- Brunton, Paul
- (1898–1981)British philosopher and spiritual teacherPaul Brunton was a spiritual writer and philoso-pher. His self-appointed task was to interpret what he learned in the East to Western audiences. He became a major figure in the spread of Eastern teachings in the West.Brunton was born Raphael Hurst on Novem-ber 27, 1898, in London. (When he first became prominent as Brunton, he never explained why or when he had changed his name.) His mother died when he was young; his father remarried, and when he too died Brunton took care of his widow. At age 16 he had a mystical experience, and by 1923 he was a member of a small bohemian group who were interested in spiritual matters. Recog-nizing that he had occult and clairvoyant powers, he joined the Spiritualist Society of Great Britain. He married Karen Augusta Tottrup and a son was born in 1923. Barely three years later, Brunton and his wife divorced and she married another member of their circle who became a leader in the Anthroposophical Society, another esoteric orga-nization with roots in THEOSOPHY.In 1930, Brunton traveled to India, where he met yogis and sages. His popular account, A Search in Secret India, introduced significant Indian teachers of the time, particularly MEHER BABA and RAMANA MAHARSHI, to a Western audi-ence. His writings indicate that he practiced Ramana’s technique of meditating on the question “Who am I?” and gained some degree of peace of mind and inner illumination from this discipline.From 1934 to 1945, Brunton traveled even more extensively throughout the East and wrote six books about his experiences and his growing commitment to create a complete spiritual teach-ing for the modern world. Most of his writings were in the form of organized notes and apho-risms on a host of subjects, comprising more than 7,000 pages withheld for posthumous publica-tion. In his own words, these notes constituted an evolving new East-West philosophy that emerged to meet modern conditions. Brunton became a spiritual teacher and had followers who studied his ideas as well as his prophecies about world affairs.During the last 20 years of his life, Brunton lived in Vevey, Switzerland, where he received students and inquirers. He died there of a massive cerebral hemorrhage on July 28, 1981.In 1986, the Paul Brunton Philosophic Foun-dation (PBPF) was founded in Hector, New York, as a resource for those seeking spiritual under-standing. The foundation, under the leadership of Brunton’s son, Kenneth Thurston Hurst, com-pleted publication of the 16-volume compendium of his notebooks; instituted a program for donat-ing books to libraries, prisons, and world leaders; and initiated a circulating library of published and unpublished writings by Brunton.Further reading: Paul Brunton, A Hermit in the Hima-layas (London: Rider, 1936); ———, A Message from Arunachala (London: Rider, 1936); ———, The Note-books of Paul Brunton, 16 vols. (New York: Larson, 1984–89); ———, The Quest of the Overself (London: Rider, 1937); ———, A Search in Secret India (London: Rider & Company, 1934); ———, The Secret Path (London: Rider, 1935); J. Godwin, ed., Paul Brunton: Essential Readings (Wellingborough, England: Crucible, 1990); K. T. Hurst, Paul Brunton: A Personal View (New York: Larson, 1989); J. M. Masson, My Father’s Guru: A Journey through Spirituality and Disillusion (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1993).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.