Seeing Behind the Curtain into Reality
in Marina's Words
I didn’t grow up with any religion. I didn’t even know I was born Jewish until I started school and the only thing I knew about my faith is that Jewish people were supposed to be smart. And I didn’t think I was, but I was always curious about the nature of “self”. In high school, I was even nominated as the one who asked the most “What if” questions. Several years later, I became a serious spiritual seeker into what’s true and real. But it wasn't until the Fall of 2014 that REALITY began to reveal itself in some big ways. In the sequence of 2 experiences, I saw behind the curtain into reality, and nothing prior to that could've prepared me for what I discovered.
Experience #1 happened some time in October, 2014, as I was settling into sleep. For some strange and unknown reason my mind started asking the "big questions:" What's death? What's life? What's this body? Mind you, I've asked these questions many times before, but not against my will. These questions came of their own when I wasn't necessarily in the mood for them. So I got engaged and decided that death wasn't the worst thing that could happen. When you're dead, you're dead. What would be worse, I had thought, was being paralyzed from the neck down—a state of limbo with all your mental capacities intact, but without being able to do anything about it. That would've been so much worse. I decided, it'd be like hell.
"Are you sure about that?" I heard from somewhere within.
Not sure why or how, I decided to stay still for a moment and through imagination experience what it'd be like to be paralyzed. And this next part is interesting, since I had barely made the decision to do it, when in a kind of a timeless second I saw—not with Marina's eyes, but with an un-locatable POV—that I was NOT "in-body". I wouldn't say that I was "out of body" either. It was much stranger than that. It was like I was neither in body or out of body, nor anywhere else, but here. The insight that came with it was "How did I ever think that what I am could ever be trapped in a silly, tiny thing like paralysis?" It was a laughable notion. What I am is both the infinite and the drop in the ocean, yet un-locatable, but very much here. Stranger still, what I am doesn't mind being in-body or trapped or paralyzed. So what? It's not like it can ever be trapped or even for that long.
The experience lasted no longer than a split-moment, if that. I fell asleep, a little perturbed, but mostly free of any kind of worry about my life ever being in jeopardy. I shared it with my spiritual teacher at the time, Peter Brown (theopendoorway.org), but he just shrugged his shoulders. I knew in that moment the experience had long receded to the past, and only NOW mattered. I believed in its reality, but because I couldn't hold on to the experience, my attempts at keeping it going by talking about it were futile.
Experience #2 happened a little over a month later on November 12, 2014. During a Peter Brown retreat, I was hit with what I’d call THE BIG ONE! The one where this “ME” was no longer what I thought it was, and everyone else were no longer who I thought they were. It was like getting a free pass to the backstage of REALITY.
During the traditional “last evening of retreat party” with Peter Brown, while hanging out with my friends there, something in my mind relaxed.
The last thing I remember of the transition is the thought: Let me check out what “this is” when I’m here and the AWAKENED ONE is right next to me. The next thing I knew, the focus or the attention, shifted from this person called Marina to NO ONE and nothing in particular. I could’ve been the tree, for all I knew, or the space in the room, and I could’ve been any person in that room, as much as “ME,” the Marina.
Then, I began to check everyone out, especially my teacher of four years, the AWAKENED ONE. Who was this Guru who I’d been idolizing all this time with the special label of the ENLIGHTENED ONE?
Lo and behold, he was NO ONE special. He was just like everyone else in the room—like me, he was no one in particular, just another character. And then I began to notice that this aspect of being NO ONE IN PARTICULAR, but more like THE PLACE WHERE EVERYTHING HAPPENS is the TRUE ME and we all share that, which means—HOLY SHIT, getting glimpses didn’t do seeing THIS justice—THERE’S ONLY . . . THE ONE!
Call it ME, call it YOU, call it NO ONE. It doesn’t matter. There’s just the ONE DOING EVERYTHING.
Problems solved in one fell swoop—Marina is not doing anything—I AM or THIS ONE is doing everything. Marina never chooses when to lift her arm, much less all those important decisions.
I was so enraptured by this realization that all I wanted to do was to watch it, be it, feel it. Some spiritual friends tried to get my attention while I walked around in a daze, but with more clarity than I had ever experienced in my life, but I just didn’t want to engage. I could hear some talk around the room and people pointing to me, saying, “What’s wrong with her?” But I just didn’t care. What did it matter what these fictitious characters were doing or saying? In fact, how could anyone be doing anything else right now, but watching this THING doing its THING? Everything else seemed so superfluous. And these characters were supposed to be the more awakened ones from the bunch. Why are they not paying attention? To me, at the time, they looked like dogs, looking for a “bone” called Enlightenment, when it was RIGHT HERE, RIGHT UNDER THEIR NOSES.
So, I began to look at Peter Brown. He surely must be seeing what I’m seeing. But he wouldn’t look at me. The harder I tried to get his attention, the more entrenched he seemed to become in his conversation. In fact, the teacher who had been pointing us all to awaken, appeared just as lost in his character as everyone else around him. I was shocked and dismayed until another realization hit me—we’re all THIS ONE, so what does it matter if it appropriates this character or that? Peter is THIS ONE, Marina is THIS ONE, my parents back home are THIS ONE, then hooray, LET’S ROLE PLAY!
It wasn’t until I was hugging Peter Brown goodbye the next day, when, wearing a smile, he asked, “Did you have a nice retreat?” And I knew that he knew exactly what had happened. I don’t even think I answered him in words. I just sort of smiled and nodded.
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