The Spiritual Crisis of Man – a Tribute to Dr. Paul Brunton

WIKI - Light BulbLinda George, Contributing Writer
Waking Times

Dr. Paul Brunton, in “The Spiritual Crisis of Man” – (published in 1952), wrote these words:

“A million people will eagerly follow a glib leader who raises contentious clamour and leads them to ultimate destruction, when only a few people will follow an inspired spiritual leader who leads them to true blessedness. This shows the faulty sense of values which prevails among people who are entirely ignorant of the fact that if their inner attitude toward life is wrong, their outer personal, political and economic affairs will go wrong. It shows that the reason why the mass of mankind cannot make a success of their civilization is because they cannot make a success of themselves. Not having enough faith in, or leading by, higher forces, they put their faith in destructive ones.”

Brunton wrote these words in the post WWII years. He would surely turn in his grave to see where such ignorance has taken mankind in the seven decades since. Seventy years is but a blink of an eye of course, in cosmic terms, and so the insights of this spiritual philosopher are as relevant today as they ever were – if not more so. Are there any world leaders today who are not glib (fluent, but insincere or superficial) for instance?

The higher forces Brunton talks about find expression in the individual through ‘the Overself’, or ‘Higher self’. This aspect of us is a splinter of the ‘World-Mind’ – or God. He says the ego, in this 20th (and now 21st) Century, has dominated the consciousness of mankind , but it too, is on an evolutionary journey – and without reference to the ‘Mayan calendar’ or even the year 2000, he foresaw this period of transition we are in as being about a dissolution of the materialistic way of life (egocentricity) and birth of a new, spiritual awareness (soulcentricity). Interestingly, writing in the late 40’s, early 50’s,he declared we still had ‘some way to go’ in this transitional process – before we emerged into the new golden age.

“The entire population of this globe is collectively passing through an all-round transition between one kind of life and another which has yet to replace it. Whether we take a materialist standpoint, or a mystical one, whether we call it the play of visible environmental forces or the outworking of the World-Mind’s invisible designs, the result is the same: all must agree that an old order is dissolving, a new one being born. Everything has its place in the divine World-Idea……….. A whole era is being brought to a close, hence the disintegration of values and institutions. Its own grave defects, its own moral backwardness and its own ugly materialism have eaten like corrosive acids into its body. We are witnessing an immense planet-wide liquidation of outworn forms, false ideas, hypocritical institutions, selfish attitudes and spiritual stagnations, even though the channels and forces of this liquidation are themselves so evil that they introduce for a time a worse state of affairs than the earlier one. For the good is being disintegrated along with the bad, the true is being cleared away along with the rubbish and the beautiful is being destroyed too.”

We do not have to look far to see evidence of the decimation and destruction of our beautiful planet. Yet, as this deeply thoughtful man so eloquently conveys, all is never lost. We must adopt a much broader perspective.

“…….man will not remain a static creature. He must go forward – or degenerate. But his forward movement is an enduring one whereas his backward movement is only a temporary one. For that which ever impels and enables him to evolve is a force which ever exists within himself. It is none other than the force of his higher self, his divine soul. This is the secret energy which is lifting him upward and activating his development. If his evolution depended only upon the whim of his personal self, then it would be an uncertain and often hopeless process. That the mysterious power which belongs to his Overself is the real driving power of his evolution is the best assurance of his ultimate achievement………….. In these terrible times the quest of this Overself has an enhanced value. Quite apart from its personal results, the knowledge that higher laws still rule the world and that the forces of evil are doomed to self-destruction in the end saves its possessors from despair and gives them hope.”

WIKI - Paul_BruntonAnd this, on duality:

“It needs remembering that the evils and pains of life have only a passing existence and are relative to the good and joys of life. Their own existence is in the end controlled by the divine laws and used for the divinely based universal outworking. Such complementaries and relativities follow by necessity as soon as this outworking itself begins afresh with every renewed cosmic period. How could any universe come into existence without both good and evil, light and darkness, joy and sorrow, coming with it? Such duality is the unescapable and tragic side of its manifestation. The existence of one opposite is a necessary consequence of the existence of the other. Those who ask for a painless world do not comprehend that they are also asking for a joyless one. The ebb and flow between opposites of joy and anguish, possession and loss, gives man a sense of values which he could not gain to such a vivid degree any other way. Experience of one kind provides a needed balance for the experience of its contrary. This helps him form a just estimate of bodily life and earthly values, a truer perception of its transiency, and thus brings him closer to the consciousness of the spiritual life.”

  • What is God? Brunton suggests it is the World-Mind. It is all-conscious, all-knowing and all-present; that it is the origin of all existence.

    “It is impossible for man to know all the truth about any single fact, only this Mind can do that. Nor can any human being ever comprehend all the particulars of past and future as it can comprehend them. All possible kinds of existence are grasped together by the World-Mind. Thus its consciousness is truly cosmic in a way no finite consciousness could ever be. All points in space and all moments in time are held within the World-Mind. Such an infinite capacity of experience is utterly beyond the immediate comprehensive of the finite human intellect. ……… And yet men everywhere try to drag God down to their own littleness! They have attached their dubious and false imaginations to the word………”

    He goes on to say:

    “The demand for a Personal God is really the instinctive attempt of the personal ego to drag God down to its own level, the natural longing of the human entity for a glorified human Comforter. Man is a person and feels the need of personal relationships. This is quite pardonable and proper in all his human activities, including his religious ones. But to introduce it into his attempt to penetrate metaphysically to the inmost secret of his link with the infinite power, is to remain in the nursery and refuse to leave the elementary stage of the spiritual life…….

    “The suffering man may say hard things about the austere indifference of God, even about the puzzling and implacable cruelty of God, just as the happy man may say pleasant things about the gracious benevolence of God. Both men know nothing about the real nature of God and are merely investing impersonal being with personal human attributes enlarged to a cosmic scale. It is a God made in their own image.”

    Again and again, Brunton presses for the need for us to dis-identify with the ego-self and take the time to make the quest; the inner quest into the stillness – ‘wherein the Old testament tells us, he can find God.’ The stresses and strains of the ‘modern world’ undoubtedly make the quest to find the stillness within, more difficult – but it is the ONLY hope we have, of finding peace. He recommends, if a longer period of retreat is impossible, daily retreat, for shorter periods – anything from 15 minutes up to a whole day.

    “The man who learns the art of retiring within himself to touch, not the darker strata of the ego’s subconscious, but the deepest part of spiritual being, learns to possess both restfulness and happiness at his command. To the extent that he digs more deeply into his mind, he there finds benedictory powers of healing and pacification………… There is a Mind in man, immeasurably superior to his ordinary mind. If, in quiet moments and still moods, he will patiently wait its promptings and submit to them, if in these utterly relaxed reveries he will wait watchfully yet positively until the Overself reveals its presence to him, he may gain understanding, power and guidance immeasurably superior to what he ordinarily knows.”

    Dr Paul Brunton was a man ahead of his times. He was a brilliant, sensitive, philosophical thinker, a spiritual man and a writer of great talent. On re-visiting the words and works of this most thoughtful of men, one is struck by the fact that spiritual philosophy, the heart of his subject matter, may change its guises with the times, as does the vehicle of its language, but that its truths are essentially and utterly timeless.

    The works of Dr Paul Brunton:

    A Search in Secret India
    The Secret Path
    A Search in Secret Egypt
    A Message from Arunachala
    A Hermit in the Himalayas
    The Quest of the Overself
    The Inner Reality
    The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga
    The Wisdom of the Overself

    About the Author

    Linda George is a writer, yogi, and evolutionary astrologer living in New Zealand.  She has been deeply involved in astrology, alternative health, spirituality and metaphysics for 35 years.  Author of two books on consciousness and astrology – both finalists in the Ashton Wylie Mind/Body/Spirit book awards, she is committed to joining with others in ‘spreading the word’ in these waking times. Please join us.   Her blog

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