Sunday, November 13, 2005

Paul Brunton - A realised person or a fake?

This Blog is established to start a discussion of Jeffrey Masson's book, 'My Father's Guru' which was critical of Paul Brunton. Jeffrey Masson knew Paul Brunton as a young person and as a young man and can speak with authority about him and the Hindu culture.

12 Comments:

Blogger David said...

Dar David:



I read the book when it first came out.



I’ve also had the opportunity to speak about it at length with the author’s father, and with many other people who knew Paul Brunton through the same years – including the best friends of the Massons.



No one I have spoken with has negative or compromising memories of PB. In fact, folks who knew him quite vehemently rebut the image of PB created in the book. No one I know would consider it an “insider’s” account. The insiders I know actually wonder how Jeffrey could possibly have formed such an image of a man so adamantly opposed to being treated as or even thought of as a guru.



We also have accumulated, through the years, a file of clippings and testimonials from people who seriously object to the book.



For my own part, the image of Paul Brunton in My Father’s Guru does not even remotely resemble the Paul Brunton I had the extreme good fortune of knowing. And the image remembered by all the other folks I’ve met through the years is much more like my own.



Paul Cash

Director

Larson Publications







<<-----Original Message-----
From: David Falvey [mailto: action.advocacy@snet.net ]
Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2005 9:01 PM
To: larson@lightlink.com
Subject: Paul Brunton


Hello: I understand that you represent the Paul Brunton Foundation and I
have read Paul Brunton's book, 'A Search in Secret India' and I have
been reading his book, 'The Wisdom of the Overself'. I just finished
reading a book entitled, 'My Father's Guru: A Journey through
spirituality and dissilusion' by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. This book is
an insiders account of Paul Brunton. If you have read this book, would
you comment on it to me? The book is a serious indictment of Paul
Brunton. Has anyone offered a rebuttal to this book? Where can I find
that rebuttal? Thank you for your anticipated response to this email.
Dave Falvey, 258 Route 12, Groton , CT 06340 ; tele (860) 449-1510. email:
action.advocacy@snet.net >>

6:42 PM  
Blogger David said...

Dear David:

We've been having some problems with outgoing mail on the larson@lightlink.com acccount, so I'm double-sending this note that went out to you yesterday.

I also would be happy to respond as well as I can to any specific questions you have about specific points in the book. A number of people have addressed a variety of things through the years that they saw differently and/or object to, and I can pass along what they've told me.

Paul







>>Dear David:

I read the book when it first came out.

I’ve also had the opportunity to speak about it at length with the author’s father, and with many other people who knew Paul Brunton through the same years – including the best friends of the Massons.

No one I have spoken with has negative or compromising memories of PB. In fact, folks who knew him quite vehemently rebut the image of PB created in the book. No one I know would consider it an “insider’s” account. The insiders I know actually wonder how Jeffrey could possibly have formed such an image of a man so adamantly opposed to being treated as or even thought of as a guru.

We also have accumulated, through the years, a file of clippings and testimonials from people who seriously object to the book.

For my own part, the image of Paul Brunton in My Father’s Guru does not even remotely resemble the Paul Brunton I had the extreme good fortune of knowing. And the image remembered by all the other folks I’ve met through the years is much more like my own.

Paul Cash

Director

Larson Publications>>







<<-----Original Message-----
From: David Falvey [mailto: action.advocacy@snet.net ]
Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2005 9:01 PM
To: larson@lightlink.com
Subject: Paul Brunton


Hello: I understand that you represent the Paul Brunton Foundation and I have read Paul Brunton's book, 'A Search in Secret India' and I have
been reading his book, 'The Wisdom of the Overself'. I just finished
reading a book entitled, 'My Father's Guru: A Journey through
spirituality and dissilusion' by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. This book is
an insiders account of Paul Brunton. If you have read this book, would
you comment on it to me? The book is a serious indictment of Paul
Brunton. Has anyone offered a rebuttal to this book? Where can I find
that rebuttal? Thank you for your anticipated response to this email.
Dave Falvey, 258 Route 12, Groton , CT 06340 ; tele (860) 449-1510. email:
action.advocacy@snet.net >>

6:48 PM  
Blogger David said...

Dear David:

We've been having some problems with outgoing mail on the larson@lightlink.com acccount, so I'm double-sending this note that went out to you yesterday.

I also would be happy to respond as well as I can to any specific questions you have about specific points in the book. A number of people have addressed a variety of things through the years that they saw differently and/or object to, and I can pass along what they've told me.

Paul







>>Dear David:

I read the book when it first came out.

I’ve also had the opportunity to speak about it at length with the author’s father, and with many other people who knew Paul Brunton through the same years – including the best friends of the Massons.

