By Margaret Magnus
Avatar Meher Baba has provided us with a gateway to our higher self through His presence.
The people and places He has touched can help us feel His presence and bring us closer to Him. Meher Mount is one of those chosen places. It is a gateway that can lead toward the Divine in us all.
Meher Mount is a 172-acre universal spiritual center dedicated to Avatar Meher Baba in Ojai, California. Visitors come to Meher Mount for pilgrimage, for celebrating Divine Love and Oneness, for loving God through nature, and for service.
Avatar Meher Baba blessed Meher Mount with His presence when He visited on August 2, 1956. Upon His arrival, Meher Baba gestured and said, "I love Meher Mount very much and feel happy here."
With His visit, Meher Baba left an invisible fountain of spiritual energy that touches all who come to Meher Mount.
Meher Baba's Touchstones
A touch point for many visitors and the symbol of Meher Baba's visit is Baba's Tree, the Coast Live Oak on the brow of the hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is for many, a means of remembering Him.
Others find inspiration, solace and rejuvenation spending time under Baba's Tree. One visitor, knowing nothing about Meher Baba, referred to Baba's Tree as "that cathedral tree."
Visitors also spend time near the fireplace that was part of the guest house where Meher Baba greeted visitors in 1956. This building and all others on the property were destroyed in the New Life Fire on October 14, 1985. The chimney is the only remaining artifact of Meher Baba's time.
A Pilgrimage Destination
Meher Mount is a pilgrimage destination for followers of Avatar Meher Baba from all over the world. During His visit, Meher Baba told His followers, "You are so lucky to be with me so closely..."
At the same time, Meher Mount attracts visitors who may know nothing of Meher Baba, but come because they have heard that Meher Mount is a spiritual place.
Some visitors want to know more about Him, but most just seem to fall in love with the "feeling" of His place. For many, their visit to Meher Mount is the first time they hear Avatar Meher Baba's name.
They appear to be drawn by His unseen hand to come closer into His orbit. It seems that Meher Baba uses Meher Mount to draw all of us closer to Him.
The Founding of Meher Mount
Meher Mount was founded in response to instructions from Avatar Meher Baba requesting that a retreat center be established one-to-two hours outside a major city.
A serendipitous pull of destiny led founders Jean Adriel, author of Avatar, Alexander Markey, and Agnes Baron to the heights of Sulphur Mountain.
As they motored through the Upper Ojai Valley, a curious stand of oak trees atop the mountain ridge caught the eye of Agnes Baron.
She insisted they find their way up there. At the gate, Agnes jumped the fence to explore the area that would become Meher Mount. Escrow closed on the property on August 9, 1946.
The group lived there for several years, conducting retreats and other spiritual activities, and receiving many visitors.
Gradually all the permanent residents except Agnes moved away. Agnes Baron remained as caretaker of Meher Mount until her death in July 1994.
At Meher Mount, Agnes faced one difficulty after another in managing and holding onto the property.
At one point she wrote to Meher Baba describing a troublesome situation, stating, "If you want me to take care of Meher Mount, I will keep it for you through hell, fire and damnation!" Meher Baba replied that she should keep it for Him by all means, and He sent His love.
Meher Baba first planned to visit Meher Mount in June 1952 for a 10-day stay. But during the cross-country drive from Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to Meher Mount, Meher Baba was in an automobile accident near Prague, Oklahoma.
When news of Meher Baba's accident reached Meher Mount, five of His men mandali (close disciples) already had arrived. The five - Adi K. Irani (Meher Baba's secretary), Meherjee Karkaria, Dr. Nilu, Dr. William Donkin and Gustadji Hansotia - spent the night and then drove to Prague to be with Meher Baba.
Meher Baba Visits in 1956
On August 2, 1956, Meher Baba spent the day at Meher Mount driving from Hollywood where He was staying. When all had arrived, Meher Baba called everyone into the guest house on the property.
He asked the group how they liked Meher Mount. One said, "It has a spiritual atmosphere." Another said, "It compares to Meherabad Hill [in India where Meher Baba's Tomb Shrine is located]."
A third commented on the lovely fragrance. Filis Frederick, who wrote the account of Meher Baba's trip in her publication The Awakener, said, "It reminds me of the hills of Assisi [in Italy where St. Francis lived]."
Jeanne Shaw, a follower of Meher Baba, agreed, "It has instant appeal." Meher Baba nodded and added, "This land is very old, I have been here before." He never explained what He meant by that statement.
Later Meher Baba remarked, "I will come here again."
Margaret Magnus is Communications Director for Meher Mount and first visited Meher Mount in 1978. She drew on the information about Meher Mount from Lord Meher: The Biography of the Avatar of the Age by Bhau Kalchuri, as well as comments and observations from Wayne Myers, Billy Goodrum, Elizabeth Arnold and Byron Pinckert.
Reprinted with permission from the Meherabode Gazette, Winter Issue 2014, "Meher Mount is a Gateway to the Divine," by Margaret Magnus. (c) Avatar Meher Baba Center of Southern California.