Collision with the infinite. by: Suzanne Segal External-identifier: urn:acs6: collisionwithinf00sega:epubdb3deac-b0e Collision With the Infinite by Suzanne Segal, , Blue Dove Press edition, in English - 2nd ed. By Suzanne Segal. IT WAS IN THE SPRINGTIME that it happened. I was returning home to my apartment on the Left Bank after attending a.
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Suzanne Segal. *Download PDF | ePub | DOC | audiobook | ebooks. The autobiography is the extraordinary story of how a young Jewish woman from the . Suzanne Segal. All rights reserved. risigranoli.ga The Realization of Suzanne Segal. ~ An excerpt from the book Collision with the Infinite. Suzanne Segal (–) was a writer and teacher about spiritual enlightenment, known for her sudden experience of Self-Realization which she wrote about in her book Collision With the Infinite: A Life Beyond the Personal Self. .. Print/export. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version.
The body moved beyond terror into a frenzied horror, giving rise to such utter physical exhaustion that sleep became the only possible option. After telling Claude that I didn't want to be disturbed, I lay down in bed and fell into what I thought would be the welcome oblivion of sleep. Sleep came, but the witness continued, witnessing sleep from its position behind the body.
This was the oddest experience. The mind was definitely asleep, but something was simultaneously awake. The moment the eyes opened the next morning, the mind exploded in worry. Is this insanity? Is this what people call a nervous breakdown? What had happened? And would it ever stop? Claude had started to notice my agitation and was apparently waiting for an explanation. I attempted to tell him what had taken place the day before, but I was just too far away to speak.
The witness appeared to be where "I" was located, which left the body, mind, and emotions empty of a person. It was amazing that all those functions continued to operate at all.
There was no explaining this one to Claude, and for once I was glad he was the kind of person who didn't persist in pursuing a subject I didn't want to pursue. Suzanne Segal The mind was so overwhelmed by its inability to comprehend the current state of existence that it could not be distracted.
It remained riveted to the incomprehensible, unanswerable quandaries that were generated in an unbroken stream out of this witnessing state of awareness. There was the sense of being on an edge of sorts, a boundary between existing and not existing, and the mind believed that if it did not maintain the thought of existence, existence itself would cease. Charged with this apparently life-or-death directive, the mind struggled to hold that thought, only to exhaust itself after several fitful hours.
The mind was in agony as it tried valiantly to make sense of something it could never comprehend, and the body responded to the anguish of the mind by locking itself into survival mode, adrenaline pumping, senses fine-tuned, finding and responding to the threat of annihilation in every moment.
The thought did arise that perhaps this experience of witnessing was the state of Cosmic Consciousness Maharishi had described long before as the first stage of awakened awareness.
But the mind instantly discarded this possibility because it seemed impossible that the hell realm I was inhabiting could have anything to do with Cosmic Consciousness.
Living on the verge of dissolution for weeks on end is stressful beyond belief, and the only respite was the oblivion of sleep into which I plunged for as long and as often as possible.
In sleep, the mind finally stopped pumping out its unceasing litany of terror, and the witness was left to witness an unconscious mind. After months of this mystifying witness awareness, something changed yet again: The witness disappeared.
This new state was far more baffling, and consequently more terrifying, than the experience of the preceding months. One might imagine that a great weight would have lifted when the witness disappeared, but the opposite was true. The disappearance of the witness meant the disappearance of the last vestiges of the experience of personal identity.
The witness had at least held a location for a "me," albeit a distant one. In the dissolution of the witness, there was literally no more experience of a "me" at all. The experience of personal identity switched off and was never to appear again. For more info see Our main page on Suzanne Segal 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. You have always been That. And yes, there is a way that the Vastness Itself can perceive Itself so directly, without any fogging or shadowing or taking anything else to be who you are.
