sweetheart. In a depressed mood she searched for a place to get away and heard from a casual acquaintance about a retreat in East Challacombe, Devonshire, run by a man named Meredith Starr. When she went down there for a rest, she was much drawn to a photograph of Meredith's spiritual teacher, Shri Meher Baba. Meredith had recently been to His ashram in India and was expecting Him to visit England.
As we all know, Baba came much sooner than expected and the small group of souls drawn to Starr's retreat had the privilege of being the first "aspirants" Baba contacted in the West. They included Mabel Ryan, Margaret's partner in her dance school, Delia de Leon, Kitty Davy, and Kim Tolhurst. Baba nicknamed a small group "Kimco" of which Margaret was a part. They were the "lighthearted" ones, as distinguished from those who were spiritually "serious", addicted to long hours of meditation, etc.
Margaret met Baba at the home of Kitty Davy in London. It was she who first opened the door for Him. At that moment, she saw Him as "a vision of gentleness, grace and love that touched the heart immeasurably." At the end of that momentous day, she says, "I only knew that from that moment, whatever rough treatment He may have afterwards handed out, there has never been a moment's doubt as to His being the embodiment of Love and life."
In 1933 Baba called a group of women to India to be with Him permanently. Margaret gave up her ballet school to go. But they were all sent back in a few weeks. She reopened the school and continued teaching, taking part however in Baba's many trips to the West She describes some of the episodes in her delightful book of reminiscences, The Dance of Love .
In one amusing incident at Portofino, she went out on the terrace to enjoy the moonlight, peeked in the window, and scared her roommates silly, who took her for a ghost. When told the story, Baba said. "There's one thing I admire about my Western disciples (pause) — their courage!" Once, on the train to Marseilles, Baba, whose compartment adjoined Margaret's, said He would tap on the wall 3 times if He was awake, and if she was too, she was to reply with 3 taps . . . meaning? 'I love you.'
In 1939, the Master called her to India for the 3rd time. Again, she gave up her ballet school. Baba's order was to come immediately after war broke out: He had to have someone cross the sea after war began. By a series of persistent maneuvers she got on the last boat out of England and arrived in India at a time when Baba was involved in creating the first Universal Spiritual Center at Bangalore*.
Some young Baba lover said when you go to India you just exchange Western maya for Eastern maya. Now Margaret became one of the close group around Baba — Easterners and Westerners mingling their sanskaras together. Margaret told me that one doesn't know how "Western" one really is until you live in the East. For example, she described some of the intense East-West battles in the kitchen over food and diet. One Eastern lady insisted rice was pure protein! A Westerner, an avid vegetarian, found a piece of pork in the canned beans, but the others showed their sense of humor — they took it out in the garden and buried it with great ceremony! Finally, the work of preparing separate menus became too tedious; and all agreed on a common menu. The same happened with religious holidays. There were a tremendous number and Baba insisted each should celebrate the others' holidays. Again, it got to be too much and just a certain number were celebrated by everyone.
Anita de Caro once told Margaret she was tired of Maya and would like to get out of it. Margaret's answer was "But I love Maya." I always loved her for that answer.
In the ashram and on tour Baba made use of her expertise in physical exercise. She taught Baba's Eastern women how to swim. At first they showed up in long-sleeved blouses and pantaloons which Margaret quickly vetoed. She also taught them some basic exercises. Several times at Baba's request, they practiced with sticks called lathi. Margaret felt these "martial" exercises may have had some inner link with outer military events in the world in the '40's . . . World War II, Partition in India, etc. Though absolutely down-to-earth and as uninterested in the occult as Margaret is - she is always so grounded it
*see Donkin’s diary p.5