Practice log - Nick N

Trial And Error, modified 5 Years ago.

Practice log - Nick N

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
I want to give this a try. In hopes of strengthening practice, getting feedback and clarifying certain things for myself as well. I'll try to find a balance between being succinct and giving enough detail.

Background. I've been meditating for around 2 years. I started mainly out of curiosity and to deal with personal problems and life in general. In the beginning it wasn't regular. In the past year or so it's been more so. I've been taking it increasingly more seriously in the last few months.

Aim: I enjoy the personal growth I get from meditating a lot. That's a big reason why I meditate. Also I won't say no to stream entry. To clarify, I do want to get stream entry.

May be relevant: I deal with depression and anxiety. I made progress about this in time, and still doing so. 

How I meditate: I'm experimenting with different techniques. I've done some Goenka. Now when I sit, I focus on the breath until the mind is calm. Then I try to simply "know" whatever arises. I also still do some body scanning.

I try to be mindful as much as possible (which is not a lot) in daily life. Whatever I do, I try to do it knowingly. I do walking meditation as well in the same way.

I also like to explore Jhanas. I believe I can get to 4th Jhana.

A few "milestones":
1. An experience about one year ago. It may or may not be A&P. I have a post about it.

2. A 10 day Goenka retreat 4-5 months ago.I'll give some detail about this: The first few days was me trying to get focused, not succeeding, and getting agitated. When the body scanning technique was introduced on the 4th day, I found it interesting and was more focused.

On the 5th day, I decided I'll deal with the unpleasant gross sensations in my chest area. So I focused on them. (Recently on this forum I've seen that it is advised against by Goenka, but I didn't know it then). This first led to pleasant experiences. I witnessed the relationship between these sensations and my (unwanted) mind states. I was very happy. This may have been a good lesson in no-self.

On the 6th day, I discovered why Goenka advises against what I did. When I focused on the chest area, some of the unpleasant sensations did their thing and went away. This is the good part. I think my being able to get rid of some repressed emotions may be related to this event. But "under" these sensations came strong ones that triggered a lot of fear and anxiety. I had never experienced something like that before and the intensity of the sensations overpowered the abilities of my mind. I seriously considered leaving. I was advised against it and it made sense to stay.

7th 10th day: This is mainly me trying to deal with the anxiety. I'm not applying the technique exactly anymore. The teacher suggested a variation of it which helped. At one point it seemed like the anxiety went away and I was in a state that is characterized by release and effortless and natural compassion. This lasted for a few hours. There was also a lot of emotional release during these days.

In summary: After/during the retreat there was a lot of personal growth that came at once. A lot of burdens released. However, it is possible that the anxiety was made worse during the retreat. It is also possible that it is not worsened but has just come to the surface.


After the retreat I took a break from meditation for a month or so.
Trial And Error, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
04.11.14

Been back to meditation for a few months.

Today something interesting happened. I was directing my attention to some unpleasant sensations. Then out of nowhere, a fear arose. I think it was the same thing that happened on the retreat. But this time my mindfulness was much stronger. I watched it arise and pass away. It felt good. It felt like an accomplishment.
Trial And Error, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
04.12.14

These days I'm trying to be mindful in everything I do. During the day I was doing walking meditation. I was watching my body move. Awareness and my body seemed like separate things. At one moment it seemed odd why my awareness should move with my body (if they are separate that is).

During the day, I felt a lot of sadness. But there was a certain warmth to it. I also felt a lot of love, but a sad kind of love. There was definitely a sense of grieving. Feelings in line with the stage Misery as described by MCTB.

At night, I had a lot of worry. A lot. I couldn't meditate because it got worse when I sat. I got to the point of reconsidering if I'm someone who should be meditating at all. I was worried that it would make the worry worse.
Trial And Error, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
04.13.14

Today I felt better. I was able to meditate without the worry overpowering. Something interesting happened. I was able to observe my misery, without identifying with it. My perspective and state of mind just changed. Followed by feelings of deep and natural compassion for this particular being (me), and for all things that suffer.

Maybe for the first time I understood the sentiment behind the saying "May all beings be happy".
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Jake WM, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

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Any more updates on your practice Trial and Error? I am interested in reading about your progress.
Trial And Error, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
Yes there is. I'll be posting more. Thanks for your interest.
Trial And Error, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
4.14.14

The realization/thought that getting this or that attainment is not going to make my worldly problems instantly go away sent me into a bad mood where I don't feel like doing anything.

I went from something that feels like Misery to something that feels like Dissolution. I was feeling like I was making good progess, now I feel like I've regressed.

I need to cut my attachment to the idea of getting attainments.

Maybe I'll list some reasons that I think are healthier to want to get stream entry:

1. There is actually a part of me that isn't attached to getting S.E. (There is also a part of me that really doesn't care) I'm mainly wanting it for practical reasons and as a sort of self-compassion. Simply because it seems like the alternative of not getting it would mean being stuck in dark night.

2. I'm quite curious about it.

3. It should reduce suffering.

4. I saw this in someone else's post and I liked it. If I get there, if I deal with my own suffering, I can help others more with theirs.

What I shouldn't do is make the practice something I define myself by and something I succeed in.

My attachment to success (or aversion to failure) is strong. I need to learn to stop defining myself by success. That is going to be a tough one.
Trial And Error, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
04.15.14

Today when I sat I was in an unpleasant state which I discovered to be doubt. I got out of it when I recognized and accepted doubt as doubt.

Or I guess I should say getting out of it and recognizing it happened simultaneously.

This is how it happened. I was repeatedly asking myself what this sensation/feeling is. But I just couldn't call it what it is. I was very agitated. Then I realized I had tremendous doubt about what it was. Then there was the aha moment. It is doubt. Doubt is what is making you doubtful. Duh..

Then I was out of it.

It seems like I have to relearn this lesson with every unpleasant feeling/sensation. Fear, worry, anger, doubt... I'm not complaining when I say that.
Trial And Error, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
04.16.14
While I was sitting I automatically went into Jhana. I wasn't intending it.

I spent some time there. About 20-30 minutes. I tried some body scanning but it wasn't interesting. So I just examined the qualities of the Jhana, such as the peace. After a while it was difficult to keep my attention on something since I was tired. So I just sat there in peace. It felt good.

The more interesting part happened after going to bed. I was trying to fall asleep. I started watching the breath to calm my mind. That then sent me to meditation and introspection mode. I preferred that to going to sleep. So I went with it. This happens a lot.

During this time, I came to the realization that I was holding onto some anger. I was aware of my anger before, for a long time actually. But this time I had a different clarity (maybe thanks to time spent in Jhana earlier in the day?). I saw myself holding on to the anger. This is not something I had seen before. Then came the realization that I need let go of it. Then came the will to do so.

I started trying to force myself to let it go. This was basically me noticing the will, concentrating on it, and using it to forcefully let go of the anger. It was weird and interesting. It felt like I was separating two things tightly glued to each other. When it was over I felt release and some joy. Now looking back, I think the seed of this was planted during the day outside meditation in my actions and intentions. I think I was ready to let go of some anger.

In the name of objectivity and a healthy level of self doubt, time will tell how much of the above paragraph is real.

That said, I think the acquired knowledge of what it means to hold on to anger will stay with me.
Trial And Error, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
04.17.14

I was feeling good today. I have less anger for sure.

I realized that I cling to feeling good a lot. It is hard for me to just observe these feelings/sensations. But I think this realization is a step in the right direction. Although there is a (big) part of me that says just feeling good is enough. I think one reason for that may be when you feel good, it feels like it can be/going to be permanent.

I'm also noticing some pride and maybe even arrogance when I get feelings of accomplishment.
Trial And Error, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
6/3/14
Coming out of dark night

Something happened today. There is a good chance I might be out of the dark night.

Looking back, I think the stage was set by me dealing with a particular thing in my life that needed to be dealth with. It was time to move forward in life and I took a step in that direction during the day.

Until this time I was pretty miserable for a little more than a month. I dreaded sitting, felt great irritation, great disenchantment from dailiy life etc. The meditation I did was my mindfulness during the day when I'm walking and driving, and lying down after going to bed. I did force myself to attend group meditations which actually made it possible to sit. Also metta meditation helped a lot too. 

Back to today, when I went to bed I went into meditation mode. There was a strong desire for getting out of this "thing". 

All this time I had been trying to keep my attention on the breath and it wasn't "working". This time, with feelings of having given up, desperation, and experimentation I decided to spend conscious effort to not concentrate on the breath. It was me trying to do the exact opposite of what I've had been doing so far. Everytime I noticed myself "trying concentrate on the breath", or "effort", or "trying", I made myself stop doing it. Which was more difficult than I thought.

Then a cool thing happened. I think what I did allowed my awareness to open wider and wider. I mean I could feel it get wider. Now my concentration was on keeping it wide. 

