Those cool hands soothed my fever as Baba looked into my eyes with His face inches away from my face. At that moment nothing else in the universe existed. In that moment one tiny little atma came face to face with Paramatma — and atma miraculously was not destroyed. And I came away bearing with me the gift of His Love.
When I went to India in 1969, I went for a specific purpose. I went to receive the gift of obedience, which is a treasure greater than love. My very act of going to India was an act of obedience, and the gift was received in and by my very act of going to the appointed darshan. It was the greatest darshan of all because it was the darshan in which the Master of Masters bestowed His gift of obedience to those who had come for it.
What does it mean to say that Baba's darshan in 1969 was the gift of obedience? If we recall, those of us who went to the darshan of 1969, Baba said that this darshan was only for His lovers — that is, those who had already received the gift of His Love. Those who came, came because of Love; but this coming was actually the gift of obedience from the Master to His lovers.
That darshan was planned by Meher Baba in every detail to be the greatest darshan of all darshans. "Unparalleled", in which the very meaning of darshan was raised to a new dimension of spiritual significance.
For the lover to receive the gift of obedience from the Master, there must be a test; and by that testing the gift is given. The testing lay in the fact that the Master, who had so perfectly prepared every detail of His great darshan, suddenly stunned His lovers with the dropping of His physical body.
Who could dispute that in the act of Meher Baba's dropping of the body was present a very great challenge, a testing of the lovers' spirit of real obedience to the Master's wish? Most of those preparing to come in response to Baba's call had not yet met the Master in His physical form. It was with great expectation that they were joyously preparing to come when they heard that the Divine Beloved had laid aside His body.
I know, and have often thought of this, that it would have been very hard for me to have gone ahead to darshan after this event if I had not already met the Master in His physical form. I marveled at the faith and confidence displayed by those who did still come to India in spite of the disappointment.
So this very disappointment, it would seem, became Baba's instrument in lifting the fundamental meaning of darshan to a new level of significance for all future seekers of God.
And so it was that those who went in 1969 met the challenge of obedience in their response to that call, even now knowing that the One who had issued that call would not be seen in physical form by those who came. Our coming was the winning of the test of obedience. To receive the gift of obedience we needed only to obey by responding to His call to receive that gift.
We were asked to "walk a mile" to be in the company of True Love; and so we walked two miles in that Love — we went and we returned. We went all that way to walk the mile back alone carrying with us the Master's gift. This is obedience: to go simply because one is asked to go and to go for nothing else.
Obedience is a subtle thing. The test of obedience is, I think, most often to be met in responding to a suggestion rather than complying with a command. And that is why the great darshan of 1969 was indeed the gift of obedience.
In December, 1971, I went to India for a third time. But this time I went looking for nothing. I went and returned in a helpless and hopeless and aimless state of mind. Do not imagine that this state was one of unhappiness; it was simply devoid of anticipation, for I had already received my gifts in the times when I had come before as a pilgrim. This time I was not a pilgrim. The pilgrim comes seeking. But