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Brunton, Paul (1898-1981)


Paul Brunton was a British born journalist who later wrote important books dealing with philosophy and comparative religion. He also was a mystic. (see Mysticism)

He was educated at the Central Foundation School, London, and McKinley-Roosevelt College, Chicago, Illinois. As a boy he was extremely interested in Spiritualism. He developed mediumistic abilities himself, notably clairvoyance and clairaudience, and was able to verify the existence of psychic powers from first-hand experience. He later joined the Theosophical Society, but left after two years. He contacted other occult groups to compare their teachings. During this time Brunton became a close friend of Bikku Ananda Mettya (Allan Bennett), who initiated him into Buddhist meditation.

Brunton assisted Bennett with the publishing of The Buddhist Review. Brunton observed during their friendship that Bennett had developed a breath control technique that enabled him at times to alter the specific gravity of his body, so that when sitting in a yoga posture he was able to rise a foot or two in the air, and the float gently down to the floor again a short distance from the spot where he had originally sat. According to Brunton that around the time of Bennett's death Bennett had "sacrificed his body in order to extricate me from a dangerous position."

During Brunton's travels in India and Egypt he drew great attention to his famous book A Search in Secret India, 1934, which was followed by A Search in Secret Egypt, 1935. His other works included A Hermit in the Himalayas, The Quest of the Overself, 1937, The Inner Reality, 1959, The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga, The Secret Path, 1959. Brunton's initial concern was primarily with miracle-working holy men, but his interest broadened to include the deepest metaphysical aspects of yoga and mysticism. He was one of the first Europeans to draw attention to Sri Ramana Maharshi of Tiruvannamalai, South India, one of the greatest Hindu mystics of recent times.

Since the publication of A Search in Secret India Brunton's works have forcefully influenced the occult and spiritual revivals from the 1930s onwards. Incorporated into his works were both Eastern and Western ideas thus stimulating interest in yoga, meditation, and the teachings of gurus. In 1956, Brunton retired to Switzerland where he devoted himself almost exclusively to mediation until he died on July 27, 1981.

He left a series of notebooks containing some 7,000 pages on which he recorded his thoughts and insights on the spiritual life. These notes, which contain an exposition of the synthesis of Eastern mysticism and Western rational thought were published posthumously as The Notebooks of Paul Brunton; Perspectives (Lawson Publications, New York, 1984). A.G.H.


Source: 9, 228-229.