Garrett Elsden Fort
Born : June 5, 1900 - New York, USA
Died : October 26, 1945, Los Angeles, California, USA
Nationality : American
Film Industry - ( was involved in about 60 film productions
As the film work developed, Mercedes ( d'Acosta ) was given the two stories and instructed to give them to Hurlbut also to read. Mercedes later agreed to work for Baba by writing the story continuity for a film in collaboration with Jean and Malcolm Schloss' friend Garrett Fort, who arrived in Hollywood and met Baba on the 6th. Garrett Fort, 35, was a well-known screenwriter who worked on such famous Hollywood films as Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Lost Patrol. Fort had been
interested in spirituality since childhood and, having Meher Baba's contact during this period, he subsequently came to love the Master deeply.
Baba, Jalbhai, Adi, Norina and Malcolm visited Fort's beach house on the 7th, where Baba's photo was taken.
After days of discussions and the Master's guidance, Baba expressed his intent to return to India. Those involved in the project were shocked and pleaded with him, "Your personal presence is necessary to inspire, guide and instruct us at every stage!"
Baba replied, "This picture may take months or even a year or more to produce, and I cannot stay here indefinitely. I have to see to my work, especially in the East and more particularly in India. This film project is a side-work, although it is important. That is why I came over all this distance in response to your requests and repeated cables to work with you and bring it to this practical stage.
"You work out the making of the film now as instructed, adhering mainly to the points and spiritual theme I have dictated. And wherever I am, I will always guide and help you internally. This is my work, and my guiding spirit will always enable you to tackle the difficult issues that may arise in this. So do not worry at all and proceed with it, everyone in cooperation, each in his or her individual way.
Remember, I am always with you."
On Monday, 7 January 1935, Baba departed with his mandali at 8:30 in the evening by train for Vancouver, Canada, on the Lark. Norina, Elizabeth, Nadine, Jean, Malcolm, Garrett, Minta, Rano, Nonny, Ruano and others who were involved in the film work had experienced the Master's intimate contact for three weeks in Hollywood.
||Lord Meher Revised Online Edition Page 1664|
8th April 1935 ; Letter from Garrett Ford to Meher Baba. Courtesy of Avatar Meher Baba India Trust Archives.
"I am God, the supreme Liberator, and if you knew
what strides you have been making toward Liberation by the trials through which you have been going since you left me, you would be overcome with gratitude instead of filled with
Meher Baba, 1940s, India, from a letter
to Garrett Fort, LM6 p2141
Garrett Fort's letter of 25 July 1936 is perhaps reflective of how happy everyone felt about Baba's decision to call them to India:
Baba, your letter forwarded to us by Norina brought much joy. To think that the time has come for all, worthy and unworthy, to take our places by your side and help with your great work is an occasion for the greatest possible happiness. Everything else in our daily lives fades into insignificance, and we will count the days between now and the time we will find ourselves being greeted by your loving smile ...
I come to you with a feeling of vast relief — like a child coming home from school. I want to stay with you for a long time, to cast aside the life I've known like old, worn-out garments and seek the revivifying inspiration of your teaching with the same attitude that I would accept the interval between incarnations. For this to me is an interval between incarnations — only they will be two incarnations while in the same body. The life I've known and lived up to this point, and the life I will know and live when the time comes for me to go forth again into the world as one of your workers.
I expect to be wholly changed, my mental, physical and spiritual aspects transmuted utterly. I think I will not want to come back until you send me. The glamour of this existence is gone — I've seen everything, known celebrities, had money, experienced mild fame (but enough to know what it's like), laughed and have been drunken, known love, faced tragedy, glanced at the heights and walked through the gutters of life. What more is there to maya than these?
When I come to you I intend to burn all my bridges.
Malcolm, Jean and Ruano faced the dilemma of insufficient funds to make the voyage to India, but with Garrett's financial help, they too were able to come.
Lord Meher Revised Online Edition Page 1752
Garrett was full of questions about what constituted spirituality, renunciation, and the spiritual path. On Thursday, 17 December 1936, Baba stated to the group, while directing his comments to Fort:
Divinity is not devoid of humanity — it lifts mankind to God. Nor does spirituality necessarily imply the renunciation of worldly activities. True spirituality signifies the internal renunciation of mundane desires. Mere external renunciation — asceticism — does not lead to spirituality.
