11 pm PDT
I've just learned that around 300 people came today, Wednesday, to see "Meher Baba, Avatar of the Age: the Human Side of God". Apparently, the numbers are staying up, after the big weekend.
I and others I've talked to, have used the word "overwhelming" to describe the experience of being in the theater hall with the public as people throng around the book table, view the paintings in the hall, and ask questionsmany, many questionsabout our Beloved.
You have to understand, the film opened at 4 pm on Friday July 2, less than two weeks ago, to a numerically under-whelming crowd of maybe 25. The next day was not much better. I think about 125 came that Saturday, spaced over four showings. The whole effort might have seemed embarrassing, except that Meher Baba's lovers know He will go to almost infinite lengths to contact even one person, so it was obvious there must be something going on.
I heard only a few days ago, for example, that someone who was also at the very first show met a couple there who had driven several hours, having seen the ad in the movie section of one of the area newspapersnot knowing anything about Baba, never having heard of Him before, but just knowing they had to be there! There are surely many, many such stories.
Irwin Luck had, it seemed, banked the project's success on the exposure that Baba and His Movie would get via large ads in the Chronicle, the Bay Guardian, the SF Weekly, and the San Jose Mercury News (and possibly other papers).
There were no interviews, no reviews, no radio or TV ads. And those first few days, well, it was slow going.
Of course, it was the 4th of July weekend, one of the worst times of the year for any public event except fireworks and barbecues! How much that fact was holding down attendance was a completely unknown factor, since there's never been an event to compare this one to!
I don't know precisely when things started picking up, since I've only been free to go, so far, on weekends. But last Sunday seemed to be the turning point. It seemed clear something strong was happening. A woman from Santa Cruz, when I asked if she'd been drawn by the ad in the Chronicle, was the recipient of an aside from her friend, who said, "You mean the Darshan?" People were experiencing Baba's Darshan via the ad!
And why not? Meher Baba's "big-as-life"-appearing Image, quotes by Baba that changed daily, and some playful ads written by Irwin about such things as the Avatar's "Criminal Record" (stealing hearts!) were going out daily to millions of people! Bay Area residents certainly look at movie ads. Baba's ad has appeared directly across the page from, and approximately as big as, ads for big-budget studio films like "The Clearing" or "King Arthur"!
It appears to me that Irwin's strategy was to let God, as manifested in the God-Man's Image, use Maya, as represented by the "bogus news" (as Baba called it) media, to get the WordHimselfout! And it appears to be, or He appears to be, working!
One can't expect a movie about Meher Baba to pull in as many people as Mel Gibson's, or even Michael Moore's movie. I mean, it appears that is not Baba's Plan. His Family of Lovershappily for those in itis still too intimate for that. (Though it could have happened, and may soon. He Alone Knows His Plan.)
But this experience, for those who have been involved, has been awesome, all the more for its modest beginning. Isn't it just like Baba, this almost imperceptible growth from practically nothing?
That is the way things are happening in India, too. Why, we've just learned that Silence Day now means pilgrims are lined up in front of the Samadhi all day long. All this will culminate in universal recognition of Baba before He comes again some 700 years from now.
After the movie, the questions I heard most frequently the other day were such deep ones as, "Has Baba broken His Silence?" "What were the masts?" and "Was Meher Baba a Sufi?" People were intently focused, searching for a deeper sense of who Baba is. From what I hear, this process has continued every day. People almost reverentially asked if it was possible to purchase the video of the God-Man that they had just seen.
All of this will be over at the Palace of Fine Arts tomorrow night. But the process initiated in many who heard of Him, or renewed contact with Him, these two weeks, will go on. And His keeping His appointments with His lovers of current and succeeding generations will continue whenever and wherever Baba deigns to convene His Tavern of Love and tell the thirsting public, "Drink up!"