Saturday, August 1, 2009

Who wrote God Speaks?

I used to feel that Baba's major book God Speaks was somehow tainted by the fact that not every word is by Baba. For instance, first Eruch Jessawala and later Don Stevens and Lud Dimpfl worked to turn Baba's roughhewn points into readable English sentences and paragraphs. Next, chapter nine was written by Eruch from a chart designed by Baba. The conclusion was written entirely by Eruch. The fold-out theme illustration by Rano Gayley was originally Ivy Duce's suggestion, and the suggestion that there be more than one person in each plane in the illustration was a suggestion by Eruch. The Supplement was written by Sufi expert Dr. Abdul Ghani Munsiff and edited by Ivey Oneita Duce.

I had originally equated these contributions with 'tampering' with Baba's inerrant words. I now look back on this attitude of mine as well-meaning but naive.

Signed copy of God Speaks, Heartland
Center, Prague, Oklahoma
While Baba always held the final word, his style of working with his hand-chosen mandali (close disciples) was not only to delegate, but to create an atmosphere where input was encouraged from them. Baba seemed to see his mandali as appendages of himself, not as any kind of interference.

Baba could have chosen to write God Speaks by himself, but he chose not to. He chose instead to compose God Speaks the way he did, in a collaborative way. It was his choice and the result is obviously as he wanted it.

As if anticipating people like me wanting to skip parts of his book like the Supplement on grounds it is not purely by him, Baba actually said,
"I want you all to take particular note that I would feel happy if each one of you not only possessed but read and digested God Speaks from the first to the last page." (LM 4662)
Also, to one devotee Baba said,
"You should read it again – all of it." (LM 6656)
There is also a concern that the second edition is somehow a spoiling of the first. Well, again this was Baba's choice. It was Baba's choice to rush out the 1955 first edition for reasons only he knew. For instance, Baba gave up the alphabet board immediately after completing God Speaks and immediately after this gave his Final Declaration. So timing during this period was very tight for Baba, for reasons of his own. But the second edition was equally Baba's own idea, and was urged by him.

The editing of the second edition was not a job that Baba left to others. Baba had Eruch go over the first edition with him for hours at a time so that he himself could make the changes for the second edition. Baba gave this work up at a certain point, as writers often have to let their work go to press as it is, as changes might be infinite. The second edition was published posthumously in 1973, but it was the work of Meher Baba. The second edition also included the chart by Rano Gayley and the Glossary by Lud Dimpfl which have proved invaluable.

Depicted signed copy of God Speaks above belongs to the Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center. Photo reproduced here by permission. Clicking image will take you to their website for a closer look.

No comments:

Post a Comment