Each time the Advent takes place, as explained to us by Meher Baba, it was pre-ordained in the previous Advent. So what we find as Meher Baba, is nothing but the projection or the unfolding of the plan which had been drawn up at the time of Muhammed. And all we can say, from what we have been given to understand by Meher Baba, is that the times and the circumstances suited His Advent as they did all previous Advents. The Avatar comes when the presence of reality in the midst of illusion is most necessary.
Whatever we say about the Advents and Avatars is a simple and obvious thing but we make a big issue of it. It is reality descending into illusion and functioning as such. However, reality is so spread out in the realm of illusion, that for itself to function in illusion is a rarity, and that is why the Advent is known as the springtide of creation. It is something very novel, very unusual. It is the greatest blessing and the greatest act of compassion of Reality that it should condescend to come down and function in illusion.
Now in order to function in illusion, reality adorns or masks itself in a male human form, the form which is then referred to as the Advent or the Avatar. Baba has said that illusion is total darkness and Reality is total brilliance, effulgence, and if reality were to descend into illusion, i.e., the total light were to descend into total darkness, the darkness would be shattered. So the only way total light can be received by total darkness, is to camouflage that light and that camouflage is nothing but the form of the Advent which is always in a male human form. It is so ordained. None can say for certain why it is so, or whether it is timely that the Advent has taken place for we have no capacity to sit in judgment. The Advent takes place because it was timely that it happened.
Meher Baba has given us to understand that He is the same Ancient One who comes again and again in our midst as a man amongst men, and whatever difference may exist among the appearances of the Avatar is not a difference in substance but in the mask He has to wear each time Reality descends into illusion. Only the material of the camouflage is different. Sometimes He seems to be a great warrior, sometimes a great peace-maker, sometimes He is the one who promotes brotherhood, purity and honesty, and according to circumstances, He manifests the traits which are required for the times.
This has happened millions upon millions of occasions, but we stick to a handful of Advents recorded in the past, and we try to compare them. But the only comparison that can be made is of the external form which keeps changing; otherwise He is the same Ancient One who functions as Redeemer, Saviour, Messenger, Messiah. He may be called by different names but He stations Himself on all planes of consciousness. He is the Highest of the High and the lowest of the low, simultaneously. He is on all levels, all planes and His functions vary according to the circumstances and the needs of humanity.
In each Advent it is the same one Truth which becomes the message. If there were two Truths, the Truth would not stand its ground because Truth by itself is one and only one. It is spoken in different languages in different Advents and explained according to the level of consciousness that humanity possesses at each particular time, and for this the Ancient One uses metaphors and parables to fit the particular circumstances of the Advent and He also shows us different ways to live that one Truth according to the times.
The Avatar is always referred to as 'He' instead of 'It' or the 'Reality' and this is so because the Reality always dons the male human form. Therefore we always use the masculine gender in referring to the Avatar; we say 'His coming again and again in our midst'.
Now what need is there for the Avatar to come so many times? It is all His Divine Game. It is the divine game of hide-and-seek that takes place wherein He continues to remain hidden. There is a continuous process of seeking and being sought, and He being infinite, the whole of existence revolves around this reality which is infinite. The game goes on and on without any end except at the time when there is total dissolution (mahapralaya), and even then it is not the end because there is no end to this beginningless beginning.
The Avatar gives us the precepts we need and if men were to follow them, there would be no need for Him to repeat His appearances. However, humanity being steeped in the slumber of illusion, He comes to get us out of illusion-consciousness and help us march towards Reality-Consciousness. The grip of illusion is so tight on us, that no amount of our determination to follow the path of righteousness, allows us to stay on that path. So time and again He returns to put us back on the path of righteousness from which we have slipped.
His coming in our midst and laying down precepts to guide us, does help for the time being, but gradually the influence fades away and He has to make another appearance. This fading away of the influence is all because He likes His Divine Game. He wants to come in our midst and be with us. This is what I have been made to understand by Meher Baba.
As far as the religions we follow, Meher Baba does not want us to give them up in order to follow Him. On the contrary, He wants us to become aware of the precepts that were laid down at the time of the Advent which brought about each particular religion.
When He was in our midst as Zoroaster, there was no such thing as Zoroastrianism. At the time of Buddha when He was in our midst, there was no such thing as Buddhism, and at the time of Jesus when He was in our midst, there was no such thing as Christianity.
