The “Mad” Paradoxes of Meher Baba and the Eccentricity of All True Gurus
This book (The Wayfarers, by William Donkin) is a unique document about a type of apparently psychotic individual (called a “mast”) that has long and traditionally been acknowledged (and even venerated) in India (and, by other names, even in traditional cultures generally).
The “mast”type individual is (traditionally) presumed to be enjoying and manifesting a unique state of mind (on the higher psychic and Spiritual level), while otherwise (at the grosser level of the body-mind) appearing to be (to one degree or another) insane (or at least extremely eccentric, and, at least sometimes, apparently remarkably irrational). And the traditional explanation for this profound (although apparently even disturbed) human state is that it is the result and the evidence of, so to speak, “sitting too close to the fire”. That is to say, a “mast” is one who, because he or she has entered unreservedly into a higher state of mind (or even of ascended God-Consciousness), has lost (or relinquished) some or all of the conventional mind whereby more ordinary people control their thoughts and behaviors.
Meher Baba said (or proclaimed) that he was the “Avatar of the Age”, even the reincarnation of the same individual who (he asserted) had previously appeared as each and all of the great religious Teachers and Prophets and Saviors of the past. However, to most observers, Meher Baba was not in fact the “Avatar of the Age” (although he continues to be proclaimed as such by many of his ardent followers).
Even so, he was not a mere liar or a charlatan. In fact, he was what, in India, is traditionally called a “mast”. Not only did Meher Baba (as a rather unique characteristic of his Work) do much healing Service to many “masts”, but he was himself a type of “mast”. He was, according to that traditional description, a kind of “deranged Saint”, who consistently made absurd claims (about himself) and a chaos of pronouncements (to others), and who also communicated much true (and traditional) Wisdom (in the general context of the fourth stage of life, and also the fifth stage of life). Apparently, he never recovered “normal” (or strictly ordinary and conventional) control of his mind and behavior after experiencing ascended (or fifth stage) conditional nirvikalpa samadhi (due to the Spiritually Initiatory touch of another, also “deranged”, Saint) early in his life. However, his “abnormality” was in fact a kind of Blessedness.
Those who are not devotees of Meher Baba should not be foolishly overcritical of his “Mad” paradoxes.
He was not the “Avatar of the Age” (except to his devotees), but he was a true Spiritual Master (in the context of the fourth and the fifth stages of life), and, therefore, he was a legitimate Guru for some. And even all true Gurus are (if truly Awakened to any degree of Real-God-Consciousness) at least eccentric and paradoxical, often rather “Mad”, and not necessarily very comfortably conformed to social conventions and conventional expectations–for the true Guru is a living Sign of Real God, and a Window and a Door and a Way to Real God (and, therefore, the true Guru is not merely a guide or a path to convention, or to the “civilized” world of egoic body-consciousness).