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"Only the supreme hierophants, themselves at one with their divinities, their wills bent with his, could by their astonishing divine force arouse the candidate to consciousness of his superior nature."
Paul Brunton, A Search In Secret Egypt

      In this essay we'll examine how Higher Consciousness is exclusively engendered 1 through sustained dialectical interchange with a Perennialist Teacher.

      As we've seen in previous essays, dialectical interchange with a Perennialist Teacher includes not only face-to-face verbal interchange but also engaging in dialectic with spiritual beings, participating in dialectical essays, practicing Perennialist meditation, online Internet dialectical interchange, reading Perennialist material, participating in artistic dialectic, and engaging in dialectical interchange between one's Higher Self and one's ordinary self, among other forms.

      If this essay is to have any chance of engendering in you even an understanding of what Higher Consciousness is, 2   you'll need to have read the prerequisite essays linked above.

      If you study (not merely read) this essay and complete the exercises effectively, this may make it possible for the material to engender in you an experiential capability at the beginning levels of Higher Consciousness (note the precise wording).

"In the presence of someone whose own consciousness is in the Overself, he [the initiate] will receive the inward inspiration which can energize and lead his personal efforts in the same direction."
Paul Brunton, Notebooks

      The quintessential element required for all forms of dialectical interchange is the presence 3 of the Perennialist teacher who locates her being in her Higher Self, so that interchange occurs between at least two persons or two aspects of the same person. For a Higher State of Consciousness to be engendered in you by a Perennialist teacher, you must comprehend the diverse levels of presence.

Levels of Presence  Characteristics   Capabilities   Procedures   Practitioners 
Present spiritually Union with the One
Spiritual communion
Dialectical interchange
Perennialist Meditation
Present psychically or metaphysically Union with Higher Self
Meditational stillness
Enlightened interchange
Betty White
Paul Brunton
William James
Present physically Able to interact
or be seen
Ordinary conversation
Abraham Lincoln
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Pretence of Presence
Fantasy and imagined presence Unable to distinguish real from counterfeit presence Taped lecture
Roman Catholic dogma that Christ is "present" in the eucharist
Leo Strauss
Martin Heidegger
Barack Obama
George W. Bush

      To achieve a Higher State of Consciousness--on the metaphysical and spiritual levels--you'll need to have moved beyond the level of fantasy and imagined presence of a teacher and attained proficiency in the prerequisite capabilities on the traditional level of presence--verbal interchange and discrimination between real and counterfeit presence. 4   It's futile to attempt to understand--let alone experience--Higher States of Consciousness if you haven't achieved stability on the commonplace level of consciousness.

    The metaphysical/psychic level of awareness and presence, for some, is the highest they can achieve--because they fail to work to become aware of the highest level: the Spiritual-Philosophical-Dialectical.

The Scholar, the Yogi, and the Philosopher

      We can best understand the two higher levels of the Metaphysical-Psychic and the Spiritual-Philosophical-Dialectical by examining the life and thought of some of the persons who operated at these levels. William James advanced beyond the traditional level by attaining the ability to receive inspiration--as evidenced by his writing--and experiencing higher states of consciousness through experimenting with psychotropic substances. He achieved the status of the true scholar. This is on a level much above that of the mandarin 5 or scholastic, such as Leo Strauss or Martin Heidegger.

      Paul Brunton (1898-1981) 6 is an interesting study in how a person highly advanced in yogic meditation can, in his later development, realize the transcendence and momentousness of the spiritual-philosophical-dialectical realm, but fail to achieve full realization of that higher domain.

      Brunton was introduced to Near Eastern thought and methodology by Charles Henry Allan Bennett, 7 a British occultist interested in Buddhist thought. Brunton traveled widely in the Near East and the Orient, writing numerous books about his travels which brought him wide repute and financial independence. Brunton became a student of an unknown Indian yogi by the name of Ramana Maharshi in 1931. Brunton's 1934 book A Search in Secret India brought fame to Maharshi.

