Eventually Meher Baba's travels brought him to the West. He visited England in 1931 and again in 1932. He also traveled six times to the United States. One of these visits included a trip to Hollywood, where he was greeted by a large reception attended by well-known celebrities such as Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Tallulah Bankhead. Tallulah Bankhead took a particular interest in Baba, meeting with him several times afterward. During his trips, Baba emphasized America's need for spiritual redirection, which he explained could only be brought about through the elimination of self-interest. He visited America again in 1952 and 1956, followed by a final visit in 1958, when he and his Mandali stayed at the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach. He referred to this area as his home in the West. The Myrtle Beach Center still serves as a beautiful spiritual retreat for those who are drawn to Baba.
During his visit to the U.S. in 1952 he suffered the first of two severe automobile accidents. The second accident occurred four years later in India, and resulted in a broken hip, which caused him intense pain for the rest of his life. Baba referred to these accidents as the modern-day equivalent of Christ's crucifixion.
In the late 1960s, large numbers of American and Australian youth were becoming interested in Meher Baba. Drug use was becoming increasingly popular at this time, even among those professing to uphold spiritual values. Baba insisted that drugs were damaging physically, mentally and spiritually, and that his followers should refrain from using them. This caused a considerable uproar, and many people lost interest in him. However, this strict position also confirmed many people's belief in him and helped to clarify the true interpretation of his message "Don't worry - be happy."
After 1967 Baba remained in deep seclusion and only his Mandali had access to him. Most of this time was spent in complete isolation and was devoted to what he called his "universal work." Although his health was seriously deteriorating, he promised he would hold a mass public darshan in 1969. In 1968 he declared that his work was completed one hundred percent to his satisfaction.
Because of his injured hip, Baba suffered intense pain during this time. On January 31, 1969, a few minutes after noon, Baba left his body, "To live eternally in the hearts of those that love Me." Thus, Meher Baba died without breaking his silence.
Thousands of devotees from the East and the West came to Meher Baba's tomb before his coffin was sealed. From April to June 1969, the Great, Last Darshan he had promised took place in Poona.
Compiled by MB Parker
Baba with Mehera
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