best suttas to memorize? techniques?

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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby equilibrium » Wed Dec 26, 2012 12:41 am

alan... wrote:because that's how people have been doing it since as far back as our knowable history of buddhism.....
.....the majority of theravada temples practice memorization and lots of lay practitioners in theravada countries memorize them as well. not to mention all the people on this thread talking about it.
emmmm.....so if most people do it this way, does that mean this is the way?.....the majority rules the way.....was it not the buddha made his own way rather than following?.....another way to look at it is "A blind man cannot lead a blind man out of the forest".

i feel like i saw monks and nuns chanting the heart sutra from memory at the zendo when i used to go.....
well.....the heart sutra isn't very long, remember, these monks and nuns read these everyday so it doesn't take long before they could remember them and it is possible that when you seen them, they were ready and reading it by memory.....but does that mean one must read it by memory?.....now what is more important here is not about memory but actually reading it.

.....if you see the buddha on the road, kill him!
Wonder if you understand what this means because it cannot happen.....do you know why?
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby equilibrium » Wed Dec 26, 2012 12:48 am

alan... wrote:
equilibrium wrote:
alan... wrote:Until you're fully enlightened you need to reflect on the teachings.

This caught my eyes so will be brief, are you aware if there is a difference between someone who is enlightened and fully enlightened?.....and is fully enlightened possible when there is a teaching?

Stream entry, once returner, non returner, arahant (essentially fully enlightened but debated). If you cant become fully enlightened even more reason to keep the suttas in mind.

Interesting.....but there is something wrong with the logic here.....can you see it?.....
So what do you really think in the bit in red? (debated).....why?
maybe we should get back to this later as there is something very interesting.
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby alan... » Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:33 am

equilibrium wrote:
alan... wrote:because that's how people have been doing it since as far back as our knowable history of buddhism.....
.....the majority of theravada temples practice memorization and lots of lay practitioners in theravada countries memorize them as well. not to mention all the people on this thread talking about it.
emmmm.....so if most people do it this way, does that mean this is the way?.....the majority rules the way.....was it not the buddha made his own way rather than following?.....another way to look at it is "A blind man cannot lead a blind man out of the forest".

i feel like i saw monks and nuns chanting the heart sutra from memory at the zendo when i used to go.....
well.....the heart sutra isn't very long, remember, these monks and nuns read these everyday so it doesn't take long before they could remember them and it is possible that when you seen them, they were ready and reading it by memory.....but does that mean one must read it by memory?.....now what is more important here is not about memory but actually reading it.

.....if you see the buddha on the road, kill him!
Wonder if you understand what this means because it cannot happen.....do you know why?

You're right memorizing suttas is pointless. Good job proving this to me. Now prove it to the tens of thousands of monks doing it and, the hundreds of thousands of lay people doing it. Good luck!
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:11 am

alan... wrote:You're right memorizing suttas is pointless. Good job proving this to me. Now prove it to the tens of thousands of monks doing it and, the hundreds of thousands of lay people doing it. Good luck!

Hi Alan
hence what I said to them earlier
Cittasanto wrote:equilibrium
please read the OP and title. you are coming at this with assumptions which are both unfair and missing things. Jumping to the end rather than where someone is helps no-one.


mystical claptrap does not help anything
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby alan... » Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:21 am

Cittasanto wrote:
alan... wrote:You're right memorizing suttas is pointless. Good job proving this to me. Now prove it to the tens of thousands of monks doing it and, the hundreds of thousands of lay people doing it. Good luck!

Hi Alan
hence what I said to them earlier
Cittasanto wrote:equilibrium
please read the OP and title. you are coming at this with assumptions which are both unfair and missing things. Jumping to the end rather than where someone is helps no-one.


mystical claptrap does not help anything

:goodpost:
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby equilibrium » Wed Dec 26, 2012 8:40 pm

Jaidyn wrote:I see three things in Buddhism (this is my own interpretation): The own intentions resulting in actions, the experience of phenomenon and the teaching as given in form of concepts (we can also say the teaching comes by inspiration from associating with noble ones, but i leave that out for this discussion). While the teachings in themselves can be said to be correct, they need to be set in the context of experiences and intentions. It is the dynamics between these three things that will lead to progress or not. "Vision" here is understood as the resulting dynamics between the three factors. "Wrong vision" here is the result of any of the tree factors being insufficient. If teaching is insufficient you will not observe the phenomenon correctly (by way of impermanence), if experiencing (focusing awareness) is lacking it does not matter if you know the conceptual teaching about impermanence because you will not "see for yourself". If right intention - avoiding the unwholesome and encourage the wholesome - is lacking, you will be said to not be free enough from desires to actually experience what the teaching is pointing at.

Therefore i say "the memory of the suttas does not guarantee you get the right vision"
This is an excellent observation.....but why 3, not 2, or 1.....better still zero?.....the point here is where did these points come from?.....the mind.....or fabrications by the self. This is interesting because if there is a view by the self then these views cannot be true to the teachings.....this means the mind has not aligned with the truth, hence it must be removed.....but one cannot simply remove it by simply letting it go because it can't. Saying and doing are two very different things.....so the mind needs to know something beyond the suttas.....try SN 46.54:

An interesting observation. Memorizing, in my reflection, may give a sort of confidence overshadowing the real ability of the person to avoid "the second arrow". I would like to recall what I described as the dynamics between three things - experience, intention and teaching. If we are unable to react as the noble one we have to question not only the emphasis on the teaching but also intention and our way of experiencing.
It is interesting how you are using the word "react".....maybe "not reacting"?.....as the noble one already knows in advance.

But... to make my view of an important distinction clear: the teachings is not used as a tool to avoid the second arrow. It is used as a tool to figure out for yourself how to avoid the second arrow. You are correct, to my mind, in that the teaching is dropped at some point (i look at your speculation in the next quote). The noble one has released his grip on the teaching as she or he needs it not anymore to figure out how to learn to avoid the second arrow. The noble one should be beyond the dynamics with the three factors i described. The process of the three factors interacting is just the learning-process involved prior to reaching the final goal.
"beyond the dynamics of the 3 factors".....what if they are not there at all?
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:30 pm

Jaidyn wrote:Memorizing, in my reflection, may give a sort of confidence overshadowing the real ability of the person to avoid "the second arrow".
Is this an observation as the result of your own direct experience with memorizing a long practice sutta and working with it? I find the anti-memorisation crowd interesting in their comments, but I have not seen any evidence that they have actually worked with memorization of any particular text as part of their practice.

This rather incomprehensible statement seems to suggest that memorization leads to clinging: Why would one want to "memorize"?.....even if one could memorize all the suttas, surely by memorizing does not set one free? Is "understanding" and "comprehension" not the main purpose?.....if done, one can let go rather than to "hold on".....by clinging. Assuming that clinging is in fact the complaint of this statement, I wonder on what basis this complaint founded? Or on what basis the opening complaint is founded. What I see here are people complaining about a practice they have not done, and not having done it, do not understand it.
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: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Jaidyn » Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:48 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Jaidyn wrote:Memorizing, in my reflection, may give a sort of confidence overshadowing the real ability of the person to avoid "the second arrow".
Is this an observation as the result of your own direct experience with memorizing a long practice sutta and working with it? I find the anti-memorisation crowd interesting in their comments, but I have not seen any evidence that they have actually worked with memorization of any particular text as part of their practice.

This rather incomprehensible statement seems to suggest that memorization leads to clinging: Why would one want to "memorize"?.....even if one could memorize all the suttas, surely by memorizing does not set one free? Is "understanding" and "comprehension" not the main purpose?.....if done, one can let go rather than to "hold on".....by clinging. Assuming that clinging is in fact the complaint of this statement, I wonder on what basis this complaint founded? Or on what basis the opening complaint is founded. What I see here are people complaining about a practice they have not done, and not having done it, do not understand it.


This is guessing from my part. I have experiences in memorizing but they cured years ago and I can not say that this was a reflection based in a particular experience I had. What is my direct experience is that one becomes very eager to apply or relate the teaching in or to daily situations as the teaching is present in the mind.
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:51 pm

Jaidyn wrote:
This is guessing from my part.
I am not sure the guessing is helpful.

I have experiences in memorizing but they cured years ago and I can not say that this was a reflection based in a particular experience I had. What is my direct experience is that one becomes very eager to apply or relate the teaching in or to daily situations as the teaching is present in the mind.
I am not sure what you are saying here.
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: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Jaidyn » Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:55 pm

equilibrium wrote:
Jaidyn wrote:I see three things in Buddhism (this is my own interpretation): The own intentions resulting in actions, the experience of phenomenon and the teaching as given in form of concepts (we can also say the teaching comes by inspiration from associating with noble ones, but i leave that out for this discussion). While the teachings in themselves can be said to be correct, they need to be set in the context of experiences and intentions. It is the dynamics between these three things that will lead to progress or not. "Vision" here is understood as the resulting dynamics between the three factors. "Wrong vision" here is the result of any of the tree factors being insufficient. If teaching is insufficient you will not observe the phenomenon correctly (by way of impermanence), if experiencing (focusing awareness) is lacking it does not matter if you know the conceptual teaching about impermanence because you will not "see for yourself". If right intention - avoiding the unwholesome and encourage the wholesome - is lacking, you will be said to not be free enough from desires to actually experience what the teaching is pointing at.

Therefore i say "the memory of the suttas does not guarantee you get the right vision"
This is an excellent observation.....but why 3, not 2, or 1.....better still zero?.....the point here is where did these points come from?.....the mind.....or fabrications by the self. This is interesting because if there is a view by the self then these views cannot be true to the teachings.....this means the mind has not aligned with the truth, hence it must be removed.....but one cannot simply remove it by simply letting it go because it can't. Saying and doing are two very different things.....so the mind needs to know something beyond the suttas.....try SN 46.54:



You may chose 2 or 1 or none to describe the same thing if you want. I chose the 3 points only to discuss the memorizing.

The points where made by me to discuss memorizing. It is a synthesis of my own interpretation combined with some concepts and inspiration from the suttas.

Are you suggesting my points came from my mind and therefore are a fabrication of the self and that the points (and the the use of them in discussion) therefore can not be true to the teaching? A simple yes or no will do.

You insist conceptual knowledge can not be created by a self and at the same time can not be isolated from the self and true to the teachings? A simple yes or no will do here too.


equilibrium wrote:
An interesting observation. Memorizing, in my reflection, may give a sort of confidence overshadowing the real ability of the person to avoid "the second arrow". I would like to recall what I described as the dynamics between three things - experience, intention and teaching. If we are unable to react as the noble one we have to question not only the emphasis on the teaching but also intention and our way of experiencing.
It is interesting how you are using the word "react".....maybe "not reacting"?.....as the noble one already knows in advance.


Note: I did not bold the word "react" and make it red in my version.

I would rather focus on the main-point: if you are not a noble you have to examine your training - and this is stated with details relating to the discussion about memorizing. I do not understand your point, and I am unsure about how it relates to the discussion about memorizing.

equilibrium wrote:
But... to make my view of an important distinction clear: the teachings is not used as a tool to avoid the second arrow. It is used as a tool to figure out for yourself how to avoid the second arrow. You are correct, to my mind, in that the teaching is dropped at some point (i look at your speculation in the next quote). The noble one has released his grip on the teaching as she or he needs it not anymore to figure out how to learn to avoid the second arrow. The noble one should be beyond the dynamics with the three factors i described. The process of the three factors interacting is just the learning-process involved prior to reaching the final goal.
"beyond the dynamics of the 3 factors".....what if they are not there at all?


