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A Jhana-like experience, or what?

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A Jhana-like experience, or what?
Answer
8/6/13 1:07 PM
About two years ago, around 10:00 in the evening, I was lying on my back with my arms at my sides, palms up, after the end of a very stressful day. But I didn't feel as tired as I expected to feel after the unusual day's pressures had finally ended.

As I lay there I let out a huge exhalation as I attempted to relax; I'm sure many have expressed an attempt at relaxation in this way, in order to let go the tensions of the day. At the end of my huge outward breath I felt a curious sensation: as though my body had become a single energized unit and immediately after this feeling I felt as though my "attention" (?) was being drawn "inward."

At this point I should mention: 1. I'm an introverted "aspie" (having Asperger Syndrome) and 2. This happened on a hospital bed in an un-drugged condition.

I'd never before experienced this type of sensation so, although somewhat startled, I felt I could control the situation, which kept me nice and calm and "in the moment". Also, although I'd read books about Buddhism and Zen many years before I had no affiliation with any religion or ever heard the word Jhana."

As I felt myself being "drawn in" I stopped the process at that point and to reassure myself, withdrew slightly and reviewed the state of my mind and body (in case I decided to attempt this again) and allowed myself to be "drawn in."

What happened next happened very fast so it's hard to explain with accuracy. As I "entered" my intuitive feeling was I had a choice of what to do now: as I entered it seemed as though I was looking "back" at the universe and could choose any direction....thought......experience I wished.

I apologize for the poor description as this happened very fast and although I've thought and read and thought and read I can not find words for some of what was happening.

I chose a "direction" and in an instant I "saw" through my life, through my birth, and through my parent's lives in one electric moment of "understanding" of the "direction" I'd chosen.........my heart "grew big" and I began to cry uncontrollable tears of joy at what I'd found/experienced. I could see through my joy, that this could be experienced repeatedly but because of the situation (hospital, bed, etc.) I decided to withdraw as slowly as I entered, trying to make sure I could duplicate this experience and experience it at will.

Later that evening I rang a nurse and asked for a tranquilizer and went to sleep. For the last two years I've searched through Freud, Yung, Zen (etc.) and finally here, in a search for answers. I believe I'm soon going to try the experience again; this with some understanding, I hope.

Please be critical in your examinations but believe I'm sincere. Thanks.

denny

RE: A Jhana-like experience, or what?
Answer
8/9/13 11:40 AM as a reply to Dennis Rufer.
Not enough information I guess. I thought giving too much might confuse things but it appears I was wrong, so here's some more I hope may spark discussion.

Lying in that hospital bed after the day of confusion and testing and fear, my exhalation/sigh (not your average sigh) was only number two, like this, in my life (70 now) where the release was so strong. The other time (about 40-45 years ago) this "release" happened it was a "surrendering" and a release of tension, caring, self interest, etc.

Asperger Syndrome means, although you may be of average or higher intelligence, your ability to read expressions and body language has forced a wedge between yourself and others preventing you from the usual social interactions everyone takes for granted (the kid that didn't participate or seemed somehow "aloof.") Therefore, without social interaction means without Sangha, so I've come here to this electronic Sangha of freewheeling thinkers to discuss that which I do not understand, from a Buddhist standpoint. Unfortunately, not having learned many of societies taboos I may over emphasize or make other social blunders, please forgive me as I stumble on The Path?

I believe I made a mistake when allowing myself to be "drawn into" this "experience" by not applying enough control and in so doing "progressed" far too quickly; if I do this again it will be done differently and I will be entering far more slowly. Would anyone have other suggestions?

In the '60s Zen blew through Chicago and many were engaged. I was working to support my family, didn't have a lot of time for this (I thought at the time) so while others were pursuing their "Book of the Dead" and such I read a few books and that was it.

When this occurrence happened my first thought may have mirrored what others may have thought: "Am I going crazy? Is this some kind of psychosis?" Soon thereafter (3 weeks) I was able to score 3 sessions with a psychiatrist (who is also into the benefits of Tibetan Buddhism) who told me he did not feel I was having psychotic delusions but was involved in something closer to self analysis. By this time, in my reading Jung and others, I learned of a connection with Buddhism and have followed it.

