Elizabeth Chapin Patterson " Dilruba "
Born : July 26, 1896 - Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died : Dec. 6, 1980 - Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
Buried : Upper Meherabad, MS, India
Married : Kenneth Patterson - date : November 9, 1929.
Died ; March 30, 1956
Parents : ( Father ) - Simeon Brooks Chapin ( Mother ) Elizabeth Mattocks
The following is the recollections of Elizabeth Patterson in 1932 which was printed in The Awakener ; Vol.X11, No.3- pages 6-7
The following images are from various volumes of Lord Meher : Bhau Kalchuri
On Dec. 6, 1980, Elizabeth Patterson died in Myrtle Beach after a lifetime of service to Meher Baba. Her ashes were later brought to Meherabad and interred in the women’s cemetery.
Elizabeth was one of Baba’s earliest American devotees. She first met Baba when He came to the United States in 1931. Elizabeth later described her initial meeting with Baba: “When I looked at Baba, I recognized Him. I remember having heard that He was silent and I was silent too because I kept trying to remember where I’d seen Him before. He didn’t look like anyone I’d met in India where I had been before, or any other place. It was absolute recognition. . . . I can only think now, what a difference a day makes in the course of one’s whole life. My experience was that of meeting someone I had always known, it was one of recognition from the recesses of forgotten time and at the same time, a portent of the future.”
She had a split second to decide. A car was barreling down the center of the road straight at her. Should she hit it head on, or risk her car overturning and veer to the side? A moment before, Baba, in the front seat beside her, had stretched out His hand. Perhaps this was her signal. She hit the car head on. It was driven by a paraplegic driving for the first time, a car specially built for him.
Baba was thrown clear of the car, landing on His back in the muddy ditch. Mehera was critically injured by breaking glass. Meheru was injured and Elizabeth was crushed against the steering wheel with most of her ribs and both arms broken, and her shoulder dangerously cut. But she never called attention to herself until the others were on their way in the ambulance to the hospital, in Prague, Oklahoma. It was the morning of May 24, 1952. A moment of destiny for America — and of course for Elizabeth too. Years before, Baba, at Harmon-on-Hudson, had plucked a small pink wildflower and given it to her, asking her to keep it and remember the date. She pressed it in her Bible and found it years later.
The date? May 24, 1932. She said "Through the experience of sharing Baba's suffering to a degree, I feel my life, instead of being nearly cut off, was extended for a purpose; the gift of the little flower was grace from the Master to be treasured in the heart."
|Volume 20 Number 2||1983 Page 27|
I find it interesting that Baba chose a woman to be at the wheel when this so-called accident spilled the Avataric blood on our soil. Certainly, in a way, she had been prepared for it. She had driven a Red Cross ambulance in France during World War I. She had driven Baba and the girls thousands of miles over the rough roads of India in her Buick, during the blue bus tours, and also in the U.S. Baba once said when He allows someone to drive Him, it ensures that they will not get lost while traversing Path through the Spiritual Planes. Thus, she was a modern, feminine Arjuna for her dear Krishna-Baba.
She had always loved travelling and in fact was one of five foreigners taken on a scientific artic expedition on the Soviet ice breaker Malygin, going within 400 mile of the North Pole. This was in July, 1931, the very same year in which she met Baba at Harmon (November 8th), through her friendship with the Schlosses. It was the turning point in her life. She said "When I first saw Him it was just as though I had always known Him... He was like an old friend." "It was instant recognition... His silence didn't seem strange or awkward ... " She had dreamed of Him 3 times when only 12 years old.
Elizabeth was born of "blue book" parents in Chicago, Illinois. They moved to New York City when she was five years old. It was there she made her formal debut in 1917. She then took up an unusual career for a young girl of her day becoming one of the women insurance brokers with a prominent Wall Street firm, a position she held for 30 years. I well recall the morning of May 18, 1952, when I saw Baba on the path behind at the Center in Myrtle Beach. He gestured that I should call Elizabeth. When she came to the door of her cabin, Baba asked on His board," Where are your insurance papers?” “In the cellar at Youpon Dunes," she replied. Baba told her to get them out and carry them with heron the trip West. She had five policies which helped to pay the enormous bills of the accident.
In 1929* she married Kenneth Patterson, a charming man who was a stock broker who also played the piano very well. He too had met Baba and so, when he gave me a ride uptown, I asked him what Baba was like. He said, it was an unusual thing to say about a man, but Baba was very beautiful and had exquisitely expressive hands. I thought the last a fitting comment from a pianist.**
Their marriage was an amicable one; but when I met Elizabeth in 1943 she was living with Norina and Nadine and giving all her energy to Baba's cause. Elizabeth had joined Baba at Portofino, Cannes, in Hollywood, New York, and on His trips west She was on the first trip to India in 1933 and of course joined the Nasik ashram, together with friend Norina. Elizabeth and Norina were an extraordinary pair... so opposite in temperament. Norina was fiery, volatile, talkative, Elizabeth quiet and immensely calm; Baba used to imitate them, Norina showed us how — "Norina goes too fast, Elizabeth goes too slow!" I have rarely seen Elizabeth get overwrought — perhaps about animal pets, of which she was so fond. Baba once told Elizabeth and Norina they been together "since the Creation ..." I used to think this was Baba's peculiar Avataric sense of humor, but it is comprehensible if both are members of His Circle. Baba named Elizabeth Dilruba, meaning 'stealer of hearts.'
