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Questions Answered by Paul Brunton Part 1

*Please note: Notebook citations are listed by category, chapter, and “para” (quote number).  For example, the citation 20.1.32 refers to category 20, chapter 1, para 32.  For the Notebook volume number containing the category, refer to the Notesbooks and Ideas page.

What is God?

God is an Infinite Power, the Power back of all other Forces and back of every materially created thing; a Power which is everywhere present and therefore within us and always within reach, because wherever you go, God is there. (Page 32, Chapter II, Discover Yourself, 1971 edition)

The ultimate reality is one and the same, no matter what it is called; to the Chinese mystic it is TAO, that is, the Significance; to the Christian mystic it is GOD; to the Chinese philosopher it is TAT CHI, that is, The Great Extreme; to the Hindu philosopher it is TAT, that is, Absolute Existence.  It has its own independent, everlasting, invisible, and infinite existence, while all worldly things and creatures are but fragmentary and fleeting expressions of IT on a lower sphere altogether.  It lies deeply concealed as their innermost substance, and persists through their changes of form. (Notebooks 28.1.4)

How does God “create” the universe?  Since in the beginning God alone is, there is no second substance that can be used for such “creation.”  God is forced to use His own substance for the purpose.  God is Infinite Mind, so he uses mental power—Imagination—working on mental substance—Thought—to produce the result which appears to us as the universe.(P) (Notebooks 27.3.1)

The Void which man finds at the centre—whether of his own being or of the universe’s—is divine.  It holds both godlike Mind and godlike Energy.  It is still and silent, yet it is the source of all the dynamic energies, human and universal. (Notebooks 26.1.214)

When I feel the divine presence in my heart, I acknowledge God as Personal; but when, going deeper in silent contemplation, I vanish in the infinite immeasurable Void, I must afterwards call God Impersonal. (Notebooks 17.2.155)

Can I find God?

It is possible for everyone to find his way back to God because God is present in each of us.  But we must begin to search and look, and the right place is within, not outwards.  You must first look inwards and find the sacred atom in the heart—the spiritual self within.  When you have found your inner spiritual self then you can look outwards again, and you will find the sun, in other words, the Universal Self.  You will see God in everything and everybody—after you have seen God in yourself. (Edited Page 35, Chapter II, Discover Yourself, 1971 edition)

If a man asks why he can find no trace of God’s presence in himself, I answer that he is full of evidence, not merely traces. God is present in him as consciousness, the state of being aware; as thought, the capacity to think; as activity, the power to move; and as stillness, the condition of ego, emotion, intellect, and body which finally and clearly reveals what these other things simply point to. “Be still, and know that I am God” is a statement of being whose truth can be tested by experiment and whose value can be demonstrated by experience. (Notebooks 22.3.409)

The first great event full of wonder will be this discovery of what is within himself; the second will be his discovery of what is within the world.  For within himself he will find the soul and within the world he will find the working of God.  He will discover that it is literal fact that everything happens under the laws and forces of the Higher Power, and that this is as true of human life as it is of plant life and animal life.  He will find that the infinite wisdom is, everywhere and everywhen, taking care of every human being… (Edited from Notebooks 20.4.103)

What is a sane religion?

The ecclesiastical structure and sacerdotal services of a church are useful to those who believe in them.  Those who lack this faith should be tolerant and not seek to destroy things which still help others.  They have their place.  The error starts when they are given the only place, or when the emphasis is so heavy upon the outer forms that the greater need of correcting and shaping the character is missed. (Notebooks 17.1.63)

The absence of such virtues as kindliness, justice, and sincerity in human relations is testimony to the absence of true religion. (Notebooks 17.1.62)

Only the self-deceived or the charlatanic will offer to save you.  All others will offer only to guide you.  “You must labor for yourselves,” warned the Buddha.  “The Buddhas are only teachers.” (Notebooks 1.6.710)

First of all religion must be a personal thing—a relationship between you as an individual, and God the Infinite Spirit—not between you and any organized institutions.  The latter are human-made things, and they are not God.  God is a spirit, so you must find God as spirit, it is a purely personal relationship that you have to seek—something that needs no external demonstration. (Page 40, Chapter III, Discover Yourself, 1971 edition)

The quality of religious veneration is needed by all, from the child in school to the philosopher in the world. (Notebooks 17.1.8)

A religious revelation is also a carrier of good news, the gospel that there is a higher power, that we are all in relation with it, and that because of this relationship we can have access to truth, goodness, beauty, reality, and peace. (Notebooks 17.1.41)

How can I find the divine within?

