"The Deathless" (amata)

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 28, 2012 2:57 am

Greetings,

kirk5a wrote:The etymology looks to be linked to the english "immortal"
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... :2001.pali


Via Latin: im -- mort -- a(lis)

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:10 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt, Kirk, all,

I know Tilt likes the "freedom from death" translation, but it's hard to see the etmology of this translation. It's certainly not a literal one, as there doesn't seem to be anything there resembling "freedom" let alone "freedom from" in the Pali word amata.

Similarly, to pick up Tilt's point, there's no "the" in amata either, so similarly, "the deathless" is not a literal translation of the term in question either.

Both "freedom from death" and "the deathless" are interpretations of what amata might mean rather than a literal and agreed definition per se. Being interpretations they're both far more subjective than an agreed definition, and different people will have their preferred interpretation for different reasons... hence the reasons different people are presenting different suttas, and finding that neither interpretation universally applies or fits with all.

Now I'm not a Pali expert at all, but a reasonable etymology for amata seems to be...

a [not] + mara [death] + ata [ness]

It's not an interpretation - it's a deconstruction of the term into (what might be) its constituent components.

And despite all the brouhaha about how amata should be interpreted, and the fact I'm sure a hundred and one holes could be poked through my Pali tinkering, the definition "not-deathness" I propose here seems to be an amenable fit with all the suttas that have been provided by participants in the discussion.

Any thoughts on "not-deathness"? Perhaps try substituting it into the sutta extracts provided above and see how it fits.

Metta,
Retro. :)
Well, a hundered and one hole indeed. Fiirst of all, as has been pointed out to you elsewhere the suttas I quoted above use amata, a word that is not derived from a [not] + mara [death] + ata [ness]. See

http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... ali.867695 for a discussion of amata.

As for "not-deathness," it is another confusing bit that tells us nothing. Even "deathlessness" would be better, though not by much. As for how I came to "freedom from death," which of course is an interpretative translation, is carefullly illustrated above. What it comes down to is does one take the "a" in amata (a + mata) as a bahubbihi or tappurisa prefix, but also keep in mind that I am taking amata as being in line with this list of modifiers: . ajātaṃ abhūtaṃ akataṃ asaṅkhataṃ.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:13 am

kirk5a wrote:The etymology looks to be linked to the english "immortal"
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... :2001.pali
But like so many words that the Buddha adopted -- and then adapted -- from his Brahmanical milieu, the meaning, in context, is vastly different.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:16 am

retrofuturist wrote:Any thoughts on "not-deathness"?


It doesn't work for me. ;)

So are we any closer to establishing what amata is referring to?

The options seem to be:
1. Nibbana
2. Pari-nibbana
3. Both Nibbana and Pari-nibbana.

Thoughts?

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby Aloka » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:07 am

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Thoughts?

Spiny


No, not thoughts, lol ! Amata refers to freedom from the conditioned existence of greed, hatred and delusion, birth and death. = Nibbana, deathlessness.

:)
Last edited by Aloka on Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:13 am

Greetings,

Aloka wrote:No, not thoughts, lol !

Nippapanca is cool. 8-)

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:36 pm

Aloka wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Thoughts?

Spiny


No, not thoughts, lol ! Amata refers to freedom from the conditioned existence of greed, hatred and delusion, birth and death = Nibbana, deathlessness.

:)
Deathlessness is better than "the Deathless," which tends to suggest that there is some thing out there that does not die, but it is still not quite there.

Freedom from death gives, however, a more dynamic sense of what is being taught:

    ”Then the group of five monks, being thus exhorted, thus instructed by me [the Buddha], being liable to death because of self, having known the perils in what is liable to death, seeking freedom from death, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana -- won freedom from death, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana...." -- MN I 173
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:37 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Any thoughts on "not-deathness"?


It doesn't work for me. ;)

So are we any closer to establishing what amata is referring to?

The options seem to be:
1. Nibbana
2. Pari-nibbana
3. Both Nibbana and Pari-nibbana.

Thoughts?

Spiny
Why not translate in a way that reflects exactly what it is referring to:


    ”Then the group of five monks, being thus exhorted, thus instructed by me [the Buddha], being liable to death because of self, having known the perils in what is liable to death, seeking freedom from death, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana -- won freedom from death, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana...." -- MN I 173
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby nowheat » Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:41 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:So are we any closer to establishing what amata is referring to?

