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Buddha – Meher Baba – Buddhism
We are in the Avataric Period of the Avatar of the Age, Meher Baba. Beloved Baba, dispelling some confusion in understanding the difference between the avataric cycle and the avataric period, had clarified that the avataric cycle is of 700 years duration while His avataric period is of 100 years commencing from the day of his public manifestation. His avataric period is characterized by the unbroken universal presence of His direct, living and personal radiation. In simple words it means that Meher Baba is a living presence and can be contacted directly, without any medium, anywhere any time by His lovers. Religion has no effective role during this period. Baba had said:
“I see the structure of all great and recognized religions and creeds of the world tottering.” (Lord Meher 1554)
“If you take Baba to be perfect and one with God, Baba is then the Ocean and these different paths – Sufism, Vedanta, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Jainism and Christianity – are as rivers to the Ocean. But now the time has arrived and a period has arrived when these rivers have more or less become dry. Those who follow these different paths do it only in form. More importance is given to ceremonies and practices, but the real purpose is lost sight of (Lord Meher, 3873).”
Flooding these dried rivers with His Love and Truth, Meher Baba had Himself initiated a process of rediscovery that makes them aware of their real purpose and role in this Avataric Period. In 1910 Sufism was originally brought to the West by Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927). He appointed Rabia Martin as his successor and Murshida of his Sufi Order. In the 1940s Rabia Martin recognized Meher Baba as the reigning spiritual authority of the age and surrendered herself and her Order to Him. She appointed Ivy Duce as her successor as Murshida of the western Sufi Order. In 1948 Murshida Ivy Duce was called to India by Meher Baba who confirmed her
role as Murshida and announced that He intends to reorient Sufism under His guidance and her leadership in the near future. This was realized in 1952 with the creation of Sufism Reoriented. This is how the Avatar of the Age has triggered a spiritual process of inner restructuring of the contemporary religions. Meher Baba asserts:
“I intend bringing together all religions and cults like beads on one string and revitalized them for individual and collective needs. This is my mission to the West. The peace and harmony that I shall talk of and that will settle on the face of this worried world is not far off.” (Lord Meher 1554)
A global process of reorientation of the diverse religious groups around Meher Baba, the Avatar of the Age, is on. It is self-impelled and self-propelled. Lord Himself is amidst us and one can start a New Life with Him as a constant companion anytime, anywhere.
Meher Baba is Maitreya
Meher Baba says: “Avataric periods are like the springtide of creation. They bring a new release of power, a new awakening of consciousness, a new experience of life - not merely for a few, but for all.” “Life, as a whole, is stepped up to a higher level of consciousness, is geared to a new rate of energy. The transition from sensation to reason was one such step; the transition from reason to intuition will be another. (Discourses, 268)”
The onset of the Age of Intuition also hails the end of the Dharma-ending Age that was predicted by the Buddha. It was the Buddha who kicked off the Age of Reason that Meher Baba came to put an end to, and Meher Baba is the Buddha. He is Maitreya Buddha. His advent closed out the time cycles of Dharmic degeneration that were predicted by the Buddha.
Maitreya (Sanskrit), Metteyya (Pali), or Jampa (Tibetan) is foretold as a future Buddha of this world in Buddhist eschatology. In some Buddhist literature, such as Amitabh Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, he or she is referred to as Ajita Bodhisattva. Maitreya is a Bodhisattva who in the Buddhist
tradition is to appear on Earth, achieve complete enlightenment and teach the pure Dharma. Reference to Him is found in canonical literature of all Buddhist Sect (Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana) and is accepted by most Buddhists as a statement about an event that will take place when pure Dharma will seem to be forgotten on earth. The name Maitreya means “Merciful” or “Benevolent”.
