Born : 7th January 1900
Died : 2nd March 1985
Nationality : English
I have deemed it my good portion to have been born poor of this world's fortune -
Yet, in this fate of ‘ups and downs' I played the ace of Baba's clowns
And found no mirth in the Kingdom of Earth, but now I know
That I am Thine, God's Kingdom's come and Thou art mine. —Fred Marks
The following was taken from The Awakener ; Vol.21,No.2
|Begin the Beguine|
|by Fred Marks|
|from a talk given on|
|November 10, 1984|
|The hazards which are being exerted in every direction in the world today to resuscitate or do away with the present order of things have brought man to a state of perplexity and bewilderment. So I take my role of work in Baba's cause not as a teacher or a philosopher but more directly as a witness. I quickly pass on from things as they are to what they might become for those of us who are aspirants, lovers of Baba who have to be in the world without getting caught up in it.|
The sense of my talk today is centered around Baba's favorite song, Begin the Beguine. The history of the origin of the song is simply incidental. In 1955 when the Beguine was first sung in London, the song did not arouse much interest in people, probably because it was enveloped in obscurity.
However, Baba was in England at the time Cole Porter, the composer of the Beguine, produced another song called Spread It Abroad. Leslie Hutchinson, known as Hutch, singer and pianist, took them up with much enthusiasm. Artists all over the world clamored to sing the Beguine, but Hutch had the exclusive rights. He was a much-loved personality and respected the material entrusted to him; he was careful to interpret it in the spirit in which it was created. Cole Porter composed songs of the nature of human love, which seemed to be inspired by the Divine. The Beguine, however, transcends the whole range of human love, and the composer became the visionary of the Divine. It can be assumed that Baba crossed the path of both singer and composer and either one or the other or both were agents for Baba, who stated that the Beguine meant a great deal spiritually.
It was in August 1961 when Baba sent word to England for a search to be made for the original recording of the Beguine. It was the only one of its kind in existence of this particular version—it was almost impossible to come by, like searching for the Holy Grail. Eventually it was found and Mani wrote, "It's the end of our united search. It's the perfect one, and it made our Perfect One happy."
The Beguine is the story of the soul's journey from the Beyond God to the end of illusion, when the Soul knows, "I am God." We all know that in the beginning there was a ripple over the Divine Ocean, and that ripple caused waves, and drops appeared. Those drops, which are in fact ocean, did not know they had forgotten the still, calm ocean, and knew themselves only as drops, and these drops said, "Who am I?" The Beguine describes the splendour of God, who knows everything; He knows how each drop will act. He knows each drop will have many experiences, and will forget Him, even though they are Him. He tells us in the Beguine how at times He cannot bear to recall how these drops suffer, until, He says, one drop begins to look at itself and think, "Who am I?" And then again He clutches His heart and that drop thinks about God. The clouds again appear and once again the drop forgets, and again and again these drops appear to remember God and again and again they forget, as Illusion forces them back into their illusion.
Image courtesy of Michael Lakey, from photo taken at Fred's home in Putney, London - 1974
Baba once said He was so fed up with the world that He had a mind to send it all back to stone; I think that feeling is perfectly described in the penultimate verse of the Beguine: "Let the love that was once a fire remain an ember." And then He says, "Now let them begin the Beguine. I’ll come back as Avatar, I'll charm them, those who really love, I will make them adore Me, they shall become My lovers, and I will be their Beloved, and after I have charmed them, I’ll allow them to woo Me, and I'll respond to their wooing as all Beloveds respond to their lovers." Then in the beautiful last verse, lover and Beloved finally come together and the Divine Beloved hears the lover say, "Darling, I love you," and they are one.
Beloved Baba knew we would forget Him, and He left His need in this song. He even allowed it to be played when He dropped His bodily form, because it stresses the importance of how He needs us to know He waits for someone to breathe His name and tell Him, "I love you," as a true lover would tell His Beloved. He needs us to need Him.
A constant and firmly based faith in Baba can transform one's life. It is the miracle. The transformation is the actual Divine process which is being accelerated in the human being today. In terminology of the four main religions of the world, that which is taking place in the human being is described, in the time-honored phrase, as redemption and salvation of the human soul. What I want to point out is that the carrying out of Baba's wish is one of the direct ways which is sustained by His grace and sealed by His love. Baba's wish was given in 1955 in America at Myrtle Beach. I sat at Baba's feet. He was giving a large discourse and there are intervals in the discourse when He had this wish of His read out on three separate occasions and that is the importance of it. The people who were there were for the world. I’ll read it out to you:
|Baba said: The lover has to keep the wish of the Beloved.|
|My wish for My lovers is as follows:|
|1.||Do not shirk your responsibilities.|
|2.||Attend faithfully to your worldly duties, but keep always|
|in the back of your mind that all this is Baba's.|
|3.||When you feel happy, think: "Baba wants me to be|
|When you suffer, think: "Baba wants me to suffer."|
Be resigned to every situation and think honestly and
|sincerely: "Baba has placed me in this situation."|
|5.||With the understanding that Baba is in everyone, try to|
|help and serve others.|
|6.||I say with My Divine Authority to each and all that who-|
|soever takes My name at time of breathing his last|
|comes to Me; so do not forget to remember Me in your|
|last moments. Unless you start remembering Me from|
|now on, it will be difficult to remember Me when your|
|end approaches. You should start practicing from now|
|on. Even if you take My name only once every day, you|
|will not forget to remember Me in you dying moments.|
Then Baba explained, "To come to Me" means, experiencing Me as I am . . . no more births and deaths, but it does not mean the state of a Master of Perfection; that is only attained in the gross body. So if you are not blessed with this state of Perfection, at least you can have liberation, if you take My Name at the moment of departing, you will come to Me.
Baba said, "I am the Ancient One residing in every heart, therefore love others, make others happy, serve others even at the discomfort to yourselves. This is to love Me. I suffer for the whole universe; unless I suffer how could I ask My lovers to suffer for others? I am one with all on every level."
But if Baba lovers and aspirants are not to be unduly disturbed by what goes on around them, it is their task to find poise and contentment within themselves, for now they are able, through Baba's grace, better equipped to render help to our fellow beings. The aspiring Baba devotee may not be aware Baba brings about a happy coordination between the heart and mind, and this process of regeneration, so continues in the individual and is advancing in the world of today. To allow this to proceed unhindered we have to give, we have to yield, so as to allow our own individual natures to be transformed and redeemed, to be firm and steadfast, throughout our lives. If you take Baba to be God, there can be nothing beyond the scope of His knowing concerning every individual.
We should struggle to give Him His needs, just as He gave us our needs by coming into the world. Loving is a two-way thing. If we go to Baba for His darshan, He gives generously and we in turn should be just as generous in our giving. That is, we should yield and at least try to obey Him; by repeating His dear name, bowing down; His way, not our way. That means we tell Him, "I give You my head," and then repeating His name once after we have given. No slander, no backbiting, no hurting others; in fact not only repeating the "Prayer of Repentance" but reading it carefully, and asking ourselves, "Have I done this?"—then struggling hard not to commit that sin again, if we have. So, as we struggle, we begin to live Begin the Beguine , we struggle and hearts respond. The more we repeat His name, the nearer we get to giving Him His need—ourselves. Baba is God. Let us all try to give Him His heart's desire, and struggle to obey Him, so that one day He will come to us as a Beloved and hear us whisper, for only Him to hear, "Darling, I love you."
The message in the Beguine renews the hopes of aspirants and encourages them to further effort and struggle. We may not understand Baba's way of working, but by effort and struggle and by loving Him more, we receive more of His grace and love. It is an established fact that Baba has left it on record that He has retained the Presidency of the United Kingdom, having given up all other presidencies. The United Kingdom holds a unique place in the world today and the future but if we to are see this in its true context—the greatest benefit any Baba devotee can derive from Baba's presidency is to allow Him to preside in their hearts.
I wanted to say a little about psychology in the world as it is—it is from my own experience, the modern science that deals with the mind called psychology, for the sake of this talk, I will call the science of the mind=heart or the soul of the individual. Modern science is unable to cope with the human being as a complete whole—since the function of the complex nature of man is a continual interplay of cross currents which link up with both heart and mind. This interrelationship between two separate organs during the working hours, varies in intensity according to the individual's nature. This interplay of thoughts, feelings, emotions, love, hatred, happiness, unhappiness, joy, success, and failure, doubt and faith, hope and despair, etc., etc., is generated between the mind and the head of the individual. The creating and expressing of these impressions, called sanskaras, have to be lived out in the individual life and they become to some extent expressed through the ego. Moreover, as the sanskaras are spent, so new ones are being created, to be spent in the next incarnation in the new environment. When the individual begins to doubt the life of the senses, the feeling of inadequacy to cope with his problems, the unredeemed loneliness of his heart and a visionless future, the very existence of his life seems to be threatened. The inner man, the self, finds this state unacceptable, and the question arises, "Who am I?" Baba is Avatar, is God Almighty, incarnate on this earth of ours. Baba has the knowledge; all-knowing, He has knowledge of each and everyone from the beginning. If He didn't come to our rescue, there would be no way out of our problems. Baba is the supreme surgeon of the mind and heart of a human being. He works independently of any theatrical, mechanical or analytical process. Space and time are illusory factors which cannot hinder Baba's working. All that is real is given in Silence. He is concerned with the individual, works on the individual, and works through them.
On March 2nd in early morning, our dear Fred Marks passed away at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, Great Ormond Street, London. Fred had not kept well since he gave that wonderful Baba-filled talk to us at Hammersmith Grove, on November 10, 1984, demonstrating his love and attunement to his Beloved Baba. The last few months he had been looked after devotedly by his close group.
Below is a telegram received from Meherazad on Wednesday 6th March:
"Dear Fred has gone home to his precious Lord Avatar Meher Baba, after
life lived totally in Beloved Baba's service. We know that all hearts he had
lighted with Meher Baba's love will miss this 'Grand Old Man' of England,
but will rejoice in his well-earned joy and bliss of reunion with the Lord
Avatar Meher Baba. Ki Jai."
from Mehera, Mani, all Mandali
To many a sweet old gentleman, to some, an inspiring example and a truly gentle man, to those who knew him well a selfless servant of his Beloved, and Baba's "very good boy", was a true mystic. His perspective on life reflected this and he was not always understood as a result.
Outwardly, his life was "filled with people", his roles varying from a life in The Guards (he bought himself out), art dealer, gardener at a remand home, and school master at a large public school. He became sick of his worldly life and gave away his wealth realizing his true spiritual longings on seeing Lord Jesus during the Second War. When he met Meher Baba, The Master told him, "You know who I am."
But inwardly, Fred was a very private person, with fiercely held views and very independent. He once told me that simple thoughts were the most powerful and judging by his example, pertinent and easily grasped comments revealed his penetratingly beautiful perceptions of the underlying truth to be found everywhere. He was a simple man, delighting in nature and tranquility, a beacon of peace and surrenderance to the Will of his Beloved. Believing that it is one of the hardest things to help another, he advocated a kind word, a smile and silence as a comfort to those in distress. So very many knew him as a comforter, and as a true lover of Meher Baba with the common touch, his pure wish was to whisper for only Baba to hear, "Darling I love you!" He is now safely in His arms forever.
The last time I saw Freddie
by Raelia Lyn
The first time I saw Fred Marks was at his tiny flat in Putney, a suburb of London, in the spring of 1982. Fred was getting on, you see, and was recovering from illness. When asked if his doctor approved of his walking in such cold weather, he replied quickly, "Baba approves!”"My friend then introduced me, and Fred stood up. He took both my hands, looked directly into my eyes; his face dissolved into a soft smile and he said, "I remember you!" That touched me, of course, for I had never seen him before, or indeed, anyone like him!
So off we went in the car to Richmond Park for a walk, Fred using only one cane at the time. As we walked up a small rise of that vast parkland, Baba put on a spectacular show complete with thunder (which Fred described as the wrath of God), lightening, and a lovely rainbow, the sign of hope. Just as we turned around to return, we spied a fine lady upon a white horse. Jai Baba! Fred certainly enjoyed that and his outing in the fresh air did him a world of good.
During the most welcome tea, Fred told me that he was 82 then and that Baba had prolonged his spiritual life so many times. And just before we left he said that England is definitely a spiritual centre and that right now Meher Baba was revitalizing Christianity.
So it was that in November of 1983, Fred Marks came once again to India with a small group of Baba lovers to bow before the holy tomb-shrine of His Beloved Baba. This time, unfortunately, his chronic arthritis had worsened and he used two walking sticks. It was an ordeal for him to get down on his knees inside the Samadhi and painfully awkward to rise. Yet he carried on, undaunted.
Later, he was among the "walking wounded", having bashed his head in a rickshaw. But it only reminded him of Baba and the time in ’54 when, coming out of Mandali Hall at lower Meherabad, he suffered a nasty head cut, which Meher Baba Himself attended to, dressing his wound with tenderness and affection. Baba told Fred, "You are very dear to Me!", expressing constant concern for his recovery. Still, Fred felt Baba's Presence strongly on this last visit of his for He had said to him (he told me) "l will be so close to you that you will hear the sound of My voice!"
It was at Meherazad that Fred became my patient. Receptive and patient, he invited me to visit him when coming through London town.
The following summer I came to London, enrolling in two professional massage therapy courses. During this time, I began treating Mr. Marks and became his therapist. Fred looked forward to these therapeutic massage sessions like a little boy and was enthusiastic and encouraging about my intensive studies. Always before, and after sometimes, treatment and rest, there was illuminating conversation centered around Meher Baba.
Fred told me that in the middle of a long varied and lonely life (he had been an officer in the guards, a teacher at a boys' school, a professional gardener, and both during and long after WWII, a worker in a London hospital, and, in partnership with Adi K. Irani, Baba's brother, an antique buyer and appraiser)—he had unexpectedly heard The Call of God. He knew that his heart had Awakened and that his heart was filled with Divine Love. He felt aware. Fred knew without a doubt that Meher Baba was God Incarnate and that he had to go the "Divine Way" (follow Him), for he was powerless to do otherwise. And this, he said, "happened to me so quickly."
Fred Marks came to Baba through Will and Mary Backett, meeting Baba for the first time in 1952 in a private interview at the Charing Cross Hotel in London. He then became one of the most dedicated English disciples in Meher Baba's Cause.
He was selected by Baba to attend the 1954 September Men's Gathering in India, known as "3 Incredible Weeks," travelling out to India by ship together with Will Backett and Dana Field. As one of that very special group of men carefully chosen by God Himself to be in holy company with Him, he "learned a humility of which you still have no conception—a humility which never makes comparisons, never rejects what is there for the sake of something else or something more."
After tea, Fred showed me his Treasure Box. If was a simple wooden cigar box and it held a vintage Baba locket given him by one of the Mandali, a small photo of Meher Baba from the '54 visit, a stone pebble that Baba picked up and threw when walking up Meherabad Hill, and a letter from Mani. Baba was there in that little room of Fred's, Baba was always there.
It was on 28 September, '84 that I last saw Fred. Arriving with a huge bag of groceries, I had suggested preparing a proper dinner for him following the treatment, as bachelors live on tinned soup. I noticed that Fred's eyes had aged dramatically. There was "withdrawal" in his eyes and I was aware at the same time of intense physical suffering. But in a flash his eyes took on the sparkle of that familiar, twinkling, mischievous merriment I had come to know and love in him.
Fred knew I was off to India next morning. He tucked two tubes of first quality calcium tablets in my bag, saying "Look here, you are Baba's and you must keep well!" It was a long and satisfying treatment, although Fred was in great pain then. He was longing for release, yet he had pledged himself to patience and acceptance of the will of God as it applied to him. That this splendid man of God who had nourished and supported me through two diplomas could be grateful for his pain and ever faithful to Baba every inch of the way was a study in the strength that comes from true humility. He rested a little, and dressed and after dinner he pulled out his table top organ and played and sang his own "Baba's Arti" (now called English Arti) and his small room became a great cathedral, with every chord a note of praise. Then for fun a lively English folk tune, "Vicar of Bray," and finally, in a voice full of longing, he sang Begin The Beguine.
Well, there was enough remaining from dinner for a nice hot lunch, and Fred promised not to forget it. Then he read to me some of his unpublished writings in the light of Meher Baba's teachings; and in a voice quivering with love he read to me his just-finished poem to Baba, telling me you are the first one to hear my 'Poem in Praise of Meher Baba' His last request was to bring him a little silver ring from India. I bought the ring but Baba had a golden one for him instead, you see.
Fred had put his heart into his "last" public talk about Meher Baba. His health had become successively worse and following the talk there was a relapse. He was hospitalized, became weak, yet remained aware and prepared for transition. He felt he was here "to bear witness" to The New Life Testament and Gospel of Meher Baba. His open friendliness, his gentleness, his transparent and wholehearted faith could not fail to make a deep impression simply by what he was: a Christian mystic and an apostle of the God-Man, Meher Baba. That was Fred Marks, our man in London.