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I-thought - Notebooks of Paul Brunton

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thought

Ithought
IsenseandIthought
1

Whatwecommonlythinkofasconstitutingthe"I"isanideawhichchangesfromyearto
year.Thisisthepersonal"I."Butwhatwefeelmostintimatelyasbeingalwayspresentin
allthesedifferentideasofthe"I,"thatis,thesenseofbeing,ofexistence,neverchanges
atall.Itisthiswhichisourtrueenduring"I."
2

Ifpastandfuturearenowonlyideas,thepresentmustbeidea,too.Sorunsthementalist
explanation.Butthiscanandshouldbecarriedstillfarther.Iftheexperiencerofpastand
futureis(becauseheispartofthem)nowanidea,thentheexperiencerofthepresent(and
inthepresent)mustbeidea,too.Asanythingelsethanidea,hewas(andis)onlya
supposition,whichisthesameassayingthattheegoisonlyanapparententityandhasno
morereality(orless)thananythoughthas.
3

Everythingrememberedisathoughtinconsciousness.Thisnotonlyappliestoobjects,
events,andplaces.Italsoappliestopersons,includingoneself,hewhoisremembered,
the"I"thatIwas.Thismeansthatmyownpersonality,whatIcallmyself,wasathought
inthepast,howeverstrongandhoweverpersistent.Butthepastwasoncethepresent.
ThereforeIamnotlessathoughtnow.ThequestionariseswhatdidIhavethenwhichI
stillhavenow,unchanged,exactlythesame.Itcannotbe"I"astheperson,forthatis
differentinsomewayeachtime.Itis,andcanonlybe,"I"asConsciousness.
4

The"I"consciousnessistheessenceofthe"Me,"theseemingself.
5

Allthatamanreallyownsishis"I."Everythingelsecanbetakenfromhiminamoment
bydeathordestiny,byhisownfoolishnessorotherpeople'smalice.Butnoeventandno
personcanrobhimofhiscapacitytothinkthe"I."
6

Withthebody,thethoughts,andtheemotions,theegoseemstocompleteitselfasan
entity.Butwheredowegetthisfeelingof"I"from?Thereisonlyonewaytoknowthe
answertothisquestion:thewayofmeditation.Thisburrowsbeneaththethreementioned
componentsandpenetratesintotheresidue,whichisfoundtobenothinginparticular,
onlythesenseofBeing.Andthisistherealsourceofthe"I"notion,theselffeeling.
Alas!thesourcedoesnotordinarilyrevealitself,soweliveinitsprojection,theego,
alone.Wearecontenttobelittle,whenwecouldbegreat.
7

Thatwhichclaimstobethe"I"turnsouttobeonlyapartofit,thelesserpart,andnotthe
real"I"atall.Itisacomplexofthoughts.
8

Whenthe"I"isthoughttobethebody,appearancehasreplacedreality.
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ThisfeelingofInessmaybeassociatedwiththebody,emotions,andthoughtswhose
totalityisthepersonalegoorshiftedindeepmeditationtotherootlessrootofbeing,
whichistheOverselfor,itmaybeassociatedwithboth,whenonewillbetherealityand
theotherashadowofreality.
10

Theideaofaselffirstentersconsciousnesswhenachildidentifiesitselfwithbodily
feelings,andlaterwhenitaddsemotionalfeelings.Theideaextendsitselfstilllater,with
logicalthoughtsand,lastly,completesitselfwiththediscoveryofindividuality.
11

Descartes'referenceinhisstatement,"IthinkthereforeIam,"issimplytohimselfasa
person,aselflimitedtobodyemotionandthought,thatis,toordinaryexperienceand
nothinghigherordeeperthanthat,abeingwhoseconsciousnessisunexaminedand
unexplored.
12

Egomeanstheconsciousnessofself.
13

Wearebutfragmentsofmindthrownintomomentaryconsciousness.
14

Ifweanalysetheego,wefindittobeacollectionofpastmemoriesretainedfrom
experienceandfuturehopesorfearswhichanticipateexperience.Ifwetrytoseizeit,to
separateitoutbyitself,wedonotfindittoexistinthepresentmoment,onlyinwhathas
goneandwhatistocome.Infact,itneverreallyexistsintheNOWbutonlyseemsto.
Thismeansthatitisaphantomwithoutsubstance,afalseidea.
15

Hisfirstmentalactistothinkhimselfintobeing.Heisthemakerofhisown"I."This
doesnotmeanthattheegoishisownpersonalinventionalone.Thewholeworldprocess
bringseverythingabout,includingtheegoandtheego'sownselfmaking.
16

Philosophydoesnotaskustoattempttheimpossibletaskofcastingthebodythought
entirelyoutofourconsciousnessatalltimesandinallplaceswhichdoctrineslike
AdvaitaVedantaandChristianScienceaskustodobuttoceaseconfiningtheIthought
tothebodyalonewhichisquiteadifferentmatter.
17

Whoeverwantsthe"I"toyieldupitsmysteriousandtremendoussecretmuststopitfrom
lookingperpetuallyinthemirror,muststopthelittleego'sfascinationwithitsownimage.
18

Ourattachmenttotheegoisnatural.Itarisesbecauseweareunconsciouslyattachedto
thatwhichisbehindit,totheOverself.Only,wearemisledbyignorancewhollyto
concentrateontheapparent"I"andwhollytoignoretheunseen,enduringselfofwhichit
isbutatransientshadow.The"I"whichtremblesorenjoysinthetimeseriesisnotthe
real"I."
19

Allthoughtscanbetracedbacktoasinglethoughtwhichrestsattheverybaseoftheir
operations.Canyounotseenowthatthethoughtofpersonality,thesenseof"I,"issucha
basicthought?
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20

The"I"whichsays,"Ithinksoandso"or"Ifeelsoandso"or"Idosoandso"isthefirst
thoughttoarise,aswellasthelastonetodie.This"I"isthepersonalego.Therecanbe
nothinkingorfeelingorwillingwithoutapriorsenseofidentityastothepersonin
whomthesefunctionsmanifest.Theegothoughtisalwaysthepriorthought,butits
activityfollowssoswiftlyastoseemsimultaneous.Indeed,thementalemotionaland
volitionalactivitiesflowoutoftheego'sownactivityhence,therecanbenoreal
conquestorcontrolofmind,feeling,orbodywithouttheconquestofegoitself.This
done,victoryoverthemfollowsautomatically.Thisnotdone,theirsubjugationoppresses
theirmanifestationbutleavestheirrootunharmed.Thewaytoattackthisrootisto
concentrateattentiononthesourcewhencetheegothoughtarises.
21

Theegoissimplythatideaofhimselfwhichmanforms.
22

Thebody,theemotionalfeelings,andtheintellect,areallplacedonthecircleline.That
whichisatthecentreofbeingisconsciousnessinitself.
23

The"I"ofapersonhasseveraldifferentfaces,eachbelongingtothedifferentactivities,
roles,relationships,andsegmentsofhishumannature.
24

Whatisthemostimmediateofallexperiences?Itisthe"I."Forallothersareexperiences
ofanobject,beitathingorathoughtthebody,theworld,orthemindbutthisistheir
subject,thefirstidentityinlife,thelastbeforedeath.
25

Whatotherexperienceistherethanmyexperience?AllofitcentresaroundanI.Whatis
thisIotherthanaseriesofstatesofconsciousness,astreamofthoughtsandan
accumulationoffeelings?Whatisthatbuttodeclaretheegotobeentirelymentalisticin
originandnature?
26

Thesubjectwhichisofmostinteresttoeverymanishimself.Theobjectofallhis
thoughtsislikewisehimself,oriftheyrefertosomeotherpersonitisinconnectionwith
thatperson'srelationshiptohimself.Thusweseethattheideaoftheego,theIam,is
stronglyimplantedbyNatureineveryone.

Egoexists,asseriesofthoughts
27

Theteachingthattheegodoesnotexistrepeatedsoofteninsoparrotlikeawaycan
helpnoone,canonlycreateintellectualconfusionandthusharmthesearchfortruth.But
theteachingthattheegoisonlyanideahoweverstronglyheldbythemindandassuch
doesexist,canhelpeveryoneinthestruggleforselfmasteryandcanthrowintellectual
lightonthesearchfortruth.
28

Ourthoughtsfolloweachothersoswiftlythattheykeepupinusthefeelingofa
particularpersonalitywhichthebodygivesus.
29
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Theegoisnothingmorethanashadow.Itsstuffandrealityaremerelythattransient
everchangingplayoflightandcolour.Itexistsawordwhoseverymeaning,"tobe
placedoutside,"isalsometaphysicallytrue.Forhewhoimmerseshimselfinits
consciousnessplaceshimselfoutsidetheconsciousnessofOverself.
30

Whenwethinkweseeasinglesmoothlymovingcinemapictureofarunningmanweare
reallyseeingthousandsofseparatestationarypicturesoftheman.Theexperienceof
smoothlyconvincingpersonalityisanillusionwhicharisesinthesamemanneroutofour
mentalfusionofaseriesofseparateideasintoasinglehumanbeing.Theterm"illusion"
hereusedmustnotbereadasmeaningthatthehumanbeingdoesnotexist.Onthe
contrary,thissentencewouldnotbewrittenorreadifitwerenotso.Itmeansthathe
exists,yes,butthathedoesnotexistasotherthanatransientappearance.Heisnot
fundamentallyreal.
31

Thereisnorealegobutonlyaquicksuccessionofthoughtswhichconstitutesthe"I"
process.Thereisnoseparateentityformingthepersonalconsciousnessbutonlyaseries
ofimpressions,ideas,imagesrevolvingroundacommoncentre.Thelatteriscompletely
emptythefeelingofsomethingbeingtherederivesfromatotallydifferentplanethatof
theOverself.
32

Whenitisdeclaredthattheegoisafictitiousentity,whatismeantisthatitdoesnotexist
asarealentity.Nevertheless,itdoesexistasathought.
33

Ifheidentifieswiththeegoasarealentitybyitself,andnotasthecomplexofthoughts
andtendencieswhichitis,heiscaughtinthenetofillusionandcannotgetoutofit.
34

Thepracticeoftheimpersonalpointofviewundertheguidanceofmentalismleadsin
timetothediscoverythattheegoisanimageformedinthemind,mindmade,animage
withwhichwehavegotinextricablyintertwined.Butthispracticebeginstountieusand
setusfree.
35

Theegomaybeatransientphenomenonandametaphysicalfiction.Nevertheless,
complainssomeone,itisallthatIknow.Iamhemmedinallaroundbyits"I"andutterly
limitedtoits"mine."
36

Theegoisonlyafieldofforce,notarealentityinitsownright.Or,itisacompositeof
thoughtsassembledtogether,notarealindividual.
37

Theegoisacollectionofthoughtscirculatingaroundafixedbutemptycentre.Ifthe
habitsofmany,manyreincarnationshadnotgiventhemsuchstrengthandpersistence,
theycouldbevoided.TherealityMINDcouldthenrevealItself.
38

The"ego"isallthatyouknowasyourself.
39

Itisnotonlythatmandoesnotknowhisspiritualnaturebut,whichisworse,thathe
holdsafalseideaofhisownnature.Hetakestheshadowegoforthesubstance
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Overself.HetakestheeffectbodyforthecauseSpirit.
40

Theideaofapermanentegowhichcommonexperienceimposesonusisshatteredby
philosophicanalysisandphilosophicexperience.
41

Everyone'soutlookisconditionedbyseveralfactors:byfamilyupbringingand
surrounding,byevolutionarylevel,bytraditionalreligionandprevailingculture,by
personalcircumstancesandreincarnatedtendencies.Hisreactionsareshapedforhimand
makeuphis"I."Thisisaverylimitedentity,pursuedbytheconsequencesofitsown
limitations.
42

Descarteswouldnottrustthetruthofthethoughtswhichhismindgavehim.Yethewas
quitewillingincautiouslytotrusttheminditself!Forwhatisthiseverydaymindwhich
hetooktobehis"I"butapersistingseriesofrecurringthoughts?Whatisthis"I"butan
entitycreatedbyhabitandconvenienceoutoftheirtotality?
43

Thepersonalegoisnotametaphysicallypermanentthing.Butitisapracticalworking
toolwhichservestheconvenientpurposeofpersonalidentification.Itneednotbedenied.
Whycallitnonexistent,afictitiousentity,whilemakingfulluseofit?
44

Whenheisconsciousofhimselfheisconsciousonlyofhisideaofhimself,thefantasy
whichtheegohasmadeforhim.
45

Theegoisastructurewhichhasbeenbuiltupinformerlivesfromtendencies,habits,and
experiencesinaparticularpattern.Butintheendthewholethingisnothingbuta
thought,albeitastrongandcontinuingthought.
46

