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From Category 1 – The Notebooks of Paul Brunton

What is the Quest? “Man Know Thyself!” There is a whole philosophy distilled into this single and simple statement.” Category 1 of the series offers many thoughts on finding one’s true center. “The inner meaning of life does not readily reveal itself; it must be searched for. Such a search is the Quest.” (1.1.10) In Chapter 1, PB calls the Quest a journey, spiritual mountaineering, a work to be done, a study to be made, a coming to human maturity.  This search is for the person who is willing to heed his intuitive feeling or who is willing to use his independent thinking power. “It is a blessing which gives hope and a burden of discipline which cannot be shirked…Its ideals offer an invitation to nobility and refinement. ‘Become better than you are!’ is its preachment. ‘Live more beautifully than you do!’ is its commandment.” (1.1.54)

There is a mystery about the Quest and its ties to Mysticism. ” Mysticism is an a-rational type of experience. It is an intuitive, self-evident, self-recognized knowledge which comes fitfully to mankind. The average person seldom pays enough attention to his slight mystical experiences to profit or learn from them. Yet his need for them is evidenced by the incessant seeking for the thrills, sensations, uplifts, and so on, which he organizes for himself in so many ways-the religious way being only one of them. In fact the failure of religion-in the West, at any rate-to teach true mysticism, and its overlaying of the deeply mystic nature of its teachings with a pseudo-rationalism and an unsound historicity, may be the root cause for driving people to seek for things greater than they feel their individual selves to be in the many sensation-giving activities in the world today.

“Mysticism is not a by-product of imagination or uncontrolled emotion; it is a range of knowledge and experience natural to man and women but not yet encompassed by the rational mind. The function of philosophy is to bring these experiences under control and to offer ways of arriving at interpretations and explanations.

“Mysticism not controlled is full of pitfalls, one of which is the acceptance of confusion, sentimentality, cloudiness, illusion, and aimlessness as integral to the qualities of mystical life-states of mind which go so far to justify opponents of mysticism in their estimate of it as foolish and superstitious.

“The mystic should recognize his own limitations and should not refuse the proffered hand of philosophy which will help his understanding and train his intuition, recognizing that it is essential to know how to interpret the material which reaches him from his higher self, and how to receive it in all its purity…

“The language of mysticism is the language of the arts, which if approached only by intellectual ways yields only half its content. Whoever comes eventually to mystical experience of the reality of his own Higher Self will recognize the infinite number of ways in which nature throughout life is beckoning. (1.1.62)