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The Early Years:
 

First Baba meetings on Oahu
(Extracted from writings of Stan Alapa.)

When Stan discovered that Meher Baba was the embodiment of the Hawaiian God, Akua, for whom he had been seeking his whole life, his first impulse was that all the Hawaiian people, so spiritual in their heritage, should hear of Him. To that end, while still in India, Stan sought, and was given, a number of Beloved Baba's precious relics and personal items to become the foundation of a Center for Meher Baba in the Islands.

Contacting Murshida Ivy Duce

In May of 1969, following his participation in the Great Darshan, Stan returned to Hawaii with Baba's treasures. Almost directly after, "confronted with a host of problems related to establishing and running a Baba Center", he sought out the advice and council of Murshida Ivy Duce. He had learned of Murshida Duce from his initial Baba contacts and knew that she was the appointed head of Meher Baba's Sufism Reoriented in America, then located in San Francisco, California. He also knew that she had extensive experience in organizing and running a Center for Baba.

Over the course of several years, at Stan's invitation, Murshida Duce visited Hawaii three times, in 1971, 75 & 76, and did a tremendous amount of work to help Stan get a Center off the ground. Since Stan was living in Honolulu, the first efforts took place on Oahu.  Murshida organized and selected a board of directors, helped to set up and stock the small Center bookstore with books carried in the San Francisco Sufi Center's own bookstore, consulted on various problems including giving personal interviews to all the members and non-members who requested them, and gave Stan personal advice and specific instructions on the conduct of Baba meetings. In a personal letter, she wrote to Stan:

"Baba never makes anything easy for us and you will have to go through the same route as all of us, biding your time for what you (would) like to have. Baba will do the work and He always tells us not to get into debt or try to spend more than we have for His work."

Elizabeth Patterson also visited during these early years, and asked Stan how he was doing with the Center. Stan told her it was a "struggle," and saw a "look of compassion on her face and how deeply she felt for me." He sensed that she understood what he was going through and tells that he "strongly felt Baba's presence and love emanating from her." So he said to Elizabeth, "It would be easier if I carried Baba's light like you do." She just smiled at him.

First Baba Gatherings in Hawaii

Stan's struggles to get a Center off the ground and Meher Baba's name known were many and varied, and sometimes his determination and love for Meher Baba carried him a little overboard in his enthusiasm.

In 1969, the first Baba gatherings were held in Stan's nightclub on the stage with stage lights, music and a whole big production. Attendance was wall to wall for the first two meetings, but when Stan wrote Murshida about the crowds she told him, "Dear, I don't think the Nightclub is conductive to Spiritual life." She suggested they hold one more meeting and then find another location. Strangely enough, no one showed up for the last meeting, but as soon as a new location was temporarily established at the Surfboard Hotel, the meetings were packed again.

Still seeking a better location, Stan rented an entire small hotel, but before any meetings took place, Allen Cohen, who happened to be coming to visit, agreed to stay there for a couple of nights. Allen reported that one night was enough. He had been so bothered by "uhanies" (local spirits) that he could not sleep. That was the last of that hotel.

Finally, Shirley's penthouse apartment atop the Hawaiian King Hotel seemed like the best bet. It had a view of the mountains and Diamond Head. There they set up a small bookstore and held meetings over the next six months. People sat everywhere and filled the floor too. It proved to be a good place, but when the hotel was later sold they had to leave.

Over the course of the next two years, meetings shifted to various locations in the area. At first the meeting rooms were overflowing. Stan would put up notices and attempt to drum up interest around the town, but soon the attendance narrowed down to a relatively consistent group of six or so. (Several Baba lovers of long standing who lived in the islands at that time, still recall those glory days. There were Charles Parker, Ronnie and Ira Deitrick, John Molding, Pat Greenwood, Nalani and Alan Napolian, among others.)

Going Overboard for Baba

Still on fire for Baba, Stan was relentless in his determination. He distributed brochures and pamphlets all around town to stores and libraries. One day, discouraged by poor attendance at a meeting he had given, he took his box of books and literature to one of the Island's most popular tourist attractions, the International Market Place in the heart of Waikiki. Standing on the sidewalk, he held out brochures and pictures of Meher Baba and started calling out in a loud voice that "the Christ, the Messiah has come again-Jesus has come back as Meher Baba!"  Not only was he startling others, but himself as well.

Stan relates:

I could not believe I was doing this. If my friends and family could see me now, for sure they would think that I have lost it. (But) I kept on calling out Meher Baba's name, telling the people that the Ancient One, the Christ had come back again as Meher Baba. There were people that passed by giving me a strange look, probably saying to themselves, "Who is this nut telling us that Jesus has come back"  He belongs in an insane asylum. But yet there were people that stopped and looked at me and smiled. They probably felt sorry for me. But I smiled back at them, giving them a flyer with a picture of Meher Baba. To my surprise, two (Mormon)church people that I'd known for years from my hometown stopped to look. When they saw me, they walked away as quickly as they could, shaking their heads in utter disbelief. They probably were thinking that being a nightclub owner was bad enough, but now he is a religious fanatic. For sure, I said to myself, that I am ruined. It won't be long before everybody that I know would hear about what I did. But then there was this lady in a wheel chair. She had stopped to watch me. She then waved to me to come to her. I did. She stretched out her arms and gave me a hug and then said, "God bless you my son." I almost broke down because
I strongly felt God's presence. I then gave her a picture of Meher Baba. She really made my day, (but) I never did this again.