In India, Elizabeth had a most unusual privilege. Baba gave her permission to stay in the Panchgani Cave, 5,000 feet up in Tiger Valley (well-named!) in the Western Ghats. Baba Himself had had the cave dug in 1929 and stayed there in seclusion. He allowed only two other disciples, Behramji and Pleader, to stay there. On May 8, 1939, Elizabeth was to stay in the cave exactly 12 hours. Baba Himself locked her in, telling her not to fall asleep. She had a paranormal experience that night and when she asked Baba if it was symbolic, He said yes, and she would understand its full meaning later. Another interesting experience she and Norina shared occurred on their trip west in 1932. Baba wanted them to accompany Him on the train; they wanted to drive across the U.S. Somewhere in the western desert they lost their way. Suddenly, a man in car ahead of them beckoned to them to follow him. They did, but when they stopped to thank him, his car had disappeared. They discovered a bridge had washed out on the original road: if they had followed it they might have been killed. In Hollywood, Baba said, to save them He had to send one of His "abduls", or agents.
The Awakener Magazines ; Vol.20, No.2, p29 1983
When she returned to America in '41, she, together with Norina, began her search for a property for a spiritual center, as Baba had requested. He had prophesied that there, would eventually be five centers in the United States. One would be virgin land, with a water lake beside the ocean, and be a gift from the heart. Of the other four, one would be in a big city, one in the mountains, one in the desert, and one in the center of the United States. So far, only one has materialized — Meher Spiritual Center "on the lakes” in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina — 500 acres of secluded woodland which embraces Long Lake, Alligator Lake and a fabulous mile of beach. It also, being opposite Bermuda, has the temperate climate Baba wished. Simeon Chapin, Elizabeth's father, was a wealthy stockbroker and sportsman who had purchased this property and others in the sleepy little town of Myrtle Beach primarily for the good duck hunting on the lakes, and the golf links close by. He gave it to Elizabeth, who, after fruitlessly searching throughout the U.S. recalled this gift; it was on Easter Sunday, 1943, that she and Norina first viewed it. When she dedicated it solely to Baba's cause His requirement that it be a "gift from the heart" was fulfilled.
Together with Norina, Elizabeth turned this raw virgin jungle into a beautiful spiritual retreat. Only one who has lived through those nine years of hard work can appreciate what a task she accomplished. She poured both her personal fortune and her love into it. Above all, at every decision point, she consulted Baba. It was totally His. It is this dedication and purity of purpose that I believe made it a success. Others have failed to create viable centers because of mixed motives but in Meher Center there was always a blending of head and heart: Elizabeth's Immense practicality and her devotion to her master. The biggest legal problem or a detail like a broken light bulb could claim her whole attention.
She also very generously let others share in its development. I was lucky to be one, and spent a great deal of time at the Center and at Youpon Dunes, her home in Myrtle Beach proper. The story of the Center has been told many times elsewhere and would be too long to record here; sufficient to say, when Baba came at last in '52, He was well-pleased with His Dilruba's gift. Now 31 years later, it is still functioning as she planned and a road through Briarcliffe is appropriately called Patterson Drive. Her love for the Center extended to the whole community of Myrtle Beach, which she served in many ways. She helped found Ocean View Hospital, and Community Volunteer Services; was a "pillar” of the Methodist Church, etc.
Elizabeth's love of animals is well known. Her pets take their place in Baba history, especially Kippy, the miniature Boston terrier and Foundy, a Newfoundland dog deserted by his master in India and which Baba gave permission to keep. She brought him back to America in '41 and returned with him to India in '46 (Foundy rode in a carrier specially built by Abercrombie and Fitch).
One day in January, 1948 Elizabeth was crying, Baba queried “Why?" on His board. "Foundy is dying," she replied. Baba answered "He will live longer than Gandhi". Gandhi was shot the next day and Foundy lived two days more. In the ashram, the pet animals were usually in her care. Baba once said, a person who had met the Avatar many many times and skipped many human incarnations may feel very close to the animal world.
Besides her love of animals, Elizabeth had a strong literary side. In India, Elizabeth edited the Meher Baba Journal; she said the staff pinned Baba down to "contributing" one article a month; the first discourse was, naturally, on the Avatar. It was from these articles the collected Discourses evolved. She wrote up her Spiritual Journey with a Modern Guru in the Journal. In a section called Follow Love , she writes:
“Love often stirs the heart through a little thing in life, and at the same time has the possibility to end with the greatest thing in life. As much as we all desire love, it is rare to find one soul who dares even the thought of its ultimate completion, rising above all duality and play of opposites to become truly One through God-realization. The personification of Divine Love on earth is the God-Man, who is Love, Lover and the Beloved.”