Death (and even aging-and-death) is equated with dukkha throughout the suttas. This makes amata freedom from dukkha.

:namaste:
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby kirk5a » Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:05 pm

nowheat wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:So are we any closer to establishing what amata is referring to?

Death (and even aging-and-death) is equated with dukkha throughout the suttas. This makes amata freedom from dukkha.

Ok that's great and all. But what does this "freedom from dukkha, which is the end of greed, hatred and delusion" actually amount to, as an experienced reality?

Is it just sitting down and breathing in and out and when it doesn't seem like there is any greed, hatred, or delusion going on... nibbana? Amata? Freedom from birth and death?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:13 pm

kirk5a wrote:
nowheat wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:So are we any closer to establishing what amata is referring to?

Death (and even aging-and-death) is equated with dukkha throughout the suttas. This makes amata freedom from dukkha.

Ok that's great and all. But what does this "freedom from dukkha, which is the end of greed, hatred and delusion" actually amount to, as an experienced reality?
Being free of dukkha would likely mean no longer being tormented by dukkha.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:55 pm

Greetings Tilt, all,

tiltbillings wrote:Why not translate in a way that reflects exactly what it is referring to: freedom from death

Moreover, that's what you believe it's referring to. (Which is fine, everyone is entitled to their perspective, but to state unequivocally that your interpretation is "exactly what it is referring to" is over-reaching... certainly from the POV of all the participants who are not fully satisfied with your interpretation. It is, as you said above, your interpretative translation.)

Consider... does aniccata mean "freedom from permanence"? Does anattata mean "freedom from self"? (I know you think the Pali Dictionary link refutes the not--death--ness etymology, but seeing the Latin parallel im--mort--a(lis), I think it actually strengthens it)

Anyway, if I were to have my turn to venture forth my personal perspective on "what it is referring to", I would say it pertains to the quality of non-dissolution in that which is not-formed. i.e. the not-deathness, or deathlessness of asankhata dhammas.

Ironically, my objection to "freedom from death" is much like your objection to "the deathless", in that "freedom from death" (to me) infers the existence of a deathless being who is now "free from death" (i.e. a being in union with atman)

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:38 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt, all,

tiltbillings wrote:Why not translate in a way that reflects exactly what it is referring to: freedom from death

Moreover, that's what you believe it's referring to.
I have made both a textual and grammatical argument for what my position.

but to state unequivocally that your interpretation is "exactly what it is referring to" is over-reaching
Over-reaching? Not that you have shown.

certainly from the POV of all the participants who are not fully satisfied with your interpretation. It is, as you said above, your interpretative translation.
No one has to agree with my position, but I am still waiting for a counter argument that is at the level of the argument I have presented. It has not happened as of yet.

Consider... does aniccata mean "freedom from permanence"? Does anattata mean "freedom from self"? (I know you think the Pali Dictionary link refutes this etymology, but seeing the Latin parallel im -- mort -- a(lis), I think it actually strengthens it)
So you assert, but you have yet to show that it strengthens your position. You have not even come close to addressing the grammatical issues of the Pali.

Anyway, if I were to have my turn to venture forth my personal perspective on "what it is referring to", I would say it pertains to the quality of non-dissolution in that which is not-formed. i.e. the not-deathness, or deathlessness of asankhata dhammas.
Okay, but where is your actual argument? MN I 173 neatly makes my point, but on the other hand you seem to want to reduce every suggestion of rebirth into some sort of symbolic non-time differentiated thingie. That is your interpretation. Mine, however, is certainly consistent with the Buddha's teachings and is far more informative than what you are offering.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:51 pm

Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:I have made both a textual and grammatical argument for what my position.

Sure, and its to your benefit that you can do that... but of course, your willingness to accept your own argument and authority doesn't oblige others to do likewise.

tiltbillings wrote:No one has to agree with my position, but I am still waiting for a counter argument that is at the level of the argument I have presented. It has not happened as of yet.

So "level of argument" determines what is beneficial and useful in the Dhamma? In a Debate Club, perhaps...

tiltbillings wrote:Okay, but where is your actual argument?

It's not an argument - it's an intuitive sense that it accords with the overall teaching of the suttas, accords with the Buddha's inclination to re-shape the lexicon of the time to fit the Dhamma, accords with the many other synonyms of nibbana which point to a certain quality of experience rather than a bifurcation of a "being" from its "death", it makes sense when paired with the Pali word dhatu (element / quality) etc.

