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Anyway... I want to make a separate thread for that because it is interesting.
Other than some early memories where I was just experiencing things, one memory sticks out as being the first time I felt like I had control over my thoughts and actions.
I think I was around 3. My sister was a baby. She had a favorite white sheet with red heart appliques that she loved. She took it around the house with her all day.
I knew she loved the sheet. But one day I looked at that sheet laying there and thought it would make a super ghost costume.
I started looking for some scissors. Then I just had this knowledge that I was no longer a "puppet", I had control over the things I did. It was like someone was telling me this, but not in words. It was kind of in my thoughts.
I hid under the kid table (knowing that what I was doing would get me in trouble!) and cut holes in the sheet, and then my sister found out what I did and cried. It was horrible.
So, at some point I guess we all gain the knowledge that we are independent beings and are granted free will.
Can someone point me to the thread where this was discussed? I want to go read it again.
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My earliest memory, my first "sense of self" as an independent being, was at about 1 year old. I remember being swaddled, lying in a basket beside an indoor swimming pool. The basket was turned so that most of what I could see was the pale-yellowish painted concrete walls of the large room. But I could hear everything very clearly. My mom was in the pool with my older sister (18 months older). What I felt was an intense sense of confinement, aloneness, and anguish at having been abandoned and excluded like this.
I confirmed the details of this with her many years later. It was the indoor pool at a YWCA in Detroit. She enjoyed swimming, it was her main outlet and only form of physical exercise. She would swim for a while by herself while my sister sat next to me as I lay in the basket. Then she would take my sister into the water and play with her. My turn never came. Of course, she was completely unaware of the subjective aspects of my experience. I didn't even bother sharing it with her.
This was just one instance of a pattern that was to repeat many times in different forms throughout my childhood. Due to traumatic experiences in her childhood, my mom had issues with males and felt uncomfortable with them. I was, unfortunately, born the "wrong" gender, and automatically became the unwitting recipient of this treatment. She was programmed, that is to say, it was completely automatic for her, to ignore/deny my needs and, later, to even try to destroy my healthy relationships. This pattern had far-reaching consequences for me, as it was planted in my subconscious, took on a "life of its own", and "ran the show" in many aspects of my life, especially (surprise!) relationships with females. It wasn't until my late 30's that I was able to start to see it for what it was and come to terms with it.
It was working with this experiential pattern that convinced me that, the major features of our so-called "spiritual" convictions and longings are rooted in these early-childhood experiences. By necessity, we "spiritualize" our childhood traumas. We invent and create in our imaginations whatever is necessary to make up for the loss of things we needed from our caretakers. The work of Alice Miller in the 1980's was groundbreaking in this respect, and I am forever grateful to her for it. If you're suffering "spiritual pain", I highly recommend this line of inquiry.
EDIT: There is also an OBE aspect to this. Not only do I recall the orientation of the basket, as I described above, but I could also see its orientation in the room and to the pool, as if seen from above. This agrees with what I have experienced in meditation, in my NDE (dramatically), and more subtly on a daily basis. There is a vertical component to self-awareness, a sense of spacial proportion as if seen from above. Throughout a given day, we seamlessly slip in and out of it without even knowing it. Sometimes the return back to the body/personality identification is so sharp that we feel jarred, we feel startled when it happens. But more often the transitions are more gentle; the mind wanders and off we go with it, as if on a horse with a mind of its own, until something snaps our attention back to the larger center of gravity in our personality.
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