"Truth in Values: Excursions into the Practical Teachings of the Avatar of the Age in His Discourses"
Although it deals with many different topics, repeatedly Baba Discourses returns to the theme of truth in values. Indeed, recognition of truth in values provides the foundation for spiritual understanding in any subject area; and acting on basis of these perceived truths defines the life of the karma yogi. Truth in values brings spirituality into the practical domain; it establishes the link between high realities and the empirical sphere that we all live in. In this seminar we will explore this question both in its relation to higher realities and in its application to certain basic questions of life.
Since the Discourses, more than any other book of Meher Baba's, addresses itself
to spirituality as life practice, we will begin, in the first session, with a review of the textual history of this remarkable collection. The second session explores the problem of Maya, which is the source of false valuation; truth in values can be discovered only when falseness is exposed for what it in. The remaining sessions will explore truth in values in four aspects or domains: the ethical; relations between heart and mind; community; and the problem of war and violence.
"A History of the Discourses." We begin with a review of the textual history of Discourses, which opens with their original publication in the Meher Baba Journal between 1938 and 1942, continues through the "Five Volume Set" (1939-43), God to Man and Man to God (1955), the three volumes Sixth Edition (1967), the Seventh Edition (1986), and culminates with the Revised Sixth Edition (2007). What does the fact that Baba arranged for the editing and reediting of His words so many times suggest about how we should understand them? Should we take the Avatar's words as "sacred scripture," as the Bhagavad Gita, Gospels, and Koran have been regarded as the past? Main topics: (i) A textual history of the Discourses. (ii) Organization and content of the collection. (iii) On the status of Meher Baba’s published words.
"Maya and the Nature of Reality." As Discourses explain, if one wants to discover truth in values, one needs to discriminate truth from falsehood. This brings us necessarily to the topic of Maya, the principle of Ignorance, which causes one to take the real as false and the false as real. Main topics: (i) Philosophical backgrounds for the idea of Maya. (ii) Maya as falseness: the role of Maya in the interplay of thinking and imagination in Infinite Intelligence. (iii) "God and Maya": a close reading on the fourth discourse on Maya. (iv) False values and false beliefs: a close reading of the first three discourses on Maya.
"The Ego." The bastion or citadel of falsehood is the ego. While it originally arose in evolution as a vehicle for the gathering of consciousness, in human form it represents the primary obstacle blocking progress along the path of Realization. Yet Meher Baba's collected writings approach the problem of the ego in two very distinctive ways. In Divine Theme He provided what we could call a structural account, which analyzes the ego into its parts. In Discourses, by contrast, He approached the ego from a psychological viewpoint, as it presents itself in the life and consciousness of a seeker of God. Main topics: (i) The standard model of the ego in Meher Baba's philosophy. (ii) "The Ego in Discourses: A Psychological Approach."
"Morality: The Dichotomy of Good and Evil." Among all the opposites, Meher Baba has said, the dichotomy of good and evil is spiritually the most significant. Unavoidably human beings have to deal with the problem of evil, and in the course of doing so, as a general rule find them obligated to try to accentuate the good. Yet at the same time, God is beyond good and evil. How does one reconcile this paradox? Main topics: (i) Metaphysical backgrounds: the two levels of reality. (ii) The "nihilistic" and "absolutist" positions. (iii) A review of Baba's discourse on "Good and Evil." (iv) Perspectives and discussion.
"The New Humanity and Social Formulations." In most of the messages that He gave about society and social formulations and the conditions and values underlying community life, Meher Baba traced social and communal problems back to their root in selfishness. Collective problems result from egoism and selfishness extending itself, for example, through the selfish pursuit of material desires or self-identification with limited groups based on race, nationality, etc. Ultimately society can be redeemed only if the individual heals and transforms himself. But this can be accomplished only through the mercy of God and the grace of the Perfect Master. Main topics: (i) Avatar in an age of crisis. (ii) Meher Baba's approach to the transformation of values on a social scale. (iii) Meher Baba's critique of politics and certain political values. (iv) The New Humanity.
"Heart and Mind." In His various discourses and messages, Meher Baba repeatedly returns to the theme of heart and mind; yet rarely does He clearly define exactly what the "heart" is. In one discourse He appears to correlated body-heart-mind with gross-subtle-mental. Elsewhere He seems to associate “mind" with the thinking part of mind on the fifth plane and "heart" with the feeling aspect on the sixth plane. Another significant correlation is between heart mind and the celebrated dichotomy of matter and spirit. How to reconcile these diverse formulations? Main topics: (i) Problems of definition: what are the "head" and the "heart"? (ii) Baba's standard account on head-heart relations. (iii) The spirit matter dichotomy in its relation to head and heart. (iv) A close study of the discourse "The Avenues to Understanding."
"Love and the Divinization of Daily Life." The path of love, which has always commanded the greatest appeal to humanity at large, is based on the realization of God’s nature as Bliss. The agony and the ecstasy, the exaltation of union and the despair of separation-these perennial themes of love, endlessly celebrated in our arts and popular culture, express the Bliss that is love in its dual aspects as it appears in the world of illusion. Irradiating from within, Love illumines life in all its aspects, from the most elevated all the way down to the most mundane and trivial. Love imparts happiness; and when it causes pain, the pain of love is such as to inspire and impel one onward along the path. Divinizing all of life, love ultimately culminates in the Realization of God who is the Goal of life as Infinite Bliss itself. Main topics: (i) The trio-nature of God and the special relation between Bliss and bhakti. (ii) The metaphysical foundation: love as the source of union's bliss and separation’s agony. (iii) The agony and the ecstasy in common cultural expression and in high art. (iv) Love and the divinization of daily life, or, the transformation of the happiness-misery dichotomy into Divine Bliss.