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August 2018 – Three Fundamental Questions

Chapter One of The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga opens with an arresting paragraph, one particularly applicable today:

The more I wander around this turning globe, the more I realize that it is not only individual men, parties, governments, or peoples who are to blame for the distressful condition of the human race–so mesmerized by popular follies and so deluded by traditional fables! —but also common ignorance concerning three fundamental questions: What is the meaning of the world and experience? What am I” What is the object of existence? I perceive with startling precision that the bursting of this integument of ancient ignorance will do more than anything else to make enduring peace descend on our troubled earth.

Catching something of the importance of this message, I set myself the task of further study by using the online search function of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton andlooking for references addressing these questions. These are ones I picked out – perhaps there are better ones – but it is a start on this path of inquiry. I encourage the reader to use this function to find quotes that shed light for you. There are 379 quotes on ‘ignorance.’ Here are some I chose:

It is because we have the Overself ever-present within us that we are ever engaged in searching for it. The feeling of its absence (from consciousness) is what drives us to this search. Through ignorance we interpret the feeling wrongly and search outside, among objects, places, persons, or even ideas. (1:2:158)

Both Shankara and Ramana Maharishi blame identification with the body as ignorance, which the first says results in “no hope of liberation” and the second says is “the root cause of all trouble.” What they say is unquestionably so. But what else can happen in the beginning except this identification? It is the first kind of identity anyone knows. His error is that he stays at this point and makes no attempt to inquire further. If he did—in a prolonged, sustained, and continued effort—he would eventually find the truth: knowledge would replace ignorance. (8:4:384 )

A vital point that is often overlooked through ignorance is the proper re-adjustment to ordinary routine activities just after each time a meditation exercise is successfully practised or an intuition-withdrawal is genuinely felt. The student should try to carry over into the outer life as much as he can of the delicately relaxed and serenely detached feeling that he got during those vivid experiences of the inner life. The passage from one state to another must be made with care, and slowly; for if it is not, some of the benefits gained will be lost altogether and some of the fruits will be crushed or mangled. It is the work done in the beginning of this after-period that is creative of visible progress and causative for demonstrable results. (4:2:415)

Men come to this quest simply because they seek truth, because they want to learn what their life means and what the universe means and the relation of both, which is the best of all reasons. But others come because of shaken self-respect or after a bereavement which leaves them without a dearly loved one. Still others come in reaction to disillusionment, frustration, or calamity. And lastly there are those who come out of utter fatigue with the senseless world and disgust with its evil ways, which is the second best of all reasons. (1:2:299)