Irwin Luck and Meher Baba - Irwin and the Avatar book reviewIRWIN AND THE AVATAR:
A love story for the ages

Irwin Luck

[Meher Baba Archives, 400 pages]

The year was 1959. It was a few years after Elvis had appeared on Ed Sullivan, and a few years before the Beatles took the world by storm. A couple of young brothers, who, by the way, had had their own rock ‘n’ roll semi-hit song called “Teenage Caveman,” learned that there was a man in the world who was a most extraordinary embodiment of Love.

Quite by “accident,” one of the brothers, Edward, happened to find a book called Listen Humanity at the New York City Public Library. He was looking for a book on yoga, because he was learning to be an actor and had heard that yoga could be an aid for actors. What he found was a book about a man who claimed to be God. It was not this claim in itself which was significant, but the feeling that first Edward, and then his brother Irwin, were left with when they read the book—that if God were to take a human body in our time, He would be just like this man.

The man’s name was Meher Baba. He lived in India, the brothers learned, and practiced a life of selfless love and compassion. He cared for lepers and the poor, bowing down to the God in them, giving them food, clothing and sometimes money. He lived a simple life of utter purity, guiding and inspiring people in India and around the world. He travelled through dense jungles to seek out and care for the “God-mad” individuals who had become unbalanced through their burning devotion.

Many people have asked or thought about the question, “What if Jesus were alive today?” The young men, Edward and Irwin, became convinced that Meher Baba was a modern-day Jesus, and they became consumed with the desire to visit him. They immediately wrote to him and succeeded in gaining permission to come, but it turned out not to be that easy. The plot began to thicken. Irwin, the author of Irwin and the Avatar, had written Baba that he would come to India in several weeks. Yet, all of his efforts to raise money for the trip led to utter failure.

After several months, he realized with the simple, clear logic that has characterized his life, “If Meher Baba is God, I need to write to Him and share the difficulty I’m having!” Irwin wrote another letter to Baba, essentially saying, “If it is your will, let the money come.” Baba replied, “Do not worry. Circumstances will adjust themselves.” Within a short time, the money materialized (in a most surprising way!) and Irwin was on his way to India.

However, there was another development: the brothers’ father, a real estate man in Miami Beach, Florida named Morris, became dead set against his sons spending all that money to go to India. He went to outrageous lengths to stop his boys. I don’t want to give away the twists and turns of this wonderful story, so all I will say is that this was a man with a very strong will, opposing his sons’ one-pointed desire. Yet the book, truly a love story for the ages, describes his gradual transformation in the face of Meher Baba’s love and utter patience over the years. Irwin gives the reader transcripts of the very letters between sons, father, and Baba, and lets the story tell itself.

The Luck brothers were blessed to be the recipients of Meher Baba’s direct guidance in person and by cable and letter, as well as inwardly, for the next ten years, until Baba “dropped his body” on January 31, 1969. For many called to the spiritual journey in our day, Irwin’s book is a waiting treasure, especially due to the author’s keen, observing eye. In the course of telling his stories, he reveals more about the ways of a God-realized Master in dealing with those who approach him, than almost any book I’ve read.

[box style=”rounded”]“Baba later asked me, if I give you knowledge what would you do? I knew what Baba meant. He was not referring to man’s knowledge. This was the real knowledge of everything. The Divine Knowledge. I answered. When I have knowledge I will know what to do. Baba had a far-off look when he asked this. But he made no comment about my answer.” (p. 42, Irwin and the Avatar)

Meher Baba gave the Luck brothers a unique nickname once. He referred to them as his “divine idiots.” This, however, was meant as high praise. It meant that Baba saw that these two young men had rare capacities to discriminate. They knew that, as Baba repeatedly asserts in all his books and messages, God (or Truth, Love, Reality) is of the utmost importance, and everything else is secondary. In applying simple logic, based on that one axiom, to life situations in the world, the Lucks indeed sometimes appear so eccentric as to possibly seem like “idiots” to a worldly person. But Baba is saying to all who can hear, that’s not how it is.

You might not know, reading Irwin and the Avatar, that during the ten years in which Meher Baba guided the Luck brothers, he was also finishing what he called his Universal Work, which he said would lead to a New Humanity and raise human consciousness from reason to intuition. To this end, Baba dealt with thousands of people. Earlier in his life, he had travelled the world extensively to lay “cables of love.” Now, these world travels over, his communications still flew around this world. This occurred in addition to the inner work Baba was doing throughout his last years, during which he was in strict seclusion much of the time.

Guruprusad memorial - Irwin and the Avatar book review

Baba’s communications are still “heard” around the world. Here, modern-day pilgrims pay their respects at one of his former homes, which is now Guruprasad Memorial, a shrine to the Avatar.

Furthermore, Baba accomplished all of this without speaking or writing! Since 1925, he had been silent because, he said, his work demanded it. He used an alphabet board until 1954, and there are films showing his fingers flying across it, as close disciples read what he was saying. After 1954, he abandoned the board and communicated with his own system of hand gestures, which again, those close to him would interpret.

You might think, first of all, that Baba’s attention to the Luck family alone demanded much of his time. And yet there were, as I’ve said, thousands of others, plus the Universal Work to attend to…and all of this in silence!

Irwin Luck has interspersed his own poems, some of them sent to Baba during Baba’s lifetime, and others composed in recent years with the same love, insight, and intensity, throughout his book. He also narrates a phase during which he and Edward and a couple of crew members travelled the world, videotaping stories of people who had known Meher Baba. He shares some of these wonderful stories in Book II of Irwin and the Avatar, which covers the period from 1969 until the present.

This book is a treasure for those who know of Meher Baba, but I believe it could also be an introduction for those who do not. A simple Wikipedia search will bring up a website that will give you the background information you might need about Baba. Some readers won’t even need that. Irwin and the Avatar falls squarely in the tradition of spiritual literature that has run like a golden thread throughout the recorded history of humankind. There are more and more seekers all the time, in old and new generations, who have the eyes and the heart to appreciate this spiritual feast.

(Note: this is a first printing, and though Irwin is a great storyteller, he’s not always a perfect speller. For those with their eye on the gold, this will be a minor matter; your eyes will adjust. And no doubt, an edited edition will be available before too long. I, however, recommend not waiting!)

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Learn more about Meher Baba in Max Reif’s personal essay CHRIST FOR BEGINNERS: Becoming aware of the God in all things>>

image 1: Wikimedia Commons: Win Coates, with permission of copyright holder Susan White (Creative Commons BY-SA—no changes); image 2: Irwin Luck; image 3: Max Reif

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