The following is going to sound very similar to descriptions I've read here and in MCTB. As I felt my awareness open up, what it felt like was two things trying to get in phase with each other. That's the best and probably only way I can describe the experience. First I noticed the out-of-phaseness of it, and the irritation that comes from it. As I kept my concentration on the experience, they got closer and closer in phase. 
But my concentration caved in after a while. So I gave it a second go. By this time it was clear to me that I was up to something. Something was happening. (Maybe here for the sake of objectivity, I should note that before this event I was aware of the model of awareness and reality coming in phase. I had been fascinated by it and there was probably some anticipation and expectation for it) Second time I applied stronger concentration and resolve and it happened. They came in phase. 

Then followed a sense of relief, a sense of "finally", a sense of a weight being lift off and things falling in their place. A sense of peace. 

I have experienced the 4th jhana before, and there is definitely something familiar in the quality of my current experience.

This feels very much like what I imagined coming out of dark night would feel like. There is a lot of ease, peace, wide awareness, and not a lot of the agitation and the high of A&P. It is in line with the descriptions of equanimity in MCTB.

There is an effortlessness to my ability to be present.

I have a very different perspective to my daily problems. They are still there obviously, but seem so much more manageable. I generally know how to deal with them, and I have the confidence that I can deal with them. For the ones I can't deal with at the moment, I'm accepting of that fact.

The sensations of anxiety are still there, but again they are much less of a problem. There is much less identification with them. They take up a much smaller percentage of my awareness. When they arise, it is easy for me to notice and come back to the moment. 

I feel good about myself. There are deep senses of wonder, gratefulness, some joy, accomplishment, and a sense of being on my way to something. I mean I might actually be out of this freaking dark night...

I feel the need to again thank this community, especially Daniel Ingram for reasons that I think are obvious.

Advice about what may lie ahead on the way to stream entry are appreciated.
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

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Trial And Error:
6/3/14

Something happened today. There is a good chance I might be out of the dark night.
This feels very much like what I imagined coming out of dark night would feel like. There is a lot of ease, peace, wide awareness, and not a lot of the agitation and the high of A&P. It is in line with the descriptions of equanimity in MCTB.

Advice about what may lie ahead on the way to stream entry are appreciated.

This is where I spent most of my time. Waking up in re-ob and each meditation getting to low eq. Then moving up to mid then high EQ. Kenneths book has some of the best advice I have read on it. Knowledge_of_Equanimity_Stage_11 and of course reread MCTB about it too.
Good Luck,
~D
Trial And Error, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
Thanks for taking the time. I'll definitely check that book out.
Trial And Error, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
06/05/14

An experience of nothingness?

Using the seemingly ridiculous power of equanimity I was investigating the experience of "being". I tried to recognize the sensations that make it up, and I paid attention to the experience as a whole. So basically I concentrated on "being". Like I do with all sensations, I let it arise, tried to see its selfless nature, and let it know itself.

Then my awareness started to grow. And I had an insight/experience I never had before. Best way I can describe it is it felt like I glanced at nothingness. I, and the things around me started to lose their substance. They seemed more and more empty and flickering. They were like illusions formed on nothingness. Like paintings on air, or digital formations. It was a scary thing. 

As I kept my concentration where it is the nothingness grew, or became more apparent. I felt like if I kept going I was going to disappear. That gave me tremendous fear. So I stopped.

Next day it did cause some destabilization. Like fear of things disappearing, and fear in general. To speculate, I may have run into some of my deep seated fears.

It was a curious experience. It more or less fits the descriptions of the 7th Jhana, but I don't think I experienced the 5th and 6th prior to it. There is mention in MCTB that nothingness can be experienced in high equanimity. Maybe it was that.


I have some reading to do about this. But I'm curious where this experience/insight stands with respect to stream entry.
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Dream Walker, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 1312 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Trial And Error:
06/05/14
An experience of nothingness?
As I kept my concentration where it is the nothingness grew, or became more apparent. I felt like if I kept going I was going to disappear. That gave me tremendous fear. So I stopped.
Next day it did cause some destabilization. Like fear of things disappearing, and fear in general. To speculate, I may have run into some of my deep seated fears.

From this thread http://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3529049

Daniel M. Ingram:
In MCTB, notice the line in Equanimity: The arising of some sort of fear of madness and death is not uncommon at this stage, but usually does not cause too much trouble and may even seem comical or welcome. A related and common feeling in the early part of this stage is the general sense that something big is about to happen, though this feeling is also common before the A&P Event.
This was way, way less than is possible.
I watched a few of the meditators who sat here run into the Equanimity Dark Night again and again: knowing they were close, getting frustrated, backing off, backing off too much, trying to power it, failing, psyching themselves out, bargaining, etc.

