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Published Collections of Mystical Experiences

Collision with the Infinite: A Life Beyond the Personal Self

Suzanne Segal (San Diego, CA: Blue Dove Press, 1998).

The late Suzanne Segal, prepared by years of intense TM work and related efforts, finds herself thrown unexpectedly into the world of "no-self," the experience of being outside one's personal identity. Segal tells an interesting story of her life before this change and afterward. Easy to read, her book is a detailed description of the immense challenges one faces when under the influence of this sort of mystical experience. Segal's encounter with no-self lasted nearly fourteen years.

Experience 1 (Before the full no-self experience)

"I used to meditate on my name. As a child of seven or eight I would sit cross-legged, eyes closed, on the long white couch in my parent's living room and say my name over and over to myself. The name would reverberate in my mind with each repetition, starting off solid and strong. My name, who I was. Then fainter, repeating, repeating, repeating, until a threshold was crossed and the identity as that name broke, like a ship released suddenly from its mooring to float untethered on the ocean waves. Vastness appeared. The name became a word only, a collection of sounds pulsing in a vast emptiness. There was no person to whom that name referred, no identity as that name. No one.

Then fear would arise, my heart would pound hard in my ears, and I would struggle for air, my lungs squeezed in fear's iron grip. I would stop, get up from the couch, walk around, force myself back from the vastness and into the identity of that name. It was too frightening to bear for one so young. But later that day I would return to the couch, sit again, start the name." (p.1-2)

Experience 2 (Before the full no-self experience)

"During the retreat I encountered my first powerful experiences of the transcendent field...I was gripped by a tremendous power, like a huge magnet, that pulled me into a tunnel of light at infinite speed. At the same time, the tunnel itself expanded outwards at infinite speed with a tumultuous roar that rose to an ear-splitting crescendo as the infinity exploded in light. The moment of explosion marked the crossing of a threshold. in an increment of time too small to be measured, the blaze of some invisible inferno engulfed everything, turning all phenomena inside out, exposing the underside of all creation---emptiness.

Nearly three hours after I had begun meditating the first morning of the retreat, I opened my eyes and rose from my cushion as if I were drunk, walking without the sensation of possessing a body. The world no longer looked the same; solid matter had been transformed into the luminous transparency of silence.

...The change in perception lasted several weeks before it began to fade, in almost imperceptible increments, as the world of boundaries and distinctions moved to the foreground again in my perceptual field." (p.11-12)

Experience 3

"...another perceptual shift began manifesting itself in discrete incidents that lasted anywhere from several minutes to several hours. During these episodes, the world appeared to be onedimensional, as if it were a movie set cut from cardboard with nothing behind it. The Parisian scenery appeared flat, empty, and cartoonlike, lacking dimension or solidity. In addition, all the distinct edges that had previously marked separations between things took on a fuzzy liquidity without clear delineation, flowing together in an oceanlike movement. Objects that had previously seemed stable appeared to be simultaneously larger and farther away, pulsating gently in a single motion of life, subsisting in their own perceptual strata that was unreachable to my astounded mind. Each time these shifts occurred, terror arose immediately and remained, even increased, throughout their duration. (p. 47)

Several buses came and went before I finally saw the number 37 approaching down the wide avenue. Six or seven of us were waiting together at the stop, exchanging pleasantries about the weather...As I took my place in line, I suddenly felt my ears stop up like they do when the pressure changes inside an airplance as it makes its descent. I felt cut off from the scene before me, as if I were enclosed in a bubble, unable to act in any but the most mechanical manner. 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.

The bus arrived at my stop on the rue Lecourbe, and I got off. As I walked the three blocks home, I attempted to pull myself back into one piece by focusing on my body and willing myself back into it where I thought I belonged in order to regain the previously normal sensation of seeing through the body's eyes, speaking through the body's mouth, and hearing through the body's ears. The force of will failed miserably. Instead of experiencing through the physical senses, I was now bobbing behind the body for a vast distance, I moved down the street like a cloud of awareness following a body that seemed simultaneously familiar and foreign." (p. 47-50)

Note: The above is just a small example of the experiences of Suzanne Segal. Her book is filled in amazing detail many experiences over more than a decade.



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