Meher Baba in 1957, from
"The God Man" - see below*
[Introduction by Mr. Agostini,
the first few words of which were not recorded]
...... on city planning and economic services, and he is also a dramatic
critic of distinction. He is, besides, a writer on the theatre, a biographer,
and a literary critic. He is known in many fields, and he is not a stranger
to the United States, where his books are known.
|He has written exhaustively about Meher Baba, his first
book published in 1937, and his latest, The God-Man, published
the present year, considered to be the outstanding work. He is with
us today to give us the benefit of his acquaintance with, and reflections
on, Meher Baba. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honour, indeed,
to present our distinguished colleague and friend from England, Mr.
[C. B. Purdom]
Friends, Mr Agostini, thank you very much for that introduction.
|Now, the theme, this afternoon, is Meher Baba, and the
particular subject on which I want to speak to you is the relation of
the God-Man, Meher Baba, to the God-Man, Jesus Christ, because that
is a matter that concerns very many of us, and some of us very deeply;
and at the end of what I have to say, I should be very pleased for you
to ask me any questions you please.
|It was the Greek philosopher, Pythagoras, who spoke of
those who learn with us, and of the multitude who merely listen. Now,
in this talk I am speaking to learners like myself, and I beg you to
listen, but to do more than listen; and as you may know, to listen is
not easy. Now, I invite you to this talk because our western society
is in the Christian tradition, and because I, myself, am a Christian,
and one who follows Meher Baba.
|Now, the first thing to remember about Jesus is that
he was a Jew. He belonged to a people who consider themselves to be
the chosen people; that is to say a people which knew the meaning of
its life, as a people. He was born in Judæa, lived most of his
life in Galilee, and seldom went beyond their borders. What we know
about him is contained in the New Testament, in particular the four
Gospels, and in the letters of St. Paul. Now, the name Jesus
is the Latin form of the Hebrew Joshua, which was a common
name at that time. The New Testament was written in Greek, the Gospels
being based upon Aramaic material, for Jesus spoke in Aramaic, not in
Hebrew or Greek.
|And the Greek New Testament has been given the most meticulous
historical and textual examination, in the past hundred years or more
- greater perhaps than that of any other manuscripts; and scholars are
now pretty sure that they know what the original Greek writers wrote,
though there's still some doubt about dates and about some of the writers.
|The whole of the New Testament is now generally agreed
to belong to the first century. The letters of St. Paul start from about
AD 51, about twenty-one years after the death of Jesus; and the Gospels
from about AD 72, about forty-two years after his death. Now, Jesus
was born about two or three years before our AD years start, that is
BC 2 or 3. He made his first public appearance about AD 27, when he
was twenty-nine or thirty years of age, and taught for about two-and-a-half
years, and was killed about AD 29 or 30.
|Christians believe that Jesus was God-Man, the orthodox
definition of which is that he had two natures - divine and human -
but one divine-human personality; and I don't quarrel with that.
|And Christian belief, crudely stated, is that Jesus was
a divine person, who left his throne in heaven, to come to earth to
save mankind from sin and death, and let himself be killed, to pay the
price of the debt to God, incurred by man's sins, so that he put all
mankind in his debt. And he resurrected, being divine, and ascended
to his heavenly throne, and will come again to judge mankind, in the
life of his achievement. Now, I call this crude, because it
is a very commonplace, even materialistic way of expressing Christian
belief. I, myself, would put it quite differently, and so I think would
most theologians today, not that I am a theologian; but it is crudely
correct. I'll say no more about that, at the moment.
|Now, there are others who think that Jesus was divine,
but regard him as a religious teacher whose theme is the fatherhood
of God and the brotherhood of man; a teacher of moral and ethical principles;
a Jewish reformer and mystic; a man of deep religious insight. I think
that even more mistaken than what I call the crude account. It is, however,
more or less widely held today, and is, in fact, what Mohammed taught,
who regarded Jesus as a prophet or apostle of God, which is Muslim belief
|Now, apart from the New Testament, all the many lives
of Jesus are imaginary works, and there is, indeed, no purely human
biography of Jesus, the Gospels being not biography, but consist of
descriptive episodes, and stories of teachings and sayings and parables
and prayers. In fact, the Gospels have to be interpreted to yield their
meaning, which is where the danger lies, for interpretations can vary
very greatly, from the highly-sceptical if respectful, to the devout,
pious and credulous, many being entirely fanciful.
|Accounts are given in the Gospels of Jesus's virgin birth;
the flight of his parents into Egypt; his being taken to Nazareth and
Galilee; his baptism by John; his teaching, healing and miracles; his
rejection by the Jewish authorities; his desertion by his disciples;
his trial and crucifixion and resurrection. And these accounts are all
concerned to show that Jesus fulfilled the Jewish scriptures and prophecies,
and all they say is clearly tied to the Hebrew Bible. Now, I can't go
over the whole of this remarkable story, and can deal with only a few
|In the first place, we should note that the virgin birth
is recorded in two Gospels only - Matthew and Luke. Mark knows nothing
of it, neither does John, neither do St. Paul, or any other of the writers
of the epistles.
|Now, for myself, while I believe in the virgin birth
in what may be called the spiritual sense, that is to say that
the begetting is a divine act, I believe that Jesus was conceived and
born physically in the human way, because I believe he was a real man.
