Roy Hayes Meher Road, Woombye
I’m Roy Hayes and I first heard of Meher Baba in 1967. I was searching for something better in life, I wasn’t sure what it was. Earlier I walked away from the Christian Church because of their focus on ‘exclusivity, hell and sins’. I eventually came to the conclusion - “If there is a God, and this is your number, you’re not good enough!” The first I heard of Baba was when I read an article in a newspaper titled ‘Beyond the Ego’ by Adrian Rawlins. Later when Baba came into my life I discovered a God that was a thousand times more than I could have ever imagined. I read Adrian’s article and I thought, “Yes! This is what I believe however I wish he wouldn’t say he was God.”
I came across a brochure that Bill Le Page had printed on Baba in June 1968. I later had a life changing experience with Baba. Ros (Rosalind – my wife) was doing night duty at the time and as I lay down to sleep about 8 o’clock, Baba came to me. I couldn’t see Him, but it was Him – He talked to me. He told me who he was, what he was doing, it was like he was doing surgery on me. He stayed for two hours then He said, “I’ll be back the same time the next night”. He came and stayed for another two hours and then again on the third and final night. He stayed this time for only three quarters of an hour. And on the Thursday morning I remember waking up and knew He was God, every part of me knew it. I remember telling all my friends and Ros and they thought, “He’s gone crazy.” Ever since that time nothing’s been the same, everything’s been different. The experience with Baba stays with me and is more real than a lot of other events in this life. Even my karma seemed to change, I was a bit of a hippie before Baba and then our lives became much more focused and prosperous.
I wrote a letter to Baba and a most beautiful letter came back from Francis Brabazon among other things telling me to go and seek out other Baba lovers. It was the first time I read the beautiful poetic words of Francis. Then the invitation came, we could go to India and see Baba. We started saving money to go in 1969. It was so thrilling. On the 31st of January I stuck posters of Baba’s face all over the Sydney Harbour Bridge these stayed up for about 6 months and many people would have seen them. Then the next day Ken Petrie came around and gave me this little pink slip of paper saying Meher Baba had dropped His physical body. I was devastated, but about two hours later I thought - Baba feels the same. I could still feel Him as I always did since he had come to me, He was still here.
A message came from India saying that the Sahavas was still on, so the Australian group decided to still go to the Darshan. We continued to save for the journey to India. Ros was pregnant at the time, she hadn’t accepted Baba as God but she thought him to be ‘a good man’ as she had seen big changes in me.
I remember the feeling of getting on the plane to go to the Darshan. Leigh Rowan and Steven Campbell were sitting in the seat behind me. I remember an occasion on the flight when we flew through an air pocket and the plane dropped maybe a thousand feet. Michael Le Page was in the toilet, he came out looking very pale. Also I remember landing in Perth and at the airport and meeting an old friend. He said, “Where are you going?” I told him I was going to India. He said, “Why are you going to India? People leave India they don’t go to India!” – little did he know!
We landed in India at about 12:30 at night; Jal and Dolly Dastoor were waving to us from the top of the old airport. I remember driving through the streets of Bombay and thinking, “My god there are people sleeping out in the open!” It was a bit of a shock. I remember we went to a hotel and came down to meet Francis Brabazon, this little guy had a hat on and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He was unpretentious and easy to underestimate, but he was a most powerful man. I had no idea he would become my mentor, teacher, friend, and I would learn to love him. I remember that meeting so clearly.
The next day we flew to Aurangabad. This is May and summer and it was a very hot - 40 degrees C. Some of the young men were in a hotel with no air conditioning. Being young, it didn’t bother us, we had good meals and a lot of frivolity. One day we saw this impressive building in the distance, it looked like the Taj Mahal. It is actually called the ‘Mini – Taj’. We thought it was just down the road so we started to walk to it. We had walked for some time towards this ‘Mini Taj’ and were starting to really feel the sun and became heat exhausted. I thought, “We are in trouble, really in trouble”. The Mini – Taj turned out to be fourteen miles away! Just as we were feeling a bit desperate we came across this mosque with a pool beside pool beside it and a Coca Cola stand. This saved the day! Some horse carriages came by and we caught them back to the hotel, we didn’t go to the Mini –Taj that day. I remember it in retrospect as quite some adventure.
