The program went brilliantly. It began with the film O Parvardegar which established the the day’s most important theme: the incomparable glory of the Avatar of the Age, Meher Baba.
Alisa Genovese then gave a warm and polished welcome address which included the important remark that the program was not of academic concern but relevant to a proposed bylaw amendment under consideration by MBCNC on the subject of spiritual intermediaries. This unresolved thorny issue is the proximate cause for the event. She then went on to explain that this administrative concern happily coincides with the Meher Legacy project of Clive and Eruch Adams, who along with Ursula Reinhart, Ed Van Buskirk, Vesta Clinton, Lisa Greenstein, Peter Booth, Mehera Arjani and Debra Tyler comprised the day’s presenters and moderators. Alisa quoted the following from Meher Baba which for me was one the day’s most memorable remarks: “The shortest path to me is the self-annihilative path of love.”
Mehera then proceeded with helpful remarks about what to expect from and how to best engage the event, emphasizing the need for self honesty and respect for the convictions of others.
Clive continued to present stories pertinent to the genesis of the website Meher Legacy which notably suggested the foresight of Eruch Jessawalla about the future relevance of the Bell of Warning rung by him in the fall of 1980. A key remark concerned the “wolf and sheep file”, a file created and named by Baba and placed under Eruch’s responsibility which included all correspondence between Baba and Sufism Reoriented. This file and all its updates was given to Ursula Reinhart by Eruch and forms the basis for the Sufism re-Reoriented section of material in Meher Legacy.
Eruch Adams then proceeded to give an introduction to the consequential Meher Legacy, of which he is the talented webmaster.
Lisa Greenstein then gave an excellent and much appreciated history of what is now called MBCNC (Meher Baba Center of Northern California). The history of this group is intertwined with Sufism Reoriented and its mutated identity as Sufism re-Reoriented. The events that precipitated Eruch’s writing his “Letter of Warning” largely concerned the Bay Area and Washington DC area sufis and Baba lovers.
Mehera then told a compelling story about the Jessawalla family concerning Baba’s strict insistence on undivided love and loyalty to his wish, and the consequences when this is not obeyed. This story- like much of the day’s material, can not be properly summarized. One of my favorite remarks by Mehera was an aside on the subject of ecumenism- that the beads on the proverbial “beads on a string” are not the point; the string is the point, and the beads are in fact irrelevant. Only Baba unifies; everything else is a distraction.
We then had lunch.
After lunch we had then proceeded to personal stories of disappointment with Sufism Reoriented by Ursula, Ed and Debra, all of whom were sufis. These stories interwove with other material provided by Vesta who lived at Meherazad for some years and who has an unique perspective on how the mandali interpreted and reacted to the problem presented by Jim Mackie. Peter and Eruch also contributed.
The day’s final segment concerned the audio tapes of the Oct, 1980 meeting of the “Sufi 5” who came to Meherazad to meet with Eruch and Mani for three days to discuss Eruch’s Letter of Warning. Peter was present at this event and largely narrated this material, but which also included comments and discussion from all the presenters.
It is impossible to faithfully recount even the important highlights of this event in a summary fashion. Fortunately, the event is being videotaped and so an attempt is not necessary.
For me the single most remarkable quality of the day was the extremely heightened sense of importance of loving and obeying Baba with all one’s heart and mind. Baba’s presence was palpable.