WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
Baba assigned specific tasks to each of us, but how we were to do them, and how we were to behave when we weren't doing them, that was up to our own judgment. And today, do you mean to say that Baba is telling me what I should be doing and He is not telling you? Brother, how many times do I have to say it, we are all in the same boat. We are no different from you. Our life with Baba, yes, I concede that that was different, but not in the way all of you imagine. There was something about Baba's presence, about being in His presence which words cannot describe. That was there. It fell to our lot to have the blessed good fortune to spend time in His company and that, I agree, was something unique, I should say. But do you mean to say that when Baba dropped His body we suddenly had no idea what to do?
No, we went on doing what we felt would please Baba because Baba had trained us not to follow specific orders, but to anticipate His wants, to learn to be sensitive to His moods, in short, to dance to His tune. People often tell me that to live with Baba you have to be this or you have to be that, but I always say the only thing you have to be is a good dancer, you have to learn to dance to His tune. And you learn how to do this by following the inner voice which we all have been blessed with. Baba once said that this inner voice is His voice. So, you see, you too have the opportunity to obey Baba's direct orders if you simply listen to this voice.
Sometimes when I say to someone, "Why do you do that? Is that the way to behave?" they will reply, "It was easy for you. If I were with Baba I could obey Him too, but it's not knowing what to do now that's so difficult." But I tell you there's no difference. We had the same temptations, the same difficulties you have. Do you think that because we were with Baba that we suddenly became blind and deaf to the world? Haven't I told you all about the time I became attracted to a woman in Baba's presence? Here I was, standing here, introducing people to Baba, when a beautiful woman came into the hall. I was struck by her beauty. I was captivated by it, you may say.
And Baba knew what was happening to me. Not because He could read my mind, but because I was so preoccupied with the woman's beauty that I lost my concentration on Baba's gestures. You see, I had to concentrate very hard to make sure that I could interpret correctly for Baba. It wasn't just a case of reading Baba's gestures, but I had to look at Baba's face at the same time to see what sort of expression He had. I had to know what sort of intonation to use to speak out Baba's words. It wasn't enough to merely throw out the words, I had to put the emphasis that Baba wanted. And this would be indicated by the expression on Baba's face, whether He was smiling, or looking stern, or serious or whatever.
So it took tremendous concentration to do this properly. I had to put my whole mind into it. That is why I often tell people when they ask me about Baba's physical appearance that I never had the opportunity to look at Baba. I saw Him so many times, it is true, but I was never free to simply gaze at Baba, I was always too preoccupied with looking at His hands, looking at the board, and reading the expression on Baba's face to ever be able just to look at Baba to adore Him.
So when my mind got distracted by this woman's beauty, there was an interruption in the interpretation of Baba's gestures. Not a big one, but Baba could tell that something had happened to me. There's always a human explanation for Baba's behavior. It wasn't that Baba was reading our minds, it was that Baba was extraordinarily sensitive and perceptive. He was God. He is God, I should say, but His knowledge was always based on His perfect humanity, not His omniscience.
So Baba, seeing that something was wrong with me, quickly put two and two together. He could see that this young woman was exceedingly beautiful and He guessed what must have gone through my mind. The woman had had her chance to be introduced to Baba and was about to pass by when Baba reached out and took her face in His hands. He held her chin and turned her head slightly and gestured to me, "She's very beautiful, isn't she?" "Yes, Baba," I said, "she is." The woman got very embarrassed. She blushed at being held up to public scrutiny in this fashion, but Baba continued praising her beauty.
"But where will that beauty be in fifty years? She will be old and wrinkled then. The luster will have gone from her skin. Her back will be bent and she will walk with a shuffle. She won't have any teeth and her glossy black hair will be white and dull. Nobody will stop to give her a second glance. What you think of as beauty is just a matter of muscle and bone and flesh, and that will all change with time.
"Why get so enamored of something which is so transitory? It will fade, the greatest beauty in the world will fade like a flower, it has no permanence. But does this mean we shouldn't appreciate the beauty when we see it? No, we should. But we should remember that it was the Creator who created this beauty. We should not get attracted to the beauty for its own sake, but should be reminded of the One who created such beauty." Baba was saying this to everyone; my temptation provided Baba with the excuse to give everyone there this discourse. But what I am trying to bring home to you is that, right there, in Baba's presence, I was dazzled by this woman's beauty. Being in Baba's presence did not automatically make us immune to such things. Wherever you go, it is the same mind and the same heart. And as long as we have the same mind and the same heart, we will all have the same temptations, the same difficulties in obeying Baba.
To be honest, in this particular instance, Baba made it easy for me by bringing home to me, and to everyone else there, how fleeting this beauty is. Baba gave us the guideline that we don't have to turn our face away from worldly beauty. We have eyes, we should notice such beauty and we should appreciate it, but it should make us glorify Him and not the one who has been blessed with such beauty. But now, you too have the benefit of Baba's words. And even without them, you know this. We all know this. Who is there in this room who doesn't know that beauty fades with age? It is axiomatic. What saved me, what saved all of us with Baba, was not so much these explanations, or discourses, or any orders Baba gave, but our determination to be His.
That's all it is. We are no different from you. We had the same problems, the same difficulties, the same temptations and frustrations and desires, but we had one desire which, fortunately for us, was stronger than all other desires, and that was the desire, the determination to be His. Once you have this, you will be safe, and without it, even with Baba giving you direct orders, you will be lost.
