Now self is not an easy thing to define. Ego is easy – it’s the whole host of conditioned views, opinions, and distorted perceptions – but self is something different. If you think of self as a verb, you can see that it’s something that happens within consciousness. Self is the act of consciousness turning back upon itself and reflecting within. That self-reflection is what self is. Self is not a thing; it’s literally the act of consciousness turning back and looking within. Now when one is very unified within, then there’s no friction and no conflict, and what we experience inside is a great sense of peace and ease and well-being. In other words, there is nothing at odds within you or between you and the world, and everything is at peace. What the arc of consciousness turns and reflects upon inside is a deep state of peacefulness and ease and radiance.
But at some point in our spiritual evolution, that arc of self stops turning to look within. Why it stops turning is a hard thing to explain; that cessation is a form of maturity, the ultimate spiritual growing up. When consciousness stops turning in to reflect, all of a sudden there;s no sense of a personal self, because the personal self is what self looks at. In an advanced state of spiritual development, what our self is is that state of peace and rest and ease, that radiance of consciousness. It’s a very elevated sense of our own being. But when consciousness stops turning and looking within and reflecting upon the peaceful center, then the sense of self disappears altogether. Then we’ve moved beyond identity altogether…From the moment when consciousness stops turning back on itself, there is no more personal sense of self or a personal relationship with God….What I am describing is experiential; there’s nothing abstract about it…The loss of self is not like transcending the ego. The ego is painful and conflicted, and it’s a relief to leave it behind, but by the time self begins to fall away, your sense of yourself is radiant. What you’re losing, then, is really the most beautiful thing you’ve ever experienced, the most beautiful thing you’ve ever known…After the transfiguration, your connection with God is so deep it feels as if you’re merged, and there’s no sense of separation between you and God. To have that intimacy suddenly disappear is an immense transition, and this is graphically portrayed in the crucifixion.
Deep stuff. Most of the rest of the book is easier to understand. Highly recommended.