William M. Stephens passed away 21 November 2013, joining his beloved wife, Peggy, who died four months prior. Here is Bill’s brief biography from one of his books:
William M. Stephens was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He and his wife, Peggy, met in high school. On his seventeenth birthday, after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Stephens joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the Central Pacific. Later he received degrees in law and marine science. He practiced law for many years, worked in marine science, and also taught college courses in law, criminal justice, and creative writing. A pioneer scuba-diver and underwater photographer, he survived a frightening adventure in 1959 when his diving gear malfunctioned at a depth of 200 feet during an archaeological excavation.
After a near-death experience in 1969, Stephens made a pilgrimage to India, became a follower of Avatar Meher Baba, and began writing about saints and mystics and the joys of following a God-realized Master.
Bill is the author of Souls on Fire (Nashville: Oceanic Press, 1997) and Footprints in the Sand (Nashville: Oceanic Press, 1997).
Souls on Fire: The lives of men and women of many lands and faiths—saints, mystics and masters—whose passionate love for God inspires the modern world: Rabia of Basra, Francis of Assisi, Milarepa, Rumi, Mirabai, Hafiz, Kabir, Teresa of Avila, George Fox, Sri Ramakrishna, Hazrat Babajan, and Meher Baba.
Footprints in the Sand: A near-death experience by the ocean changed the author William Stephens from an agnostic to a spiritual seeker. He found himself in the presence of a Divine Being, Avatar Meher Baba, who erased his addictions to alcohol and drugs, and gave him a new life of love, joy, and service.
IF I COULD ONLY REMEMBER
William M. Stephens
If I could only remember, I’d know what you looked like the last time I saw your physical form … and what I looked like, too.
It’s all there in the mind, I’m sure … but how can I pull it out?
I can’t even remember what I had for dinner last night, or if I took my vitamins this morning.
If I could recall to my mind’s eye the last time I saw your face, I’d study the light in your eyes, and your expression when last your eyes met mine.
Oh, Love, you knew how long it would be before I saw you again. Did you give me a perfunctory hug and turn away … or was it a long, tender look?
Did you give me a little hint, a wink of the eye or a lingering caress … so I’d be prepared for the long spell without you?
Or did you behave as though we’d be together again soon … knowing it would be an eternity for me?
I wish I could remember. But even if I can’t, you could still give me a glimpse of your face, you know … here and now, this very moment … if you wanted to make me very happy.
Just a tiny, tiny glimpse—a few milliseconds. What is that to One who lives in Eternity?
Please, Beloved, just one glimpse. Is that too much to ask between old friends and lovers?
We go ‘way back, Baba. Let’s bring this affair up to date. I promise not to tell a soul until you say the word.
—from FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND, p. 96
THE WILL TO GO FOR IT
William M. Stephens
When I was counting repetitions [of Baba’s name], the method I used is this. I would start by visualizing Meher Baba seated in a comfortable chair. He is barefooted, and His feet rest on a pillow. Baba’s hands are together, palm to palm, in the familiar “Namaste” position.
I bow to Baba, and I touch (with my lips or my hands) each of His toes and fingers as I repeat His name seven times for each toe and each finger.
Starting with Baba’s right foot, first I kiss the little toe as I repeat “Baba” seven times; then I kiss the second toe while again saying “Baba” seven times. Continuing in a counter-clockwise direction, I say His name seven times while kissing or touching each toe and each finger. In completing my first counter-clockwise circuit of Baba’s 20 toes and fingers, I therefore say Baba’s name 140 times.
Then I reverse the circuit and come back in a clockwise direction, beginning at the little finger on Baba’s right hand, and ending where I began, at the little toe on the right foot. At that point I have made one complete circuit and return, and have said Baba’s name 280 times
So I start my second circuit, and just as I begin, Baba lifts the next-to-smallest toe on His right foot and holds it up for this entire circuit. The raised toe is to remind me that I am on the second circuit.
When I start the third circuit, Baba will raise the middle toe on the right foot, which will indicate I am working on the third circuit. So throughout the process, if I get lost, confused or interrupted, I can go back to where I was by looking to see which toe or finger is raised or bent. This becomes very important after the repetitions get into the thousands.
As to which direction I was going when interrupted, this is shown by a slight inclination of the digit involved in the direction I was going.
So one complete circuit, around and back, means 280 repetitions. Therefore a super-circuit, which is 20 regular circuits (one for each toe and finger) amounts to 5,600 repetitions. Twenty super-circuits (one super-circuit for each toe and finger) amounts to the grand total of 112,000 repetitions, for anyone with the will to go for it.
—from FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND, p. 59-60
A Remembrance from Patricia Nims, Dec. 15, 2013
Bill was one of the sweetest people I ever met. He put out the most wonderful love. He was always kind and gentle. He never raised his voice. He had a wonderful wife and wonderful children, a lot of them Baba Lovers.
I got to take a couple of his workshops while at the Southeast Gathering in Toccoa, GA. I just read the little blurb he wrote about how he pictured Baba sitting in a chair (probably the one in Mandali Hall) and he would do his repetitions of Baba’s name by looking at his fingers and toes. He would even do this when he was riding his bike!
Bill was a good man and one who we can all aspire to be like. Jai Baba, Bill!