What Is Self?

A Study of the Spiritual Journey in Terms of Consciousness


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This extraordinary philosophical treatise on the nature of the self and God follows on the author’s now-classic book, The Experience of No-Self. A renowned contemporary mystic, Bernadette Roberts takes us to the ultimate consciousness that transcends the self and experience. The book includes fascinating chronicles of her own spiritual journey.

In What Is Self? Ms. Roberts explains her insights into ego, self, and the revelations of the contemplative life. Her remarkable ability to give clear expression to the mystic experience makes this book a landmark in spiritual literature. This is a critical work for spiritual inquirers who want to study the experience of no-self and beyond.

“Our contemplative maps of the journey come to an end with the discovery of the true self and its oneness with the divine. This unitive state—known by various terms in different traditions—follows the falling away or transcendence of the ego (self-center) and entails a radical change or transformation of consciousness. Beyond this, however, our maps don’t go. But this unitive or transcendental state is not the end of the journey. It may be the end of the ego-self, but by no means is it the end of the self—either the true self or the phenomenal self. For this, we have much further to go.”

— excerpt from What Is Self?


Praise for What Is Self?


Ms. Roberts’ special gift as a spiritual writer is her capacity to articulate the ineffable.

—Thomas Keating, author of Open Mind, Open Heart


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about the author

Bernadette Roberts

Bernadette Roberts is one of the most extraordinary contemplatives of our time. The child of a devout Catholic family, Bernadette Roberts’ contemplative experiences began at an early age. At fifteen, they began to fit into a frame of reference within her Christian tradition. Ten years of seclusion in a monastery followed, during which Bernadette realized an abiding state of oneness with God. According to the Christian mystical tradition, this egoless, unitive state is as far as one can progress in this life.

Upon leaving the monastic life, Ms. Roberts returned “to the marketplace” and led a life as a wife and mother. She is the author of three books, The Experience of No-Self: A Contemplative Journey, The Path to No-Self: Life at the Center, and What Is Self: A Study of the Spiritual Journey in Terms of Consciousness. She offers retreats and seminars periodically and lives in Santa Monica, California.

Bernadette Roberts' website is bernadetteroberts.blogspot.com.