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Paul Brunton is the pen name of Raphael Hurst (21 October 1898 – 27 July 1981), a British author of spiritual books. He is best known as one of the early popularizers of Neo-Hindu spiritualism in western esotericism, notably via his bestselling A Search in Secret India (1934) which has been translated into over 20 languages.
Brunton was a proponent of a doctrine of "Mentalism", or Oriental Mentalism to distinguish it from subjective idealism of the western tradition. Brunton expounds his doctrine of Mentalism in The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga (1941, new ed. 2015 North Atlantic Books), The Wisdom of the Overself (1943, new ed. 2015 North Atlantic Books) and in the posthumous publication of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton in 16 volumes (Larson Publications, 1984–88).
Hurst was born in London in 1898. He served in a tank division during the First World War, and later devoted himself to mysticism and came into contact with Theosophists. He married Karen Augusta Tuttrup in 1921, with whom he had a son, Kenneth Thurston Hurst (b. 1923). After his wife had an affair with his friend Leonard Gill, the marriage ended in divorce in 1926, but Hurst remained on friendly terms with his ex-wife and with Gill. He was a bookseller and journalist, and wrote under various pseudonyms, including Raphael Meriden and Raphael Delmonte. Being partner of an occult bookshop, The Atlantis Bookshop, in Bloomsbury, Hurst came into contact with both the literary and occult British intelligentsia of the 1920s.
In 1930, Hurst embarked on a voyage to India, which brought him into contact with Meher Baba, Vishuddhananda Paramahansa, Paramacharya of Kancheepuram and Ramana Maharshi. At the Paramacharya's insistence, he met Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, which led to a turn of events culminating in revealing Ramana to the western world. Hurst's first visit to Sri Ramana's ashram took place in 1931. During this visit, Hurst was accompanied by a Buddhist bhikshu, formerly a military officer but meanwhile known as Swami Prajnananda, the founder of the English ashram in Rangoon. Hurst asked several questions, including "What is the way to God-realization?" and Maharshi said: "Vichara, asking yourself the 'Who am I?' enquiry into the nature of your Self."
Paul Brunton was the pseudonym under which A Search in Secret India was published in 1934. The book became a bestseller, and Hurst afterwards stuck to publishing under this name.
Brunton has been credited with introducing Ramana Maharshi to the West through his books A Search in Secret India and The Secret Path.
One day—sitting with Ramana Maharshi—Brunton had an experience which Steve Taylor names "an experience of genuine enlightenment which changed him forever". Brunton describes it in the following way:
I find myself outside the rim of world consciousness. The planet which has so far harboured me disappears. I am in the midst of an ocean of blazing light. The latter, I feel rather than think, is the primeval stuff out of which worlds are created, the first state of matter. It stretches away into untellable infinite space, incredibly alive.
Brunton was in India during World War II, as a guest of the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV. He dedicated his book The Quest of the Overself to the Maharaja and when the Maharaja died in 1940, he was present at his funeral.
Brunton was critical of Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian independence movement:
I discover, too, that he has not yet succumbed to the hysteria for politics which has attacked most of the young students in the towns, though India is now in the throes of the long turmoil which Gandhi has aroused into being in his effort to disturb the relations between white rulers and brown ruled.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Brunton occasionally stayed as a guest, for a few weeks at a time, about six months total, with the parents of controversial American author and former psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson. In 1956, Brunton decided that a third world war was imminent and the Massons moved to Montevideo, since this location was considered safe. From Uruguay, Masson went with Brunton's encouragement to study Sanskrit at Harvard. Brunton himself did not move to South America, instead spending some time living in New Zealand. In 1993, Masson wrote a critical account of Brunton titled My Father's Guru: A Journey Through Spirituality and Disillusion.
In the 1950s, Brunton retired from publishing books and devoted himself to writing essays and notes. Upon his death in 1981 in Vevey, Switzerland, it was noted that in the period since the last published book in 1952, he had rendered about 20,000 pages of philosophical writing.
A longtime friend of Brunton's, philosopher Anthony Damiani, founded Wisdom's Goldenrod Center for Philosophic Studies in 1972. Swedish publisher Robert Larson helped to start Larson Publications (USA) which completed the publication of the 16-volume set of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton in 1988. Brunton's son Kenneth Hurst helped form the Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation which continues to publish and archive Paul Brunton's literary legacy.
- Are You Upward Bound with William G. Fern (1931)
- A Search in Secret India (1934)
- The Secret Path (1935)
- A Search in Secret Egypt (1936)
- A Message from Arunachala (1936)
- A Hermit in the Himalayas (1936)
- The Quest of the Overself (1937)
- Indian Philosophy and Modern Culture (1939)
- The Inner Reality (1939) [published in the US as Discover Yourself, same year]
- The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga (1941)
- Wisdom of the Overself (1943)
- Spiritual Crisis of Man (1952)
- Brunton, Paul. 1975. "A Living Sage of South India" in The Sage of Kanchi, New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann, New Delhi. ed by T.M.P. Mahadevan, chapter 2
- Brunton, Paul. 1959, 1987. Introduction to Fundamentals of Yoga, by Rammurti S. Mishra, M.D. New York; Harmony Books
- Brunton, Paul. 1937. "Western Thought and Eastern Culture", article, The Cornhill Magazine
- Brunton, Paul. 1951. Introduction to Wood, Ernest Practical Yoga London: Rider
- Plus articles in Success Magazine, Occult Review, and The Aryan Path
Posthumously published texts
- Essays on the Quest (1984)
- Essential Readings
- Conscious Immortality 
- Notebooks of Paul Brunton (1984–88)
- Mansfield, Victor (1995). Synchronicity, science, and soul-making. p. 195. ISBN 9780812693041.
The world is the invention of Universal Mind.
- Feuerstein, Georg (1997). Lucid Waking. Inner Traditions/Bear & Co. pp. 157–158. ISBN 9780892816132.
We like to reiterate that 'everything is relative'...
- Description of the visit and reproduction of one of the dialogues with the Maharshi, done from rough notes
- Kamath, M. V.; Kher, V. B. (2003). Sai Baba of Shirdi: A Unique Saint. Jaico Publishing House. p. 298. ISBN 9788172240301.
Ramana Maharshi...was revealed to the wider world outside India by Paul Brunton...
- Paul Brunton in his book A Search in Secret India, p.305, cited by Steve Taylor in his article Satsang The Power of Spiritual Presence /in New Dawn Magazine No. 101 (Mar–Apr 2007)
- Jeffrey M. Masson (1999), Der Guru meines Vaters, Eine Kindheit mit Paul Brunton, Berlin, Theseus, ISBN 3-89620-144-1, p. 25
- Annie Cahn Fung, Paul Brunton A Bridge Between India and the West, Part I: Genesis of a Quest, Chapter 3: In Mysore
- "Notebooks of Paul Brunton, Category 15: The Orient", Chapter 2, p.453
- Brunton, Paul. A Search in Secret India, p. 165
- "In 1963, after several years of travelling and living in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, Brunton withdrew to the serenity of the Swiss Alps." Adyar online.
"Yoga Journal". Yoga Journal. Magazine. Active Interest Media Inc. 112: 116. September–October 1993. ISSN 0191-0965.
This is a critical account of growing up with a guru in the house. Yet that "guru" who by his own account never accepted "disciples" and only ever called himself a "student" of the subjects he was writing about, spent a total of only six months as a house-guest of the Massons, staying no more than a few weeks at a time during the period in question. Thus Masson either sincerely--from a small child's perspective at the time; or wilfully distorted the facts. Anyone who knows Brunton knows he never claimed to be anyone's guru, and remained fiercely independent in his thoughts and movements.
- "Wisdom's Goldenrod Center for Philosophic Studies". Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 19 March 2009.
- Some information
- Excerpts Archived 10 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
- Kenneth Thurston Hurst, Paul Brunton: A Personal View, 1989, ISBN 0-943914-49-3
- Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, My Father's Guru: A Journey Through Spirituality and Disillusion, Addison-Wesley (1993), ISBN 0-201-56778-4, (new edition 2003 by Ballantine/Random House)
- Annie Cahn Fung, Paul Brunton A Bridge Between India and the West. A doctoral thesis presented to the Department of Religious Anthropology Universite de Paris IV Sorbonne, 1992, online text, published by wisdomsgoldenrod
- J. Glenn Friesen: Studies Related to Paul Brunton, online text