writings of Stan Alapa)
Stan Learns of Meher Baba
In May, 1969, about one in the morning, Stan was sitting at a bar in
a Waikiki nightclub with a friend when a young man (Dr. Allan Cohen)
and two women
(Susan Kidder and Jeanne Kerr) walked in. He was surprised to see a
"vivid blue light surrounding them" which, upon asking, neither the
friend, nor the bartender, could see. When the trio started to walk
to a table, Stan followed them, saying to himself, "I wish I was in
their world!" Seeing Allan and Jeanne get up to dance, he quickly
asked the remaining woman, Susan, to dance with him and learned from
her that the three of them had just returned from Avatar Meher
Baba's darshan. A "darshan" Susan explained, was to "be in the
presence of the Master."
Returning to the table, Allan showed Stan a card with Baba's picture
on it. All his life, Stan had been searching for "Akua," (the
Hawaiian word for God.) Now, at the age of 38, hearing Baba's name
and seeing his picture for the first time, he had no doubt that he
had found him. So he said, "Tell me about Meher Baba." And they did.
Then, before they returned to their hotel, Allan let Stan know that
there was still time to attend Meher Baba's darshan. "I didn't know
why," Stan tells, but at that moment, "I knew I had to go to India
and bow down in silence to the God in my heart."
Arriving in India
Three weeks later, accompanied by a new acquaintance named Paul
Morse, Stan and Paul set off for India. Stan had invited his
nightclub friend to go with him, but this friend had declined. Paul
Morse, present at the discussion, however, surprised him by speaking
up and saying, "If I had the money, I would go with you." "You got
it!" said Stan, and off the two went.
Having been told that Baba's darshan was only for His lovers, and
fearing that he was too new in Baba's love to qualify as a "lover,"
Stan and Paul arrived unannounced in Poona. A telegram had been sent
that they were coming, but Stan did not give a date or time. It was
with great relief, then, that they made it to Meherjee's house (one
of Baba's mandali), for they had not arrived without several
uncomfortable adventures and first lessons from Baba.
First they had been swindled out of their tickets from Hong Kong to
Bombay and cajoled to repurchase tickets with an India airline
promising to put them up in Bombay and fly them on to Poona. Next,
at a stop over in Calcutta, wandering into a shop, they got a shock
that almost sent them scurrying back to Hawaii. Responding to the
shop-keeper's questions, Stan cheerfully replied that they were
going to Meher Baba's darshan in Poona, and thinking that everyone
in India must surely know of him, confidently added, "Have you heard
of Avatar Meher Baba?"
"We have 50,000 Avatars in India, and I have not heard of Avatar
Meher Baba," the shop-keeper replied.
"I hope I haven't come here for nothing!" exclaimed Stan, and all
the men, women and children in the shop started laughing. Right then
and there, Stan wanted to go home, but he steeled himself with the
thought: I have to see if Meher Baba is Akua.
Continuing on to Bombay, the plane was caught in a severe lighting
storm and went into a steep dive. Stan was sure they were going to
die and thought of all the things he didn't want to lose. He had a
successful business, money, and expensive car, a Waikiki penthouse
with a view of the beach and a "lovely woman." Looking back, Stan
felt that Baba was showing him that "life is not only fleeting, but
Landing safely in Bombay, Baba was not through with them yet. First,
they learned that the promised flight to Poona had never really
been, due to an ongoing airline strike, and arriving at the promised
hotel, they found it not only a dump, but closed. Finally, the cab
driver who appeared to have been befriending them from the airport,
promising it would be to their gain, and despite Stan's protests, drove
them out to a friend's house and weaseled them into a black market
money exchange. Throughout, Stan was feeling upset and helpless
inside. He had no idea where they were in a huge and strange city
and he was carrying a good deal of cash for the two of them. He
thought the cab driver's friends looked like gangsters whom the
driver was trying to impress. While he knew that he never would have
accepted this from anyone in Hawaii, he kept his cool. He was afraid
that something terrible would happen if he didn't agree to the
exchange. Afterward he said, "We could easily have been killed were
it not for Meher Baba's nazar, or grace, being on us."
