The Path to No-Self

Life at the Center

By Bernadette Roberts

Subjects: Christianity
Paperback : 9780791411421, 232 pages, October 1991
Hardcover : 9780791411414, 232 pages, October 1991

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Table of contents



Phases of the Unitive Life

Dichotomy of Experience

Phase I

Preface to Phase II

Phase II

Phase III

Between Phases III and IV

Phase IV

Phase V

Phase VI



This book shows how, once we have adjusted to the unitive state, the spiritual journey moves on to yet another more final ending.

In our major religious traditions, the outstanding milestone in the spiritual journey is the permanent, irreversible transcendence of the self center or ego. The fact that a great deal has been written about the journey to this point means that many people have come this far. But what, we might ask, comes next? Looking ahead we see no path; even in the literature there seems to be nothing beyond an abiding awareness of oneness with God. Had this path been mapped in the literature, then at least we would have known that one existed; but where no such account exists, we assume there is no path and that union of self and God is the final goal to be achieved.

The main purpose of The Path to No-Self is to correct this assumption. It verifies that a path beyond union does indeed exist, that the eventual falling away of the unitive state happens as the culmination of a long experiential journey beyond the state. The author shows that a path exists between the transcendence of the ego (self-center), which begins the unitive state, and the later falling away of all self (the true self), which ends the unitive state.

As a first hand account, The Path to No-Self will be of interest to those with similar experiences, or those searching for a better understanding of their own spiritual journey. Since the journey is concerned with the effects of grace on human consciousness, the book will be of interest to those psychologists concerned with the transformational process.

Bernadette Roberts is the author of two other books: The Experience of No-Self and What is Self?


"Ms. Roberts' experiential approach clarifies several important points that have remained obscure in the writings of Christian mystics of the past. Primary among these is her powerful affirmation that the state of Transforming Union is a preparation for a further stage of divine transformation which, for lack of any classical Christian expression, she calls the experience of no self.

"Ms. Roberts' special gift as spiritual writer is her capacity to articulate the ineffable. The clarity and sharpness of her insight and expression, her honesty about herself and her experience, the balance and groundedness of her psychological perceptiveness, and her sure touch in distinguishing accidentals from essentials—the straight and narrow path from dead-ends—make her account unique among the works of spiritual writers. " — Father Thomas Keating