30-DARWIN CYRUS SHAW
Darwin and Jeanne Shaw, a young couple from Schenectady, New York, were very anxious to meet Baba. For many years, Darwin Cyrus Shaw had been a genuine seeker and student of religion, philosophy and mysticism, searching for the answers to the mystery of life. Both he and Jeanne felt a close connection with Jesus. Darwin had strong feelings that the Second Coming of Christ would take place very soon. Two years before, in the spring of 1932, he became keenly interested when he read in the newspaper that Shri Meher Baba was coming to America and was considered by his disciples to be a great spiritual personage.
Intuitively, Darwin felt that Baba might be the One he was expecting. Another newspaper article during 1932 announced that Meher Baba had arrived in America and would be staying at a retreat near Harmon for about ten days.
By this time, Darwin had come to feel that Meher Baba was the Returned Christ. He had reached out to Baba inwardly and he felt that Baba actually responded by visiting him in spirit. His feelings about Baba were so strong that he felt like leaving his job and going right away in search of Baba. However, he allowed his feelings to be overruled by his rational thinking. He thought that, since Baba would be there for ten days, he could wait a few days until he would have the Memorial Day holiday off from work.
So, on Memorial Day weekend, Darwin and one of his friends, a 22-year-old neighbor named, Donald Holloway, drove to Harmon, about 130 miles away. They soon found the retreat, only to learn that Baba had finished His work there early and gone on to California. This was a deep disappointment. However, the feeling there of Meher Baba's "loving presence" was still very evident. They were welcomed by a few of Baba's followers who were still there, namely Josephine Grabau, her mother Mary Antin, Milo Shattuck, Anita de Caro, Howard Inches and Grace Mann. Josephine asked Darwin if he would like to write to Baba. He did, pouring out his heart in a letter, offering his life in Baba's service. Darwin immediately mailed it and returned to the retreat for dinner. Halfway through the meal, he began to feel Baba replying to the letter. Darwin felt a "welling through the heart with unmistakable love ... answering everything in my letter," and tears began falling from his eyes. Although he deeply regretted missing Baba, Darwin was happy that he had found Baba's followers and longed for the day when he could meet the Master in the flesh.
Few of his life time events and his conversation with Meher Baba are recorded below:
In 1934, therefore, it was truly a joyous occasion when Darwin and Jeanne Shaw, both 26, received a telegram from Norina saying that Meher Baba was on his way to New York City and she had made an appointment for them to meet the Master at his hotel on 12 December. Darwin made all the necessary preparations to take advantage of this opportunity and eagerly awaited the day of Baba's arrival.
Darwin and Jeanne awoke at four in the morning on the 12th, and prepared to drive the 170 miles to Manhattan. But when they opened their door, they found a telegram hanging on the doorknob which read: "Your appointment has been cancelled. You may see Baba at a reception on Thursday the 13th." Shocked, they stared at each other. Then Darwin tore up the telegram and they decided to go on to New York anyway taking the chance they might catch a glimpse of Meher Baba in the hotel lobby.
They arrived at the Shelton Hotel a short time before Baba was to arrive. Norina walked in, saw them and asked, "My dears, what are you doing here?! Didn't you get my cable?"
"Yes," they replied, "but we haven't come for an interview. We are here in the hopes we might catch a glimpse of Baba as He passes by."
Norina said, "Baba is in the taxi following the one I came in. He'll be here any moment. Maybe He'll see you for just a minute when He comes." Just then Baba walked in. The winter weather was very cold outside and he was dressed in a long overcoat and a hat with his long hair tucked under it. Norina walked quickly over to Baba to explain the situation. Baba looked over at His two longing souls and nodded in agreement. He strode over to them with Norina. Darwin described this momentous first meeting with their long-awaited Beloved:
I could not begin to tell you how we felt when Baba looked into our eyes, when He clasped our hands. I felt that His handclasp might have reached down through many centuries and many lifetimes. The first result of the impact of His love was a great sense of spiritual upliftment, joy and happiness. There are probably other superlatives I could use, but none of them would be adequate to describe how we felt.
This was our first glimpse into those infinite pools of divine love that were His eyes. I was overjoyed. His beauty, the sweetness of His love which could not be expressed in words — the joy, the sparkling wonder of His being. One could not prefigure Him. One could not imagine how it would be, what He would be like. He was more than one could imagine — much more, immeasurably more.
Jeanne had not had the inner experiences of Baba's love (as Darwin had) prior to this first meeting, and so she was not as sure about Him. Somehow, she was impelled to turn in order to get another glimpse of Baba. To her surprise, just as she turned, Baba also turned and looked directly at her. He folded His hands and bowed slightly to her. Jeanne turned quickly away, not wanting him to think she was staring. But, in spite of herself, she could not resist turning twice more to look and, each time; Baba also turned, folded His hands and bowed to her. Jeanne began
To realize that the Master knew her innermost thoughts and she concluded, "Baba really must be something!"
