The Stages of the Path – Meher Baba

All persons have to pass through the state of bondage, but this period of bondage is not to be looked upon as a meaningless episode in the evolution of life. One has to experience being caged if one is to appreciate freedom. If in the entire span of its life a fish has not come out of the water even once, it has no chance of appreciating the value of water. From its birth till its death it has lived only in water, and it is not in a position to understand what water really means to its being. But if it is taken out of water even for a moment, it longs for water and becomes qualified by that experience to appreciate the importance of water. In the same way, if life were constantly free and manifested no bondage, man would miss the real significance of freedom. To experience spiritual bondage and know intense desire to be free from it are both a preparation for the full enjoyment of the freedom that is to come.

As the fish that is taken out of the water longs to go back in the water, the aspirant who has perceived the goal longs to be united with God. In fact, the longing to go back to the source is present in each being from the very time that it is separated from the source by the veil of ignorance; but the being is unconscious of the longing till it, as an aspirant, enters the spiritual path. One can in a sense become accustomed to ignorance, just as a person in a train may get accustomed to the darkness of a tunnel when the train has been passing through it for some time. Even then there is a definite discomfort and a vague and undefinable sense of restlessness owing to the feeling that something is missing. This something is apprehended from the very beginning as being of tremendous significance. In the stages of dense ignorance, this something is often inadvertently identified with the variegated things of this mundane world.

When one’s experience of this world is sufficiently mature, however, the repeated disillusionments in life set one on the right track to discover what is missing. From that moment the individual seeks a reality that is deeper than changing forms. This moment might aptly be described as the first initiation of the aspirant. From the moment of initiation into the path, the longing to unite with the source from which he has been separated becomes articulate and intense. Just as the person in the tunnel longs for light all the more intensely after he sees a streak of light coming from the other end, the person who has had a glimpse of the goal longs to hasten toward it with all the speed he can command.

On the spiritual path there are six stations, the seventh station being the terminus, or the goal. Each intermediate station is, in its own way, a kind of imaginative anticipation of the goal. The veil that separates man from God consists of false imagination, and this veil has many folds. Before entering the path the person is shrouded in this veil of manifold imagination, with the result that he cannot even entertain the thought of being other than a separate, enclosed, finite individual. The ego-consciousness has crystallized out of the working of the manifold false imagination; and the conscious longing for union with God is the first shaking of the entire structure of the ego, which has been built during the period of the false working of imagination.

Traversing the spiritual path consists in undoing the results of the false working of imagination, or dropping several folds of the veil, which has created a sense of unassailable separateness and irredeemable isolation. Thus far, the person had clung firmly to the idea of his separate existence and secured it behind the formidable walls of thick ignorance, but from now on he enters into some kind of communication with the larger Reality. The more he communes with Reality, the thinner becomes the veil of ignorance. With the gradual wearing out of separateness and egoism, he gains an increasing sense of merging in the larger Reality.

The building up of a sense of separateness is a result of flights of imagination. Therefore the breaking through of the self-created sense of separateness and being united with Reality is secured through reversing the false working of imagination. The act of getting rid of imagination altogether may be compared with the act of awakening from deep sleep. The different stages in the process of ridding oneself of false imagination might be compared with the dreams that often serve as a bridge between deep sleep and full wakefulness. The process of getting rid of the manifold working of false imagination is gradual and has seven stages.

The shedding of one fold of the veil of imagination is decidedly an advance toward Light and Truth, but it does not amount to becoming one with Reality. It merely means renouncing the more false imagination in favor of the less false imagination. There are different degrees of falseness of imagination corresponding to the degrees of the sense of separateness constituted by ego-consciousness. Each stage in the process of ridding oneself of false imagination is a definite wearing out of the ego. But all intermediate stages on the path, until final realization of the Goal, consist in leaving one flight of imagination for another. They do not amount to cessation of imagination.

These flights of imagination do not bring about any real change in the true being of the Self as it is. What changes is not the Self but its idea of what it is. Suppose in a daydream or fantasy you imagine yourself to be in China while your body is actually in India. When the fantasy comes to an end, you realize that your body is actually not in China but in India. From the subjective point of view, this is like returning from China to India. In the same way, gradual non-identification with the body and progressive identification with the Oversoul is comparable to the actual traversing of the path, though in fact the different intermediate stages on the path are all equally creations of the play of imagination.

The six ascending stages are thus all within the domain of imagination. However at each stage, breaking down the sense of separateness and discovering a merging in the larger Reality are both so strong and clear that the person often has a pseudo sense of Realization. Just as when a person climbing a mountain comes upon a deep valley and is so fascinated by the sight of it that he forgets the real goal and believes for a time that he has arrived at his goal, the aspirant also mistakes the intermediate stages for the goal itself. But a person who is really in earnest about climbing the mountain realizes after a while that the valley has to be crossed, and the aspirant also realizes sooner or later that the intermediate stage has to be transcended. The pseudo sense of Realization that comes at the intermediate stages is like an individual dreaming that he has awakened from sleep although he is actually still asleep. After becoming awake he realizes that his first feeling of awakening was really a dream.