Unless Jesus was a man, he can't be what Christian dogma claims him
to be - that is possessing human nature; and he would not be a man without
a human father. Now, certainly he was begotten in Mary of the Holy Ghost,
but the insemination of the bodily Mary was human, otherwise Jesus would
be unreal - a pretended man; a fraud as a man. Unless he was flesh,
blood, bone as we are, no different except in consciousness, in the
full realisation of himself as the eternally-begotten Son, he can't
be more than a supernatural portent, in which I, for one, would be disinclined
|Jesus was born in an outhouse or a cave - part of an
inn - in Bethlehem. And the stories of the star in the sky, and the
visits of the shepherds and the wise men from the east, and the kings,
and the angels singing, are lovely; but not fact. They are the sweet
inner reality, not to be denied, but not phenomenal, eternal truth.
|Now, we know nothing of Jesus's childhood except the
visit with his parents to Jerusalem when he got left behind, talking
to the doctors of the law in the temple, much to the displeasure of
his parents. And he's supposed to have lived with them in Nazareth,
following his father's trade of carpenter. And there doesn't seem to
me to be any difficulty about accepting this. I don't credit the suppositions
that he spent his time among certain Jewish, Gnostic, or other sects.
|When he was twenty-nine or thirty, he came to the River
Jordan to be baptised by John the Baptist, through crowds of penitents,
when he was recognised by John as someone special. And Jesus himself
knew, maybe for the first time, who he really was, and what he had to
do; which was to awaken mankind, and for which he had to suffer,
and be rejected. Now, this immersion of himself in the waters was symbolic,
for at the very moment he realised his divinity, he plunged more deeply
into his physical involvement with the earth, because all living things,
including the physical body of man, came from out of the water.
|Now, the baptism was followed by what's called the forty
days in the wilderness - in fact it may have been much longer -
when he had to make up his mind how to carry out this awakening
|And then he gathered disciples, and taught them, attended
the synagogue and spoke there, and kept to the practice of his religion,
going unto Jerusalem as required by the Jewish law. These are things,
you know, are very important to note. His sayings were taken down; also
accounts of his miracles of healing and other events, including stories
of his raising the dead, and other matters. And he, undoubtedly, aroused
much popular interest, and at the same time the animosity of the Jewish
authorities, because he attacked them for observing the forms
of the divine law, while neglecting its spirit, and he called
them hypocrites, over and over again. But he spent much time in seclusion,
and avoided the crowds.
|His disciples thought him to be the Messiah, but he wouldn't
let them mention it. There were many who claimed to be Messiah in those
days, and thought themselves called to overthrow the Roman conqueror,
and to deliver Israel; but Jesus was not one of them.
|At last, knowing his task to be reaching its climax,
that is to say his task of awakening, he insisted on going
to Jerusalem at the time of the Passover, though his disciples knew
he might be arrested by his Jewish enemies. In fact, he was arrested
by them, one of his disciples, Judas, betraying him.
|Now, Judas is regarded as a despicable man, who sold
his master for thirty pieces of silver; the arch-traitor; and I think
that a mistake. Judas, perhaps, believed in Jesus more than any one
of the disciples. For he thought that when Jesus was brought to the
test, he would exert his supernatural powers as Messiah to clear himself,
and inaugurate the Kingdom of God. That is to say, he believed utterly;
and when he realises his mistake, he hanged himself. You see, to believe
is not enough, for belief can very easily be self-deception.
|Well, Jesus was taken prisoner by the Jewish authorities
as a blasphemer, and he was thought to call himself God. That was really
why they arrested him. And they wouldn't tolerate it. Had he been regarded
as a self-deluded revolutionary, they would have left him alone. The
Sanhedrin, however, much as they disliked him, wouldn't take the responsibility
for his condemnation.
|Instead, they sent him to the Roman governor, Pilate,
who examined him, but was not convinced, for Jesus gave him no such
impression. But the Jews insisted, and Pilate, who had not long been
appointed governor, and the Jewish people were especially troublesome,
he acquiesced, and condemned Jesus to death as a declared King of
|And so Jesus was crucified as a common criminal. His
disciples deserted him, and Peter, the chief, when challenged, declared
he didn't know him. And Jesus was alone, except for the two thieves
crucified with him. And he was a complete failure; deserted by men,
and felt himself deserted by God. So he died saying, it is finished.
