Personal Encounters with Paul Brunton
The following comments were compiled from interviews with many people who met PB in the 1970s.
Around PB it felt like he was giant pendulum that had stopped. And in that stopping, the whole world was born. It was like "the peace that passeth understanding. Utter peace, visceral, palpable. And that has stayed with me more than anything, because it's hard to come by.
I was so nervous; I couldn't believe I was going to meet this sage. My heart was pounding, I was just a wreck. I walked across the threshold and it was like I walked into a void of silence. It was so intense. Everything stopped. My body stopped; I wasn't nervous. It wasn't like I was dissociated. It was a tomb of silence. We sat on the couch and honestly, I don't remember a thing he said to me. I was so completely in this place of silence. Then the interview was over and I remember somehow gliding towards the threshold in this place of complete silence and walked out over the threshold and was hit. You know those images of Lady Macbeth rubbing her hands? That's what it was like for me. I felt all of this stuff from my past-not all of it was dirty. I didn't know what to do. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. It took me weeks to come back into something normal. It was a psychic cleansing. It was a little frightening. Back then "silence" wasn't how I thought of the quest. It was studying, meditating. So that experience of silence was so unexpected. I didn't know how to understand it at the time. It's almost like there wasn't room for any personal self.
The first time I met PB was not in the flesh. Everything fell apart: I got arrested, ran out of money. Didn't know what I was doing with my life. I spent a week in Boston carousing with my friends. In the morning this thing happened. I was sleeping on the floor. I woke up, lying on my back and felt very pleasant. All of a sudden I felt my chest melting. It was very pleasant. as it was happening I saw a giant fetal eye opening and closing with my breath, which had slowed down. And then all of a sudden I was looking down at my body and I didn't feel any physical sensations and I had this moment of clarity that rippled through me and it came with the words, "Now I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am a soul." The next thing I remember was the melting sensation again and there at my feet was PB. He was just looking at me. He didn't say anything; I didn't say anything. Gradually I came back into my body and I felt so light and good.
Then PB walks out of the restaurant and there was bright sunlight on his face and he just stood there--I had been feeling so agitated-for about one or two minutes, he didn't move. He didn't look at us and he just stood there and this incredible-I just start to cry when I think about this-incredible peace and joy descended on me, descended on me like a glimpse and I was just kind of blown away and I was so grateful because I had felt so agitated but my ego was disarmed. I had this wonderful moment of opening and connection. For the rest of the day I felt very lit up and very peaceful. Something powerful had really happened to me.
I told PB that I would get very depressed when the sun went down, and he said, "Just listen to your Overself, and you'll never feel lonely again."At some point the conversation just stopped and we meditated. I have no idea how long. When it was over, I was just enveloped in silence. And peace. And light. It was very profound. I wasn't sure how I could drive; I was so gone. It was beautiful, an incredible experience. I was very fortunate. I felt that this experience with PB was something to fulfill: to find that silence in myself. This has been my quest, the path that I've been on all my life.
In the attic PB found an old hat with ear flaps. It was like a kid's hat, a silly hat. He tried it on and we started laughing. And then PB started laughing too, so hard that the three of us were doubling up with laughter. It was a "laughter glimpse."
I do know that when people get together to talk about him there's a special atmosphere that arises, that is not like anything else I know. This sounds very fantasy-land, but I do feel he is present. Seeing him in the flesh was one thing-a great privilege-but I think that his presence is even more intensely there through his work. He's out of the body; but he is around. I feel his presence every day.
There was a point where we got very quiet-in the beginning-very quiet together, just sat, without speaking. I've read over and over again in his writing on World Mind and Individual Mind about what happens when you meet a sage. What a sage's blessing is. That's what was transpiring in those moments. I remember feeling a lot of embarrassment over thoughts that I was having. But I knew that having that one meeting was worth a whole lifetime. I was quite elated. I also remember going into a bit of a depression a week or two later. It didn't last long. Anthony [student's teacher] told me that it was quite normal to have a response like that, meeting a sage.
It was a great quiet, sitting on the chaise lounge in the garden. I've heard that this process was so that PB could size you up like a photograph, your whole evolutionary development up to this point and then dismiss it for the illusory self it is and then he goes into a very deep connection of soul to soul. PB writes, that's the sage's blessing. But I wasn't conscious of it. I did feel the peace around him. Yeah, he glowed.
He smiled. And when he smiled it was like there were rays coming out of his mouth; it was so beautiful. And I relaxed. Before that I had been ready to run out of the room.
I had a huge spiritual awakening when reading A Search in Secret Egypt; that was long before I met him. Later PB told me, well, yes, that the purpose of his books is to initiate people into what he would call a glimpse. You have a glimpse and then you know what the goal is; you have a way to orient yourself for the rest of your life. It's available to everybody.
