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Acknowledgements

 
Stan's Baba Story and
the History of the Hawaii Baba Treasures

 

(Extracted from writings of Stan Alapa)

Stan Learns of Meher Baba

In May, 1969, about one in the morning, Stan was sitting at a bar in a Waikiki nightclub with a friend when a young man (Dr. Allan Cohen) and two women (Susan Kidder and Jeanne Kerr) walked in. He was surprised to see a "vivid blue light surrounding them" which, upon asking, neither the friend, nor the bartender, could see. When the trio started to walk to a table, Stan followed them, saying to himself, "I wish I was in their world!" Seeing Allan and Jeanne get up to dance, he quickly asked the remaining woman, Susan, to dance with him and learned from her that the three of them had just returned from Avatar Meher Baba's darshan. A "darshan" Susan explained, was to "be in the presence of the Master."

Returning to the table, Allan showed Stan a card with Baba's picture on it. All his life, Stan had been searching for "Akua," (the Hawaiian word for God.) Now, at the age of 38, hearing Baba's name and seeing his picture for the first time, he had no doubt that he had found him. So he said, "Tell me about Meher Baba." And they did. Then, before they returned to their hotel, Allan let Stan know that there was still time to attend Meher Baba's darshan. "I didn't know why," Stan tells, but at that moment, "I knew I had to go to India and bow down in silence to the God in my heart."

Arriving in India


Three weeks later, accompanied by a new acquaintance named Paul Morse, Stan and Paul set off for India. Stan had invited his nightclub friend to go with him, but this friend had declined. Paul Morse, present at the discussion, however, surprised him by speaking up and saying, "If I had the money, I would go with you." "You got it!" said Stan, and off the two went.

Having been told that Baba's darshan was only for His lovers, and fearing that he was too new in Baba's love to qualify as a "lover," Stan and Paul arrived unannounced in Poona. A telegram had been sent that they were coming, but Stan did not give a date or time. It was with great relief, then, that they made it to Meherjee's house (one of Baba's mandali), for they had not arrived without several uncomfortable adventures and first lessons from Baba.

First they had been swindled out of their tickets from Hong Kong to Bombay and cajoled to repurchase tickets with an India airline promising to put them up in Bombay and fly them on to Poona. Next, at a stop over in Calcutta, wandering into a shop, they got a shock that almost sent them scurrying back to Hawaii. Responding to the shop-keeper's questions, Stan cheerfully replied that they were going to Meher Baba's darshan in Poona, and thinking that everyone in India must surely know of him, confidently added, "Have you heard of Avatar Meher Baba?"

"We have 50,000 Avatars in India, and I have not heard of Avatar Meher Baba," the shop-keeper replied.

"I hope I haven't come here for nothing!" exclaimed Stan, and all the men, women and children in the shop started laughing. Right then and there, Stan wanted to go home, but he steeled himself with the thought: I have to see if Meher Baba is Akua.

Continuing on to Bombay, the plane was caught in a severe lighting storm and went into a steep dive. Stan was sure they were going to die and thought of all the things he didn't want to lose. He had a successful business, money, and expensive car, a Waikiki penthouse with a view of the beach and a "lovely woman." Looking back, Stan felt that Baba was showing him that "life is not only fleeting, but impermanent."

Landing safely in Bombay, Baba was not through with them yet. First, they learned that the promised flight to Poona had never really been, due to an ongoing airline strike, and arriving at the promised hotel, they found it not only a dump, but closed. Finally, the cab driver who appeared to have been befriending them from the airport, promising it would be to their gain, and despite Stan's protests, drove them out to a friend's house and weaseled them into a black market money exchange. Throughout, Stan was feeling upset and helpless inside. He had no idea where they were in a huge and strange city and he was carrying a good deal of cash for the two of them. He thought the cab driver's friends looked like gangsters whom the driver was trying to impress. While he knew that he never would have accepted this from anyone in Hawaii, he kept his cool. He was afraid that something terrible would happen if he didn't agree to the exchange. Afterward he said, "We could easily have been killed were it not for Meher Baba's nazar, or grace, being on us."