And he was buried in a cave outside Jerusalem, and the next day, or
shortly after, the cave was found empty, and Jesus appeared alive to
|Now, this fact of the resurrection is the foundation
of Christianity. Incredible as it is, it has to be accepted; and I do
accept it. The resurrection was not a mere rising from the tomb; a resuscitation
of the dead body. Jesus was dead, utterly dead, and was buried; and
the tomb was found empty. He appeared to people; and disappeared. He
must have acquired a new body, for he was not immediately recognised
by his own disciples, and had to convince them that it was really he,
Jesus; and this new body, however, bore the marks of the nails; and
they were convinced. And in this resurrected or spiritualised body,
the physical elements were transformed.
|Dr. Rudolf Bultmann, the great German existentialist
mythologiser of the Gospels, for the sake of the Gospels, doesn't believe
in this resurrection of Jesus; he doesn't believe it to be as chronicle
fact. He doesn't think it actually happened, though he has faith that
it has, what he calls, an inner truth.
|And for myself, I do think it actually happened. I believe
it was the very thing that Jesus came to do, for the resurrected man
is the awakened man. But it was, of course, symbolic; not merely
to die, but after suffering, to be the ever-living one. And he died
as a man in his physical body, but transformed that body into a spiritual
one; the actual flesh and bone became spiritualised; the empirical material
became eternal reality. I believe that is what happened in the cave
in which Jesus's body was placed. And the power that the tempter urged
him to use to save himself, in those forty days temptation, as we know
them, he used after his defeat, to transform his body.
|Now, I don't see how it's possible to deny the factual
truth of the resurrection. It's in harmony with Jesus's life. His teaching
that man is spiritual, that his real life is in heaven, that is to say,
beyond phenomena and the common sense world, was demonstrated in the
resurrection. Of course, you can't prove its truth. The evidence can
be explained away, and to believe it is a matter of faith. I have such
faith, because the supposition that Jesus was God-Man, that is to say
one who is in full possession of his self, the sensory consciousness
being divine, resurrection, if he so willed it, was possible.
|Now, if you ask me why I do not place the resurrection
story in the same category as I do that of the virgin birth, my answer
is that the resurrection is the structural element in Christian faith,
which the virgin birth, in the sense of excluding physical agency in
the accomplishment of the birth, is not. The virgin birth is poetry.
|But the evidence for the resurrection is considerable,
and I regard it as a reasonable culmination to the life, and without
arguing it further, I can see no inherent difficulty in it, granting
Jesus to be what he said he was. The indisputable fact is that the resurrection
established the disciples in their belief in Jesus. The frightened men,
who were scattered, were brought together, and after forty days again,
whatever that may mean, Jesus ascended - that is to say disappeared
in phenomenal appearance - on the hill called the Mount of Olives.
|And one day after that, when they were still together,
at the end of their Jewish feast of Pentecost, there was what is called
the descent of the Holy Ghost, that is to say, they knew at
last what Jesus was, what he'd done, and what they had to do. And they
were completely changed men, at last. Now, it took these disciples,
so close to Jesus, all that time to know that he was God-Man, and what
|And then, they continued to observe the Jewish law. But
they were dedicated men, and knew that they had to witness to divinity,
and because of this dedication, they were disliked by the Jewish authorities,
especially as they did not cut themselves off from the temple or desert
the synagogue; and they were violently attacked.
|And had it not been for the Pharisee, Paul of Tarsus,
the Christians might have remained a Jewish sect - a disliked Jewish
sect. But it was this man who really made the Christian Church for all
men. He was on his way to searching out the foolish and blasphemous
fellow Jews to destroy them, when he was struck down with the conviction
that they were right. So this master of Jewry became one of the apostles
of Jesus, and in the face of great opposition, and by his devotion,
faith, amazing ability and self-sacrifice, laid the foundation for what
we call Christianity; one of the greatest achievements of man.
|Now, I think knowledge of the life of Jesus is necessary
to all devotees of Baba, and that's why I've spent so much time in outlining
it to you; just as I think it is necessary to believe in Jesus as God-Man,
and all that's implied in it; and if we don't, I don't see how we can
believe in Baba.
|Of course, I'm speaking to those who are in the Jewish
and Christian tradition. Now, Jesus never used the word Christian.
His religion was Jewish, and he didn't establish a religion. His church
- church meaning ecclesia - means just those who uphold together.