Here is another thread where daniel says some great stuff - Cultivating the Formless Realm Vipassana Jhanas http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3882545
Daniel M. Ingram:

So in 11.4.5 (the 4 makes it the light version, as still in 4, just the 5 aspect of 4, this contrasted with 11.5-11.8 (which is what the original poster is probably interested in, I suspect)) we have the wide open, clear, boundless aspect of 11th. This is best appreciated when looking for it just after 11.3, the mini Dark Night of Equanimity, and is best appreciated by people who are using more panoramic techniques, though the first time I chanced into this I was breath, breath, breath and feet, feet, feet. It is formed, but still the spaciousness, the boundarylessness still predominates.
Go read the rest.
Good luck...you're in a fun place to explore....enjoy it.
~D
Trial And Error, modified 6 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
07.03.14

I'm having strong Reobservation like feelings/sensations. Or that's how my attention feels like. I'm having difficulty being present.

For a while I was alternating between Equanimity and Reobservation and I had a working technique to go up to Equanimity withhout a lot of difficulty. Recently it has become very difficult. The sensations are too strong. Or, the resistence to them is too strong.

Since hitting equanimity the first time, I've dealt with a lot of personal personal issues, my relationships improved and I've come to terms with a lot of things. In my practice I've discovered what it means to surrender (to let go), how to do it, and how helpful it is. As a result I became more and more comfortable in my body, and I went deeper into it.

One guess I have is that now I might have run into something deep that I need to deal with, and the abilities of mind is not there yet. I've been working with open awareness a lot lately, so maybe I'll go back to working on my concentration and see if that helps.

An attachment and craving for the peace of Equanimity is also a possibility.
Trial And Error, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
3.24.2015

Been a while since I've written. A lot of time spent back and forth between what feels like equanimity, reobservation, desire for deliverance. 

I have been doing a lot of choiceless awareness. "Just sitting" and allowing things to unfold as they will. As close as I can get to total surrender. I've been doing readings on Zen at the same time.

Had a few interviews with a Zen teacher and apparently had a mind opening moment in one of them.  Since then, coming back to the moment has a very different quality. For one it is very easy. Second, everytime I come back to "This", I feel like I just woke up. In my sits I can do it every two seconds or less and my experience feels like "Just woke up"... "Woke up again"... "Woke up again".. The new moment feels so extremely fresh and new, and the person waking up is a new person. There is a sense of discontinuity, but I can't pinpoint the exact moment it happens.

I've also been doing self inquiry with the question "Who am I". I ask the question and then when I look at my experience I see that the person who asked the question is not here anymore. It a memory that I can watch fade.

Nonclinging is very strong in my sits. Letting go is at a whole new level of ease and it is very natural.

Still no cessation though. But I have a feeling that if look closer into the moment just before "waking up", into the kind of vague and subtle feeling of discontinuity, I might find something interesting. But since it is happening so often, I'm not sure if that's it. I'm always open to suggestions.
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Dream Walker, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

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Nick N.:
3.24.2015

Been a while since I've written. A lot of time spent back and forth between what feels like equanimity, reobservation, desire for deliverance. 

Spent most of my time there...10% to get to EQ then 90% of the time in Re-Ob to EQ.
Nick N.:
I have been doing a lot of choiceless awareness. "Just sitting" and allowing things to unfold as they will. As close as I can get to total surrender. I've been doing readings on Zen at the same time.
Nice, are you doing this once you get to high EQ or the whole sit? Does it get you to high EQ by itself?
Nick N.:
Had a few interviews with a Zen teacher and apparently had a mind opening moment in one of them.  Since then, coming back to the moment has a very different quality. For one it is very easy. Second, everytime I come back to "This", I feel like I just woke up. In my sits I can do it every two seconds or less and my experience feels like "Just woke up"... "Woke up again"... "Woke up again".. The new moment feels so extremely fresh and new, and the person waking up is a new person. There is a sense of discontinuity, but I can't pinpoint the exact moment it happens.
Nice, looks like you are opening the gap of awareness. where you pull back from expereince and see that what is happening is not "you". Describe the "Mind opening moment" if you can.
Nick N.:
I've also been doing self inquiry with the question "Who am I". I ask the question and then when I look at my experience I see that the person who asked the question is not here anymore. It a memory that I can watch fade.
Nice insite.

