Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation homepage > Notebooks of Paul Brunton > Category 22: Inspiration and the Overself > Chapter 2: Inspiration


Turning to the meaning of that word "inspiration," what more can one say than that it is "in-breathing"--the in-breathing of a spiritual quality that raises a work or a person above the common order of things? I do not mean a work is inspired when it is cheaply glamorous, or that a man is inspired when he is rhetorically aggressive, or that a mind is inspired when it indulges in clever intellectual jugglery. It is my standpoint that all inspired art is the expression at most or a product at least of spiritual experience, although the latter may not be well understood by its experiencer. The experience must come first. Art is movement and noise, whereas the spirit out of which it arises is hushed stillness and invulnerable silence.

When the goddess Athena, in Greek mythology, says that "some things you will think of for yourself, and others a god will put into your heart," this is her way of describing what we, more simply, would call inspiration.

Only the direct experience of this exalted state will supply the sense of actuality and the feeling of vividness in spiritual writing.

When this exalted feeling is transferred to the intellect and there turned into thought, whether for expression in words for one's own understanding or for communication to others, it is termed a truth. In this form it becomes a source of renewed inspiration, a help in darker times, and a guide to live by in ordinary times.

Inspiration can come to any person. It is not reserved for artists and mystics alone.

When intuition expresses itself through, or enters into, the creative arts, we call it inspiration. The two are the same in root, but different in leaf.

It would be absurd to believe that the creative power of inspiration exhausts itself with the arts alone. It can appear in any and every kind of human activity, in the making of a home or of a decision.

It is the difference between real beauty and mere prettiness, between divine inspiration and practised competence, between a flower and the painting of it.

There is a hidden light within man himself. Sometimes its glow appears in his most beautiful art productions, his loftiest religious revelations, his most irreproachable moral decisions.

There are swift elusive moments which every real artist knows, and every deep lover experiences, when the faculty of concentration unites with the emotion of joy and creates an indescribable sense of balanced being. Such moments are of a mystical character.

None of us can play with the pen for some years, or wield the painter's brush, or practise any of the arts, without in time letting our minds dwell on the processes of inspiration. The mysteries of man's being must then necessarily occupy us. And if we dare to be truly frank in our facing of the self, if we will put aside preconceived notions and ready-made theories in order to watch what really happens during those processes, we discover our feet upon the verge of a great discovery. For we shall discover--if we are both patient enough and yet persistent enough--that there is a Source within us which promises astonishing possibilities to the human race. That Source is loosely called the soul.

That part of us that responds to truth and ideals is the best part.

Great importance is to be placed on the guidance to be got from what psychoanalysis calls the unconscious elements within man. How many a prominent orator's delivery during public speeches shows that when he speaks out of his head he is quite undistinguished and uninspiring, whereas when he speaks out of his heart, without previous preparation and under the sway of his innermost feeling, he strongly impresses and affects his audience.

It happens on a plane above men's heads; most of them don't know of it explicitly at the moment. Yet they are truly rendering service through being used as channels.

There are moods or periods when the ideas stream through his mind in swift succession or come in slow stately revelations.

What is true of the world's work is true also of the arts. The secret of inspired action is also the secret of inspired art. The temporary inspirations of the artist can become permanent, if he or she will take the divine path. Intermittent inspiration develops ultimately into continuous contact with the sublime, when genius discovers the mysterious source which inspires it.

He is as intensely alive in the spirit as most men are insensely alive in the flesh.

Its expression and development

What begins as a mysterious presence ends as a clear influence.

To the extent that we can keep and hold our awareness of this divine consciousness, we can also express something of its knowledge and power.

Once "tuned in," the longer you can stay with the Overself, the greater the depth penetrated; and this in turn means the more general benefit will be gained, the more creativity will be possible in ideas, in arts, and in intuitions.

