Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Experience of No-Self

Perhaps the only philosophy or theology that can help us cross the stream is one that admits: when you have learned it all and lived it thoroughly, then you had better get ready to have it all collapse when you discover the highest wisdom is that you know nothing.
It is said that St. Thomas Aquinas, after writing his masterful tomes on Christian theology, suddenly had an experience of God that so silenced his mind that ever after, he never wrote a single word. In other words, St. Thomas literally fell outside his own frame of reference when he came upon "that" which no mind can comprehend nor pen describe. ...
It seems that ultimately we must go beyond all frames of reference when the Cloud of Unknowing descends, and all the thrashing around looking for a life preserver won't do a bit of good.
Nevertheless, I now see a possible line of travel that may be of use before crossing the stream. It would be to start with the Christian experience of self's union with God, whereby we loose the fear of ever becoming lost -- since we can only get lost in God. ...
But when the self disappears forever into this Great Silence, we come upon the Buddhist discovery of no-self, and learn how to live without anything we could possibly call a self, and without a frame of reference, as we come upon the essential oneness of all that is.
Then, finally, we come upon the peak of Hindu discovery, namely: "that" which remains when there is no self identical with "that" which Is, the one Existent that is all that Is. ..
~Excerpt from The Experience of No-Self
by Bernadette Roberts

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