Brunton, Paul (1898–1981)
British-born journalist who wrote important books on philosophy
and comparative religion. He was educated at Central
Foundation School, London, and McKinley-Roosevelt College,
Chicago, Illinois. Early in life he became interested in Spiritualism.
He developed mediumistic powers himself, notably
clairvoyance and clairaudience, and thus verified the existence
of psychic faculties from first-hand personal experience.
Later he joined the Theosophical Society, but left after two
years. He contacted various occult groups, comparing their
teachings, and became a close friend of Ananda Metteya (Allan
Bennett), who initiated Brunton into Buddhist meditation.
Brunton assisted Bennett to publish his journal the Buddhist
Review. According to Brunton, Bennett developed a breath
control that enabled him at times to alter the specific gravity
of his body, so that while sitting in a yoga posture he could rise
a foot or two into the air, and then float gently down to the floor
again a short distance from the spot where he first sat. Brunton
also stated that around the time of Bennett’s death, Bennett
had ‘‘sacrificed his body in an effort to extricate me from a dangerous
position.’’
Brunton traveled in India and Egypt, and attracted tremendous
interest with his famous book, A Search in Secret India
(1934). This was followed by A Search in Secret Egypt, (1935), A
Hermit in the Himalayas (1937), and The Quest of the Overself
(1937). Although Brunton was at first concerned primarily with
miracle-working holy men, he soon became attracted to the
deepest metaphysical aspects of yoga and mysticism and was
one of the first Europeans to draw attention to Sri Ramana Maharshi
of Tiruvannamalai, South India, one of the greatest
modern Hindu mystics.
Brunton’s books greatly influenced the occult revival and
growth of Eastern religion from the 1930s onward, stimulating
popular interest in yoga, meditation, and the teachings of
gurus. In 1956 he retired to Switzerland and devoted himself
to meditation. During these years he wrote The Inner Reality
(1959), The Hidden Teaching beyond Yoga (1959), and The Secret
Path (1959). His thoughts and insights on the spiritual life,
which he recorded in a series of notebooks numbering some
7,000 pages, were an exposition of the synthesis of Eastern
mysticism and Western rational thought. They were published
posthumously as The Notebooks of Paul Brunton Perspectives
(1984). Brunton died July 27, 1981, in Vevey, Switzerland.