The glimpse becomes the creative source, the inspirer, of his intellectual or aesthetic pursuits--if he is an artist or writer--or of his moral aspirations and conduct if he is not. First there is the turning-within and opening to that which is his finest being; then there is the reversal of direction, the turning-without and giving or serving his small or large world. This humanistic way is a grace for those whom it touches.

There are men who may be high in talent but low in character. Notice that I use the word talent. I can not believe that it is possible to possess true inspiration and yet deny it or fail to express it in one's conduct.

Whatever talent of creative quality he brings to meditation could come out inspired, renewed, and exalted.

What he gets from these delectable inner meetings he tries to give the world in whatever way his situation allows, in an artistic creation or a simple smile, or otherwise.

To the extent that a man is conscious of the presence of the Overself, he becomes inspired. To the extent that he is also talented in any of the arts, his work also becomes inspired.

If he feels this presence, and can do his work without deserting it, then his is a sacred function, no matter whether it be an artist's or an artisan's.

Even while working in an office or factory or field, a man is not prevented from continuing his search for the inner mind. The notion that this quest requires aloofness from the commonplace utilitarian world is one which philosophy does not accept. Distraction and action are not so mutually inclusive as we may think. The student may train himself to maintain calm and serene poise even in the midst of strenuous activity, just as he also avails himself of the latest discoveries of scientific technique and yet keeps his mind capable of browsing through the oldest books of the Asiatic sages. He can discipline himself to returning from meditation to the turmoil, go anywhere, do anything, if truth is carried in the mind and poise in the heart. He may learn to live in reality at all times. The sense of its presence will need no constant renewal, no frequent slipping into trance, no intermittent escape from the world, if he follows the philosophic threefold path.

It is not enough to obey and follow the prompting which draws him inward through formal meditation. It is equally needful to sustain spiritual activity through all the many hours of external business, to learn the art of not being of the world although in it, to achieve the wonderful state of inspired action.

The whole of life must be inspired, not merely action alone, not merely thinking alone, not merely feeling alone. Inspired living must be the keynote of the disciple's efforts.

He will carry its inspiration into all his activities. Every department of his life will be divinized.

If his inspiration is of the highest kind, it will be a fruitful one. It will manifest in external achievement by the personal ego and in altruistic service, enlightenment, and uplift of the world community in which he lives.

Those critics who assert that we have lost our mystical values because we teach that mystical contemplation is not an end in itself but rather a means to action, have not understood our teaching. The kind of action we refer to is not the ordinary one. It is something higher than that, wiser than that, nobler than that. It is everyday human life divinized and made expressive of a sublime FACT. We have indeed often used the phrase "inspired action" to distinguish it from the blind and egotistic kind. He who practises it does not thereby desert the contemplative path. This inner life is kept deep full and rich, but it is not kept refrigerated and isolated. He reflects it deliberately into the outer life to satisfy a twofold purpose. First, to be on the earth, so far as he can, what he is in heaven. Second, to work actively for the liberation of others. This cannot be achieved by inertia and indifference--which are virtues to the mystic but defects to the philosopher.

The mind stilled, the self surrendered, a divine awareness possesses him. For there can be three forms of possession: divine, human (as in artists or writers), and diabolic. In the ideal sage, divine possession has become a permanent state.

He finds within himself not merely a passive repose but also a veritable fountain of wisdom and strength, inspiration and bliss.

When spirituality shines through a man, it makes him great, even though he be bereft of talent in any other direction.

It should heighten, and not destroy, his creative capacities in the world of art or intellect, in public service or technical endeavour, in the businesses and professions.

In ancient times the very idea of inspiration, of being under the influence of a higher power, connoted an accompaniment of extremely strong stirring of the feelings. This is clearly on a mystical level, for there is deep calm during inspiration on a philosophical level.

It is not quite correct to say that in literary inspiration the pen races ahead of the mind, that thoughts are too swift and too numerous to get written down without missing any. This is one kind of inspiration. There is another wherein thoughts are slow and few, but deeper.

The priest and the guru, the artist and the writer have to carry a small flock or a million minds with them by means of their work. The talent if they possess it is theirs, but the inspiration comes from a higher level.

The disappointed escapist seeks compensations for life, the inspired activist seeks life.

To make the mood of inspiration a haphazard affair, is imprudent.

Whether it comes as an inspirational idea or as an intuitive feeling, it should be treasured and nurtured and developed.

A good deal of achievement goes on in the silent solitude of our own hearts, unnoticed and unknown to other men; one day it blossoms into irresistible action, and then the world wonders why.

In the end, thought and conduct, ideal and action, truth and being, must be coordinated, fused, and united.

We fulfil life when we find ourselves in the divine presence unendingly, aware of it and expressing it.

As act of Overself

Finding the Overself is one thing, and the first thing, but letting it take over is another thing.

The first reality of universal existence must become the first thought of human consciousness. Only then is our life rightly orientated and properly sustained. All action will then become sublime, inspired, and wise, leading to the true success at all times and despite adverse outward appearances.

It is one secret of the inspired individual that he lets himself be led: he does not try to do with his ego what can be better done for him by the intuition. But this will be possible only if he pauses and waits for the inner leading to come to him.

Give the ego back to the Overself and then the Overself will use it as it should be used--in harmony with the cosmic laws of being. This means that the welfare of all others in contact with the ego will be considered as well as the ego's own.

When these wonderful inspirations come on him, when the Overself draws him inward to involvement in its glorious being, even his physical gait, movement, and activity are affected by the change. They become quite relaxed, slowed down and very leisurely. It is as if time is no longer as important as it ordinarily seems. Yet if the intellect protests against the change, the intuition replies that the higher power will take care of the real duties.

His behaviour is spontaneous, but not through mere impulse nor through unused intellect. It is the spontaneity, the forthrightness of an inspired man who knows where he is going and what he is doing, who is directly guided in his relations with other men by a higher will than his own ego's.

When the Overself's will is the motivating power in his life, all strain and all effort to act rightly cease.

When the ego is displaced and the Overself is using him, there will be no need and no freedom to choose between two alternatives in regard to actions. Only a single course will present itself, directly and unwaveringly, as the right one.

His activity as a merely selfish person comes to an end; his activity as a divinely inspired one begins. It is a transformation from "works of the flesh" to "fruits of the spirit" in the Bible's phrase.

To gain such an inspiration in all its untarnished purity, his egoism must be totally lost and absorbed in the experience.

He has to penetrate to the inner workings of the mind, to discover where the spark of contact with the Overself is glowing, and with that find that a finer being, a nobler outlook, and a collaboration with the World-Idea can be created.

Inspired action becomes possible when, to speak in spatial metaphors, every deed receives its necessary and temporary attention within the foreground of the mind whilst the Overself holds the permanent attention of the man within the background of his mind.

As the consciousness of the Overself seeps into him, the power of the Overself expresses through him.

Over and above the pressure of our individual wills there is this sublimely gentle yet ever-insistent pressure of the Overself's will.

He has access to infinite wisdom and infinite support in every situation and under every given circumstance. But he has it only so far as he submits the ego to the higher self.

The next characteristic of the inspired life is that it is an effortless one. No striving in any direction is necessary. Neither the weight of external compulsion nor the pressure of interior desires is ever again felt. He acts with the lightest touch.

Even if he has found an intermittent inspiration, it will desert him in the end if he tries to glorify himself.

The wise man lets the Overself's presence flow through his life, never blocks it by his ego nor turns it aside by his passions.

The ego can no longer foresee what will happen to the outer course of its personal life when the Overself takes the lead, nor can it dictate what that course should be.

With all his humility before the Overself, he will bear himself among his fellow human beings with serene self-assurance and speak with firm conviction of that which he knows.