Each definite stage of advancement represents a state of consciousness, and advancement from one state of consciousness to another proceeds side by side with crossing the inner planes. Thus six intermediate planes and their states of consciousness have to be experienced before reaching the seventh plane, which is the end of the journey and where there is final realization of the God state. A plane is comparable to a railway station where a train halts for some time, and the state of consciousness is comparable to the movements of the passenger after getting down at the station.

After entering a new plane of consciousness, a person usually takes some time before he can freely function on that plane. As there is a radical change in the total conditions of mental life, the person experiences a sort of paralysis of mental activity known as samadhi. When the pilgrim enters a new plane, he merges into the plane before he can experience the state characteristic of that plane. Just as a pilgrim who is tired by the strain of a journey sometimes goes to sleep, consciousness-which has made the effort of ascending to a new plane-goes through a period of lowered mental activity comparable to sleep. However, samadhi is fundamentally different from sleep. A person is totally unconscious in sleep; whereas in samadhi he is conscious of bliss or light or power, although he is unconscious of his body and surroundings. After a period of comparative stillness, the mind begins to function on the new plane and experiences a state of consciousness that is utterly different from the state it has left behind.

When the aspirant enters a new plane, he is merged into it; and along with the slowing down of mental activity, he experiences a substantial diminution in the ego-life. This curtailment of the ego-life is different from the final annihilation of the ego, which takes place at the seventh plane. But like the final annihilation at the seventh plane, the different stages of the curtailment of the ego at the intermediate six planes deserve special mention owing to their relative importance. In the Sufi spiritual tradition, the final annihilation of the ego is described as Fana-Fillah. And the earlier samadhi of the six planes of duality have also been recognized as kinds of fana, since they also involve a partial annihilation of the ego.

Through all these fanas of ascending order there is a continuity of progression toward the final Fana-Fillah, and each has some special characteristic. When the pilgrim arrives at the first plane, he experiences his first fana, or minor annihilation of the ego. The pilgrim is temporarily lost to his limited individuality and experiences bliss. Many pilgrims thus merged think they have realized God and hence get stuck in the first plane. If the pilgrim keeps himself free from self-delusion or comes to realize that his attainment is really a transitional phase in his journey, he advances further on the spiritual path and arrives at the second plane.

The merging into the second plane is called fana-e-batili, or the annihilation of the false. The pilgrim is now absorbed in bliss and infinite light. Some think that they have attained the goal and get stranded in the second plane, but others who keep themselves free from self-delusion march onward and enter the third plane. The merging into the third plane is called fana-e-zahiri, or the annihilation of the apparent. Here the pilgrim loses all consciousness of his body and his world for days and experiences infinite power. Since he has no consciousness of the world, he has no occasion for the expression of this power. This is videh samadhi, or the state of divine coma. Consciousness is now completely withdrawn from the entire world.

If the pilgrim advances still further, he arrives at the fourth plane. The merging into the fourth plane is called fana-e-malakuti, or the annihilation leading toward freedom. The pilgrim experiences a peculiar state of consciousness at the fourth plane, since he now not only feels infinite power but also has plenty of occasion for the expression of that power. Further, he not only has occasion for the use of his powers but has a definite inclination to express them. If he falls prey to this temptation, he goes on expressing these powers and gets caught up in the alluring possibilities of the fourth plane. For this reason the fourth plane is one of the most difficult and dangerous to cross. The pilgrim is never spiritually safe, and his reversion is always possible until he has successfully crossed the fourth plane and arrived at the fifth.

The merging into the fifth plane is called fana-e-jabruti, or the annihilation of all desires. Here the incessant activity of the lower intellect comes to a standstill. The pilgrim does not think in the ordinary way, and yet he is indirectly a source of many inspiring thoughts. He sees, but not with the physical eyes. Mind speaks with mind, and there is neither worry nor doubt. He is now spiritually safe and beyond the possibility of a downfall; and yet many a pilgrim on this exalted plane finds it difficult to resist the delusion that he has attained Godhood. In his self-delusion he thinks and says, “I am God,” and believes himself to have arrived at the end of the spiritual path.

But if he moves on, he perceives his mistake and advances to the sixth plane. The merging into the sixth plane is called fana-e-mahabubi, or the annihilation of the self (lover) in the Beloved. Now the pilgrim sees God as directly and as clearly as an ordinary person sees the different things of this world. This continual perception and enjoyment of God does not suffer a break even for an instant. Yet the wayfarer does not become one with God, the Infinite.

If the pilgrim ascends to the seventh plane, he experiences the last merging, which is called Fana-Fillah, or the final annihilation of the self in God. Through this merging the pilgrim loses his separate existence and becomes permanently united with God. He is now one with God and experiences himself as being none other than God. This seventh plane Fana-Fillah is the terminus of the spiritual path, the goal of all search and endeavor. It is the Nirvikalpa state, which is characteristic of conscious Godhood. It is the only real awakening. The pilgrim has now reached the opposite shore of the vast ocean of imagination, and he realizes that this last Truth is the only Truth and that all the other stages on the path are entirely illusory. He has arrived at the final destination.

