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Real Spirituality


This is the essential prime mover in the seeker’s journey along the spiritual path. Without longing, the practice of spirituality becomes a dreary exercise, a duty that you feel you ought to do rather than an exciting adventure of the heart.

When spirituality becomes constricted by a sense of duty, it no longer serves its purpose. To put it simply, spirituality is the unfolding, the cultivation, the growing of love. And love is not amenable to force or compulsion—it must spring spontaneously from within the seeker in response to the inducements of the Master.

Consequently, the most important work of the Master is to arouse a longing in his followers to see and to know God. It is the mark of the true guru that he arouses in the people who come into contact with him a sense of their own potential for realizing Truth. He acts as a mirror for the seeker, living out the life of Perfection as a Divine Example, instilling in his followers the desire to become like the Master. It is through the qualities which he manifests—an inexhaustible love, an uncompromising compassion for all creatures, an understanding which is the master of every situation—that the True Guide makes his indelible impression on those who come to him.

The longing that the Master creates in his followers is not merely a momentary inspiration—it is an influence that grows long after the initial contact with the Master and endures the most varied circumstances of life. This compelling desire becomes the new pulse in the life of the spiritual aspirant. Without it he cannot move on the path. He can study forever, practice all kinds of exercises, and meditate diligently, and he can even have visions and other so-called spiritual experiences—but without longing (longing for the Goal and longing for the Master who represents the Goal), his progress is labored and cheerless. Even more: without longing, he is like a locomotive without steam.


A good rule of thumb is that every guru is false until proven authentic. In these days, when spiritual teachers are as plentiful as taxicabs in springtime New York, you must first make sure that the one you choose knows where he’s going, and how to get you there without causing you needless and costly delay.

Unfortunately, the matter is not as simple as checking for a proper “guru’s license.” A true guide’s credentials are considerably more subtle than a certificate on the wall or, more appropriately, an ocher robe and sting of sacred beads.

Mere intellectual glibness on spiritual subjects, or familiarity with great religious scriptures, is often naively mistaken for a sign of spiritual advancement. Yet intellectual prowess in itself can never be a substitute for inner attainment, for it can and often does coexist with petty egoism, selfishness, and a complete disregard for others. A real spiritual master can be recognized only by the fine-spun qualities which pervade his day-to-day living.

The crucial point: Satisfy yourself, before you decide to follow a guru, that he is authentic. Just as you would not give a raw diamond to be cut by a blind man, you do not want to entrust your spiritual odyssey to one who sports the façade of attainment but does not taste the experience of gnosis. As one master, mincing no words, has aptly put it: “To put yourself in the care of an imperfect master is like letting a madman sit on your chest with a knife in his hands!”


“Excellent guides until you find the Way.”
–Abu Sa’id


An authentic Master will encourage you to let your life itself be his message of love and truth.


Meditation is a means the seeker uses to break through his ego-consciousness to the higher consciousness of the planes. There are innumerable types of meditation—general and specialized, personal and impersonal, objective and subjective—and each kind can be used to bring about a specific result for the seeker. But no meditation can, in itself, take the seeker to the Goal.

The Perfect Master does not teach meditation. He is a meditation himself. Though he may give a particular form of meditation to his followers to use for a limited time, he does not give such practices any inherent importance. He knows that the highest and most effective meditation is love, and that every spiritual exercise is simply a warm-up to that end. As the supreme object of meditation, the God-realized Master exhorts his lovers to remember him often, to love him more and more, ultimately to lose themselves in him so that they can find themselves as the Reality which he stands for.


One time the Buddha was approached by a young man who was skeptical about Gautama’s renowned divine status. “Does the Blessed One teach a path that is new and original?” he asked.

One of the Buddha’s close disciples, Sariputta, turned his gaze from the Master to the skeptic and replied, “If the Blessed One taught a path that was new and original, He would not be the Blessed One!”

“Well said, Sariputta,” smiled the Buddha, “well said.”


Don’t be sidetracked by elaborate creeds and doctrines–the Truth is as simple as it is profound. From the ancient teachings of Zoroaster to the twentieth century, these three principles have been the heart of the message of every God-realized Master.