First Lesson in Obedience
At last they were driven to Poona and pulled up to Meherjee's house.
But before Stan could get to the door, Meherjee came out and
demanded to know who were the men in the car with him. He seemed
suspicious of the cab driver right away. In his turn, the cab driver
took Stan aside and begged him to promise not to let Meherjee know
about the money exchange, and to please pay him for the fare
privately. Stan agreed, but Meherjee also took Stan aside and made a
counter request: please pay your driver in front of me! So Stan was
in a dilemma! But he had made a promise to the cab driver first, so Meherjee reluctantly
left the room.
When the driver had left, Stan went to apologize to Meherjee.
Meherjee asked what he had paid and was shocked at the amount. Con
artist to the end, the cab driver had made a bundle in Indian money.
But then, confessing to the black-market deal, Stan learned that the
profit he had reluctantly incurred in that exchange balanced out
perfectly with what he had overpaid the cab driver! "I about broke
even," he said, and Meherjee smiled.
"Such is the way the Beloved works." Stan summarizes in telling this
part of his tale. "Ill gotten gains would one way or another be
wiped out at his darshan. Thus was my slate wiped clean of
And thus Stan learned his first lesson in obedience
to the Master. If he had followed the directives in
the letter instructing him to make arrangements with
Meherjee, it is unlikely that these things would
have happened. Stan also felt guilty that he had
"lied" in his telegram. Because of the wording in
the message, he had labeled himself as Baba's
"lover", even while believing that, having just heard of Meher
Baba, "certainly, I could not be his lover." He feared that if he
were to be honest, he would be "disqualified, a mere interloper,"
and he would not be allowed to attend the darshan. But, said Stan,
"I was determined to go to Baba's darshan. I didn't care if I had to
sleep on the streets!" (Leave it to Baba to know who really Loves
The Great Darshan
So Stan was present at the Great Darshan. As he describes it,
Meher Baba's "silence was absolute, and his presence was so perfect
and so complete. It was overwhelming. For only God can permeate a
place with such a wellspring of love and divine sweetness. It was
truly a Great Darshan, potent in God's love. But for me, it was a
great meltdown - the meltdown of hearts; and I was one of it's
victims. I just wept and wept because I was washed in love."
And then it was Stan's turn to go Baba's chair and "bow down to Akua,
the Lord of Love." At last he had found the One he had so long
sought, and as he gently kissed His sandals and laid his forehead on
them, he surrendered his life and his all "in deep humility to Meher
Baba, the Avatar of the Age." "It was," said Stan, "the most natural
thing for me to do."
But still new in Baba's love, that night Stan went to his room feeling
sorry for Meher Baba. He wanted to help "this poor man spread His
message of love and truth in Hawaii." He didn't know
back then that Meher Baba didn't need his help, that "God alone does
His own work." But neither did he know then, how Baba chooses to get
that work done!
The Baba Treasures
Seeking assistance for his plan to set up his own Baba Center in
Hawaii, Stan sought out K.K. Ramakrishnan, Secretary of the Poona
Baba Center. Ramakrishnan helped him pick out books, brochures,
cards and photographs of Meher Baba and the five Perfect Masters
from the Poona Center, and took him downtown to purchase books on
the masters and saints of India. Stan felt good about this
collection but felt something was still missing.
The next day, Stan returned to the Poona Center and
shared his feelings with Ramakrishnan. He explained that if he were to have "just one
tiny item or relic of Baba" it would be a great help in establishing
a Center for Baba in Hawaii. To his delight, Ramakrishnan agreed.
The following day, unexpectedly, Stan was directed to come
to Guruprasad. "I thought I did something wrong!" he recalls.
I got to Guruprasad, I was told to go inside and that Mehera wanted
to see me." There, members of the men and women mandali were lined
up with gifts for him. Stan says, "I remember Mehera, in all
her sweetness and love for her Beloved Baba giving me a pair of Baba's
sandals that she had saved." Then Mani gave him a lock of Baba's
hair when it was "on the golden side" and a tiny heart case
containing Baba's signature written on a piece of paper. Eruch gave
him one of Baba's sadras, adamantly telling him, "not to wear it."
