Buddha Nature ?

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meindzai
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby meindzai » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:16 am

jcsuperstar wrote:it's also similar to ajahn chah's poo roo "one who knows"

i think ajahn sujato makes an interesting observation about this though



I think so too. I think a lot of Ajahns tend to talk about things in a practical way to guide students, but they can get turned into the Great Capitalized Doctrine Thingy. However I think statements like "the citta is never born and never dies" (quoted previusly) are pretty unambiguous and inconsistent with Theravada.

-M

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby meindzai » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:43 am

BTW, did I hear him right in there somewhere saying that Thailand was primarily Mahayana before being mainly Theravada?

-M

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:11 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:
PeterB wrote:Please feel free to ignore my ungrounded opinions and generalisations. They are opinions. They are not scholarly essays. :tongue:
I have no intention in a non scholarly discussion thread characterised pretty much by subjective opinions to attempt to present a coherent arguement. I am just shooting the breeze based on things experiential. If you find that useful. fine. If you dont.. fine.


Sure, thanks PeterB. I still appreciate your breeze that got shot! I did find it useful, because it gives me some insight into how these ideas are conveyed in Vajrayana and Zen teachings.

My post above from Swanson is hoping to go a small step further than my earlier one, which was also experiential. Hopefully a little more than just a subjective opinion, if that is indeed possible. If you have the time, I would appreciate your thoughts. :smile:


As i understand it Sawnson is in response to Prof Shiro Matsumoto whose argument goes;
Paticca-Samupadda is the sole source of existence.
The Tathagatagharba doctrine is dhatu vada.
Dhatu vada is the antithesis of Paticca -Samuppada.
Dhatu vada is therefore precisely the target of the Buddhas critisism.
Japanese Buddhism ( and by extension the |Mahayana )therefore needs reformation.
I think the good prof might be on to something. I am not convinced that Swanson makes any impact on Matsumotos thesis.

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:28 am

meindzai wrote:
jcsuperstar wrote:it's also similar to ajahn chah's poo roo "one who knows"

i think ajahn sujato makes an interesting observation about this though



I think so too. I think a lot of Ajahns tend to talk about things in a practical way to guide students, but they can get turned into the Great Capitalized Doctrine Thingy. However I think statements like "the citta is never born and never dies" (quoted previusly) are pretty unambiguous and inconsistent with Theravada.

-M

Absolutely.
There is a kind of "contaminated Theravada " which has been influenced by certain aspects of the Vedanta both by at times sharing a common geographical location and indirectly more recently, by exposure to certain Mahayanist ideas characterised in part by Professor Matsumoto's coining, " dhatu-vada" , to describe ideas which I think can be shown to derive or at least to be honed by, later developments in the Vedas.
One of the curious results of this is to transfer certain imagined qualities of "atman" and transfer these qualities to citta. We see the direct influence of this transfer in Christopher:::'s reference to "luminous mInd".
And it is clearly prevelant enough for Thanissaro Bhikkhu to devote a section of his talk to this phenomenon.
The reality is that in Theravada thought citta has no more intrinsic "sacredness" or solidity than rupa or vedana etc. Citta arises with vinnana.
The khandas arise in accord with conditions. They cease with the cessation of those conditions.

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:17 am

PeterB wrote:There is a kind of "contaminated Theravada " which has been influenced by certain aspects of the Vedanta both by at times sharing a common geographical location and indirectly more recently, by exposure to certain Mahayanist ideas characterised in part by Professor Matsumoto's coining, " dhatu-vada" ....
One of the recent sources of Mahayana ideas was Buddhadasa, with his translations of the Platform Sutra and bit of the Lankavatara into Thai decades ago. If my memory serves me well, as early as the 1930's.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:16 am

PeterB wrote:
Paññāsikhara wrote:
PeterB wrote:Please feel free to ignore my ungrounded opinions and generalisations. They are opinions. They are not scholarly essays. :tongue:
I have no intention in a non scholarly discussion thread characterised pretty much by subjective opinions to attempt to present a coherent arguement. I am just shooting the breeze based on things experiential. If you find that useful. fine. If you dont.. fine.


Sure, thanks PeterB. I still appreciate your breeze that got shot! I did find it useful, because it gives me some insight into how these ideas are conveyed in Vajrayana and Zen teachings.

My post above from Swanson is hoping to go a small step further than my earlier one, which was also experiential. Hopefully a little more than just a subjective opinion, if that is indeed possible. If you have the time, I would appreciate your thoughts. :smile:


As i understand it Sawnson is in response to Prof Shiro Matsumoto whose argument goes;
Paticca-Samupadda is the sole source of existence.
The Tathagatagharba doctrine is dhatu vada.
Dhatu vada is the antithesis of Paticca -Samuppada.
Dhatu vada is therefore precisely the target of the Buddhas critisism.
Japanese Buddhism ( and by extension the |Mahayana )therefore needs reformation.
I think the good prof might be on to something. I am not convinced that Swanson makes any impact on Matsumotos thesis.


Thanks PeterB,

Actually, the points from Swanson are from the Tiantai founder, Zhiyi, not his own reading. It is not in response to anyone, really, because the Critical Buddhism of Matsumoto et al was barely starting at the time this book was written. This is all well before the Huayan Tathagatagarbha stuff was ever conceived in China, let alone developed in the Song dynasty into the Dhatuvada side of things, and then exported to Japan. (Remember, even the Nikayas call paticcasamuppada "dhammadhatu", so this isn't the only way to read "dhatu-vada".) Huayan Tathagatagarbha theory is not the only school in China. However, it had influenced many schools at some point which became the ones in Japan which then became popular in the West, eg. Zen. Tiantai / Tendai uses the same term, but reads it quite differently, and that is what Swanson is showing.

Matsumoto is criticizing the later Huayana version that made it to Japan and became part of the Soto Zen school. (Matsumoto is from Soto Zen, and was teaching at the Soto university, Komazawa.) This is the same general principle that most average people read Tathagatagarbha and Buddhanature theory as, particularly in the West, with strong Soto Zen influence. But not all China reads it like Soto does, because we don't always rely on post Song readings, for a start. And Tiantai is whole other matter. Actually, this Tiantai understanding also was a big part of Chinese Chan in the South, and that is the tradition that I've mainly received. It just isn't popular in the West, because it wasn't the one that went to Japan and became Zen.

So the "extension" to the Mahayana in need of reformation is based on a Japanese Soto Zen reading of Huayan influenced Mahayana, which is not at all universal in the Mahayana.

My whole point is to say that previous to this, and still in some Mahayana traditions in East Asia, there is a different reading of Tathagatagarbha, which is basically in accord with the early pratityasamutpada model of causality. If you have the time, some details may be found here on page 214, "Absolute Buddha nature means that...". Though later on in his life, even Yinshun moved further towards the Madhyamaka reading. The translation is not that great, because for a couple of reasons, it gives more of a reified impression that the Chinese does.

Mumbling to myself: Maybe I should be used to having Chinese Buddhism misrepresented by now, thanks to the popularity of Japanese Buddhism (and maybe Tibetan too), both of which are later traditions but not the only ones by any stretch of the imagination...
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:19 am

tiltbillings wrote:
PeterB wrote:There is a kind of "contaminated Theravada " which has been influenced by certain aspects of the Vedanta both by at times sharing a common geographical location and indirectly more recently, by exposure to certain Mahayanist ideas characterised in part by Professor Matsumoto's coining, " dhatu-vada" ....


One of the recent sources of Mahayana ideas was Buddhadasa, with his translations of the Platform Sutra and bit of the Lankavatara into Thai decades ago. If my memory serves me well, as early as the 1930's.


