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SPIRITUALITY WITH SUN, SEA AND SAND

— Meher Castelino

Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, USA is a holiday maker’s paradise. There are miles of golden sand, azure seas and blazing sun along with lots of holiday fun. Myrtle Beach is a great weekend get-away and the playground of the rich and famous. Golf Tournaments with Tiger Woods are a regular feature, glamorous shows, mini golf courses with crazy themes and cuisines from all over the globe keep the visitors occupied. The Cracker Barrel chain is a great diner with an attached store to shop for all American fashion, souvenirs and food, while one waits for a table where fluffy pancakes and waffles with strawberries and fresh cream are to die for. For fish lovers, La Islamorada is the place to head where the list of dishes will keep ‘fishatarians’ delighted; for frantic shoppers, Myrtle Beach Mall is one of the many that has top chains like JC Penny and Belk. Holiday hotels like the ever popular Fairfield chain from Marriott offer the holidaymakers and families, convenient, clean well designed rooms.

 

But not many are aware that Myrtle Beach is the city, which was selected by India’s revered religious teacher and avatar Meher Baba whose 500-acre Meher Spiritual Centre (MSC) is one of the most visited in the city. Meher Baba’s teachings, which have drawn followers from around the world, are simple and effective. Some of his His messages are “Don’t Worry be Happy”, “I have come not to teach but to awaken” and “Things that are real are given and received in silence”. In spite of not speaking from July 1925 till He passed away in 1969, Baba preached through sign language, His messages to the followers. For the past three years, I have been visiting MSC and experiencing the beauty of nature at its pristine best. Situated on the right of Highway 17 in Myrtle Beach, MSC is literally heaven on earth. Many may ask why Meher Baba selected Myrtle Beach for his American centre and His Home in the West. Apparently, the city and location fulfilled the five criteria laid down by Baba. It was very difficult to find a place that had all these conditions, but Myrtle Beach did. The criteria were — the land should have ample water, the place should be undiscovered virgin uninhabited land, the climate should be suitable to westerners and easterners, the land should be fertile and the last important factor was that the land should be ‘given from the heart’ for the spiritual centre. Two disciples, Elizabeth Chapin Patterson and Princess Norina Matchabelli (wife of Prince Georges Matchabelli of Russian Georgia) searched for such an ideal locale in 1941. Elizabeth’s father, Simon Chapin, one of the founders of Myrtle Beach owned land with seven fresh water lakes and he donated the land on which MSC was built in 1944. 

 

The MSC is now a place where seekers of God can come to experience the atmosphere of love created by His Presence. Each visit during the past three years has been like an invigorating vitamin shot to my soul as I meet devotees from around the world. I have visited the Meherazad Spiritual Centre in Ahmadnagar, which is the Indian centre where Meher Baba’s Samadhi is a popular place of pilgrimage and one of most tranquil locations in the country. But the vast expanse of MSC is something that one has to experience in person to understand its beauty. Maintained beautifully, the place charges a nominal fee per day for the very simple but well-designed accommodation where fully equipped kitchens allow cooking. The daily programmes keep the visitors fully occupied; while the evenings are spent at The Meeting Place listening to musical performances by disciples like well-known Hollywood composer, Billy Goodrum and talks on Meher Baba by devoted followers Australian author, Bill Le Page and Mehernath Kalchuri. MSC stretches along the banks of the Long Lake where most of the cottages are situated. Sitting on the deck of the Guest house with the cool breeze wafting from across Long Lake, I love relishing the peace, beauty and serenity of the place. Flora and fauna abound as one walks though the MSC. I came face to face with a shy deer, a nervous skunk looked at me as I crossed his path, crocodiles swam lazily in the lake under the bridge, while rabbits scurried around the property. Visitors pour in daily from around the globe to savour the beauty of the place. Small cabins dot the MSC with the Meher Abode where Meher Baba lived being the main centre of pilgrimage, prayer and meditation.  Creating beauty all around in its natural form are Gazebos and Lagoons, where it is wonderful to be one with nature. The Library Reading Room where regular poetry readings from Baba’s books are held is an enjoyable get together place. MSC is a place where people come to get their physical and mental batteries spiritually and emotionally charged so that their mind, body and soul is at peace and able to tackle the challenges of the world.

 

MEHER SPIRITUAL CENTRE
CRACKER BARREL STRAWBERRY WAFFLES
 
MEHER SPIRITUAL CENTRE
ME AT THE MEETING PLACE IN MEHER SPIRITUAL CENTRE
 
A BOAT AT MEHER SPIRITUAL CENTRE
 
MEHER SPIRITUAL CENTRE
MEHER SPIRITUAL CENTRE LAGOON CABIN
 
MEHER SPIRITUAL CENTRE
MEHER SPIRITUAL CENTRE LONG LAKE
 
MEHER SPIRITUAL CENTRE
MEHER SPIRITUAL CENTRE ABODE
 
MEHER SPIRITUAL CENTRE
BILLY GOODRUM AT MEHER SPIRITUAL CENTRE
 
02-JULY-2015
 
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