The awareness that He is Maitreya came to Meher Baba quite early in His school days. He had founded a Cosmopolitan Club. Ramnath was the first Buddhist in the club. He was devoutly religious and well read in Buddhism and other religions. He was always repeating the Buddha’s name. Merwan (Meher Baba) and Ramnath became companions and would go off to a secluded spot to meditate on God together. How Merwan realized that He is Maitreya and how Ramnath became instrumental in this, Baba shared this experience in these words: “When I was studying in Deccan College, I had a friend named Ramnath who was fond of reading books about lives of saints. We were great friends, and one day Ramnath gave me a book to read on the Life of Buddha. While going through it, I came across the passage where Buddha had said that when he comes again in physical body, his name would be Maitreya (Lord of Mercy). I had not gone to Babajan yet. But after reading the passage I thought, or rather spontaneously felt, that I was the same “Mercy” to which Buddha had referred. Thereafter, Upasani Maharaj revealed to me that I was the Avatar. Babajan also told me one day,” O my son, you will make the whole world dance to your tune!” But today, I definitely know that I am That. My name Meher, means mercy!” (Lord Meher, 4321). Maitreya means “Merciful or Benevolent”.` Meher` and `Merwan` also mean “Merciful or Benevolent”.
Buddha as Maitreya is worshipped differently in Buddhist countries. In China, Maitreya is a folklore deity. His name is pinyin: Budai. Budai image is one of the main forms in which Maitreya Buddha is depicted in East-Asia. He is almost always shown smiling or laughing hence nickname in Chinese is `pinyin` - Laughing Buddha. Elsewhere He is shown in serene meditative postures.
Meher Baba would frequently tease Kharman Masi (one of His women mandali), “Kharman Masi looks like the Laughing Buddha.”
Elizabeth Patterson (one of Baba’s women mandali) once sent Mani (Meher Baba’s sister) a greeting card on which was a picture of Buddha, asking if she noticed the resemblance. (Mehera-Meher p.424)
Maitreya and disciples, in Budai form, as depicted at the . Feilai Feng grottos near Lingyin Temple in China
Laughing Meher Baba
Once Kitty Davy, one of Meher Baba’s women mandali, wrote to Don Stevens, a renowned Baba lover and one of the editors of Meher Baba’s
books `God Speaks` and `Discourses`: “Baba told this interesting fact the other day, that all four aspects of the four great Avatars are embodied in the present Avataric Period. The Buddha – with his poise, peace, calm exterior, and renunciation – is present in all Avatars whether it shows externally or not.” (Mehera-Meher, vol.1, p.393)
Maitreya Buddha visits His own Sites
During His countrywide travels, along with His women and men mandali, Meher Baba visited various Buddha related sites releasing His divine energy there and reminding that He is Buddha come again.
Pandu Lena Caves, Nasik:
1929: Baba visited with His women mandali Pandu Lena caves near Nasik. These caves are ancient Buddhist caves cut into a hillock that overlooks the city with images of Buddha carved in some of them. Baba indicated that other spiritual Masters and their disciples had occupied them also.
(Mehera-Meher, vol.1, p.220)
Pandu Lena Caves
Ellora Caves, Aurangabad:
1937: In Khuldabad, a part of Aurangabad, Baba took the women to the ancient Hindu and Buddhists caves at Ellora. Mani says: ”It was a jostle and crowded for the whole lot of us to get inside the caves. Baba, in one of the Buddhist caves took out His alphabet board and dictate, `I am Buddha.` ( Mehera-Meher, vol.1, p.487)
Ellora Caves, Aurangabad
1939: Meher Baba took the mandali to Sarnath, near Varanasi, where Buddha first preached after He became enlightened. Baba remarked, “Buddha is now silent.” Mehera-Meher, vol.1, p.467)
1949: On 1December, Meher Baba and companions walked four miles from Benaras (Varanasi) to Sarnath. This was Baba’s New Life period and second visit to this place. On 6 December, Baba took the women to one of the longest of many Buddhist stupas and to the main temple. Baba and women walked around the stupa. In the vicinity was an ancient structure in ruins. Stone stairs led down from this structure to underground caverns, most of which were in a decrepit state. Baba had Mani write on a slip of
paper all the known Avataric names – “Zoraster, Ram, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and Meher Baba – all of them.” Baba then put the paper in His pocket. Baba then walked in the underground passages of the ruins, the same where He later sat with the men companions. Baba explained that this place had been in existence during Buddha’s lifetime and was still standing, it was so well constructed. Later they visited a temple that was a modern structure. A relic of Buddha was kept there. On the wall of the large room was a life-sized painting of Buddha, seated in lotus fashion under Bodhi tree. Other scenes were also depicted on the wall, such as gathering of his disciples and Buddha giving a discourse. There was also a large altar. On it was a shining statue of Buddha in copper or brass. Baba instructed all to bow down to the statue of Buddha adding, “As you leave the room, don’t look back.”
