I wondered if reading this book would bring up a slew of bad memories, which unfortunately revolve around my own personal relationship with Meher Baba. As a child/early teenager I was force-fed the words of Baba by an adult figure who, rather than spread the word of unconditional love, used his love for Baba in a way to control others (I think the best word for that is fanatic?!). But that fanaticism also took me to Ahmednagar in India as a 15 year old, for a month long trip that I will never forget. It took place in 1993, and I stayed in the pilgrim center in Meherabad with my family, and spent time in Meherazad with Mani and Eruch who were still alive at that time. I met so many amazing people, and for the first time in my life felt in touch with a spirituality that was my own, not something imposed on me. I am not a Baba follower, and I don’t believe in a god, or spiritual planes, or anything like that, but I do believe in unconditional love, and spreading this love.
Having spent time with some of Baba’s close mandali members (Mani, Manzani, Eruch, Dr Goher, for example), as well as the mast (holy man) named Mohammed, and on the ground where Baba spent so much of his life on earth (Meherabad and Meherazad), I still feel blessed to have experienced this. After having rejected any Baba-related material or information for so long, reading this book has helped heal a rift that was present in my mind, and for that I am grateful. While I may not actually believe in a god, I think that Baba’s message is one that would help humanity live more harmoniously together, rather than the pit of pain and suffering we seem intent on causing each other. There are many things that I question in his discourses (especially the role of women and/or the importance of marriage for example), but the essence of striving towards a purer self, rid of ego is important in my opinion.
The Silent Messenger provides a great overview of Baba’s life and message, and would be a perfect starter book for those interested in understanding more about the person and his journey. The larger part of the book is based on Meher Baba’s life, and the remainder on his message to the world. It’s well-written and deeply researched, and also provides information on Baba’s work in a way that makes it easy to understand and explain to others. Tom and Dorothy Hopkinson, now deceased, both spent time with Baba, and originally wrote the first version of this book in the 1970’s. Highly recommended read to those interested in spirituality, Meher Baba, and those searching for meaning in their lives (even though they will not find it, because who does ever find real meaning?!). I really appreciated how the book explores the differences between the western approach to holiness and religion, and the eastern approach, and how western culture wouldn’t (and still isn’t) receptive to someone like Meher Baba. It’s a very accessible and interesting read.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.