      Brunton's early almost credulous acceptance of the yogi-meditation tradition and his naive adulation of unenlightened "gurus" such as Maharshi stunted his spiritual growth for many years. He later realized this and tried to gain proficiency in philosophy, but because he failed to investigate the quintessential Platonic formalization of philosophy, Brunton remained merely a scholar in that domain.

      Pretenders such as Maharshi hide their state of ignorance and unenlightenment behind silence. When Brunton first came to Maharshi, the yogi remained silent for two hours. The next day, Brunton and his friend Bhikshu spoke with Maharshi during a short encounter.

  • Bhikshu: We have travelled far and wide in search of Enlightenment. How can we get it?
  • Maharshi: Through deep enquiry and confident meditation.
  • Brunton: Many people do meditate in the West but show no signs of progress.
  • Maharshi: How do you know that they don't make progress? Spiritual progress is not easily discernible. Brunton and Maharshi
  • Brunton: A few years ago I got some glimpses of the Bliss but in the years that followed I lost it again. Then last year I again got it. Why is that?
  • Maharshi: You lost it because your meditation had not become natural (sahaja). When you become habitually inturned the enjoyment of spiritual beatitude becomes a normal experience.
  • Brunton: Might it be due to the lack of a Guru?
  • Maharshi: Yes, but the Guru is within; that Guru who is within is identical with your Self.
  • Brunton: What is the way to God-realization?
  • Maharshi: Vichara, asking yourself the 'Who am I?' enquiry into the nature of your Self.

      Brunton's disillusionment with Maharshi, unfortunately, occurred only after he experienced extremely negative aspects of this charlatan. After an absence of three years, Brunton had returned to Maharshi's ashram in January 1939. He had expected to stay there three months, but he left Maharshi's ashram after only three weeks, because, Brunton says, he was forced to leave.

Maharshi       Maharshi's brother, Niranjananda Swami, who managed the ashram, felt that Brunton had plagiarized many of Maharshi's ideas and presented them as his own in his books. So Maharshi's brother objected to Brunton continuing to take notes of what Ramana said to disciples. Niranjananda asked a disciple to tell Brunton that he could no longer take notes in the hall. Brunton asked whether this was also Maharshi's own view. The disciple didn't reply. Maharshi had overhead Brunton's question but refused to respond. Brunton immediately discontinued taking notes in the hall and began distancing himself from the ashram and Maharshi.

      After writing nearly a dozen books and studying with a number of Indian, Egyptian, and Mongolian teachers, Brunton had come to the realization that the higher aspects of philosophic wisdom had as yet eluded him. He realized that Maharshi lacked any ability to teach about such transcendent matters, even though he might be an expert in yogic meditation.

    "With all the deep respect and affection I feel for him, it must be said that the role of a teaching sage was not his forte because he was primarily a self-absorbed mystic." 8
      Brunton began to realize the artificial, quietist nature of yogic meditation, and soon turned to more comprehensive questions.
"From What am I? I had graduated at last to What is the Meaning of this World-Experience? and What is the Object of all Existence? I had come to recognize that the questions involved an ascent from advanced mysticism to pure philosophy itself." 9

      Brunton then made the age-old mistake of assuming that current scholastic, debased embodiments of philosophy are the only ones available in the West. So, once again, repeating his earlier mistake of assuming that Truth could only be found in the East, Brunton began his search for Higher Wisdom by becoming the student of a new Indian teacher, V. Subrahmanya Iyer. Reader in philosophy for the Maharajah of Mysore, Iyer was a follower of Vivekananda (1863-1902), a popular Indian guru. Iyer was essentially an academic teacher, however, which meant that even though his thought was more comprehensive than Maharshi's, he was not able to initiate Brunton into the mysteries of Platonic Dialectic.

      Iyer taught Brunton that "the practice of meditation was an excellent mental preparation for the quest of truth but by itself could never yield truth, that ninety-nine perecent of Indian yogis practised preparatory disciplines under the widespread but mistaken notion that all of them led directly to the same highest goal . . ."

      It was Iyer's claim that a person could attain the realization of ultimate truth only through the "yoga of philosophical discernment" (jnana-yoga) culminating in the Highest Truth through the "yoga of the uncontradictable" (asparsa-yoga). Iyer claimed that jnana-yoga can best--or only--be mastered through study of a Hindu classic titled Ashtavakra Samhita, while asparsa-yoga is mastered through the study of the Mandukya Upanishad.

      The Mandukya Upanishad is a series of teachings almost identical to most of the other Hindu texts--certainly nothing transformative. The Ashtavakra Samhita consists of a dialogue between the twelve year old "Perfect Master" Ashtavakra and Janaka, the King of Mithila. Like all Hindu spiritual treatises in dialogue form, this is not true dialectic but merely a "perfect master" declaiming unquestioned truths in answer to a disciple's questions. There is no reciprosity or joint search for truth, among other factors essential to true Platonic Dialectical Interchange.

      Hence, even when Brunton attempted to move beyond the Metaphysical-Psychic domain, he settled for a teacher who was unable to initiate him into the Spiritual-Philosophical-Dialectical realm. Had he been more perspicacious, he could have gained the understanding that Plato's writings, when explicated and taught by a Perennialist Teacher, still possess the power of conveying a serious student to the dominion of Dialectical Truth.

      Betty White, a twentieth century Perennialist Teacher, 10 achieved the quintessence of realization in the metaphysical-psychic domain, ultimately attaining a continual state of Higher Consciousness. She also crossed over into the Spiritual-Philosophical-Dialectical realm in her interchanges with terrestrial and supersensuous personalities.

Achieving Higher Consciousness Requires an Advanced Teacher of Philosophy

      Ordinary study--the search for presumed knowledge through an academic teacher or scholastic book--will not enable you to grasp the essence of reality: being and existence, events, sensations, objects, mathematical formulae, and ideas. To gain understanding of Essence or Form, a Perennialist Teacher capable of dialectical interchange is required. As Proclus explains:

"Only the uniting with a higher consciousness bestows the successful completion of processes of the spirit that go beyond reasoning."

      The essence of humans, Forms and other terrestrial and transcendental realities can only be grasped through the interpersonal activity of dialectical interchange. An ordinary person--the product of his society's conditioning--cannot through his own individual efforts alone gain comprehension of Reality.

"When he finds out that all his efforts at self-improvement are movements around a circle, that the ego does not really intend to give itself up in surrender to the Overself and therefore only pretends to do so, he realizes that left to himself he cannot succeed in really changing his inner centre of gravity. Help is needed from some outside source if he is to free himself from such a hopeless position."

Paul Brunton, Notebooks

      In exceptionally precise language, Plato explains that Higher Consciousness is engendered or kindled in an initiate (advanced student) only through prolonged dialectical interchange with an Advanced Teacher:

 "The truths of philosophy cannot be manifested in words as other sciences can, but through long-continued dialectical interchange between a Teacher and advanced students, in joint search for Truth.
Suddenly a flash of understanding, as it were, is kindled by a spark that leaps across, and once it has come into being within the soul it proceeds to nourish itself."
Plato, Letter VII, 341c
    Plato had personally experienced the "flash of understanding" leaping across from his teacher Socrates to himself during dialectical interchange.


      The image Proclus used to explain this was of a lamp without a cover and a warmed wick. The warmth of the wick draws down the flame from the lamp even though the wick does not touch the flame.

      The initiate must possess Similarity with the spiritual entity to draw energy down into herself. The analogy depicts the placing of the warmed wick below the flame as corresponding to the theurgical placing of prepared initiates near spiritual energy.


