A Few Reflections from Paul Birchard
Paul Birchard is an actor and director based in Scotland. He expressed these thoughts on the Baba-Talk Listserv in May 2010 and agreed to share them here. The context of the Listserv discussion was the importance of taking Meher Baba’s name, especially at death and in times of danger or difficulty, and the reciting of the Master’s (or Parvardigar) Prayer.
I only ever had one interview, one to one, with Kitty Davy, when I stayed at the Meher Center the only time I ever have (up till now), during the summer of 1972, when I was 17.
I had been very preoccupied all during my teenage years with an abiding anxiety about whether or not I might lose hold of Baba’s daaman. This was because I’d read and absorbed the compendium of warnings that Baba had given (mainly from the Final Declaration to the late 1950s), which Sufism Reoriented had (thoughtfully!) compiled and distributed just after Baba dropped His (gross) body.
I shared this deep anxiety with Kitty and she replied: “Well, all we really have is His name.”
This simple statement took my breath away. Here was this woman who had lived with Baba, carried out His orders faithfully, dedicated her life to pleasing Him and working for Him, and she told me “All WE really have is His name”!
It made me feel powerfully that she honestly felt herself to be in the same boat as me and most other Baba-lovers — as Eruch used to say as well. And her statement impressed upon me how important just SAYING HIS NAME is, even to His intimate mandali!
Kitty also told me: “Those whom Baba calls, stick.” Meaning, those whom He calls, and who approach Him not for any particular gain other than the bliss and pleasure (and pain) of His company and the privilege of doing as He wishes, these individuals will “stick.”
When I visited India the next summer, Mehera told me more than once that one ought to always take Baba’s name whenever one got into any vehicle — plane, train, automobile, rickshaw, tram, bus, space shuttle, anti-gravity disk — whatever!
I think nowadays especially, with all the soup of electromagnetic radiation enveloping us a lot of the time, it is also very important to say His name OUT LOUD (quietly, maybe, but out loud). I feel that doing this creates a buffer or safety curtain around us which blunts or neutralizes a lot of the subliminal and not-so-subliminal messages and “static” that are either being beamed at us, or which we simply encounter due to the omnipresent microwave radiation in the environment.
. . . As regards the Parvardigar prayer, I have come to feel that this is Baba’s own spontaneous outpouring — voicing — of His own experience of Himself, almost as if M. S. Irani — dazzled by the unexplainable, ineffable, absolutely overwhelming experience of beholding Himself as God — being simultaneously the observer and also BEING infinitely unconscious and aloof, “imperceptible and independent” — AND infinitely knowing — AND being the AVATAR — and His recitation of this unique experience, composed and meant to be spoken aloud by “others” — us! — this gift also somehow tunes us who speak it, awakens in us (and therefore in our surroundings) some resonance with His experience, engendering a deepening identification with Him and a tendency to love Him.
This (to me) is what He was doing when He stood and participated in the saying of this prayer in ’66, ’67 and ’68, when His physical body was wracked with pain and wrecked from His work.
I feel deeply that when the Parvardigar prayer is spoken aloud, it is actually a part of Baba’s breaking of His silence!
Also, I can’t help feeling that a BIG part of Baba’s breaking of His silence was writing God Speaks and getting it published — He says it right there on the cover! And that also is an ongoing, unfolding speaking, I feel.
Finally, I asked Bhau a year or so ago, in one of the Internet chats, whether when Baba dropped His physical body, had He also dropped His subtle and mental bodies? Bhau stated unequivocally that Baba did NOT drop His subtle and mental bodies at that time. Therefore He is still very VERY much present, as I sense most of you know, feel or intuit….
SAYING HIS NAME OUT LOUD also seems to me to be what Eruch talked about when he observed: If we can’t love God, we can at least long to love God. And if we find we can’t long to love God, we can at least long to long to love God.
Saying His name out loud, even without any particular “feeling” or devotion — even “MECK-anic’ly” (as Bhau says) — can, I believe, create a channel to Baba, allow us to become in tune with Him, allow Him to better do His work in, on and through us.
And of course it’s terrific practice for that looming Graduation Day!