Another woman mandali gave him a piece of material and portions of
the rose garlands (in a plastic bag) that had been in contact with
Baba's body as he lay surrounded by these in his tomb before he was
enshrined. Yet another gave a piece of granite stone that had also
been next to Baba in his crypt. Someone else gave him a beautiful
white statue of Zoroaster. "I could not thank Mehera and all the mandali enough," Stan remembers, adding, "And of course, (at that
time) I truly had no idea what I have been given." *
Ramakrishnan was very happy to hear that Stan's wish to have "just
one tiny item or relic of Baba's" had been so lavishly fulfilled,
Stan went on to say that "Since I have all these things of
Baba, all I would need now is a chair, and I would have a Center
just like yours." (I was "just kidding," Stan would later say, and
here the story breaks into two slightly different versions,
depending on whether Stan is telling it, or Ramakrishnan.) According
to Stan, at this point, Ramakrishnan offered, "I have a chair for
you," and took him to his house in Kirkee, a suburb of Poona.
According to Ramakrishnan, he took Stan to Kirkee to show him his
room for Baba.
Once at Ramakrishnan's house, he showed Stan the special room that
he had maintained especially for Baba's use, from
1956 to 1964, when Baba
would spend his summers in Guruprasad. In it was a chair
Baba sat in whenever he came to visit at least once, and
sometimes twice, a year. With it was a foot pillow Baba
used to rest his feet on. Ramakrishnan then showed Stan his own
special collection of Baba relics. These included one of the
"crowns" Baba had worn when being adorned as Krishna, handkerchiefs
that he used to wipe the perspiration from his face, a bar of soap
that he had used to wash his hands, a lock of his hair, fingernail
pairings, a small pink cloth and pink sheet that he had personally
Then, according to Stan, Ramakrishnan asked, "What do you
"Everything!" said Stan.
"You must be mad, but you can have it." Replied Ramakrishnan.
Or, according to Ramakrishnan, everything Stan saw, he said, "I want
Later, according to Stan, Ramakrishnan took him back to the Center
the following day and gave him four carved wooden lamps to be placed
alongside Baba's chair for decoration or to be used at night to
light up the chair.
Which ever way it happened, what is not in doubt is that, for
whatever reason, Ramakrishnan found himself unaccountably giving
away all his precious Baba treasures, including the chiar, to Stan.
and other of his close Baba companions could not understand how he
could have let this happen. "Have you gone crazy?" they asked him.
Years later, when Stan revisited India in 1993, Ramakrishnan, himself, told
Stan he still found it a mystery that he had complied without
question. The significance, however, was not lost on him. In a
letter to Stan, Ramakrishnan wrote:
Your coming into our life in 1969 and carrying with you the chair on
which The God-man sat year after year has great significance and has
been divinely ordained for a united effort for His dear cause on
* Later, in the 1980's Paul Morse donated a small bottle (which he
had been given) of the melted ice water that had surrounded Baba
during the seven days he lay in the open crypt to this collection.
The Homeward Journey
The next morning, Meherjee made arrangements to have
a small truck take all of Stan and Paul's things to the local airport - the chair, lamps,
books, pictures, luggage, etc. - the truck was loaded! Stan and Paul
said farewell to all the Mandali, Ramakrishnan and his staff from
the Poona Center, and all the new friends they had made at the Ajmer
Because Meherjee's had connections with Air India, they were able to
get all these things on the plane to Bombay at no extra cost. "I had
no idea how much extra weight we might be carrying," said Stan, "
but I heard someone remark, "You are taking India back with you!""
Now that Air India was flying again, Meherjee had
also made it possible for them to use the return
trip portion of the Air India tickets purchased in
Hong Kong. "So," said Stan, "it seemed that Dear
Baba was seeing to it that we not be cheated out of
our money." But arriving in Bombay they were in for a surprise. They would have
to foot the overweight costs needed for the next leg of the flight.
That came to $465 and they had no money. "Except for some loose
change,"Stan recalls, "I was broke. I had spent all the extra money
I had on things for the Baba Center. Instead of taking the bus to
Baba's Samadhi like the other westerners, I had spent money on a
cab. Instead of buying just a few pictures being sold at the tomb, I
bought a whole album. I took groups of Indian Baba lovers out to
expensive dinners. I went to a leper colony and gave away money. I
gave away money to kids begging on the street, and every other cause
that came my way. I was determined not to come home with any money,
and I was broke. What was I thinking!"
"I didn't know what to do," says Stan, so he told the ticket agent
that although he had no money, he was taking Avatar Meher Baba's
chair and things to Hawaii to establish a Center there- that they
had God's chair with them! But the agent was not impressed and told
them to step aside. Now thoughts were swirling through Stan's mind:
What to do? They couldn't stay at a hotel, they couldn't fly back to
Poona, they couldn't phone Shirley (Stan's business partner at the
time) to wire any money. They were stuck in India with Baba's precious
things. What if they had to sleep with them on the streets of
Bombay! "I was a basket case" Stan tells, "I knew we had to get on
that plane. I will always remember that this was the first time I
prayed to Avatar Meher Baba. He sure didn't wait long to have me do
it. I asked him to please help us."
So again Stan asked the agent if they would please be kind enough to
put Avatar Meher Baba's things on the plane. But getting an emphatic
"No!", Stan was ready to walk away in despair when suddenly a man
appeared from a room behind the counter. Surprisingly, he told the
agent to put everything on the plane, and to hurry it along so they
could board in time. Stan went immediately to help Paul carry over
the chair and luggage and then looked around to thank the unknown
man for helping them. But he was nowhere to be seen.
Baba to the Rescue Again
Although they were last to board the flight to Hong Kong, finally
they were on their way. Thinking all was settled now, Stan was
feeling deeply grateful to Baba for helping them out. But little did
he know - it was not over yet. Ahead was a two hour lay over and another
change in flights.
Now checking into Quantas Airlines, the same scenario played itself out.
This time the overweight charge was $365. Again Stan told the agent
they were broke, but that they had Avatar Meher Baba's chair with
them and were taking it to Hawaii for a Center. Again the agent was
not impressed and asked them to step aside. Again Stan couldn't
envision sleeping on the streets of Hong Kong with Baba's precious
things. What else was there to do but ask for a second miracle? "So
again," says Stan, "I asked Baba to help us."
Suddenly, the final boarding was being announced and
Stan pleaded once more to have the chair put on the
plane. "You know," he said, "this is God's chair."
Much nicer than the agent in India, this agent
apologized and said he was truly sorry, but he could
not help. Then once more, to their utter amazement,
a man came from somewhere behind the counter and
asked to see their tickets. Noting that they had one
stop over in Tokyo, he told the ticket agent to book the chair
straight through to Hawaii. Then he turned to Stan and Paul and told
them they must hurry because the plane was soon leaving.
"I just couldn't believe what my ears were hearing," says Stan. "I
assumed he was the boss, and I thanked him for helping us. The last
time I saw him, he was carrying Baba's chair onto the conveyor belt
That brought a little smile to my face. But inside, I was about to
burst with happiness because our Beloved had once again come to our
Home in the Islands
Thus Stan, Paul and Beloved Baba's treasures made it safely back to
Hawaii just as Meher Baba must have planned. Stan's nightclub friend was
there to pick them up. He hadn't wanted to go to India, but to
Stan's surprise, he was looking at Stan with tears flowing down his
face. "What happened to you?" he asked. "What do you mean?" replied
Stan. "Something happened to you in India. You are not the same
person," said his friend.
Stan says, "I was intrigued by his remark, as I wasn't sure what he
was talking about. But I now sensed that he wished he had gone to
the darshan with me. I felt sorry for him because we were close
So, giving him a big hug, Stan reassured him, "Don't worry, I'm still
the same guy nothing has changed."
"Well, that's what I thought," Stan sums up. "But my life would
never be the same again. As I look back, I don't think I would have
done what I did if I knew who Meher Baba was when I went to his
darshan I would have been frightened by the great responsibility
that was placed upon me when I was given his precious relics." For
sure, Baba did not turn out to be the "poor man" and "underdog" Stan
set out to help. But as Stan says, "Who knows, it is Baba who calls
the shots." All that mattered to Stan was that he had found his Beloved Akua.