Suzanne Segal



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Fast Facts
SuzanneSegal.gif
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Susan Segal (common spelling error)
Function: 
Spiritual Teacher
Traditions: 
None
Main Countries of Activity: 
USA
Date of Birth: 
1955
Place of Birth: 
USA
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
No
Date Left His/Her Body: 
April 1st, 1997
Ancestor Gurus: 
Other Related Gurus: 
Jean Klein

Biography

Spontaneous Enlightenment

One day at a bus stop in Paris, Suzanne Segal, 27 years old and pregnant, lost her sense of personal identity. In her own words:

I lifted my right foot to step up into the bus and collided head-on with an invisible force that entered my awareness like a silently exploding stick of dynamite, blowing the door of my usual consciousness open and off its hinges, splitting me in two. In the gaping space that appeared, what I had previously called ‘me’ was forcefully pushed out of its usual location inside me into a new location that was approximately a foot behind and to the left of my head. ‘I’ was now behind my body looking out at the world without using the body’s eyes.

After years of some practicing and teaching of Transcendental Meditation, this was Suzanne’s spontaneous dropping of her usual sense of a 'me', or as how she used to call it a “collision with the infinite.”

During these years, she also met Gangaji and Andrew Cohen and had personal talks with them.

10 Years of Terror

With the witness gone and, also gone, all vestiges of a familiar 'me', a heightened level of fear arose. She called it terror. She knew a continuous shaking of the extremities and constant and copious perspiration. Now sleep was not a blessed drug, for there was no one to sleep. It brought no relief. She could not identify anyone who gained rest by sleeping, just as there was no one who was awake.

After ten years of terror and despair in which she consulted with many psychologists and therapists and becoming a clinical psychologist by herself, she began, at the advise of a therapist who was also acquainted with the spiritual world, to explore the spiritual perspective on the emptiness of the no-self. She found volumes of material in Buddhism on Anatta (no-self) and Sunyata (emptiness). Now she learned that not only was her experience understood, it was something sought by those on the spiritual path.

She kept reading and inquiring spiritual teachings. Of all she had met and read of, Sri Ramana Maharshi, she felt was most clear, and she considered Ramana her spiritual father.

He [Sri Ramana] described my experience in such a direct and simple fashion that it left absolutely no room for doubt about what I was encountering.

At that time, Segal also met other spiritual figures to consult about her condition. These included:

Christopher Titmuss, a teacher of Buddhist Vipassana Meditation who assured her that she was not insane, but that insanity is the absence of experiences such as hers, whose absence leaves only the 'me' and the tragic consequences of limitation on personal, societal and global scales.

Tenshin Roshi Reb Anderson, of the Green Gulch Zen Center in San Francisco, helped her loosen a rigidity in the way her mind was interpreting the experience.

She had written to Poonjaji (known to his devotees as Papaji), the well-known disciple of Ramana Mahasrhi, and in a letter back to her, he validated Segal's experience, saying, "You have become liberation (moksha) of the realized sages." Poonjaji read her letter out loud in one of his satsangs in Lucknow, India. Those who were there at Poonjaji's satsang recall him saying after reading her letter, "Very good. If she came to Lucknow, she would become enlightened."

The Transition in Mood

With all the reassurance from spiritual figures, she still found herself in misery and despair until an abrupt transition saw a change in her experience from 'There is no personal self', to 'There is no other'. This occurred while Segal was driving to see some friends when

I suddenly became aware that I was driving through myself. For years there had been no self at all, yet here on this road, everything was myself, and I was driving through me to arrive where I already was. In essence, I was going nowhere because I was everywhere already. The infinite emptiness I new myself to be was now apparent as the infinite substance of everything I saw.

She went to see the French Advaita teacher Jean Klein, which had a huge impact on her, and the shift that came about led to her starting to take on the role of a teacher and to meet with people. Later on, she also personaly met and spoke with many other teachers, including Byron Katie, Gangaji and Andrew Cohen.

A Spiritual Teacher

Since then and unfortunetly for a short time Suzanne was offering her teachings to the public through weekly dialogues and a training group for her fellow therapists. In 1996 she published her well-known autobiographic book "Collision with the Infinite" (see "books" tab). After a few months, however, the feelings of immense terror came back, stronger than ever before, even though she insisted there was nobody who was being terrified. She stopped teaching, and started consulting various doctors, healers, and therapists.

In February of 1997 she was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor. She died on April 1, 1997 at the age of 42.

Sources: 
angelfire.com

Teachings

Suzanne Segal referred to the body-mind as "circuitry" that has been created so that the Vastness can experience the ecstasy of Itself in a way it could not without it.

She exuded this ecstasy with a child-like delight and wonder, full of exclamations such as, "It's so Awesome!" The circuitry called Suzanne Segal shined radiant with the love and beauty of the Vastness we all are.

As she could only see others as That, and nothing else, this Vastness was often brought foreground in the awareness of those who were fortunate enough to be in her presence.

Suzanne referred to herself as a "describer," rather than a teacher, and related to others as her buddies. Calling them her "buddies in the Vastness," she emphasized that we are all in this together as "co-describers" of the incredible miracle of life and its unfolding awakening.

Suzanne offered no teaching, no practice, only descriptions of her remarkable seeing of the Truth of what is.

Sources: 
http://www.spiritualteachers.org

Locations

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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

Collision With the Infinite: A Life Beyond the Personal Self

by Suzanne Segal

(Paperback)

--She thought she had gone mad, but she was enlightened and didn't know it! Some people spend years in caves trying to experience what suddenly happened to Suzanne Segal. This is the incredible story of a young woman who irrevocably lost all sense of personal self, or an "I".

It is the story of her mind's desperate attempts to come to grips with -- or deny! -- her spiritual condition, a process which took eight years.--

Collision with the Infinite is an extraordinary work. One day over twelve years ago, Suzanne Segal, a young American woman living in Paris, stepped onto a city bus and suddenly and unexpectedly found herself egoless, stripped of any sense of a personal self. Struggling with the terror and confusion produced by that cataclysmic experience, for years she tried to make sense of it, seeking the help of therapist after therapist. Eventually, she turned to spiritual teachers, coming at last to understand that this was the egoless state, the Holy Grail of so many spiritual traditions, that elusive consciousness to which so many aspire.

This book is her story, her own account of what such a terrifying event meant to her when it crashed into her everyday life, and what it means to her now. Her sense of the personal "I" has never returned, and she lives in that heightened spiritual awareness to this day. Stephen Bodian, the former editor of Yoga Journal who wrote the introduction, found her to be "a fearless, joyful being who radiates love and whose spiritual wisdom was equal to that of the masters and sages I most respected."

Unlike so many spiritual accounts, Collision with the Infinite is written in a completely lucid, nonmystical, straightforward manner, instantly understandable to Westerners and filled with luminous clarity. Nowhere in these pages, in fact, do we have the sense of invasive ego or self-promotion, and Ms. Segal presents us with a remarkable glimpse into "the mystery in which all abides," that egolessness which seekers have pursued since spiritual quests began.

She thought she had gone mad, but she was enlightened and didn't know it! Some people spend years in caves trying to experience what suddenly happened to Suzanne Segal. This is the incredible story of a young woman who irrevocably lost all sense of personal self, or an "I".

It is the story of her mind's desperate attempts to come to grips with -- or deny! -- her spiritual condition, a process which took eight years.

Pro Opinions

A diamond!

Hannu Peltonen's picture

Suzanne was on of the greatest, a completely enlightened person. She had the ability to interpret the truth of the universal self to the western mind without too much mysticism.