Humility, therefore, is the first step, not only in religion, but in every study that is worthwhile.  As soon as a man thinks he knows all about a subject, or even half of it, he puts that much limitation between himself and the attainment of his goal.  But if he adopts the attitude of a child who knows that it knows nothing, then he is teachable and it is possible for him to learn something.

By quieting the body and the thoughts, you prepare the conditions in which the Infinite Spirit will speak to you and manifest Itself to you.  Your effort to do this is a form of worship, and God will come to you in that great silence. He cannot come to you if you are too busy thinking of your personal problems. (Edited from Page 41, Chapter III, Discover Yourself, 1971 edition)

A letter from PB to PB

(2) The teachers increase daily and ask others to follow them.  The teachings multiply and the books about them too.  They are not your concern.  Let them do their very much-needed work.  But you are to enter a new and different rhythm and tell such as will listen that they need not be forlorn, lost, or without hope because they find none to appeal to their heart or mind.  They are asked only to follow the God within themselves, for “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.”  PB—give this message while giving all proper respect and honor to the teachers of today and yesterday.  Those who feel alone in this matter or who can only walk outside the groups on an independent path should be reminded that there is a God within them who can guide and help them if they turn to him. (Excerpted from Notebooks 1.0.2)

He who sits with humbled, bowed head and folded, clasped, or knees-rested hands, with mind and heart in awed reverence, in sincere, worshipful, and rapt absorption which is aware of nothing else than the divine presence—he is praying, is meditating, is worshipping, is in heaven already. (Notebooks 18 Intro)

The divine part of our being is always there; why then is it not available to us?  We have to practice making ourselves available to It.  We have to pause, listen inwardly, feel for Its blessed presence. For this purpose meditation is a valuable help, a real need. (Notebooks 3.1.124)

What is this Overself or soul within that we seek?

The divine atom is one and the same in all men, identical in Christ as it was in his hearers.  It is indeed the Christ-self in each of us.  When Jesus had passed away from this world, the most enlightened of his earlier followers thenceforward used and understood his name only in this universal sense.

The Christos was to them their own interior divinity—not a particular flesh-body which had been buried—and their work was to bring consciousness downward from the head until it was focused in the spiritual heart, where the kingdom of heaven was localized for all true Christians. (From Page 214, Chapter XVI, The Quest of the Overself, 1975 edition)

There is but One God, One Life, One infinite Power, one all-knowing Mind.  Each man individualizes it but does not multiply it.  He brings it to a point, the Overself, but does not alter its unity or change its character.(P) (Notebooks 28.1.23)

This is the paradox, that the Overself is at once universal and individual.  It is the first because it overshadows all men as a single power.  It is the second because it is found by each man within himself.  It is both space and the point in space.  It is infinite Spirit and yet it is also the holy presence in everyone’s heart. (Notebooks 22.3.384)

Let no one imagine that contact with the Overself is a kind of dreamy reverie or pleasant, fanciful state.  It is a vital relationship with a current of peace, power, and goodwill flowing endlessly from the invisible centre to the visible self. (Notebooks 22.3.206)

The Overself does not evolve and does not progress.  These are activities which belong to time and space.  It is nowhere in time and nowhere in space.  It is Here, in this deep beautiful and all-pervading calm, that a man finds his real identity.  (Notebooks 22.3.245) (g)

The Overself is neither a cold metaphysical concept nor a passing wave of emotion.  It is a Presence—sublime, sacred, and beneficent—which grips your heart, thought, and body by its own mysterious power, making you regard life from a nobler standpoint. (Notebooks 22.3.95)

What is this Quest for the Overself?