[There is a short hiatus in the recording at this
point] . . . . . not that of a particular religion, but of mankind
as a whole; of man as the begotten son of God. Now, I can't go into
this, but it's important and not easily understood.
|Historically, Christianity has become a particular church,
though in great disunity, which it's now sought to overcome. Now, Christianity
has always fought against the idea that it is a religion among other
religions, or even a superior religion.
|Essentially, Christianity will not accept that point
of view - that it is one among others. In its higher claim, it is the
body of Christ; that is to say, the body of awakened humankind. For
that very reason, the church claims to be absolute; to have no relative
position; and in this it is surely right; though not as a particular
church, because no particular church, as such, can rightly claim to
be superior, for the God-Man Jesus didn't come to establish another
religion, that is to say another church, but to reveal to man what was
essential; that we must repent and change, that is to say awake,
and worship God in spirit, and love God as each other.
|Now, suppose it could be shown that Jesus of Nazareth
never existed. Would it mean that there was no truth in the Christian
Gospel, which is the Gospel of the man Jesus ? Surely not;
for that Gospel is that the core of man is divine,
that God begets his son, and that man has to awaken out of the dream
of the phenomenal world, to the light of the reality of God, and his
own true existence. As the great Pascal said, If I choose to believe
in God and am deceived, I lose nothing of value, for without God, there
are no values worth having.
|Personally, I believe in the historical fact of Jesus,
but that belief has no value unless it means that I repent, and am transformed,
and allow the grace of God to work in me. As a mythological figure,
Jesus is sublime; as historical man, he is astounding; as the divine
Son, he speaks the word of God, that is love; and we have to hear Jesus's
words inwardly if they are to speak to us, for love is unity, and that's
why we call him God-Man, for it means both divine-human reality.
|And so now I come to Meher Baba, who is alive today.
He is among us, and many of us have met him, and some of us know him
very well. He is now just over seventy years of age, and lives in seclusion,
in the Deccan, in India, in what was once the Bombay state.
|Now, his parents were born in Persia; he was born in
India. And he was born in Poona, in the Deccan, on the 25th of February,
1894. He was educated at an English Roman Catholic high school there,
matriculated at the school, and later on at the Deccan College.
|And when he was at the age of nineteen, he was one day
embraced by Babajan, a Muslim Perfect Master, who was well-known in
Poona, who lived in the streets in Poona, and had lived there for very
many years; a strange old woman, who used to be pelted by the schoolchildren
sometimes, as they went home from school.
|And in May, 1913, as I say, she embraced him, quite suddenly;
he was riding by, and she beckoned to him, and he came to her, and she
embraced him, and he felt for her, that something had happened. And
then, eight months later, in 1914, she embraced him again, and from
that moment he became unconscious; that is unconscious of the ordinary
world. And he remained in a state of great confusion, and inability
to live a normal life, for a long period.
|And during that period, he met a number of Masters. In
fact, he met five other Masters, the fifth of which, in a period of
a year, just over a year, from that second embrace by the old woman,
and this man whom he met, who lived also in the Deccan, Upasni Maharaj,
when he saw him, flung a stone at him, which hit him [Baba]
in the head; and then Baba knew who he was.
|Up to that moment, from the time when the old woman had
embraced him, he just had no, as it were, hold on life. And yet, of
course, he was fully alive; he was bursting with life; it was a period
of terrific ecstasy for him, combined with really great suffering. And
his parents thought he was just out of his mind; they couldn't understand
him at all; they just didn't know what to do with him; they couldn't
do anything with him. And this continued for some time, until he went
to live with this Upasni Maharaj.
|And then, at the beginning of 1922, Upasni declared him
to be, as he said, Avatar, or God-Man; and he left Upasni.
He was then in full possession of himself; he was like Jesus after the
baptism, and after the forty days in the wilderness, as we say; and
he gathered disciples. He established an Ashram in Bombay, and afterwards
in Meherabad, in the Deccan; an isolated place.
|And when he was thirty-one years of age, he stopped speaking;
he entered into silence. Until then he used to talk to his disciples;
he used to give them lectures and discussions and discourses, and instructions
- very detailed instructions - on how they were to live in the Ashram
that he established. About on the 10th July, '25, when he was thirty-one,
he stopped speaking, and he hasn't spoken since; not a single word;
he's remained silent. And so from that date, we haven't any words from
Baba. We have only the words that are given to us by those who translate
his movements and gestures, and, at one time, the use of an alphabet
|And then, soon after that, when he was nearly thirty-three,
he stopped writing. Until then he used to write; he used to write instructions,
and is said to have written a book, which no-one has ever seen. But,
when he was thirty-three, that is in 1927, he stopped writing, and since
1927, he has written nothing but his signature.
