Lewis Thompson (1909 – 1949). A Selection of Aphorisms from Mirror to the Light

Lewis Thompson, an English poet and sage, spent 18 years in India from the age of 22 until his death in Varanasi in 1949, aged 40. He devoted these years to the exploration of consciousness, experience and truth. Aphorisms, carefully filed away in boxes, were found after his death. Here is a selection of his aphorisms. Clear, sharp and direct, his aphorisms serve as an important resource for reflection for sincere people committed to the exploration of the human experience.

Still largely unknown more than 60 years after his death, Lewis Thompson has much to offer in his expression of numerous timeless truths. His aphorisms certainly deserve a wider audience. (see review of Mirror to the Light  in the blog of July 13, 2015).


Truthfulness is in effect economy – avoidance of fear, confusion, imitation. The reward of this economy is the discovery of one’s necessity, one’s sensuality.

There is no effective tradition but truthfulness.

The truth is the Unavoidable – but it is truth because there is no need to avoid.

Truthfulness belongs to insight and not to morality.


Ignorance is the only true place to start.

It is only the ego that ever becomes familiar with anything. Such familiarity is pure delusion, a sleep, a death, a little private hell.

The inexplicable Other is the mirrored reflection of my own incompleteness, my ignorance of my own being.

In this contact with resistance, explore the possibility of consciousness.


There is no slavery more or for that lack of inner leisure and yet the sanity we worship is precisely a failure of this leisure.

The conception of perfection is intellectual, to aim at it is egoistic. So this aim becomes an obstacle to real achievement.

Release yourself, breathe the present air, give yourself a chance. No machine can run braked.

Real events are those which forced disorder upon our ‘realism.’

Bridge to the real

Reality is first achieved as the exhaustion of every possible sentimentality.

Natural facts, the facts of process, are transient, they represent dynamism. In nature there is not form, but trans formation.

The deepest experiences are so self-sufficient that they leave no occasion for expressing them.

A fact is a pure mental abstraction. Facts merely represent failures of mobility, malleability, failure to be equal to the complete inter- relativity of phenomena.

Any given object regarded without pre-conception, made a focus of destruction of preconception, opens into every height and every abyss.

Only beyond pleasant and unpleasant, desired and undesired can you perceive and enjoy the symbol, the essential intensity of every pure object

The other half of the circle

My secret is so simple that I cannot tell it to myself.

Beauty is no longer formal, an object of the ego, but pure experience; then all form is lyrical.

The fulcrum of all problems

The eye is blinded by what it sees, the mind is asleep in what it thinks: the unseasonable gulf between seer and seen continues my life.

The ego is nothing but the coherence of the penal and the reactions against. Habit is the ego’s natural sloth.

The leaf is single only when it falls from the tree, it’s falling an illusion of its singleness are the same event.

At every moment of consciousness one must look and see: is the ego behind this?


The humanistic compromise is merely the worship of nature by intelligence. The Whole Man can never be the result of compromise.

Humanism continues also by the impossibility – and meaningless this – of complete factual knowledge of all philosophy, history, culture – of every event and book and thought.

Money, divorced from what it really represents, labour, and patient processes, the slow growth of plants and minerals, has the facility of magic – a false power.

Men have invented poverty – out of their greed and fear.

The meaning of this life is in eternity.

Laughter from the sea

There is only one thing to be done – to keep the flame of the necessary purgatory pure, to refuse every the relevant.

The whole power of the devil is that he is fictitious.

Preoccupation with morality is a measure of spiritual incapacity.

The accidental joy

Desire produces division, the exact opposite of concentration and enjoyment in the present.

Outside humanism, sexuality represents a powerful magical force.

The sexual problem exists only so long as we have not first of all discovered how very small a part of ourselves sexuality can engage.

Sexuality is ultimately a technical matter concerning the integrity of energy

The Western sense of sin and especially of sexuality as sinful is an expression of the un-spirituality for which the least thing threatens to engulf one in the world and obscure forever one’s innocence, the central aspiration to the Divine.

Love remains ever single and absolute, the process of love an art, a play – delight and not necessity; invention not subjection.

Morality and spirituality

Morality is entirely human and secular: it has no meaning but an unconscious and helpless reference to spirituality – is otherwise purely contingent, psychological, even fashionable.

Those who think that the only alternative to morality is immorality simply betray the limitations of morality. Eternity is spirituality.

All that matters is whether or not this or that activity or state of feeling helps towards enlightenment.

Meister Eckhart: “God is neither good nor true.”


The demand to remain always rationally conscious makes one the victim of abstraction.

Everything that my will can achieve is foreign to me.

In completely emptying yourself you are completely filled.

Every pure thing is a gift. Effort is a refusal of gift.

The mind must sacrifice itself in order to be illumined.

The mind must have the discretion of a servant, the same entirely silent and self-effacing promptitude.

Thought is like a helpless attempt to seize fish in water or flying birds.

A theory is an idea overdeveloped.

Truthfulness and hypocrisy

The truth cannot be told but only lived, and that life is solitude: from beginning to end reality exists only in its own right.

I can love them only in my liberation, that love is the completion, the definitiveness, of truth and joy.

For truthfulness there is no longer good and evil.

You don’t get to the truth by asking for it. If it could be given it would already be obvious.

The Buddha has compassion, not hypocrisy.

The only relation the human can establish with the divine is the completion of mind and reason as hypocrisy.

The magic key

Be true to yourself in all modes, “to infinity’. You know nothing else, you are not anywhere else.



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