Friday, February 14, 2014

Topical thoughts on listening to Britten's Noye's Fludde


The Golden Vanity ends with the ensemble singing 'I'm sinking in the Lowland Sea!', a description that today applies to parts of south-west England. Britten was, of course, influenced by Eastern cultures and that coupling of The Golden Vanity with Noye's Fludde - which sets The Chester Miracle Play - takes us on an overgrown path to the mysticism of author and traveller Paul Brunton (1898-1981). Brunton was one of the first to introduce the Eastern esoteric practices of yoga and meditation to the West, while his exposition of mentalism anticipated recent developments in quantum entanglement by half a century; yet, despite this, he is a forgotten figure. While listening to the Golden Vanity and Noye's Fludde this morning as yet another positively Biblical downpour battered at the windows, I was reminded of these wise words written by Paul Brunton in 1937:
We humans have become so self-important and do self-conceited in our own eyes that it does not occur to us that the Great Mother who bears us so patiently upon her earthy breast, feeds us with such abundant variety of foodstuffs, and takes us back again when we are sufficiently tired, has a purpose of her own which she wishes to achieve in us if we will but let her. We have set up our own schemes and projects, we have decided what we want to get from life, and we are thinking striving, struggling and even agonizing in our efforts to obtain the satisfaction of our desires. If, however, we devoted a quarter of our time to ceasing from self-efforts and quietly letting Nature's mind permeate our own, we might make a wise revision of things wanted, yet at the same time secure Nature's co-operation in obtaining them.
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5 comments:

Pliable said...

There is video footage of the current floods with a classical soundtrack here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aEyxzcu4oE

Pliable said...

My thanks go to Stephen Whitaker for pointing out quite rightly that the opening sentence of the original version of this post confused the closing lines of The Golden Vanity and Noye's Fludde. My mistake entirely, a case of water on the brain I think - now corrected.

Pliable said...

Norman Perryman comments via Facebook - 'Such beautiful words by Paul Brunton! Read, all!'

Norman, if you don't know them I strongly recommend Paul Brunton's A Search in Secret India and A Hermit In The Himalayas; the quote is taken from the latter book -
http://www.randomhouse.com.au/.../a-hermit-in-the...

Pliable said...

It should be pointed out that in the generally dependable Journeys East - 20th Century Encounters with Eastern Religious Traditions Harry Oldmeadow has a generally negative view of Paul Brunton, pointing out that his doctorate was self-bestowed and saying that "His ideas in his later years... are almost self-parodic, quirky, sometimes proposterous, and anticipate some of the wilder shores of the later New Age movements".

Paul Brunton is one of the figures in esotericism - Idries Shah is another - who generate awe and incredulity in roughly equal measure. But that is not a reason for ignoring them.

http://www.worldwisdom.com/public/products/0-941532-57-7_Journeys_East_20th_Century_Western_Encounters_with_Eastern_Religious_Traditions.aspx?ID=117

David said...

Thanks for those wise words from Paul Brunton, so beautifully expressed in a rather Mabeyesque way. I didn't know this writer; I'll go and find out more.