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Selected from
A Hermit in the Himalayas
by Paul Brunton

In A Hermit in the Himalayas, PB reflects on peace. He says:

Not that there is any real end to the turbulence of political classes and the harassments of racial differences. We shall have a pacified world when we have pacified hearts-not before. The ancient Sages who gave this simple formula to mankind are now-a-days denounced as impractical idealists. But if the final test of a policy is its results in material affairs, we must confess that this peaceless world has not improved on them. The spiritual emptiness of our epoch and the poverty of our inner resources express themselves clearly enough in the chaos, the distress we see everywhere around us, and the dolorous servitude which we give to unworthy ideals and unworthy men.

The world’s development of egotism and intellect has given it a fictitious sense of practical wisdom. But the sages who spoke to former times spoke out of a knowledge of humanity’s history profounder and more accurate than any which our book-delving historians can ever hope to have. For the paltry few thousand years which we can record-and that with much guesswork-represent but the tail-end of mankind’s lengthy past. When a man- he never pretended to be anything more than that- like Buddha proclaims and re-proclaims that “Hatred ceases not by hatred; hatred ceases only by love,” he is not a mere sentimental idealist, voicing his well-meaning but futile emotions. He is every whit as practical as the business man who keeps his ears glued to the telephone and his eyes to the papers on his desk. For Buddha, like all great Sages of his status, sees the pitiful tangle of wars without end that dismayed the pre-historic epoch as it has dismayed the historic epoch. He sees these things in the universal vision of the planet’s past which the gods hold before him, as in a mirror. And he is shown how the threads of cause and effect in humanity’s affairs are tied by invisible hands in such a way that an inescapable justice, an equalizing re-adjustment, is forever at work. He sees, too, that a spiritual Power is back of the universe whose expression in one form is a sublime benevolence, and that this power is eternal. He knows that hatred brings pain, both to the hated and the hater, and that therefore both hatred and its corollary of suffering can never cease until benevolence takes its place. And because the Power which prompts us ultimately to practise benevolence is an eternal one, and above all an inescapable one, he preaches the advisability of yielding to it now and thus saving much needless suffering. Is he or the hater impractical?

Precisely the same vision of life is given to Jesus. In a world of dry formalists and barren religionists, given over to the doctrine of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, Jesus condenses and re-affirms this truth. He, too, is shown the vision of the universe and the laws which secretly govern the beings who dwell upon it….

Destiny will take charge of the nations and teach them what they need to learn. The most practical course open to me is, therefore, to concentrate my energies and direct my attention into a channel where they can be most economically used.

Such a channel exists in myself. The best starting- point from which to reform the world is undoubtedly my own self. The best way to spread the spirit of benevolence is to begin with myself. Let me, then, compose my thoughts and silently repeat the Buddhist formula for world well-being, whose spirit if not whose words is:

“To the four quarters of the world, I send compassion. To the north, south, east and west, above and below, I send compassion. To all living creatures upon the earth, I send compassion.”

My mind softly dwells upon this gentle theme; the emotion of pity passes through me; and when the final benedictory word is pronounced, I feel no less blessed myself.

The Hermit in the Himalayas, Chapter 3, pp. 35-36. Samuel Weiser, N.Y., 1972