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(Continued from Part l — Vol 19 No 1 page 45)
One of the cardinal principles of all spiritual teaching is harmlessness. "Be ye harmless as doves," Jesus instructed his disciples. And, in His sermon on the mount, He enjoined, "If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled with thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
So, too, the Buddha taught that "hatred does not cease by hatred; hatred ceases by love."
Shri Meher Baba, the silent Master whom many in the East and in the West regard as the Christ of today, has also said, "harm no one in thought, word, or deed, not even those who harm you." With those who are close to him, however, he dramatizes his teaching in circumstances which he causes to arise in their lives, that the apprehension of truth may be seared into their hearts and minds with the branding-iron of experience.
"This is the way I teach," he spelled out on his alphabet board one day in India, "not through words and explanations, but through action, which gives the control and direction of power and the realization of truth."
Thus it was in December, 1936, almost exactly five years from the day that my wife and I had welcomed him as our guest on his first visit to America, that we arrived as his guests on our first visit to India. We had worked for him in America. Now we were "to see and share in his work in India." — we and fourteen other Westerners, half of whom were old friends, half newly-discovered comrades from England.
We had expected life in India to be almost primitive in its simplicity. We were prepared — or thought we were prepared — to live in caves, or tents, sleeping on the floor, doing our own cooking, our own washing. Instead, when we arrived at Nasik, we found a group of buildings, some renovated, some erected for our particular occupancy, with individual rooms, electric lights, shower baths, washstands, flush toilets — things almost unknown in India outside of the houses of the wealthy and the best hotels — beds, wardrobes, dressers, desks, servants to clean our rooms, cooks to prepare our food, boys to wait upon us. We were deeply touched by the love and consideration which had gone into the building of the ashram and the organization of our new mode of life.
The day following our installation in the ashram at Nasik, Baba explained why he had provided for us in India the comforts and conveniences to which we had been accustomed in the West, but which we had not expected and would willingly have foregone in the East.
"I would like to have you live a simple life in India," he spelled out on his alphabet board. "Why, then, have I arranged these comforts for you? Why have I not made you sleep on the floor as we do? Because drastic changes would affect the body and react on the mind, making it more difficult for me to impart truth through the mind. Little by little I will withdraw your comforts, then return them to you gradually. Then you will be able to live simply in India and luxuriously in the West, yet not be affected by either."
So there we were, in ancient India, yet in a completely virgin atmosphere, uncolored except by the love and devotion which had been poured into the planning and construction of it, and awaiting, in its purity, what each one should build into it.
I was thrilled with my immaculate little room, which I named at once "The Cell of Self-Knowledge." I remembered the opening lines of a poem which had come to me in the summer of 1931, when I was trying to visualize just such a retreat as this:
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