Perfection is not perfection if it tries to escape from entanglement by shrinking from the dual expressions of nature. The Perfect One must assert his dominion over all illusion, however attractive and however powerful. A Perfect Being functions with complete detachment in the midst of the most intense activity and in contact with all forms of life.
Baba would ask individuals to tell amusing stories and Garrett was pleasantly surprised at Baba's keen sense of humor. Baba smilingly reminded him, "Divinity includes all that is beautiful and gracious. How then could you expect a Perfect Being to be devoid of a sense of humor?"
Satisfied, Fort replied that he understood.
Lord Meher Revised Online Edition Page 1755
Rano ( Gayley ) smoked Lucky Strike and Chesterfield cigarettes when she came to Nasik, but she was careful never to smoke in Baba's presence. One day Baba came along just as she was finishing a cigarette. She quickly put it out and said, "Baba, this was my last cigarette." Baba looked very pleased and gave her an embrace. Rano surprised herself when she made this remark, since Baba had not asked her to quit (and other disciples, such as Padri, Adi Sr. and Pendu, smoked).
The next day Garrett offered Rano some Chesterfields. Rano groaned, "I've given my word to Baba to quit smoking. What kind of disciple would I be if I couldn't do this much? Why couldn't you have come along a day earlier?" Rano later said she never missed smoking except when she was painting or taking a break to reflect on her work.
On 18 January, 1937, Garrett presented Baba with his introductory editorial for the magazine. Baba liked it so much, he read it twice, and commented that he liked, not only the style, but the gradual way in which Garrett had introduced Baba's name and spiritual status.
The Westerners, Adi Sr. and Chanji left Nasik early in the morning on Saturday, 23 January 1937, for their third visit to Meherabad. Baba was waiting for them there. The group went in three cars: Garrett drove one of the cars and Adi Sr. and Elizabeth the other two.
At the end of the visit, Baba instructed them to stay together for the return trip to Nasik and specifically directed that Garrett drive the same route. But on the way back, Garrett nevertheless took a different route, saying Padri had recommended it, and lost his way after some distance. When he ran out of gas, he became frightened. It was a deserted road and he had no idea how to get back to Nasik. It was getting dark and he called on Baba from the bottom of his heart. Then, a car came from the opposite direction. The driver supplied him with some gasoline and told him how to get back on to the main road. He returned to the retreat late at night and realized what happens if one goes against the Master's wish. The others were worried and were about to send an ambulance to look for them.
Baba arrived in Nasik on Friday, 29 January 1937 at 8:00 P.M.
Sunday, 31 January 1937
Later that day, Garrett showed Baba a story he had written as a possible film script. Baba liked it and urged him to continue working on it along with writing for the magazine. Baba then left Nasik at three that afternoon for Rahuri, driven by Adi Sr.
Before leaving Nasik on Saturday, 20 February 1937, Baba sent Garrett Fort on a tour of northern India for a month.
Lord Meher Revised Online Edition Page 1790
Chanji accompanied him to Bombay by train, and Garrett left from there the next night. He was to spend one month visiting such places as Bhopal, Ujjain, Gwalior, Agra, Delhi, Benares and Allahabad. Being used to a glamorous Hollywood lifestyle, Fort had become restless after two months of the confining routine in Nasik, and so Baba allowed him to tour India, ostensibly to look at locations and collect background material for the film project. Although Baba laid down certain restrictions, Fort's tour was not as strict as those that others had undergone, such as Pleader, who was sent begging.
Before Garrett left, Baba gave him the following list of instructions:
Don't stay at first-class hotels because by leading a simple life you will be able to know and feel real Indian life.
Don't stay at very low-caliber hotels either; a mid-range type will do.
Don't eat flesh or fish. Eggs, vegetables, milk and fruit should be the diet.
Don't take intoxicating alcohol or liquor.
Don't engage in any lustful action.
Don't strike anyone under any circumstances except in self-defense.
Don't inquire of or inform anyone of Baba.
Don't enter into political discussions with anyone.
There is no objection to querying about religious and spiritual subjects.
There is no objection to discussing the film; you may come across people who would like to help.
There is no objection to interviewing a local yogi or saint, but avoid giving them money.
Travel by second class train throughout your journey.
Drop a letter to Baba from every place of visit. Send a telegram in case of any dangerous happening.
Garrett left Nasik with his mind full of thoughts of having an exotic adventure in spiritually romantic "Ind-ya" and encountering spiritually advanced souls who would show him wondrous things. His dreams, however, were not to be fulfilled. On 25 February, from Gwalior, he wrote to the other Westerners in Nasik:
So far no dark, turbaned strangers have signaled to me from the shadows of a neem tree and led me off into dark corners to reveal secrets of the occult East, but I haven't given up hope. This trip has been more or less prosaic — though half of the red dust of India has been absorbed into the Fort system!
On 2 March, from Agra, Garrett wrote to Baba:
Very little has happened during my trip so far that I can connect with spiritual experience.
I am disappointed, in a way, because I had hoped to have a few experiences of the sort that a man, say like Paul Brunton, had in encountering men of spiritual gifts ...
Baba wrote back through Chanji:
Take that idea out of your mind that Baba sent you on the trip for some spiritual purpose, training or experience, and for once get that fixed in your mind! Do not brood over it. Make the most of the trip, keeping in mind the work of the film and trying your best to find helpful hints.
There is no desire to go further. Garrett says he would like to stay forever near the Taj Mahal; it is so beautiful. The first plane is like that. And unless a Master helps you, you can go no further."
Lord Meher Revised Online Edition Page 1796
Meanwhile Garrett Fort was feeling quite sorry that he ever wished to leave Nasik to see the "real" India. During his travels, he became lonely and depressed by what he saw of the country, staying in run-down hotels and eating poor food. He also began to reflect on what exactly he was doing in India after all. On 5 March 1937, he wrote a long letter to Baba expressing his feelings. His letter is revealing as an example of the inner turmoil Baba was stirring up in each of the Westerners in Nasik, by whatever methods necessary. In fact, as things unfolded, Garrett Fort's feelings were to lead to major changes in the ashram. The following is what he wrote to Baba.
... So far I've had no experience that any ordinary tourist wouldn't have, and
aside from seeing the "surface" of contemporary Indian life, I am a little dubious about having gathered much in the way of impressions that will assist us in our film. I feel very
pessimistic about filming what I've seen so far. There must be an India, Baba, that has the glamour and charm I've read about and heard about all my life. Where is it? Not along my line of march
so far. What I've seen is an India I don't know, which strikes me as slightly disconcerting, considering that I'm supposed to be digging into Indian life with both hands. And if you think I'm
missing Indian life by not staying at those bad hotels, eating awful food, sleeping on hard beds, and listening to the prattle of some third-rate hotelkeeper who wants to know if I know Jean
Harlow, then I'd better come right back to Nasik and settle down to studying Urdu.
I hate to sound so ungrateful but I must always be honest with you and there's nothing to be gained by my cooing, "Marvelous!" when I don't see anything to coo about. What I hoped to find was the India of olden glamour. I haven't found it at all. I think that India is a dirty place, and I feel so far I've been an awful flop.
Baba, do something about me!
Free me from this horrible halfway state — that of being cut off from the life I knew and having the new life withheld for some reason or other. I know you didn't bring me to India to flounder around like a fish out of water. I feel so sterile, so useless, so utterly devoid of inspiration, so dull! I know locked away within my mind, there is beauty and productiveness and the ability to create; and in my heart there is that great longing to be of use, of service to you and your cause. You have the key that will unlock all this and cause it to come flooding forth in a vast unlimited stream of energy which can be turned to such terrific advantage. Why do you hesitate to turn it, to make use of the inner forces I have laid at your feet in love and trust? I know you will one day, but meanwhile I'm going slowly nuts!
All my life I've been active, used to having things happen, making them happen, glorying in accomplishment, however small and insignificant it may have been when compared with what I may do for you, if you will only let me — help me. I can't just sit down and twiddle my thumbs and smile sweetly at the others in our group and talk about Urdu verbs and where did the strange bird come from that Ruano found in her cage. And even taking a trip of this sort isn't enough, because no matter how many miles I go in quest of action (and I mean productive action), I really go nowhere, because it is all within me with the doors of my mind and soul still tightly shut. With you to help, I can sit at my desk in Nasik and turn out great plays, great film stories, deathless prose — anything — without stirring from my chair. I know all that. I want to do it. I want to have some knowledge, something, I can hand out to others in my world who need it, the things I came from America to receive. If I should suddenly return to the West at this moment, I would go back with empty hands, with nothing but the memory of a few blessed hours with you, and little else.
When I look around at many of those who have come through the past few years with you, I am filled with wonder and perplexity.
If you should suddenly cut yourself off completely from them, where would they be? What have they gained by these years of service and sacrifices; that is, that they can pass on to others? For themselves, perhaps a certain degree of spiritual liberation; but that's taking a selfish attitude. What can they do to help? What do they know that they didn't know before?
And our Western disciples: what about them? What could Malcolm and Jean take back to America? How could Elizabeth carry on your work — not knowing exactly what it is herself? Tom, sent back to London with no more letters from Baba, no more contact with Baba, what would he do? Do you think that they have all absorbed the things you have told them to a practical degree? Those little talks, so carefully noted down in shorthand, so meticulously typed — do you think they have been made a part of these people? I don't.
In the first place, they don't understand half of them. Neither do I. Ask Elizabeth what makes her wake up from sleep. She may say, 'My sanskaras. They demand to be spent.'" Ask her what she means by this and watch her fumble. Ask Norina to explain the difference between illusion and delusion, and with examples. She has it all typewritten down and tucked away in a nice notebook, but can she make it clear to someone who hasn't had you explain it to them? I'll bet she can't, and I can't either.
And yet we all sit around at your feet and listen and look wise, and walk away with our brows furrowed with thoughts of the Eternal Verities, without having the faintest idea what they are! But they have all given up their lives to be in India with you, and write long letters home filled with minute accounts of everything they are doing, and feel that they are helping in your work; or someday will help in your work. And not one of them has the remotest conception of what that work is or how they're going to do it.
If we were all going to be with you in Nasik for the rest of our lives, this would be very nice. Many of the Western group have passed middle life and find it comforting to feel that they are to be sheltered and looked after until they pass on.
Dear old Will and Mary, saintly characters if I ever saw two. Ruano, although still filled with an apparently inexhaustible store of energy, with a colorful life behind her. Norina, an aging woman with a brilliant career in the past. Malcolm and Jean, buffeted about by life for years and glad of a haven. Elizabeth, seeking respite from marital maladjustments in union with you. All of these people, good-hearted, sincere, loyal, but looking back over their shoulders at life. I feel that my life hasn't even begun. In my mind, I'm still seventeen, with the world before me to be encountered, enjoyed, conquered, learned lessons from. I have no sense of age. I'm not ready to sit down and tie up rice, although I'll do it as a matter of course and devotion to you.
But I am ready — and as eager as a racehorse at the barrier — to win great funds of spiritual strength and Knowledge and spread forth into the world with a message and a practical application of that knowledge to help your children. With that goal in view, I can't help chafing. I see so many who need so much and now that I am here in India, I feel even more helpless than before. At least in Hollywood, much as I hated the life, I was helping a few to survive, I felt that my money was being turned to advantage. I could talk, I could console, I could help people laugh, turn their minds to the lighter side of life.
But now I do nothing. I have no money, and those who need me starve. I have no contacts, except by letter, and that is a poor substitute. I sit in a comfortable ashram and learn Urdu (badly) and toy with the idea of getting out a magazine (sometime) and doing a film (perhaps), or hop on trains and go dashing around the country, spending your money and still grumbling. A fine disciple I am! And with it all, there is that frightening thought that if you should send me back to America, what have I to take back to them there?
Is it selfish for me to want enlightenment? Is it unreasonable to ask you to touch lightly my slumbering soul and arouse it to life? Is it too much to expect that, undeserving as I undoubtedly am, you will soon whisper that magic word in my inner ear that will vitalize my whole being, unlock those chambers of mental and spiritual energy, enable me to really live and serve?
It isn't enough to feel that Things Are Happening on the inner planes, unless they are going to burst through, like flame smoldering behind a curtain, and demolish the curtain. If I am ready, why can't we start going places; and if I am not, what to do to make me?
Please, Baba, give this your most serious thought. I feel even more strongly about it than I did two years ago, and have done everything I can to be worthy of it.
I know this must seem a frightfully irreverent and grumbling letter, but you know how I mean it. I don't want to be idle; there is too much to do. And above all else, right or wrong, I must always be honest with you and tell you what is in my heart, for I know that this time, in this life, we have met again and are going to travel a long road together.
All my heart's love, forever,
The result of Garrett Fort's isolation was that within a week of writing this letter, he returned to Nasik from northern India. He arrived on Saturday, 13 March 1937, and Baba was displeased that he returned earlier than scheduled. Garrett explained that he was dejected, depressed and exhausted by his travel, claiming he found nothing but poverty, dirt and filth everywhere he visited.
Reprimanding him, Baba spelled out:
Faith never argues! Had you firm faith in me you would not have cared about dust, dirt, mosquitoes, cholera, illness and would not have changed the plan I had prepared for you. You came back before you were due. Had you lasted it out, you would have seen "something," even at the last moment.
If I am all-knowing, I knew what I wanted you to do and instructed accordingly. If I am all-powerful, I knew how I wanted you to go through all this — and laid out my plans accordingly. You do not know my plans and way of working, and hence think in terms of a waste of time and money, et cetera — all in good faith and with good intentions.
India has two divisions: the towns and cities are India's physical body. The scenic spots like the Himalayas and Mount Abu are India's spiritual body. God is not to be found only in peaceful atmospheres and among stones [mountains]. If He is to be found at all, He can be found in every atom of dust and dirt of cities and towns.
I tell you all this because I love you and want you to understand that only implicit faith will help you understand matters and see you through all thick and thin.
Nevertheless, Garrett was now ready to return to the West. He said he wished to return to Hollywood and work hard to earn money to fund Baba's ashrams and film projects. Because of his insistence, Baba agreed to send him, promising to help him in his endeavors.
Lord Meher Revised Online Edition Page 1805-6
Discussions began about building another bungalow in Nasik to house additional Westerners who were to come there. On 13 March 1937, Baba gathered the Western group and stated:
I am in everybody, with everybody, and near to some. Last time, we talked about building the new bungalow, and it all centered around the fact that we desperately needed money for it. I told you all to think about it, how to arrange it, but I feel sure none of you thought about it! Consequently, I had to do the thinking myself, as to how to have the money for my future work. And today, I solved the problem by ordering Garrett to go back to Hollywood and work and send me the money he earns. A most needed help, the only concrete help, because the Avatar is always poor!
Men such as the Agha Khan and [Adolf] Hitler have lots of money, but the Avatar is always poor — always in need of money. Always the inner circle helps the Avatar, so we send Garrett to Hollywood for three purposes: to send money, to spread my message, for I will work spiritually through him, and to work toward the film. The film must and has to come out. Therefore, for these three purposes Garrett goes to Hollywood for fourteen months. Now he is first going to Panchgani for seven days and will stay in the cave in Tiger Valley where I was for months before.
Baba ended by saying, "It is better to give than to receive — always in everything. In the long run, one finds it better to give."
The following day, the 14th, Baba further discussed the building plan:
Let us finish the bungalow business today, because tomorrow there will be no time. The building will cost Rs.16,000 and the furniture will Rs.8,000: a total of Rs.24,000.
How we need money! That is why Garrett goes to Hollywood. Not for the bungalow only; this we shall try somehow to manage.
But later on, we will need lots of money for very great work. Only Garrett can make money quickly; I will push him. We cannot touch the Trust money for the bungalow, but whatever new building we build goes to the Trust. What greater service than to help with money when it is needed most!
This discussion about money was just a ploy on Baba's part. Fort thought money was important to Baba in his work, but it was not. At one point, Fort suggested sending $1,000 each month. After complaining about his mind being so sluggish and lacking in inspiration, Baba assured him, "I have an immense stock of inspiration and I will give some of it to you; after fourteen months you must come back to me here."
Lord Meher Revised Online Edition Page 1806-7
Garrett asked, "How can you imagine things you have never seen?"
Baba dictated, "You have seen things far back, ages back. You can never produce what you have not seen. Imagination is infinite. But sometimes you see in your dreams events that occur years after, and all of a sudden you remember having dreamed it. Sometimes you see such funny [strange] things, things having no meaning. Or you see persons you have never seen in this life, but you have either seen them in the past or will see them in the future."
Garrett asked, "When you have dreams of future events, have you seen that?"
"You will see it later even if you have not seen it yet," Baba replied. "Imagination is always something you have seen or will see in the future."
"What about astral journeys?" Garrett inquired.
"Astral journeys are taken by persons consciously and unconsciously, but those that really matter are the ones done consciously. You actually experience being aloof from the gross body and having a subtle body, and seeing with the eyes of the subtle body, and smelling with the nose of the subtle body.
"In a dream when you sleep, this physical body is not used, and yet you see, smell, hear, taste, et cetera. You do it all with the subtle body, but not consciously. When you do it consciously you actually experience being aloof from the body. You smell, you eat, you hear, you feel, doing it all as concretely as you do with the gross body, not vaguely as in dreams. You can then actually feel the body as a cloak — you take it off and put it on like a garment. Actually, not just imagination."
Garrett asked, "What happens when we establish a direct, mental contact with you, Baba, thinking of you?"
"Now, this is very important," Baba emphasized. "The difference is so subtle between imagination and contact, yet there is a world of difference. When you imagine, you have no purpose; when you contact you have purpose."
Malcolm then said, "It's clear, but even in contact don't you use the imagination?"
"Yes, imagination is the background," Baba replied.
The topic turned to what happens after death, and Baba commented about heaven and hell:
"Hell and heaven are mental states, not places. In these states the mind's desires and the capacity to receive become extremely intense. For example: you die — you're dead. That means you leave the body, but you as soul continue. Your mind and your ego also continue and the impressions in your mind are there.
"One of these impressions is of drinking [alcohol]. Now this impression has to be wiped out by drinking. But here in this state without the body, the drinking process is only by thought and desire. The mental enjoyment, however, is much more intense, and it lasts longer. There [in the body] the thought is to drink. Now you can enjoy drinking, just by thinking. But since the gross vehicle is not attached, you cannot get drunk, unless you drink gross wine.
Garrett asked, "What is meant by a possession?"
Baba spelled out, "There are certain cases where the gross body is compelled to drop before the person's sanskaras are completely used up. Such is the case when a person commits suicide. The body is gone but the momentum of all the [gross] impressions goes on [and the person becomes a ghost].
The soul wants to drink, eat, et cetera, very, very badly; so much so that it takes to unnatural resources by entering someone else's body. It awaits its opportunity. When it finds you drinking [pointing to one of the group], it satisfies its desire by drinking through you. When it has to experience anger, then, when you are angry it experiences it through you. This is a fact."
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( Note : In 1946, Garrett overdosed on tablets in a hotel room in Hollywood. )
On 18 March 1937, Baba sent Garrett Fort to the Tiger Valley Cave in Panchgani to stay secluded for two days. Chanji went with him and left him at the cave. But when Fort inspected the cave, he was horrified by the thousands of black ants inside and spread insecticide to kill them. He was distraught to see the ants return at night, and his whole attention was focused on them rather than on contemplation of God. But when he did think of Baba, he felt protected.
Firmly set on leaving India, Garrett went from Panchgani to Meherabad to meet Baba on the 20th. At one point, Fort expressed his disappointment, saying, "I am returning empty-handed!"
What Fort meant was that he had not had any spiritual experiences. But Baba explained, "You are not returning empty-handed; you are going with my orders in your hands. You do not know what your time in India means. You will realize it all later. It is like a pregnant woman feeling all the time uncomfortable, uneasy, and restless with the burden of the child. But once she gives birth, she feels light, happy and free.
"You are returning now full of special experiences though you are unconscious of them.
That is why you are so uneasy and even upset, and why you feel that you are going empty-handed. But once the veil is torn open there will be light, knowledge, understanding, illumination — and then you will know all."
Baba urged Garrett to follow all the orders he had been given, especially about refraining from lustful actions. Baba warned him, "One physical relationship and it's all lost, so beware!"
Garrett Fort left Nasik on 24 March 1937 by
train with Chanji and, following Baba's orders, set sail the next day at noon on the Conte Verde headed for California. He was never to see Meher Baba again. Fort's departure was the beginning of the end
of the Nasik ashram. It was also one of the reasons why the magazine Avatar never got started.
Garrett's ideas were innocent but naïve. A successful Hollywood screenwriter, who had enjoyed lucrative sales of his writing, was returning from "occult" India having spent months with a God-conscious Master. He was enthusiastic about going back to work in the movie business and earn thousands of dollars to send to Baba. His only thought was of how proud Baba would be of him. Yet, things were not to turn out as Fort had planned. In fact, he would have been wiser had he stayed in India and let Baba decide his future, instead of formulating his own schemes of how to "help" Baba, though he was very sincere in them. Meher Baba would seldom say no to someone who was keen to do something, who came to him for his consent or permission. Baba would allow the person to use his mind to pursue his dreams, and then learn for himself the wisdom of leaving everything to the Master.
As things tragically turned out, Garrett Fort returned to Hollywood to face years of unemployment and inactivity. He plunged deeply into debt and wrote long letters to Baba detailing his plight. Not finding work was sheer torture for him, and it was deeply frustrating not to be able to earn any money for Baba's cause. The irony of the matter was that, during this period of contact, Meher Baba would actually send him money from time to time. Several months of communication passed between Baba and Fort. After one of Fort's "whining" letters (as he himself described them) asking Baba to do something to help him.
Baba sent the following letter (from Cannes, dated 3 October 1937):
Now you know that your earning power, like all your talents, is a grace from me, given or withheld as I deem best for your spiritual evolution.
You said in your letter that you have surrendered your life to me, that you have no ambition but to serve me, that you are a soldier ready for the call. But apparently you do not like the call that has been given you. You want the war to be conducted according to your ideas, not mine.
Try to remember, dear Garrett, that you are doing my work, which is as ancient as I am. In surrendering your life to me you must be prepared to follow my instructions implicitly, without caring for the results, which are in my hands and depend upon my will. My promises are always kept, but in my own way and at my own time.
I am not a writer, so I do not always express myself as well as you might wish. I am not a pedagogue, so I do not tell you in advance what the lesson for tomorrow will be. I am God, the Supreme Liberator, and if you knew what strides you have been making toward liberation by the trials through which you have been going since you left me, you would be overcome with gratitude, instead of filled with discontent.
It is true, I use the circumstances of everyday life to liberate my devotees, but I use them in a way that is beyond the comprehension of the intellect. So you must not expect me to provide you with blueprints of my plans, either individual or universal. Have faith in me, supreme faith. I am always with you, directing you as my own vehicle, my own son. Whatever is accomplished in all that you do or do not do is always my will!
You are an instrument in my divine orchestra, an instrument which I need, but which must be perfected. I shall never fail you, nor will you fail me. You must continue to be brave as you have been.
Baba held a meeting on Wednesday, 29 September 1937 with Norina, Elizabeth, Nonny, Ruano and Kitty to discuss their stay in Cannes, the expenditure thus far incurred, and generally to review the accounts. Baba commented, "My stay here depends on financial adjustments; otherwise, it is better for me to return to India. I would like to stay longer, but it is not good if our finances do not permit it." Money that was expected from Garrett Fort had not been received, and Fort was unable to come to Cannes himself due to lack of funds.
Correspondence and telegrams received for Baba in his absence were forwarded to him. On 3 November 1946, a cable from Malcolm Schloss was received, stating that Garrett Fort had taken an overdose of sleeping pills and had died in Beverly Hills, California, on 26 October, at the age of 45. His suicide was a tragic end to his saga of leaving Nasik before the others. Garrett had suffered much mentally, after leaving India, because he had been unable to find work in the film studios and had become destitute.
Before Baba came out of his cabin on Monday, 24 December 1951, prayers that were dictated by him three days earlier were offered for all his departed disciples and lovers. At nine o'clock that morning, two poor old men (brought by Adi Sr.) were brought inside Baba's cabin. Eruch, Pendu, Baidul and Gustadji were the only other persons present as the following prayer was offered:
Today, December 24, 1951, in this New Life, knowing how unworthy I have been of the devotion, love and service of so many departed ones, I appeal in all humility to the most merciful and gracious God that He should bestow His grace upon each of these departed ones, according to their merits.
I make this appeal more to myself than to God, so that I may remind myself of the physical absence of these dear ones. For I know that God, who is infinite and all-knowing, performs all things without our asking, and bestows His grace without our intercession.
Since the spirit is immortal, so those whose bodies have returned to the earth are still living in the spirit. And yet, today, I feel constrained to offer homage to the flame of sacred love, which is so dear to God, that burns in every loving heart; the same flame that burnt with different intensities in the hearts of all these departed ones.
As an expression of this homage, and in memory of these dear ones and of many others, now departed, who graced my life by their love and service, I shall today make an offering of Rs.124 to a poor man of worthy character and shall bow down before him.
The Rs.124 represented one rupee for each departed soul whom Baba remembered.
Eruch then read out the names of 87 departed men and
37 women from a list drawn up by Baba. They included such ones as Sheriarji and Shireenmai, Buasaheb, Chanji, Ghani, Masaji, Munshiji, Nervous, Arjun, Sadhu Leik, Barsoap, Dowla Masi,
Banubai, Kakubai, Garrett Fort, Quentin Tod, Nonny, Nadine, Mabel, Christine, et cetera.
On Baba's behalf, Eruch began with this invocation: "O God! By bowing down to this man, I bow down to the departed ones."
Every time Eruch would read out a name, Baba would lay his head on the feet of the poor man and pay him one rupee. Thus, Baba bowed down to the man 124 times, handing him a total of Rs.124.
Lord Meher Revised Online Edition Page 3021-22
June 5, 1900(1900-06-05)
New York City, New York
October 26, 1945 (aged 45)
Los Angeles, California
Garrett Elsden Fort (June 5, 1900 - October 26, 1945) was an American short story writer, playwright, and Hollywood screenwriter. He was also a close follower of Meher Baba.
Fort made his screenwriting debut with the silent film, One of the Finest (1917). Early in his career, Fort co-wrote the
Broadway play Jarnegan
(1928), based on the novel by Jim Tully.
Fort's first talkie effort was the ground-breaking
Rouben Mamoulian production
Applause (1929). In
2006 Applause was recognized as a culturally, historically and aesthetically significant film by the National Film Registry.
Fort was adept at alternating horrific highlights with bits of unexpected humor. As a screenwriter he is best remembered for
his work on the original screen adaptations of such horror/melodramas as Frankenstein (1931), Dracula (1931), Dracula's Daughter (1936), and
The Mark of Zorro (1940).
Spiritual life and demise
Garrett Fort became deeply interested in the spiritual path and was a devotee of Indian guru Meher Baba whom he met in Hollywood in 1934. He worked with Mercedes de Acosta to develop a screenplay based on Baba's philosophy. Fort
eventually traveled to India in 1937 to continue the screenplay.
However, he became depressed and returned to America. Upon returning he found it difficult to find profitable work and died penniless in a Hollywood hotel room in 1945 of an overdose of sleeping
pills. Fort remained in contact with Meher Baba until the end of his life and was included in Meher Baba's list of deceased male
followers that Baba had a disciple read out to him in 1967.
The Midnight Girl (1925) with Lila Lee and Bela Lugosi
Applause (1929) with Helen Morgan
The Lady Lies (1929) with Walter Huston and Claudette Colbert
The Letter (1929) with Jeanne Eagels
Outside the Law (1930) with Edward G. Robinson
Dracula (1931) with Bela Lugosi and Edward Van Sloan
Frankenstein (1931) with Boris Karloff and Colin Clive
The Lost Patrol (1934) with Victor McLaglen and Boris Karloff
Dracula's Daughter (1936) with Gloria Holden and Edward Van Sloan
The Devil-Doll (1936) with Lionel Barrymore and Maureen O'Sullivan
Panama Lady (1939) with Lucille Ball and Evelyn Brent
Twelve Crowded Hours (1939) with Richard Dix and Lucille Ball
The Mark of Zorro (1940) with Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone
Among the Living (1941) with Susan Hayward and Frances Farmer
Ladies in Retirement (1941) with Ida Lupino and Louis Hayward
Street of Chance (1942) with Claire Trevor and Louise Platt
Blood on the Sun (1945) with James Cagney and Sylvia Sidney
FILM POSTERS OF GARRETT FORT'S FILMS
MORE FILM PRODUCTIONS ...
ONE OF THE FINEST - 1917
5 DAYS TO LIVE - 1922
GAY & DEVILISH - 1922
ON TIME - 1924
FAST COMPANY - 1924
FINE PATROL - 1924
PORTS OF CALL - 1925
THE COMING OF AMOS - 1925
MADE FOR LOVE - 1926
BACHELOR BRIDES - 1926
GIGOLO - 1926
BACHELOR'S BABY - 1927
WHITE GOLD - 1927
THE YANKEE CLIPPER - 1927
THE PRINCE OF HEADWAITERS - 1927
RECKLESS ROSIE - 1927
JEALOUSY - 1929
THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES - 1929
ROADHOUSE NIGHTS - 1930
THE BIG POND - 1930
DANGEROUS NAN McGRAW - 1930
LA GRANDE MARE - 1930
DETECTIVE CLIVE BART - 1930
DONA MANTIRAS - 1930
LA LETTRE - 1930
LA CARTA - 1931
EL IMPOSTER - 1931
PANAMA FLO - 1932
YOUNG BRIDE - 1932
70,000 WITNESSES - 1932
UNDER-COVER MAN - 1932
BEFORE DAWN - 1933
PRIVATE SCANDAL - 1934
STINGAREE - 1934
MILLS OF THE GODS - 1934
JALNA - 1935
STORM OVER BENGAL - 1938
ZERO HOUR - 1939
LADY FOR A NIGHT - 1942
THE MAN IN HALF-MOON STREET - 1945
INSIDE JOB - 1946
THE MADROOM - 1946