The Notebooks of Paul Brunton Book Reviews
“A distillation of the voluminous unpublished later writings of Paul Brunton, English popularizer of yoga and meditation. The 28 chapters are built from short notebook excerpts and presents Brunton's mature vision of the spiritual quest...and is his own synthesis, not that of any particular tradition. ...his vision of a 'mentalistic' universe is fascinating, and his espousal of an ethically based spirituality combining meditation and philosophy, contemplation and action, wisdom and compassion, is sensible and compelling. His work can stand beside that of such East-West 'bridges' as Merton, Huxley, Suzuki, Watts, and Radhakrishnan. It should appeal to anyone concerned personally or academically with issues of spirituality and is appropriate for both graduate and undergraduate collections”—Choice, Feb., 1985, R. Jackson, University of Michigan
“In vigorous, clear-minded, and independent fashion he expounded a synthesis of Eastern mysticism and Western rationality. Now these notes have been culled and organized under topic headings by his students. A rich volume...”—Library Journal, Oct. 1, 1984, Paul E. Muller-Ortega, Religious Studies Dept., Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
“During the 30 years until his death in 1981, he retreated into seclusion, setting down his thoughts in voluminous notebooks. In this selection...Brunton hones his views....Healing of the self is the guiding principle behind these writings. Brunton offers guidelines for meditation along with thoughts on fasting, diet, rebirth, metaphysics, Jesus, Freemasonry, the self-deluded ego and the one Universal Mind.”—Publishers Weekly, June 8, 1984
“It is a task of magnitude to attempt to review this book in the space available. During his lifetime, Dr. Paul Brunton traveled extensively to learn from the most spiritual teachers. He was highly respected for his character and intelligence, and his books on yoga, meditation, and mystical philosophy were translated into many languages and sold in the millions. He kept voluminous notebooks which provide important new resources for seekers of a living, creative synthesis of East-West/Ancient-modern/spiritual-scientific teachings. They contain a comprehensive restatement of the primordial wisdom tradition in 20-21st century terms. The editors are to be congratulated on their choice of selections and manner of presentation and classification. There are gems of wisdom and succinct summing up of profound truths and deep philosophies on every page. A good book to take on a desert island, to keep by one''s bedside, yet not out of place on a business man's desk. Highly recommended.”—The New Humanity
“This introductory volume give us a representative selection from each of the themes covered in the Notebooks and is a good overview of the thinking of Paul Brunton during the last thirty years of his life. His quest was always in search of a 'Universal truth...a doctrine which did not depend on individual opinion or peculiarities of a particular age or the level of culture of a particular land.' He tells us, 'Our work has been to rescue this doctrine from the dead past for the benefit of the living present.' He shows us clearly that the mystic needs the thinker within himself perhaps even more than the present day thinker needs the mystic to help him along the way as he faces the dailyness of living. If this overview is any example, the publication of the complete Notebooks will be a most welcome addition to the philosophical and metaphysical literature of the New Age. Highly Recommended!”—SSC booknews, January 1985
“With the possible exception of Alan Watts, Dr. Paul Brunton has probably been the most influential exponent and popularizer of Eastern philosophy and systems of self-realization during this century [20th]. He writes not only with insight but also with a certain authority, for he...traveled extensively in the Orient for many years in order to learn personally from the most perceptive spiritual teachers. He is perhaps best known for his two books, A Search in Secret India--in which he introduced the great sage, Ramana Maharshi, to Western audiences—and The Quest of the Overself. These and the other eight books that he wrote from 1934 to 1952 on yoga, meditation and esoteric philosophy had a wide audience and established him firmly as one of the leaders in his field.
“The reader will be struck by the simplicity and forcefulness of Brunton's style. The adages clearly reveal to this reader that Paul Brunton is a rare individual for whom the title of sage is well deserved. the editors should be praised for bringing out this volume and should be encouraged in their future attempts to publish other volumes on the spiritual philosophy of Paul Brunton.”—Ashok Malhotra, State University College, Oneonta, New York
“This book mirrors the reflections, facts, and events of a life devoted to the quest of Truth. The synthesis between the Eastern and Western philosophies has been developed from the world wide researches of the author, the secret traditions of the Oriental teachers, the personal experiences of Occidental adepts and the needs of modern aspirants. However, the book is not merely a beautiful synthesis of the two, but presents an universal outlook that transcends both. A book that will be welcomed by one and all.”—East and West Series, Jan. 1987
“Paul Brunton was one of the early pioneers in translating Eastern mystical thought into Western terms. In the mid-1950s, he withdrew from public activity and writing to intensify his own spiritual practice. One result is the posthumously published series, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, which I can on call a great gift to Westerners who are seeking the spiritual. I have never felt qualified to use terms like 'a person of great spiritual attainment,' but I want to use it in describing the Paul Brunton I am coming to know through these notebooks. I do feel qualified in using terms like 'practical' and 'sensible,' though, and I am very pleased that Brunton is not only a person of great spiritual attainment, but his ideas are sensible and practical for Westerners.
