Founding the PBPF
No one person—other than PB himself!—could possibly know or name all of the individuals who have been involved with the PBPF over its 20+ year history. What we’d like to do here is identify the individuals who have played a special role in its history.
To that end, we must begin with three very special people: Anthony Damiani, Kenneth Hurst, and Robert Larson. A full appreciation of each of these good men would take many pages; at present we will focus only upon their relationship to the creation and operation of the Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation.
Anthony Damiani (1923-1984) was interested in philosophy and meditation from an early age. He first became aware of PB through his book The Secret Path; he wrote PB and they met for the first time in New York City in the 1940s. Whenever possible, Anthony met with PB thereafter, until PB withdrew from all contact with his students in the late 1950s. Shortly thereafter Anthony moved to upstate New York to devote himself to his spiritual studies and soon found himself inspired to open a Bookstore—the American Brahman Bookstore. Within weeks of opening this wonderful bookstore Anthony found himself surrounded by a large group of young people eager to learn from him. Anthony directed their attention toward his own teacher, Paul Brunton, and to other sages as well.
After about ten years of classes and visits by individual students with PB, PB agreed to visit Anthony’s study center, Wisdom’s Goldenrod. Subsequent to that visit, in his lattermost years, PB agreed to accept help from individual students of Anthony’s; PB died only three years later, at which time all of his writings were shipped to Wisdom’s Goldenrod where Paul Cash and Timothy Smith would care for them. Anthony immediately began reading these notes—all of which were new to him—and realized what an extraordinary gold mine of spiritual wisdom they are. He then conceived of the project of publishing a somewhat reduced version of these notebooks before doing anything else. Anthony thus set the basic policies and priorities of the notebook publications.
Due to the particular non-profit charter of Wisdom’s Goldenrod, it could not undertake the publications itself without losing its non-profit status. Consequently Kenneth Hurst formed the PBPF as an entity that could equally serve the goals of Anthony and Kenneth. Robert Larson chimed in with an extremely significant donation of both funds and publishing expertise. Sadly, Anthony died soon after the publication project began and just around the time that the PBPF managed to get its not-for-profit status. Even so, much of what he said about PB continues to guide our editorial practices—and our spiritual practices as well.
Kenneth Hurst (1923-2009) was the natural son of Paul Brunton but was separated from him when he was about six years old when his parents divorced. Nonetheless, he stayed in regular contact with his father, who provided him with both spiritual and worldly advice. Where PB was an author, Kenneth became involved with the business end of publishing, rising to the position of President of Prentice Hall’s Overseas division and thus spending many years traveling to various countries on behalf of Prentice Hall and its authors.
Throughout his life Kenneth was active in many civic groups and spoke often on the ideas found in PB’s works in terms that were more familiar to his colleagues. He also gave talks to various spiritual groups around the world on PB’s teachings and on his own understanding of how to apply these ideas to daily life.
He visited PB in Switzerland quite regularly and was present at his death, along with Paul Cash. After this great loss, he became involved with the community of Wisdom’s Goldenrod and did much to help create the PBPF. Kenneth assigned many of the rights for the various early books to the PBPF, thus ensuring that all these wonderful books will remain in print for a long time to come. He also signed over all of the rights to PB’s posthumous works to the PBPF, and it has been our honor and responsibility to develop this material for publication. For many years, Kenneth was directly involved with the activities of the PBPF and only set that task aside when he felt the call to authorship himself. During this period he wrote several books, most notably Paul Brunton: A Personal View, whose title is self-explanatory. After a while, the dreary skies of the Finger Lakes gave way to the sunnier climate of Florida, where he married and spent the remainder of his life.
The original Board:
Although Anthony Damiani had died by the time the PBPF was fully formed, he was involved with the formulation of the structure, scope, and personnel of the Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation. After the publication of Perspectives
, Robert and Kenneth finalized the original Board, which consisted of themselves plus Alan Berkowitz, Paul Cash, Jeff Cox, Ella May Damiani (Anthony’s widow), Harriet Eisman, Andrew Holmes, Elaine Mansfield, Dr. Vic Mansfield, and Timothy Smith. Here’s a little bit of information about these individuals:
Micha-El [Dr. Alan Berkowitz] is an internationally known private consultant and speaker who is highly regarded for his work preventing men’s violence, reducing substance abuse, and fostering social justice, as well for as his spiritual workshops. He and his wife, M. Beatriz Rockett Berkowitz, have close ties to Jose Neto Trigueirinho and the Figueira community in Brazil and to Wisdom’s Goldenrod in New York. Currently they are living in Mount Shasta, California where they are beginning a Figueira community and where there are plans for a monastery of the Ordem Gracia Misericordia (Grace-Mercy Order). He studied with Anthony Damiani for more than a decade, served as a board member and Chair of the PBPF from its inception until 2005, and worked for brief periods as Paul Brunton’s personal assistant. His website is http://www.alanberkowirz.com.
Paul Cash has been the owner and operator of Larson Publications since its inception. PB designated him the co-editor of his posthumous writings. Due to various legal and economic changes, Larson Publications began prior to the creation of the PBPF, spent twenty years operating within the PBPF, and became an independent for-profit entity again just a few years ago. He lived at Wisdom’s Goldenrod for many years where he studied with Anthony Damiani. He also was PB’s last assistant and was with him when he died. He currently lives near the PBPF building with his wife, Amy Opperman-Cash. Their daughter is currently in college studying dance.
Jeff Cox retired as the co-owner of Snow Lion Publications in 2012. He was one of the first individuals to live as a resident monk at Wisdom’s Goldenrod, where he studied with Anthony Damiani. He became involved with Snow Lion in 1984 and was instrumental in establishing it as the major publisher of Tibetan Philosophy. He and his wife, Christi Cox, (who has also served on our board), are very active in the Tibetan community. They are lifelong devotees of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and they continue to explore a wide variety of spiritual teachers and teachings when their busy schedule allows.
Ella May Damiani was the wife and then widow of Anthony Damiani and the mother of their six boys. She was a powerhouse of a woman with strong ideas and stronger feelings that never failed to inspire and challenge all who she met. As the “great mother” of Wisdom’s Goldenrod she was truly loved by all, and her wise counsel was always welcome, even when it came with a bit of Irish salt! Like her husband, she was a lifetime student of PB's, having met PB shortly after Anthony did in the 1950’s; they even hosted him from time to time when he visited America, and she was an avid student of his—and Anthony’s—ideas until the day she died. A remembrance of her can be found on our In Memorium page.
Harriet Eisman was one of the original foundation board members and served in that position for many years. A long time student of Anthony Damiani, she has been a dedicated member of Wisdom's Goldenrod and has participated in classes on the divine feminine at the Center for twenty years. She has served several terms on the Wisdom's Goldenrod board. Harriet is a professional librarian at the Watkins Glen Public library.
Andrew Holmes has recently retired as CEO of a small software company he founded in 1989. He served on the board of Snow Lion Publications. He was one of the PBPF founders and an original board member serving there for a number of years. He was the Architect and builder of the buildings at Wisdom’s Goldenrod, for it was he who offered to help Anthony build a meditation and residence hall to serve the needs of the growing numbers of Anthony’s students. He also undertook to study with Anthony during Anthony's life, and accompanied Anthony to the last Visit Anthony had with The Dalai Lama, a few days before Anthony passed on. He later worked closely with Kenneth Hurst, founding the PBPF and helping Kenneth establish residence in The Finger Lakes. Andrew has spent his life in the study of Philosophy and in recent years with the practice of Tibetan Buddhism. He lives near Wisdom’s Goldenrod with his wife, Marie, who is a volunteer for the PBPF.
Robert Larson (1930 - present) started out life in Chicago, born of Swedish parents. When he was two years old the family returned to Sweden. In 1964 Robert was back in the US again, now as a Vice President for Volvo Inc. In 1967 Robert and his family—wife Birgitta and sons Joakim and Gustav and Martin on the way—returned to Sweden permanently. There he first served as Marketing Director of Bonniers, the largest book publisher in Sweden, and later started Larsons Förlag which became the parent of Larson Publications Inc. After PB's death, Robert offered to support the publication of PB's posthumous works, an offer that was gratefully accepted. One of the individuals responsible for translating Paul Brunton's early books into Swedish was Anna Bornstein, who happened to live near Wisdom's Goldenrod at the time and was studying with Anthony Damiani. This led naturally for Robert and his family to meet with both Anthony and PB and a long association between Wisdom's Goldenrod's members and Sweden.
Elaine Mansfield is a semi-retired health consultant specializing in women’s health and aging. She and her husband Vic studied with Anthony for many years and visited PB several times in his latter years. Elaine was involved with organizing the mammoth task of keyboarding some 50,000 small notebook pages from PB’s original material. She did a tremendous amount of that work herself. She also assisted in the copyediting and final keyboarding of the published Notebooks. In her later years she has been deeply interested in Tibetan Buddhism and supported her husband while he completed his last book on that topic under extremely challenging circumstances. She lives near Wisdom’s Goldenrod in the house she and Vic purchased some forty years ago.
Dr. Vic Mansfield was a professor of physics and astronomy at Colgate University, where he taught for thirty years, often commuting weekly from his home near Wisdom’s Goldenrod so that he could stay active in studying with Anthony Damiani. Vic was the techno-wizard for the PBPF in the early days, spending many midnight hours nursing our 5MB machine back to life (at a time when any hard drive on a home computer was a rarity). He created the file that was the predecessor of our online searchable Notebook database and generally looked after all things technical. After Anthony’s and PB’s passing, Vic became increasingly drawn to Tibetan Buddhism and Jungian psychology; he wrote three amazing books on these subjects and was able to present a copy of his final book, Tibetan Buddhism and Modern Science, to His Holiness (who also wrote the introduction) just months before he died of lymphoma. He is missed by many and is survived by his wife, Elaine, and two sons. A remembrance of Vic can be found on our In Memorium page.
Timothy Smith is a semi-retired astrologer and the other individual designated as co-editor of PB’s works. He has served continuously on the PBPF board since its inception and recently co-edited (with Kira Lallas, a former board chairperson) a special edition of PB’s A Search in Secret Egypt. He and his first wife, Devon Cottrell, served as assistants to PB for the year prior to his death, during which time PB instructed Tim on his plans for posthumous publication and the reorganization of his notebook material. Tim lived as a resident of Wisdom’s Goldenrod for several years and studied with Anthony until his death. He also has had a lifetime interest in Hinduism and has translated several classic works from Sanskrit. He lives near Wisdom’s Goldenrod with his wife, Karan, and a varying number of pets.