Let me give you another example from my own life with Baba. Baba had retired to His room at night and was going to lie down. This happened here, at Meherazad. Baba was staying in what is now Pendu's room, and I was sitting outside under the tree that used to stand there. Baba told me not to disturb Him for any reason, not to enter His room unless He clapped and then I was supposed to enter immediately to see what He wanted. That was straightforward and there was no confusion in my mind about what I should or should not do. I stayed outside the room and waited for Baba's clap. But as I was sitting there, I felt something crawl over my leg. It was a snake and it was heading towards Baba's room.
I rushed forward and, with my flashlight I managed to pin the snakes tail just as it was disappearing in the crack under the door. Only the tail was left outside of Baba's room, but I held it down with my flashlight so it couldn't get completely inside. I knew that Baba's bed was just inside the door to the right, so that the snake was only inches from Baba's bed, so I couldn't let go of the snake. But in pinning the snake, I must have made some noise, because Baba clapped. Now what to do? Baba's order was that when He clapped I was to drop everything and rush into His room. Baba had not said, "When I clap, drop everything, unless you are holding a snake in your hands." You see, Baba had given me an order. A very specific order, yet even so, I felt that my first responsibility was to kill the snake.
Now what happens if you hold a snake by its tail? It curls around to attack whatever is holding it. I knew this. So I just stood there with my flashlight on its tail and it wriggled its body round and slithered back out the door. Mind you, the whole time this is happening, Baba is clapping. But I waited until the snake was outside Baba's room and then I took my chappal and beat it to death. Only then did I finally heed Baba's clap and go inside.
"Where have you been?" Baba demanded. "Didn't you hear me clap?" I explained to Baba what had happened. "You should have come. You should have let the snake go and come immediately. That was my order to you and you should have obeyed."
I did what I felt was right. I did what I felt I should do to protect Baba's body, even though this contradicted an order Baba had given me. And Baba told me I did the wrong thing. But if it were to happen again, I would do the same thing. The point I am trying to make is that even when we had direct orders, we still had to use our best judgment, we still had to examine our conscience and try to figure out what would please Baba. We were not always right, we made mistakes, but it was no different then than it is now.
You have to do your best. It is difficult, I know, but there is this consolation. Baba one time told us that although we would not necessarily know what would please Him, we would always know what would displease Him. So we have this built-in compass that points the way.
Baba stressed selfless service. And I've noticed that many Baba lovers are involved in service of some sort. But is this selfless service? Even in Baba's time people would come and tell Baba about the selfless service they were doing. But as soon as you are aware of having served another, then you haven't served them. I don't say don't do good deeds, but it is better not to do them than to dwell upon having done them and thereby tighten the bonds of attachment you have for those deeds.
Some people come here and they say they feel guilty because they are earning so much money. Why feel guilty if you are earning it? If you are not cheating anyone and are coming by it all honestly, why feel guilty? Did Baba say we should all be poor? There is nothing wrong with having money, as long as you know how to use it. Baba has said, "Really rich is he who knows how to spend his wealth well." But, on the other hand, it is not good to earn more and more money, to become preoccupied with earning money, with the idea that you are doing this only so that you will be able to do "Baba work" all the more. It is presumptuous on our part to think of ourselves doing "Baba work." It only feeds our ego.
Again and again it comes back to the same truth: live a normal life. All these questions, what is good, what is bad, should I do this, should I refrain from doing this, will it feed my ego if I do it, but if I don't, isn't that simply being selfish? And so on, ad infinitum. There is no end to questions, and there is no end to answers to these questions. Don't get involved in trying to figure it out. Meher Baba wants us to lead an ordinary, normal life, in accordance with how you are guided inwardly. Do what you feel intuitively prompted to do, but all the time this should be based on the solid foundation of being His.
Whatever you do, whatever you undertake, dedicate it to Him. Don't even think is it right, is it wrong, is it good or bad, is it a strength or a weakness. Just dedicate everything to Him. Gradually dishonesty will fade. Gradually other things will fade, and more and more unadulterated love and honesty will grow.
You cannot begin with a clean slate, as it were. You must begin from where you are. We all have weaknesses. But analyzing and dissecting our motives, trying to understand whether we are being prompted by selfishness or unselfishness will not eliminate our weaknesses. It will only drive us crazy and make it impossible for us to do anything. The only way to get rid of our selfishness is to go ahead and do something, but dedicate it to Him.
For example, say you decide to pick up junk from the street so that the streets will be kept clean and tidy. This is a "good," a "worthwhile" enterprise. So you start to do it. But you notice very quickly that there is a strong desire in you to have others notice you doing this. You find yourself thinking, "What a good example I am setting. I am not doing this for money. I am doing this for everyone's welfare, and people should be grateful to me." Perhaps, after a while, you even want to call attention to yourself, or you get angry when others don't notice what you are doing. You may even become resentful that you are not being properly appreciated. Or then again, your ego might fasten itself upon the fact that others are not noticing you. "See how spiritual I am, that I am doing this even though no one is noticing or praising me for it." In short, the ego is very much present.
But so what? The ego is always present. It is the nature of the ego to seize upon whatever we do and use it to strengthen itself. So what is the solution? The solution is to simply keep on doing what you are doing. After a while that initial zeal may be gone, you may lose your enthusiasm, but if you continue, even if it is mechanical on your part, the selfish aspects of your behavior, with time, will fade. Eventually you will completely forget about all those other considerations and you will find yourself picking up the junk from habit, solely from the desire to keep the streets clean. It honestly won't matter to you whether others notice you doing it or not. You won't expect them to praise you. And it won't bother you if they condemn you. The action, by being dedicated to Him, becomes purified.
THAT'S HOW IT WAS, pp. 250-257
1995 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust