It seemed to me
that AGM this year showed the fruit of our Community Building work, in
and since the workshop with Daniel Stone. I came away from it with a
lovely feeling of having been in a group of people who listened to one
another and responded to what they heard. There was a feeling of
respect and even tenderness, in the way that people related to one
attending was larger than last year, and there was active participation
throughout the meeting. Reports were given on Finances, Programs, the
Website and Online Presence and the Bookstore. There were questions and
contributions to the discussion from almost everyone present. The
minutes of the meeting are being shared elsewhere, so I will just speak
to one part of the meeting where I felt the new spirit was particularly
There was a point
of potential disagreement regarding a workshop that was proposed to be
held at the Center. Some felt that it was not primarily focused on Baba
and, therefore, should be held elsewhere. I found it wonderful to watch
the give and take as this was discussed. There was a feeling of a
loving whole that enveloped the entire group, which was maintained
throughout. The discussion ebbed and flowed, many differing viewpoints
were shared, and there was a fluid movement to an agreement that this
time the workshop would be held elsewhere. Looking back at the notes
from Daniel's workshop it seems that I was witnessing exactly the
process and sense of community aimed for in his work.
Ellen Van Allen
I would just like
to register that we had a reasonable discussion of what sorts of
gatherings in the Center should be appropriate. No decision to change
the current policy was taken, but everyone who had a view expressed it,
and the views varied, but we all heard one another.
was surprised that my offer to run a RUH Healing Workshop for Baba
Lovers at the Center raised a lot of concerns. On balance, I believe it
is a good thing that it did. Apparently, we, as a community, need to
have a dialogue about how we use our center and what kinds of events are
appropriate. Our opinions appear to differ widely.
felt uplifted by the tone of kindness during the AGM this year. I was
especially happy about this because I had girded myself for the
controversy over whether the center would sponsor an RUH workshop. This
was last on the agenda and not a lot of time was left for a long
Billy first read the Center's policy, which has been posted there for many years.
The primary focus for events held at the Center must be on Meher Baba.
Other groups have been permitted to use the Center in the past under these conditions.
1) They may not promote another master.
2) The group must carry their own liability.
3) They must do their own advertising.
Most everyone gave
their personal viewpoints without attacking, defending, or expressing
enmity. There were a number of people who strongly expressed their
preference for events held at the Center to stay directly focused on
Baba and felt the workshop would be inappropriate. Others did not feel
the workshop would take the focus away from Baba. I appreciated Billy's
query as to whether anyone had actually read the book, Walking with God, by James Keeley, which explains RUH.
withdrew her offer early on in the discussion and the meeting time ran
out, there was no consensus reached, nor was a vote taken, as it was not
needed. I don't think the discussion was tabled, but perhaps a future
general meeting could take up clarifying what the community means by
primary focus on Meher Baba. I wonder if our community building and
strengthening meetings or the non-violent communication workshop we
sponsored would pass the standard.
I thought one of
the best things about the AGM was that it was harmonious and civil,
especially with respect to the somewhat controversial issue of whether
our group would sponsor Ann's RUH spiritual counseling workshop.
However, I do have
some quibbles with the way that the provisional version of the minutes
describe that discussion. For instance, the following passage is
included as if it effectively contradicts the central problem that makes
the proposed workshop controversial and contrary to our
"Ann was asked if
she thought another master was involved and she stated that James
Keeley is a Sufi but wanted to develop a method that was independent of
Sufism, open to all faiths."
seems to me that if that paragraph were included, there should also be
more detail and accurate paraphrase of the specific objections that
various people had to the sponsorship of the workshop. In my view, the
central issue that all the objections to the sponsorship had in common
is that the workshop would involve a form of "spiritual counseling" that
is not based upon either Meher Baba's recommended form of spiritual
practice or the intimate mandali's interpretations of Baba's training
practices. Rather it would be based upon spiritual beliefs and practices
that originated in a specific form of Sufism as interpreted by James
Keeley, and Ann Speirs as a student in his professional spiritual
counseling training program.
uncontested at the meeting that the RUH training workshop embodies a
form of spiritual counseling and training that originated in a
particular form of Sufism rather than in Meher Baba's own form of
spiritual training, belief, and practice. Both Ann's own professional
website --- in which she describes herself as a "spiritual counselor"
who uses the RUH training as the basis for the individual and group
counseling that she wishes to offer to us in the proposed workshop ---
as well as Keeley's book, clearly establish the accuracy of this central
problem that was articulated in various ways by various people.
didn't really address that central issue. From the point of view of this
central problem, it doesn't really matter if James Keeley, or Ann
herself in her application of Keeley's spiritual framework, is viewed as
a spiritual master, a spiritual teacher, or a spiritual counselor.
