My Father's Guru by Jeffrey Masson HarperCollins $72 WESTERN fascination with Eastern mysticism has existed for centuries. However, it was not until after the end of World War II that it became something of a cottage industry. By the time of the anti-war and flower power movements of the 60s, it was big business. There were more gurus than you could shake a stick at. Paul Brunton was one of them and this is his story and that of the Masson family who became his disciples for many years until disillusionment set in. It was Jeffrey Masson's uncle who introduced the works of PB, as Brunton was affectionately known, to Masson's father, Jacques in the 1930s. When Jacques met up with PB in India in 1945, he was immediately hooked. PB had all the trappings of a guru - flowing robes, celibate purity, a quiet meditative nature and a philosophy that Jacques and later his wife, Dina, absorbed without question. This may seem strange. Jacques was a successful businessmen and Dina was highly intelligent. So why did a bright, much-travelled couple believe that Paul Brunton was actually a native of the planet Sirius, which was peopled by a race of supermen, that he had studied at the astral university and had travelled here on a spaceship? Masson thinks that with Jacques, at least, it was an escape from the memories of a deeply unhappy and peripatetic childhood which began in New York and ended, via Europe, in Jerusalem. The whole family became disciples and it was not until he reached adolescence that Jeffrey Masson began to question PB's extravagant claims and finally to openly accuse him of being what he was - a fraud. Masson emphasises that PB was not some evangelical psychotic like Jim Jones or David Koresh and he did not ask his followers to give him all their worldly goods while he rode around in a fleet of Rolls Royces, although he took generous amounts of money from Jacques Masson. In fact, Masson believes that without the mumbo jumbo, Brunton had a very positive view of the world, which stressed respect for nature at a time when environmentalism was not as fashionable as it is today. But there was a weakness within him that could not stop him telling a stream of lies and while some were harmless, others were damaging to his followers. When in the early 50s, he became convinced that World War III was imminent, he decided that the safest place to be when the bomb dropped was South America. Consequently, many of his followers in the US, sold everything and moved to Brazil, Uruguay and Peru. Some like Masson's father were rich enough to take the risk and still come out showing a profit. Others were not so lucky and lost everything. PB, of course, never went to Latin America and by then even his most ardent supporters were becoming doubtful. Masson who is best known for his iconoclastic book on psychoanalysis Against Therapy, has written what is in effect an autobiography of his childhood. It is a fascinating account of growing up with a guru and suddenly realising with sadness, that Santa isn't real after all.