Vol.20, No.2, p30 1983
NOTE : The above mention of the relative position of the two ladies is incorrect - it should read as ; Elizabeth (
daughter ) is seated on the left of her mother.
Baba called His way the path of love. No matter what other route one takes to God, in the end it is love alone that brings union. What easier way than to begin with love? What matter if the Beloved puts all His brides "under the veil" so they neither see, hear nor use the delights and powers of the Planes, if at the end they join Him? "If you have love, union with the Beloved is certain," Baba has stated.
Elizabeth Patterson passed away in Myrtle Beach on December 6,1980 at 84 years of age. Her ashes were placed near Baba's Samadhi — close to His feet. The inscription on her grave, "Elizabeth is with Baba" was chosen by her and approved by Baba many years before.
P.S. Someone once asked Elizabeth how she was able to give so much to each person, to each and every thing, every day, and she replied "If one sets a time each morning to listen to God in silence, that day becomes the answer." And as her monument she has left us “the Center" where an ongoing stream of visitors may find Him in silence.
Awakener ; Vol.20, No.2, p31 1983
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin ; S B Chapin Residence
This was Elizabeth's family home.
S.B.Chapin's South Carolina residency, also Elizabeth Patterson's home.
Meher Baba recoupirated here after the 1952 road accident in Oklohama.
The property currently is owned by Sufism Reoriented.
Harmon, New York , November 17th,1931
Also destined to be Meher Baba's disciple was Elizabeth Chapin Patterson. Elizabeth was married to a prominent stockbroker from New York, and she herself was a successful businesswoman associated with insurance companies. A person of considerable means, she had traveled all over the world, including a venture to the North Pole. Despite her wealth, Elizabeth had been religious-minded since childhood.
Elizabeth Patterson first heard about Meher Baba in a letter from Jean Adriel. On the morning of November 17th, Jean phoned Elizabeth to tell her Baba had arrived and invited her to meet him. She gave her directions to Harmon and Elizabeth drove there that same day. She had only come for the Master's blessing, but upon seeing Baba, she was caught. By simply coming into Baba's physical contact, Elizabeth once said, "I gained life."
Elizabeth and a friend from California, Mrs. Theodore Weicker, Jr., arrived at Harmon. After lunch, each was taken separately to meet Baba. Meredith led Elizabeth into Baba's room. Elizabeth once described her first meeting with her Master:
"Immediately my feeling was one of recognition. All the way to the far end of the room where he was seated, I tried to recall where I had seen him before. The feeling from him was one of familiarity – like coming across an old friend in a foreign land – a friend whom one has known well since childhood. Since that earlier period, only Baba's appearance has changed.
I walked over to where Baba was seated and noticed the sandals on his feet. His feet were crossed in front of him and the sun was shining on his beautiful hair. His remarkable eyes reminded me of a Persian print, but they were so alive with a thousand dancing fires in them that I realized I had never seen anyone like Baba before. Nowhere in my world travels had I seen his likeness, nor did he seem to fit into any nationality.
Upon this close observation, my recognition ceased, but as he smilingly motioned me to sit by him on the orange-colored divan, I still felt completely at ease and at home with him. His silence did not seem strange or awkward. Baba's smile was so disarming and put one so at ease. I was unconscious of any personality dividing us, either of his or mine.
In his presence, I can only liken it to being seated by a quiet pool at the base of a great mountain with only the sense of peace in nature, newly born. This feeling has never left me."
At this first meeting, Meredith Starr read Baba's board as he dictated that he was pleased to see her. Elizabeth replied, "I am trying to remember where I have seen you before."
Meredith interjected, "Remembrance happens to many people who meet Baba for the first time, as they are old contacts from previous lives." Meredith then inquired if Elizabeth had any questions to ask Baba. Elizabeth told Baba about Florence Lee, a friend in New York who was ill, and Baba assured her that there was no need to worry and she should leave the matter to him, directing her to bring Florence the next time she came to Harmon.
Elizabeth, then more relaxed, began to ask questions: "Now my many questions tumbled out and Baba smiled comprehendingly. I had the impression of receiving his answer directly in my mind, while the communication through his fast moving finger on the board seemed like an echo as it was read out by Meredith." After ten minutes, Elizabeth's initial interview was over. She shook hands with Baba, "I left so happy that my feet did not seem to touch the stairs and I felt as light as joy itself!"
Three days later, Mrs. Weicker called to ask Elizabeth to return to Harmon. She agreed and brought Florence Lee with her.
THE FOLLOWING SEQUENCE IS FROM THE FILM "GOD SPEAKS"
Seated in front of Meher Baba and Elizabeth is Marion Florsheim
Elizabeth Patterson also came again to see Baba on November 26th. Baba wounded her heart again with the rays of a "smiling panache." He called her into his room along with Malcolm and Jean. Elizabeth described the meeting as follows:
Baba greeted us with that radiance which was more than a smile, giving the effect of sunlight streaming into a dark room. Motioning us to be seated beside him, he wished that we meditate together for a few minutes. Instead of going into abstraction, I was aware of tears falling unexpectedly down my face – tears which seemed to be meaningless at the time, as I felt neither joy nor sorrow. I only hoped I could control them before the others opened their eyes. At that time, I was not aware of the cold depths within me which Baba was thawing.
