Perspectives by Paul Brunton
by Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation
Perspectives is a representative survey of more than 7,000 pages of notes withheld by Paul Brunton for posthumous publication. It introduces a much larger work that Dr. Brunton spoke of as his “Summing up.”
Our original plan was to initiate this project with a boxed set of seven to ten volumes. Thousands of unsolicited letters from throughout the world, however, have urged us to accelerate publication—and much work remains to be done on our side before the rate breadth, depth, and beauty of the material in these notebooks can be adequately presented to the public. While we are happy to comply with so many sincere requests, we want to do so in a way that will best serve the larger project still in hand. A few introductory remarks should help to minimize the risk that the notebooks will be judged improperly because of being presented early in too brief a form.
To reap the greatest spiritual harvest from these “seed thoughts” –particularly those written after April of 1963—we should try to appreciate a condition of mind and heart which is rare in any century. Plotinus gives one of the best reports of this attainment when he writers:
The Intellectual-Principle is a self-intent activity, but Soul has the double phase, one inner, intent upon Intellectual-Principle, the other outside it and facing to the external; by the one it holds the likeness to its source; by the other, even in its unlikeness, it still comes to likeness in this sphere, too, by virtue of action and production; in its action it still contemplates, and its production produces forms—detached intellections, so to speak—with the result that all its creations are representations of the divine Intellection and of the divine Intellect, moulded upon the archetype, of which all are emanations and images, the nearer the more true, the very latest preserving some faint likeness of the source. – v. 3.7, Mackenna translation.
It would be an error to think even of a sage as operating with the omniscience of the Divine Mind (Intellectual-Principle). But we can think of a sage—insofar as he does at times speak the thoughts of that Divine Mind with which he has become inwardly attuned—as producing these “detached intellections” or spiritual intuitions and translating them into contemporary language. The World-Mind (Intellectual-Principle, God) uses such purified, ennobled, and spiritually matured individuals as vehicles through which it can fashion representations of itself in our world. The aphorisms and philosophical maxims which such sages present us give us some dim reflection, at least, of what is going on in the depths of the Mystery—depths of which we are aware, but which we are unable to penetrate without the help of superior wisdom.
Whenever such writings have been produced, the task of “organizing” them prove insurmountable. Thousands of truly great and inspired minds have discovered in reading the Hindu Upanishads, for example, that it is impossible to reduce the entirety of the spiritual intuitions “captured” in them to any single kind of systematic whole. Anyone who has sincerely tried has given up the task as a hopeless one, though some have found through their effort to do so that the mind that coldly systematizes is on a lower plane than that which discovers in moments of awe. The kind of logical and coherent order which we find so important to the preservation of our sanity in the world of the senses is out of place in the realm of such discovery: it is transcended—though certainly not contradicted—by the unimaginably grand Divine Order of which our own best thoughts are but meager representations. To demand that the greater conform to the laws of the lesser is to deprive ourselves of our own Best.
The stilled, introverted, and receptive mind of the sage perfectly mirrors the powers of the Divine Mind which unfold temporally as all that is true or real in our world. When appropriate conditions exist, the sage may find himself being used to announce outwardly what is being thought in a indivisible way in the undivided larger Mind, with which he is inwardly at one and outwardly in harmony. The Divine Mind’s ideation remains invisible and whole, but its representation in our world—through the sage who writes or speaks with its inspiration—conforms to the laws of temporality and contemporary language. Though what the sage gives us through his speech or writing is not to be equated with the undifferentiated Intelligence of the living universal Consciousness, it is in truth an accurate reflection of it in terms more accessible to our spiritually younger minds. A functioning Wisdom that cannot be fathomed becomes dimly available to us; something of its master plan becomes available to guide our daily aspiration.
Such a sage, as you will read in section 25, remains—or more accurately becomes—fully human and verifies in his being and life the attainability for ourselves of such ennoblement and self-completion. In one sense the simplest, in another the most complex of human being, the fully developed sage fashions a legacy which is much more than an intellectual one—though it of course includes that as well. It is not a intellectual one—though it of course includes that as well. It is not a hard and-fast,, tightly formulated, systematic doctrine all on one level but rather a multi-faceted and open-ended Way of Seeing and Being—a Vision unfolding and completing itself within us as our own best sales becoming Actual. In fulfilling their spiritual birthright, such pioneers of humanity affirm the eventual fulfillment of a similar seed within each one of us. We can feel all that is good and noble within us being nourished by the inner Knower affirming itself in their written and spoken words.
