By Wayne Myers
That a small, yet steady, percentage of first-time visitors arrive at Meher Mount by sheer happenstance, rather than intention, seems to exceed the rational probabilities of this occurring as often as it does.
Meher Mount routinely welcomes those who, for some reason, have turned off Highway 150 in the rural Upper Ojai Valley to ascend nearly three miles of the narrow, winding, and dead-end Sulphur Mountain Road to come upon Meher Mount’s entry, unaware of its quiet existence until that very moment.
Some do say they felt drawn up the mountain for inexplicable reasons. Some are on a country drive hoping for spectacular views. Others are simply passing by and are curious. Whatever the reason, they found their way to Meher Mount.
THE SERENDIPITOUS PULL OF DESTINY
This serendipitous pull of destiny also led Meher Mount founders Jean Adriel, Alexander Markey, and Agnes Baron to the heights of Sulphur Mountain in 1946. They were on an outing in search of suitable property for a retreat dedicated to Meher Baba.
Baba’s directive was to find a location at least one to two hours away from the city. As they motored along the Upper Ojai Valley from Santa Paula to Ojai that afternoon, a curious stand of oak trees far atop the ridge of Sulphur Mountain caught the eye of Agnes Baron, and she insisted they find their way there. After winding up the long dirt road to the only residential property on the mountain at the time, Agnes jumped the fence to explore what would become Meher Mount.
THE UNFORSEEN PULL OF THE MOUNTAIN CONTINUES TODAY
In October 2010, while providing coverage as a temporary caretaker, I had the pleasure of welcoming three different groups of people within one week who had discovered Meher Mount seemingly through happenstance.
VISITORS ARE DRAWN TO THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF MEHER MOUNT
A nature-loving couple from Northern California was visiting relatives in Ventura. They were out and about that day in search of beautiful scenery and to go hiking. The woman told me, “We were driving up the mountain and came across your welcoming gate and just had to turn in. What is Meher Mount?”
I provided a brief introduction, that Meher Mount is dedicated to Meher Baba, conveyed a bit of its history, and indicated that Meher Mount continues to be maintained for personal retreat, solitude, and conservation of nature. I shared that Meher Baba had asked his followers on his 1956 visit to go out and love God through nature. They, too, went out and enjoyed Meher Mount, binoculars in hand.
MOUNTAIN BIKERS DISCOVER MEHER MOUNT
One day I happened to be down near the entry gate when two nearly identical minivans bearing Utah license plates arrived in unison at Meher Mount. Emerging from the vans were two families traveling together – four adults and seven children total.
One of the two fathers told me that during a trip to California a year earlier, he was searching for good mountain-biking locations and had read internet postings about Sulphur Mountain Road.
Thus, on bicycle, he happened upon Meher Mount. He loved discovering it and departed with a hope to introduce Meher Mount to his family on a future trip. Today was that day.
I gave the orientation to the congenial group, and the father shared his recollection with them that Meher Baba had observed silence for many years. They were eager to learn about Meher Mount wildlife.
One of the boys was especially interested in the birds and happily received the Meher Mount birdlist. They had a good time taking nature and family photos around Meher Mount.
A BORED YOUNG BOY MAKES A CONNECTION THROUGH TARANTULAS
At another time, a family of three – husband, wife, and young son – had been enjoying the Ojai Arts festival in town. They took a break for a country drive and found their way up to Meher Mount, somewhat inexplicably so they told me. The husband and wife were quite inspired by the discovery.
They commented on Meher Mount’s serenity, were appreciative of its mission, and gladly received the pamphlet of Meher Baba’s Universal Message. As the parents and I conversed, their young son seemed a bit bored and rocked in the rocking chair on the porch.
Just as they were about to head out to see the views and Baba’s Tree, I felt prompted for some reason to ask the boy, “Do you like Tarantulas?” He leapt up: “Yes! Where? Where?”
The parents informed me that just that week their son’s school teacher had brought to class a large tarantula to show the students. Their son had taken a sudden and avid interest in tarantula sightings!
I was happy to tell them I had spied a large tarantula on the move just outside Baba’s Tree that very morning. The excited boy exclaimed: “Let’s go to the tree! Let’s go to the tree!”
THESE STORIES ARE TYPICAL
These stories are typical rather than exceptional among the long history of such visitor reactions upon discovering Meher Mount. What may be exceptional is the mystery as to how and why some find their way to Meher Mount’s remote threshold. Among those, some are destined to discover that which makes Meher Mount truly exceptional – the divine mystery that permeates its beauty.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Wayne Myers served as a temporary Manager/Caretaker several times at Meher Mount in 2010.