That same day, the photographer Arnold Genthe came to the hotel to photograph Baba. The portraits Genthe took turned out to be favorites of the lovers of Baba.
On his last day in the city, Elizabeth Patterson and Nadine Tolstoy came together to say goodbye to Baba. Both ladies were overcome by his love and remained his disciples thereafter.
MEHER BABA had personally contacted more than three hundred and fifty people
during his month's stay in America.
May 20th, 1932
On May 20th, Baba went sightseeing by car around the city with the mandali and saw the Empire State Building. He met many people, but most noteworthy were Elizabeth Patterson's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Simeon B. Chapin, and John Bass, who had been introduced to Baba through Norina. Simeon Chapin was one day to donate several hundred acres of land in South Carolina to be used as a center for the Master's work; and John Bass was to become a lifelong disciple of the Master. In the evening, Baba went for a walk on Broadway in midtown Manhattan.
On May 21st, Baba was driven by Elizabeth Patterson through Central Park. This was the first time she drove for Baba. Julian Lamar drove the car following Baba's. Julian was upset, for someone had broken into his car and stolen his luggage the previous night. He mentioned this incident repeatedly to Baba. Baba asked, "It wasn't all you had in the world, was it?" Julian admitted it wasn't, and Baba remarked, "I am in you as well as in the thief!"
While they were driving through the park, Baba motioned to Elizabeth to stop near the park lake at 110th Street. They all got out and walked toward the lake with Baba in the lead. There was no one around except a nurse pushing a baby carriage. After only a glance at the woman, Baba returned to the car. None knew the significance of Baba's stroll that day until a year later when Josephine Grabau ( Ross ) was in the hospital and a young woman asked her whose photograph it was by her bed. Josephine told her it was Meher Baba, and the woman remarked, "I know it is the same man who looked like Christ, whom I saw walking by the park lake a year ago. I have never forgotten his face."
June 26th, 1934
DEPARTING PARIS for London on June 26th, Baba instructed Rano, Nonny and Ruano to remain behind. Travelling by train, Baba and the mandali reached London that same day via Calais and Dover. All the Master's English disciples showed up at Victoria Station to welcome him. Baba stayed at Delia's brother Herbert's apartment at 61 Compayne Gardens, West Hampstead. Elizabeth Patterson, Norina Matchabelli, Kitty Davy, Margaret Craske and Mabel Ryan stayed with Baba. Chanji, Kaka Baria, Adi Jr. and Quentin Tod were accommodated in Margaret Craske's apartment, although they were with Baba most of the time. Chanji and Adi Jr. stayed nearby Baba during the day, and Kaka was with him at night.
A corporation named Circle Productions, Inc. was formed on June 28th in order to raise money by selling shares to finance the film. It was believed that half the amount could be raised by selling stock and the balance could be supplied by a film studio or distributor. Baba was made president of the corporation, and Norina, Elizabeth, Elsie Domville and the director Gabriel Pascal were vice-presidents.
December 12th, 1934
Immigration authorities were told of Baba's two previous visits to America and they allowed him and his group to pass through customs without unnecessary questioning. After leaving the customs area, Baba was greeted by Norina Matchabelli, Nadine Tolstoy, Elizabeth Patterson and Graham Phelps Stokes. The group proceeded in two taxis to the Shelton Hotel on Lexington Avenue where Norina had arranged for Baba to stay. Rano and Nonny stayed in another hotel.
After meeting with those involved in the film projects, Baba indicated that there were to be no more interviews. Holding up three fingers, he then spelled out to Elizabeth Patterson, "There are three people sitting in the lobby. Go and bring them up."
Elizabeth brought Darwin, Jeanne and Bessie to Baba's suite, where they were overjoyed to be in his presence and overwhelmed by his beauty. Baba sat on the bed wearing a sadra with his long hair down.
November 4th, 1936
Reaching Istanbul on October 31st at 9:45 P.M., Baba and the mandali boarded the Orient Express for Paris, France, where they arrived on November 3rd. After a brief rest, they left Paris and arrived in London the following day, whereupon Baba and the mandali resided once again at the Hygeia House.
In London, Baba granted separate interviews to Kitty Davy, her aunt May, Minta Toledano, Margaret Craske, Mabel Ryan, Delia DeLeon, Christine McNaughton, Will and Mary Backett, Tom Sharpley, Quentin Tod and Charles Purdom. In a similar manner, he met in private with his American lovers who had come to London: Norina Matchabelli, Elizabeth Patterson, Nonny and Rano Gayley, and Malcolm and Jean Schloss. John Bass, Kenneth Ross and Edith Duro also met with him, but Baba decided not to allow them to come to India, directing them to return to America. However, to the rest of his Western lovers Baba explained in detail about their forthcoming stay in Meher Retreat in Nasik. He fixed the date of their travelling to India as a month from then, in December.
