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November 2021, #92 Volume 8, Reflections on My Life and Writings

  Volume 8 of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton is as close a record we have of an autobiography of this seeker after Truth. He writes about the conclusions he reached after a lifetime of spiritual questing which took him to India and other parts of Asia such as Tibet, China, Cambodia, and Mongolia, and the reflections he brought to the West about his experiences and the understandings he reached. Chapters 3, 4, and 5, “Encounter with Destiny,” “Reflections on Truth” and “The Literary Work” make fascinating reading which enable us, the readers, to share thoughts about explorations, visitations and insights about these experiences. He writes “There are few biographies of men and women whose achievements are outside the world, and inside themselves, particularly inside their consciousness. Very few have become aware of Awareness itself, which is the highest achievement possible to any human being. These memorials of those who got outside the herd of ignorant mankind give their advice and suggestions to the few who seek to know themselves.” (p.91)

     PB writes that literature has a high mission to perform. “It can bless us with mental peace amid the outward turmoil of alarms and chaotic situations. It can console us with philosophic reflections about the fundamental objectives of life amid the agonies of personal loss and illness, and it can keep alive the lofty ideals of goodwill and tolerance in an era when hatred and violence have bulked so largely before our eyes. It is through great writings that so many mystics and thinkers of bygone centuries have legated a golden record of their aspirations, a sublime catalogue of their dreams, a motley manifestation of their spiritual impulses, and a factual document of their celestial traffics. These bygone men and women passed the torch of knowledge and inspiration from one generation to another until we find it ready for our own hands today. It is our privilege and duty not only to look for the flaming torch but to bear it, and not only to bear it but so to cherish it, that it shall burn ever more brightly still, when, in the days to come, a new generation will succeed to its possession.” (Para 105, p. 106)

     He points out in Para 104 that Western man’s quest is important, and he shows us that his own personal search reflects a portion of his generation’s search. “It is representative of the development of the tremendous and momentous conflict between distinct ideologies which is now going on in the world of thought.” Although he was referring to the events of the 20th century, the conflict is still going on today in the 21st century.