Meher Baba’s published words should be reprinted faithfully as He approved them during His lifetime—not interpreted, amplified, explained, or improved. That concept has eluded every publisher of the Discourses since the 1967 6th edition, the last version Baba approved.

7th edition (1987) All-out assault led by a librarian. Introduces thousands of editorial changes that are technically quibbleable but cumulatively calamitous.
6th edition (2005) Excellent job of reproducing the Discourses as Baba last approved them. Introduces an historical error in new, gratuitous front matter.
Revised 6th edition (2007) Implements a new policy that purportedly preserves the words of the Discourses as Baba last approved them. The stillborn brainchild of a relentless editor named Ward Parks, the policy gives him (and future editors) a green light to impose “improvements.” It is an invitation to edit no less resistible than the apple in the garden.

Loopholes in the new policy allow


In 2005, the 6th edition Discourses had been out of print for 38 years. It was a rare book in danger of disappearing. The 2005 republication of the 6th edition, and its companion web site, restore the 6th edition words and format. However, brief new front matter in the print version contains an error.

Inaccurate Sentence in Added Front Matter

 . . . Close disciples transcribed Baba’s dictations, and Baba signed His name to each transcription to indicate His approval for publication. . . . 

In one way or another during 1938-1942, Baba personally approved every discourse for its original publication in the Meher Baba Journal, including signing a type-written table of contents for issues prior to publication. But in a paragraph added to the front matter, I asserted that Baba signed a transcription of individual discourses prior to publication. I believed the statement to be true. It is not.

My passion made me sloppy, and I did not insist on seeing evidence to support the statement. In retrospect, it’s clear that the paragraph was not a neutral historical note. It was an excuse to express my point of view. I believed that the 7th edition was a mistake and that the imperiled 6th edition needed to be restored. Those beliefs led to the unintentional, but significant, factual error. It would not have seen print had I, the publisher, resisted the temptation to get my licks in. My mistake exemplifies the need for a policy that prohibits any fiddling with—and around—Baba’s words.

The mistake is exactly what I have faulted in others. I apologize.

The Trust’s New Editorial Policy

In June 2006 the Avatar Meher Baba Trust instituted a policy regarding the protection of Baba’s published words. Its premise is that if approved by Baba during His lifetime, His words should be left alone. Unfortunately, the new policy has loopholes that allow the following changes:

  1. spelling
  2. capitalization
  3. punctuation
  4. This is deceptively innocuous. For example, depending on an editor’s interpretation of font, the pervasive and beautiful italics that Baba approved could be wiped out. That happened in the 7th edition.font
  5. lineation
  6. erroneous word repitition
  7. grammatical agreement
  8. mistakes evidently resulting from typesetting and other print production errors.

The fundamental problem with the new policy is that it encourages—maybe even obligates—an editor to consider all sorts of changes every time the Discourses is printed. Loophole five is defensible because it is for all practical purposes inevitable. The others invite editorial interference. The exceptions listed above express the particular concerns of the academically trained scholar who devised (or was instrumental in devising) the policy. They are seductive provocations: “We need a hands-off policy regarding Baba’s words after I fix them up this last time.” Every publication of the Discourses will be a “last time” for somebody.

In keeping with the new policy, Volume IV has a list of every change from the last printing of the 6th edition in 1973. This ostensibly laudable requirement has the paradoxical effect of justifying editorial changes that are neither necessary nor justified in the first place. With successive printings, presumably trivial changes made by earnest editors wanting to spit-shine the Discourses are bound to pile up along with their dutiful lists—which will tend to embolden editors and obscure, rather than expose, the ever-compounding changes. (For example, a change of capitalization in the word self, to Self, has far-reaching effects in meaning.) In the revised 6th edition, 172 different issues are “corrected,” many multiple times, resulting in hundreds of changes from the original 6th edition Baba approved. The list of these changes in Volume IV is supposed to provide ‘transparency’ but it reads like a confession.


Four footnotes in Volumes I–III of the revised 6th edition spotlight syntactical and typographical anomalies carried over from the Meher Baba Journal. The asterisks are little beacons of the editor’s ego demanding from the bottom of the page, “Forget the Discourses and look at me! Look at me instead!” These miniscule starbursts of delusion imply that the editor’s opinions aren’t merely equal to the Discourses, they warrant special attention. They refer the reader to a section in Volume IV, Some Textual Cruxes, for more donnish musings, cinching that new volume into the set and implying that Volumes I–III need help. In its lively 70-year history, this is the first time the Discourses has been abused with such intrusions.

Any sentence in the Discourses could be footnoted, depending on an editor’s interests, hangups, questions, associations, or whatever. Another editor’s footnotes would target different sentences—and be just as out of place.