First Lesson in Obedience

At last they were driven to Poona and pulled up to Meherjee's house. But before Stan could get to the door, Meherjee came out and demanded to know who were the men in the car with him. He seemed suspicious of the cab driver right away. In his turn, the cab driver took Stan aside and begged him to promise not to let Meherjee know about the money exchange, and to please pay him for the fare privately. Stan agreed, but Meherjee also took Stan aside and made a counter request: please pay your driver in front of me! So Stan was in a dilemma! But he had made a promise to the cab driver first, so Meherjee reluctantly left the room.

When the driver had left, Stan went to apologize to Meherjee. Meherjee asked what he had paid and was shocked at the amount. Con artist to the end, the cab driver had made a bundle in Indian money. But then, confessing to the black-market deal, Stan learned that the profit he had reluctantly incurred in that exchange balanced out perfectly with what he had overpaid the cab driver! "I about broke even," he said, and Meherjee smiled.

"Such is the way the Beloved works." Stan summarizes in telling this part of his tale. "Ill gotten gains would one way or another be wiped out at his darshan. Thus was my slate wiped clean of black-market racketeering."

And thus Stan learned his first lesson in obedience to the Master. If he had followed the directives in the letter instructing him to make arrangements with Meherjee, it is unlikely that these things would have happened. Stan also felt guilty that he had "lied" in his telegram. Because of the wording in the message, he had labeled himself as Baba's "lover", even while believing that, having just heard of Meher Baba, "certainly, I could not be his lover." He feared that if he were to be honest, he would be "disqualified, a mere interloper," and he would not be allowed to attend the darshan. But, said Stan, "I was determined to go to Baba's darshan. I didn't care if I had to sleep on the streets!" (Leave it to Baba to know who really Loves him.)

The Great Darshan

So Stan was present at the Great Darshan. As he describes it, Meher Baba's "silence was absolute, and his presence was so perfect and so complete. It was overwhelming. For only God can permeate a place with such a wellspring of love and divine sweetness. It was truly a Great Darshan, potent in God's love. But for me, it was a great meltdown - the meltdown of hearts; and I was one of it's victims. I just wept and wept because I was washed in love."

And then it was Stan's turn to go Baba's chair and "bow down to Akua, the Lord of Love." At last he had found the One he had so long sought, and as he gently kissed His sandals and laid his forehead on them, he surrendered his life and his all "in deep humility to Meher Baba, the Avatar of the Age." "It was," said Stan, "the most natural thing for me to do."

But still new in Baba's love, that night Stan went to his room feeling sorry for Meher Baba. He wanted to help "this poor man spread His message of love and truth in Hawaii." He didn't know back then that Meher Baba didn't need his help, that "God alone does His own work." But neither did he know then, how Baba chooses to get that work done!

The Baba Treasures

Seeking assistance for his plan to set up his own Baba Center in Hawaii, Stan sought out K.K. Ramakrishnan, Secretary of the Poona Baba Center. Ramakrishnan helped him pick out books, brochures, cards and photographs of Meher Baba and the five Perfect Masters from the Poona Center, and took him downtown to purchase books on the masters and saints of India. Stan felt good about this collection but felt something was still missing.

The next day, Stan returned to the Poona Center and shared his feelings with Ramakrishnan. He explained that if he were to have "just one tiny item or relic of Baba" it would be a great help in establishing a Center for Baba in Hawaii.  To his delight, Ramakrishnan agreed.

The following day, unexpectedly, Stan was directed to come to Guruprasad. "I thought I did something wrong!" he recalls.  But "when I got to Guruprasad, I was told to go inside and that Mehera wanted to see me."  There, members of the men and women mandali were lined up with gifts for him.  Stan says, "I remember Mehera, in all her sweetness and love for her Beloved Baba giving me a pair of Baba's sandals that she had saved."  Then Mani gave him a lock of Baba's hair when it was "on the golden side" and a tiny heart case containing Baba's signature written on a piece of paper.  Eruch gave him one of Baba's sadras, adamantly telling him, "not to wear it." Another woman mandali gave him a piece of material and portions of the rose garlands (in a plastic bag) that had been in contact with Baba's body as he lay surrounded by these in his tomb before he was enshrined. Yet another gave a piece of granite stone that had also been next to Baba in his crypt. Someone else gave him a beautiful white statue of Zoroaster. "I could not thank Mehera and all the mandali enough," Stan remembers, adding, "And of course, (at that time) I truly had no idea what I have been given." *

