AVATAR AS THE FIRST MASTER
The Avatar is the first master of the first God-realized soul. But in God-realization the full consciousness of the first master became fused with the eternally infinite consciousness of the Avatar. Therefore, with the "coming down" of the first God-realized man, the Avatar himself descended and took an incarnation in his body. So, from the point of view of incarnation, the Avatar is the same as the first master. This first master had no master in the human form. But all subsequent masters have had masters in the human form to help them in Truth-realization.
The first master could realize God without a master in the human form, whereas the subsequent masters always and invariably need some master for God-realization. The reason is simple. God-realization implies inner poise as well as adequate adjustment with the universe (which is the shadow of God) along with everything that it contains. The first master (who is also the first incarnation of the Avatar) attained both these things, because it is the very goal of the initial urge seeking fulfillment. He did not have a master in the human form.
With regard to those souls who attain God-realization subsequently, the two requirements stand, viz. inner poise and adequate adjustment with everything in the universe. But there is one great difference. For example, for the soul who is second in attaining God-realization, one of the important factors in his spiritual environment is the existence of a human God-realized soul. Hence, while adjusting himself with everything in the universe, this second candidate for God-realization is confronted with the problem of adjusting himself to the first master or God-realized soul who, as we have seen, is indistinguishable from the eternal Avatar. In this case the only adequate adjustment possible is unreserved acceptance of the bountiful help which comes from the first master. Refusal to accept this help is maladjustment to a tremendous factor in the universe; and this prevents God-realization. This is why the first God-realized person did not need an incarnate master, while all subsequent masters inescapably need some master or masters in order to realize God. They cannot do so by their own independent efforts.
The first master who got fused with the eternal Avataric infinite consciousness is the master of all masters. Yet, if and when the Avatar takes an incarnation in the human form, he brings upon himself a veil; and this veil has to be removed by some master or masters.
The veil with which the Avatar descends in the human form is placed upon him by the five Perfect Masters who bring him down from his formless being. In the Avataric periods, the five masters always put this veil upon the infinite consciousness of the Avatar, because if he were to be brought without such a veil into the world of forms, the existing balance between reality and illusion would be profoundly disturbed. However, when the five masters think that the moment is ripe, they remove this veil which they have placed on the Avataric consciousness. From that moment the Avatar consciously starts his role as the Avatar.
The incarnation of the Avatar does not take place unless it is precipitated by the five Perfect Masters of the cycle. In all of his incarnations except the first, even the Avatar needs a master in order to come into his own eternal and infinite consciousness. He does not become an exception to the rule that a "touch" of a master is necessary for God-realization. However, the "touch" of a Perfect Master does not necessarily mean physical touch. When we say that we are "touched" by music, or a poem or story, the touch has deeper significance. Far more truly is this so when it is a question of spiritual "touch." In the case of a master, this deeper spiritual touch is often transmitted through the physical touch.
Every time the Avatar descends, he is not necessarily recognized as the Avatar by the masses. He can be recognized as such only by those who are very advanced spiritually. The Avatar himself is the least concerned about whether or not he comes to be recognized as Avatar by large numbers. He plays thoroughly his role as the Avatar and his chief work lies in the higher invisible spheres of existence. If, however, he appears at a critical or transitional cyclic period, as is often the case, he is hailed by the masses as the Avatar of the age.
The Avatar is not necessarily recognized and hailed as the Avatar by each and all, because he covers himself under a veil for his own spiritual work. This veil, under which he prefers to remain hidden, is different from the veil which the five Perfect Masters draw on him while bringing Him down in the human form. The veil which the Avatar put on himself can be removed by him at any time, and for any person or persons as he may desire, for the purposes of self-revelation or self-communication.
The Avatar does not take upon himself the karma of the world nor does he become bound by it. But he takes upon himself the suffering of the world which is the result of its karma. His suffering for the world is vicarious. It does not entail entanglement with the karma of the world. But humanity finds its redemption from its karma through his vicarious sufferings, e.g., illness, humiliation, accident and the like. In his own way, the Avatar unfailingly fulfills his incarnation by giving a spiritual push to his age.
BEAMS FROM MEHER BABA, pp. 27-32
1958 © Sufism Reoriented, Inc.