Every discussion inspired by the Discourses is dandy, but an editor overvalues his opinions by conflating them with the Discourses. It is irrelevant whether you think the footnotes and their elaborations in Some Textual Cruxes have merit.


Nobody’s opinion about anything has any business being put into the Discourses.

Making matters worse, under the seal of the Avatar Meher Baba Trust, the footnotes have an air of official hermeneutics.

Wrong Author. Again.

For the second time in a row, the Avatar Meher Baba Trust has been stumped by the concept of putting Baba’s name only on books that He actually wrote.

The cover and spine of Volume IV read Discourses by Meher Baba Volume IV, as if it were written by Meher Baba. It wasn’t. As if it has equal standing with the other three volumes. It doesn’t—by a distance asymptotically approaching infinity.

Volume IV is a 275-page grab bag of appendices written by Ward Parks. Some are worthwhile, some exhaustive, some wrongheaded, some exhaustive and wrongheaded. All are stuffy and self-conscious.

Anybody is free to write a book about the Discourses, including anybody associated with the Avatar Meher Baba Trust. Nothing wrong with that, as long as the book doesn’t try to give the impression that it’s part of the Discourses. Maybe the misattribution was inadvertent fallout from a design decision to keep the volumes graphically consistent. They are beautiful little books. Whatever the reason, the careless printing of the cover and spine repeats the collosal blunder of Infinite Intelligence, the last book published by the Trust, which also falsely names Meher Baba as the author. Printing covers with Baba apochryphally named as the author seems to be official policy.


The first paragraph in Volume IV is calamitous. It misrepresents an incalculably important moment in Baba’s advent.

First Paragraph of
A History of the Discourses

Any history of Meher Baba’s literary output needs from the outset to take due account of his silence. On 10th July 1925, Meher Baba stopped speaking; and for the next forty-four years, until he dropped his physical form on 31st January 1969, that silence remained unbroken.

The first sentence is pompous and dubious, but the real damage in this opening paragraph is done in the second sentence.

In the May 1992 issue of Glow magazine, Eruch Jessawala dramatically describes how he heard Meher Baba break His physical silence: “TRUE TO HIS PROMISE, HE HAS BROKEN HIS SILENCE.” This author has personally heard Bhau Kalchuri tell how shortly before dropping His body Baba, using His physical voice, said, “Yadrakh,” then gestured, “I am not this body.” Eruch and Bhau form the most reliable eye-witness duo in creation.

The monumental fact that Baba broke His physical silence to speak is mysterious and open to interpretation, but that fact deserves to be accurately reported. Especially in publications associated with the Trust. The beginning of Baba’s 44 years of silence, July 10 1925, has vast significance for lovers of Meher Baba. One of the few ceremonies Baba lovers observe is to maintain silence every year on July 10. It is incomprehensible—and beyond justification—for the breaking of Baba’s physical silence to be so cavalierly treated by a guardian of His words.

Editors Can’t Hide

The greater the attempt, the more is revealed. Call it the “inverse exposure principle of editing.”

Mr. Parks often refers to the “general reader,” as though without help from a vigilant “textual scholar” like himself we hapless souls are in round-the-clock peril of pratfalling on our own drool. Still, in his new Introduction, in Volume IV, and elsewhere, Mr. Parks writes about the need to keep editorial changes to a minimum, then to be transparent about them. But despite his demurring, Mr. Parks cannot control himself. He makes hundreds of editorial changes in the revised 6th edition Discourses, inserts bookish footnotes in the text, then dilates on them in a 275-page hyper-literary book of his own creation misleadingly titled Discourses by Meher Baba Volume IV, in which he piously cautions readers not to focus on the literary aspects of the Discourses!

from Introduction
(repeated on back of Volume II)

To overaccentuate the literary character of the Discourses, therefore, is to misconstrue its basic nature. Ultimately these essays find their true consummation not when they are read with intelligence and appreciation, but when they are lived.

‘Ironic’ might be the most overworked word in the English language, but it’s apt here. What is more literary than a glossary that, among other ventures, redefines and expands definitions that Baba approved for God Speaks? And let’s not forget the footnotes and textual cruxes.

The scholarly style of Volume IV is out of character with anything Baba published, and although of minor importance in itself, the pettifoggery just accentuates the problem with the book’s misattribution. In any case, reading the Discourses with intelligence and appreciation ain’t a bad aim for us “general readers“ who can’t consummate them.


Publishers of Meher Baba’s words should present them exactly as Baba approved. That goal has been elusive, but it is attainable. After all, the way to realize it editorially is to do nothing! In spiritual realms, this is called a no-brainer.

Dan Tyler
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina | March 2008

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