|The Spiritual Training Programme|
Trustees are chosen without regard to caste, cifeed, religion, sex, colour, nationality, etc. God is in everyone, and because all are here to serve Beloved Baba, these apparent distinctions must not be given any consideration.
If you are nominated and confirmed as a Trustee, you will still continue to be a Spiritual Trainee striving to become a Servant of God. As a Spiritual Trainee Trustee, you must continue to uphold the Fixed Conditions of the New Life. The only thing that has changed in your life is your outer responsibility, but your inner responsibility remains the same as before. Your concern being a Trustee is with the outer structure of the Trust Estate. But you have to continue to build the inner structure within yourself, striving to become God's Servant. When the inner structure is there, this will allow you, as a Trustee, to uphold and even promote a feeling of Oneness in the midst of your duties. If you do this, you will have fulfilled your duty to Beloved Baba's Wish under Mastery in Servitude.
Administering the Spiritual Training Programme will eventually require several Departments. I will suggest some of those Departments in the following sections. But as long as the administration is small, as is the case now and in the foreseeable future, many of these functions can be handled by the Chairman directly with the help of the concerned Trustees and Spiritual Trainees, and, when necessary, with final approval by the Board of Trustees.
SELECTION OF SPIRITUAL TRAINEES
The first group of Spiritual Trainees was drawn here by Beloved Baba. We did not do anything to promote their coming. But we realised our responsibility, and we helped them stay here. For the most part, they came here after having spent many
visits with us as pilgrims, sometimes helping us in various ways. We accepted them because we could feel how their hearts were drawn here, and how they wanted to be here more than anything else in their lives. We were happy about it.
I recognise the Spiritual Trainees who come in the future will face a different situation than what is here now, because we Mandali will not be here. At that time, the Trust will need some administrative guidelines to help with the selection of who will be permitted to enter the Spiritual Training Programme. As the Trust develops, many professional skills will be required. Selection of trainees should not be decided only on these qualifications, but whether the aspirant really wants, and is ready with all his or her heart, to try to become Baba's Servant by entering the Labour Phase of dedicated action to God on the Trust Estate.
There are, of course, many followers of Avatar Meher Baba, and they follow Him according to how He guides them. But as described in the Deed of Declaration of the Trust, this training is based on the New Life, lived by Avatar Meher Baba and His Companions, exemplifying and practising 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.
Therefore the Spiritual Training Programme is for those followers of Avatar Meher Baba who wish to live the New Life with the intent of effacing their false self under Mastery in Servitude by fulfilling the objects of the Trust Deed.
The Spiritual Trainees must be selected without regard to caste, creed, religion, sex, nationality, or colour, etc. Whenever distinctions arise, then spirituality is not present. The Spiritual Trainees may live at Meherabad, Meherazad or the Trust compound in Ahmednagar.
In most cases, the prospective aspirant to the Spiritual Training Programme, foreign or Indian, will have already served months in various capacities on the Trust Estate during previous visits as a long-term pilgrim. Therefore, accompanying his or her application should be a Sponsorship Letter from the Supervisor (or Supervisors, whether Trustee, Department Manager, immediate Supervisor, etc.) under whom the aspirant worked and who believe that the aspirant is ready to join the Spiritual Training Programme. Those who give Sponsorship Letters must take this responsibility very seriously. They have to make the first determination whether the aspirant is ready to live a life under Mastery in Servitude. Although the Sponsor (or Sponsors, who may be called Programme Sponsor(s)), might write this recommendation letter, this does not mean that the aspirant will be placed in that Sponsor's department if accepted into the Spiritual Training Programme. The final decision will be according to the discretion of the Chairman.
The applications of those who are interested in being Spiritual Trainees should continue to be forwarded to the Chairman until the Chairman decides to create a separate Department to manage this work. The aspirants will be given a copy of this booklet so they will know what is expected of them. They will also come to know that, if selected, they have to sign a letter of acceptance of the Fixed Conditions and also make a personal written oath before God of their resolve to live The New Life.
The Chairman will consult with various Department Managers and the Trainee's Programme Sponsor(s), taking into account the Trust's needs and the ability and interest of the Spiritual Trainee, to determine whether the aspirant is ready to join the Spiritual Training Programme and where to place him or her to begin service under Mastery in Servitude. He will also consult with the Department handling Staff Quarter
Accommodations to determine whether room is available. After the selection has been made and duties decided, the Chairman will inform the Board.
As the administrative duties of the Chairman grows, and he no longer can be directly involved in every stage of selecting Spiritual Trainees, I suggest that applications (along with the Sponsorship Letter) to join the Spiritual Training Programme be forwarded to a Department, which may be called the Spiritual Trainee Aspirant Department, because these Baba lovers "aspire" to join the Spiritual Training Programme. The Chairman can create this Department whenever necessary. Also long-term pilgrims who have an interest in serving on the Trust Estate during their pilgrimage may approach this Department and enquire where they can serve.
The Aspirant Department should base its selection of Spiritual Trainees on the guidelines stated above. All Trust Departments should keep the Aspirant Department informed, in writing, as to what their staffing needs are. Also, the Aspirant Department should have up-to-date information from what may be called the Household Department to see if and where accommodation is available.
Once the selection has been made, the Aspirant Department (based on information from the various Departments) will determine where the aspirants will begin their training. The Department should also consider not only the previous work experience, but also the life experience aspirants bring to their training.
After meeting with the concerned Departments, the Aspirant Department Manager, along with its Managing Committee, would meet with the Chairman to discuss and decide on the selection of the prospective aspirants and where they will begin their training. The Chairman will then report to
the Board on who has been selected as Spiritual Trainees and what their duties are.
In the future, many Baba lovers, after having served at various Baba Centres around India and the world for years, may finally want to join the Spiritual Training Programme. It is up to the discretion of the Chairman or the Aspirant Committee to decide whether they can join the Spiritual Training Programme directly, taking their previous service into account, or whether they should first gain some service experience on the Trust Estate as a long-term pilgrim before joining the Spiritual Training Programme. When an aspirant is selected as a Spiritual Trainee, the Aspirant Committee should consider their skills and experience, so that they can start their service in an appropriate department.
As part of the orientation process, the Spiritual Trainee's Department Manager (or Managers, if they are serving under more than one department) and Programme Sponsor (if different from the Manager) will help answer any questions the Spiritual Trainee may have in trying to live the life of a Spiritual Trainee.
The initial period of acceptance into the Programme is for five years. This is considered a preliminary acceptance. The Spiritual Trainees have expressed their interest in Spiritual Training, but they and the Trust have to see whether they are inclined in that direction.
Therefore, once every six months, the Department Manager and Programme Sponsor should send a written report to the Chairman on how the Spiritual Trainees are progressing in their Spiritual Training. Whenever the Chairman can no longer take care of this work directly, the Chairman can create a separate Personnel Department.
This Department may be called 'The Spiritual Workers Department". Spiritual Trainees are serving on the Trust Estate under Mastery in Servitude. That is their duty. But they also have the responsibility to seek, uphold and encourage a feeling of Oneness in order to keep alive the spiritual atmosphere on the Trust Estate and within their hearts. Baba called those who did such work Spiritual Workers. Giving this department the name Spiritual Workers Department will help remind Spiritual Trainees that they are here not only to fulfil the objects of the Trust in a spirit of self-effacement for Him but also to seek, share and promote inner Oneness. And therefore the work they do is spiritual work and not just work.
When the Chairman creates the Spiritual Workers Department, Review Reports would be sent to it. The Aspirant Department is really a section of the Spiritual Workers Department.
If necessary, the Spiritual Trainee along with the Department Manager or Managers and Programme Sponsor can meet with the Chairman (or Manager of the Spiritual Workers Department) to discuss any matter that needs clarification. These six-month reviews will take place during the first five years of Spiritual Training.
What is the review based on? The review should be : based on whether Spiritual Trainees do their work satisfactorily or not. Whether the work given to them is suitable, or whether they should be transferred to another Department. Although no one can judge the heart's love for Beloved Baba, outer structure is the reflection of inner structure. So the review is based on both the head and the heart. That is, whether the work is done honestly, sincerely and lovingly (which is where the heart is active), and whether it is done properly (which is where the head [intellect] is active).
After the five-year time period, the Chairman will meet with the Department Manager under whom the Spiritual Trainee serves and the Programme Sponsor (if different) and the Manager of the Spiritual Workers Department (if functioning) to determine whether the Spiritual Trainee is definitely inclined in the direction of spirituality. If he or she is found to be so, and is willing to be a Spiritual Trainee, the preliminary acceptance of him or her into the Programme now becomes finalised. The Chairman will report this to the Board. Spiritual Training is not for any limited time; it is a lifelong commitment to effacing the false self. Those who are accepted into the Spiritual Training Programme wish to make that commitment, and therefore want to undergo Spiritual Training lifelong.
However, even after the Spiritual Trainee's preliminary acceptance has been finalised, reviews will continue, but made only annually by the Spiritual Trainee's immediate supervisor and Department Manager. After the Spiritual Trainee's preliminary training period is over, the Programme Sponsor has fulfilled their duty and responsibility and need not write further reviews. If the Spiritual Trainee is the Department Manager, then the review will be written by the Trustee in charge of that activity. If there is no such Trustee, then the Trustee(s) at the Spiritual Trainees' location should write the review. When necessary, the Chairman (or Manager of the Spiritual Workers Department) may call the Spiritual Trainee along with the appropriate Trustee or Department Manager(s) to discuss any matter that needs clarification.
As the governing body, the Chairman and the Trustees will have the duty and responsibility to review themselves, remembering that they, too, are Spiritual Trainees. All the Trustees should write their own review and send it to the Chairman for him to put it before the Board for its information. The Chairman also should write his own review and put it before the Board.