Email August 4, 2004
I'm reading Bernadette Roberts' first book (of two) "The
Experience of No-Self" a contemporary Christian mystic whose
writing so far I find totally fascinating. Here's
a quote especially for you wilderness retreat types:

"What I needed were great blocks of time for uninterrupted silence
and contact with nature, because it was only in such a milieu I
felt at home and at one with the flow of life. What I eventually
did was pack up the camping gear and head for the forests of the
high Sierras where I camped for five months, or until the snows came
and I had to come down.
"I went to the mountains to learn how to live a new type of
existence, an existence without time, without thought, without the
emotions, feeling and energies of the self. I hadn't the slightest
idea how things would go; all I knew was that I had to go and find
out. While the discoveries were numerous, and I have much to say about
this adventure, I think I can sum it up in one phrase by saying:
until I went to the mountains I had never truly lived. Not for a
single day in my life had I ever lived before. Without a doubt I was
in the Great Flow, so totally at one with it that every notion of
ecstasy, bliss, love and joy pale by comparison to the extraordinary
simplicity, clarity and oneness of such an existence.
"There's nothing haphazard, idle or easy-going about forest life. On
the contrary, everything there is vital, fully awake, dynamic, and
intelligent. It's not a free life. The Great Flow takes its own
direction, sweeping everything along, and whether it would go or not
is of now consequence. There's no time to step out of the flow or
to take a break; in a word, it is a life completely devoid of a single