Meher Baba said various critical things about established religions. However, he offered this suggestion about its utility for the average man:
The average man should follow his creed, whatever it be, in all sincerity, regardless of regards to come and with only the aim and object of: “I want nothing but you [God].” … It is the act of worship from the heart, and not thoughts and beliefs, that counts in the religious province. (From Treasures from the Meher Baba Journals, Sheriar Press 1980, pages 63-64. Available from Sheriar Books.
By “the average man” Baba seems to be suggesting that a spiritual aspirant may adopt a different path.
From the same reference source, page 98, it is recorded that Baba said, “Any faith with the idea of truth behind it is better than no faith at all. It is better to walk the wrong road and return to the right way than not to walk at all. What matters spiritually is faith. When faith becomes love then then there is no need for faith any longer.”
Established religion’s priests typically offer to intermediate between God and the devotee, and Baba said that an intermediary was neither needed nor appropriate. In the words of his secretary, Adi K. Irani:
“Suppose even a person like me is responsible for giving you all the information about Meher Baba. Do not try to look upon me as your guru. Once your relationship is established with Meher Baba, look upon me as an ordinary man just as you are. Although I have spent fifty years of my life with Meher Baba, I still say that we are all one. It is heaven’s right for any man to love God directly. No intermediary is necessary.
“It is possible that somebody may have introduced me to Meher Baba. Somebody may have introduced you to Meher Baba. I may have introduced Meher Baba to you, but that does not mean that I should be an intermediary. Once I see that you and Meher Baba are brought together, it is your business and His business. You love Him and He responds to your love directly…” Sourced from Just to Love Him, by Adi K. Irani, 1985, pp.112
That said, we must acknowledge that some people prefer to consult with or even worship someone whom they take to be a living master. It isn’t the path we follow, but Meher Baba did make provision for one spiritual path under his direction that provides teaching and, in a sense, intermediation.
Some other comments on religion by Meher Baba:
The organized religions of the world often fail to express the real vision of those who have been the fountainhead of inspiration for their very coming into existence. Dogmas and beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, can never be the essence of the true spiritual life. They are generally not only superficial and ineffective, but positively harmful and misleading. Often they not only feed the ego of the priest class, but also serve as an instrument for the exploitation of the credulous. When religion has become merely a matter of external rituals and ceremonies, it has become a cage for the soul. Nor does it help very much to change from one religion to another. It is like going from one cage to another. If religion does not help man to emancipate the soul from spiritual bondage and realise God, it has no useful purpose to serve. Then it is time that religion should go to make room for God.
I am therefore not interested in founding a new religion. The world is already divided by numberless sects, based upon dogmas and beliefs. I have not come to give another cage for man, but to impart to the world the illimitable Truth. The world needs awakening, and not mere verbal instruction. It needs the freedom and the amplitude of divine life, and not the superficiality of mechanized and pompous forms. It needs love, and not the display of power. Sourced from Lord Meher, online edition, page 2440, “Meetings & Darshans”.
Bearing these points in mind (as well as numerous others on the same topic) most of Baba’s current followers in the East and the West appear to have resolved not to re-create religious structures — leadership hierarchies (especially the practice of anointing others to interpret Baba’s writings) and most ritualized practices, apart from reciting prayers Meher Baba gave and singing his aarti (hymn).
From the earliest years while Meher Baba was still in the body, groups formed to remember Baba and to share information. As a practical matter, some organization was required, but only for achieving concrete ends, and a meeting place does help with that. Meher Baba once said that he would like all his devotees to belong to a group, because of various opportunities to rub off our egos, and also so that we would have the occasion to remember him with love. One woman felt uncomfortable when hearing that he had said this, and he assured her that it was not an order, and that she was free to do whatever her heart told her to do in this regard. From The Awakener Magazine, Vol 4, No 4, Page 31 and The Awakener Magazine, Vol 6, No 1, Page 31.
Northern California’s Baba group is similar to other Baba groups, which can be found in the US in Myrtle Beach, New York, Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles and numerous other cities. A more comprehensive list, including overseas groups, can be found in the links.