A few remarks are also required concerning both the form of these writings and the structure o their organization by category. Throughout the thirty years during which he refrained from publishing new material. P. B. deepened and broadened his research into spiritual mater and wrote daily. His method of writing involved a minimum of three well defined stages for a given piece of material. His custom throughout the years was to first jot down brief notes while an intuition was fresh and vital. These handwritten notes were later organized by topic, typed, and field as “Rough Ideas.” He regularly returned to the material in this stage and revised many of the notes there into more literary form. The revised versions were then typed afresh and filed by topic in notebooks entitled “Middle Ideas.” A second review and literary revision followed, after which the “final” material was typed and then put into notebooks titled simply “Ideas.” At any given time, new material for each stage could be found in his workroom.
P B.’s preference for this form of writing is best expressed in one of his own entries, written probably in 1980:
Poetry is at its best when it leads man towards spiritual beauty. This indeed is the mission of all the other arts also. To write a book that will sustain a single theme through three hundred page is an admirable intellectual achievement, but it is not really my way; I have don3e with it since long ago. A man must express himself in his own way, the way which follows the nature he is born with. I Prefer to write own a single idea without any reference to those which when before or which are to follow late, and to write it down in a co contracted way. The only book I could prepare now would be a book of maxims of suggestive idea. I have not the Patrice to go on and on telling someone in a hundred pages what I could put into a single page.
By the time the present editors were invited to the project, more than 7,000 single spaced page of such “detached intellection” had been produced—along with approximately 3,000 pages of related research material. During his last two years, P. B. conceived the present system of classification and began training a few students to bring the existing notes into conformity with his new categories. Since his death July 27, 1981, we have been carrying out the reclassification to the best of our ability in keeping with his guidelines. The reader should be fully aware that, while the writings themselves are those of a sage, the “organization” category, and we have had to choose what seems to us them sot fitting one. The placemen in some cases is admittedly arbitrary and should be recognized as such.
The same is true with respect to the contents of this survey. A work for general publication must always deal with the difficulty of anticipating the level of its audience, and there is little doublet that other people would have selected different writing from the voluminous array of possible choices. The notebooks consists of “paras,” as P. B. called them, addressing a variety of type of people and many different levels of development within similar types. In the same spirit, we have tried to be types and many different levels. Where apparent contradictions surface consider first that the advice may be for someone at a different level or of a different type than yourself. Take what is relevant and valuable for you: others may benefit from what does not appeal to you or apply to your present level.
Punctuation and capitalization are almost entirely as in the notebooks. Whereas standard stylebooks would dictate many required “improvements,” we have let the vast majority of the paras untouched. In general, we have opted for authenticity rather than to impose our own stylistic preferences. We have introduced minor modifications only in those relatively few cases where—particularly in the “rough” and “middle” stages==we are agreed among ourselves that P. B. would approve our changes as clarifying his meaning or expr3essing it more smoothly—a process each of us worked on with him frequently during his last two years. Wherever there is disagreement among us, the paras stand as written of readers to debate among themselves what P. B. would have done.
We have made three useful concession to the “hobgoblin” of consistency. British spelling has been maintained and made conformable with the Oxfrord English Dictionary, with the following exception: when O. E. D. lists two correct spellings of which only one appears I Webster’s Third International, we have chosen the entry common to both. Also, we have applied the University of Chicago serial comma rule to those series in which commas already appeared into notebooks. Finally, we have established consistent hyphenation in compound words.
We hope that P. B’s readers will forgive our personal shortcomings that find expression in this and forthcoming volumes, and that they will sympathize with our sincerity in trying to do the best and most thorough job that we can do. We are grateful to P. B. for his grace and guidance, and for the opportunity to work with this material. We are also deeply grateful for the extensive clerical and moral support being given to us by many friends at Wisdom’s Goldenrod Center for Philosophic Studies.
Further information about progress with these notebooks can be obtained by writing:
Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation
P. O. Box 89
Hector, NY 14841