When these experiences increase and multiply to such an extent that they accumulate into a large body of evidence, he will become convinced that some power is somehow using him as a beneficent channel. It is the real originator of these experiences, the real bestower of these blessings, the real illuminator of these other people. What is this power? Despite its seeming otherness, its apparent separateness, it is really his own higher self.

Only when we act in and from the Overself can we really be said to act aright, for only then shall our deeds be wise and virtuous, most beneficial in the ultimate sense both to our own self and to others.

What the ego thinks and feels and does is to reflect the Overself's dominion. The ego itself is now to be subsidiary. Every thought or feeling or act is to be a dedicated one, every place where it finds itself a consecrated one.

The Overself is not merely a transient intellectual abstraction but rather an eternal presence. For those who have awakened to the consciousness of this presence, there is always available its mysterious power and sublime inspiration.

It is the divine moment; no longer does speech come forth humanly nor action individually: the god within has taken over.

At some mysterious moment a higher power takes possession of him, dictates his thoughts, words, and acts. Sometimes he is amazed by them, by their difference from what he would normally have thought, spoken, or done.

The unfoldment of intuitive action, intuitive thinking, and intuitive feeling means that the Overself and the personality are then in accord and working together. The little circle of the ego then lies within the larger circle of the Overself, in harmony and in co-operation. It does not matter then whether a man lives as a monk or as a householder, whether he is engaged in the world's activity, or whether he is in retirement. Of course, such a condition is not attained without a full and deep transformation of the man. It is necessary to point out that the mere removal of thoughts by itself is not enough and could only give an illusory illumination and the kind of peace which one feels after a dreamless sleep--passive, but not positive. There are various tricks. Some are of a hypnotic nature, whereby thoughts can be kept out of the mind and an apparent stillness obtained; but the meditator who only uses these tricks and nothing more deceives himself. He might as well go to sleep and then wake up. The spiritual value is about the same, while the psychological value is definitely adverse to him. He will then be in danger of becoming a dreamer with a dulled mind.

He must look forward hopefully to the day when he can actually feel the higher self present within all his activity. It will reign in his inner world and thus be the real doer of his actions, not the ego in the outer world.

It is not easy to subordinate oneself to this inner voice. But where can one hide from it? We are to exalt life, not to degrade it.

There are times when the Overself accepts no resistance, when it acts with such compelling force that the man is unable to disobey. But such happenings are special ones.

Some self other than his familiar one will rise up within him, some force--ennobling, masterful, and divine--will control him.

When a man's consciousness, outlook, and character are so exalted as this is, altruistic duty becomes not a burden to be carried irksomely but a part of his path of self-fulfilment from which he would not wish to be spared.

There is a strange feeling that not he but somebody else is living and talking in the same body. It is somebody nobler and wiser than his own ego.

The feeling of being possessed for a while by a holy other-worldly presence comes over him.

He is now under the influence, and later may be under the control, of a superior power.

He becomes a vessel, filled from time to time with a spiritual presence.

His words, his feeling, and his actions will then not only be expressions of his human self but also of that self united indissolubly with his divine self.

Its power and limitations

Whoever finds his Overself and draws from it the will and desire to serve others, will radiate joy, confidence, and peace to them.

From that high source of inspiration may come great actions, immense inner strength, superb artistic creativity, and a beautiful, delicate inner equilibrium.

What inspired artist ever creates a new work except in joy? Is this not a clue to the fact that the inspirational or best level of his mind is a happy one?

He lives in the sunny light of his own inspired thoughts.

Even the best of men are subject to the peculiarities of their temperament, to the form of their individuality; and even if they always seek to stay upon the level of inspiration they cannot help expressing the channel through which the inspiration has to come, which is a human channel subject to human limitations.