“In later years, his faithful readers requested that he establish journals or even found ashrams—spiritual centers that he himself would head. But Brunton had the true seeker's distaste for personality cults, modestly describing himself as 'a writer and researcher, with some experience in spiritual matters...and that's all.' Then in 1962 while at the top of his literary career, he dropped out of sight—a disappearance so complete that notices announcing his death appeared in major European newspapers. During this period Brunton lived a deeply spiritual personal life....Until his death at 83, Brunton continued to write prodigiously, but withheld everything for posthumous publication. Now those Brunton notebooks have begun to appear in print, their 7,000 manuscript pages organized and edited into a projected 12-volume opus scheduled to appear every three months through 1988.
“Older readers of this magazine may well have been introduced to oriental philosophy, as I was, by the writings of Paul Brunton. From 1934 to 1952, his books on yoga, meditation, and mystical philosophy have reached millions of readers in many languages. This book subtitled 'Perspectives' is a representative survey of over 7,000 pages from [his personal notebooks]. It is the first in a series of 12 volumes which will provide a spiritual philosophical encyclopedia, ranging from abstruse metaphysical insights to practical spiritual guidance.”—Science of Thought Review, June 1985
“In Perspectives..., you will be not only inspired but more importantly taught. Perspectives is filled with a challenging assortment of Paul Brunton's thoughts which will lead you toward understanding of yourself and your place within the spectrum of a greater whole. The book is remarkable in its clarity and depth and will be a powerful beacon for everyone in his or her own search.”—Meredith Lady Young, author of Agartha; a Journey to the Stars
“These are no mere journal jottings, but over seven thousand pages of 'detached intellections' classifiable into twenty-eight categories on such topics as Meditation, The Body, the Ego, Mentalism, World-Mind, The Alone, etc. This first volume gives selections from all twenty-eight categories....Beware, however, of getting hooked: ten, possibly eleven, more volumes are planned.”—Religious Studies Review, Jan. 1986, John Strong, Bates College, Maine
“This is a staggering book. The brilliance and depth of insight in this boo make it one of the most important publications of the year, one which will be read long hence when others have been quite forgotten. It is a delectable and subtle spiritual mean which will satisfy the seeker to the full, while giving him an appetite for the forthcoming volumes.”—David Lorimer
“He was a profound yet ever pragmatic thinker whose light shines brightly in his writings.”—The Beacon, July/Aug. 1987
“From his opening notes on 'What the Quest Is' through the various choices we can make in determining our personal path, Brunton covers all aspects of the quest including both the promises and the pitfalls we will find along the way. In a very real way Brunton's notes become our own notes to which we add our own thoughts and ideas as we proceed. Brunton tells us explicitly that as we proceed on our 'Quest' the one thing we need to remember is that we cannot be a passive receiver of someone else's knowledge—even his. He tell us, 'The true teacher so develops his disciples that they can come closer and closer to the time when they can find their way without him. All his service is intended to lead them toward graduation, when he himself will no longer be needed.' We can all benefit from Brunton's Notebooks no matter who or where we are along the path. Highly recommended.”—SSC booknews
“Practices for the Quest...simply gives us his own thoughts and comments as he explores the importance of the practice of character development and self-discipline and then allows us to travel this road at our own pace... He points out the obstacles and pitfalls we will encounter as we proceed on our Quest while at the same time showing us how we can overcome them. Relax and Retreat should be read and reread by every one of us. In this short section, Brunton shares with us his thoughts on the necessity of relaxations to relieve the tensions and pressures of the day and then gives us a few simple exercises that he found effective. Each exercise is easy to master and can be done by any one regardless of age or physical condition. Again, without telling us what we must do, Brunton simply shows us what we can accomplish using both extroverted activity and introverted stillness.
“The first volume of the Notebooks was described as 'rich,' and there is no reason now to change that assessment. The fruit of almost 30 years of teaching and reflection, they present Brunton's synthesis of Eastern mysticism and Western rationality. This volume...covers both meditation and bodily control in terms of diet exercise, sex, and meditative postures. ...the work as a whole is a rich vein of wisdom to be mined by the interested and the spiritually concerned.”—Library Journal Nov. 1, 1986, Donald J. Pearce, Univ of Minnesota Lib., Duluth
“Brunton's European renown came quickly from his obvious ability to rescue ancient philosophic tenets from the obscurity of time and cultural distance and make them meaningful and rationally understandable to the modern West. His forte was to skillfully weave together the wisdom traditions of both East and West, expounding an ethical, sane, and compelling approach to spiritual practice.
“There are two dominant types of Western literature about India. The first is by those who go there to find wisdom the second is by those who go there to dispense it. Brunton's account of his search for spiritual direction in India remain important examples of the first type. They continue to rank with such works as Romain Rolland's influential Prophets of the New India (1930)....Yet when the projected volumes of this series are available, The Notebooks will reveal the relatively greater extent and depth of the work that Brunton sustained over his lifetime.
“As each volume of these Notebooks appears, I am more and more impressed with Paul Brunton's depth of understanding. This is probably the best to date inasmuch as it includes his notes on Meditation. Brunton's approach to meditation is eclectic to say the least. Here he presents his non-sectarian, rational and extremely practical approach to the subject. He incorporates all of the best of the techniques from the major traditions without evangelizing or limited them in any way. Add to this Brunton's broad experience in the subject since the early 1930's and you can readily see why this portion of his Notebooks will become another classic in the field.
“...brings us Brunton's ideas about our emotions and ethics and how we need to grow beyond the rules imposed on us from outside forces to the basic principles of religion that we can only find by probing that spiritual dimension within each of us. How we learn to control our emotions with ethical principles is a 'spiritual' journey in itself.”—SSC booknews
“...is number six in a series of books taken from the vast information contained in the notebooks of the journalist and truth-seeker Paul Brunton.
“[The Ego] takes a look at our egos, exploring their origin, nature, and the growth patterns that lead, not only to self-awareness, but to self-integrity. In From Birth to Rebirth, Brunton deals with our concepts of death (a biological process) as opposed to dying (a psychological phenomena) and gives us his ideas on the after death states, reincarnation, and the relationship of our personal destiny and freedom in our development. Highly recommended.”—SSC booknews
“With the appearance of each of these volumes of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, we are more and more impressed with the depth of his insight and the broad scope of his wisdom. Healing of the Self should be of particular interest to all those engaged in the healing arts, medical and non-medical alike. Since Brunton's notes were written during a forty year period, many of them coincide with advances made in the healing arts during that same period. For this reason they are still clear and timely an offer sound advice both to the individual and the professional.
“In his collected voluminous writings, Brunton ranged over the variety of subjects that have perennially attracted thoughtful and sensitive men and women. Overall, they reflect Brunton's broad and deep humanism. They accomplish an intertwining of Eastern and Western philosophy and religion which was intended to serve as a guide for modern man....the cumulative effect of his wisdom is impressive. Thoughtful readers will find The Notebooks rewarding and stimulating.”—Small Press Book Review, March/April 1988
“Probably the most remarkable thing about Paul Brunton is not that he is one of the foremost philosophers of this century, or that he was a true mystic, but that he recognizes that the only true path we all can follow must be through our humanity, through our development to become fully human. It was Mrs. Eddy who said, 'The divinity of the Christ was made manifest in the humanity of Jesus.' This is true for all of us, no matter who, what, or where we are. In Part 1...Brunton tells us that we can only succeed as a people as we each, individually, consciously and deliberately reveal our divinity as our humanity in all that we think, say, and do as we go about our business. In Part 2, Brunton shows us how the arts and music of our various cultures can be of great help in our Quest, or if we so choose they can hinder it. Brunton writes, 'Beauty is as much as aspect of Reality as truth. He who is insensitive to the one has not found the other.'
“For everyone who has spent the better part of their life researching the philosophy and religious teachings of the ages, both East and West, this volume of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton is an essential addition to their library. It begins with Brunton's reflections on the values of Eastern thought in general, and the parallels as well as the differences between the cultures of East and West. It then goes on to show how current transpersonal and transcultural research is bringing about the integration of the best in ancient and modern, mystical and scientific cultures worldwide. The next section details Brunton's insights as he takes a tour of Eastern thought and wisdom through India, China, Tibet, Japan, and the other countries of the East. As we ponder the teachings of the Upanishads, the Gita, the Vedanta, the Tao Teh Ching, and other ancient writings as reflected upon by Ramana Maharshi, Aurobindo, Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Krishnamurti, Gandhi, and other teachers, we are once again made aware of our own innate oneness...with reality. Very highly recommended.”—SSC booknews, Jan. 1988
“Volumes ten and eleven of Paul Brunton's Notebooks give the full flavor of this philosopher-mystic...Not at all for the beginner but rather for the more sophisticated seeker.
“In the Summer 1987 issue of the Noetic Sciences Review I had the pleasure of reviewing the first volume of the posthumously published Notebooks of Paul Brunton. If time allows, I hope to review all of them as my way of inducing the reader to purchase them and start browsing. Browsing is the key word here, for each volume is a collection of largely short, pithy, and inspirational selections.