In the intervening year of so I've studied, studied, studied and been exhorted to learn to sit Zazen, which I do. I don't do well following breath so recently purchased "Mindfulness with Breathing" by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu; any other suggestions for learning are appreciated.

Am I doing something in a way others would try in the same circumstances? Brothers and Sisters, please tell me what you think. I can not be insulted.

denny

RE: A Jhana-like experience, or what?
Answer
8/10/13 11:41 AM as a reply to Dennis Rufer.
Wow. 77 views and no questions, accusations, condolences, encouragements, suggestions? No "now where did we put that rail, tar, and feathers???(I'd accept that lesson)

I was pretty sure the nature of my post might not be "subtle" enough for most, but Truth is what we're all about, right (?) so I proceeded to supply all the bare details (should I have "gussied up" the truth to a more palatable form)? I mean the only difference is you are all working hard in your studies and meditations and my experience was spontaneous; a not unheard of occurrence.

Now being out beyond the range of that very personal "10 foot pole" is something I'm familiar with, but somehow I believed, a forum of Buddhists, especially a "no boundaries" forum, might supply some hoped for answers. But if this is so far beyond the understanding I guess answers won't be forthcoming.

So I must progress alone. Thank you all who took the time to read my posts. I guess I will proceed with or without the help and encouragement of my "voiceless" Sangha.

If and when I can report any definite progress I'll let you all know. You can just ignore my posts if they disturb you.

Namaste Friends

RE: A Jhana-like experience, or what?
Answer
8/10/13 12:33 PM as a reply to Dennis Rufer.
Hello,
Whatever you experience, forget it. If you manage to get highest Jhana someday then forget it.

I practice Jhana or something and everytime i get there i know exactly how to to it but after i am out of it then i have forgotten immediately and don't know how to to(not able) it anymore.
Whatever there is its raising phenomenom destinided to doom. Only what is true is what is here and now/ reality.

RE: A Jhana-like experience, or what?
Answer
8/10/13 3:02 PM as a reply to Dennis Rufer.
I had this experience what do you think - type posts usually do not get a lot of responses. Do you have specific questions you would like answered?
1) Enumerate your questions
2) Be specific
3) limit your questions to the main points as a list of 20 questions usually are too many
4) provide your meditative practice history and current understanding of practice

It sounds like you had a "spiritual experience". Sounds very nice. It might have been the arising and passing away stage. please read A&P then read Diagnosing the A&P.
See what you think...
Welcome to the forum,
~D

RE: A Jhana-like experience, or what?
Answer
8/16/13 10:40 AM as a reply to Banned For waht?.
Rist Ei:
Hello,
Whatever you experience, forget it. If you manage to get highest Jhana someday then forget it.

I practice Jhana or something and everytime i get there i know exactly how to to it but after i am out of it then i have forgotten immediately and don't know how to to(not able) it anymore.
Whatever there is its raising phenomenom destinided to doom. Only what is true is what is here and now/ reality.


Thank you for your suggestions. Living in the moment with mindfulness is what I'm working toward. I believe your description: ".....and everytime i get there i know exactly how to to it but after i am out of it then i have forgotten immediately and don't know how to to(not able) it anymore" is something I've also had happen before in other settings. I plan on proceeding as slowly as possible and try to record in minute detail, the phases I pass through, and how I've negotiated them.

Denny

RE: A Jhana-like experience, or what?
Answer
8/16/13 11:39 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
I had this experience what do you think - type posts usually do not get a lot of responses. Do you have specific questions you would like answered?
1) Enumerate your questions
2) Be specific
3) limit your questions to the main points as a list of 20 questions usually are too many
4) provide your meditative practice history and current understanding of practice


It sounds like you had a "spiritual experience". Sounds very nice. It might have been the arising and passing away stage. please read A&P then read Diagnosing the A&P.
See what you think...
Welcome to the forum,
~D


Thank you. I apologize as I should know better. My problem is I've only been diagnosed for a couple of years and haven't changed my "modus operandi" very much. And without socialization you tend to internalize and when you finally get up your "gumption" and do say something you tend to blurt out an encyclopedia. It helps to have someone point these things out. Thanks again.

I've had others also mention my having had a "spiritual experience" but I've always described myself as "not having a spiritual bone in my body" and, frankly, not really understanding the meaning of the word "spiritual", this experience surprised the heck out of me.

I "am" aware of some dangers associated with my pursuit so my question for any and all would be to share their concept of possible danger. The areas I would be cautious about would concern: Inadvertently planting false memories or permanently changing memories......Becoming too enamored and clinging to the Jhana states........(a third caution which I can not describe yet). Any suggestions for study would be appreciated.

I understand in Dzogchen practice it's best to have an experienced Teacher available in case of psychotic incidents; are any such cautions useful when practicing Jhanas?

My thought is to pursue the Jhana experience a little further using the meditative "corpse pose" style, and study more of Theravada Buddhism while I continue to sit Zazen. So much to learn. I've read the links you supplied but now find I need to know more. Thank you.

Denny

RE: A Jhana-like experience, or what?
Answer
8/16/13 5:22 PM as a reply to Dennis Rufer.
Dennis Rufer:

I "am" aware of some dangers associated with my pursuit so my question for any and all would be to share their concept of possible danger. The areas I would be cautious about would concern:

1) Inadvertently planting false memories or permanently changing memories......
2) Becoming too enamored and clinging to the Jhana states
3)(a third caution which I can not describe yet).
4)I understand in Dzogchen practice it's best to have an experienced Teacher available in case of psychotic incidents; are any such cautions useful when practicing Jhanas?
Denny

1) You are planting false memories and permanently changing memories all the time. Forget me pill
2) Very easy to become a Jhana junky. Most who explore the jhanas will dabble in this. Know this and be mindful of your intention.
3) Here is a third answer that I can not describe yet (wink)
4)Yes, anything that can change or transform our ego/sense of self can have possible negative(at the time) repercussions(from our current point of view)
5) Read MCTB and then read it again if you have yet to do so. It will answer many of your questions and many you did not know you had yet.
Good luck,
~D

RE: A Jhana-like experience, or what?
Answer
8/17/13 1:48 AM as a reply to Dennis Rufer.
Perhaps you might want to read up about dhyana meditation first in order to have some foundation upon which to ask questions.

First and foremost, dhyana meditation is about developing concentration. Pure and simple. Most people coming to the practice for the first time experience something that has often been described as being "monkey mind" (a mind in motion, never settling down, constant movement going on), and are unable to bring the mind to rest upon only one object for observation.

What Gotama discovered (thinking back to a time when he was a child, attending a harvest festival with his father) was that he had been able to bring his mind to rest upon the simple inhalation and exhalation of the breath, which in turn produced a pleasant sensation that helped him to remain focused upon the breath.

[quote="MN 36.31-32"]31. "I considered: 'I recall that when my father the Sakyan was occupied, while I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion.[389] Could that be the path to enlightenment?' Then, following on that memory, came the realization: 'That is the path to enlightenment.'
32. "I thought: 'Why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states?' I thought: 'I am not afraid of that pleasure since it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states.'[390]

Footnotes:
389. MA: During the Bodhisatta's boyhood as a prince, on one occasion his father led a ceremonial ploughing at a traditional festival of the Sakyans. The prince was brought to the festival and a place was prepared for him under a rose-apple tree. When his attendants left him to watch the ploughing ceremony, the prince, finding himself all alone, spontaneously sat up in the meditation posture and attained the first jhana through mindfulness of breathing.

390. This passage marks a change in the Bodhisatta's evaluation of pleasure; now it is no longer regarded as something to be feared and banished by the practice of austerities, but, when born of seclusion and detachment, is seen as a valuable accompaniment of the higher stages along the path to enlightenment. See MN 139.9 on the twofold division of pleasure.

From there he developed the remaining states (the eight levels of dhyana) in his quest to attain awakening. Having developed those levels, he soon realized that awakening involves mindfulness, and that anything that hindered his ability to attain to a mindful state was incorrect practice. He also discovered that the first four dhyanas were all that was necessary for him to attain to a mindful state. It is my impression based on experience that eventually he realized that dhyana, then, became a practice to develop the ability to enter into samadhi, from which he was then able to use as a spring board for contemplation. Contemplation (vipassana or insight meditation), then, became the vehicle for his awakening.

Through the practice of contemplation, he was able to observe and categorize mental phenomena in an effort to better understand those phenomena as they related to the way he experienced life and living in a body. He observed that every phenomenon had three unvarying characteristics (impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and without self nature), and that if he was able to become aware of the effect of these characteristics, that he could lessen the impact of dukkha on his mind such that he let go of whatever clinging he had to the phenomenon. In letting go of this clinging, his mind was at ease.

This was his great discovery.

That said, once a practitioner begins to practice to reach these states of meditation, there are any number of experiences they can experience. The real question is: does it begin to help the practitioner develop concentration. (That is, above and beyond the extraordinariness of the experience itself and whatever pleasure or whatever one experienced.)

The state one should, in my opinion, shoot for is the stillness (non-motion of mind) and solidity (establishment of mind on an object of observation) of the fourth dhyana, as this opens the door to the ability to attain samadhi. Samadhi is best defined as described below:

The Pāli noun samādhi is related to the verb samādahati, which means "to put together," "to join," "to combine," "to collect," and the past participle of the same verb, samāhita, meaning "collected," "composed." Thus, samādhi indicates "collecting" one's mind, and specifically in the context of sammāsamādhi, the mind composed in meditation. It is this composed mental unification which is termed singleness of mind (cittekaggatā). This meditative composure can be vast and expansive.


A mind in samadhi has acquired integration or wholeness of composure, and is therefore able to observe and to obtain insight about whatever object it is holding in its grasp. Depending upon the practitioner, he may, at various stages of the practice, experience this as blissful or steady or established or any combination of these and more.

RE: A Jhana-like experience, or what?
Answer
8/18/13 12:30 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
Dennis Rufer:

I "am" aware of some dangers associated with my pursuit so my question for any and all would be to share their concept of possible danger. The areas I would be cautious about would concern:

1) Inadvertently planting false memories or permanently changing memories......
2) Becoming too enamored and clinging to the Jhana states
3)(a third caution which I can not describe yet).
4)I understand in Dzogchen practice it's best to have an experienced Teacher available in case of psychotic incidents; are any such cautions useful when practicing Jhanas?
Denny

1) You are planting false memories and permanently changing memories all the time. Forget me pill
2) Very easy to become a Jhana junky. Most who explore the jhanas will dabble in this. Know this and be mindful of your intention.
3) Here is a third answer that I can not describe yet (wink)
4)Yes, anything that can change or transform our ego/sense of self can have possible negative(at the time) repercussions(from our current point of view)
5) Read MCTB and then read it again if you have yet to do so. It will answer many of your questions and many you did not know you had yet.
Good luck,
~D


Hi D.

#1 For me, uprooting false beliefs lies large, so to entrench the same through carelessness is against my personal beliefs.
#2 Easy for me to become a "anything" junkie through overabsorbtion in a "theme."
#3 This all happened so fast (subjective time = a second; objective time = ?) I was totally unprepared, but I'm sure there was a third factor.
#4 I will be sure to proceed very, very slowly or break the experience down into separate "steps", I'm not sure yet.
#5 Read much of MCTB. More soon. Presently I'm reading/studying "Who is My Self" by Ayya Khema, a very nice, solid book of meditation and Jhanas.

Thanks D and good luck to you as well.

RE: A Jhana-like experience, or what?
Answer
8/18/13 1:31 PM as a reply to Ian And.
Ian And:
Perhaps you might want to read up about dhyana meditation first in order to have some foundation upon which to ask questions.

First and foremost, dhyana meditation is about developing concentration. Pure and simple. Most people coming to the practice for the first time experience something that has often been described as being "monkey mind" (a mind in motion, never settling down, constant movement going on), and are unable to bring the mind to rest upon only one object for observation.

What Gotama discovered (thinking back to a time when he was a child, attending a harvest festival with his father) was that he had been able to bring his mind to rest upon the simple inhalation and exhalation of the breath, which in turn produced a pleasant sensation that helped him to remain focused upon the breath.

[quote="MN 36.31-32"]31. "I considered: 'I recall that when my father the Sakyan was occupied, while I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion.[389] Could that be the path to enlightenment?' Then, following on that memory, came the realization: 'That is the path to enlightenment.'
32. "I thought: 'Why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states?' I thought: 'I am not afraid of that pleasure since it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states.'[390]

Footnotes:
389. MA: During the Bodhisatta's boyhood as a prince, on one occasion his father led a ceremonial ploughing at a traditional festival of the Sakyans. The prince was brought to the festival and a place was prepared for him under a rose-apple tree. When his attendants left him to watch the ploughing ceremony, the prince, finding himself all alone, spontaneously sat up in the meditation posture and attained the first jhana through mindfulness of breathing.

390. This passage marks a change in the Bodhisatta's evaluation of pleasure; now it is no longer regarded as something to be feared and banished by the practice of austerities, but, when born of seclusion and detachment, is seen as a valuable accompaniment of the higher stages along the path to enlightenment. See MN 139.9 on the twofold division of pleasure.


From there he developed the remaining states (the eight levels of dhyana) in his quest to attain awakening. Having developed those levels, he soon realized that awakening involves mindfulness, and that anything that hindered his ability to attain to a mindful state was incorrect practice. He also discovered that the first four dhyanas were all that was necessary for him to attain to a mindful state. It is my impression based on experience that eventually he realized that dhyana, then, became a practice to develop the ability to enter into samadhi, from which he was then able to use as a spring board for contemplation. Contemplation (vipassana or insight meditation), then, became the vehicle for his awakening.

Through the practice of contemplation, he was able to observe and categorize mental phenomena in an effort to better understand those phenomena as they related to the way he experienced life and living in a body. He observed that every phenomenon had three unvarying characteristics (impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and without self nature), and that if he was able to become aware of the effect of these characteristics, that he could lessen the impact of dukkha on his mind such that he let go of whatever clinging he had to the phenomenon. In letting go of this clinging, his mind was at ease.

This was his great discovery.

That said, once a practitioner begins to practice to reach these states of meditation, there are any number of experiences they can experience. The real question is: does it begin to help the practitioner develop concentration. (That is, above and beyond the extraordinariness of the experience itself and whatever pleasure or whatever one experienced.)

The state one should, in my opinion, shoot for is the stillness (non-motion of mind) and solidity (establishment of mind on an object of observation) of the fourth dhyana, as this opens the door to the ability to attain samadhi. Samadhi is best defined as described below:

The Pāli noun samādhi is related to the verb samādahati, which means "to put together," "to join," "to combine," "to collect," and the past participle of the same verb, samāhita, meaning "collected," "composed." Thus, samādhi indicates "collecting" one's mind, and specifically in the context of sammāsamādhi, the mind composed in meditation. It is this composed mental unification which is termed singleness of mind (cittekaggatā). This meditative composure can be vast and expansive.


A mind in samadhi has acquired integration or wholeness of composure, and is therefore able to observe and to obtain insight about whatever object it is holding in its grasp. Depending upon the practitioner, he may, at various stages of the practice, experience this as blissful or steady or established or any combination of these and more.
Ian And:
Perhaps you might want to read up about dhyana meditation first in order to have some foundation upon which to ask questions.

First and foremost, dhyana meditation is about developing concentration. Pure and simple. Most people coming to the practice for the first time experience something that has often been described as being "monkey mind" (a mind in motion, never settling down, constant movement going on), and are unable to bring the mind to rest upon only one object for observation.

What Gotama discovered (thinking back to a time when he was a child, attending a harvest festival with his father) was that he had been able to bring his mind to rest upon the simple inhalation and exhalation of the breath, which in turn produced a pleasant sensation that helped him to remain focused upon the breath.

From there he developed the remaining states (the eight levels of dhyana) in his quest to attain awakening. Having developed those levels, he soon realized that awakening involves mindfulness, and that anything that hindered his ability to attain to a mindful state was incorrect practice. He also discovered that the first four dhyanas were all that was necessary for him to attain to a mindful state. It is my impression based on experience that eventually he realized that dhyana, then, became a practice to develop the ability to enter into samadhi, from which he was then able to use as a spring board for contemplation. Contemplation (vipassana or insight meditation), then, became the vehicle for his awakening.

Through the practice of contemplation, he was able to observe and categorize mental phenomena in an effort to better understand those phenomena as they related to the way he experienced life and living in a body. He observed that every phenomenon had three unvarying characteristics (impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and without self nature), and that if he was able to become aware of the effect of these characteristics, that he could lessen the impact of dukkha on his mind such that he let go of whatever clinging he had to the phenomenon. In letting go of this clinging, his mind was at ease.

This was his great discovery.

That said, once a practitioner begins to practice to reach these states of meditation, there are any number of experiences they can experience. The real question is: does it begin to help the practitioner develop concentration. (That is, above and beyond the extraordinariness of the experience itself and whatever pleasure or whatever one experienced.)

The state one should, in my opinion, shoot for is the stillness (non-motion of mind) and solidity (establishment of mind on an object of observation) of the fourth dhyana, as this opens the door to the ability to attain samadhi. Samadhi is best defined as described below:

The Pāli noun samādhi is related to the verb samādahati, which means "to put together," "to join," "to combine," "to collect," and the past participle of the same verb, samāhita, meaning "collected," "composed." Thus, samādhi indicates "collecting" one's mind, and specifically in the context of sammāsamādhi, the mind composed in meditation. It is this composed mental unification which is termed singleness of mind (cittekaggatā). This meditative composure can be vast and expansive.


A mind in samadhi has acquired integration or wholeness of composure, and is therefore able to observe and to obtain insight about whatever object it is holding in its grasp. Depending upon the practitioner, he may, at various stages of the practice, experience this as blissful or steady or established or any combination of these and more.


Thank you so much for your condensation. I believe you sense my quandary.

My first thought was to investigate my experience through the aid of a psychiatrist and writings by Freud and Jung but the more I read and learned, the less answers seemed available. Until I began to investigate Buddhism, beginning with Tibetan Buddhism (because I had an opportunity to speak with a traveling Lama) and then Zen (because of slight familiarity brought forward from the '60s) and now Theravada. I can't call myself a Buddhist yet but I've yet to read anything by The Buddha I don't agree with and hold high. And I certainly believe in the existence of dukkha and it's arising so the cessation of dukkha is most interesting to me, and The Eightfold Path draws me. Perhaps I can someday also say: "In letting go of this clinging, my (sic) mind was at ease). emoticon

Thank you again for your attention and interest.

Denny

RE: A Jhana-like experience, or what?
Answer
8/21/13 12:26 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker: I said:

I "am" aware of some dangers associated with my pursuit so my question for any and all would be to share their concept of possible danger. The areas I would be cautious about would concern:

1) Inadvertently planting false memories or permanently changing memories......

And I "blew off" your answer without proper explanation, I'm sorry.

My further explanation: By this I mean: Throughout my childhood (day after day, after day, after day, after day, after day: you get the idea), because of Asperger Syndrome and the "differences" between myself and the other kids, I was rejected by them, bullied and beat up until near the end of high school. After high school things got better and better (married, kids, etc.) and layer after layer of forgetfulness covered those old experiences until I never thought of them anymore, and when I mentioned my childhood to people it came out sounding like a typical childhood......

BUT I now know those old suppressed experiences still have a strong and lasting effect on my view points about people, politics, you, myself, Buddhism, everything.............no matter if I say otherwise. It shows in my attitude toward those who my Asperger brain sees as "threats" (social, etc.) and until now this all happened automatically and without conscious thought which, naturally, had a negative effect on home, business, etc. (again). And often comes out as being rude and dismissive.

How was this happening and I never knew? #1. Asperger wasn't even "on the books" until I was already 40 years old. And #2. It's easier to forget old pain than to relive it, and everything was well buried.

So now I will fight this "childhood amnesia" from happening further. I am lifting the filters from my eyes. And I'm especially working on forgiveness and compassion severely lacking (absent?) throughout my life. This is why I am avoiding adding any false memories. Thank you.

Namaste friend