On December 8th, 1936, Norina Matchabelli, Elizabeth Patterson, Jean and Malcolm Schloss, along with Rano and Nonny Gayley arrived in Bombay on the steamer Elysia. They also brought two dogs with them – Elizabeth's black Boston terrier named Kippy, and Anita de Caro's white Siberian husky, Canute, which she had given to Baba while in Switzerland.
Several Bombay lovers gathered at the docks to receive the Americans. Rustom and Freiny were there and, acting as their hosts, took them to the Majestic Hotel. Although they were tired, they had been ordered by Baba to register at the American Consulate, go sightseeing in Bombay and then go to a movie that night.
The next day, Rustom drove the group to Igatpuri since the facilities at Meher Retreat in Nasik were not yet ready. Baba came to greet them on the morning of December 10th, and then returned to Nasik. The group also visited the Nasik ashram that afternoon and, after seeing where they would be staying, returned to Igatpuri.
From the middle of January, Baba outlined duties for each of the Westerners staying at Nasik. Everyone was to rise at 6:30 A.M., meditate for an hour and together take an hour lesson in learning the Urdu language from Ramjoo Abdulla. No one, not even the older ones such as Nonny or Ruano, was allowed to rest in the afternoons. Their individual duties were as follows:
Elizabeth Patterson asked Baba, "Where do we go when we go to sleep?"
"Everywhere!" he replied. "You are always everywhere. Even now, though fully conscious, you are not conscious that you are everywhere, because the mind always has the natural tendency of losing its identity. Is that clear?"
Elizabeth asked, "Then what makes us wake up?"
"Impressions – they prick you and you get up. They cry out, 'Spend us!' The mind always wants to go; so, in sleep you always go back and when you wake up you feel fresh. But again, after waking, the mind wants to lose its identity."
"What are dreams?" she asked.
"Dreams are subconscious experiences which are always linked with your gross experience of the past. Sometimes, in your dreams, you see persons you never saw in this life. This link is from the past. It is all based on illusion and imagination."
Elizabeth said, "Then how was it that when I was twelve years old I dreamt of you three different times, and when I first met you I recognized you as the one I had known in the dream? That was not illusion."
"What I mean," replied Baba, "is everything except your being infinite, is illusion. I am very ancient. Very, very old and always young."
May 5th, 1937
The group tried and most of them ended up in tears. Afterward, Baba asked each what they had felt. Elizabeth Patterson said, "Just before you asked us to meditate on this image, I was looking at you lying on the sofa and imagined you with nails through your feet." Baba repeated again that they should meditate on this image as the music continued.
On June 26th, there was a Trust meeting at Meherabad. Norina and Elizabeth drove there from Nasik with Ramjoo and Kaka and returned the same evening.
Baba directed Nadine Tolstoy to go to Venice, Italy, for the purpose of some work and she left on July 8th. Baba went to Bombay to see her off. With Nadine's departure, there were only eight Westerners remaining in Nasik: Jean and Malcolm Schloss, Norina Matchabelli, Elizabeth Patterson, Ruano Bogislav, Tom Sharpley, and Rano and Nonny Gayley. Thereafter, all the necessary preparations for travelling to Cannes began.
Early in the morning, Saturday, November 20th, 1937, the Circassia docked in Bombay, very much on schedule. Elizabeth Patterson's automobile, a white V-8 Ford, and a trailer also came on the ship with Baba's group. Padri met Baba and the group in Bombay and was instructed to take Norina, Kitty and Rano to Poona, where he was to take them around the city and then bring them to Meherabad. Baba, along with the other men and women mandali, promptly proceeded to Meherabad, only staying in Bombay a brief time to refresh themselves.
Elizabeth Patterson arrived from America in Bombay on February 15th, on the Conte Verde. Her dog Kippy, who had stayed with Irene Billo in Switzerland while Elizabeth was in America, accompanied her to India. Adi Sr. met them. Nonny Gayley arrived two days later on the S.S. Reliance and was met by Chanji. Both were brought to Meherabad in time for the birthday celebrations, and they began living on the Hill with the other women mandali.
SOME MONTHS BACK, Elizabeth Patterson earnestly asked Baba if she could spend one night in his cave at Tiger Valley. Baba replied, "You may, but I will tell you when." Weeks later, Elizabeth reminded Baba, who smiled and asked, "Do you wish to go now, or wait until the time is right?" As it came to pass, on May 6th, 1938, Baba and the women mandali accompanied Elizabeth to the cave, where she was instructed to remain for twelve hours. The following is her account:
At 6 P.M. exactly, Baba locked me in, giving me the key inside. The last thing I remembered, before everyone left me shut in alone for the night, was Baba's hand extended through the iron bars, resting upon my head as if in blessing. The moment all had disappeared around the bend of the path, there was profound stillness. Fleeting thoughts passed through my mind, but these I controlled. Baba had instructed me that I should concentrate throughout the night and not sleep, unless I could not keep my eyes open any longer. According to Baba's instructions, I lit a lantern exactly at ten minutes before seven and then lay down.
