IVY ONEITA DUCE
Ivy Duce and her daughter Charmian both were from America and devoted To Meher Baba.
Instances of her life time contact and conversation with Meher Baba is elaborated as under:
On January 7th, 1948, Ivy Oneita Duce with her teenage daughter, Charmian, arrived in Pimpalgaon to meet Baba for the first time. Baba met with them in Ratanshah Gyara’s cabin, where He usually rested at night. Upon seeing Baba, Ivy wept and her first meeting led to a lifetime of surrender and service at her Beloved’s feet. She later recalled:
Never had I seen such eyes before – I did not have any idea that such eyes could exist – and yet, here I was looking straight into them through a mist of tears. I scarcely noted that they were brown, very large, keenly intelligent, flashing, expressive, for they had another quality that intrigued and tantalized me as I sat before Him. I kept trying to analyze it in the back of my mind while still striving to focus on a person who was going to mean, I hoped, the end of a long quest.
Ivy Duce and her daughter stayed at Pimpalgaon with the women mandali for five days. During that time, Ivy’s and Charmian’s hearts melted and their feelings of love for Meher Baba overflowed and were expressed through their tears. Baba had captured their hearts. When Ivy and Charmian Duce returned to America, Ivy recounted in detail her meeting with Meher Baba.
In another episode, Baba asked Ivy Duce, regarding Charmian’s upcoming marriage to Jay Corrinet,”Are you happy?”
“No, I am not happy,” and she burst into tears.
Baba looked at her sternly. “You believe I am God, then why are you not happy? Don’t you think I know best?”
“My heart accepts, Baba, but my head is still churning around.”
Baba smiled and wiped Ivy’s eyes with His handkerchief. Handing it to her, He said, “Always keep it. Don’t lose it.”
“Baba, there are so many things I wish to do for you,” Ivy declared, “But these broken feet won’t let me!”
Baba said, “Can’t you take this much? Look what they did to Me when I was Jesus – put all those thorns on My head, which drew blood, made Me carry the cross. They beat Me, nailed Me on the cross and pierced My side. I had to withstand so much! Can’t you withstand this much pain?”
Ivy Duce later recalled: “If you could have seen how realistically Baba said all this, one would never ever doubt that He did suffer on the cross, and you would never feel like complaining again about anything.”
Meher Baba appointed Ivy O. Duce as the first Murshida (Teacher) of Sufism Reoriented.
Ivy Duce was surprised when Rabia named her as the next Murshida of the Sufi Order. She felt she did not have the spiritual illumination necessary to work as a true Murshida. Nor did she feel capable or qualified to assume the temporal responsibilities of directing the Sufi Order. In turmoil after Rabia’s death, all Ivy could think about was traveling to India to see Baba. She decided that she had to carry out Rabia Martin’s original design: to lay the future of Sufism in America at Meher Baba’s feet. This she was determined to do. Ivy had been in correspondence with Baba and intended to ask him to appoint an authentic, illumined teacher for the Sufi Order, “Perhaps someone from the East” who could come to America and put the Order on a stable basis. But Baba had other plans.
I kept trying to analyze it in the back of my mind while still striving to focus on a person who was going to mean, I hoped, the end of a long quest. Suddenly I realized what was indefinable in His eyes — it was bliss!
Baba said, “Now tell Me what you are confused about.” Ivy replied that although Rabia Martin had made her successor as Murshida of the Sufi Order for the Western world, Ivy said she did not feel spiritually advanced.
Baba, looked delighted, slapped His knee, and said, “You are honest — that is good — that is what counts; you have not seen God and you have not realized Him. You see Me as a person but you do not see Me as I am. I will help you to see God and to realize Him. Do not worry. I will help you with these matters. You cannot teach anyone something you do not know — but as long as you are honest and say ‘I have not yet realized God’ it is enough, and say ‘I can help you and you can help Me’ for that is the way it is.”
Baba glanced at Charmian, sitting across from them on a wooden bench, and spelled: “Innocent.” Charmian, who had originally accompanied her mother to “protect her from quacks,” burst into tears. “From then on she was His slave,” Ivy remembered.
Baba told Ivy, “Truth is to be experienced. Intellectual knowledge is not enough.”
