Fred Marks on ‘Begin the Beguine’
Thoughts on “Begin the Beguine”
by Fred Marks
The Beguine transcends the whole range of human love, and the composer became the visionary of the Divine.
From a talk given on November 10, 1984 and published in The Awakener Magazine, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 40-42. Used by permission of The Awakener Magazine online.
The hazards which are being exerted in every direction in the world today to resuscitate or do away with the present order of things have brought man to a state of perplexity and bewilderment. So I take my role of work in Baba’s cause not as a teacher or a philosopher but more directly as a witness. I quickly pass on from things as they are to what they might become for those of us who are aspirants, lovers of Baba who have to be in the world without getting caught up in it.
The sense of my talk today is centered around Baba’s favorite song, Begin the Beguine. The history of the origin of the song is simply incidental. In 1955 when the Beguine was first sung in London, the song did not arouse much interest in people, probably because it was enveloped in obscurity.
However, Baba was in England at the time Cole Porter, the composer of the Beguine, produced another song called Spread It Abroad. Leslie Hutchinson, known as Hutch, singer and pianist, took them up with much enthusiasm. Artists all over the world clamored to sing the Beguine, but Hutch had the exclusive rights. He was a much-loved personality and respected the material entrusted to him; he was careful to interpret it in the spirit in which it was created. Cole Porter composed songs of the nature of human love, which seemed to be inspired by the Divine. The Beguine, however, transcends the whole range of human love, and the composer became the visionary of the Divine. It can be assumed that Baba crossed the path of both singer and composer and either one or the other or both were agents for Baba, who stated that the Beguine meant a great deal spiritually.
It was in August 1961 when Baba sent word to England for a search to be made for the original recording of the Beguine. It was the only one of its kind in existence of this particular version — it was almost impossible to come by, like searching for the Holy Grail. Eventually it was found and Mani wrote, “It’s the end of our united search. It’s the perfect one, and it made our Perfect One happy.”
The Beguine is the story of the soul’s journey from the Beyond God to the end of illusion, when the Soul knows, “I am God.” We all know that in the beginning there was a ripple over the Divine Ocean, and that ripple caused waves, and drops appeared. Those drops, which are in fact ocean, did not know they had forgotten the still, calm ocean, and knew themselves only as drops, and these drops said, “Who am I?” The Beguine describes the splendour of God, who knows everything; He knows how each drop will act. He knows each drop will have many experiences, and will forget Him, even though they are Him. He tells us in the Beguine how at times He cannot bear to recall how these drops suffer, until, He says, one drop begins to look at itself and think, “Who am I?” And then again He clutches His heart and that drop thinks about God. The clouds again appear and once again the drop forgets, and again and again these drops appear to remember God and again and again they forget, as Illusion forces them back into their illusion.
Baba once said He was so fed up with the world that He had a mind to send it all back to stone; I think that feeling is perfectly described in the penultimate verse of the Beguine: “Let the love that was once a fire remain an ember.” And then He says, “Now let them begin the Beguine. I’ll come back as Avatar, I’ll charm them, those who really love, I will make them adore Me, they shall become My lovers, and I will be their Beloved, and after I have charmed them, I’ll allow them to woo Me, and I’ll respond to their wooing as all Beloveds respond to their lovers.” Then in the beautiful last verse, lover and Beloved finally come together and the Divine Beloved hears the lover say, “Darling, I love you,” and they are one.
Beloved Baba knew we would forget Him, and He left His need in this song. He even allowed it to be played when He dropped His bodily form, because it stresses the importance of how He needs us to know He waits for someone to breathe His name and tell Him, “I love you,” as a true lover would tell His Beloved. He needs us to need Him.
A constant and firmly based faith in Baba can transform one’s life. It is the miracle. The transformation is the actual Divine process which is being accelerated in the human being today. In terminology of the four main religions of the world, that which is taking place in the human being is described, in the time-honored phrase, as redemption and salvation of the human soul. What I want to point out is that the carrying out of Baba’s wish is one of the direct ways which is sustained by His grace and sealed by His love. Baba’s wish was given in 1955 in America at Myrtle Beach. I sat at Baba’s feet. He was giving a large discourse and there are intervals in the discourse when He had this wish of His read out on three separate occasions and that is the importance of it. The people who were there were for the world. I’ll read it out to you:
Baba said: The lover has to keep the wish of the Beloved.
My wish for My lovers is as follows:
1. Do not shirk your responsibilities.
2. Attend faithfully to your worldly duties, but keep always in the back of your mind that all this is Baba’s.
3. When you feel happy, think: “Baba wants me to be happy.” When you suffer, think: “Baba wants me to suffer.”
4. Be resigned to every situation and think honestly and sincerely: “Baba has placed me in this situation.”
5. With the understanding that Baba is in everyone, try to help and serve others.
6. I say with My Divine Authority to each and all that whosoever takes My name at time of breathing his last comes to Me; so do not forget to remember Me in your last moments. Unless you start remembering Me from now on, it will be difficult to remember Me when your end approaches. You should start practicing from now on. Even if you take My name only once every day, you will not forget to remember Me in you dying moments.
Then Baba explained, “To come to Me” means, experiencing Me as I am . . . no more births and deaths, but it does not mean the state of a Master of Perfection; that is only attained in the gross body. So if you are not blessed with this state of Perfection, at least you can have liberation, if you take My Name at the moment of departing, you will come to Me.
Baba said, “I am the Ancient One residing in every heart, therefore love others, make others happy, serve others even at the discomfort to yourselves. This is to love Me. I suffer for the whole universe; unless I suffer how could I ask My lovers to suffer for others? I am one with all on every level.”
But if Baba lovers and aspirants are not to be unduly disturbed by what goes on around them, it is their task to find poise and contentment within themselves, for now they are able, through Baba’s grace, better equipped to render help to our fellow beings. The aspiring Baba devotee may not be aware Baba brings about a happy coordination between the heart and mind, and this process of regeneration, so continues in the individual and is advancing in the world of today. To allow this to proceed unhindered we have to give, we have to yield, so as to allow our own individual natures to be transformed and redeemed, to be firm and steadfast, throughout our lives. If you take Baba to be God, there can be nothing beyond the scope of His knowing concerning every individual.
We should struggle to give Him His needs, just as He gave us our needs by coming into the world. Loving is a two-way thing. If we go to Baba for His darshan, He gives generously and we in turn should be just as generous in our giving. That is, we should yield and at least try to obey Him; by repeating His dear name, bowing down; His way, not our way. That means we tell Him, “I give You my head,” and then repeating His name once after we have given. No slander, no backbiting, no hurting others; in fact not only repeating the “Prayer of Repentance” but reading it carefully, and asking ourselves, “Have I done this?” — then struggling hard not to commit that sin again, if we have. So, as we struggle, we begin to live Begin the Beguine, we struggle and hearts respond. The more we repeat His name, the nearer we get to giving Him His need — ourselves. Baba is God. Let us all try to give Him His heart’s desire, and struggle to obey Him, so that one day He will come to us as a Beloved and hear us whisper, for only Him to hear, “Darling, I love you.”
The message in the Beguine renews the hopes of aspirants and encourages them to further effort and struggle. We may not understand Baba’s way of working, but by effort and struggle and by loving Him more, we receive more of His grace and love. It is an established fact that Baba has left it on record that He has retained the Presidency of the United Kingdom, having given up all other presidencies. The United Kingdom holds a unique place in the world today and the future but if we to are see this in its true context — the greatest benefit any Baba devotee can derive from Baba’s presidency is to allow Him to preside in their hearts.
I wanted to say a little about psychology in the world as it is — it is from my own experience, the modern science that deals with the mind called psychology, for the sake of this talk, I will call the science of the mind-heart or the soul of the individual. Modern science is unable to cope with the human being as a complete whole — since the function of the complex nature of man is a continual interplay of cross currents which link up with both heart and mind. This interrelationship between two separate organs during the working hours, varies in intensity according to the individual’s nature. This interplay of thoughts, feelings, emotions, love, hatred, happiness, unhappiness, joy, success, and failure, doubt and faith, hope and despair, etc., etc., is generated between the mind and the head of the individual. The creating and expressing of these impressions, called sanskaras, have to be lived out in the individual life and they become to some extent expressed through the ego. Moreover, as the sanskaras are spent, so new ones are being created, to be spent in the next incarnation in the new environment. When the individual begins to doubt the life of the senses, the feeling of inadequacy to cope with his problems, the unredeemed loneliness of his heart and a visionless future, the very existence of his life seems to be threatened. The inner man, the self, finds this state unacceptable, and the question arises, “Who am I?” Baba is Avatar, is God Almighty, incarnate on this earth of ours. Baba has the knowledge; all-knowing, He has knowledge of each and everyone from the beginning. If He didn’t come to our rescue, there would be no way out of our problems. Baba is the supreme surgeon of the mind and heart of a human being. He works independently of any theatrical, mechanical or analytical process. Space and time are illusory factors which cannot hinder Baba’s working. All that is real is given in Silence. He is concerned with the individual, works on the individual, and works through them.