Once I heard heavy thuds, like steps approaching on the path, and I waited anxiously for someone to appear. But the sound, although close, passed away, and probably was a cow or a buffalo which had been grazing on the mountain side. Four stars in the shape of a kite, which resembled the Southern Cross, stood out in the sky more vividly than the rest. I remembered looking at my watch to find it was not far from midnight. Determined to remain awake, I continued to think of Baba.
Unexpectedly, a shock like electricity passed through my body from head to foot, particularly along the spine. It continued in waves of varying currents, and became so strong two or three times that it seemed to lift me, as would a rush of wind. Soon I felt myself swinging into space, the bedding unevenly swaying beneath me. I felt that if only I could remain on it, as on a magic carpet, I would be carried safely. But it rocked so much that I remembered to call out Baba's name, and immediately the troubled waters were stilled. Coming out of a daze, I found my arms folded across me, as they cross the arms of the dead. They were so numb that it took a while before I could move them. Whatever the state was which I passed through, I was consciously unconscious during it.
A seeming sense of time had passed, when I was aroused by the cheery sound of voices, which I recognized to be those of my friends. They appeared inside the cavern, and called to me that it was five o'clock, and that they had been sent to summon me. I remembered Baba telling me not to leave the cave until 6 A.M. sharp. This seemed conflicting. As I was wondering what to do, the thought came to me that I had better do what Baba himself had told me. At that moment, Baba glimmeringly appeared in the entrance, and light flooded the cave with unusual brightness. He smilingly answered my mental inquiry by saying, "Do as I said; leave only at six." Some time later, opening my eyes and looking at my watch, I found it was nearing six o'clock, and I rose to leave the cave. I felt fresh and invigorated; daylight was faintly penetrating the cave.
After returning home to the bungalow, I asked Baba, "Was I dreaming?" Baba replied, "No, it was more like a daze. You were neither awake nor asleep. You actually experienced these things physically." Then I inquired, "Was it symbolic?" "Yes," answered Baba. "In the future you will know in detail its full meaning."
Elizabeth Patterson's Boston terrier, Kippy, had been travelling with the menagerie. Kippy's birthday was observed in Jabalpur on May 5th, and the little dog was decked out in a stunning outfit for the occasion. "Happy Birthday" was sung to her by all, and afterward Baba took the women for a boat ride on the Narmada River by moonlight to commemorate the day.
On May 10th, Baba brought two more puppies, named Bingo and Jingo. He asked Elizabeth to look after them. Baba would satisfy a person's fondness for the things of life, and in this way, he satisfied Elizabeth's fondness for animals.
Baba left Meherabad for Ranchi on July 3rd, 1940, by train, at 3:30 P.M., with the men and women mandali. The women who accompanied him were: Mehera, sister Mani, Banubai, Dowla, Elizabeth Patterson, Irene Billo, Katie, Kakubai, Kharmanmasi, Khorshed, Kitty Davy, Mansari, Margaret Craske, Nadine Tolstoy, Naja, Nargis Kotwal, Norina Matchabelli, Rano Gayley, Soltoon, Soonamasi, Valu and several women servants.
Baba stated :
I have decided to send Norina Matchabelli, Nadine Tolstoy and Elizabeth Patterson to the U.S.A., and Margaret Craske and Irene Billo to Europe, to spread my message there. By the end of April, this declaration will be announced universally, and my disciples will personally deliver the final continuation message in places allotted by me.
On March 15th, Baba discussed with Norina Matchabelli, Nadine Tolstoy and Elizabeth Patterson about disseminating his message in America, and with Margaret Craske and Irene Billo about doing the same work in Europe.
While this was occurring, Baba had also been directing Margaret Craske to write to
Elizabeth Patterson about the possibility of travelling to America. He indicated it was necessary for his work to cross the ocean. Letters and telegrams went back and forth.
The same day that Baba returned from his mast trip, December 23rd, the ashes of Elizabeth Patterson's dog Kippy were received from America. They were buried near Warrior's tomb and a headstone was raised over the grave.
After four years of publication, the Meher Baba Journal ceased functioning with the October 1942 edition. Since Elizabeth Patterson and Norina Matchabelli had left for America, the journal was edited by Dr. Ghani, Adi and Ramjoo, first in Bangalore and from May, in Ahmednagar. At first, it was suspended only temporarily, due to paper restrictions on account of war, and the irregular and uncertain dispatch of mail to foreign countries; but for Baba's own reasons publication was never resumed.
Besides this work, Norina and Elizabeth Patterson had been actively carrying out Baba's instructions to locate a suitable site for a center in America. Baba had laid down certain conditions to them before they left. Now it seemed that they had at last found the perfect spot of land. Here is Elizabeth's letter to Baba detailing the history of their search:
June 4th, 1944
You have received a number of cables from me about the property in South Carolina, which I hope you will accept for one of your spiritual centers in the United States. When I first cabled, the land had been promised to me by Father, but as it belonged to a company of which he was part owner, called the Myrtle Beach Farms Company, it took considerable time to be made available. In fact, the whole tract of 1800 acres which was used as a hunting and fishing preserve by all the partners of the company and others to whom they gave permission to use it, is now being divided up in a legal way and Father's share is approximately 800 acres of this timber land and includes two lakes. This preserve is unique in the respect that it has six fresh water lakes, fed by springs, which are so close to the Atlantic Ocean that everyone wonders how they can remain sweet.