-Meher Baba

Taken from Discourses

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Arriving at Self-Knowledge – Meher Baba

When the time is ripe, the advancement of a person toward Self-knowledge comes about as naturally as the physical body of a child grows into full-fledged form. The growth of the physical body is worked out by the operation of natural laws, and the progress of the aspirant toward Self-knowledge is worked out by the operation of spiritual laws pertaining to the transformation and emancipation of consciousness. The physical body of a child grows very gradually and almost imperceptibly, and the same is true of the spiritual progress of a person once he has entered the path. The child does not know how its physical body grows; in the same way, the aspirant also is often oblivious of the law by which he makes headway toward the destination of his spiritual progress.

The aspirant is generally conscious of the manner in which he has been responding to the diverse situations in life but rarely conscious of the manner in which he makes progress toward Self-knowledge. Without consciously knowing it, the aspirant is gradually arriving at Self-knowledge by traversing the inner path-through his joys and sorrows, his happiness and  suffering, his successes and failures, his efforts and rest, and through his moments of clear perception and harmonized will as well as the moments of confusion and conflict. These are the manifestations of the diverse sanskaras that he has brought from the past; and the aspirant forges his way toward Self-knowledge through the tangles of these sanskaras like the traveler threading his way through a wild and thick forest.

Human consciousness might be compared to a flashlight that reveals the existence and the nature of things. The province illuminated by this flashlight is defined by the medium through which it works, just as a person confined to a boat can wander anywhere on the surface of the water but can have no access to remote places on land or in the air. The actual working of the flashlight of consciousness is determined by the accumulated sanskaras, just as the course of the rivulets flowing down a mountain is determined by the channels created by the natural contours of the mountain.

In the case of an average person, the sphere of life and the stage of action are restricted to the gross world because in him the flashlight of consciousness falls on the physical body and works through it. Being restricted to the medium of the gross body, he can be conscious of anything within the gross world but is unable to establish contact with subtle or mental realities. The gross sphere thus constitutes the arena of the average individual, and all his activities and thoughts have a tendency to be directed toward the gross objects that are accessible to him. During this time he remains unconscious of the subtle and the mental spheres of existence, since the flashlight of his consciousness cannot be focused through the medium of the subtle or the mental body.

At this stage the soul is conscious of the gross world but is completely ignorant of its own true nature. It identifies itself with the gross body on which the flashlight of consciousness falls, and this naturally becomes the base for all the activities within its range. The soul does not directly know itself through itself but by means of the physical body. And since all the knowledge it can gather through the physical body points to the physical body itself as the center of activities, it knows itself as being the physical body-which in fact is only its instrument. The soul therefore imagines itself to be man or woman, young or old, and takes upon itself the changes and limitations of the body.

After several rounds of lives in the setting given by the gross world, the impressions connected with the gross world become weak through the long duration of the experience of opposites, like great happiness and intense suffering. The weakening of the impressions is the beginning of spiritual awakening, which consists in the gradual withdrawal of the flashlight of consciousness from the allurements of the gross world. When this happens the gross impressions become subtle, facilitating and inducing the soul’s transference of the base of conscious functioning from the gross body to the subtle body.

Now the flashlight of consciousness falls on the subtle body and works through it as its medium, no longer working through the gross body. Therefore the whole gross world drops from the consciousness of the soul, and it becomes conscious only of the subtle world. The subtle sphere of existence now constitutes the context of its life; and the soul now considers itself to be the subtle body, which becomes and is seen to be the center of all its activities. Even when the soul has thus become subtle-conscious, it remains ignorant of its own true nature, since it cannot know itself directly through itself but only by means of the subtle body.

However, the change of the stage of action from the gross to the subtle sphere of existence is of considerable significance. In the subtle sphere the conventional standards of the gross world are replaced by new standards that are nearer the Truth, and a new mode of life is rendered possible by the dawning of new powers and a release of spiritual energy. Life in the subtle world is only a passing phase in the spiritual journey and is far from being the goal; but out of millions of gross-conscious souls, only a rare one is capable of becoming subtle-conscious.

Impressions connected with the subtle world get worn out in turn through, for instance, some forms of penance or yoga. This facilitates and brings about a further withdrawal of consciousness inwardly, whereby the flashlight of consciousness comes to be focused on the mental body and begins to function through it. The severance of conscious connection with the subtle and gross bodies means that the gross and subtle spheres of existence become completely excluded from the scope of consciousness. The soul is now conscious of the mental world, which affords deeper possibilities for spiritual understanding and a clearer perception of the ultimate Truth.

In this new setting of the mental sphere, the soul enjoys continuous inspiration, deep insight, and unfailing intuition; and it is in direct contact with spiritual Reality. Although it is in direct contact with God, the soul does not see itself as God, since it cannot know itself directly through itself but only through the medium of the individual mind. It knows itself by means of the individual mind and considers itself to be the individual mind, for it sees the individual mind as being the base and the center of all its activities.

Although the soul is now much closer to God than in the gross or subtle spheres, it is still enclosed in the world of shadow; and it continues to feel separate from God owing to the veil created by the impressions connected with the mental sphere. The flashlight of consciousness is functioning through the limitation of the individual mind and does not therefore yield the knowledge of the soul as it is, in itself. Though the soul has not yet realized itself as being God, its life in the mental sphere of existence constitutes a tremendous advance beyond the stage of the subtle sphere. Out of millions of subtle-conscious souls, only a rare one can establish conscious contact with the mental sphere of existence.

