A tremendously cute moment happened in Chapel Hill. Darwin’s mom joined us on stage for the Spring Dance. As luck would have it, it was documented.
In a way, I felt like this whole US tour was a build up to Darwin’s parents’ house. We had met Baba Lover after Baba Lover, and now it was time to meet the Baba mom and Baba dad. The house was adorned with paintings and photographs of smiling, gentle, mustached Meher Baba. There were encyclopedia-thick volumes of the history of Baba, from 1926 to 1930, from 1950 to 1954. Darwin’s dad and I shared songs with each other on the acoustic guitar. He played me a Baba song. Darwin’s mom gave me a tiny laminated Baba photograph and a pamphlet entitled “Meher Baba’s Universal Message.” Darwin’s dad played me a DVD called “God in Human Form”, and I watched an hour illustrating the history of Baba, trying to get to the bottom of things.
One of Baba’s popular explanations of himself was: “I did not come to teach, but to awaken.” He emphasized his availability to people of all races, religions, castes, and creeds. Baba washed the feet of the lepers, the untouchables. He urged that people renounce the “me”, “my”, “mine.” I sat there putting together the details, trying to make the connection between this man from a half a century ago and all these wonderful people I had met on tour and Darwin’s incredible parents and Darwin, himself.
Baba’s message resonates with me. It reminds me of the best parts of Christianity, the best parts of Buddhism, the best parts of all the religions I’ve explored. And likewise, it reminds me of the special parts of all things, philosophy, music, yoga… But the one characteristic that continues to elude me is the necessity of placing this person, Baba, at the center of it all. In Christianity, the religion I grew up under, I similarly cannot understand why believing that Jesus died on the cross is the most essential criteria of the faith. Why aren’t the teachings, like the Beatitudes, the most essential part of that faith? Why do people tend to emphasize the specific parts of their spiritual beliefs over the universal parts? Baba made efforts to not be exclusive and to not be an “ism”, but I nevertheless find Baba himself to be the biggest obstacle between myself and personally being a Baba Lover.
We stayed up late watching the Grammys, which Darwin’s parents had TIVO’d. Miles had actually been asked to perform on the Grammys with Rihanna, but he had to say no because he’s out here on tour with us. Miles gets these high-profile LA music industry style jobs from time to time. He showed us a clip from last year’s VMAs where he was playing in a drum ensemble behind Eminem’s “Love The Way You Lie.” We picked out the peripheral bongo player who would have probably been Miles during Rihanna’s “What’s My Name?” Grammy performance.
I’m glad he’s here with us, instead.