Elizabeth brought Darwin, Jeanne and Bessie to Baba's suite, where they were overjoyed to be in his presence and overwhelmed by His beauty. Baba sat on the bed wearing a sadra with His long hair down. Jeanne was so struck by His splendor that she did not see anyone else in the room. Darwin recollected, "My first reaction was that He was indescribably beautiful. Then I had the impression of two opposites: that He was like a wraith that might float away at any instant and also like a tower of strength, immeasurably powerful."
They sat near Him — Jeanne on Baba's left, Darwin to her left, and Bessie on Baba's right. The close proximity to Baba proved too much for Bessie who exclaimed exuberantly, "At last I have found you, My Master!" and threw her arms around Baba.
Jeanne felt like doing the same thing but was too shy. She began to weep and could not stop. Baba "turned off the faucet" by placing His hand on Jeanne's wrist. Instantly, she became calm, serene and happy. Darwin recounted what followed:
Baba looked past her and into my eyes. He looked so deeply, it seemed as though he were moving things aside so that he could see back and back, and I knew that He saw me through and through. It was not heavy. It was light and beautiful and joyous. There was never any feeling of "coming before the judge" or of any kind of measuring us for what we were. We felt that we were different kinds of beings in His presence. Somehow He took us out of ourselves. We were relaxed in His love. The wonderful thing about Baba is that, no matter what you are, what you have been, He loves you, steadfastly, eternally.
Baba motioned to Darwin and Jeanne, "I have always been helping you." Turning to Norina, Baba gestured, "Make an appointment for them to see Me the day after tomorrow."
The Shaws again saw Baba in the Shelton Hotel for 20 minutes the following afternoon, 14th December 1934, along with Donald Holloway and Faith Valentine. Darwin described this meeting:
We were directed to a large living room. There we saw Baba looking radiantly beautiful, wearing a white sadra and sandals. Baba's secretary, Chanji, was the only other person in the room. Although it was a sunny afternoon, there seemed to be an unusual lightness in the room and I realized it emanated from Baba. As I looked at Him, this lightness became, for me at least, a brilliant glory, and it was thus that I beheld the Christ in the glorious radiance of divine love.
Baba sat down on a wide sofa and motioned for us to sit on either side of him.
The other couple sat on Baba's left while Jeanne and I sat next to Baba on His right side. I felt that somehow I must get close to Baba, so I knelt directly in front of Him and sat back on my heels. Baba was indescribably beautiful and His love lifted our spirits, filling our hearts with a blissful sweetness that was beyond happiness.
As on the previous occasions with Baba, there seemed to be no need for much conversation. We were communicating with Baba and he with us at a much deeper level — the level of love. Baba did spell out that, "Through love, you will come to see me as I really am." At that time we could not imagine him in any more wonderful way than as we saw him then.
As we sat there, I thought: "This is such a wonderful experience. Wouldn't it be great if Baba gave us some little thing to keep as a memento of this occasion?" Instantly, Baba clapped his hands and had Chanji bring a rose. Then Baba gave each of us a petal to "keep as a memento of this occasion."
Baba sat with his legs crossed, and then placed his raised foot just a few inches in front of me. I could scarcely believe my eyes as, looking at His lovely foot; I realized that here was the sacred foot of Christ. Scenes from the New Testament flashed across my mind, and I especially recalled the scene of Mary of Bethany anointing the feet of Jesus with precious ointment and then wiping them with her hair. I was taken by an overwhelming impulse to kiss Baba's foot, thinking, "When would I ever again have the chance to kiss the sacred foot of Christ?" So I bent forward and lovingly kissed his foot. A few minutes later, Baba drew me close to Him. I bent my head. Baba lifted it and kissed my forehead.
The Shaws were not to see Baba again until 1952, but remained faithful and in communication all of those years.
On 14th August 1935, he answered several letters. Darwin Shaw had written that he was hoping to establish a retreat for Meher Baba in America. Baba wrote back:
Whether that retreat on earth is established or not, I do really appreciate the spirit of love and brotherhood that has been awakened, and consider it as a spiritual retreat already established within, which is much more substantial and real than any earthly home or structure. The true spirit is there, already awakened, and if it is fostered and kept up with warm feelings of love and brotherhood, it will eventually bear results that will be helpful in the development of spiritual understanding of life and things pertaining to life. And wherever such spirit of love and brotherhood exists, inner light and guidance always follow invariably.
