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Selected from
A Search in Secret India
by Paul Brunton

The following is from A Search in Secret India, chapter XVII. PB tells us what it is like to stand apart from thinking and go into stillness, to see the mind withdraw into itself and watch the world fade off “into shadowy vagueness.”

“Finally it happens. Thought is extinguished like a snuffed candle. The intellect withdraws into its real ground, that is, consciousness working unhindered by thoughts. I perceive, what I have suspected for some time and what the Maharishee has confidently affirmed, that the mind takes its rise in a transcendental source. The brain has passed into a state of complete suspension, as it does in deep sleep, yet there is not the slightest loss of consciousness. I remain perfectly calm and fully aware of who I am and what is occurring. Yet my sense of awareness has been drawn out of the narrow confines of the separate personality; it has turned into something sublimely all-embracing. Self still exists, but it is a changed, radiant self. For something that is far superior to the unimportant personality which was I, some deeper, diviner being rises into consciousness and becomes me. With it arrives an amazing new sense of absolute freedom, for thought is like a loom-shuttle which is always going to and fro, and to be freed from its tyrannical motion is to step out of prison into the open air.

I find myself outside the rim of world consciousness. The planet which has so far harboured me, disappears. I am in the midst of an ocean of blazing light. The latter, I feel rather than think, is the primeval stuff out of which worlds are created, the first state of matter. It stretches away into untellable infinite space, incredibly alive .

I touch, as in a flash, the meaning of this mysterious universal drama which is being enacted in space, and then return to the primal point of my being. I, the new I, rest in the lap of holy bliss. I have drunk the Platonic Cup of Lethe, so that yesterday’s bitter memories and to-morrow’s anxious cares have disappeared completely. I have attained a divine liberty and an almost indescribable felicity. My arms embrace all creation with profound sympathy, for I understand in the deepest possible way that to know all is not merely to pardon all, but to love all. My heart is remoulded in rapture.

How shall I record these experiences through which I next pass, when they are too delicate for the touch of my pen? Yet the starry truths which I learn may be translated into the language of earth, and the effort will not be a vain one. So I seek, all too roughly, to bring back some memorials of the wonderful archaic world which stretches out, untracked and unpathed, behind the human mind.”

In a footnote at the end of chapter XVII (p. 310, revised edition, 1985), PB says:

“The reader should not be misled into believing that such an experience remains continuous and permanent; it is only a temporary but valuable raising of consciousness which passes away. It is of the category which I have called “Moments of Illumination.” The nature of such a glimpse is explained in the last chapter of my book The Spiritual Crisis of Man. To establish oneself on, and keep this high level it is essential in most cases to work on oneself and develop the right conditions within oneself. For the philosophical enlightenment see The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga and The Wisdom of the Overself.”