A Search in Secret India ~ Tablets of Forgotten Truth ~ by Paul Brunton

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.

The Secret of the ‘I’ from The Wisdom of the Overself @ Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation

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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.



The Gift of Grace: Awakening to Its Presence ~ Paul Brunton @ Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation


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

paul brunton 10.7.14

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, www.paulbrunton.org.

To read more on the topic of grace in The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, go to http://paulbrunton.org/notebooks/18/5.

~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~ ♥ ~

Selected from
The Gift of Grace: Awakening to Its Presence
by Paul Brunton

Meditations on Grace, part 2

paul brunton 10.7.14

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.

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Paul Brunton Notebooks: The Sensitives: Chapter 3 ~ Philosophy, Mysticism & The Occult

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The lure of occultism

We were not born to perform magical stunts, nor were we born to be able to remember past lives or to foretell the future. We were born for one thing only and that is to discover what we really are in our deepest, innermost being, not just the crest of it.

Philosophy rejects such psychic, occult, mediumistic, or trance experiences when imagination runs unbraked into them, or emotion heaves hysterically in them. It is then time to stop the dangerous tendency by applying a firm will and cold reason. Philosophy welcomes only a single mystic experience–that of the Void (Nirvikalpa Samadhi), where every separate form and individual consciousness vanishes, whereas all other mystic experiences retain them. This is the difference.

The spiritualists, the occultists, and the psychic groups are far from the purest thought, for they are still preoccupied with the ego and with a subtle materialism which substitutes a subtler body for the material one but is just as illusory. However, they are steps on the way for spiritual children–stages to be passed through and outgrown.

Philosophy has no use for empty fancies, no time for mere self-deceptions. Therefore it refuses to dally in this illusory region which the inward-moving mind must cross through until it reaches solid ground. It will not give itself to psychism, occultism, or spiritism.

How simple is the path itself, how complex is the pseudo-path offered by occultism and exaggerated asceticism. “All that God asks of them,” writes Thomas Merton, “is to be quiet and keep themselves at peace, attentive to the secret work that He is beginning in their souls.”

You must learn to discriminate between what is psychic and what is spiritual. You will tend to lose power if you yield to that popular hankering after psychic and occult experiences. It is fascinating to have psychic claims, sensational experiences. Keep them in their place, however, which is second and subordinate. They have nothing to do with the Quest, which is to lead you above the realm of mind into spirit. Mind goes down deep into the subconscious and the Overmind; there psychic and occult experiences take place–not in the normal mind, certainly, but in the region of the planetary mind, the Overmind. Occult experiences will not give you any more peace, or reality. Do you want these? Then do not over-emphasize your occult experiences. Just observe them, but attach little importance to them. The important thing is to arrive at that state of being which never changes, which is eternal, which is God.

The mystic is on a loftier plane than the occultist and psychic. The various systems of occultism, theosophy, and psychism are all objective to the true Self of man, and hence distract him from the straight and narrow path. Yet they are useful and necessary for those egoistic and over-intellectualized natures who cannot aspire to the rarefied reaches of the real Truth. Everything–including the fascinating systems of knowledge and practice that comprise ancient and modern occult teachings–which distracts man from becoming the truly spiritual, distracts him from the real path. Only when all objective things and thoughts have disappeared into the subject, the self or the seer, can man achieve his highest purpose. All other activities simply cause him to stray from the highest truth. So I have abandoned the study and practice of occultism. I have given it up unwillingly, for the power it promises is not to be despised. Yet I recognize that my past is strewn with errors and mistakes. I imagined that a great personal experience of the psychic and mysterious side of Nature would bring me nearer Truth. As a fact, it has taken me farther from it. Once I enjoyed frequent glimpses of a great bliss and intense state of samadhi; then I was unfortunate enough to come into contact with theosophists and others of that ilk who subtly supplanted my real inward happiness with intellectual systems and theories upon which I was thenceforward to ponder. Alas! I was too young and too green to know what was happening. The bliss went before long; the samadhis stopped, and I was cast upon the shore of the Finite, an unhappy and problem-puzzled bit of human wreckage! No promise of wonderful initiations at some future time will lure me to trust my life into the care of a so-called guru who is either unable to or unwilling to give me a glimpse of the God-consciousness he claims to possess. I am not inclined to follow a trail which may land me somewhere out in the middle of the desert, bereft of reason, hope, and fortune.

At its best, psychism leads us into human fancies about the holy; at its worst, to the very lair of the devilish. The spiritual alone, in its true sense, can lead us into the veritably holy.

The essence of the matter is that the higher ultramystic experiences are not concerned with personal clairvoyant visions or clairaudient voices but with the raising of consciousness to an impersonal transcendent state wherein none of the relative phenomena of a space-time world can enter.

The quest is not jugglery. The most breath-taking feat of the conjurer will not prove the least insignificant of spiritual truths.

People spend half their lives in darkened rooms trying to establish communication with the “spirits,” with dubious and debatable results, when one-tenth of the time devoted to trying to establish communication with their OWN divine spirit would bring indubitable and delightful results.

There are countless thousands who, weak in faith and lacking in intuition, must perforce seek amid external things for proof of the soul. Spiritualism claims to give this proof. There are, of course, those who believe that the spiritualists have misinterpreted their experiences.