Ivy and her daughter had been planning on visiting Delhi and Agra, but instead they stayed at Pimpalgaon with the ladies for five days, and during that time her heart melted and her feelings of love for Baba overflowed and were expressed through her tears. Baba had captured her heart.
On Thursday, 8th January 1948, she told Baba, “I never wanted to run a Sufi order — all I ever wanted to do was sing!”
Baba told her: “I too sing … Down through the ages, I sing!”
He then advised: “You should tell all that you have not seen God, nor experienced Him. You have been given the post of Murshida from Inayat Khan’s disciple Rabia Martin, and you will help others — and others will help you — to tread the path towards God. You, on your part, should go on talking about Me to others. By not taking upon the responsibility of posing as a God-realized leader and by working as My medium, the devotion of hundreds will flow towards Me, and you will have no responsibility.”
Ivy said, “I wholeheartedly accept what you wish me to do.” She told Baba about her physical difficulties and also something about Charmian.
Baba said: “Don’t worry about anything, including Charmian. Faithfully discharge all your earthly duties, always be honest in everything and don’t tell even little white lies because God cannot live in a heart where there is hypocrisy. Don’t expect anything to be easy; life will be full of problems and the world even more so. In fact, in years to come the world will reach a zenith of anti-God thinking, immorality, lust and greed, because the ending of a vast cycle of cycles is taking place. But after the climax a new era of real brotherly love will be ushered in by God, who knows all that is going on.”
At one point, Baba sent Ivy this message: “Perfection has both the human and divine attributes in full, and expresses itself in high and low alike. A Perfect Man has infinite love, inviolable spirituality and greatest sense of humor. He comes down to the level of the devotee and yet is all the time the Master.”
Adi Sr., Norina and Elizabeth took Ivy and Charmian to Meherabad for a tour, where Ivy was deeply impressed with how the women on the hill were leading lives of practical spirituality. On the way back, she remarked to Adi how privileged she felt to have met Baba and stayed with Him for a few days. “After meeting Baba,” she said, “I realize that all I’ve read is nothing. There were millions of infinities in Baba’s eyes.”
Rabia Martin passed away peacefully on 31st August 1947. She was not destined to meet Meher Baba in person this life. But she achieved her deepest wish by bringing Sufism in America and the Western world under the guidance of the Avatar. She entrusted her work to the successor she named a month before her death, one of her students, Ivy O. Duce.
Early on Monday, 12th January 1948, the Duces left for Poona, from where they boarded a train for Bombay and then departed for America. Baba had purposely introduced Dr. Ghani to Ivy because nine months later a committee on Sufism was formed with Ghani as its president. “The Sufi Circle” was to inform the Sufis in America and Australia about Baba’s activities, but the main purpose behind it was to maintain Baba’s link with Ivy Duce and Francis Brabazon!
After Ivy and Charmian left, Baba had Ghani write to her, once again emphasizing what He had told her at Pimpalgaon:
You should openly declare that you are a student of spirituality, that you are not God-realized and that you are aspiring for that blessedness with the help and grace of a Master who is alive and active in the affairs of the world today.
Since the responsibility — not of your seeking — of supervising the Sufi movement has devolved on you through Murshida Martin, you would do your best to shoulder the cross, knowing fully well your shortcomings and weaknesses. While trying to help and teach others in the Sufi way, you are alive to the fact that you yourself are growing and learning. The result of your work when conducted in this spirit should be left entirely in the hands of Baba.
Ivy’s husband James Terry Duce arrived on 16th May 1952 and met Baba. Terry was a senior executive with the ARAMCO oil company in Arabia and a seasoned world traveler, so Baba asked him to plan their route to the West Coast — a quick, straight route for the men mandali, who were to go ahead, and a more casual, scenic route for Himself and the women.
Baba also told him, “I love you dearly. I want you to understand, so that you may not be confused. You may think it has come about by chance, but your coming was destined. God alone is real. He does everything for everyone. We cannot escape His will. He loves us, and the goal of life is to love Him, know Him in absolute honesty and, avoiding all temptations, be united with Him.”
On 14th July 1952, Baba, with the men and women mandali, left Myrtle Beach by car for Florence, South Carolina, where they took a train to New York City. Ivy Duce was waiting to greet Baba at the New York train station.
