Prague to commemorate Avatar Meher Baba’s time here 60 years ago. “Prague Day” was
part of a three day retreat held at St. Crispin’s Conference Center that included talks by
speakers, devotional singing, time for reflection and prayer, and a variety of music programs.
On May 24, 1952 while crossing the American continent Avatar Meher Baba and several
others in his traveling party were seriously injured in an automobile accident. This happened
in front of a farmhouse 9 miles outside of Prague on highway 62. The farmer and others from
a later second car in Meher Baba’s party cared for the victims as best they could until help
arrived. The injured were taken to the small Prague Clinic and Hospital where they were
lovingly and competently treated by Dr. Ned Burleson and staff. Thankfully there were no
casualties, but Dr. Burleson saved the life of one of the traveling companions whose head
wound was so severe that her survival was considered doubtful at the time. Dr. Burleson, his
staff, family, and the kind towns’ people of Prague put into practice the golden rule and the
age old saying, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Dr. Burleson’s family: Julia Margaret Brigham, Michael Burleson, Beth Adams
The commemorative ‘Prague Day’ May 19th included a talk by Dr. Burleson’s three children,
Julia Margaret Brigham of New Mexico, Dr. Michael Burleson of California, and Beth Adams
of Oklahoma City. They told the audience about their father’s extraordinary life as a small
town doctor, about their kind hearted mother and about growing up in Prague. They shared
their memories of that accident day in May 1952 and of meeting Meher Baba during his
recuperation here. Following this talk, participants explored Prague by touring the Shrine of
the Infant Jesus and the Prague Museum. The Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center hosted
a lawn party complete with Indian chai, snacks, volleyball, and music. Formed as a non-profit
organization in 2002, the Avatar Meher Baba Heartland Center was opened in 2005 in the
former family home of Dr. Burleson. A tour was also given of the original part of the Prague
Clinic and Hospital. Just as in 1952, the warmth and kindness of the Prague community and
hospital staff was appreciated by all.
Born in 1894, MEHER BABA was one of India’s most revered spiritual masters, and has
a large world-wide following. He stated that his mission was “not to teach, but to awaken.”
He observed silence from 1925 until he passed away in 1969. Of this silence he stated that
throughout the ages, through innumerable spiritual scriptures and teachings, “You have
been given enough words. It is now time to live them,” putting love into action in everyday
life. “When it is recognized that there are no claims greater than the claims of the universal
divine life which, without exception, includes everyone and everything, love will not only
establish peace, harmony and happiness in social, national and international spheres, but it
will shine in its own purity and beauty. “
Deborah Burns of Asheville, NC volunteered at the Heartland Center
The Heartland Center is dedicated to Avatar Meher Baba as a place for information, retreat,
prayer, pilgrimage and study of Meher Baba’s unifying message of divine love. It serves to
preserve and foster knowledge of historical information about Meher Baba’s time spent in and
near Prague. A lending library is housed in the Heartland Center and visitors are welcome.
Submitted by Debbie Nordeen
was loud. I knew it was an earthquake but had no idea to expect anything of that sort in
The two overnight guests and I went downstairs as the house shook and shook and shook. Finally as it let go we sat and talked. Aftershocks came. Each one was frightening. I had no idea if we had had the ʻbig oneʼ and then would only have minor aftershocks or if we were working up to a larger one.
Richard had never been to a Baba Center before and never been in an earthquake. Having read some of God Speaks, he was feeling particularly drawn to come this particular weekend and find out more about Meher Baba. He awoke to the house shaking. Not feeling a spec of anxiety, his first thought was, “Oh Baba!” He felt enveloped in a strong presence and a feeling of elation. He told us he just wanted to
lay there and enjoy it! The concept of ʻenjoyingʼ a 4.7 earthquake escaped me. After we had tired ourselves out talking, laughing, processing; we went to bed.
The next night we had barely gotten in bed when another larger earthquake, 5.6 struck. Again we piled downstairs. This time even though things fell off shelves and it felt stronger, it was not as long in duration. A plaster cast of Babaʼs hand fell to the floor and shattered. At the other end of the house, Meheraʼs picture tumbled off the mantle, even though a faux flower in front of the picture remained in place, untouched.
Each morning we checked for damage. The greatest damage is to the side arches of the front portico area of the house. The guests left, thanking me and Baba for such a ʻmoving experience.ʼ That evening as I dared to let myself think that it was over, another 4.7 hit. It was quick, but had a decided ʻsnapʼ to it. In between the three main earthquakes were some 30 other ʻsmallerʼ quakes. And the quakes continued, for weeks, but fortunately not with such intensity. As I write this Dec 3 (a month after the first shocks), we are still having aftershocks.
The house has remained in good shape considering that it wasnʼt built for that kind of stress. The main part of the house has a strong foundation and full basement. So the parts of the house affected the most have been those add-ons: the library, front porch area, and sunroom. Most houses in the area are low, but this house has three floors. There was a lot more of it moving. Structural engineers that looked at the house later explained that the house is built as a wood frame structure. This is flexible and moves as the earth underneath moves. The problem is when that motion comes up against the immovable parts; brick, mortar, concrete. That was what I heard every time the house shook. It seemed to slam into the brick and mortar, making it seem like the house was going to fall down around my ears.
Some other neighbors, a little closer to the epicenters were not as lucky. St Gregoryʼs, a 100-year-old University and cathedral in Shawnee, suffered damage to statuesque buildings with high towers and turrets. Three of the four turrets on a classroom building either collapsed during the quake or have had to be dismantled because of damage to structural integrity.
The governor declared Lincoln County a state of emergency because some homes were not habitable and no one had quake insurance; including the Heartland Center. Six days after the first quake, a public meeting was held in Prague to help townspeople learn more about what was happening. A state geologist told about the Wilzetta Fault Line. This fault line had not previously been active in the last 300 million yrs. It also is
not the type of fault line where tectonic plates come together, but is called ʻan upliftʼ. He flashed a picture on a screen of the map of the fault line. It crosses Rt 62 west of Prague and east of Meeker. The line is approximately within one mile from the Accident Site where Meher Baba and Mehera were thrown from the car onto the dirt next to Stanley Moukkaʼs driveway in 1952. Almost all of the quakes followed that fault line both north and south of rt 62. Another interesting thing learned was that the largest quake before in Oklahoma (recorded) history was in April 1952, a 5.5 the epicenter being El Reno, next to Oklahoma City (not on the Wilzetta fault line). This was only six weeks before the accident Meher Baba called ʻhis crucifixionʼ.
There was very heated discussion at the meeting of whether these earthquakes were the result of an injection drilling technique used to find oil and gas pockets called ʻfrackingʼ. Liquid forced into the rock under pressure fractures it and allows oil and gas to come to the surface. There are companies in the area who employ that type of drilling. There was nothing conclusive either way but the geologist said he did not rule
I feel very grateful that there were no serious injuries caused by the quakes. The turrets collapsing at St Gregoryʼs could have hurt any number of people. We have cracks in mortar and brick and plaster walls that were not there before. The portico will need substantial work at some point, but nothing collapsed or came down.
And isnʼt it interesting that now so many people in this country and in the world have heard of Prague Oklahoma. And whatʼs the significance of the fault line running across Rt 62, a mile from the ʻaccident siteʼ?
Lord Meher 4325
“For the sake of the overwhelming love of their Master, his lovers are unmindful of calamities and sufferings. Their whole stand on this earth is completely shaken to such an extent that nothing is left to cling to but the love for their Beloved Master. They seem to be like dust particles floating in the air. Ultimately, as soon as the love for the Master is established, that love places them on a rocklike foundation.”
Sometimes Heʼs so literal.
