An Informal Collection of Correspondence Transpiring from the Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust compound, located in the city of Ahmednagar, 15km north of Meher Baba's Samadhi in Maharashtra, India

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Relativism and Truth

<>Here's a story involving the philosophical dispute between Relativism and Truth. Rustom wrote about living with Eruch Jessawala at Meherazad:

Baba referred to Eruch Jessawala as His ‘Mummy,’ for he looked after Baba’s personal needs. Baba also referred to him as His friend, and said that Eruch was His Peter when He was Christ.

When I was staying at Meherazad, one of the ways I used to pass the extra time I had with Eruch was to argue with him about his ideas on harmony and other things over which I disagreed with him. Although I agreed that harmony was a nice idea, I felt that the way to achieve it was by correcting all of those who were misbehaving. I felt that when it came to Baba’s work, it was especially important not to compromise over what one felt was right.

Eruch’s pleas for harmony were beyond my capacity for understanding. I even told myself that it would be cowardice to give in to something other than what you believed in for the sake of harmony.

I expressed this to Eruch. One day I said, “Eruch, I believe in harmony. I also believe that as Baba lovers we should make an effort to be loving to others, even when someone has been rude to us. I agree that we should do our best to win over or change a person who is rude through our loving behavior. But, what if after we have made all our best efforts, the person continues to be rude, continues to hurt everyone by doing wrongful things, and refuses to change, no matter how much love you shower on him? Shouldn’t such a person be stopped, in whatever way he can be stopped?”

Eruch shook his head, “That would be your weakness if you resorted to such means.”

“Then what should one do?” I asked.

“Give in,” Eruch replied without hesitation. “For the sake of harmony let him have his way. Harmony is more important than anything. It should be maintained at all costs.”

“But Eruch,” I protested, “should we take a stand on the truth? If someone is doing wrong, isn’t it our moral duty to stop him?”

“If you take such a stand,” Eruch replied, “it will be a stand on falseness and not truth. From the point of view of Meher Baba, there is no such thing as good or bad. Both are equally binding. Both fall in the domain of falseness--call them relative degrees of falseness.”

This answer did not appease me. I said, “Eruch, I am not talking from the spiritual point of view or Meher Baba’s point of view. I am talking about the point of view of society, which operates on certain values, commonsense values of right and wrong.”

Eruch replied very calmly, “Not only is it all illusion, but society operates on values based on relative falseness. We know that what is true for one society or country may be considered wrong and illegal in another. The only clear perspective is the spiritual perspective of Meher Baba. If you see everything from that perspective, things will be clear. But the moment you try to separate the spiritual from your day to day activities, then conflict results.”

I couldn’t understand Eruch and asked him to explain it in simple terms.

“It’s all very simple,” he said. “Every soul in creation is on its journey to God. We are all at different places in that journey. Call them levels of relative truth or relative falseness. What level a particular soul is on depends on his sanskaras. To a “good” person, a thief may appear as “bad,” but a saint on the 5th or 6th plane, will see both of them, the good and the bad man, as souls bound in the falseness of illusion. A God-Realized soul, on the other hand, may see all three of them, including the saint, as still caught up in falseness, although a 5th or 6th plane saint is closer to the Truth.

“So, from the point of view of a God-Realized soul, every soul is bound in the falseness of illusion. Remember, there is no such thing as right or wrong. Baba gave us an example once. Baba pointed to the sky and said, ‘If the sky is the 7th plane of consciousness, or God-Realization, then the person on the 6th plane is someone standing on the Meherazad roof, and gross-conscious souls are on the ground. The distance from the ground to the roof, about 14 feet, is the distance from the gross plane to the 6th plane, whereas the distance from the roof top to the sky – which is infinite – is the distance from the 6th to the 7th plane.’ This is the comparison Baba used to give us an idea of this.”

I still could not accept all of this, though I liked the stories and thought I understood them. I still felt that as human beings we have a moral duty, if we are in the right and if someone else is in the wrong, not to give in, but to do our best to see that right prevails. I told Eruch this, and he sighed and said, “All right, I will tell you something that happened to me when I was with Baba.

“A person had come from Poona for Baba’s darshan. The man was known all over Poona to be a big scoundrel, and yet, when he came, Baba praised him in front of everyone. Baba was calling everyone’s attention to this man, saying how much love this man had and how this man truly loved Baba and that he was really close to Baba’s heart.

“I could barely control myself. As soon as the man left, I blurted out my mind to Baba. I told Baba, ‘this man is well known throughout Poona as a rogue and a scoundrel, and yet you, Baba, are praising him.’

“Baba said, ‘What do you know about him? You see his actions only in this life, but I can see all his previous lives and I tell you honestly, he is a very good soul and has done good work; he is close to me.’

“Ever since that day, I have stopped judging people based on their actions.”

Although I intellectually grasped what Eruch had said, my heart could not accept it at that time. But now that Eruch has gone from our midst, all of a sudden my heart has awakened to his words. “No such thing is right or wrong. Every soul in creation is at a different level trying to progress on its journey to God.” It brings to mind what Bal Natu had once said to me on this subject: “Harmony does not mean that we agree with one another, but that we respect each other’s different views.” Bal further explained, “different personalities, different approaches, and different thoughts and views should not come in the way of us loving one another.”

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