JUNE 1932 – MOTION PICTURE – ITS POWER TO STIMULATE ACTION
Mary Pickford had Baba sit on a sofa and she herself sat on the carpet
by his feet. The others, too, sat down on the carpet around Baba, and
the wine of love began speaking to all hearts. Douglas Fairbanks
joined his wife near Baba, who conveyed to him:
The whole universe and its structure, I have created. The universe is
my cinema. But just as an audience becomes absorbed in witnessing a
drama on the screen, and the film engages their emotions and sways
their feelings by its influence, causing them to forget that it is not
real in the same way, the spectators of the world are charmed by
this worldly film show, forgetting themselves and taking it to be
So I have come to tell them that this worldly cinema in which they are
absorbed is not real. I have come to turn their focus toward Reality.
Only God is real, and everything else is a mere motion picture!
Mary Pickford was spiritually inclined, (1) and Baba met with her and
others in the motion picture business for about forty minutes before
dinner. Baba emphasized the impact of films and their value in turning
people toward spiritual goals. He stated:
I was particularly glad to come to California because of the
opportunity which it afforded to contact those who made or appeared in
motion pictures, and I am delighted that this gathering could be
I do not need to tell you who are engaged in the production and
distribution of motion pictures what a power you hold in your hands,
nor do I doubt that you are fully alive to the responsibilities which
the wielding of that power involves. He who stimulates the imagination
of the masses can move them in any direction he chooses, and there is
no more powerful an instrument for stimulating their imagination than
People go to the theater to be entertained. If the play is strong,
they come away transformed. They surrender their hearts and minds to
the author, producer, director and stars, and follow the example which
they see portrayed before their eyes more than they themselves
Both the press and the radio influence thought, but both lack the
power of visible example, which is the greatest stimulant to action,
and which the motion picture offers better now than any other medium.
We find ourselves today in the midst of a worldwide depression which
affects everyone, rich and poor alike, and from which all are groping
blindly for deliverance. The film companies, the picture theaters and
the stars have also suffered from it. If they could help to end the
depression, I am sure they would be glad to. How could the motion
pictures help in this respect?
First, it must be understood that the depression is not an accident,
nor is it purely the result of overproduction and inflation. Those,
although the immediate causes, are merely the instruments which were
used to bring the depression about. The depression itself was caused
by those entrusted with the evolution of humanity. Man has to be
stripped of his material possessions in order that he may realize
through actual experience that his true base is spiritual and not
material. Then will he be ready to receive the Truth which I have come
This Truth consists of the knowledge that man, instead of being a
limited, separate individual completely bound by the illusion of time,
space and customs, is eternal in his nature and infinite in his
resources. The world illusion is a dream of his imagining, a play
enacted in the theater of his consciousness a comedy in which he is
at once the author, producer, director and star. But his absorption in
the role, which he has chosen to enact, has made him forgetful of his
true self, and he stumbles now as a creature through the path he has
Man must be awakened to his true nature. He must see that all material
expression depends upon and flows from a spiritual being. Then he will
be steadfast and serene under all circumstances. There will be no
further need then for the depression and it will disappear.
Now, how can the motion pictures help man attain this realization? The
character of the film need not be changed. Love, romance and adventure
are themselves fundamental. They should be portrayed as thrillingly,
as entertainingly, and as inspiringly as possible. The wider the
appeal the better.
What needs to be changed is the emphasis, or stress. For example,
courage is a great virtue but it may, if misapplied, become a vice. So
it is with love, the mainspring of our lives, which may lead to the
heights of Realization or to the depths of despair. No better example
can be given of the two polarities of love and their effects than that
of Mary Magdalene before and after meeting Jesus. (2)
Between these two extremes are many kinds of love, all of which are
good, but some of which are better than others. I use the terms “good”
and “better” simply to designate the degrees of liberation which they
lead to or confer. Even the love which expresses itself through
physical desire is good to the extent that it frees one from the
thralldom of personal likes and dislikes, and makes one want to serve
the beloved above all other things.
Every human relationship is based on love in one form or another, and
endures or dissolves as that love is eternal or temporal in character.
Marriage, for example, is happy or unhappy, exalting or degrading,
lasting or fleeting according to the love which inspires and sustains
it. Marriages based on sexual attraction alone cannot endure; they
lead inevitably to divorce or worse. Marriages, on the other hand,
which are based on a mutual desire to serve and inspire, grow
continually in richness and in beauty, and are a benediction to all
who know of them.
