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Whatever Will Be, Will Be: A Song Baba Liked

by Kendra Crossen Burroughs

Among the recordings reportedly enjoyed by Meher Baba, listed in an appendix in Mehera-Meher, vol. 1, was the signature song of Doris Day (1922-2019): “Qué será, será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be),” written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.

At first I thought Baba probably first heard Doris Day performing the song in the Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), where it was first introduced. According to Mehera-Meher by David Fenster, several Doris Day comedies were seen by Mehera in Poona along with other women mandali without Baba’s accompaniment, so it is possible Baba did not see the film. David told me that he learned from Mehera that after the song became popular, someone sang it to Baba in Guruprasad. The women had seen the film sometime before 1964, but it is unclear whether Baba went with them. The Doris Day record was purchased and sometimes played for Baba, along with other songs. As a recording, the song was a #1 hit in the UK and #2 in the US. It also became the theme song of the TV sitcom The Doris Day Show (1968-1973).

What was it about this song that may have appealed to Baba? The lyrics explain that the answer to questions such as “What will I be?” and “What lies ahead?” is “Whatever will be, will be.” An article titled “It Is What It Is; No Worries” in a news website actually likens the expression “Whatever will be, will be” to “Don’t worry, be happy,” which is attributed in the article to Meher Baba. So the words express an acceptance of Baba’s instruction not to worry about the future.

“Whatever will be, will be” also emphasizes the fact that we cannot know the future, which will be whatever it is destined to be, regardless of our wishes or expectations. I wonder whether Meher Baba, in liking the song (or having it sung and played for him), was in effect encouraging us to accept that whatever happens is divinely ordained. This does not imply that everything we do pleases God, only that God allows everything to happen as it does. In fact, all that happens was planned within the original Whim that created this illusory world, and that planning includes spontaneous actions of the Avatar that appear to alter the destined course of events. (See Lord Meher, online rev. ed., pp. 4513-15, beginning with the paragraph that starts, “Everything in the universe is, and from the beginning has been, a materialization of the divine whim working out automatically and effortlessly through the impersonal law.”)

In the discourses of Meher Baba’s master Upasni Maharaj, the phrase “Be as it may,” which is similar in meaning to “Whatever will be, will be,” is called “the chief of all mantras.” Upasni likens it to the natural attitude of dogs:

Animals like dogs are always in the state of “Be as it may”; the Sat-purushas are also always in the same state. Now, what is meant by “Be as it may”? It is this way: One should quietly suffer without any feeling from all bad things dirty things, heat cold, rain, fasting, beating, and so on; if one gets opposite to all this, then one should not feel pleased in any way; one is not to try to cause any change in one’s surrounding or environment or any affairs of the world, i.e., one should continue to face all those things as they come without any attempt at interference; in the same way, while in the midst of all such things, one has not to try to make any change in himself to ward them off or to protect himself, i.e., one should just face things as they come; this is what is meant by the state of “Be as it may”: A person who remains in the state of “Be as it may” always experiences the state of God — the state of Infinite Bliss. [Source: “The Importance of Dogs,” part (2), in The Talks of Sadguru Upasani Baba Maharaja, vol. 2, Book 1, part A. You can click on this link to go directly to the discourse in a pdf at the Meher Baba Israel site, and it starts on p. 151.]

An aside: The phrase “Qué será, será” is a literal translation from English into Spanish but is ungrammatical in Spanish; the saying is not in fact a Spanish expression, but if it were, it would be “Lo que será, será.” Nonetheless, Livingston and Evans used the phrase in acknowledgment of the Spanish-speaking peoples of America, so their hearts were in the right place.

 

LYRICS

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, What will I be?
Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?
Here’s what she said to me:

[Chorus]
Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be.
The future’s not ours to see.
Que sera, sera,
What will be, will be.

When I grew up and fell in love
I asked my sweetheart what lies ahead?
Will we have rainbows, day after day?
Here’s what my sweetheart said:

[Chorus]
Que sera, sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see.
Que sera, sera.
What will be, will be.

Now I have children of my own,
They ask their mother, what will I be?
Will I be handsome? Will I be rich?
I tell them tenderly:

[Chorus]
Que sera, sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see.
Que sera, sera.
What will be, will be.
Que sera, sera

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