It is possible for an aspirant to rise to the mental sphere of existence through his own unaided efforts, but dropping the mental body amounts to the surrenderance of individual existence. This last and all-important step cannot be taken except through the help of a Perfect Master, who is himself God-realized. Out of millions of souls who are conscious of the mental sphere, only a rare one can withdraw the flashlight of consciousness from the individual mind. Such withdrawal implies the complete vanishing of the last traces of the impressions connected with the mental life of the soul. When the flashlight of consciousness is no longer centered upon any of the three bodies, it serves the purpose of reflecting the true nature of the soul.

The soul now has direct knowledge of itself without being dependent upon any medium, seeing itself not as some finite body but as infinite God and knowing itself to be the only Reality. In this major crisis in the life of the soul, there is a complete severance of connections with all three bodies. Since consciousness of the different spheres of existence is directly dependent upon the corresponding bodies, the soul is now entirely oblivious of the whole universe. The flashlight of consciousness is no longer focused upon anything foreign or external but is turned upon the soul itself. The soul is now truly Self-conscious and has arrived at Self-knowledge.

The process of arriving at Self-knowledge throughout the three spheres of existence is attended by the acquisition of false self-knowledge consisting in identification with the gross or the subtle or the mental body, according to the stage of the process. This is due to the initial purpose of creation, which is to make the soul Self-conscious. The soul cannot have true Self-knowledge except at the end of the spiritual journey, and all the intermediate forms of false self-knowledge are, as it were, temporary substitutes for true Self-knowledge. They are mistakes necessary in the attempt to arrive at true Self-knowledge.

Since the flashlight of consciousness is turned throughout the journey toward the objects of the environment and not upon the soul itself, the soul has a tendency to become so engrossed in these objects that it is almost completely oblivious of its own existence and nature. This danger of utter and unrelieved self-forgetfulness is counterbalanced by the self-affirmation of the soul by means of the three bodies, which happen to be used as the focal points of the flashlight of consciousness. Thus the soul knows itself as its own bodies and knows other souls as their bodies, thereby sustaining a world of duality where there is sex, competition, aggression, jealousy, mutual fear, and self-centered exclusive ambition. Hence self-knowledge of the soul by means of any external sign is a source of untold confusion, complication, and entanglement.

This form of ignorance may be illustrated by means of the famous pumpkin story referred to by the Persian poet Jami in one of his couplets. Once upon a time there was an absentminded man who had no equal in forgetting things, even his own identity. He had an intelligent and trusted friend who wanted to help him to remember himself. This friend attached a pumpkin to his neck and said, “Now listen, old man, one day you might completely lose yourself and not know who you are. Therefore, as a sign, I tie this pumpkin around your neck so that every morning when you wake up you will see the pumpkin and know it is you who are there.”

Every day the absentminded man saw the pumpkin upon waking in the morning and said to himself, “I am not lost!” After some time, when he had become used to self-identification through the pumpkin, the friend asked a stranger to remain with the absentminded man, take the pumpkin from his neck during his sleep, and tie it around his own neck. The stranger did this; and when the absentminded man woke up in the morning, he did not see the pumpkin around his neck. So he said to himself, “I am lost!” Then he saw the pumpkin on the other man’s neck and said to him, “You are me! But then who am I?”

This pumpkin story offers an analogy to the different forms of false self-knowledge growing from identification with one of the bodies. To know oneself as the body is like knowing oneself by means of the pumpkin. The disturbance caused by ceasing to identify with the gross, subtle, or mental body is comparable to the confusion of the absentminded man when he could no longer see the pumpkin around his own neck. The beginnings of a dissolution of the sense of duality are equivalent to the man’s identification of himself as the stranger who wore his pumpkin. Further, if the absentminded man in the story were to learn to know himself through himself independently of any external sign, his self-knowledge would be comparable to the true Self-knowledge of the soul-which, after ceasing to identify with the three bodies, knows itself to be none other than infinite God. Arriving at such Self-knowledge is the very goal of creation.

-Meher Baba

Taken from Discourses

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The New Humanity – Meher Baba

The New Humanity

As in all great critical periods of human history, humanity is now going through the agonizing travail of spiritual rebirth. Great forces of destruction are afoot and seem to be dominant at the moment, but constructive and creative forces that will redeem humanity are also being released through several channels. Although the working of these forces of light is chiefly silent, they are eventually bound to bring about those transformations that will make the further spiritual advance of humanity safe and steady. It is all a part of the divine plan, which is to give to the hungry and weary world a fresh dispensation of the eternal and only Truth.

At present the urgent problem facing humanity is to devise ways and means of eliminating competition, conflict, and rivalry in all the subtle and gross forms that they assume in the various spheres of life. Military wars are, of course, the most obvious sources of chaos and destruction. However, wars in themselves do not constitute the central problem for humanity but are rather the external symptoms of something graver at their root. Wars and the suffering they bring cannot be completely avoided by mere propaganda against war; if they are to disappear from human history, it will be necessary to tackle their root cause. Even when military wars are not being waged, individuals or groups of individuals are constantly engaged in economic or some other subtle form of warfare. Military wars, with all the cruelty they involve, arise only when these underlying causes are aggravated.