That is largely a semantic rather than a substantive question. Nor is it
relevant to this central problem that the RUH training is open to
people from a variety of religious or spiritual traditions. So are many
postmodern or new age spiritual training programs such as Transcendental
Meditation. (Or our own Meher Baba tradition, for that matter.) Neither
of these factors solve the central problem that Ann's proposed
spiritual training workshop is based upon spiritual practices and
beliefs that were not based upon Meher Baba's practices and beliefs,
which our by-laws and traditions define as the sole spiritual focus of
our sponsored meetings.
Finally, I am uncomfortable with this last summary statement re: Ann's workshop:
"It was suggested
that, as there was no agreement in the room and Ann had offered to hold
this workshop elsewhere, the group agreed that that would be best and
move on. This issue was tabled for further discussion at a later date."
First of all, it
seems to me there was general agreement that our group would not sponsor
Ann's workshop and that if she went ahead with it she would do so under
private auspices and not at our center. Given that, I don't remember
that anything was said about the group's sponsorship of Ann's workshop
being tabled for further discussion at a later date. Actually, given
that we had reached agreement with Ann that she would conduct it
privately at a private site if she decided to go ahead with, it would
have made no sense to table that issue for discussion at a later date.
do so would have raised the following issue under our bylaws: Since
sponsorship of a workshop such as Ann's would arguably involve a
conflict with our long established official policy, it could only be
meaningfully discussed and voted on at a special or an annual general
meeting wherein the members would have been notified about that topic in
writing six weeks in advance of the meeting. Since we've already
discussed the issue at an AGM and reached a resolution of the issue
without having to go through that formal process, it would seem that
there would have been no reason to table it for further discussion
through such a formal process. Certainly any further discussion at a
board meeting, for instance, should involve formal notification of the
membership that such a discussion would be held, and should be based
upon the understanding that the board could not itself change our
long-standing policy on this issue, which could only be brought about by
an AGM or Special General Meeting wherein the membership would have
been notified of that topic in writing six weeks in advance.
year's AGM had a sizable attendance. We spoke about the successes of
the past year, from becoming a more paperless organization with a newly
hosted site and processing systems, a revitalized service project
committee, insightful Urban Sahavas events with Ward Parks and others,
among many other fun events that brought us together as a community.
We discussed how
we are currently breaking even with our operating budget and how we may
begin fundraising for and hopefully increase interest in utilizing our
Center for a wider range of sponsored events. We briefly entertained the
idea of allowing events, that some may not see as directly related to
Baba, occur on Center property, e.g. Ann Speirs' proposed workshop. The
topic was tabled until such time as adequate notice could be given to
the community about this possibly being accepted. There was no consensus
made at that time.
In summary, there
was a true sense of Baba at work whittling away at our egos, pushing us
to be more tolerant and accepting of others. I am excited to see what
the next year brings.
Jai Meher Baba!!!
new controversy flamed by Msr. Anthony's articulate positioning of the
issue at hand drew me like a moth to the flame....and so, there I was
amongst you all again, to discover how this would play out and, having
never met Mdme. Speirs nor had any acquaintance whatsoever with James
Keeley, Walking With God and RUH Healing.....
Speirs as centered and balanced, in a state of equipoise, while the
barbs were tossed left and right. Intuiting the outcome, she had already
moved on. So I was one of just a handful attending Ann's first RUH
Healing Workshop 6/16/12 at 14th and Franklin, Oakland. After the AGM
Meeting, I logged on to Amazon, ordered two used copies of Walking With God and received one in time to read chapter one before 6/16.....
I was totally blown away by my direct experience of self and Baba that
day and immediately positioned myself to become the 11th of 12
participants in the yr. long training program at the Farm of Peace, an
intentional Sufi Community in very rural Warfordsburg. PA, some 2.5 hrs
from Baltimore, MD.
Among other things, I have uncovered in
self-inquiry regarding a mean streak within me, with Ann's direction,
how my life has been affected by my tendencies toward impatience/
naivite ( french w accent ague.....maybe accessible on my keyboard, not
sure where) and, how a wall between Baba and myself can dissolve
naturally with a shifting from too much doing to much more being, that
is, being still...and for me, my key to being in the world but not of
Thank you Dick for drawing me in, and, especially thanks to Ann for blazing the RUH healing trail.
I have found my passion again....and, my music, so long in the closet is reawakening as well.....
In His abounding love,
AllenRay Powell aka A R ( for those who are challenged by three syllables)
memory tends to be more impressionistic and subjective so I value those
that can report more objectively to fill out the picture. With that
said, I walked away from the meeting very moved by the quality of the
discussion. I felt we really listened respectfully to each other.
For myself I
learned a lot from the discussion: about the Center's by-laws and Baba's
directives, and from the heartfelt contributions of those who shared
their views about what the Center meant to them.
I walked away with
a much greater sense of the seriousness and sacredness of the Center
and its activities and a profound sense of what we can aspire to as a
Ellen Peskin Baum