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Contact: Nancy Stodart
Date: August 22, 2011
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Lewis Thompson, Journals of An Integral Poet, Vol. I - 1921-1944;
Integral Realist, Journals of Lewis Thompson Vol. II - 1945-1949

Key words: poetry, integral, Lewis L. Thompson, Sri Krishna Menon, Reality, spiritual practice, art as reality, razor's edge, non-duality. nirvikalpa samadhi, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Anandamayi Ma, J. Krishnamurti, Rimbaud, Fathomless Heart, Black Sun, Integral Poet, Integral Realist

The Journals of Lewis Thompson, Volume I and II (1932-1949), A Rare and Engaging Account Of A Life-Long Quest To Realize Poetry As Authentic Expression With Realization

Burgess, VA, "The object of my writing things down," notes Thompson in his 1944 journal entry (16.IV.44), "has been precisely to avoid memory, to keep the mind free." Emigrating from England to India at the age of twenty-two, Lewis L. Thompson began a quest as poet and spiritual seeker to realize the truth of self and Reality. It seems fair to say that he wanted to keep the mind free so that the dual modes of self and Reality could express their non-duality openly without prejudices of any kind. Today, Thompson's entire creative output is available: Lewis Thompson, Journals of An Integral Poet, Vol. I - 1921-1944 (Fourth Lloyd Productions, 2006); Integral Realist, Journals of Lewis Thompson Vol. II - 1945-1949 (Fourth Lloyd Productions, 2009); Black Sun: The Collected Poems of Lewis Thompson (Hohm Press, 2001); and Fathomless Heart: The Spiritual and Philosophical Reflections of an English Poet-Sage (Dharma Cafe Books and North Atlantic Books, 2011).

In his journals, Thompson intensely explores the dialectic tension of poetry and Reality against the backdrop of Indian religion and philosophy. A tantrika sage and bhakta, Thompson negotiates the fine line between poetry and dualistic desire on the razor's edge with Reality. He carefully resists any attempt to close the gap between the self (poetry, language, passion) and Reality (equality, inexpressibility, serenity) by which the self is universalized in absolute Reality. "What I am really trying to say (as poet) refers to a level beyond yoga and jnana as sadhanas." (Vol. I, page 461)

Thompson accepts his experience of nirvikalpa samadhim, or self-illumination in Reality, as perfection from the Vedantic perspective, but he senses that there is "more to be done." As such, he calls for Reality to fully penetrate the nitty-gritty of his daily life as a poet. Not without anguish, Thompson works tirelessly to complete Reality in poetic language and vision. His journals thus express his unsparing critique of poetry and Reality to authenticate their non-duality as effort without desire. "Poetry is the speech of Presence, a seeing all as the immediacy of the Infinite: it recovers and repeats the self-contemplation of ‘Reality’ which is ‘creation’: it is the intrinsic mode of the universe, of all manifestation." 6.IX.45 (Vol. II, page 159).

Thompson's vocabulary is bold. He enriches words such as 'Luxury' to mean 'the whole,' and reveals a young Englishman excited by the prospects of encountering Luxury within Indian spirituality, while having to come to terms with certain aspects of its cultural and philosophical prejudices. Living in the very heart of Colonial India in the 1930's and 40's, Thompson shares his reflections on artists, personalities and remarkable sages whom he meets—including Sri Aurobindo, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Anandamayi Ma, J. Krishnamurti and Krishna Menon (Sri Atmananda). We also glimpse his Western literary heritage through his extraordinary reflections on Christ, Blake, Yeats, Rimbaud, Pascal, Dostoievski, Kierkegaard and Cocteau, among others.

Volume One ends on a sobering note, however, when the illuminative power of poetry/Reality intensifies to the level of crisis with his mentor, the Vedantic sage, Sri Krishna Menon, causing Thompson and Menon to go their separate ways. It appears that Thompson was unable to accept the Vedantic claim that jnana (wisdom) transcended conceptual and symbolic mediations. Such a universalizing claim violated Thompson's sense of the duality of poetry and Reality as authentic non-duality, which is never a given realization or metaphysical principle but a process in which they intimately conjoin.

VolumeTwo chronicles the four years before Thompson dies of heatstroke in 1949 at age 40. These writings reveal a spiritually mature Thompson at the height of his uncompromising powers of mental clarity. He draws us more fully into the workings of the unitive modes of Poetry and Reality—which he shares with his friends, including Ella Maillart and Blanca Schlamm, who said of him, "You live in another world." He also devotes considerable time and attention to understanding the break with Sri Krishna Menon. Evident in his reflections on their parting-of-the-ways is Thompson's refusal to accept the Vedantic notion that purity is beyond the self or poetry.

Although Lewis Thompson's life does not lend itself to easy explanations or interpretations, it prompts non-duality as the temporal and existential nature of man. In his soteric scheme, Poetry is liberated and radicalized in a 'purely trans-mental vision of speech' (final entry, 22.VI.49, Vol. II, page 394) that blooms as all things of the self and the world. As such, he asks what it is like for an enlightened being to live in the world of delusion as opposed to living in, but not of, the world of delusion. Readers from all walks of life will find these journals to be an indispensable tool in their own investigation of the modes, polarities, or foci of enlightenment and delusion, reality and illusion, nonduality and duality. Thompson's stunning insights will prove invaluable for spiritual practioners who are engaged in the demands of discriminative intelligence.

Both volumes of journals include comprehensive introductions by Richard Lannoy, Thompson's dedicated and tireless editor. For more information please visit

Available through bookstores, Ingrams,,, and Fourth Lloyd Productions:
Lewis Thompson, Journals of An Integral Poet, Vol. I - 1921-1944 isbn: 978-0-971-78061-3, $38.00, paperback 500 pages, Edited by Richard Lannoy, (2006).
Integral Realist, Journals of Lewis Thompson, Vol.II - 1945-1949 isbn: 978-0-971-78065-1, $32.00, paperback 416 pages, Edited by Richard Lannoy, (2009).