In 1949, Avatar Meher Baba asked His mandali (close disciples) in Meherazad, Ahmednagar and Meherabad, India, as well as His close lovers and followers everywhere in the world to keep silence for the entire month of July. Meher Baba had been silent since July 10, 1925.
One of Meher Baba’s followers in the West, Marguerite Poley wrote about observing that month of silence at Meher Mount.
By Marguerite Poley
According to Baba's orders, July 1949 was to be a month kept in complete silence by His lovers and devotees residing at Meher Mount, Upper Ojai, California.
TEN PEOPLE STAY AT MEHER MOUNT IN SILENCE
As it turned out, we were ten, as follows:
A young couple, both school teachers, from Palm Desert, Calif. (the husband was the only male person in the group). Two ladies from [the] Palm Springs area, also California; these first four were Jean Adriel’s  friends…I might add that to her delight one of these ladies was allowed to bring her dog for the stay.
Agnes Baron  knew the rest, namely Ruth Chace, a Quaker from Los Gatos, California, and Mary Beasley. Mary B. was a Sufi, had met Inayat Khan  and respected Meher Baba. She was to be our spokesperson when accompanying Agnes into town for supplies. She was not committed to silence. And finally, Agnes, her dear friend Margaret Craske , Jean Adriel and myself.
THE PLAN FOR THE MONTH
By evening, June 30, 1949, we were assembled. After being shown individual sleeping quarters there was a briefing:
- Never go outside in darkness without a lit flashlight due to rattlesnakes (these creatures hunt at night). Plus, if any snake is seen in daylight warn others by a sign, i.e., point hand toward ground, follow with zigzag hand motions.
- Carrying a pencil could be useful for inter-communications.
- Meals: We were to have two a day.
- Breakfast: (from 7:30 am) Tea, coffee, fruits, cereals, breads.
- Dinner: No red meat: Vege-meat, vegetables. Fish 2-3 times a week, beverages, dessert (we never worried what to do with leftovers. There weren’t any). Ample water was always available. Meher Mount water is sulphuric, therefore not potable.
A period of silence in Baba’s Name was held after the briefing. Amid smiles we bid one another good night, went our separate ways. One could feel an undercurrent of trepidation regarding this swiftly upcoming month!
How does one suddenly switch from a “talking world" into absolute silence? Good question! But rest assured, by the third day we finally were s-i-l-e-n-t. No more hands flying towards one’s mouth in dismay at having spoken, and dear Baba forgave us, too!
ASSIGNMENTS FOR ALL
Activities: Plenty! There’s never a time at Meher Mount with nothing to do. Agnes found assignments for all; there was always brush to be cleared.
In 1949 there were several apricot trees ready to be picked. The fruits had to be sorted, cleaned, halved, and laid out on long, stretched-out gunny sack racks, placed in the sun and each apricot half had to be turned over daily. Agnes sold these “cots” to health food suppliers. There was also watering to be done and let us not forget K.P.
Rest and Recreation: Rest during the day’s hottest hours. Swimming pool available. Ball playing. A piano to use. Reading. As regards Baba literature we had a variety of articles, mostly printed in India, Discourses , and Jean Adriel’s recently published Avatar. I would also like to mention that two of us were allowed to paint.
Ruth Chace had movement difficulty, and I was not 100%. Agnes was solicitous [and] allowed us a glass of milk or buttermilk noontimes.
TIME FOR PAINTING
Anyway, paint and paint and paint we did…I’m now taking the liberty to describe Ruth’s unique works: She would start dead center of her canvas and from there outwards in all directions, using geometrical only; triangles, rectangles, squares, circles, polygons, etc. These all became larger the further from center. With her knowledge of color, the end result was stunning. I was fascinated. Mandalas, indeed!
I worked seven canvases. The young couple from Palm Desert took one home and I forget who got “Golden Hour,” this one depicting a sunset seen through the oak trees – from a black-and-white Kodak print taken during the month of silence in 1949 at Meher Mount (Proceeds – not a great deal – for Meher Mount).
THE DAILY HIGHLIGHT
Now to the wonderful daily highlight! Around seven PM we gather in the veranda of the main house. There we sat on the floor or chairs for an hour, or a bit more. It was a special, precious time, with Baba’s Loving Presence so powerfully felt! Jean had a record player nearby. Our departure signal was when “A Song of India” played. Slowly, we did so, and I may say, reluctantly!
On July 29th, there was a chill in the air. Agnes had a fire going in the living room of the main house where that evening’s gathering was held. It was so powerful!
Now that I think back, the closest comparison I can come up with is when Baba was with us in the Barn  at Myrtle Beach, SC, in 1958.
We simply lost sense of time. I’ve no idea how long we stayed in that room. And besides all that, I’m reasonably sure we were aware that very soon we would part to individual destinations…after an unforgettable month spent together in silence.
MEHER BABA'S PRESENCE WAS WITH US
Apropos that particular evening: Jean told me as I drove her to Hollywood August 1, that she saw Baba slowly walking in the living room. He touched everyone, placed His hand on a shoulder, or arm, or top of the head as He glided among us!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marguerite Poley (1909-2005) was a circus performer, artist, and follower of Avatar Meher Baba. According to Linda Zavala, writing about Marguerite in the January 2006 (1st Quarter) issue of the Love Street Lamp Post:
"In 1947, Marguerite and two of her friends heard that a spiritual master was coming to Meher Mount in Ojai. After one friend said, 'Oh, no don't go there...' she and the other friends looked at each other impishly and immediately got into the car to go to Ojai.
"There they met Jean Adriel, saw Baba's photos, and bought Jean's book Avatar. A few week later....while reading Avatar she realized that Baba was the real thing -- God Incarnate. She felt struck 'as if by a lighting bolt.' She knew that she had 'come home.'"
 Agnes Baron (1907-1994) was another founder of Meher Mount, moving there in 1946 and caring for Meher Mount the rest of her life. She left the property to a non-profit corporation, which currently owns and manages Meher Mount.
 Inayat Khan (1882-1927) was the founder of The Sufi Order in the West in 1914 (London) and a teacher of Universal Sufism.
 Margaret Craske (1892-1990) was a well-regarded ballet teacher in London and the United States and a close disciple of Avatar Meher Baba. She wrote of her life with Meher Baba in The Dance of Love (1980) and Still Dancing with Love (1990).
 Discourses by Meher Baba has been in print since the 1940s. The Discourses address many of life's most perplexing problems and provide a spiritual perspective on the challenges of everyday life.
 The Barn is a gathering place at the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, SC, which is considered Meher Baba's "home in the West." It is a spiritual retreat for rest, meditation, and renewal of the spiritual life, for those who love and follow Meher Baba, and for those who know of him and want to know more.
“Meher Mount Memories: The Month of Silence, July 1949,” by Marguerite Poley, Love Street Lamp Post, January 2006 (1st Quarter 2006), pp. 43-44. ©Avatar Meher Baba Center of Southern California. Reprinted with permission.