In other words, for my understanding of the Dhamma, it fits nicely and cohesively with the rest of it (which also fits nicely and cohesively). To put that into an "argument" I would have to rebuild the Dhamma (which would form the argument's underlying assumptions, dispute over which could form a century long parenthesis) from scratch - so no, it's not an "argument'... it's an intuitive sense that it is internally consistent with the Dhamma as I know it. I share it not to "prove" or "win" an "argument", but on the off chance it also coincides with the intuitive sense of others who may find it internally consistent with the Dhamma as they know it. It is sharing and its usefulness will be in the eye of the beholder.

tiltbillings wrote:you seem to want to reduce every suggestion of rebirth into some sort of symbolic non-time differentiated thingie.

:strawman: A strawman with no bearing whatsoever on why I define amata as not-deathness, and understand it as "the quality of non-dissolution in that which is not-formed". But since you raise it, what or whom experiences this "freedom from death"? Is it a satta, is it vinnana etc.? What "death" is this satta/vinnana/whatever-you-like-it-to-be experiencing freedom from? Its own? An other?

tiltbillings wrote:Mine, however, is certainly consistent with the Buddha's teachings and is far more informative than what you are offering.

The teachings as you understand them being the obvious caveat here. To quote from your signature, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What they are not entitled to is their own facts." (D.P. Moynihan)

Your insistence that you are "still waiting for a counter argument that is at the level of the argument [you] have presented" seems to disregard that the method of applying and benefiting from the Dhamma is via the Noble Eightfold Path, not through towering displays of argumentation and worldly proofs.

Whatever understanding of amata the individual lands at should help and complement their own fabricated path. "The Deathless" is not useful to you - it may be useful to others. "Freedom from death" may be useful to you - it may not be useful to others. There is no need to prove through argumentation that one interpretive definition is objectively definitive, iron clad, and ubiquitously and universally superior.

Objective, abstacted proofs or argumentation outside of the range of focus (of dukkha, nirodha, N8P etc.) that try to land at absolute correctness of one particular interpretation independent of the individual's subjective experience and understanding of the Dhamma, fall on the floor of the Simsapa Forest and are not picked up by the Buddha, as they have no applicability to the practice. It's not a battle to be the most convincing in a market-place of ideas, it's a battle to further our own understanding and well-being.

I'm sharing my perspective - not engaging in a battle to be "more informative" or to debate a "position" in an "argument". I hope that is clear.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby squarepeg » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:19 am

i cringe at the idea of instutionalizing these terms, as there is obvioulsy a reason why pali is still a spoken, (hopefully dead) but never the less spoken language. and also i think we should be carefull to keep USE more important than Meaning, as far as the inspiration convayed by an english term is concerned, anyone who is beyond the need for external inspiration would likely find himself aquainted with respective pali terms.

According to anagarika mariam-webster i feel the the correct translation of this term amata would be "death impartiality"
This is in line with the idea that upekkha (impartiality) when maintained indefinately, (even at the thought of death) would condition one to sever the last tie to the self.

so the answer is death impartiality, you can stop fighting now
"Yadisam vapate bijam tadisam harate phalam" — as we sow, so shall we reap
Maranam Bhavissati - "death will take place"
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:44 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

tiltbillings wrote:I have made both a textual and grammatical argument for what my position.

Sure, and its to your benefit that you can do that... but of course, your willingness to accept your own argument and authority doesn't oblige others to do likewise.
Two things: I have no expectation that others must accept my point of view and whether they do or not is their business. Basically, I am offering an educated/experienced point of view and it is just that -- a point of view. The second thing is: I could be wrong and I would relish being shown to be so.

tiltbillings wrote:No one has to agree with my position, but I am still waiting for a counter argument that is at the level of the argument I have presented. It has not happened as of yet.

So "level of argument" determines what is beneficial and useful in the Dhamma? In a Debate Club, perhaps...
The point here is that I am offering a careful exegetical look the issues involved with understanding a vexed term, which might be of interest to others. Also, give and take on such a topic can also be useful. If one does not like such give and take, then don’t participate in it or complain about it.

tiltbillings wrote:Okay, but where is your actual argument?