Nick N.:
Nonclinging is very strong in my sits. Letting go is at a whole new level of ease and it is very natural.
good stuff

Nick N.:
Still no cessation though. But I have a feeling that if look closer into the moment just before "waking up", into the kind of vague and subtle feeling of discontinuity, I might find something interesting. But since it is happening so often, I'm not sure if that's it. I'm always open to suggestions.
Read this- MCTB The Three Doors
I would spend some time looking/feeling into the sensations that occur and see if you can sense a quality of permanence or some kinda overlay of solidity. Its hard to notice at first as it has been running for so long that it is just a constant background "noise" but if you tune into it it is findable. Focus all your attention on it and try to "lock" onto it as a concentration exercise. Hope this will clarify one of the doors to fruition....everything else you are doing seems to be getting you aligned.
Good luck,
~D
Nick N., modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
Thanks Dream Walker.

[quote=
Nick N.]I have been doing a lot of choiceless awareness. "Just sitting" and allowing things to unfold as they will. As close as I can get to total surrender. I've been doing readings on Zen at the same time.
Nice, are you doing this once you get to high EQ or the whole sit? Does it get you to high EQ by itself?


Mostly the whole sit. Other times I might do some breath watching or focusing on the sounds around me to quiet the mind in the beginning. Short answer is sometimes it gets me to equanimity sometimes it doesn't. When I sit I give priority to containing and being present with emotions. So if I make progress on that front I consider it a good sit. 

Describe the "Mind opening moment" if you can.
I'm not very good at talking about these things. I'm also not well versed in MCTB terminology. I'll try in Zen.

Days before the interview I had an insight of what I think was the emptiness, or the Void. I could see all sensations and experience arise and pass away against this emptiness, the Void. They come from nothing, they go to nothing, and the background of emptiness is always there. It's been there all my life. There is nothing but the Void. 

It was a profound and at the same time very ordinary realization. Like in the Zen tale of the warrior who was looking for the pearl that was already on his head. 

http://oldschoolzen.blogspot.com/2013/02/huang-po-warriors-pearl.html

And in the interview, the teacher hit the floor at one point in conversation (like a Katsu or a shout) and I knew exactly what he meant. It was quite emotional. It was a moment of wordless communication, and it pointed to something I was dying to find words for but hadn't been able to. Possibly "This", or "Just This" in Zen. It also validated my insight and cleared my doubts. The "mind opening" was the teacher's words.

In the days that followed on several occasions I found myself laughing uncontrollably because this realization or experience, whatever it is, I found/find it quite hillarious.

I would spend some time looking/feeling into the sensations that occur and see if you can sense a quality of permanence or some kinda overlay of solidity. 
When you say solidity, do you mean a physical sensation?
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Dream Walker, modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

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Nick N.:
I would spend some time looking/feeling into the sensations that occur and see if you can sense a quality of permanence or some kinda overlay of solidity. 
When you say solidity, do you mean a physical sensation?
It's not a physical sensation, you are noticing the sensations of the 5 senses and feeling into them...looking for an additional quality. The sensations come and go but there seems to be some kind of overlay of permanency to them. This overlay is what you are trying to dissolve. The overlay seems like "me, mine, my senses" but foremost it feels permanent or solid.
Clearer?
~D

Edit : When you meditate and things get quieter have you ever stopped and wondered....where did the noise go? What was the quality of the noise that is now gone? How much quieter is it? what noise level is left? We tend to overlook what we are used to experiencing all the time. Investigate this.
Nick N., modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - To grow, and to enter the stream

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
Yes, much clearer.

When you meditate and things get quieter have you ever stopped and wondered....where did the noise go? What was the quality of the noise that is now gone? How much quieter is it? what noise level is left? We tend to overlook what we are used to experiencing all the time. Investigate this.
I see it as it goes into nothingness. But I will look more into those. Thanks a lot for the suggestions.
Nick N., modified 5 Years ago.

RE: Practice log - Nick N

Posts: 116 Join Date: 2/27/13 Recent Posts
3.25.15

Mind was very agitated before and earlier parts of the sit. Started by noting sounds to calm. Then worked on some emotions with open awareness, acceptance, and self affirmations. It took a while but made progress.

Then using open awareness together with some focus on the "sense of being" went into what I think is a mild 4th Jhana.

Proceeded to self inquiry with "Who am I?"

Looked deeper and deeper with good equanimity. Reached for the first time something that resembles an answer. I saw compassion as a thing that is behind the "I", "me" driven statements and actions.

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