To anyone who is into mysticism and more specifically Christian mysticism (which is largely oriented towards the great Catholic and Gnostic traditions), I highly suggest picking up a copy of Bernadette Roberts’s book What is Self?

Her perspectives end out upside the doctrinal boundaries of mainstream Christianity for the most part and challenge positions posited by Carl Jung and various mystical systems in the world, which may seem somewhat threatening on the one hand, but she does so in concluding that humanity is ultimately diverse, and she also takes care to spell out the differences in the use of terminology.

However, her own philosophy that is offered is extremely novel and refreshing, and I think that much makes it worth the read.

Her ultimate conclusions are something I encountered in Actual Freedom and from U.G. Krishnamurti, and it’s no wonder that she’s specifically “dealt with” on the Actual Freedom website- her perspectives are so incredibly analogous to what they say that she naturally challenges their dogma, and as Richard and his ilk are not the sort of people who enjoy being challenged (or rather, ridicule anyone who argues with them).

But the real thing that sets them apart is that Bernadette comes from a Christian perspective in which the individual soul is not God. Richard in the Actual Freedom Trust comes from the Eastern perspective that ultimately, the soul is God and God is the soul, and thus if one eliminates or goes beyond the Higher Self, one necessarily goes beyond God.

Bernadette simply says that the experience of God ceases- that ultimately, the experience was all of the Self and not of God. You can see how this can be problematic for the Eastern systems.

But she also goes on to say something that U.G. says- the body is eternal. There is an eternal body, in other words- an aspect of the body that we don’t readily apprehend through our senses and so on, and so that only death that ever occurs is the “death of the Higher Self.”

It’s all very confusing, and I wonder sometimes if I go through the whole journey, what will happen, what I will encounter, what I will report back to everyone else.

Certainly, I plan to not be dogmatic or run around with a superiority complex over it- as this seems to be problematic with some of the people who actually make the journey. I’ve yet to understand how people who claim to have no ego and no self can be so absolutely arrogant in the way that they are.

For the Gnostic, the concept that the body and not the soul is eternal is somewhat problematic because of the idea that spirit is superior to matter. However, perhaps it can be said that it is not matter that is the problem, but the systems and limitations imposed on matter. Bernadette seems to find the reconciliation in saying that the Higher Self is actually the “veil” that separates us from absolute reality and the knowledge of Christ and matter and so on.

She also deals with the idea of “Christ is matter,” which she said is an error, but that it’s at least a closer approximation than a lot of ideas that go around.

I’ll continue reading and continuing searching, and I’ll go receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist as often as possible.