|And then, after a few years, he started on a period of
world travel; when he came to Europe and America. And this continued
for a number of years, and in fact it's rather interesting to note that
he visited the United States of America more than he has any other country,
in Europe or elsewhere. And he seems to have taken the United States
into his hands, and I am sure there is some significance in that; added
significance because he doesn't live here. He's never stayed here for
more than a few weeks at a time.
|Well, I have written an account of his life; from the
beginning; from the time I first got to know him, which was thirty-three
years ago, when he was under forty years of age, and when he first came
to Europe, on the first of his world tours. And that book is this one,
The God-Man, which was published a short time ago, and it gives
a full account of his life, so far as I've been able to discover it;
together with his messages and statements, declarations, instructions,
during the whole period of his life, right up to 1962; and accounts
of visits that a number of us have made to him in India, and of his
visits also to the United States - they are contained here.
|And the first part of this book is written in a plain
kind of recording manner; it is practically a documentary. And there's
a short, much shorter second part, in which I explain what I believe
him to be; what is the significance of his silence, his not writing,
of his messages, and so forth.
|And, I don't think I'll say any more about Baba, himself,
in exposition of his teaching or giving an account of his life, because
it's contained here, and I do suggest that you read it. In fact, it
is necessary if you really want to know about him, that you should.
|He spends most of his life in seclusion, and, except
in India, he's made no public appearance. And it's a strange and perplexing
life; in fact I don't think there is any parallel to it - this life
of Meher Baba - in history, either in the east or the west. It has features
that are quite special to it, and that you will not find elsewhere,
in the life of any other man. And I think one must say that all his
acts are symbolic, and he, himself, is a symbol; but much more.
|To understand the relation of Baba to Jesus is a difficult
matter, because of the emotional factors. People who love Jesus, and
look upon him as their saviour, are jealous of any rival. Indeed, it's
because I love Jesus, that I have the insight to love Baba. Now, I have
found in India the same difficulty with lovers of Krishna. They were
in trouble in mind because they thought their allegiance to Krishna
interfered with their love for Baba, and found it difficult to reconcile
the two; it is interesting.
|It is, indeed, very hard to adjust one's thinking to
admit that Baba is the same order of being as Jesus; for it seems to
belittle Jesus. Of course, I am speaking to those who follow Jesus.
For those who cease to call themselves Christians, it seems to me rather
easy, but I am convinced that, subconsciously, even for them, it's nothing
of the kind.
|And to think oneself to be superior to other Christians,
or non-Christians for that matter, because one knows and loves Baba,
is a very great error. Unless one can accept Jesus, and all he claimed
to be, I don't see how one can accept Baba, from what he claims to be.
Of course, I am speaking again, let me say, to those who belong to our
western Christian tradition; and I think to accept Baba as God-Man is
to accept the New Testament presentation of Jesus, which I am aware
is a very serious and severe demand.
|Now, Christians believe that Jesus is the only son of
God - the only one; and that's where the difficulty lies. But
Jesus is not the only son in the sense that I have one son. And when
I repeat the Christian creed, I believe in his only Son, Jesus Christ
our Lord, I mean something else than when I speak of my only son.
Now, we have to try to understand this. It's of no use merely to repeat
words, whether they are the words of Jesus or of Baba, or the words
of the creeds; we have to use our understanding, which is what I invite
you to do.
|In Christian theology, that is to say systematic thinking
about Christian belief, Christ is thought of as the second person in
the Trinity. Note that nobody says Jesus; the word used is
Christ. Christians sometimes picture God as three persons sitting
on three thrones, and that, of course, is an absurdity; and no sensible
person believes this. The Trinity is an abstraction; it's a concept.
It's a way of describing the Godhead that is one; for the essence of
Trinity, and this idea of Trinity, is oneness. And there is one Son
in the Godhead, one principle of sonship - the only one - so
when we say that Jesus was the only Son, we mean that he contains or
reveals, in himself, that principle of sonship. We don't think of sonship
in the biological sense.
|The principle of one sonship exists wherever God is;
that is to say, everywhere in the entire creation; not only in man,
but in the stone and the galaxies. Divinity, that is to say sonship,
becomes conscious in man, and that's the meaning of creation; that the
eternal sonship should be infinitely realised, which can take place
only in man.
