Why is the number of the outer circle fifty-six only?

Question: Why is the number of the outer circle fifty-six only, neither more nor less?

Answer: Because this number seems perfect (purna) to those who manage, the world’s workings from a spiritual and various other points of view. One person alone cannot manage the whole affair single-handed. He does require assistance, and the number of assistants is fixed at fifty-six. These Supreme Beings  who have attained to the realization of Self have been obliged to assume human form for the performance of the duties entrusted to them. They must discharge the responsibility of uplifting those persons, those deserving ones, who have brought about the needed preparations in themselves and thus have made The Highest Point of the Circle themselves worthy of this good fortune.

NOW each of these circle members is entrusted with a certain specific duty—this duty only and no other. Just as the nose cannot can out the task of seeing (which is the duty’ of the eyes), so these workers in the domain spirituality cannot perform any duty other than that with which they have been entrusted. The number of these spiritual workers, fixed at fifty-six, corresponds to the number of parts of the body (including the the avayavs or limbs and parts, indriyas or organs of sense, and so forth). Each man has two eyes, one nose, five fingers per hand, thirty -two teeth, and so on.  Just as these numbers have been fixed and the respective duties of each assigned, so are the numbers and roles of the spiritual workers: but the total number is set at fifty-six exactly.

Apart from the fifty-six, there are others without human form who have no duty to perform, since they have, indeed, no consciousness of the existence of the world at all. Rather, they are immersed in the One Infinite Existence—Infinite Light. Infinite Anand, and so forth.

This grand affair of managing the whole universe can be compared to running a toddy shop. While a varied assortment of business partners and shop workers take part in the toddy shop operation, each has his own particular duty. One of them mixes the toddy, a second pours it into cups, a third attends on the customers, another takes cash in payment, and so forth. But all of them are there present in the shop—assuming that the shop exists in the first place. But in the absence of a shop, what use do all these people serve? In the same way, when there is no universe (as in the case of those, like the Majzubs, who have realized God but retained no creation consciousness), no work presents itself.

But in the case of those Realized Ones for whom the universe still exists, the number that plays a role in the affairs of creation’s “shop” has been permanently established at fifty-six, since a lesser number cannot successfully carry out all the work and perform all the varied duties. Suppose a man has lost one of his eyes. He can still see by means of the other eye, though he does so with difficulty. To enable him to see perfectly, to help him to carry out this work of “seeing” properly and unimpaired, each human being has been given the assistance of two servants, that is to say, two eyes. Similarly, each person has been endowed with two ears, a single nose, two hands and two feet with five fingers or five toes on each, etc. And thus nature goes on working according to the rules and regulations and principles laid down by the experienced (which is to say, Realized) Sages. Nothing is haphazard.

– “Meher Baba’s Tiffin lectures”, p118
28-June-1926; Meherabad

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