A is for Avatar

It is hard to imagine a term that has been more misunderstood and mis-used in the realm of contemporary spiritual parlance. There are societies and journals and a Hollywood movie entitled ‘Avatar’; there have been watches and video games and even a racehorse named ‘Avatar’; and, by far most confusing, not dozens but hundreds and hundreds of gurus in India and elsewhere attach this most ultimate title to their names, hoping, perhaps (what else could they be thinking?!?!?), to ‘fake it until they make it.’

The Avatar is the one and the eternally same Reality, God Himself, Who descends on earth in human form periodically. The Avatar is Zoroaster, He is Ram, He is Krishna; the Avatar is Buddha, He is Jesus, He is Mohammed. The Avatar has also appeared as numberless others, within and beyond our paltry recorded history of a few thousand years, and in each of these forms, on a regular schedule, the Avatar delivers the fresh-most Message as to what it’s all about.

The Avatar is unique among spiritual masters. Perfect Masters (Sadgurus in Vedanta, Qutubs in Sufism) are rare enough–always five and only five on earth at any one time!–but the Avatar comes, through the intervention of the five Perfect Masters of the time, roughly only once in a thousand years or so. The period between Avataric Advents can be as little as seven hundred years or as much as fourteen hundred, all with a conservative +/-10% or so on these estimates, because the Avatar plays the game according to His own rules. It is, after all, His Game!

For more on the meaning of ‘Avatar,’ go to AVATAR (THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA), the final chapter in this book.


Channeling what? That’s the point. Some people seem to think that it’s a good idea, something special, something important, to get their spiritual guidance by way of what they call ‘channeling.’ The idea is simple: in the same vein as receiving messages from ‘the other side’ by means of a Ouija board or a psychic, some seekers take their spiritual guidance through messages from an unseen source. Presumably that source is some sort of a spirit, presumably a disembodied spirit, and presumably that spirit is an advanced or enlightened soul.

OOPS! There’s a problem here, and it lies in the ‘presumably’ part of the equation. No matter how high-minded, how apparently enlightening, how seemingly extraordinary the messages or guidance received from an unseen source, there’s a significant risk in taking whatever is received at face value. Why on earth–which is, after all, where we are–would people take the word of someone they can’t see? Of someone they can’t determine who or what they are? Because it’s exciting, that’s why. Because, to a very significant degree, it inflates the ego.

That’s what channeling boils down to: taking stock in what is delivered, in the form of ‘thought transmissions’ or even visions, through the medium of astral intervention. Typically, it makes one feel very important indeed, simply because such a seemingly wise and important figure is paying such particular attention to you. It may sound like it is Jesus who is communicating, it may appear to be Gabriel or Michael or St. Stuffinopolis, but when the messages come from the ether, you simply have no way of determining the real from the false. You simply have no way of discerning whether a spirit is masquerading as something it’s not, passing on information or ideas that it has ‘plagiarized’ from someplace else. This is one instance in the spiritual realm when it pays to be from Missouri, the “Show Me” state.

Sounds authentic!? Reads minds!? Predicts stuff!? Phooey! No matter how impressive the information received through ‘channeling’ may seem to be, it’s not the ‘high road’ in spirituality. You might have a vision of a Master, or a dream; you might have a reasonably powerful intuition one time or another; but for the very most part, real Masters work with human beings primarily in the ordinary, gross world, and that’s where you need to seek them out.

This is tricky territory, not easily defined. It is critically important to understand the nuances here, just so this diatribe against a relationship with an unseen spiritual guide doesn’t throw the ‘Baba’ out with the bathwater. It is, after all, a basic and profound spiritual reality that much guidance from the Master comes unseen, often even unrecognized. Ultimately, the essence of all spiritual progress lies in developing an internal connection with the Guru. What is wrong, then, with developing that relationship with a guru on the astral plane?

Only this: quite apart from the authentic inner thought transmissions of an enlightened Master, or the intimate, personal relationship the seeker develops internally with his Beloved God, the channeling of guidance or messages from an unknown source is fraught with potential pitfalls. Spirits on ‘the other side’–that is to say, disembodied spirits on the astral plane who are awaiting another human birth–have egos just like the rest of us, and their activities, however elevated they may appear from our necessarily limited, gross-conscious perspective, may spring from self-serving motivations, or even from well-meaning impulses that simply are not grounded in the Truth. Such spirits are not enlightened–and they most assuredly are not Jesus, Moses or any other exotic-sounding historical or spiritual figure known to mankind. They are simply playing out their own needs, their own impressions, for their own purposes, and unknowing souls who happen to be lucky enough to have a body on earth at the moment are their unsuspecting marks.