|And because God is everywhere, everything is an incarnation
of God, in the sense of God expressing himself, but incarnation as applied
to Jesus means something different. God is incarnate in all things as
spirit. In an incarnation God appears as man; he, as it were, descends
as man, made in the image of God; and Jesus is believed to be such an
incarnation. And it's worthwhile to look at that word further, because
it doesn't mean that God had to become man, because he was
already man. He had to be manifested as man who is also God,
and this manifestation is essentially an initiative of God; that's to
say, it is not an activity due to the processes of the empirical world,
but an act of divinity, from, as it were, outside; as it were,
outside; so that an incarnation is the birth of a being, who descends
as God, to appear as man.
|Thus an incarnated being, in this sense, is not a man
who realises his divinity; who becomes perfect by the cultivation of
his soul in the grace of God; not a saint or a perfect man; but a perfect
being, who, as the eternal Son, voluntarily becomes imperfect man. And
that's why the real meaning of Jesus is said to be not in his teaching,
or his miracles, but in himself; in his act of obedience; his emptying
|Now, Jesus is known as God-Man because he said so; and
because he said so, he was killed. When you see me, you see God,
he said; before Abraham was, I am; and for that he was put
to death. And this story is a strange one.
|Well, the accounts after his birth, as I say, cover less
than three years; and his teaching, which was given to a few, he seems
to have made no effort to preserve. And the Gospels are regarded as
inspired works, nonetheless; which is the belief of piety; for in fact
they are very good records; inspired as everything that proceeds from
the spirit is inspired; a genuine insight and intuition of man.
|And Jesus was acclaimed by crowds from time to time,
for the Jews were eagerly looking for a Messiah, as I've said, but he
always eluded the crowds. And he allowed himself to be misunderstood;
to be betrayed by a close disciple who didn't understand him at all;
and to be killed as a miserable criminal; and it's a strange story.
|Now, there was difficulty from the very beginning, in
reconciling the idea of one divine Son and the flesh and
blood Jesus. It was one of the earliest and most-understandable
heresies, Docetism, which, at the end of the first century, maintained
that a divine being entered into the human being, Jesus, and left him
at the crucifixion. I want you to note this, because it's very important;
and I think it to be a false idea.
|Jesus and the divine Son are one and the same; and there's
no need suppose separation between suffering and rejected humanity,
and sublime divinity. As body and soul are one, so body, soul and spirit
are one; we distinguish merely for the purpose of discussion.
|And Jesus was a single divine human being, and every
man, when he realises himself fully, is the same - unique and eternal;
that is to say, he becomes completely what he is; in God's likeness;
Son of God. And that's what is said in the New Testament; Christ
in you, said St. Paul, which is glory and the end.
|Now it's my conviction that Baba is the only Son, as
Jesus was; and is unique, as Jesus was. The story of Baba's life doesn't
show him becoming perfect. And as you read the story of the life, as
contained in The God-Man, from the very beginning, before he
was silent, up to 1962, to find that he's just the same man, precisely
the same man; there's no difference evident whatever, in Baba. The story
is not how he became perfect; he was perfect.
|And Baba's way is not the way of the saints, and of those
who overcome the flesh; but that in his flesh, he had to realise himself.
For he appears to us in his limited and phenomenal aspect; and appears
because, as Jesus was, he is sent, and it's this being sent
that is the incarnation, which is the strict translation of the Sanskrit
Avatar. When you say Avatar, you mean an incarnation, one who
is sent. But it's very important to realise, in the full sense of the
words, that we see Baba as a man, for he was born as a man, and though
we accept him as an incarnation because he says so, there's nothing
else for us but to accept him as a man.
|And Baba is not Jesus in another form, and because the
eternal individual Jesus retains his consciousness, which is what is
meant by uniqueness. But as the divine consciousness is one, Baba is
one with Jesus as the only Son; so that, in the profoundly true sense,
when we see Baba, we see Jesus. When his disciples saw Jesus, they saw
a man; and when we see Baba, I say again, we see a man; otherwise, of
course, we shouldn't see anything. I don't say only a man,
for every man is more than a man, as even a dog is more than
|Raise the stone, and you will find me; cleave the
wood, and there am I, Jesus is reported to have said; that is to
say, divinity is in the creeping creatures under the stone, and in the
core of the tree. The "I", of course, is not Jesus,
but that with which he is one. Of course, this is not easy to grasp.
[A little appears to be lost here, possibly when
the tape cassette was changed]
. . . . . to take anything away from Jesus, or to regard Baba as a substitute
for Jesus. It's not possible to say, once there was Jesus, now there
is Baba. There still is Jesus, as much as ever.
|And what we acknowledge in Baba is the "I"
of which Jesus speaks. And there's no wonder that Christians find difficulty
in reconciling what is said by Baba with their belief in Jesus, when
we remember the age-long doctrinal conflicts about him. Now what Jesus
did does not need to be done again. Baba has his own work. And while
it is in harmony with, and akin to that of, Jesus, being essentially
the same saving or awakening work, it is all unique work. What that
is we don't know; nor shall we know until grace descends upon us, which
|You will notice that I have used the name Jesus,
not Christ, because the word Christ is a title or a description;
it's a Greek word which Jesus never used. His word for himself was son
of man; he didn't say son of God, though he used the word
son in a way that seems to imply it sometimes.
|The equivalent for Christ in Hebrew is Messiah,
or the anointed one, which means anointed as King of the House
of David to lead Israel to independence, but Jesus didn't use these
words. And when Peter, in answer to the question who do you think
I am ?, said, that he was the anointed one, Jesus told him, and
the disciples who heard him, to say nothing about it. And I think there's
little doubt that Jesus didn't wish to have the word Messiah
attached to him. And when the question was put to him by the high priest,
at his examination, he said Oh, the word's yours, and he replied
in the same way to Pilate.
|And Judas, who betrayed him, thought he was the Messiah,
in a political sense, which was his great mistake. Now, Jesus's condemnation
by the Jewish authorities was because he was a blasphemer. They reformulated
their charge to the Roman governor into a political one, so as to make
their condemnation appeal to Pilate. And it was very difficult for the
early Christians, who were Jewish, not to think of their saviour as
one who was to reestablish the independence of Jewry in the face of
the whole world; and the New Testament is coloured with this conviction.
|Now, the parallels between Jesus and Baba are very striking.
Both were about twenty-nine when they started their careers as God-Man.
They at once gathered disciples, and retained disciples throughout their
lives. We don't quite know when Jesus knew he was God-Man, probably
at his baptism; but we know that Baba knew he was God-Man when Upasni
Maharaj threw that stone at him. And Jesus had forty days ordeal in
the wilderness, and Baba had nearly seven years of ordeal.
|Now, Jesus's speaking was in Aramaic, so that we have
no actual words of his; only Greek versions of what he said, and some
apocryphal Coptic versions. I am sure this is very important; not accidental,
but by design; just as it is by design, that we get what Baba says through
other voices, and in their words, he being silent. Nonetheless, we do
recognise in Jesus, as we do in Baba, a gift of lucid language.
|Jesus taught a great deal but his teachings were to his
disciples. He performed many so-called miracles, but what actually happened,
considered as empirical fact, there is a matter of doubt. He certainly
told people not to talk about what happened.
|He spent much of his time in solitude and seclusion,
as Baba does. He prophesied catastrophe, as Baba does. His teaching
was love and obedience, repentance and change of mind, and living on
earth as in heaven. His values and methods were not worldly; he was
unpredictable; and he had authority. Unshakable were his deep compassion
and his lively humour. In all this, Baba is exactly like him; as, indeed,
we should expect the God-Man to be.
|Jesus's real work was that of saviour; that is, to save
man from his sins, which is explained in various ways. But his work,
nonetheless, remains a mystery. Why did he spend so much of his time
alone ? We don't know; the same with Baba. It is the essence of the
God-Man's teaching that the soul cannot become the new man out of its
own resources. The soul needs to find help, or grace, freely given out
of the bounty of God, to enable the soul to establish itself. This is
possible only if one divests oneself of everything, all desires of the
flesh, and all claims and attachments, and becomes nothing. And Jesus
made this very clear; and Baba says so too.
|The most obvious characteristic of Baba is his silence,
which seems characteristic of God-Men. How much of Jesus's presence
is wrapped in silence ? And it's possible that silence is their special
sign. And some God-Men may never discuss themselves; and unless they
do, of course, we certainly shall never know them. Those who do announce
themselves accept a special burden, not only of misunderstanding, because
they're all misunderstood, but of the sin of mankind, and that is why
they come - to bear the sin; to bring about reconciliation in the divided
soul. But the announcement brings a heavier burden.
|Now, the differences between Jesus and Baba, the most
obvious is that of age. Baba has lived to be over seventy, while Jesus
was killed at about thirty-two. Baba says he's not establishing a new
religion or movement, while Jesus is thought to have created the church.
For myself, I think that there's some doubt that Jesus's intentions
were what they've been thought to be; which I have already mentioned.
Now the New Testament, of course, gives evidence of the establishment
of the church, because it was itself the product of the church. And
we have the New Testament because it was preserved by the church; it's
|Now, will this be followed with Baba ? I think that's
the question. And shall we have a Baba church ? Will this gathering,
and others like it, become, in time, a church ? Well a church inevitably
has dogmas and doctrine, rules and regulations, organisation and officers,
and those who exercise authority, and this, without fail, brings about
division and disputes and heresies and conflict, and, at the end, the
church comes to exist for the sake of itself and its survival. So I
do not think a Baba church to be necessary, for the existing religions
can perform the function. I may be wrong.
|Originally, Christianity was a Jewish movement attached
to the synagogue, but it was the breaking up of Jewry and its dispersal,
as well as the Christian persecutions by the Jews who didn't agree with
it, as well as by others, which brought the church into being. And the
eucharistic gathering enabled it to persist and to develop.
