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33

Letter from India, 1948

Ahmednagar, India, February 18, 1948

 

. . . "Since the middle of January, Baba has been doing special spiritual work and fasting, until February 25th. This is not inner spiritual work, where he goes into seclusion, as at the end of 1947, when he retired to a mountain top near Pimpalgaon. It has been a period of intense outer activity, during the first portion of which, Baba has brought from distant places certain advanced masts. Baba has explained to us that the difference between a mast and an ordinary individual, is that their consciousness is turned towards God, and with the ordinary individual, their consciousness is turned towards the world. It is like facing the sun or having your back to the sun. When your back is to the sun, you know it is there, you feel it and your life has the effect of its light, regardless even of your knowledge of the sun. When one enters what in the East, is called the Path, one's consciousness is turned towards God and one's back is towards the world. Even then help is needed. Because, as spiritually advanced as the masts are, they are often satisfied to stay in the bliss that they experience, or, metaphorically speaking, are dazed by too much light too suddenly. It requires the help of a Spiritual Master to give them a further 'push' along the spiritual Path. Baba has recently told us that the one absolutely true thing about the film "The Razor's Edge," was its name, where it said "The path to God is like walking along the edge of a razor."

 

We are now in the period of Baba's forty-day fast . . . where he is contacting the poor. For example, yesterday morning, we were all up at 3 a.m. and Baba came at 3:30 from Pimpalgaon where he is staying, although we at present have moved into the city of Ahmednagar. We saw him off on a 90-mile trip to a place that is known as a very poor district. While there, he personally washed the feet of 1,000 poor, gave them each grain and enough cloth for an Indian type garment. It is the custom in India, indeed, throughout the East (our knowledge of these ancient customs comes through the Biblical stories), of bowing down before the feet of a high personage, that is, literally placing the head upon the feet of the other in homage; or, on special occasions, to pour water over the feet in homage. The giver of a gift is thanked in that manner. But Baba, knowing the soul in all, reverses this, and contacts the poor by washing their feet. Baba always fasts when he feeds the poor. It is very strenuous work, during these seven days,—he is contacting the poor in seven districts within a radius of Ahmednagar, and the last day will be in the city itself, where thousands will come. Unless one has the privilege to see this, it is not easy to picture the actual physical exertion of such acts as Baba performs, the glow of love he radiates, the spark of hope and joy he kindles and awakens in the consciousness of the recipient. The Giver goes with the gift.

 

Baba's many disciples throughout India, and quite a number in the West, are fasting on one meal a day for the last twenty-five days of his forty-day fast. It is this way we come to share in his work. The difference between us and the poor at such times is less wide; only eating one meal a day with us is voluntary, and with them it is involuntary. This form of 'detachment' is important as it is good to readjust one's habits from time to time. Until one eats only one meal in 24 hours, one does not realize the hold meal hours have over one; in the first place, it gives one much more time and Baba keeps his disciples busy during these fast periods. The men disciples have organized a large work, in notifying all those in the seven districts of Baba's coming, getting the grain and cloth ready in distributable amounts and at the appointed place, prior to the distribution. All this for many thousand poor, and seeing to the lines of people who must be individually contacted by Baba.

 

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