Symbols of the world's religions



Bal Natu

Every Avatar comes to be associated, over time, with a historic image that symbolizes a major aspect of that Advent. For Jesus Christ, this was the face bowed in pain on the cross, expressing His infinite suffering. For Buddha, it was the face reflecting transcendent serenity as He sat in the lotus posture, eyes closed. For Krishna, it was the face of the flute player, His features alight with merriment and humor.

Just as the Avatar has a Universal Mind and a Universal Body (of which I know nothing), for some of His lovers, He also assumes a symbolic Universal Face. The Universal Face is not necessarily the same for all, but in every case, it is that Face in which all other faces, with their variety of expressions, naturally merge without losing their grace and beauty. All the faces of the Avatar are subsumed by this one Face. None are negated by it, rather, all are individually glorified.

When Meher Baba veiled His physical form from humanity in the crypt at Meherabad, His face alone was left unshrouded for the seven days of His lying-in-state. This face, our last image of the Avatar's beautiful human form, has become, for me, Meher Baba's Universal Face. And, as if in confirmation of this, I noticed that the trailing rose bush that Helen Dahm painted, which blooms beneath Baba's feet in the painting in the north window of the Samadhi, traces back into the crypt where Baba's face lies. It is almost as if the roses emerge from their source — the Universal Face — reminding me of "IT."

The expressions of all the previous Avatars can be seen in what is, for me, Meher Baba's Universal Face — the suffering and humility of Christ, the serenity of Buddha, the strength of the Prophet; and the humor of Krishna the flute player, which reveals itself in a supreme irony: many of the people who visit the Samadhi think that Meher Baba is dead and they are alive, when, in fact, Meher Baba is fully alive and they are dead! What an infinite sense of humor!

And so, the prominent Avataric expressions of infinite suffering, compassion, strength, and humor are manifesting silently with ease and grace through Baba's Universal Face in the Samadhi, helping us to focus our attention on Him, the Avatar as the Eternal Awakener. This Universal Face with its star is latent in everyone and in everything; it contains all of creation, and all of creation bears its inner imprint. "Everything is perishing except His face."


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