The inspiration may be pure Spirit but, because it must come into a particular man, he receives it in a particular way, interprets, expresses, and communicates it in a personal way, so that the purity is at best a little adulterated, the integrity a little lost. His character may be as selfless as he can make it, but the colouring of his mind can only fade out to a particular extent because his body is still there, his entire past history is there graven in the subconscious, and body is interfused with mind. All this will vanish with death, or some while after death if he is not fully advanced.

Regardless of the fears and dreads, the hesitancies and timidities of the lower ego, he must carry out whatever his newly found commander bids him do. But this will not be so hard and unpleasant a task as it might seem to others. For he will now feel at least the same satisfaction in yielding to the higher self's bidding that he formerly felt in yielding to the lower one's desires. And with the bidding will come the needed strength, courage, and wisdom to obey it. The world's opposition and danger may be recognized but will not deter him. It is not by his own will that he engages himself in such work, but by a will that supports and guides him better than ever he could support or guide himself. This he clearly comprehends and gladly accepts.

It is a mistake to believe that to find the Overself is to find eternal monotony and boredom. On the contrary, it holds out the promise of life more abundant--of joy, happiness, and satisfaction physically as well as spiritually.

All great poetic utterance is discovery. Its moments are angels' visits.

He will be an inspired man in his labours of spiritual service or artistic expression. He will be aware that a power greater than his own is working through him and affecting others. And he will know that this power comes from the secret God within himself.

So immense is the security which the Overself enfolds him with that he will not hesitate to take chances which prudence, caution, discretion, or fear would never take. But he will do so only if the Overself guides him to.

He who commands his thoughts and senses from his divine centre, commands life.

The wonder and joy of finding himself to be a channel of blessing, teaching, healing peace, and uplift to others will increase as the results themselves increase.

The inspiration may be made manifest in a production, so that others may have the chance to feel its reflection; but there can be no guarantee that they will do so.

It is true that inspiration comes at unpredictable times. But if we prepare conditions advantageous to it we are more likely to receive its visitation.

In the literature of disappointment, such as the modern writings of Schopenhauer and the ancient recorded sayings of Buddha, we may trace one part of the history of man's search after truth. But there is another part, a joyous and happier part.

The forces of heredity and the dominion of environment would appear to be the overwhelming impulsions of a man's actions. But let the Soul arise in its masterful urgency, and they vanish!

Inspiration brings the mind to its most exalted pitch, whether it be a mystic's mind or an artist's.

Such is the power of true inspiration that it lifts men to the plane of hero in action, genius in art, or master in renunciation.

This is the power that coaxes the unwilling personality to enter the fires of expiation; this is the urge that makes a man swim through bitter waters to find wisdom.

The truth is that the source of man's inspiration is always there, but his awareness of it is intermittent.

Most of us cannot turn on the tap of inspiration at will, cannot put Pegasus between the shafts. Often we deceive ourselves and imagine the presence of inspiration when it is really absent. The works we do then are our humble own, not fiery gifts from heaven.

Through whatever medium he uses--artistic or not, physical form or silent thought--his inspiration will be transmitted, his perception of truth disseminated.

The intensity of his awareness will measure the degree of his influence.

Inspiration comes and goes as it will, staying a few minutes or abiding for quite a while.

Work done under the Overself's inspiration can never be tedious but will always be satisfying.

To do something really worthwhile, to become creative and constructive in an inspired way, aware of the Overself, is to become godlike. We then fulfil the purpose of human existence on earth.

Whoever keeps this divine flame burning brightly within his heart, radiates the spirit of his purpose to all whom he contacts.

Where do such feelings come from? Certainly not from his ordinary self. They come from his higher self.

Inspired work will always bear the glow of inner life.

The Overself is not merely a pleasant feeling--although it arouses such a feeling--but a veritable force. When it possesses a man, he is literally and actually gripped by a dynamic energy. A creative power henceforth pervades his atmosphere, enters his deeds, permeates his mind and charges his words, and runs through his history.

At this stage he feels its presence as being very active and very real: he is not alone.

