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Discussions from PB’s visit to Columbus in July, 1977

The following is a collection of memories from conversations and meetings that took place July, 1977, when Paul Brunton was in Columbus, Ohio. PB offered a private interview with each member of the small study group in Columbus and further stated that each person could bring one other person to the interview. (We had been studying and discussing the material found in Paul Brunton’s books and other related volumes since the late l960’s and when PB accepted our invitation to visit Columbus in 1977, we felt privileged and humbled indeed.) Other comments are recollections from informal conversations at tea or dinner. (There were usually about six people present.) The atmosphere in the room at tea-time was truly special, a sacred peace emanated from this man of Tao as golden sunlight filtered through the draperies at the windows. There were many pauses for silent meditation and appreciation.

Some of the material is from individual interviews with PB while other memories stem from conversations held at the home of Patty and Richard (Red) Witter in Columbus, Ohio where he stayed during the visit.

We noted the simplicity of his life and the practicality and rationality of his thought. Each question we asked was answered in a quiet and relaxed manner as he dispelled some of our ideas about spiritual practices but affirmed others. It was impossible to predict any routine patterns (except in his diet); it was all handled in quiet grace.


I might be interested in learning to meditate. How would you suggest I start?

“Well you might start by saying a mantra. It should be something that has meaning for you.  You might use a word like courage.  Say it with power.”
PB’s voice changed from gentle to strong as he sprang up from the chair and said “Courage!” in a powerful tone accompanied by a stance that reminded one of a warrior believing in victory.  More >>

What is the best thing a person could do to help the world?

“It is best to find the peace within yourself because you will then improve the aura of the world.”  He said if you desire to be of service to mankind you might join in the meditation to the Sun as given in the book, The Wisdom of the Overself.  When asked whether or not individuals were really incapable of doing anything to benefit the world, PB replied that individuals who are not proficient in meditation are not very effective in changing the world.”  More >>

Could you discuss the awakening of the heart center?

“This is an experience that comes to you either in meditation or in the awakening of the kundalini, but it only happens the first time you make that contact.”

Could an individual do anything to attract higher, benevolent forces to this planet, perhaps through meditation? What could one do?

“No, the best thing for an individual to do is to stop being at war with the world.  If he can make peace within himself he will become a positive center of peace and love—that can come only from getting in touch with the Overself.”


What would you say about an advanced person who remembers previous lifetimes in Tibet and ate meat?

“Tibetans do eat meat.  Not eating meat is something they have never been able to come around to, probably because of the land where they lived.  Vegetables don’t grow—lots of rocks there.  But if they are able to get vegetables, there is no excuse.  The Buddha did not eat meat.”

I have been a vegetarian for eighteen years but I contracted Tuberculosis. I couldn’t get decent vegetables where I was living so I ate meat to strengthen my body in order to recover from TB. What are your thoughts about this?

?[from a man who had come a great distance to see PB while he was in Columbus]?
PB’s approach was very practical.  He said the man didn’t have any other choice then but that doesn’t give him the excuse now, if he can get vegetables.  He did what he had to do.  When told the man no longer ate meat, PB replied, “Good.”

PB’s emphasis on diet: Why is there so much discussion about food??

[The subject of food came up repeatedly.]?
PB said we discuss it until we learn it.  It is very basic because that is the most intimate connection we have.  He spoke very highly about a vegetarian hotel run by a religious sect where he stayed briefly.  Their teaching was that you did not speak when you ate but you thought about God during every meal.  He spoke highly about that because you could turn your thoughts to God every time you ate.  He called it “Food Yoga.”

What was PB’s diet while he was in Columbus?

His diet was tailored to what suited his body at his current age and health.  A diet should be adjusted to the individual body’s needs.  His body found foods fried in safflower and sunflower oil harder to digest.  He put the vegetable powder someone in the group brought him on his oatmeal and salad after looking into the contents, although he remarked later he thought there was powdered milk added to it.  He sprinkled ground pumpkin seed on his oatmeal and said it helped prevent prostate cancer.  He said Westerners must be taught to appreciate grain.  He ate oatmeal for breakfast every morning and a raw meal for lunch, usually a salad.  He often had carrot juice with a beet and onion, a grain and two vegetables for dinner.  The grain might be millet, barley, rice, or buckwheat.


How should a person with spiritual interests deal with specific health problems?

