“You have broken the ice for the East-West Gathering”

Tom Riley is seated before Baba on the floor

The Westerners had been informed not to arrive in Poona before the 28th, but a few had come early. The first to arrive was a thirty-one year old American from Woodstock, New York, named Tom Riley. Tom had first met Baba four years prior at the Myrtle Beach Center, with his wife, Yvonne (Andrau). Riley traveled to India by ship, but by the time he got to Poona a few days before the darshan, he had practically no money left. He was called to Guruprasad, and he fell in front of Baba with his head in his lap. Baba remarked to him, “You have no idea how blessed you are today. You have broken the ice for the East-West Gathering.”

Tom recounts his meeting with Baba:

I was alone. Magically, a stillness came, transforming into sacredness, suffusing my being. I was surprised to see that my hands were pressed together as in prayer. Holiness came over me and from within me; it was everywhere. The world became unreal and at the same time blessed and divine. In this state I ascended the steps [of Guruprasad] toward the opened doors of the mandali hall.

As I approached the room it appeared dimly lighted and I was vaguely aware that men were seated on carpets facing toward my left. I entered and turned in the direction of their gaze. Meher Baba was seated in an armchair. He was radiating. His eyes shone like glistening silver. He was beside himself with joy at seeing me. In an instant he swept away the surreal revelations of his holiness in me and, now, again, as I stood before him, renewed and more intense waves of grief and despair descended upon me. In this state, disconnected from rationality, I knelt before him, placing my forehead upon his knees, and wept. He caressed my head as he moaned softly, reaching deeply into me across immense barriers, touching me spiritually, mending my sorrow and creating union with me.

Timeless moments passed. Then, all at once, my eyes fell upon an extraordinary lacework on the hem of his sleeve; a labor of love, undoubtedly created by one of his women devotees. It was the fineness of this craftsmanship which brought me now, into the moment.

-www.lordmeher.org, p4825
28 Octber1962; Guruprasad (East-West Gathering)

Tom Riley recently joined his Beloved on 6th February 2022.

Photo courtesy: Meher Nazar

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