The Don E. Stevens Archive

Don E. Stevens bequeathed his entire collection of written material to the Beads on One String Foundation. An invaluable and fascinating archive, documenting Don’s time as a close mandali (disciple) of Avatar Meher Baba, then continuing after Baba dropped His body in 1969, until Don’s own death in 2011. Don was renowned as a prodigious and eloquent communicator. This archive contains Don’s correspondence with Meher Baba, his mandali, and others. It also covers Don’s editing and publishing work and other projects related to the Avatar, including God Speaks, Discourses and Listen, Humanity and important documentation of Sufism Reoriented. It also contains some lovely family photo albums and images of Don’s involvement in many Baba projects, including those related to the Beads on One String Foundation (BF).

All of these documents have been digitally copied by The Beads Archive Team before donating the entire collection to the Avatar Meher Baba Trust Archive facility in Meherabad, India, for its long-erm preservation and safekeeping.  The BF and AMBT have joint copyright for all of this material, which is now catalogued and awaiting digital online publication.


The DES Archive can at present only be accessed for research purposes. A research request with details of intent can be submitted to The Beads Foundation Archive Team:

No part of this archive may be copied, for publishing or otherwise, unless agreed to via a written application to The Beads Foundation. All material from the DES Archive is the copyright of The Beads on One String Foundation and the Avatar Meher Baba Trust, India.

The ‘Neti-Neti’ International Newsletter: 1979 – 2014

The Neti-Neti International News Letter was born from an idea developed by Nina Beliaff and Hilary Stabler, Meher Baba lovers living in London. Hilary moved to Meherabad in India, the location of Meher Baba’s Samadhi. Each month she would send a letter describing her and other residents’ experiences. This letter was called ‘Nagar News’. The newsletter ‘Neti-Neti’ would be organised around this monthly communication, as well as other feature articles. The first issue was published in November 1979.

Neti-Neti is a Sanskrit expression which means “not this, not that”, or “neither this, nor that”. It is found in the Upanishads and the Avadhuta Gita. Meher Baba refers to Neti-Neti in Discourses (7th ed, p. 46), as a helpful attitude toward non-attachment and developing equipoise on the spiritual path.

Nina and Hilary continued for 24 issues, their last being in the spring of 1982. The Nagar News continued with the help of several individuals residing in India and Neti-Neti continued to be produced by a team formed from Baba lovers attending one of Don Steven’s groups in London. During this time, Don participated in every aspect of the newsletter, including the discussions, the layout and final copy.

From 1984 until the last issue in 2014 the base of operations was permanently located at Don Steven’s flat on Hammersmith Grove in London. During this time the newsletter also took on an international dimension and would include French translations of articles. Work would be followed by an enjoyable feast of great companionship.

· Neti-Neti is a Sanskrit expression which means “not this, not that”, or “neither this, nor that”. It is found in the Upanishads and the Avadhuta Gita and constitutes an analytical meditation helping a person to understand the nature of the Brahman by negating everything that is not Brahman. Sage Yajnavalkya, the greatest of Upanishadic philosophers, taught the great doctrine of “neti-neti”, the view that truth can be found only through the negation of all thoughts about it (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.3. 6). This expression is used in Hinduism, mainly in Jnana yoga and in Advaita Vedanta (non-dualistic spiritual practice).