Dhamekha Stupa of Sarnath
Place where Lord Buddha delivered his first Sermon
1939: Sanchi near Bhopal:
Meher Baba with women mandali drove to Sanchi near Bhopal where Baba showed them a famous Buddhist temple and reminisced about when He was Buddha: “This is my place, but no one knows me. How strange things are now!” (Mehera-Meher, vol.1, p.476)
Great Stupa of Sanchi Northern Gateway to Great Stupa of Sanchi
1940: Cave Monastery (Dambulla) & BoTree( Anuradhapur) Sri Lanka
Meher Baba and mandali were in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). On 24 November the entire group went to see places associated with Lord Buddha. They left in Elizabeth’s car and the Blue Bus for Dam bulla. Baba showed them the famous black-rock cave monastery, where there is a 50-foot-long relief carving of reclining Buddha, and murals on the walls depicting scenes from Buddha’s life. Next, they went to Anuradhapur, an ancient city famous for its ruins. Here they saw the Bo (Bodhi) Tree, part of the original `papal` (Ficus religiosa) tree from Bodh Gaya, India, under which Buddha became God-realized. (Mehera-Meher, vol.2, p.127)
Dambulla Rock Caves Monastery, Sri Lanka
Bo Tree at Anuradhapur, Sri Lanka
Maha Bodhi Tree at Bodh Gaya
How could the mistaken belief that Buddha was an atheist acquire such a widespread acceptance? Buddha was God-incarnate - the Avatar of the Age. Buddha must have willed it that way. Meher Baba, calling it Buddha’s `weakness`, explains:
“As Buddha, my weakness was that I explained about Nirvana – the Fana state. But I never disclosed about Nirvikalpa Samadhi – the Baqa state, which comes immediately after fana.” (Lord Meher, p.6098).
This `weakness`, however, was a conscious `weakness` on the part of Buddha. His was the period when Hindu Brahmins indulged in vain intellectual polemics about God. God transcends intellect but those orthodox Brahmins indulged in intellectual conceptualization about God: whether individual soul and God are One or different, and if different what sort of difference is that? And, if they are One what sort of oneness is that? Buddha being pragmatic took the role of a spiritual doctor. Using the analogy of a doctor and patient he said that when a sick man visits a doctor, the doctor enquires about the symptoms, the onset of illness and diagnoses the illness to prescribe a cure. He would never waste the time by
engaging the patient in a complicated discussion knowing well that the delay may prove fatal. Buddhist scholar Richard Hayes observes, “the attitude of the Buddha as portrayed in the Nikayas is more anti-speculative than specifically atheistic.”
Buddha worked from the 5th Plane
In order to work in a highly intellectualized environment, Buddha stationed and worked from the 5th Plane of the Mental Sphere of consciousness. Mental Sphere includes everything relating to intellect, intuition, insight and illumination (God Speaks p. 230). Meher Baba disclosed: “Avatar functions from all the planes of consciousness simultaneously but sometimes for His universal work station himself in a particular plane. Lord Buddha stationed Himself in the fifth.” ( Discourses, p.197).
Prime Spiritual Role for women
Historically we are at the junction of a New Age, a new Avataric Cycle, and Meher Baba said it's a cycle of cycles — it's not only one of those 700 year to 1400 year jobs.
Meher Baba has explained that Jesus Christ had switched mankind, so to speak, in general from instinct to reason; but now we have to go from reason to intuition. It's a very difficult transformation, as it will obviously take another whole series of cycles to work out. And there's where the role of women becomes most prominent, because in a feminine incarnation your intuition functions better than it does in a male incarnation. The intuition is not an emotion or psychic thing; it's not imagination; in some sense it's developing a higher contact with Reality than that which reason gives us.
(The Awakener, Vol. 20, No. 2, p. 60)
This indeed is the prime spiritual role divinely assigned for women. The spiritual process of bringing down the Avataric Consciousness and making it to work hand in hand with the gross human consciousness was initiated by Hazrat Babajan (a female Perfect Master) in the case of Meher Baba.
