Dropping the Body
The following is an exchange of e-mails about the use of the expression “drop the body.” Does this term apply only to the Perfect Ones and advanced souls, or do we all “drop the body” rather than merely pass away or (gulp) die?
Baba himself uses the phrase in numerous contexts, for example, in the Discourses: “After God-realization, some souls drop all their bodies [gross, subtle, and mental] and remain eternally immersed in God-consciousness.” He frequently warned that “I shall drop this body soon,” and he spoke of the Perfect Master Hazrat Babajan dropping her body, but also, in a circular, announced that one of his close disciples, Jal D. Kerawala, had dropped his body. He even told his lovers, “After a hundred years or so, you all will drop your bodies, but still you will be there. Don’t think about your body, think only about me, and just before you drop the body take my name.” And on January 31, 1969, the telegram that went out to Baba centers all over the world began: “Avatar Meher Baba dropped his physical body today Friday 31st January at noon at Meherazad to live eternally in the hearts of all His lovers everywhere.”
Because I respect the opinion of our friend Tom Hickey, I asked him to weigh in on this question.
August 1, 2011
From: Kendra Crossen Burroughs
To: Tom Hickey
What’s your view about the phrase “drop the body”? Should it be used only for advanced beings, who may be presumed to drop the body consciously?
I have heard Baba-lovers use it only for Baba and the mandali, and I have heard some Baba-lovers use it for anyone, at least any human.
I wonder if a particular custom has begun to establish itself among Baba-lovers, and also what would be an appropriate way to use it.
Tom Hickey replied:
I think that we need to avoid rigidity. Baba himself did not always stick to precisely the same use of terms, which scholars are going to have to sort out. Moreover, he did not leave anyone to represent him officially, and he never handed out any thought-police badges.
I have already seen rigidity creeping in, with some Baba-lovers correcting others about correctness of terminology and behavior. This is cult-like behavior in my book, and it is the beginning of a religion of Baba-ism.
While it is true that Baba generally used the term “drop the body” for advanced beings, what he obviously meant by “drop the body” was to “die without dying” because one had already died to self. But he also said that no one really dies when the body dies until they have died to self. So it is true that what we call physical death is just dropping one body for another.
Baba also gave out a lot of personal instructions and precepts, some which are contradictory. Trying to impose codes around these things just leads to theologizing and the development of sects.
This happens inevitably over time, if history is any guide. But it is sad to see it happening so quickly. Moreover, some of Baba’s close ones have either initiated it or else fostered it. It even has a name — mandali-ism.