You may describe that scenario, but I choose the 3 factors to illustrate an interplay revealing the role of memorized teaching. The memorized teaching and the interplay is the focus of my discussion as it was used to describe why memorizing may not guarantee right vision.
Last edited by Jaidyn on Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Jaidyn » Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:25 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Jaidyn wrote:
This is guessing from my part.
I am not sure the guessing is helpful.


I let that be your guessing.

tiltbillings wrote:
I have experiences in memorizing but they cured years ago and I can not say that this was a reflection based in a particular experience I had. What is my direct experience is that one becomes very eager to apply or relate the teaching in or to daily situations as the teaching is present in the mind.
I am not sure what you are saying here.


I assume my description was unclear. I mean: I experienced myself memorizing the teachings years ago. My guessing, which i also give the term "my reflection", about overconfidence as a result of memorizing, is not based on any particular experience of memorizing. Then I write about that I have direct experiences of feeling eager to apply the teachings and that the eagerness was in relation to the memorized content.
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:02 pm

Jaidyn wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
Jaidyn wrote:
This is guessing from my part.
I am not sure the guessing is helpful.


I let that be your guessing.
The problem is that you have not shown it to be helpful.

I assume my description was unclear. I mean: I experienced myself memorizing the teachings years ago. My guessing, which i also give the term "my reflection", about overconfidence as a result of memorizing, is not based on any particular experience of memorizing. Then I write about that I have direct experiences of feeling eager to apply the teachings and that the eagerness was in relation to the memorized content.
Also, one should probably not assume that one's experience is going to be the experience of others.
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: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby alan... » Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:59 am

@euilibrium and whoever else is anti memorization:

why come to a thread asking about how to memorize suttas (not whether or not one should memorize them) and debate it? a personal crusade against memorization? motive? do you really believe you are helping people by speaking out against it? have you considered the extremely massive amount of support for this practice, going back to the buddha himself?

The Buddha wrote: "There are these five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained. Which five?


how are we to reflect without memorizing the information? if you don't remember what to reflect on you will not be able to follow his instructions. he instructs people to reflect on his teachings thousands of times in the suttas.

random bhikkhus throughout the pali canon wrote:Having heard it from the Blessed One, the monks will remember it.


this is a statement made by bhikkhus constantly in the pali canon. clearly they believe in memorizing the budddhas words and he, following their request with a dhamma talk and not saying "do not memorize my words!" clearly agrees with them.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The Pali Cullavagga (V.33.1) records the Buddha as insisting that his listeners memorize his teachings...


The buddha wrote:...and also texts memorized a long time ago do not come into one's mind, not to speak of those not memorized.


so... not sure how we are to argue with the man himself. seriously what is this supposed to stand on??? you have no basis for arguing against memorization if you are speaking to theravadins who accept the pali canon as authoritative. if you're talking about some other school of buddhism i'm not sure, but this is a theravada forum and i'm talking about memorizing theravada scriptures so your arguments are utterly shattered and useless in this context.

not to mention you inadvertantly are memorizing sutta as it is! remembering any of the teachings is memorizing parts of suttas as that's where it all comes from. even if you don't remember a whole sutta you are still practicing memorization of sutta content. do you know the eightfold path? that's from a sutta, so you have memorized that part of a sutta more or less. without memorization there would be no buddhism. even if it was still on paper, if no one bothered to actually remember what they read on the paper it would not work for practice. if you don't remember meditation instructions or mindfulness techniques you cannot practice them. even if you learned buddhist techniques from someone else, you still memorized them to a degree, and their source is always suttas if you go back far enough, someone read the suttas or heard them and reworded the techniques within and taught them to you or passed them along until they got to you.


equilibrium as i said before, i'm willing to bet you're more zen than theravada, perhaps try posting a thread about whether or not memorization is a good idea on a zen forum? i'm willing to bet many will agree with your views. for contrast you could post the same on here and see what happens. who knows? maybe i'm wrong and everyone will agree with you on here as well? seriously, i'd love to see what people would say. no sarcasm, legitimate curiosity. and again, if your perspective is zen then great, zen is beautiful and if it works better without memorization then more power to it. zen is it's own thing and works in it's own ways, not dependent on anything i've quoted above or anything i'm memorizing or practicing. i'm merely pointing out that this is a theravada perspective based on the pali canon and that it therefore cannot be placed within the same logic one would apply to zen ideas about memorization or ideas from any other school for that matter. however if i'm wrong and you're 100% theravada, how do you back up your arguments using theravada ideas and resources? namely the pali canon? are there suttas that overtly discourage memorization of the suttas?