A Sikh spiritual leader named Kirpal Singh had visited America in June 1955, and Ivy Duce had met him. Kirpal Singh wrote to his followers in India, “The head of Meher Baba’s movement came to me for an interview today and I had a long talk with her — she has invited me to a meeting of Meher Baba’s followers, so I have promised to do so.”
In 1956, American Baba Lovers planned make to make all the necessary arrangements for the Meher Baba’s trip. They decided to raise $12,000 in expenses for Baba and four men mandali to come. Ivy Duce and others formed a publicity committee.
The mandali were concerned about Baba’s health, and in regards to His diet, Mani wrote Ivy Duce on 9th March 1956:
The New York group has been asking for diet tips regarding Baba. I’ve told them that Baba does not take hot spicy foods or curries these days (as we do), and therefore there is no need to cook special Indian food. He likes Chinese cooking and French style of cooking. He and the men will take fish, but no meat. Baba likes soft fish (fillet is good with no bones) and soft cooked rice. He likes yogurt, and doesn’t care for too many vegetables (particularly peas and beans). Apart from that, I told them not to worry — Baba’s tastes are simple, (he does not like hard crisp things) and the American food, like its people, is so “broad-minded” … Baba is not only a small eater, he is one of the quickest we’ve known.
On another occasion regarding Baba’s diet, on 4 June 1956, Mani wrote Ivy:
In response to loving queries regarding Baba’s diet, I was sending Kitty some dal, et cetera by ship, but when talking about the itinerary this subject came up, and Baba definitely does not wish me to send it. He has dal and rice all the time here, and wants a complete change of diet when he is there in the West, and will eat Western food. Baba does not want anyone to worry about the diet, and does not wish Kitty (and others concerned in New York and elsewhere) to spend their time cooking for Baba, as he wishes you all to be with Baba as much as possible. Please pass this on to Energy — I shall also be repeating it in my next letter to the New York group.
Baba landed in America at Idlewild Airport on the early morning on 20th July 1956 after a gap of four years. Baba was driven to the Hotel Delmonico at 59th Street and Park Avenue, followed by His lovers, few minutes later; He called His devotees upstairs for a quick interview. During this trip, unlike His previous visit in 1952, Baba was not averse to publicity, and Ivy Duce and Bernard J. O. Carvalho, a director of public relations and former reporter who was helping Ivy publicize God Speaks, had arranged television and press interviews at every stop.
Baba and the mandali had spent a sleepless night on the plane from London, but when Ivy suggested that He rest, Baba quipped, “I haven’t rested since I left Satara, and I won’t rest until I drop My body.”
In Barn, in morning, Mrs. Duce and Don Stevens told, ‘Baba, try to be ready at 12:30 because the TV program is arranged, and you will be wanted at 12:30.’ After leaving the Barn, I walked the distance to My house and after a hasty lunch there, I returned to be here at exactly 12:30. Now it is 1:30, and there is no sign of either Don Stevens or the television people or Ivy Duce!”
Ivy stepped forward and said, “I’m here.”
Baba continued, “At 2:30, I will be in the Barn, because people will be there. Elizabeth tells Me it is announced in the local newspaper that I will give an audience from 2:30 onwards. Kitty told ‘Baba, please do not go there because the television program begins from here (the Guest House). Now, I just ask you all whether I should stay here! I want your answer, Mrs. Duce, what should I do now?”
Ivy solemnly said, “Baba, what is your will in me to say?”
Baba beckoned her to speak up, and she said, “Well, it is not yet 2:30. You can wait until that time.” Thereupon, more discussion followed between Baba, Elizabeth and Ivy about what Baba would do when the TV people arrived. Finally, Ivy said, “Baba, why don’t you do what you please until 2:30 and see what happens in the meantime?”
To which Baba replied, “I will do what I want. I will never listen to anyone. It has been my habit — my ages-old habit — I do what I know is best for you all.
On 9th May 1952, Baba declared the Center open and from that day allowed some of his American lovers to come and meet him. Private and collective interviews were held in the Lagoon Cabin from eight o’clock in the morning. Ivy Duce and her daughter, Charmian, were among the first to meet Him.
