Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Sun May 02, 2010 7:02 pm

You know, i take great joy in my practice, it has literally saved my life. I have horror stories in my life, going back to my earliest childhood, and so consequently I have horror stories constantly threatening to play over and over in my head. There is a voice always trying to break in trying to convince me "This world is an awful place." I'll admit, in my weaker moments, I agree with that voice. But most of the time, my practice brings me great joy and keeps the shadows at bay. If it weren't for my practice, there is no doubt in my mind you would be receiving this message via Ouija board.

I was surprised sometimes at the seriousness and sometimes the harshness of the tone here. I left for a while until things cooled down a little because I attributed it to the settling-in period of a new board and energies ran hot while people felt each other out. As it turned out, that was exactly what it was as much of the harshness has abated, but the seriousness is still there. Now and then I'll post something funny and it turns into a serious moral dialectic--which strikes me as funnier than the original topic. So perhaps there is a subtle humor underlying the seriousness after all.

Of course, the quest for sambhodhi is a serous undertaking and not to be taken lightly. Maybe this is why so many of us come across so seriously online. Onscreen personalities may not reflect the totality of out makeup. I can assure you there's much more to me than what appears in pixel dots. Some of it quite unsettling.

My 2.5 cents.

The lingering stench of J
Author of Redneck Buddhism: or Will You Reincarnate as Your Own Cousin?
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby Reductor » Sun May 02, 2010 7:44 pm

I'm reading Great Disciples of The Buddha and it seems to me that if those that have accomplished to goal retain their personalities, ranging from the kindness of Ananada to the sternness of Kassapa, then that it is fine for those in training, too. I doubt that people who are naturally stern and grim are necessarily more dedicated to training than the smiling, happy go lucky sort. I doubt the opposite assertion too. Grim vs happy makes little difference: except one is more fun to have around.

I don't know that grimness is more prevalent in Theravada, at least not here. Although seriousness in practice and study is certainly the norm.

Bubbabuddhist wrote:Now and then I'll post something funny and it turns into a serious moral dialectic--which strikes me as funnier than the original topic. ... Onscreen personalities may not reflect the totality of out makeup. I can assure you there's much more to me than what appears in pixel dots.


Fun topics can be a good place to start a moral discussion, because people are less likely to have a formerly developed opinion on it. Of course, I bet that it does become a little wearisome to the original poster. :console: Not having much of a sense of humor, I don't post funny things, so I'm spared this little vexation. :D

Off screen though, I'm quiet, and not prone to monologue. So, there you have it, I too am different in RL.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun May 02, 2010 8:46 pm

Path of Discrimination, Patisambhidadamagga p. 372, para XXI 17 in Nanamoli's translation. This abbreviated translation is by Kåre A. Lie"


Those who are filled with smiles and laughter, will perfect the virtues. That is smiling wisdom. Those who are filled with smiles and laughter will also attain perfect concentration and wisdom. Those who are filled with smiles and laughter will attain the path and the direct knowledges, and they will quickly realize the ultimate meaning, nibbana.
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: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby bodom » Sun May 02, 2010 9:18 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Path of Discrimination, Patisambhidadamagga p. 372, para XXI 17 in Nanamoli's translation. This abbreviated translation is by Kåre A. Lie"


Those who are filled with smiles and laughter, will perfect the virtues. That is smiling wisdom. Those who are filled with smiles and laughter will also attain perfect concentration and wisdom. Those who are filled with smiles and laughter will attain the path and the direct knowledges, and they will quickly realize the ultimate meaning, nibbana.


Man those Theravadins are such pessimists, wanting to realize Nibanna and all. :smile:

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun May 02, 2010 9:27 pm

Interesting question,

I think that it is useful to distinguish different aspects of the path when discussing this point. Personally, I became Buddhist because the monks and lay people at my local Wat seemed to happy, and clearly following the path tends to lead to a relaxed happiness. And that's generally what I find. No need to elaborate on that, it's been covered above.

On the other hand, it seems to me that the real breakthroughs (as opposed to making samsara a little more bearable) involve confronting just how bad samsara actually is. According to the texts, this will then lead to an even greater happiness, but I'm a little cautious about assuming that a little bit of "letting go" is enough to achieve the ultimate goal.

See, for example, Mahasi Sayadaw, Progress of Insight.
The insight stages 5-9: Knowledge of Dissolution (bhanga-ñāna), Fearfulness (bhayatupatthāna-ñāna) ,Misery (ādīnava-ñāna) Disgust (nibbidā-ñāna), Desire for Deliverance (muñcitu-kamyatā-ñāna) are, by all accounts, rather traumatic.
E.g. http://aimwell.org/Books/Mahasi/Progres ... eliverance
9. Knowledge of Desire for Deliverance

When through this knowledge (now acquired) he feels disgust with regard to every formation noticed, there will arise in him a desire to forsake these formations or to become delivered from them. The knowledge relating to that desire is called "knowledge of desire for deliverance." At that time, usually various painful feelings arise in his body, and also an unwillingness to remain long in one particular bodily posture. Even if these states do not arise, the comfortless nature of the formations will become more evident than ever. And due to that, between moments of noticing, he feels a longing thus: "Oh, may I soon get free from that! Oh, may I reach the state where these formations cease! Oh, may I be able to give up these formations completely!" At this juncture, his consciousness engaged in noticing seems to shrink from the object noticed at each moment of noticing, and wishes to escape from it.


It gets better later:
11. Knowledge of Equanimity about Formations
...
He cherishes no desire nor hate with regard to any object, desirable or undesirable, that comes into the range of his sense doors, but taking them as just the same in his act of noticing, he understands them (that is to say, it is a pure act of understanding). This is "equable vision" at the stage of "equanimity about formations."
...

And of course Nibbana itself.

I think it would be wise not to mix up these different aspects and stages of practise when discussing whether we are killjoys or not...

Mike
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby nathan » Sun May 02, 2010 9:32 pm

Probably you can find criticism of anything and everything if you look around on the internet for a little while.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby adosa » Sun May 02, 2010 10:00 pm

thereductor wrote:I'm reading Great Disciples of The Buddha and it seems to me that if those that have accomplished to goal retain their personalities, ranging from the kindness of Ananada to the sternness of Kassapa, then that it is fine for those in training, too. I doubt that people who are naturally stern and grim are necessarily more dedicated to training than the smiling, happy go lucky sort. I doubt the opposite assertion too. Grim vs happy makes little difference: except one is more fun to have around.



And apparently MahaKassapa too abided with a gladdened mind.

There are passages in theCanon where MahaKassapa, who was one of the strictest and sternest of the Buddha’s disciples, talks about the beauty of nature. The constant refrain in his verses is of how the hills, the mountains bathed in rain, and the jungle refresh him. Some of the first wilderness poetry in the world is in the Pali Canon—an appreciation of the beauties of not just nature but of wildnature. That sort of appreciation is part of the skill in learning how to gladden the mind.



From:

http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... traint.pdf

adosa :smile:
Last edited by adosa on Mon May 03, 2010 1:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun May 02, 2010 11:45 pm

christopher::: wrote:BUT then his smile brightened and he talked of the joys of life, of mudita and of metta, of our relatedness to all living things. He rarely stopped smiling when he looked at us. So yes, chasing joy is futile, but happiness and joy can be experienced daily, in our lives.


Yes, of course, I agree. For those who have progressed in the Dhamma and especially those who are at Noble levels, there is great happiness, great joy.

But for those not that advanced in the Dhamma / Dharma, Theravada gets a bad rap as a strictly stoic practice with little joy. Of course the Buddha and the Arahants were completely happy, full of joy and at peace. But because of that perceived perception of the differing traditions, most (the masses) go for the Mahayana (in my opinion). Which, in my opinion, is not an entirely bad thing. As a skillful means, those who are more inclined to accept Buddhism from a Mahayana practice can do so and then come to Theravada at some later time, if they so choose, rather than rejecting Buddhism completely if there were no other choice.
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby christopher::: » Mon May 03, 2010 1:36 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
christopher::: wrote:BUT then his smile brightened and he talked of the joys of life, of mudita and of metta, of our relatedness to all living things. He rarely stopped smiling when he looked at us. So yes, chasing joy is futile, but happiness and joy can be experienced daily, in our lives.


Yes, of course, I agree. For those who have progressed in the Dhamma and especially those who are at Noble levels, there is great happiness, great joy.

But for those not that advanced in the Dhamma / Dharma, Theravada gets a bad rap as a strictly stoic practice with little joy. Of course the Buddha and the Arahants were completely happy, full of joy and at peace. But because of that perceived perception of the differing traditions, most (the masses) go for the Mahayana (in my opinion). Which, in my opinion, is not an entirely bad thing. As a skillful means, those who are more inclined to accept Buddhism from a Mahayana practice can do so and then come to Theravada at some later time, if they so choose, rather than rejecting Buddhism completely if there were no other choice.