Examples, anecdotes

Brahms explained his method of finding inspiration as beginning with a pondering on lofty universal spiritual truths which led him into a deeper dreamlike semi-trance condition. After this prelude he felt inspired with the ideas for his work.

Constantin Stanislavski, who founded the Moscow Art Theatre at the turn of this century, and whose brilliant directing work was honoured by members of his profession throughout Europe, studied enough of yoga to believe that the inspired state could be brought about deliberately. He further believed that when that happened upon a stage, the actor's own nature fused with his role and that he was then unable to distinguish between the two. He said that this was the mark of the genius but admitted that it was unlikely to last more than a short time.

"He cannot stay here long. Nature pulls him back from this ethereal atmosphere; body and world insist that he come back, duty and responsibility buzz in his ears. Reluctantly he returns." Harsh words! They come from an artist, from Richard Wagner. They are one-sided, yes, exaggerated no doubt, but it was to one of these turnings-away that the world owes his finest, noblest opera, Parsifal.

Geoff Hodson on Krishnamurti: "When he spoke to an audience, there was a moment when you saw the expression on his face change: at that moment I saw clairvoyantly a great being began to overshadow him. He became inspired."

Why did the crowds press into the lecture halls wherever Emerson came? Why did they listen in awe and silence to this man in whose mind glowed a divine lamp? Emerson gave them inspiration.

I remember one day when A.E. (George Russell), the Irish poet and statesman, chanted to me in his attractive Hibernian brogue some paragraphs from his beloved Plotinus that tell of the gods, although the number of words which stick to memory are but few and disjointed, so drugged were my senses by his magical voice. "All the gods are venerable and beautiful, and their beauty is immense. . . . For they are not at one time wise, and at another destitute of wisdom; but they are always wise, in an impassive, stable, and pure mind. They likewise know all things which are divine. . . . For the life which is there is unattended with labour, and truth is their generator and nutriment. . . . And the splendour there is infinite. . . ."

The Interior Word

The fruit of meditation may include messages conveying general teaching or specific guidance but the student will recognize that they emanate from his own mind at its best or from his own intuition. But he will know the Interior Word seems to come to him from a source outside himself, from some higher being or master. It uses his own thought to speak to him but the inspiration for each thought is not his own. This is the Interior Word.

The feeling of some presence inside his heart will become so powerful at intervals, so real and so intense, that he will quite naturally enter into conversation with it. He will implore it, pray to it, express love for it, and worship it. And he will find that it will answer him in words, the sentences forming themselves spontaneously within his mind as speech without sound. It will give him pertinent didactic instruction--often at unexpected moments--and formulate higher points of view.

Interior Word. When he succeeds in penetrating the still depths of his being, another mind will appear to superimpose itself on his own, directing, teaching, and inspiring him. It will speak to him out of the silence within himself yet it will not be his own voice. Its tone will be friendly, and when he becomes familiar with it he will know it to be none other than the voice of the Holy Spirit, the word of the Higher Self.

As the interior word delivers its message to him day by day, as he advances in understanding through receiving it and in character by obeying it, he will have the best evidence that this quest which he first tried as an experiment is becoming a priceless experience.

It is the soul speaking truth to the intellect out of its larger range of life. Its voice is best and easiest heard when the consciousness is turned inward away from the sense-existence and brought as near to stillness as we can make it.

Interior Word. It speaks not through uttered words clairaudiently heard as in spiritistic phenomena but through the higher form of spontaneous intuitively formulated thoughts.

A voice comes to his hearing but not with the ordinary kind of audibility. It is within him for it is only a mental voice yet it speaks with a strange authority. It says to him, "I am the Way, the Truth, the Life."

Interior Word: Something within begins to speak to him, some mind begins to find its own expression. It is his, and yet not his.