These are two sources that will almost definitely lead down the path to a reified Tathagatagarbha / Buddha nature position, cf. Soto Zen which Matsumoto is criticizing. The term "own nature" in the Platform is heavily influenced by the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, which is a "permanent, bliss, self, purity" teaching if ever there was one.

Why did these texts - as opposed to some others - appear in Thai for Buddhadasa to read? Again, due to the popularity of Zen, I'd warrant. (I wonder if they were translated from Chinese and / or Sanskrit into Thai, or came through English? If through English, then no doubt from some Japanese tradition...) What's that technical term? oh, "source bias". (Probably about as reliable as asking the average Mahayana for what the Hin..., um, Theravada is saying, right? - we all know how dubious that is.)
Last edited by Paññāsikhara on Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:23 am

Greetings,

Since the "Discovering Theravada" aspect of this topic seems to have been comprehensively addressed, I'm going to move it to the Dhammic-Free-For-All so that the current discussion may continue without the implied constraints of the "Discovering Theravada" forum.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby christopher::: » Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:10 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Since the "Discovering Theravada" aspect of this topic seems to have been comprehensively addressed, I'm going to move it to the Dhammic-Free-For-All so that the current discussion may continue without the implied constraints of the "Discovering Theravada" forum.


Thank you, Paul!

And i have some questions... First, i could not follow some of these recent posts, the concepts are just too abstract and metaphysical. So, for the simpleminded like myself, what are the implications of this for our practice?

It seems to me that Thanissaro Bikkhu answered that best, for Theravadan Buddhists. How about for Mahayana Buddhists? Chances are the term Buddha Nature is not going to be tossed out, so what is the most skillful way of thinking about this?

In my case, spending time with Theravadan dhamma talks and teacher's writings over the last six months my focus has shifted towards trying to understand (and put into practice) the wisdom of the Bodhipakkhiyādhammā, the qualities and practices Buddha taught that are most essential for awakening.

I've put terms like tathagatagarbha to the side, it doesn't seem essential, for day-to-day practice. And buddha nature i'm thinking of in relation to these qualities that we all have the capacity to cultivate and develop.

Is that where some Mahayana schools have made an error, in pointing to the nature of the mind (citta) as buddha nature, rather then to these essential buddha qualities that we all have the capacity to develop, thru effort, attention and practice?

:juggling:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:15 am

buddhadasa translated the blofield (sp) english translations into thai i think.. i'd have to go see. however they are not straight translations, he translated things in a way to make them conform to his own ideas, much in the same way buddha used preexisting terms or dogen played with words...
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:35 am

jcsuperstar wrote:buddhadasa translated the blofield (sp) english translations into thai i think.. i'd have to go see. however they are not straight translations, he translated things in a way to make them conform to his own ideas, much in the same way buddha used preexisting terms or dogen played with words...


Doesn't surprise me in the least.

An interpretative translation in Thai of an early interpretative translation in English from a Song dynasty Chinese Chan text which is an interpretative reading of an early Tang teaching of one particular upstart school. And then we get the English version of the Thai. :rolleye:

Yup - the Mahayana has snuck into Theravada! This is a sure-fire way to work out what the Mahayanists are saying with their "Buddha Nature" theories!! :rofl:

Okay, I'm hamming it a little. But, you get the point. It is pretty funny , ya gotta admit!!

(PS: Blofeld, no "i")
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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:54 am

Paññāsikhara wrote:(PS: Blofeld, no "i")
Whatever else one may say about John Blofeld, he was a very wondeful individual. Got spend an afternoon with him in Bangkok.
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.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:59 am

christopher::: wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:
Since the "Discovering Theravada" aspect of this topic seems to have been comprehensively addressed, I'm going to move it to the Dhammic-Free-For-All so that the current discussion may continue without the implied constraints of the "Discovering Theravada" forum.


Thank you, Paul!

And i have some questions... First, i could not follow some of these recent posts, the concepts are just too abstract and metaphysical. So, for the simpleminded like myself, what are the implications of this for our practice?

