In his previous book on philosophy (The Spontaneous Self), the author argued that the concept of free will is an illusion while detailing what it might imply for our thoughts, feelings, and behavior to dispel that belief. The present volume takes the argument further. With equal emphasis on theory and practice, it illustrates how giving up one’s identity as a free-willing inner “I” can serve as a stepping stone to the state of enlightenment.
To experience enlightenment, we have to go beyond self-realization, and that can happen only if we change the way we define ourselves. Given the ubiquitous value placed on the self in our Western culture, that is not an easy task. If the path to enlightenment can be envisioned as a trail leading to the top of a mountain, the self can be seen as a large rock blocking the way. To get to the top, we have to either blast our way through the rock or go around it. Most spiritual traditions opt for the latter. In Beyond Self-Realization, the author lays out a plan for blasting our way through.
The plan consists of two steps: first, a gradual shrinking of the self-illusion and second, a total uprooting of the self-tree. The techniques used include meditation, contemplation, linguistic exercises, and group work, in which members look for signs that the self-illusion is present in their behavior. Once a sign is detected, the other techniques are brought to bear on removing the “rock.” When applied with persistence, the practice is designed to release one from the cage of quiet desperation, in which most of us are trapped. Once released, we are free to discover who we really are.