The cause of the chaos that precipitates itself in wars is that most persons are in the grip of egoism and selfish considerations, and they express their egoism and self-interest individually as well as collectively. This is the life of illusory values in which man is caught. To face the truth is to realize that life is one, in and through its manifold manifestations. To have this understanding is to forget the limiting self in the realization of the unity of life.

With the dawn of true understanding, the problem of wars would immediately disappear. Wars have to be so clearly seen as both unnecessary and unreasonable that the immediate problem would not be how to stop wars but to wage them spiritually against the attitude of mind responsible for such a cruel and painful state of things. In the light of the truth of the unity of all life, cooperative and harmonious action becomes natural and inevitable. Hence, the chief task before those who are deeply concerned with the rebuilding of humanity is to do their utmost to dispel the spiritual ignorance that envelops humanity.

Wars do not arise merely to secure material adjustment. They are often the product of uncritical identification with narrow interests, which through association come to be included in that part of the world regarded as “mine.” Material adjustment is only part of the wider problem of establishing spiritual adjustment. Spiritual adjustment requires the elimination of self, not only from the material aspects of life, but also from those spheres that affect the intellectual, emotional, and cultural life of man.

To understand the problem of humanity as merely a problem of bread is to reduce humanity to the level of animality. But even when man sets himself the limited task of securing purely material adjustment, he can only succeed in this attempt if he has spiritual understanding. Economic adjustment is impossible unless people realize that there can be no planned and cooperative action in economic matters until self-interest gives way to self-giving love. Otherwise, with the best of equipment and efficiency in the material spheres, humanity cannot avoid conflict and insufficiency.

The New Humanity that emerges from the travail of the present struggle and suffering will not ignore science or its practical attainments. It is a mistake to look upon science as anti-spiritual. Science is a help or hindrance to spirituality according to the use to which it is put. Just as true art expresses spirituality, science, when properly handled, can be the expression and fulfillment of the spirit. Scientific truths concerning the physical body and its life in the gross world can become mediums for the soul to know itself; but to serve this purpose they must be properly fitted into larger spiritual understanding. This includes a steady perception of true and lasting values. In the absence of such spiritual understanding, scientific truths and attainments are liable to be used for mutual destruction and for a life that will tend to strengthen the chains that bind the spirit. All-sided progress of humanity can be assured only if science and religion proceed hand in hand.

The coming civilization of the New Humanity shall be ensouled not by dry intellectual doctrines but by living spiritual experience. Spiritual experience has a hold on the deeper truths that are inaccessible to mere intellect; it cannot be born of unaided intellect. Spiritual truth can often be stated and expressed through the intellect, and the intellect surely is of some help for the communication of spiritual experience. But by itself, the intellect is insufficient to enable man to have spiritual experience or to communicate it to others. If two persons have had headaches, they can cooperatively examine their experience of headaches and make it explicit to themselves through the work of the intellect. If a person has never experienced a headache, no amount of intellectual explanation will suffice for making him understand what a headache is. Intellectual explanation can never be a substitute for spiritual experience; it can at best prepare the ground for it.

Spiritual experience involves more than can be grasped by mere intellect. This is often emphasized by calling it a mystical experience. Mysticism is often regarded as something anti-intellectual, obscure and confused, or impractical and unconnected with experience. In fact, true mysticism is none of these. There is nothing irrational in true mysticism when it is, as it should be, a vision of Reality. It is a form of perception that is absolutely unclouded, and it is so practical that it can be lived every moment of life and expressed in everyday duties. Its connection with experience is so deep that, in one sense, it is the final understanding of all experience.

When spiritual experience is described as mystical, one should not assume that it is something supernatural or entirely beyond the grasp of human consciousness. All that is meant is that it is not accessible to the limited human intellect until the intellect transcends its limits and is illumined by direct realization of the Infinite. Jesus Christ pointed out the way to spiritual experience when He said, “Leave all and follow me.” This means that man must leave limitations and establish himself in the infinite life of God. A real spiritual experience involves not only realization of the nature of the soul while traversing the higher planes of consciousness but also a right attitude toward worldly duties. If it loses its connection with the different phases of life, what we have is a neurotic reaction that is far from being a spiritual experience.

The spiritual experience that is to enliven and energize the New Humanity cannot be a reaction to the stern and uncompromising demands made by the realities of life. Those without the capacity for adjustment to the flow of life have a tendency to recoil from the realities of life and to seek shelter and protection in a self-created fortress of illusions. Such a reaction is an attempt to perpetuate one’s separate existence by protecting it from the demands made by life. It can only give a pseudo solution to the problems of life by providing a false sense of security and self-completeness. It is not even an advance toward the real and lasting solution; on the contrary, it is a sidetrack from the true spiritual path. Man will be dislodged again and again from his illusory shelters by fresh and irresistible waves of life, and will invite upon himself fresh forms of suffering by seeking to protect his separative existence through escape.

