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September 2021, #90 Reflections on My Life and Writings

Volume 8 of the Notebooks of Paul Brunton
(Also in Perspectives)

They alone will comprehend the purport of this volume who can comprehend that it does not only seek to present the pabulum of an ancient system for modern consumption but it has integrated its material with the wider knowledge that has come to mankind during the thousands of years which have passed since that system first appeared. Consequently, we offer here not only a re-statement but also an entirely new and radically fresh world-view which could not have been reached historically earlier.

If we study the history of human culture, we shall begin to discern signs of an orderly growth, a logical development of its body. Truth has had different meanings at different periods. This was inevitable because the human mind has been moving nearer and nearer to it, nearer and nearer to the grand ultimate goal. And when we watch the way knowledge has mounted up during the last three centuries, we ought not to be surprised at the statement that the culmination of all this long historical process, the end of thousands of years of human search, is going to crystallize in the new East-West philosophy which it is the privilege of this century to formulate.

Here alone can the relative interpretations of truth which have been discovered by former men rise to the absolute, wherein they merge and vanish. This means that although truth has always existed, its knowledge has only existed at different stages of development, that we are the fortunate inheritors of the results gathered by past thinkers, and still more that we are now called to complete the circle and formulate a finished system of philosophy which shall stand good for all time.

All the conflicting doctrines which have appeared in the past were not meaningless and not useless; they have played their part most usefully even where they seemed most contradictory. They were really in collaboration, not in opposition. We need not disdain to illustrate the highest abstract principles by the homeliest concrete anecdotes, and we may describe them as pieces of a jig-saw puzzle which can now be fitted together, for now we have the master pattern which is the secret of the whole. Hence all that is vital and valuable in the early knowledge is contained in the East-West philosophy; only their fallacies have been shed. A full view of the universe now replaces all the partial views which were alone available before and which embodied merely single phases of the discovery of Truth.

Thus, the analytic movement which uncovered the various pieces of this world puzzle must now yield to a synthetic process of putting them together in a final united pattern. Culture, on this view, is the timeless truth appearing in the world of time and therefore in successive but progressive periods. Only now does philosophy attain its maturest completion. Only now are we able to reap the fruit of seven thousand years of historical philosophy. Only now have we achieved a world system, a universal doctrine which belongs to no particular place but to the planet. Knowledge has grown by analysis but shall finish by synthesis. (12.2.186)