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November 2023, #109 The True Idea of Man

The Notebooks of Paul Brunton:: Volume 16

Part 2: World Idea, Section 4, TRUE IDEA OF MAN

"What is man? This is the most important question which has ever been put before the mind .(p. 58) Category 26. Chapter 4. para 1

"The idea of man which exists in and is eternally known by the World Mind is a master-idea." (P) 26.4.2

"When we can learn what the true worth of man is and wherein lies his real salvation, we shall learn the most practical of all things. For this, more than anything else, will show us how to live on earth peacefully, prosperously, healthily, and usefully." 26.4.3

"If man does not know what he is in the very essence of his human beingness, he does not really know what he is talking about." 26.4.4

"Scientific concepts of the nature of man which leave out the intuitive and spiritual element in it as existing independently and in its own level, will always remain inadequate to explain man, however brilliant they themselves admittedly often are." 26.4.5

"If man's life were nothing more than a physiochemical process, then man's highest aspirations and intuitions, unselfishness and aestheticism would still need an explanation." 26.4.6

P = Perspectives, also titled "Volume 1"

Compiled by PBPF Board member Barbara P.

July 2023, #108 From Volume 15, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton.

From Volume 15, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton.


Be present at your thinking and breathing and feeling and doing. This is what the Buddha called “mindfulness.” But the highest possible form of mindfulness is  to be present with the Overself for, after all, the other four are concerned with the ego, even though they are attempts to free yourself from it, but here it concerns  that which completely transcends the ego.  15.6. 236


When activity of any kind, in work or leisure, takes place in this atmosphere of remembrance, it becomes sacramental even though the ordinary observer may not know it. 15.6.243


To keep up this remembrance all the time, in all circumstances, requires practice and perseverance to an extent that seems beyond the ordinary. But they are actually within everyone’s  untapped resources and untouched reserves. 15.6.244



from Living Wisdomby Anthony Damiani

Paul Brunton: It is out of such a splendid balance of utter humility and noble self-reliance that the philosopher gets his wisdom and strength. He is always kneeling metaphorically before the Divine in self-surrendering renunciation and often actually in self-abasing prayer. Yet side by side and with this, he is always seeking to develop and apply his own intellect and intuition, his own will and experience in life. And because they are derived from such a balanced combination, this wisdom and strength are beyond any that religion alone, or metaphysics alone, could give. (The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, (20.5.16) (Category 20 Chap 5 para16)

Anthony: Here is a quote that will give you an idea of the magnitude of the spiritual grandeur

of what a sage is. I don't think we can properly grasp it.

DO NOT PRETEND to be other than you are. If you are one of the multitude, do not put upon yourself the proud robes of the Teacher and pretend to imitate him; unless you stick to the Truth, you can never find it. To put yourself upon the pedestal of spiritual prestige before the Master or God has first put you there is to make the first move towards a humiliating and painful fall. Vol. 16 (25:5.33 andPerspectives, p.16)

Anthony:Now a Master is a person who has realized the I AM, the Overself, and philosophically has brought that realization into the world-that it is basically a manifestation of Consciousness or Reality-that is a Master. I don't know if you've got any idea what work is involved to reach

those heights, but in studying these things I began to realize we're speaking about the quintessence of Divinity as far as humanity is concerned.

Student: At one time PB said, "The whole trick is simply: Don't let yourself be hypnotized by any thought." We're always looking for something to be fascinated with."

Anthony: Let's say that theegois always looking for something to be fascinated with, in its pre-occupation with its own glamour. But the stillness isn't.

" Working Descriptions:A few key terms in Living Wisdom for readers whoare unfamiliar with how Anthony Damiani used them.

MENTALISM: As used in this text maintains that the natural universe is mental, and traces its creative thinking principle to Mind as the unique reality. It upholds both the existence and the marvelously intricate detail of this universe, but denies the materialistic view of it. "It refuses to attribute to matter a creative power to be found only in life, an intelligent consciousness to be found only in mind."

(Perspectives, p. 282) It encompasses the relation of the individual mind to its world of experience, the World- Idea as the source of world existence, and Mind as the ultimate nature of both the world and the individual.

MIND: Paul Brunton's term for the ultimate mystery of Reality. It is not only the transcendent Reality in itself, but also Reality as the nature of all that is authentic. "Mind alone is."

Mind, World-Mind, and Overself are not conceived as separate entities, but as three aspects of One Reality. Mind is Reality per-se. World-Mind is the reality of the universe, active in and as the Universe.

Overself is the reality of the individual, the individual's indissoluble inner connection to Reality.

OVERSELF: The inner and ultimate reality of the individual, the individual's participation in the universal intelligencefrom which the world arises. Overself, where the human and the divine meet and mingle, is both universal and individuated. As Brunton writes, "The Overself is the true inner self…reflecting the divine being and attributes. The Overself is an emanation from the ultimate reality but is neither a division nor a detached fragment of it. It is a ray shining forth but not the sun itself. (Perspectives, p. 296) and (Living Wisdom, pp. 265-267)

April 2023, #106 Living Wisdom – Revisioning the Philosophic Quest

     This book was put together from an edited transcript of a series of inspiring classes taught by Anthony Damiani from classes given in November of 1982 until shortly before his passing in October of 1984. He included quotes from Paul Brunton from the " What is Philosophy?" section of Paul Brunton's Notebooks. The Glossary section at the end of Living  Wisdom (LW) is very helpful to define meanings of terms used.

     Anthony: "Philosophy is broad based, as big as life itself. It finds proper due for all the different aspects in life. It finds their proper evaluation or their proper place. There's not only precision and accuracy in PB's writing, but there's beauty in what he's saying. You see, the doctrine has to be beautiful also. It can't be only good and true; it must be beautiful also. (LW, p. 14)

            PB:  It is perhaps  the amplitude and symmetry of the philosophic approach which make it so completely satisfying. For this is the only approach which honors reason and appreciates beauty, cultivates intuition and respects mystical experience, fosters reverence and teaches true prayer, enjoins action and promotes morality. It is the spiritual life fully grown. (v13, 20:1.22 and Perspectives, p.261)

            PB:  The Esoteric meaning of the star is Philosophic Man," that is, one who has travelled the fivefold path and brought its results into proper balance. This path consists of religious veneration, mystical meditation, rational reflection, moral re-education, and altruistic service. The esoteric meaning of the circle, when situated within the very center of the star, is the Divine Overself-atom within the human heart. (v13, 20:1.23 and Perspectives, p. 260) 

          PB:  "The FIRST STEP is to discover that there is a Presence, a Power, a Life, a Mind, Being, unique, not made or begot, without shape, unseen and unheard, everywhere and always the same. The second step is to discover its relationship to the universe and to oneself. (v.13,20:4.133 and Perspectives, p. 257)

     Anthony: (quietly) You become aware of this immense power, this unique Being, this unfathomable Mind, this shoreless bottomless ocean, the World Mind or Mind. You won't discover that Mind unless  you are situated in the Overself. You can't know anything about that Mind except from the point of view of being identified with the Overself or being in the Overself. "Being in" makes it sound dualistic, but you know what I mean. (LW, p. 31)

          PB: It is not enough to attain knowledge of the soul: any mystic may do that. It is necessary to attain clear knowledge. Only the philosophic mystic may do that. This emphasis on clarity is important. It implies a removal of all the obstructions in feeling, the complexes in mind, and obfuscations in ego which prevent it [clarity]. When this is done, the aspirant beholds truth as it really is. (v13, 20.4.168 and Perspectives, p. 257)

          PB: The HIDDEN TEACHING starts and finishes with experience. Every man must begin his mental life as a seeker by noting the fact that he is conscious of an external environment. He will proceed in time to discover that it is an ordered one, that Nature is the manifestation of an orderly Mind. He discovers in the end that consciousness of this Mind becomes the profoundest fact of his internal experience. (v13. 20:4.132 and Perspectives, p. 254)

  • prepared by Barbara P., PBPF Board Member

March 2023, #105 What is Intuition?

What is Intuition?

There is another way of knowing beside the ordinary way, through the channels of eyes or thoughts, a way which can be found only by quietening the mind and stilling the emotions. 22.1.13

It is a state of pure intelligence but without the working of the intellectual and ideational process. Its product may be named intuition. There are no automatically conceived ideas present in it, no habitually followed ways of thinking. It is pure, clear, stillness. 22.3.204

They are messages brought from the infinite for the blessing and guidance of finite human beings. But you must recognize their value and esteem their source. 22.1.116

[If we understand that the form in which this pure, clear intelligence comes to us is through a stillness which is outside space-time, then it follows that it comes without any of our preconceived ideas or habitual thinking attached to it. Our ego's thoughts are added afterwe receive the pure intuition, because our thoughts about it are created by our space-time intellect.]

How can we tell if inner guidance is truly intuitive or merely pseudo-intuitive? One of the ways is to consider whether it tends to the benefit of all concerned in a situation, the others as well as oneself. The word "benefit" here must be understood in a large way, must include the spiritual result along with the material one. If the guidance does not yield this result, it may be ego-prompted and will then hold the possibility of error. 22.1.196

If we react with anger, indignation, greed or lust it is most likely an impulse. 22.1.198

[Mental quiet is needed in order for us to correct egoisms that interfere with the clear reception of the quiet voice of the Overself.

Meditation helps us develop alert attention, impersonal observation, emotional calm and moral self-control. A quiet mind sharpens our reasoning ability and enables us to more accurately distinguish between intuition, this gift of pure intelligence, often only a whisper, and our own desires and fears.]

Whereas we can reach the intellect only through thinking, we can reach the spirit only through intuition. The practice of meditation is simply the deepening, broadening, and strengthening of intuition. A mystical experience is simply a prolonged intuition. 22.1.282

Such efforts will eventually open the way for intuition to come into outer consciousness and, absorbing all lesser elements, give us the great blessing of its guidance. 22.1.280

The intuition never needs to hunger for truth. While the intellect is seeking and starving for it, the intuition already knows and feels it. 22.1.43

The last act of human intellect, when it reaches its highest level, is to recognize its own limitations and surrender its own authority. But the surrender is not to be made to another human intellect! It is to be made to the intuition. 7.1.88 (Category 7 in v.5, pt.2, chap.1, para 88)

When intuition guides and illuminates intellect, balances and restrains the ego, that which the wise call "true intelligence" arises. 22.1.41

In the fully trained philosopher, intuition is the most active faculty. 22.1.250

The quotes above are taken from The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Volume 14, Inspiration and the Overself, and Volume 5, Emotions and Ethics/The Intellect.

  • Beverly Bennett, PBPF Board Member

February 2023, #104 The Long and Short Paths

The Long and Short Paths

As dictated by Paul Brunton to Jeff Cox during a 1975 visit

One afternoon Paul Brunton and I were sitting in his colorful living room in Switzerland chatting about various topics. After what seemed like a long pause in the conversation, he asked me if I knew about the Short Path to enlightenment. Up to that time, I had become very familiar with the path of purification and trying to understand the teachings, but I had not heard that there was a shorter way to accomplish the much-needed personal transformation. As he began to describe the Short Path, I quickly gathered my pencil and notebook and wrote as he spoke the following teaching.

Before, in the books, PB had to introduce people to the Quest and the preparations for the two paths-now we are ready to hear about the two paths-the long and the short.

St. Bernard expressed the long path thus:

Despise the world--(for it is unsatisfactory)

Despise yourself--(for it is also unsatisfactory)

Despise yourself because you despise yourself--(for even to despise yourself is to give the ego undue attention and concern).

This is the end of the long path. At this point one must turn around to the positive way which is the short path:

Glorify the world--(for it is an emanation of Brahman)

Glorify yourSelf

Glorify yourself because you glorify yourSelf

Rather than concerning oneself with the ego and its developments, its ups and downs, you should turn 180 degrees around and face the sun which is the Overself. The ego is like a whirlpool, a vortex of thoughts, and it is the strength of our clinging that holds it together The ego is perpetuated on the long path which will not take you to enlightenment. On the long path you are always measuring your own progress. The long path is endless for new circumstances bring new temptations, new problems to deal with, and no matter how spiritual the ego becomes it does not enter the light but remains in the grey. On the long path the surges of interference arising from the lower self and the negativity which enters from the environment must be dealt with. This requires development of character.

On the short path one ignores negativity, and turns 180 degrees away from the ego to the Overself-things will become brighter and brighter. The short path will establish you in peace more and more. The work of the long path eventually brings the grace which then puts you on the short path. The short path is shorter in time for you turn and face your goal directly. Because of the pressures of these times, it is recommended that both paths be done together (rather than just the long) in order to help circumvent obstacles.

The parable of the cave in Plato is analogous to the short and long paths. On the long path you back out of the cave but continue to look into the cave, into the darkness of the ego. On the short path you walk forwards toward the opening of the cave where the light is, the Overself.

There are two exercises suggested for the short path, one called the remembrance exercise, and the other, the "As If" exercise. The short path begins with the effort of remembering the Overself. The remembrance exercise overlaps the "As If" exercise and is a necessary preparatory exercise before the "As If" can be learned. The remembrance exercise is mentioned near the end of The Wisdom of the Overself. It is like a mother who has lost her baby and no matter what she is doing she can't forget about the child. When you are active, the remembrance should be held in the rear of the mind,, and when you have free time, it should come to the fore. In the beginning, it requires effort like any other practice, but eventually it will continue of its own accord. One danger of the remembrance exercise is that it can become automatic too soon and thus be merely mechanical and hollow. The remembrance must be a warm, felt, living thing if the spirit of the exercise is not to be lost. By turning towards the Overself, grace can operate more readily in all matters.

The "As If" exercise requires that one should feel and act and think everything as you imagine the Overself would. It is not just a mental exercise but involves the feeling, physical activity, and imagination. The Overself contacts you primarily through intuitive feeling but also through intuitive thoughts and action. Actions which are done uncalculatingly and which later prove to have been correct are actions which spring from a source other than the ego. In the beginning, the exercise is an imaginative one, but every so often one will get short glimpses which will gradually be prolonged and which are not imaginative but the real thing. As these glimpses of the Overself come, one must open up to them, be passive and receptive to them; you must surrender yourself to them and prolong them. This exercise should be accompanied with study of the nature of the Overself-so that you can know something of what the Overself is like and what it is that you are trying to do. However, the Overself is truly ineffable and can never be grasped through any secondary means.

Before studying Paul Brunton, my conceptions of the spiritual quest were terribly limiting and seriously flawed. It seemed clear in those early days that the objective was to achieve a deep, quiet stillness of mind, and from that state all other issues and problems of life would resolve automatically. And to get this rare condition of mind one had to avoid contact with other people and worldly activities by removing oneself from these distractions - possibly for many years, until winning the goal. Meditation, introversion, and studying spiritual literature became an obsession. An anti-social attitude developed and became quite crippling for some years - causing rifts in family life and alienating friends. Work was awfully painful - having to relate to others who did not share my interest in the Quest was so boring, distracting, and totally exhausting. This was the view I held from the paltry readings thus far scanned, when a dear friend recommended that I take a serious look at Paul Brunton's The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga.


The friend's advice was taken, and thus began the eventual transformation of my perspective on the Quest. From long, deep study of the Hidden Teaching, both on my own and with other students of philosophy, I saw that Paul Brunton reasons powerfully of the need to go beyond yoga or mysticism. Mystical states are temporary and tend to sour our sense of engagement with other life activities. Family, work, and social relations of all kinds begin to suffer. Certainly, achieving a deep state of quiet stillness has great value and is an important aspect of the spiritual quest according to PB, but it is not sufficient in relation to the philosophicquest which he offers as the true goal of human life. As humans, we carry many potential powers, such as concentration, feeling, thinking, intuiting, willing, and others which need development until fully ripened - giving completion to our lives. PB stresses also the need for emotional purification and a serious examination of our psychological states and complexes for eventual release of any obstructions to the clear knowing of Truth and the ability to be of service to others ready for the quest.

As all the elements mentioned above worked on my psyche to open it to a truly inclusive view of the quest, another theme that PB reveals as paramount in this text is Mentalism. This reasoned revelation of mentalism became the most powerful elixir to begin the dissolving of my innate, stubborn, constricted worldview. Digesting this revolutionary (idea) took several years and much thinking, dialoging with others - finally seeing its truth rationally and practically as I began to bring this novel understanding into everyday life. I began to see how my attitudes, values. and patterns of thinking were shaping my life and the world context I found myself inhabiting. No longer could I excuse myself from seeing how I contributed to and was responsible for much of my situation - this very experience no matter the content - painful or joyful - is largely my own creation. More and more I had to take seriously much of what I had dismissed as distractions in my early quest. Now the people in my life and the experiences that arise have a significance that demands understanding and developing the facility to negotiate life's endless challenges. Mentalism has actually helped me to see life in all of its forms as more exciting and interesting than the old limited, closed materialism that governed my mind earlier. An added benefit of understanding Mentalism and accepting its truth is its enhancement of meditation. As my sense of separateness from the world and the feeling of solidness dissolves, it seems easier to let go and settle into the quietness that is always present. This can truly be a protection at crucial times by helping us to remain calm and thus able to respond appropriately to a difficult situation.

Now, many years after that mind-expansion process of understanding PB's doctrine of mentalism, we have his posthumously published Notebooks. Certainly, with these later writings PB takes us on yet a further, deeper journey into the most profound reaches of philosophy. All aspects of life are covered here: the arts, sciences, diet, religions, metaphysics, marriage, to name just a fraction of what he includes in these books as his 28 categories of the philosophic quest. I intend to saturate my mind for the remaining years of my life with these final comprehensive teachings of PB, which have already provided yet another expansion of view and given me an even deeper appreciation of life as the true text to be studied.

-Louis DeSarno, PBPF Board Member


Category 25, World Mind in Individual Mind, focuses on the existence of the Godlike within the human heart and affirms its knowability. The Overself exists within individual mind as "a faculty subtler than the senses, more penetrative than the intellect, that will bring the Real into range of his (the human) perception." (25.1.114)

Terms such as unity, enlightenment, and non-duality are defined in context in this section, and effort is made to dispel confusion about the Real, and human reactions to and interpretations of it. The commentary on teaching masters and discipleship reflects years of broad research, world travel and personal experience on the part of the author.

The longest sections, "The Sage" and "The Sage's Service," communicate deep caring for humanity on the part of the attained individual, and the hope he shares for realization of the highest ideals. Brunton's position is that philosophy uses the enlightened person, the highest point of human existence, as "an ideal for effectual admiration and reverent analysis." (25.3.6)


Martha Cohen, our former, very-dedicated Foundation president, asked Board members to share something about how we apply the philosophic principles found in PB's writings to our lives. As I reflect on the central ideas conveyed in PB many books, I return again and again to appreciate the clarity of his expression and the bedrock of truth that shines through his words. I trust PB.

At the same time, I appreciate his exposition of the independent path, and his emphasis on the importance of the relationship that each one of us has with our Overself and the individual expression that each of us gives to the World-Mind's ideation. He unflaggingly directs us to our own inner, loving, authority. After all, who or what in our life can better know what we need, and guide us to fulfill our purpose, than our own inner being?

Many of us on the Board have had the benefit of a broad exposure to the ancient teachings of the East and West. Especially under the guidance of PB's student Anthony Damiani ,who selflessly shared his passion for understanding life, were we led through the ideas found in the best of this world's perennial philosophies. I have benefitted immeasurably from deep immersion in Tibetan Buddhism and the Greeks, in Advaita and non-dualism.

For me as for many others, however, it is PB's presentation of the perennial philosophy that provided the framework that gave clear perspective to other doctrines of Truth. For example, PB's presentation of mentalism in The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yogaand in The Wisdom of the Overselfremains to this day the best explanation of how the appearance of division and separation is held and resolved within the one Mind. Most ancient paths present the Unity, but how I can move from my little corner of experience to the One is nowhere better laid out than in PB!

In this age, we have more access to information than ever before and to a variety of spiritual approaches too innumerable to mention, let alone to pursue. What has become more and more compelling for me is the importance of opening to the intuitive guidance ever available from the Overself. It is in PB's writings that we can learn most about the importance of intuition and grace, the father and mother of our spiritual longing and fulfillment. It is PB who best personalized the path for me. He writes as a caring sage always pointing me to the essential ingredients of a meaningful life and opening me to the ever-widening possibility to serve in the grand scheme of things.

What brings me to my knees is appreciation for what PB has accomplished and offered to us all through his writings. What strikes me to tearful silence is the question, "What would this life have been without PB?"

September 2022, #100 Are We There Yet?

Are we there yet?

After all these years, I find I have much room to grow. The need to be aware of my thoughts and actions, reminding myself to be patient and keep the awareness that what I am searching for is there waiting. PB reminds us that we all must do our part in awakening:

"The transformation of the whole inner being may happen slowly and imperceptibly or through a series of experiences brought on by crises. With it comes the purification of character, the maturation of intelligence, and the self-discipline of the ego.

-- Notebooks Category 2: Overview of Practices Involved > Chapter 1: Ant's Long Path > # 26

It is helpful to know that we do take part in our own development:

"Character can be changed. Those who habitually contemplate such exalted themes find in time that their whole outlook is altered and expanded, as if by magic. The new outlook will gradually strongly establish itself within them. Says the Christian Bible: "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he," which may be matched with what was written in Sanskrit long before this was uttered: "As is one's thought, so one becomes; this is the eternal secret."--Maitri Upanishad.

-- Notebooks Category 6: Emotions and Ethics > Chapter 1: Uplift Character > # 48

We already know that there are struggles and setbacks on the path, but with those struggles we are also becoming aware that we are gaining understanding and sharing in the peace of the Overself:

"It is true that thought precedes action, that actions express thoughts, and that to rule mind is to rule the entire life. But it is also true that our battles with ourselves proceed by progressive stages, that we exert will more easily than we change feeling. Therefore, the discipline of inward thinking should follow after--and not before--it.

"To counsel one to take care of the inner life and that then the outer life will take care of itself, as so many mystics do, is to be plausible but also to show a lack of practicality. Our heart will feel no peace as our mind will know no poise until we abandon the lower instincts and give ourselves up to this unearthly call. First, we must abandon them outwardly in deeds; later we must do it inwardly even in thoughts. This will inevitably bring us into inner struggle, into oscillation between victories and defeats, elations and despairs.

"The way up is long, hard, rugged, and slow to tread. It is always a stage for complaints and outcries, battles and falls. Only time--the master power--can bring us to its lofty end. Only when the lessons of birth after birth etch themselves deeply and unmistakably into our conscious mind through dreadful repetition can we accept them co-operatively, resignedly, and thus put a stop to the needless sufferings of desire, passion, and attachment."

-- Notebooks Category 6: Emotions and Ethics > Chapter 4: Purify Passions > # 30

-- Perspectives > Chapter 6: Emotions and Ethics > # 25

  • Prepared by Mary F., PBPF Board Member

August 2022, #99 Tolerance


Is it possible to live at this time and not see the "confusion and anxiety, of strife and trouble," as PB expresses in his "Prayer for the World"?*

*Prayer for the World - excerpt -Category 13, chapter 4, para 306  (13.4.306)

The awareness of the discord among us, as countries and neighbors, is so obvious, but a solution seems so far away. In the volume Emotion and Ethics, PB speaks of the need for spiritual refinement:

"As students of philosophy we must free ourselves from all narrow racialist views, national prejudices, class feelings, and personal selfishness. Philosophy in practice demands no less than this, because it brings the realization that in actual fact all are inseparably linked with each other." (6.5.50)

"Those who regard impartially friends and foes, foreigners and relatives, the righteous and unrighteous, they excelleth."--Bhagavad Gita

"Racial animosity is really a pathological state which clouds vision and falsifies judgement. It raises prejudice to the dignity of a principle. Hate is a mental poison. It is the worst possible sin of our thought life. It damages those we hate, infects our own environment, and in the end, it severely damages ourselves. The ability to treat all kinds and classes of people equally, and with universal goodwill, does not imply the inability to observe the comparative differences and even defects among them." (6.5.50)

There is a song by Vince Gill -"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." If that thought could permeate our thoughts, could that spread a more peaceful atmosphere? After all, our most strongly held thoughts tend to manifest in our life.

"Tolerance and mutual accommodation are the way of true spirituality. There is room in life for the other person's opinion also. Let them keep it if they wish, so long as they refrain from forcing it upon us and so long as they themselves do not preach or practice intolerance. Their own experience of the ups and downs of life have combined to bring them to that belief; why should they not have it then? We may dislike it intensely, but we must admit that from their standpoint they are right enough. When their experience broadens out and they see life in larger perspective, be sure that they will change their opinion, too. When their circumstances alter or their environment changes, they may learn how limited was their former view. When the long-drawn lesson of suffering or a thought-provoking book or powerful personality swings the balance of their mind in a new direction, they will desert their opinion or modify it. Meanwhile, let us set the world an example--and be tolerant." (6.5.5)

July 2022, #98 The Sages of India


In 1935 Paul Brunton published A Search in Secret India. In this wonderful account of his travels in that exotic and mysterious land, he describes the two sages who most impressed him: Shankaracharya and Ramana Maharshi. Here are some of PB's impressions.

The Shankaracharya of Kamakoti Peetam:

Some of His Holiness' teachings and sermons have been translated into English. His explanations throw fresh light on several details of Hinduism. He patiently goes through point after point to reveal the rational side to modern minds.
But all these are secondary compared with His Holiness's own person. He exhibits in himself the qualities of a knower of Brahman, the attributes of a holy Rishee. Those who come into his presence, suitably prepared by previous aspiration or faith, may feel his power, even see his light and experience his grace… (15.2.412)

Ramana Maharshi:

Whatever status is assigned to him by his followers, or whatever indifference is shown to him by others, my own position is independent and unbiased. It is based upon our private talks in those early days when such things were still possible, before fame brought crowds; upon observations of, and conversations with, those who were around him; upon his historical record; and finally, upon my own personal experiences, whatever they are worth.

Upon all this evidence one fact is incontrovertibly clear--that he was a pure channel for a Higher Power…Again and again he gave us this teaching, that the real Maharshi was not the body which people saw; it was the inner being. Those who never made the journey to India during his lifetime may take comfort in this thought: that it is possible to invoke his presence wherever they are, and to feel its reality in the heart. (15.2.413)

Ramana Maharshi was one of those few men who make their appearance on this earth from time to time and who are unique, themselves alone--not copies of anyone else--and who contribute something to the world's spiritual welfare that no one else has contributed in quite the same way. (15.2.414)

Sri Ramana Maharshi is certainly more than a mystic and well worthy of being honored as a sage. He knows the Real. (15.2.416)

There are few men of whom one may write with assured conviction that their integrity was unchallengeable and their truthfulness absolute, but Ramana Maharshi was unquestionably one of them. (15.2.417)

One night in the spring of 1950, at the very moment that a flaring starry body flashed across the sky and hovered over the Hill of the Holy Beacon, there passed out of his aged body the spirit of the dying Maharshi. He was the one Indian mystic who inspired me most, the one Indian sage whom I revered most, and his power was such that both Governor-General and ragged coolie sat together at his feet with the feeling that they were in a divine presence. Certain factors combined to keep us apart during the last ten years of his life, but the inner telepathic contact and close spiritual affinity between us remained--and remains--vivid and unbroken. Last year he sent me this final message through a visiting friend: "When heart speaks to heart, what is there to say?" (15.2.453)

Let there be no misunderstanding about my connection with Ramana Maharshi. My appreciation and reverence for him remain as great as ever. I still consider him one of the few enlightened seers of modern centuries. I did during his lifetime adopt the outward attitude of an independent student. However, my inner connection with the living mind which manifested as Ramana Maharshi remains unbroken. (15.2.454)

I need not have taken his sentences down on paper, for I wrote them on my mind. (15.2.457)

The Maharshi's body lies buried in an Indian grave, but his teaching lives inside the minds of all who can perceive its truth. (15.2.471)

Three new videos, created by Louis Damiani, document PB's travels in India. They may be viewed at


Prepared by Janet S., PBPF Board Member

June 2022, #97 Living a Philosophic Life

by Barbara Plaisted

A philosophic life is a rare thing; richness attained after years - more likely lifetimes - of work. On the one hand we have to integrate the functions of thinking, willing, and feeling into a balanced psyche and on the other, we need to engage in the practice of resting in the Presence of Higher Being . The first brings competent management of practical living; the second, increased wisdom and peace. Developing and uniting these opposite qualities yields a new being, one who is stronger and fitter for the task of living. We may veer from side to side at times but we find guidance as intuition sharpens. As we hear the call of Truth , we get hungry for more understanding and more light. When a "glimpse" brings an experience whose other-worldliness, beauty and loveliness leaves us with an overwhelming sense of humility, we know the struggle is worth it. Not to say that confusion isn't rampant at times but we do get help; we learn it takes work to polish a diamond.

So living a philosophic life is a life of balance, holding everyday matters within the broader container, the Overself. As increasing facets of light shine into us we pray for insight so we might see the nobility in making better choices for the benefit of all.

PB writes:

"As one who has travelled around the world and as one who endeavored to apply the philosophical attitude towards life, he tries to keep his thinking about political international questions not narrow and partisan but global and impartial."


April 2022, #96 The Sage

from The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Vol. 16, Part 1

It is beneficial to reflect on the Sage. Let us pray for a more accurate understanding of this mysterious state with some study of what has been written, a state not ordinarily recognized in human experience. PB writes: "Such men and women are indeed the spiritual vanguard of the human race." (25.3.30 = Category 25, Chapter 3, Para 30)

PB gives us a rare opportunity to learn more in Chapters 3,4, and 5 of the Notebooks as well as in other references throughout the volumes. The spirit in these writings is revealed wisdom gained from observation, personal experience, and deep contemplation.

Examples of the depth and breadth of PB's research in Chapter 3 include subtopics such as "The race of sages," "Remarks about specific illuminates," "Differences in attainment [and] expression;" "Wisdom beyond bliss," "Qualities [and] characteristics of the sage," "God alone is perfect," "Sage not easily recognized," "Isolation, privacy, reticence," "Sage is usually misunderstood," "Sages merit veneration." These make fascinating reading for those of us whose interests lie along these mysterious pathways.

"Without direct experience of the inner nature of things, without personal revelation from the Overself, the only kind of knowledge humankind can possess is obtained by the use of logical thinking aided by memory. The cosmogony of a sage is truly scientific, for it is exactly descriptive of what really exists, whereas the other kind of knowledge is merely argumentative." (25.3.5)

Reflection on this topic is valuable: "There is a wide confusion in religio-mystical circles, both of the Orient and of the Occident, as to what a sage is really like, what a spiritually enlightened master really experiences, what both say and do when living in the world of ordinary people, how they behave and appear. On these points truth is inextricably bound up with superstition, fact with exaggeration, and wisdom with sentimentality. There is also a wide confusion of the Real with its attributes and aspects, that is to say, with human reactions, interpretations, and experiences of IT." (25.3.1)

"People think a sage exercises infinite tolerance and patience. This is because they have no standard by which to measure the qualities of his rhythm of consciousness. Tolerance and patience imply the opposites. The sage's reactions conform to neither. The sage literally lives where they do not apply. The set of conditions which for the ordinary person gives rise to the possibility of tolerance and patience or their opposites is for the sage an opportunity for reflection. (25.3.158.)

"It is such a one who most serves others, yet who least receives the recognition of that service. This is because humanity fails to understand where its true interests lie and what its true goal is, and why it is here at all." (25.3.493)

"Light the lamp and it will spread out its rays by itself. We are indeed blessed by the presence of these great souls and doubly so if we meet in person. They deserve not merely our respect but our veneration. But even if we are never fortunate enough to meet one of these masters, the mere knowledge that such persons do exist and live demonstrates the possibility of spiritual achievement and proves that the quest is no chimera. It should comfort and encourage us to know this. Therefore, we should regard such a one as one of humanity's treasures. We should cherish their name as a personal inspiration. We should venerate their sayings or writings as whispers out of the eternal silence." (25.3.524

"Such rare peace stands out in poignant contrast against the burdens and fretfulness of our ordinary lives. Such rare goodness is needed by a generation accustomed to violence, atrocity, bestiality, and horror, lunacy, and hatred." (25 3.525) "The knowledge of someone far better than oneself shows human possibilities. The longing to become like that person provides one with an ideal for living." (25.3.528)

March 2022, #95 The Quest

From Category 1 - The Notebooks of Paul Brunton

What is the Quest? "Man Know Thyself!" There is a whole philosophy distilled into this single and simple statement." Category 1 of the series offers many thoughts on finding one's true center. "The inner meaning of life does not readily reveal itself; it must be searched for. Such a search is the Quest." (1.1.10) In Chapter 1, PB calls the Quest a journey, spiritual mountaineering, a work to be done, a study to be made, a coming to human maturity.  This search is for the person who is willing to heed his intuitive feeling or who is willing to use his independent thinking power. "It is a blessing which gives hope and a burden of discipline which cannot be shirked…Its ideals offer an invitation to nobility and refinement. 'Become better than you are!' is its preachment. 'Live more beautifully than you do!' is its commandment." (1.1.54)

There is a mystery about the Quest and its ties to Mysticism. " Mysticism is an a-rational type of experience. It is an intuitive, self-evident, self-recognized knowledge which comes fitfully to mankind. The average person seldom pays enough attention to his slight mystical experiences to profit or learn from them. Yet his need for them is evidenced by the incessant seeking for the thrills, sensations, uplifts, and so on, which he organizes for himself in so many ways-the religious way being only one of them. In fact the failure of religion-in the West, at any rate-to teach true mysticism, and its overlaying of the deeply mystic nature of its teachings with a pseudo-rationalism and an unsound historicity, may be the root cause for driving people to seek for things greater than they feel their individual selves to be in the many sensation-giving activities in the world today.

"Mysticism is not a by-product of imagination or uncontrolled emotion; it is a range of knowledge and experience natural to man and women but not yet encompassed by the rational mind. The function of philosophy is to bring these experiences under control and to offer ways of arriving at interpretations and explanations.

"Mysticism not controlled is full of pitfalls, one of which is the acceptance of confusion, sentimentality, cloudiness, illusion, and aimlessness as integral to the qualities of mystical life-states of mind which go so far to justify opponents of mysticism in their estimate of it as foolish and superstitious.

"The mystic should recognize his own limitations and should not refuse the proffered hand of philosophy which will help his understanding and train his intuition, recognizing that it is essential to know how to interpret the material which reaches him from his higher self, and how to receive it in all its purity…

"The language of mysticism is the language of the arts, which if approached only by intellectual ways yields only half its content. Whoever comes eventually to mystical experience of the reality of his own Higher Self will recognize the infinite number of ways in which nature throughout life is beckoning. (1.1.62)


February 2022, #94 Be Calm

    In an essay called "Ethical Qualifications of the Seeker," from the book Instructions For Spiritual Living, PB offers the following helpful counsel:

"The exercise of calmness under all circumstances is a definite aid to the student's progress on the path. Out of this unruffled calmness there will come naturally an accurate discernment of values and a balanced judgment…One of the targets of the philosophic aspirant in the endeavors for self-improvement is liberation from all emotional prejudices of a personal and communal nature that divide, antagonize, and retard progress…It is not that we should reject emotion from our attitudes (as if we could), but that we should not form the attitudes solely in terms of emotion. The emotional appeal is not absent from philosophy, but it is an appeal to our higher and not to our baser emotions. Philosophy does not sterilize emotion but spiritualizes it. .…It is not that we are to eliminate feeling from our life, but that we should control and discipline it, to keep it in its proper place." (Instructions for Spiritual Living, chap. 5, p. 90)

He further encourages us to face situations calmly and steadily.

    PB has much to say about calmness and detachment throughout his works.  In PB's Notebooks, Volume 15, Category 24, The Peace Within You, we find an entire chapter entitled, "Be Calm." A chapter titled "Practice Detachment" follows where several ancient teachings honor the importance of calmness and detachment. The Psalmist's advice, "Be still and know that I am God," is one example of the continuous state achieved by emptying the mind for all time of agitation and illusion.  PB writes in these chapters: "Towards this end the cultivation of calmness amid all circumstances makes a weighty contribution." (Category 24. Chapter 2. Para 27 = 24.2.27)

"…The Gita enjoins unconcern about the results of activity not only because this leads to calm detached feelings as the large general result, but also because it leads to better ability to keep meditation continuously going on in the background of attention as the special result." (24.3.90) "Chinese wisdom verified Indian experience. 'Perfect calm with gentleness makes Tao prosper,' wrote Tze Ya Tze." (24.2.29)

"Those who try to grasp Tao, lose it," declared Lao Tzu. "Half of India holds this faith, burns its sweet-scented incense before the firm conviction that the search for inner calm and emotional freedom is the highest duty of man." (24.2.28) "The Persian Sufi Attar's advice to the quester to 'go thy way in tranquility' amid all his fortunes and frustrations on this venture is very practical, and not only very sensible." (24.2.35)

    "If you try to hold to the thought that all this turmoil is after all an idea and to be valued accordingly, it will be easier to find your inner calm. If you can look on upon the present era with the detachment with which you look upon the Napoleonic era, the trick will be done; but of course, humanly speaking, it is impossible to do this except by minute-to-minute effort and day-to-day practice carried out over a period of years to discriminate what is real and what is merely an idea. It is this long-continued striving which really constitutes gnana yoga, and it eventually brings success in the form of a settled and unshakeable understanding of the truth behind life." (24.3.188)

"He must learn to keep the equable detachment of his mind undisturbed and the clear sight of his intuition unclouded." (24.3.180)

    There are so many inspiring thoughts in these writings. Some which have been particularly meaningful to me are, "Here, within this delicious calm, he will find the inspirational source of such diverse qualities as courage and benevolence, poise and honesty." (24.2.112)

Another is, "When one knows that the Real always is and that all disappear back into it because there is nowhere else to go, then one ceases his or her terrific hurry to get somewhere and takes events more calmly. Patience comes with the fragrance of the eternal. One works at self-improvement all the same, but there need not be any desperate bother about the task. There is plenty of time. One can always do tomorrow what one needs to do today." (24.2.188)


January 2022, #93 The Divine Order of the Universe and The Idea of Man

January 2022, #93 The Divine Order of the Universe and The Idea of Man

from the Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Volume 16, Part 2

Whatever we call it, most people feel—whether vaguely or strongly—that there must be a God, and that there must be something which God has in view in letting the universe come into existence. This purpose I call the World-Idea, because to me God is the World’s Mind. This is a thrilling conception. It was an ancient revelation which came to the first cultures, the first civilizations, of any importance, as it has come to all others which have appeared, and it is still coming today to our own. With this knowledge, deeply absorbed and properly applied, man comes into harmonious alignment with his Source. (Volume 16, 26:1,64)

These studies point out that the idea of man exists in and is eternally known by the World-Mind, as a master-idea. In Chapter 4 we read: “What is man? This is the most important question which has ever been put before the mind.” When we can learn what the true worth of man is and wherein lies real salvation, we shall learn the most practical of all things. For this, more than anything else, will show us how to live on earth peacefully, prosperously, healthily, and usefully. (Ibid: 26: 4.3)

If there were no World-Idea there would be no world as we know it, for its elements would have interacted and associated quite irresponsibly by mere accident and chance. In the result the sun might or might not have appeared today, the seasonal changes would have no orderly arrangement nor food crops any predictable or measurable probability; instead of man there might have evolved a frightful monstrosity, half-animal and half-demon, utterly devoid of any aspiration, any conscience, any pity at all. (26:1.10)

The forces which move mankind and bring about events are not always to be found by rational analysis. There is another factor present which eludes such analysis. It may be called the evolutionary intent of the World-Mind. Within the Overself, the infinite absolute principle of mind, there arises the idea of the cosmos, and from this original idea proceed all other mental constructions that constitute a universe. “The pattern of the whole universe is repeated in the pattern of the solar system, and that again in the atom’s structure. There is no place and no being where the World-Idea does not reincarnate itself.” (ibid.,72). Because the Overself is formless and unindividuated, we have to picture it under the glyph of darkness. The cosmic idea will then appear as a primordial germ of light, called by the Hindus Hiranyagarbha (the golden embryo). (26:4.178)

In Volume 16, Category 26, Part 2, in The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, there is an interesting discussion about the ‘True Idea of Man.’ When we identify man by gender, we miss the real self. When PB speaks of man in his writings he often refers to this ‘True Idea’ as the Overself. “If we do not know the ‘why’ of universal existence, we do know the ‘why’ of human existence. It provides the field of experience for discovering the divine soul. The integral quest which ends in this discovery is, consequently, the greatest and most important of human undertakings.” (26:4.82)

We can learn the laws and the processes which the World Mind has imprinted on the cosmos. Their violation through ignorance leads to suffering and unhappiness. Philosophy offers as a first truth the affirmation that we live in an orderly universe, not an accidental one, one where the movements are measured, events are plotted, and its creatures develop towards a well-defined objective. The principle of order exists in the spinning of earth on its axis and the balancing of planets around the sun. The same is true of the relation and balancing of human beings to the World-Mind and among themselves, here known as karma. (26: 1.2-6)

Events may seem to happen at random, but this is not really so. They are connected with our own thinking and doing, with the pattern of the World-Idea and with the activity of the World-Mind. (26:1.29)

If the Mind behind this universe is perfect, then the pattern of the universe itself must be perfect too. And so it will show itself to be, if we muster up the heroism needed to cast out our feeble, sentimental, and emotional way of looking at things, if we put aside for a few minutes our personal and human demands that the universe shall conform to our wishes. (26:1.38)

You are part of the World-Mind’s World-Idea. Therefore, you are a part of its purpose, too. Seek to be shown what that is and how you may realize it, rather than mope in misery, frustration, or fear. Look upon your situation—personal, domestic, career, mental emotional, spiritual, --as having significance within that purpose, as teaching you some specific lesson or telling you what to do or not to do. (26:4.101)

November 2021, #92 Volume 8, Reflections on My Life and Writings

November 2021, #92 Volume 8, Reflections on My Life and Writings

  Volume 8 of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton is as close a record we have of an autobiography of this seeker after Truth. He writes about the conclusions he reached after a lifetime of spiritual questing which took him to India and other parts of Asia such as Tibet, China, Cambodia, and Mongolia, and the reflections he brought to the West about his experiences and the understandings he reached. Chapters 3, 4, and 5, “Encounter with Destiny,” “Reflections on Truth” and “The Literary Work” make fascinating reading which enable us, the readers, to share thoughts about explorations, visitations and insights about these experiences. He writes “There are few biographies of men and women whose achievements are outside the world, and inside themselves, particularly inside their consciousness. Very few have become aware of Awareness itself, which is the highest achievement possible to any human being. These memorials of those who got outside the herd of ignorant mankind give their advice and suggestions to the few who seek to know themselves.” (p.91)

     PB writes that literature has a high mission to perform. “It can bless us with mental peace amid the outward turmoil of alarms and chaotic situations. It can console us with philosophic reflections about the fundamental objectives of life amid the agonies of personal loss and illness, and it can keep alive the lofty ideals of goodwill and tolerance in an era when hatred and violence have bulked so largely before our eyes. It is through great writings that so many mystics and thinkers of bygone centuries have legated a golden record of their aspirations, a sublime catalogue of their dreams, a motley manifestation of their spiritual impulses, and a factual document of their celestial traffics. These bygone men and women passed the torch of knowledge and inspiration from one generation to another until we find it ready for our own hands today. It is our privilege and duty not only to look for the flaming torch but to bear it, and not only to bear it but so to cherish it, that it shall burn ever more brightly still, when, in the days to come, a new generation will succeed to its possession.” (Para 105, p. 106)

     He points out in Para 104 that Western man’s quest is important, and he shows us that his own personal search reflects a portion of his generation’s search. “It is representative of the development of the tremendous and momentous conflict between distinct ideologies which is now going on in the world of thought.” Although he was referring to the events of the 20th century, the conflict is still going on today in the 21st century.

October 2021, #91 A Meditation on the Timeless Self

October 2021, #91 A Meditation on the Timeless Self

The Wisdom of the Overself, pp. 351-353

This meditation is different from other Yoga exercises involving mystical understanding of Who and What we are. It does not require a lot of time – three or four minutes will suffice. It may be done almost anywhere, and is meant to be inserted into external life at odd moments, thereby breaking a routine environment. The solitude created must be an interior one. The intensity where the aspirant abruptly slips out of the world of time is important. The ultimate aim is one of tranquility and forgetfulness.

Copernicus changed the scientific outlook of his era when he reversed the process of believing that the earth was fixed in space while the sun and other stars wheeled around it when he imagined the earth wheeling around instead. This meditation requires the student bring about a similar reversal of outlook in life and assume that space and time are travelling in him or in her, in the higher individuality.

The practice is quite simple. The important point is to train oneself to start suddenly and let the thoughts of everything else go. PB warns that this is a knack which comes with experience. Rejecting thoughts or desires and suppressing all personal reference, is much like a dreamer awakening from a dream and witnessing the dream-figure. It is important to remember that “the metaphysical tenet that behind all those thoughts which were changing continuously, the consciousness which observed them remained static throughout, unmoved and unaltered, that through the flow of experienced events and things there was a steady element of awareness. Students should try to identify themselves with this consciousness and to disidentify from the accustomed one.” (p. 351)

PB points out that “the ultimate aim of letting the timeless existence replace the timed-existence is a delightful one…. Learning to live in the everlasting Now is not beyond human experience…. The passive submission to time keeps us enchained. The willed meditation on the infinite observer which is ever with and within us is a revolt which weakens every link of our chains…gradually a realization will come to the student that he or she is no longer imprisoned by the body, that an inexpressible spaciousness of being is now theirs…and will find the wonderful confirmation of that which reason merely affirms and religion only hints at—the glorious fact of the timeless soul.” (pp. 352-353.)

September 2021, #90 Reflections on My Life and Writings

September 2021, #90 Reflections on My Life and Writings

Volume 8 of the Notebooks of Paul Brunton
(Also in Perspectives)

They alone will comprehend the purport of this volume who can comprehend that it does not only seek to present the pabulum of an ancient system for modern consumption but it has integrated its material with the wider knowledge that has come to mankind during the thousands of years which have passed since that system first appeared. Consequently, we offer here not only a re-statement but also an entirely new and radically fresh world-view which could not have been reached historically earlier.

If we study the history of human culture, we shall begin to discern signs of an orderly growth, a logical development of its body. Truth has had different meanings at different periods. This was inevitable because the human mind has been moving nearer and nearer to it, nearer and nearer to the grand ultimate goal. And when we watch the way knowledge has mounted up during the last three centuries, we ought not to be surprised at the statement that the culmination of all this long historical process, the end of thousands of years of human search, is going to crystallize in the new East-West philosophy which it is the privilege of this century to formulate.

Here alone can the relative interpretations of truth which have been discovered by former men rise to the absolute, wherein they merge and vanish. This means that although truth has always existed, its knowledge has only existed at different stages of development, that we are the fortunate inheritors of the results gathered by past thinkers, and still more that we are now called to complete the circle and formulate a finished system of philosophy which shall stand good for all time.

All the conflicting doctrines which have appeared in the past were not meaningless and not useless; they have played their part most usefully even where they seemed most contradictory. They were really in collaboration, not in opposition. We need not disdain to illustrate the highest abstract principles by the homeliest concrete anecdotes, and we may describe them as pieces of a jig-saw puzzle which can now be fitted together, for now we have the master pattern which is the secret of the whole. Hence all that is vital and valuable in the early knowledge is contained in the East-West philosophy; only their fallacies have been shed. A full view of the universe now replaces all the partial views which were alone available before and which embodied merely single phases of the discovery of Truth.

Thus, the analytic movement which uncovered the various pieces of this world puzzle must now yield to a synthetic process of putting them together in a final united pattern. Culture, on this view, is the timeless truth appearing in the world of time and therefore in successive but progressive periods. Only now does philosophy attain its maturest completion. Only now are we able to reap the fruit of seven thousand years of historical philosophy. Only now have we achieved a world system, a universal doctrine which belongs to no particular place but to the planet. Knowledge has grown by analysis but shall finish by synthesis. (12.2.186)

August 2021, #89 A Meditation on the Past

August 2021, #89 A Meditation on the Past

In the Appendix to The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga [2015 edition], PB introduces the student to the ultramystic or philosophic exercises. He emphasizes that the preparatory level, ordinary mysticism, must be passed through to prepare the student for the higher level. “The possible extravagancies of exaltation or message, vision or voice can happen when the student does not adequately understand what happens to him during his mystic reverie, yogic trance, clairvoyant vision, or ecstatic absorption. These are real dangers which surround the yogi, the occultist, and the mystic which claim their victims throughout the world.… Only when his experiences are able to fall with complete comprehension into their proper place, can he hope to escape the aforementioned dangers.” (The Hidden Teaching, Appendix, p. 341.) “He must have the patience to study the true metaphysical meaning of the universe, as of the Overself, to explore the mystery of time, space, matter and mind, to probe into the constitution of the human ego and to lay bare the most secret workings of his thoughts, words and acts. With the knowledge thus gained, he can proceed to test the truth, gauge the value, and regulate the course of his inner development. As the latter passes through this purifying crucible of rational metaphysical examination, he will discover how easy it is to set up mere fictions in the firm belief that they are solid facts, and how hard to keep to the straight and narrow path which leads to the sublime Overself.” (ibid. p. 343.)

Having digested this one may go on to read about the metaphysical exercises and attempt to practice them. PB warns that the aspirant may not be able to concentrate sufficiently to succeed but may try because of the possibility of grace and because it may have been practiced in another life.

From Chap. 14, The Yoga of the Discerning Mind in The Wisdom of the Overself:

This meditation [on the past] is to be practiced preferably at night just before sleep but may be practiced in the morning immediately after waking up, but effects will be lessened. Laying on the back in bed with legs outstretched one embarks on visiting the previous 24 hours, reviewing the events of the past day starting from the moment of waking, and slowly work backward through the day’s experiences and finally, try to recall dreams from the previous night. If starting in the morning one will start with dreams from the previous night and end with the previous morning’s awakening. Meditating on intensely vivid images helps to black out other images which intrude themselves and helps to strengthen the mind’s picture making power. It will suffice to pick out a few major occurrences and reflections which are important from a personal and from a philosophic point of view. It is essential for one to see the body with its actions as belonging to someone else, beholding it as moving, talking, enjoying, and suffering with a sense of being separate from it as when watching someone else. If he or she can bring their own deeds and thoughts before the impartial tribunal of the better self while adopting a detached attitude one may expose unconscious complexes and hidden motives without favoritism. This exercise develops the creative imagination and serves to impart philosophic lessons creating an effective means of self-betterment. These instructions from PB are carefully detailed and point out benefits which are long lasting. Some of the benefits are purifying motivation, educating emotions, strengthening will power and improving mental capacity. Repeated and faithful pursuit of this habit will upon its own constructions will eventually improve powers of remembrance. The philosophical purpose is realized when the student begins to understand that the past day is but a memory, a series of thought forms, not only in meditation but in actual life.

During these interludes the outside world will assume a new and amazing relation. The winding streets or lonely jungle which stretch all around will be felt as though they were like spider webs directly spun out of the inmost point of his own being. The solid walls of a house will no longer be entirely separate from him, the very ground on which he stands will no longer be merely alien substance and the living person who stands at his side is no longer a wholly separate creature. The frontiers between self and not-self which makes man a natural materialist somehow fade and fall away. Not that the particular objective forms of being vanish; they do not, but their being itself becomes strangely intimate with his own at this mysterious central point within himself. He becomes luminously aware that the mind bestows reality upon its own constructions by bestowing concentrated attention upon them, and that they are projected by the mind outward from within itself, as indeed is the whole world ( from The Wisdom of the Overself, Chapter 14).

July 2021, #88 Sunset Contemplation

July 2021, #88 Sunset Contemplation

The following quotes are from The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Volume 3, part 2, Relax and Retreat, Chap. 7 - Sunset Contemplation, para 18.

TO BE USED AS A VARIATION ON THE MEDITATION ON THE RISING OR SETTING SUN (GIVEN IN THE WISDOM OF THE OVERSELFFirst stage: He should fix his gaze upon the rising sun or coloured sky. All other thoughts should be put away at first and his whole attention concentrated upon the physical phenomenon which he is witnessing.

The rays of light must enter his body through his eyes. In this way alone do they attain their utmost efficacy for the purpose of this exercise. Second stage: The student tries to partake of the profound inner pause wherein the entire solar system is briefly plunged, to experience within himself what is actually occuring within the greater existence of which he is a part . . . to tranquillize all his thoughts so that personal matters are wholly absent.

The Sun behind the sun, the mystical Light of the World-Mind, illumes man's mental world and at the same time penetrates it through and through, provided he is present and passive in consciousness to receive its power. Third stage: This stage moves with the outspreading or waning light until he embraces the whole planet along with it. For this purpose he has to:

1. picture a great globe growing larger and larger within himself as a formless consciousness mentally dissociated from the physical body, until it assumes GIGANTIC SIZE;

2. make the conception as alive as possible by permeating it with faith and conviction, holding the sense of countless creatures existing everywhere;

3. reverse the process, until it finally encloses his own body alone (globe gets smaller and smaller);

4. exercise the belief that he is mind not matter;

5. strengthen the perception of the true relationship between himself and cosmic life, his physical and vital oneness with the universe . . . and try to realize that his own existence is inter-connected by a beginningless and endless web with all the other existences around him.

6. There must be deep devotion and heartfelt feeling in his thoughts. Goal: He reaches the goal of this stage when the physical scene vanishes, when he is no longer conscious of it, when attention is turned inward wholly on the beautiful mood or spirit thus invoked, when all form is absent and he feels in complete rapport with the universal being, so complete that he knows he is an integral part of it.

When he feels something of this relationship as a loving response, then he should cease trying to absorb support from the All--whose soul is the World-Mind--and begin to pass it out compassionately and share its grace unselfishly with others.

June 2021, #87 Sunset Meditation

June 2021, #87 Sunset Meditation

The following quotes are from The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Volume 3, part 2, Relax and Retreat, Chap. 7 - Sunset Contemplation.


A beautiful, colourful, and paintable waning of the sun is an offer of grace to the human beings who take the trouble to pause and notice their parent--Nature.


The sun is God's face in the physical world.


The uncertain light of sundown, the objects indistinctly seen, helps a little this passing into a half-mystic state; but the primal actuator is his willingness to relax from activities, to let his thought drift back to his aspiration, and wait in patience.


This visual adventure with sunset ends in a mystical one.


Witness a glorious dawn or a golden sunset and let the feeling of admiration grow into adoration.


There is a mysterious pause of nature at sunset, sundawn, and at solstices. The most important is winter-solstice, everywhere celebrated in the ancient world; it is Christmas for us. So the ego-thought should pause and recollect. Just as the visible sun is essential to human bodily life and existence, so the invisible sun of consciousness is essential to its mental, emotional, and spiritual life. It is our Overself and God: give it homage.


During that pause in Nature which is so noticeable in very quiet country places, away from the towns, and during the fall of the sun in the evening, we may hear the last sounds and calls of animals and birds from a far longer distance than at other times or in other places.


We are part of the life of the cosmos. As such, it is possible for us to commune with it inwardly or to be penetrated by it outwardly. In connection with the Sun Worship exercise, it might be mentioned that since both points of the day are equally sacred--that is, the rising and the setting sun hours--the benefit is not only spiritual, but could also be physical. A visitor once told me that having faithfully practised for 365 days the exercise given in this reference in The Wisdom of the Overself, deafness suddenly disappeared. And lately I was told of a Japanese writer who, after a long illness with lung consumption, went on the morning of the Winter Solstice to worship the rising sun. He felt a great fervour. He experienced some kind of illumination, and the same day recovered good health. This happened about a hundred years ago.

TO BE USED AS A VARIATION ON THE MEDITATION ON THE RISING OR SETTING SUN (GIVEN IN THE WISDOM OF THE OVERSELF) First stage: He should fix his gaze upon the rising sun or coloured sky. All other thoughts should be put away at first and his whole attention concentrated upon the physical phenomenon which he is witnessing.

The rays of light must enter his body through his eyes. In this way alone do they attain their utmost efficacy for the purpose of this exercise. Second stage: The student tries to partake of the profound inner pause wherein the entire solar system is briefly plunged, to experience within himself what is actually occurring within the greater existence of which he is a part . . . to tranquillize all his thoughts so that personal matters are wholly absent.

The Sun behind the sun, the mystical Light of the World-Mind illumes man's mental world and at the same time penetrates it through and through, provided he is present and passive in consciousness to receive its power. Third stage: This stage moves with the outspreading or waning light until he embraces the whole planet along with it. For this purpose he has to:

1. picture a great globe growing larger and larger within himself as a formless consciousness mentally dissociated from the physical body, until it assumes GIGANTIC SIZE;

2. make the conception as alive as possible by permeating it with faith and conviction, holding the sense of countless creatures existing everywhere;

3. reverse the process, until it finally encloses his own body alone (globe gets smaller and smaller);

4. exercise the belief that he is mind not matter;

5. strengthen the perception of the true relationship between himself and cosmic life, his physical and vital oneness with the universe . . . and try to realize that his own existence is inter-connected by a beginningless and endless web with all the other existences around him.

6. There must be deep devotion and heartfelt feeling in his thoughts. Goal: He reaches the goal of this stage when the physical scene vanishes, when he is no longer conscious of it, when attention is turned inward wholly on the beautiful mood or spirit thus invoked, when all form is absent and he feels in complete rapport with the universal being, so complete that he knows he is an integral part of it.

When he feels something of this relationship as a loving response, then he should cease trying to absorb support from the All--whose soul is the World-Mind--and begin to pass it out compassionately and share its grace unselfishly with others.

He sees them in his imagination suffused with its warm light and sublime peace.

First, he directs his effort with his love towards those who are near or dear to him and to any special individuals whom he would like to help in this way.

Then, he directs his effort with his love towards mankind in the mass--whom he must regard as unconsciously forming one great family.

Third, he directs it towards individuals who are hostile to him, who hate, injure, or criticize him. He must consider them as his teachers, for it is their business to pick out and make him aware of his faults. He need not send his love, but he must send them his pity. Close exercise with: Short, silent, personal prayer to the Overself.



Chapter FOURTEEN – The Wisdom of the Overself

PB, as he often referred to the person who was known as Paul Brunton, wrote about the Overself. It is named or inferred in nearly all his writings and is

This chapter presents the student with instructions for 7 mental exercises that demand the intelligence be brought into play – a demand which is not made by the ordinary yoga methods. (WOTO, p. 337.) PB writes that these ultramystic exercises “cannot be properly done if mentalism is not correctly understood or fully accepted…” They differ in concept, purpose, spirit, and technique from the practice of meditation; indeed, he calls the practice “philosophic yoga.” The mind will be ”turned into new channels and the practices are the logical outcome of the metaphysical teaching.” Anyone can attempt these practices although “the probable inability to discriminate through metaphysical ignorance between the ultimate reality, Mind itself, and its mere products” will likely be a hindrance. However, the effort need not be a waste of time for the novice because “some are unconsciously advanced enough to start meditating on the ultramystic practices. This is a matter to be determined by experiment. Moreover, in all such operations there is always the possibility that the mysterious x-factor of grace may come into spontaneous play direct from the Overself. Therefore, even those who are still beginners may experiment with these exercises if they wish.” (Ibid. p.338.)

The practices must be done as regularly as possible with “a single sitting of about three-quarters of an hour daily or about one half-hour each morning and evening. Like all yoga practices they must be done as regularly as possible for the rhythm of patient persistent repetition. What must be impressed upon the student is that the beginning of philosophic meditation may come at unexpected moments…” when, engaged in daily business, your active life is occasionally and momentarily interrupted by the still rapt mood of these meditations. If this happens, do not neglect the precious opportunity, but yield at once to the mood. This can best be done by dropping whatever work, business, or pleasure you may be engaged in and turning attention inward to savor the sweet stillness by reflecting intelligently upon it. Three or four minutes will usually suffice… It may start into sudden effortless activity through such obvious things as the hushed quietude of sunset, the colorful sky at dawn, the appealing strains of music, or the profound lines of metaphysical prose. But it may start quite inexplicably (to the surface consciousness) in the midst of mundane work, or in the midst of trivial duties as when lacing a shoe or even when lifting a soup spoon to the mouth! You must not take a narrow pedantic and mechanical view of such meditation. You must not limit it only to set formal exercises practiced at set formal times with the tick-tock regularity of a clock, for you should understand that although you are here dealing with what is most subtle and sensitive and mysterious in your inward existence, it is nevertheless not something which is really remote and apart from outward existence. You are dealing with Mind. (pp. 339-340).

“Everyone experiences Mind at every moment in its fractional and limited form as the flowing series of thoughts. It is always there with you and within you. Only you have to open your eyes to its presence.” (p. 340)

The next e-Teaching will be focused on PB’s writing about the Meditation on the Sun.

- Prepared by Barbara, PBPF Board member
April 2021, #85 Soul

April 2021, #85 Soul

PB, as he often referred to the person who was known as Paul Brunton, wrote about the Overself. It is named or inferred in nearly all his writings and is the word he used for Soul. He devotes a chapter in The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Volume 2, “The Quest,” Chapter 5, to ‘Self-Development.’ He encourages us to change the identification we have of Self from “I am a weak man or woman; I am unlikely to rise any higher than my present level; I live in darkness and move amid opposing environments that overwhelm me.” He encourages us to change the line of thought to “I possess illimitable power within me; I can create a diviner life and truer vision than I now possess.” (p. 166)

“Do this and surrender your body, your heart and mind to the Infinite Power which sustains all. Strive to obey Its inward promptings and then declare your readiness to accept whatsoever lot it assigns you. This is your challenge to the gods and they will surely answer you. Your soul will be slowly or suddenly liberated; your body will be granted a freer pathway through conditions. You may have to be prepared for a few changes before the feet find rest, but always you shall find that the Power in which you have placed an abiding trust does not go into default.” (p.166 – v. 2, Ch. 5, para 1)

“Everyone who does not feel this close intimate fellowship with the Overself is necessarily a pilgrim, most probably an unconscious one, but still in everything and everywhere we are in search of our soul.

The soul is perfectly knowable and experienceable. It is here in our very hearts and minds, and such knowledge once gained, such experience once known, lifts us into a higher estimate of ourselves. We then become not merely thinking animals but glorious beings. Is it not astonishing that humans have ever been attracted and captivated by something which the intellect can hardly conceive nor the imagination picture, something which cannot ever be truly named? Here is something to ponder over: why they should have forfeited all that seems dear, to the point of forfeiting life itself, for something which can never be touched or smelled, seen or heard…

“What is it that has turned their hearts towards religion, mysticism, philosophy since time immemorial? This aspiration towards the diviner life is unconscious testimony to its existence. It is the presence within us of a divine soul which has inspired this turning, the divine life itself in our hearts which has prompted our aspiration. We have no escape from the urge to seek the Sacred, the Profound, the Timeless. The roots of our whole being are in it.” (v.2, ch.2, 1st entry, page 30.)

“When we begin to sense the inner peace and exaltation which is a perfume, as it were, upon the threshold of the Overself, we may understand how real this inner life is and paradoxically how unintelligible, indescribable, and immaterial from the ordinary standpoint. It is something, and yet not something which can be put into shape or form graspable by the five senses. Anyway, it is there, and it is the Immortal Soul.“ (1.5:321)

February 2021, #84 Visualizations; Symbols

February 2021, #84 Visualizations; Symbols

In Volume 4 of the Notebooks, PB states that discursive meditation based on reflective or logical thinking does not suit every student. Meditation practices can include imagination as much as it uses reason. “Visualizations” in Chapter 5 offers ways (practices) that lead the meditator to spiritual intuitions and in turn can lead to philosophic experiences. He writes, “There are two faculties worth developing. They are the faculty of observation and the faculty of imagination or visualization. We look, but see little, for we do not notice much of the detail. We are unable to imagine clearly, sharply, and vividly. We lack the ability to recreate a physical scene purely in the mind.” (4.5.4) But the capacity to do this can develop itself as a result of repeated practice, and by degrees the persistent effort to hold it will be rewarded with the ability to do so continually and clearly.

PB also reminds us that the use of color as seen in nature and the reflection on harmonious light will lead the student by deepening concentration into a mystical state. “One way is to stop whatever exercise we are doing and project the mental image of ourselves doing it successfully.” An unusual exercise in self-perception is given in paragraph 22 of Chapter 5: “…imagine ourselves sitting down to the work of meditation, and going through with it to successful fulfillment of our purpose, all obstacles seen, fought and eventually pushed aside. All this is to be done in our mind, our own person, and its doing becomes the object of concentration. In short, we paint a mental portrait of a meditating person who is ourself.”

The remainder of this section is focused on Symbols. There are historic references as to how symbols were used in antiquity to communicate truths and laws of the universe. Para 51 explains the symbol of the cross. “The Cross symbolizes personally the utter surrender of the ego in desiring and willing impersonality. The vertical line means consciousness transcending the world; the horizontal one means consciousness in the world: the complete figure shows the perfect balance needed for a perfect human being.”

“The Pyramid is a perfect symbol of both spiritual balance and spiritual completeness.” (para 58) “At the apex of a pyramid there is only a single point. At its base there are innumerable points. The tenet of the One appearing as the Many is well symbolized by this ancient figure.” (para 65)

“The higher self should be invoked at the beginning of the deliberate work done on these affirmations and symbols. The latter may then become its channels, if other conditions have been fulfilled.” (para 67) The portrayal of Gautama as a seated, meditating figure symbolizes his basic message. This was really and quite simply, “Be still—empty yourself—let out the thoughts, the desires, and the ego which prevent this inner stillness.” (para 77) “A symbol is a message from his higher self to his personal self. It is intended to give him hope and faith for the future as well as to encourage him to fresh efforts in developing a new life out of the ashes of the old one.” (para 88)

“Disciples should try to feel the master inside themselves, sensing his or her presence and seeing his or her image at various times. For the master is really there, but must be sought for and felt after. This self-identification with the master is one of the best short cuts for those who find it difficult to meditate. Even when working or walking, they should suddenly pull themselves up in thought and imagine the master present in them and working or walking through them. Once such a habit is created and properly established, it will not be long before remarkable results are obtained.” (para 113)

Submitted by Barbara, PBPF Board Member

January 2021, #83 Meditative Thinking

January 2021, #83 Meditative Thinking

Quotations are from Volume 4 of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton.

“All possess the power of reflection but few use it. When this power is turned outwardly, we look upon the physical body, its organs and senses, as our self and so plunge into the bustling activity of this world without hesitation. But if this same power of reflection be turned inwardly, we begin to forget our activities and to lose knowledge of the physical body and its environment. For we become so deeply indrawn into the world of thought that for the time being this inner world becomes for us the real world. Thus we are led gradually by repeating this practice to identify ourselves with the mind alone, to look upon ourselves as thought beings.” (4.4.11)

“In this type of meditation, the intellect must think, first about itself and second about what is beyond itself. This change of thought becomes a stepping stone to a change in consciousness.” (Ibid. 7)

“In this type of meditation, the activity of thinking is not rejected. On the contrary, it is deliberately accepted, for its character undergoes a marked change. At a certain stage, when concentration thoroughly establishes itself, some force that is deeper than the familiar personal self rises up from within itself and imposes a continuous stream of sequential, illumined thoughts upon the consciousness.” (Ibid. 12)

“Deep reflective thinking is present behind deep impersonal thinking.” (Ibid.14)

“In meditation one should follow the path pointed out by his temperament. He should strive to think his own thoughts and not always echo those of others.” (Ibid. 33)

“The Overself takes his thoughts about it, limited and remote though they are, and guides them closer and closer to its own high level. Such illumined thinking is not the same as ordinary thinking. Its qualitative height and mystical depth are immensely superior. But when his thoughts can go no farther, the Overself’s Grace touches and silences them. In that moment he knows.”(Ibid. 18) (P)

“An inspired writing is more than something to be read for information or instruction; it gives a man faith, it becomes a symbol to which he can hold and from which he can draw a renewal of trust in the universe. It is this trust which makes him deny himself and inspires him to reach beyond himself. For his mind to fasten itself to such a writing, therefore, and to use it as a focus for meditation, is unconsciously to invoke and receive the grace of the illumined man who brought the writing to birth.” (Ibid. 20)

“In these inspired writings, we may look for two distinctive qualities; the power to stimulate thought and the power to uplift character. In the first case we shall find them a seed-bed of ideas which can bear ample fruit in our minds; in the second case there is imparted to reading some flavour of the unshakeable moral strength which the inspired writers themselves possess.” (Ibid. 21)

“There is a sensitivity and a depth in such works which are truly remarkable, a power, a light, and a heat to inspire their readers which is born from genius.” (Ibid. 24)

December 2020, #82 Perspectives Selections

December 2020, #82 Perspectives Selections

Conditions in today’s world have caused us to seek greater spiritual guidance and get some measure of whatever understanding is possible amid the confusion and stress of the pandemic. Paul Brunton has written extensively on philosophy and metaphysics, on prayer and meditation, on the world situation, and on human experience. The Notebooks, Volume 1, Perspectives, is an excellent way to survey all 28 categories; the other 15 volumes explore the categories in greater detail.

This E-teaching offers quotes from paras in Categories 25 and 26, “World Mind in Individual Mind” and “The World Idea.” (Volume 16 explores more thoroughly.) We realize once again that we are more than this little ego, so preoccupied with selfish concerns and we see the benefits of identifying with a higher, more impersonal view.

“The soul in man, the Overself, is linked with, or rooted in, the soul in the universe, the World Mind.” (p. 341) “The unit of mind is differentiated out and undergoes its long evolution through numerous changes of state, not to merge so utterly in its source again as to be virtually annihilated, but to be consciously harmonized with that source whilst yet retaining its individuality.” (p. 342)

“To be the witness is the first stage; but to BE is the final one. For consciousness lets go of the witness in the end. Consciousness alone is itself the real experience.” (p. 348)

“When we gaze observantly and reflectively around an object—whether it be a microscope-revealed cell or a telescope revealed star—it inescapably imposes upon us the comprehension that an infinite intelligence rules this wonderful cosmos. The purposive way in which the universe is organized betrays, if it be anything at all, the working of a Mind which understands.” (p. 361)

“The ideas in a man’s mind are hidden and secret until he expresses them through actions, or as speech, or as the visible creations and productions of his hands, or in behavior generally. Those ideas are neither lost nor destroyed. They are a permanent part of the man’s memory and character and consciousness and subconsciousness, where they have been recorded as automatically and as durably as a master phonograph disc records music.

“Just as a wax copy may be burnt but the music will still live on in the master disc, so the cosmos may be annihilated or disintegrate completely but the creative idea of it will still live on in the World-Mind as his Soul. It will not die. It’s his real Self, his perfect Self. It is the true Idea of him which is forever calling to be realized. It is the unmanifest image of God in which man is made and which he has yet to bring into manifestation in his everyday consciousness.” (p.370)

“There is no choice in the matter, ultimately, although there is immediately. The entire human race will have to traverse the course chalked out for it, will have to develop the finer feelings, the concrete intellect, the abstract intellect, the balance between the different sides. If men do not seek to do so now, it is only a question of time before they will be forced to do so later. (p. 371)

“It is not possible to know what lies at the heart of the great mystery, but it is possible to know what it is not. The intellect, bound by the forms of logic and conditioned by the linkage between cause and effect, here enters a realm where these hold no sway. The discoveries of Germany’s leading nuclear physicist, Professor Heisenberg, were formulated in his law of indeterminacy. The ancient Egyptian sages symbolized this inscrutability under the figure of the veil of Isis. The ancient Hindu sages called it Maya, that is, the inexplicable.

“ Argument and debate, ferreting and probing among all available facts, searching and sifting of records are futile here. This is the real truth behind the doctrine of agnosticism. Every man, no matter who he be, from the most knowledgeable scientist to the profoundest philosopher, must bow his head in acknowledgment of the human limitation. He is still a human being; he is not a god.

“Yet there is something godlike within him, and this he must find and cling to for his true salvation, his only redemption. If he does this, he will fulfil his purpose on earth and then only he finds true peace of mind and an end to all this restless, agitated, uncertain mental condition. Study what this planet’s best men have given us. It is no truer message than this. ‘Seek for the divine within yourself, return to it every day, learn how to continue in it and finally be it.’” (p.371)

November 2020, #81 Living Wisdom

November 2020, #81 Living Wisdom

The book, Living Wisdom, is a collection of selected quotes by Paul Brunton and comments about the quotes from Anthony Damiani and class members at Wisdom’s Goldenrod. Several books have been published from these classes, namely, Looking into Mind, Standing in Your Own Way, and Living Wisdom. I’ve found they bear reading more than once because of the depth of the material. Currently I’m studying Living Wisdom and I’ve come across the following quote and the response from Anthony.

PB: “Philosophy will show a man how to find his better self, will lead him to cultivate intuition, will guide him to acquire sounder values and stronger will, will train him in right thinking and wise reflection, and, lastly will give him correct standards of ethical rightness or wrongness. If its theoretical pursuit is so satisfying that it can be an end and a reward in itself, its practical application to current living is immeasurably useful, valuable, and helpful.” (v.13, 20:1.337)

Anthony comments: “If the world is a product of wisdom, and your mind is constantly manifesting the world, then your mind is going to get acquainted with wisdom, and become wisdom, whether it likes it or not. That follows the premise that the mind is becoming the universe; the mind’s assimilation of those wisdom principles is a necessary consequence.”

S: “Are you saying that the point of identity between the individual mind and the cosmos is what will leave you with this wisdom?”

A: “Yes, we can say that the individual mind receives the World-Idea, portrays the World-Idea, then inhabits part of the World-Idea, and experiences it in a sensible way. It’s like when we say your mind is where the cloud is, because the whiteness of the cloud belongs to the mind and is a manifestation of a sensation that belongs to the mind. And obviously your mind is learning how clouds are being formed. That is why they keep telling you: All wisdom is within you. It’s within your mind….

“As long as we are prisoners of our past, our memories, our thoughts, we will never have a bright, happy, new thought. It will always be a rehashing of the same thing…. If you cancel out expectation, anticipation, the past, and the future, then you become a receptacle. There will spontaneously come to you thoughts which aren’t yours, which are bright, happy intuitions, and they actually do tell you something new. That’s what PB represents…. PB made that very clear. ..

“The wrong patterns or habits of thought must be broken if we are to approach wisdom. You can’t really approach wisdom as long as you are a prisoner or a pensioner of your past…. Universalization of your mind is taking place. Youare that which is getting metamorphosed into the world that you experience. And in that process, you imbibe the wisdom that’s inherent in the World-Idea. There’s no “me,” no “I,” nothing. You. The only you that’s there. The only you that I’m speaking to. If there’s another, let me know… “

“…You have to wait until the time comes…. When the time comes, the question will come up in the specifics that the circumstances of life provide for you. You cannot conceptualize that question. You can’t imagine it. …These words are only an expediency. But it is not a concept that’s available yet, to say that the individual mind is universalizing itself. Potentially it’s becoming universalized, because it’s becoming the World-Idea, and through that process of becoming universalized, it is assimilating wisdom. This is not something to talk about. This is something you’ve got to go home and think about for a long, long time.” (pp. 58-63)

PB: “NOT TO ESCAPE life, but to articulate it, is philosophy's practical goal. Not to take the aspirant out of circulation, but to give him something worth doing is philosophy’s sensible ideal.” (v13, 20:1.340 and Perspectives, p. 261)

- Barbara P.
PBPF Board Member

October 2020, #80 The Mystery of Evil – Part 2

October 2020, #80 The Mystery of Evil – Part 2

The ego likes to believe this is mankind’s world, but PB writes: “This is God’s world; it could not be anyone else’s. It must ultimately be an expression of God’s wisdom. If we find in it things and people, events and sights which offend us and seem diabolic rather than godlike, the shortcoming is in our faculty of vision, the unpleasantness is in our limitation of understanding, and can be nowhere else. We learn from philosophy that the life of the whole universe, no less than the life of every man, is ruled by order and not by accident, by law and not by chance, by intelligence and not by senselessness. There is an intelligent direction behind every phenomenon of life and Nature in this cosmos.” All quotes are from PB’s unpublished essay, “The Mystery of Evil,” which can be found in its entirety here:

PB makes the point in the subheading ‘Our Practical Duty’ that philosophy does not deny evil’s existence but only its absoluteness. We as human beings may have to leave the riddle of evil as an unsolved one, but it does not interfere with the practical attitude that moral muscles are developed each time evil is resisted. “The attribution to God’s will does not in any way shift the responsibility which properly belongs to human endeavour.” “Evil is no metaphysical illusion but a practical fact.” “Thus, as humanity unfolds its diviner characteristics, it sheds its grosser ones. By its own labours of self-improvement it prepares the way for the entry of God’s redemptive grace. When it discovers its real self whose first attributes are love and wisdom, it discards evil and error. In the moment that it casts aside the shroud of ignorance, it sees ‘through’ the evil values and turns to the good ones.”

“To know himself fully, man will have to know himself as a ray of the divine sun, shedding light and goodness. To understand evil fully, he will have to love the pure truth rather than personal satisfaction. And then that same evil which was formerly a dark and tragic riddle to his lower perceptions, vanishes as such before his higher ones and is no more.”


September 2020, #79 The Mystery of Evil – Part 1

September 2020, #79 The Mystery of Evil – Part 1

An old song from my youth inculcates Love as “The Sweet Mystery of Life,” but something more needs to be said for a fuller understanding of the human condition, the mystery we find ourselves engaged in. The mystery of evil has fascinated theologians and religionists as long as mankind has given thought to this strange paradox. Religionists have said it is a test of faith, but reason has required deeper questioning. “Plotinus argued that the very infinitude of God must therefore involve imperfections like moral and physical evils and that instead of infringing on the omnipotence of God, these imperfections really point to the infinitude of God.” [All quotes are from PB’s essay, “The Mystery of Evil.]

The original unpublished essay, ‘The Mystery of Evil,’ is now on the PBPF website and is relevant to the world situation today. I encourage you to read it.

PB warns us to learn from history. He cites “Hitler’s half-conscious mission was to liquidate the old order of things and to destroy world-views which had lost their timelines and serviceability. He warns that the prevalent state of materialism in the world and its consequent influence on human character may lead to something even more devastating than war. Nature might take a hand in the game. Within a couple of months, there were slain by the influenza epidemic just after the First World War many times more people than were slain during the four years of that war itself.” “The science and civilization, the culture and cities of Atlantis were erased from the earth’s surface, engulfed by a vast mass of water which has since, during thousands of years’ ceaseless rolling, washed its site clean of the ancient foulness.”

This work addresses the education and evolution of human intelligence. “What is the true place of evil in a universe whose informing soul is itself a benevolent one? Although all that happens in the world will not happen outside the divine knowledge and will not escape the power of the divine laws, the development of the thinking power of man is a part of the evolution of intelligence,” writes PB. A better balanced psyche is able to let two ways of viewing the world exist side by side without developing a divided mind. An investigation of concepts and meaning of the use of words is necessary to define evil. “Evil in the world is only relatively and partially such, never absolutely and eternally.” Turkish hordes ousted Charlemagne’s forces who were promoting Christian beliefs by sword, and they broke into Constantinople and drove their keepers to Italy releasing upon Europe new forces which greatly stimulated the Renaissance movement already in being. “Evil warfare produced ‘good’ cultural results. The divine idea works itself out through human frailties as well as through human virtues. In this case evil is at times our teacher.”

Thus, the cosmic plan is introduced into the teaching. “Both evil and pain have been allotted roles in human development from its very start. They have not appeared by accident or by any unexpected ‘fall.’ They have not been introduced against the divine will by some satanic power. The fall into sin and the experience of pain are integral parts of the cosmic plan for human development. What is at fault is human perception, human impatience and human limitation. It is his quality and degree of consciousness which makes one man perceive only evil where another man perceives both evil and good, as well as comprehends that human evil is both the consequence of human freewill and the cost of human evolution.”

August 2020, #78 The Reign of Relativity

August 2020, #78  The Reign of Relativity

(All quotes are from Perspectives by Paul Brunton)

“The relativity theory brings space and time together as having no existence independent of each other. Mentalism explains why this is so. They are both inherent in one and the same thing—imagination; they are two ways in which the creative aspect of mind functions simultaneously.” (p. 233)

“The most valuable metaphysical fruit of the quantum theory is its finding that the processes of the universe which occur in space and time, emanate from what is fundamentally not in space and time.” (p. 233)

“Mentalism declares that space is really the idea which we subconsciously impose on. ….Space is needed by the mind to contain its images, to measure its forms, and therefore mind accordingly makes it… the same considerations apply to time, for if we think away all the objects which have their life in the past, present, or future, there will be no time left to flow onwards. There will be no independent thing called time… The time-space-causality reference is an essential part of human nature, a governing law of human thinking. These three hold good solely within such thinking and can have no possible or proper application outside it. Man does not consciously or arbitrarily impose them upon his thought; it is beyond his individual power to reject them.” (Ibid.)


PB uses Sorrow to illustrate relativity:

“It is said that time heals all sorrows; if we seek the reason why, we shall find it is because it insensibly gives a more philosophic point of view to the sorrowful….By bringing the philosophic attitude to bear upon each event, as and when it occurs, he immediately reduces his suffering and fortifies his peace. Every calamity which is seen from this standpoint becomes a means whereby he may ascend, if he will, to a higher level of understanding, a purer form of being. What he thinks about it and what he learns from it will be its real legacy to him. In his first fresh anguish the unawakened man may deny this; in the mental captivity which gives reality to the Present and drops it from the Past, he may see no meaning and no use in the calamity; but either by time or by philosophy he will one day be placed at the point of view where the significance of suffering will be revealed to him and where the necessity of suffering will be understood by him. This, indeed, is one of the great paradoxes of the human development: that suffering leads him step by step from the false self to the acceptance of the true self, and that the true self leads him step by step back to the acceptance of suffering.“ (p.244)

“Living in time and space as we do, we perforce live always in the fragmentary and imperfect, never in the whole or perfect. Only if, at rare moments, we are granted a mystical experience and transcend the time-space world, do we know the beauty and sublimity of being liberated from a mere segment of experience into the wholeness of Life itself.” (p. 237)

“Philosophy would not be worthwhile if it did not take the view that for the practical purpose of life, it must turn around and adopt a non-metaphysical approach. Thus, a two-fold attitude is the only complete and therefore correct one which it may approve. We have the right and bear the duty to ask ourselves in what way is a teaching related to everyday living; in what way is it connected with the world we know. If both relation and connection are absent, it is fair to say that the teaching is inadequate and lacks the necessary balance of interests.” (p.245)

“Causality is a misapprehension from the philosophical standpoint, but quite correct from the physical and practical. (p.237)

“The immediate present is not the eternal NOW.” (p.243)

July 2020, #77 Timely Comments from PB

July 2020, #77  Timely Comments from PB

“The student of philosophy must free himself from all narrow racialist views, national prejudices, class feelings, and personal selfishness. Philosophy in practice demands no less than this because it brings the realization that in actual fact all men are inseparably linked with each other. ‘He who regards impartially friends and foes, foreigners and relatives, the righteous and unrighteous, he excelleth.’ Bhagavad Gita

Racial animosity is really a pathological state which clouds vision and falsifies judgment. It raises prejudice to the dignity of a principle. Hate is a mental poison. It is the worst possible sin of our thought life. It damages those we hate, infects our own environment, and in the end it severely damages ourselves. The ability to treat all kinds and classes of people equally, and with universal goodwill, does not imply the inability to observe the comparative differences and even defects among them.” (The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, category 6, chap 5, para 50)

The above reflects the philosophy of the Paul Brunton Foundation about the unfair racial practices in the United States and throughout the world. PB has written volumes on the importance of life well lived. In The Spiritual Crisis of Man, he points out that there is no better world without better men. “When the religious sanctions of morality become impotent, there are grave results….When the inner life of religion has drained away, when faith and reverence are lost to older generations and meaningless to younger ones, it is inevitable that the outer life of society shall show chaos and crime and that men shall feel either disgust with their fellows or despair of them.” (p. 10)

He further writes: “The truth here is that the external problems which torment man are really projections of the internal problems which he has failed to solve aright within his heart and mind. There is no adequate answer to the principal questions of politics and economics without first finding an adequate answer to the larger questions of life itself, which necessarily include the questions: ‘What is man?’ ‘What are the real objects for which an organized society exists?’ ‘What are the final ends to be worked out through its means?’

“If we secure a clear conception of these objects and ends, we shall be able to work more efficiently, act more effectively and live more happily. But how can we do so successfully unless we know the larger direction which the evolutionary forces of life itself are inexorably compelling us to take? The problems which press down on humanity may be mostly political and economic. But their background remains moral and metaphysical. No solution can be a fundamental one which ignores these two elements. No way in which humanity can save itself from the danger which confronts it will prove satisfactory if it leaves out the spiritual way; every other way if taken alone will yield only failure as its result in the end.”

“Our failure to build a worthwhile society is primarily a moral failure. But before there can be moral reform, there must be spiritual reform. This is the root of all the others”. (pp. 19-20)

June 2020, #76 PB’s Path

June 2020, #76  PB’s Path

The topic of the last E-teaching, “The Independent Path” encouraged me to read more about the thoughts and experiences that led to PB’s independence, and spurred him to forge a new path. Indeed, he studied ancient scriptures and thought from both Hindu and Buddhist teachings and explained them for use in a modern world. Volume 8 of the Notebooks, Reflections on My Life and Writings, is a rare opportunity to look into his personal journey. He writes, “I have attempted to think out anew, and on the basis of my own experience and not that of men who lived 5,000 years ago, what should be the attitude of a normal modern man toward life. Such blessed independence may be scorned by some but it is a birthright which I jealously guard.” (p.44, para 146)

   PB experienced severe criticism when his ideas dared to differ from the Holy Ones of India.  “The spiritual doctrine of unity with all mankind does not appeal to me; let those seek its realization who find it to their taste. The ethical doctrine of good will does appeal to me and I try to practice it…. I must not only follow Shakespeare’s dictum ‘Be true to thyself’ but must go farther and be myself. Those religions and teachings which tell us to destroy the ego do not appeal to me. But if I am asked to destroy the tyranny of ego, to make it subservient to the Overself, it is certainly my duty to try and do so. Yet I consider this is not the same as destroying my individuality.” (p. 199, para 419) He wrote on page 43, para 144: “Paul Brunton also has something of his own to give. He cannot merely copy these others in living or echo them in writing. He too must be himself just as they were themselves. He may be their friend but he cannot be their follower. If it is for others to be that, he rejoices; but if he is to be true to the light which has come to him, he must shed it by himself, however small it be in contrast to theirs.” He goes on; “He has to speak the Word which he alone can speak, for every individual is unique. Every man is born to be himself, to undergo a set of experiences which in their entirety no one else has undergone. He alone of all the human race has just the mental and emotional psyche which he has.” (Ibid.)  He speaks of the changes that broader experience and deep reflection brought him.   

  In one of the two essays PB reflects on lessons learned. He was directed to review mistakes he made on the spiritual path and was led to build up an imaginative picture of what might have happened had he successfully passed the tests.: ”I had to instill the lesson of the necessity of hope which I ought to communicate to the aspirants I was scheduled to meet later, and who were discouraged by the lack of results.” (p.10)  At a later time he realized, “My work has also been to open up new paths, both for those already interested in spiritual seeking and for those who in the past were not but are now ready to begin it.” (p. 125, para 2) 

May 2020, #75 Relax and Retreat

May 2020, #75 Relax and Retreat

from Volume 3. Pt. 2, Ch. 1-2, of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton

What a perfect time to read this this book! Once again, we find in PB’s writings inspired intuitions that apply to outward circumstances in our lives. As we deal with scary experiences like living with the pandemic of today, dealing with phrases like “shelter in place,” and “social distancing,” and face changes in our daily routines and habits, we realize the need for something else.

PB’s thoughts turn our minds in another direction. These few words have power. “The aggressive world of our time needs to learn how to get out of time. The active world needs to learn to sit still physically and mentally without becoming bored.” (3.1.8.) It is as if these words written long ago magically fit today’s circumstances; perhaps we are led to find them.

In “Relax and Retreat” we find phrases that speak to us about world conditions and the tensions they bring and, more importantly, these words give us ways to lead us out of the bonds we carry into our lives. The paragraphs are filled with timely instruction about adopting a leisurely attitude in life. PB uses the word “leisure” several times in this book. It’s a word we don’t often hear today. We can reflect on thoughts such as “When he is charged with nervous tension, a man more easily commits errors of judgment.” (3.2.18.)

PB points out, “Stress impulses which bombard the body must be stopped in their activity at regular periodic times.” (3.2.34.) The periodic times referred to are daily periods of meditation. “A day begun with mental quiet and inner receptivity is a day whose work is well begun. Every idea, decision, move, or action which flows out from it later will be wiser, better and nobler than it otherwise would have been. (3.1.25.)

Chapter 2, ‘Withdrawing from Tension and Pressure,’ speaks of reclaiming our contacts with Nature. Para 45 on page 35 reads, “Are we not suffering from too much civilization, too much science, too much loss of contact with Nature, too much restlessness? For when excess is leading to destruction is it not more prudent to call a halt, and adjust the unfair balance? Has not the time come to look the other way for a while, meanwhile keeping our gains?”

Page 43 introduces the topic, ‘Price of Excessive Extroversion”. “Too much absorption with outward things, too little with inner life, creates the unbalance we see everywhere today. The attention given by people to their outer circumstances, amounts almost to obsession.” (3.2.118.)

PB writes of reclaiming leisure. “Most forms of occupying leisure periods ease either the pace or stress of life by relaxing part of the brain, the instrument of thought; or a part of the body, those muscles and organs most used; or the emotions and passional nature; but the deeper kind of meditation brings peace to a man’s whole being. (3.2.148.) “All that we can find in the world without us cannot be beyond in range or quality what we have already found in the world within us. “Man, know thyself is a practical rule.”’ (3.2.153.)

April 2020, #74 The Independent Path

April 2020, Essay 4 – “Self Reliance or Discipleship?

The Independent Path from Instructions for Spiritual Living

The Independent Path is an integral part of Paul Brunton’s teachings. In Volume 8 of The Notebooks he writes, “I came at last to the perception that the goal of a satisfying doctrine could only be reached if I taught myself something beyond what my teachers taught me. One thing became clear and that was the necessity of uniqueness in the synthesis which must be made. I had to remain utterly independent.” (12:2:201) He introduces this idea of independence in the student in this essay, explaining that although some mistakes may be made, useful experience will be gained and responsibility developed. The student will be learning the invaluable lesson of “the loftiest kind of self-reliance, while looking more and more to the Overself for guidance, and nowhere else.” (p. 80)

It should be noted that PB gives an admonition of the grave error of adopting a wholly independent attitude prematurely, stating that only when one reaches the study of philosophy can one overpass the stage of discipleship, if the Overself is to be found. (p. 80) On pages 84 and 85 he acknowledges the importance a teacher plays in leading the student to the place where he or she no longer needs someone to play that role. “For is not the teacher’s work but to lead one to the knowledge of one’s own true Self? Such are some of the inwardly prompted questions that naturally arise in an age when the human species is increasingly individualizing its mentality.”

Inner counsel is the great teacher in these matters: Grace must come from God. Uniqueness has a supreme value in PB’s teachings: “Spiritual genius is individual and unique.” (p. 81)

Some helpful references to Uniqueness are found in Volume 1 of the Notebooks, The Quest, which apply to this essay:

“ Each human being has a specific work to do-to express the uniqueness that is himself. It can be delegated to no one else. In doing it, if he uses the opportunity aright, he may be led to the great Uniqueness which is supra-personal, beyond the ego and all egos.” (1.5.19)

“The individual uniqueness of each aspirant cries out to have its special needs attended to, but suggestion from outside or mesmerism from authority causes him to approach the quest with fixed options as to what should be done, others being allowed to mold him rather than letting the inner voice do so, using their contributions solely to carry out or to supplement its guidance.” (1:5:205)

This essay leaves the reader with these ideas: “Our own Overself is the unfailing witness of all our efforts and aspirations and is ever ready to befriend us. The inner light that is always there for us is a safe and reliable light by which we can walk. When we begin to walk by the light of our own unveiled understanding and not by the borrowed lamp of another’s, we begin to walk with sure steps. Such a sublime self-reliance is in every way better than the abject dependence on another human being, which passes so often for discipleship.” (page 87)

March 2020, #73 Essay 3 – “Self Reliance or Discipleship?”

March 2020, Essay 3 – “Self Reliance or Discipleship?

Essay 4 - “Self Reliance or Discipleship?” ” from Instructions for Spiritual Living by Paul Brunton

PB begins this essay with a warning for spiritual seekers not to live in the past but to learn the lessons of adapting themselves to the demands made by the present era. He writes, “If they could realize the vivid inner spirit of their inheritance rather than its musty outer form, they would become free of the past. For then they would stand alone in the great Aloneness. And out of such a spirit they would instinctively give what is needed today, not what was needed by former centuries.” (p.51) He writes about the dangers of making idols of human teachers.  Philosophy is devoted to teaching principles, not to exploiting personalities, Individualism is the present evolutionary goal of the human being. (p. 51) “As we become mentally individualized, we can begin to reassess the values of life and the ideas of existence, not as mere units in a tribal or national group but as self-respecting individuals.” (p. 56)  He points out that mysticism is the culmination of all sincere religion.  An interesting insertion is the inclusion of the following: “Details of the second evolutionary movement may be found in the ninth and tenth chapters of The Wisdom of the Overself.” (p.56) This content bears reflection.

The Way of Discipleship’ is a subtopic in this essay, pointing out that the search for a spiritual guide of the rank of a mahatma or an adept is difficult today, if not impossible. “The mystical tradition contains a saying, ‘When the pupil is ready, the master appears.’ But we would complement it with another truth—that the master here referred to is not necessarily an embodied or an external one—he or she may be out of the flesh or may be inside the pupil’s own heart. In both these cases the instruction will come and assistance be rendered from within through the intuitive faculty….In the end, that which brings together the seekers and the sought-for truth, whether the latter be found within themselves, a book, or another person, is the direct agency of their own Overself.” (p.61) Each individual is unique and to imitate the thinking, speech and action of a particular teacher…. this is not to travel the path to the wider freedom. (p. 64)  “… Buddha plainly if heretically declared that there are two ways whereby one can arrive at right insight—either by learning it from others or by self-reflection…This second path is the one we have advocated. It is based on rationally thinking over and mystically meditating upon the remembrance of a glimpse, intuition, or fleeting illumination that may have once been experienced or, alternatively, upon the description of such an experience given in books. …. In depriving them of doubtful external guidance, we have given them back the surest internal guidance—the light and power of God within their own selves.” (pp. 66-67) In the words of the dying Buddha, “Hold fast as a refuge to the truth. Look not for a refuge to anyone besides yourselves….’Be ye lights unto yourselves’ is one acceptable translation, but ‘Be ye islands to yourselves’ is another…. It is a message of self-reliance, of seeking within and not without for guidance and strength. (p. 68)

This essay contains a great deal more instruction including ‘The choice Before the Seeker’ (p.68) wherein it points out that “if aspirants are incapable of working out their hard problems by themselves, they should seek and accept the guidance of someone else. To obtain friendly guidance from someone who knows the farther stretches of the road is as sensible a procedure as it is senseless to become the debilitated mental slave who exudes pontifical infallibility and discourages scientific rationality…. Most aspirants find that the Overself is too intangible to be grasped by the ordinary mind and… are left with a concept suspended in mid-air. Their need is for something or someone to provide a visible focus for aspiration toward reality, an imaginable center for meditation upon it …an attractive symbol for the Real. They can find such a symbol in scriptural personalities, in a living master known to them by personal acquaintance, in a book whose sentences are inspired by a knowledge of reality or in the beauty and serenity of Nature herself. It is indispensable that it should appeal to their personal predilections if it is to become effective. (p. 71) The final subtopic is ‘The Independent Path.’ The next eTeaching will focus on this section.

November 2019, #72 Instructions for Spiritual Living - 2

November 2019, Instructions for Spiritual Living - 2

As we pursue spiritual awareness, we see two parts of ourselves: the ego and the higher self. Is the ego always something to abhor? Egoism and selfishness, yes, but a sound psychology says we learn to love ourselves. This is not always easy if one has high aspiration, but tolerance is a virtue.

In the essay on “Grace” in Instructions for Spiritual Living, PB writes, “…it is neither contradictory nor antithetic to say that human effort and human dependence upon divine grace are both needed. For there is a kind of reciprocal action between them. This reciprocal working of grace is a beautiful fact. The subconscious invitation from the Overself begets the conscious invocation of it as an automatic response. When the ego feels attracted toward its sacred source, there is an equivalent attraction on the Overself’s part toward the ego itself. Never doubt that the Divine always reciprocates this attraction to it of the human self. Neither the latter’s past history nor present character can alter that blessed hope-bringing fact. Grace is the final, glorious and authentic proof that it is not only we that are seeking God, but also God that is ever waiting for us.” (pp.155-6)

“The Integral Path” is the final offering of wisdom in the essay “Adventure of Meditation.” “Meditation alone is not enough … What is still required of us is that we should become philosophical mystics, should unfold the possibilities of our whole psyche and not only our intuitive ones. The effort to attain spiritual awareness is not only a matter of the acquisition of concentration, it is also a matter affecting every side of our life…The quest involves the emotions, the desires, the will, and even an unknown factor—the Overself’s grace. An integral and total quest must be followed. If, for instance, an aspirant meets with blockages when attempting to go inside in inward pressing concentration, it is certain that some of those blockages arise from earthly attachments and extroverting desires. Hence, an analytic purification of the heart, an emotional pruning of it, is indispensable, side-by-side with efforts to achieve the one-pointed, stilled mind.” (pp. 36-37)

“It is an indispensable condition of progress in this quest that love of the Divine Soul should become ardent and fervent. Only the complete fourfold path can lead to a durable realization. Therefore, our further efforts are to be directed toward this end. It is this joint effort of will and intuition, of thought and feeling, which constitutes the integral path. By steadfast practice of meditation and assiduous efforts along these other lines, we become able in time to transfer at will to this deeper state and to sustain consciousness therein. When, through the united and elevated efforts of thinking, feeling, willing, intuiting, and aspiring, this meditation upon the Overself as being our own self becomes serenely uninterrupted and permanently stabilized, it can be said that we have attained life’s highest goal.” (p.37)

October 2019, #71 Instructions for Spiritual Living: Meditation

October 2019, Instructions for Spiritual Living: Meditation

The newly available paperback edition of thirteen essays by Paul Brunton (plus an appendix titled “My Initiations into the Overself”) provides insightful instruction on the spiritual quest. These essays, unpublished during PB’s life, cover such topics as ‘’The Adventure of Meditation,” “Self-Reliance or Discipleship?” “Surrender of the Ego,” and “Ascetic Mysticism Reconsidered.” Any person serious about the quest would do well to read and reread these essays.

The Adventure of Meditation: This essay points out that the ideal rhythm would be to meditate 3 times a day in accordance with sun’s movements at dawn, noon and dusk, but one must allow for limits of personal circumstances. PB writes that at times in his own life he remembered the higher purpose of his life in prayer, if only for two or three minutes in the morning and every evening he withdrew in an hour-long meditation, if he could (p. 7). Each of us should choose the bodily posture that best suits us at the time, or as we receive inner prompting to adopt, and not conform rigidly to some system we find uncomfortable or impossible. He emphasizes that “you are already as divine as you are ever likely to be, but suitable training can help to give you the consciousness of what you possess. No practical system can develop a Soul for you, for it is already there. There is no universal formula for the practice of meditation suited to all people at all times. The philosophic ideals of a balanced development and an equilibrated personality would alone forbid it…. Real meditation is an intuitive process. But the tensions that prevail in the mind usually prevent this intuition from being felt, and still more from being followed even if felt (p.15). Postures should be adjusted to personal comfort. Emerson meditated in a rocking chair. Even one who has practiced meditation for many years will find answers to details and teachings not previously understood. We know It takes a long time to master the art of meditation. PB points out that in the fully developed meditative life there is ease, naturalness, and stability. These writings remind us that “we are digging a well. Some have to dig far and long before water appears, therefore we should push our search deeper down. The water of life is there, we need not doubt that. Every ancient seer, every medieval saint, every contemporary mystic testifies to this fact. Our mystical progress will be characterized by an increasing withdrawal into ourselves, by a drawing back from the physical senses and an interiorizing and immobilizing of attention…” (p.22). “If we faithfully follow these instructions and diligently perform these exercises, we will sooner or later become conscious of this subtle presence within our own mental atmosphere. It will be something exalted, noble, serene and transcendental, but it will be something we cannot keep and quickly lose. Nevertheless, it will return again and again. As soon as we sit down to meditate, its spell will seem to be magically thrown over us like the fabled enchantment of fairy tales. We should unhesitatingly surrender to its mysterious and delightful influence. The process of bringing this new life to birth within ourselves, which was hitherto naturally a painful and prolonged one, will henceforth be a source of growing joy. Little by little we will forget our worldly affairs as we sit in meditation and more and more remember our spiritual affairs (p.24).”

Aug-Sept 2019, #70 Imagination

Aug-Sept 2019, Imagination

A basic tenet of PB’s writings is Mentalism. Chapter 2 in The Wisdom of the Overself, “The Meaning of Mentalism,” explains, “… the essential difference between the idea of a remembered episode which arises voluntarily in the mind and soon vanishes, and the idea of a lofty mountain which arises involuntarily in the mind and persists throughout many human lifetimes, is a felt distinction which blinds us to the fact that not only the act by which an object is known is mental but the object is mental also. Whatever we perceive outside us is outside the body, but both the body and the perceived space in which they both exist are fabrications of the mind. Since we know only mental states, we learn if man stands in detachment from his experience, he perceives that all the pageant of moving creatures are forms taken by the body” (WOTO p. 28). Category 27 of the Notebooks asks “How does God ‘create’ the universe? Since in the beginning God alone is, there is no second substance that can be used for such ‘creation.’ God is forced to use his own substance for the purpose. God is Infinite Mind, so he used mental power – Imagination -- working on mental substance -- to produce the result which appears to us as the universe (27.3.1).

Chapter 3, “The Birth of the Universe,” explains that “one of the most important implications of mentalism is the power of concentrated thinking to affect such external experience... the first characteristic activity of the World Mind is image-ing. Its creative forms are indeed nothing else than vibrations within its own mental substance. In our own limited and finite way we, as the World-Mind’s own progeny, likewise carry on a parallel activity. When we make a mental picture and when we hold an abstract idea, both picture and idea are ultimately born out of the same ungraspable energy substance. When we understand that the world-drama is played out in the mind, we can also understand that karma gives us back in the end our own fructified image-ing no less than the pleasurable or painful compensation which it calls for. If our present environment is, in part, but our ancient thoughts returned to roost, then we cannot disclaim some of the responsibility for its quality and form. We must learn to think aright. It is not the idle thoughts which pass lightly through out consciousness now and then that matter but the habitual trend of thought, the constantly recurring ideas which are most powerfully dynamised by faith and will. Intense imagination thus become a matrix in which, under the adjustments of karma and evolution, both environments and events are fashioned. The mental pictures and rational ideas which are most often and most strongly and most lengthily held in consciousness can help lift us up to spiritual nobility and worldly harmony or drag us down…” (WOTO, p. 397).

We may ask ourselves, is there a conflict between the World Mind’s operation and our own? PB writes in the “Independent Path” (Volume 2 in the Notebooks), “Authority and individuality need not contend with one another in a man’s mind” (1.5.258).

“The artist, working through the medium of imagination whether he imagines scenes or sounds, creates a beautiful piece. The philosopher, working through the same medium but seeking self-improvement, creates a beautiful life” (20.1.360).


June 2019, #69 Karma

June 2019, Karma

It’s not easy to define an ancient term like Karma so broadly used in today’s world. The references in The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga and The Wisdom of the Overself dealing with levels of karma are helpful. The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga says that “the ancient teaching of a venerable doctrine, whose Indian name is Karma, was long ago discovered by astute Indian sages who… discerned a certain rhythm at work beneath the fluctuation of man’s fortunes” (p. 315 HTBY.) Since irrelevant superstition and religious dogma have confused what is fundamentally a sane and scientific basis of a sound ethical code, it helps to find the essence of this code: “first, psychological reaction, i.e., that habitual thoughts form themselves into tendencies and thus effect our own character; this in turn expresses itself in deeds; these, again not only affect other persons, but also by a mysterious principle of reaction, ourselves. The working out of this principle implies, second, physical rebirth, i.e., the persistence of thought in the sphere of the Unconscious Mind, as well as sooner or later the reappearance of more or less the same ‘character’ or personality upon this earth. Karma creates the need for readjustments and inevitably leads to rebirth, to an outlet for the dynamic factors which have been set in motion. The consequence of this principle is personal retribution, i.e., that acts whereby we injure others are inevitably reflected back to ourselves and thus injure us, whereas acts whereby we benefit others eventually benefit us too.” (Ibid.)

PB writes on pp. 236-7 in the Wisdom: “If therefore we wish to think truly of ourself we must think of it in terms of the Whole. Consequently the esoteric interpretation of karma recognizes that a wholly isolated individual is only a figment of our imagination, that each man’s life is intertwined with all mankind’s life through ever-expanding circles of local, national, continental, and finally planetary extent; that each thought is influenced by the world’s predominant mental atmosphere; and that each action is unconsciously accomplished with the cooperation of the predominant and powerful suggestion given by mankind’s general activity. The consequences of what he thinks and does flow like a tributary into the larger river of society and there mingle with waters from innumerable other sources. This makes karma the resultant of all these mutual associations and consequently raises it from a personal to a collective level. That is to say “I,” an individual, share in the karma generated by all other individuals, while they share in mine. There is a difference however, between both our shares in that “I” received the largest share of the results of my own personal past activity and the smallest share of the results of the rest of mankind’s activity.” Page 237 also states: “There is no need for antagonism between classes, nations, and races, no need for hatred and strife between different groups whether large or small. All are ultimately interdependent. Their separateness is as great a delusion as separateness of individuals, but only philosophy and history prove this truth. The situation in which we all find ourselves today compels a recognition of this challenging truth in our mutual interest.”

The small volume What is Karma? is a collection of material and commentary from several of PB’s writings. The eight-page introduction offers specific suggestions like the following: “Our freedom consists in this, that we are free to choose between one act and another but not between the consequences arising out of those acts. We may claim our inner freedom, whatever our outer future may be. We may fix our own life aims, choose our own beliefs, form our own ideas, entertain desires, and express aversions as we wish. Here, in this sphere of thought and feeling, action and reaction, free will is largely ours.”

The newly published paperback, Instructions for Spiritual Living, a collection of essays written by PB, references Karma with emphasis on service. An example on page 184 reads: “For I believed then and even more so now, that the ultimate worth of an outlook on life that inculcates the hidden unity of the human family, is its power to find expression in the earthly life of humankind. I believe that those who possess such an outlook should endeavor to render it effectual, first in their own everyday existence, and second in that of society, and not be content only with dreaming or talking about it. I believe that there is laid upon them the duty to try to mold, however slightly, the public mind: to try to guide the contemporary public welfare movements and to inspire; to try to influence or counsel the leaders and intelligentsia.” He further advises on the same page: “it is our duty to try, unconcernedly, leaving all results to the Overself.”

April - May 2019, #68 The Philosophic Life

April - May 2019 - The Philosophic Life – from the Epilogue to The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga

PB asks: “What is the business of philosophy?” He answers: “Genuine philosophy shows a man how to live! …. The fruits of philosophy can be gathered only on this hard earth, not in some remote metaphysical empyrean. It embraces an individual and social labour which must visibly contribute to the welfare of our race and make itself felt in living history, or else it is not true philosophy. It must justify its existence by what it can do, not only by what it can imagine.” (p. 304, HTBY, 2015 paperback edition)

The epilogue points out lessons of philosophy in regard to art, pointing out that “…Art indeed is fuel for the philosophic enterprise…The production of genuine art is nothing less than the practice of genuine yoga…. The artist is on a perfect level with the mystic, only he seeks memorable beauty where the latter seeks memorable peace. For him thought has temporarily become what is felt to be the Real. Both come to acquire a fervent faith in the reality of their mental constructions. Both arrive unconsciously at the truth of mentalism through the same avenue – intense concentrated self-absorption in a single dominating idea or a single series of thoughts. Both are in the end conscious, semiconscious, or unconscious believers in mentalism.” (pp. 311-312)

The Doctrine of Karma is the next sub-heading in the chapter, followed by The Welfare of the World and A Philosophic View of the World Crisis. PB links the three topics together as he points out the significance of the omission of the teaching of Karma from Christian religion and the effect on the culture. Indeed, he points out that “…the omission has robbed the West of a religious belief which, in the turn of history’s wheel, must now be restored to the modern world for the scientific truth it really is. It is the duty of those who rule nations, guide thought, influence education, and lead religion to make this restoration. Truth demands it in any case, but the safety and survival of Western civilization imperiously demand it still more. When men learn they cannot escape the consequences of what they are and what they do, they will be more careful in conduct and more cautious in thinking. When they comprehend that hatred is a sharp boomerang which not only hurts the hated but also the hater, they will hesitate twice and thrice before yielding to this worst of all human sins.” (p. 322) PB has a great deal to say about Karma in this book and in many of his writings. It is such an important teaching that the topic of the next eteaching will be devoted to What is Karma?, the paperback published by Larson Publications, and other writings on Karma.

“The Welfare of the World” cites Einstein’s Theory of Relativity as a philosophical implication in that “no single thing in the whole universe stands isolated from anything else, no single thing exists in its own right. A web of interrelatedness stretches right across the world. Even the interdependence of modern society with its economic, political, and social reactions from one corner of the world to another—is alone enough to hint at this.” (p. 323-4) PB hastens to point out that the doctrine of non-violence is not meant for all men. “The Buddha meant it for monks and those ascetics who renounce the worldly life with its responsibilities. Like all true sages the Buddha recognized that there was no universal code of morality and that there were gradations in duty, stages in ethics.” (p. 325) The Buddha pointed out that “explaining and spreading the truth is above all charities.” (p. 327)

In “A Philosophic View of the World Crisis,” PB writes: “The modern epoch was the most delightful and withal the most miserable of any. It was sired by Mammon, mothered by the misunderstanding of life’s end, and cradled in a comfortable automobile…. It sinks in a dismal decrepitude of ideals.” (p. 328) He points out that “…We can keep calmer and saner amid the terrors of our time if we keep to the truth of mentalism, if we regard these terrors as experiences whose stuff is ultimately as mental as the stuff of dreams.” (p.330) PB points out 4 wise lessons to be learned from the past: 1 ) We are at the end of a cycle when karma is closing all national accounts, 2)Develop the art of reconciling the forces of stability and change, 3) Learn wisdom from all experiences, from pain as well as pleasure, from cruelty as from kindness, and learn to express in the arena of everyday life just what we have learnt, and 4) Intelligence adequately sharpened, courageously accepted, and selflessly applied, is always the dominant factor in the end. (pp. 330-334)

“The philosopher is he who has come to the understanding of himself, while his philosophy is his ordinary experience of the world come to the understanding of itself.” (p.335) We urge the reader to peruse the final two pages of this epilogue to absorb PB’s inspirational comments on the quality of timelessness.

February - March 2019, #67 The Healing of the Self

February - March 2019 - The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, v. 7, “The Healing of the Self”

PB’s writings in this volume about health and healing encompass “Laws of Nature,” “The Spiritual Importance of Health,” “Hidden Causes of Disease,” and “The Philosopher’s Body.” The following is an example of one of the ways to promote healing. “It is the routine activity of the brain, and especially the mental tendency toward anxiety and fear which is expressed through it, which interferes with Nature’s healing processes—whether it be spiritual or physical or both—or obstructs them or delays them or defeats them completely. This anxiety arises through the sufferer’s confinement to his personal ego and through his ignorance of the arrangements in the World -Idea’s body-pattern for the human body’s protective care. The remedy is in his own hands. It is two-fold: first to change from negative to positive thinking through acquiring either faith in this care or else knowledge of it; second, to give body and brain a total rest as his capacity allows, which is achieved through fasting and in meditation. The first change is more easily made by immediately substituting the positive and opposite idea as soon as the negative one appears in his field of consciousness. He trains himself not to accept any harmful thought and watches his mind during this period of training. This constructive thought must be held and nourished with firm concentration for as long as possible. The second change calls for an abstinence from all thoughts, a mental quiet, as well as an abstinence from all food from one to three days.” (10.3.57)

The Universal Life Force

“There is a single source of Life which envelops the universe and pervades man. By its presence in himself he is able to exist physically and function mentally.” (10. 2.1)

“That Power which brought the body into existence originally maintains its involuntary functions, cures its diseases, and heals its wounds. It is within the body itself; it is the life-force aspect of the Soul, the Overself. Its curative virtue may express itself through various mediums—as herbs and foods, hot, cold, or mud baths, and deep breathings, exercise, and osteopathy—or may express itself by their complete absence as in fasting, often the quickest and most effective medium. Or, disdaining physical methods entirely, it may act directly and almost miraculously as spiritual healing.” (Ibid. para 2)

Spiritual and Mental Healing Defined

PB emphasizes the essence of healing. He says, “Spiritual healing must be separated from mental healing, as the former works by a descent of divine grace but the latter by a power-concentration of mind. A cure in the first case will not only be permanent but also affect the character of the patient, whereas in the second case a cure may be and often is (especially when hypnotic methods are used) transient whilst the character remains untouched.” (10.5.2) “When this happens it means that some kind of wrong thinking or wrong feeling is the cause of his physical sickness…. The proper way to heal it, therefore, is to get at the psychological seat of the problem—that is effect an inner change.” (Ibid. para 4) In the case of mental healing there is not necessarily any change at all in the character of the patient…. His cure simply illustrates the power of mind over body—his own of someone else’s mind. (Ibid. para 5)

Healing Power of the Overself

The point is made that ill health is a mighty teacher.

“The basis of higher healing work is the realization of man as Mind. But the latter is a dimensionless, unindividuated, unconditioned entity. It is not my individual mind. The field of Mind is a common one whereas the field of consciousness is divided up into individual and separate holdings. This is a difference with vast implications, for whoever can cross from the second field to the first, crosses at the same time from an absurdly limited world into a supremely vital one. Consequently, genuine and permanent healing is carried on without one’s conscious association and can be effected by dropping the ego-mind and with it all egoistic desires. Hence the first effort should be to ignore the disease and gain the realization. Only after the latter has been won should the thoughts be allowed to descend again to the disease, with the serene trust that the bodily condition may safely be left in the hands of the World-Mind for final disposal as It decides. There should not be the slightest attempt to dictate a cure to the higher power nor the slightest attempt to introduce a personal will into the treatment. Such attempts will only defeat their purpose. The issues will partly be decided on the balance of karmic and evolutionary factors concerned in the individual case.” (10.6.132) PB’s view on healing is from this perspective: “The Overself knows what you are, what you seek, and what you need.” (Ibid. para 138)

January 2019, #66 Balance

January 2019 - Balance

When a friend suggested ‘Balance’ as a topic for an eTeaching, the section in the book The Spiritual Crisis of Man that deals with the necessity of developing balance came to mind. In Chapter XII, titled ‘The Quest’ (pages 254-282), PB suggests that “…a seeker practice self-sculpture along the lines drawn for him by intuitive guidance and outer revelation until the Ideal becomes the Actual.” And he points out that “the happiness and character, the insight and strength which give life its real values, he himself must create from within. All these qualities already exist there latently but he has to bring them forth by willed effort. He sees in his wiser moments that he must stop waiting for happiness to come from outside himself and that if it is really to come, it must come from inside. And he finds that to make this possible he must strive perseveringly with the chaos of contradictory feelings which interpose themselves between him and the Ideal.” (p.255)

On page 262, under the subtitle ‘Wholeness and Balance,” PB writes: “It is not only part of the Quest’s goal to make a man wise, disciplined and, in the truest sense, a practical person, but also both a whole and a balanced one….The direction in which life is moving us is the attainment of wholeness- body, mind, feelings and intuition are to become a harmonious channel through which the Overself can express itself unobstructedly.”

“There are four distinct functions of the human personality, four separate activities within the human psyche—thinking, feeling, willing and intuiting. These four elements of the psyche must become active at their highest levels and at the same time kept balanced in their activity. Indeed, the Quest’s entire work will prove a long course in developing and balancing all the three faculties mostly used, and then making them illumined by, as well as obedient to, the intuitive faculty. When only one or two of these functions of being are active and the others are not, there is a lack of balance. If intellect acts without the guidance, check, or control of intuition and emotion, then it will surely mislead itself, make mistakes, and come to wrong conclusions. If emotion ignores reason and is unresponsive to intuition, it will surely become the puppet of its egotism and the victim of its desires. If spiritual teaching is brought into the intellect alone or to the emotions alone, and not into the will, it will be to that extent and to that part sterile. Most aspirants have an unequal development. Some part of the psyche is deficient. One may be a very good man, but at the same time a very foolish one. Another may be quite intellectual but also quite unintuitional.” (pages 262-263)

“Therefore, to become conscious of this light (the divine image is always there within us), the aspirant must refine emotions, govern instincts, and thus fortify character. He should start the practice of mystical introspection exercises, begin the study of the metaphysics of truth, and by this self education, acquire a knowledge of the deeper meanings of self and life, the divine and universal laws of human evolution of laws and destiny. He must cultivate the religious feelings and the mystical intuitions by regular effort through prayer and meditation. The purpose of all this arduous purification is to take chains off the feet of the will and the mind and thus give them a chance to move freely into the realm of the Overself. If he is patient and willing to wait, the answer to all questions within the seeker’s heart will be found one day, provided he works at this self-purification while he is waiting. (p. 267)

November 2018, #65 The World-Idea

November 2018 - The World-Idea

Recently a fellow student asked, “What is this ‘World-Idea’ and how does it differ from ‘World-Mind?’” I thought this might be a helpful topic for an eteaching and looked up “World Idea” in the Notebooks. (Volume 16, category 26, Part 2) This section opens with two questions: “Is life only a stream of random events following one another haphazardly? Or is there an order, a meaning, a purpose behind it” The section, subtitled “Divine Order of the Universe,” explains there is indeed an intelligent order and purpose in the universe and points out that the World Idea is the purpose behind letting the universe come into existence. PB writes, “…there must be something which God has in view in letting the universe come into existence. This purpose I call the World-Idea, because to me God is the World’s Mind. This is a thrilling conception. It was an ancient revelation which came to the first cultures, the first civilizations, of any importance, as it has come to all others which have appeared, and it is still coming today into our own. With this knowledge, deeply absorbed and properly applied, man comes into harmonious alignment with his Source.” (26:2:64)

Other terms referring to World-Idea: “When the revelation of the World -Idea came to religious mystics they could only call it “God’s Will.” When it came to the Greeks they called it “Necessity.” The Indians called it “Karma.” When its echoes were heard by scientific thinkers they called it “the laws of Nature.” (26:2:76)

PB sheds more light on these terms: “Just as the World-Idea is both the expression of the World-Mind and one with it, so the Word (Logos) mentioned in the New Testament as being with God is another way of saying the same thing. The world with its form and history is the embodiment of the Word and the Word is the World-Idea.” (26:2:71) “The Stoics pointed to Reason (Logos) as the divine spirit which orders the cosmos. Plato pointed to Mind (Nous) in the same reference.” (26:2:81)

Another interesting quote: “We may think of the World-Idea as a kind of computer which has been fed with all possible information and therefore contains all possible potentialities. Just as its progenitor the World -Mind is all-powerful, all-present, and all-knowing, it is also possible to think of the World-Idea as being this all-knowing, omniscient aspect of the World-Mind.” (26:2:92)

“It would be a mistake to believe that the World-Idea is a kind of solid rigid model from which the universe is copied and made. On the contrary the theory in atomic physics first formulated by Heisenberg—the theory of Indeterminacy—is nearer the fact….” (26:2:117)

October 2018, #64 Spiritual Refinement

October 2018 - Spiritual Refinement
Emotions and Ethics (Notebooks, Vol. 5)

With world situations erupting all around us, it seems pertinent to seek wisdom from a philosopher like PB on how to handle our responses to today’s troublesome times. Volume 5 of the Notebooks, “Emotions and Ethics,” gives helpful suggestions. Section 5, “Spiritual Refinement,” reminds the spiritual seeker of the importance of practicing philosophic discipline in dealing with others.

“He shows an uncommon patience because that is Nature’s way. He expresses an impartial understanding because that is Truth’s way. He accepts people just where they are and is not angry with them because they are not farther along the road of life.” (para 6.5.72) 

Other paras speak from a different view. In the next para (para 73) he writes: “He is not only different in that he seeks both to commend and to criticize, whereas the ordinary man seeks only to do the one or the other, but also in that he seeks to understand the world view and life-experience which have given rise to such a viewpoint.” (6.5.73) 

Para 76 cautions with these words: “It is time to stop when such a flexible all-things-to-all-men attitude begins to destroy strict honesty of purpose and truth of speech. No sage can stoop so low, but pseudo-sages may.” 

Another quote to add to our inquiry: “He is neither a sentimentalist nor a simpleton but expects from humanity that dual nature, that thorn with the rose, which corresponds to the positive-negative nature of the universe itself.” (6.5.86)

Understanding contrasting thoughts requires a mature, insightful individual. “It would be a mistake to believe that because he makes no sharp exclusions, and practices such all-embracing sympathy toward every possible way of looking at life, he ends in confusion and considers right and wrong to be indistinguishable from each other. Instead of falling into mental vacillation, he attains and keeps a mental integrity, a genuine individuality which no narrow sect can overcome. Instead of suffering from moral dissolution, he expands into the moral largeness which sees that no ideal is universal and exclusively right.” (6.5.61)

The section on Spiritual Refinement emphasizes courtesy to others. PB references Emerson and Confucius as valuing the connection between the good life and good manners. He writes: “The refinement of tastes, the improvement of understanding, the betterment of manners---this is the cultural preparation for the path.” (6.5.185) 

He also praises the Discipline of speech: “When a man has this feeling of inner tension with them. He can sit, unspeaking, unplagued by tacit suggestions from society to break into his mind’s stillness with trivial talk, useless chatter, or malicious gossip.”  (6.5.230)

PB advises the seeker to “… continue inner work upon himself until it becomes perfectly natural and quite instinctive for him to react in this philosophic manner to every provocation, temptation, or irritation… he needs to continue the inner work upon himself. He needs to drill himself every day in those particular qualities in which he is deficient. Each new problem in his relations with others must be accepted also as a problem in his own development, if the foregoing is to be practiced. But after that has been done and not before, since it is an indispensable prerequisite, he may dismiss the problem altogether and rise to the ultimate view, where infinite goodness and calm alone reign and where there are no problems at all.” (6.5.359)

PB uses the masculine reference because it was the literary custom at the time that he wrote, but he always meant his writings for everyone interested in them.

September 2018, #63 Be Calm

September 2018 - Be Calm

[Quotations are from The Notebooks of Paul Brunton. Numbers in parentheses refer to the category (not volume), chapter, and para cited.]

“Peace in the hearts of men, with peace in their relations with one another: is this an idle dream?” (24:2:8) Sages say it is not. Lao Tzu, Confucius, Mencius practiced and taught ‘peaceableness.’ “The Psalmist’s advice, ‘Be still, and know that I am God,’ may be taken on one level—the mystical--as a reference to the ultimate state achieved intermittently in contemplation; but on another level—the philosophical—the reference can be carried even deeper. For here it is a continuous state achieved not by quietening the mind for half an hour but by emptying the mind for all time of agitation and illusion. Towards this end the cultivation of calmness amid all circumstances makes a weighty contribution.” (24:2:27)

How can peace become continuous and uninterrupted? PB offers suggestions throughout the two sections of Volume 15 of the Notebooks; aptly called 1) “Advanced Contemplation” and 2) “The Peace Within You.” Part of a quote from Section 1 under “Begin and end with the goal itself” states: “This notion that we must wait and wait while we slowly progress out of enslavement into liberation, out of ignorance into knowledge, is only true if we let it be so. But we need not. We can shift our identification from the ego to the Overself in our habitual thinking, in our daily reactions and attitudes, in our response to events and the world. We have thought our way into this unsatisfactory state; we can unthink our way out of it. By incessantly remembering what we really are, here and now at this very moment, we set ourselves free. Why wait for what already is?” (23:1:1.) Another is: “Cultivate calmness; try to keep the balance of your mind from being upset.” (24:2:41)

The chapter “Be Calm” offers Sage advice on daily life. This one is especially helpful: “But such calm, such satisfying equanimity, can only be kept if he does not expect too much from others, does not make too many demands on life, and is not too fussy about trifles.” (24:2:63.) Another is: “If his daily life makes him feel that it is taking him farther away from this inner peace, this inner harmony, he may have to reconsider his situation, environment, and activities.” (24:2:51)

“If he puts up a curtain of equanimity between himself and his troubles, this is not to evade them but rather to deal with them more effectively.” (24:2:127) “Holding on to the future in anxiety and apprehension must be abandoned. It must be committed to the higher power completely and faithfully. Calmness comes easily to the man who really trusts the higher power. This is unarguable.” (24:2:158) And this is a favorite: “A great mind is not distressed by a little matter.” (24:2:66)

“It is the business of philosophy to show us how to be nobly serene. The aim is always to keep our thoughts as evenly balanced in the mind as the Indian women keep the pitchers of water which they may be carrying evenly balanced upon their heads. A smugly self-satisfied, piously sleek complacency is not the sort of exalted serenity meant here. It would indeed be fatal to true progress, and especially fatal to the philosophic duty of making one’s personal contribution toward the betterment of human existence. When such equilibrium of mind is established, when the ups and downs of external fortune are unable to disturb the inner balance of feeling, reason, and intuition, and when the mechanical reactions of the sense-organs are effortlessly controlled, we shall achieve a true, invincible self-sufficiency.” (24:2:201)

August 2018, #62 Three Fundamental Questions

August 2018 - Three Fundamental Questions

Chapter One of The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga opens with an arresting paragraph, one particularly applicable today:

The more I wander around this turning globe, the more I realize that it is not only individual men, parties, governments, or peoples who are to blame for the distressful condition of the human race–so mesmerized by popular follies and so deluded by traditional fables! —but also common ignorance concerning three fundamental questions: What is the meaning of the world and experience? What am I” What is the object of existence? I perceive with startling precision that the bursting of this integument of ancient ignorance will do more than anything else to make enduring peace descend on our troubled earth.

Catching something of the importance of this message, I set myself the task of further study by using the online search function of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton andlooking for references addressing these questions. These are ones I picked out - perhaps there are better ones - but it is a start on this path of inquiry. I encourage the reader to use this function to find quotes that shed light for you. There are 379 quotes on ‘ignorance.’ Here are some I chose:

It is because we have the Overself ever-present within us that we are ever engaged in searching for it. The feeling of its absence (from consciousness) is what drives us to this search. Through ignorance we interpret the feeling wrongly and search outside, among objects, places, persons, or even ideas. (1:2:158)

Both Shankara and Ramana Maharishi blame identification with the body as ignorance, which the first says results in “no hope of liberation” and the second says is “the root cause of all trouble.” What they say is unquestionably so. But what else can happen in the beginning except this identification? It is the first kind of identity anyone knows. His error is that he stays at this point and makes no attempt to inquire further. If he did—in a prolonged, sustained, and continued effort—he would eventually find the truth: knowledge would replace ignorance. (8:4:384 )

A vital point that is often overlooked through ignorance is the proper re-adjustment to ordinary routine activities just after each time a meditation exercise is successfully practised or an intuition-withdrawal is genuinely felt. The student should try to carry over into the outer life as much as he can of the delicately relaxed and serenely detached feeling that he got during those vivid experiences of the inner life. The passage from one state to another must be made with care, and slowly; for if it is not, some of the benefits gained will be lost altogether and some of the fruits will be crushed or mangled. It is the work done in the beginning of this after-period that is creative of visible progress and causative for demonstrable results. (4:2:415)

Men come to this quest simply because they seek truth, because they want to learn what their life means and what the universe means and the relation of both, which is the best of all reasons. But others come because of shaken self-respect or after a bereavement which leaves them without a dearly loved one. Still others come in reaction to disillusionment, frustration, or calamity. And lastly there are those who come out of utter fatigue with the senseless world and disgust with its evil ways, which is the second best of all reasons. (1:2:299)

July 2018, #61 An Excellent Practice

July 2018 - An Excellent Practice

“Another excellent practice is to begin each day with some particular quality of the ideal in view. It is to be incorporated in the prayers and meditations and casual reflections of that day. A special effort is to be made to bring all deeds to conform to it” (Vol. 3, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton. Chapter 5, “Balancing the Psyche, #90). This section, subtitled “Engage the whole being,” puts great emphasis on living out our ideals in the most mundane environments. This is called Right Action (para 83).

Study, meditation and reflection can help find the particular ideal quality to apply to your daily life and finding the method which will draw out your own potentialities is a worthwhile practice. A mantra or affirmation is often helpful. Volume 4 in the Notebooks, Meditation, gives several suggestions. PB has much to say about the efficacy of repeating mantrams and affirmations. In Chapter 6, para 3, he writes, “The mantram is a statement in words or a symbol in picture which declares some truth of higher being, law, attribute, and reminds one of a moral duty to be practiced or acts as a useful self-help self-suggestion.” Para 66 recommends repeating an affirmation each day at a fixed time for five or ten minutes. An example of an affirmation that might be used in your daily life is, “In my real being I am strong, happy and serene.”

A way of finding an ideal which can translate usefully in our everyday life is through the use of astrology. In Vol 6, From Birth to Rebirth, in the section subtitled “Astrology, fate, and free will,” PB writes, “Even when the stars appear to work against us, the stars of worthy ideals will always work for us. [Philosophy} liberates us from anxieties about our horoscope because it gives us certitudes that the right causes we set going must have right effects. It gives our life’s ship sails and rudders, port and map; we need not drift” (para 427). Perhaps the most direct way of identifying a particular quality of an ideal is to use our own rationality and intuition to recognize what feels right and have the courage to go with that.

Astrology can be used to help identify the problems we brought with us into this life and recognize how to change our outlook and attitudes as we go about our daily lives. “One important use of an astrological horoscope is principally to detect the presence of new opportunity, and to warn against the presence of dangerous tests, snares, and pitfalls. It is often hard to make a decision, when an important crossroad presents itself, if one of the roads leads to disaster and the other to good fortune. At such a time a correct horoscope will be helpful in arriving at a right decision” (para 461). PB makes the point several times in this section that “predictive astrology should be taken with the greatest reserve” (para 485). The student can take solace in these words: “We may freely leave the future to our stars, if we know that we can be true to ourselves” (para 487).

May 2018, #60 Light

May 2018 - Light

PB wrote a lot about mystical glimpses. In earlier books, (A Search in Secret Egypt, A Hermit inthe Himalayas, The Quest of the Overself, and The Wisdom of the Overself,) we find many references to Light as a Glimpse. We read in the Quest, “Light is actually the first and finest manifestation of God, the Supreme Creator, in our material world.” (p. 225) “Light is the nearest element to Divinity which physically embodied man can contact. For this reason, almost every ancient people without exception, from the shrewd Egyptians in Africa to the simple (“natural…” on p.226) Incas in distant America, based their religion upon homage to Light and worshipped it in its supreme expression, the Sun. Mystics who behold God face to face have to behold Him first as a transcendental, universal light of terrific radiance.” (p.225) The Christian apostles understood this truth also. Thus there is the sentence in Ephesians, v,9, …’The fruit of the Light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.’” (p. 225, The Quest of the Overself)

In the Notebooks, Volume 14, Inspiration and the Overself, devotes five chapters to glimpses, beginning with ‘Introduction to Mystical Glimpses’ (Chapter 4), ‘Preparing for Glimpses’ (Chapter 5), ‘Experiencing A Glimpse’ (Chapter 6), ‘After the Glimpse’ (Chapter 7), and ending with ‘Glimpses and Permanent Illumination.’ (Chapter 8) The last part of Chapter 4 in Notebook #14 is called “Glimpses and Light.” It describes visions of, light and individuals who have written about their own experiences. A beautiful quote: “The very nature of sunshine – all light – and the very condition in which sunrises and sunsets occur - stillness – help us to understand why Light and the Overself are bracketed together. ‘Your own consciousness shining, void, inseparable from the great body of radiance, is subject neither to birth nor death, but is the same as the immutable light, Buddha Amitabha.’ (Buddhist Sutra) (para 172.)

Some other references: Fourth century Egyptian, Saint Makarius wrote, “The Light is a shining of the Holy Spirit in the soul. Through this light, God is truly known by the worthy and beloved soul.” (para 17) Psalm 27: “The Lord is my Light.” (para 177) What the Old Testament writers call the shekinah is a sacred and luminous appearance. (para 178) Meister Eckhart: “If God is to be seen, then it must happen in a Light, as God himself is Light.” (para 184) “Where the Greek Orthodox Church regards the Light experience as the highest point reachable by man, the Indian Philosophic Teaching regards it as the last stage before the highest. For anything which is ‘seen’ implies the existence of a ‘seer” as separate from it. This is not less so even in the case of the Holy Light. Not seeing but be-ing is the final experience according to this Teaching. ‘You have to go beyond seeing and find out who is the ‘I’ who experiences this light,’ said Ramana Maharshi to a disciple.” (para 206)

The online Rubik's solver program can find easily the moves to sove a scrambled cube.

April 2018, #59 Mystical Glimpses

April 2018 - Mystical Glimpses

Volume 14, Chapter 4, “Inspiration and the Overself: Introduction to Mystical Glimpses”

In the first para of this chapter, PB calls a glimpse “a transitory state of mental enlightenment and emotional exaltation,” and in the second para he says, “It is an experience of self-discovery, not the discovery of some other being, whether a guru or a god.” Para 36 calls the glimpse, “the highest form of self-recognition., the discovery of who and what we really are.” In para 41 a glimpse is described as “a moment in most men’s lives when they are close to an understanding of the world’s real nature.”

I read PB’s use of self as calling attention to the inward and individual experience of a glimpse, “a certitude that God is present in each person’s life.” (para 38) PB even says, “At present this mystic experience is a fugitive one in the human species. But because it is also the ultimate experience of that species, there is no reason why it should not become a common one in the course of evolutionary development.” (para 55) An interesting statement in para #59 reads, “What today is believed abnormal will, in a civilization ahead of ours, be regarded as quite natural. I refer to the transcendental experience.”

“We cannot know God in the fulness of his consciousness but we can know the link which we have with God. Call it the soul, if you must, or the Overself if you prefer, but to catch a glimpse of this link is to be reborn.” (para 86) PB writes, “Everyone has the experience of doing, few of being. Yet that is the most precious, most important of all life’s experiences.” (para 75)

“To enter into Heaven is to enter into the fulfilment of our earthly life’s unearthly purpose. And that is, simply, to become aware of the Overself. This holy awareness brings such joy with it that we then know why the true saints and the real ascetics were able to disdain all other joys. The contrast is too disproportionate. Nothing that the world offers to tempt us can be put on the same level.” (para 79)

“What we know is so little that it ought to make us intellectually humble. But that little is nevertheless of the highest importance to us. For we know that the Overself is, that the passage to its stillness from the ego’s tumult is worthwhile, and that goodness and purity, prayer and meditation help us to find it.” (para 121)

The last part of Chapter 4 is called “Glimpses and Light.” It describes visions of light and individuals who have written about their own experiences. It contains this beautiful quote: “The very nature of sunshine – all light – and the very condition in which sunrises and sunsets occur - stillness – help us to understand why Light and the Overself are bracketed together. ‘Your own consciousness shining, void, inseparable from the great body of radiance, is subject neither to birth nor death, but is the same as the immutable light, Buddha Amitabha’ [Buddhist Sutra].” (para 172) A future e-teaching will consider in more depth the topic of “Glimpses and Light.”

March 2018, #58 A Search in Secret India - Chapter IX

March 2018 - A Search in Secret India - Chapter IX, “The Hill of the Holy Beacon”

While on the boat-train to Arunachala, PB questions whether there is such a thing as destiny as he finds himself strangely guided towards the Maharshi. He muses, “Past experience has taught me full well that seemingly unimportant happenings sometimes play an unexpected part in composing the picture of one’s life.” (p.134) From the seat in the bullock cart in which they are riding, the mountain comes into view and PB finds a feeling of awe arising in him. As his companion guides him into the hall of the Maharshi, he perceives a seated figure upon a long white divan: the Maharshi, in a trance, gazing rigidly through the window. The reception is characterized by complete indifference. (pp.140-141) As the second hour passes, PB becomes aware of a steady stream of quietness, and PB asks himself, “Does this man, the Maharshi, emanate the perfume of spiritual peace as the flower emanates fragrance from its petals?” Questions disappear from PB’s mind.

Later PB has the opportunity to voice his concerns as he asks, “Is there anything beyond man’s material existence.? If so, how can I realize it for myself?” He continues, “Can you assist me to experience spiritual enlightenment? Or is the search a mere illusion? I have questioned the sages of the West; now I have turned my face towards the East. I seek more light.” The Maharshi nods his head, as if to say, “Yes, I quite understand.” At last his lips open, and he says gently, “You say I. ‘I want to know.’ Tell me, who is that I? (p. 144) After assuring PB that the I is not the body, the Maharshi continues , “Know first that I and then you shall know the truth. Through deep reflection on the nature of one’s self, and through constant meditation, the light can be found.” PB replies, “I have frequently given myself up to meditation upon the truth, but I see no signs of progress.” “How do you know no progress has been made? It is not easy to perceive one’s progress in the spiritual realm.” “Is the help of a spiritual master necessary?” “It might be.” “Can a master help a man to look into his own self in the way you suggest?” “He can give the man all that he needs for this quest. Such a thing can be perceived through personal experience.” “How long will it take to get some enlightenment with a master’s help?” “It all depends on the maturity of the seeker’s mind. The gunpowder catches fire in an instant, while much time is needed to set fire to the coal.” “Will the Maharshi express an opinion about the future of the world, for we are living in critical times?” “Why should you trouble yourself about the future? You do not even properly know about the present! Take care of the present; the future will then take care of itself. PB’s questions continue. “Will the world soon enter a new era of friendliness and mutual help, or will it go down into chaos and war?” “There is One who governs the world and it is His lookout to look after the world. He who has given life to the world, knows how to look after it also. He bears the burden of this world, not you.…. As you are so is the world. Without understanding yourself, what is the use of trying to understand the world? This is a question that seekers after truth need not consider. People waste their energies over all such questions. First, find out the truth behind yourself; then you will be in a better position to understand the truth behind the world, of which yourself is a part.” PB senses that the interview has come to an end. (p. 145-146 )

February 2018, #57 A Search in Secret India

February 2018 - A Search in Secret India

Originally published in 1935, A Search in Secret India remains a classic for spiritual seekers all over the world. It is experiencing a rise in popularity today as both Western readers and modern Indians seek to know more about the sacred teachings of the past. Indeed, Paul Brunton’s writings opened the door for Western seekers to learn about Indian mysticism. Sir Francis Younghusband writes in the Forward to the book: “…for in India, as everywhere else, there is much spurious spirituality through which a way must be forced before the true can be found… Spirituality at its finest and purest is what he (Brunton) wanted. And this he found at last.”

PB’s search makes fascinating reading as we accompany him through little known byways of the India of the time. His descriptive language recreates colorful personalities and landscapes for the reader while his interviews remain independently objective as he listens and questions Yogis, holy men, faqueers, and sages. PB writes on page 61, “… I want reliable evidence; better still, something personal, something to which I can testify for my own satisfaction.”

After exhaustive travel and inquiries PB is beset with a persistent Yogi who knows of his searches. This man, Subramanya Iyer, insists that PB go with him to Arunachala, the Hill of the Holy Beacon to meet his master, who, he says, is the wisest man in India. Somewhat skeptical, PB declines, but later he meets a Hindu writer, who tells him the great masters have all but disappeared. He adds “Yet I firmly believe that some exist in retirement, in lonely forests perhaps, but unless you devote a whole lifetime to the search, you will find them with the greatest difficulty.” (p. 120.) The writer, Venkataramani, encourages PB to meet Shri Shankara Acharya, the spiritual head of South India, who is staying nearby for one day. “We regard him as a master of the highest spiritual attainment. But he is not a Yogi. He is the Primate of the Southern Hindu world, a true saint and great religious philosopher.” (p. 121.)

Surprisingly, PB is granted an audience with Shri Shankara, the first given to a Westerner. Part of their exchange bears relevance today as PB asks about the current world situation and how it could be improved. Finally, PB asks: “Can you direct me to such a master, one who you know can give me proofs of the reality of higher Yoga?” (p. 130) Shri Shankara tells him of the Maharshi whose abode is Arunachala. He extracts a promise that PB will go there. PB receives a parting message from Shri Shankara: “You shall always remember me, and I shall always remember you.” (p.131) Subrahmanya Iyer is waiting to lead PB to the encounter with the little-known sage, Ramana Maharshi.

This concludes the first half of this eteaching. The next continues with PB’s visit to the Maharshi and the Hill of the Holy Beacon (Chapters XIII and XV.) We encourage all to read and re-read the inspired writings about the encounter.

January 2018, #56 The Benefits of Meditation

January 2018 - The Benefits of Meditation

Volume 4, Part 1 of The Notebooks, Meditation, begins with the following quote: “Of all the day’s activities this non-activity into meditation, must become the principal one. It ought to be the centre, with all the others circling round it.”

In Para 2 of Chapter 1, PB covers some benefits of meditation to humankind. To the religionist: “He who indulges in theological speculation about the soul without having trod the inner way to the actual experience of it for himself is like a man standing outside a restaurant with shuttered windows and purporting to describe the meals being served inside.”

To the moralist: “Our morals will automatically adjust themselves, our credo of ethics will automatically right itself once we have come into spiritual self-enlightenment. A technique of mind-training is indispensable to true self-knowledge.”

For the artist: “However talented he may be, a man can produce only substitutes for works of genius if he lacks the capacity to achieve self-absorbed states. The cultivation of this habit is a powerful help to the development of inspired moods. This is an age of brilliance. The talent for wit, satire, and sophistication abounds. But the true artist needs to go deeper than that. Art which lacks a spiritual import possesses only a surface value. The sun of inspiration shines upon all alike, but few people are so constituted as to be able to behold it.”

For the overworked and tired: “Meditation is essential because it affords a wonderful relief by creating a little secret place within himself where the sordid world will be less able to hurt him, the events of life less able to depress him. Moreover, he needs meditation not only because an unrestrained external activity is not enough but also because it brings up out of the subconscious stores (of) unexpected ideas which may be what he was subconsciously seeking previously or provides him with swift intuitions which throw light on perplexing problems.”

“For the idealist who is struggling in a hard and harsh world, short daily periods of meditation will in time become the blessed sanctuary wherein he can keep alive his repressed aspirations.”

“Finally meditation is essential for every man because without it he lives at too great a radius from his divine centre to understand the best thing which life can offer him. He must reclaim the divine estate of which he is the ignorant owner. O! it is worthwhile to make this sacred incursion and attain, for a time, a noble and wiser state of himself. By this daily act of returning into himself, he reaffirms his divine dignity and practices true self-respect.”

Chapter 7, titled Mindfulness, Mental Quiet, further identifies benefits. Para 25, page 242, reads “If he practices mental stillness until he masters it, he will benefit proportionately. For in its deepest quietude he can find the highest inspiration.” “It is good practice to put one’s questions or state one’s problems before beginning a meditation and then to forget them. Unless the meditation succeeds in reaching the still, the full response cannot be made.” (Para 50, p. 244.)

He ends this volume on Meditation by these thoughtful words: “The way his body moves, works, walks, behaves, reveals something of the inner man, the ego. But non-movement, sitting quite still, can reveal even more—the being behind the ego. However, this remains a mere unrealized possibility if the man is without knowledge or instruction.” (Para 68, p. 246.)

“To be in Mental Quiet is to observe the mind’s own nature,” wrote Lao Tzu (para 69).

December 2017, #55 A Search in Secret Egypt

December 2017 - A Search in Secret Egypt

In the Fall 2017 Newsletter from the PBPF, there is a brief section titled “Secret Room Found in the Great Pyramid.” A drawing of the rooms inside the Great Pyramid shows the new cavity recently discovered. Under the drawing is the following caption: “Using radiography, scientists have discovered a corridor over 100 feet long with a slope and cross- section paralleling the Grand Gallery passage to the King’s Chamber. (Search “Great Pyramid” in the news to see the report.)” This catches the interest of PB readers familiar with the revelations in A Search in Secret Egypt (recently republished in paperback by North Atlantic Book). PB described such a corridor in the book, published in 1936. He wrote:

“The walls were built up with a glowing, pinkish, terra-cotta coloured stone, slabbed with the thinnest of joints. The floor sloped downward at precisely the same angle as the Pyramid entrance itself now descends. The masonry was well finished. The passage was square and fairly low, but not uncomfortably so. I could not find the source of its mysterious illuminant, yet the interior was bright as though a lamp were playing on it.

The High Priest bade me follow him a little way down the passage. ‘Look not backward,’ he warned me, ‘nor turn thy head.’ We passed some distance down the incline and I saw a large, temple-like chamber opening out of the farther end. I knew perfectly well that I was inside or below the Pyramid, but I had never seen such a passage or chamber before. Evidently they were secret and had defied discovery until this day. I could not help feeling tremendously excited about this startling find, and an equally tremendous curiosity seized me as to where and what the entrance was. Finally, I had to turn my head and take a swift look backward at what I hoped was the secret door. I had entered the place by no visible entrance, but at the farther end I saw that what should have been an opening was closed with square blocks and apparently cemented. I found myself gazing at a blank wall, then, as swiftly whirled away by some irresistible force until the whole scene was blotted out and I had floated off into space again…. I heard the words: ‘Not yet, not yet,’ repeated as in an echo and a few moments later saw my inert unconscious body lying on the stone.

‘My son,’ came a murmur from the High Priest. ‘it matters not whether thou discoverest the door or not. Find but the secret passage within the mind that will lead thee to the hidden chamber within thine own soul, and thou shall have found something worthy indeed. The Mystery of the Great Pyramid is the mystery of thine own self. The secret chambers and ancient records are all contained in thine own nature. The lesson of the Pyramid is that man must turn inward, must venture to the unknown centre of his being to find his soul, even as he must venture to the unknown depths of this fane to find its profoundest secret. ‘Farewell!’” (pp. 81-82.)

October 2017, #54 Solitude

October 2017 - Solitude

from Relax and Retreat, Volume 3, Part 2, in The Notebooks of Paul Brunton

PB is an advocate of solitude for the person who is ready for it. The reader recognizes the voice of one who has embraced solitude, values it, explored its depths, has found comfort in it and has gone beyond solitude. “He will find the Path leads him away from the crowd into solitude; and, later, away from the thoughts of the crowd that people solitude into himself.” (chap. 1, para #35) His praise of solitude is shown in the following quotes from chapter 5: “Solitude is the best way of life, Nature is the best company, God is the best presence. Those who are wealthy surround themselves with servants, so that they never have solitude, but always other presences, other auras around them. Privacy is the accompaniment of solitude and where there is no solitude there is no privacy.” (para #126)

He writes: “It is enough in the beginning to make these occasional excursions into the quieter and lonelier places. If they can be absolutely quiet and utterly lonely, his purpose will be best achieved.” (para #23) Indeed, he says that “In the end and perhaps after many years he finds that he cannot get away from man’s innate loneliness.” (para # 15) And he writes in para #68: “The man who is frightened by loneliness is not yet ready for philosophy.” “It is not that he shuts himself up in his own life because he has no interest in society’s but rather that the fulfilment of the purpose which, he believes, God has implanted in his being, is paramount.” (para #14) “The theory of breaking all connection with the world in order to make connection with the Eternal Spirit, is sound enough.” (para #63)

These thoughts remind us that the world has most often benefitted from the wisdom gleaned by the courageous Beings who have retreated into isolation. In para #48 PB writes:

It would be interesting to count the men of your acquaintance who are able to stand on their own solitary opinion, who refuse to be strapped down in the straitjackets of conventional public opinion. You will usually find that such men, by taste or by circumstance, are accustomed to pass somewhat lonely lives. They like to sequester themselves, they prefer to live in quiet places. If destiny grants them the choice, they choose the place of quiet mountains rather than the place of little men. Such men develop their bent for independent thought precisely because they prefer withdrawn lives. Society and company could only assist to smother their best ideas, their native originality, and so they avoid them. Thoreau, that powerful advocate for solitude, could never be intimidated by anyone.

