I awoke from a strained half-sleep and opening the shutter of the window, looked out to see the first rosy haze of the sunrise. Below lay—though invisible—the Indian Ocean and ahead the legendary splendour of Bombay. A sickening stress in my stomach gnawed at me with the knowledge this is it—this Eastern sunrise of my destiny. How strange my ego should be going along for the ride. What's in it for the ego? It came along to make it hard!
For an hour we made our gradual descent into the sunrise of India's Sunday morning. During that hour my anguish of anticipation gave way to its opposite, the exultation of arrival. We stepped from the aircraft into the soft air of a Bombay morning saturated with the aura and breath of humanity, an atmosphere quivering with love, struggle, suffering, bliss, freedom—the unmistakable sweet aroma of freedom, a freedom that embraces the very meaning of the word "home." I was coming home.
Through the centuries since Christ, countless millions of seekers have sought inner redemption and salvation from the bondage of illusory life by means of pilgrimage to the holy places of the sepulcher. In the lovers of God there is always abiding belief and confidence that merely to set foot on hallowed ground is beneficial to the spirit, that contact even with talismans will advance the soul And there is truth in this, for when consciousness is directed wholeheartedly towards a spiritual goal, all worldly aims and purposes have a tendency to be weakened, and any such weakening of the hold of Maya is inevitably helpful in the pilgrim's progress.
Let us always keep in mind that all pilgrimage is a fantasy. But it is a fantasy moving towards the Real. The fantasy, the myth, which is always from the heart, is itself the pilgrim's path leading from Illusion which the habit of our senses persuades us to believe—to Reality, which intuition and love forces us to seek. The pilgrimage is always within and the outer trip is its conscious symbol. Meher Baba, in wishing his lovers not to become ensnared in sightseeing on their way to visit him, or on their return, denies the illusion in order that we may, in illusion, find the Truth. All true pilgrimage must be away from illusion, towards the unadorned reality of the Master, who is Truth.
My wife, Phyllis, having come to India last year on a Sunday morning, knew that we could catch the train for Ahmednagar by taking a taxi to Dadar Station outside Bombay. We arrived in Dadar in time to board the train coming from Victoria Station, and seated ourselves in a compartment with a young couple with their little daughter on a Sunday excursion.