The inner meaning of life does not readily reveal itself; it must be searched for.  Such a search is the Quest. (Notebooks 1.1.10)

The central point of this quest is the inner opening of the ego’s heart to the Overself. (Perspectives 1.3)

We are here on earth in pursuit of a sacred mission.  We have to find what theologians call the soul, what philosophers call the Overself.  It is something which is at one and the same time both near at hand and yet far off.  For it is the secret source of our life-current, our selfhood, and our consciousness.  But because our life-energy is continuously streaming outwards through the senses, because our selfhood is continuously identified with the body, and because our consciousness never contemplates itself, the Overself necessarily eludes us utterly. (Perspectives 1.5)

If the Infinite Being is trying to express its own nature within the limitations of this earth—and therefore trying to express Itself through us too—it is our highest duty to search for and cultivate our diviner attributes.  Only in this way do we really fulfill ourselves.  This search and this cultivation constitute the Quest. (Notebooks 1.1.6)

The quest is too individual a matter to fit everyone in the same way, like a ready-made suit of clothes.  Each man has his own life-problems to consider and surmount.  In trying to do so wisely nobly and honestly he does precisely what the quest calls for from him at the time. (Notebooks 1.5.211)

Just as there is not a single radius only from the centre of a circle to its circumference but countless ones, so there is not a single path only from man to God but as many paths as there are men.  Each has to find the way most appropriate to him, to the meaning and experience of truth. (Notebooks 1.5.180)

To obtain a balanced result it is necessary to make a balanced approach and not to rely on a single kind of effort only.  The moral character must become involved in the quest of upliftment; the intellectual faculty must work at the study, as well as reflect upon the lessons of, life itself; the intuition must be unfolded by persistent daily practice of meditation; and the everyday practical life must try to express the ideals learned. (Notebooks 20.3.456)

Nothing could be more practical than applied philosophy.  The student will find his will strengthened by its definite affirmations, so that he will bring a bolder heart to the troubles and duties of everyday living. He will find his feelings less disturbed by the evil in other men’s characters and deeds. He will find his thoughts inspired by its declaration of the benevolent purpose and supreme intelligence behind his life. (Notebooks 20.1.350)

There is nothing more important in life than the Quest, and the time will come when the student discovers that there is nothing more enjoyable as well.  This is inevitable in a Quest whose essential nature is one of infinite harmony and unbroken peace.  No worldly object, person, or pleasure can ever bestow the satisfaction experienced in uniting with the Overself.  (Notebooks 1.1.166)

It is only the beginner who needs to think of the quest as separate from the common life, something special, aloof, apart.  The more proficient knows that it must become the very channel for that life. (Notebooks 1.1.75)

He may ask himself whether he has any competence for such a great task.  But this is to forget that he has been led to this point, to the quest, that the same higher self or power which out of its grace did this can lead him still farther. (Notebooks 1.2.117)

What role do feelings play in the philosophic quest?

It is not emotion in itself that philosophy asks us to triumph over but the lower emotions.  On the contrary, it asks us to cherish and cultivate the higher ones.  It is not feeling in itself that is to be ruled sternly by reason but the blind animal instincts and ignorant human self-seeking.  When feeling is purified and disciplined, exalted and ennobled, depersonalized and instructed, it becomes the genuine expression of philosophical living. (Notebooks 6.2.5)

Once the soul has revealed her lovely self to him, he cannot help adoring her, cannot help the feeling of being carried away in lifelong pursuit of her. The attraction is not of his own choosing.  It is as natural and inevitable as the movement of the sunflower towards the sun. (Notebooks 22.7.79)

This feeling of reverence, awe, and inner attraction should be nurtured and developed so that it may grow into a great love, an aesthetic communion which is fully satisfying. (Notebooks 18.1.66)

The more love he can bring into this practice, the more he is likely to succeed with it.  If he cannot yet feel any love for the Overself, then let him bring joy into it, the joy of knowing that he is on the most worthwhile journey in life. (Notebooks 4.2.296)

The higher human feelings such as kindness and sympathy, patience and tolerance have to be nurtured. (Notebooks 6.2.32)

Anyone who is susceptible to beauty in music or place has a spiritual path ready-made for him.(P) (Notebooks 14.1.10)

The beautiful is allied to the good.  If we cultivate beautiful feelings, evil ones begin to get dissolved. (Notebooks 11.4.86)

Feeling can be trained to become finer, more delicate, responsive to higher urges and ideals. (Notebooks 6.2.47)

What does philosophy have to say about life experience, decision-making, and life direction?

Out of his own heart a man may seek guidance for his future. His former sins become his future teacher.  His errors, once perceived, show him the right way.  His thoughts, once overcome, provide him with new strength and new virtues. His trials, met and mastered, open new doors of consciousness to him.  His weaknesses offer him a challenge and if he takes it up and if he uses his will to transmute them, he will be the gainer. (Notebooks 13.1.412)

There comes a time when out of the silence within himself there comes the spiritual guidance which he needs for his further course.  It comes sometimes as a delicate feeling, sometimes as a strong one, sometimes in a clear formulated message, and sometimes out of the circumstances and happenings themselves.  Not only does it tell him and teach him, but sometimes it does the same for others.  Such is the effect of the Divine Life now working increasingly within him. (Notebooks 24.4.146)

If he can come to this belief in the reality of his own higher self, he can come into all the knowledge he needs, all the help he needs, by heeding its guidance (felt intuitively) and by applying your injunctions to his daily life. (Notebooks 22.5.60)

Remember that no enterprise or move should be left to depend on the ego’s own limited resources.  The humble invocation of help from the Higher Self expands those resources and has a protective value.  At the beginning of every day, of every enterprise, of every journey, and of every important piece of work, remember the Overself and, remembering, be obedient to its laws. Seek its inspiration, its power.  To make it your silent partner is to double your effectiveness.(P) (Notebooks 18.1.54)

The Higher Power has given us the intelligence with which to solve these matters of practical daily life.  When the human will has been truly surrendered, this Power may be counted on to guide—and guide aright. (Notebooks 18.4.169)

By watching our thought life, keeping out negatives, and cultivating positive ideas, full of trust in the higher laws, we actually start processes that eventually bring improvement to the outer life. (Notebooks 9.3.169)

When he has made this surrender, done what he could as a human being about it and turned the results over completely to the higher self, analyzed its lessons repeatedly and taken them deeply to heart, the problem is no longer his own.  He is set free from it, mentally released from its karma, whatever the situation may be physically.  He knows now that whatever happens will happen for the best. (Notebooks 18.4.154)

He must wait indefinitely until intuition supplies the needed answer or, if the matter is more urgent, wait only for a definite period and then review the situation again, ask humbly for guidance, and force a decision even though it is at risk. (Notebooks 13.2.230)

The need to guide his personal life more intuitively comes home to him after every major mistake has been committed and its effects felt.  He sees then that it is not enough to calculate by intellect, nor feel by impulse, nor act on emotion, for these have led him to sufferings that could have been prevented, or caused other people sufferings that bring him regrets.  He learns that it is necessary to listen inwardly, to wait in mental quiet for intuitive feeling to arise and guide him. (Notebooks 13.2.212)

Knowing that his reaction to whatever happens is even more important than the happening itself, he watches for hidden tests of his character and capacity.  Whether he is coping with the problems of his work or moving in the circle of his family, he uses each episode or situation to prove himself worthy or to discover a weakness.  In the latter event he will not become discouraged but will probe, analyze, plan, and resolve until he turns it into a new strength. (Notebooks 13.1.92)

What is the Place of Compassion and Service in this Work?

A true power will inform the hands of those who will act at the behest of the god within, whose daily admonishment to him is: “Go out and live for the welfare of man the Light you find in the deep recesses of your own heart.” (Notebooks 20.4.308)

Why should we trouble our heads with philosophical study?  Why is it not enough to practice goodwill toward men?  The answer to the second question is that the feeling of goodwill may vanish at the first bitter experience of being injured by other men.  It will not suffice to depend on feeling alone; one must also get thoroughly and rationally convinced that goodwill is necessary under all circumstances, and not only for the benefit of others, but even for our own. (Notebooks 20.1.161)

A man acts philosophically when wisdom and service become the motive power behind his deeds.  These are the two currents which must flow through his external life. (Notebooks 20.5.25)

The necessity of forgiving others what they have done to us is paramount.  Nay, it is a duty to be constantly and unbrokenly practiced, no matter what provocation to disobey it we may receive.  Our contact with others, or our relation to them, must bring them only good!  Never bad.  (Notebooks 6.5.314)

You may be an insignificant creature in the vastness of the cosmos, but the divine life—of which that cosmos is but a channel—is in you, too. Have enough faith in your divine heritage, take it into your common everyday life and thought, and in some way, to some people, you will become very significant and important. (Notebooks 22.3.33)

The acts of service are yours; the consequences of service are God’s.  Do not be anxious where anxiety is not your business. (Notebooks 2.8.68)

In every situation where he is involved with other persons, he will consider neither his own welfare solely to the exclusion of others nor theirs to the detriment of his own.  He will do what is just and wise in the situation, taking the welfare of all into consideration and being guided ultimately by the impersonal intuition of the Overself. (Notebooks 20.5.185)

If the student finds his time fully taken up in caring for others, this must take first place.  He must care for all victims of man’s ignorance as though they were members of his own family; he must be as clearheaded and practical in dealing with his work as any worldly minded person, but underneath he will know that earthly life is fleeting, transient, never permanently satisfying, and therefore only the outer face of his life; deep within must be a persistent quest of truth and reality which alone confer everlasting peace. (Notebooks 2.8.26)

Make it a matter of habit, until it becomes a matter of inclination, to be kind, gentle, forgiving, and compassionate.  What can you lose?  A few things now and then, a little money here and there, an occasional hour or an argument?  But see what you can gain!  More release from the personal ego, more right to the Overself’s grace, more loveliness in the world inside us, and more friends in the world outside us.(P) (Notebooks 2.5.12)

Each person who brings more truth and goodness, more consciousness and balance into his own small circle brings it into the whole world at the same time.  A single individual may be helpless in the face of global events, but the echoes of the echoes of his inspired words and deeds, presence and thoughts, may be heard far from him in place and time. (Notebooks 20.1.200)

The mark of true goodness is, first, that it never by thought, word, or deed injures any other living creature; second, that it has brought the lower nature under the bidding of the higher; and third, that it considers its own welfare not in isolation but always against the background of the common welfare. (Notebooks 6.1.361)

This grand section of the quest deals with the right conduct of life.  It seeks both the moral re-education of the individual’s character for his own benefit and the altruistic transformation of it for society’s benefit.(P) (Notebooks 6.1.6)

When a man discovers that the same Overself dwells in his enemy as in his own heart, how can he ever again bring himself to hate or injure another? (Notebooks 6.2.126)

When a man can forgive God all the anguish of his past calamities and when he can forgive other men and women for the wrongs they have done him, he will come to inward peace.  For this is what the ego cannot do. (Edited from Notebooks 8.4.349)

What are the practices that the Quester must follow?

Watching his daily conduct and reviewing it in retrospect is not less needful than practicing meditation. (Edited from Notebooks 2.4.23)

Self Discipline

The place where you are, the people who surround you, the problems you encounter, and the happenings that take place just now—all have their special meaning for you.  They come about under the law of recompense as well as under the particular needs of your spiritual growth.  Study them well but impersonally, egolessly, and adjust your reactions accordingly.  This will be hard and perhaps even unpalatable, yet it is the certain way to solving all your problems.  This is what Jesus meant when he declared, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”  This is that crucifixion of the ego which is true Christianity and which leads directly to the resurrection in the reality of the Overself.  Regard your worst, most irritating trouble as the voice of your Overself.  Try to hear what It says.  Try to remove the obstructions It is pointing to within yourself.  Look on this special ordeal, this particular trial, as having the most important significance in your own spiritual growth.  The more crushing it is, the more effort is being made to draw you nearer to the Overself.  At every point of your life, from one event, situation, contact to another, the Infinite Intelligence provides you with the means of growth, if only you will get out of the egoistic rut and take them. (Notebooks 2.4.24)

When his strongest passion is to make real the presence of the soul and when he demonstrate this by the strivings and sacrifices of his whole life, he is not far from the visitation of Grace. (Notebooks Vol. 12 / Category 18, Chapter 5, 172)

Until the time his karma brings him the indwelling Master, the seeker must continue to prepare for what will then happen.  He must seek to uncover and uproot all faults and characteristic weaknesses.  He must resolve to achieve the best life—that is, one that exemplifies truth, goodness, and beauty.  He must understand well the proper values to be attached to worldly matters and to spiritual ones.  He must face the difficulties of everyday life with courage and with the knowledge gleaned from his study. (Notebooks 2.5.55)

See yourself as you ought to be. Try to act accordingly. (Notebooks 23.6.145)

Reflection and imagination, analysis and anticipation, rightly used and harmoniously combined, can supersede experience.  Indeed, they are forms of experience.  But, being under our individual control and direction, they can be used as instruments to save us long-drawn and emotionally painful results. (Notebooks 13.1.60)

He ought to study his past errors intently, not to reproach himself emotionally but to reform himself constructively. (Notebooks 4.4.111)

He will need to develop the ability to stand back periodically from the personal self and survey its life, fortunes, character, and doings quite impartially.  During this exercise, he should adopt the attitude of a disinterested spectator seeking to know the truth about it.  Hence, he should study it calmly and not take sides with it emotionally. (Notebooks 4.4.123)

All will come under review periodically—the management of his relationships with others, his personal, social, and professional activities, the management of his life.  But all this scrutiny is to be done from a standpoint higher than the ordinary one, less ego-governed and more impersonal. Therefore it should be done only and preferably at such times as this mood is upon him, if it is to be effectively done. (Notebooks 4.4.245)

To unwrap his inner self of thoughts, emotions, desires, motives, and passions; to decide what is worth keeping and what needs cutting out in it, this is his first task. (Notebooks 4.4.142)

It is not enough to learn to bear with others, to excuse and accept their shortcomings.  You must also learn to bear with yourself, to accept your own shortcomings. (Notebooks 23.1.108)

He who has once embarked on this quest may be diverted from it for a while, but can never be driven from it forever.  Eventual return is certain.  Every fresh manifestation of human wrong-doing and human wickedness of which he is the sufferer, every new reverse of fortune and loss of possession, should only strengthen his determination to follow this quest and cultivate its calm detachment because it should strengthen his realization of the futility of basing his happiness on earthly things alone.  He need always to remember that the ordeal is transient but its prize is permanent, that if he succeeds in emerging from its tests still loyal to the ideal, he will also emerge with ennobled character, greater power, and increased faculty.  When he wins through, in the end, then the long sufferings of past failures will bloom into pity for others and into strength for himself. (Excerpted from Notebooks 2.3.74)

The means needed for the quest have been listed in Buddha’s eightfold path: (1) right belief, (2) right decision, (3) right words, (4) right dealings, (5) right livelihood, (6) right tendency, (7) right thinking, (8) right meditative immersion into oneself. (Notebooks 2.5.32)


The regularly repeated practice of meditation should have this effect: it removes the haste, the hurry, the pressure, and the restlessness with which modern Western life is afflicted.  It supplants them by calm, by patience, and by relaxation. (Notebooks 4.1.347)

Man’s need to isolate himself temporarily but regularly from the world’s turmoil is more urgent in this century than in any previous one. The intent should not be to escape but to rally the spiritual forces and recuperate from personal stresses, to take a proper look at the kind of life-pattern he is weaving and to note defects and plan amendments. No one would be worse and everyone would be better for taking a little time out of his day, for suspending his daily activities for perhaps a half hour every day, to “go into the silence.” Life becomes spacious and unstrained, its horizon of daily living enlarged, when a still timelessness creeps into a man’s make-up. He will become less hurried but not less active. He knows that his future is assured because his present conduct is serene and that it is safe because his present understanding is right. (Notebooks 3.1.123)

The Westerner must learn to end this endless restlessness, this daily impatience to be doing something, must practice faithfully and regularly “waiting on the Lord,” or meditation.  Thus he will come less and less to rely on his own little resources, more and more on the Lord’s—that is  on the Overself’s—infinite wisdom, power and grace. (Notebooks 4.1.55)

Before his mind can understand truth, attain the Real, and enjoy happiness, it must reach a quiet state.  No disturbances, no agitations, and no resistances must get in the way.  To make such a state possible, it must first be reached spasmodically during special periods each day, that is, during meditation periods.  As it becomes more and more accustomed to the silencing of its negative activities in this way, it will eventually become more and more settled in the state by habit during the rest of the day.  Finally the habit becomes a trait of character, permanent and unbroken.  Here is the further reason why the practice of meditation exercises is a necessity, indispensable to a complete quest. (Edited from Notebooks 4.1.97)

If finding the time is the first need, finding the place is the second one.  It should be where nobody will disturb him and, if he is exceptionally sensitive, where nobody will even observe him.  It should be where the least noise and the most silence reigns.  If he can use the same time and place regularly, so much the better. (Edited from Notebooks 4.2.63)

It is a matter of transferring attention for this brief period from the ego and fixing it lovingly on the Overself.  For while thought dwells in and on the ego alone, it is kept prisoner, held by the little self’s limitations confined in the narrow circle of personal affairs, interests, problems.  The way out is this transfer of attention.  But the change needs a motive power, a push.  This comes from love and faith combined—love, aspiration, longing for Overself, and faith in its living ever-presence within. (Notebooks 4.2.287)

The inwardness through which a human being finds his way in meditation exercises to the redirection of attention to his soul,hisr deeper “I,” is needed to restore his lost balance.  But it is a process, a means to an end.  For him the end must be not a special and limited experience, briefly felt, of his innermost being but a settled awareness of its presence throughout his everyday life, and a consequent sharing in that life. (Notebooks 4.1. 81)