Ifwehavewrittenoftheegoasifitwereaseparateandspecialentity,afixedthing,a
realityinitsownright,thisisonlybecauseoftheinescapablenecessitiesoflogical
humanthinkingandtheinexorablelimitationsoftraditionalhumanlanguage.Forin
FACTthe"I"cannotbeseparatedfromitsthoughtssinceitiscomposedofthem,and
themalone.Theegois,inshort,onlyanidea,oratrickthatthethoughtprocessplayson
itself.
47

BecausethisemanatedconsciousnessoftheOverselftiesitselfsocompletelyandso
continuouslytothethoughtseries,whichafterallareitsowncreations,itidentifiesitself
withtheillusoryegoproducedbytheiractivityandforgetsitsownlarger,lesslimited
origin.
48

Thereisnoentitycalledintellectoregoorpersonal"I"orindividualmindapartor
separatefromthoughtsthemselves,existingalone.Peoplegiveitsuchasupposed
existencebytheirhabitualattitude,lifelongbelief.Thisshowsthepowerofauto
suggestionandmemorytocreateapurelyfictionalbeing.Thesustenance,reality,lifeit
hasisfalse,illusory.Mindassuchisdevoidofallthoughts.
49

Allourthoughtsnecessarilyexistinthesuccessivenessoftime,butthethoughtoftheego
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isamorecomplicatedaffairandexistsalsointimeandspace,becausethebodyispartof
theego.Whateverwedo,theegoassuchwillcontinueitsexistence.Butweneednot
identifyourselveswithitwecanputsomedistancebetweenusandit.Themorewedo
so,themoreimpersonalweshallbecome,andviceversa.
50

Ofwhatuseisittodeludeamanintoimagininghimselftobeunawareoftheegoorinto
believingthatheiswithoutone?
51

Allthetimethathetalksoftherebeingnoego,noentityatall,heisfeelingthepressure
ofitssensations,hearingthesoundofitswords.
52

Everyhumaninstitution,everyhumanvalue,getswornthreadbarebyuseandhasto
makewayforanewone.Eventhemostsacredandreligiousauthoritieslosetheirsway
withtheflowoftime.Whenthewholeuniversearoundusissouncertainandunsettled
weneednotbesurprisedtodiscoverthattheveryIofmanistransienttoo.Ourcentreof
gravityisashiftingone.
53

Descartes,whohasbeencalledthefatherofphilosophyintheOccident,beganhis
thinkingwiththecertaintyofthepersonalself.Twothousandyearsearlier,Buddha
endedhisownthinkingwiththecertaintyoftheillusorinessofthepersonalself!
54

Fromchildhoodthroughadulthood,manpassesfromonechangetoanotherinhimself
hisbody,feelings,andthoughts.Theideaofhimself,hispersonality,changeswithit.
Whereandwhatisthe"I"ifithasnounbrokenintegrity?
55

Maynothispresentselfalterorevenvanishasmuchashisformerselfalteredor
vanished?
56

Thetendenciesandhabits,thephysicalandmentalactivitieswhichwehavebroughtover
fromourownpast,settledownandcongealthemselvesintowhatwecallourpersonal
self,ourindividuality,ourego.Yetlifewillnotpermitthiscombinationtobemorethana
temporaryone,andwegoonchangingwithtime.Weidentifyourselveswitheachof
thesechanges,inturn,yetalwaysthinkthatisreallyourself.Onlywhenwestillthese
activitiesandwithdrawfromthesehabitsforabriefperiodinmeditation,dowediscover
forthefirsttimethattheydonotconstituteourrealself,afterall.Indeed,theyarethen
seentobeourfalseself,foritisonlythenthatwediscovertheinnerbeingthatisthereal
selfwhichtheyhideandcoverup.Alas!sostrongistheirageoldpowerthatwesoon
allowthemtoresumetheirtyrannouswaysoverus,andwesoonbecomevictimsagainof
thegreatillusionoftheego.
57

WhenallthoughtsvanishintotheStillness,theegopersonalityvanishestoo.Thisis
Buddha'smeaningthatthereisnoself,alsoRamanaMaharshi'smeaningthategoisonly
acollectionofthoughts.
58

