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on November 10, 1998
The Path to No-Self, by Bernadette Roberts, is truly cutting edge and breaks new ground. The author, of whom we are told very little, has obviously known God, and - unlike the testimonies of many saints who describe the approach to enlightenment and than enlightenment itself, takes that as only the FIRST goal on the path. She speaks of the life AFTER enlightenment, and describes states of being I have not encountered in any other spiritual literature. Where Teresa of Avila ends (in writing) she begins - a daring concept indeed. I DO NOT THINK she is mentally ill. What she describes, I feel, is sound. But it must be remembered (a) that all paths are unique and (b) that the higher levels of communion with God, while on the earth, are NOT easy - in fact, they can be the opposite, in every sense of the word. (CAN be...aren't necessarily so). Ms. Roberts speaks masterfully of the collision of two strong opposing forces - the overwhelming desire to have an outlet for this tremendous energy and power of God one is carrying, to share, convert, be received, understood, to create - and the world's reception to this - rejection, non understanding, persecution, refusal to give outlets, smothering. How can one AT ONCE be a vehicle for what is so powerful and so strong that it DEMANDS expression, while the world refuses to accept this? This, Ms. Roberts explains, is no accident. (ONE way to view this). It is God's way of mortifying, refining and purifying the person of all last vestiges of self (ambition, concern with obvious results, etc.) until the person is so empty that it is GOD and no longer the person who operates. (Even to the point of losing awareness of the enlightened Self within). Given the magnitude of the suffering these two collisions cause, this is, according to her, what happens. Likewise, she masterfully describes "layers of God" - being able, when in prayer, to sink through more and more "doors" (layers) to go ever deeper within, to drop, progressively more of the outer, excited self, and experience God at ever more deep levels. It is like passing through trap doors, or breaking through to new levels of consciousness. These are two examples of how she is at once courageous, daring, bold, risky, and - I feel - accurate.
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on May 2, 2001
This lucid and unfailingly honest account of the process of coming to terms with the loss of "self" is simply a grace for those with ears to hear. Ms. Roberts, a former nun, has walked the contemplative path to the point where it disappears into nowhere and then, remarkably enough, kept walking. Her personal experiences and reflections on the journey are invaluable to those traveling a similar route; along with the writings of St. John of the Cross, her books (I include "The Experience of No-Self" as well) are simply the most nourishing of mana for those lost in the desert of God, as well as for those who have lived in the desert and are being called at last back to the city. The straightforwardness of her writing and her contemporary reality are a blessing. No one tells it like it is about the dark night of the soul better than Bernadette Roberts, and her books have been sustaining companions to me for almost twenty years. They were all I could read, at many points. These are not books for scholars; these are books for those in the grip of the real thing.
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on May 26, 1999
Whether coming from a Christian deistic or a Buddhist non-deistic background, Roberts speaks to the moment when God and the self disappear in a kind of intimate togetherness. God is gone as an object of our search/worship/longing...And the self is gone with God, so there is no one remaining who would search/worship/long in the first place. This is unlike the mystics Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, for whom only God remains as the self is taken up within God. And it is unlike the existentialists, for whom only the self remains after God is removed to Nothingness. We are simply left with life as it is...a kind of blend of Heidegger's non-self Dasein and Zen's everyday mind. That is, one can arrive (or find oneself there) by other means. So what is interesting about Roberts' book is not so much the path that is described as it is the place that the path leads to. The no-self is full of grace but without a heavenly source of it. The no-self has returned to its pre-spiritual essence, which is actually the non-objectified spiritual reality in which there is no difference between the spiritual and the non-spiritual. But Bernadette Roberts describes it much better than these words of mine.
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on April 5, 2006
I stumbled upon this little book when I was a teenager. It catapulted me into a very profound and healing journey. I base my way of living on it still, fifteen years later. This book, it would seem, can take on elements of an Eastern philosophy, but is based in Roberts' experience as a catholic nun. This book paints a completed picture of what our souls' journey requires of us on its path to selflesness. It is an important insight to unexplored territory.
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on November 6, 2006
More profound, authentic Christianity is to be found in ten paragraphs of this book than in the complete texts of ten wise books on Christian spirituality. To read Roberts' works is to be immediately transported into the radiance of absolute Truth. The Christ presented in this book is the One your soul has longed to discover!
Joseph Conti, Ph.D.
Instructor, Dept of Comparative Religion
California State University, Fullerton
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on December 15, 2007
Bernadette shows that her love for God has given her the courage to 'go into the market place' and to be brave enough to let it all fall away. It also shows how narrow this path is and how easily one can fall for the fear of being left alone with nothing in the whole universe to hang on to. Though her approach is different from my own, it makes crystal clear the miracle of the 'other' being there. And if not all trust is handed over without any reserve, however dangerous it looks, you will get stuck somewhere on this path. It is very revealing and clarifying to see this path from another tradition than my own. I want to thank Bernadette from the bottom of my heart for showing me her way. She is a tribute to her tradition and to mankind as a whole.
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I happened upon a moldering copy of THE PATH TO NO-SELF about 15 years ago at the local library. At the time, I was floundering in my so-called "faith", looking for anything to fill the existential void, or at least give me something substantial to read. Well, after reading PATH several times through, I finally got tired of checking it out and bought it. Ms. Roberts has a way of explaining the inexplicable, making even a thick-head like me "get it". Years of reading books like THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING, COLLECTED WORKS OF ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS, BROTHER LAWRENCE, and MEISTER ECKHART had left me bewildered, but aware that there was definitely something in it all that drew me along. PATH was the first such book that ever made complete sense to me. It's as though Bernadette Roberts took everything I'd ever read about contemplation, mysticism, etc., and synthesized it into a simple language I could understand. I've lost count of how many times I've read this book (as well as EXPERIENCE OF NO-SELF, and WHAT IS SELF?), but I keep going back to it every few months or years. This is the highest recommendation I can give to any book...
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VINE VOICEon November 9, 2006
I like this book. As a student of A Course in Miracles, I was interested in seeing any similarities between ACIM and a Monastic Journey to God. They are indeed similar. I have learned that the key back to God is to abandon the ego. Ms Roberts learned it too. However, she seemed not to get past the fact that she is NOT a body and could not see thru this illusion. But she eventually did it. I believe she is enlightened. This book helped me a lot.
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on February 2, 2015
I've read TPTNS, TENS & WIS - a number of times.

Whilst BR's books hold out the inviting prospect of helping realisation, in reality:

1) She never actually describes her practice/process/'method of contemplation
2) Her insistence on using her own terminology* without defining terms can only lead to opacity

In the end the books are interesting but not greatly useful.

They are more personal & polemical than helpful - giving her views/ experiences to compare with tradition, but not designed to help others experience the same.

Since her books are ultimately an interesting but time-consuming cul-de-sac they can only get 2 stars.

It's also important to note that this is just one path and if you wish to pursue it fully you will have to give up absolutely everything. Whilever there are desires/goals, there is self. As BR points out, at the root of self is the affective system: that part of us which likes some things and dislikes others.

(FTR I've had v profound experiences including experiencing the empty spaciousness of pure awareness-in-itself & the illusion of the form-self. But BR's books only ever turned out to be 'interesting'.)

I really wish she'd express any care for others by getting help to write something clear designed to help others on (this particular) path.

* Note:
- her terms are inspired by Christian contemplation but I doubt they're rigorously correlated with it
- she attempts to define terms in WIS, but that book also lacks clarity
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on May 19, 2013
I've read this book many times over the past 10 years or so. I understood it from the beginning
on an intuitive basis, I guess. I knew it was a path that I would come upon if I stayed in my
current seeking trajectory. I don't know how many times this book has given me comfort when I knew
there would be nobody who I could talk to that would really understand what I seemed to be going through.
It also freaked me out at times too, wondering how I could ever endure what must lie ahead but, the universe
is fair and the path is custom made to suit the traveler so, when different parts of the journey required
extra faith and determination, those qualities were there for me to rely upon. I am sure most people who
pick up this book, place it down again and walk away thinking, "yeah, right". But, this book is not meant
to be read by everyone and anyone who needs it, will find it.
I would love to thank Bernadette in person for the great service she has done for fellow seekers. All of her
books have been invaluable to me during the journey and I know it must be very difficult to write about all of
it in such a beautiful and clear manner. I know I could not begin to chronicle my journey with as much detail
and good advice as she has managed to do. Plus, once certain phases are over it's like they are such a distant
memory as to have happen to someone else and not myself. I don't know how she did it but, I am so grateful that
she took the time to do so, it has made my journey less lonesome. Thank you, Ms.Roberts and blessings and peace
to all seekers on this path. :)
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