Theme; the reincarnationary cycle; sanskaras and karma as the cause of reincarnation; and reincarnation in relation to such major themes as cosmic justice and free will.

Advance reservations are not required. All are encouraged but not required to attend the entire program.

Young Adult Sahavas
2019

October 31st-November 3rd


A reminder for attendees of the 2019 Young Adult Sahavas:


Please remember to take two separate actions, registration and reservation.

1 - Event registration: fill out the online format at https://www.mehercenter.org/news/updates/

2 - Accommodation reservations: Call the Gateway at 832-272-5777,
9 a.m.- 5 p.m., 7 days a week.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Real Birth and Real Death

by Jamie Keehan

On May 26, 1958, Baba was carried into the Barn on His lift-chair. After a brief chat and the reading of a discourse, He commented, “All the so-called births and deaths are only sleeps and awakenings. The difference between sleep and death is that when you sleep, you awake and find yourself in the same body. But after death, you awake in a different body. You never die; only the blessed ones die and become one with God,” (Lord Meher, 4389).
 
On August 19, 2019, a woman named Aarti arrived at the Meher Spiritual Center from India for the first time. Her path to Baba had been a long one. Years before, her son had died unexpectedly. Though she and her husband were ravaged by grief, she felt that her son was still with her— and in fact, that he was guiding her to connect with Meher Baba. Though she had never considered following a Master, she and her husband began to learn about Baba, and visited Meherabad. They both felt themselves transforming in ways they had never imagined possible. 
 
Then, Aarti’s husband died unexpectedly. Through the pain, Aarti continued to find refuge in the arms of the One she had come to know. People started to notice that there was something different in the way she was coping with the two unimaginable tragedies, a sort of light. It gave Aarti chance after chance to talk with people about Meher Baba, about the reality she truly believed was underlying this transitory existence— these “so-called births and deaths.”
 
Last year, Aarti’s other son, her only remaining blood relative, announced that he wanted to go to school in the U.S. In some ways, Aarti felt this would leave her totally alone. As soon as she heard the news, Aarti knew how she needed to start this new period of her life. “I’ll drop you off at college, and then I’ll go to the Meher Spiritual Center— Meher Baba’s home in the West.”
 
Arti dropped her son off at school in Chicago, and then traveled— her first time traveling by herself— to Myrtle Beach. “I didn’t know what to expect,” she says, “but at the same time it was like, ‘Baba, I’m in your hands, so nothing can go wrong.’”
 
When she got to the gates of the Center, Aarti felt, “I am home.” She was driven down the driveway to a place where every tree and building was humming with Baba’s love. And far from being lonely and alone, from the very start she found that she continuously ran into people whom she connected with— that in fact she was barely alone for an instant. “It was amazing,” she says, “I felt like I was being held in the palm of His hand, close to His heart.”
 
When saying goodbye to her son in Chicago, Arti hadn’t cried at all. And throughout her initial time at the Center, she felt buoyed up with connection. It was only at Baba’s house that the tears finally came. “I don’t know what it is over there,” she says, “that overpowering sense of love that you feel, that is what I feel in Baba’s House, and it just expressed in the form of tears. So I had no thought when I went there, but as soon as I put my head down I was bawling.” 
 
During that same morning in the Barn in 1958, Baba had a discourse read entitled “Real Birth and Real Death.” In it, He talked about what brought Aarti through all these changes in her life; what welled up the tears in Baba’s house; and what she, her husband, her son, and all of us are moving inevitably toward. “Ultimately, consciousness totally free of all limitations experiences the Unlimited Reality eternally. Real dying is equal to real living. Therefore I stress: ‘Die for God and you will live as God,’” (Lord Meher, 4388).