For over twenty years, I had read Paul Brunton’s books over and over again. I enjoyed contemplating his works and achieved many insights through his synthesis of eastern and western spirituality. With respect to PB’s achievements in the spiritual world, I regularly used him as a guide to assist me along the quest until I met my own teacher. Therefore, with reluctance I write this article. Some people may misconstrue this criticism and claim it stems from hatred or jealousy. But nothing could be farther than the truth.
A few things need to be pointed out, so that fellow questers can see through the dark misconceptions in order to continue safely on their path. Since PB’s work (over the last century) has sunk into the collective-consciousness of our world; a few bad seeds need to be uprooted. As there has been a drastic increase in mental illness over the last ten years such as Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and even Schizophrenia this topic needs to be addressed and its antidotes placed in the hands of practitioners, health-care providers and psychologists etc.
“If the voices which he hears are audible in the same way that one hears the voices of people through the ears, it is merely psychic and undesirable. If, however, it is a very strong mental impression and also very clear, then it is the mystic phenomenon known as the “Interior Word” which is on a truly spiritual plane and therefore is desirable.” – Paul Brunton
This is quite a dubious para. It got me in trouble in the past and I believe others can easily be misled when hearing this. Unless it is clearly pointed out, this type of belief can result in spiritual ruin. It is important to note that the Buddhist doctrine has never said to follow your mind, sense impressions, or intuition. Futher, it is very important to note that any voice, whether audible or mental, can deceive you. These mental impressions mostly derive from a false source.
The Buddha said, “Be wary of trusting your own mind, for it is deceptive. Be wary of situations that may incite lust, for those will lead to disaster. Once you have attained arhatship, you can trust your own mind.” — The Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters
It is understandable that most westerners have an aversion to following a guru or a master. We have the certain pride that we can walk this path on our own. However, since the subconscious mind is so entrenched in negative karma and emotional obscurations it is good advice to follow someone who is ahead of us on our meditational path.
Just as an Arhat can trust his own mind, a Bodhisattva on the 8th bhumi can truly discriminate what comes from ordinary mind or wisdom mind. He can now clearly see what comes from a demon or master. Since the faulty discriminating mind has come to an end for the Bodhisattva, this enlightening being can see what is real and what is not.
“Mahamati, at the eighth stage the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, Sravakas, and Pratyekabuddhas cease cherishing discriminative ideas that arise from the Citta, Mana and Manovijnana.” — The Lankavatara sutra
We all wish to be guided by an internal master so that we may advance on the quest without having to do much work. It would be nice to have a shortcut and not have to put much effort in traveling to see a lama or all the expenses that it entails.
However, if we sat at the feet of an enlightened master, faced much hardship and honestly let down our guard an authentic samadhi would develop. It will be more than a glimpse (that comes and goes), as it would bring us to a level of permanent peace. Once this way of abiding is realized, then this stable state of being is priority. Thereafter, any elevated thoughts, intuitions or messages that arise in the mind pales in comparison.
The surest way to check if we have gone astray is to understand our ethical motivation. As soon as we have a worldly agenda seeking selfish ends, then we need to immediately recognize our wrong intention. We would be fortunate if we became properly instructed to go beyond the eight worldly dharmas or mundane concerns. Then we are less likely to grasp over mystical messages that cause us to become grandiose or inflated.
The Eight Worldly Dharmas (to avoid) are:
- the hope for PLEASURE and fear of PAIN
- the hope for FAME and fear of INSIGNIFICANCE
- the hope for PRAISE and fear of BLAME
- the hope for GAIN and fear of LOSS
Fault of intuition:
One of the things that I took seriously was being a good student and following instructions perfectly. In PB’s paras, he states repeatedly to obey your intuition. I figured that is what I must strictly adhere to in order to succeed. For example:
“The intellect ought to work only as a servant, obeying intuition’s orders in practical life or filling in details for intuition’s discoveries in the truth-seeking quest.” – Paul Brunton
One must take into account that there are many planetary forces, nagas, and king-like spirits that act like authority figures. And like a military general they are often in a disposition of shouting orders…wanting you to obey their command. It is a simple fact that, when you deepen your meditation you become quite adept at hearing your own thoughts.
How would anyone know what the source is?
Furthermore, we all want to become the favored and chosen practitioner. We all want to be enlightened as soon as possible. And at a desperate time we would obey any faint intution to get it. Unfortunately, this is not the proper way to go about it.
Just like the story of the monk on solitary retreat. He heard a mental voice tell him to throw his bell against the wall in order to see a fantastic miracle. He did so only to shatter and break his precious dharma instrument. In the end, all the Buddhas want you to do is practice the six perfections and ultimately achieve non-action. One really needs discriminating wisdom, proper scriptures, and an enlightened master to keep us safely on track.
Proper use of Intuition:
A few circumstances where right intuition can be followed:
- Pertaining to the physical body
- Pertaining to interpersonal relationships
- Pertaining to travel
The following examples are correct ways to utilize your intuition which have no fault accompanying it:
First, when you are practicing yoga or exercising it is only beneficial to recognize the warning signs of pain and stop what you are doing. Women seem to have an easier time understanding this. Nonetheless, anyone can balance their intellect with their feeling and increase their level of skill through bi0feedback. Because of the reference point of pain and pleasure it can be mastered rather easily.
Second, when you are in relationship with another person (or someone you just met) and you feel a negative warning or a “red flag” comes up…it would be wise to follow your intuition and avoid this individual.
Third, when you are about to travel someplace and have a bad “gut” feeling. It is beneficial to follow that feeling and avoid getting in the car with someone. The negative warning sign may save your life.
The Lankavatara Sutra:
To do some more accurate research in this direction you can read this wonderful sutra:
“The first seven of the Bodhisattva stages were in the realm of mind and the eighth, while transcending mind, was still in touch with it; but in the ninth stage of Transcendental Intelligence (Sadhumati), by reason of his perfect intelligence and insight into the imagelessness of Divine Mind which he had attained by self-realization of Noble Wisdom, he is in the realm of Tathagatahood.
Gradually the Bodhisattva will realize his Tathagata-nature and the possession of all its powers and psychic faculties, self-mastery, loving compassion, and skillful means, and by means of them will enter into all the Buddha-lands.” — The Lankavatara sutra
Click here to read the Lankavatara sutra.
Click here to download this version of The Lankavatara Sutra.