Initiatory: The first phase of the Quest is the simple awakening to it. As soon as that awakening begins, a host of questions and issues arise within the mind and heart (and circumstances) of the would-be aspirant. Perhaps PB’s greatest contribution to the spiritual literature of the world is his writings on these topics, and for this moment in our spiritual journey—the moment of beginning. And, as we travel onward, we will discover that we are still beginners, and that the advice PB lays out in these ‘elementary’ texts are now fundamental resources for our growth, and even our survival.
Whether you're reading them for the first time or the fifteenth, these writings are designed to awaken one to the inspired life of the spiritual seeker. They begin by awakening us to the grand potentials we have and are, and gradually expand our awareness until we are alive to the hidden worlds of mind, magic, and mysticism. PB goes on from there, bringing us into contact with the greatest mystery of all: Mind Alone, from which flows the benign Intelligence of the World-Mind, whose sacred act is the source of our evolution and the ultimate healer of all our sufferings.
Books to read:
The Secret Path
: A simple and short introduction to PB’s main points and a set of basic meditation practices suitable for the modern urban world.
A Search in Secret India: Both a literal journey across the spiritual landscape of India (circa 1930) and, more importantly, a symbolic journey into the quest for one's own true teacher. The center-piece of this text is his sojourn with Sri Ramana Maharshi, and the presentation of his “Who Am I?” exercise.
A Search in Secret Egypt: An exploration of the occultism and mystery schools of Ancient Egypt, gradually unveiling the way in which the body and its world are really within the mind, not vice-versa, as we ordinarily believe. PB’s night in the Great Pyramid and his reflections on the esoteric meaning of the Osiris myth are insightful and inspiring.
A Hermit in the Himalayas: Scattered amongst the anecdotes of his travels, visitors, and mini-essays is PB’s record of his own journey into his Overself, a journey which is mirrored by his trek into the high Himalayas, his isolation there, and his reflections on the world below. This book shows us something of how to let the Stillness in.
The Spiritual Crisis of Man: PB’s last published book, it bluntly faces the problem of applying spirituality to our times, and vice-versa. PB shows us the way to a vigorous inner life that is balanced by an active attention to the problems and evils of the modern world. He brings meditation out of the closet and demonstrates its pure necessity if we are to change the world for the better.
The Notebooks of Paul Brunton:
1. Overview of The Quest (Volume 2) – focuses on the issue of self-reliance vs. joining a group; whether or not to seek a teacher, and how to relate to one, should that be your path.
2. Practices for the Quest (Volume 3) – outlines the “Long Path” of personal refinement and self-discipline; introduces basic meditation techniques.
3. Relax and Retreat (Volume 3) – the benefits of going on retreat—be it for a weekend or for some years; the nourishing powers of nature & solitude.
4. Elementary Meditation (Volume 4) – gets down to the business of meditation; introduces the basic techniques used throughout the religions and sects of the world together with advice for conquering the obstacles in the way of establishing a solid regimen.
5. The Body (Volume 4)– An obvious title about an obvious subject, but one often neglected by the mystic, abused by the ascetic, and ignored by the thinker—all to our own cost. Advice as to how to shape the bodily habits to best support the quest.
6. Emotions and Ethics (Volume 5) – Addresses the importance of and techniques for developing the virtues: love, compassion, courtesy, tolerance, and moderation. Interestingly, PB includes a warning that we remain balanced even in our pursuit of virtue!
7. The Intellect (Volume 5) – This category introduces us to the vast realm of metaphysics, and demonstrates the basic differences between spiritual and secular philosophy.
10. The Healing of the Self (Volume 7) – This category presents the traditional and non-traditional means of healing the body, including the grace of the Overself. PB also addresses the question of what is possible to heal, and why.
11. The Negatives (Volume 7) – How to deal with negativity as it appears in us, in the world around us, and even as it hides within our virtuous and humanitarian impulses.
12. Reflections on My Life and Writings (Volume 8) – this is more or less light reading; as the title suggests, it is largely autobiographical, and includes PB’s comments on his own written works.
13. Human Experience (Volume 9) – PB’s direct advice on how to integrate the Quest with the ‘rest’ of life: youth, age, politics, relationships—the lot.
14. The Arts in Culture (Volume 9) – An examination of the place of arts and creativity within the Quest; a critique of modern art, and suggestions on how to use art in our meditation practice.
15. The Orient: Its Legacy to the West (Volume 10) – A comparison of Eastern thought and Western ways—a comparison which has already been made innumerable times—but not from the perspective of a Sage.
17. The Religious Urge (Volume 12) – A frank look at the failings of the organized religions of both hemispheres is balanced by a careful discussion regarding the importance of traditional religion, prayer, and worship for the quester.