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Selected from
The Quest of the Overself
by Paul Brunton

The Twelfth PB E-teaching – The Quest

The equipoise derived from mental quiet cannot be overpriced. Hospitals could be made emptier, asylums could be less filled and countless homes become far happier if it were universally practiced.

In these days of muddle, conflict and horror, the possession of a balanced mind, interior calm and mellow wisdom, of a sense of genuine values, will not prove to be without advantage. America, as a country palpitant with physical and mental activity, has more need of this quality of internal stillness than even Europe. Agitation, undue haste and over-anxiety vanish from the vocabulary of being when mental quiet is resorted to. It provides men with a fortifying philosophical outlook which makes them more efficient and not less.

The wise man turns all opposition into opportunity. The faults of those with whom he is thrown into inescapable contact become sharpening-stones for his own virtues. He meets their irritability with the sublime patience which wells up as soon as he switches attention to the inner self. He does not worsen matters by dwelling overmuch on negative critical thoughts. He lives his beliefs and converts principle into practice. He will not merely commend his friends and loved ones alone to the kindly care of the Overself, but also his enemies. He knows that we gain more than we lose by forgiving. Those who nourish hatreds are blind, and perceive not that they shall pay for their retention of ancient wrongs. Thus he becomes a secret envoy of the Overself to all whom he meets; within his mind there is a divine message to each of them, but unless they humbly claim it, the message remains unborn.

The potentialities of inspired action, of frictionless activity, are little known. We do not realize how immense an achievement is possible to the centralized man. Divinity and practicality are not necessarily incompatibles. The modern mystic can regard life as a participant, not merely as a percipient. He is not afraid to plunge into action. He knows that if he pays attention to thought, the actions will take care of themselves, and that whatever is conquered in mind is already conquered in deed and must bear right fruit as a tree bears apples. He does not need to deceive himself or others by adopting monkish asceticisms which belong to the needs of former epochs. The world is his monastery. Life is his spiritual teacher. Its experiences are the doctrines for his study.

Men plunged deeply in the world’s affairs have found their way to the Overself. They hold an inward calm amid the turmoils of business. There is need at this critical hour in world history for more such spirit-illumined men who will harmonize the secular with the sacred, who can assimilate a subtle spirituality to their complex modern natures, and who will break through the chrysalis of public opinion to bespeak their inward light. There is need of men who seek the service of mankind as much as their own success. “Produce great personalities, and the rest follows”, cried Walt Whitman.

The starting point of this quest is where we find ourselves and what we are. The finishing point is the same. Religion, mysticism, art, science and philosophy are indirect paths only, for the issue of self-confronting cannot ultimately be evaded. Hence we can never bestir ourselves too early for the task. The work must ultimately succeed because the infinite is inherent within us as salt inheres in seawater. The travail of dis-identification is not necessarily tedious but equally it is not a hobby for idle hours. No adventure is really so lofty.

These inspiring words are from The Quest of the Overself, pp. 290-293. Note that PB’s use of ‘man’ in his writings refers to mankind, and the root word of man comes from the Sanskrit manas, mind. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary also gives a derivation from the Sanskrit Manu, “the progenitor of the human race and giver of the religious laws of Manu in Hindu mythology.”

Read more on this topic in The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Volume 2, “The Quest.”