That is why authentic Masters rarely if ever encourage or use such internal transmission of messages or information. It would be the easiest thing for them to do so, inasmuch as the enlightened Master is the Master of every plane of consciousness; but instead, the Real Master allows us to continue to live within our own minds, developing and consulting our own intuitions, so that the result will ultimately be a connection with the Truth, not with another imperfect soul struggling to add to its audience of admirers and believers. This is not to say that a real Master will not, when the need is there, convey some words or direction internally to one or another of his disciples–he is beyond limitation and acts solely out of Infinite Compassion and Care for those in his charge, and he will use any and every tool at his disposal according to the circumstances–but such occasions are virtually always the exception, never the rule.

Ultimately, why does it matter? If the messages or ‘teachings’ one receives internally appear to be profound and helpful, why not pay attention and pursue the contact? The answer, as that to so many questions about spirituality, simply centers upon the ease and efficiency of the soul’s progress toward liberation and Self-realization. Such connections with a disembodied ‘guru’ are, in the end, a blind alley and a distraction from the only type of Guru-disciple relationship that can actually lead one to consciously experience Reality. They are a side street, however seemingly uplifting and fascinating and replete with esoteric details, because the only reliable and authentic highway to God lies in a personal relationship with a living God-realized Master. Ultimately, instead of encouraging his disciples to rely upon any form of thought or message transmission, such a Master will insist that you develop your own intuitive contact with him. For that, one must become most intimately conversant with the voice of the intuition–that voice deep within each of us that is, in fact, the true Voice of God.


Creation, The story of First, there was God.

Then, there’s you.

Then, there is God.

That’s about it.

All the rest is ‘history,’ as they say. Or perhaps more accurately, ‘His story.’ In any case, all that happens in between the ‘Awesome Aum’ (the spiritual Reality behind the ‘Big Bang’ theory)–which brought about Duality and the birth of the soul–and the ultimate re-Union of the soul with Itself as Infinite Consciousness…well, for that you need to sit down for a long night’s read. The tale is told in Meher Baba’s unique, revolutionary, Illusion-shattering book God Speaks (subtitled “The Theme of Creation and Its Purpose”). But for an appetizer, see the chapter entitled EVOLUTION (AND INVOLUTION) in this book.


(“darshan” = “sight” or “vision”; connotes being in the presence of the master)

Contact with a spiritual master can take place in several different ways. The most obvious way is when you meet him physically. Perhaps he addresses you, maybe you touch or embrace him; it may be a private interview, or you may be in a crowd of devotees–in any case, to one degree or another it is a meeting in person, that is, in the flesh. This is known in the East as taking or having the darshan of the master, that is, simply, coming into his physical presence by having sight of him.

Many people, by far the majority of seekers, follow a master whom they have never met in person. Obviously, in order to follow him they have had to come into contact with him in some way–perhaps they have read about him in books or heard about him from others who are followers. While not meeting their master physically, such seekers have most certainly ‘come into contact’ with him, however indirectly, and his influence extends to their lives and gives them guidance.

Whether a seeker meets his master through direct physical contact or indirectly through literature and word of mouth, his ultimate goal is to establish an inner contact with the master. A real and effective master-disciple internal connection can be established only if the master is highly advanced, that is, only if he is really an authentic master. (See CONSCIOUSNESS, PLANES OF; MASTERS, DEGREES OF.) A master of the fifth or sixth planes can inwardly contact an aspirant merely by thought, by desiring such contact, and a Perfect Master, who is one with all Consciousness, is literally in contact with every part of Creation at all times. It is by the seeker’s remembering and thinking about his master that this internal contact is nurtured, and it is through such remembrance that a channel is created through which the love and guidance of the master flow more and more readily. It is this inner contact that is the real darshan of the master and the source of all guidance through the planes along the spiritual path. It is the cultivation of this inner relationship that is the essence of all spirituality.