I guess you could call it a waking up, but what seems most important to convey is that this is who everyone is all the time whether the direct awareness of it is there or not. She says, "I started training groups for therapists because I want this to be conveyed to those who are in the business of trying to help end suffering". She wants people to see "things to be what they are" instead of pathologizing "a broad range of human experience". Segal went on to read up on depersonalization, derealization , and dissociation , finding some related to her experience but none were a perfect fit and they ultimately failed to capture the sensation of lacking a self in conjunction with normal, or even improved functioning.
Eventually, "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 There was no person to whom that name referred, no identity as that name. No one. But the compulsion to do the same thing once again always returned.
Many people with DPD have cited similar early life incidents. They may involve repeating words until they lose their meaning, or looking intently in the mirror until an overwhelming sense of strangeness emerges. Usually these episodes pass, are forgotten, and remain in the realm of youthful mind games. Segal's autobiography was completed in and she had begun giving presentations and leading weekly dialogues as well as a "training group" for therapists.
By late spring Segal began having even more intense experiences in which, "the vastness became even vaster to itself. By the end of the summer she was exhausted, and doctors encouraged her to rest. Around the same time, she noticed that the fear from years before had returned. Suzanne spent that fall at her home in Stinson Beach, California. Rent men wear it. Tax men too.
History teachers add leather elbow patches. To be confronted with a mass of it, at nine in the a. Then, when the circle was completed, he would nod several times. We're in a mellow place, here.
Know what I mean? Archie shook his head, smiled and remained where he was. Are you high on something? Merlin pulled on a joint and looked amused. The white bedsheet hanging down from an upper window. Across it, in large rainbow coloured lettering, was painted: welcome to the 'end of the world' party, Merlin shrugged. Bit of a disappointment, that. Or a blessing," he added amiably, 'depending on your point of view.
It was kind of a joke, you see, more than anything. I flipped a coin and thought: why not? Besides, I think you're a little advanced in years.. Kind of a commune scene. I can't just let anyone in off the street, you know? I mean, you could be the police, you could be a freak, you could ' But something about Archie's face huge, innocent, sweetly expectant reminded Tim what his estranged father, the Vicar of Snarebrook, had to say about Christian charity every Sunday from his pulpit.
It's New Year's Day, for fucks sake You best come in. Detritus of every variety animal, mineral, vegetable lined the floor; a great mass of bedding, under which people lay sleeping, stretched from one end of the hallway to the other, a red sea which grudgingly separated each time Archie took a step forward.
Inside the rooms, in certain corners, could be witnessed the passing of bodily fluids: kissing, breast-feeding, fucking, throwing up all the things Archie's Sunday Supplement had informed him could be found in a commune. He toyed for a moment with the idea of entering the fray, losing himself between the bodies he had all this new time on his hands, masses and masses of it, dribbling through his fingers , but decided a stiff drink was preferable.
He tackled the hallway until he reached the other end of the house and stepped out into the chilly garden, where some, having given up on finding a space in the warm house, had opted for the cold lawn.
With a whisky tonic in mind, he headed for the picnic table, where something the shape and colour of Jack Daniels had sprung up like a mirage in a desert of empty wine bottles. Just as Archie reached for the Jack Daniels, the white woman shook her head and made the signal of a stubbed out cigarette. Some evil bastard put his fag out in some perfectly acceptable whisky.
There's Babycham and some other inexorable shit over here Archie smiled in gratitude for the warning and the kind offer. He took a seat and poured himself a big glass of Liebfraumilch instead.
Many drinks later, and Archie could not remember a time in his life when he had not known Clive and Leo, Wan-Si and Petronia, intimately. With his back turned and a piece of charcoal, he could have rendered every puckered goose pimple around Wan-Si's nipples, every stray hair that fell in Petronia's face as she spoke. By ii a. In return, they told him he was in possession of a unique soul for a man of his age.
Everybody agreed some intensely positive karmic energy was circulating in and around Archie, the kind of thing strong enough to prompt a butcher to pull down a car window at the critical moment.
