Monday, April 23, 2012

Talk About God

In the following, GS refers to God Speaks online or 1997 current printed version. LM refers to Lord Meher by Bhau Kalchuri, 1986. SWG refers to Stay With God by Francis Brabazon, 1990.

Meher Baba's close disciple Eruch Jessawala
The Conclusion to Meher Baba's major book God Speaks reads:
“GOD cannot be explained, He cannot be argued about, He cannot be theorized, nor can He be discussed and understood. God can only be lived. Nevertheless, all that is said here and explained about God to appease the intellectual convulsions of the mind of man still lacks many more words and further explanations because the TRUTH is that the Reality must be realized and the divinity of God must be attained and lived. To understand the infinite, eternal Reality is not the GOAL of individualized beings in the Illusion of Creation, because the Reality can never be understood; it is to be realized by conscious experience. Therefore, the GOAL is to realize the Reality and attain the “I am God” state in human form.” (GS 190)
In this Conclusion, written for Baba by his close disciple Eruch Jessawala (GS ix) Eruch says that God cannot be talked about.
GOD cannot be explained, He cannot be argued about, He cannot be theorized, nor can He be discussed and understood.
And yet two lines later Eruch writes,
Nevertheless, all that is said here and explained about God…
I have always chalked this apparent discontinuity up to the fact the Eruch must have been tired by the time he was finishing helping Baba with the writing of God Speaks. Even Baba remarked on Eruch’s exhaustion by this time.
Try to listen carefully to what I tell you now. Eruch understands my gestures very well. He has written God Speaks according to my dictation on the alphabet board. In the past, he was very strong and robust, but now he has grown weak. He does not sleep well, eats very little, does not go out for walks and does not have a good appetite. However, he works very hard for me. (LM 4872)
My trouble with the Conclusion is that it contains some highly specialized mystical language by Baba that, if the whole book is not fully understood – which itself requires several readings and a lot of concentration – can lead to a misinterpretation of what is being said.

There are two points where this occurs. One is where Eruch writes that God cannot be talked about. What Eruch means is that words alone are not a substitute for the ultimate Experience (Anubhav) of God in Self-realization. However, since Eruch has worded this without clarification (perhaps because the reader should have by this point understood) it can unfortunately be misconstrued to mean that all talk about God is silly nonsense and that time is better spent on more worldly practical considerations of daily life and routine. In fact, the notion that all talk of God is silly nonsense is a belief common among people who simply don’t care about or believe in spiritual matters, positivists, atheists, and all those who seek for reasons to remain entirely focussed on materialistic concerns and wish for others to. So the conclusion many could draw from this Conclusion (read in isolation from its full meaning as laid out in the book, as it often is given) is that Eruch is saying that those who focus on God with enthusiasm are fools, and from this draw the opposite conclusion, that those who focus exclusively on external concerns are focused on things of greater significance. Obviously this was not Eruch’s intention to say this. He meant that words about God can never substitute for direct Experience of God.

The second thing that concerns me in the wording of the Conclusion is the phrase, “God can only be lived.” This is actually true if you read the whole book. However, this wording is so specialized in meaning that if Eruch’s meaning of this phrase is not deeply grasped the reader will almost certainly wind up misunderstanding it. Because those unfamiliar with the use of mystical language could easily conclude from these words that God is “lived” when one goes about his daily life while forgetting all about Him.

Again, here are the exact words from the Conclusion:
GOD cannot be explained… nor can He be discussed and understood. God can only be lived
An ordinary non-mystical interpretation of the word 'lived,' understood as worldly life or staying physically alive as we ordinarily mean the word, is the precise opposite of what Eruch actually meant by it in this context, even though he did not elaborate since, as the book's Introduction explains, the Conclusion was a summation of all notes. It is assumed one has read the book. This was quite an oversight (or at least it has turned out to be in hindsight) as the quote is so often today displayed alone without clarification of its content, such as on the back of the new printed edition and on numerous websites, etc. It becomes an oversight when we realize that Eruch’s sense of ‘life’ in this instance is actually only explained after the Conclusion – in the book’s Supplement. To remedy this in the Conclusion there is a reference to the place in the Supplement where this is clarified and this is appended to the end of that particular sentence, (36a, b, c). See below from the original 2nd edition.

Screenshot from 1973 edition. Current edition only reads 36
as these designations (a,b,c) have been removed.

If one is careful to follow-up on this clarification, one is lead to the chapter in the Supplement that includes a discussion about “Spiritual Paradox” in regards to words like life and death in spiritual writing. My guess is that this reference must have been added by the editors Don E. Stevens and Ivy O. Duce to clarify Eruch’s use of the word “lived.”

