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How A Master Works

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By Ivy Oneita Duce

In 1948 a middle-aged American woman in proper shoes and hat, stepped off an airplane into the exotic land of India to keep an appointment that would alter her life forever. When she arrived in Bombay that year, Ivy O. Duce was 52 years old and she had been seeking answers through most of a very extraordinary life. Breaking through cultural constraints of her time, she had pursued careers in such varied fields as singing, law, and publishing. Now, as wife to an internationally renowned business executive, she had served as hostess to some of the world's most eminent political and business leaders. But while living a full worldly life, she has also been searching for spiritual truth. After years of exploring the occult and mysticism she had eventually joined a school based on the ancient mystic path of Sufism. Her teacher had expressed a conviction that a spiritual teacher in India named Meher Baba was a Perfect Master. On that day in Bombay, Mrs. Duce was on her way to see this Meher Baba. She was a no nonsense woman with a charming manner, a tough mind, and a passion for honesty. And there were a few things she wanted to get straight. Thus began the remarkable twenty year relationship between Ivy O. Duce and the spiritual Master Meher Baba, a relationship unparalleled in spiritual history. When Mrs. Duce, in her fashionable dress and neatly coiffed hair sat before Meher Baba in his white cotton sadhra and flowing tressses, worlds converged. East and West. Master and student. Divine and worldly. In How A Master Works, Mrs. Duce leaves us an inspiring record of their relationship through all its many twists and turns, as the Master forged not just a student, but a teacher. For she had already been appointed by the Murshida (teacher) of her Sufi Order as her successor. Mrs. Duce felt unqualified - physically incapable and spiritually inadequate. It was her hope that Meher Baba, if he was a Perfect Master, could clear this matter up. And so he did. Ivy Duce was so overcome by the bliss radiating from Meher Baba that she burst into tears, instantly convinced that the being before her was the embodiment of Godhood. From that moment on, she was both a devoted lover and an instrument to be re-shaped by a master's dexterous hand and boundless love. In a riveting journey on the "razor's edge," the reader joins Mrs. Duce as she discovers the meaning of true discipleship and the secrets of spiritual growth. "Do you think," she asks "that when you have the privilege of seeing the Master you are going to sail into a blue lagoon and just sit at his feet in rapture and contentment? The Master is the master surgeon. He has to operate on all your faults and weaknesses." That imaginary blue lagoon was more like a storm battered sea, as the Master hammered lovingly but relentlessly at her illusions. She in turn was expected to be one hundred percent obedient, no matter what the difficulties. Difficulties she had aplenty. Parts of the book read like a cosmic screwball comedy, as the delicate fabric of Murshida Duce's life steadily unravels around her. "Serving a Master turns out to be very much like getting married. Couples survive hair-raising tragedies together but they can become almost demented over such trifles as how the eggs should be cooked." There are mishaps and misadventures that tested every aspect of her character. Machines and communications break down. But her patience grows. Illnesses and ailments descend. But her strength rises. There are personality conflicts, feelings of rejection, and humiliation, followed by deeper humility. The Master makes plans, changes, cancels and reinstates them. And she becomes only more flexible. Dreams are shattered; loved ones die. Detachment and faith are born. And through it all, the Master demands cheerfulness. "People take life seriously and God lightly;" he says, "whereas we must take God seriously and life lightly." How A Master Works is the chronological story of one woman's life with Meher Baba but it is far more than an autobiography. Although Murshida Duce's experiences supply the thread of the story, interwoven are hundreds of anecdotes about the many people who came into contact with Meher Baba, from the most indifferent and unaware, to his closest disciples. A substantial supplement offers a gold mine of anecdotes about saints and Avatars, past and present. The independent westerner is skeptical of Masters, often with good reason. We have read too many headlines about anti-social cult leaders and manipulative pseudo gurus. Westerners are woefully ignorant of the ways of an authentic master and how to identify one. This book unveils the truth about Masters, and a broad range of related topics - the dynamics of reincarnation, the significance of occult experiences, the causes of human suffering, even the proper way to play sports. According to Meher Baba, we are all destined to travel the path to perfection, and at some point we'll all require the help of a Master. How A Master Works offers rare insight into that path for the spiritually curious, the dedicated aspirant, and anyone else who has striven to understand the purpose of existence. According to Murshida Duce, their numbers will be rapidly increasing. For this generation has the once-in-a-millennium opportunity to bathe and grow in a spiritual atmosphere charged by the recent incarnation of the avatar. "It is an exciting time to be alive," she wrote, "but not because we have reached the moon..." How A Master Works was written for anyone inclined to reach further.

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