Was He Still Alive?
A startling account of Meher Baba appearing to come alive in the entombment film shown at the 1969 Darshan. We would like to hear from anyone who also witnessed this occurrence. (Incidentally, the Entombment Film has been restored by Richard O’Casey; see the Meher Baba Film Archive International.) New: A comment by Scott adds that Irwin Luck describes a similar experience in a Youtube video. —Editor
My Impressions at the Last Darshan, 1969
by Barry Beckett, April 2009
One day at the morning program at Guruprasad, Eruch announces that the film of putting Baba in the Tomb has just come back from the film processor. We will be the first to see it that afternoon at a Baba-lover’s theater in town. I’m sitting second row center absorbed in the movie and proud of the American delegation taking part in the proceedings. About halfway through the film the photographer is right on the edge shooting a closeup of Baba with a normal lens, and Baba opens His eyes. His eyes flash here and there like in the other films of Him. He has a soft smile and looks delighted with how things are going. Then for four or five seconds He looks right in the camera with a direct smile, then continues looking up and around. Then His eyes stop moving, and He closes them with a satisfied look. Then He goes back to the death-mask look we are familiar with. There are a couple of cries from the rear. Jal [Baba’s brother] is sitting to my left, and he leans forward to twist around and check me out, how am I taking this? He shrugs and smiles as if to say, “That’s the sort of thing my brother does.” It’s okay with me. Everything is magical this week. This is one more thing. I’m not sure of what I’m seeing anyway, “Did Baba do a practice funeral before he died?”
The movie goes on like nothing unusual happened. From the second row we are some of the last to leave. A crowd has gathered in the lobby watching two young women who have Eruch backed into a corner: “We have to go there now, we have to dig Him up, He’s alive, He’s alive.” It’s the same two who were crying so much at the Sufi center the day Baba died. Eruch was saying, “No, please. The doctor attended. There was no life in the body.” The girls aren’t buying it: “Let’s go check to make sure, He is alive.” The crowd of two or three dozen are all facing Eruch, they don’t look satisfied. Eruch had been so enthusiastic that morning to show us how they handled Baba’s passing. Having Him come back to life on the big screen really threw Eruch a curve. I felt embarrassed for everyone and left.
I only have one witness who remembers all this as clearly as I do, longtime Sufi, Richard Cormier. A lot of other folks who were there don’t remember a thing about it; some have only a vague recollection. There must be others in the 200+ who remember. I hope they leave a record too.
That film went back to the cutting room and subsequent groups never saw the part showing Baba’s resurrection. Hopefully there is 35 feet of amazing film sitting safe somewhere. It’s hard to imagine they could have destroyed something of Baba that beautiful. I understand why they suppressed it. Eruch looked miserable backed against that wall. He couldn’t let people think Baba had chosen complete fools for disciples and had gotten Himself buried alive.
Last month I heard a story about Mani. Every day after Baba died she tried to get in the Tomb by herself. Finally she managed it, and sitting there alone with Him, she says He came to life and opened His eyes. Hopefully, someone who heard this from Mani will document it, if for no other reason than it’s true.
I love the fact that Baba demonstrated on film His mastery over death and His cool, calm willingness to pass into another “state,” a state He obviously prefers to our human state. May we all go straight to Him, when our turn comes. Jai Baba.