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Selected from
The Wisdom of the Overself
by Paul Brunton


Chapter 2, pp. 32-22

After all, this world in which we live move and have our being every moment and every hour, comes to our notice only because our body is sensitive to it in five different ways, because we feel, see, hear, smell and taste it. …But sense impressions are themselves meaningless if they are not supported by or given to an individual mind which has them. (ed.note: This is further developed in The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga.)

If the reality of the known world lies in sense-impressions, then the reality of such impressions lies in a living mind. The individual, therefore, stands behind the world, although, paradoxically, he is also included in the world.

This paradox must be cleared. For if we make the mind of an individual the sole source of his experience, then we fall into the piquant situation of making him the sole creator and governor of this vast and varied cosmos of shooting stars and circling planets. But this is an absurdity. His mind may issue a decree but a tree will refuse to turn into a river at his bidding. It stubbornly remains a tree. Therefore it is clear that there must be another factor somehow present underneath the individual experience of the world, a creative and contributive factor which is as beyond his control as it is beyond his consciousness. It is to the united activity of these two elements – the individual and the unknown super-individual – that we must look for an intelligible explanation of the existence and structure of the experienced world. Thus although we started with sense-impressions as our view of what is real in the experienced world, we are compelled to conclude with a super-individual mental factor as our final view of what is real in it.

What shall we call this supreme Mind? Such a nebulous term as God must first be defined before it can properly be used. But it has already acquired so many different meanings in so many different intellects that a definition which will be satisfactory to all is difficult perhaps impossible to find. Therefore we are justified in using a self-explanatory term. And such a term?the World-Mind will henceforth be used throughout this book to indicate this universal Intelligence. Put into poetical language, the World-Mind is the Soul of Nature.