I think his most nondual book is the Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga , which he wrote under the tutelage of V. Subramaniya Iyer, an Advaita Teacher of the late 30's early 40's associated with the Ramakrishna Ashram during the period when they were translating and publishing the sacred Hindu texts for the West. It was Iyer who professed the teaching of Mentalism: the world that appears is a product and projection of the mind.
It is a particular reading of Advaitic epistemology. Sounds fancy, but it's that the world of appearance is a mirage or a dream projected forth from a deeper layer of the mind. Consciousness is the most commonly used word, sometimes emptiness, but some use Mind notably Huang Po. In nondualistic circles it's called mind with a capital "M. Earth life is but a dream, lived out in a dream physical body amid a dream environment. Dream experiences are only ideas; during sleep-dream man sees, hears, touches, tastes, and smells exactly as he does during waking-dream.
Hence waking is but materialized ideas, but still ideas. God's cosmic dream: all universal activities are but different ideas of God, divine ideation made material and thrown upon the screen of human consciousness. The cosmic illusion is impinged upon man's sense and seen from within by Mind through consciousness, sensation, and bodily organ.
There are not two — me plus world.
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Brunton's last published book was The Spiritual Crisis of Man dated This is right before the wave of Jiddu Krishnamurti and Zen teachings emerged into the public eye. I'm saying PB is a little dated. He had a different role to play. I started with the Wisdom's Goldenrod group in , just as I was graduating college.
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Very interesting stuff. Quite an intellectual group. Most of it was over my head. I was with Anthony for 15 years until he died in After Brunton had died in , Wisdom's Goldenrod community gained access to the voluminous personal notebooks he kept most of his life. These were edited, organized, and later published. These Notebooks were my teachers in the 's.
In I attended a retreat at Omega Institute with Eckhart Tolle on the chance recommendation of a friend. This got me interested in the emerging nondual teachers, and I switched paths. In I attended a retreat with Adyashanti and was fortunate enough to have received a direct transmission of pure awareness and emptiness, true nature.
Despite all this, I don't consider myself enlightened or at least not enlightened enough. It would be wonderful if everyone, everywhere, could slip so easily into the kingdom of heaven, and just as easily stay there forever. But alas!
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People require teaching, training, purifying, disciplining, and preparing, before they can do so. And the course needed is a lifetime's, the work needed much and varied. That is why the Long Path is needed. The "purification" which he is to seek through the Long Path is not the narrow limited and intolerant kind which too often is called by this name. It is not at all merely a harsh denial of the sexual instinct. It is a cleansing of consciousness, of his thought-life, his emotional life, and even of his bodily condition.
Its aim is to prepare his consciousness so that it can receive the truth without deflecting or warping or blocking it. Inevitably the most important work and always the most difficult work along this line will be the elimination of the ego's tyranny. When I first started on "the Path" there was a sense that I had to become worthy to be "a Quester" as we called it.
Being a pot-smoking artist hippie wasn't going to cut it. We had a regimen, no drugs or alcohol, meditate 45 minutes a day, become a vegetarian, give up rock music, listen to classical music, read spiritually-minded authors and books and become a good citizen, get a hair-cut and get a real job. These were never stated explicitly but there was a sense of group conformity, like this is what you had to do as guidelines for being worthy of the spiritual search.
Mostly this was achieved through devotion to a teacher. We did these things to please the guru, imagining these were his expectations which they weren't by-the-way.
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Also there is an inner guru, an inner feeling that said we were good and worthy because we read or meditated or helped an old lady across the street. This was part of the path, but also there were occasional transcendent experiences "glimpses," "revelations," "epiphanies," that became guideposts for me.
Islamic mystics called Sufis differentiate between glimpses, which they call "states," and permanent advances on the path, which they call "stations. There are three main stations along the path. The first is annihilation of the ego; the second is rebirth in the Overself; and the third is fully grown union with the Overself.
The Sufis assert that this final state can never be reached without the Grace of the Higher Power and that it is complete, lasting, and unchangeable. It's interesting how these three stations line up with the 3 enlightenments of Adyashanti, head, heart and will. The transition to the Short Path can take many different forms. One possible way is that you can run them both parallel like with the teacher Francis Bennett.
He was a Trappist Monk, but towards the end of his career, he would go off and practice self-inquiry for 3 years and then came to self-realization. Another point is the Long Path only works from the Short Path. On the Long Path you are basically at war with yourself.
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It is a situation which perpetuates separation and discontent. On the Short Path, negative characteristics drop away or are transmuted because you are not feeding them with attention. The most likely transition scenario is that there is no longer any energy or enthusiasm to continue the Long Path. You can't be an ascetic monk forever, life catches up with you. Interest fades. After all, the Long Path is one defeat after another. The transition to the Short Path is often heralded by a "big glimpse," sometimes brought on by life circumstances.
But for me, the transition was a resonance with certain teachings and took years to emerge and then show itself. As one woman at a retreat said, it was like hearing Jed McKenna calling to her over the Grand Canyon. The way to the goal does not lie through a cleansing of the ego alone: it lies also through a desertion of it. The first way is necessary only because it helps to make the second one possible.
If the Long Path begins and ends with ego, the Short Path begins with a degree turnaround, opens up a vista of the infinite Overself.
On the Long Path his actions follow, or try — however badly — to follow, the rules. They are imitative actions. But on the Short Path he becomes an individual, living from the inside out. One takes up the Long Path disciplines willfully and forcefully. Those tendencies that you revolt from are not resolved but lying dormant for the right circumstances to come around for them to manifest again.
Why are they still there? Because they still have life, they still have juice. Entry into the Short Path is a matter of maturity and timing.