“Especially impressive here are Brunton's strong insistence that the mystic concern himself with rationality and ethics; his ruthless analysis of the psychology of gurus, seekers and mystical groups; and his sophisticated discussion of the way in which culture and personal inclinations shape mystical experience....the book is an interesting contribution to the contemporary literature on mysticism. It will be appropriate for college, community college, and public libraries.”—Choice, April 1988, reviewed by Roger Jackson, Fairfield University
“An authority on ancient religion, Brunton deals with a broad range of timely topics, including 'Fanaticism, Money, Power...' and the Occult. His work should therefore help readers assess the present deluge of books in New Age philosophy. This is by no means for the novice, however, but for the determined seeker of Truth in whatever manifestation. Recommended for library collections.”—Library Journal, Feb. 15, 1988
“For an age which equates philosophy with the hackneyed and obscure drivel that passes under that name at universities, Brunton's elevation of it as the ultimate goal of the spiritual quest may come as a bit of a shock. But there is something compelling about a view which takes the fog and foam out of mysticism and not only demands palpable results from it but subjects it to critical scrutiny. The Sensitives focuses on 'the dynamics and dangers of mysticism.' And the biggest danger, in his view, is swallowing anything without reflection or criticism—including one's own experiences. He also has harsh words for what he calls the 'dollars want me' school of mysticism—as manifested most recently in New Age 'abundance' teachings. To equate material success with spiritual advancement, he believes, is to enlarge the ego, not to transcend it.
“This volume...is particularly important for everyone who is engaged in meditation, 'New Age' thinking, the psychic or occult, and the study of theology as well as mysticism. As individuals become enamored with the results they achieve in these studies, they really need to understand the subtle dangers of misunderstanding the origin and meaning of what they experience. We need to be aware of the delusions offered by many of the glamorous so-called 'spiritual' movements.
“As Brunton examines this inborn urge to evolve (what he calls 'the religious urge'), he shows us that we move in stages, first through religious beliefs and observations, then mystical ideas and practices and finally to that point where we accept truth for its own sake without trying to master mind it in any way. Brunton also reveals our penchant for seeking complicated answers to simple problems....Yet at the same time he shows that religion as we understand it does have a place in the scheme of things. While it is only the first step on the quest for many of us, it is an important first step as we develop our reverence for all life. When we move to the mystical stage we also find this same inclination. We see 'spirituality' as a thing in itself instead of a tool and as a result complicate our lives. Moving on and accepting our innate divinity as our rightful heritage, we find that the answers are not complicated. Highly recommended.”—SSC booknews
“...rich in literary-philosophic observations by a spiritual seeker who was an elegant writer and a brilliant philosopher. Moving away from religious forms, Brunton advises more than instinct or faith: 'Know by experience or revelation.'”—The Book Reader, May/June 1988
“When Einstein stated his Special Theory of Relativity in 1905 and later his General Theory of Relativity in 1916, he was stating in mathematical terms what the Greek philosopher Protagoras had stated in philosophical terms: that all truth as we perceive it, is relative. In the first section of this Notebook, Brunton discusses the philosophical viewpoint of relativity and its implications as it pertains both to our daily lives and 'spiritual' development. As we compare this philosophical viewpoint with the most recent experiments in both atomic physics and morphic resonance we find ourselves moving even closer to a state of timeless and spaceless reality in our world of relativity. But to test the validity of not only these experiments, but of our own concepts of reality, we need the discipline of philosophy.
“What makes this book especially valuable is the overview it offers by synthesizing the insights of the world's great traditions and clarifying the stages of the path. He elaborates on the differences between the Short Path...and the Long Path. His overview should be most welcome to those who find themselves confused by the contradictory claims and messages of equally respectable teaching sources.
“In a very real way, these two final volumes [15 & 16] of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton represent the culmination of his life and work. Throughout the sixteen volumes of these Notebooks we find Brunton seeking to learn both 'the still heart of Truth' and 'human Opinion.' To learn the first, he knew he had to study the latter. Along the way on his Quest, Brunton also learns that 'the Interpreted World really does exist, all of it one throughout space and time.' It is this paradox he studies in these two final volumes, the Oneness of all things throughout the Universe.
“The publication of volume 16 in the series of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, makes available the final volume in a remarkable series. While the publishing project is concluded, the door is only beginning to open for readers who can now wander and wonder in the rich world of one of this century's most perceptive and intelligent pioneers of East-West culture and the spiritual quest.
“First and foremost, Brunton was a mystic and sage, who used his writing skills to bring clarity and philosophical depth to his inner explorations, to work out what he called his own 'intellectual salvation.' Secondarily, he was a writer who understood his vocation as a service to humanity.