It seems to me that Thanissaro Bikkhu answered that best, for Theravadan Buddhists. How about for Mahayana Buddhists? Chances are the term Buddha Nature is not going to be tossed out, so what is the most skillful way of thinking about this?

In my case, spending time with Theravadan dhamma talks and teacher's writings over the last six months my focus has shifted towards trying to understand (and put into practice) the wisdom of the Bodhipakkhiyādhammā, the qualities and practices Buddha taught that are most essential for awakening.

I've put terms like tathagatagarbha to the side, it doesn't seem essential, for day-to-day practice. And buddha nature i'm thinking of in relation to these qualities that we all have the capacity to cultivate and develop.

Is that where some Mahayana schools have made an error, in pointing to the nature of the mind (citta) as buddha nature, rather then to these essential buddha qualities that we all have the capacity to develop, thru effort, attention and practice?

:juggling:

I am a little puzzled as to why a Theravadin should think about it at all Chris. Skillfully or otherwise.
In fact from a Theravadin view perhaps the most skillful course is to get on with actualising the vast array of Theravadin teachings.

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby christopher::: » Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:46 am

PeterB wrote:I am a little puzzled as to why a Theravadin should think about it at all Chris. Skillfully or otherwise.
In fact from a Theravadin view perhaps the most skillful course is to get on with actualising the vast array of Theravadin teachings.


Hi Peter.

Thanks for responding. The Bodhipakkhiyādhammā are teachings shared by all schools of Buddhism, these are not only Theravadin teachings, these are the Buddha's teachings.

Mahayana practitioners and teachers who ignore this are making a big mistake, imo. If the concept of Buddha Nature can be re-conceptualized so that it points to these qualities instead of "mind only" it might be very helpful for Mahayana Buddhists.

See for example this conversation over at ZFI. At the bottom of page 1 and top of page 2 a number of Zen practitioners responded quite positively to Thanissaro Bikkhu's critique of Buddha Mind...

What we are discussing is important, for people from various schools.

:smile:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:44 am

I was referring Chris to your statement " Mahayana Buddhists are not going to toss out the concept of Buddha Nature so what is the best way to respond skillfully to this ? " Or similar.
How about not responding at all..?
I am reminded of the story of the notice board in the middle of the Yorkshire Moors.
The only words on it read;
PLEASE DO NOT THROW STONES AT THIS NOTICE.
Why should a Theravadin feel the need to point out in the context of a Theravadin Forum that a particular concept is not found in Theravadin Buddhism.
I mean why stop there ?
Why not an even bigger challenge, like why Theravadins do not accept the concept of Transubstantiation ? :coffee:

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby christopher::: » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:13 pm

Hi Peter. Retro has moved this discussion to the Dhammic free-for-all forum. Ven. Huifeng (Paññāsikhara) is a highly knowledgable Chan practitioner. You have long term experience with both Mahayana and Theravada. I ask these questions respectfully, if you (and others) do not wish to consider these questions, that's fine.

I just know that in the sciences a paradigm shift sometimes happens when wise individuals from outside a field offer a new way of viewing a situation. And that in biological sciences when a sample being tested seems to have become contaminated researchers return to the original source.

Whether or not that will happen with Mahayana, of course, is anyone's guess.

PeterB wrote:Why not an even bigger challenge, like why Theravadins do not accept the concept of Transubstantiation ? :coffee:


Hey, go for it, start another discussion if you wish.

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby PeterB » Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:01 pm

I was being gently sarcastic Chris.. :anjali:

Transubstantiation is the doctrine that says that during the Mass the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ..
Seems as useful as the concept of Buddha Nature.

Personally I am quite content to let the Mahayana be the Mahayana.

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby meindzai » Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:33 pm

christopher::: wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:
Since the "Discovering Theravada" aspect of this topic seems to have been comprehensively addressed, I'm going to move it to the Dhammic-Free-For-All so that the current discussion may continue without the implied constraints of the "Discovering Theravada" forum.


