When I was reading this book while still in college I can’t imagine I really had a clue what Bernadette Robert’s was talking about, but I did find it fascinating. I’ve been enjoying revisiting Bernadette Roberts lately.
… how many can honestly appreciate the triumph of being common? Who can understand what it means to learn that the ultimate reality is not a passing moment of bliss, not a fleeting vision or transfiguration, not some ineffable, extraordinary experience or phenomenon but instead, is as close as our eyes, as simple as a smile, and as clear as the identity of ‘that’ which remains when there is no self? The expectation of the grand finale being one of love and bliss is a failure to realize that such responses are the responses of self to an object – the experiences of the self – while what Is does not respond to itself as an object or in similar fashion.
On the contrary, it can be said that the Eye sees itself as ‘usual’ just as it ‘ordinarily’ does all the time, and is a ‘common’ sight wherever it looks. If we had been looking at ourselves all our lives at what point would we go into ecstasy upon seeing ourselves? It may only be deceiving to think the ultimate reality is love and bliss since such experiences may have nothing to do with God at all. As said before, I am convinced we continually see this reality all our lives but do not recognize it because it is so usual, common and ordinary that we go off in search of more tantalizing experiences – experiences more gratifying to the self. Thus when we can look in the mirror and not experience the great disappointment, but can say instead, “everything is as usual and nothing has changed” then, perhaps, we shall know the intense triumph of being common. — Bernadette Roberts from The Experience of No-Self: A Contemplative Journey
hat tip: Contemplative Day Book
I have a (no longer used) personal twitter account in which the tagline is “adventures into the ordinary.” I believe the sentiment comes from the same place.
More posts that feature Bernadette’s work: