Silent Messenger, The: The Life and Work of Meher Baba
Who is the Silent Messenger? Meher Baba's message of divine love for a new humanity.
Who is the Silent Messenger? Meher Baba's message of divine love for a new humanity.
The Silent Messenger charts the life of Meher Baba, the Indian spiritual Master who famously declared: “Don’t worry, be happy,” and “I have come not to teach, but to awaken." Meher Baba's life and teachings move through Vedantism, Sufism, Christianity and Buddhism. Uniquely, Baba gave all this to the world whilst remaining silent for 44 years.
The Meher Baba Association presents the final book by Sir Tom and Lady Dorothy Hopkinson, which depicts the extraordinary facts of Meher Baba’s life and work, illustrated by judiciously chosen excerpts from his teachings and the insights of many of those who were closest to him.
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This must be the definitive book on Meher Baba, about whom I previously knew comparatively little. The book is divided into two parts, the first describing his life and the second key elements of his teaching. He said about himself that he came not to teach, but to awaken, and remained silent for 44 years. He is right that we have been given enough words and that it is now time to live them with an orientation of love. It is clear that he was an avatar in the sense of being one with God and having transcended the ego – he also remarks that there is no evil, but only degrees of good. There is much inspiration to be derived from his teachings and realisation of Oneness on a path of love and surrender in seeking true fulfilment: ‘though each form is separate from other forms, in reality they are all forms of the same unity of life..life and love are inseparable from each other.’ It is not so much a question of establishing anything new, but rather breathing life into the old, but within a context where ‘destruction must precede construction, out of suffering is born peace and bliss, and out of struggle comes liberation.’ All of this is a profound message for our time. ~ David Lorimer, Paradigm Explorer
Soon to be published in the UK by the Meher Baba Association, ‘The Silent Messenger’ by the late Tom and Dorothy Hopkinson, follows their 1974 book, ‘Much Silence’ which focused on the life and message of Avatar Meher Baba. With this new title they amplify and enrich the earlier work with the insights and matured knowledge of their later years and also include quotes from the writings of mandali members and other companions who published books in the years following its appearance. Editor of the new work, Shelagh Rowling, writes “…95% of the message is different in terms of the emphasis (on Love), commentary and quotes and sources. It is this that makes it (‘The Silent Messenger’) contemporary…” When Tom died in 1990, he left a completed, typed-up manuscript having spent the last seven years of his life working on it, writing sections and then reading them out to Dorothy for her comments. In Dorothy’s own declining years, it was Shelagh Rowling who helped, reading to Dorothy and making notes for her onto the manuscript. Details of their collaboration are found in the book’s Foreword. In the years since Dorothy’s own passing in 1994, Shelagh Rowling spent further time on the invaluable work of reading and annotating all references and citing sources, a considerable task she completed in 2018. Of their personal commitment Tom and Dorothy write: “…if we are to recognise and accept them, lasting truths must come in contemporary dress, restated in the light of our expanding knowledge of ourselves and of the universe … such a re-statement of deepest truths in terms of the contemporary world, has been made in our own day by Meher Baba.” Sir Thomas and Lady Dorothy Hopkinson (to give them their full titles) were among the second wave of early English devotees who met Baba at the Charing Cross Hotel in London in 1952. Dorothy, who had already been in contact with Baba for some years, describes how at that meeting, not only did she find herself unable to speak when Baba addressed her, but how even Tom, an esteemed journalist, was himself apparently also at a loss for words in answer to Baba’s smiling question to him. Such anecdotes are part of much incidental biographical detail included in describing their experience of spending time with Meher Baba, after their meeting in London, in India and elsewhere. In the decades after Baba dropped his body in 1969, many new books appeared, written not only by his close mandali themselves (Mani, Eruch, Bal Natu, Ghani and others) but also by many of the westerners who had come into direct contact with the Avatar of the Age (such as Kitty Davy, Charles Purdom, Francis Brabazon, Don Stevens, for example), books which provided an increasing readership with a wealth of new information. Hence the decision made by the Hopkinsons to augment their original book. The major development they made in the contents of ‘The Silent Messenger’ is not only in the inclusion of additional material from more recent accounts and memoirs but also in their personal, widely informed and experienced commentary on the tremendous events taking place during Baba’s lifetime. The format of the later book is set out in two parts, the first (The Life of Meher Baba) being the numbered chapters of Baba’s life history, much of which is left as in their original book; and the second part, (The Message of Meher Baba), organised as numbered sections in the new Table of Contents, being their thought-provoking commentary on the structure and key points of Baba’s work. What makes this book such a good read is not only the range and depth of information made accessible to the reader, it is also the clarity of the narration which (in Part 1) juxtaposes events in a flowing sequence and (in Part 2) places the important themes of Baba’s message within the global context. His themes remain as relevant to us today as they were then. The first part encompasses much of the history of Baba’s life, including his travels in the East and in the West; his work with masts; the New Life; his years of seclusion; and the last sahavas – of which the authors write: “…at these Sahavas he made a series of statements plain enough for a child to understand, but with a power and authority unheard for two thousand years, covering the whole field of human life and of our relationship with God.” Chapter 12 gives insights into recurring themes such as Ego and the false self; the true meaning of Love; Baba’s demand for honesty and obedience; the role of the Avatar; all leading up to the Final Declaration at Dehra Dun in 1953 and culminating in the Free Life, the Fiery Free Life and the Complicated Free Life. In Part 2 the authors look back on some of the effects of Baba’s message citing world events and showing how these themes remain as important to us today as they were then. “Barriers which divided East and West have dissolved. Whole nations … have demanded and secured their freedom. … In different continents and countries there is a growing sense that all mankind is one. … Secondly, an awareness has sprung up and is growing of the need actively to protect our common heritage – the earth and seas … and even the atmosphere itself – against pollution and destruction. (p.302) …these changes have been accompanied and supported by a range of practical and material developments, serving to unite the peoples of the world in ways which seemed inconceivable only half a century ago.” Technical advances we tend to take for granted in our present lives evidence the kind of changes the Hopkinsons refer to here. The book’s editor adds, “The Silent Messenger is a book of hope. The emphasis is on Love. It is about God and our inner selves as being the most natural expression of Perfection.” And for extra ‘added value’ (as if that were needed!) this new book, unlike its predecessor, is illustrated with photographs as well as a map. Pictures of Baba are always a joy to behold – and the excellent reproduction of a very striking image of Baba’s face on the front cover of The Silent Messenger is particularly effective in attracting attention – making this a great book to read on the train! Or anywhere. ~ Sarah McNeill, writer and follwer of Meher Baba
Of all the books I have read this year, this one has surprised me the most. I hadn't heard of Meher Baba previously, yet he was clearly a hugely significant figure, so it was quite a revelation for me to learn about him......This is a remarkable narrative. If you are already aware of Meher Baba, then this account of his life and work will certainly be of interest. If you have not come across him, I can only invite you to read the book and discover him for yourself. Whether or not you agree that he was an avatar, Meher Baba certainly lived an extraordinary life and touched the lives of many thousands of people around him. His message of creating understanding between religions seems so relevant in this time of religious conflict. ~ Rosalind Bryden (Reviewer) , NetGalley
This is well done. The first part is Baba's biography. Like many messengers, he had a lot of challenges. The second part was more interesting to me, which was a summary of some of his teachings, which are great. Recommended. ~ Paul V (Reviewer), NetGalley
......The Silent Messenger provides a great overview of Baba’s life and message, and would be a perfect starter book for those interested in understanding more about the person and his journey. The larger part of the book is based on Meher Baba’s life, and the remainder on his message to the world. It’s well-written and deeply researched, and also provides information on Baba’s work in a way that makes it easy to understand and explain to others. Tom and Dorothy Hopkinson, now deceased, both spent time with Baba, and originally wrote the first version of this book in the 1970’s. Highly recommended read to those interested in spirituality, Meher Baba, and those searching for meaning in their lives............. I really appreciated how the book explores the differences between the western approach to holiness and religion, and the eastern approach, and how western culture wouldn’t (and still isn’t) receptive to someone like Meher Baba. It’s a very accessible and interesting read. ~ Jade Hughes (Reviewer), NetGalley
The Silent Messenger is an important addition to the scholarly literature on world religions, as well as a book in high demand by a growing audience for readable works on Meher Baba. The Hopkinsons' previous book, Much Silence is regarded as the most accessible biography extant of Meher Baba's life. Tom Hopkinson was perhaps the best pure writer among the hundreds of authored books about Meher Baba, and this new text is guaranteed to be well received by a significant number of potential readers. ~ Allan Y. Cohen, Ph.D, Harvard University