And the church is really based upon the sacrifice of the mass,
which is the drama, the passion, that is to say, the suffering of Jesus,
in which those who participate sacrifice themselves.
|Now, is there anything equivalent in Baba ? At this stage
we can't tell. It seems to me that organisation is foreign to the special
purpose that Baba represents. Unless we suppose an entirely new culture,
I don't think it's called for. Indeed, I see nothing in the essential
meaning of Christianity, that doesn't welcome and provide for Baba;
though forms of Christianity, and the creeds of the church, may seem
to contradict this. And no doubt Jews and Muslims and Sufis and Hindus
can say the same thing. Each is capable of infinite rebirth in the same
spirit. For God is neither here nor there, but ever to be worshiped
in spirit and truth. Baba doesn't say give up ritual, but if
you participate, know what you are doing.
|In Jesus we get the revelation of the transcendent God,
and the real nature, or the core or the begetting [laughs
at extraneous noises] of man as divine (somebody else is interrupting
aren't they - an esoteric explanation, I think). And there is contained
in Christianity, in its Greek and Roman and various forms, orthodox
and heretical, this revelation.
|And in Baba we get the same revelation, in an eastern-western
setting, which doesn't replace Christianity, nor the religions of the
east, but reinforces and clarifies them. And I say, I accept Baba because
he has the tremendous courage to declare that he is such a revelation,
which is not in anything said or done by him, but in his being.
|The ordeal of Jesus was that he was tempted to make himself
supreme, and to use miraculous powers. He refused, and chose, instead,
to remain practically unknown; to surrender everything; to count himself
nothing; and to allow himself to be killed, not as a hero, but as a
|Now, Baba uses no power, cuts no figure, and is among
us as a helpless man. He presents himself as the object of love, and
as the servant of love, whose sufferings are for us all. To accept him
is to accept what he reveals, that is to say, that we can change, by
grace, our self-centred souls into God-centred lovers of God. This means
that we recognise God in others, which is to love God in others, and
to know that God is in us, so that we love others as we love ourselves;
that is, to love God as he should be loved. And how is this to be achieved
? Baba said, quite clearly, positively, and repeatedly, by obedience.
|Now, all sorts of questions are raised. And Baba says
there is one question. And once we know the answer to that question,
there are no more questions. There is, he says, the one original question,
to which there is one final answer, and in-between the original question,
and the final answer, there are innumerable false answers. He says that,
from out the depths of unbroken infinity arose the question, Who
am I ? And to that question there is the answer, I am God.
|Now, if you ask me why I have attempted to give this
talk, it is because God must be loved with our understanding. When Jesus
repeated the ancient exultation to love God with all our heart,
he added, and with all your understanding, and we should not
neglect that. It's not sufficient merely to repeat what we may regard
as holy words - Jesus's or Baba's. We should do our best to understand;
to use our minds - God's greatest gift; and it is to that, that I've
I am grateful to Jeannie Kassof and Christopher
Ott who have helped me by deciphering phrases which were difficult
to hear on the recording.
In 1965, the year after the talk was given, a
magazine article based on it appeared in The Awakener, a
journal devoted to Meher Baba. The heading for the article was: "The
Relation of Meher Baba to Jesus" - From a talk to the London
group, May, 1964. However, the article
contains less than half of the talk, and what was printed (which was
probably from Purdom's lecture notes) varies considerably in places
from what he actually said on the day. I have tried to present in
my transcript exactly what was said. All issues of The Awakener,
which ran from 1953 to 1986, have been placed on a website by Jeannie
Kassof and can be accessed here.
The Purdom article is in Volume 10, Number 3, of the magazine. If
you enter "purdom" in the search box on Jeannie's website,
you can find all articles by, and references to, C. B. Purdom which
appeared in various issues of the magazine.
*The picture at the head of the above text is of
Meher Baba, in Bombay, in December, 1957. It appears as the frontispiece
in C. B. Purdom's book, The God-Man, which is mentioned several
times in the talk. The book was first published in 1964 by George
Allen & Unwin. It's full title is The God-Man: The Life, Journeys
& Work of Meher Baba with an Interpretation of His Silence &
Spiritual Teaching. My copy of this book is from an edition published
in 1971 by Meher Spiritual Center, Sheriar Press. The pictures of
Baba below are from the same book.