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A cutting edge exploration of the nature of enlightenment.
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.