The seventh chapter of The Wisdom of the Overself contains some material which generally answers the questions of life after death. It is quite true that spiritualism has served the useful purpose of proving the existence of an afterlife. Nevertheless it is a dangerous matter to experiment with practically. It is far safer to limit investigation to a study of its literature. More specifically: (1) The quest of psychic experiences is definitely a stumbling block on the true path during the earlier stages. They are almost sure to lead the novice astray, may cause him to waste valuable years, and will sometimes harm him in various ways. Most attempts to establish contact with the astral world will either end in failure and deception or psychic injury. (2) Astral projection is neither wrong nor right but it should not be sought for its own sake. It develops naturally of itself to one who is highly advanced on the truly spiritual quest. But if novices prematurely seek it they are likely to harm themselves. In the end it will be found that spiritualism is only a stepping-stone to the higher mystical philosophy. It is of use as a halfway house for many Westerners, but one should not tarry here too long. The higher and lower teachings are like oil and water. They cannot be mixed together and one day you will have to make your choice between them if you wish to progress and not to remain stagnating.

These occult authors catalogue such a formidable list of necessary qualifications that it is likely to deter most people rather than attract them. One wonders whether the writers have succeeded in fulfilling their own standards. It is good however to remember that there are ways not so steep as theirs, that there are easier paths in existence in other lands than that of occultism. Genuine mysticism, true religion, or right philosophy: any of these can conduct one to the goal with less trouble and less danger than occultism.

There is a problem of mental unbalance and partial insanity in the modern world. Philosophy offers help, as it aims at securing complete sanity whereas most other guides cater to unbalance.

There is something which might be called the higher spiritualism which is on a higher level altogether than ordinary spiritualism. This has been found by an exhaustive study, both practical and theoretical. The higher spiritualism stands midway between the lower kind and mysticism proper. By mysticism is meant the endeavour to become possessed, not by any disembodied human entity, but by the divine Spirit, be it named God, Soul, Christ, Allah, Atman, or some other name which has been given to that which man knows to be the Divine. In the group of those who belong to this higher spiritualism can be included such men as Stainton Moses, who edited Light, the leading spiritualist journal in London, and Andrew Jackson Davis, the famous American clairvoyant. Their writings were admirable and much in Life and Its Manifestations is reminiscent of them in tone, idea, and atmosphere.

Occult or spiritistic practices which have served their purpose in convincing their student that materialism is false, should be abandoned if he wishes to make the best use of his limited period on earth. When such a point has been reached, he should turn his thoughts in the direction of seeking the Overself alone, or his life-period will be wasted.

If philosophy denies the authenticity of many occult, psychical, and religio-mystical experiences, it does not have to deny that they did occur. That need not be in dispute. But the danger of taking fancy for reality and a way-station for the terminus is very easy to fall into and must be pointed out. “Beware them who perceive the deep reality,” warned the Buddha in a statement which recalls for us the warning of Jesus about the straightness of the way to truth and that “Few there be that find it.” The prudent seeker will be on his guard not to succumb to the temptation of dallying in ego-flattering thrills.

Why should we surrender the simple clarity of true self-knowledge for the involved obscurity of occultism?

Philosophic spiritualism does not go far enough. Inspiration derived from any individual, disembodied and angelic though he might be, is not as fine as inspiration derived from the unindividuated Soul, which the best mystics seek. It is a step in the right direction, though.

It is as necessary to avoid pitfalls of superstition on one side as those of psychism on the other.

Everything that stimulates us to follow the quest is worth encouraging if its demerits be not too large; but everything which paralyses this aspiration is rendering a disservice to humanity.

The occult, and indeed all extraordinary happenings, attracts a far larger amount of interest than the mystical. For here the physical senses come into play and find satisfaction whereas in the mystical only the intuitive and the emotional faculties are engaged.

The majority are seekers after occultism. They thirst for powers that will give them an advantage over others. They seek to inflate their egos whereas the true disciples seek to flatten it.

Excessive addiction to supernormal mystic experiences or bizarre occult titillations leads to wrong views and draws the seeker to a wrong goal. The dignity of quiet philosophical study often appears to prove too frigid for those who revel in superstition and who seek the gaudy caricatures of truth rather than the austere truth itself.

Many people yearn to escape from the world of the flesh; many seek for psychic worlds full of magical half-shadows; many minds are turning into the narrow lanes of thought and wide roads of study indicated by the signposts of occultism and its kindred.

Many are called on the spiritual telephone exchange of life, but few get a clear connection!

Psychical derangements are common enough to keep the specialists busy. Mentally upset persons crop up everywhere, even on airplanes. We have seen insanity appear in high places and collect many followers. If anything can give sanity, it is the calm and balance of philosophy. But unless it is hidden behind magic and occultism, those who need it most are least attracted to it and least fit for it.

It is not a path suited to neurotic, weak, mentally odd, and emotionally sick persons. Such people are often attracted to mystical movements and ideas but they shrink from philosophic truth and discipline.

History shows that where people have had the opportunity to imbibe the highest truth, they still preferred occult sensationalism to it.

All this interest in and pursuit of occultism is merely an enlargement of the ego’s ordinary sphere. Why should a teacher of philosophy cater to that?

How many persons have imprisoned themselves in their own mental creations or auto-hypnotic fabrications at the very moment when they had the chance to experience the Spirit in all its purity! This could not have happened had they been prepared in character and purified in intellect by philosophy. Without this safeguard, the ego intervenes and corrupts the truth and keeps as much of its illusions as it can hold onto under that dazzling light.

Philosophy is not for the thrill-seekers–there are cults and groups, “isms” and practices which will better excite and satisfy them. Even on a higher level, the mystic’s, there is still a search, a longing, for “experiences.” In most cases such experiences are desired as escapes from the ego’s tensions and burdens, its insignificance or environment.


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July 2014 ~ Solitude & Leisure ~ Selected from A Message from Arunachala by Paul Brunton

Roerich Nicholas In Thought 1946 Russian

ART : ‘In Thought’ ~ by Nicholas Roerich


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

paul brunton 10.7.14

PHOTO : 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 http://paulbrunton.org/store.php for a full description)

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


Roerich Nicholas In Thought 1946 Russian