Just as a person may seek to hold on to his separative experience through escape, he may also seek to hold on to it through uncritical identification with forms, ceremonies and rituals, or with traditions and conventions. Forms, ceremonies and rituals, traditions and conventions, are in most cases fetters to the release of infinite life. If they were pliant mediums for the expression of unlimited life, they would be an asset rather than a handicap for securing the fulfillment of divine life on earth. But they mostly have a tendency to gather prestige and claims in their own right, independently of the life they might express. When this happens, any attachment to them must eventually lead to a drastic curtailment and restriction of life. The New Humanity will be freed from a life of limitations, allowing unhampered scope for the creative life of the spirit; and it will break the attachment to external forms and learn to subordinate them to the claims of the spirit. The limited life of illusions and false values will then be replaced by unlimited life in the Truth; and the limitations, through which the separative self lives, will wither away at the touch of true understanding.

Just as a person may seek to hold on to his separative existence through escape or identification with external forms, he may seek to hold on to it through identification with some narrow class, creed, sect, or religion, or with the divisions based upon sex. Here the individual may seem to have lost his separative existence through identification with a larger whole. But, in fact, he is often expressing his separative existence through such an identification, which enables him to delight in his feeling of being separate from others who belong to another class, nationality, creed, sect, religion, or sex.

Separative existence derives its being and strength from identifying itself with one of the opposites and contrasting itself with the others. An individual may seek to protect his separate existence through identification with one ideology rather than another or with his conception of good as contrasted with his idea of evil. What results from identification with narrow groups or limited ideals is not a real merging of the separative self but only a semblance of it. A real merging of the limited self in the ocean of universal life involves complete surrender of separative existence in all its forms.

The large mass of humanity is caught up in the clutches of separative and assertive tendencies. For one who is overpowered by the spectacle of these fetters of humanity, there is bound to be nothing but unrelieved despair about its future. One must look deeper into the realities of the day if one is to get a correct perspective on the present distress of humanity. The real possibilities of the New Humanity are hidden to those who look only at the surface of the world situation, but they exist and only need the spark of spiritual understanding to come into full play and effect. The forces of lust, hate, and greed produce incalculable suffering and chaos. However, the one redeeming feature about human nature is that even in the midst of disruptive forces there invariably exists some form of love.

Even wars require cooperative functioning, but the scope of this cooperative functioning is artificially restricted by identification with a limited group or ideal. Wars often are carried on by a form of love, though it is a love that has not been understood properly. In order that love should come into its own, it must be untrammeled and unlimited. Love does exist in all phases of human life; but it is latent or is limited and poisoned by personal ambition, racial pride, narrow loyalties and rivalries, and attachment to sex, nationality, sect, caste, or religion. If there is to be a resurrection of humanity, the heart of man will have to be unlocked so that a new love is born into it-a love that knows no corruption and is entirely free from individual or collective greed.

The New Humanity will come into existence through a release of love in measureless abundance, and this release of love can come through the spiritual awakening brought about by the Perfect Masters[1]. Love cannot be born of mere determination; through the exercise of will one can at best be dutiful. Through struggle and effort, one may succeed in assuring that one’s external action is in conformity with one’s concept of what is right; but such action is spiritually barren because it lacks the inward beauty of spontaneous love.

Love has to spring spontaneously from within; it is in no way amenable to any form of inner or outer force. Love and coercion can never go together; but while love cannot be forced upon anyone, it can be awakened through love itself. Love is essentially self-communicative; those who do not have it catch it from those who have it. Those who receive love from others cannot be its recipients without giving a response that, in itself, is the nature of love. True love is unconquerable and irresistible. It goes on gathering power and spreading itself until eventually it transforms everyone it touches. Humanity will attain a new mode of being and life through the free and unhampered interplay of pure love from heart to heart.

When it is recognized that there are no claims greater than the claims of the universal Divine Life-which, without exception, includes everyone and everything-love will not only establish peace, harmony, and happiness in social, national, and international spheres but it will shine in its own purity and beauty. Divine love is unassailable to the onslaughts of duality and is an expression of divinity itself. It is through divine love that the New Humanity will tune in to the divine plan. Divine love will not only introduce imperishable sweetness and infinite bliss into personal life but it will also make possible an era of New Humanity. Through divine love the New Humanity will learn the art of cooperative and harmonious life. It will free itself from the tyranny of dead forms and release the creative life of spiritual wisdom; it will shed all illusions and get established in the Truth; it will enjoy peace and abiding happiness; it will be initiated in the life of Eternity.

-Meher Baba

Taken from Discourses


[1] Sadguru

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Divine Love – Meher Baba

Love

The functioning of love and reason is of three types. In the first type, the sphere of thought and the sphere of love are kept as separate as possible, i.e., the sphere of love is practically inaccessible to the operation of reason; and love is allowed little or no access to the objects of thought. Complete separation between these two aspects of the spirit is of course never possible; but when there is an alternate functioning of love and reason (with both oscillating in their predominance) we have a love which is un-illumined by reason or a reason which is unenlivened by love. In the second type, love and reason are both simultaneously operative but they do not work in harmony with each other. But though this conflict creates confusion it is a necessary phase in the evolution of the higher state where there is a real synthesis of love and reason. In the third type of love this synthesis between love and reason is an accomplished fact with the result that both love as well as reason are so completely transformed that they precipitate the emergence of a new level of con-sciousness which (in comparison with the normal human consciousness) is best described as super-consciousness.

Infatuation, lust and greed might be looked upon as perverted and lower forms of love. In infatuation a person gets enamoured of a sensual object; in lust he develops a craving for sensations in relation to it; and in greed he desires to possess it.

