W/o Darwin Shaw
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. 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.
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.
In 1934, therefore, it was truly a joyous occasion when Darwin and Jeanne Shaw, both 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 12th December. Darwin made all the necessary preparations to take advantage of this opportunity and eagerly awaited the day of Baba's arrival.1949-1934
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 canceled. 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.
After this brief meeting, Baba and Norina walked toward the elevator and Darwin and Jeanne moved toward some chairs in the lobby.
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!"
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 teenaged daughters, Renae, seventeen, and Leatrice, eighteen. The entire family (including Darwin's niece Dolores) drove to Myrtle Beach, where they met Baba in morning 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.
"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.
Several times during their interview Baba remarked, "Jeanne loves Me."
Jeanne Shaw describes how they felt afterwards:
The feeling of love overwhelmed us throughout the day and stayed with us like a light inside, warming us, engulfing us in waves of love divine; our minds stilled and we felt a peace and serenity out of this world. Nothing seemed to matter — all attractions of beach, surf and town ceased to attract us. We felt kindly, loving, patient and happy toward each other and all, and wondered at the significance of the personal messages received. We also reviewed the sweet loving things said (read by Adi as Baba pointed to the board). We had no questions to ask. We were just content to be with Baba — nothing else mattered. It all seemed too good to be true. We felt like pinching ourselves to see if we were dreaming. We had waited so long and it actually came to pass, that which we looked forward to, the meeting with Baba again, in person. We could hardly make ourselves believe that we really did see him and had an interview.
The Shaw family had another interview with Baba in the Lagoon Cabin on 14th 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.
Then Baba called for the station wagon. He and the five members of the Shaw family got inside and rode to Baba's House, with Adi as the driver. Baba personally showed them the house, taking them from room to room. When they were in the kitchen, He gestured for Jeanne to admire the modern conveniences. He also pointed out the view of the Atlantic Ocean from the verandah.
On the way back to the Center, Jeanne remarked that the ocean was calm and added, "The Southerners pronounce it ca'm." Baba smiled and indicated that she should say something else with a southern accent, and then pointed to Darwin to speak it, too. They all had a good laugh.
In 1952, another time, Baba was sitting in a chair, with Darwin, Jeanne and their three children sitting on the floor in a circle by His feet. Baba broke the moment saying, 'This is My food,' and then, 'Darwin is a jewel.' It was a heavenly moment."
Four years later in California in 1956, after tea with Baba, the Shaw family was again sitting around Him, content just to sit in silence. After some time passed, Leatrice observed to herself that no one was talking. Baba stated, "We do not need to talk."3115-1952
A special message from Baba, dictated by him on 7th July 1952, had been posted on a bulletin board. Jeanne Shaw had been assigned the duty of requiring everyone to read it. It read:
I am equally approachable to one and all, big and small.
To saints who rise and to sinners who fall,
Through all the various paths that give the Divine Call.
I am approachable alike to saint whom I adore
And to sinner whom I am for,
And equally through Sufism, Vedantism, Christianity,
Or Zoroastrianism and Buddhism, and other "isms"
Of any kind and also directly through no medium of "isms" at all!
In 1953, Baba and the mandali had spent a sleepless night on the plane from London, but when Ivy suggested that He rest, Baba quipped, "I haven't rested since I left Satara, and I won't rest until I drop My body."
At one o'clock in the afternoon, Baba came down the elevator. Jeanne Shaw was waiting there, and Baba took her hands and allowed her to kiss his cheek. She was given some of Baba's clothes to wash. Baba went to the rooms on the mezzanine reserved for giving interviews, which had been beautifully decorated by Jeanne.
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.
In the evening Baba and the mandali were taken to the Imperial Theater to see a new musical comedy by Frank Loesser named The Most Happy Fella. Baba's seat was in the first row of the balcony, Darwin and Jeanne Shaw in the row behind. During the play, Baba was withdrawn and doing His inner work. It was cold in the theater and Darwin put his coat on Baba's shoulders. Baba looked very tired. He left with the mandali at intermission and returned to the hotel.