These religions cropped up only after the Advents. First, there were a few followers in each Advent and with the passage of time, the followers increased in numbers and they tried to form themselves into groups with the same ideologies, holding on to the precepts laid down in that Advent and they formed a religion.
Religion which is man-made, has nothing to do with the Advent. That being so, why is it recognized as Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism or Hinduism? It is to commemorate an Advent that mankind creates such religions and thus each religion revolves around a particular Advent.
Meher Baba never told us to leave or give up our own religion. I am a Zoroastrian by birth and He wants me to be a true Zoroastrian. So if you are a Christian, He wants you to be a true Christian, a true Christian, mind you! We call ourselves Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians, but are we really and truly true Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians and Hindus? Hardly!
All the Avatar does each time He comes is to give us the same Truth. He does not differentiate a Mohammedan from a Hindu, or a Christian from a Zoroastrian. He brings them all together and once again regenerates that Truth in their hearts. He wants everyone to become aware of their shortcomings in not having lived up to the precepts laid down in the past. So He revives some of those precepts, regenerates them and once again puts us back on the path of righteousness. We, in turn, begin to uphold what He has said and by following His precepts, cause posterity to label our activities a 'religion'.
Now whether posterity will create a new religion to commemorate Meher Baba's Advent, I cannot know, nor am I the one to say that it should start such a religion. Meher Baba Himself has spoken out against any such movement.
The basis of all religions is nothing but love for God, so what is really needed is to establish that love in our hearts without formalizing it. If rites, rituals and ceremonies were to become the centre of formal expression of love for God, then it will undoubtedly be a disservice to Meher Baba who came to do away with such practices that are so widespread in all the religions.
I am sure Meher Baba lovers would not want a religion of their own but would prefer instead to embrace all the religions of the world as one religion, following the precepts of Meher Baba to live the life of Love and Truth in the name of the Lord. I am equally certain that there will be others who will continue to be bound to religion in the customary manner.
Perhaps the lovers of Meher Baba may be perceived in the future as just another sect living a different kind of life, and other religious groups may view them as simply another religion. But as long as these lovers of Baba continue devotedly to live the message of Love and Truth, they will never slip into the rut of formal religion. On the contrary, they will be serving Meher Baba as He wanted them to do.
Of course Meher Baba lovers will want to congregate together and in doing so they should bear in mind the following guidance from Him: First and foremost, pleasing Baba by actually living His message is the paramount thing and by thus pleasing Him, the heart becomes His centre and no other centre or institution can compare with that. However, if need for a centre is felt, Meher Baba has said that there are quite of number of public gardens or huge trees under which lovers can gather to talk about Him, to remember Him and to sing devotional songs. Such a gathering then becomes a group of similar hearts that carry love for the Lord.
Once a group is formed, the number of lovers is likely to increase and the group becomes larger. There are now many minds which have come together in closeness to the same heart where Baba's love resides and the group will need discipline, organization and so forth.
For such a situation, Baba has said, "Have your centres where you can gather as often as you wish, and a place or address where others who wish to find out about Me, may come or write to, but in the gathering let there be no difference between one and another, and let it be remembered always that at these meetings, it is Baba Himself who presides. In this way no one will begin to dictate, dissensions and rifts will be avoided and My message will be promoted."
The way to share this treasure of Baba then is to live such a natural life based on Baba's message of Love and Truth, that those who live a most unnatural life may sense and enquire as to the source of inspiration. They can then be told about Meher Baba, and if only a handful of lovers were to spread out in the crowd and do their natural work, that is all that would be required.
There is no need ever to worry about centres, institutions, small halls, large halls or the spreading of the message if we first love Him as He should be loved. After all, who inspires people to go or not to go to a centre? It is Baba! The inspiration to have or not have a centre or hall is also through Him, so if we do our part and leave it up to Him, there will be no need to worry. Baba summed it up when He said, "To love Me is your business, the rest is My business!"
However, if there is an organization, it should be a formal one in order to function according to the laws of the land, but let it be a democratic one where every individual can have his say, and above all let the embodiment of Truth that the Avatar is, be the example to each one to become likewise a walking-talking church, temple, pagoda or agiary.
It is the failure to keep such things in mind that leads the very institutions which were created to commemorate the Advent into the paradoxical ways of dissipating the message and creating the confusion that breed the congenial atmosphere for another Advent.
THE ANCIENT ONE, pp. 1-6
1985 © Naosherwan Anzar