And it turned out Archie was the first man over forty ever invited to join the commune; it turned out there had been talk for some time of the need for an older sexual presence to satisfy some of the more adventurous women. That'll be me, then. I'd rather go to bed than get into this. Freed finally of this obligation, he sat on the stairs, letting the row continue above while he placed his head in his hands. He would have liked to have been part of a commune.
If he'd played his cards right instead of starting a ding-dong, he might have had free love and bare breasts all over the gaff; maybe even a portion of allotment for growing fresh food. For a while around 2, a. Nobody's fault, thought Archie, mulling over the balls-up, nobody's fault but my own, but he wondered whether there wasn't some higher pattern to it. Maybe there will always be men who say the right thing at the right time, who step forward like Thespis at just the right moment of history, and then there will be men like Archie Jones who are just there to make up the numbers.
Or, worse still, who are given their big break only to come in on cue and die a death right there, centre stage, for all to see. A dark line would now be drawn underneath the whole incident, underneath the whole sorry day, had not something happened that led to the transformation of Archie Jones in every particular that a man can be transformed; and not due to any particular effort on his part, but by means of the entirely random, adventitious collision of one person with another.
Something happened by accident. That accident was Clara Bowden. But first a description: Clara Bowden was beautiful in all senses except maybe, by virtue of being black, the classical.
Clara Bowden was magnificently tall, black as ebony and crushed sable, with hair plaited in a horseshoe which pointed up when she felt lucky, down when she didn't. At this moment it was up. It is hard to know whether that was significant. She needed no bra she was independent, even of gravity she wore a red halter neck which stopped below her bust, underneath which she wore her belly button beautifully and underneath that some very tight yellow jeans.
At the end of it all were some strappy heels of a light brown suede, and she came striding down the stairs on them like some kind of vision or, as it seemed to Archie as he turned to observe her, like a reared-up thoroughbred. Now, as Archie understood it, in movies and the like it is common for someone to be so striking that when they walk down the stairs the crowd goes silent. In life he had never seen it. But it happened with Clara Bowden.
She walked down the stairs in slow motion, surrounded by afterglow and fuzzy lighting. And not only was she the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, she was also the most comforting woman he had ever met.
Her beauty was not a sharp, cold commodity. She smelt musty, womanly, like a bundle of your favourite clothes. Though she was disorganized physically legs and arms speaking a slightly different dialect from her central nervous system even her gangly demeanour seemed to Archie exceptionally elegant. She wore her sexuality with an older woman's ease, and not as with most of the girls Archie had run with in the past like an awkward purse, never knowing how to hold it, where to hang it or when to just put it down.
She gave him a wide grin that revealed possibly her one imperfection. A complete lack of teeth in the top of her mouth. Have Clive and dem people been talking foolishness at you? Clive, you bin playing wid dis poor man? Clive and I have different views about a few things. Generation gap, I suppose. You're That dat of'. I seen older. Well, come and join de club.
Dere are a lot of us about dis marnin'. What a strange party dis is. You know," she said brushing a long hand across his bald spot, 'you look pretty djam good for someone come so close to St.
Peter's Gate. You wan' some advice? He always wanted advice, he was a huge fan of second opinions. That's why he never went anywhere without a ten pence coin. Marnin' de the world new, every time. He had unhooked the old life, he was walking into unknown territory.
Clara was nineteen. Archibald was forty-seven. Six weeks later they were married. And it's about time people told the truth about beautiful women. They do not shimmer down staircases. They do not descend, as was once supposed, from on high, attached to nothing other than wings. She had roots. More specifically, she was from Lambeth via Jamaica and she was connected, through tacit adolescent agreement, to one Ryan Topps.
Because before Clara was beautiful she was ugly. And before there was Clara and Archie there was Clara and Ryan. And there is no getting away from Ryan Topps. Just as a good historian need recognize Hitler's Napoleonic ambitions in the east in order to comprehend his reluctance to invade the British in the west, so Ryan Topps is essential to any understanding of why Clara did what she did. Ryan is indispensable.
