Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A blind man needs a staff

Lyn Ott was a painter who met Meher Baba, after which he and his family moved to the Meher Spritual Center in Myrtle Beach where he painted Meher Baba exclusively for the next ten years.

But Lyn was born with a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa. His eyes largely impaired from childhood, he always knew he would eventually go blind. By the time he was 50 his eyesight was diminished to the point where he could no longer paint without help. At this time he entered the South Carolina Commission for the Blind where he was taught various skills, including how to use a cane. Up to this time he had relied upon people guiding him, or what bit of eye sight he had left. But now he truly needed the cane, and became very interested in technique in its use.

After Lyn learned to walk with a cane, he began to freely go down to the Center. In the day in those earlier days Lyn still had some light perception, but at night he was entirely blind. By the time he died in 1998 he was blind in the day or night.

While walking on the Center at night with his cane, he wondered if he was obeying Baba's orders. Baba had passed away. But when Baba had come to the Meher Center he had said that people on the Center should always carry a flashlight. This order has some history. Baba's last words to his disciples before commencing his silence in 1925 was to always carry a lantern, as he had been woken in the night due to someone spotting a poisonous snake. There were also poisonous snakes on the Meher Center, and thus the purpose of the order appeared to be the same -- although it was hard to miss that these orders might have also had some symbolic meaning as well. No one is sure.

So as Lyn walked along the Center paths he wondered if he should carry a flashlight, and what good it would do him. After all he could see no better with a flashlight than without.

Then a quote by Baba occurred to him.
"All talk about the Path and the Goal is as a lantern carried by a blind man. A blind man needs a staff in his hand; the seeker needs his hand in the God-Man's." (Awakener Magazine, Volume 11 Number 1, p. 18)
From this he came to an interesting conclusion. "A blind man carries a cane, not a lantern," he told me.

So he took it from this that for him Baba meant him to carry a cane -- and not a flashlight. And he happily did so for the rest of his evening walks on the Center until he died.

You may take from this story what you like.

1 comment:

  1. Chris, here is link to a sung version of Baba's message.