In infatuation, the person is a passive victim of the spell of conceived attraction of the object; but in love there is an active appreciation of the intrinsic worth of the object of love.

Love is also different from lust. In lust, there is a reliance upon the object of sense and consequent spiritual subordination of the soul in relation to it; but love puts the soul into direct and coordinate relation with the Reality which is behind the form. Therefore, lust is experienced as being heavy and love is ex-perienced as being light. In lust, there is a narrowing down of life and in love there is an expansion in being. To have loved one soul is like adding its life to your own, your life is, as it were multiplied and you virtually live in two centres. If you love the whole world, you vicariously live in the whole world. But in lust there is the ebbing down of life and the general sense of hopeless dependence upon a form which is regarded as another. Thus, in lust there is the accentuation of separateness and suffering; but in love—there is the feeling of unity and joy. Lust is dissipation; love is recreation. Lust is a craving of the senses; love is the expression of the spirit. Lust seeks fulfilment but love experiences fulfilment. In lust, there is excitement; but in love there is tranquility.

Love is equally different from greed. Greed is possess-iveness in all its gross and subtle forms. It seeks to appropriate gross things and persons as well as the abstract and intangible things like fame and power. In love the annexation of the other person to your individual life is out of the question and there is a free and creative outpouring that enlivens and replenishes the psychic being of the beloved independ-ently of any expectation for the self. And we have the paradox, that greed which seeks for the self the appropriation of another object does in fact lead to the opposite result of bringing the self under the tutelage of the object; and love which aims at giving away the self to the object does in fact lead to a spiritual incorporation of the beloved in the very being of the lover. In greed the self tries to possess the object, but is itself spiritually possessed by the object; and in love the self offers itself to the beloved without any reservations, but in that very act it finds that it has included the beloved in its own being.

Pure love, which is awakened through the Grace of the Master is more valuable than any other method which may be adopted by the aspirant. Such love not only combines in itself the merits of all the discipline but excels them all in its efficacy to lead the aspirant to his Goal. When this love is born the aspirant has only one desire; and that one desire is to be united with the Divine Beloved. Such withdrawal of consciousness from all other desires leads to infinite purity; nothing purifies the aspirant more completely than this love. The aspirant is ever willing to offer everything for the Divine Beloved; and no sacrifice is too difficult for him. All his thoughts are turned away from the self and come to be exclusively centered on the Divine Beloved. And through the intensity of this ever-growing love he eventually breaks through the shackles of the self and becomes united with the Beloved. This is the consummation of love. When love has thus found its fruition it has become Divine.

Divine Love is qualitatively different from human love. Human love is for the many in the One and Divine Love is for the One in the many. Human Love leads to innumerable complications and tangles; but Divine Love leads to integration and freedom. In human love the duality of the lover and the Beloved persists; but in Divine Love the lover and the Beloved become one. At this stage, the aspirant has stepped out of the domain of duality and become one with God; for Divine Love is God. When the lover and the Beloved are one, that is the end and the beginning.

It is because of love that the contacts and relations between individual souls become significant; and it is love which gives meaning and value to all the happenings in the world of duality. But, while love gives meaning to the world of duality, it is at the same time, a standing challenge to duality. As love gathers strength, it generates creative restlessness and becomes the main driving power of that spiritual dynamic which ultimately succeeds in restoring to consciousness the original Unity of Being.

From Discourses

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The Ego and its Termination – Meher Baba

The formation of the Ego serves the purpose of giving a certain amount of stability to conscious processes and also secures a working equilibrium which makes for a planned and organized life. It would therefore, be a mistake to imagine that the arising of the Ego is without any purpose. Though it arises only to vanish in the end, it does temporarily fulfill a need which could not have been ignored in the long-drawn journey of the soul.

The Ego thus marks and fulfils a certain necessity in the further progress of consciousness. But since the Ego takes its shelter in the false idea of being the body, it is a source of much illusion which vitiates experience. It is of the essence of the Ego that it should feel separate from the rest of life by contrasting itself against the other forms of life.

In the ripeness of evolution, comes the momentous discovery that life cannot be understood and lived fully as long as it is made to move around the pivot of the Ego: and man is, therefore, driven by the logic of his own experience to find the true centre of experience and reorganize his life in the Truth. This entails the wearing out of the Ego and its replacement by Truth-consciousness. The disintegration of the Ego is a condition of realising the Truth.

The false nucleus of the consolidated sanskaras must disappear if there is to be a true integration and fulfilment of life.

While provisionally serving a useful purpose in the development and progress of consciousness, the Ego, as an affirmation of separateness, constitutes the chief hindrance to the spiritual emancipation and enlighten-ment of consciousness.

