Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Man Behind the Magician: Meher Baba and His Influence On The Works of J.M. DeMatties

Does the man in the picture to your left look familiar to you?
If you've read J. M. DeMatteis' Dr. Fate or Seekers Into The Mystery he should. 
In the former, he shows up as the Guide, a.k.a. the Old Man, who leads the souls of Eric and Linda Strauss to their ultimate destiny.  In Seekers, he is seen in the form of the Magician, the enigmatic guru who holds the key to Lukas Hart's redemption. 
In real life, he was Meher Baba, an Indian spiritual leader who believed himself to be the latest manifestation of the Avatar, or the incarnation of God in human form.  According to Baba, the Avatar shows up on Earth every 700 to 1400 years or so and past incarnations have included Jesus, the Buddha and Muhammed. Baba taught that all major religions were equally true and valid and that the true path to salvation was faith and devotion to God.  As the article "Who Is Meher Baba" from the web-site The New Humanity Times states it, "To truly love God requires that we love and embrace everyone and everything as a dimension of God."
The influence of Baba's teachings are obvious in most of J.M. DeMatteis' work, and in Dr. Fate and Seekers Into The Mystery he makes it explicit.  Both works concern the evolution and perfection of the human soul through reincarnation and both feature Baba as a character in the story.
At the end of his Dr. Fate run, in his farewell message on the letters page of #24, J.M. DeMatteis sums up the philosophy behind the story and essentially dedicates the tale to Meher Baba:
In a comics universe that seems to be getting progressively more cynical and down beat, we tried to do stories that looked the darkness square in the face and said, "No. This life is worth living, this world is a rare and wonderful place, and the God that rules over it is compassionate, loving, and sitting on a throne in our very hearts." That vision would not have been possible without the love and guidance of Avatar Mehar Baba.  Jai Baba!
You know, I may not buy into the stuff he says about God, but there's certainly something to be said for the notion that not all super-hero comics have to be dark, cynical and downbeat, or, as they were often referred to in the 80's and 90's, "grim and gritty."  Look it up in your thesaurus; "violence" and "pessimism" are not synonyms for "realism." The idea of embracing your fellow humans with love and respect, God or no God, appeals to me as well, despite the way I behave and the things I say sometimes.
You'll notice as you read Dr. Fate and Seekers Into The Mystery that the Guide/Magician never speaks.  That seems to be a reflection of the vow of silence Meher Baba took in real life and stuck to for nearly half a century.  From July 10, 1925 to his death in 1969, he reportedly spoke not one word, communicating instead through writing and gestures.  His silence was supposedly part of what he termed his "universal work."  In his own words, "Because man been deaf to the principles and precepts laid down by God in the past...I observe silence."
In recognition of this, many of Meher Baba's followers, including DeMatteis, observe Silence Day every July 10.
More info on Meher Baba can be found in his Wikipedia entry, and at what appears to be his official web-site.


  1. yes indeed...interesting article about the influence of "The Friend" on my friend.....Jai Baba!