The Spiritual Training Programme
 
The Trust's Spiritual Training Programme started in 1973 with the arrival of the first Spiritual Trainees. They, and the Spiritual Trainees who came during the next several decades, lived in close daily association with the Mandali. This association was the basis for the training of the first group of Spiritual Trainees. They lived at Meherabad (near the Samadhi), at Meherazad (the resident place of Beloved Baba) or the Trust Office at Ahmednagar (where the Trust is administered). By working alongside us, this first group of Spiritual Trainees came to know what ways would be pleasing to Beloved Baba. They would also hear stories from us about how we lived with Beloved Baba. But soon, the "shop" (as Baba called His own work) of the Mandali will be closed, and therefore, it is necessary that some guidelines for Spiritual Training be established to help you, the current Spiritual Trainees, and those of you who will come in the future.

Beloved Baba Himself created the Trust, and He specified that different objects under the Trust have to be fulfilled. Because they are His instructions, they are also His Wish. Who would want to fulfil His wishes other than those who love Him? The first group of Spiritual Trainees helped us with the development of the Trust. Naturally, this 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.

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What is Spiritual Training, and who can give Spiritual Training? Actually, 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 fulfil His wishes as put down in the Trust Deed.

What is the Trust's Spiritual Training Programme? First, let me explain what spirituality is. Spirituality is not following a religious discipline through rituals. Spirituality is daring to efface your false self by gradually freeing yourself of its assertions. How does this happen? You cannot get rid of the false self simply by hearing lectures or by reading spiritual books. Only Perfect Masters or the Avatar can show how to efface the false self. Beloved Baba would always say that love for God, obedience to the orders of the Master and surrenderance to Him is the way to be free of the false self. But Baba lovers who have come to Ahmednagar since Beloved Baba passed away Say to us, "But you had Baba with you, and we do not."

And they are right, of course, because He is no longer in physical form. But they have yet to understand that He is always with us internally. He can always be found in the heart that yearns for Him and listens to His silent prompting within. Even though we Mandali had Baba with us, and even though we had His direct instructions, still we had to learn how to listen in our own hearts to what He really wished in order to follow Him.

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Therefore, whether living with Him physically or not, our heart's honest love for Him shows us the way to Him. When you go to Beloved Baba's Tomb, what do you do? Do you just bow down? What is the meaning of bowing down? Bowing down signifies keeping the head of your false self down by not listening to it but instead listening to the Beloved in your heart through your honest and willing acceptance of what He wishes you to do. As you make yourselves aware of His pleasure in your hearts (not only when you bow down at His Tomb, but also in your daily life), you will undergo real Spiritual Training, even though the Avatar is no longer in the body.

The voice of the heart will always lead you to love, sacrifice and self-effacement. It is very essential to follow these promptings in your heart without a second thought. It will make you free from the assertion of the false self. If you ask me how to listen to the prompting of the Beloved in your heart, I would say, "When you are honest in your heart to the Beloved, you will be able to follow His Wish. Your honesty to His love will guide you. The prompting of the heart is as simple as feeling a slight touch that directs you towards Him. But if your mind is the slightest bit distracted with what you think is right, then you will not feel anything except the weight of your own false self. If you are not honest to Him, the mind will make such noise all the time that the false self will assert itself over the poor real self. Your real self will remain as a silent witness, unable to prompt your heart with the Truth."

The voice of the mind is very different from the voice of the heart. At first, it may be difficult to distinguish between the two, because you are used to listening to the mind (which actually just creates noise). When you are at the mercy of the mind, you pay attention to its noise and get disturbed. You may think at the time that it is the voice of the heart you are listening

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to. But this is not true. Once again, remember, the heart will always lead you to love, sacrifice and self-effacement. The mind only leads you to fulfil your desires.

The mind makes it difficult to understand that you have to go beyond right and wrong. Truth is neither right nor wrong; it is beyond both. What this means for your day-to-day life is that when you justify your actions, insisting upon being right, it is just another expression of the false self. Justification is the product of the intellect, and you have to try to go beyond the intellect by expressing love for God honestly and sincerely. Spiritual Training is not only listening to your heart, but also becoming aware of the activity of the mind and not being influenced by it. You should treat the activity of the mind like an unwanted guest.

On the spiritual path, there is no room for the real self and the false self to walk side by side because the path is so narrow that it can only accommodate the real self. You must make the false self follow the real self then you can walk on the spiritual path.

You must try to master your false self, enslaving it to serve God in everyone and everything. When you have this" attitude, your hard false self will first become soft, and then, slowly become dust. Becoming dust-like is not an overnight achievement. It requires years of honest effort and reliance upon God. You must let the circumstances of life hammer away at the hard false self to soften it and slowly become dustlike. It has been said by all the Masters since the beginning of time that you must become like dust under the Master's feet.

Although the false self will always try to lead you off the path, you must faithfully keep the false self from thwarting your efforts toward a life of "Mastery in Servitude". Living a life of selfless service under Mastery in Servitude is another

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dimension to the Spiritual Training Programme. Selfless service is different from social service as done in the world. Although social service may bring good to the world, here, as you help fulfil the objects of the Trust Deed, the service you do in the midst of intense activity is to undo your false self, with no interest in name or fame.

Beloved Baba has given the words "Mastery in Servitude" as His motto over the door of His Tomb. Through this simple phrase (which can be your guiding light), He shows us the way to Him whether He is in the body or not. You can always refer your actions back to His words over His Tomb.

In the Trust Deed, which Beloved Baba Himself signed, there is the object of Spiritual Training. The Deed states, "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." After Beloved Baba passed away, we Mandali recorded the instructions of Beloved Baba (the Settlor) in 1974 through a Deed of Declaration. These instructions were made into 10 Objects. The first object directly states upon what Spiritual Training is to be based: "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 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, it is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees to organise, administer and create facilities for Spiritual Training.

In considering what guidelines the Trust may establish to help Spiritual Trainees, Beloved Baba's own conditions,

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which He laid down for His Companions in the Labour Phase of the New Life, are appropriate for you to help focus your minds and hearts on leading a life towards the Truth. But remember, these are only guidelines; they are not a replacement for the honest love that you must maintain in your life. However, as much as I would like to do so, that love cannot be explained. It is for each of you to love God and discover in your own heart what it means to follow the Truth. But if you remain dedicated to Meher Baba's Cause by fulfilling the objects of the Trust under Mastery in Servitude, if you live under the conditions of the Labour Phase of Meher Baba's New Life, if you listen to Beloved Baba's Wish for you in your own hearts, then you, as Spiritual Trainees, will be guided directly by the Eternal Beloved, Avatar Meher Baba.

Before I get to the particulars of the Trust's Spiritual Training Programme, I want to bring up some points which are very important for you, as Spiritual Trainees, to understand:

  1. • The Responsibility and Duty of The Beloved and The Lover;
    • Divine Will and Divine Wish, and
    • Rituals and Ceremonies.

These topics always bring up many questions and having a proper understanding of them will help you in your Spiritual Training.

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