I thought it might be nice to share some of the goings on here. We have had a lot of guests. A steady stream. One guest spent a little extra time here and did some yard seva (volunteer) for the Center.
We have had some pot luck dinners with Baba lovers from Oklahoma City coming in to greet some of the visitors to the Center. These have all been great fun.
We will be having Discourses Meetings on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month. They will begin around 1:30PM. Arriving earlier is great and we will enjoy a potluck meal together before the reading starts.
The Center has been very busy as guests have flown in or stopped as part of pilgrimage from one coast to another. I have been blessed to watch an intriguing pattern unfold as Baba does His magic here……….
Guest #1 grew up in Ahmednagar (although came to Baba later). She was upstairs looking out the window. She came down and exclaimed. “This is the most beautiful place, it reminds me of Ahmednager. It was like this when Baba was still in the body. It looked just like this.”
Guest #2 grew up in the midwest…. Illinois I think. She also comes downstairs exclaiming what a beautiful home. It also reminds her of her childhood home. The architecture, the staircase all make her feel ‘at home’. She loved waking up and running down the stairs. It reminded her of running down the stairs as a child.I was so amazed. Baba had made each one feel ‘at home’ in His home — for different reasons.!!
Guest #3 was a little different but the theme persisted. A Baba lover from the Asheville area. He arrived as another guest and I were just sitting down to eat .. so he joined us. In conversation he mentioned a connection with the Lakota Souix. As we kept talking he told about his connection with a Lakota spiritual teacher. I asked if he knew a friend I had met 35 yrs ago (when I had spent a year in Oklahoma going to Powwows) that was Lakota…. he said – that was his teacher!! Obviously we were all amazed but I couldn’t help but see how
Baba had made another of his dear ones feel ‘at home’ here.
Each of these people were entirely surprised and had not expected to feel Baba so strongly here or feel so connected to the Heartland Center; each in his own very personal way.
Jai Jai Baba!
Now we are able to provide the convenience of donating through paypal.
Jai Meher Baba!
Now we are able to provide the convenience of donating through paypal.
The rhythm of the heart is slower than the rhythm of the mind
This past week, I traveled to Prague for a brief visit at the Heartland Center. My work as mentor, advisor, and student of the Sancta Sophia Seminary in Tahlequah, Oklahoma takes me from California to Oklahoma several times a year. During these trips to Oklahoma, I feel Baba calling me to visit the center, to spend time at the accident site, no matter how brief the visit may be.
My impression is that all connected with Baba are weaving threads of light and love to all we meet through our day. The Heartland Center has more meaning to me more than places to which Baba has been. I resonate deeply with Baba’s message to the west, and it seems that the awakening process in the west brings with it a new way of being and unfolding that has no precedent in previous advents. The western mind and personality unwind in a different way that the eastern mind and personality. The western mind is very active, and in many ways it seems western seekers are searching for someway to calm the mind, to slow down, and to detach from the hectic way of life.
In Prague, one slows down. Nothing is done in a hurry, and life unfolds in a different rhythm. The rhythm of Prague is similar to the rhythm of the heart. During my trip this May the center was full in preparation for the May Open House, so during that visit there was no place for quietude at the Center.
My nature is to regenerate in quietude. The Catholic Church in Prague is a national place of pilgrimage and is a place of quietude. As I drove into Prague after a long week in seminary class and a two ½ hour drive, I needed some quietude. I parked in front of the church and went in. No one was there, so I had the entire sanctuary to my self.
In the small alcove to the left of the church is a statue of Mary and candles below her. I lit a candle in prayer to the Divine Mother that through forgiveness humanity will transform. Then, as I sat in the sanctuary, I felt my exhausted self slowdown and revitalize. I wandered to the alcove at the right of the church and found a rack of CDs. One CD was of talks by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I took the CD and left a donation.
I, then, headed to the Center to have dinner with friends and visit. Later, Lynn Wilhite and I drove to the accident site. It was a sacred evening, the twilight blue sky, fireflies sparking on and off, and the ever present mystery of Baba’s work where His Body lied shedding His Blood on the earth. There was nothing to do but, quietly bow and place my head and on the earth where the Beloved lay some years ago.
The next morning, Lynn and I made another trip to the accident site and recited Baba’s prayers. A brief visit, but I felt a sense of fulfilling the purpose for my visit. I am mindful of all the connections in my life. The visit to Prague is like passing through the eye of the needle. Baba is the needle and thread, Prague the eye of the needle, and my life the golden thread that weaves his light in His unknown ways as he pierces the veils with love.
Later that morning, I talked to Miriam about spending some time in Baba’s room at the Prague Clinic. She called but an ambulance was coming, so it was not a good time to visit. As several of us sat out in the Burleson House yard drinking tea, an ambulance silently drove by. I thought to myself, this is a time when at home I’m paged to the Emergency Department when I work as a hospital chaplain..
We visited for about an hour, and then Miriam called the clinic again. Now, it was fine to visit. We walked to the clinic, and as Miriam unlocked the door, she asked if I would like to be in the room alone. I’ve been in the room many times, but I couldn’t recall being in there alone, so I said, “Yes.” As I enter I’m greeted by Baba’s photo on the wall, and then stood in silence. Baba’s presence was in the room as I had never felt before. Baba’s presence was thick and palpable; I was stunned. His Silence is Silent, and His Eternity is Eternal, and the veils seem to lift. A few moments later, whatever reason Baba had called me to the room, was complete.
I feel deeply connected to the Heartland Center and ponder Baba’s work there. To use a phrase from one of Bhau’s books, in Prague, It seems Baba “scored the door.” I sense, somehow he rent the veils, and in time the little tear will grow larger and larger and more and more of Baba’s Love and Light will radiate out from Prague. It is a place of deep anchoring of Baba’s work. Time will tell.
Later that day, I later listened to the CD with the talk of Mother Teresa. She said, “Our vocation is to love and to be loved.” I often wonder “What is my vocation? Where do I serve Baba in this world?” Mother Teresa’s words resonated deeply in my heart, as her words so purely reminded me of Baba’s words and answered my question about a personal vocation. It is so simple. We are to love and be loved, and listen to and be guided by the Baba’s rhythm in the heart.
Submitted by Marilyn Buehler
Happy New Year everyone! Anyone know where we can find Elizabeth’s car that Meher Baba was riding in before the 1952 accident? It was a 1951 Nash Statesman like this one. Mark Trapanese in Wichita, as some others before him, has recently been looking for news of the car. He reports that calling junk yards around Prague has not worked and he has had the thought that with the VIN he could track it down through the Nash Club if it has been saved. Mark has had another thought; “let’s get one like it!”
So keep you eyes open and let us know what you find out. You can reach me at my personal email address: email@example.com.
The snow is finally melting after the big blizzard of ’09 and we are basking in the sunshine of Baba’s Love and… the warmth of the Oklahoma sun once again. Only slight freeze damage on a drain trap in the M house and January is looking good again.
Just got news from the road that a pilgrim couple are on there way across country to Ashville, NC (which seems to be a BL magnet these days!) We are looking forward with open arms for their arrival tomorrow as Meher Baba always sends such wonderful folks here!
Give us a shout with your new from around the world,
In Beloved Meher Baba’s Heartland,
Speaking of pilgrims, we had a father and son drop by (whiz by really) the day before the storm hit. They were on their way to Myrtle Beach from California and wanted to outrun the weather. They had just enough time to drop in early in the morning, walk through the Burleson House and go out to Meher Baba’s accident site with me.
We have had a great year of pilgrims coming staying from 15 minutes to a week. We love how Baba sends people here and enjoy sweet moments with those coming.
Please drop us a note at the email address below if you are reading these messages, it would be nice to hear from you.
Ron and Miriam