Wedwellinauniverseofillusion,fortheeffectsandformsweperceivepossessa
stabilitywhichisnotthereandarealitywhichisimagined.Evenitstimespaceand
motiondependupontheperceptionswhichannouncethemorthemindwhichisawareof
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them.Themysticseer'sflashingenlightenmentrevealsthistohim,butscience'sown
reflectionsaboutitsatomicdiscoveriesarepointingtothesameidea.Allthishasbeen
toldandtaughtinTheHiddenTeachingBeyondYogaandTheWisdomoftheOverself.
Buttheseer'senlightenmentdidnotstopthere.Hesawthattheperceiverhimselfwasnot
lessillusorythantheuniverseofhisexperience,notlessunstable,notlessunreal.Hesaw
thatthehumanegowasbutahumanidea.Ithadtobetranscendediftruthandreality
weretobeexperienced.

Subjectobject
59

Thesenseofegoicexistenceprecedes,andgivesriseto,thesenseoftheworld's
existence.
60

TheegoappearsinMind,theuniverseappearstotheego:togethertheyformthatsubject
objectdualitywhichcharacterizesthethoughts.
61

Theegothoughtisbehindeveryactivityofaman.Itisalwayscoupledwiththeobject
thought.
62

The"me"istheknoweroftheworldoutside(things)andinside(thoughts).Butonly
relativelyisitaknower,foritisitselfanobject,knowntoahigherpower.
63

The"I"thinks:thisisthesubject.Butthe"I"itthinksofis"me,"whichisanobject.
Ordinarily,consciousnessmusthaveanobjectofconsciousness.Thiscouplingisan
essentialofourmentallife.
64

Justasingrammarthereis,uponanalysis,asentence'ssubjectandobject,soinordinary
thinkingthereisadivisionbetweenthethinkerandthethoughtheld,thethingorperson
receivingattention,between"I"andtheother.
65

Theegoofwhichweareconsciousisnotthesameasthemindbywhichweare
conscious.Hewhoperseveresuntilhecanunderstandthis,opensthefirstdoorofthe
soul'shouse.
66

Allyourthinkingabouttheegoisnecessarilyincomplete,foritdoesnotincludetheego
thoughtitself.Trytodoso,anditslipsfromyourhold.Onlysomethingthattranscends
theegocangraspit.
67

Thebodyisinrealityanobjectforthemind,whichisitssubjectandnotonlythebody,
butalsowhatevertheegothinksorfeelsbecomesanobject,too.Itislesseasytoseeand
evenmorenecessarytounderstandthatthisego,thissubject,isitselfanobjecttoahigher
partofthemind.
68

Weunderstandcorrectlyourrelationtoexternalpossessionslikechairsandcarpets,but
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nottopossessionslikehandsandthoughts.Hereourunderstandingbecomesconfused.
Ourhabitualspeechbetraysthis.Wesay,"Iamhurt"whenitisreallythebodythatis
hurt,or"Iampleased"whenathoughtofpleasureariseswithinus.Inthefirstcasethe
bodystillremainsanobjectofourexperience,despiteitscloseness.Inthesecondcase,
thinkingisafunctionperformedbyus.Botharetobedistinguishedfromourbeing,
howeverinterwovenwithouractivity.
69

Theegobecomestheobservedobject,whenitisfinallyandcompletelyanalysedinterms
ofawareness.Itisnolongertheobservingsubject.
70

Theegoisastransientanideaasthesocalledphysicalobjectswhichitperceives.Both
theegoandtheobjectsappeartogetherasthoughtswithintheUniversalMindand
collapsetogether.
71

Totherealperson,theconsciousness,body,nerve,andsenseorgansareonlyobjects
beingusedasmediumsandchannels.
72

Whereverhumanconsciousnessexists,whereverthereisathinker,therearealsohis
thoughts.Subjectandobjectjointomakeconsciousexistenceofanego,an"I,"possible,
bothinwakinganddreamstates.
73

Theworldthoughtisanobjecttotheegomind,whichisthesubjecttoit.Buttheego
mindisitselfanobject:theawarenessofitissimplytheawarenessoftheegothought.
74

Theegoisanobject.Themindknowsonlyobjects.Thereforemandoesnotknow
himselfwhenheknowsonlyego.
TheNotebooksarecopyright19841989,ThePaulBruntonPhilosophicFoundation.

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