There was Clara and Ryan for eight months before Clara and Archie were drawn together from opposite ends of a staircase. And Clara might never have run into the arms of Archie Jones if she hadn't been running, quite as fast as she could, away from Ryan Topps. Poor Ryan Topps. He was a mass of unfortunate physical characteristics. He was very thin and very tall, red-headed, flatfooted and freckled to such an extent that his skin was rarer than his freckles.
Ryan fancied himself as a bit of a Mod. He wore ill-fitting grey suits with black polo-necks. He wore Chelsea boots after everyone else had stopped wearing them. While the rest of the world discovered the joys of the electronic synthesizer, Ryan swore allegiance to the little men with big guitars: to the Kinks, the Small Faces, the Who. Ryan Topps rode a green Vespa GS scooter which he polished twice a day with a baby's nappy and kept encased in a custom-built corrugated-iron shield.
To Ryan's way of thinking, a Vespa was not merely a mode of transport but an ideology, family, friend and lover all rolled into one paragon of late forties engineering. Ryan Topps, as one might expect, had few friends. Clara Bowden was gangly, buck-toothed, a Jehovah's Witness, and saw in Ryan a kindred spirit.
A typical teenage female panoptic on she knew everything there was to know about Ryan Topps long before they ever spoke. She knew the basics: same school St. Jude's Community School, Lambeth , same height six foot one ; she knew he was, like her, neither Irish nor Roman Catholic, which made them two islands floating surrounded by the popish ocean of St. Jude's, enrolled in the school by the accident of their post codes reviled by teachers and pupils alike.
She knew the name of his bike, she read the tops of his records as they popped up over the brim of his bag. She even knew things about him he didn't know: for example, she knew he was the Last Man on Earth.
Every school has one, and in St. Jude's, as in other seats of learning, it was the girls who chose this moniker and dished it out. There were, of course, variations: Mr.
Not for a Million Pounds. Not to Save My Mother's Life. Not for World Peace. But, generally, the schoolgirls of St. Jude's kept to the tried and tested formula. Though Ryan would never be privy to the conversations of the school's female changing rooms, Clara knew. She knew how the object of her affections was discussed, she kept an ear out, she knew what he amounted to when you got down to it, down amongst the sweat and the training bras and the sharp flick of a wet towel.
I'm saying, if he was the last man on earth! An' all the good-lookin' men, all the rides like your man Nicky Laird, they're all dead.
They've all been burnt to a crisp. An' all that's left is Ryan Topps and a bunch of cockroaches. Jude's was equalled only by Clara's. On her first day at the school her mother had explained to her she was about to enter the devil's lair, filled her satchel with two hundred copies of the Watchtower and instructed her to go and do the Lord's work. Week after week she shuffled through the school, head hung to the ground, handing out magazines, murmuring, Only Jehovah saves'; in a school where an overexcitable pustule could send you to Coventry, a six-foot black missionary in knee socks attempting to convert six hundred Catholics to the church of the Jehovah's Witnesses equalled social leprosy.
So Ryan was red as a beetroot. And Clara was black as yer boot. Ryan's freckles were a join-the-dots enthusiast's wet dream. Clara could circumnavigate an apple with her front teeth before her tongue got anywhere near it. Not even the Catholics would forgive them for it and Catholics give out forgiveness at about the same rate politicians give out promises and whores give out ; not even St.
Jude, who got saddled way back in theist century with the patronage of hopeless causes due to the tonal similarity between Jude and Judas , was prepared to get involved. At five o'clock each day, as Clara sat in her house attending to the message of the gospels or composing a leaflet condemning the heathen practice of blood transfusion, Ryan Topps would scoot by her open window on his way home.
The Bowden living room sat just below street level, and had bars on its window, so all views were partial. Generally, she would see feet, wheels, car exhausts, swinging umbrellas.
Such slight glimpses were often 2. But nothing affected her more deeply than gazing after the disappearing tailpipe of Ryan's scooter.
Lacking any name for the furtive rumblings that appeared in her lower abdomen on these occasions, Clara called it the spirit of the Lord. She felt that somehow she was going to save the heathen Ryan Topps. Clara meant to gather this boy close to her breast, keep him safe from the temptation that besets us all around, prepare him for the day of his redemption. And wasn't there somewhere, lower than her abdomen somewhere down in the nether region of the unmentionables was there not the half-conceived hope that Ryan Topps might save her?
If Hortense Bowden caught her daughter sitting wistfully by the barred window, listening to the retreating splutter of an engine while the pages of the New Bible flicked over in the breeze, she koofed her up-side her head and thanked her to remember that only , of the Witnesses of Jehovah would sit in the court of the Lord on Judgement Day.
Amongst which number of the Anointed there was no space for nasty-looking so-and-sos on motorcycles. It take effort to be close to Jehovah.
It take devotion and dedication. Blessed are the pure in heart for they alone shall see God. Matthew Isn't dat right, Darcus? Darcus had come over to England fourteen years earlier and spent the whole of that period in the far corner of the living room, watching tele30 vision.
The original intention had been that he should come to England and earn enough money to enable Clara and Hortense to come over, join him and settle down. However, on arrival, a mysterious illness had debilitated Darcus Bowden. An illness that no doctor could find any physical symptoms of, but which manifested itself in the most incredible lethargy, creating in Darcus admittedly, never the most vibrant of men a lifelong affection for the dole, the armchair and British television.
In , enraged by a fourteen-year wait, Hortense decided finally to make the journey on her own steam. Steam was something Hortense had in abundance. She arrived on the doorstep with the seventeen-year-old Clara, broke down the door in a fury and so the legend went back in St. Elizabeth gave Darcus Bowden the tongue-whipping of his life. Some say this onslaught lasted four hours, some say she quoted every book of the bible by memory and it took a whole day and a whole night.
What is certain is, at the end of it all, Darcus slumped deeper into the recesses of his chair, looked mournfully at the television with whom he had had such an understanding, compassionate relationship so uncomplicated, so much innocent affection and a tear squeezed its way out of its duct and settled in a crag underneath his eye. Then he said just one word: Hmph. Hmph was all Darcus said or ever was to say after. Ask Darcus anything; query him on any subject at any hour of the day and night; interrogate him; chat with him; implore him; declare your love for him; accuse him or vindicate him and he will give you only one answer.
How many times must I tell you you got no time for bwoys! This 3i was , and Hortense was preparing for the End of the World, which, in the house diary, she had marked carefully in blue biro: i January This was not a solitary psychosis of the Bowdens.
There were eight million Jehovah's Witnesses waiting with her. Hortense was in large, albeit eccentric, company. A personal letter had come to Hortense as secretary of the Lambeth branch of the Kingdom Halls , with a photocopied signature from William J.
The end of the world had been officially confirmed with a gold-plated letterhead, and Hortense had risen to the occasion by setting it in an attractive mahogany frame. She had given it pride of place on a doily on top of the television between a glass figurine of Cinderella on her way to the Ball and a tea-cosy embroidered with the Ten Commandments.
She had asked Darcus whether he thought it looked nice. He had hmphed his assent. The end of the world was nigh.
And this was not the Lambeth branch of the church of the Jehovah's Witnesses was to be assured like the mistakes of and They had been promised the entrails of sinners wrapped around the trunks of trees, and this time the entrails of sinners wrapped around the trunks of trees would appear.
They had waited so long for the rivers of blood to overflow the gutters in the high street, and now their thirst would be satiated. The time had come. This was the right date, this was the only date, all other dates that might have been proffered in the past were the result of some bad calculations: someone forgot to add, someone forgot to minus, someone forgot to carry the one.
But now was the time. The real thing, i January Hortense, for one, was glad to hear it. The first morning of she had wept like a baby when she awoke to find instead of hail and brimstone and universal destruction the continuance of daily life, the regular running of the buses and trains.
It had been for nothing, then, all that tossing and turning the previous night; waiting for those neighbours, those who failed to listen to your warnings, to sink under a hot and terrible fire that shall separate their skin from their bones, shall melt the eyes in their sockets, and burn the babies that suckle at their mothers' breasts The Clarion Bell, issue How bitterly she had been disappointed!
But the wounds of had healed, and Hortense was once again ready to be convinced that apocalypse, just as the right holy Mr.
Rangeforth had explained, was round the corner. The promise of the generation still stood: This generation shall not pass, till all these things bejulfilkd Matthew Those who were alive in would live to see the Armageddon.
It had been promised. Born in , Hortense was getting old now, she was getting tired and her peers were dying off like flies. Had not two hundred of the church's best intellectuals spent twenty years examining the bible, and hadn't this date been their unanimous conclusion?
Had they not read between the lines in Daniel, scanned for the hidden meaning in Revelation, correctly identified the Asian wars Korea and Vietnam as the period spoken of by the angel, 'a time, and times, and half a time'? Hortense was convinced these were the sign of signs. These were the final days. There were eight months to the end of the world.
Hardly enough time! There were banners to be made, articles to be written "Will the Lord Forgive the Onanist? There was Darcus to think about who could not walk to the fridge without assistance how was he to make it to the kingdom of the Lord? And in all Clara must lend a hand; there was no time for boys, for Ryan Topps, for skulking around, for adolescent angst. For Clara was not like other teenagers.
She was the Lord's child, Hortense's miracle baby. Hortense was all of forty-eight when she heard the Lord's voice while gutting a fish one morning, Montego Bay, Straight away she threw down the marlin, caught the trolley car home and submitted to her least favourite activity in order to conceive the child He had asked for. Why had the Lord waited so long? Because the Lord wanted to show Hortense a miracle. For Hortense had been a miracle child herself, born in the middle of the legendary Kingston earthquake, , when everybody else was busy dying miracles ran in the family.
Hortense saw it this way: if she could come into this world in the middle of a ground shaker, as parts of Montego Bay slipped into the sea, and fires came down from the mountains, then nobody had no excuses about nothing no how. She liked to say: "Being' barn is de hardest part! Once ya done dat no problems. No time for boys. This child's work was just beginning.
Hortense born while Jamaica crumbled did not accept apocalypse before one's nineteenth birthday as any excuse for tardiness. Yet strangely, and possibly because of Jehovah's well documented penchant for moving in a mysterious manner, it was in performing the business of the Lord that Clara eventually met Ryan Topps face to face.
The youth group of the Lambeth Kingdom Hall had been sent door stepping on a Sunday morning, Separating the sheep from the goats Matthew , and Clara, detesting the young Witness men with their bad ties and softly spoken voices, had set off alone with her own suitcase to ring bells along Creighton Road.
The first few doors she received the usual pained faces: nice women shooing her away as politely as possible, making sure they didn't get too close, scared they might catch religion like an infection.
As she got into the poorer end of the street, the reaction became more aggressive; shouts came from windows or behind closed doors. It's Sunday, in nit I'm knackered. I've spent all week creating the land and oceans. It's me day of rest. Then she rang No. And Ryan Topps answered. I am from de Lambet Kingdom Hall, where we, de Witnesses of Jehovah, are waitin' for de Lord to come and grace us wid his holy presence once more; as he did briefly hot sadly, invisibly in de year of our farder, We believe dat when he makes himself known he will be bringing wid 'im de tree-fold fires of hell in Armageddon, dat day when precious few will be saved.
Are you int' rested in' "Wot? You see, it like a staircase. I'm just tellin' you: watch your step! Me jus wan' share heaven wid you.
Me nah wan' fe see you bruk-up your legs. Clara felt she was closing in on herself, like a telescope. It was only moments, surely, before she disappeared entirely. Fifty copies of the Watchtawer spilled over the doorstep. Saint of," said Ryan, picking something surreptitiously from his nose and nicking it into a flowerpot. The lot of'em.