It sometimes happens that a following or cult grows up around a so-called ‘inner master,’ one who is not physically alive on earth but who comes to his followers inwardly, instructing them through various ways such as speaking to them or giving them teachings to write down. For God’s sake, beware of this kind of guru relationship. While it is indeed possible for disembodied spirits to communicate with human beings in the flesh, it is essential to realize that these spirits are not masters in the real sense, or else they would not be hanging around the astral plane trying to communicate with the gross world. In short, the chances for deception with an ‘inner guru,’ who is not alive on the physical plane, are enormous, because most of the time you have no way to evaluate accurately whether your inner guide is a wiser soul passing on spiritual tips or an ego-pleasing, self-seeking spirit who seems impressive only because of his increased awareness on the astral plane.

There is only one exception to this rule to beware the guru who is not currently alive on earth, and that exception lies in a relationship with the “Eternal Beloved,” that is, with God Himself as manifested from time to time on earth as the Avatar. Because each of these Manifestations–from Zoroaster to Jesus, and countless more–is none other than the SAME ONE GOD bringing His Message of Love and Truth afresh, and because, in His Infinitely Conscious State, that SAME ONE GOD is always with us, it is possible to establish and maintain a relationship with the Christ, the Buddha, the God-Man in whatever Form may be most dear to you, without being in His physical presence and even after the physical lifetime of the Avatar’s Advent. The only catch is that the ‘presence’ of the God-Man is strongest and most accessible during and immediately following His Advent (that is, for a period of a few generations–about a hundred years or so–after His Manifestation in human form), and it is within this unique period that developing a profoundly personal relationship with Him comes most easily. This is the reason why those who are connected with the Avatar look forward to His Advent with such anticipation and longing, for their desire, above all others, is to be born during the lifetime of the God-Man and to have the great ‘God-fortune’ to live their lives within the orbit of His personal love and guidance.



Gnosis is real knowing. The dictionary will tell you that it is a ‘knowledge of spiritual things’–that is, mystical knowledge. But ‘knowledge’ is an ambiguous word.

An orange, for example. If you describe all the qualities of an orange to someone who has never seen or tasted one, telling all about the color, the texture, the taste, and so on, then that person will have some knowledge about what an orange is. But that knowledge is a very different thing from having direct knowledge, by experience (through seeing, peeling, tasting and eating), of what an orange is.

Gnosis is direct knowledge through experience. It is not an intellectual knowledge about spiritual things, which is really no knowledge at all–only shadow knowledge–in comparison to the intimate understanding that comes only from experience. Gnosis is the knowledge, or we might better say wisdom, that comes from actually attaining higher levels of consciousness, rather than from simply reading and thinking about them.

It is gnosis that differentiates the True Guru from the popularizer, who has only book knowledge that may or may not be elaborated upon by his imagination about the spiritual path. But it is important to realize that there are many different stages of gnosis, corresponding to each of the many and various stages and levels of consciousness on the path, so that gnosis for one guru may not at all be the same for another. It all depends upon the level of his advancement. The final and ultimate gnosis is that of the Perfect Master–the ever fresh and unbroken experience of oneself as Infinite Consciousness. The wisdom of the saints and masters at any other stage of the path is nothing but relative blindness compared to the Infinite Sight of the Perfect One, whose Infinite Knowledge alone can truly and most appropriately be called Gnosis.

Master, The Perfect

The Perfect Master is the ultimate guru. He is a soul who has traveled the entire distance of the spiritual path, through every plane of consciousness, to arrive at liberation and Enlightenment. The Perfect Master consequently is perfect–his knowledge is unlimited because he is infinitely conscious; his power is unlimited because infinite energy is his; and his love and compassion have no bounds because he knows through experience that he is one with everyone and everything.

The Perfect Master is the Master of Masters. He is a Master not only for the seekers who are just beginning their search for the spiritual path, but also for the greatest saints on the higher planes, who are regarded to be Masters themselves. His background may be Christian, it may be Hindu, it may be Muslim, Buddhist or Zoroastrian–it may be anything, but his teachings are, at their core, absolutely universal. He has transcended all religions for he has realized the essence that lies at the heart of each of them. His disciples may be, and often are, from a variety of religious backgrounds themselves.

The Perfect Master has no desires for himself. Having the consciousness of God, he has nothing more to attain for his own benefit. His one aim is to bridge the gap between ignorance and Truth for all the souls who are still imprisoned in Illusion. His life is lived for these souls, his words are spoken for them. He does nothing and says nothing that is not designed to help others reach the Goal of liberation more safely and quickly than they ever could on their own. This is his work–he has no other purpose in living on earth.

The union between God and the Perfect Master is complete. God is everywhere, but He lives on earth through the Perfect Master. When a master who is on the higher planes but is not fully enlightened gives guidance to his followers, that guidance comes simply from an exalted state of Illusion–however great his advancement, such a master has not transcended the last boundaries of his ego. On the other hand, when a Perfect Master gives instructions, they are instructions from God, for he is one with God. Although in some instances his advice may seem completely unreasonable, it springs from the divine knowledge of who you have been and who you will be; he alone knows exactly what you, in your uniqueness, need to speed your safe and sure progress toward the goal.

The Perfect Master not only experiences the Infinite Consciousness of God but also is totally aware of the limited consciousness of every creature at every level in Creation. He knows the hidden thoughts and the secret feelings of everyone–he is naturally aware of both the conscious and the unconscious levels in each person’s mind. Yet despite his consciousness of all Illusion, nothing can diminish his enjoyment of Infinite Bliss. It is this unbroken bliss–the experience of being one with the Infinity of God–that seeps through his words and actions and makes the Perfect Master a magnet to spiritual seekers, no matter what their background.

Who can imagine Perfection? It is impossible. For this reason the life of the Perfect Master is a vital statement of fact to the seeker. The Master stands as a beckoning example of the imperturbable poise and completeness that come as a matter of course to one who is God-realized. Through the union of the Infinite Consciousness of God with the Master’s human form, he expresses in human terms the Perfection the seeker longs to attain.

When you find the Perfect Master, you have found God Himself. You no longer have to worry about finding the right guide, but only about following his guidance implicitly. You will find, in time, that he is your only real relative and your only real friend. He will never let you down, even if you let him down time and time again. If you trust him, and stick to him, he will one day make you know by experience that you too are God. (See A IS FOR AVATAR; AVATAR (THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA); FEET, LOTUS; PERFECTION, SIGNS OF; SELF, INFINITE.)

Reality 101 (A Crash Course)

Have you wondered what, really, you are doing here? Have you had the funny feeling that most people are sleep-walking through life, missing the point of what we’re here for? Have you ever thought about exactly how the ‘soul’ relates to the ‘Oversoul,’ that is, to God? How it happens that a soul evolves from the most rudimentary form of consciousness through every state and stage of Creation, from the very ‘beginningless beginning’ to its final liberation? What about the ten states of God–not including California and New Jersey? (Just kidding!)

What do you know about ‘karma’–is it simply a matter of ‘what goes around comes around’? ‘Heaven and hell’–do they exist, and if so, do they really have anything to do with clouds and angels and the fires of Hades? What are the realities–and the fallacies–of ‘reincarnation,’ and by the way, what is the number of lives necessary for each soul to achieve the Goal? More practically speaking, what are the actual dynamics of how a seeker advances spiritually, plane by plane, to ultimate Enlightenment?

If you have not already read them, see the chapters in this book entitled CONSCIOUSNESS, PLANES OF and MASTERS, DEGREES OF: they will ring the bell for class. Then read the two most important books about mysticism and spirituality in the world today: God Speaks, by Meher Baba, and his Discourses.* That will be enough Reality to satisfy any ‘crash course’ requirements, as these remarkable books are guaranteed to fulfill the promise of a truly profound “Introduction to Reality.”

*See BIBLIOGRAPHY for details about obtaining these two key books by Meher Baba.

How To Choose A Guru, written by Rick Chapman and first published by Harper and Row in 1973, addresses dozens of topics concerning spirituality and mysticism from the perspective of Meher Baba’s teachings. 

INTRODUCTION TO REALITY, written by Rick Chapman and published by The White Horse Publishing Company in 2008, addresses dozens of topics concerning spirituality and mysticism from the perspective of Meher Baba’s teachings.