In regards to not missing little things like this clarification while reading God Speaks I would point out some statements Baba made to people when asking them to read his book.
Study the book thoroughly . . . (LM 6233)
You must read God Speaks from the first to the last page. (LM 5531)
You should read it again – all of it. (LM 6656)
Few will follow the note to the page in the Supplement to read and try to understand Eruch’s words. And of those who do some will not know which lines in section 36 to concentrate on, unless they meditate on it. Therefore I’ll do my best to clarify it.

Eruch did not mean “life” in the ordinary everyday sense of the word when he said, “God can only be lived.” In section 36 of the Supplement it is explained there that God is never really ‘lived’ until one experiences real death, which is paradoxically often referred to in mysticism as eternal life.

Here are some examples of this use by mystics.
In giving of ourselves that we receive, And in dying that we are born to eternal life. (Prayer of Saint Francis)
He who hates his life in this world will conserve himself for the eternal life . . . (John 12:25) 
And behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good things shall I do, that I may have eternal life? (Matthew 19:16-24)
What does he gain by living on and what does he lose by dying? What was born, must die; what was never born cannot die. (Nisargadatta Maharaj, I Am That) 
When was I less by dying? (Rumi, Quoted in GS p. 30)
This real death (which means eternal life) refers to the ultimate death of the limited false “I,” and the subsequent birth of the true real “I” in God-realization or Self-realization.
. . . the birth of the Real can only follow the death of the false; and that dying to ourselves—the true death which ends all dying—is the only way to Perpetual Life. (LM 3760)
So, the only truly real Life of God, referred to by Eruch in the Conclusion, we learn from Baba, is the life of the living embodied Perfect Master, who has died to his false self and illusion and thus literally “lives the life of God.” It is as if life is death and death (eternal) is life.
Illusion, illusory life and God’s life in Illusion are not and cannot be one and the same. Illusion has no life and can have no life. Illusion is illusion and is nothing by itself. (GS 257)

To come down to normal consciousness from the super-conscious ‘I am God’ state and to experience the ‘abiding-in’ God state would mean getting established in the very life of God. Thus in baqa the life of God in a human being is established. (GS 172)
All other so-called “life” is actually “death” from the mystical point of view. Baba says:
We must die to self to live in God; thus death means life. (GS 270)
One could easily get the opposite impression from the Conclusion to God Speaks by Eruch if one did not follow through on reading carefully the whole book, especially the referred to clarification in the Supplement.

In truth, Baba encouraged people to think of God, and to freely converse and write about God. In the words of Australian poet Francis Brabazon, in Stay With God that Baba said was perfect commentary on God Speaks, Francis wrote:
A book is a book when it contains the name of God. (SWG 109)
Eruch Jessawala interpreting Baba's gestures
But Baba also wanted it known that until we are God-realized we cannot picture or imagine God. We cannot know God directly. We know Him by His effects (our experience) the way we know wind by the turning of a windmill, but we do not experience Him as He is. All sincere talk and thought about God focuses our mind upon God, and can lead us toward God in such concentration, but it cannot reach Him until we Experience Him in ourselves directly, upon attainment of Self-realization or God-realization.

We are all profoundly and eternally indebted to the extraordinary work that Eruch Jessawala exerted in obeying Baba by organizing and working up the points given to him directly by Baba that formed the first half of God Speaks. All that is said here is meant only to clarify what Eruch meant when he wrote the book’s Conclusion from notes he received from Baba. A heartfelt and hearty Jai Baba and thank you to Eruch, Baba’s chief male disciple, interpreter, and friend.


Additional Comment:

It might seem odd to bring this up as a point. The fact is that Eruch himself did clarify his own meaning in the very last paragraph of the Conclusion:
Therefore, the GOAL is to realize the Reality and attain the “I am God” state in human form. (GS 190)
Yet, one frequently finds the first paragraph printed alone. This leaves out two very important facts that would be helpful for people to know. One is that it is clearly stated in the book's Introduction that the Conclusion is by Eruch as "a recapitulation of the previous sections dictated directly by Meher Baba" (GS ix) and not by Baba himself. The second fact is that the first paragraph quoted alone requires some clarification to be understood for what it is and is not meant to be saying. It almost reads like a disendorsement of the book itself, which is all about God. To omit these two facts then seems to me to be inadvertently misleading. So I think this is in fact an important point for people to know and to keep in mind.

Examples where the first paragraph appears alone:
When Prayers Aren't Answered
The Significance of Awareness

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