Mr. Don Stevens Answer To Prof. Rathore
Mr. Don Stevens Answer To Prof. Rathore
Recently I was advised to find and read a lengthy commentary made by Professor Rathore and posted on the Bhopal Group's internet page. I was deeply impressed above all by the balanced and productive manner in which Professor Rathore went about his analysis, and although I am actually in mid-voyage at this point, I tried to reply although briefly on several of his points. I sent off the document by e-mail last night, and as his observations had the privilege of internet dissemination, I felt I would like to offer to you the posting of my short reply. Here it is for your consideration.
Much love, Don
Dear Professor Rathore:
Although I use the internet constantly for e-mails I have not made use of the postings of various groups, although I understand it is a very much used resource of information and communication by many devotees of the Beloved. As a consequence, it was not until one of my oldest and closest friends in the English Baba groups called your article to my attention that I contacted the Bhopal site and printed out your lengthy and very valuable collection of reflections. Although I am about to leave for India and the seminars there on God Speaks, I wanted at least to pass on promptly two or three of my reactions and reflections on what you have so ably presented for all of us to consider.
May I say that you have observed most admirably what I am tempted to call the Marquis of Queensbury rules for conducting a type of interchange between human beings that, without such a series of rules of the game, can quickly lead a valuable interchange into a bloody massacre. I feel this is so important that I want to quote what Bhau said to me in France just after I had outlined to him what would be forthcoming in the October issue of Neti Neti. Very simply and with the greatest sincerity, he said that he did not mind disagreement with his point of vew, nor did he mind even criticism. He did, however, not want any exchange of this trype to degenerate into a matter of big trouble. I have been delighted and very much encouraged to find that Bhau has stuck completely to that viewpoint, and one of the greatest values in my mind in your article is that you abide equally by similar guidelines. It would be a great indication of true human progress if ensuing interchanges on Baba's words and their preservation were to be similarly effected, rather than by wars, blood and armed strength as a principal means of convincing those of another point of view. Let us, above all, continue in the spirit that Bhau and the Marquis of Queensbury have made available as starting principles.
The second point I would like to lay out and repeat for no doubt the hundreth time, is the occasion on which Baba gave Don his marching orders. This followwed my having said one of the most incredible things to Baba that I ever put into words. This was that I doubted the eventual value of our work of many months in editing the original five-volume Deshmukh edition of the Discourses into the three volume version published in the 60s by Sufism Reoriented. After Baba had erupted as I had never seen him do before, he then looked me level in the eye and dictated with his hands as Eruch translated for me. The message was simple and of profound importance to all of us. Baba wanted me to know that to each of his words that he had given out for his devotees and the public, in a very specific manner which he had already had Eruchd describe to me on two separate occasions, Baba attached something like an atom bomb of spiritual energy, which the devotee who read those words would absorb by WORKING with those words, even if intellectually he did not understand a word of what he had read. And this, Baba continued, would be of the greatest value to the devotee in his spiritual ongoing.
Baba then leaned towards me and continued gesturing, and pointing his finger directly at me as he delivered his message. This was personal, but in the most unmistakable terms. "And Don, Baba wants you to know that it is your responsibility to inform Baba's devotees of what he has explained to you."
I am sure, that if it had been you who had faced Baba that morning and seen the strength of his gestures and the energy flaming from his eyes, you would spend the rest of your life trying to do what Baba said was your responsibility, and doing your utmost to guard the integrity of those words you knew had been given out by Baba in exactly the manner that Eruch had explained twice, an almost unheard of rarity in Baba's dealing with us.
In your key and very important exposition of various works of Baba and also of others in which Baba was deeply involved, I noted that you had not made a distinction in the contents of Listen Humanity which I made in "Preserving Baba's Word." This is that it is Part II of this work which Baba indicated to me, as he gave me the sheaf of papers sitting on the little table at his side as I was about to leve the first week of the four language groups sahavas, that he ahd invited me to attend. The entire work involved in writing the book was suggested by Baba himself, and it was he who said, if I so wished, he would have his two secretaries for the sahavas occasion, send me the finished transcript for the entire four weeks. Although all these were Baba's suggestions, and the transcript was reviewd by Ramjoo Abdullah, whom Baba asked to work with me on the book project, still Part One based on these papers and recorded words of Baba does not fulfill the very exacting description Baba had Eruch gave me of his special words, so I did not include it, nor Part III, which is obviously Don's words.
Much of your discussion and citing of historical statements concerns Bhau's The Nothing and the Everything. It is one of those odd facts of past happenings around Baba that something he did or said rests in the shadows of memory for decades before, suddenly and unexpectedly, one sees its key meaning in a present context. Murshida Duce had decided in the 50s that, now we had finished the editing work Baba assigned us, he might be favorably disposed to grant us another such assignment, that of editing his Book, and would Don bring this up with him when I saw him on this next trip I was about to make to India?
I was not overjoyed by Murshida's request, but did my duty as we sat one morning in Eruch's tin hut, a rare occasion, as Baba always had talked to me in mandali hall. As I passed on Murshida's request, Baba smiled at me and instructed Eruch to go to a locked box at the far side, and take out a carefully wrapped and tied bundle. Here is the whole book, he said, but it is not for you and Ivy to work on now. Perhaps later. And, of course, later never arrived.
The curious thing, as I reflected months afterwards, was that the entire bundle he had me see, and which was as I had always understood, written entirely in Baba's own hand, could not have been more that some three hundred pages. And herein lies a key arithmetical problem, which is simply that ten percent of some three hundred pages is some thirty pages, and Bhau's classic book is very much longer than that. Thus the question is, what in Bhau's book is Baba's ten percent, and what is Bhau's contribution? I consider this one of the most important questions concerning our heritage from Baba. I understand that Bhau's original notes were lost or stolen, which would have greatly clairified the matter. I hope that in some manner,despite hisenormous workload and health problems, Bhau will still be able to give some indications of where this matter rested when he took up his pen and started the act of writing his definitive book which included that all-important ten percent. I do hope sincerely that Bhau will also have the possibility to attribute material in Lord Meher, another enormously important job to be done in some manner.
While you also mentioned The Everything and the Nothing, which is both splendid and written by, in my opinion, perhaps the best writer in Baba's company, Francis Brabazon, this book does not correspond to the criteria Baba had Eruch describe to me. The one of Francis's writings that comes closest to that, from all I understand and have also known personally, is Stay With God. Certainly Baba put in a lot of time on this work by Francis, and also said some extraordinarily forceful things about the importance of the book. But, again, despite all, not corresponding to Baba's criteria expressed through Eruch.
I realize that I have not covered in any manner some of your further fine contributions to an important subject, but first of all I think the field belongs to the excellent editors of Neti who put in such a lot of effort into the October issue. Let's leave the field to them to assess and express on someof the issues you have raised.