No one I have spoken with has negative or compromising memories of PB. In fact, folks who knew him quite vehemently rebut the image of PB created in the book. No one I know would consider it an “insider’s” account. The insiders I know actually wonder how Jeffrey could possibly have formed such an image of a man so adamantly opposed to being treated as or even thought of as a guru.

We also have accumulated, through the years, a file of clippings and testimonials from people who seriously object to the book.

For my own part, the image of Paul Brunton in My Father’s Guru does not even remotely resemble the Paul Brunton I had the extreme good fortune of knowing. And the image remembered by all the other folks I’ve met through the years is much more like my own.

Paul Cash

Director

Larson Publications>>







<<-----Original Message-----
From: David Falvey [mailto: action.advocacy@snet.net ]
Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2005 9:01 PM
To: larson@lightlink.com
Subject: Paul Brunton


Hello: I understand that you represent the Paul Brunton Foundation and I have read Paul Brunton's book, 'A Search in Secret India' and I have
been reading his book, 'The Wisdom of the Overself'. I just finished
reading a book entitled, 'My Father's Guru: A Journey through
spirituality and dissilusion' by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. This book is
an insiders account of Paul Brunton. If you have read this book, would
you comment on it to me? The book is a serious indictment of Paul
Brunton. Has anyone offered a rebuttal to this book? Where can I find
that rebuttal? Thank you for your anticipated response to this email.
Dave Falvey, 258 Route 12, Groton , CT 06340 ; tele (860) 449-1510. email:
action.advocacy@snet.net >>

6:48 PM  
Blogger David said...

Hi, Dave:

I've been out of the office a lot these past few weeks, and will be for another two or three. So it will be easier for me to continue this conversation on this account, my private email account, rather than the larson@lightlink.com office account..

See below for responses on specific threads in your most recent email:

In a message dated 9/12/2005 10:03:58 AM Eastern Standard Time, larson@lightlink.com writes:



-----Original Message-----
From: David Falvey [mailto:action.advocacy@snet.net]
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2005 8:04 PM
To: larson@lightlink.com
Subject: Paul Brunton vs. Jeffrey Masson


Hello Paul:
Thank you so much for writing. I will review the book and compose a list
of the criticisms presented and would appreciate your position. I first
heard of Paul Brunton's works because a Hindu friend told me about his
works and he told me that Paul Brunton was probably a 'realized person'
which I understand is an accomplishment. I read his first book, A Search
in Secret India, and I was very impressed with this book and planned to
read it a second time but I lent it to my friend.However, having read
Masson's book, the serious question presents itself: 'Is reading the
works of Paul Brunton a waste of time?' I will prepare an outline of the
major points of Masson's book and would respectfully request help in
addressing those points.


That seems like a very good idea. I'm happy to tell you what I know, if you'll be patient with me timewise. Often traffic gets a bit thick here, and I can't always get back on emails as quickly as I'd like.



I am trying to understand Hinduism and Buddhism
and I do not want to jump to conclusions. I went to a service conducted
at an ashram in Peaboby, MA and I found it interesting. I thought that
Brunton's works might explain Hinduism and/or Buddhism from the
perspective of an intelligent westerner which would be very helpful.


PB often told people that Hinduism and Buddhism together form a more complete teaching than either does alone. If I'm able to represent his thoughts in that regard adequately, you'll probably find them quite helpful.


But
if that person has a base-line of serious faults in his character, then
it is hard to take his work seriously and it becomes impossible for
someone like myself to divine what is 'true' and/or 'false' in his
works.


This is an excellent point. I fully support you in taking that intelligent position.

Fortunately, PB always stressed the importance of character development, and his was a fine (and challenging!) model for those of us who actually knew him.


I have read the autobiography of Ghandi and in his book, he makes
serious mention of Tolstoy's, 'The Kingdom of God is Within You' and I
knew from other readings that Ghandi even developed ,'Tolstoy Farms' in
India. I, therefore, read the book and as a result, I received a whole
new perspective on Chrisitanity. Jeffrey Masson's book at this point
throws into question the validity of publishing the works of Brunton.
But since I practice law, my training is to always obtain and listen to
contrary testimony or arguments.


good


One of the standard tactics of a
snakeoil salesman is to wrap their elixir in the bottle of truth. For
example, I understand that it is very correct to say that sharks do not
get cancer. Therefore, if you take fin of a shark and ground it into
powder it will prevent you from having cancer. You construct an
agrument: 1) Sharks do not have cancer 2) Eating a shark fin will
prevent you from having cancer because the agents or chemicals in the
shark fin have a natural ability to suppress cancer. 3) therefore, buy
my shark fin for your soup and pay the cashier $5,000.00 on your way
out.


One really can't be too careful with all the snake oil being purveyed these days, even by folks who mean well.


Obviously, I don't have the advantage of every having talked with
Paul Brunton nor do I have the disadvantage of having known hiim. Is
there any other book devoted to Paul Brunton or did he write his
autobiography?


Nothing I consider a genuine biography.

His son wrote a book that he called "Paul Brunton: A Personal View," as he knew very well that he couldn't offer more than that. It tends to be more of a hagiography than a biography, but a number of readers have enjoyed it through the years.

There is also some info in one volume in the Notebooks, volume 8, titled Reflections on My Life and Writings. But PB didn't write much about himself.


I'll compose my outline and forward it to you. DAVE Falvey


I look forward to being of service if I can.

Paul Cash

6:49 PM  
Blogger David said...

In a message dated 10/30/2005 6:53:03 PM Eastern Standard Time, action.advocacy@snet.net writes:

Hello Paul Cash:


Hi, Dave


Sorry that it has taken me so long to write a list of the points which
Jeffrey Masson writes about Paul Brunton. I am dashing off one point
rather then try to achieve a definitive list of points or issues. I am
trying to include in this discussion a very intelligent and wise
individual who really understands and appreciates the Hindu culture far
better than I will ever be able to appreciate it. His name is Gopal.Sarma; he just lent me the book, "Ramana Maharshi and the Path of
Self-Knowledge' by Arthur Osborne.

First, Jeffrey Masson accused Paul Brunton of not being a 'doctor'. Paul
Brunton writes his books as 'Dr. Paul Brunton' but Jeffrey maintains
that he was not a doctor. Jeffrey said in his book that he researched
whether Paul Brunton was a doctor and could find no institutional
evidence for this claim. What is your reaction and the reaction of
others to this accusation?


There are two levels of response to this issue. Maybe three, actually.

First, PB did get a degree, of which we have a copy here. Hence there is no dishonesty on PB's part in using the credential. It was granted through a process that was a bit atypical even for its time, but nonetheless bona fide.

Masson was not able to track any records, because he checked with Roosevelt University. PB's degree was from Roosevelt College, which no longer exists.

PB's degree was atypical because the college gave him credit for his work in the field and only required him to write a dissertation. PB engaged their requirements sincerely and did all that was asked of him diligently and in good faith. This dissertation eventually was published as Indian Philosophy and Modern Culture.

Second, it is worth addressing why we (at least some of us) think he sought the degree.

At that time in the West, the subjects PB wrote about were widely considered far out and suspect, and people expressing them were often taken as being a bit short on brains or practicality. PB felt that having a Ph.D would give more credence in western readers minds to the ideas he was expressing than they would get from a writer without such a credential.

He also was often mingling in what Joscelyn Godwin called "the most snob-ridden world imaginable." There, too, the ideas he took a mission to espouse would receive more credence from someone with a Ph.D than from someone of no rank as nobility, no military rank, no academic distinction, etc. Adding the Ph.D after his name was another way to serve the ideas effectively in the culture of that time.

The fact remains in the end, though, whether qualified people find him deserving of the credential. And there is of course overwhelming evidence that informed and educated people did at the time and do today.

Here is a sampling of what some prestigious reviewers have to say about him. Isn't it a bit naive to think so many people of this caliber could be fooled?



" . . sensible and compelling. His work can stand beside that of such East-West bridges as Merton, Huxley, Suzuki, Watts , and Radhakrishnan. It should appeal to anyone concerned personally and academically with issues of spirituality."

--Choice (the top college/university library review magazine)



"The meticulousness of his reading and interviewing, as well as his personal, inward application of that knowledge, reveals a genius for balance. - - San Francisco Chronicle



"Any serious man or woman in search of spiritual ideas will find a surprising challenge and an authentic source of inspiration and intellectual nourishment in the writings of Paul Brunton."

--Jacob Needleman (author and philosopher)



"Paul Brunton was a great original and got to a place of personal evolution that illumines the pathways of a future humanity." --Jean Houston



"Paul Brunton's Notebooks are a veritable treasure-trove of philosophic-spiritual wisdom." --Elisabeth Kubler-Ross



"Vigorous, clear-minded and independent . . . a synthesis of Eastern mysticism and Western rationality. . . A rich volume." (volume 1, Perspectives) --Library Journal



"With the possible exception of Alan Watts, Dr. Paul Brunton has probably been the most influential exponent of Eastern philosophy and systems of self-realization in this century. . . . significant commentaries on nearly every conceivable aspect of the spiritual quest . . . unreservedly recommended as the final, eloquent summing up by one of the West's most perceptive thinkers and deepest students of the Ancient Wisdom."

--The American Theosophist



"His work should therefore help readers assess the present deluge of books in New Age philosophy. . . the work as a whole is a rich vein of wisdom to be mined by the interested and the spiritually concerned." -Library Journal (on volume 11)



" . . . a great gift to us Westerners who are seeking the spiritual."

--Charles T. Tart



"It is to the likes of Brunton, Vivekananda, and A.E. Burt that I bow in gratitude for early initiations."

--Stephen Levine



"The notebooks of Paul Brunton represent the acme of wisdom on the nature of human spirituality. Every serious student of this subject will profit enormously by becoming acquainted with Brunton's seminal work." --Kenneth Ring



"A person of rare intelligence. . . thoroughly alive, and whole in the most significant, 'holy' sense of the word." --Yoga Journal



". . . attuned to today's holistic health movement. Healing of the self is the guiding principle behind these writings."

--Publishers Weekly



"This is a work (vol. 13) both brilliant and profound. For the student of mysticism, metaphysics and/or spiritual disciplines, there are enough important ideas and gems of wisdom to provide food for thought for at least one lifetime.

--Robert Masters, Ph.D., The Foundation of Mind Research.



"Mr. Brunton's writings are most sensitive, deep, and original. One has to admire his most positive attitude toward life, nature, beauty, and his respect for both cultures, east and west, their ways of life, religions, arts, and search for truth and goodness. A very inspirational reading."

--Karel Husa



"Nowhere else will you find such a profound synthesis of East-West philosophic mysticism stripped of all the usual obscurity and extravagances. Both the modern intellect and the weary heart will find unlimited inspiration, wisdom, and guidance for action in these notebooks."

-- Victor Mansfield, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Colgate University



"Paul Brunton was surely one of the finest mystical flowers to grow on the wasteland of our secular civilization. What he has to say is important to us all."

--Georg Feuerstein


Interestingly, as Ph.Ds became more common in the 70s, PB chose to stop using it and told his pubishers to simply use Paul Brunton without the Ph.D after it. My sense is that the reputation he had earned was solid enough that he did not have to prove anything, and that using the Ph.D letters no longer had the desired effect.






Second, I would like to quote from Masson's book, page 160. He wrote the
following:

'The more I learned about India, the more I realized how little PB (Paul
Brunton) actually knew. This began to enrage me. I felt I had been taken
in, duped. It was all a trick. PB knew no Sanskrit, knew no texts,
invented things, lied, cheated, and stole, intellectually speaking. How
could I have been so stupid? In spirit, PB might have been like the
Indian sages he idolized. His ideas may have been similar to theirs. But
he did not really represent any tradition, any body of knowledge, any
other person-in fact, anything at all. He was just a hodgepodge of
misread and misunderstood ideas from an ancient culture he did not know
or understand. In this sense he was a phony, a charlatan, a mountebank,
an impostor, a quack. I couldn't find enought words to describe my
disappointment.'


This is simply incorrect. Dozens of highly respected persons speak otherwise, per list above. Check the introductions to his early books, for example, by various luminaries of the time: maharajas, Francis Younghusband, Annie Besant, etc. Also note that V.S. Iyer took PB to Europe for the World Congress and to meet C.G. Jung; that Iyer and a spectrum of other esteemed teachers worked with PB as a man destined to bring the higher teachings to the west.

Re the Sanskrit point, Georg Feurstein, a highly respected Sanskrit scholar, wrote that PB "did not present himself as a Sanskrit scholar. Brunton and his work stood for what was the spirit of the ancient Indian tradition. He was above all a practitioner of the sort of ideas that Masson, during his career as a Sanskritist, merely speculated about. . . . Brunton was perfectly faithful to the highest expression of Indian spirituality, while at the same time develping a teaching that was based on the ancient wisdom . . ."




Regarding Paul Brunton's claim that he was a 'doctor', at page 163,
Jeffrey Masson writes:

'I recently called Roosevelt University and spoke to the chair of
the department of philosophy, as well as to the office of the president.
Perhaps, I thought to myself, I have been doing PB an injustice. After
all, many people have degrees who have done little or no scholarship.
Maybe PB had admirers in the university who appreciated the fact, which
I could not deny, that be brought Indian philospny to the attention of
Western Eurpoe and the United States. It was sad. Nobody had heard of
hi. There was nothing about a Paul Brunton in any file.'

Let's just start with one question: Was Paul Brunton a 'doctor'? If he
wasn't a doctor and held himself out to be a doctor, this would appear
to be a serious flaw in his character. Why claim an achievement which
you haven't achieved? It's not important to me whether or not he was a
'doctor' but the issue of making such a false claim would tend to be
significant as to the seriousness of the individual. Therefore, when
someone starts to read, 'The Wisdom of the Overself', then since this
work is so 'dense' compared with 'A Search in Secret India', that a
cloud of suspicion hangs over the writing and the scathing criticism of
Jeffrey Masson who knew Paul Brunton as a child and as an adult would
prevent the reading of this book as a meaningful exercise.

Thank you so much for your anticipated response.
Dave Falvey

PS: By way of note, just today I started reading the book by Arthur
Osborne as I mentioned, "Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge'
and at page11-13, is a quote from Paul Brunton's book, 'In Search of
Secret India' where a conversation is presented between Paul Brunton and
Sri Ramana.

Did you want to say something about that?

Anyway, I hope this helps you find your way back into what is worthwhile in PB's writings.

Paul

6:51 PM  
Blogger David said...

In a message dated 11/2/2005 2:54:55 PM Eastern Standard Time, action.advocacy@snet.net writes:

Paul:
Thanks so much for your reply. Did you ever present to Jeffrey
Masson your information and findings regarding the PhD and what has been
his reaction?
Is there anyway to engage Jeffrey Masson in this discussion?
What about Jeffrey's father, Jacques Masson?
Is there a biography of Paul Brunton? I think Paul Brunton had a
son. Has the son or wife witten or published anything?
There are more points for discussion on Paul Brunton, to be
sure, but I deeply appreciate your taking the time to respond in such a
detailed manner to my questions. Perhaps from this discussion could come
some type of work which would have value to your foundation.

Dave Falvey


Hi, Dave:

Through the years, the amount of time I've had for doing work related to PB's writings has been more limited than I'd like. So it always means choosing what seems to be the most productive/constructive thing to do at the moment.

Several people who know Jeffrey have advised me that talking with him would very likely not be constructive, and I haven't had any innner sense or guidance to the contrary; so I've never tried to set up a meeting with him.

I did have the chance to meet with his father, though, during a trip that brought me near where he lived. The memories Jacques shared with me of situations that Jeffrey described in the book were very different from Jeffrey's. He said, for just one example, that he never discussed sex with PB at all, let alone the specific incident of whether it would be okay to just fondle the maid or nanny or whoever she was.

When I asked him why he never asked PB about sex, he said said that he knew very well PB would tell him to restrain himself and would not support his extracurricular sexual interests or fantasies.

Likewise with food. He said the dietary extremes he experimented with were his own idea, as he desperately wanted to get a mystical experience and thought/hoped that extreme methods would bring that about more quickly. He said that PB did not support his thinking in that area and instead advised balance, but he didn't believe PB.

Perhaps most importantly for some people, I asked Jacques about money -- specifically how much he gave PB through the years. Jacques (who was quite wealthy) said he was "always" trying to give PB money, as he felt that a man of PB's stature should have a much more comfortable life than PB chose to live. But PB would not accept, or only very rarely would accept, and then only as a loan.

I asked him if PB repaid the loans and he said yes, even though he (Jacques) did his best to refuse to accept the repayments. He said that if PB was short at all in repaying him through their long relationship, it surely was well under $1000 if any at all. My impression was that for Jacques, $1000 was less than $10 is for me by way of stopgap loans for friends.

Without going into a lot of detail here, it became clear that there was a lot of "stuff" between father and son going on as part of the background of the impressions Jeffrey formed of PB's relationship to the Masson family.

Re your other question, yes, PB had one son, Kenneth Thurston Hurst. Kenneth knew that there was much more that he did not know about his father than that he did, so the "biography" he wrote was offered as Paul Brunton: A Personal View.

It's not a biography in the strict sense, but more of a hagiography. It does have quite a few charming stories in it.

It's available on the larsonpublications.org website, and in some stores.

hope this helps,

Paul

6:51 PM  
Blogger David said...

I really don't have more to stay than is in my book. I grew up with PB and
I give my version of events. Of course others will see it differently,
including my father, although he never accused me of misleading readers with
the facts. The degree, I understand, is not a true Ph.D., but something
given by a correspondence course, much like those offered daily on the net.
P.B. Told me he had had a Ph.D. From Roosevelt University in Chicago. I
checked with them, and they had not given one, even though they are, in
fact, a correspondence school. But you will have to make up your own mind.
Best, Jeff Masson

Jeffrey Masson, Ph.D.
P.O. Box 25930, St. Heliers
Auckland, New Zealand
Home Address: 6 Karaka Bay, (End of Peacock St.), Glendowie
Phone: 6495752221
Fax: 6495752402
Cell: 64275752221

6:52 PM  
Blogger David said...

Sure, I am happy to have a brief correspondence with whoever wishes to
discuss P.B. As you must realize, I wrote my book many years ago, and have
had no further correspondence with anyone concerning him, so I might not be
able to prove a very useful correspondent, but I am happy to try. And of
course I would be delighted to see a Ph.D. Certificate. I remember asking
P.B. Himself about it, and he was very evasive. Should it be from an
accredited university, I would be happy to emend my comment that he did not
have one. As for Auckland, yes indeed, it is ironic. I cannot remember when
I learned that PB lived in NZ, but evidently he lived not far from where we
live, in fact, just a mere five minute drive! I keep hoping I will run into
somebody who knew him, but have not so far. Best, Jeff Masson

Jeffrey Masson, Ph.D.
P.O. Box 25930, St. Heliers
Auckland, New Zealand
Home Address: 6 Karaka Bay, (End of Peacock St.), Glendowie
Phone: 6495752221
Fax: 6495752402
Cell: 64275752221

6:53 PM  
Blogger David said...

Dave:



I’m impressed with your determination to get to the truth about things. That character trait should serve you well in your pursuit of a deeper understanding of the subtle teachings.



It’s unlikely, though, that you or I, alone or together, will convince “the world” (for lack of a better term), once and for all, of the true value of anything. We complex individuals-in-the-making who comprise what many of us loosely call “the world” tend to judge things by how they serve or thwart our needs and purposes of the moment, of the stage of life we’re in, or something similarly self-centric (small “s”). We rarely, if ever (a philosophic point worthy of discussion in itself), find ourselves in a position to assess them at their actual merit.



Through more than forty years of exploring, investigating, and trying to apply sincerely what I’ve learned from spiritual teachings and teachers, my opinions of many things have changed as I have changed. PB’s work is only one approach among many others that have been of value to me at one stage or another. You may be surprised to hear that when I first read one of PB’s early books, I was not at all impressed with him, his writing style, or his ideas. Years passed before I took a second look.



At one point I even began to study Sanskrit. While I may be wrong about this, and it’s possible that the teacher I studied with simply wasn’t a good teacher, I soon concluded that adding more words to my intellectual repertoire would not deepen my experience of the subtleties of my soul or my ability to articulate them, but was in fact, for me, another diversion. My longing was for something deeper than words, and I could almost taste it.



Through these years, many different teachings and teachers have been helpful to me. I’ve come to think of spiritual teachings and teachers somewhat like medicines and healers.



We don’t expect a medicine, for example, to be valuable in all doses for all people at all times regardless of their state of illness or health. We do want our healers, though, to be able to get a good sense of what medicine (if any) is likely to be good for a specific person at a specific time.



I can only speak for myself, and as myself—not as an impartial “authority” of any kind, especially not as an “institutional ego” rising to defend Paul Brunton at the drop of a hat against any who challenge his character or wisdom for whatever reason.



I responded to your first email because reading Paul Brunton’s writings (particularly his later writings) in depth has proven very worthwhile to me. So naturally I like to think that a similar undertaking can be worthwhile to others.



It does annoy me that when some people who have been thrilled by their reading of PB’s work discover My Father’s Guru, they go through a double crisis of intense and often damaging doubt—they doubt not only the merit of a man whom I admire greatly, but their own ability to assess what they read. For my own part, I feel that the latter is much more damaging, as it is happening to a person who is alive.



So I go a certain distance to encourage them to give PB the benefit of the doubt and look more deeply. I’m not trying to defend PB (as if I could or as if he needs it); I’m trying to help the person having the crisis.



I send out some review excerpts, like I sent you, to show that a variety of intelligent people do in fact consider PB's work of high merit, and I try to express a few things that may be helpful for that person.



In your case, I feel very deeply about two things.



First, I’m concerned that I might do you yet a further disservice if I fail to “defend” PB in the lawyerly way you want to see this process go—and that would be a failure on my part rather than say anything meaningful about PB’s work itself.



Second, I don’t think the process you’re talking about will produce any worthwhile “medicine.” You’ll get my opinions and Jeff’s opinions, and those opinions will be based on memories distorted by our egos in ways that support the self-images we are invested in maintaining and/or projecting right now. They won’t put you in touch with your soul and your own discriminating awareness on this issue, which is the much deeper issue to address here.



I assess the merit of teachers and writers in this area by engaging their ideas myself, rather than sitting in pontifical judgement on their personalities or polling what others possibly less qualified than them say about them. In this specific case, seeing your intelligence and sincerity, I especially think it’s better to suggest that you turn to some of the writings for yourself than subject me and Jeff to a “trial” of PB in electronic virtual reality.



Even in a real trial, with the benefit of eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, body language, phrasing, etc., it’s often difficult to get a sense of how much truth is in a person’s words. The same words can easily be read by different people as meaning entirely different things, and can all be different than what the person actually is trying to say. The god of words is notoriously playful with us and seems to take great delight in concealing or distorting at least as much as he/she reveals. And that seems to me particularly true in e-mails, for some reason.



So I humbly suggest that you take a copy of the first volume in PB’s posthumously published notebooks –the one called “Perspectives” –and read wherever your inner sense takes you. If now and then it touches your heart or illumines your mind, or clarifies a point you've been muddled about, then it’s worthwhile for you to read Paul Brunton. If that doesn’t happen, then let it be and look for someone or some writings that do.



In closing, just one more thing that may strike an encouraging chord with you or Gopil Sarma. I forgot to mention that the elder Shankaracharyya of Kamakoti / Kanchipuram who passed on some years back (the one mentioned in A Search in Secret India) requested two full sets of PB’s notebooks from us and made them required reading for the students and disciples gathered around him there. The current Shankara carries on that practice.



I wish you well,



Paul



In a message dated 11/10/2005 11:11:36 PM Eastern Standard Time, action.advocacy@snet.net writes:

Jeffrey Masson wrote:

>Sure, I am happy to have a brief correspondence with whoever wishes to
>discuss P.B. As you must realize, I wrote my book many years ago, and have
>had no further correspondence with anyone concerning him, so I might not be
>able to prove a very useful correspondent, but I am happy to try. And of
>course I would be delighted to see a Ph.D. Certificate. I remember asking
>P.B. Himself about it, and he was very evasive. Should it be from an
>accredited university, I would be happy to emend my comment that he did not
>have one. As for Auckland, yes indeed, it is ironic. I cannot remember when
>I learned that PB lived in NZ, but evidently he lived not far from where we
>live, in fact, just a mere five minute drive! I keep hoping I will run into
>somebody who knew him, but have not so far. Best, Jeff Masson
>
>Jeffrey Masson, Ph.D.
>P.O. Box 25930, St. Heliers
>Auckland, New Zealand
>Home Address: 6 Karaka Bay, (End of Peacock St.), Glendowie
>Phone: 6495752221
>Fax: 6495752402
>Cell: 64275752221
>
>
>
>
>Hello Jeff:
>
>Thanks so much for your willings to discuss Paul Brunton. Here's what I am proposing: I have sent a copy of this email to Gopil Sarma who is a retired electrical engineer and he is the one who founded a very impressive ashram in Peabody, Massachusetts. Perhaps you are familiar with it? It's absolutely magnificent. Also, Gopil was the instructor for Deepka Chopra, the national motivational speaker. Gopil, I understand from Raju Kavalla, is a Sanskrit scholar. Also, there's Paul Cash who is the head of the foundation or publications for Paul Brunton which is Larsen Publications, I believe. Paul claims he has the document regarding Paul Brunton's educational claims. I am a total novice who is trying to understand Hinduism and I am trying to decide if it is worth the time and effort to read the works of Paul Brunton.
>
>

I know from a young person who is attending college that his
instructor talked about Paul Brunton. And I have recommended that a
young person read Paul Brunton. However, that was before I read your book.

You should know that Gopil very graciously gave me a book to read
about Hinduism entitled, 'Ramana Maharshi and the Path of
Self-Knowledge' and in that book Arthur Osborne, the author, quotes Paul
Brunton twice. Osborne doesn't comment on Paul Brunton but it is driving
me intellectually crazy in trying to determine if reading Paul Brunton
is worth the time and effort. Based on your book, the answer is 'no'.
Gopil told me that he is acquainted with the writings of Paul Brunton
but that he ultimately dismisses him. Therefore, you and Gopil could be
in agreement and the quote by Osborne from Brunton's writings is merely
a reference but not an endorsement. But to quote someone, is to
'endorse' that person?

I told Raju Kavalla that people I have met who claimed to be merely
reincarnated from another time, Egyptian, usually had a 'screw loose'.
But to claim that they were reincarnated from another planet might
indicate that they had two 'screws loose'. On the other hand, most
Christian don't think that they believe in reincarnation but really
Christians believe in at least one re-incarnation and not multiple
reincarnations. When Christ comes for the Second Coming, the dead are
going to arise and that's why Christians bury their dead versus
cremating them, at least that was the tradition. I understand today
that Christians might sanction cremation. I'm not certain. Eastern
Christians do not sanction cremation but the Roman Catholics might
sanction it. I have no reference points to judge if the allegations of
Paul Brunton that he was reincarnated from another planet would be
accepted in mainstream Hinduism or considered an aberration.

If Ramana Maharshi was a 'holy man' or a 'saint', it is very
interesting that Osborne references Paul Brunton My goal would be to
bring people to the table or to the 'blog' who are very knowledgeable
like yourself in Hinduism and listen to their opinons as to why it is or
is not worth the time and effort to read the works of Paul Brunton.
Therefore, I am asking at this time for Raju to establish a 'blog' for
the discussion of Paul Brunton. As you can see in my copying of this
email, I have included Paul Cash who would be expected to defend Paul
Brunton and yourself who can be expected to be critical of him.

By trade I am an attorney and my mindset has been conditioned to
listening to the arguments of the plaintiff and defendant and then
asking the jury to vote.

Your willingness to enter into a discussion of Paul Brunton is
really of great significance because I can find no source other than
youself who is critical of him. If he is a 'charlatan, a montebank,
etc.' than he has to be so adjudged. On the other hand, if there is any
truth in what the 'snakeoil salesman' is selling, we have to recognize
the truth. I always contend that 'snakeoil salesman' wrap their sales
pitch in 'truth'. I believe that I am impartial in trying to understand
Hinduism and anything about Paul Brunton.

So again, I will ask Raju to establish a 'blog' to which reference
can be made and I will ask Paul Cash to participate in this discussion.
Your willingness to participate in a discussion shows to me someone who
is gracious and willing to listen to a contrary opinion and, therefore,
your criticism of Paul Brunton is deserving of great respect. In trying
to move the discussion of neophytes such as myself to the great level or
place, your discussions, I believe, will really advance the work of your
studies because there are obviously, millions upon millions of people in
the United State and the world who have never heard of Paul Brunton nor
of your analysis of him.

sincerely, Dave Falvey

PS: Raju: would you help us establish a 'blog' and Paul Cash and Gopil,
would you respond to this email and your willingness to participate in
the discussion. Thank you.

6:53 PM  
Blogger David said...

Hello: Raju has helped me establish a Blog for Paul Brunton. The address is: http://paulbrunton.blogspot.com/
Please air your views and responses here. Hopefully, this Blog will help many potential 'seekers' and readers of the works of Paul Brunton, Jeffrey Masson, and Paul Cash's foundation for Paul Brunton. Sincerely, Dave Falvey

7:24 PM  
Blogger Tiger Hopkins said...

O.K. I realize there is the strong feeling of being betrayed when the man tells you if you meditate on "What am I", and Bunton's Overself fails to materialize. Publishing a spiritual work to get ahead financially embodies Blavatsky's statement "To rule man, you must deceive him", when caught cheating at a seance. But it's not a deception of man, Helena, it's a deception of Mankind. I did Brunton's meditation exercise on and off for 40 years and was never priveleged to attain his "Overself". Has anyone out there had a revelation after practicing Brunton's meditation exercise? That I would like to hear.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Jeff Cox said...

Dear David,

I don't know if you are still interested in this topic. I see that it has been some time since anyone was active on it. I am a volunteer for the Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation. I am fairly new to the Board but met PB several times and have studied and practiced his teachings as best as I am able (with happy results). You might enjoy the website that I have been updating: paulbrunton.org. There you will find a couple of new links confirming PB's degree and his thesis which was published by two leading publishers in the UK and USA (Rider/Random House and Dutton). You can see on the degree the proper name of the McKinley-Roosevelt Graduate College and also read his thesis:

http://paulbrunton.org/images/degree-certificate.jpg
http://paulbrunton.org/misc-indian-philosophy-and-modern-culture.php

I add the following excerpts from the website:
Indian Philosophy and Modern Culture by Paul Brunton

Published in 1939 by E.P. Dutton & Co. in New York and also by Rider and Company in the United Kingdom, Indian Philosophy and Modern Culture was widely read and recognized, along with Brunton's other early books, as one of the first presentations of Eastern wisdom in Western terms. This book was his dissertation, required for his Ph.D. Paul Brunton received his Ph.D. from McKinley-Roosevelt Graduate College in 1938, as can be seen on the copy of his graduate certificate.

PB dedicated his thesis to V. Subrahmanya Iyer, one of India's great philosophers, who highly regarded PB's work.


Brunton was one of the first authors to subject Eastern doctrines to the methodology of science while also challenging science to look beyond its technology and into the true mysteries of life. He wanted to link science and mysticism, and generally integrate the accomplishments of Western Philosophy with the insights of Hinduism and Buddhism. The first result of this effort was his 1938 Ph.D. thesis (Indian Philosophy and Modern Culture), published by Rider and E. P. Dutton in 1939, followed by The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga, published in 1941, which addresses the issues of epistemology through the double lens of modern science and the reasoned enquiries of the ancient East. He then completed this project two years later with his metaphysical opus, The Wisdom of the Overself.
Best Wishes, Jeff Cox

4:29 PM  

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