My visits to him weren't always easy. The second time I saw him I remember being visited by a tremendous amount of shame and self-rejection. This is just part of the long process of seeing the ego and its mistakes for what they are. Being with him was like walking into the fire.
A high point for me occurred when PB invited me for tea in a restaurant. We talked about trivia-politics, etc.-and in the course of it felt a kind of magnetic, uncontrollable magnetic pull to look up into his eyes. I was brought up to think this is rude, but I couldn't help myself; I just had to look up at him. When I looked at his eyes, I felt like one does when you look at the sun and the retina is traumatized. It was like an electric shock went through me. And then I had to look away and pretend that nothing was wrong. I thought there was something wrong with me-I was going crazy. So we continued our conversation and I looked at the flowers, the tea, and then I would be drawn back to look at him and when I would look at his eyes, again I would have this experience of shock. It went on six or seven times. After this I was definitely not the same. I think this is what is called transmission. This is transmission squared. It was another way of him sharing his information.
When I first walked in, he was so light, the whole place was so light. He didn't radiate light, he was light."
We were told we'd be having PB at our house. I remember being beside myself with getting it right, and the house has to be immaculate. Oh my God, it was pretty tense. We'd heard how meticulous he was. I'll never forget when he first came in-and I was thinking, I think I've got this, I've gone crazy with the house-he walked in and bowed and looked around and then walked right over to the can opener that I had on the wall and kept looking at it. And then he ran his finger along it; he'd found a little bit of matter on it.[laughs]; there's no perfection in this world! I missed that little thing. It was hysterical-not at the time of course.
He was very jovial that night. He kept laughing, and telling us stories, and he kidded us at the table.
It was a very dry summer, and I remember X complaining to PB about the lack of rain. PB said, so why don't we look into how to get the rain to come? It hadn't rained for 2 or 3 weeks. It was so dry. After lunch I helped him put his trench coat on, and All of a sudden it started to rain. Everyone looked at each other. That was pretty special.
Before I visited PB I'd bought a new car in Europe. As I was driving there I thought, oh boy, wait til PB sees this car! Those type of thoughts. His very first words after we came to his house and were put at ease, were, "Let's go for a ride." I'd never mentioned the car at all. After I got back home, Anthony [student's teacher] said, "You let him ride in your car? Your car will break down; he has a big electrical field around him." And indeed I had nothing but electrical problems with that car.
[A few months after seeing PB]:
Not long after I began meditating, I was overwhelmed by a tremendous yearning to "feel" God. I felt that my life from that point on would be absolutely useless and barren without some tangible sense of a Higher Power. My feelings of anguish intensified, until I found myself shaking and sobbing and pleading for some sign of Divinity. Finally, in utter despair, I threw my head down on the ground overcome by the thought that all I wanted to do was serve God.
Slowly, and almost imperceptibly, a sense of calm stole over me. A delightful gentleness wafted through my mind, comforting and reassuring me. In ITS presence I felt that there was never any time that I was not serving God, that God was always there and that my life was inseparable from the Divine Power. A sense of light permeated me. The session ended and I felt very much relieved and blessed.
That night as I lay in bed to sleep, I became aware once again of some force other than my own taking command of my thoughts. Under its influence I felt compelled to vividly and intensely imagine my own death (What would "I" be after this body was no more?). For a few moments I struggled with the urge that was gripping me, but then I suddenly realized that it was my very being that was attempting to communicate with me and I let go.
As I did so I felt a soaring sense of expansion. It was as though I was lifted out of my body (although there was no actual imagery to that effect, just an overall feeling of being lifted) and I felt my consciousness grow wider. I knew then that I was not the body and that I could never die. The entire experience lasted only a short while, whereupon I fell into a deep sleep lasting several hours.
When I awoke the state of mind from the night before had "settled" and deepened. Everything had slowed down and become very quiet. I walked outside into the early morning air and it was as if I hovered over myself. I could see that what I previously took to be myself, my ego, was a series of thoughts arising in my mind. Just thoughts. I was a thought and yet I was above the thoughts looking down on them.
Even more strange was the recognition of MIND being everywhere. The "world out there" and the mind associated with the body were of the same stuff. There was one essence running through everything like a song. Most of the time we make so much noise we don't hear it. The world feels separate and different and we don't see that it is all of a piece. This is how it always is--we experience this all the time.
When he said grace he called upon the World Mind. I had the distinct feeling that the World Mind was right there. By his doing the grace, something beyond the ordinary was invoked, something way beyond. Another whole dimension seemed to open up around him, around us.
[Here is another story on our website about the grace that PB offered before meals: http://www.paulbrunton.org/gracenotes.php]