Then we flew back to Pune and we were met by Dr. Donkin, one of Baba’s mandali, a sweet, lovely mannered man, he was quite absent minded – there was a good feeling about him. Francis was there too, they ushered us into the Amir hotel and I shared a room with John Borthwick. Donkin was a bit vague, a bit musty. Then came the first day at Guruprasad, it was an incredible feeling of excitement bowing down to Baba in His chair and finding Him very present. We met the women mandali who were at the back on the left of Baba’s chair and the men mandali were on the right. I can’t exactly remember what happened on what days I remember the performances and talks. We performed ‘The Horse and the Rabbit’, a play written by Francis. I remember performing, it wasn’t a polished performance but it got a lot of accolades, it was very funny, the mandali really liked it.
I remember one of the days being taken into a room facing the right and the men told us, “This is where we sat with Baba and played cards,” that was the first time I felt close to them, getting to know them. Particularly Eruch, he was dressed in white. Later and over the next thirty to forty years I would come to love them and to regard them as the finest people on earth. The thought came to me “ My God what must have Baba been like when He has disciples of this calibre”!
What happened when I went to Guruprasad? There was just this feeling of love which pervaded the place, it just kept growing. In a letter to Ros which I wrote at the time and we found six months ago, I wrote to her: ‘This place is on fire with love.’ It was just like that, this furnace. I knew Baba to be God but I hadn’t experience the burning love like I did at Guruprasad, it was quite new, quite different. It was a fire that had a profound changing in my life, I knew this is the person I would die for, this is The One.
Then I remember one day we went on a bus trip to Meherazad and we were shown all around. Francis was there, and I remember stopping half way at these dreadful urinals, I’d never smelt anything like it in my life. I remember Meherazad, being shown around the kitchen. It was really interesting, there was a lovely mellow feeling about it but not nearly as good as when the mandali are there.
We then went Meherabad and up to Baba’s Samadhi, and the interesting thing was I didn’t feel a strong presence in the Samadhi. And at Guruprasad it was like amaziinnnggg and I told this to Francis years later, and he said, “He wasn’t there for you, [at the Samadhi] He was at Guruprasad.” But of course these days I find the Samadhi has the presence of Baba(where the world stops and starts again) like Guruprasad did.
We saw the different buildings where Baba had slept at different times. Padri was a strong wonderful disciple of Baba’s. We then met Mohammed. He gave a scarf to John Borthwick. I came late to find the Australian group gathered around Mohammed. When I questioned why they were laughing they told me that Mohammed had called the group ‘Mad Iranis’, I was laughing and he said, “You too!” I was curious about Mohammed, I had no idea about masts. Later I felt connected to him when in the early 80’s he gave me some chocolate and then in the 90’s he gave me his beanie (hat).
We spent some more time going to Guruprasad, Francis gave a most beautiful talk ’The Mighty Beloved’, it was about his observations of those attending the ‘Great Darshan’ having a different order of love to come across the ocean and bow down in their hearts without ever seeing their beloved. It was so moving and so touching. I had respect for Francis before I’d met him, I’d read his words, sung his words and I wondered who this guy was. Who can write like this? His reading was powerful and touching, it moved the heart. I didn’t see any obvious grieving by the mandali. I didn’t know them well enough to be sure. Mehera probably was, they put on a great performance. Like Baba says, no matter how bad you’re suffering, put on a happy face- and they did. They made us feel part of the place; they looked after every facet of our well being.
When I got home I felt very full of Baba. I think Ros and our unborn baby got the benefit of that. We spent a lot of time with Francis when he returned later that year. It was just fantastic!