"Upajjhatthana Sutta: Subjects for Contemplation" (AN 5.57), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 3 July 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html . Retrieved on 26 December 2012.

"Sallatha Sutta: The Arrow" (SN 36.6), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 30 June 2010, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html . Retrieved on 26 December 2012.

"The Dhammapada: A Translation", translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 29 August 2012, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html . Retrieved on 26 December 2012.
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Jaidyn » Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:04 am

tiltbillings wrote:The problem is that you have not shown it to be helpful.

It sounds like your assumption that I have written my response to be helpful. I would rather not want to answer that as I have not written it to be helpful.

tiltbillings wrote:
I assume my description was unclear. I mean: I experienced myself memorizing the teachings years ago. My guessing, which i also give the term "my reflection", about overconfidence as a result of memorizing, is not based on any particular experience of memorizing. Then I write about that I have direct experiences of feeling eager to apply the teachings and that the eagerness was in relation to the memorized content.
Also, one should probably not assume that one's experience is going to be the experience of others.


Do you somehow see that I assume that? How do you see that? Or is that just your assumption?
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:28 am

Sorry what is the point of all this semantic spinning?
is there a point to cross questioning with no responses?
this has been going on for a little while and I simply fail to see any use for it.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Dmytro » Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:44 am

I would recommend Chachakka Sutta (MN 148).

It's one of the very few called by the Buddha:

"the Dhamma admirable in the beginning, admirable in the middle, admirable in the end; the holy life both in its particulars & in its essence, entirely complete, surpassingly pure".
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby alan... » Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:59 am

Cittasanto wrote:Sorry what is the point of all this semantic spinning?
is there a point to cross questioning with no responses?
this has been going on for a little while and I simply fail to see any use for it.



i think this question could be a headline for this entire forum sometimes :tongue: just kidding. but i do agree with you on this particular thread sir.
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby alan... » Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:00 am

Dmytro wrote:I would recommend Chachakka Sutta (MN 148).

It's one of the very few called by the Buddha:

"the Dhamma admirable in the beginning, admirable in the middle, admirable in the end; the holy life both in its particulars & in its essence, entirely complete, surpassingly pure".


thanks. is it just me or is the majjhima nikaya freaking amazing for solid suttas that really get to the point, explain stuff clearly and with just enough depth without becoming too long? i absolutely love it. all the nikayas are of course wonderful treasures but that one is my favorite!
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:04 am

alan... wrote:i think this question could be a headline for this entire forum sometimes :tongue: just kidding. but i do agree with you on this particular thread sir.

sometimes it is useful others it is pointless.
but to get back on topic.
I like Dmytros suggestion. but put on your list Mangala sutta & Karaniya metta sutta. both worth having in the toolbox.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: best suttas to memorize? techniques?

Postby alan... » Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:06 am

Cittasanto wrote:
alan... wrote:i think this question could be a headline for this entire forum sometimes :tongue: just kidding. but i do agree with you on this particular thread sir.

sometimes it is useful others it is pointless.
but to get back on topic.
I like Dmytros suggestion. but put on your list Mangala sutta & Karaniya metta sutta. both worth having in the toolbox.


i especially like the metta sutta as it is very short and straight to the point, no intro or outro, just practical advice. good suggestion. i'll have to look into the mangala sutta, not familiar with it.

EDIT: the mangala sutta is beautiful. made my heart all gushy, cuts straight to the core. thanks.
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