During the last months and days of His life, when Meher Baba’s body was being wracked and gradually destroyed by what He called His Universal Work, Meher Baba had his sister Manija repeatedly read to him out of Tolkien’s epic works. I remember Mani talking about how into the story He would get, asking things like “What do you think their (the hobbits) feet look like?” I think that this is a significant aspect of Meher Baba that is seldom thought about if it is known at all, so since I finally had a chance to view the entire film show, and can see the connection to His work, I’d like to share that.
My own connection to Tolkien goes back to before that period in Baba’s life. My father, who had been a Professor of English literature, and a poet when I was born to him, had been way into this arcane world of ancient language and literature which Tolkien inhabited, and in my early teens there were these books by Tolkien that appeared on the living room bookshelves. He never talked about it, because he thought we could never understand. But he and my mother had systematically read to us from the Arthurian Cycle when we were small children, so there was this kind of mythological content to our life together. To skip to conclusions for a moment, it has become clear to me that because the Avatar got involved in Tolkien’s world during what can be considered the most crucial stage of his life and work, the Arthurian Cycle has been superceded by Tolkien’s myth as the defining myth of our time, not just for the West, but for the whole world. He could have had Mani read from the Ramayana or the Mahabharata, but He chose to give his attention to this then unknown epic myth, which is all into the linguistic ancestors of Old High German, from which English is descended.
To backtrack from conclusions, Tolkien had thought that he was writing about the mythic underpinnings of Hitler’s regime, which he lived through. I don’t believe that. I think Tolkien got this myth the same way the author of Baba’s favorite Western tune got “Begin the Beguine” – he simply heard it from God, and then God in the form of the Avatar, recognized and empowered it as the mythic truth of this time.
In other words, Hitler (or Xi Jinping or Donald Trump in the present) is a side track in understanding this epic. It’s about the spiritual path, but it’s from a very interesting point of view. Unlike the Arthurian Cycle, the archetype of the Perfect Master is not the protagonist. In Tolkien that archetype is present in the King Aragon, who has a comparatively minor, although essential role. The protagonist in Tolkien’s epic, Frodo, is the archetype of a veiled soul on the path, at the crucial juncture between the 4th and 5th planes, the dreaded stage of Enchantment at the juncture of the subtle and mental worlds. Frodo seems like a complete nebish until encountering this Ring of (ultimate) Power, which has nothing but evil effects because all it can do is to corrupt everything and everybody it touches or even gets close to with overwhelming desires for this Power to destroy and therefore dominate, the entire world.
But when the Ring appears, Frodo is the only one who can behold it without going stark raving mad on the spot, and he takes possession of it to save all his companions from being destroyed by it. He himself doesn’t like this idea at all, but he can in fact resist the evil power, although he is tempted by it and periodically seduced by it throughout the story, but something always intervenes from outside of him to save him from that, and that’s what shows that he’s veiled. That’s how a Perfect Master works with a veiled soul, and it was in fact Aragon, the Perfect Master of the tale, who had to take Frodo under his wing at the very beginning to get him balanced in this new stage as Ring-Bearer. Aragon himself couldn’t do that because it simply wasn’t his job. Being a King, even in exile, was a full-time job for Aragon. And besides Aragon, all of the people in Frodo’s environment quickly became of one mind that Frodo was chosen to do this, for his own sake, for their sake, and for the world’s sake.
But Frodo himself was never sure about any of this, again, a sign of a veiled soul. Frodo’s internal strength was overwhelming, but he could never see that about himself. True, Frodo chose it himself, when he first took possession of the Ring, but for him it was just the impulse of the moment, arising from compassion towards others. He didn’t know that this would be his life. Aragon then systematically veiled him, teaching him to avoid the Eye of Sauron and the Ring-Wraiths, and that the only way he could be free of this tremendous burden would be to cast the Ring into the Pits of Mordor, and that he must now do this because no one else could do it. Frodo had to learn by hard experience that everyone he met except Aragon and Gandalf would try to get this Ring away from him, and that he would be forced to fight them for it, with increasing ferocity until the bitter end, because it became increasingly clear to Frodo that, in fact, only he could carry out this task. That’s about the only thing he was really sure of until the bitter end. Also, BTW, there was no reliance on a diety by anyone at any time in this entire epic. Frodo’s worst mistake was to take guidance from the evil demon Smeagol, simply because he felt sorry for the poor miserable slime-bag. Veiled, veiled, veiled!
It’s a dark story of terrible trials and suffering, and where was the bliss of the Path for Frodo? Frodo was completely destroyed by the whole experience, and when he went to the blissful paradise of the Elves, I think he was gone for good. I don’t think he will come back as a Perfect Master, and so be it. Perfect Masters are rare, and those individuals are chosen by God from the very first moment of thier existence as an individuated creature. And people so destined tend to approach the behavior of Aragon and Lord Rama, when demons appear, they kill them on the spot, next problem please!
Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai!