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Prior PBPF board members share how they put Paul Brunton’s Ideas into their lives. Below is Timothy’s response.


Some years ago now, a friend asked me that very question. After some thought I had to reply: it is my life. PB’s teaching has two essential elements that make it so: that enlightenment is only the beginning of our real spiritual adventure, which spans all the universe and all eternity, and that every experience we have right now is directly relevant to that journey. His 28 categories are not a hierarchy, though it would seem easy to make them so: they are a circle and our soul, our life, stands in the middle. Wherever you look, whatever you’re doing, his views and vision applies. That vision is non-judgmental (for the most part) but absolutely impersonal. Any activity which strengthens the ego darkens the Overself; that same activity, mindfully engaged, can loosen a bit of the ego’s grip (and gripe) on our life.

As it happens, I spend on average 30 hours a week working with the original PB material-sometimes more. Handling the original Notebooks is not “like” handling the Dead Sea Scrolls-it is identical to handling them-with this difference: these are written in our own language, in the lingua franca of the modern world. If we allow the rhythms and phrases to enter our consciousness without ‘helping’ them by adding or subtracting meanings from them, for a moment our mind is non-different from the illumined mind of a sage. To sit in a corner of PB’s mind is a training all its own.


He would certainly politely show me the door, as it were, should I overstay my time there. He was about Life Outer as well as Life Inner. How many of us have travelled to all 50 states, all the nations of South America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, overland throughout China, Tibet, crisscrossed India, Nepal, Northern Africa, and Europe? Often on doubtful conveyances, like a scrawny donkey or a broken-down motorcycle? To image PB as an elderly man of genteel habits is half-accurate. He was indeed a gentle man, and a gentleman. But he accomplished this as easily in a pitched tent in the Himalayas as in a 5 star European Hotel dining with von Karajan and Fellini. Each day he read the local paper, the national paper, the international paper, and various magazines. His awareness of this world was as focused and intent as was his awareness of the inner world.

Before I met him I never read the newspaper or watched world news: it was too secular. Now I subscribe to BBC and donate to various International causes. Whenever I find I have a question about something: how a coffee-pot works, or what Chuang-Tzu said, I find I must investigate it, for PB never let a query go uninvestigated: it was almost a sin to him, and I can see why. It is bad enough that we are buried in our own ignorance, it is worse to pull more ignorance into ourselves! While this delight in investigating things has been an acquired taste, and something I’m still learning to properly manage, the image of PB grilling a suddenly surprised salesman on the manufacturing details of his product stands before my mind when I’m shopping for a kitchen utensil! (I’m sure his local shopkeepers hid in the back when he came calling! – though to be fair, his wonderful aura drew people to him as easily as the sun draws the attention of flowers).

He of course educated me in something of the subtle arts of meditation and made the firm point that it must be practiced extensively and regularly: two or three hours a day at minimum, and with an invigorated, reverent attitude. While to sit in the presence of a sage is its own deep revelatory initiation, the humbling experience of sitting within one’s own very limited resources-and then, to slowly discover a wonderful resource within oneself-that is indeed a pearl of great price!

Finally, PB taught me how to laugh! The two funniest men I have ever known were Anthony Damiani and PB. PB had a rapier wit, and could also laugh at himself as well as at the foibles of the world. He laughed with the exuberance of one who is filled with joy, not with the cynicism of one who “has seen it all.” He could be rather merry at times, albeit like a dry sherry wine rather than a sloshing tankard of ale. His taste was refined to the point that I suspected he could have lived on dew and mountain air for years and found gourmet pleasures in his repast: as it was, a few dips of a teabag in steaming water gave him adequate caffeine for the afternoon-but he enjoyed it! No asceticism here, but an uninhibited receptivity to the beauty and delights of life. We tend to fall down into the habits of instinct and the coarser yearnings of the untended body and mistake these as pleasures, when they are really ways of numbing ourselves. When I first ate with PB I thought his food plain because he didn’t add spices to it. After a few months of this diet I found that instead of eating the simple flavors of butter and salt, my plate now contained an extraordinary array of flavors and textures: PB was more of a foodie than I am, and that’s saying something! So he taught me that if we awaken to what our body is really capable of experiencing of this world, if we open our heart and persistently hold the ego in the disquieting Light of the Higher Self, we shall, indeed live a full, fascinating, and amazing life!

by Timothy Smith ©2012

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