Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Experience of No-Self

Oh. Well. This is one of those books. I shall have to read it again, later, to glean more from it. I'm left with a profound sense of something that I can't explain. A peace and certainty that I rarely experience (though it's frequent at the end of a yoga class).

I don't agree with everything that Roberts says, mostly because she's a Christian (presumably Catholic, since Wikipedia tells me she used to be a Carmelite nun) and I am (mostly) atheist. She does not appear to be one of those rabid Christians that believe theirs is the only way, in fact she says a number of things that I imagine orthodox Christians (probably particularly if they're Catholic) would consider heresy. I do, however, consider myself contemplative, as she does, though not in the strict Christian tradition of contemplation. This book talks about (what appears to be) the final journey of the contemplative, using her Christian belief as an explanatory framework. Had I had her experience (and I'm, presumably, working on that as a contemplative) and written on it, I would have written the same basic things, but from an atheistic viewpoint.

Of course, I do wonder if I can be truly contemplative and an atheist at the same time. The fact is, I have no choice. I am an atheist. I've never come across a single religious thing that I can actually believe. I can pretend to believe, but only for a short time. The pretence consumes to much energy for me to keep it going. At the same time, I do yoga, I meditate I read all these religious texts. I'm searching for something to believe. I don't think I'll find it, but I will find myself (or my no-self) and the truth while I'm looking.

The reading of this book is an experience in and of itself. This is a book that should be read time and time again as one progresses through the various stages of life. I do not recommend it for anyone that isn't contemplative.

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