PBPF board members invited to share how they put Paul Brunton's Ideas into their lives. Below is Lou's response.
MIND EXPANSION AND PAUL BRUNTON
by Lou DeSarno
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 friends 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, 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 philosophic quest 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 even more deep appreciation of life as the true text to be studied.