|The Spiritual Training Programme|
- distress, flood, famine, war, earthquake, fire or other calamity or havoc, scarcity of different kinds, to the afflicted, and the advancement of all objects of general public utility in a selfless and altruistic spirit and particularly 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 acknowledged and recognised all the world over as the embodiment and personification."
This object gives the Trust scope to advance all matters concerning public welfare, to be of general help to mankind in times of distress and specifically to help the poor and needy. The Trust does this at present through donations. This object also indicates how all the activities and all actions are to be carried out under Mastery in Servitude, that is, by promoting a sense of Oneness of humanity with Beloved Baba as our example. This is the most important thing.
MATERIAL NEEDS OF THE SPIRITUAL TRAINEES
How should you live as Spiritual Trainees? I look at how we Mandali lived very simple material lives with Baba. Although I suggest the same for Spiritual Trainees, I don't suggest it to the same degree that we lived. At Meherazad, Baba appointed Kaka to be the manager. He was very strict. He would supply us men with soap, razor blades, etc. He gave us very crude soap, called bar soap, for washing our clothes and for bathing. Sometimes he would give us razor blades that had already been used. Of course, he did this in order to please Baba, who was very exacting regarding how money was spent.
Everything has its right place and time, and for those of you who are starting on the spiritual path, our simplicity may How should you live as Spiritual Trainees? I look at how we Mandali lived very simple material lives with Baba. Although I suggest the same for Spiritual Trainees, I don't suggest it to the same degree that we lived. At Meherazad, Baba appointed Kaka to be the manager. He was very strict. He would supply us men with soap, razor blades, etc. He gave us very crude soap, called bar soap, for washing our clothes and for bathing. Sometimes he would give us razor blades that had already been used. Of course, he did this in order to please Baba, who was very exacting regarding how money was spent.
Everything has its right place and time, and for those of you who are starting on the spiritual path, our simplicity may
seem too difficult. So I am not suggesting that. What I am suggesting is for you to have only what is essential for your material welfare.
But I also want you to understand that a truly simple life does not just mean having simple clothes, simple accommodations and simple food. Although this may seem to the world like a simple life, it is only outer simplicity. It has no real meaning. A truly simple life is devoid of desires, temptations, expectations and all other wants. If you, as Spiritual Trainees, have all these desires and still put on simple clothes, eat simple food and live in a small, simple room that does not mean that you are living a simple life, and therefore automatically a spiritual life. Your life may give only the outward appearance of simplicity. In order to live the simplicity of a spiritual life, you have to continually free yourselves from desires and wants, and only then will you achieve the freedom of living a simple life.
It is the duty of the Board to care for the Spiritual Trainees. But in trying to administer this care, things should not become standardised or institutionalised. If that happens, the charm will be lost. The Trust will lovingly provide the essentials to Spiritual Trainees, who are Baba's dear lovers; so that they can focus on what is real. To help ensure that things are not looked upon in an institutionalised way, I am suggesting the creation of a Department whose responsibility it is to look after the essential material needs of the Spiritual Trainees. This , department is called the Household Department. In choosing the^ word "Household", I am trying to give the feeling that, no f matter how many Trainees there are in the future, everyone herei i is in the same household. Home means home. Those whose hearts are His are His home, and so they are precious to Him.
As funds become available, more staff quarters and more staff kitchens and dining halls should be built. Insofar as
possible, each Spiritual Trainee should be accommodated in his or her own room. If a married couple wants to undergo Spiritual Training, then two rooms should be provided with kitchen and bathroom. However, during Baba's time no married couple was allowed to live together at Upper or Lower Meherabad or at Meherazad. This should be continued but only for that original property held at Baba's time. If a married couple wants to have children, they should make their own independent living arrangement outside of the Trust Estate. But the opportunity should be provided to them to continue to render selfless service with love, honesty and sincerity, so that they may please Beloved Baba. Also, as funds permit, staff quarters should be separate for men, women and married couples.
However, until the time that the Trust is able to provide the material essentials for the Trainees, if required, the Trust may provide minimum facilities for those few Spiritual Trainees who cannot afford to spend for food and necessities. Such assistance will be given without regard to caste, creed, race, nationality, sex, religion, colour, etc.
When Beloved Baba was physically present, He would give whatever was necessary for the Mandali to live a very simple material life. I am suggesting that the Trust also help the Trainees live a simple material life by providing them with the basic material necessities. The Trust will give these material necessities, but will not give any pay, as Spiritual Trainees are doing honourary service without any expectations, material or spiritual. Therefore when funds are available, the Board of Trustees should provide food free of charge through staff kitchens to the Spiritual Trainees. As further funds are available, the Trust can provide simple clothing and purchase household necessities for them. A fixed stipend decided by the Board will be given to each Spiritual Trainee for clothing. And the Spiritual Trainee can get their household necessities like soap, toothpaste, bedsheets, shaving materials and feminine
hygiene products, towels, etc. from the Supplies Section of the Household Department.
In the choice of clothing and appearance, you as Spiritual Trainees should choose comfortable and simple clothing. You should look and remain natural while all the time the game of love is being played out in the depths of your heart. And so you should look no different than any other person of the world. You should not put on robes to look spiritual or grow your hair in the way of the sanyasin. You should not try to differentiate yourselves from others in order to receive homage. You can witness in the photos and films with Baba how the Mandali dressed. Sometimes we men would wear only pyjamas. But that was when we were alone with Baba. On public occasions, when Baba was giving darshan, we men dressed appropriately, wearing pants and shirts. On special occasions, the women would wear pretty saris.
In 1925, Beloved Baba's Mandali had a lively discussion on the topic of having some kind of separate identification. Baba enjoyed the discussion, and then He told them, "You don't need any identification that makes you separate from others. Outward change makes the false self strong, because you think that you are something better than others. You should change internally. So whatever clothes you ordinarily put on, put those on. Remain natural."
The Household Department will have the responsibility of managing material necessities for the Spiritual Trainees (staff quarter assignments, room furnishings, staff kitchens, dining halls, food preparation, and the purchase and distribution of household and personal items). Of course, with this much responsibility, the Household Department will require many section within it.
The Spiritual Trainees can receive free medical treatment from the medical doctors on the Trust Estate. But when funds are available, other free medical facilities should be provided to the Spiritual Trainees. This includes payment for medicines, treatment by doctors outside our Trust Estate for specialised cases or hospitalisation in an Indian hospital. If Spiritual Trainees become incapacitated because of physical or mental trouble and are unable to do any kind of service, yet still want to live on the Trust Estate, proper medical attention should be given to them, so they can remain on the Trust Estate. However, if they feel it is necessary to return home to restore their health, they may take a leave of absence.
In Beloved Baba's time, we had no such thing as vacations. We had surrendered our life to Him. So we were amazed to find that the first group of Spiritual Trainees needed time away from here for rest and recreation. As I said before, we Mandali recognised that those just beginning to live a spiritual life would find our way of life too difficult. So we allowed such liberties for purposes of rest and recreation. Therefore, you as Spiritual Trainees may continue to leave the Trust Estate for personal reasons, but only for a reasonably short period of time. It is a liberty of sorts that should be made use of carefully. While on leave, you should not indulge your weaknesses, but keep Baba's remembrance alive in the midst of these activities.
As with the first group of Spiritual Trainees, some of you may need to visit your families, or you may have parental duties at home. Or your parents may be ill, and you need to attend to them. Such family responsibilities may require a lengthy visit, and so a longer leave is permissible. But whether it is for a short time for rest or recreation, or a longer absence because of family duties, such expenses will have to be borne by you.
Spiritual Trainees should request the necessary leave time from the Chairman when the administration is small, then, as the growth in administration requires it, from their Department Manager, who will notify the Spiritual Workers Department.
In Baba's time, we Mandali cleaned our own rooms and washed our own clothes. It would be good for you to continue in these daily tasks. However as you age, when you are too old to do such work, the Household Department will make necessary arrangements for you. The Department will also make such arrangements if you have fallen sick for any length of time.
In the future, when funds become available, you should rely on what the Trust provides for a simple material life: room, clothes, food, personal and household supplies and medical care. Other incidental purchases will be left to you to purchase out of your own funds. But as much as possible, you should minimise these purchases in order for you to maintain a simple material life. You should carefully consider whatever additional expenditure you make as to whether it is really necessary and in keeping with the purposes of your training.
In fact, none of the Mandali had any money when we were with Baba. That was one of the first things we gave to Baba when we came to live with Him. The only ones who had any money were those whose duties, such as marketing, required it. But the person doing the marketing would always have to give an account to Baba. We could not buy anything or go out to a restaurant or go out for sightseeing. We were Baba's servants, ready to obey His instructions. Nothing was our own, because we had given ourselves to Him.
I will give one more example of our life with Baba, and this also involves how we looked upon the use of money that
Baba gave us for His work. As with every moment in our life with Him, this example is just another incident of effacement of the false self.
Baidul was the one who would be sent out to find masts. Of course, Baba would give him directions on where he should go to find them. Baba would ask Kaka, who was the manager of Meherazad, to give Baidul money for this work. When Baidul returned, Kaka would take the account of how Baidul spent the money. Baidul had to go to different places to find masts, sometimes into the interior of India. He would travel in such a way, that he could go anywhere. He would wear the same clothes throughout the journey, not taking any bedding, change of clothes, shaving kit or soap, etc. He would be gone for 15-20 days. When he came back, his beard would have grown; his clothes would be unwashed and filthy because he would sleep in them.
Once, Baidul was sent to the Punjab by Baba. He had to go to many interior places in that region. He would eat in a restaurant only once a day. Although he would take transportation to major cities, if he had to move about in the interior, he would walk long distances, not hiring any vehicle. So when he came back after the 15-20 days, he was very tired. His beard had grown; he was totally unwashed. When he came before Baba, Baba did not ask him about masts. Instead, He asked Baidul to submit the account of expenses to Kaka. Baidul was very particular and had written down whatever money he spent. He handed the account over to Kaka. And Kaka started examining the account.
After examining it, Kaka told Baba, "This man does not go out for your work, but he goes out to eat. He has spent a lot for food."
Baidul replied, "I ate only once a day. See how little I have spent for food."
Kaka said, "Baba, this man should not be sent out. He is not a fit person. He spends a lot of money and eats and enjoys himself."
Baidul said, "Baba, ask Kaka how much I have spent fof food. In fact, if Kaka went out to do this work, he would have spent 20 times more than me."
"What are you saying?" Kaka said. "When I go out, I just go for work. I don't go for eating food."
And Kaka and Baidul started arguing. If Baidul kept quiet, Baba would incite him. If Kaka kept quiet, Baba would incite him to keep the fight going. Baba would create such situations amongst us Mandali in order to keep our minds free. During such times, He would make us say whatever was in our minds. Otherwise, what normally happens is that people hide their feelings, which ends up creating grudges. Because Baba incited the Mandali at certain times, everything would come out before Him. He would make us forget about it afterwards, so that we remained clean-hearted. One has to become internally naked and the Book of Sanskaras has to be torn out page by page.
After awhile, Baba said to both of them, "Stop it. Just embrace each other and forget about it."
And they embraced.
Then Baba said to Baidul, "Now go and shave and take a bath, eat well and sleep well. Tomorrow, tell me about the masts you contacted."
So those who were living with Baba not only did not keep money with them, but what money was given to them for His work was scrupulously accounted for.
Likewise, on the Trust Estate, all expenditures, official or personal should be handled with great care. All Spiritual Trainees should look upon this example as a guideline.
For those of you who will be involved in Trust work that requires you to travel to the Government Offices in Pune, Bombay, Delhi or elsewhere in India, your expenses will be borne by the Trust. However, you should be very mindful of your expenditures and minimise these also, as if you had to report to Baba after your journey.
From time to time, Baba would call us men Mandali and say to us, "Now we are facing 'kadki' (no money). And therefore, how can you live with Me? If you can adjust, then stay here. Otherwise, go home. You may only get food once a day and a cup of tea. But if you don't like this, then you can go back to your homes." Not one of us went back.
After Baba would tell us this, He would call Adi privately and would instruct him to send different amounts - Rs. 5,000, Rs. 7,000, Rs. 10,000, etc. - to certain families in different places who loved Baba who desperately needed financial help. None of us men Mandali would even know that these large distributions of money had taken place. We would think that we had to be careful, and we should not spend any more money on food.
I say this also as an example and reminder that, as the Trust receives more donations, you should not expect lavish food, fine clothes and stylish living accommodations. You are living here as if you are living with Baba. The donations from Baba lovers around the world are for the fulfilment of Baba's