To lead men and women to the heights of Realization, we must help them
to overcome fear and greed, anger and passion. These are the result of
looking upon the self as a limited, separate, physical entity, having
a definite physical beginning and definite physical end, with
interests apart from the rest of life, and needing preservation and
The self, in fact, is a limitless, indivisible, spiritual essence
eternal in its nature and infinite in its resources. The greatest
romance possible in life is to discover this Eternal Reality in the
midst of infinite change. Once a person has experienced this, one sees
oneself in everything that lives. One recognizes all of life as his
life, everybody’s interests as his own. The fear of death, the desire
for self-preservation, the urge to accumulate substance, the conflict
of interests, the anger of thwarted desires are gone. One is no longer
bound by the habits of the past, no longer swayed by the hopes of the
future. One lives in and enjoys each present moment to the fullest.
There is no better medium to portray this than motion pictures.
Plays which inspire those who see them to greater understanding, truer
feelings, better lives need not necessarily have anything to do with
so-called religion. Creed, ritual, dogma, the conventional ideas of
heaven and hell, and sin are perversions of the Truth, and confuse and
bewilder, rather than clarify and inspire. Real spirituality is best
portrayed in stories of pure love, of selfless service, of Truth
realized and applied to the most humble circumstances of our daily
lives, raying out into manifold expressions, through home and
business, school and university, studio and laboratory everywhere
evoking the heights of joy, the purest love, the greatest power
producing everywhere a constant symphony of bliss.
This is the highest practicality. To portray such circumstances on the
screen will make people realize that the spiritual life is something
to be lived, not talked about, and that it, and it alone, will produce
the peace and love and harmony which we seek to establish as the
constant of our lives.
After dinner, Baba got up to leave three times, but Mary Pickford
would not allow him to go. Finally, when he stood up, all surrounded
him. Dictating from his alphabet board, he continued to converse with
them while standing. After a few minutes, his roving glance fell on a
young lady standing isolated at the far end of the room with her back
to him. Baba beckoned for her and when his summons was relayed, she
turned her face toward him but remained aloof. She was called again.
Slowly coming forward, she stopped at a distance. Norina told her,
“Come and shake hands with Baba, child.” The young lady remained
reserved, and Elizabeth said to her, “Why are you afraid, dear? Come
nearer and meet Baba.”
She asked, “How can I touch him?”
“Why not?” Norina replied. “All can meet Baba!”
This brought tears to her eyes, and she pitiably asked, “But I am a
sinner! How can I touch a holy being like him?”
Baba then went to her, and passed his hand over her head and
shoulders. She started weeping, and Baba gestured to her, “I am the
purest of the pure. I can purify the worst sinner. You have understood
your mistakes and acknowledged them faithfully in the presence of
others, and so you are forgiven. This penance from the depths of your
heart is adequate, and you are now cleansed. Now, don’t fear in the
least and don’t repeat your past mistakes. I give you my blessings!”
The girl burst into tears, and Baba lovingly embraced her. The tears
which Baba had drawn from her heart wiped out all her sins.
Those who witnessed this were deeply moved; their hearts overflowed
and their eyes also teared. Before departing, Baba again embraced all
the guests and putting his hand on the girl’s head, consoled her, “You
have received forgiveness for everything! Forget the past and don’t
worry at all.” The girl pressed her eyes to Baba’s hand and kissed it.
As Baba left, all eyes followed him. In their films, Mary Pickford and
Douglas Fairbanks had depicted scenes of deep human love, but
witnessing this sight of pure divine love from Meher Baba was a rare
experience indeed. Their hearts were full.
(1) Mary Pickford (1893-1979), born in Canada as Gladys Smith, was
called “America’s Sweetheart” by her movie fans. She played plucky
heroines in such films as The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917) and Tess of
the Storm Country (1922). At one point in her life, she wrote a book
entitled Why Not Try God?
(2) When the Prophet Jesus was in Jerusalem, Mary Magdalene was a
prostitute who was condemned to death by stoning by the Jewish
community. At the time of her stoning, Jesus intervened and saved her
life, declaring, “He who is without sin may cast the first stone!” No
one could cast a stone. Mary Magdalene gave up her prostitution and
became a devoted follower of Jesus.
Lord Meher, 1st. ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 5, pp. 1656 – 1659.
Meher Baba in 1932
The Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust, Ahmednagar, India
are the copyright holders of all of Meher Baba’s messages, discourses and photographs,
unless otherwise stated.