There are two reasons to give this book only three stars instead of five: one is that the book was not edited carefully, and this will be noticed by anyone who reads it. The other is that the subject matter is particular to a small group of people who follow the teachings or the example of an Eastern spiritual master, Meher Baba (sometimes called Avatar Meher Baba). Though their numbers are few, they produce many highly creative products such as books, paintings, and multimedia works based around the life and spiritual philosophy of Meher Baba.
So this is a testament that will have an enthusiastic audience despite the many obvious small flaws.
Finding God in North Carolina comprises some sixty stories by people who have a connection with Meher Baba in North Carolina. The state is significant for being an early site of interest in the Parsi guru, who traveled through the state in the 1950s. There is a large spiritual center dedicated to Meher Baba paradoxically located in that worldly pleasure spa, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. North Carolina
- especially Chapel Hill, Asheville and Wilmington - is a haven for “Baba people,” as they are called, who want to maintain close contact with the Meher Spiritual Center but don’t care to live in a hot, crowded vacation burg.
Meher Baba died in 1969 after living much of his life in physical silence. In a long span of spiritual service, he attracted hundreds of thousands of followers both great and obscure. Perhaps the best-known of his devotees is Pete Townshend of The Who. Though his involvement with Meher Baba is little known to the public, Townshend set up a center for Meher Baba projects near London, made several notable Baba documentaries, and donated to many Baba endeavors over the years. One of the most fascinating stories in the book concerns Townshend, and was written by co-editor Zuzanna Vee. Vee, a confused rebellious teen in the 1960s, became obsessed about The Who and especially about songs from the rock opera
Tommy which, again not necessarily recognized publicly, was Townshend’s tribute to Meher Baba.
Vee and her equally obsessed boyfriend became convinced that they must meet Pete, that he would intuitively understand their art and their zeal. They sent him a crate of homemade books centering on their bizarre fixations and were not discouraged when he wrote a polite but rejecting letter telling them not to bother to come to see him. With almost no money or luggage, the two literally ran away from home, from America to England, to find Pete Townshend, a world-famous rock star who had to struggle constantly to keep persistent fans from intruding in his life. Penniless, with no clue of how to locate him, the couple spent their first night in England in a public bathroom. Using the letter’s return address as a guide, they finally arrived on Pete’s doorstep, and miraculously he answered the door. They told him, and this was part of their compulsion, that they had “come to help him.” Unbeknownst to Vee and her companion, Pete had been counseled by a psychic that people would “come to help him” with his Meher Baba projects. In a kindly way, Pete offered the two young fanatics food and clothing, money and jobs. Zuzanna stayed for several years in England before returning to live in North Carolina.
There are other stories in the book involving remarkable coincidences and supernatural occurrences. For example, Harry Muir was a prisoner in Leavenworth, a conscientious objector during the Viet Nam war, whose fiancée Sharon, a hippie living in Chapel Hill in 1967, plotted to send him letters with one corner soaked in LSD. Then, suddenly, she began sending him information about Meher Baba instead. She indicated that based on what she learned about Meher Baba, they should both abandon all drug use. Harry soon became converted to Meher Baba’s philosophy. He and Sharon recount a series of strange experiences surrounding their devotion to their master, including receiving a telegram directly from Meher Baba after having just moved, when no one could have known their new address. After living in Chapel Hill and then in Bath, North Carolina, this dynamic couple finally moved to India.
If you have never read any book about Meher Baba, this would be a good one to start out with. All the tales are authentic. Some are more emotional in nature and others reveal powerful intellectual reflection and logic overcome by pure, simple faith.