“One of the most significant spiritual books of our day. One of the best books on this subject since St. John of the Cross. An amazing book, it clarifies the higher regions of the spiritual path.” — Father Thomas Keating
Within the traditional framework, the Christian notion of loss-of-self is generally regarded as the transformation or loss of the ego (lower self) as it attains to the higher or true self in its union with God. Thus, because self at its deepest center is a run-on with the divine, I had never found any true self apart from God, for to find the One is to find the other.
Because this was the limit of my expectations, I was all the more surprised and bewildered when many years later I came upon a permanent state in which there was no self, no higher self, true self, or anything that could be called a self. Clearly, I had fallen outside my own, as well as the traditional frame of reference, when I came upon a path that seemed to begin where the writers on the contemplative life had left off. But with the clear certitude of the self’s disappearance, there automatically arose the question of what had fallen away–what was the self? What, exactly, had it been? Then too, there was the all-important question: what remained in its absence? This journey was the gradual revelation of the answers to these questions, answers that had to be derived solely from personal experience since no outside explanation was forthcoming.
“I must re-emphasize that the following experiences do not belong to the first contemplative movement or the soul’s establishment in a state of union with God. I have written elsewhere of this first journey and feel that enough has been said of it already, since this movement is inevitably the exclusive concern of contemplative writers. Thus it is only where these writers leave off that I propose to begin. Here now, begins the journey beyond union, beyond self and God, a journey into the silent and still regions of the Unknown.” — Bernadette Roberts, from the Introduction
Bernadette Roberts is also the author of The Path to No-Self: Life at the Center, What is Self?, and Spiritual Journey Recapitulates the History of Religion.