Symbols of the world's religions

 
               

Part Two

THE EAST-WEST GATHERING

Judith Garbett

 
Baba did not give particular discourses or talks that morning, but speaking to one, and then another, He asked about and commented on different aspects of their lives and work. These were just informal chats, as it were, of help to those primarily concerned, and of general interest to others.

Sometimes Baba would speak quickly and directly to a man or a woman, enquiring if they had slept well, asking about their health, or their families at home. He told one young American woman not to worry about her baby — 'Give all your worries to Me,' Baba said. 'If you keep on doing the worrying I can't take over the burden. Give everything to Me, and I look after everything.'

Sometimes He joked with someone; sometimes with just a smile He seemed to convey a loving, deeply personal message to another.

I remember that while Baba was speaking to different ones, I could not help wishing that He would ask me something, or take notice of me in some way. But He did not do this.

Much later I realised that Baba often ignores such wishes, and then, when least expected, He does notice one. (This happened for me, and in its relevant sequence I have described the occasion at Guruprasad when our small Australian group was called to sing to Him several days later.)

Some of the Americans and English had produced and printed a new booklet called Sparks from Meher Baba. They presented a copy to Baba who touched it and gave it back. To the Australians Baba then entrusted the job of publishing and world-wide distribution of a new set of His discourses titled The Everything and The Nothing, a sizeable undertaking for the comparatively small group in Australia.

Dr Denis O'Brien from Melbourne was to give initial financial assistance to the project, and Bill Le Page's responsibility was all the detailed work of carrying out the printing and distribution of the book. Baba called both men to come forward and handed the typescript to them with instructions for it to be published as soon as possible.

Somewhere about 11:30 the morning session ended. Throughout these few hours Baba just radiated love to His lovers. As on all the other mornings, the big room seemed absolutely filled with the warmth and light of His love; and the gathered love of all seated before Him seemed to well up and flow to Him — His love, first-given, being offered again in love to Him.

It was a deeply moving experience: entirely, indescribably, beautiful ... I have never known anything like it before or since, and even now, 37 years later, the memory of the power of that all-pervading love is still so fresh, so strong, so overwhelming for me that tears flow involuntarily whenever I think of it, or try to speak about it.

After lunch the truly East-West gathering began. The Easterners were already assembled in the huge pandal at the rear of Guruprasad when the Westerners arrived to take their seats in front of the wide platform with its small dais and deep armchair ready for Baba in the centre.

Baba Himself had said that because the Westerners had come such immense distances to be with Him they were to sit in the front rows to be close to Him. Several microphones were installed near the edge of the platform, and these were used frequently by Eruch and other mandali when messages and instructions from Baba were read out, always in English and also in translations, to the six and a half thousand lovers gathered there.

As is customary in such gatherings in India, the women sat on one side and the men on the other. Folding chairs arranged in wide rows were set up throughout the huge pandal, with an aisle on each outer side and in the middle. The floor was of packed earth and gravel.

Except for wide entrances on both sides near the platform, the cotton 'walls' of the pandal came low down. It was like an enormous tent. The top covering was of striped cotton material, thin enough to let plenty of light through, but the sides were of heavier fabric.

The whole was stretched over a huge framework of poles, the long colorful strips of the cotton awning material being lashed together with twine. The ceiling over the platform was solid to afford effective protection for Baba, and set into this were four fluorescent lights forming a square over His head.

All the poles on the platform and throughout the pandal were brightly decorated, and the general effect of light and colour was greatly enriched by the vivid shades of the women's saris and dresses.

Baba came out onto the platform through the wide curtained doorway which led directly from the house, and steadied by the mandali, walked slowly forward to the front of the dais, stood for a moment while the joyous cries of 'Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai!' welled up from the crowd, then was helped gently into the big chair. Cushions were settled under His elbows and feet, and the afternoon began.

Baba's message 'MY DEAR CHILDREN' was read over the microphone:

"Your coming to me from different places and from across oceans has pleased me. And although no sacrifice to be near me is too great I am touched by the sacrifice that some of you have made to come here.

"Those who have not been able to come to me should not feel disheartened, for my love is with them as always and specially so at this time. I know how they are longing to be near me even for an hour, and how helpless they are in their circumstances.

"You have come from great distances not for some convention or conference but to enjoy my company and feel afresh my love in your hearts. It is a coming together of children of East and West in the house of their Father.

"All religions of the world proclaim that there is but one God, the Father of all in creation. I am that Father.

"I have come to remind all people that they should live on earth as the children of the one Father until my Grace awakens them to the realisation that they are all one without a second, and that all divisions and conflict and hatred are but a shadow-play of their own ignorance.

"Although all are my children they ignore the simplicity and beauty of this Truth by indulging in hatreds, conflicts and wars that divide them in enmity, instead living as one family in their Father's house. Even amongst you who love and accept me for what I am there is sometimes lack of understanding of one another's hearts.

"Patiently I have suffered these things in silence for all my children. It is time that they become aware of the presence of their Father in their midst and of their responsibility towards Him and themselves. I shall break my Silence, and, with my Word of words, arouse my children to realise in their lives the indivisible Existence which is GOD.

"Throughout the years I have been giving many messages and discourses. Today I simply want to tell you who are gathered here in my love to shut the ears of your minds and open the ears of your hearts to hear my Word when I utter It.

"Do not seek my Blessing which is always with you, but long for the day when my Grace will descend on all who love me. Most blessed are they who do not even long for my Grace, but simply seek to do my Will."

MEHER BABA'S LOVE — MY STORY, pp. 36-39, Judith Garbett
1999 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust

               

The East-West Gathering — My Story, Part: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


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