“(1) Do all physical things possible: contact different people and groups to get information about possible remedies and aids.  Make inquiries right and left—above all, don’t give up hope.
“(2) Do two things on a spiritual level.  After attaining some degree of concentration in meditation, picture yourself in a state of healthiness.  Imagine how you would like to be.  This will help raise you to that state.  If you have difficulty meditating, keep trying.  Others have done it and you can too.  This is the most effective spiritual aid.

“If you have difficulty concentrating, and until you become a master of meditation, prayer is important, too.  Pray to the God within, to your own higher Self.  Admit your failure to solve the problem and turn it over to That.  The best time to pray is in the evening before retiring.  Listen for an answer to your prayers in the first thoughts you have upon awakening.  Such an answer usually comes after a deep, dreamless sleep rather than after a dream.”

Death & Dying

Can you advise me on how to stipulate in my will how my body is to be disposed of?

“Most authorities agree that cremation is the best method, spiritually.  In India they scatter the ashes in the rivers.  It would be best to wait three days after death, or at least two, before cremation.  During this time the body may be refrigerated, preferably not embalmed.  This would not disturb the departing spirit.”

On the question of cremation after death, PB said it is important that the body be cremated, not what you do with the ashes after cremation.  He said it isn’t important that you get into these games about what you do with the ashes.  It is important that you wait 48 hours after death before cremation and three days is better.  The total removal of the spirit from the body takes about three days.  This comes back from ancient customs, mostly from India.  If there are unsanitary conditions and you have to cremate in the same day, it’s not important, but if you have a choice, three days is better.  More >>

Is seeing the face of your teacher a sign that death is imminent?

PB said that this is true; that if you call out to your teacher at such a momentous time it draws the teacher’s mind to you.  Many have reported seeing the face of their teacher when they approach death.  If the teacher’s face does not appear, it is likely a sign that the person is not ready to die.

Are there thoughts you could hold if you sense a person is ready to pass over?

PB said that if you have some telepathy with the person, you could picture the person in calmness and peace.  It can be a great aid to the person and they may very well pick up your thoughts.  That’s why the priest would read over the person who was dying, the soul would respond to that solace.  This would help them to pass over.  He said the aid of a priest may be helpful to beginners but not necessarily needed to those who are advanced meditators, who could benefit by meditating alone.

What are your thoughts about putting animals to sleep?

PB didn’t say much about animals but related responses to humans.  He replied that in several ancient but very developed cultures the idea of suicide was sanctioned if it were done without violence and totally voluntarily by the person who had come to the point he no longer wished to be alive.  He spoke about the Essene culture where the person could take a bag of raisins, find a place by the river where they could get some water to drink, eat fifteen raisins the first day, fourteen raisins the second day, etc., and by the time they worked down to where there were no raisins, their bodies were weak.  In a couple of days they would pass over in a very peaceful state.  They had instruction on meditation and knew how to meditate.  So they would starve to death and pass on in a very peaceful state.

Could you speak about capital punishment?

“My thought is that society has to make laws.  As long as the laws exist, whatever they happen to be within that society, you should have to abide by those laws.  If you don’t agree with them, then you should work to change the laws but you don’t go against the laws if you choose to live in that society.”

What is the place of Freewill?

[One member of the group who worked in the medical field wished to clarify his understanding of Karma.]
PB said the date of your death is usually allotted.  You can set up counter currents in this birth and modify the old ones, but you can’t get rid of them. Karma lies in the body, the appearance, and the character you brought over from the past.  To a large extent we make our own karma.  More >>

What is your opinion about Christian Science?

“Those who believe if you are sick it is a moral error because you were born perfect overlook reincarnation which changes what you can do by your own willpower.  Mary Baker Eddy correctly saw that the world was consciousness or thought and thought that since God wants us to be good, it is our wrong thinking that causes illness.”

PB believed that they had great ideas as far as they went but it wasn’t the answer.  You have to judge every theory by its practical results.  Mary Baker Eddy’s last years were overshadowed by sickness and pain.

If it had been an accurate theory it would have produced accurate results in her.  He knew the powers of the Mind and there must be some indications of its power in the medical field as well as in other fields.

The mental body and the astral body are where thought and feeling originate.  The etheric body is where most illness starts; the physical body is where sickness and health manifest.  The etheric body is semi-material and is concerned with sickness.  Even though the physical body is not always affected by certain forces, the etheric body can be affected.

Being a student

What should I consider before making important decisions in my life?