We are five, living at your center here now for the month of June, the Eatons, Darwin Shaw, Norina and myself. When Darwin has to return to work, John Bass will come down. We asked Malcolm [Schloss] but he could not come all the way from California and, as you know, Jean [Adriel] is spending her time at present on some property which she hopes will become a retreat for you eventually, which is at a short distance from Los Angeles. In fact, the plan for five spiritual centers in the U.S.A. was projected by you when you first came in 1931, and you told us that you would use them for different spiritual activities.
To outline the circumstances leading up to the South Carolina center, when in June, 1941, we left India, you told Norina and myself to look for a property in the U.S.A. that would be suitable for you and about sixty of your disciples when you came. You gave five qualifications for the land, but did not say where the location should be in this country. They were: the place must have equitable climate; virgin soil; ample water; soil that could be made self-sustaining to a large number of people; and the property should be given from the heart. Every place Norina and I went after we returned, we looked or inquired if there were such a land available.
Particularly we looked in California. The one nearest to this description was at Fairfax, across the bay from San Francisco. A fine woman who is a Sufi leader and lived sometime in India, offered to have you and your disciples stay there when you came. Perhaps you will, as her offer seemed to come from the heart; and we all agree that she is the most advanced and understanding soul we met out there. Her name is Rabia Martin. When we went there she had a place set for you at the table and everything was served to you first, in devotional fashion. The property was on virgin soil in fertile country and seemed to have every qualification but one. The day we went there it turned out to be very cold, which they always say in California is "unusual" – but we saw that it was not equitable climate as far north as San Francisco, although we liked San Mateo as much last summer, which is near there.
Last September when we went to Los Angeles, we saw a number of properties with Jean, Malcolm and Markey driving around in a car, but there seems to be a certain lack of water in this district. Then on my way back, I stopped off at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin to visit the family place there (from where I wrote you) and seeing the farms again after so many years, I realized how beautiful and fertile the country was there, but of course the winters would be very cold and had not the equitable climate you wanted.
Last winter I went a number of times to Pinehurst, North Carolina, to see the family, as Mother had heart trouble and was staying there. I went over the peach orchard land and other property belonging to Father and others. This was equitable climate, although too hot in midsummer, but the soil was sandy and not suitable to growing many kinds of crops and had no lake or river.
I remembered your having mentioned Myrtle Beach, and the possible stay of the group there, many times when we were in India, should you go to the U.S.A.; and Norina and I planned to go down, just when your timely letter, dated November 12, 1943, came from Margaret, which you will remember, again mentioning Myrtle Beach.
We went down last February (1944) and stayed at the house that Father had meanwhile given to Kenneth and myself, adjoining his house there. So many times I had thought, why did Father give me a house that was so nice in every way, except that it was not secluded enough to be useful to spiritual purposes or a meditative life, being right on the beach over which anyone had the right to walk. Otherwise, it is large enough for a group of yours, having nine bedrooms and five baths, et cetera. We five stayed there for three days before we came out to your center property, where we are now living for the month of June and we have accumulated supplies, et cetera, for our camp life in the woods.
To go on with the story, I inquired about the hunting and fishing preserve last February and Father took us out to see the six lakes. The main highway from Miami to New York goes through the property, but after one arrives there is only a sandy little road which has shrunk into almost oblivion. It was the Old King's Highway, used by Washington and Lafayette. It detoured near the lakes, where no doubt they camped and fished. We were particularly enchanted by the largest lake, which was long and narrow and had a view of the ocean. There certainly would be plenty of seclusion, and it seemed to have four of the qualifications you wanted; the fifth had to be worked out – the giving "from the heart."
As stated before, the land was not owned by Father as an individual, but as a partner of a company, nor had he thought of giving it away, or ever thought of its use beyond a hunting preserve (which was the reason he came to South Carolina in the first place, about forty years ago, although many years ago had given up hunting due to his age). However, the Myrtle Beach Farms Company had anticipated that they might sell this lake district, which is seven miles up from their other activities, as one project at some future date after the war.
Norina and I at once saw the possibilities for your spiritual center, if only it could be obtained, and we were told that the one with the largest lake, with a mile of ocean front and squared off to the main highway, would be approximately five hundred acres. Of course, I got enthusiastic and that, combined with other circumstances, such as my sister Virginia wanting very much to eventually own the Lake Geneva, Wisconsin farm; and talk at that time about Father making a will and leaving one-third of his property to each of his three children, I took the opportunity to say that I would like to own these five hundred acres and concentrate my interests around Myrtle Beach, instead of having a third slice of properties elsewhere.
