Recently I responded to the request of a Baba-lover for personal anecdotes that involve saying His Name in some kind of emergency situation, like the famous story related in a Baba book about a woman accosted by a bad man out in the wilderness in India, who was saved when she took His Name by cows that chased the man away!
A kind of rescue seemed to occur in the three situations described below, all from my own life. There may be others that my “soft” brain has forgotten.
The year was 1984. I was on my way west for a stint in the bay area. I’d been visiting a friend in Albuquerque for around a month, and when I finally left, was going to drive south to and go along the Mexican border for awhile, and then spend a little time in Tucson .
Well, a blizzard had begun, and as I got to the entrance of the highway that runs south two hundred or so miles to Las Cruces , there was a roadblock and a couple highway patrol cars, one with its lights flashing. A trooper had his hand up, and I pulled up to him and rolled down my window.
“The highway’s officially closed,” he said. “However, motorists who wish to proceed at their own risk may do so.”
I thought about it. There was common sense and “conventional wisdom”: turn around, these guys must have a reason for closing the road, and I don’t really know this part of the country.
But there was also the fact that they’d left this “loophole”. AND the wild thought of spending the rest of the day in the kind of landscape I saw, looking ahead: a vast, white wilderness; high, snow-covered peaks in the far distance. It was almost like being in Antarctica . All sign of human presences, even of thought, had been completely whited out.
The thrill of that potential experience caused me to thank the state trooper and drive forward, slowly and carefully. I had beautiful music tapes and the U. of New Mexico fm radio station to listen to; an excellent heater in my car; a thermos of coffee and a few snacks. And there were a couple of towns on the map between where I was and where I was going, where I could stop for meals.
But the road, oh, the road! It was almost like a sheet of ice, I realized after driving awhile. Almost, but not quite. I realized that I would have to abide by two principles, in order to make it: 1) drive slowly, steadily, and 2)take Meher Baba’s Name, the whole way, no exceptions even for a minute!
After the roadblock, there were no more stops. It seemed as if I had eased beyond Time itself. The afternoon became its own world—Beauty’s world! I am not equal to communicating the pristine, eye-cleansing landscapes I saw, only to saying that I’m happy I have that memory, those FEELINGS in my memory.
There were some other drivers, cars and a few small trucks, who had also braved the weather. A couple hours into the drive, I noticed a van sort of tailgating me. I couldn’t understand this, but neither could I shake him off. I just kept looking at Baba’s Picture on my steering wheel, saying or sometimes singing Baba’s Name, and driving slowly and steadily.
This irritation went on for fifty miles or so. Then I passed a roadhouse and stopped to use the bathroom. Around five miles after I resumed driving, I saw a scene up ahead by the side of the road, several cars pulled over. As I passed by, I noticed the car that had been tailgating me, turned over, not far from the shoulder of the road. It appeared the driver was all right. But at that moment I felt certain that it was my steady repetition of Meher Baba’s Name that enabled me to traverse that smooth, long section of highway safely.
A quite dramatic incident, also in traffic, occurred one time in Los Angeles , when I was visiting a friend of a friend whom I’d known only by mail (prior to e-mail) correspondence, who knew about Meher Baba and respected Him, but was not devoted. At a major intersection, someone ran through a red light after I had already gone through my green light, and it looked like a certain collision. Because I try to think of Baba’s Name a lot, moment to moment, silently, when this happened, His Name just escaped from my lips very loudly, because in the intensity of the moment one could not think or put on brakes of “propriety”. The INSTANT Baba’s Name came out of my mouth, the situation changed! I have no idea what happened. It was as though Time skipped a beat, and the car that had gone through the light was somehow back in the rhythm of regular traffic, and missed my car, and did not cause an accicent, although that had seemed impossible a moment before.
This time, there was a kind of proof. The lady I was with looked at me and said out loud what I was thinking: “The whole thing changed when you shouted Baba’s Name!”
This was a really FUNNY HA-HA one! Again, no proof! Not too many months after I first “came to Baba” way back in 1971, my girl friend and I, and her little boy, went on an adventure, driving our van across Canada . As we were beginning out trek, having crossed the international border in Ontario , we took a ferry to a place called Pelee Island , in Lake Erie . We spent a couple of enjoyable hours at the beach, then had some food and went “exploring” as the afternoon went on. Just before sunset, out in a deserted place by the Lake at the far end of the island—I got the big former mail van STUCK IN THE SAND! I tried and tried to rock it out, but only succeeded in getting it in deeper. The van was much too heavy for even the two of us to push out. And there were no phones, anywhere nearby. And the sun was just about to sink below the horizon.
I had started saying Baba’s Name to myself already, because He, well, He had recommended that, and I was eager to do whatever “something” I could do to bring Him closer!
So I sent out silent repetitions of His Name, with a certain urgency, because it looked as if we were about to have to spend a whole night in a pretty forsaken place. And with a small child, that wasn’t really too safe.
A little while before the sun DID go down…this is like a corny movie, but I swear it really happened!—a whole BOY SCOUT TROOP hiked out of the woods nearby, and when they saw our predicament, they immediately got to work pushing the van—the Scoutmaster and ten or twelve of the boys. They had it out in less than a minute! Then they accepted our grateful thanks—and marched right back into the woods!
Did Baba “create” them, temporarily, just for us?
Who knows? :-)