What Is Mentalism?


   [For those unfamiliar with the unique terminology used by Paul Brunton (PB) (Mind, World-Mind, World-Idea, Overself, Mentalism), found within this paper, please see click here for information. We will attempt to give a more detailed exposition on mentalism here].

   Anthony Damiani, a student of PB, quotes and comments on the latter's writings on mentalism:

   "His first mental act is to think himself into being. He is the maker of his own I. This does not mean that the ego is his own personal invention alone. The whole world-process brings everything about, including the ego and the ego's own self-making." (PB Vol.6, 8:2.15) That's mentalism in a nutshell. That's the whole mentalistic doctrine. The Soul has for its content the World-Idea, and it actualizes that or projects that World-Idea out from within itself. And included in that World-Idea is the ego and the process that it's going to go through." (1)

   PB further elaborates:

   "Every presented thing which is seen smelled, heard, felt, or tasted, no less than every representative thought, idea, name, or image, is entirely mental. The streets of busy towns and the forests of lonely mountains are all, without exception, mere constructs of the imagining faculty."

   "It is asked why, if the world is like a dream or a hallucination, we all have the same dream or suffer the same hallucination. Why do we project it in common instead of independently, since we all do have quite different dreams when asleep at night or quite different reveries when awake by day? The answer is that there is another and vaster Mind behind our personal minds which imposes the same world-image upon them all, so that all see it and live in it. Moreover, they are of necessity themselves projected by this Mind so that this image is not less real for them than their own selves. The mind makes for itself this world of illusion, this stage of space and time and form. But it does not make it independently of all prompting. For the image that it constructs is imposed upon it - or projected into it - by the Mind behind it."

   "A popular misconception of mentalism must be cleared. When we say that the world does not exist for man apart from his own mind, this is not to say that man is the sole world-creator. If that were so he could easily play the magician and reshape a hampering environment in a day. NO! - what mentalism really teaches is that man's mind perceives, by participating in it, the world-image which the World-Mind creates and holds. Man alone is not responsible for this image, which could not possibly exist if it did not exist also in the World-Mind's consciousness."
(2)

   One of PB' s teachers, vedantist V.S. Iyer, told him:

   "Point out that the truth of idealism can become clear only by eliminating the ego; otherwise people will ask, Why can 't I create a world by thought, thus falling into solipsism. " (3)

   Damiani states:

   "Generally when you speak about mentalism to people they get the strange idea that you are denying the existence of a certain object, whereas what he [PB] is saying is: No, we are just telling you what the object is. It is a thought. We are not denying its existence, we are explaining it." (4)

   O.K. Right there we can establish one principle about mentalism: It is not something you can use as an ego to feather your own nest. The ego is a bunch of habit energies or tendencies that create the illusion or tentative sense of an I conjoined with a body, but which is itself actually the product of the entire cosmos. An important part of the spiritual process, in part, is to universalize the ego to include the entire World-Idea, thus evolving to an impersonal point of view. That is not all there is to it, but it is a good and profound start.

1. Anthony Damiani, Standing in Your Own Way (Burdett, New York: Larson Publications, 1993), p. 125)
2. The Notebooks of Paul Brunton (Burdett, New York: Larson Publications, 1988), Vol. 13, Part 3, 2.91, 3.64, 3.66
3. V.S. Iyer, Commentaries, Vol. 1, p. 225
4. Anthony Damiani, Looking Into Mind (Burdett, New York: Larson Publications, 1990), p. 42