PB, the advocate of balance, includes warnings in his sage advice. “Aloneness is good for a man, but when it is felt as too overpowering, it is not. Then the balance must be redressed by society.” (para #19) “It is a matter of temperament and circumstances whether he shall bury himself in a solitary existence or not. The inner life is always available, whether he is active or passive, for in both cases it is only as he turns toward it, retreats into it, or draws upon it.” (para #81)

The final quote in chapter 5 of Relax and Retreat is this:

Solitude may help a man immensely in his spiritual life during certain periods which may be quite long or quite short. But just as any good that is overdone becomes a gad or turns to a folly, so it is with solitude. Too much of it may cause a man to go astray and lose himself in chimeras and illusions. For if he has no other human contact he has no one with whom to check his ideas, from whom to receive constructive criticism, and by whom he may be warned about deviation from the correct path. (para #162)

August 2017, #53 Relax and Retreat

August 2017 - Relax and Retreat

PB himself supplied the titles of the 7 chapters in this volume. The first is “Take Intermittent Pauses” and the last is “Sunset Contemplation.” In-between are chapters on “Withdraw From Tension and Pressure,” “Relax Body, Breath, and Mind,” offering specific exercises such as sleep exercise, breathing exercises to calm the mind, and breathing exercises to remove fatigue. This is followed by “ Retreat Centers,” “ Solitude,” and “Nature Appreciation.” The next eteaching will cover some helpful quotes from the material in these chapters.

“ Take Intermittent Pauses” offers: “He can do nothing better for himself and, in the end, for the world than to step out of its current from time to time. If he uses the occasion well, he will bring back something worth having. (Page 4, para #11) In another gem, so appropriate today: “There is much in the outer world to abrase feeling, inflame passion, or weigh down mind. It is then that retreat into the inner world can be made into a healing, helping or calming one. “(Page 11, para 78)

The segment titled “Nature Appreciation” offers several quotes about the mountains and the sea. PB writes: “ I stood on the summit of Mount San Salvadore, looking by turns, at the enormous and glorious protecting circle of the Alps. It was one of those clear crystalline evenings when the sinking sun touched ice and snow with rose or gold, and when the Infinite Spirit touched heart and mind with peace or beauty. I thought of that other superb panorama, the lordly Himalayas, of the different years when I visited their eastern, central, and western parts, -- 2,500 kilometers—from end to end. Salvatore—“Saviour”—the very name instilled hope and promised help, while the mountain itself seemed to whisper support.” (Page 123, para 101)

“ Autumn is the time for spiritual planting, winter for spiritual growth, summer for spiritual rest, spring for spiritual harvest. In short, the seasons of nature have a reverse effect on man spiritually to that which they have on him physically….” (Page 117, para 46)

Several quotes refer to nature’s cycles. “Just as sunrise and sunset are especially auspicious moments for prayer and meditation, so there are special times of the year, special seasons when the aspirant has opportunities for easier and quicker advancement than he has at other times. These seasons were known to the ancient religions of America, of Europe, of Africa, and of Asia. Hence they are universal dates and universally kept in the annals of mysticism. It is because of this knowledge, although somewhat obscure, that the religious festivals and sacred seasons like Christmas and Easter have been made part of various religions, both pagan and modern. Jewish and Greek mystics, as well as those of Egypt and Rome, observed them. These mystically auspicious times were the new moon days following the opening of each of the seasonal equinoxes or solstices. That is, the first new moon after March 21, June 21, September 21, and December 21. At such times the disciple should make a special effort to purify himself, to fast, pray, worship, and meditate because it is easier to achieve the result sought. (Page 117, para 49)

“ In looking for the beauty in Nature, a man is looking for his soul. In adoring this Beauty when he finds it, he is recognizing that he not only owns an animal body, but is himself owned by a higher Power.” (Page 120, para 72)

July 2017, #52 Invitation to Reflection and Prayer

July 2017 - Invitation to Reflection and Prayer

Perspectives , sometimes called Book 1 in the 16-volume collection of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, is a survey of categories 1-28, a survey of more than 7,000 pages of notes written by Paul Brunton for posthumous publication. Studying this volume is one way of becoming acquainted with the breadth of topics PB covers. These are different from the early books in that they are sometimes written in short, disconnected paragraphs, likely meant to be read as meditations. Others are longer, requiring more words to make the point. PB called them “detached intellections.” This particular e-teaching offers some thoughts from the chapter in Perspectives entitled The Reverential Life. In the Notebooks, the same topic is addressed at length in Category 18, Volume 12, Part 2. The following quotes are from Perspectives.

“We do not feel the need of hallowing our days. That is our great loss.” (p. 220)

“To enter this stillness is the best way to pray.” (p.222)

Thanks for Thy presence and existence here and now. Praise for making life on earth more bearable and more endurable when it becomes oppressive.” (p.224.)

“At no level of his spiritual development need a man leave off the custom of prayer. The religious devotee, the mystical meditator, the metaphysical thinker, and the integrated philosopher alike need its fruits.” (p. 223)

“Meditation in a solitary place remote from the world may help others who are still in the world, but only under certain conditions. It must, for example, be deliberately directed towards named individuals. If it floats away into the general atmosphere without any thought of others, it is only a self-absorption, barren to others if profitable to oneself. It can be turned toward the spiritual assistance of anyone the practiser loves or wishes to befriend. But it should not be so turned prematurely. Before he can render real service, he must first acquire the power to do so. Before he can fruitfully pray for persons, he must first be able to draw strength from that which is above all persons. The capacity to serve must first be got before the attempt to serve is made. Therefore, he should resist the temptation to plunge straightaway into prayer or meditation on behalf of others. Instead he should wait until his worship or communion attains its highest level of being. Then--and then only--should he begin to draw from it the power and help and light to be directed altruistically towards others. Once he has developed the capacity to enter easily into the deeply absorbed state, he may then use it to help others also. Let him take the names and images of these people with him after he has passed into the state and let him hold them there for a while in the divine atmosphere.” (p.223)

How then should a man pray? Should he beg for the virtues to be given to him gratis and unearned for which other men have to strive and labour? Is it not more just to them and better in the end for himself if, instead of demanding something for nothing, he prays thus: "I turn to you, O Master, for inspiration to rise above and excel myself, but I create that inspiration by my own will. I kneel before you for guidance in the problems and decisions of life, but I receive that guidance by taking you as an example of moral perfection to be followed and copied. I call upon you for help in my weakness and difficulty, my darkness and tribulation, but I produce and shape that help by trying to absorb it telepathically from your inner being." This is a different kind of prayer from the whining petitions often passing under that name, and whereas they seldom show direct, traceable results, this always shows them.” (p.222.)

If you contemplate these paras they will enrich your practice.

June 2017, #51 The Birth of the Universe

June 2017 - "The Birth of the Universe" - The Wisdom of the Overself

The Appendix in the new edition of The Wisdom, published by North Atlantic Books in 2015, includes paras from The Notebooks which specifically refer to material in the text of The Wisdom. The 16Wisdom chapters are listed with relevant paras from The Notebooks in addition to further references designed to enhance study. These paras, written by PB many years later, have a clarity which is evident. The following is an example of one of the writings in the Appendix. The parenthetical references give the volume number of The Notebooks, the Category number, the chapter number, and the para number.

On Chapter Three, “The Birth of the Universe”

Whatever we call it, most people feel—whether vaguely or strongly—that there must be a God and that there must be something which God has in view in letting the universe come into existence. This purpose I call the World Idea, because to me God is the World’s Mind. This is a thrilling conception. It was an ancient revelation which came to the first cultures, the first civilizations, of any importance, as it has come to all the others which have appeared, and it is still coming today to our own. With this knowledge, deeply absorbed and properly applied, man comes into harmonious alignment with his Source. (v.16:26-1-64)

The cosmic order is divine intelligence expressed, equilibrium sought through contrasts and complementaries, the One Base multiplying itself in countless forms, the Supreme will established according to higher laws. The World Mind is hidden deep within our individual minds. The World-Idea begets all our knowledge. Whoever seeks aright finds the sacred stillness inside and the sacred activity in the universe. (v.16: 26-1-220)

The act of creative meditation which brings the universe into being is performed by the World-Mind. We, insofar as we experience the world, are participating in this act unconsciously. It is a thought-world and we are thought-beings. (v.16: 27-3-19)

The individual mind presents the world image to itself through and in its own consciousness. If this were all the truth then it would be quite proper to call the experience a private one. But because the individual mind is rooted in and inseparable from the universal mind, it is only a part of the truth. Man’s world-thought is held within and enclosed by God’s thought. (v.13: 21-3-70)

The ideas in a man’s mind are hidden and secret until he expresses them through actions or as speech, or as the visible creations and productions of his hand, or in behavior generally. Those ideas are neither lost nor destroyed. They are a permanent part of the man’s memory and character and consciousness and sub-consciousness, where they have been recorded as automatically and as durably as a master phonograph disc records music. Just as a wax copy may be burnt but the music will still live on in the master disc, so the cosmos may be annihilated or disintegrate completely but the creative idea of it will still live on in the World Mind. More, in the same way a man’s body may die and disintegrate but the creative idea of him will still live on in the World Mind. It will not die. It’s his real Self, his perfect Self. It is the true Idea of him which is forever calling to be realized. It is the unmanifest image of God in which man is made and which he has yet to bring into manifestation in his everyday consciousness. (v.16:26-4-63)

See also: Category 9 (v.6) “From Birth to Rebirth,” chapter 3; Category 19 (v.13): “The Reign of Relativity,” chapters 1 and 4; Category 26 (v.16): “World Idea;” and Category 27 (v.16): “World Mind,” chapters 2 and 3.

April 2017, #50 The Evil in Our Time

April 2017 - The Evil in Our Time

PB writes in The Spiritual Crisis of Man, Chapter VIII, The Evil in our Time, There is an Idea implicit in the very orderliness of the cosmos. Science has begun to get some dim glimpses of little fragments of this plan. The last value of science is its revelation of the presence of law in the cosmos. For law presupposes mind and infers intelligence. Even so far as man’s present knowledge of the laws of nature extends, some kind of unifying mind is evidenced behind them. That it is not indifferent to his development is also evidenced. Nothing and no one has ever been, could ever be, outside the Infinite Being’s infinite field of awareness. Moreover, no event could ever happen except within its infinite field of law. If every man knew how much perfect wisdom, infinite intelligence, and orderliness have gone into the cosmos, all would fall on their knees every day in deepest reverence before the Power behind it. Let us derive from every intuited fact the firm assurance that a divine law holds all the processes of the universe in its power, and a divine mind exists behind all the innumerable human minds and is their source and goal.” (p. 167)

“We learn from philosophy that the life of the whole universe, no less than the life of every man, is ruled by order and not by accident, by law and not by chance, by intelligence and not by senselessness. There is an intelligent direction behind every phenomenon of life and Nature in this cosmos. There is no event, no creature, nothing in the whole universe which is without significance. This is so and must be so because the whole universe is the thought of infinite Mind.” (p. 168) He points out that the philosophic student needs to develop Perseverance and Patience rather than looking for quick results because “in no other way can the divine Idea guarantee the genuineness of the ego’s evolution.” (p.169.) He speaks of the ego as “having the right and freedom to make its own mistakes and involve itself in consequential suffering, because it must become thoroughly integrated with its parent-self by a process as natural as the seed becomes a tree.” (Ibid.) The text emphasizes that the heroic attitude is indeed the price he has to pay for truth, that truth which brings peace in its train. (Ibid.) Printed in italics is the following: He knows that holy forces will interpose themselves more and more into their history, despite all temporary lapses or partial retrogressions.” (p. 170)

The careful reader of these pages will find a prophesy on page 173: “Even within the next two or three millenniums civilization will shed so many of its evil characteristics, including wars, and acquire so many finer ones, that it will be blessed by a veritable new and joyous epoch in comparison with its present state. Just as the dinosaurs and other reptilian monsters died out when the planetary conditions had nothing further to express in that way, so the tiger and the vulture will die out at the same time outside man as Nature and inside him as passion and greed. Just as every night is followed by a dawn, so the dark period of materialism which now is culminating with its worse features will be followed, first by a short transition, then by a dawn period when the bright rays of a better age for man will manifest themselves.” (p. 174)

March 2017, #49 The Spiritual Crisis of Man

March 2017 - The Spiritual Crisis of Man

Eteaching #48 discussed"The War and the World" (chapter 10, The Wisdom of the Overself) and noted the relevancy of the topic to the current world situation. More thoughts about this appear in The Spiritual Crisis of Man. About this book, PB wrote:

"I have waited many years to write this book. I have been silent for several years, not because I was indifferent to the mental difficulties of others nor because I was unable to help them, but because the proper time had not yet come to do so. I waited in inwardly commanded patience, but it is with some relief that I now find I need not wait any longer. Those years since December 1942, when I wrote the last paragraph of The Wisdom of the Overself, may seem to have been totally unproductive. But in reality they were years of hidden gestation. I remained silent in obedience to this command, but not idle." Notebooks Category 12: Reflections > Chapter 5: The Literary Work > # 345 (#15142)

In Chapter VII of The Spiritual Crisis of Man, “Man's Will and God's Will," PB addresses suffering and gives sage advice:

"The dark sorrows which life may present us can and should be met with a quiet confidence in the power of the soul to conquer them either psychologically or practically or both. But this power must be felt for, found, trusted and obeyed. If we keep our thought wise and good and brave, it will shield us, always inwardly and mayhap outwardly, from life's sharpest arrows. And this is true whether they are shot at us by harsh fate or by human malice. Even in the darkest situations we often hope for the best. This is really our faintly echoing comprehension of the higher self's message, that its bliss, and therefore our best, forever awaits us. There is a paradox here." ( p.136)

He writes on p. 131,"The extremist advocates of nonresistance ignore the evolutionary need of cultivating both intelligence and will. The way in which we meet external situations and worldly events depends on these two factors as well as on our moral status. A total acceptance of, and passive resignation to, each situation or event because we believe that God's decree is expressed by it, deprives us of the chance to develop intelligence and exercise will. But such an activity is part of the divine evolutionary Idea for humanity. Blind acceptance of every event, apathetic submission in the face of every situation, and pious yielding to remediable evil really means failure to co-operate with this Idea--which is the very opposite of what their advocates intended!"

Some instruction in the complexity of metaphysics aids our understanding. In the chapter"God is," PB points out the twofold nature of mind:

"We call the ultimate principle of all being MIND. We call the ultimate principle of this manifested world of things and creatures, the World-Mind. But whereas the first is beyond intellectual expression of reach, unique, unlimited, absolute, ever still, the second exists in relations with the universe and with man. It is qualitatively describable, individual, and ever active. The word God to the philosopher means the first, to the theologian and mystic it means the second. MIND stands alone in its uniqueness, whereas the World-Mind is forever in relation with the world which is its product. The second is an aspect of the first, a timeless God in time and for a time, but MIND is a God forever out of time and space. Yet, except for human thinking about them, the two are not totally distinct entities." (p. 184)

The next eteaching will continue with material from The Spiritual Crisis of Man.

February 2017, #48 The War and The World

February 2017 - The War and The World, The Wisdom of the Overself, Chapter X

Although the copyright date on this book is 1943, the subject of this chapter is eerily relevant today. War is still manifesting in the world, but PB points out the source lies in the hidden side, the active unseen forces. He has written extensively about the causes and effects of war in several volumes: Volume 9 of the Notebooks, (Human Experience) and Chapter VIII, “The Evil in Our Time” in The Spiritual Crisis of Man are recommended study for a deeper understanding.

In the first para on p. 217 of “The War and the World” PB writes: “The chequered surface of history is largely a tale of tears and chance but its depths are a revelation of evolutionary unfoldment working alongside of karmic readjustment. There is a just logic in the sequence of historic events but it reveals itself only if we examine them by the doctrine of karma.” It goes on to point out that a metaphysical understanding is helpful to unwind the thorny knot.

Page 218: “They must take a different road and seek redemption from their past thinking. If they could get hold of right principles, they could not go far wrong in practical details. Action is but a reflection of attitude. The solutions of all our sociological and economic problems, for example, do not ultimately lie within sociology and economics alone but much more in psychology. Indeed, it may even be affirmed that without a re-education of mankind in meditational practices and philosophic truth - which includes psychology - all reformers labour largely in vain. The roots of our troubles lie in the imperfections of human nature and in the fallibility of human knowledge. Philosophy is not an aimless, useless study: it leads to right thinking, which is one of the most essential precedents of right living. It can offer not only a profound analysis of the past but also sound proposals for the future.”

Page 222: “During the course of our long planetary history, the general moral evolution rises and falls like a series of ascending arcs, but the terminal of each arc is spiral-like on a higher level than the terminal of the preceding one. Consequently, collective humanity always tends to show forth its worse characteristics before it shows forth its better ones. Such a terminal is being passed today and it is the business of the evil powers to make the most of their chance. Those who, through selfish bias, wishful thinking, undeveloped intelligence, or un-awakened intuition cannot understand the deeper significance of the present war will not also understand that the essential forces operating on both sides are far more than merely nationalistic, political or military ones. It is still more of a climacteric war of ideas and ideals of the unseen powers of Light and Darkness.”

This chapter continues with sub-headings of “The Social Crisis” and “The Personal Crisis.” We read on pages 227 and 228: Mankind is emerging from a tradition which once served it but now hampers it. The collapse of a debilitated culture, the break-up of a small-hearted economic order, the disintegration of an effete social order, and the decay of an outworn political order are inevitable historical processes, however excellent and worthy all these orders may have proved themselves in the past. Within the structures of these systems, valuable as they originally were on their own level, a spiritually progressive human life has now become less and less possible for the billions of human beings on this planet. …. A new world will be born out of the old one. This is an event which none can avert. It will be worse in some ways but better in others. To the extent that we plan this world unselfishly to suit worthwhile ideas and ideals, it will be a better one. To the extent that we let the crucial situation selfishly take its own course, it will be a worse one.” We will continue this topic in the next eteaching.

December 2016, #47 The Body (cont.)

December 2016 - The Notebooks, v. 4, pt. 2 - The Body (cont.)

The focus in this eteaching is on Diet and Exercise

While this brief review cannot do justice to the wealth of information PB gives on diet in particular, the emphasis he places on it is too important not to note. In the section on Diet he writes: "The greatest of all diet reforms is the change from meat-eating to a meatless diet. This is also the first step on the spiritual path, the first gesture that rightness, justice, compassion, purity are being set up as necessary to human and humane living, in contrast to animal living." (ch. 2, para 5) He reveals the depth of his conviction concerning vegetarianism when he says, "If there is any single cause for which I would go up and down the land on a twentieth-century crusade, it is that of the meatless diet. It may be a forlorn crusade, but all the same, it would be a heart-warming one." (Ibid., para 6) "Why should we abstain from meat-eating? (a) Cultivated land if planted with vegetables, fruits, and nuts will yield much more food for an overpopulated world than it could yield if left under pasture for cattle and sheep. (b) The ghastly work of slaughter of these harmless innocent creatures, can be done only by hardened men, whose qualities of compassion and sympathy must inevitably get feebler and feebler. How many housewives could do their own butchering? (c) In terms of equal food value, the meatless diet costs less. (d) Animals which suffer from contagious diseases pass on the germs of these diseases to those who eat their flesh or parasites. (e) Meat contains excretory substances, purines, which may cause other, non-communicable diseases." (Ibid., para 11)

Chapter 6, "Breathing Exercises," covers many aspects of the benefits of deep breathing which the reader may want to try. Instruction such as Breathing Exercise to Improve, Control and Prevent Colds (ch. 6, para 11) and Breathing Exercises to pacify mind and body (ch. 6, para 17) are useful examples. He writes: "The reader should pay particular attention to the goals and dangers of breath control as they are listed several places in this chapter." (Ibid., para 19)

Chapter 9, "Postures for Prayer," gives meaningful information and instruction on "Seven Sacred Postures for Philosophic Prayer." (ch. 9, para 2) This includes graphic sketches of the postures. He writes, "...the exercises depolarize the physical body’s earthward gravitation and render it more amenable to the entrance of spiritual currents." (Ibid.) He names these exercises: 1) Standing and remembrance; 2) Stretching and worship; 3) Bowing and aspiration; 4) Kneeling and confessions; 5) Squatting and submission; 6) Prostrating and union; and 7) Gesturing.

October 2016, #46 The Body

October 2016 - “The Body” from The Notebooks, Volume 4, Part 2

The information in these pages is a broad collection that brings together teachings of the East and the West on how to treat the body so that it serves the quester well and efficiently. PB invokes the present-day understanding of the connection between mind and body and asserts that both are mental in essence; in other words, he presents a philosophic understanding of Body. He has compiled his research into 9 sections ranging from a 19-page Prefatory to 8 sections on The Body, Diet, Fasting, Exercise, Breathing Exercises, Sex and Gender, Kundalini, and Postures for Prayer. He writes, “This thing, this fleshly body, which ascetics have hated and saints have despised, is a holy temple. The divine Life-force is always latently present in it and, aroused, can sweep through every cell, making it sacred.” (page 2 of section titled “The Body”)

The necessity of discipline is emphasized in the Prefatory. “On this Quest it is needful to calculate strength of will.” (p.12)

“The body is to be his servant, a willing and obedient servant. But it can carry out his bidding properly only if it is trained to do so, and easily only if it is strong and healthy.” (Ibid.)

“All through history, spiritual guides and religious prophets, ethical teachers and enrapt mystics have told humanity to elevate ideals, conduct, thought; to discipline self, passion, emotion; but they have seldom told humanity what practical procedure to adopt to make such drastic changes possible.” (Ibid.)

“If a man is told to be good, he is given counsel that may yet be worthless to him. If he is taught the Law of Recompense and told why it will profit him to be good, the counsel may appeal (should he be a reasonable man) but he may still lack the strength of will to implement it: he needs to be taught how to be good. The purification of the body is the first step in this direction.” (p. 12)

“Anyone who takes philosophy seriously enough will have to take to its discipline. This will assault his formed habits just as much as its psychology will assault his self-conceit. His way of living—his diet, sleep, and rest, for instance—will have to be examined and when necessary reformed.” (Ibid.)

“The Quester who is not hard with himself and not willing to reform his habits will not go so far or so quickly as the one who is both. Great yearnings for a better state are not enough; he must do something to gain it.” (p.13.)

“No ascetic discipline need be carried to an unnecessary extreme, nor further than its proper intention - which is to give physical self-control… If he is called upon for any of these abstentions in Philosophy, it is because they give strength to his will, protection to his meditations, purity and fitness to his body.” (p. 16-17)

“Modern existence is too often cluttered with too many material possessions. These demand care and attention, time and energy, thought and feeling, which the average Quester is rarely able to find enough of to provide for study, reflection, and meditation anyway. Somewhere he will probably have to sacrifice something if he is to gain them for his spiritual need. A time usually comes when he finds it desirable to reorganize his way of life so as not to be encumbered by so many things.” (p.17)

September 2016, #45 The Wisdom of the Overself

September 2016 -"Rebirth" from The Wisdom of the Overself (2015 ed.), Ch. 7, “The Scorpion of Death,” Section 4

This could be read as a dialogue between the individual and the higher self, much like the one between Arjuna and Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. PB calls this section “Rebirth,” not “Reincarnation,” and this points towards a higher understanding of the process we call death and what lies beyond. To the somewhat frightening aspect of confronting the relative truth of our existence, the teaching speaks of the necessity of recognizing the transiency of life and death. The first paragraph on page 157 reads,”If anything changes and passes away, it is because it turns into something else.” Questions previously asked were “who,” “what,” “where”; now they include “why” “whence” “whither.” Once these questions are understood, a different understanding arises.

“Rebirth” includes a recall of previous chapters of The Wisdom of the Overself and reminds us that we need a metaphysical background to understand the mystery of life and death. Near the bottom of page 161, PB refers to the 5th chapter, “The Metaphysics of Sleep.” He explains, “…humanity can attain its fullest spiritual Self-realization only in the wakeful state of the physical world. Because the after-death regions here described are the equivalents to the dreaming and sleeping states only, it becomes needful for the imperfect spirit to return to earth again, where alone it can find the adequate conditions for its further progress. This is the final justification of rebirth.” When he explains once more the identification of the ‘I’-thought with the body-thought, which always arises second, he points out the initial error from whence our ignorance arises. The first paragraph on page 160 brings up the analogy of death to sleep when it explains that, “Each morning we reappear out of blank nothingness with all our personal character and particular tendencies intact.”

Page 158 explains, “For the released consciousness is only partially released by the critical transition of death. The multitude of expressions which it has gained during its incarnation have worn certain deep furrows of desire and habit. These tendencies attach themselves to and colour it completely. Not having yet understood that there is an ultimate and impersonal purpose to be attained in passing through these experiences in the earth-world, it has developed an excessive interest in them.”

The person asks, “Do we come back?” Well, no, if you mean “me”, the ego we identify with in body consciousness - no ‘we’ do not. Following the thread of the process, PB explains on page 157 that “those who ask for personal survival after death during an endless eternity are unconsciously asking for the everlasting survival of all their moral faults and defects, all their mental incapacities and limitations. This in turn implies that they are asking for the fixation of error and the stabilization of evil and ignorance.” Page 158 speaks of asking for ”the progressive change of personality, for evolution from the worst to the best, even though this involve a gradual letting go of the imperfect characteristics and traits of a particular personality and its gradual transformation into a diviner and grander being.”

Pages 158-9 deal with karma: “all [ties] are mental ties and so long as they exist, the ‘I’ necessarily continues to feel the need of the physical body which formed them.” Mentalism teaches that ”thought being creative, it will be driven by its own forces to return to earth again. All these ties need a new incarnation for their working out and adjustment. No world becomes real for us until we experience it, which means until we think it… Therefore, the spirit is inwardly impelled to think the space-time characteristics which will bring the earth back into its consciousness. Before this can happen, however, Nature so ordains matters that it has to pass through the intermediate period corresponding to dream wherein the earthly experiences just completed are first mentally digested.”

On page 159 we learn that” both mentality and perspective are, in the final analysis, results gained from former births. No experience is ever lost. All the innumerable memories of innumerable lives are subconsciously assimilated and transmuted into wisdom, into conscience, into tendencies, and into intuitions which spring from men know not where but which nevertheless influence their characters and lives….We cannot jump the hurdles which bar us from the winning post…. The one essential is right direction. There is no standing still. We must develop or degenerate.”

August 2016, #44 The Inner Reality - Realization

August 2016 - The Inner Reality, Chapter 11 - Realization

“ THE GENERAL SUBJECT of the discourses in this final section of the Bhagavad Gita is the realization of the supreme being of man.” (p.165)

The knowledge spoken of here is that of “the Knower who dwells in all bodies.” PB calls this the Witness-Self. The whole Truth includes the knowledge of both the inner self and the external universe, the latter including the mental and spirit-worlds, but they are not the One Reality because the whole Truth is found only when you find the Overself. When you discover the supreme unity presented as both the inner self and the outer world, there is “no sense of duality, no divorce between spirit and matter. There is only one Reality in truth which cannot be divided into two.” The goal is the Truth which embraces everything. This is freedom because when you “learn to live in the material world by this higher light, you create no further destiny. .. Bondage to destiny is in the mind.” (p.166)

Some of the virtues which will aid the seeker are listed with the admonition that “no virtue in itself will ever give you understanding; the most it can do is to prepare you. Most essentially you need meditation, or mind-stilling and reflective inquiry.” PB lists humility as the first quality you need and non-injury follows. Helpfulness and compassion tend to dissolve the strength of the personal ego. He writes that “patience is hard to acquire….You must be confident that one day the great reward and grand results must come, and they will come at the right time. The precise time is dictated by destiny. Patience means that one must never desert this quest, even when conditions seem hopeless. You will find that because you stick to the path, help will come to you.” Steadfastness follows uprightness and service of the teacher. “You have to go through a stage of discipline in order to bring the body and mind to heel.” (pp. 167-8)

The description of the inner self which you find in meditation is different from the ultimate Self. “It is undivided because it is One, yet, strangely, it seems divided because every being and creature and plant has a fragment of that life,… an appearance which does not exist in actuality… We see the form die and change… but what has become of their life? It has returned to the Overself.” (pp. 169-70)

“That which seems to be carrying on in the world is simply Nature.” Nature is simply the cosmic mind which creates the forms around us. “The Overself itself has nothing to act for… We must not lose sight of the ultimate truth that the whole of this world is nothing but a mental appearance, because the Overself has nothing to act for on its own behalf. It is itself self-sufficient.” (p. 171)

“The Bhagavad Gita is one of the few scriptures in the world which definitely and purposely explain the principles and practices of the gospel of inspired action…. The disciple has a basis for life, for it is based on reality. He stands firm, for he feels no more doubt.” (p.182)

“The final lesson is that Divinity is everywhere. Everywhere God can be found, and God is good.” (p. 182)

July 2016, #43 The Inner Reality Part 3

July 2016 - The Inner Reality, Part 3

The following para is a portion of a study guide prepared by Anna Bornstein, with PB’s assistance and comments, for a Swedish edition of The Inner Reality. The study guide will be listed on the website,, in the section "Publications."

Bhagavad Gita, “The Lord’s Song”

This text describes the scene on a battlefield before the battle is to begin – one of the Indian avatars (divine incarnations) named Krishna instructs the young prince, Arjuna, who is the leader of the good forces which are fighting those who represent the forces of wickedness. The book is a mixture of bits of history and mythology and deals with a period at least 5,000 years ago, so it is now difficult to separate one from the other. The story may also be taken symbolically as representing the spiritual teachings given by the god Krishna to his devotee, prince Arjuna.

There are different teachings given in each chapter of the Gita. Krishna describes the different paths to the highest human goal, telling Arjuna to choose from them, but one of the reasons for this teaching is to show how to do one’s duty in the world and yet not be dragged down by it – inwardly, one must seek the highest goal.



“The second portion of the Bhagavad Gita is illumined by the high revelation that the Overself exists everywhere, and that the whole of human struggle is really an unconscious quest for the satisfaction its protection alone offers. … One must practice meditation not only at set times but unceasingly, remembering the benefit of aspiration….When you can hold sacred self-remembrance continuously you have succeeded in your meditation. ... To succeed in your quest you must turn the mind inward, keeping it at rest in the heart center, while with the surface mind you are living the active life (p. 149).”

By penetrating the cosmic illusion with which Nature confronts us and understanding that this illusion exists only in our minds, we can be led to Truth. “Eventually science will be forced to the conclusion that force is a current which exists in your own mind (p.151).”

“If you make Truth your goal, you are looking for the very highest. You will find that Truth brings its own reward, because all other benefits troop after it. As Jesus said: ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all these things shall be added to you.’ That is the root of the whole matter (p. 151).”

PB explains, “It is the great cosmic illusion which deceives you into thinking that this material world is real. Learn to still your mind by the daily practice of meditation. Since it is thought which produces illusion, it follows that when you can empty the mind of thought and achieve mental stillness, you are able to examine the world and observe its real nature (p.152).”

“The body and mind working together create in you the sense of being a separate person or individuality. Yet in the silence of meditation or at unexpected moments you sometimes catch a glimpse of another being in you which normally escapes attention. You feel it to be universal and impersonal. At such moments you are near the cosmic consciousness. You sense it without actually knowing it….

“If you begin to think steadily about what you really are in your innermost nature, the time will come when you find the answer to the question, “What am I?” The sole way by which it can be found is not by external vision or observation, but by entering into conscious unity with your reality (p.153).”

This section continues for several more pages, each sentence bringing light into us. PB’s modern words help us on our way to understanding truths that sages of all ages have sought to bring to mankind.

June 2016, #42 The Inner Reality Part 2

June 2016 - The Inner Reality, Part 2

The next two PB eTeachings deal with the three chapters in The Inner Reality titled:
“The Scripture of the Yogis: 1. Renunciation,”
“The Scripture of the Yogis: 2. Revelation,”
“The Scripture of the Yogis: 3. Realization.”
They are PB’s commentary on the Bhagavad Gita.

“The Bhagavad Gita is one of the few scriptures in the world which definitely and purposely explain the principles and practices of the gospel of inspired action.” These words from The Inner Reality (p.182) indicate the high regard Paul Brunton has for this Indian classic which tries “in a remarkable manner” to satisfy the ideals of both the East and the West. He reveals in selected representative lines the esoteric meaning rather than the religious meaning in the Gita. He writes: “The beautiful simplicity and lofty quality of this Indian bible bring it into favourable and complementary light alongside of the New Testament. Krishna not only represents the embodied spiritual teacher, but he is ultimately the Overself within man, the God within who can illuminate all dark corners and answer all questions.” (p.128)

In the first section, “Renunciation,” the disciple receives the teaching to fight, i.e., to act, but asks, “Why shouldn’t I retire and let others perform the action? Life is obviously a dream; therefore I will sit still and watch the dream go by.” (p. 131) PB comments that while this indicates an advanced understanding, it does not include the realization that whatever you do, you cannot refrain from acting, since you are involved in mental action and cannot escape your thoughts. “Therefore be inwardly the witness of life, as you wish to be, but do not be afraid of it.” (p. 131) Since we have been sent here on earth, we cannot shirk the calamities of material life. We can, however, evade the conventional reaction to them. The Gita states:

Thy concern is with action alone, never with results. Let not the fruit of action be thy motive,
nor let thy attachment be for inaction. Steadfast in devotion do thy works,
O disciple, casting off attachment, being the same in success and failure. (p.131)

The ascetic and the would-be yogi may try to banish all thoughts, but the sage is not trying to do anything. “He understands and accepts thoughts, but he is not at their mercy, for he realizes what they really are and controls them effortlessly and spontaneously.” (p. 134)

The disciple desires to know why, “if understanding the truth is so necessary, he should be asked to plunge into activity.” (p. 134) The teacher replies:

“ In this world a twofold path was taught by Me at first, that of devotion to knowledge and that of devotion to action.” (p. 135)

The teacher describes the path of action. He stresses the performance of duty and the repayment of the debt which one owes to Nature. PB writes that “the real problem for the spiritual man is how to render efficient service and give himself up to his work in this feverish contemporary world, and yet remain loyal to his inner call.” (p. 135)

The teacher inculcates sacrifice, but it is a peculiar kind of sacrifice. It is a sacrifice of service. You must serve because it is right to serve, act because it is right to act, and then sacrifice the result of your actions to destiny. This path is appropriate for modern day life. It is PB’s belief that ancient wisdom must unite with modern science. (p.135)

PB concludes the first section with this quote:

“A divine purpose pulsates through the whole of Nature. He who learns the art of right meditation will ultimately put himself into harmony with that purpose, which will thenceforward use him as a holy instrument in his labours among the strayed sheep of mankind. The universal awareness of the one Overself as being present in all others, automatically brings him into perfect sympathy with all others, and therefore makes him yearn to bring them all into their own self-awareness. Because they are living in a physical world and in a physical body, the best way he can reach them is through physical means, which means a life of inspired activity.” (p. 135)

April 2016, #41 The Inner Reality Part 1

April 2016 - The Inner Reality, Part 1

This new edition of Discover Yourself is a treasure trove of ideas for those new to PB’s writings, and for long-time readers a reminder of the comprehensive scope of teachings in this small volume. Looking within brings deeper and more spiritual meaning. Although Paul Brunton (PB) wrote this book in the late 1930s, it is perhaps even more relevant today. He provides a practical framework for spiritual development that includes one of the best guides to meditation--both for readers who have a Christian background as well as people who are simply interested in deepening their spiritual life and appreciating the East-West mystical teachings of Jesus and Krishna.

On page 7 of the “Prefatory,” PB expresses his hope : “Just as a slender ray of light creeping from the East betokens a broader dawn, so a man’s interest in these ideas may betoken the dawn of a deeper understanding of them.” And his belief that “by the time sensitive readers have gone through part or all of my books, there will remain a legacy of definite and vital experience, not only through reading their pages, but through the quiet rumination which should follow.”

Chapter II opens the dialogue with the vital question, “What is God?” It examines the variety of ideas that people hold about God: from a personal to an impersonal God. Scientists find that life exists everywhere and is present in every atom of matter throughout the universe. They picture God as this infinite power and life-current. Orthodox religion has usually pictured a personal God, an individualized Being Who rewards the adherents of that particular faith because they worship and praise Him. Much of the confusion in the religious world arises out of its dependence on feelings alone, unchecked by reason. The power which man has found in religion, the power to help him and to lift him up has come from man himself. He himself has given himself the guidance, help, exaltation and spiritual consolation which he believed he found in his church or in his faith or in his idea of God. When man has learnt to build a quiet church inside his own heart and to be a ministering priest to his own self, religion will have done its true work (pp. 10-11).

Other chapters in The Inner Reality include “A Sane Religion,” which explores how religions develop historically. It points out, “It is impossible to live entirely in the past when we seek for Truth. The present is just as real, just as useful, on this quest.”….” religion must be a personal thing, - a relationship between yourself as an individual, and God the Infinite Spirit- not between you and any organized institutions”. …“God is a spirit, so you must find God as spirit; it is something that needs no external demonstration”. ..”You can find it inside your own heart and in the secrecy of your most intimate feelings”. … “The only way in which religion can be established is by worship, not by argument or discussion”…. (pp. 23-24).

Chapter IV unfolds “The Mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven” as Jesus first explains his message to the world in The Sermon on the Mount, albeit in parables and similes. PB comments that the essence of the Sermon in contained in the beatitude with which it opens.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The meaning of the Seven Beatitudes (combining the first two and the last two) can be understood only from the esoteric standpoint which means an initiation, the beginning of a new life, a new outlook, and a new understanding and is brought about only after you have learnt something of the art of meditation (p. 52).

The next two PB eTeachings will continue to explore teachings in The Inner Reality. Readers are invited to read and study along with us. A study guide prepared by PB will be posted shortly on the website.

March 2016, #40 - The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga 2


from The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga, chapter 7(North Atlantic Books, 2015)

The tool with which a philosopher must needs work is his mind. The ancient sages did not permit a man to begin philosophic studies until he had put his mind into proper shape so that it could function efficiently (p.156) ….Western thinkers have made admirable attempts but they have failed to win success partly because they lacked this tool of a yoga-equipped, ego-purified and body-subdued mentality with which to force open the shut gate of truth (p.157).

The success of the ancient sages did not come from blindly believing the words of some personage; it did not come from yielding to the consolations of some religious book; it did not come from mystic intuition, that appeared suddenly and involuntarily; it did not come from the satisfactions of elementary yoga alone but also after long-laboured metaphysical thinking followed by the supreme yoga which swept the ego into the Universal All and stilled both thinking and feeling (p. 164) .

He (the philosopher) seeks a rock-like impregnable position. He rejects nothing in advance but he questions everything in the end to enquire if it be true, whereas unenlightened men deliberately divorce intuition from any contact with reason whilst unenlightened mystics deliberately refuse to submit their “truth” to any test. He will not be so foolish as to repel an intuition, for instance, but he will be ready to accept it only after he has controlled, examined and confirmed it.Thus mentally fortified he will so use his own intuitions or expert authorities that they may become a most useful help (p. 164).

Fidelity to reason does not debar but admits faith therefore, only it demands that we should test our beliefs and discover if they be true. It likewise accepts the existence of spontaneous intuition but asks that we check our intuitions and ascertain whether they be correct, not hesitating to reject them where found unsatisfactory. It unhesitatingly admires the unusual tranquility to be found in mystic meditations but counsels that we enquire rigorously whether the feeling of reality which it gives us be reality. It always approves of the exercise of logic in the organization of thinking but it points out that the operations of logic are strictly limited by the amount of available data and that at best logic can only rearrange in an orderly manner what we already explicitly or implicitly know. In short, it seeks firm verification (pp.164-165).

Now how can we test our beliefs, check our intuitions, enquire into the reality of meditation experience, know whether our logic is dealing with all possible facts or not and eliminate the errors of every one of these methods? There is but a single answer to all these queries, a single means of satisfying our doubts concerning them, and that is - we must begin and end with the canons of reason as the sole criterion of judgment. For it is only by critically reasoning upon them that such examinations can be fruitfully carried out (p.165).

A thorough conviction and an unassailable grasp of true principles can only be reached through the adequate exercise of thinking power intently concentrated and raised to its highest degree. No other method of approach can yield such an enduring correctness in every instance. And it will eventually be the sole means of obtaining world-wide agreement amongst all peoples and in all places on this globe, because reason cannot vary in its conclusions about truth; it is universally verifiable and will remain so a hundred thousand years hence. Such variations will however belong to what pretends to be reason. And they will also exist whenever reason is unjustifiably limited to the experience of waking state alone (p.165).

February 2016, #39 - The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga

The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga

One may well ask, “What is the Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga?” Paul Brunton offers explanation of how mastering yoga practices of quieting the lower mind and using reason to reach the higher mind can lead the sincere seeker to truth. He writes in Chapter VII, “It will now be clearer why, when describing the qualifications needed by the philosophic enquirer, great emphasis was laid upon the elimination of the ingrained human tendency to view things from an egoistic platform (p. 184).

The Arbitrament of Thinking Power

The weary traveler may well be provoked into asking whether the human mind is at all capable of solving ultimate problems. This is an important question…..Its answer involves the answer to other questions, such as “How do I get knowledge?” “What is meant by knowledge?” “Which kind of knowledge is true?”—all of which must be dealt with by the philosopher if he is to walk warily in the light and not dubiously in darkness…It is to the honour of Immanuel Kant that he was the first Western thinker to raise the question whether man possessed a mental instrument fit for knowing truth. He came to a negative conclusion. Fortunately we need not be so pessimistic for we shall find, as the ancient Indian sages found, that only the best awaits us in the end and that the riddle of life can be solved with man’s present resources. …. (pp.176-178).

The very occurrence in man of the desire to know, the need to understand, whether it take the form of belief or not indicates that ignorance is likewise there. Hence it is better to recognize that he must take to a different path if he would gain knowledge and this he can do only by beginning with doubt. Unless he introduces the element of courageous questioning into his everyday conceptions he cannot hope to learn more about their validity (p.183).

God has endowed us all with—in however feeble a degree—with thinking power, with the potential capacity to discriminate and reason for ourselves. Should we not, therefore, use His gift and not scorn it?... (p. 180).

Authoritarianism has its undeniable place and is indeed absolutely indispensable for regulating the affairs of society. We are studying the question from a higher dimension altogether, that of philosophy, the search for ultimate truth and for the time beingthe reader must drop the lower dimension of thought completely; otherwise he will mix the issues and bewilder his mind (Ibid.).


There must be adamant refusal to be overawed by authority. There must be an attitude which keenly probes and dissects every dogma which is set up for consumption; there must be a freedom from the ancient prejudices and irrational predilections implanted by heredity, environment, and experience; there must be the courage to resist the emotional pressure generated by conventional social forces, a pressure which carries most people along the stream of untruth, dissimulation and selfish interest (pp.180-181).


(To be continued)

January 2016, #38 Mystical Practices

This excerpt is only a portion of the “Two Essays” found in Volume 8 of the Notebooks. It is given in hopes that the reader will continue the reading and be encouraged to pursue the mystical practices.

My Initiations into the Overself

The reluctance to put in the present chapter arises partly because it touches private, intimate, and sacred moments, and partly because it will necessarily be so prolific in first-person pronouns that it will sound far too egotistic. Its very virtue may appear as its vanity. But I know from wide experience that such a narration will help those who are already seeking the Overself to recognize certain important signs on their own way, to learn where the correct path should lead them, and, above all, to confirm them in the necessity of hope. I believe, too, that it may give those who are not questers but ordinary people more faith that God does exist and more trust in the ultimate beneficence of God's World-Idea. If it serves also in such ways, it can only do a little good to write and release this record.

Although a writer never really knows how much good or how much harm his work does (for the reports of its results are few and far between), if his aim is to serve he need not be concerned about those results. He would do his best and find peace in the thought that man and fate will take care of them. So I follow the practice and counsel of an old Greek monk, Callistus Telicudes, who wrote: "One ought not to keep what is learned by Meditation, but one should make notes of it and circulate the writings for the use of others." This is why I communicate these inner experiences to those who might be helped, to those who might receive more vision of and more belief in life itself.

Before I reached the threshold of manhood and after six months of unwavering daily practice of meditation and eighteen months of burning aspiration for the Spiritual Self, I underwent a series of mystical ecstasies. During them I attained a kind of elementary consciousness of it.

If anyone could imagine a consciousness which does not objectify anything but remains in its own native purity, a happiness beyond which it is impossible to go, and a self which is unvaryingly one and the same, he would have the correct idea of the Overself.

There are not a few persons who have known infrequent occasions when their ordinary mentality seems to lapse, when their feeling for beauty and goodness seems to expand enormously, and when their worldly cynicism falls away into abeyance for a short time. The place may seem perfect for this experience, but it may also seem quite the opposite--such as a noisy metropolitan street. There are many other persons who have known the beauty of a great musical symphony and felt its power to draw the emotions into a vortex of delight or grandeur. Such persons can more easily imagine what this rapturous emotional mystical experience is like. But they may not know that under the ordinary human consciousness there is a hidden region whence these aesthetic feelings are drawn.

It was certainly the most blissful time I had ever had until then. I saw how transient and how shallow was earthly pleasure by comparison with the real happiness to be found in this deeper Self. Before my illumination the solitary scenes of Nature's grandeur usually served as my greatest form of inspiration. I could become so absorbed in admiring such beauty that I would feel swallowed up in it for a period of time and fall into a tranquil state. After my illumination I no longer became totally absorbed in such scenes. They remained something separate from me: I was detached from them. The emotional exaltation they aroused was less or lower than the peace and joy I felt in the Overself. Yet this spatial detachment did not prevent me from enjoying nature, art, and music to an even greater and more satisfying extent than previously. The detachment gave me freedom, release from some personal limitations, and enabled me to feel and understand beauty in a larger and deeper way. I even became more attentive to detail.

The glamour and the freshness of those mystical ecstasies subsided within three or four weeks and vanished. But the awareness kindled by them remained for three years. I then met an advanced mystic--an expatriate American living in Europe--who told me that I was near the point where I could advance to the next and higher degree of illumination and that, at such a period, most aspirants undergo certain tests before they succeed in gaining the degree.

NotebooksCategory 12: Reflections > Chapter 1: Two Essays > # 2, pages 7,8,9.

December 2015, #37 Philosophy and Mysticism

Life is not a matter of meditation methods exclusively. Their study and practice is necessary, but let them be put in their proper place. Both mystical union and metaphysical understanding are necessary steps on this quest, because it is only from them that the student can mount to the still higher grade of universal being represented by the sage. For we not only need psychological exercises to train the inner being, but also psychological exercises to train the point of view. But the student must not stay in mysticism as he must not stay in metaphysics. In both cases he should take all that they have to give him but struggle through and come out on the other side. For the mysticism of emotion is not the shrine where Isis dwells but only the vestibule to the shrine, and the metaphysician who can only see in reason the supreme faculty of man has not reflected enough. Let him go farther and he shall find that its own supreme achievement is to point beyond itself to that principle or Mind whence it takes its rise. Mysticism needs the check of philosophic discipline. Metaphysics needs the vivification of mystical meditation. Both must bear fruit in inspired action or they are but half-born. In no other way than through acts can they rise to the lofty status of facts.

The realization of what man is here for is the realization of a fused and unified life wherein all the elements of action, feeling, and thought are vigorously present. It is not, contrary to the belief of mystics, a condition of profound entrancement alone, nor, contrary to the reasonings of metaphysicians, a condition of intellectual clarity alone, and still less, contrary to the opinions of theologians, a condition of complete faith in God alone. We are here to live, which means to think, feel, and act also. We have not only to curb thought in meditation, but also to whip it in reflection. We have not only to control emotion in self-discipline, but also to release it in laughter, relaxation, affection, and pleasure. We have not only to perceive the transiency and illusion of material existence, but also to work, serve, strive, and move strenuously, and thus justify physical existence. We have to learn that when we look at what we really are we stand alone in the awed solitude of the Overself, but when we look at where we now are we see not isolated individuals but members of a thronging human community. The hallmark of a living man, therefore, ought to be an integral and inseparable activity of heart, head, and hand, itself occurring within the mysterious stillness and silence of its inspirer, the Overself.

The mistake of the lower mystic is when he would set up a final goal in meditation itself, when he would stop at the "letting-go" of the external world which is quite properly an essential process of mysticism, and when he would let his reasoning faculty fall into a permanent stupor merely because it is right to do so during the moments of mental quiet. When, however, he learns to understand that the antinomy of meditation and action belongs only to an intermediate stage of this quest, when he comes later to the comprehension that detachment from the world is only to be sought to enable him to move with perfect freedom amid the things of the world and not to flee them, and when he perceives at long last that the reason itself is God-given to safeguard his journey and later to bring his realization into self-consciousness--then he shall have travelled from the second to the third degree in this freemasonry of ultimate wisdom. For that which had earlier hindered his advance now helps it; such is the paradox which he must unravel if he would elevate himself from the satisfactions of mysticism to the perceptions of philosophy. If his meditations once estranged him from the world, now they bring him closer to it! If formerly he could find God only within himself, now he can find nothing else that is not God! He has advanced from the chrysalis-state of X to the butterfly state of Y.

If there be any worth in this teaching, such lies in its equal appeal to experience and to reason. For that inward beatitude which it finally brings is superior to any other that mundane man has felt and, bereft of all violent emotion itself though it be, paradoxically casts all violent emotions of joy in the shade. When we comprehend that this teaching establishes as fact what the subtlest reasoning points to in theory, reveals in man's own life the presence of that Overself which reflection discovers as from a remote distance, we know that here at long last is something fit for a modern man. The agitations of the heart and the troublings of the head take their dying breaths.

This quote is found in two places in TheNotebooks of Paul Brunton:

-- Notebooks Category 20: What Is Philosophy? > Chapter 4: Its Realization Beyond Ecstasy > # 148

-- Perspectives > Chapter 20: What Is Philosophy? > # 55

November 2015, #36 A Search in Secret Egypt

From Chapter l8 –"I Meet An Adept"

A Search in Secret Egypt has been newly reprinted by North Atlantic Books. The first edition in 1936 has been expanded in the 2015 volume to include different photographs from PB’s private collection, and readers will find the editorial "Notes" in the final pages very interesting. The addition of a "Commentary on the Epilogue" as given by the author helps to explain the symbolism in this intriguing teaching. The following passages refer to this new edition.

Paul Brunton describes taking the bridle path over the Libyan Mountains to the terraced cliff temple of Deir el Bahri where he noticed a stranger squatting on a low boulder. He beheld a radiant vision of light as this utterly unusual man spoke….(see p. 328.)

The high grade yogi… explained how the ways of some men cross and crisscross at the bidding of unseen forces and how seeming coincidences may be prearranged links in a chain of causes destined to have certain effects. Without the slightest vanity but as a mere statement of an existent fact he referred to himself as an Adept (p. 330)…. He called himself Ra-Mak-Hotep and explained that for him the name means only one thing: at peace."Egypt is not my home. Today the whole world is my home. Asia, Africa, Europe, and America - I know all these lands and move through them. I am an Easterner in body only, for in mind I belong to no single country and in heart I belong only to Peace." He spoke somewhat quickly, forcibly and feelingly, yet it was quite obvious that all his feelings were under perfect control.

For more than an hour we talked of spiritual things, sitting on the hilltop under a sun whose light still glared in one’s eyes and whose heat still caressed one closely. Yet I forgot those conditions in my absorbed interest in this man and his words. He told me of some matters which concerned the world, and of many others which concerned only myself. He gave me precise instructions and special exercises in connection with my own efforts to arrive at a degree of spiritual equilibrium and enlightenment beyond that which I had so far attained. He spoke frankly and critically, even sternly, of certain obstacles in my path, arising out of my personal faults. Finally he fixed an appointment with me for the following day, near the Roman altar, inside the colonnade that stands on the Nile bank at the Temple of Luxor.
Without rising from his rocky seat, he bade me farewell, excusing himself from further conversation on account of his being extremely busy and with much to do at the moment….

The descent of the hill was steep and slithery; I made it on foot down the rock and rubble, holding the donkey’s rein in one hand. When we reached the base I mounted the saddle and took a last look at the peak, which loomed up so portentously.
Ra-Mak-Hotep had not even begun his return journey. He was evidently still squatting on that bleak hilltop. What could he be doing up there, to keep him "extremely busy" while sitting as immobile as a statue? Would he still be there when the shadows of dusk deepened over the pink terraces of the Libyan Hills? (pp. 331-332.)

October 2015, #35 The Cyclic Nature of Life
In the final chapter of A Search in Secret India, I provided some hints of the cyclic nature of life, writing of how "every life has its aphelion and perihelion" (paraphrase). Now the time has come to particularize this statement and cast some light on the great mystery of fate and fortune. The knowledge of this truth renders a man better able to meet all situations in life, both pleasant and unpleasant, in the right way. "With an understanding of the auspicious and inauspicious issues of events, the accomplishment of great Life-tasks becomes possible," taught a Chinese sage. According to the Chinese wisdom, Tao, in its secondary meaning, is the divinely fixed order of things; under this there are four cycles of history. The first two are "yang" and the last two are "yin." This law of periodicity refers to individual lives no less than to cosmic existence. Every human life is therefore subject to periodical changes of destiny whose inner significance needs to be comprehended before one can rightly act. Hence the method of grappling with destiny must necessarily vary in accord with the particular rhythm which has come into the calendar of one's life. Every situation in human existence must find its appropriate treatment, and the right treatment can only be consciously adopted by the sage who has established inner harmony with the law of periodicity.


The sage seeks to do the right thing at the right moment, for automatic adjustment to these varying fortunes. This is called, in the Chinese Mystery School teaching, "mounting the dragon at the proper time and driving through the sky." Hence I have written in The Quest of the Overself that the wise man knows when to resist fate and when to yield to it. Knowing the truth above of the ebb and flow of destiny, he acts always in conformity with this inner understanding. Sometimes he will be fiercely active, other times completely quiescent, sometimes fighting tragedy to the utmost, but at other times resigned and surrendered. Everything has its special time and he does not follow any course of action at the wrong time. He is a free agent, yes, but he must express that freedom rightly, because he must work, as all must work, within the framework of cosmic law. To initiate the correct change in his activities at the incorrect time and amid wrong environing circumstances would be rash and lead to failure; to start a new and necessary enterprise at the wrong moment and amid the wrong situation of life, would also lead to failure. The same changes, however, if begun at another time and amid other conditions, will lead to success. The sage consults his innermost prompting, which, being in harmony with truth, guides him to correct action in particular situations accordingly. We can neither dictate to him as to what he should do, nor prescribe principles for his guidance, nor even predict how he is going to respond to any set of circumstances.

The proper course of action which anyone should adopt depends ultimately upon his time and place both materially and spiritually. In short, human wisdom must always be related to the cosmic currents of destiny and the divine goal. Man must be adaptable to circumstances, flexible to destiny, if his life is to be both wise and content. Unfortunately, the ordinary man does not perceive this, and creates much of his own unhappiness, works much of his own ruin. It is only the sage who, having surrendered the personal Ego, can create his own harmony with Nature and fate and thus remain spiritually undisturbed and at peace. As Kung-Fu-Tze (Confucius, in Western parlance) pithily says: "The superior man can find himself in no situation in which he is not himself." The wise man defers action and waits if necessary for the opportune and auspicious moment; he will not indulge in senseless struggles or untimely efforts. He knows how and when to wait and by his waiting render success certain. No matter how talented he be, if his circumstances are unfavourable and the time inopportune to express them, he will resign himself for the while and devote his time to self-preparation and self-cultivation and thus be ready for the opportunity which he knows the turn of time's wheel must bring him. He puts himself into alignment with the hidden principle which runs through man and matter, striking effectively when the iron is hot, refraining cautiously when it is cold. He knows the proper limits of his activity even in success and does not go beyond them. He knows when to advance and when to retreat, when to be incessantly active and when to lie as still as a sleeping mouse. Thus he escapes from committing serious errors.

The above is from Perspectives,“From Birth to Rebirth”, p. 118-120

September 2015, #34 Progressive Stages of the Quest

Progressive Stages of the Quest (The Working of Grace)

Excerpts from essay found in Volume 3, Practices for the Quest, chap. 9, para 67

If a man has conscientiously followed this fourfold path, if he has practiced mystical-meditation and metaphysical reflection, purification of character and unselfish service, and yet seems to be remote from the goal, what is he to do? He has then to follow the admonition of Jesus: "Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you." We are all poor. He is indeed discerning who realizes this and becomes a beggar, imploring of God for Grace.

He must pray first to be liberated from the heavy thralldom of the senses, the desires, and the thoughts. He must pray next for the conscious presence of the Overself. He should pray silently and deeply in the solitude of his own heart. He should pray with concentrated emotion and tight-held mind. His yearning for such liberation and such presence must be unquestionably sincere and unquestionably strong. He should begin and close - and even fill if he wishes - his hour of meditation with such noble prayers. He must do this day after day, week after week. For the Overself is not merely a concept, but a living reality, the power behind all his other and lesser powers.

No aspirant who is sincere and sensitive will be left entirely without help. It may appear during temptation when the lower nature may find itself unexpectedly curbed by a powerful idea working strongly against it. He may find in a book just that for which he has been waiting and which at this particular time will definitely help him on his way. The particular help he needs at a particular stage will come naturally. It may take the form of a change in outward circumstances or a meeting with a more developed person, of a printed book, or a written letter, of a sudden unexpected emotional inspiration or an illuminating intellectual intuition. Nor is it necessary to travel to the farthest point before being able to gather the fruits. Long before this, he will begin to enjoy the flavor of peace, hope, knowledge, and divine transcendence (p. 217, hardcover edition).

The value of repentance is that it is the first step to set us free from a regrettable past; of amendment, that it is the last step to do so. There must be a contrite consciousness that to live in ego is to live in ignorance and sin. This sin is not the breaking of social conventions. There must be penitent understanding that we are born in sin because we are born in ego and hence need redemption and salvation. It is useless to seek forgiveness without first being thoroughly repentant. There must also be an opening up of the mind to the truth about one's sinfulness, besides repentance, an understanding of the lesson behind this particular experience of its result.

This primary attribute is extolled in the world's religio-mystical literature. "Despair not of Allah's mercy," says the Koran. "What are my sins compared with Thy mercy? They are but as a cobweb before the wind," wrote an early Russian mystic, Dmitri of Rostov. "Those who surrender to me, even be they of sinful nature, shall understand the highest path," says the Bhagavad Gita (p. 219).

We do not get at the Real by our own efforts alone nor does it come to us by its own volition alone. Effort that springs from the self and Grace that springs from beyond it are two things essential to success in this quest. The first we can all provide, but the second only the Overself can provide. Man was once told by someone who knew, "The Spirit bloweth where it listeth." Thus it is neither contradictory nor antithetic to say that human effort and human dependence upon Divine Grace are both needed. For there is a kind of reciprocal action between them. This reciprocal working of Grace is a beautiful fact. The subconscious invitation from the Overself begets the conscious invocation of it as an automatic response. When the ego feels attracted towards its sacred source, there is an equivalent attraction on the Overself's part towards the ego itself. Never doubt that the Divine always reciprocates this attraction to it of the human self. Neither the latter's past history nor present character can alter that blessed hope-bringing fact. Grace is the final, glorious, and authentic proof that it is not only man that is seeking God, but also God that is ever waiting for man (p.220).

August 2015, #33 Realizing Soul

Selected from--

Realizing Soul: From Intuition to an Inspired Life

By Paul Brunton

The following E-Teaching is extracted from the special compilation of PB quotes freely offered daily (now in nineteen languages!) at The Swedish "Friends of Paul Brunton" administers this service. Robert Larson, a long-time student of PB teachings and publisher of PB in Sweden, selected and arranged the teachings for Realizing Soul from the four years of translated daily quotes. We are grateful for his long service to the philosophic ideal through his selfless sharing of PB's wisdom teachings. Here are a few quotes to contemplate (original The Notebooks of Paul Brunton reference category, chapter, and selection follow each quote if you want to read more on any of these topics here:

The spiritual self, the Overself, has never been lost. What has happened is that its being has not been recognized, covered over as it is with a multitude of thoughts, desires, and egocentricities. (22-3-1)

...That which he has been seeking so ardently has been within himself all the time. For there at the core of his being, hidden away underneath all the weakness, passion, pettiness, fear, and ignorance, dwells light, love, peace, and truth. The windows of his heart open on eternity, only he has kept them closed! He is as near the sacred spirit of God as he ever shall be, but he must open his eyes to see it. Man's divine estate is there deep within himself. But he must claim it. (22-3-3)

Intuition is the voice which is constantly calling him to this higher state. But if he seldom or never pauses amid the press of activity to listen for it, he fails to benefit by it. (22-1-159)

We blunder in life and make endless mistakes because we have no time to listen for the Overself's voice-Intuition. (22-1-125)

The promptings that come from this inner being are so faintly heard at first, however strong on their own plane, that we tend to disregard them as trivial. This is the tragedy of man. The voices that so often mislead him into pain-bringing courses--his passion, his ego, and blind intellect--are loud and clamant. The whisper that guides him aright and to God is timid and soft. (22-1-201)

It is worthwhile giving all his attention to any feelings which he may meet unexpectedly within himself and which show an unusual relaxation, a release from tenseness, a freedom from care. They are to be caught on the wing, not allowed to escape and pass away. They are to be nurtured, cherished, and developed. They may be silent voices from the higher self, drawing his attention to its own existence. (3-3-65)

What is more private, more intimate, than intuition? It is the only means they possess wherefrom to start to get mystical experience, glimpses, true enlightenment. Yet they insist on seeking among those who stand outside them, among the teachers, for that which must be searched after and felt inside themselves. (22-1-285)

The discovery of its presence makes possible a form of communication between person and Overself which is passive, not active. That is, he is directed guided or corrected in and through his human faculties, intuitively. The person acts, does, thinks, speaks, and decides as if he were doing so completely alone. But he is not: he is responding to the Overself, to the effects of its presence, now unhindered by his ego. (22-1-8)

He feels the Presence of something higher than himself, wise, noble, beautiful, and worthy of all reverence. Yet it is really himself--the best part come at last into unfoldment and expression. (22-0-2)

Is he fully open to intuitive feelings that originate in his deeper being, his sacred self? Or does his ego get in the way by its rigidities, habits, and tendencies? The importance of these feelings is that they are threadlike clues which need following up, for they can lead him to a blessed renewal or revelation. (22-1-169)

The teacher Mooji says of Realizing Soul: "[Paul Brunton's] observations, spiritual insights, and pointings reveal a laser-sharp eye that directs us back to that which is obvious within ourselves, though obviously overlooked-the Divine Self."

Realizing Soul has been published by Larson Publications USA ( and sells for $14.95. You can read more about it on the PBPF website

July 2015, #32 The Body

The Prefatory to "The Body," Volume 4, Category 5 of the Notebooks is well worth studying for every seeker after truth. The following are quotes from this 16 page essay:

It is reasonable to suggest that we ought to understand something of the nature of the world in order to live in it more successfully and more harmoniously. The part of the world that is closest to us and most important for us is the body through which we experience it. To neglect that body or to ignore its needs is not necessarily a spiritual attitude. If it were, then there must have been an error in the Divine Creation! It has its own value, place, and purpose in the Divine World-Idea…. Through it the soul, sent by the World-Mind to gain experience and obtain growth, lives and functions in this world. Without it, how could the soul get the necessary range of experience to bring into manifestation its potential powers of thought, imagination, understanding and decision at the lower level, and of ultimate consciousness at the higher level? (Page 7.) 

On this plane the body is indeed the only medium of our existence and is not to be disconnected from our higher aspirations. A complete and competent spiritual instruction ought not to be so foolish as to neglect or overlook the physical frame of the disciple being instructed, but should see it with its several organs and higher senses as it truly is; that is, as an expression of Infinite Intelligence through which one can gather the experience needed to become fully aware of his relation to that Intelligence. There is another and usually much less considered point of view to this matter: the body contains countless little lives which look to us as their protector and leader and guide, which need and should get from us kindly attention. Knowledge of the laws which govern its sustenance, health, and functioning and which affect those lives is, therefore, a necessary step on the Quest and a necessary human duty. (Page 8.)

It was easy in earlier days to set up an opposition between body and soul when so little was known about the mind-body relationship. But in these days, when the influence and moral character of malfunctioning organs, nerve plexuses, and endocrine glands is scientifically better known, when psychosomatic medicine is tracing a connection between negative thoughts and physical sicknesses, the place of the flesh in the life of spiritual aspiration is better understood - although hardly better than it has been understood by the developed adepts of the ancient East and by a few seers of the modern West. This understanding reveals how susceptible the mind-force is, how the millions of tiny microorganisms which work together in a single community are the body. It is in truth and fact the Temple of the Spirit, a holy dwelling place wherein we are slowly learning lesson after lesson in the art of unfolding characteristics and awareness which bring us closer to our Godlike Goal. How could philosophy fail to respect it? (Page 8.)

If a man is told to be good, he is given counsel that may yet be worthless to him. If he is taught the Law of Recompense and told why it will profit him to be good, the counsel may appeal (should he be a reasonable man) but he may still lack the strength of will to implement it; he needs to be taught how to be good. The purification of the body is the first step in this direction. Anyone who takes philosophy seriously enough will have to take to its discipline. This will assault his self-conceit. His way of living - his diet, sleep, and rest, for instance - will have to be examined and where necessary reformed. A real Truth-seeker is not only willing to search for and try out new ways but is actually eager to do so. The story of his regime is one of the dynamic reaching for the new, the untried. (Page 12.)

To read the complete essay on the PBPF website see: 

June 2015, #31 The Ancient Mysteries

Paul Brunton's writings cover a broad range of topics ranging from human life experience to abstract philosophy. A Search in Secret Egypt transports the reader into the ancient past. PB says on p. 185, "the Mysteries became the most exclusive institution of antique times, and the secrets revealed behind their well-guarded doors were always imparted under solemn oath that they would never be divulged."


The ancient civilizations inherited these Mysteries from a remote antiquity and they constituted part of a primitive revelation from the gods to the human race. Almost every people of pre-Christian times possessed its institution and tradition of the Mysteries. The Roman, the Celts, the Druids of Britain, the Greeks, the Cretans, the Syrians, the Hindus, the Persians, the Mayas and the American Indians, among others, had corresponding temples and rites with a system of graduated illuminations for the initiates. Aristotle did not hesitate to declare that he considered the welfare of Greece secured by the Eleusinian Mysteries, Socrates remarked that "those who are acquainted with the Mysteries insure to themselves very pleasing hopes against the hour of death." Among the ancients who have confessed or hinted that they had been initiated into the Mysteries, we may list the names of Aristides the orator, Menippus of Babylon, Sophocles the playwright, Aeschylus the poet, Solon the law-giver, Cicero, Heraclitus of Ephesus, Pindar and Pythagoras. (p. 185-6.) Today Ju-jitsu in Japan and Freemasonry carry remnants of the institutions which have their roots in Egypt.

The Mysteries demonstrated that a man's normal worldly nature could be temporarily paralyzed by a profound lethargic sleep, and his usually unnoticed psychic or spiritual nature awakened by processes known only to the hierophant…the finite mind of man was drawn into contact with the infinite mind of his superior divinity. He was able for a while to enter into silent, spell-bound communion with the Father of All, and this fleeting contact of incomparable ecstasy was enough to change his entire attitude towards life. …. The highest doctrine of the Egyptians, that which was the theoretical basis of the loftiest degrees of initiation, was that the soul of man must eventually return to the divine Being from which it was first rayed out, and they termed this return "becoming Osiris." (p. 190.) PB points out that this was the noblest and most impressive revelation then possible to Egyptian man, and still possible, albeit through other ways, to modern man. (p. 186-8.)

Scientific, psychical and psychological research is changing the Western world's attitude towards matters which were once dismissed as fanciful nonsense. Such research is lifting the ideas of the ancients out of the undeserved contempt in which they have lain while younger notions sprang to lusty manhood. We are beginning to detect sanity in the apparent insanity of the ancients. We are beginning to discover that their knowledge of the powers and properties of the human mind was in some directions superior to ours…Our best scientists and foremost thinkers are joining the ranks of those who believe there is a psychic basis to life. What they think today, the masses will think to-morrow. The first great message of the ancient Mysteries -'There is no death '- although always susceptible of personal experiential proof by a mere few, is destined to be broadcast to the whole world. The idea of survival does not necessarily imply that we shall all scramble out of our coffins at some uncertain future date. To confuse ourselves with the fleshly houses wherein we reside is hardly creditable to our intelligence. (p. 191.)

History moves in cycles, that which has been shall be again; gloom and chaos are once more upon us, while the innate urge of man to re-establish communication with the higher worlds troubles him anew. Wherefore it is the writer's hope that conditions may be found, circumstances may be propitious, and the right persons forthcoming to plant a modern version, entirely altered to suit our changed epoch, of those Mysteries once more in each of the five continents of our world. (p. 193-4.)

May 2015, #30 The Quest

- from Volume 2, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton

PB has a great deal to say about this topic. In Chapter 1 of Volume 2, he calls the Quest "the most important adventure in human experience." (para #77) He says, "We ought perhaps to have particularized the significance of this word, for many men and women are engaged on the food-quest, the pleasure-quest, and so on; only a few, however are on the Philosophical Quest." (#40) He speaks of the quest as "an adventure as well as a journey " (#49), and calls this adventure, "spiritual mountaineering." (#52)

Para #17 is a personal favorite. It reads, "It is a quest to make a life of better quality, both inside and outside the self, in the thoughts moving in the brain, in the body holding that brain, and in the environment where that body moves." Para #54 continues, "Its ideals offer an invitation to nobility and refinement. 'Become better than you are!' is its preachment. 'Live more beautifully than you do!' is its commandment." (#54)

"He who stands on the threshold of this Path is about to commence the last and greatest journey of all, one which he will continue to the end of his days. Once begun, there is no turning back or deserting it, except temporarily. And since it is the most important and most glorious activity ever undertaken, its rewards are commensurate." (#78)

The above references are from Chapter 1, Volume 2, of the Notebooks of Paul Brunton.

Chapter 3, The Independent Path, is a "must read" for aspirants. Para #22 says: "He must walk at his own pace, not society's hasty trot. He must choose his own road, not the most trodden one. The way of life which his neighbours follow does not suit him, so he must alter it. He holds the desire to fashion himself creatively into something better than he is at present, something nobler, wiser, and more perceptive. But they hold no such desire, are content with static existence."

In Chapter 6, Self-Development, PB gives a general description:

- How am I to start upon this process of true self-knowledge? The answer begins with this: first adopt the right attitude. Believe in the divinity of your deeper self. Stop looking elsewhere for light, stop wandering hither and thither for power. Your intelligence has become falsified through excessive attention to external living, hence you are not even aware in which direction to look when you seek for the real Truth. You are not even aware that all you need can be obtained by the power within, by the omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient Self. You have to change, first of all, the line of thought and faith which pleads helplessly, "I am a weak man; I am unlikely to rise any higher than my present level; I live in darkness and move amid opposing environments that overwhelm me." Rather should you engrave on your heart the high phrases: "I possess illimitable power within me; I can create a diviner life and truer vision than I now possess." Do this and then surrender your body, your heart and mind to the Infinite Power which sustains all. Strive to obey Its inward promptings and then declare your readiness to accept whatsoever lot it assigns you. This is your challenge to the gods and they will surely answer you. Your soul will be slowly or suddenly liberated; your body will be granted a freer pathway through conditions. You may have to be prepared for a few changes before the feet find rest, but always you shall find that the Power in which you have place an abiding trust does not go into default. (#1)

April 2015, #29 The Downfall of Materialism - Chapter XII

The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga

Continuing our inquiry into the study of philosophy we next consider materialism. Having accepted that externally experienced things are thoughts, we question whether or not they exist.

We do not deny the existence of a single thing that forms part of our world-experience but we must get our minds clear about this problem for it brings up an important difference between the meaning of real and the meaning of exist. An illusion is recognized as experienced but realized as not real. PB points out "Therefore to appear is one thing, whereas to be is another.

We must learn to take care to distinguish between the two concepts….nobody can deny that objective things exist for they are perceived by the minds of men, who also regard them as unquestionably real, but in both these cases the philosopher is entitled to question not their existence but their reality." (pp. 349-50)

The chapter continues: We must first find a definition (of reality) that will hold always. Few people care to define so scrupulously; they want to judge by feeling or by temperament alone. The consequence is that they imagine reality, they study their own idea of it only, and thus lamentably fail to avoid deceiving themselves into accepting what merely pleases them, not what is true… The fact finally known for what it is, is the reality; whereas the final knowledge of the thing is the truth. This is correct only from the standpoint of practical affairs and until we reach the Ultimate. Then there are no two things, but unity, and hence no distinction between truth and reality….For as the ancient Indian philosophers -not mystics-have rightly said: that is real which can not only give us certainty about its existence in its own right beyond all possibility of doubt and independently of man's individual ideation but which can remain changeless amid the flux of an ever-changing world. Such a reality is, after the pursuit of ultimate truth, the foremost pursuit of philosophy whether it be labeled "God," "Spirit," "Absolute," or otherwise.

(pp. 352-3.)

He encourages the reader to ask the question, not what has become of the millions of human beings who have died or the prehistoric palaces of unrecorded kings… "But what has become of THAT which appeared in the forms of those men and buildings ...Our own enquiry into it must take us not only through the appearances of matter but also beyond the workings of mind. This is the enquiry into ultimate permanent reality; this is philosophy."

"When it shall be our good fortune to come into the fuller understanding of such reality we shall find as the old sages found, that this puzzling world does not stand in startling contradiction to it as we fear. For in a subtler sense which we do not grasp at present the one is not less real than the other. The world is not essentially an illusion. Ultimately it is as real as the world of this unnameable uniqueness that is the true God. Things, therefore, are not themselves illusory but it is our apprehension of them, as furnished by the senses, which is illusory. Nobody need worry over the loss of matter. It is something which we have never possessed and consequently the loss is not a real one. The world which has been revealed by our thoughts is the only world we have known, although it is not the ultimate world that we shall know. Therefore, the truth robs us of nothing. He who flees the world in ascetic disdain flees from reality; he should correct himself first and thus learn to understand aright what is that something which appears as the world. What it is, what that ultimate reality means to the life of man, is the second quest of philosophy after the quest of truth, because we soon find that both quests are involved in one another. And this is, therefore, the second reward which philosophy holds out to man, that he shall learn how to live consciously in reality rather than blindly in illusion. (pp. 353-4.)

March 2015, #28 The Philosophical Discipline
Chapter 1 of The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga points out that the distressful condition of the human race is the ignorance of three fundamental questions: What is the meaning of the world and experience? What am I? And what is the object of existence?  PB writes, "I perceive with startling precision that the bursting of this integument of ancient ignorance will do more than anything else to make enduring peace descend on our troubled earth….When men learn to think rightly they will act accordingly, not before.  Their deeds can never be greater than their ideas, for the unheard declarations of the mind decide the noisy journeys of the feet." (HTBY, p. 11)

What is involved in learning to think rightly? People are now more ready to apply reason to life than they formerly were although they are not ready enough to make such an application play a vital part in their existence." (p. 13)  The new picture is blurred and vague, even amorphous, but this is because it belongs to the domain of philosophy. "For there has been a gradual process of abstraction, a transition from the empiric standpoint to the metaphysical, a growing tendency for science to become part of its own field of investigation and to turn matter and mechanism into concepts." (Ibid., p.16)

"Colossal sins stain the pages of religious history which must be dealt with frankly yet constructively by the light of philosophy." (p. 69) The individual hears that "a practical method-mystical contemplation-exists whereby he may experience for himself the beauty and peace of an ever-present divine spirit in which formerly he could believe but never knew. (p. 71) However, "The inability to obtain satisfactory and convincing answers to such questions as fullness of experience and love of knowledge will eventually arouse, must lead the thoughtful enquiring mystic who has not settled down into smug self-laudation or conservative quiescence, to a wilderness where he will walk in lonely bafflement for a time, just as once he may have walked into the wilderness of doubt, despair and skepticism when he emerged from the self-contradictions of dogmatic religion. (p.82)

The elementary position of all religious and mystical systems becomes clear, therefore, when they are co-ordinated in the larger conceptions of philosophy. [Within] it lies a new land, vastly mysterious and hardly trodden. It is the region of the third degree, the empire of the supreme wisdom open to man. Yet he will not know how close he is to it unless a guide now appears to make the revelation and to escort him farther. The guide may be an ancient one and speak to him across the generations through the inscribed pages of a manuscript or the printed pages of a book. Or he may be a living one to speak to him face to face. The first is a chart which may take him slowly some of the way while the second will take him quicker and farther….The new acolyte of the Absolute must now struggle incessantly, first toward his own final position and then for the beneficent liberation of others under the authoritative command of a superior power-TRUTH! (p. 83)

All page numbers refer to The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga.

Read More about PB's views on the philosophical discipline in a new edition of The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga which has been updated to incorporate the author's final revisions.   It includes a new introduction plus supplementary reading material selected from the author's archives by the Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation.


February 2015, #27 Meditation, Part II

References to Meditation permeate the early books of PB. E-teaching #26 was based on teachings from The Wisdom of the Overself. The Notebook Series, Volume 4, Part 1, Meditation, and Volume 15, Part 1, Advanced Contemplation, offer information and techniques helpful to pursuing the practices in greater depth. Reading the "Editors' Introduction" in both volumes for an overview is recommended. Volume 4 (Category 4) focuses on Fundamentals, Visualizations, Mantrams and Affirmations, Mindfulness and Mental Quiet, (the Long Path) while Volume 15 (Category 23), Advanced Meditation, explores the redirection of ego to the Overself, with the focus on living inside the stillness of the Overself, often referred to as "the Short Path."

The paras, which PB terms "Detached Intellections," are to be read slowly and reflected upon. The words are specific and practical but inspiration is present between the lines. Examples of helpful advice in Meditation include: "Constant practice is more important for success in meditation than any other single factor." (V. 4, Part 1, #404, p. 124.) "First seek in your meditation for the Overself, then, when you feel something of its presence, then only, may you make any effort to help other persons by the powers of thought and prayer."( Ibid. #411, p.125.) "Always close your meditation or end your prayer with a thought for others, such as: "May all beings be truly happy."(Ibid. #413, p. 125.)

Several paras on the three stages of meditation: 1) Concentration, 2) Meditation, and 3) Contemplation are in both volumes. PB offers guidance in the passage from one stage of meditation to the next. He says the will must be used in the first two stages for the attention to penetrate deeper and deeper. "…It is only when the frontier of the third stage is reached that all this work ceases, and that there is an abandonment of the use of the will, a total surrender of it, and effortless passive yielding to the Overself is alone needed." (V. 15, Part 1, #54, p.176.) The descriptions of entering into this final stage are beautiful and mysterious. "We enter into paradise when, in contemplation, we enter into awareness of the Overself." (Ibid, #96, p. 182.) "There is a great calm in this state: not a great rapture, but a patient attentive repose in the higher power." (Ibid, #101, p. 182.)

"This identification with the Overself is the real work set us, the real purpose for which human life in the world serves us. All else is merely a comfortable way of escape, a means of keeping us busy so that conscience need not be troubled by the central duty to which we are summoned."(Ibid. #36, p. 8.)

"If, in his earlier days when on the Long Path, he practised daily checking his personal feelings where they were negative, hostile, or condemnatory in the relationship with others, or when they interrupted his inner calm in the relationship with himself, now on the Short Path he abandoned this training. It was no more the really important thing, for it had been just a preparation of the ego for that thing-which was to forget and transcend the ego by transferring attention to the remembrance of his divine being, his Overself." (Ibid, #45, p. 9.)

January 2015, #26 Meditation

Yoga is a twofold term, meaning both the process and the result to which that process leads. Yoga as a set of mental practices to be followed is one thing and yoga as the unified condition of mind which is the final fruit of those practices is another thing. Yoga as a process calls for constant efforts to achieve inwardly-turned mental concentration and as a result it yields its practiser a serene condition where thoughts subside and thus reveal the diviner background which their activity hides. When the mind is active we have thoughts; when it is still the thoughts vanish….Yoga in its best sense is simply the deliberate attempt to accomplish this task and thus become conscious of the so-called 'unconscious.' From The Wisdom of the Overself. p. 362

The key to success in yoga is fashioned partly from the natural capacity for concentration which we bring to the task, partly from the energy with which we pursue it but more especially from repeated and regular self-training. Said so supreme an authority upon this subject as the Buddha: "Nothing know I that without exercise would be more inflexible than the mind. Nothing know I that by being exercised would become more flexible than the mind…..The student cannot afford to leave its practice to chance moments or to occasional empty ones…..Habit rules human life. The man who has learnt the secret of creating new habits is able to control that which controls life. And among the best habits a man can make is that of meditation.

We would not only emphasise but over-emphasise the value and urgent necessity of introducing this habit into modern life….These exercises should in the beginning be practiced daily at the same place and at the same hour but when enough progress has been made this rule may be ignored and the work may be done at any time and in any place….The first hindrance is noise…Hence a silent convenient spot should be chosen. The second is the active movement and sudden intrusion of other persons. He must be undisturbed during the practice period and this is best ensured by locking himself in a room. The third hindrance is a fidgety swaying or fitfully turning body. This is most serious when it affects the head. Therefore it is better to keep the spine erect….A fourth hindrance is ill-health….Modern students who have to get rid of hindrance of ill-health must avail themselves of all the knowledge and help, orthodox and unorthodox, which exists today, not forgetting that this is a region where personal karma is often particularly active….Emotional upsets, moods of despair and depression, feelings of passion or bitterness, even a too flighty imagination - these will also interfere with the work. Therefore the student must at the beginning of his practice strive to drop all thought of his personal affairs, to exclude all memories, whether pleasant or painful, to withdraw attention from the day's business or interests and to universalize his outlook during the period set aside for it. …Another psychic hindrance is impatience. Consequently the virtue of patience must become theirs if they are to eat the fruits of their sowing one day. Every aspirant must, from the beginning of this practice, impress his mind with the sure hope that if it is unremitting and done with deep interest, results will be sure to show themselves…. The first and last steps of yoga are steps in concentration. The perfect concentration of attention is one of the essential keys to success. Ibid., pp. 364-367.

This topic of meditation is deemed so important that the next eteaching will continue with it. Many inspiring paras on meditation are found in Volume 4 of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton.

Read more also in the PB e-teaching #7 on Mysticism.

December 2014, #25 Initiation into Mystical Experience

In The Wisdom of the Overself, the first paragraph of Chapter XIII asks "Can I come into a personal relation with this transcendent reality? Can I transform the theoretical understanding which has so far been gained into a practical and conscious realization?" The second paragraph affirms that such a relationship and transformation can undoubtedly be consummated. It is, indeed, the goal of all philosophic endeavour.

PB warns that whatever is expressible by words is only a thought construction and as such subject to all its limitations, although he reminds the reader that while previous analysis in The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga was an attempt to "shatter the materialism and illusion embedded by ancient habit in man through his use of language and to silence his unreflective utterance of such words as matter, time, sight, experience, and Spirit, thus leading him to eventually change his views, the ultimate purpose is to show that what can be put into words is only the graven image of reality, never reality itself." (p. 355, The Wisdom of the Overself)

"The absolute Mind is called unknowable only in the sense that neither the senses nor the intellect can directly know it. We may seek it through a quite different approach. …Where reason fails miserably to think the Overself because it cannot, it may however become the Overself by humbly merging into it. When this happens luminous being supplies the answer which limited thinking cannot. We must ourselves become absorbed, and with us all our baggage-train of thoughts, in that which is the hidden basis of both thinking and experience. The attempt to know the hidden observer must alter into an attempt to become it. That is to say, the distinction between the observer and the observed must disappear, the object of thought must dissolve into primal Thought itself, knowledge and being must unite with each other. (p. 359).

The term 'insight' is used for it (this process) primarily because he who possesses it can see what is, not merely what appears, can see into the inner reality behind the world-appearance, which our image-making faculty has super-imposed upon it, can clearly feel the internal life essence within all the transient planetary forms. Sight is a function of the body, understanding is a function of the intelligence but insight is a function of the Overself. In the ancient hidden teaching the use of this faculty was originally called 'opening the eye of transcendental knowledge.' (p. 360).

Thus we have reached the point where only some kind of trans-intellectual, that is some kind of mystical experience, can make sense of our declaration that this Mind is conscious and realizable in a positive sense. A reference to the dictionary gives the meaning of 'realize' as "to feel as vividly or strongly as if real: to bring home to one's own experience: to acquire as the result of labour or pains." Consequently we must now journey to the fresh waters of such a personal realization of Mind and leave behind the dry desert of merely thinking about it. (p. 361).

PB continues with an explanation of the three stages of meditation. The next e-teaching will explore more about these practices. We encourage the reader to study this valuable chapter where he explains how to learn the art of retreating from the sensuous and surface existence.

November 2014, #24 The Real World

The chapter titled "The Unveiling of Reality" from the Wisdom of the Overself offers insights into the 'Real World.' The 'Real World' is not the world of common perception. Examination finds the everyday world a world of change and restlessness. Ancient teachings of both the East and West confirm a constant reality, an ultimate reality, one which may be approached by study, reason, and mystic practice. On Page 344 The Wisdom points out that Hegel saw and Goethe grasped the elusiveness of Reality. It says "... this elusiveness is due more to our ignorance of what to search for than to our inability to attain it. The metaphysics of truth fills this lack and the philosophic insight sees clearly where unillumined thinking fails to see it at all."

Page 342 asks the question, "What is Reality?" and discusses two marks of reality:

...It (Reality) cannot be something which is here today and gone tomorrow. It must be something which over-passes the periphery of time. The first mark of reality is that it has always been in existence. Something of this universe, whether it be visible or invisible, whether it be so-called matter or so-called spirit, must have had an everlasting existence. For if the contrary were the case, if nothing whatsoever had even once been the condition of universal history, then the universe could never have arisen for out of nothing only nothing can emerge. Even the most primitive intelligence demands some reason to account for things. Therefore the original 'something' must have always existed and must still exist. This we may call the ultimate reality. It is the never-ending origin of the All. It is Mind.

There is no thought of anything without a corresponding negation of that thought, without an opposing contrast. Hence no idea is ever alone but a second one is always alongside it. It can never exist by itself. It may be said that the second mark of reality is that it should be able to exist by and in itself. It should be in no need of anything beyond itself upon which it must depend. Its strength should lie in its self-sufficiency. What it is in itself and not as it reacts differently on different observers, is the Real. This lifts it quite out of the space-time world of relativities. Neither the three transient states of consciousness nor the numerous transient ideas generated by mind can therefore be the Real. They are always dependent and never self-sustained. We must seek deeper for their unknown everlasting ground. Because we have found both the wakeful and dream worlds to be nothing but the movement of thought-forms and because the enduring unchanging element not only of those worlds but also of our own self, has been found to be the element of undifferentiated Mind, then this alone constitutes their reality. (p. 343-344).

The chapter continues to explore these ideas in depth. The following is a quote to take into meditation: 

"There is a world of real being which humanity has yet to find and to love:  This is the unwritten task set us by life; this is the meaning of earthly existence for all." (pg 349)

When the student sincerely approaches mind and invites deep reflection on the subject of Reality, he will find he has engaged in the most worthwhile study he could possibly pursue.

October 2014, #23 Egypt

A Search in Secret Egypt, one of the early travel books, transports the reader into magical Egypt and researches Egypt's pre-history. Paul Brunton describes sitting before the crouching Sphinx, watching the ethereal colours of the dying sun, and asks "…. who can receive the sacred message which is given him by the beautiful mysterious afterglow of an African sunset, without being taken into a temporary paradise? So long as men are not entirely coarse and spiritually dead, so long will they continue to love the Father of Life, the sun, which makes these things possible by its unique sorceries. They were not fools, those ancients, who revered Ra, the great light, and took it into their hearts as a god." (p. 1).

Brunton calls the Sphinx "the grave stone guardian of ancient secrets, emblematic of the Silent Watcher of our world." and describes the dream of the young prince, (later Pharaoh Thothmes IV), who was commanded to clear the sand away by Heru-Khut, the Rising Sun Spirit or god of the Sphinx. Thothmes later recorded the dream in hieroglyphic characters upon the red granite stele which today lies between the paws of the Sphinx. (p.15.)

The book reveals that the men who carved the Sphinx and founded the world's oldest civilization had emigrated from Atlantis. Brunton writes, "It was a tremendous and astonishing thought that the Sphinx provided a solid, visible and enduring link between the people of to-day and the people of a lost world, the unknown Atlanteans." (p.19). He recommends probing the rituals of the Incas and the Mayas who built pyramidal Temples of the Sun throughout ancient America and encourages research into The Great Pyramid. PB further states, "The purpose of the Sphinx had now become a little plainer. The Sphinx was the revered emblem in stone of a race which looked upon Light as the nearest thing to God in this dense material world. Light is the subtlest, most intangible of things which man can register by means of one of his five senses. It is the most ethereal kind of matter which he knows ….. 'The spirit of God moved upon the face of the Deep,' wrote Egyptian-trained Moses. 'And God said, Let there be Light: and there was Light.' Not only that, it is also a perfect symbol of that heavenly light which dawns within the deep places of man's soul when he yields heart and mind to God; it is a magnificent memorial to that divine illumination which awaits him secretly even amid the blackest despairs. Man, in turning instinctively to the face and presence of the sun, turns to the body of his Creator." (pp.20-21).

A Search in Secret Egypt whets the appetite of the reader drawn to the study of ancient cultures and provides food for thought about modern day connections.


Quotes taken from A Search in Secret Egypt, Special Illustrated Edition, 2007. Published for Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation by Larson Publications.

Originally published: New York: E.P. Dutton, 1936.

September 2014, #22 Grace

In The Secret Path PB writes: The awakening to spiritual consciousness is something which cannot be developed by a mechanical and measured system alone. "Art happens!" declared Ruskin, and so does spirituality. The aspirant carries on certain practices, whether meditation or relaxation, whether self-observation or self-remembering; carries on his effort of Interrogative Reflection, and one day the true consciousness seems to come to him quietly, gently but surely. That day cannot be predetermined. It may come early in his efforts; it may come only after long years of disappointing struggle. For it depends upon a manifestation of Grace from the Overself, of a force deeper than his personal will, which now begins to take a hand in this celestial game. … The word Grace is not one I am over-keen to use. It has so many unpleasant and theological connotations, that, could I find a better, I would throw it aside. But I cannot. So I shall endeavour to assign it a meaning based on ascertainable spiritual experience and not on blind belief. (p. 92).

To obtain this Grace we must ask for it. This is not to say that asking is done by verbal action alone. That may suffice for some; for others, the request may be uttered mentally only. But for most of us we must ask with our whole life. Our course of action, our sacrifices of the primrose path, our surrender of time even, should show and express this great desire. And we may even be forced down on our knees, at unexpected hours of the night or day, to pray that the Light be granted us. If this happens do not resist or resent it. Yield, and if you feel an urge to weep when praying for the Overself's Grace, then let the tears flow as copiously as they come forth. Do not hold them back. There is great spiritual merit in weeping for the visitation of a higher power. Each tear will dissolve something that stands between you and the divine union. Never be ashamed of such tears, for they fall in a good cause. ….(p. 93)

When Grace raises from our own Overself the latter sets up a certain urge in the heart and begins to lead our thoughts into certain channels. We become dissatisfied with our life as it is; we begin to aspire to something better; we commence a quest for a higher Truth than the belief which has hitherto held us. We imagine - and naturally - that the change is due to a developing mind or, sometimes, by changing circumstance. But not so. Veiled behind the mystery that is Life moves the unseen Overself, the august Being who has thus strangely interrupted our mortal sleep. The very quest for Truth was simply a quest for the Overself. Mayhap we find a worthier philosophy of life and thus come a little closer to true self-realization. But the uplifting thoughts and moods of that changing period - whether a week or years-are merely a manifestation of Grace, or if I may put it paradoxically, the results of an inner movement made by the Motionless. (p. 93).

Suggestions for further reading: The paperback version of Perspectives includes an Index which lists many references to Grace found in the notebooks. Also see The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, vol. 12: The Reverential Life.

August 2014, #21 Self Development/Unique Path

This month's PB eteaching begins with the question: What am I? "What am I?" is such an ancient and perennial question only because it has to be answered by each individual for himself. If he finds the true answer, he will find also that he cannot really transfer it to another person but only its idea, its mental shadow. That too may be valuable to others, but it is not the same."

Notebooks, Category 1: Independent Path>Chapter 3: #1


About the often misunderstood concept of ego, PB says: "Because the Overself is already there within him in all its immutable sublimity, man has not to develop it or perfect it. He has only to develop and perfect his ego until it becomes like a polished mirror, held up to and reflecting the sacred attributes of the Overself, and showing openly forth the divine qualities, which had hitherto lain hidden behind itself."

Ibid., Category 1: Self-development>Chapter 5:#12


-In every individual there is an original, mysterious, and incalculable element, because his past history and his prenatal ancestry in other lives on earth have inevitably been different at certain points from those of other individuals. His world-outlook may seem the same as theirs, but there will always be subtle variations. There is no single path which can be presented to suit the multitudinous members of the human species. There is no one unalterable approach to this experience for all men. Each has to find his own way, to travel forward by the guidance of his own present understanding and past experience - and each in the end really does so despite all appearances to the contrary. For each man passes through a different set of life-experiences. His past history and present circumstances have constituted an individual being who is unique, who possesses something entirely his own. It is partly through the lessons, reflections, intuitions, traits, characteristics, and capacities engendered by such experiences that he is able to find his way to truth. Therefore he is forced not only to work out his own salvation but also to work it out in his own unique way. Every description of a mystical path must consequently be understood in a general sense. If its expounder delimits it to constitute a precise path for all alike, he exaggerates. Although there is so much in life which the aspirant shares with other beings, there is always a residue which imparts a stamp of individuality that is different from and unshareable with the individualities of all others. Consequently, the inner path which he must follow cannot be precisely the same as theirs. In the end, after profiting by all the help which he may gain from advanced guides and fellow-pilgrims, after all his attempts to imitate or follow them, he is forced to find or make a way for himself, a way which will be peculiarly his own. In the end he must work out his own unique means to salvation and depend on himself for further enlightenment and strength. Taught by his own intelligence and instructed by his own intuition, he must find his own unique path toward enlightenment.

Each case is different, because each person has a different heredity, temperament, character, environment, and living habits. Therefore these general principles must be adapted to, and fitted in with, that person's particular condition.

Ibid., #179


July 2014, #20 Solitude and Leisure
Selected from
A Message from Arunachala
by Paul Brunton

The following quotes are from the chapter, "Solitude and Leisure" in one of the lesser known PB books, A Message from Arunachala. The inspiring thoughts are beautiful and powerful, reaching places in mind and heart and are worth remembering every day.

"Your self is sacred; be true to it." (p. 147)

"To know the Overself is to know the deep unmoved rest which is at the center of our being." (p. 154)

"We spend so much of our leisure doing nothing which really matters, that there is little of it left to do the one thing that emphatically does matter." (p. 155)

"A wise solitude thus fosters the soul's growth, keeps the mind clear of petty thoughts and matures the fine quality of mental independence. Go your way alone and you walk a path that shall indeed arrive somewhere. For solitude is not loneliness, boredom, or sadness. To be lonely is to be amongst those that do not understand. But in solitude you can people your place with thoughts, if you wish, whilst you always have yourself, your Overself, for company…. (p. 146)

"Peace is a costly privilege - to be fought for, attained and won. It comes only from the conquered mind. (p. 159)

A hundred multifarious activities now compete with each other for our time. All seek to rob us of the minutes that might be devoted to the high purpose for which we were born on this planet. "The hours perish and are laid to our charge," is the warning admonition inscribed in Latin on the clock-dial of an old college building at Oxford. Our day has only twenty-four hours upon its dial; we get them free of charge, whether we want them or not; and if we were to yield to all the opportunities which are made upon our time we should never make a start with the divine work that faces us, much less arrive at its completion. Each day brings its precious gift of time. Shall we fling away our opportunity through indifference, or shall we account for it honourably? For once we have been taught our true worth and glimpsed our divine possibilities, we will hug time as very life. To waste time is therefore to waste life, but to improve it with musing over matters eternal is to improve life. Those that kill time may live to mourn it. The camera cannot catch any scene for us unless and until we focus it upon the scene. The mind cannot catch hold of the Overself within unless and until we focus it in the direction of that divine being. We spend every hour and every day focusing the mind upon both the important and trivial activities that arise; can we not change around and concentrate for a brief period daily upon the superior reality of the Overself? For if we do, a time will surely come sooner or later when the deeper existence in the depth of the heart will reveal itself to us.

(pp. 158-9)

Our use of leisure is significant. Let us turn it then, to a higher purpose and a diviner value. (p. 162)

These quotes are from the E.P. Dutton publication, 1936

Read more about PB's views on solitude and leisure in the Notebooks, Volume 3: Relax and Retreat.

What is the PBPF doing these days?

The Spring/Summer PBPF Newsletter is available to read:

Now Available:

The Short Path to Enlightenment: Instructions for Immediate Awakening by Paul Brunton

(see for a full description)

Larson Publications is now offering a special pre-publication discount!

June 2014, #19 The Short Path
The Short Path to Enlightenment is the latest publication of the Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation. We selected the relevant PB teachings on the Short Path from The Notebooks of Paul Brunton and gathered and arranged them in one inspiring and instructive book.


As stated in the Preface: Paul Brunton's many books not only describe the Short Path, but place it in the context of the whole range of spiritual endeavor, including the development of reason and ethics, purification of the emotions, concentration, and so forth. His extraordinarily knowledgeable and broad view help orient spiritual seekers, so they can discern how the Short Path dovetails with mystical practices with which they might be familiar.

The following are selections from The Short Path to Enlightenment and each ends with its location in The Notebooks of Paul Brunton. The source category, chapter, and paragraph number are indicated for each selection to facilitate further study of the topics (see

What Is the Short Path?

The Short Path offers the quickest way to the blessings of spiritual joy, truth, and strength. For since these things are present in the Overself, and since the Overself is present in all of us, each of us may claim them as his own by the direct declaration of his true identity. This simple act requires him to turn around, desert the dependence on personal self, and look to the original Source whence flows his real life and being, his true providence and happiness. Disregarding all contrary ideas that the world outside thrusts upon him, disdaining the ego's emotions and desires concerning them, he "prays without ceasing" to that Source. That is, he keeps himself concentrated within upon it until he can feel its liberating qualities and expand in its sunny glories. (23-1-60)

This notion that we must wait and wait while we slowly progress out of enslavement into liberation, out of ignorance into knowledge, out of the present limitations into a future union with the Divine, is only true if we let it be so. But we need not. We can shift our identification from the ego to the Overself in our habitual thinking, in our daily reactions and attitudes, in our response to events and the world. We have thought our way into this unsatisfactory state; we can unthink our way out of it. By incessantly remembering what we really are, here and now at this very moment, we set ourselves free. Why wait for what already is? (23-1-1)

The Short Path uses (a) thinking: metaphysical study of the Nature of Reality; (b) practice: constant remembrance of Reality during everyday life in the world; (c) meditation: surrender to the thought of Reality in stillness. You will observe that in all these three activities there is no reference to the personal ego. There is no thinking of, remembering, or meditating upon oneself, as there is with the Long Path. (23-1-98)


The unfulfilled future is not to be made an object of anxious thought or joyous planning. The fact that he has taken the tremendous step of offering his life in surrender to the Overself precludes it. He must now and henceforth let that future take care of itself, and await the higher will as it comes to him bit by bit. This is not to be confounded with the idle drifting, the apathetic inertia of shiftless, weak people who lack the qualities, the strength, and the ambition to cope with life successfully. The two attitudes are in opposition.

The true aspirant who has made a positive turning-over of his personal and worldly life to the care of the impersonal and higher power in whose existence he fully believes, has done so out of intelligent purpose, self-denying strength of will, and correct appraisal of what constitutes happiness. What this intuitive guidance of taking or rejecting from the circumstances themselves means in lifting loads of anxiety from his mind only the actual experience can tell. It will mean also journeying through life by single degrees, not trying to carry the future in addition to the present. It will be like crossing a river on a series of stepping-stones, being content to reach one at a time in safety and to think of the others only when they are progressively reached, and not before. It will mean freedom from false anticipations and useless planning, from vainly trying to force a path different from that ordained by God. It will mean freedom from the torment of not knowing what to do, for every needed decision, every needed choice, will become plain and obvious to the mind just as the time for it nears. For the intuition will have its chance at last to supplant the ego in such matters. He will no longer be at the mercy of the latter's bad qualities and foolish conceit. (18-4-145)

To find out more about the June publication of The Short Path to Enlightenment:

May 2014, #18 Tablets of Forgotten Truth
Selected from
A Search in Secret India
by Paul Brunton

The many inspiring passages in A Search in Secret India are worth reading and rereading. In later years PB wrote, as an inscription in the book, "What am I? The answer is a quiet smile." The following are some passages from Chapter XVII of the book, entitled Tablets of Forgotten Truth :

It seems to me that the presence of men like the Maharishee ensures the continuity down history of a divine message from regions not easily accessible to us all. It seems to me, further, that one must accept the fact that such a sage comes to reveal something to us, not to argue anything with us. At any rate, his teachings make a strong appeal to me for his personal attitude and practical method, when understood, are quite scientific in their way. He brings in no supernatural power and demands no blind religious faith. The sublime spirituality of the Maharishee's atmosphere and the rational self-questioning of his philosophy find but a faint echo in yonder temple. Even the word "God" is rarely on his lips.

He avoids the dark and debatable waters of wizardry, in which so many promising voyages have ended in shipwreck. He simply puts forward a way of self-analysis, which can be practiced irrespective of any ancient or modern theories and beliefs which one may hold, a way that will finally lead man to true self-understanding.

p. 302

But how divorce oneself from the age-old tyranny of thoughts? I remember that the Maharishee has never suggested that I should attempt to force the stoppage of thinking. "Trace thought to its place of origin," is his reiterated counsel, "watch for the real self to reveal itself, and then your thoughts will die down of their own accord."

p. 304

All that is truly grand in Nature and inspiringly beautiful in the arts speaks to man of himself. Where the priest has failed his people the illumined artist takes up his forgotten message and procures hints of the soul for them. Whoever can recall rare moments when beauty made him a dweller amid the eternities should, whenever the world tires him, turn memory into a spur and seek out the sanctuary within. Thither he should wander for a little peace, a flush of strength and a glimmer of light, confident that the moment he succeeds in touching his true selfhood he will draw infinite support and find perfect compensation. Scholars may burrow likes moles among the growing piles of modern books and ancient manuscripts which line the walls of the house of learning, but they can learn no deeper secret than this, no higher truth than the supreme truth that man's very self is divine. The wistful hopes of man may wane as the years pass, but the hope of undying life, the hope of perfect love, and the hope of assured happiness, shall ultimately find a certain fulfillment; for they constitute prophetic instincts of an ineluctable destiny which can in no way be avoided.

p. 309

He who looks within himself and perceives only discontent, frailty, darkness and fear, need not curl his lip in mocking doubt. Let him look deeper and longer, deeper and longer, until he presently becomes aware of faint tokens and breath-like indications which appear when the heart is still. Let him heed them well, for they will take life and grow into high thoughts that will cross the threshold of his mind like wandering angels, and these again shall become forerunners of a voice which will come later - the voice of a hidden, recondite and mysterious being who inhabits his centre, who is his own ancient self.


From A Search in Secret India, first published 1934, reprinted 1977 by Samuel Weiser, Inc., NY, NY. Page numbers are from the 1977 edition.
April 2014, #17 PB’s Glimpse
Selected from
A Search in Secret India
by Paul Brunton

The following is from A Search in Secret India, chapter XVII. PB tells us what it is like to stand apart from thinking and go into stillness, to see the mind withdraw into itself and watch the world fade off "into shadowy vagueness."

"Finally it happens. Thought is extinguished like a snuffed candle. The intellect withdraws into its real ground, that is, consciousness working unhindered by thoughts. I perceive, what I have suspected for some time and what the Maharishee has confidently affirmed, that the mind takes its rise in a transcendental source. The brain has passed into a state of complete suspension, as it does in deep sleep, yet there is not the slightest loss of consciousness. I remain perfectly calm and fully aware of who I am and what is occurring. Yet my sense of awareness has been drawn out of the narrow confines of the separate personality; it has turned into something sublimely all-embracing. Self still exists, but it is a changed, radiant self. For something that is far superior to the unimportant personality which was I, some deeper, diviner being rises into consciousness and becomes me. With it arrives an amazing new sense of absolute freedom, for thought is like a loom-shuttle which is always going to and fro, and to be freed from its tyrannical motion is to step out of prison into the open air.

I find myself outside the rim of world consciousness. The planet which has so far harboured me, disappears. I am in the midst of an ocean of blazing light. The latter, I feel rather than think, is the primeval stuff out of which worlds are created, the first state of matter. It stretches away into untellable infinite space, incredibly alive .

I touch, as in a flash, the meaning of this mysterious universal drama which is being enacted in space, and then return to the primal point of my being. I, the new I, rest in the lap of holy bliss. I have drunk the Platonic Cup of Lethe, so that yesterday's bitter memories and to-morrow's anxious cares have disappeared completely. I have attained a divine liberty and an almost indescribable felicity. My arms embrace all creation with profound sympathy, for I understand in the deepest possible way that to know all is not merely to pardon all, but to love all. My heart is remoulded in rapture.

How shall I record these experiences through which I next pass, when they are too delicate for the touch of my pen? Yet the starry truths which I learn may be translated into the language of earth, and the effort will not be a vain one. So I seek, all too roughly, to bring back some memorials of the wonderful archaic world which stretches out, untracked and unpathed, behind the human mind."

In a footnote at the end of chapter XVII (p. 310, revised edition, 1985), PB says:

"The reader should not be misled into believing that such an experience remains continuous and permanent; it is only a temporary but valuable raising of consciousness which passes away. It is of the category which I have called "Moments of Illumination." The nature of such a glimpse is explained in the last chapter of my book The Spiritual Crisis of Man. To establish oneself on, and keep this high level it is essential in most cases to work on oneself and develop the right conditions within oneself. For the philosophical enlightenment see The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga and The Wisdom of the Overself."

March 2014, #16 Peace
Selected from
A Hermit in the Himalayas
by Paul Brunton

In A Hermit in the Himalayas, PB reflects on peace. He says:


Not that there is any real end to the turbulence of political classes and the harassments of racial differences. We shall have a pacified world when we have pacified hearts-not before. The ancient Sages who gave this simple formula to mankind are now-a-days denounced as impractical idealists. But if the final test of a policy is its results in material affairs, we must confess that this peaceless world has not improved on them. The spiritual emptiness of our epoch and the poverty of our inner resources express themselves clearly enough in the chaos, the distress we see everywhere around us, and the dolorous servitude which we give to unworthy ideals and unworthy men.

The world's development of egotism and intellect has given it a fictitious sense of practical wisdom. But the sages who spoke to former times spoke out of a knowledge of humanity's history profounder and more accurate than any which our book-delving historians can ever hope to have. For the paltry few thousand years which we can record-and that with much guesswork-represent but the tail-end of mankind's lengthy past. When a man- he never pretended to be anything more than that- like Buddha proclaims and re-proclaims that "Hatred ceases not by hatred; hatred ceases only by love," he is not a mere sentimental idealist, voicing his well-meaning but futile emotions. He is every whit as practical as the business man who keeps his ears glued to the telephone and his eyes to the papers on his desk. For Buddha, like all great Sages of his status, sees the pitiful tangle of wars without end that dismayed the pre-historic epoch as it has dismayed the historic epoch. He sees these things in the universal vision of the planet's past which the gods hold before him, as in a mirror. And he is shown how the threads of cause and effect in humanity's affairs are tied by invisible hands in such a way that an inescapable justice, an equalizing re-adjustment, is forever at work. He sees, too, that a spiritual Power is back of the universe whose expression in one form is a sublime benevolence, and that this power is eternal. He knows that hatred brings pain, both to the hated and the hater, and that therefore both hatred and its corollary of suffering can never cease until benevolence takes its place. And because the Power which prompts us ultimately to practise benevolence is an eternal one, and above all an inescapable one, he preaches the advisability of yielding to it now and thus saving much needless suffering. Is he or the hater impractical?

Precisely the same vision of life is given to Jesus. In a world of dry formalists and barren religionists, given over to the doctrine of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, Jesus condenses and re-affirms this truth. He, too, is shown the vision of the universe and the laws which secretly govern the beings who dwell upon it….

Destiny will take charge of the nations and teach them what they need to learn. The most practical course open to me is, therefore, to concentrate my energies and direct my attention into a channel where they can be most economically used.

Such a channel exists in myself. The best starting- point from which to reform the world is undoubtedly my own self. The best way to spread the spirit of benevolence is to begin with myself. Let me, then, compose my thoughts and silently repeat the Buddhist formula for world well-being, whose spirit if not whose words is:

"To the four quarters of the world, I send compassion. To the north, south, east and west, above and below, I send compassion. To all living creatures upon the earth, I send compassion."

My mind softly dwells upon this gentle theme; the emotion of pity passes through me; and when the final benedictory word is pronounced, I feel no less blessed myself.

The Hermit in the Himalayas, Chapter 3, pp. 35-36. Samuel Weiser, N.Y., 1972

February 2014, #15 Nature
Selected from
A Hermit in the Himalayas
by Paul Brunton

PB eTeaching #15 - Nature

...My excursions into stillness have led to a distinct sense of closer touch with my surroundings. In the poet Shelley's phrase, I feel "made one with Nature"... .And as this unifying spirit penetrates me more and more, a benign sense of well-being appears to be one result. I and all these friendly trees, this kindly earth, those white glistening peaks which rim the horizon, are bound up into one living organism and the whole is definitely good at its heart. The universe is not dead but alive, not maleficent but benevolent, not an empty shell but the gigantic body of a Great Mind. I feel sorry for those materialists who, quite honestly but upon limited data, find Death to be the king of the world and the Devil to dwell at the heart of things. Could they but still their overactive brains and align themselves with Nature's panoramic personality, they would discover how wrong they are...

For Nature has a will to outwork in us and only by desisting for a time from the continuous exercise of our own wills can we acquaint ourselves with her purpose. If however, we do this we may learn with surprise that she also has a way of silently yet forcefully attaining this end before our eyes, once we help her by such selflessness. And then her aims and our aims become one, interblent. Ambitions are then transmuted into aspirations and the things we once wanted to achieve for our own individual benefit alone become achieved, almost effortlessly, through us for the benefit of others as well. To co-operate with her in this way is to give up carrying the burden of life and to let her carry it for us; everything becomes easy, even miraculous... The mysterious manner in which this growing sense of unity commingles with a sense of utter goodness is worth noting. It arises by no effort of mine; rather does it come to me out of I know not where. I feel the fundamental benignity of Nature despite the apparent manifestation of ferocity... In short it is a matter of doing nothing in order to allow something to be done to me. Harmony appears gradually and flows through my whole being like music...