Thank you, Paul!

And i have some questions... First, i could not follow some of these recent posts, the concepts are just too abstract and metaphysical. So, for the simpleminded like myself, what are the implications of this for our practice?

It seems to me that Thanissaro Bikkhu answered that best, for Theravadan Buddhists. How about for Mahayana Buddhists? Chances are the term Buddha Nature is not going to be tossed out, so what is the most skillful way of thinking about this?

In my case, spending time with Theravadan dhamma talks and teacher's writings over the last six months my focus has shifted towards trying to understand (and put into practice) the wisdom of the Bodhipakkhiyādhammā, the qualities and practices Buddha taught that are most essential for awakening.

I've put terms like tathagatagarbha to the side, it doesn't seem essential, for day-to-day practice. And buddha nature i'm thinking of in relation to these qualities that we all have the capacity to cultivate and develop.

Is that where some Mahayana schools have made an error, in pointing to the nature of the mind (citta) as buddha nature, rather then to these essential buddha qualities that we all have the capacity to develop, thru effort, attention and practice?

:juggling:


Chris,

I don't think anybody here has claimed of Buddha nature as being an erroneous teaching within the context of Mahayana Buddhism. Clearly the bias on this forum (and I don't think I'm saying anything controversial) is towards Theravada teachings, so it may look as if people are posing objections to the teaching, when what they're actually objecting to is the injection of this teaching into Theravada Buddhism.

Theravadans are interested in what's in the Pali Canon - not Mahayana Sutras, and since the teaching doesn't show up in the Canon, the majority of Theravadans are not going to be interested in that teaching. It's not a bad or wrong teaching, and is at best superfluous and has a few "dangers" in terms of possible eternalist interpretations. (Again, Theravada Bias).

To actually orient your practice with the Buddha nature teaching involves, IMO, a different kind of analysis, such that, if you are interested in it, and want to practice in accordance with that doctrine, then get involved in a Mahayana school that utilizes it, get some teachings, voice your concerns, and see what it's all about. You're going to get a completely different take than what you're gettting here. That's the nature (no pun intended) of discussions and debates amongst various kinds of people, and is very much like a cultural difference. It is impossible to fully comprehend any cultural difference without being immersed in that culture.

I'll tell you what I personally do with the Buddha nature teaching. I put it aside. But "when in Rome," - if I hear the term being used, I basically associate it with the unconditioned, nibanna, etc. I do not associate any kind of self with it. This a) doesn't get me in trouble with Theravada and b) is in accordance with Mahayana, as far as I know, so avoids getting into any kind of Dhamma Brawls or anything like that. :jedi:

-M

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby christopher::: » Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:19 pm

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond, meindzai. No further questions at this time.

:smile:

PeterB wrote:I was being gently sarcastic Chris.. :anjali:


Same here, Peter.

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Buddha Nature ?

Postby Sönam » Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:44 am

hello all,

Nice discussion, nice discovering of Theravada's point of view on that "concept" ... I won't go into the defense of that concept, trying to explain it because then I would certainly be pulled out as soon as my first sentence ... :juggling:
I do not see why this concept causes problem from a Theravadin point of view, because basically it states that the enlightenment of the Buddha would be identical to the enlightenment any one would have if ever he would have reached the same state. Avoiding to considere, a contrario, than no one could reach the same unlightenment of Bouddha Shakyamuni ... who, if it would be the case, will be to considere Buddha as an "extrordinary" Lord (a bit like Jesus is considered like the son of the creator by christians).
So opposite to what I have been reading earlier in this thread, this concept of Buddha Nature is not a reproduction of the concept of atman, but more the reproduction of the concept of an-atman.
For someone following a Mahayana tradition, this concept allowes "insides" (spiritual intuitions) in certain conditions ... and consequently does not need to, absolutely, found a confirmation into the suttas.

Hope I did'nt shoved anything

Sönam
no hope ... no fear


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