Well, my interactions with Western Buddhists are limited mostly to the Internet where my sense has been that a) there are both grim and joyful practioners in all schools and b) much depends on context.

Whereas my contacts with Theravadin (Thai mostly) and Mahayana (Japanese mostly) Buddhist laypersons here in Asia has been that most come to Buddhism for the positive message, not the negative, and that the Thai Buddhists are just as joyful as the Japanese, sometimes more so.

Life hits you over the head with the negative- death of loved ones, sickness, divorce, job loss, etc- and so for this reason i think when speaking to laypersons most clergy in Asia emphasize the path out of suffering, and the little things anyone can do to move forward with greater equanimity, kindness, happiness and joy, while still facing the inevitable hard times.

The bikkhu who spoke yesterday talked much of the brahmaviharas, and led all of us in a metta meditation. I think for many Asian Buddhists this is what helps to make Buddhism (both M & T) a balm and healing force in their lives, rather then a messenger of sad truths and endless suffering.

:heart:
"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: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby christopher::: » Mon May 03, 2010 1:48 am

adosa wrote:
And apparently MahaKassapa too abided with a gladdened the mind.

There are passages in theCanon where MahaKassapa, who was one of the strictest and sternest of the Buddha’s disciples, talks about the beauty of nature. The constant refrain in his verses is of how the hills, the mountains bathed in rain, and the jungle refresh him. Some of the first wilderness poetry in the world is in the Pali Canon—an appreciation of the beauties of not just nature but of wildnature. That sort of appreciation is part of the skill in learning how to gladden the mind.



From:

http://www.dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writ ... traint.pdf

adosa :smile:


Thanks for that, adosa. The Sri Lankan bikkhu we met yesterday also spoke of this. To notice our inter-relationship with other living beings helps to break thru hardened views of self. It's a positive way of understanding anatta while cultivating mindfulness, metta, mudita & compassion.

Do you know who is the author of this pdf file?

:anjali:

edit: Nevermind, i found it... Thanissaro Bikkhu...!

The Skill of Restraint (MP3 audio)

:heart:
"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: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby Guy » Mon May 03, 2010 2:27 am

David N. Snyder wrote:But because of that perceived perception of the differing traditions, most (the masses) go for the Mahayana (in my opinion). Which, in my opinion, is not an entirely bad thing. As a skillful means, those who are more inclined to accept Buddhism from a Mahayana practice can do so and then come to Theravada at some later time, if they so choose, rather than rejecting Buddhism completely if there were no other choice.


In my case I was hardly even aware that there was such a thing as "Mahayana" and "Theravada" Buddhism. I just listened to talks by the Dalai Lama and read his books and took him to be a pope kind of figure until one day my dad gave me a copy of "A Still Forest Pool" by Ajahn Chah and from there I learned the supposed differences between "Theravada" vs "Mahayana" and eventually started reading the Suttas. Now it is like I have come full circle and it doesn't matter to me anymore what is "Theravada" and what is "Mahayana".
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby Kim OHara » Mon May 03, 2010 8:17 am

Hi, Guy,
I'm not sure if David was thinking of 'the masses' as the majority of Westerners who come to Buddhism or as the majority of people in traditionally Buddhist countries.
If the former, your experience is pretty typical and David is right but perhaps for the wrong reasons. As you accidentally demonstrate, Tibetan Buddhism has such a high profile (relatively speaking, of course) that one can easily not realise there is any other kind, partly because the Chinese-forced Tibetan diaspora did at least bring large numbers of Buddhist teachers into the wider world (not that that is any reason to condone the invasion).
If David meant the latter, he is still right but over a far longer timescale: whole populations gradually shifted Buddhism towards a more 'religious', devotional style and away from the more 'philosophical' style of classical Theravada. Even in Theravadin countries, the typical lay approach is, if I can put it this way without offending anyone, more faith-based than experience-based or analytically-based.

:namaste:
Kim

Edited for clarity.
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby Guy » Mon May 03, 2010 8:44 am

Hi Kim,

I don't think it is offensive at all to call someone a faith-based practitioner. Maybe us westerners who have been trained to be very skeptical of religion have a jaded perception of words like "faith" but personally I have no problem with the idea. Even though I am a westerner I would say that of the five spiritual faculties my strongest is probably Saddha.

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby Annapurna » Mon May 03, 2010 12:04 pm

tiltbillings wrote:I came across this from a Zen website (third msg down):

Perhaps that distinction between a genuine delight in realization of the impermanance of things and the sense that one's delight must be infused with suffering is a basic difference between the Mahayana Buddhism and the Theravada Buddhism. The Mahayana doesn't require the realization of impermanance to be shown by a dour attitude. Buddha teaches the end of suffering. What is the end of suffering if not a realization of the joyful or blissful nature of reality?
The question here is not the naughty Mahayana ignorantly characterizing the Theravada; rather, is the highlighted an accurate reflection of the Theravada? Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys, scowling at the Mahayanists who gambol about with abandon in their realizations?.


Of course clearly perceiving the entirety of reality will make you a spoilsport to anybody who is only looking at a part of reality, perhaps his own, while things run pleasantly.

Buddha teaches the end of suffering. What is the end of suffering if not a realization of the joyful or blissful nature of reality?


But is reality only of a joyful and blissful nature?

Tell somebody who's terminally ill with cancer, too weak to eat and in pain.

Tell the child that is getting raped.

Tell the waterbirds that are suffocating under oil coats, covering their skins and feathers.

Is that a blissful reality?


And this is only THIS life....

Of course this last point is irrelevant if rebirth is not accepted.

Metta,

Annapurna
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby Dan74 » Mon May 03, 2010 1:12 pm

I guess another comment that comes to mind from a former Theravada practitioner at ZFI (kojip) is that Theravadins strive for cessation, while Mahayanists for liberation of all beings. So a Mahayanist makes a vow to come back over and over again, while a Theravadin wants to escape this reality (as a human being) once and for all (and while doing so may indeed save a fair few beings!). So it's like people fleeing a sinking ship. One makes an effort to help everyone along the way, but once ashore, does not return and the other one keeps coming back.

Not sure if this is an accurate description and which sounds more dour and grumpy, but it does paint the two traditions in different light in this regard.

_/|\_
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby bodom » Mon May 03, 2010 2:23 pm

Dan74 wrote:I guess another comment that comes to mind from a former Theravada practitioner at ZFI (kojip) is that Theravadins strive for cessation, while Mahayanists for liberation of all beings. So a Mahayanist makes a vow to come back over and over again, while a Theravadin wants to escape this reality (as a human being) once and for all (and while doing so may indeed save a fair few beings!). So it's like people fleeing a sinking ship. One makes an effort to help everyone along the way, but once ashore, does not return and the other one keeps coming back.

Not sure if this is an accurate description and which sounds more dour and grumpy, but it does paint the two traditions in different light in this regard.

_/|\_


Lets not forget there are Theravadins who are on the bodhisatta path practicing for Buddhahood. The bodhisatta path is by no means restricted to Mahayana and is open to Theravadins as one of three vehicles to enlightenment, as arahat, paccekabuddha and sammasambuddha.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby Dan74 » Mon May 03, 2010 2:29 pm

My understanding was that in Theravada there was no distinction between arahat and Buddha in terms of enlightenment, but the alleged difference I was pointing out is the vow to come back rather than pass into parinibbana (cessation), in order to be of use to others. Mahayana people tend to take this quite seriously, Ven Huifeng (Pannasikhara) can hopefully correct me if I am misrepresenting here.

(Hope Mitra Conf went well, Venerable!)
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby bodom » Mon May 03, 2010 2:34 pm

Is Theravada Buddhism for Arahatship Only? by Ven. U Silananda
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha064.htm

Arahants, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha335.htm

Bodhisattva Ideal in BuddhismVen. Dr. W. Rahula
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha126.htm

THE BODHISATTVA IDEAL IN THERAVAADA
http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/jeffrey2.htm

The path of the Bodhisattva in Theravada Buddhism
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=3363&start=0

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby Dan74 » Mon May 03, 2010 2:39 pm

WOW! Thanks for that, Bodom!!! :anjali:

I will give it a good read tomorrow. Now it's time for bed.

_/|\_
_/|\_
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Re: Are we a bunch of sour, grim killjoys?

Postby bodom » Mon May 03, 2010 2:44 pm

Dan74 wrote:My understanding was that in Theravada there was no distinction between arahat and Buddha in terms of enlightenment, but the alleged difference I was pointing out is the vow to come back rather than pass into parinibbana (cessation), in order to be of use to others.


You are correct, the enlightenment is the same as well as the course of practice. A Theravadin on the Mahabodhiyana path will continue to put off enlightenment for the sake of all beings just as someone on the Mahayana path would.

Also see:

A Treatise on the Paramis by Acariya Dhammapala translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el409.html

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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