After his return from India, John Bass wrote to Adi Sr. inquiring how they should conduct their Monday Night meetings in New York City. Ruth Ringer suggested that the meetings be done along the lines of those she had witnessed in Calcutta – singing Baba’s arti, burning incense, distributing prasad, reciting Baba’s prayers and garlanding his photograph with flowers.
In reply, Adi wrote back on December 26th, 1962:
Any act can be a ceremony and a bunch of acts cannot be a ceremony. Love and devotion should not be made dependent on ceremony, but could be made use of to manifest it.
Baba wants me to inform you that the Monday meetings be held as of old – prior to your visit to India – and you can play the record of Baba’s arti just before the end of the meeting. As for garlanding Baba’s picture, you may do so if you wish, with a feeling and a faith that you are all honoring Baba’s presence in your midst during the meeting. It is of no use garlanding a mere frame of Baba’s picture if his presence is forgotten and not felt.
As for burning incense, it is good to burn it sometimes as a disinfectant. Easterners use incense as Westerners use deodorants for keeping the atmosphere clean.
Lord Meher, American ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 18, p. 6060.