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Spiritual Training

This is the thirteenth article in the Trust Objects and Purposes series.

The Trust Deed states:

“(F) In the course of developments according to the availability of funds, preference shall be given to objects and works in the following order . . .

(vii) Facilities for training Baba-lovers in living a life towards spiritual enlightenment according to instructions which the Settlor may give to the Trustees from time to time.”

Five years after Beloved Baba passed away, the Mandali recorded Baba’s instructions through a Deed of Declaration, dated 9th November 1974. These instructions were made into ten Objects, recorded in the Declaration of Trust, on 5th June 1975. The first Object defines Spiritual Training: “[It is] for training of persons according to the life, particularly what was called ‘The New Life,’ lived by Avatar Meher Baba and His Companions exemplifying and practicing at all times renunciation and detachment in the midst of the ordinary worldly activities, that is, ‘To be in the world and yet be not of it’.” The other nine Objects in the Deed of Declaration delineate activities in which Spiritual Trainees can participate for the benefit of the public, namely: the establishment of museums, memorials, study-halls, libraries, fair or exhibitions, or “melas”; assembling or producing and/or exhibiting films on Baba’s life and work; writing and producing plays based on Baba’s messages, discourses, and sayings; composing and performing music inspired by Baba’s life and messages; writing books and other publications about Baba and arranging for them to be translated into other languages; encouraging talks, speeches, lectures, broadcasts, radio and television programs to disseminate Baba’s universal message and discourses; arranging visits to places visited by Baba during His lifetime, and undertaking research on the various aspects of His work at the respective places and to pay homage to them; providing relief, education, and medical care to the poor, illiterate, sick, and the disabled, to promote a sense of oneness of humanity in consonance with the example of Divine Limitless Compassion and Love of which Avatar Meher Baba was unquestionably the embodiment and personification.

As far as we know, Meher Baba first introduced the idea of “spiritual training” at Meherabad in 1927 when he devised the curriculum for the Prem Ashram. As recorded in Combined Diary, 27th March 1927, titled “The Ashram Takes a Big Swing,” Baba pointed out to parents of prospective students that spiritual training was “the main aim and object of the school,” and that “someone from the Mandali” would be assigned to see to the students’ spiritual training. The Mandali responded enthusiastically to this assignment, and Kaikhasroo was asked to write to Baba’s mother to send Baba’s brother Adi to the school if she wished him “to be put in the spiritual line!”

The Trust’s Spiritual Training Programme started in 1973 with the arrival of the first Spiritual Trainees. They, and those who followed during the next several decades lived in close daily association with the Mandali, and this close association was the basis for the training of the first group. By working alongside the Mandali, the first group of Spiritual Trainees came to know what ways would be pleasing to Beloved Baba. They also heard stories from the Mandali about how they had lived with Baba. In addition, the Trainees helped the Mandali with the development of the Trust.

In The Spiritual Training Programme, Bhau explains the importance of the work done by the Trainees: “Amongst the objects of the Trust Deed, Spiritual Training is the most important, because you, as Spiritual Trainees, will carry out all the other objects of the Trust. . . . [I]t will be up to you to keep the atmosphere alive with Baba’s love in all Trust activities. (p. 73)

Bhau further explains: “Spiritual Training is a most personal matter. It is an intimate and sacred relationship between the Lover and the Beloved in your own heart. Only the Beloved can train or awaken anyone from within. No one else can. I know from experience that this training is not in words. But because Beloved Baba made Spiritual Training an object in His Trust Deed, it is the Trust’s duty to establish some outer structure for Spiritual Training. This structure, a Spiritual Training Programme, would then allow dedicated souls to have the opportunity to come here and dedicate their lives to Him and fulfill His wishes as put down in the Trust Deed.” (p. 2)

“Of course, Spiritual Trainees do not live under the same circumstances that the Companions did when they lived with Baba in the New Life. They do not have the same degree of material, mental, emotional and spiritual hardships that the Companions had, as they do not obey Baba’s direct orders. Spiritual Trainees live on the Trust Estate at Meherabad, Meherazad and Meher Nazar and their basic material necessities are met. But it is for the Spiritual Trainees to live the ‘spirit’ of the New Life . . . .” (p. 148), which Baba described in the New Life Message:

“This New Life is endless, and even after my physical death it will be kept alive by those, who live the life of complete renunciation of falsehood, lies, hatred, anger, greed, and lust; and who, to accomplish all this, do no lustful actions, do no harm to anyone, do no backbiting, do not seek material possessions or power, who accept no homage, neither covet honour nor shun disgrace, and fear no one and nothing; by those who rely wholly and solely on God, and who love God purely for the sake of loving, who believe in the lovers of God and in the reality of the Manifestation, and yet do not expect any spiritual or material reward, who do not let go the hand of Truth, and who, without being upset by calamities bravely and whole-heartedly face all hardships with one-hundred percent cheerfulness, and give no importance to caste, creed, and religious ceremonies.

“This New Life will live by itself eternally, even if there is no one to live it.”

All too soon, the unique period of association with the Mandali will be over. Therefore, some Spiritual Training guidelines have been established to help the current Spiritual Trainees and those who will come in the future. The guiding principles of the Spiritual Training Programme are constant and unchanging, but the administration and ts structure will change according to the situation, especially as Baba’s Manifestation takes place.

As Bhau tells us: “[T]his work will continue with you, the Spiritual Trainees of future generations. You will be the ones who want to lead a life solely dedicated to fulfilling Baba’s wishes (as put down in the Trust Deed), and at the same time, seek your own personal relationship with the Beloved in your hearts.” (p. 1) “As you make your selves aware of His pleasure in your hearts, you will undergo real Spiritual Training, even though the Avatar is no longer in the body.” (p. 3)

Words are only words unless they are put into action. The Spiritual Trainees have a unique opportunity to follow the path which has been blazed by Beloved Baba in His work to inspire humanity to live a life of selfless service. In his closing remarks, Bhau wrote: “The Trust is here to help you by providing facilities for Spiritual Training according to Baba’s wishes. Don’t ever think you are serving an organisation. You are serving Baba. There is no organization outside of yourself because you are the organisation, an organisation of people on the Trust Estate who wish to serve their Beloved. Perhaps one of you in the centuries to come may love and serve Meher Baba as St. Francis loved and served Jesus. How pleased our Beloved would be!” (p. 134)

This concludes the series on Trust Objects and Purposes.