I willingly allowed myself to become brainwashed in the course of seeking self-transcendence.
Along with the treasure I found in Bernadette Roberts (BR), I had discovered Eckhart Tolle (ET) . This was back before he was rated the number one western spiritual leader, soon after the 1997 publication of The Power of Now. One of my happy-all-of-the-time homeschool-mom friends had given me the The Power of Now audio CDs one time when I was crying to her about my unhappiness. She was the same friend who’d given me the Louise Hay CDs; “I love you vagina; I love you breasts.” I was already intimately familiar with ET. My love affair with ET had begun with my obsessive reading and re-reading of the seven years of back issues of the magazine “Enlightenment Now” which I’d sent away for and believed well worth the investment. I’d already read The Power of Now several times in fact.
I had been reading and re-reading The Experience of No-Self and The Path to No-Self, BR’s two books about the soul’s mystical union with God. She described a long and perilous journey through many stages: terrifying dark nights of the soul, ecstatic breakthroughs, long in-between waiting times of patient attendance, mental instability, and dreadful emptiness. There are many milestone minor union-with-God achievements along the way, but BR continues to push forward to the final goal and it is described at length. The reflexive mind, which operates all the time so that humans don’t even know it’s there, the mechanism which separates the “I” from the “thou”, dissolves away once and for all, and there is no more distinction between oneself and all else. There literally is no longer a self. There is absolutely no fear anymore; fear, which forms the core of “self” is eradicated for once and for all. There is no more “Me”, only existence thrusting itself from the void from moment to moment. In common with ET, she describes a euphoric condition of: no more past, no future, no me, no other; only the immediacy of the now moment.
BR felt that her experience wasn’t well represented in the body of contemplative literature to date. She felt that she’d gone further than anyone else. She had read it all and searched and searched for descriptions of her experience. Although she was Catholic, BR felt that her journey broke the bounds of the Catholic contemplative body of literature and experience. The closest thing she could find in common with her own union with God, was with the Buddhists: No self, no problem. She soon penned another book, What is Self? so that she could explain at length this thing we call “self”. “Self” is something that we cannot comprehend until we no longer have one. It’s the burden that keeps us grounded as caterpillars. Until self is done away with, one cannot truly be a butterfly.
For well over two years, I listened to ET’s voice reading The Power of Now both as I drifted off to sleep and as I woke up. I set the CD player timer so that the ET’s message would hopefully penetrate at a deep hypnotic level while I slept. There were eight audio CDs. I came to know every word of every sentence of every one. ET had sat on a park bench for two years in a state of the utmost joy after his enlightenment. While he was living on the bench strangers would often ask how they could get what he had found.
I would transcend myself and I would be in a state of unending joy. It had been done. It simply took perseverance. It required determination. Focus. Purpose. Will. Presence, yes presence.