According to Baba's instructions in 1944, Norina Matchabelli and Elizabeth Patterson had established a spiritual center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Center was to serve as a retreat and also as a source of information to spread the message of Meher Baba's love to the world. Darwin was the chief among several American lovers who helped Norina and Elizabeth. Darwin and his family had moved to Myrtle Beach to look after the Center for a year while Norina and Elizabeth were in India in 1948.
In 1952, Darwin Shaw's 20-year-old son Lowell arrived at the Center. Baba wished to have him serve as His night watchman, so He had Mani telephone the Shows in Schenectady, New York, conveying Baba's wish.
Darwin and Jeanne Shaw were happy that their son was called to serve Baba in this capacity. Lowell was also eager to be of service to Baba, but that duty was not possible for him to perform. This brief contact with Baba had a profound and wonderful effect on Lowell. His parents reported later that when he returned home, he appeared filled with Baba's love, which seemed to radiate so much from him that it was felt by their friends in Schenectady also.
Although Darwin and Jeanne Shaw had met Baba in 1934 in New York, this was the first meeting for their two teenage daughters, Renae, seventeen, and Leatrice, eighteen. The entire family (including Darwin's niece Dolores) drove to Myrtle Beach, where they met Baba at 10:00 A.M. on the 10th in the Lagoon Cabin. Baba was wearing white pajama pants and a maroon silk robe. He embraced each member of the family. The girls were weeping.
Baba said: "God in heaven is happy you are here. Do you have any idea how happy I feel to see you? I underwent many hardships during the last two years doing mast and poor work, sitting in seclusion, but today I feel so happy to see you dear ones, you who have worked so hard for the Center. Every inch of this place has Norina, Elizabeth and the Shaws' love in it. I saw your (Darwin's) mother and father (on the 6th)
"I have had no sleep for the last seven nights, yet I feel fresh because of the love of My dear ones, which makes Me strong. God wants love — honest, pure love. So love is all that matters."
"We hope to serve you," Darwin said.
"I know, and you really do love. They [his children] also love me, because Baba loves you all.
It is My love that makes you love Me."
The Shaw family had another interview with Baba in the Lagoon Cabin at 9:00 A.M. on Wednesday, 14 May 1952. Baba stated that He felt relaxed. He narrated the humorous incident about Lahu the servant boy drinking half His coffee when He was fasting in seclusion at Upper Meherabad in 1927.
Darwin Shaw had never met Eruch, and at the beginning of his interview, Baba introduced them. Eruch was interpreting and, pointing to himself, said, "Darwin, this is Eruch." Turning to Eruch, Baba stated, "This is Darwin; he is one of My dearest ones."
Baba's simple declaration had a profound effect upon Darwin. At that moment, "Baba somehow pulled back more of the veil and revealed himself," Darwin described. Falling into Baba's arms, Darwin "felt a great wave of love and experienced bliss." He continued:
It was beyond my wildest dreams. One cannot describe the sweetness, the tender beauty of His love that was radiant within. In a letter, when we were living in Myrtle Beach, Baba had called me His chosen disciple. I never fully believed it. Now, when Baba called me one of His dearest ones, it just broke me up. I looked at Him through tears and asked, "How can you say that?" Baba became sober and said, "I do not humor you."
In 1954, Darwin had brought a white scarf for Baba. He had put the small package on the table and now picked it up, feeling it to be so inadequate. Humbly, he handed it to Baba who quickly responded, "You yourself are the greatest gift you could have brought.
You are God's gift to me."
Prior to coming to India, Darwin had thought that when they arrived Baba would give them profound spiritual discourses, which he did, but it did not take long for him to realize, in his words:
Something much more important was happening to us on a much deeper level that had nothing to do with these things Baba was explaining to us at this surface level. One could not remain static, things changed. Our sense of dimensions of who we are and what we are — there was a dissolving process. We were in a realm which was new and wonderful, where we'd never been before, and it was somehow in the realm of Baba's being. This went on day after day.
While walking with Baba, Darwin Shaw had the overwhelming feeling that they were walking over the hills of Galilee with Christ, and a fragment from Jesus' sayings crossed his mind: "You all say 'yes, yes,' but do not do!" At that moment, Baba gave him a sharp glance.
In the meeting room Baba spelled out:
No more explanations today. It is the last day of My coming here. Today, we will drink together. This is not the Last Supper, but the Last Drink, and I am hoping that, at least from among you all, no one will sell Me, although someone has to do that job. My physical end is going to be a violent one.
I am the Ancient One, and you will all love me more and more after my body is dropped, and will see me as I really am. Today, I won't explain anything; what is there to explain?
