Suzanne Segal 

Suzanne Segal had a spontaneous awakening occur at a bus stop in Paris. For ten years, she did not understand what was happening to her and she lived in existential terror for the entire time. (Suzanne's experience is very similar to what happened to me. Did not know for two years what was happening.) Eventually, she became a psychotherapist in the hope of understanding what was going on.  Finally, after ten years, it was revealed to her what it was all about. (It took four years in my case.) 

Excerpts below are taken from her book Collision with the Infinite. Click here to view book.

Page 54

The personal self was gone, yet here was a body and a mind that still existed empty of anyone who occupied them. The experience of living without a personal identity, without an experience of being somebody, an I or a me, is exceedingly difficult to describe, but it is absolutely unmistakable. It can't be confused with having a bad day or coming down with the flu or feeling upset or angry or spaced out. When the personal self disappears, there is no one inside who can be located as being you. The body is only an outline, empty of everything of which it had previously felt so full.

The mind, body, and emotions no longer referred to anyone - there was no one who thought, no one who felt, no one who perceived. Yet the mind, body, and emotions continued to function unimpaired; apparently they did not need an I to keep doing what they always did. Thinking, feeling, perceiving, speaking, all continued as before, functioning with a smoothness that gave no indication of the emptiness behind them. No one suspected that such a radical change had occurred. All conversations were carried on as before; language was employed in the same manner. Questions could be asked and answered, cars driven, meals cooked, books read, phones answered, and letters written. Everything appeared completely normal from the outside, as if the same old Suzanne was going about her life as she always had.

In an attempt to understand what had occurred, the mind began working overtime, generating endless questions, all unanswerable. Who thought? Who felt? Who was afraid? Who were people talking to when they spoke to me? Who were they looking at? Why was there a reflection in the mirror, since there was no one there? Why did these eyes open in the morning? Why did this body continue? Who was living? Life became one long, unbroken koan, forever unsolvable, forever mysterious, completely out of reach of the mind's capacity to comprehend.

The oddest moments occurred when any reference was made to my name. If I had to write it on a check or sign it on a letter, I would stare at the letters on the paper and the mind would drown in perplexity. The name referred to no one. There was no Suzanne Segal anymore; perhaps there never had been. There is a turning inward that occurs when the mind searches for internal information, whether it be about feelings or thoughts or connection to a name or inner experience of any kind. This is generally referred to as introspection. Without a personal self, the inside or internal simply did not exist. The inward-turning motion of the mind became the most bizarre of experiences when time and again it found total emptiness where it had previously found an object to perceive, a self-concept.

Page 63

Everything appeared to be dissolving right in front of my eyes, constantly. Emptiness was everywhere, seeping through the pores of every face I gazed upon, flowing through the crevices of seemingly solid objects. The body, mind, speech, thoughts, and emotions were all empty; they had no ownership, no person behind them. I was utterly bereft of all my previous notions of reality.

Page 64

During childbirth it became utterly clear that all of life is accomplished by an unseen doer who can never be located. The previous sense of an "I" who was doing was totally illusionary. There personal "I" had never been the doer - it had only masqueraded as the doer. Everything continued as before, only the person who used to think she was doing was absent.

Page 137

In every moment, this body-mind circuitry is consciously participating in the sense organ through which the infinite perceives itself. There is never a locatable "me". In fact, the non-locatability of the vastness is the predominant flavor of the experience, and the infinity of this non-locatability is forever revealing itself to be more and more infinite.

At the bus stop in Paris, the "me" was annihilated, and it has never reappeared in any form. With this annihilation, there occurred the realization that a "me" has never existed who is the doer behind what has appeared to be "my" life.  In recent years, it has also become clear that not only is there no "me", there is also no "other". The "no-other-ness" is now so dominant that nothing else is perceived. Life is being lived out of the infinite substance of which it is made, and this substance - which is what and who we all are - is constantly aware of itself out of itself. What an extraordinary way to live!

The vastness never requires that something must go away for it be the vastness. After all, where could anything go in this vastness? However, an entire range of "self-referential" emotions, such as embarrassment, self-consciousness, shame, envy, self-pity, self-reflection, and introspection have simply ceased to arise. Since the individual self to which they referred no longer exists, they have nothing around which to form.

The same is true for the self-referencing aspect of all thoughts, body sensations, emotions and actions. Although these experiences continue to occur, they no longer reference to a someone, a me. Nor do they arise anymore to serve a personal purpose or to achieve a goal. Thinking never precedes action or speech. Everything has an immediacy that is empty of personally directed intention. The presence of any thoughts, feelings or actions is never interpreted to mean anything other than that they are present. The vastness perceives purely that thoughts are thoughts, feelings are feelings, actions are actions. There is no longer any wondering about whether a particular thought is right or wrong. In fact, no judgment about good or bad or right or wrong ever arises; everything is simply what it is.

In this state, nothing is ever experienced as a problem. To see anything as a problem, one would have to assume that something needs to change or go away for the problem to be solved. But I never relate to circumstances, experiences, or people as if they needed to be anything other than what they are - because what they are is the infinite vastness. Nothing has to change, go away, or transform itself into something else for the vastness to be the vastness. The vastness is always who and what everything is.

Take, for example, the relationship to strong emotions like anger. The relationship of the vastness to anger is similar to the relationship of the ocean to the seaweed floating around in it. The ocean would never complain about the presence of seaweed and insist that it be removed for the ocean to be the ocean. In a similar manner, the vastness would never complain about the presence of anger or anything else that arises in it - and is simultaneously made of it - or insist that this arising ceases. The vastness is never altered, no matter how numerous or intense the arising. Nothing that occurs is ever regarded as a problem.

Page 141

What seems to have occurred at the bus stop in Paris is that the human circuitry (body) of this life started to participate consciously in the sense organ with which the vastness is constantly perceiving itself. The vastness is the substance of all things, existing everywhere simultaneously with the appearance of form. Form exists simultaneously as that vastness and in that vastness, like a drawing in the sand in which the drawing itself is made of the same substance as what is "inside" and "outside" of it. In the same way, everything that appears to be form is not separate from the vastness. 

The human circuitry is made of the same substance. When it consciously participates in the sense organ that the vastness is always using to perceive itself, the human circuitry becomes aware - not through its own sense organs, but through the sense organ of the vastness - that the substance of the infinite is its naturally occurring state. Seeing this, the circuitry joins the undulation of the vastness in a conscious way and begins to experience unceasing awe at everything that is. 

As I have said before, when it becomes clear that there is no personal reference point, it also becomes apparent that there never was a personal reference point, and that everything is done and has always been done by an unseen doer. This doer doesn't start doing only when it is seen to be the doer.  It has always been the doer; the personal self has never been the doer. Thus, life as usual continues to unfold; everything gets done, just as it did before realization of the vastness occurred. Since there has never been a personal doer in any case, the realization of this truth does nothing to change how functioning occurs. All the functions continue as before - the thinking, feeling, acting, relating. The difference is that it is now clear that they have never referred or belonged to a someone.

Page 142

While the functions continue to function, it is now seen that they have always been engaged not for a personal purpose, but to do whatever the vastness deems obvious in the service of freedom. The vastness has its own non-personal desire to perceive itself directly through itself using the circuitry (body) of every human being. This conscious participation by the circuitry (body) in the sense organ of the vastness is the state of freedom - the naturally occurring human state. The mystery of the vastness knows within itself the most direct means to employ for that freedom to show itself. This circuitry is employed in a moment-to-moment way in service to this mysterious vastness and always has been.

The continued operation of all the functions in the state of freedom is an awesome way to live. It bears no resemblance to the stark emptiness that fear might paint to be. People who tell me they don't want to give up the personal because they believe they would be giving up love or joy or deep feeling don't understand that the personal never existed. Nothing is given up. Love that appears to be personal is based on a mind-constructed sense of being separate. Love in this separate state involves a longing to merge with an other in order to be fulfilled. From the perspective of the vastness, the other does not exist. When the vastness sees everything out of itself to be made of itself, this is the ultimate intimacy. The moment-to-moment flavor of the vastness undulating within itself as it perceives itself through every particle of itself everywhere brings a love that is limitless, far surpassing anything the mind could construct as the ideal love it seeks. 

Joy and pleasure are also awesome in their non-personal appearances. To live in the vastness of the naturally occurring state is to bathe in the ocean on non-personal pleasure and joy. This joy and pleasure, which belong to no one, are unlike any joy or pleasure that appear to refer or belong to a someone. The emptiness is so full, so total, so infinitely blissful to itself.

Page 144

These eyes see the incredible benevolence of the universe, which is completely trustworthy in all respects. There is nothing to fear. Everything in each moment is so well taken care of - and always has been. 