Holding Forth for the Uhanes

More appropriately, Murshida Duce had suggested to Stan that he show Baba films at the University of Hawaii and other similar venues, such as public libraries and meeting halls. This he began to do twice a month. He would place a public service announcement in the newspaper, and put up posters of the showings in public places. One evening at the University, nobody showed up, so Stan packed up his materials and began to walk out of the room. But he heard a voice calling, "Don't leave! Come back!" He looked around and there was no one, but as he began to leave again, one voice called out distinctly, "Don't leave. Come Back! Please come back!" Looking back he thought he saw some shadowy images of people in the room, but he shut the door and quickly hurried out.

Writing about this experience to Murshida Duce, Stan received a letter telling him in future, he should conduct an entire meeting even if he could not see anyone! Murshida went on to explain to him that a lot of people from the astral world attended these meetings and were eager to hear the message of Avatar Meher Baba even if Stan couldn't see them.

A month later, Stan made good on this advice. He went to hold a showing at the Hawaii Kai shopping center and it was raining cats and dogs. A security guard on the premises assured him nobody would show up. Nevertheless, intent on carrying on the show with or without an audience, Stan went inside to set up. Seeing that he was determined, the security guard helped him carry his things in. Stan thanked him and asked him if he would be kind enough to direct the people to the meeting room.

The room had chairs for more than a hundred people, but sure enough, nobody came. So Stan stood up and introduced himself and started to talk to the empty chairs.

 Stan writes:

Although the room was empty, I could feel that the room was jam packed with people, standing room only. During my introductory speech, the same security guard showed up at the door, which was left open. Apparently, when he was downstairs, he heard a voice talking and so he came upstairs to see what was going on. He looked in and saw me talking to the empty room. He looked at me and said, "You all right?" I nodded my head, signaling I was fine and kept on talking. The guard stood there and listened for a moment. Feeling sorry for me, again he said, "You all right?" I had no choice but to speak up so that he would leave me alone. I said I was fine and continued talking to the empty chairs. The guard shook his head in disbelief and to my relief, he went downstairs.

After my introduction ended, I turned off the lights and started the projector. I was really enjoying the firm about Meher Baba, when after a few minutes the security guard came upstairs again. He saw me sitting in the middle of the room surrounded by all the empty chairs, watching the film. I looked at him and smiled. He shook his head again and left without saying a word. But I could almost swear I heard him say under his breath, "Poor guy!"

After the film ended, I thanked all the "uhanes" for coming to the meeting. When I went downstairs, I was delighted that the security guard wasn't around as I was in no mood to defend myself for what I did in the meeting room. But he probably went home early to tell his wife about this lunatic he'd just met!

Translating Baba's Universal Message in Hawaiian


Murshida Duce encouraged Stan in one more significant venture to bring the news of Meher Baba to his people and gather them into his Center. She asked him if he could translate Baba's Universal Message into Hawaiian. Previously, she had suggested that Stan study the language of his native people. Both Stan's parents had spoken fluent Hawaiian, but Stan had never learned it. Now Stan enlisted his Hawaiian Language teacher to assist with the translation. Murshida critiqued each translated draft carefully comparing the Hawaiian and English words until she was sure the finished version accurately conveyed Baba's message. Then Stan did the layout and sent it to the printers.

When it was done, Murshida asked if Stan would be good enough to distribute it in person to all the different churches in the Islands. Stan was perplexed at this request, wanting to tell her that almost all the people in Hawaii no longer spoke, let alone read, the language. "Why she wanted the Universal Message delivered to all the different churches, I hadn't the faintest idea, Stan says, but I didn't say anything, sensibly believing that she knew what she was doing. Thus, it was only natural for me to think that she intended some work for the benefit of the Hawaiian people."

The Islands will Sink

All his years on Oahu since bringing back the Baba treasures from India, Stan had carefully guarded and preserved them. But toward the mid-seventies when the Honolulu Center was running into debt and the bookstore wasn't generating enough income to be of help, on her third visit to Hawaii, Stan told Murshida that he wanted her to take back all of Baba's things to her Sufi Center in San Francisco.  "Because of the enormous work she was doing for Meher Baba," Stan writes,  "I could not see a more worthy person to have Baba's things."

But Murshida's stated firmly:

"You keep all of Baba's things in Hawaii; otherwise, the islands will sink!"

Move to Molokai

By 1978, the efforts to create a Center on Oahu were discontinued as Stan moved to join Shirley on the Island of Molokai.  All of Baba's treasure went with him.

 

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