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September 2018 – Be Calm

[Quotations are from The Notebooks of Paul Brunton. Numbers in parentheses refer to the category (not volume), chapter, and para cited.]

“Peace in the hearts of men, with peace in their relations with one another: is this an idle dream?” (24:2:8) Sages say it is not. Lao Tzu, Confucius, Mencius practiced and taught ‘peaceableness.’ “The Psalmist’s advice, ‘Be still, and know that I am God,’ may be taken on one level—the mystical–as a reference to the ultimate state achieved intermittently in contemplation; but on another level—the philosophical—the reference can be carried even deeper. For here it is a continuous state achieved not by quietening the mind for half an hour but by emptying the mind for all time of agitation and illusion. Towards this end the cultivation of calmness amid all circumstances makes a weighty contribution.” (24:2:27)

How can peace become continuous and uninterrupted? PB offers suggestions throughout the two sections of Volume 15 of the Notebooks; aptly called 1) “Advanced Contemplation” and 2) “The Peace Within You.” Part of a quote from Section 1 under “Begin and end with the goal itself” states: “This notion that we must wait and wait while we slowly progress out of enslavement into liberation, out of ignorance into knowledge, is only true if we let it be so. But we need not. We can shift our identification from the ego to the Overself in our habitual thinking, in our daily reactions and attitudes, in our response to events and the world. We have thought our way into this unsatisfactory state; we can unthink our way out of it. By incessantly remembering what we really are, here and now at this very moment, we set ourselves free. Why wait for what already is?” (23:1:1.) Another is: “Cultivate calmness; try to keep the balance of your mind from being upset.” (24:2:41)

The chapter “Be Calm” offers Sage advice on daily life. This one is especially helpful: “But such calm, such satisfying equanimity, can only be kept if he does not expect too much from others, does not make too many demands on life, and is not too fussy about trifles.” (24:2:63.) Another is: “If his daily life makes him feel that it is taking him farther away from this inner peace, this inner harmony, he may have to reconsider his situation, environment, and activities.” (24:2:51)

“If he puts up a curtain of equanimity between himself and his troubles, this is not to evade them but rather to deal with them more effectively.” (24:2:127) “Holding on to the future in anxiety and apprehension must be abandoned. It must be committed to the higher power completely and faithfully. Calmness comes easily to the man who really trusts the higher power. This is unarguable.” (24:2:158) And this is a favorite: “A great mind is not distressed by a little matter.” (24:2:66)

“It is the business of philosophy to show us how to be nobly serene. The aim is always to keep our thoughts as evenly balanced in the mind as the Indian women keep the pitchers of water which they may be carrying evenly balanced upon their heads. A smugly self-satisfied, piously sleek complacency is not the sort of exalted serenity meant here. It would indeed be fatal to true progress, and especially fatal to the philosophic duty of making one’s personal contribution toward the betterment of human existence. When such equilibrium of mind is established, when the ups and downs of external fortune are unable to disturb the inner balance of feeling, reason, and intuition, and when the mechanical reactions of the sense-organs are effortlessly controlled, we shall achieve a true, invincible self-sufficiency.” (24:2:201)