However, it would be much nicer to have it now than to wait until he died, and he would certainly have more pleasure in seeing me enjoy its use. Furthermore, it would be used for humanitarian purposes, as you had told me before leaving India that the greatest need after the war would be the care of homeless children and one of your centers would be used for that purpose.
I must say that Father was unusually responsive, as Myrtle Beach is his pet place, and he has many times in the past said that none of his children had shown any interest in it. I told him I had my spiritual interest to consider first in my life, as his religious interests are predominant in his life, and I would certainly take an interest in Myrtle Beach if I had some real interest along my own lines to work out here, such as this lake property where a center could be formed.
I cannot help but feel that you were in back of it all, helping matters spiritually, because so many circumstances came into the situation to facilitate the dividing up of the eighteen hundred acres now, which could never have been worked out so easily if Father had passed on, due to the complications of his partnership interest and the different heirs of his estate later. However, it came out better than anyone could anticipate when I cabled you saying that Father had promised me five hundred acres, as there will be another three hundred acres which adjoins, which is contracted for but will not come into my possession by deed until next year. The five hundred acres were actually deeded in my name on May 15, 1944.
It is my one desire to give the property to you forever for your spiritual cause. How best to do it can be decided when you come. You may be sure it will be given "from the heart." Also I am pleased to say Father gave it to me "from the heart!" and he knows that it will be used for your spiritual and humanitarian purposes eventually. It would be the dream of my life for you to have a great center here. I can only hope you find it useful for your Universal Cause. No name other than "the Center" for Meher Baba will be given it until you decide that, too.
Darwin [Shaw] and Frank [Eaton] are exploring the land today to find the highest spot with the largest trees, which would be the best place for a great auditorium in the days to come when you speak. As soon as Father definitely promised me the land, we ordered a two-room house built, with a screened-in porch, which we call your hut. The hut is on the hill, from where you can see the lake and across to the ocean.
It has great possibilities for development. Please write and let me know what you want us to do foremost and your general ideas about it all.
Kindly tell me that you will make me happy by accepting it as soon as you come. In our every thought and deed it is yours now.
– Elizabeth –
In a later letter during 1944, Elizabeth wrote to Baba:
I forgot to mention that while in Santa Barbara, we motored over to see Krishnamurti at Ojai Valley. Norina knew him previously and had a good talk with him. He said it would be a privilege to meet you.
I also gave a lecture in Chicago. You mentioned Chicago as a spiritually important city before we left India, but the turnout for my talk was not large.
Baba cabled Norina on July 13th, 1944:
Am happy to find in all your letters about Myrtle Beach, everything that I personally and spiritually approve of and sanction. All my lovers should cooperate to make Myrtle Beach the Spiritual Abode for one and all.
Elizabeth was dismayed by the limited career choices for women at the end of World War 1.
By nature she was independent, a spirit her father encouraged; she once characterized herself in that period as a "sufragette" ( women did not win the right to vote until 1920 ).
So she decided to go into the business world, like her father. She secured a position as one of the first women executives in the insurance business, working on Wall Street for what was then the largest and most innovative American Insurance broker, Marsh and McLennan.
Her active career with the firm lasted nearly thirty years and she was still listed as an associate in the 1970s. In addition, after her father's passing in 1945, she became a director or board member for many of his companies and foundations especially the Chapin Foundation in the Myrtle Beach area, with fiduciary responsibilities that continued throughout her life.
The Chapin Foundations were chartered to support "religious and benevolent organizations" in the community, such as churches, hospitals and libraries. The endowments of these foundations are substantial.
Over the last 50 years, the foundation in Myrtle Beach, which Elizabeth directed after her father's passing, has given more than fifteen million dollars in grants to local projects -
projects like the Chapin Memorial Library, the only municipally-owned public library in South Carolina and the Ocean View Hospital, the first hospital in Myrtle Beach, which opened in 1958.
Courtesy of "The
Glow International" magazine - Fall 2011
Elizabeth and 2 ladies from the Myrtle Beach women's organization ( Ms.G Cameroan & Mrs.S.E.Lind ) had raised $150,000 for the Ocean View Memorial Hospital. Their reward was a ride in the local fire truck.
SHIPS THAT ELIZABETH PATTERSON SAILED ON
Departed 29th October 1936 from Plymouth, England and arrived in New York on 4th November 1936.
She was travelling with 6 other American who hadd also been to India.
Departed 25th November 1936 in Europe and arrived in Bombay, India 8th December 1936
The other Westerners
she sailed with were ; Norina, Malcolm & Jean Schloss, Nonny & Rano.
Departed 31st July 1937 from Bombay and arrived at Marseilles, France 13th August 1937.
The other Westerners she sailed with were ; Margaret Craske, Audrey Williams, Norina Matchabelli, Nonny & Rano Gayley, Malcolm & Jean Schloss and Tom Sharpley.
Departed 3rd November 1937 from Maiselles, France and arrived in Bombay 20th November 1937 along with Norina, Kitty and Rano.
Departed January 1938 from New York and arrived in Bombay, India 15th Febuary 1938