Masts (sounds like ‘musts’) are God-mad individuals; the intensity of their inner state of bliss about God has rendered them mad for ordinary human purposes. The difference between a mast and and a normally insane person is that the insane are most definitely not happy. They are miserable and quite often dangerous to themselves and others. But masts, who tend to live in filth and squalor, are completely blissed out by their inner perceptions of divine truth and the Divine Person, and they basically just want to be left alone to enjoy their bliss. The masts incarnate almost exclusively in India, and nobody contacts them for spiritual work but Perfect Masters and the Avatar. Some of them are lovable and have devotees who take care of them. Some of them were identified by Baba as ‘chargemen’ of certain locales. A number of them were used by Meher Baba in his work with WWII. In other words, they are not necessarily mad with respect to the inner planes, where they can take responsibility and do work. But all of them are most definitely mad with respect to the gross plane.
In general, with respect to the Path, the masts remain stuck where they are, and do not advance until they are pushed. You can traverse the entire spiritual Path as a mast, and some individuals are predestined to do this. Others become masts at some stage on the Path, and this is also predestined. Meher Baba discusses this at length in God Speaks.
Being God-Mad is quite different from experiencing haal, the entrancements that yogis are subject to. A yogi in haal is equally stuck as a mast, but it is a minor problem for a Master to kick any given yogi’s butt and get the individual moving again. But a mast is a whole other problem completely. Kicking them only enrages them, and if they curse you as a result of this, you’ve got a huge problem with God. The Master can push or drag them forward on the Path, but they will still be masts at the resulting higher stage. Masts NEVER become salik (sane).* Compared to the path of the salik, the path of the yogi is long and dangerous, but the path of the masts simply is what it is. What could be ‘danger’ if there is no mind there to percieve it? The masts belong to God. That’s all that can finally be said about them.
*In his awesome Tribute to Mohammed the Mast Eric Nadel said that Padri said that Meher Baba said that Mohammed mast would be a Perfect Master in several more lives. If that’s true, it’s an exception to the general rule.
Mohammed mast, the particular mast that Meher Baba is talking about in the following riff, was stuck between the 3rd and 4th plane when Baba first encountered him, and Baba pushed him all the way to the 5th plane before engaging him in his inner work. (Mohammed mast later became a fixture at Meherabad, and I actually met him in 1969). Mohammed mast was involved with WWII, and had a connection with Germany. When masts were inveigled by Baba to involve themselves in the creation at the higher levels of consciousness that they experienced, they suffered as a result, and they became absolutely difficult to deal with on the gross plane, and it was Baba’s mandali who bore the brunt of this. It was in the context of such theatre in 1940, in the depths of WWII that Baba said this to his Mandali about Mohammed mast (from Lord Meher, p. 2583-85):
You have no idea how these masts feel in this changed environment. All the care we bestow – the food and clothing we give – is no obligation to them at all, for they do not need it; rather they resent it. In allowing us an opportunity to serve, they are, on the contrary, obliging us. Otherwise, it is a binding to those accustomed to live freely and happily according to their own peculiar whims and methods. To distract them from a particular thing in which they are interested is a torture to them, for they find relief even in staying in their squalor and playing with dirt and filth.
A mast such as Karim Baba gulping five and six coins at a time and passing them out in his stools, and again gulping them down is an example of this. It is his method. If you try to stop it, even with the best of motives to keep him clean and out of the dirt, and he gets enraged, you could be doomed for life, because the wrath of masts and saints is very dangerous.
Mohammed’s trait of finding and looking at his “deesh” is a sort of relief to him to be thus occupied. You think that he is playing with dirt and is exposed to the elements. With the best of motives of safeguarding his health, you try to bring him in. When he resists, you forcibly try to pull him out and break his link to what he has seen in that particular object, through the higher consciousness of the spiritual plane on which he is. And what happens? The moment he finds you trying to dissuade him, he feels disturbed and is indecisive whether to be there or here, meaning where his consciousness has taken him on the higher planes through the thing he is looking at, or where he is called on by you to go, leaving his deesh on this earthly plane.
This is no joke. It is a regular torture to Mohammed to reconcile the two different and conflicting states of the higher and lower planes of consciousness. If, in the torments of this torture or excitement, he were to abuse or curse anyone for thus disturbing him in the enjoyment of his ecstasy, the cursed one would be doomed for this life. It is simply because of me that he cannot do this and you are saved from his wrath. That is why I have been asking you constantly to be very tolerant and lenient with the masts and never to disturb them if they are persistent, even when you have the best of motives such as to protect them from the elements, uncleanliness, et cetera, which is also one of your duties.
The best way to handle them is the way of love and mild persuasion. If these do not succeed, nothing else will. Compulsion or force would be worse, even if they cannot hurt you for my sake. It reacts on them and causes them to suffer, which I do not want. For I know what a torture it is to them, and how they suffer.
It is a torture both ways. First of all, the masts suffer from being deprived of their own environment and their freedom in the places where they used to live. To be thus kept confined, even with all the other liberties we give them, and best care we take of them is to suffer. Secondly, the masts suffer whenever disturbed and pulled out of their ecstatic enjoyment. It is because they feel happy in my presence that they stay. They see me and know me as none of you do. That is why they are quiet. Otherwise, they would be impossible to manage.
If efforts made with love are effective with worldly people, they would be all the more effective and essential in dealing with these saintly beings who are lost in the love of God. You love to enjoy one phase of some of their peculiar traits when they are quiet and pleasing. You should equally enjoy the other phase of their insistence in the experience of the bliss they find in certain things which your eyes cannot penetrate, nor your mind understand.
Avatar Meher Baba ki Jai