The mission of the Beads on One String Foundation is to explore the unity of all life and the Oneness that lies at the heart of all. It is inspired by the 1932 message of Avatar Meher Baba when He said, “I am not come to establish any cult, society or organization; nor even to establish a new religion. The religion that I shall give teaches the Knowledge of the One behind the many. The book that I shall make people read is the book of the heart that holds the key to the mystery of life. I shall bring about a happy blending of the head and the heart. I shall revitalize all religions and cults, and bring them together like beads on one string.”
– Meher Baba (From the Introduction to God Speaks 2nd edition).
Don Stevens, the founder of Beads on One String Foundation, was a close disciple of Meher Baba. Don believed that Meher Baba’s revivification of the vitality of the existing world religions was a very important aspect of His avataric work and established the Beads on One String Foundation to bring people together to explore the universal truth of oneness. After the first India Pilgrimage in 2004 to spiritual sites of different religions, Don realised that they were closely connected to Meher Baba’s 1932 Message. Upon this understanding the ‘Beads on One String Project’ was born. In Don’s words, “The unity of religious faiths is the principle that clearly underlies the entire Beads project.“ Don Stevens (From Journey to the Source, p.6).
To fulfill this intention, pilgrimage to sacred sites of various religions was one of the first endeavors offered by the Beads project. Pilgrimage invites an opportunity to actively engage in the search for oneness, to learn about the traditions of different religions, and to share this search for universal truth with others. The goal of a Beads pilgrimage is to support our inner journey and offer an opportunity for companionship on the voyage.
Pilgrimages that the Beads on One String Foundation has offered include the 2004 journey to sacred sites in India and again in 2006, 2009 and 2010. These pilgrimages visited the Islamic Sufi Dargah of Moinuddiun Chisti in Ajmer, the Jain Dilwara Temples in Mount Abu, the Buddhist and Hindu Kailash Temple at Ellora, the fort of the great Hindu warrior king Shivaji, the Manonash Cave near Hyderabad, as well as the Tomb of Avatar Meher Baba in Meherabad, India.
The Beads Foundation has offered other pilgrimages. In 2006 Don Stevens was inspired to extend the Beads on One String Pilgrimage Project to include significant spiritual and cultural sites in Europe, representing Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions. Don and the group of companions first met in Paris, journeyed on to Marseille, then Assisi and Portofino in Italy before traveling onward to Avila, then Granada and Cordoba in Spain.
Collectively, over 120 persons have participated in these journeys. Their words best convey the meaning gleaned from these experiences:
“As we (become more aware of the string) we discover that we are all, of course, on the same journey, from an imagined, but necessary, separation to the reality of oneness in union with God. This can only help to prise us loose from an often fixed, dogmatic and disastrous belief that our own personal Prophet, Avatar or Messiah is the only way.” Jaimie
“The trip is a powerful and important transformational tool, and an opportunity to access and celebrate the name of God as a group.” Christopher
“It’s for God. I’m burning up for God! – was all I could manage. Lots happening and so grateful I signed up for the journey!” Dee
“It has given me the capacity to create the meaning that connects me to the flow of grace and purpose and full humanity which cannot come from an outside source and which seems also to BE the meaning. I can experience pain and promise and all that is life itself from love.” Jill
“I found all my companions to be people I loved and respected – sometimes this took a while because my initial impressions had to be modified but in the end I was deeply moved by all – and loved them greatly (and still do). One of our companions is a Buddhist and the many discussions with him about his interpretation of the world and his view of spirituality, although different to mine, began to break down my somewhat fixed ideas about what spirituality should be.” Ralph
“The main feeling I have is that a loving workforce has been forged as we have made strong innerlinks as a whole group. I feel the power of going to the sites in turn as a group has had a major cleansing effect on me personally- washing away lingering fears and doubts I had and fueling a fire of devotion and joy for life…. I LOVED the tour and feel the changes in my life and the life of the universe because of it run very deep.” Anna
“God is beyond all paths to Him and we need to acknowledge and celebrate all paths to Him – Buddhist, Christian, Moslem, Jew, Jain, Hindu whatever – they all lead to that great mystery and the mere fact of understanding that and appreciating other paths takes us away from our limited vision and opens us up.” Ralph