It's not an argument - it's an intuitive sense that it accords with the overall teaching of the suttas, accords with the Buddha's inclination to re-shape the lexicon of the time to fit the Dhamma, accords with the many other synonyms of nibbana which point to a certain quality of experience rather than a bifurcation of a "being" from its "death", it makes sense when paired with the Pali word dhatu (element / feature) etc.
As for “intuitive sense,” that it certainly is not a claim unique to you. This is not a mere intellectual exercise for me. In my understanding and what I am offering there is no ‘bifurcation of a "being" from its "death.”’ One always has to keep the broader context in mind. And as for dhatu, probably one of the more difficult words on which to get a handle, and element is not quite it.

it's an intuitive sense that it is internally consistent with the Dhamma as I know it.
A claim I can equally make.

I share it not to "prove" or "win" an "argument", but on the off chance it also coincides with the intuitive sense of others who may find it internally consistent with the Dhamma as they know it. It is sharing and its usefulness will be in the eye of the beholder.
I would say nothing different about my motivation.

tiltbillings wrote:you seem to want to reduce every suggestion of rebirth into some sort of symbolic non-time differentiated thingie.

:strawman: A strawman with no bearing whatsoever on why I define amata as not-deathness, and understand it as "the quality of non-dissolution in that which is not-formed".
Straw man? Probably not: "The quality of non-dissolution in that which is not-formed."

But since you raise it, what or whom experiences this "freedom from death"? Is it a satta, is it vinnana etc.? What "death" is this satta/vinnana/whatever-you-like-it-to-be experiencing freedom from? Its own? An other?
The answer is here: “. . . being liable to death because of self, having known the perils in what is liable to death, seeking freedom from death, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana -- won freedom from death, the uttermost security from the bonds -- nibbana...." -- MN I 173

tiltbillings wrote:Mine, however, is certainly consistent with the Buddha's teachings and is far more informative than what you are offering.

The teachings as you understand them being the obvious caveat here.
Well, yeah.

Your insistence that you are "still waiting for a counter argument that is at the level of the argument [you] have presented" seems to disregard that the method of applying and benefiting from the Dhamma is via the Noble Eightfold Path, not through towering displays of argumentation and worldly proofs.
Not at all.

Whatever understanding of amata the individual lands at should help and complement their own fabricated path. "The Deathless" is not useful to you - it may be useful to others. "Freedom from death" may be useful to you - it may not be useful to others. There is no need to prove through argumentation that one interpretive definition is objectively definitive, iron clad, and ubiquitously and universally superior.
Of course you are missing the point. Translations should always be challenged. It is to one’s benefit to read multiple translations, and even better is to have a working knowledge of Pali grammar.

Objective, abstacted proofs or argumentation outside of the range of focus (of dukkha, nirodha, N8P etc.) that try to land at absolute correctness of one particular interpretation independent of the individual's subjective experience and understanding of the Dhamma, fall on the floor of the Simsapa Forest and are not picked up by the Buddha, as they have no applicability to the practice. It's not a battle to be the most convincing in a market-place of ideas, it's a battle to further our own understanding and well-being.
Fortunately, I am not trying to “land at absolute correctness of one particular interpretation.” There is no such thing. What I have done is challenge a translation that easily lends itself to reification.

I'm sharing my perspective - not engaging in a battle to be "more informative" or to debate a "position" in an "argument". I hope that is clear.
For not being engaged in a battle, your msg does seem a bit feisty.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:10 am

Greetings Spiny,

Spiny O'Norman wrote:So are we any closer to establishing what amata is referring to?

The options seem to be:
1. Nibbana
2. Pari-nibbana
3. Both Nibbana and Pari-nibbana.

Thoughts?

To me these things are all just different ways of looking at the same thing, in the sense that they all point to the unconditioned.

If by looking at the unconditioned in a different way they help to illustrate an aspect of the unconditioned that is great, but they are not in any way mutually exclusive things.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:02 am

Aloka wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Thoughts?

Spiny


No, not thoughts, lol ! Amata refers to freedom from the conditioned existence of greed, hatred and delusion, birth and death. = Nibbana, deathlessness.

:)


That's one opinion... ;)
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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:10 am

nowheat wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:So are we any closer to establishing what amata is referring to?

Death (and even aging-and-death) is equated with dukkha throughout the suttas. This makes amata freedom from dukkha.

:namaste:


But if aging and death are dukkha, then to be completely free from dukkha we need to free from aging and death. So...?

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Re: "The Deathless" (amata)

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:13 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Aloka wrote:No, not thoughts, lol !

Nippapanca is cool. 8-)

Metta,
Retro. :)


Though you seem to have plenty of thoughts yourself. ;)
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