Bernadette Roberts

mico mico, modified 11 Years ago at 8/17/10 1:04 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/17/10 1:04 PM

Bernadette Roberts

Posts: 79 Join Date: 8/13/10 Recent Posts
I'm surprised there has been little discussion of Bernadette Roberts here, or elsewhere for that matter. (The AF site dispenses with her with a quite shallow manner of argument.)

Here, I've cherry picked some quotes with striking parallels to AF.

The Experience of No-Self: A Contemplative Journey

"The affective system, Roberts says, is the cause of all suffering. Out of it arises all fear, anxiety, and psychological suffering. "

"...self includes the entire affective emotional network of feelings from the most subtle unconscious stirrings of energy to the obvious extremes of passionate outbursts. Though separate from the cognitive system, the affective life so infiltrates the mind and all its processes that we can never separate our energies from the cognitive faculties as long as consciousness or self remains."

"Roberts says that when there is no self, no self-consciousness, the conditioned mind functions at its full potential, and there is no longer reflection, introspection or the intrusion of feelings and biases."

"It is these two divisions, the knowing self and feeling self, which form the whole of consciousness.

"With the disappearance of self and God, the entire affective system of feeling and emotion disappeared, for it could not be kept in place any longer."

"So when the reflexive mechanism, or self-consciousness, closes down or ceases to exist, the experience of psychic and physical energy goes as well; or at least they are not experienced as before. This results in a sense of weightlessness, of being detached from action, and this sense continues as long as one notices or chooses to remember life prior to the disappearance of self-consciousness, or the abilities of mind to bend upon itself. In time, Roberts says, she acclimated to the lack of feeling any energy."

""All that need be said is that it is a dynamic, intense state of taking care of whatever arises in the now-moment. It is a continuous waking state in which the physical organism remains sensitive, responsive, and totally unimpaired. When fully adjusted to the dimension of no-self, nothing is found to be missing or wanting. It is only in the encounter with other selves that a self or affective system is a reminder of what >was<."

"So there is only living in the now moment, without feelings or practice of virtue, without struggling or the measuring of action. Roberts says, "Somehow each moment contains within itself the appropriate action for each tiny event in life without the need for thought or feeling.""


From her book, there is a chapter on her discovery of Buddhist teachings, which is as interesting as it may be contentious here, but this seems a good place for it.

What is Self? (pdf)

"Then I went to the Buddhists’ literature and came upon their doctrine of no eternal self and the cessation of self. Instantly this struck me as true, yet I could find no experiential account of the event that would have allowed for a comparison. Indications of it given by Zen masters and others were in the form of changed perspectives rather than the cessation of psychological experiences."

Alas, there is too much to copy and paste, but she eventually finds hope (in finding a convergence of understanding) within the following composition, attributed to the Buddha:

House-builder! I behold thee now,
Again a house thou shalt not build;
The ridge-pole is split
All thy rafters are broken now,
My mind, its elements dissolved,
The end of cravings has attained.

(She grooves on the ridge-pole a lot.)


"A few days later I came upon the Five Skandhas. On reading the short translation of these five terms I immediately recognized the entire self experience. This was another remarkable find because without the no-self experience no one can possibly account for the entire self experience; as said before, as long as we are living it, we cannot have the whole story on self. Thus whoever nailed down the Five Skandhas knew this event, knew the permanent cessation of the Skandhas"


Derek, modified 11 Years ago at 8/17/10 2:13 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/17/10 2:13 PM

RE: Bernadette Roberts

Posts: 326 Join Date: 7/21/10 Recent Posts
By coincidence, I just happen to have started re-reading Bernadette Roberts' book The Path to No-Self.

What she is discussing does sound very similar to Kenneth's "disembedding" process.

However, she believes there are actually two disembedding processes that need to happen. One she calls "above the neck" and the other "below the neck."

I'm not familar enough with the material to compare this with AF.
steve g, modified 11 Years ago at 8/18/10 7:22 AM
Created 11 Years ago at 8/18/10 7:22 AM

RE: Bernadette Roberts

Posts: 2 Join Date: 8/16/10 Recent Posts
I find Bernedette Roberts case to be a curious one indeed. She seems to describe a state she experienced which sounds extremely close if not idential to a permenent PCE. She describes that after her self/Self passed away the condition she found herself in as living purely as the senses/body is akin to "living in ecstasy." But the extremely interesting part of her testimony is that this PCE was not the end of her journey. She apparently experienced the next inevitable step. The falling away of the senses.

So it seems to me that the Resurrection experience she describes could be compared to permanent PCE/actualism but then theres a further stage she calls 'Ascension' which makes living in a PCE virtually impossible for her:

"Having come upon the final divine estate of things there can be no more acclimating to the world"

For her it seems AF does not go far enough....