Ramakrishnan was very happy to hear that Stan's wish to have "just one tiny item or relic of Baba's" had been so lavishly fulfilled, but then Stan went on to say that "Since I have all these things of Baba, all I would need now is a chair, and I would have a Center just like yours." (I was "just kidding," Stan would later say, and here the story breaks into two slightly different versions, depending on whether Stan is telling it, or Ramakrishnan.) According to Stan, at this point, Ramakrishnan offered, "I have a chair for you," and took him to his house in Kirkee, a suburb of Poona. According to Ramakrishnan, he took Stan to Kirkee to show him his room for Baba.

Once at Ramakrishnan's house, he showed Stan the special room that he had maintained especially for Baba's use, from 1956 to 1964, when Baba would spend his summers in Guruprasad.  In it was a chair Baba sat in whenever he came to visit at least once, and sometimes twice, a year. With it was a foot pillow Baba used to rest his feet on.  Ramakrishnan then showed Stan his own special collection of Baba relics. These included one of the "crowns" Baba had worn when being adorned as Krishna, handkerchiefs that he used to wipe the perspiration from his face, a bar of soap that he had used to wash his hands, a lock of his hair, fingernail pairings, a small pink cloth and pink sheet that he had personally used.
 

Then, according to Stan, Ramakrishnan asked, "What do you want?"

"Everything!" said Stan.

"You must be mad, but you can have it." Replied Ramakrishnan.

Or, according to Ramakrishnan, everything Stan saw, he said, "I want that!"

Later, according to Stan, Ramakrishnan took him back to the Center the following day and gave him four carved wooden lamps to be placed alongside Baba's chair for decoration or to be used at night to light up the chair.

Which ever way it happened, what is not in doubt is that, for whatever reason, Ramakrishnan found himself unaccountably giving away all his precious Baba treasures, including the chiar, to Stan. Afterwards, Pukar, and other of his close Baba companions could not understand how he could have let this happen. "Have you gone crazy?" they asked him. Years later, when Stan revisited India in 1993, Ramakrishnan, himself, told Stan he still found it a mystery that he had complied without question. The significance, however, was not lost on him. In a letter to Stan, Ramakrishnan wrote:

Your coming into our life in 1969 and carrying with you the chair on which The God-man sat year after year has great significance and has been divinely ordained for a united effort for His dear cause on this earth.

* Later, in the 1980's Paul Morse donated a small bottle (which he had been given) of the melted ice water that had surrounded Baba during the seven days he lay in the open crypt to this collection.

The Homeward Journey

The next morning, Meherjee made arrangements to have a small truck take all of Stan and Paul's things to the local airport - the chair, lamps, books, pictures, luggage, etc. - the truck was loaded! Stan and Paul said farewell to all the Mandali, Ramakrishnan and his staff from the Poona Center, and all the new friends they had made at the Ajmer Hotel.

Because Meherjee's had connections with Air India, they were able to get all these things on the plane to Bombay at no extra cost. "I had no idea how much extra weight we might be carrying," said Stan, " but I heard someone remark, "You are taking India back with you!""

Now that Air India was flying again, Meherjee had also made it possible for them to use the return trip portion of the Air India tickets purchased in Hong Kong. "So," said Stan, "it seemed that Dear Baba was seeing to it that we not be cheated out of our money." But arriving in Bombay they were in for a surprise. They would have to foot the overweight costs needed for the next leg of the flight. That came to $465 and they had no money. "Except for some loose change,"Stan recalls, "I was broke. I had spent all the extra money I had on things for the Baba Center. Instead of taking the bus to Baba's Samadhi like the other westerners, I had spent money on a cab. Instead of buying just a few pictures being sold at the tomb, I bought a whole album. I took groups of Indian Baba lovers out to expensive dinners. I went to a leper colony and gave away money. I gave away money to kids begging on the street, and every other cause that came my way. I was determined not to come home with any money, and I was broke. What was I thinking!"

