Torments of unitive life, and open mind

 

I am reading Bernadette Robert‘s Path to No-Self, which is a beautiful and clear description of her own path to selfless realization, described in a Christian context.

Two things have stayed with me from the final few chapters…

The first is the inherent torments of the unitive life, the state of oneness with God, yet with still a vague sense of I and Other there.

There are the torments of (a) not being able to express clearly the beauty, clarity, insights, wisdom and compassion here, in one’s own life or words, and also (b) it often not being appreciated, or understood, by others. For myself, I can also add the torments of the intensity of that phase, of extremes of energies going through and massive amounts of reorganization needed of the human self (probably not everybody goes through this).

The beauty of these torments, which Bernadette Roberts describe so clearly, is how it prepares for a final release of a sense of I with an Other.

The remaining sense of a separate I is what gives birth to the torments in the first place. The identification with the particular identities of this separate I gives resistance to what arises in different ways. It is a resistance to what is, which ultimately is the Ground of awake emptiness & form inherently free of an I with an Other. This resistance is what creates the torments, and also what helps burn through the resistance itself, the sense of an I with an Other.

The other thing I found interesting is Phase V, the Open Mind, a practice of going outside of ones habitual perspectives and views, of finding fluidity among a range of perspectives which then tends to reveal the inherent neutrality of any situation (my words).

This is very much similar to the turnaround part of The Work. And, as BR mentions, it seems to be an essential (?) part of the shift from the unitive life, where there is still a sense of a separate I with a particular perspective, to selfless realization which is free from any fixed identifications and perspectives (so also able to play freely with them and make use of them as the situation calls for).

As she also mentions, the fear before entered into is that it will make us into zombies, doormats or nihilists, but what is really happening is just this freedom to play with and explore a range of perspectives and viewpoints, seeing them all as stories of only practical and limited value (not absolute truths). And the whole process is infused with heart and compassion, which gives a practical direction that thoughts alone cannot provide (she doesn’t talk about this explicitly, but it is there between the lines).

The heart (love, compassion, empathy) gives the direction and is the main guide for actions in the world, it tells us what, and the head (stories, views, perspectives, frameworks) tells us how.

The minor blind spots I can find include a tendency to take the specifics of her own path as more universal than they are, some obvious misinterpretations of eastern traditions, and also what – at least to me – seems to be misinterpretations of some Christian mystics… specifically, she seems to tend to take the selfless realization as more rare than it is, and her own insights as different from and going beyond those of Christian mystics and eastern traditions…!

Even after the selfless realization, there seems to be patterns of belief such as “they should have told me” (about selfless realization) and “something realized itself here that did not realize itself in others” (they didn’t know about it, or at least didn’t write or tell me about it… which they of course did, she only couldn’t receive it, she filtered it through a belief in an I with an Other taken as real and substantial).

In any case, her description of her own process, and the selfless realization itself and its effects, is beautiful and clear.

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