Page 145

Realization of the infinite is outside the sphere of the mind. The infinite realizes itself out of itself. This raises the question about the value of performing spiritual practices, studying ancient texts, or even living a "spiritual" life. Most practices imply the existence of a "me" who can do the practice and eventually accomplish a particular goal. But if the practice is undertaken by such a "me" in order to attain the non-locatable vastness of no personal self, then a conundrum or paradox presents itself: A personal doer is presumed to exist who must do the practices properly in order to achieve the realization that there is no personal doer. 

But this reference to a personal doer runs totally counter to how the infinite exists. In this life, it has been clear ever since the experience at the bus stop that there never is, nor has there ever been, a personal doer anywhere. Prescribed techniques and lifestyles that insinuate an "I" who must "do" in order for awakening to occur presuppose a cause-and-effect relationship that simply does not exist. How can a personal "I" who doesn't exist be the one who must do something in order for awakening to occur?

Page 148

I have said before that there is no personal doer, but this should not be construed to mean that nothing gets done. In fact, there has never been a personal doer, yet it's obvious that the car gets driven, the children get fed, relationships get taken care of. As the mind sees things getting done, it concludes that there must be a someone who does them, otherwise doing would not occur. But the vastness has never waited for the mind to recognize that there in no doer for doing to occur. Doing has always occurred out of a placeless origin that is confounding to a mind that thrives on interpretations and insinuations. The vastness itself does not interpret doing to mean that there must be someone who does. It sees quite naturally that doing arises out of the same placeless origin as everything else.

Page 149

The vastness carries a non-personal desire to experience itself. This appears to be the purpose of human life - for the vastness to meet itself everywhere it turns. The notion of personal growth or inner development is contrary in every respect to the way the vastness exists. The quest to awaken implies a sense of futurity that precludes basking in what actually is right now. I am unable to see the value in any method of evolution that implies getting somewhere or becoming something different. As soon as one embarks on a path to somewhere, the awesomeness of what is, there and now, becomes unavailable. More important, the somewhere people are trying to arrive is actually not locatable, since it is everywhere all the time. 

Page 151

Working as a psychologist has provided me with a front row seat in the theater of human suffering. It is apparent that traditional psychotherapy is founded on the principles that pathologize human experience across the board and measure success according to how well we conform to definite ideas about what our human experience should look like. We are taught that we must "work through", "release", "deal with", "come to terms with" or "rid ourselves of" various aspects of our experience in order to live a satisfying life. We must "get in touch with our feelings", "find ourselves", "know what we want so we can get it", "not let anyone take advantage of us" and "find our true voice". Seen from the perspective of the vastness, all these idea are just what they are - ideas.  We should not mistake them for truth.

Page 154

The pathologizing of human experience, which has been perpetuated by the over-psychologizing of our culture, is another horror that has been masquerading as truth. We have been psychologized into believing that only certain experiences are appropriate. We have been given words that label our experience and thereby put us into an aversive relationship to it. The vastness is rigorously non-pathologizing because it is unable to perceive anything as wrong.

It is absurd to think that we have to get rid of certain aspects of our experience to be acceptable. As mentioned before, it would be like the ocean saying that it simply cannot be the ocean as long as there is seaweed floating around in it. The ocean is the ocean, no matter what it contains. We are the vastness, and we contain everything - thoughts, emotions, sensations, preferences, fears, idea, even identifications. Noting has to go anywhere. In any case, where would it go?

Psychological directives that aim at a cure imply that certain thoughts or emotions are a sign we aren't acceptable. Spiritual directives that aim at a goal called realization or transcendence suggest that certain thoughts or emotions are impediments to spiritual unfolding. After all, they say, how can we be the vastness if we are experiencing confusion or fear, anger or sadness? But the presence of thoughts and feelings means only that thoughts and feelings are present. We interpret our experience to mean something (generally negative) about who we are.  his interpretation creates suffering when it passes itself off for truth. But if it's seen to be what it is - an interpretation - it presents no problem; it's simply there too in the vastness.

Page 155

The purpose of human life has been revealed. The vastness created these human circuitries in order to have an experience of itself out of itself that it could not have without them. Through this humanness, the substance we are all made of has an opportunity to love itself - and the love of the infinite for itself is awesome. The words "love", "bliss" and "ecstasy" only begin to describe the hugeness of the infinite's appreciation of itself that occurs through these circuitries (bodies).