Our hearts are open books. You know the tremendous work done by Ivy Duce and others to make this visit as comfortable as possible in delightful surroundings. I have had the barest glimpse of the vast, detailed work behind the scenes. It seems the least we can do is to express our appreciation by a rising vote of thanks.”
Baba had spoken of “sparks flying,” and one incident occurred during the visit to Meher Mount. Agnes was about to leave her guests and go to Baba, when Ivy Duce asked for something. Agnes was in such a hurry to leave she did not fulfill Ivy’s request, causing her to make some disparaging comment about Agnes. Fuming, Agnes came to Baba and said, “I don’t love everybody — what am I going to do about it?”
Baba looked at her, and Adi interjected, “Agnes you love everybody you just don’t like everyone!”
In the car while returning to Los Angeles, Baba sat next to Agnes in the front seat. She said, “Baba, you know what Ivy Duce said about me. I don’t believe it, but if it is true what am I going to do about it?”
In the morning, Baba, the mandali and several others visited the homes of Ivy Duce (at 45 Old La Honda Road in Woodside). At Ivy’s, Baba walked through the whole house, His fingers working continuously.
Before Baba had gone to the West in July 1956, Ivy Duce wrote to Rano suggesting that she illustrate the process of evolution and involution described in God Speaks, specifically for children. At first, Rano was not taken with the idea; but after thinking it over, she sought Baba’s permission, asking if she could work on it while He was away, and Baba said to go ahead.
Rano told him, “I think I can depict the evolution part of it, but what about the planes?”
Baba laughed and gestured, “Do your best.”
When Baba returned, Rano had a preliminary sketch waiting for Him. Baba approved it and gave all the wording around the chart: “Formless and colorless, God’s creative and impulsive imagination to know himself as Omnipresent, Infinite and Eternal.”
Meanwhile, Ivy Duce had sent Baba a list of questions that had arisen while she and Don Stevens were editing God Speaks. In answer to these questions, Baba would dictate replies to Eruch and Bhau, which Deshmukh would edit. (The replies were later published in a book, titled Beams from Meher Baba on the Spiritual Panorama.
Baba had decided that He wanted to own nothing in America in His name, so that evening He called Ned Foote, who was an attorney, and asked him to draw up plans to make the Meher Center into a nonprofit corporation headed by Elizabeth. Don Stevens, Ivy and Charmian Duce were called at one point, and He gave instructions to them about their future work with Sufism Reoriented.
Baba asked Don Stevens and Ivy Duce if they recalled in God Speaks where God is compared to the sun and other planes to earth, air, et cetera. Neither did. Baba chuckled, commenting, “Isn’t it remarkable that Ivy and Don, who had so much to do with the book, and cannot remember?”
Ivy Duce was in Saudi Arabia with her husband, Terry, who worked for Aramco Oil Company. She had written for permission to see Baba. Baba allowed her to come and be in His presence for “five minutes only” and also “five minutes with the girls.” She arrived and was brought to Guruprasad by Nariman and Meherjee on 16th January 1959. She saw the women immediately (Mehera, Mani, Goher, Rano and Khorshed; at the time Meheru was in Bombay for an operation). Ivy was then taken to Baba. Because in his last advent Baba was the Prophet Muhammad, she thought he would be pleased to hear all about the changes she had witnessed taking place in Saudi Arabia since she had last visited there five years before. Ivy launched into a description of how the king (Faisal ibn al Saud) was using huge sums of money made through oil royalties to help the common people. But instead of being pleased, Baba commented, “Why all this talk about kings? You are now here with the real thing!”
Baba then asked, “When are you going home?”
Ivy replied that when she returned to Arabia, she and her husband had to make a trip to Egypt, and then they were going to Beirut, and from there …”You are telling Me the story of your life!” Baba interrupted. “I asked when you are going home.”
At the time, Ivy felt rebuffed and thought: “This is how my five minutes are being used up,” but later she realized Baba was, as usual, “needling” her ego. The five minutes ended, but Baba consoled her by inviting her to be near Him and watch Him for four hours the next morning while He gave darshan.
Darshan was held on morning of 17th January 1959, from eight o’clock until noon at Guruprasad. The darshan was to be only for selected Poona lovers, yet almost 700 men, women and children heard about it and came. Afterwards, Baba started to walk with Ivy to the women’s side. Seeing him leave, a boy with a garland in his hand burst out weeping. Calling him, Baba cradled him in his arms. Ivy remarked, “I thought, Baba that the dense crowds would smother or maim you.”
Smiling, Baba replied, “Oh, this is nothing!
You should have seen the large crowds at some of the programs in Andhra — you must have seen the film. In that darshan, the mandali were afraid for My life! Thousands rushed toward Me to be near Me.”
Baba then had another private meeting with Ivy. Soon after, she left for Bombay, carrying Baba’s instructions to `His American lovers.
Despite such physical suffering during Baba’s seclusion, Baba wished to call a meeting at Meherazad on the 4th of December of 138 close, male followers from all over India. On 21st November 1960, a third letter was sent, stating that the meeting was canceled and Baba’s seclusion would continue indefinitely. On request of foreign Baba lovers Baba had given them the choice of seeing Him for five days now or ten days in February 1960. The group of foreign lovers was late arriving in Poona, due to a forgotten parcel at the airport, but they rushed to Meherazad, arriving in morning. Ivy Duce had sent a folding serving cart and a small clock for Mani as gift.
In 1962, in India Ivy Duce and other American lovers came, followed by several women from Australia. After embracing all, Baba commented, “Tomorrow there will be discourses. It is something new — about the ‘Four Journeys.’ A new book of discourses is coming out [The Everything and The Nothing]. I am giving it to Denis O’Brien, an Australian, to publish — not to Ivy! Ivy has too much on her mind!” Baba kept teasing Ivy Duce about all her problems, but she took it in good humor.
Baba began meeting the different groups such as the New York Monday Night group, the Myrtle Beach group, the Sufis, and those from Europe and Iran. To the Sufi group, headed by Ivy Duce as their Murshida, Baba stated:
The only thing I must give is the Word — next year. That is the reason why I plan to stop everything next year. I will not send for anyone, either Easterners or Westerners — no one. I will prepare for the urge to break my silence. It is simple, but I must have that urge. You do not know how eager I am to give that Word. I am preparing everything. I must see to the affairs of the whole world. Meanwhile, I stress that when I give that Word, all of you who love me will know it in your hearts. Much will be revealed to you then.
God is the Truth. So, why worry about the future? Didn’t you hear yesterday what Hafiz said? “Why worry?” It never means anything … Murshida [Ivy]; give up some of your worries!
Do your duty, but don’t feel worried about it. Remain 100 percent happy, 100 percent honest. Do the best you can; then at night, relax and forget about everything. Keep happy. That is your duty. And remain honest; don’t compromise. When you do, you get a fear complex in the heart.
I am telling the whole world not to worry. The time is fast approaching when I will give the Word. The whole world will know about it, and there will be many changes. You have no idea how insignificant your worries will become then. So why not stop worrying today? Try to live until I give the Word. You may worry yourself to death unnecessarily, and then when I give the Word, you won’t be there!
Baba asked where Ivy Duce was. She was ill with the flu and had stayed at their hotel. Baba sent Charmian Duce to bring her, stating this occasion was their last chance to see Him in His physical form.
A yogi named Satya Saibaba was becoming famous in South India, as he would materialize ash in his palm, jewels and other items for his devotees. In a letter dated 2nd March 1963, a devotee had written describing Satya’s powers. In response, Eruch joked, “To keep such a one as him among the mandali would be of great help in all respects!”
Baba commented, “These are the powers of a tantric.”
On another occasion, Ivy Duce wrote inquiring if Satya Saibaba was on the fourth plane and perhaps misusing his occult powers. Baba repeated that he was a tantric and using tantric powers for his so-called “miracles.”
Before Joseph Harb left, Baba asked him how Ivy Duce was, and Joseph replied, “She is frustrated because, despite our best efforts, the Sufi Center [in San Francisco] is not growing [in membership].”
Baba replied, “It can’t — it isn’t the time! A great oak has to have strong roots going deep into the soil to be able to hold it up. That is what you are doing for the strong Sufi order I wish you to build.”
Baba had once revealed: “I come for all, but I am for a few,” and perhaps this is why comparatively few recognized him when he was on earth.
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