In New York, Baba had allowed Jeanne Shaw this opportunity. "Do you know why I give you these?" he asked her. "Because you love me," she replied. He nodded.
In 1956, Baba had agreed to Jeanne Shaw's suggestion about a trip to Muir Woods that day. The meeting had delayed it, but soon everyone boarded buses and rode over the Golden Gate Bridge and up Mount Tamalpais. Baba was taken in a car and stopped first to visit the home of Joseph and Kari Harb (at 837 Faxon Avenue). He went through the whole house, distributed prasad and sat in Joseph's favorite chair.
Baba arrived at Muir Woods and asked the Shaws to lead the way into the redwood forest with its gigantic trees (the oldest living, growing things in nature) and show him the Ancient Tree. The children flocked around Him, hanging on to His arms like bright birds.
Baba paused for a moment before the giant redwood tree over 1,800 years old, and sat down in a hollow of the huge trunk. He closed his eyes, and it seemed the living Buddha had returned and was seated under the sacred Bodhi tree.
At the motel, Baba met with individuals in the afternoon. He called the Shaws into His room to have tea with him. Later, when only Jeanne was present, Baba asked her again, "Do you realize what it means for me to allow you to launder My sadra?"
Jeanne did not know what to say and replied simply, "No, Baba." Baba looked at Eruch as if puzzled, and Jeanne continued, "But I feel greatly privileged and happy to have this task as a favor to Me."
Baba looked pleased and gestured, "Good answer."
Because of this duty, Jeanne once or twice missed a "good morning" with Baba; but Baba always made it up to her. Once He waited after all the others had left the room until she had arrived. Another time he waited in the car outside the motel before leaving in the morning with the mandali to go to someone's home. He called her, kissed her on the cheek and then sped off.
In 1958, this was Baba's third visit to Myrtle Beach. Two hundred and fifteen "birds" from England, France, Switzerland, Israel, Mexico and different parts of the United States began arriving. Longtime lovers Darwin and Jeanne Shaw and others arrived, as well as newer ones also and others who had met Baba during His 1952 and 1956 visits.
In 1962, at Guruprasad, separate small groups of Western women were called to Guruprasad. Jeanne Shaw and few others. Baba embraced both of them. When Jeanne Shaw's turn came to greet Baba, she fell on her knees to embrace Him, and Baba hugged her for a long while. He questioned her about her heart attack. "How long before the sahavas did it happen?" Jeanne said four days. Baba was pleased that she had been brave enough to come. She began to sob with great love, and Baba took her face between His hands and kissed her cheek. She kissed Him back. Her earring fell off in Baba's lap, and He picked it up and handed it back to her, kissing her again.
As others came in and embraced Baba and the women mandali, Jeanne later recalled: "It was really one of, if not the, happiest days of my life. There was so much joy, the very air was vibrating with it, and I felt myself vibrating with the waves of love. I felt warm, tearful, joyful, as did several of the
In 1962, Baba said to westerners "Tomorrow is the day for your trip to Ahmednagar to visit my final resting place at Meherabad, and my residence at Meherazad. I want you all to go, health permitting. Meherabad, where I will rest after dropping My body, is now like a desert. After 100 years it will flourish into a place of pilgrimage. People from all over the world will want to visit it in their lifetime. It has a definite atmosphere. Meherazad is now My residence.
Interpreting Baba's gestures, Eruch said, "Jeanne (Shaw), Baba wants you to go. What if you die going on this pilgrimage, you will be blessed if you die on the way to My last resting place." Jeanne smiled and nodded her agreement.
In 1966, Darwin and Jeanne Shaw, also wished to move to Meher Center, but by that time Elizabeth had become concerned about the Center becoming overcrowded and requested Baba to "close the gates" to any further attempts to live on the Center.