How many of our sufferings arise, then, from our resistance? Nature places a gentle finger upon us at first but we turn roughly away. The call to entrust our lives to a higher Power comes in the softest of whispers, so soft that unless we withdraw for awhile and sit still we can hardly hear it, but we stop our ears. Submission, which would bring us peace, is farthest from our thoughts. The personal self, with its illusive reality, deceives us, and, deceiving, enchains us. All of which is but the price we pay for our desertions of Nature's way. With her, harmony; without her, discord and consequent suffering...

I cannot adequately explain the reverence in which I hold Nature. It is to me the universal temple, the universal church... Nature's voice is to be heard within; her beauty may be discerned without; but her beneficent harmony lives both within and without us...

But if I die tonight, then let these words be found in my journal and published broadcast to the whole world:

Nature is your friend; cherish her reverently in your silent moments,

and she will bless you in secret.

All excerpts are from Chapter 4, pp. 45-48, A Hermit in the Himalayas, by Paul Brunton, Samuel Weiser, NY, 1972.

January 2014, #14 Creativity
Selected from
The Spiritual Crisis of Man & The Notebooks of Paul Brunton
by Paul Brunton

PB eTeaching #14 - Creativity

The infinite Mind did not suddenly decide to become creative. It always was and always will be so. All the infinitude of this cosmos is a kind of mirror reflecting the infinitude of the Godhead whence it comes. All Nature is but a parable of the primeval reality which transcends it. From the human standpoint the most important characteristic of the World-Mind is its creative ability. We see the infinite and boundless cosmos consisting of universes, galaxies, and solar systems coming into existence by its means. This creative ability is also the most important characteristic of the human being. It manifests in a variety of ways, whether through the half-blind act of self-reproduction or the fully conscious act of logical intellectual creation, whether in the inspirational production of an artist or the mechanical ingenuity of an inventor. The creative energy displays itself also in the human being's destiny which, for better or for worse, it is making every day. Whether he remains in darkness and ignorance or whether he enters into light, peace, and power, lies within each individual's own hands. (The Spiritual Crisis of Man)

"How am I to start upon this process of true self-knowledge?" The answer begins with this: first adopt the right attitude. Believe in the divinity of your deeper self. Stop looking elsewhere for light, stop wandering hither and thither for power. Your intelligence has become falsified through excessive attention to external living, hence you are not even aware in which direction to look when you seek for the real Truth. You are not even aware that all you need can be obtained by the power within, by the omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient Self. You have to change, first of all, the line of thought and faith which pleads helplessly: "I am a weak man; I am unlikely to rise any higher than my present level; I live in darkness and move amid opposing environments that overwhelm me." Rather should you engrave on your heart the high phrases: "I possess illimitable power within me; I can create a diviner life and truer vision than I now possess." Do this and then surrender your body, your heart and mind to the Infinite Power which sustains all. Strive to obey Its inward promptings and then declare your readiness to accept whatsoever lot it assigns you. This is your challenge to the gods and they will surely answer you. Your soul will be slowly or suddenly liberated; your body will be granted a freer pathway through conditions. You may have to be prepared for a few changes before the feet find rest, but always you shall find that the Power in which you have placed an abiding trust does not go into default. (The Notebooks, Category 1, Chap. 5, Para. #1)

Since the gift of creativity belongs to all of us and is usable in all spheres of a man's life, he can do much to mold that life if he exerts strength and holds to determination. (The Notebooks, Category 14, Chap. 1, Para 109)

December 2013, #13 The Independent Path
Selected from
The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, v. 13, & The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga
by Paul Brunton

PB E-Teaching #13 - The Independent Path

PB wrote in Category 20 (Vol. 13 of The Notebooks): I am a student of philosophy. During my journeys to the heavenly realm of infinite eternal and absolute existence, I did not once discover any labels marked Christian, Hindu, Catholic, Protestant, Zen, Shin, Platonist, Hegelian, and so on, any more than I discovered labels marked Englishman, American, or Hottentot. All such ascriptions would contradict the very nature of ascriptionless existence. All sectarian differences are merely intellectual ones. They have no place in that level which is deeper than intellectual function. They divide men into hostile groups only because they are pseudo-spiritual. He who has tasted of the Spirit's own freedom will be unwilling to submit himself to the restrictions of cult and creed. Therefore I could not conscientiously affix a label to my own outlook or to the teaching about this existence which I have embraced. In my secret heart I separate myself from nobody, just as this teaching itself excludes no other in its perfect comprehension. Because I had to call it by some name as soon as I began to write about it, I called it philosophy because this is too wide and too general a name to become the property of any single sect. In doing so I merely returned to its ancient and noble meaning among the Greeks who, in the Eleusinian Mysteries, designated the spiritual truth learned at initiation as "philosophy" and the initiate himself as "philosopher" or lover of wisdom.

This from The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga: The tool with which a philosopher must needs work is his mind. The ancient sages did not permit a man to begin philosophic studies until he had put his mind into proper shape so that it could function efficiently. This preliminary phase consisted in a practical course in the yoga of mental concentration often coupled with a parallel course in ascetic self-abnegation. (Long Path - editor) Both courses, however, were usually temporary and continued only so long as they were necessary to bring the mental faculties to a reasonable degree of concentrative competency, and the pupil's character to a reasonable degree of self-detachment, sufficient to undertake the difficult task of philosophical reflection.

Our task is to learn wisdom from all experience, from pain as from pleasure, from cruelty as from kindness, and to express in the arena of everyday life just what we have learnt. In this way everything that happens gives us a better foothold for future living.

For the philosophy of truth is taught in a particular and peculiar way. It begins to lead men to truth by pointing out their error, by showing where they think or talk nonsense, by causing them to unlearn illusory knowledge and then by reminding them that penetration to a deeper level of enquiry is possible and desirable. It is established in the mind of its student not so much by the affirmation of what is as by the elimination of what is not.

The ancient Indian teaching postulates three stages of evolution through which the mind of man must pass, three progressive attitudes towards life. The first is religion and is based on faith, the second, mysticism, is controlled by feeling and the third, philosophy (which is inclusive of science), is disciplined by reason. Nor can it be otherwise for man's understanding of the world must necessarily grow parallel to his mental capacity.

The ultimate purpose of the Indian esotericism was to lead men to detect the essential meaning of human life, to help them gain insight into the real structure of the universe and to point out the grand sun of absolute truth shining on the horizon of all existence.

November 2013, #12 The Quest
Selected from
The Quest of the Overself
by Paul Brunton

The Twelfth PB E-teaching - The Quest

The equipoise derived from mental quiet cannot be overpriced. Hospitals could be made emptier, asylums could be less filled and countless homes become far happier if it were universally practiced.

In these days of muddle, conflict and horror, the possession of a balanced mind, interior calm and mellow wisdom, of a sense of genuine values, will not prove to be without advantage. America, as a country palpitant with physical and mental activity, has more need of this quality of internal stillness than even Europe. Agitation, undue haste and over-anxiety vanish from the vocabulary of being when mental quiet is resorted to. It provides men with a fortifying philosophical outlook which makes them more efficient and not less.

The wise man turns all opposition into opportunity. The faults of those with whom he is thrown into inescapable contact become sharpening-stones for his own virtues. He meets their irritability with the sublime patience which wells up as soon as he switches attention to the inner self. He does not worsen matters by dwelling overmuch on negative critical thoughts. He lives his beliefs and converts principle into practice. He will not merely commend his friends and loved ones alone to the kindly care of the Overself, but also his enemies. He knows that we gain more than we lose by forgiving. Those who nourish hatreds are blind, and perceive not that they shall pay for their retention of ancient wrongs. Thus he becomes a secret envoy of the Overself to all whom he meets; within his mind there is a divine message to each of them, but unless they humbly claim it, the message remains unborn.

The potentialities of inspired action, of frictionless activity, are little known. We do not realize how immense an achievement is possible to the centralized man. Divinity and practicality are not necessarily incompatibles. The modern mystic can regard life as a participant, not merely as a percipient. He is not afraid to plunge into action. He knows that if he pays attention to thought, the actions will take care of themselves, and that whatever is conquered in mind is already conquered in deed and must bear right fruit as a tree bears apples. He does not need to deceive himself or others by adopting monkish asceticisms which belong to the needs of former epochs. The world is his monastery. Life is his spiritual teacher. Its experiences are the doctrines for his study.

Men plunged deeply in the world's affairs have found their way to the Overself. They hold an inward calm amid the turmoils of business. There is need at this critical hour in world history for more such spirit-illumined men who will harmonize the secular with the sacred, who can assimilate a subtle spirituality to their complex modern natures, and who will break through the chrysalis of public opinion to bespeak their inward light. There is need of men who seek the service of mankind as much as their own success. "Produce great personalities, and the rest follows", cried Walt Whitman.

The starting point of this quest is where we find ourselves and what we are. The finishing point is the same. Religion, mysticism, art, science and philosophy are indirect paths only, for the issue of self-confronting cannot ultimately be evaded. Hence we can never bestir ourselves too early for the task. The work must ultimately succeed because the infinite is inherent within us as salt inheres in seawater. The travail of dis-identification is not necessarily tedious but equally it is not a hobby for idle hours. No adventure is really so lofty.

These inspiring words are from The Quest of the Overself, pp. 290-293. Note that PB's use of 'man' in his writings refers to mankind, and the root word of man comes from the Sanskrit manas, mind. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary also gives a derivation from the Sanskrit Manu, "the progenitor of the human race and giver of the religious laws of Manu in Hindu mythology."

Read more on this topic in The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Volume 2, "The Quest."

October 2013, #11 Karma Part 2
Selected from
The Wisdom of the Overself
by Paul Brunton

PB E-Teaching #11- KARMA, Part 2

By detaching a fragmentary part of our daily program for the simple purpose of stilling the mind, 'going into the silence' and aspiring intensely for the divine Light to pass into and through us for the blessing of mankind, a mental channel may be opened to attract higher forces to our earth. This practice is best done in an unobserved place or at the window of a room whilst seated in a chair with legs uncrossed, for it should be followed at dawn or sunset facing towards the sun. It should be continued until a feeling of loving response arises, which feeling can come within ten or twenty minutes in most cases.* Here is a chance for those who have felt the need of a high and holy Cause in whose service they could lose themselves and for which they could forget themselves. If grace for the individual man is procurable only by a change of thought, that is a veritable repentance, it is equally true that grace for a whole people is procurable on the same terms.

*For full detailed instructions see "The First Meditation" in Chapter XIV, The Wisdom of the Overself.

They (mankind) possess today an opportunity not only to put wrongs right but also to attain a truer view of life, to comprehend that it is not meaningless but has an exalted purpose, that it is their privilege to co-operate in securing the fulfillment of this purpose within their own lives, and that their brief hours on the stage of universal existence could become the prelude to ineffable ones. Mankind have been estranged from the inner sources of truth and hope for so long that the more sensitive are now beginning to experience the thirsts and hungers of a veritable drought... .Human life is not a stagnant pool. There is a sacred Something back of us which demands and must have expression and growth, which must break through as inevitable as tomorrow's sun must destroy tonight's darkness.

The doctrine of historical cycles has warned us that there is no unimpeded progress toward perfection, that stagnation and retrogression inevitably make their contributions too, human nature being what it is. But it has also shown us that although there are always periods when mankind degenerates morally, there are at least as many other periods when it advances morally. And it is the latter which, in the ultimate reckoning, will have the last word. For karma tends to educate a man and his own Overself tends to draw him to itself.

All that wars against human unity, that would turn the hand of man against his brother, will one day infallibly perish. None of us dare hope to see such a day, for quick millenniums are the cheap delusions of wishful thinkers, but all of us may hope to find within ourselves even now this same sacred principle and thus assure ourselves of its truth. We may safely take our stand on the oneness of essential being. We may wait quietly for the World-Mind to reclaim its own progeny. For we are ever moving towards the morrow. If, meanwhile, we endeavour to co-operate reverently and intelligently with its plan, and at the same time aspire toward that region where the atmosphere is timeless, our patience will not sink into lethargy.

This is the grand goal towards which all living creatures are moving... There is no need to lose heart. No single defeat of true ideas and no violent devolution of revered ideals could ever be really definite in this ancient war of light against night. Hope is the beautiful message of the unknown goal, the star that blazes when all else is dark, the encouragement of the sublime Perfect to the struggling Imperfect.

- The Wisdom of the Overself, Chapter X, "The War and the World"

October 2013, #10 Karma
Selected from
The Wisdom of the Overself
by Paul Brunton


Dear Reader: The theme of the next two PB e-teachings is Karma. This teaching aims to discuss how karma works while the next one will show how the individual can cooperate with the positive effects of karma. In our studies of the chapter "The Birth of the Universe," in The Wisdom of the Overself we learned that the universe is an endless affair which arises out of a gradual process of manifestation. There has always been an eternal hidden reality in its background, World Mind. The mental impressions formed in the past reappear as the world and as individuals in the world; they are reincarnations of previously existent forces that go on developing themselves and mutually inter-act. Put another way, "As the ripples of Karma flow across the lake of World-Mind they move through both the universe and the individual at the same instant and, operationally, in the same way." pp. 56-57.

Nobody likes to impose a discipline upon himself and that is why everybody has to submit to a discipline imposed by karma. The seeds may have been sown during the present life and not necessarily during a past one. The first error which most people make when accepting the tenet of karma is to postpone its operation to future incarnations. The truth is that the consequences of our acts come to us if they can in the same birth as when they are committed. If we think of karma as being something whose fruits are to be borne in some remote future existence, we think of it wrongly. For every moment we are shaping the history of the next moment, every month we are fashioning the form of the month which shall follow it. No day stands isolated and alone.

Karma is a continuous process and does not work by postponement. But it is often not possible to work out these consequences in terms of the particular circumstances of this birth. In such cases ? and in such alone ? do we experience the consequences in subsequent births. Even those who accept the twin doctrines of re-embodiment and self-made karma, which are the most reasonable of all doctrines claiming to explain the principal vicissitudes of human fortune, are not infrequently hazy about the proper practical attitude to adopt as a consequence of this belief. It is necessary for them to understand first of all that although whilst evil endures we must accept the fact of its existence as the price to be paid for the self-limiting of an emanation from the Infinite into the finite, we need not therefore complacently tolerate its activity. Because we believe that karma operates to bring about sometimes approximate, sometimes adequate justice in the end, we must not therefore for example stand indolently aside from aggressive wrong-doing in passive trust to its operation. For karma needs to utilize instruments, and its effects do not spring miraculously out of the air.

The second point for their understanding is the place of free will in the practical application of this doctrine. For we weaken ourself and injure truth if we believe that all events are unalterably fixed, that our external lives are unchangeably pre-ordained, and that there is nothing we can do to improve the situations in which we find ourself. It is true that we are compelled to move within the circumstances we have created in the past and the conditions we have inherited in the present, but it is also true that we are quite free to modify them. Freedom exists at the heart of man, that is in his Overself. Fate exists on the surface-life of man, that is in his personality. And as man himself is a compound of both these beings, neither the absolute fatalist nor the absolute free-will position is wholly correct, and his external life must also be a compound of freedom and fate. No man however evolved he may be has entire control over his life, but then he is not entirely enslaved to it either. No action is entirely free nor entirely fated; all are of this mixed double character. ..We sew the tapestry of our own destiny, but the thread we use is of a kind, a colour and quality forced upon us by our own past thoughts and acts. In short, our existence has a semi-independent, semi-predestined character.

The Wisdom of the Overself, pp. 228-9

September 2013, #9 Quotes
Selected from
The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga
by Paul Brunton


Dear Reader: This 9th PB e-teaching from The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga widens the perspective of the earlier presentations. PB writes that "whereas western thinkers usually claimed that nobody had discovered ultimate truth, the authors of old Asiatic books claimed that ultimate truth was certainly discoverable and that a few sages had definitely known it." The HTBY explains the steps the student should develop to prepare for the study of Philosophy, the love of truth. The result of this work brings not only the feeling of having reached truth but also gives the irrefutable knowledge of truth and arises out of the balance between knowledge and feeling. The following quotes give the student some ideas of the material, but devoted study and practice of these ideas are necessary to grasp the benefits.

Quotes from The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga

Every writer or teacher must perforce take up a different position according to the grade of development of the mind with which he is dealing... The purpose of these pages should not be misconstrued, They are designed to show a yoga-path suited to Western people... they show how to achieve certain satisfactions, but they do not attempt at this stage to solve the mystery of the universe... When peace of mind and concentration of thought have been gained, then only will one be fit and ready to embark on the quest of Ultimate Truth. We are still in the process of unveiling a subtle and startling wisdom which not one person in a million has yet grasped.

- Quote appears in both The Quest of the Overself and The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga

The sage has sought and found his basic happiness in the Mind, which is his inalienable possession and of which no catastrophe can rob him.

We may accumulate wealth if we wish to, possess property and estimate the usefulness of money, love, and family and friends, but the moment we permit these things to absorb our whole time so that we have neither mind nor time to give to the quest of understanding what we are here for, then they become a disguised curse and a source of latent suffering.

Struggle must continue while the world lasts but it will gradually be refined, modified, dignified and purged of its physical brutality. We must therefore admit with Socrates: "Evil, O Glaucon, will not vanish from the earth. How should it, if it is the name of the imperfection through whose defeat the perfect types acquire their value?" and with Buddha: "Struggle there must be, for all life is a struggle of some kind." But Buddha also pointed out that the conflict in life is not really between good and evil but between knowledge and ignorance. We must remember that the sages refuse to recognize evil as a positive independent existence but place it in the limited view of the man who believes in it. Our task is to learn wisdom from all experience, from pain as from pleasure, from cruelty as from kindness, and to express in the arena of everyday life just what we have learnt. In this way everything that happens gives us a better foothold for future living.

The practical lesson is: Change the prevailing tenor of your thoughts and you will help to change, in time, the prevailing condition of your affairs. Correct your mental and ethical errors and the correction will ultimately tend to become apparent in better character and improved environment. To a considerable extent man builds and changes his environment, constructs the history of his life and shapes his own circumstances by the simple power of mind for destiny is ultimately self-earned and mind- made. Karma shows how this can be so, and the doctrine of mentalism shows why this must be so.

Lastly we must learn through yoga-practice and philosophic reflection the art of being unruffled. For troubles must come, but as they come so will they go. The same power that brought them will also take them away. Fortune is a turning wheel. Meanwhile the mind should remain firmly anchored where it belongs - in truth, not in illusion. p. 390

August 2013, #8 Individuality
Selected from
The Wisdom of the Overself
by Paul Brunton


The 8th PB e-teaching deals with Individuality. The Wisdom of the Overself, chapter 3, speaks of individuality on many levels: karma is both general and specific. The individual and the world arise together at the same moment out of the past which trails behind both. The World Mind's memorization makes individual activity possible, subtly supports and sustains it. PB writes of a triune stream of life current, intelligence, and individuality that runs through the universe. In category 1 of the Notebooks he says a prime purpose of the Quest is to create a true individuality, where, at present, there is only a pseudo one. The following paras from Category 1 explain more on this fascinating topic.

In every individual there is an original, mysterious, and incalculable element, because his past history and his prenatal ancestry in other lives on earth have inevitably been different at certain points from those of other individuals. His world-outlook may seem the same as theirs, but there will always be subtle variations. There is no single path which can be presented to suit the multitudinous members of the human species. There is no one unalterable approach to this experience for all men. Each has to find his own present understanding and past experience-and each in the end really does so despite all appearances to the contrary. For each man passes through a different set of life-experiences. His past history and present circumstances have constituted an individual being who is unique, who possesses something entirely his own. It is partly through the lessons, reflections, intuitions, traits, characteristics, and capacities engendered by such experiences that he is able to find his way to truth. Therefore he is forced not only to work out his own salvation but also to work it out in his own unique way. Every description of a mystical path must consequently be understood in a general sense. If its expounder delimits it to constitute a precise path for all alike, he exaggerates. Although there is so much is life which the aspirant shares with other beings, there is always a residue which imparts a stamp of individuality that is different from and unshareable with the individualities of all others. Consequently, the inner path which he must follow cannot be precisely the same as theirs. In the end, after profiting by all the help which he may gain from advanced guides and fellow-pilgrims, after all his attempt to imitate or follow them, he is forced to find or make a way for himself, a way which will be peculiarly his own. In the end he must work out his own unique means to salvation and depend on himself for further enlightenment and strength. Taught by his own intelligence and instructed by his own intuition, he must find his own unique path toward enlightenment.

Each case is different, because each person has a different heredity, temperament, character, environment, and living habits. Therefore these general principles must be adapted to, and fitted in with, that person's particular condition.

July 2013 - #7, Mysticism
Selected from
The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga
by Paul Brunton

The subject of the 7th PB e-teaching is Mysticism, and it is from Chapter III, "The Religious and Mystic Grades," from The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga. In this section PB points out the important function that mysticism serves in our development and also its limitations. He writes that whatever good mysticism can do, there is much that it cannot do, yet wrongly claims to do, and says the social value of mysticism is as little as its individual value is great. Therefore, it cannot constitute a complete solution of the problem of human existence or offer a complete panacea for the malady of human suffering.


Mysticism might be cryptically described as a mode of life which claims, without long and laudatory praises of God, to bring us nearer to Him than do ordinary religious methods; as a view of life which rejects the all-too-human God made by man in his own image and out of his own imagination, replacing it by a formless infinite divinity; and as a psychological technique which seeks to establish direct communication with this spirit, through the channel of interior contemplation.

Certain collective tenets of mysticism are not confined to any one faith, to any one country, or to any one people, and are roughly universal. These cardinal positions of the mystic's thought are five in number and may be briefly picked out and exhibited as follows. Mystics hold first that God is not to be located in any particular place, church or temple but that His spirit is everywhere present in Nature and that Nature everywhere abides in it. The orthodox notion that God is a particular Person among many other persons, only much more powerful yet still saddled with likes and dislikes, anger and jealousy, is rejected as childish. Pantheism is therefore the initial note to be sounded. Right thought hallows a place or makes it profane, and real sacredness dwells within the mind alone, Next they hold that as a corollary from the first tenet, God abides inside the heart of every man as the sun abides in all its myriad rays. He is not merely a physical body alone, as materialists believe, not a body plus a ghost-like soul which emanates from it after death, as religionists believe, but he is here and now divine in the very flesh. The heavenly kingdom must be found whilst we are yet alive, or not at all. It is not a prize which is bestowed on us in the nebulous courts of death. The practical consequence of this doctrine is embodied in the third tenet of the mystics, which asserts that it is perfectly possible for any man, who will submit to the prerequisite ascetic discipline, to enter into direct communion by contemplation and meditation with the spirit of God without the use of any priest or prelate as an intermediary and without the formal utterance of verbal prayer. This renders it quite unnecessary to lift upturned palms in suppliant adjuration of a higher Being. Silent aspiration thus replaces mechanical recitation. The fourth tenet is as obnoxious to official religion as the last for it declares that the stories, events, incident and sayings, which in their totality constitute a holy scripture, are merely a mixture of imagined allegories and actual happenings, a literary concoction whereby mystical truths are cleverly conveyed through the medium of symbolic myth, legendary personification and true historic fact; that the twentieth century indeed could quite justifiably write its new Bibles, its new Korans, its new Vedas afresh if it wished, for the divine afflatus may descend again at any hour. Mystics hold, fifthly, that their practices ultimately lead to the development of supernormal faculties and extraordinary mental powers or even strange physical ones, either as the gift of God's grace or as the consequence of their own efforts.

... The broadening effect of mysticism upon man's religious outlook is an incentive to tolerance and therefore a definite asset in this intolerant world ...

The fully developed mystic understands that God's sun shines on all alike, and that he is free to follow any particular creed or none. That which he seeks he must discover for himself and from himself by meditative introversion.

The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga, pp. 77-79

June 2013, #6 The Immortal Overself
Selected from
The Wisdom of the Overself
by Paul Brunton

The Immortal Overself

Just as it has been necessary to purify our ideas of what is meant by 'I';so it is now necessary to purify our ideas of what is meant by immortality. We did not deny the 'I.' We shall not deny God. We are not now denying immortality. But fallacious conceptions of it must be got rid of.

When the mind essence is recognized as the true ground upon which the whole structure of this 'I' has been built, it will also be recognized as something which is never born and consequently never dies, as what was is and shall be. It can then be seen that if all our memories involve time, they also involve as a background the existence of something in them which is out of time. This view of immortality as belonging to the higher individuality of Overself rather than to the lower personality will then replace the former one, which is ultimately doomed to suffer the anguish of frustrated desire whereas the true view bathes a man in increasing peace the better it is understood. When man continues firmly and unfailingly to identify himself in thought with this, his higher individuality, quite naturally he comes to share its attitude. And from this attitude the belief, 'I shall die eventually' is entirely absent. To imagine is to create. That which a man thinks, he becomes. Rightly thinking himself immortal, he consequently attains immortality.

The common conception of immortality would make it an indefinite prolongation of personal existence. The mystic conception would make it an indefinite prolongation of personal bliss. The philosophic conception, however, transcends both these notions because it discards the personal life and replaces it by its ultimate non-egoistic root, the individual Overself. ... It IS. It has life of itself. Consequently the body has to give up in death what it has previously received but the Overself never having had anything added to it, has nothing to give up. It cannot but be immortal for it is part of the World-Mind and what is true of that must be true of itself.

In the end these studies will reveal that the truth behind the world is its essential enduring reality and that the truth behind ourself is our own enduring divinity. In what way the one is real and the other divine is something which has to be dug out by hard labour. ... Let it be repeated therefore that because we are what we really are annihilation is not for us.

May 2013, #5 The Metaphysics of Sleep
Selected from
The Wisdom of the Overself
by Paul Brunton

PB E- Teaching #5 - The Metaphysics of Sleep

" The dream state is the key to the mystery of who he is, while the more advanced deep sleep state indicates what he is." - The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Category 19, chapter 3, para 34

The Metaphysics of Sleep

We have already learnt that the mind is the principle in us which really sees, hears, tastes, touches and thinks; that these activities are only ways in which it reveals itself in wakeful and dream consciousness but nevertheless they are ways which do not exhaust its fullness. What we must endeavour to grasp is that this same mind is still present during sleep even though the other kinds of consciousness are not. The waking, dreaming and sleeping selves are not really three individual beings, separate by nature. When a particular one of them is expressed it hides the other two from us but this does not alter the fact that it is only one and the same mind expressing itself under three different sets of conditions. And only because it is always present, because there is no break in the continuity of the mind itself, do we naturally experience a sense of reality when awake or dreaming. How important and how precious therefore should it be to us!

We have indeed actually dipped deeper, as it were, into the basis of its being when we have slipped into slumber. We have returned nearer to its innermost reality. Thus, from this metaphysical standpoint, the third state of mind is the most valuable of all but from the practical prosaic standpoint, the least valuable of all. For alas! What is the use of being a millionaire if one is ignorant of the fact at the time? Sleep frees us from all the fears and pains which shadow life but it also frees us from all the hopes and joys which brighten it. This is because man then ceases to limit himself solely to the consciousness of the flesh. But he also ceases to possess the consciousness of anything at all.

... .Here the higher teaching steps in and explains that Nature has indeed given man this move-up closer to the reality of mind, but because he has not earned the right to it by his own effort, she soon takes it away from him again. For he has entered sleep carrying with him the deep mental seed-impressions of earthly desire, the strong emotional tendencies which bind him to physical life and the powerful egoistic chains which cannot co-exist with the freedom and integrity of the mind's own pure nature. Because he has not earned the right to a release from this bondage by his own personal effort, Nature does not allow him to enjoy the consciousness of his thought-free liberation during his sleep but only as a soothing afterglow during the few moment after his awakening.... Is this not a hint to man that were his thinking to be deliberately brought down to its lowest ebb, thus making his mental state during wakefulness as similar as possible to what it is during sleep, and were this to be achieved with complete intellectual understanding of all that his enterprise involves, he would consciously experience this same happy calm condition?

The Wisdom of the Overself, pp. 123-125

Read More about meditation and PB's views on mysticism in Volume 4 of the Notebooks
May 2013, #4 The Secret of the 'I'
Selected from
The Wisdom of the Overself
by Paul Brunton

The fourth PB e-teaching discusses the nature of the I. The following ideas are from "The Secret of the 'I'" chapter in The Wisdom of the Overself. Ramana Maharishi frequently referenced the "I" and a deeper "I-I" in his talks, and the 'I' was often a subject in Anthony Damiani's classes.


The first of our thoughts is 'I'. All other thoughts follow its arising. It does not stand alone but instantly associates itself with the thought which next follows. And this is the body thought. Unfortunately it ends by limiting itself to the body too, which could never have come into existence at all but for its own prior existence. Thus this association has degenerated into a bondage of the "I'-thought to the body-thought. The only self man believes in today is his body. Consequently the original 'I' thought becomes converted into 'I am the body.'

After this there arises the world-thought. The 'I' unconsciously provides the particular space-time characteristics through which the world must first pass before it can emerge into its consciousness. Thus the 'I' veritably holds as its own thought both the body and then the world outside the body. But because it began by deceiving itself about its own relation to the body, because it took the body for what it is not, it ends by deceiving itself about the things outside and around the body and takes them for what they are not too. Hence the arising of a triple error: the world, the body and the 'I' are all regarded as non-mental.

The 'I' every man knows is indeed his self but it is not his ultimate self. When he discovers that his own personal existence is no less a thought-structure than that of his physical surroundings, that everything including himself has an imagined existence, he comes close, very close, to the gate of initiation into a higher world of understanding... ..Jesus told his disciples that when they knew the Truth it would set them free. They were already physically free so the liberation to which he referred could only have been a mental one. Gautama was called 'Buddha', which means 'awakened one', because he had awakened from the attachment to his own person which was as erroneous as the attachment of the dreaming peasant to his royal self. Then as now the mass of humanity were still so utterly sunk in their thought-made self as to take it for the final one.

The essence of this doctrine is that all these things are ultimately known by the mind, are known only as mental perceptions and therefore can only exist within such a conscious immaterial and untouchable principle of awareness as we know the human mind to be.

Once we comprehend this situation then it becomes possible to find the answer to questions like, why if the person is itself owned and is not the ultimate owner does it seem to own the self; and, why does it yield the feeling of being substantially our real self? The answer is that the witnessing self is present in hidden association or mystic immanence in the personal self and reflects into that self the feeling of its own real existence. Its presence in each one of us thus explains why it is that we have the sense of personal identity at all. But this does not warrant the materialistic illusion which substitutes the personality for what underlies and supports it.

Read about the I and the Witnessing Self, in Volume 14 of the Notebooks of Paul Brunton and in Standing In Your Own Way by Anthony Damiani.

April 2013, #3 The Meaning of Mentalism
Selected from
The Wisdom of the Overself
by Paul Brunton


Chapter 2, pp. 32-22

After all, this world in which we live move and have our being every moment and every hour, comes to our notice only because our body is sensitive to it in five different ways, because we feel, see, hear, smell and taste it. ...But sense impressions are themselves meaningless if they are not supported by or given to an individual mind which has them. (ed.note: This is further developed in The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga.)

If the reality of the known world lies in sense-impressions, then the reality of such impressions lies in a living mind. The individual, therefore, stands behind the world, although, paradoxically, he is also included in the world.

This paradox must be cleared. For if we make the mind of an individual the sole source of his experience, then we fall into the piquant situation of making him the sole creator and governor of this vast and varied cosmos of shooting stars and circling planets. But this is an absurdity. His mind may issue a decree but a tree will refuse to turn into a river at his bidding. It stubbornly remains a tree. Therefore it is clear that there must be another factor somehow present underneath the individual experience of the world, a creative and contributive factor which is as beyond his control as it is beyond his consciousness. It is to the united activity of these two elements - the individual and the unknown super-individual - that we must look for an intelligible explanation of the existence and structure of the experienced world. Thus although we started with sense-impressions as our view of what is real in the experienced world, we are compelled to conclude with a super-individual mental factor as our final view of what is real in it.


What shall we call this supreme Mind? Such a nebulous term as God must first be defined before it can properly be used. But it has already acquired so many different meanings in so many different intellects that a definition which will be satisfactory to all is difficult perhaps impossible to find. Therefore we are justified in using a self-explanatory term. And such a term?the World-Mind will henceforth be used throughout this book to indicate this universal Intelligence. Put into poetical language, the World-Mind is the Soul of Nature.

March 2013, #2 Meditations on Grace Part 2
Selected from
The Gift of Grace: Awakening to Its Presence
by Paul Brunton

Meditations on Grace, part 2

Out of the grand mystery of the Overself, the first communication we receive telling us of and making us feel its existence, is Grace.

Grace is here for all. It cannot be here for one special person and not for another. Only we do not know how to open our tensioned hands and receive it, how to open our ego-tight hearts and let it gently enter.

Judge a work of art by analysing its effect. Does it leave you feeling better or worse, inspired or disturbed, calmed or restless, perceptive or dulled? For every opportunity to behold great paintings or listen to inspired music or read deeply discerning literature is itself a kind of Grace granted to us.

When the inspired sentence is read, the sensitive mind comprehends that it is no longer merely reading words. It is also receiving the grace of the Presence.

Such is the wonder of grace that the worst sinner who falls to the lowest depths may thereafter rise to the loftiest heights. Jesus, Buddha, and Krishna have plainly said so.

The fact of Grace being an unpredictable descent from above does not mean that we are entirely helpless in the matter, that there is nothing we can do about it. We can at least prepare ourselves both to attract Grace and to respond aright when it does come. We can cleanse our hearts, train our minds, discipline our bodies, and foster altruistic service even now. And then every cry we send out to invoke grace will be supported and emphasized by these preparations.

The attitude of expectancy and hope in the matter of seeking illumination is a correct one. But the hour when this Grace will be bestowed is unpredictable; therefore, hope must be balanced with patience, and expectancy with perseverance. Meanwhile, there is all the work one can handle in attending to the improvement of character and understanding, the cultivation of intuition and practice of meditation, the prayers for Grace, and in self-humbling beneath the Will of the Overself.

March 2013, #1 Meditations on Grace Part 1
Selected from
The Gift of Grace: Awakening to Its Presence
by Paul Brunton

Meditations on Grace, part 1

Grace may be defined as the Overself's response to the personal self's aspiration, sincerity, and faith, lifting up the person to a level beyond his ordinary one.

Grace is always being offered, in a general way, but we do not see the offer; we are blind and so pass it by. How can we reverse this condition and acquire sight? By preparing proper conditions. First, mark off a period of each day--a short period to begin with--for retreat from the ordinary out-going way of living. Give up this period to in-going, to meditation. Come out of the world for a few minutes. What Grace does is to draw one?s attention away from oneself, from the ego, to the Overself. It is grace which inspires our best moves, and which enables us to make them.

As the light of Grace begins to fall upon him, he becomes aware of the tendencies and propensities, the motives and desires which obstruct or oppose the awakening into awareness of the Overself.

When one has reviewed a problem from all its angles, and has done this not only with the keenest powers of the mind but also with the finest qualities of the heart, it should be turned over at the end to the Overself and dismissed. The technique of doing so is simple. It consists of being still. In the moment of letting the problem fall away, one triumphs over the ego. This is a form of meditation. In the earlier stage it is an acknowledgment of helplessness and weakness in handling the problem, of personal limitations, followed by a surrender of it (and of oneself) to the Overself in the last resort. One can do no more. Further thought would be futile. At this point Grace may enter and do what the ego cannot do. It may present guidance either then, or at some later date, in the form of a self-evident idea.

The awakening to spiritual need, although often productive of longing and sadness, is also often a sign of the preliminary working of Grace. The fact of Grace being an unpredictable descent from above does not mean that we are entirely helpless in the matter, that there is nothing we can do about it. We can at least prepare ourselves both to attract Grace and to respond aright when it does come. We can cleanse our hearts, train our minds, discipline our bodies, and foster altruistic service even now. And then every cry we send out to invoke grace will be supported and emphasized by these preparations. You may know that the work of Grace has begun when you feel an active drawing from within which wakes you from sleep and which recurs in the day, urging you to practice your devotions, your recollections, your prayers, or your meditations. It leads you from your surface consciousness to your inner being, a movement which slowly goes back in ever-deepening exploration and discovery of yourself.


If you could penetrate into the so-called unconscious levels of your mind, you might find, to your utter amazement, that your enemies, critics, or domestic thorns-in-the-flesh are the very answer to your prayer for Grace. They fully become so, however, only when you recognize them as such, when you perceive what duty or what self-discipline they give you the chance to practice.

When you feel the urge to weep for no apparent reason you should not resist, as it is a sign of the working of Grace upon you. The more you yield to this urge the more quickly will you progress. This is an important manifestation although its inner significance will not be understood by the materialistic world. When your aspiration rises to an overpowering intensity, it is a sign that Grace is not so far off.

When the grace descends, whether from some action or attitude of one's self, or apparently without cause from outside one's self, if it is authentic, it will seem for the brief while that it lasts as if one has touched eternity, as if life and consciousness are without beginning and without end. It is a state of absolute contentment, complete fulfillment.

When the ego's total submission is rewarded by the Overself's holy Grace, he is granted pardon for the blackest past and his sins are truly forgiven him. From The Gift of Grace: Awakening to Its Presence by Paul Brunton, collated and edited by Sam Cohen. Published for the Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation by Larson Publications,

To read more on the topic of grace in The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, go to