In the case of Buddha the legend has it that He “achieved” enlightenment while under a Bodhi tree and a woman took compassion on Him and gave a bowl of rice pudding. Baba told a different story to a Western group: “This reminds me of the past when Buddha sat under the tree. After Buddha had been fasting for so many weeks, an old woman helped him a rice pudding. Following his eating of that pudding, Buddha sat under the tree where he attained his Goal. As Babajan was to me, so that old woman was to Buddha; for just as that old woman helped Buddha to attain Super-consciousness, so did Babajan give Super-consciousness to me.” (Lord Meher, p.5031)
It is indeed of great spiritual significance that Baba’s very first female and most loved disciple Mehera died on Buddha Purnima (20 May 1989) – the day of Buddha’s birth, the day of the full moon of Buddha’s enlightenment, and the day of his dropping of human form.
Samsara, Temptations and Nirvana (Nibbana)
Paticcasamupadda (the Law of Dependent Origination) is fundamental to the teaching of Buddha. It explains that samsara, the process of repeated existences, is perpetuated by a chain of interconnected links of cause and effect. It is the `wheel of becoming (bhava-cakka)’. This is the samsara, the world of suffering, as explained by Buddha. Pleasure is the binding force in the world. Temptations and rolling thought processes are its ever changing base. The bhava-cakka keeps turning bringing nothing but suffering and suffering. Suffering makes one seek its cessation. With the complete eradication of cravings the state of Nirvana (Nibbana) is attained. Meher Baba explains the role of suffering: “Great suffering awakens great understanding.” “Unprecedented suffering leads to unprecedented spiritual growth.” (Discourses,p. 299).
Prophets-Avatars appear sometimes give the impression that they have fallen a prey to temptations like ordinary human beings. Being asked about Jesus’ “temptations”, Meher Baba replied that Jesus got Himself tempted in order to shoulder the burden of the forces of temptations that predominate
the world. Jesus then overcame all the temptations and created a tremendous divine force which acted as a setback to the forces of temptations. The same was true in the case of Buddha and it is the same every time in Avataric periods.” (God Speaks, p.67).
`American Buddhism’ is one significant development. In the words of Viveshwar Bodhisatva: “Buddhists say there is a bridge that links the many strains of American Buddhism. It is the American-born children, who share a Buddhist faith and American culture, regardless of where their parents were born. / Everyone of any ethnicity in America should be allowed to study and practice the teaching of the Noble One as a member of the American mainstream, speaking English and living by our American indigenous values. It is for this reason I have proclaimed an American Buddhism which stands free of indebtedness, whether cultural or financial, to Asian Buddhist lineages.”
I TAKE refuge with the Buddha, I take refuge with the Dharma, I take refuge with the Sangha.
I DEFEND the absolute, eternal and incorruptible validity of every Word actually spoken by the Buddha
I ESCHEW the five corrupting influences of Asian Buddhism – theocracy, shamanism, confucianism, taoism, and ancestor worship.
I BOLDLY DECLARE my ability to understand the meaning of the Buddha, and to practice according to the instructions given by the Buddha, to Enlightenment in this very life, with or without the guidance of Asian lineages.
I ASSERT the sufficiency and necessity of the core values and norms of my birth culture as the only appropriate cultural basis for me to practice the Teaching of the Buddha.
I PROCLAIM the sacredness of my beautiful mother-tongue English, and I call for the use of English as both the language of instruction and the liturgical language of every Buddhist temple on American soil.
I CALL for the dissolution of all the linguistic, cultural, and administrative barriers by which Buddhists sects have been kept separate from each other in Asia, and for their union on one administrative basis in America.
I ANNOUNCE the end of the Dharma-Ending Age, which end was brought about by the spiritual push given to all sentient beings by Avatar Meher Baba, who was Maitreya Buddha.
I VOW to save all beings, however numberless; I vow to eradicate greed, hatred, and delusion, however constantly arising, I vow to practice all Dharma-gates, however countless, I vow to embody the Buddha-Way, however unsurpassable.
By my vow, from this very moment, on this very seat, and in this very form, for however many years, however many
Rinpoche or Rimpoche is an honorific used in Tibetan Buddhism. It literally means “precious One”. “Guru Rinpoche” refers to Padmasambhava, the “second Buddha” who brought the VajrayanaTantric Buddhism to Tibet. A Rinpoche is often believed to be the reincarnation of a Lama, guru, or even a Bodhisattwa or a Buddha. A group of neo-Buddhists addresses Meher Baba as “Meherwan Rinpoche” (pronounced RIN-poh-shay).