Ken Lux at Sheriar Books
Ken Lux at Sheriar Books:
A Talk on His New Book about the Manifestation
by Kendra Crossen
On the same day that a massive earthquake struck Chile (27 February 2010), Ken Lux gave a talk at the Sheriar bookstore in North Myrtle Beach on a topic “as vital and intense as today’s news”: the Manifestation of Avatar Meher Baba. It is the topic of a 72-page booklet that Ken just published, titled The Mystery of the Manifestation: Suddenism, Gradualism, and Nihilism, available only at Sheriar Books, for $8. (Give them a call if it’s not yet listed on the website, at 843-272-1339 or via Skype: Sheriarbooks.)
In the book, Ken draws attention to two major positions among Baba-lovers regarding Meher Baba’s Manifestation — he calls them Gradualism and Suddenism — as well as a third possible stance, Nihilism. In addition, he raises the intriguing idea that it may be possible to identify the date when Meher Baba’s public manifestation will take place.
Over the 44-year-period of his silence, Meher Baba issued numerous statements and promises (collected here at MeherBabaManifesting) about the breaking of that silence and his public Manifestation as Avatar of the age — events that he always said would take place “soon.” When Baba dropped his body on 31 January 1969, no one (as far as was known) had witnessed his uttering a world-transforming Word from his human mouth. What were we now to make of Baba’s statements, some of which he said were in “his own language,” but others of which he emphasized repeatedly, warning us to be ready to receive the Word?
Obviously, Baba had not broken his silence in the momentous sense he described in Stay with God, pp. 65-66. But is that extraordinary event still to come at any moment, taking us by surprise? Many Baba-lovers seem to wonder about this, among them those who continue to question Bhau Kalchuri about the destruction of three-quarters of the world foretold by Baba. Or should we take the whole thing as a kind of mysterious koan, accepting the view that Baba’s silence has been broken in our hearts and the world transformation he prophesied will occur gradually over time? This is just a very simplified indication of the large questions at the heart of Ken Lux’s new booklet, whose thesis Ken presented in his talk at the bookstore.
Ken began by reading from a short discourse called “God Alone Is,” from which the phrase about earthquakes particularly struck home on that day:
“God’s Truth cannot be ignored; and thus by mankind’s ignorance and weakness a tremendous adverse reaction is produced — and the world finds itself in a cauldron of suffering through wars, hate, conflicting ideologies, and nature’s rebellion in the form of floods, famines, earthquakes and other disasters. Ultimately when the apex is reached, God manifests anew in human form to guide mankind to the destruction of its self-created evil, that it may be re-established in the Divine Truth.” And the discourse ends, “My silence and the imminent breaking of my silence is to save mankind from the forces of ignorance, and to fulfill the divine Plan of universal unity. The breaking of my silence will reveal to man the universal oneness of god, which will bring about the universal brotherhood of man. My silence had to be. The breaking of my silence has to be — soon.”
It is with statements like this that Baba seems to encourage what Ken calls Suddenism, the belief that Baba’s silence has not yet been broken and that the Avatar’s public Manifestation is still to come, ushered in by a dramatic, unprecedented event that will save the world from crisis. However, the fact that Baba promised and warned many times that he was about to break his silence, yet apparently did not do so, led one of the mandali, Francis Brabazon, to dub Baba “the one who promised so much and performed so little.”
But then, in a marvelous talk, “The Mighty Beloved,” delivered at the Last Darshan in 1969, Francis declared that he was amazed and filled with joy to discover that Meher Baba had drawn hundreds of new Western lovers who had never met him yet still traveled across the world to bow down to him in their hearts, even in Baba’s physical absence. “A mighty Beloved indeed,” agreed Ken.
Next, Ken quoted from “An Appointment with God,” his own account of the 1969 Darshan: “D. H. Lawrence wrote a well-known short story about Christ—‘The Man Who Died.’ Now that Baba has dropped his physical body, he becomes ‘The Man Who Died,’ and in time will become more widely recognized as the Avatar. The personification of God is always seen as historical rather than contemporary, so that it now may seem ‘safe’ for the world to come to Baba. The fact that the God-Realized man was rather than is somehow lends credence to his identity. But after being at darshan I am quite convinced that Baba is not historical at all, body or no body, and therefore he will fool humanity when he manifests. He will suddenly convert his existence as a recent figure of the past, to someone who is very much present. Then, with full consciousness, we will recognize our common Godhood.”