"The wise men of old . . . brought down Divine Powers into this mortal place, having drawn them down through Similarity or Sympathy (homoiotêtos): for Similarity is powerful enough to attach beings to one another. For instance, if a wick which has been heated beforehand is placed under a lamp, not far from the flame, you will see it light up even though it has not touched the flame, for the transmission of the flame takes place downwards. By analogy, you may consider the heat already there in the wick to correspond to the Sympathy between things, and its being brought and placed below the flame to correspond to the Sacred Art (hieratikês technês) making use of material things at the right time and in the right way. The transmission of the flame is like the presence of the Divine Light with those who are able to partake of it, and the lighting up of the wick is analogous to both the deification of mortals and to the illumination of material substances, each thing then moves towards that which remains on high [i.e. its divine counterpart] according to its share of the Divine Seed, like the light of the wick once it has been lit."
Proclus, On the Sacred Art

      A Perennialist teacher is able to engender higher consciousness in an initiate through the use of Platonic Dialectical Interchange because the essence of this phenomenon is a shared mystical experience: participants in interpersonal dialectical interchange enter a higher state of consciousness, allowing psychic material to flow through them; they gain union with their Higher Self and create new understanding by the interaction and coalescence of anagogical 11 ideas from all active participants in the interchange.

      Perennialist teachers are able to transmit psychic and metaphysical information and energies only to those few persons who have some connection with and are attuned to a unique supersensible psychic stream. The teachers transmit through an element within each human's psyche which has innate connection to this transcendental current. All Perennialist teachers transmit psychic information and messages through all their activities: dialectical interchange, writing, psychic communication, speaking, and their very being.

      Students in the preparatory phase of Perennialist study--before contact with a teacher is warranted--must learn to make psychic contact with Perennialist teachers through the material the teachers have created and the psychic communications they transmit. Seekers must comprehend that persons who have developed the transformative material and its accompanying procedures demonstrate the power and effectiveness of higher knowledge by having produced and continuing to produce transcendent material through inspiration and by applying its transformative procedures in their own self-work.


1 Engender: Transmit a force into another person which enables her to
  experience and perform what the first person is able to experience and
  perform; to bring into existence; give rise to

2 Let alone an experiential realization of Higher Consciousness

3 The condition or fact of being present in some manner; behavior through which one reveals one's personality: address, air, bearing, demeanor, manner, mien, style

4 Go HERE to examine fantasies and false beliefs.

5 Mandarin: a traditionalistic, reactionary intellectual who serves a tyrannous regime as its academic defender and apologist--e.g. Leo Strauss, Henry Kissinger

6 I consider Brunton one of my teachers. I met him in 1958 when I went to see him in his New York City apartment. I was just completing my Masters degree at Yale Divinity School and was to enter the Yale Graduate School in the fall to pursue my Doctorate in philosophy. After discussing some of my questions that had arisen from my reading of his books, Mr. Brunton suggested we end our visit by meditating for a few minutes. At the conclusion of that period, he kindly informed me that he had transmitted an energy to me that would remain with me. I did not meet Mr. Brunton again but have continued, intermittently, to study his writings.

7Charles Henry Allan Bennett (1872 -1923), also known as the Bhikku Ananda Metteya, introduced Brunton to Buddhist thought and Buddhist methods of meditation. Brunton kept a photo of Bennett on his living room wall. Bennett was a British occultist and a teacher of Aleister Crowley when they both were members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Bennett was the author of several books on Buddhism. Bennett also wrote articles for the Theosophical Review. He had been influenced by Edwin Arnold's poem, "The Light of Asia." As a result, he journeyed to Sri Lanka and Burma to study Buddhism and, in 1901, was ordained in Burma as Venerable Ananda Metteya, the first Westerner to become a Buddhist monk. In 1903, Bennett founded the International Buddhist Society (Buddhasasana Samagama) in Rangoon.

8 Brunton, The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga, p. 28

9 Brunton, The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga, p. 21

10 I consider Betty and Stewart Edward White to be my teachers. I have been studying--and attempting to apply--their teachings since 1953.

11 Anagogical: from the Greek anagein; to lift up, the word denotes any element (entity or experience) through which a person's actions, thoughts and feelings are lifted up from worldly sense experience to realize an experiential participation in the spiritual realm

12 I consider Plato one of my two major teachers, second to Michelle Mairesse.