A Simple Practice for Self-Realization

Posted by – September 13, 2017
Categories: Health & Healing Spirituality & Religion

Meditation isn’t always sitting down, cross-legged, and clearing your mind of all thoughts. It could be a subconscious routine throughout your busy day. In Paul Brunton’s The Wisdom of the Overself, he explains how practicing self-realization will eventually become a habitual, constant presence in your everyday activities. Continue reading this excerpt, “A Simple Practice for Self-Realization,” to learn a newer, simpler, and convenient practice of meditation.

Those who do not feel drawn to formal exercises in meditation and those who do not feel drawn to formal study in metaphysics may perhaps, in the last resort, find consolation or aid in another way. They may avail themselves of all these facts to practise a simple exercise that can either take the place of all study and all meditation or, if others wish and as is recommended, that can also accompany them. It is so simple that it is called an exercise only for name’s sake and after it has been set in habitual motion it becomes quite easy and effortless. Just as a mother anxious for the safety of her only son who is fighting as a soldier in a great battle will not forget him whatever conversations movements and activities may engage her surface attention, so the aspirant should not forget the Divine whatever he may be doing with his surface consciousness. Just as a girl who is deeply in love with a young man will be able to keep his mental image before her mind’s eye all the time even though she may appear to be properly attentive to external matters, so the aspirant should train himself until he is able to keep the thought of the Overself as a kind of setting for all his other thoughts. Thus the practice is based on the profound significance of memory and utilizes it for unworldly purposes. It consists in the constant loving recall to mind of his inner identity with and the existence of the Overself, in the repeated and devoted recollection at all times all places and under all bodily conditions that there is this other and greater self overshadowing him. If, however, he has ever had a glimpse a feeling or an intuition—however momentary it may have been and however long ago it may have happened—of a super-sensuous higher existence which profoundly impressed him and perhaps led him to take to the quest, then it is most important that he should also insert the remembrance of this experience into his exercise. That is he should try to bring as vividly as possible to his mind the sense of exaltation and peace which he then felt.

The fundamental aim is to keep the exercise always or as often as possible in the mind’s background whilst paying attention to duties with the foreground, and to let attention fly eagerly and more fully back to it every time there is a relaxation from them. It must become the unannounced and impersonal centre of his personal gravity, the unmoved pivot upon which the pendulum of external activity swings perpetually to and fro. Thus though the foreground of his consciousness is busy attending to the affairs of daily living, its background abides in a kind of sacred emptiness wherein no other thought may intrude than this thought of the Overself. This inward concentration behind and despite outward activities should be made habitual. What benefit will its practice bring the aspirant? Although so different from a formal meditation exercise which is usually practised for a limited time, in a sitting posture and in an undisturbed place, it has a peculiar potency of its own. Such continuous remembrance of the Overself will bring him, when its practice has become firmly and successfully established as ceaseless flow, a remarkable fruitage of grace. For the power that is here at work is not the ego’s but the universal power. When the grace starts working this is likely in turn to remove a number of the internal and external obstacles in his path, sometimes in a seemingly miraculous manner, and eventually bring him to a truer self-awareness. The unexpected effectiveness of this method is therefore not to be measured by its obvious simplicity.

If anyone is not prepared to follow this practice, let alone to study metaphysically or meditate mystically, he may make use of a related one which will make still fewer demands upon him. Whenever he is suddenly faced by unexpected misfortune or unpleasant environments, when clamorous problems raise their ugly heads or when grave danger menaces his very life, he should take whatever practical measures are ordinarily called for on the external plane and yet alongside of them should abruptly drop his habitual ego-centric attitude and hand the problem over, as it were, to a higher power. This will paradoxically and eventually bring about a sense of inner detachment even whilst he takes outer action to deal with it. A whole-hearted faith in the existence of this super-material power is of course the first essential to make this practice successful. A resigned trust in the outcome of its hidden operations is the second one. He should then cease to worry about the matter, cease to cling in alarm or depression to its present details and possible developments but rather yield them all up and forget them. Indeed if he permits anxious thoughts to continue to harass him, they may break the inner remembrance and obliterate the effectiveness of the technique. Moreover it will become effective only if maintained for a sufficient time and with sufficient concentration. That is, through all his personal efforts at making the necessary re-adjustments he should firmly switch a part of his consciousness constantly inward, carrying (not denying) the hostile problem with it and then letting the thoughts which constitute the problem dissolve in remembrance of the impersonal ever-calm Overself. He must try to conceive this power as supreme, formless, and abiding in an imageless Void.

This abrupt appeal from a narrow personal outlook to the refuge of a wide impersonal one will effectively help to control not only his emotional reaction to what has happened but may also help to introduce the higher factor of grace and thus control the exterior condition itself. He may not only draw from this act of self-surrender the strength to face his problems undismayed but may also draw a protective power beyond his own capacity. We know now from our analytical studies of mystical experience that this grace may not only take an imaginative or intellectual form but may also manifest itself in many other ways. It may, for example, give such inner support to a man in a time of grave danger that the fears which his situation would quite naturally arouse will be effectually quelled. The same war which arouses panic in some men arouses heroism in others, making them listen and march to a braver music than that to which they were hitherto able to march. Thousands of unknown and obscure soldiers, sailors, aviators, air-raid wardens, and civilians have experienced this unexpected reaction during the terrible dangers of the past few years. Why? Because they unconsciously opened the long-locked door of the Overself and experienced its grace. Confronted by the appalling horrors of destructive scientific ingenuity which surrounded them, they became suddenly anal acutely aware that at any moment a mere turn of the wheel of chance or of fate or of God’s will might bring the bitter end of all for them. Therefore they deliberately and utterly resigned themselves entirely to the inevitable, to chance, fate, or God—which are merely three different ways of saying the same thing. By this act of supreme faith they unconsciously invoked the deeper principle of their own being and without knowing it lifted the heavy bar which fastens the door of the Overself. The lack of clear metaphysical understanding of what they were doing could not and did not prevent the practical results accruing to them all the same. Amid the menacing roar of shells and bombs they unaccountably felt that whatever the issue of their external experience might be, whether the latter were to end in sudden death or eventuate in continued life, all would be well with them. They felt, in fact, inexplicably lifted high above the agony and terror of the tragic events in which they were plunged. Such fateful moments have left a profound memory in the soul. They cannot be forgotten. The silent instruction which they conveyed will sooner or later affect the spiritual outlook of those who experienced them.

Tags: Paul Brunton
About the Author

Before officially joining NAB, Katie earned her BA in English at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. There, she learned that working with books was an actual career! After her first year at school, she worked for two small publishing houses as an editorial intern. Returning from a four-month adventure in Spain, she began working for the Graduate Education Office as a thesis editor. She then stumbled upon a marketing and publicity internship with (drumroll please) North Atlantic Books—and loves that she’s back! Katie spent her last year of school publishing a literary facsimile and contemplating life’s greatest questions. As a former fitness instructor and current avid reader, Katie is thrilled to work with a wide range of books that matches her range of hobbies!