Frequently Asked Questions About Paul Brunton and His Ideas

Over many years there have been countless questions about PB and how his Ideas can aid in illuminating our inner and outer lives. Even as he himself fielded thousands over the course of his lifetime, we have selected some key questions and quotes from PB that answer them. This section serves as an overview of PB's teachings that will hopefully open the door to further in-depth study. PB's published books and the resources on this website provide insightful guidance for the seeker of life's deeper possibilities.

(Please note: Paul Brunton wrote when the convention was to use “he” rather than “he or she,” but certainly he intended these teachings for everyone drawn to study them.)

*Questions Answered by Paul Brunton Quotes
This category is divided into two parts due to its size—these PB quotes serve as sound and satisfying answers to some of life's most challenging questions.
Please note that 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.
To discover which printed Notebook volume contains the referenced category, refer to the Notebooks and Ideas page.

Also see:
*Questions and Answers for the Beginning Student

*Answers given by Paul Brunton to Members of the Philosopher’s Center in Columbus, Ohio

*Questions, Answers, and Commentary by Paul Brunton Students
Timothy Smith has compiled his responses to some of the questions he has been asked over the years.    
     Note: This section is open to submissions by other Paul Brunton students.  Please send your questions and commentary to

Below you will find the Tables of Contents for each of the above categories. All PB quotes can also be found in the Online Notebooks.

Questions Answered by Paul Brunton Quotes

Part 1

1. What is God?
2. Can I find God?
3. What is a sane religion?
4. How can I find the divine within?
5. What is this Overself or soul within that we seek?
6. What is this Quest for the Overself?
7. What role do feelings play in this philosophic quest?
8. What does philosophy have to say about decision-making?
9. What is the place of compassion and service in this work?
10. What are the practices that the Quester must follow?
          Self Discipline
11. What is the truest highest purpose of an individual’s life?
12. What is the Long Path?
13. Why is purification of the ego so important?

Part 2

14. What are the corrections that need to be made to the ego?
15. What are the dangers on the Long Path?
16. What is the Short Path?
17. Why is it important to teach the Long Path as well as the Short Path?
18. When can one begin the Short Path?
19. What are some exercises for the more experienced Quester?
          “As If” Exercise
           Be Calm and Practice Detachment
           Witness Exercise
           Remembrance Exercise
20. How can Grace enter my life?
21. What are spiritual glimpses?
22. What is Philosophy?
23. What is the role of philosophy in the world and in world crisis?
24. What is Mentalism and why is it so important?
25. What exactly is enlightenment?

Questions and Answers for the Beginning Student

1. Why do I need to study philosophy?
2. Is it possible to find truth and how will it influence my life?
3. Is it possible to attain enlightenment?
4. What is the relationship between the ego and the soul?
5. If I follow these ideas will I be able to live a better and more spiritual life?
6. How do I know that I am on the right path?
7. What is karma?
8. Do I have freewill?
9. Do I need a minister, guru or an organization/group to guide me?
10. Once you realize the value of this path what are some helpful guidelines to follow?
11. Intellect is not my strength.  What if I just can’t understand some of these difficult concepts?
12. Isn't detachment from my emotions a cold way to interact with others?
13. All I know about myself are the thoughts I have.  Am I being asked to give up these thoughts?
14. What am I after I’ve detached from my thoughts?
15. Why should I meditate?
16. How do I start meditating?
17. I’ve tried but I just can’t meditate.  What can I do?
18. While meditating the other day an image flashed before me.  Why did that happen and what does it mean?
19. What is a spiritual glimpse?
20. How can grace happen to me?

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

A. Meditation    
    1. I might be interested in learning to meditate.  How would you suggest I start?
    2. What is the best thing a person could do to help the world?
    3. Could you discuss the awakening of the heart center?    
    4. Could an individual do anything to attract higher, benevolent forces to this planet, perhaps through
        meditation?  What could one do?

B. Diet    
    1. What would you say about an advanced person who remembers previous lifetimes in Tibet and ate meat?
    2. 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?    
    3. PB’s emphasis on diet: Why is there so much discussion about food?    
    4. What was PB’s diet while he was in Columbus?

C. Body
    1. How should a person with spiritual interests deal with specific health problems?

D. Death & Dying    
    1. Can you advise me on how to stipulate in my will the disposal of my body?
    2. Is seeing the face of your teacher a sign that death is imminent?       
    3. Are there thoughts you could hold if you sense a person is ready to pass over?
    4. What are your thoughts about putting animals to sleep?  [PB didn’t say much about animals but related
        responses to humans.]    
    5. Could you speak about capital punishment?    
    6. What is the place of freewill?  
    7. What is your opinion about Christian Science?

E. Being a student    
    1. What should I consider before making important decisions in my life?    
    2. 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?    
    3. Can we hold dualistic and non-dualist viewpoints without great confusion?

F. Meeting with others    
    1. Did you know Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki?
        1.a.) That [a way of drinking tea] is a Russian custom, isn’t it?    
    2. Was a study program followed at Ramana’s ashram?    
    3. When you met Carl Jung (Jung’s Letters, Vol. 1, p.236) did you discuss Jung’s choosing not to visit Ramana?

G. Dangers    
    1. Is there a danger of contact with negative psychic entities through psychic healers and readers?    
    2. 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? 

H. Miscellaneous    
    1. Could you say something about the Void?    
    2. Is it true that the people or the group with whom you study can influence your next incarnation?  Might you
        reincarnate again with the same people?    
    3. The world is in such a bad state today.  What is happening?    
    4. The King Tut Egypt show is at the art museum in Columbus now.  Is it safe to see it?
        4.a) Would you go to such an exhibit?
    5. Could you discuss retirement villages?
    6. Could you also discuss Bodhisattvas and Christian Saints?

Student Questions and Questions About PB

Timothy Smith, one of the editors of The Notebooks has compiled his responses to some of the questions he has been asked over the years.

1. Overself
   Does the Overself have feelings? Does this contradict other PB quotes where he says that the Overself is impersonal?
   Immediate task to become aware of Overself
   Turn away from smug satisfaction of ego
2. Did PB ever give direct advice or direction?

(For a complete recounting of Tim’s "Conversations and Recollections of Paul Brunton" go to his website,

This page is a continual work in progress, and we expect to add the responses from additional board members and from anyone else who knew PB and is willing to share their stories.
Have a question you’d like a response to?  Please email