- Paperback: 177 pages
- Publisher: Blue Dove Pr; 2 edition (November 1, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1884997279
- ISBN-13: 978-1884997273
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 55 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #818,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Collision With the Infinite: A Life Beyond the Personal Self 2nd Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
The utility of this book derives from the clarity with which Segal describes the profound spiritual experience of the egoless state and the sense of emptiness that many spiritual traditions seek to produce. Segal's easy and conversational narrative of her experience of this state does three things. First, it names the goal that meditation systems like her own Transcendental Meditation (TM) advita tradition seek. Secondly, her description of this experience in clear and appealing language bereft of all spiritual jargon is marvelously instructive. Thirdly, Segal's account of her own fear while in this state, coupled with her compelling curiosity to understand that fear, can teach others on this path how to cope with the experience. Many have tried to do what Segal does, but none have achieved such clarity in the task. Segal's book is a compelling testament to the power of advita spirituality couched in terms any pilgrim can understand and appreciate.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"'Enlightenment' to me means a total annihilation of the sense of personal doership. In the words of the Buddha, 'Events happen, deeds are done, but there is no individual doer thereof.' "Whether a traumatic experience is necessary for enlightenment to occur is a moot point, but it happened to Suzanne Segal. In her book, she describes the full story in a sincere and lucid manner, in simple words and a fluent style that fascinated me. "To anyone interested in the subject, I would say, 'Read this book!' " -- Ramesh Balsekar, author of Consciousness Speaks
"...Suzanne Segal...writes about her fears and apprehensions while coming to terms with her vivid awakening." -- Rodney Stevens,
"Suzanne Segal's Collision with the Infinite was a major milestone in my life. I consider Segal's book one on the giant works of our time, one of the most intriguing testaments of the mystical state, unique in its own way and language. I carried it around with me for weeks, couldn't bear to put it down, read and re-read it." -- Joseph Chilton Pearce author of The Magical Child
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Then in the end to find out about her brain tumor I then wonder was this whole experience merely a symptom of her tumor that was there all along? If not, then why after the tumor was discovered did her experience shift back to the personal? I get what she is saying about the vastness and believe that enlightenment is a real possibility for us today, however there is something about her story and the way it ended that leaves me feeling unsure.
I do believe in the description in the vedic texts and zen etc. which seem to mirror her experiences, I just don't Understand how she could fall from that state of consciousness because of a brain tumor
It also makes you wonder about the effectiveness of whatever philosophy she had been studying for all those years. You would think that she would have 'caught on' to her possible selfless state well before the 10 years or so that it took her to do so, or seem to.
As has been mentioned by other reviewers here, the book wants you to not consider her state pathologically, yet that is exactly what Suzanne did near the end of her days. That certainly led me to take all the 'enlightening business' in the middle of the book somewhat skeptically.
The biggest tip off was the fact that she had no idea of what was going on, along with her constant state of dissassociation; these don't seem to be indicators of some satisfying recognition of her personal bond with the infinite. It seems more indicative of a detached personality, either from physical or emotional causes.
Read the book, it is a very interesting read; but also let the sadness of Suzanne's personal situation be a lesson that there are many out there that will tell you, incorrectly, that wrestling with or defeating the ego is a requirement for enlightenment.
I'm not actually reviewing the entertainment level of the book as much as the stance of those that seems to worship the state she was in.
But by halfway into the book I was so plagued with questions and annoyed by all that was unsaid and unexplained (if her 'personal self' which one could call the ego - was non existent - why hop from man to man, from place to place? Why would you need to? And while having a young child? And allowing that's all fine for the child since she came in fully enlightened? (Implied not stated). The author repeatedly avers that her daughter is happy and well adjusted. That made me question the concept of non self and non ego, that she would need to state that and more than once.
I had questions as to her need to distance from her parents, and especially in light of her obvious love for her mother and her mother's trauma surviving the Holocaust? Little is said about her father, except that he was very successful. He obviously had to be the financial source of her ability to float around the world, study anything that caught her interest, with no apparent source of income of her own.
The reason I think those aspects are pertinent is because the author herself was dismayed (before her 'bus hit' where she lost her 'self'), at the lack of compassion she saw in the seasoned TM'ers while a student of the Maharishi. Suzanne's behavior seemed highly impulsive and self indulgent, and that would not be compassionate toward her loved ones and her child.
The most burning questions that arose for me were:
1. If you have NO personal self, and you say the 'observer' that was first there has also left the building, how do you even report on 'the body/mind's fear, not to mention experience it? And if you can experience fear in the body/mind without a personal self, why can't you also experience love or report on it? (with her mother or her child for example). She explained that 'mothering' as a kind of energy stepped in, and life functions went on...yet the most intense experience she reported was fear, and certainly the rootless psychic amnesia she described sounded terrifying.
2. If she had contact with source or 'vastness', I was confused why she should be plagued with such personal frailties in her interpersonal relations, and not be imbued with more wisdom and maturity? There is no mention of her personal responsibility in any of that - just her getting up and walking out of a therapy session, or out of a relationship and on to the next. She explained that she just 'went on to the next thing' without introspection (because she couldn't do that having no sense of self), and because it seemed obvious. She could be scathing towards the mental health practitioners who minimized or pathologized her experience, yet where was accountability on her own part (not for the loss of self, but her hurtful behaviors).
How could this behavior not have left a lot of psychic damage to others who still had a 'personal self'? I would LOVE to hear from her daughter what life was like for her - as a witness.
3. The foreword and epilogue mentions her humility, and the power of her radiance, and how she touched those who came into contact with her. I would have loved more expansion on that since I would never have gathered that from her narrative.
What was useful and powerful in this little book however is that it poses the question of what is self, what is the nature of consciousness? And does so in subjective, experiential, and not merely theoretical terms. And that religions and organized belief systems, be they of the spiritual or material sort (TM, therapeutic modalities and all such organized systems) brought to my mind the old adage "If you find the Buddha on the road -- kill him'' and also that every map is the wrong one - because one's individual path is yet to be traversed.
In sum for me this was a frustrating, limited, self indulgent (excuse the use of term 'self' here! but deeply stimulating exploration of an unusual experience that while it may have been organically caused by brain damage from the tumor, from early abuse, a form of mental illness, or incarnating and having a difficult energetic with this dimension -- in the end it did not matter to me- because the questions posed are powerfully thought provoking.