Then, without looking at Darwin, Baba spelled out: "You all say 'yes, Baba,' but you do not do."
Darwin was amazed and thought: "How can one fathom this being?"
Again, without looking at Darwin, Baba stated with a bland expression, "My ways are so unfathomable that sometimes I, too, cannot fathom them!"
As Baba sat one final time with His lovers in the west room of Meher Retreat, "there was no more need for music," Darwin Shaw later wrote. "No more need for discourses, no more need for anything, but only to sit and gaze upon his lovely being," This Baba allowed them to do.
Darwin described these last moments with the Master:
Baba sat there like a beautiful flower. Waves of love just flowed from him. The room became love's sanctuary. As the wind was sighing through the window high up the wall, it made a noise. Baba smiled and pointed to it. We nodded. No one wanted to break the enchantment of that quiet time. We were just silent and sat there. Baba's beauty was irresistible. For my part I could not take my eyes from His lovely face. And it turned out to be one of those occasions that, when I watched Him, it looked like veils began to fall away from His face. That which was exquisitely beautiful, became indescribably more beautiful. Love that was pure divine love became universal, illimitable, measureless love. There was nothing but an endless, measureless beyond of pure, sweet, beautiful, timeless love. Baba was drawing us deeply into His being. We were just completely melted away. It was so glorious.
Then Baba asked different ones what they were thinking. Darwin replied, "Of you Baba. You are all love."
Baba embraced each man, one by one. All the men left, except Savak Kotwal and Darwin, who were too overwhelmed, too intoxicated to move!
In 1956, Jeanne Shaw was given more of Baba's clothes to wash and iron, and found the work a privilege. Darwin recalled carrying the bundled sadra and pink coat back to their hotel and how "waves of love" flowed out of the package.
Baba motioned for the five members of the Shaw family to sit on the carpet before him. He spoke with them a bit, and it seemed to Darwin that Baba was "opening up" and more of his love was flowing out — and he was opening their heart centers to receive it! Darwin recalled: "I was aware of being enveloped in Light. It was as if we were loving him as we had hoped to love him in our wildest moments of wishful thinking. We just sat there adoring him."
Baba walked back to the Lagoon Cabin where, at about 9:00 A.M., he resumed seeing people privately. Darwin's family were the first to meet him. Leatrice Shaw asked Baba if she should undergo an eye operation, and he replied he would discuss it with her and her parents later. For the moment, he assured them, "Don't worry about anything. Worry only about loving me more and more."
Darwin's parents, Aaron and Helen Shaw, also met Baba, as did his niece, Dolores.
A few months before Baba arrived in America in 1956, the United States Supreme Court held the segregation laws invalid. Legislation protecting the Negroes' right to vote was also passed and, in general, the struggle for African-American rights began gathering force. Baba seemed keenly interested in the subject. Darwin described to Him how Blacks were showing a new militancy in their battle for civil rights and social justice. The year before, they had begun boycotting public buses, because the bus lines were segregated.
Darwin took a snapshot. Then Baba stood up, looked the tree over and seemed uninterested in seeing the rest of the park. He asked Kitty when lunch was scheduled, and on hearing they were late, signaled for all to return.
At the motel, Baba met with individuals in the afternoon. He called the Shaws into His room to have tea with Him. Eruch served it.
In 1958, to Darwin Shaw, Baba remarked, "Do you realize how blessed you are? You love Baba, your wife loves Baba, and your children love Baba. By working with groups of souls who love me and bringing them closer to me, you are really blessed."
Every morning, Darwin would drive Bili Eaton, Ella Winterfeldt and Leatrice to Baba's house to clean it. Although each had separate duties, they would go to Baba's bedroom and together make His bed. Every day, they would try to finish their work as quickly as possible so that they could be with Baba in the living room and sit at His feet before He left for the morning sessions. If they had not finished when Baba left by the front door, they would go out the back and wave to him as He drove off in the car.
During East West gathering in 1962, Darwin Shaw read out Baba’s message called "My Dear Children":
In Hollywood Hotel where Baba stayed, Darwin Shaw was stationed at the door, coordinating the flow of people going in for interviews. In the afternoon there was a lull and Baba and the mandali went back upstairs to their suite. Soon, more people came and Darwin thought since they had appointments he should inform Baba. He took the elevator up, and just as he was approaching Baba's room, Baba came out. Baba held up his hand and asked why Darwin had come. Darwin said, "More people have come, Baba — with appointments."
Baba looked at Darwin and lamented, "Does that mean I have to go back downstairs?"
In 1966, Darwin could see that Baba looked tired and He replied, "I am afraid so." Baba just leaned forward and humorously feigning exhaustion put His head on Darwin's shoulder for a few seconds, and then went back down.