The Overself issues its commands and exacts its demands in the utter silence and privacy of a man's heart. Yet they are more powerful and more imperious in the end than any which issue from the noisy bustling world.

He may count himself fortunate if he comes under the tutelage of the Interior Word. But his good fortune will last only as long as he faithfully obeys it. The failure to do so will bring painful but educative retribution.

It is as if no one existed but these two--the listening mind and the soundless voice. This is real solitude; this is the true cloister to which a man may retire in order to find God; this is the desert, cave, or mountain where, mentally, he renounces the world's business and abandons friends, family, and all humanity.

The Interior Word: When another personality speaks from the entranced or semi-entranced body, be the latter a spiritualist medium, a hypnotized person, or a psychologically auto-suggested one, we have a phenomenon in which no true mystic would take part. When this same personality announces itself to be Jesus, Krishna, Saint Francis, Mrs. Eddy, or Mme. Blavatsky, it may immediately be labelled as spurious. Whether the phenomenon be produced by actual spirit-possession (when usually a lying spirit is the operating agent) or by psychological self-obsession, with the wakeful personality unconscious of what the other has said, in both cases it is one which ought to be avoided. The Catholic Church, with its very wide experience in such matters, has cautioned its adherents against being seduced either into allowing the thing to happen or into believing the teaching given by the mysterious visitor. Pope Benedict XIV went so far as to ascribe a diabolic origin to the voice. From the standpoint of philosophy it may be said that the Inner Word speaks only to a man, never through him to others. Nor is it heard clairaudiently and therefore psycho-physically; it is heard only mentally and inwardly.

The phenomenon of the Interior Word does not ordinarily appear before one is able to carry the mind to a certain depth or intensity of concentration, and to hold it there continuously for not less than about a half hour.

In that state of inspired communion when the Interior Word is heard, thoughts keep coming into consciousness from a source deeper than the personal mind. The ego is not directly thinking them but instead experiences them as being impressed upon it or released into it.

The utterance of the Interior Word can be heard only in heaven, only in a state detached from the animality and triviality of the common state.

It is as if another being spoke inside me--not with audible voice but with mental voice--and imposed itself strongly on my own mind.

Interior Word: Out of this blankness something will begin to speak to him. It will not be a sound heard with the body's ears. That would be a low psychic manifestation which must be stopped at once, if it happened.

Until the internal Word speaks in him he is really incapable of helping others spiritually. He may be able to do so intellectually or to comfort them emotionally but that is a different and inferior thing.

If the Interior Word bids him move in any direction which seems encompassed by difficulties or blocked by obstacles so that he can see no way before him, let him not doubt or fear. A way will be made by the power of the Overself. He need only obey, relax, and trust the guidance.

When the Inner Word begins to speak to him, he may begin to speak to others--not before. For only then will what he says bear any creative power, spiritual inspiration, enlightenment, or healing in it.

The Interior Word carries an authoritative and commanding tone.

The Interior Word is not heard with the reasoning mind, even though its statements may be very reasonable. It is not connected with the intellect at all, as are all our ordinary words. It is received in the heart, felt intensively and deeply.

Now that he has developed the capacity to hear, there sounds forth out of the obscure recesses of his being a silent voice, a messenger without name or form. It is the Word.

The Interior Word is never enigmatic and puzzling but always direct and simple. Only the revelations of occultism are obscure, never the revelations of truth itself.

What the German mystics called "the Interior Word" is precisely the same as what two thousand years earlier the Chinese mystics called "the Voice of Heaven."

The Interior Word cannot speak frequently until there is complete silence within the man's being.

The ideas which come to his mind through the Interior Word come stamped with the certitude of truth.

Internal Word: In the New Testament, John introduces the idea of the logos, the Word which speaks in every man who comes into the world. Every man is not able to hear it although it is always there, always immanent.

The Interior Word is referred to in the Bible: "I will hear what the Lord God will speak in me." (Psalms 84:9)

The Interior Word revealed itself in Socrates as his daimon.