Baba Intervenes

"I didn't know what to do," says Stan, so he told the ticket agent that although he had no money, he was taking Avatar Meher Baba's chair and things to Hawaii to establish a Center there- that they had God's chair with them! But the agent was not impressed and told them to step aside. Now thoughts were swirling through Stan's mind: What to do? They couldn't stay at a hotel, they couldn't fly back to Poona, they couldn't phone Shirley (Stan's business partner at the time) to wire any money. They were stuck in India with Baba's precious things. What if they had to sleep with them on the streets of Bombay! "I was a basket case" Stan tells, "I knew we had to get on that plane. I will always remember that this was the first time I prayed to Avatar Meher Baba. He sure didn't wait long to have me do it. I asked him to please help us."

So again Stan asked the agent if they would please be kind enough to put Avatar Meher Baba's things on the plane. But getting an emphatic "No!", Stan was ready to walk away in despair when suddenly a man appeared from a room behind the counter. Surprisingly, he told the agent to put everything on the plane, and to hurry it along so they could board in time. Stan went immediately to help Paul carry over the chair and luggage and then looked around to thank the unknown man for helping them. But he was nowhere to be seen.

Baba to the Rescue Again


Although they were last to board the flight to Hong Kong, finally they were on their way. Thinking all was settled now, Stan was feeling deeply grateful to Baba for helping them out. But little did he know - it was not over yet.  Ahead was a two hour lay over and another change in flights.

Now checking into Quantas Airlines, the same scenario played itself out. This time the overweight charge was $365. Again Stan told the agent they were broke, but that they had Avatar Meher Baba's chair with them and were taking it to Hawaii for a Center. Again the agent was not impressed and asked them to step aside. Again Stan couldn't envision sleeping on the streets of Hong Kong with Baba's precious things. What else was there to do but ask for a second miracle? "So again," says Stan, "I asked Baba to help us."

Suddenly, the final boarding was being announced and Stan pleaded once more to have the chair put on the plane. "You know," he said, "this is God's chair." Much nicer than the agent in India, this agent apologized and said he was truly sorry, but he could not help. Then once more, to their utter amazement, a man came from somewhere behind the counter and asked to see their tickets. Noting that they had one more stop over in Tokyo, he told the ticket agent to book the chair straight through to Hawaii. Then he turned to Stan and Paul and told them they must hurry because the plane was soon leaving.

"I just couldn't believe what my ears were hearing," says Stan. "I assumed he was the boss, and I thanked him for helping us. The last time I saw him, he was carrying Baba's chair onto the conveyor belt himself. That brought a little smile to my face. But inside, I was about to burst with happiness because our Beloved had once again come to our rescue."

Home in the Islands

Thus Stan, Paul and Beloved Baba's treasures made it safely back to Hawaii just as Meher Baba must have planned. Stan's nightclub friend was there to pick them up. He hadn't wanted to go to India, but to Stan's surprise, he was looking at Stan with tears flowing down his face. "What happened to you?" he asked. "What do you mean?" replied Stan. "Something happened to you in India. You are not the same person," said his friend.

Stan says, "I was intrigued by his remark, as I wasn't sure what he was talking about. But I now sensed that he wished he had gone to the darshan with me. I felt sorry for him because we were close buddies."

So, giving him a big hug, Stan reassured him, "Don't worry, I'm still the same guy nothing has changed."

"Well, that's what I thought," Stan sums up. "But my life would never be the same again. As I look back, I don't think I would have done what I did if I knew who Meher Baba was when I went to his darshan I would have been frightened by the great responsibility that was placed upon me when I was given his precious relics." For sure, Baba did not turn out to be the "poor man" and "underdog" Stan set out to help. But as Stan says, "Who knows, it is Baba who calls the shots."  All that mattered to Stan was that he had found his Beloved Akua.

 

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