Baba’s dropping the body was followed by a rapid increase of Baba-lovers, as written in the biographical note added to the 6th edition of the Discourses: “The final years of his physical presence were spent in close seclusion marked by painfully intense and exhausting preoccupation with his universal work. In 1968 he announced this had been completed to his 100 percent satisfaction. The same period also witnessed the prairie-fire growth in numbers of those who looked to him for the key to meaning in life.” The prairie-fire growth of the 1970s, Ken notes, thankfully did not result in the formation of a “Baba religion.” One friend of Ken’s suggested that this phenomenon — the spread of a movement without its turning into a religion — could be what Baba meant when he said, “That which has never happened will happen when I break my silence.” Ken looked doubtful about that.
He continued: Over the decades, people have continued to come to Baba, the vitality of the Baba family has flourished, but the prairie-fire growth died down and we cannot say that the growth of the Baba movement is the event that will change the world. Ken had tried hard to see that Baba was manifesting and that the world was reflecting this. It was difficult for him to hold the belief that the world was changing for the better. While there is no real index to prove that the world is going downhill, Ken cited three strongly suggestive examples: (1) According to the Worldwatch Institute, the richest 225 people in the world in 2009 had the same amount of wealth as the bottom half of humanity. (2) The world suicide rate increased by 60%. (3) Environmental problems are growing more urgent. Gradualists who feel that the world is getting better point to greater awareness in some respects, such as the existence of an active environmental movement and the growth in interest in religion and spirituality. Ken cites one example that supports Gradualism: the notion of leading-edge creators of a new culture in America as presented in a book called Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World.
A third stance possible to adopt is Nihilism, in which one would acknowledge that the world is going downhill but it seems unlikely that Baba will break his silence and the world will simply go all the way to the massive destruction alluded to by Baba in many of his prophetic statements. Baba hinted at the demise of the present civilization in the 1930s when he commented that science “may, at the most, touch the extreme limits of matter, but that will take ages. And who can, till then, vouchsafe for the integrity of this — the present civilization?” (Meher Baba Journal, January 1939).
Ken rejects the Nihilist scenario, saying “Why have an Avatar if the world is going to collapse? It makes no sense.” He goes on, “It is only the Suddenist perspective that makes convincing sense to me, and that is why I have advocated it here. Yet I never would have written this booklet had not something else happened that provided new and provocative information.”
The new information came from Harry Thomas, a Baba-lover in L.A. who had embarked on intensive research into the Chinese calendar after a friend casually remarked that Baba was born in the Year of the Horse. Through a sequence of synchronicitous discoveries, Harry became convinced that Baba had planted a clue to the timing of his Manifestation in the Chinese calendar. I won’t attempt to summarize Ken’s summary of the chain of thought whereby Ken became convinced that the Manifestation will take place around a specific date (a year is given, but it’s not 2012 as in the Mayan prophecies of a world transformation). All I can say is, fasten your seatbelts and read Ken’s booklet, which will guide you through Harry’s discovery in the second half of the text.
I do recommend the book to Baba-lovers, especially the first half, which usefully discusses the issues that come up when we try to penetrate the mystery of Baba’s prophecies, warnings, and promises having to do with the Avatar’s Manifestation. As for the second half, despite my admiration for both Ken and Harry, I don’t think many will be convinced by the concept, which relies on a mixture of number mysticism, synchronicity, and associational thinking (e.g., a donkey reminds us of a horse and also reminds us of Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey, therefore a photo of Baba on a white donkey symbolizes the Kalki Avatar and helps indicates when Baba will manifest — read the book to find out how). Nonetheless, Ken’s enthusiastic account of Harry’s revelation is entertaining. And who knows, perhaps you, like Ken, will be sustained and comforted by having a particular date to look forward to, in these times of uncertainty.
The topic of Meher Baba’s Manifestation is vast, and there is much commentary that I could add, but I will save it for an article of my own. I’m glad Ken published the booklet because I would like to see more discussion among Baba-lovers about the silence breaking and Manifestation. Baba took great pains to stress the importance of the breaking of his silence and Manifestation, and I believe he wants his lovers to put our attention on this, no matter what “school of thought” we ascribe to. Here at MeherBabaManifesting.com, Cheryl and I are launching a forum where such discussions will, we hope, take place.
Finally, I want to draw your attention to a Postscript in which Ken clarifies an important point that came up in relation to the Suddenist versus Gradualist debate after the book was published.