One needs a place where the only noise is that which one makes oneself.  Then, the lovely stillness without helps to induce the lovely stillness within. (Notebooks 3.5.1)

In whatever way he use this period, whether to pray, to relax physically emotionally and mentally, or to meditate, the first need is to drop his affairs of the moment abruptly and let go of them completely during this short pause. No matter how tightly bound to a timed schedule his business has made him, here at least he enters a timeless world. (Notebooks 3.1.127)

It refreshes the heart and renews the will in the most extraordinary way if we sit with hands crossed in the lap or open on the knees and with mind surrendered, quiet, empty. (Notebooks 23.6.25)

His development becomes mature when the hour for meditation no longer remains outside the day but perfumes its every minute. (Notebooks 4.1.415)

What is the highest purpose of an individual’s life?

…It is to be taken possession of by your higher self.  Your dissatisfactions are incurable by any other remedy.  Spinoza saw and wrote that humankind’s true happiness lay in drawing nearer to the Infinite Being.  Sanatkumara, the Indian Sage, saw and taught, “That which is Infinity is indeed bliss; there can be no happiness in limited things…

Such is the insecurity of the present-day world that the few who have found security are only the few who have found their own soul, and inner peace. (Excerpted from Notebooks 1.2.1)

The process of human evolution serves a twofold purpose.  The first is to develop the physical, emotional, and intellectual characteristics.  The second is to lead the individual to enquire into, and become fully conscious of, her or his divine origin. (Notebooks 26.4.253)

What grander ideal could a person have than to live continuously in the higher part of his being? (Notebooks 1.1.96)

What is the Long Path?

One who feels the inner urge to seek always for the Soul, the Hidden, who longs to be quite consciously united with it, first will have to undergo a long process of being separated from the baser attributes, of having the larger part of her or his imperfections washed away. (Edited from Notebooks 2.1.2)

You are to sacrifice all the lower emotions on the altar of this quest.  You are to place upon it anger, greed, lust, and aggressive egoism as and when each situation arises when one or another of them shows its ugly self.  All are to be burnt up steadily, if little by little, at such opportunities.  This is the first meaning of surrender to the higher self.(P) (Notebooks 18.4.87)

The ego must become conscious of its guilt in blocking the light of the Overself and must perform the necessary penance to expiate that guilt.  But this is merely another way of saying that it must enter on the Long Path and purify itself. (Notebooks 2.1.10)

There is a certain stage of development when it is more important to work on the improvement of the character than to practice meditation. (Notebooks 6.1.158)

Why is purification of the ego so important?

The quest of truth by a mind deformed by hate, anger, bias, bitterness, or greed, or deficient in concentration, calmness, or aspiration must end in a failure which will be partial or total to the extent that these negatives are partial or total.  This is why the Long Path is needed. (Notebooks 2.1.59)

The longer you live the more you discover that real peace depends on the strength with which you rule your own heart, and real security depends on the truth with which you rule your own mind.  When you leave your emotions in disorder they bring agony—as the accompaniment or the follower of the happiness they claimed at first to be able to give.  When you let your thoughts serve the blindnesses of your ego, they deceive, mislead, or trouble you.(P) (Notebooks 6.3.21)

Our deliverance from the miseries of life hangs solely on our deliverance from the bondage to the ego. (Notebooks 8.4.1)

This does not mean destroy the ego—as if anyone could!—but destroy its tyranny, harmonize its personal will with that of the World-Idea. (Notebooks 8.1.192)

Despite all the talk disparaging the ego, it is not wrong but praiseworthy to develop the best personality one can and then use it.  Its character can be purified, its passions controlled, its weaknesses overcome, its ignorance dispelled.  New virtues can be introduced and new power developed. One can then make better use of such a personality—for one’s own advantage and for service of others—and one should. (Notebooks 8.1.159)

If you are to put yourself into a properly receptive attitude for the enlightenment which Truth brings, there are several corrections you must make in yourself and by yourself.  You must discard the intolerance, the narrowness, the littleness which rejects any persons or condemns entire nations because of their appearance or their religion or their past history or their social condition.  You must cast out all malevolence and enmity toward others.  You must put a stop to the endless urges which covet more and more possessions, which stimulate stronger and stronger ambitions. (Edited from Notebooks 2.1.91)

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