During 1926, the scarcity of water was a great problem in Meherabad due to the increasing number of people staying there. In October, Rustom asked for and received Baba’s permission to dig another well near the railway line. He brought in experts and water diviners to do the work. But though they dug deeper than usual, no water was found.
One day, a farmer from a nearby village came to Meherabad, looking very dejected as he approached the Master. When Baba asked the reason, the villager said, “I am a very poor man. I own a small piece of land but cannot farm it due to lack of water. I borrowed money to drill a well but no water was found, and now I am in desperate straits.”
“What do you want?” Baba asked.
“You are someone great. I have come to beg water of you. If I find water my problem will be solved. I have full faith you will grant me this boon.”
“How deep did you go?”
“Don’t stop digging. Go five feet more. God is great; He will help you.”
The villager left satisfied with Baba’s advice. Baba then remarked to the mandali in a strange tone, “Today I committed a very serious mistake. I don’t know how I did it! I asked that man to go five feet more and if he doesn’t find water, what will happen? He will lose his faith in me and God. And I am God, but here you are digging, and no water is found in my well! How will he then get water? I made a very serious mistake today.” The mandali were taken aback by Baba’s self accusation.
After a week, the same man along with other villagers showed up with all the paraphernalia for performing Baba’s arti and puja. The man looked very elated. When Baba asked why he was so happy, he replied, “Water has been found in my well by your grace!” He performed arti and garlanded Baba. Afterward, Baba distributed prasad to all the villagers and they left singing his praises.
After their departure Baba remarked to the mandali, “Believe me, I am telling you the truth; I did not do anything! It was that man’s faith that brought water.”
This remark was too much for Rustom to bear. “What about us?” he asked. “We are digging a well but don’t find water.”
Baba answered, “I am God, and I asked you to dig a well for me. To have faith there must be someone in whom I can put my faith, but I am all alone. There is no one besides me. I know faith works, but there has to be someone in whom to put faith – and I have no one. That is why you don’t find water.”
Rustom said, “But we have faith in you. So why don’t we find water?”
“I don’t know about that. But this much I know: that villager found water because of his faith. I did not do anything for him.” Baba repeated the same thing over and over again, and Rustom became irritated.
“It is useless for us to be with you,” he argued. “Obviously you think we have no faith in you. We are with you day and night but we don’t have faith; only that villager who showed up one day has enough faith to strike water.”
Baba silently laughed and then explained, “You don’t understand. That man came for water, and his faith was connected with water. Had he not found water, he would have told people, ‘Meher Baba asked me to dig five feet more and I did, but I did not find water. It was a sheer waste of money, energy and time to go to him. He deceived me.’
“But here you are. Your faith is not connected with anything. Whether you find water or not, whether your desires are fulfilled or not, your faith remains the same. So your faith is connected with me and not with anything else. Therefore, I can trust you. I cannot trust that man who came only for water. How truly fortunate you are that I can trust you; but if you want to be like him, you will find water. Decide whether you want water or you want me.”
The mandali felt reconciled with his explanation. Baba concluded, “Even if I started dancing naked before you, your faith in me would remain unshaken as you have accepted me as God. The villager’s faith was based on an idol of hope, and God fulfilled his hope as He felt pity for him. God feels pity for you also – so He makes mincemeat out of you! I have kept you here with me not to satisfy your idol of hopes but to break that idol into pieces!”
Lord Meher, American ed. Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 3, pp. 858 – 859.