Every thought, feeling or action which springs from the idea of exclusive or separate existence binds; all experiences—small or great—and all aspirations— good or bad—create a load of impressions and nourish the sense of the ‘I’. The only experience which makes for the slimming down of the Ego is the experience of love and the only aspiration which makes for relieving the sense of separateness is the longing for becoming one -with the Beloved. Craving, hatred, anger, fear and jealousy are all exclusive attitudes which create a gulf between oneself and the rest of life; love alone is an inclusive attitude which helps towards the bridging over of this artificial and self-created gulf and which tends to break through the separative barrier of false imagination. The lover longs too; but he longs for union with the Beloved; and in seeking or experiencing union with the Beloved the sense of the ‘I’ becomes feeble. In love, the ‘I’ does not think of self-preservation, just as the moth is not at all afraid of getting burnt in the fire. The Ego is the affirmation of being separate from the other: and love is the affirmation of being one with the other: so, the Ego can be dissolved only through real love.

The Ego is implemented by desires of varied types. The failure in the fulfillment of desires is a failure of the Ego; and success in the attainment of desired objects is a success of the Ego. Through the fulfilled desires as well as through the unfulfilled ones the Ego gets accentuated. The Ego can even feed upon the comparative lull in the surging desires and asserts its separative tendency through feeling that it is desireless. But, when there is a real cessation of all desires, there is a cessation of the desire to assert separativeness in any form: therefore, a real freedom from all desires brings about the end of the existence of the Ego. The bundle of the Ego is made of the faggots of multi-coloured desires; and the breaking of these faggots amounts to the destruction of the Ego.

The limited Ego of explicit consciousness is only a small fragment of the real being of the Ego. The Ego is like the iceberg floating in the sea. About one-eighth of the iceberg remains above the surface of the water and is visible to the onlooker; and about seven-eighths of the iceberg remains submerged below the level of the water and remains invisible to the onlooker. In the same way, only a small portion of the real Ego becomes manifest in consciousness in the form of an explicit I; and the major portion of the real Ego remains submerged in the dark and inarticulate sanctuaries of the subconscious mind.

If the Ego is submitted to curtailment in one direction it seeks compensating expansion in another direction: and, if is overpowered by a flood of spiritual notions and actions, it even tends to fasten upon this very force which is originally brought into play for the ousting of the Ego.

When, through the grace of the Master, the ignorance which constitutes the Ego is dispelled, there is the dawn of Truth, which is the goal of all creation.

The superiority complex and the inferiority complex have to be brought into intelligent relation with each other if they are to counteract each other; and this requires a psychic situation, in which they will both, for the time being, be allowed to have their play at one and the same time, without requiring the repression of the one in order to secure the expression of the other. When the soul enters into a dynamic and vital relation with the Master, the complexes concerned with the sense of inferiority and the sense of superiority are both brought into play and they are so intelligently accommodated with each other that they counteract each other. In himself, the disciple feels that he is nothing; but in and through the Master, he is enlivened by the prospect of being everything. Thus, at one stroke, the two complexes are brought into mutual tension and tend to annihilate each other, through the attempt which the person makes for adjusting himself to the Master. With the dissolution of these opposite complexes there comes the breaking down of the separative barriers of the Ego in all its forms; with the breaking down of the barriers of separation there arises Divine Love; and with the arising of Divine Love, the separate feeling of the ‘I’, as distinguished from ‘you’, is swallowed up in the sense of their unity.

The Master, when truly understood, is a standing affirmation of the unity of all life; allegiance to the Master therefore brings about a gradual dissociation with the Ego-nucleus which affirms separateness. When the Ego-nucleus is completely bankrupt and devoid of any power or being, the Master as Truth is firmly established in consciousness as its guiding genius and animating principle. This is at once the attainment of union with the Master and the realization of the Infinite Truth.

The long journey of the soul consists in developing from animal consciousness the explicit self-consciousness as a limited ‘I’ and then to transcending the state of the limited Ithrough the medium of the Master, in order to get initiated into the consciousness of the Supreme and Real Self, as an everlasting and Infinite ’I Am’, in which there is no separateness and which includes all existence.

– Meher Baba

From Discourses

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Infinite Individuality Asserts Indivisible Oneness – Meher Baba

There is no scope for separateness in the vastness of the Infinite Ocean of Oneness. How then can there be any room for individuality in indivisibility? In the indivisible unlimited Ocean of Reality, how can there be scope for each drop that has fully awakened to Reality to individually proclaim: I am the Ocean!

The moment the drop has been stirred to consciousness, it isolates itself into a separate entity and acquires an individuality, a false I-Am-ness. This awakened ‘I’ is enveloped in falseness that grows with every step of its increased consciousness in proportion to its field of impressions and expression. This falseness that at first helps the drop to establish in individuality in the Indivisible Ocean, becomes the perpetual hindrance that keeps the drop from knowing itself as the Ocean. The ‘I’ has to get rid of the falseness before it can realize Who it is in reality.

At the end of the journey, when at long last the Goal is reached by the grace of the Perfect Master, this falseness is entirely removed and the ‘I’ alone remains with its supreme Self-knowledge – saying, my falseness is gone – I am God!

Thus, when each individual drop sheds its false awareness of being other than the Ocean, it proclaims itself as being the Infinite Indivisible Ocean. At the instant its falseness, its very own falseness is removed, the drop asserts its Infinite Individuality. It then consciously and continuously experiences  for all time as being without a second: the Almighty, Infinite and indivisible Paramatma. This is the I-am-God state. This is how every Atma, from the instant its consciousness is unburdened of falseness (i.e., impressions) for all time, asserts itself as Paramatma, God Absolute.

-Meher Baba

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