“As one matures and becomes a quester, the old way of making a decision simply on the basis of using reason is no longer enough.  It is fine to base minor decisions on reason but a larger decision should be brought into meditation, or if meditation is not sufficiently developed, try prayer to the Overself.  The best time is before you fall asleep at night.  Upon awakening in the morning try to catch your thought at that moment, in the state between sleeping and waking.  Take that thought and see what it tells you.  If you get nothing, try again the next evening.  You may have to keep this up for several nights until you do get some sort of understanding of what seems or feels to be the best idea of what to do.  You will know because your thoughts and feelings will both tell you it’s right, they will reinforce each other.  If the thoughts seem unclear and you still feel uncertain, continue to ask the question.  The answer does not always come through your mind; the answer may come through an event.  During the day when you’re relaxed it will suddenly strike you. Also, it may come through a dream.  If you want to check the answer you have received, ask someone who is more advanced in meditation to meditate on your decision.”

Balancing the psyche: How can we obtain a balance between thinking, feeling and willing and how can we determine if we’re out of balance?

“To get a reasonable balance attend to the weakest side.  If deficient in one of these three you should feel it; you usually prefer what you do best.”

Can we hold dualistic and non-dualist viewpoints without great confusion?

“There are two schools of thought on this:  in India the Advaita or non-dualistic, and the qualified non-dualist.  The standpoint of pure Advaita is difficult to maintain while one is in the body.  The reality of the body and physical world seem all too evident.  On the other hand we ARE only because of that pure Consciousness that is in us.  That is why it is important to hold both views simultaneously.  Ultimately we come to see that all we know is Consciousness.” ?[PB became visibly inspired when speaking on this.  More >>

Meeting with others

Did you know Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki?

“Yes I knew him well.  I first met him in 1919.  He lived to a ripe old age although he never studied nutrition or dietetics until quite late in life.  Once I had tea with Suzuki.  He took sugar with his tea but not in the usual manner.  He put a lump of sugar in his mouth and sipped the tea through it.”  More on China, Japan, and Tibet >>

1.a) That’s a Russian custom, isn’t it? ?
“Yes, very!  I asked him once the secret of his vitality.  He replied, ‘Frugality in living.’  I think the study of philosophy must have played a part too.  He met his wife in America when they were both still students and, at that time decided to dedicate themselves to this task of interpreting Zen to the West.

Was a study program followed at Ramana’s ashram?

“No.  Ramana did not encourage reading or study, he felt meditation was much more important.  People at his ashram did what they wanted—listened, walked, or read.  Of course Ramana quoted scripture but did not advocate study of it.  I left Ramana’s ashram before [Arthur] Osborne arrived.  At Aurobindo’s ashram things were very different.  It was much more structured; there was a program of study.”

When you met Carl Jung (Jung’s Letters, Vol. 1, p.236) did you discuss Jung’s choosing not to visit Ramana?

PB said that he had met Jung three years before Jung went to India but, when Jung was in India for a scientific conference, PB had written him suggesting he could visit Ramana, i.e., suggesting he might take advantage of his trip by seeing Ramana since he was already in India and would not need to make a special trip just for this purpose.  PB offered no reasons why Jung chose not to see Ramana but he said it seemed a shame Jung had not seen Ramana.  PB mentioned that Jung was against meditation.  PB agreed with Jung that one should not accept uncritically all meditation practices but he also added that it was a shame not to take advantage of a technique developed over thousands of years.  PB said the head of the Jung Institute based in Zurich had told PB that Jungians can no longer disregard Indian teachings and practices.

PB mentioned that during the last ten to fifteen years of his life, Jung had begun to study Vedanta and other Indian texts.  Although he had not published anything on this material, he (Jung) had begun to deal with it.


Add Question here. Typography H4

“Some psychics are legitimate and if you know of one recommended by someone you trust, that one might be all right to see.  There is no danger to an individual seeing a psychic unless he or she participates in séances with that psychic in trying to contact a spirit, etc.  In that case there would be a possibility of negative psychic entities contacting or entering into association with that individual.”

Protection from Evil Influences: If there is someone in your life who you think may be involved in evil either knowingly or unknowingly, is there anything you can do about it? How do we know if psychology is the source or if it’s actually an evil force?

“It’s possible to make this kind of projection.  If they were in the presence of real evil they would become extremely uneasy if they are sensitive people who have been studying and meditating for a long time, as questers are.  You can’t expect ordinary people to be sensitive but if they have been following the quest for some time, they would not feel well. It would be like the jarring of two opposing elements. In the words of a 17th century quote, ‘I do not like thee, Dr. Fell, the reason why I cannot tell.  But this indeed I know full well, I do not like thee Dr. Fell.’

“The best thing you can do is to get away from it. If you can’t do that, it depends on what experience and knowledge you have; it can’t be the same for everyone. You can practice a mantra silently, keep repeating it.  Take deep breaths from the diaphragm, really deep so you feel vitalized.  Hold the breath a couple of seconds and do it for a couple of times.  You can clinch the palms and keep the fists clinched.  If you are sitting, you can cross your arms. (He crossed his arms over his chest.)

“The best thing to do is to fix your mind steadily on whatever you know or believe is your best strength.  What you feel most successful with in regard to the quest.  Don’t get too near the person, the farther the distance the better.  If you have not been with the person you think is evil but have to see him, you can practice a bit of white magic by imagining a circle around you on the floor.  Make the form of a pentagram or a five pointed star.  Be very vigorous, take the first point to the northeast and go clear to the floor.  Do it with your mind fully concentrated.  Point your finger to the center of the pentagram and place yourself in the center.  You must have faith that it has some effect.  Then before you leave it you make an affirmation such as ‘I am the master!”  It must be no longer than three or four words at the most.  When you get to the place where the person is, imagine a wall of white light around him.  Again you have to use your faith in the power of the higher self to protect you.  If you have a teacher you can visualize him even while you are there.

“If it is any matter in which you will get involved in a transaction where they are trying to get your cooperation and you suspect they may try to use their powers to get you to be under their influence, then you must be careful to suspect hypnotism.  They may try to use this so you have to be alert.  Try to keep positive and get away as soon as you can.

“There comes a time when you try to do what you can, but if it doesn’t succeed because of the other person’s mentality, you do what you can inwardly.  If there comes a point when your effort to be helpful becomes destructive or toxic to you, no matter how close that person is to you, it is time to step aside and let them go.  You’ve done all you can do.

“If someone is into occult practices tries to hypnotize you don’t look into both their eyes at the same time.  The person will have trouble getting your full attention if you don’t look into both their eyes.”



[A beneficent look of happiness came across PB’s countenance and there was a long pause.]
“The Void is not an absence, it is a fullness.  Everything is there.”  More >>

Is it true that the people or the group you study with can influence your next incarnation? Might you reincarnate again with the same people?

“Are you referring to the passage in the Bhagavad Gîta* where Krishna says your thoughts at the moment of death, if spiritual, will bring you a next incarnation in which you will be exposed to spiritual ideas at an early age?  In the case of a peaceful death, your thoughts will be on that which has been most important to you during life, and, if spiritual, will bring you a favorable reincarnation.

“In a group such as yours, it is very likely that you might have been together in Alexandria: for instance when Tony’s [Anthony Damiani] great love, Plotinus, was teaching there in the flourishing time of Alexandria (3rd c., A.D.), not in the last 500 years.  That is highly possible for the schools of philosophy were open to all then.”

The world is in such a bad state today. What is happening?

“Yes, it’s a state of continual crisis.  The world is revolting.  One can’t focus on it too much or one would go mad.  There’s too much ego.  All the problems could be solved in twenty-four hours if people would deal with them honestly and openly but many diplomats are hypocritical and greedy and full of desires.  There’s never been a Utopia on earth and never can be because of ego, the clash of egos.  Utopias are only mythological.”  More >>

The King Tut Egypt show is at the art museum in Columbus now. Is it safe to see it?

“Well it depends.  There is no danger to see the exhibit if it contains objects such as furniture or utensils.  On the other hand, jewels from tombs or mummies have a curse on them that seems to be rather effective.  Psychically insensitive people might not feel the effect of the curse, others would.”?
4.a)Would you go to such an exhibit? 
“I would not go.”

Could you discuss retirement villages?

PB said that it is very good when people get old to put away the things of this world and not have to be concerned with the practicalities of living.  Put these concerns aside and devote thoughts to higher teachings.  It’s an old Hindu custom.

Could you discuss Bodhisattvas and Christian Saints?

PB said there are Bodhisattvas on both sides.  They do not go as high as the Buddha but are the next step down.  Parallels in Christianity are orders of monks and nuns to devote themselves to meditation to help the world.  Their work is done in silence and in secret.  Buddhism has greater knowledge in pity and compassion than Christianity, but Christ knew what this knowledge was.  Buddhists never persecuted others who differed from them in religion.  More >>

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