Saint Teresa defined the Interior Word thus: "The words were clearly formed and not to be mistaken though not heard by the body's ear."

A mystical phenomenon which may develop out of this communion with his "holy ghost" is that of inspired writings. Helpful teachings that will be addressed to humanity in general or to the few seekers in particular may come through his pen. Or guidance in his personal life and instruction in his spiritual life may be addressed to the writer himself through occasional notes. In most cases the words will be impressed spontaneously upon his mind as though telepathically received from the dictation of his unseen but much-felt other self. In some cases, however, his hand and pen may move across the paper by automatic compulsion at a high speed, his mind being forced to move as quickly. He will then distinctly feel that he is merely an instrument which is being used to produce this inspirational script.

It would be a dangerous blunder for anyone to confuse this last phenomenon with the automatic writing of spiritualism and psychism. The similarities are only external ones. For in the one case there is the clear consciousness of a divine exalting ennobling presence whereas in the other there is, at best, only a blind submission to an unknown entity, usually purporting to be another human, if discarnated, being.

The words spoken by this unseen but much-felt presence are not heard by the physical ears yet they are strongly impressed upon the mind. They do not come from the spirits of deceased persons but from the holy spirit of one's own diviner self, from a deep mystical source, not a shallow "astral" one.

This is the same phenomenon which Emanuel Swedenborg experienced and described and called "internal speech with the Lord."

The experience of the Interior Word brings with it, or is heard in, an intensely concentrated state. With it there is a positive feeling of being the assured master of one's mind, emotions, and body.

What it amounts to is that the Interior Word becomes in effect the Inner Teacher and meditation itself the gateway to an inner school where instruction is regularly obtained.

It is the great Silence, yes, but also through the Interior Word it is to us humans the ever-speaking higher Self.

"To hear the Voice of the Silence is to understand that from within comes the only true guidance; to go to the Hall of Learning is to enter the state in which learning becomes possible. . . . For when the disciple is ready, the Master is ready also."--Light on the Path by Mabel Collins (Interior Word)

It is a process of inner dialogue, of mental conversation with the other self and of emotional communion with it, flowing under his thoughts to and fro.

Interior Word: "And in the deep silence the mysterious event will occur which will prove that the way has been found. Call it by what name you will, it is a voice that speaks where there is none to speak--it is a messenger that comes, a messenger without form or substance; for it is the flower of the soul that has opened."--Light on the Path

The instrument of reception must be accurately tuned, if God's messages are to be heard aright (Interior Word).

To bring others a message which elevates them and a truth which inspires them, the Interior Word will speak through him as him. This is a wonderful phenomenon when it happens.

The Interior Word must not be mistaken for any of the psychic voices cultivated by spiritists and mediums. The two are on entirely different planes, even though they are both within.

For Interior Word draw on my own experiences in 1918 when I also heard it for many months.

The Interior Word did not speak to me for myself alone, to prepare, teach, and direct me. It spoke also for others. It required me to write down its messages for them even more than for me.

There is a wisdom deep deep within man but alas! it finds no voice until he turns from himself and calls on the higher power. Then, from within, it--the deputy of that Power--when the conditions are right, can make itself heard and therefore speaks.

Let him humbly acknowledge that he does not have the wisdom and purity to know what is right for him to have and what is right to do. Let him turn in silent waiting to the Interior Word, and listen for it to tell him these answers.

When he has travelled to this stage of his journey; when he can close the door of his chamber, lie down, and listen to the Interior Voice; when the silence within becomes audible with clearly formulated instructions, then only is he ready to speak to others or write for others, and teach them. Until then he is a deaf mute, unable to hear and untrained to speak the sacred language. Now the Pentecostal power has descended on him and he is able not only to see the truth through the surrounding darkness but also to give it to those among his people who can take it.

The Notebooks are copyright © 1984-1989, The Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation.