An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Coëmgenu
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

Post by Coëmgenu »

Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:13 amFor Nāgārjuna dhammas are empty of "intrinsic existence". He argues that if they had intrinsic existence there would be no arising and ceasing, for that which has intrinsic existence cannot change. What Nāgārjuna is arguing against is a metaphysical substance, the likes of which we find in the Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma and within the Hindu Vaiśeṣika school of philosophy.
This is where you start repeating and contradicting yourself. You have already assented that Ven Nāgārjuna attacks the notion of (underlying) intrinsic essences, but then suddenly say he only attacks substance metaphysics. Substance metaphysics however, is a form of essentialism, which states that there is an intrinsic essence which can be found apart from the extrinsic manifestation. The Theravadins believe in the superessential quality, indeed making its perception (for it can be directly perceived apart from its extrinsic manifestation as an "ultimate reality") part of their soteriology. They do not believe that the superessential quality exists at all times apart from the extrinsic manifestation, that would be Sarvāstivādin, but while a dhamma is seen it can be witnessed either as its extrinsic manifestation, deluded conventional reality, or it can be seperately seen in a different modality as ultimate form, citta, etc. No?
The thus come thus gone,
who has neither came nor went,
enthroned on men’s breath,

like the still turtle,
withdraws six appendages
and is clothed in light --

illuminating
the unilluminated
with three shining cures.
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Ceisiwr
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

Post by Ceisiwr »

Coëmgenu wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 2:05 pm This is where you start repeating and contradicting yourself. You have already assented that Ven Nāgārjuna attacks the notion of (underlying) intrinsic essences, but then suddenly say he only attacks substance metaphysics. Substance metaphysics however, is a form of essentialism, which states that there is an intrinsic essence which can be found apart from the extrinsic manifestation. The Theravadins believe in the superessential quality, indeed making its perception (for it can be directly perceived apart from its extrinsic manifestation as an "ultimate reality") part of their soteriology. They do not believe that the superessential quality exists at all times apart from the extrinsic manifestation, that would be Sarvāstivādin, but while a dhamma is seen it can be witnessed either as its extrinsic manifestation, deluded conventional reality, or it can be seperately seen in a different modality as ultimate form, citta, etc. No?
No.
You have already assented that Ven Nāgārjuna attacks the notion of (underlying) intrinsic essences, but then suddenly say he only attacks substance metaphysics.
Nāgārjuna attacks substance and essence by confusing the two, since he does not understand the difference thus establishing his inferiority as a Buddhist thinker.
Substance metaphysics however, is a form of essentialism, which states that there is an intrinsic essence which can be found apart from the extrinsic manifestation.
No. Substance metaphysics is the argument that there is an enduring substance out of which we see modalities or qualities, but which endures when these modalities and qualities cease. It is the distinction between primary substance "thingy" and its qualities. Locke made the distinction. Hume, being the thoroughgoing empiricist that he was, denied substance and only acknowledged essence. The Abhidhamma agrees.
The Theravadins believe in the superessential quality, indeed making its perception (for it can be directly perceived apart from its extrinsic manifestation as an "ultimate reality") part of their soteriology. They do not believe that the superessential quality exists at all times apart from the extrinsic manifestation, that would be Sarvāstivādin, but while a dhamma is seen it can be witnessed either as its extrinsic manifestation, deluded conventional reality, or it can be seperately seen in a different modality as ultimate form, citta, etc. No?
I have no idea what you mean by "superessential quality"? Cause and conditions give rise to 3 conditioned actualities, in various forms. These dhammas are what are directly experienced. The mind then uses them to synthesise whole objects. When these dhammas arise, concepts arise with them in and via the mind. These concepts then can become subject to reification by foolish individuals such as Plato, the "masters" of Sarvāstivāda or, sadly, misunderstood by Nāgārjuna.
Saññāvirattassa na santi ganthā,
Paññāvimuttassa na santi mohā;
Saññañca diṭṭhiñca ye aggahesuṃ,
Te ghaṭṭayantā vicaranti loke”ti.


“For one detached from perception, there exist no ties,
for one by wisdom freed, no delusions are there,
but those who have grasped perceptions and views,
they wander the world stirring up strife."


Māgaṇḍiya Sutta
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AlexBrains92
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

Post by AlexBrains92 »

Once again, from "Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought", by Ven. K. Ñāṇananda:
«'The world, the world,' O Lord, they call it. In what sense, O Lord, is there a world or a concept of a world?

Wherever, Samiddhi, there is the eye, the visible forms, the visual consciousness and the things perceptible with the visual consciousness, there is a world or a concept of a world. Wherever there is the ear ... nose ... tongue ... body ... mind.

Wherever, Samiddhi, there is no eye, no visible forms, no visual consciousness and nothing perceptible with the visual consciousness, there is neither a world nor a concept of a world. Wherever there is no ear ... nose ... tongue ... body .... mind.»

— S. N. IV. 39-40

Thus the world is what our senses present it to us to be. However, the world is not purely a projection of the mind in the sense of a thoroughgoing idealism; only, it is a phenomenon which the empirical consciousness cannot get behind, as it is itself committed to it. One might, of course, transcend the empirical consciousness and see the world objectively in the light of paññâ only to find that it is void (suñña) of the very characteristics which made it a 'world' for oneself.
I agree with him. There's an actuality behind a concept, but it's void of intrinsic nature.
"If appeasement of desires is what is really blissful, 'desirelessness' as the appeasement of all desires would be the Supreme Bliss, and this in fact is what Nibbāna is." (Bhikkhu Kaṭukurunde Ñāṇananda)
chownah
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

Post by chownah »

Ceisiwr wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 7:40 am
chownah wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:35 pm What is "reality"? What does "utimate reality" mean? What are the other kinds of reality? What are the salient features of the various kinds of reality?
That which is known via direct perception and exists apart from concept, thus not being liable to being broken down further and so exists bearing its intrinsic essence. Opposed to this is conventional reality. The conceptual world we construct out of the dhammas via the synthesising nature of the mind. The world of whole and enduring permanent objects, beings, self etc.
You present incomplete sentences, unknown referents, and undefined terms....seems that your mind is occupied with something other than clearly conveying your ideas.
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

Post by chownah »

AlexBrains92 wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:40 pm I agree with him. There's an actuality behind a concept, but it's void of intrinsic nature.
What is an "actuality behind a concept" and what is "intrinsic nature" from a thereavadin perspective using the suttas as a basis?
chownah
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

Post by robertk »

Bodhi's pithy explanation is quite good.
https://www.nku.edu/~kenneyr/Buddhism/l ... himan.html
Briefly, the dhamma theory maintains that ultimate reality consists of a multiplicity of elementary constituents called dhammas. The dhammas are not noumena hidden behind phenomena, not "things in themselves" as opposed to "mere appearances," but the fundamental components of actuality. The dhammas fall into two broad classes: the unconditioned dhamma, which is solely Nibbana, and the conditioned dhammas, which are the momentary mental and material phenomena that constitute the process of experience. The familiar world of substantial objects and enduring persons is, according to the dhamma theory, a conceptual construct fashioned by the mind out of the raw data provided by the dhammas. The entities of our everyday frame of reference possess merely a consensual reality derivative upon the foundational stratum of the dhammas. It is the dhammas alone that possess ultimate reality: determinate existence "from their own side" (sarupato) independent of the mind's conceptual processing of the data.
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

Post by AlexBrains92 »

chownah wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:48 am
AlexBrains92 wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:40 pm I agree with him. There's an actuality behind a concept, but it's void of intrinsic nature.
What is an "actuality behind a concept" and what is "intrinsic nature" from a thereavadin perspective using the suttas as a basis?
chownah
That quote of Ven. K. Ñāṇananda answers your question.
If you pretend similiar sutta terms, maybe there aren't, but inference is allowed.
"If appeasement of desires is what is really blissful, 'desirelessness' as the appeasement of all desires would be the Supreme Bliss, and this in fact is what Nibbāna is." (Bhikkhu Kaṭukurunde Ñāṇananda)
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

Post by chownah »

AlexBrains92 wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 7:32 am
chownah wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:48 am
AlexBrains92 wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:40 pm I agree with him. There's an actuality behind a concept, but it's void of intrinsic nature.
What is an "actuality behind a concept" and what is "intrinsic nature" from a thereavadin perspective using the suttas as a basis?
chownah
That quote of Ven. K. Ñāṇananda answers your question.
If you pretend similiar sutta terms, there aren't, but inference is allowed.
Nanananda's quote on this page immediately above does not seem to answer my question or if you think it does then please explain.

I don't know what you mean by "If you pretend similiar sutta terms"....I am simply asking for a theravdin perspective based on the suttas.....if I am left to my own inferences (I prefer something more direct than inference) then "actuality behind a concept" and what is "intrinsic nature" both refer to identity view grounded in ignorance....
chownah
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

Post by AlexBrains92 »

chownah wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:10 am
AlexBrains92 wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 7:32 am
chownah wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:48 am
What is an "actuality behind a concept" and what is "intrinsic nature" from a thereavadin perspective using the suttas as a basis?
chownah
That quote of Ven. K. Ñāṇananda answers your question.
If you pretend similiar sutta terms, there aren't, but inference is allowed.
Nanananda's quote on this page immediately above does not seem to answer my question or if you think it does then please explain.

I don't know what you mean by "If you pretend similiar sutta terms"....I am simply asking for a theravdin perspective based on the suttas.....if I am left to my own inferences (I prefer something more direct than inference) then "actuality behind a concept" and what is "intrinsic nature" both refer to identity view grounded in ignorance....
chownah
I share your inference about "intrinsic nature", and if you read carefully, intrinsic nature is denied.
"Actuality behind a concept" means that consciousness creates a concept on the basis of what the senses actually perceive through contact.
"If appeasement of desires is what is really blissful, 'desirelessness' as the appeasement of all desires would be the Supreme Bliss, and this in fact is what Nibbāna is." (Bhikkhu Kaṭukurunde Ñāṇananda)
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

Post by chownah »

AlexBrains92 wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:29 am
chownah wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:10 am
AlexBrains92 wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 7:32 am

That quote of Ven. K. Ñāṇananda answers your question.
If you pretend similiar sutta terms, there aren't, but inference is allowed.
Nanananda's quote on this page immediately above does not seem to answer my question or if you think it does then please explain.

I don't know what you mean by "If you pretend similiar sutta terms"....I am simply asking for a theravdin perspective based on the suttas.....if I am left to my own inferences (I prefer something more direct than inference) then "actuality behind a concept" and what is "intrinsic nature" both refer to identity view grounded in ignorance....
chownah
I share your inference about "intrinsic nature", and if you read carefully, intrinsic nature is denied.
"Actuality behind a concept" means that consciousness creates a concept on the basis of what the senses actually perceive through contact.
Read what? Can you copy and paste what I should carefully read and even maybe make the pertinent part colored?....I'm not sure that I'm reading the right thing. Also, having the text under discussion in the post discussing it helps others reading this topic to follow along....a lot of people not seeing the text under discussion in the post with the discussion will not take the time to dig back through the thread to find it especially if not knowing exactly where it is to be found.

Are "actuality behind a concept" and "intrinsic nature" your constructs or are they found in the Ven's presentation?...I don't know because I don't know what presentation you are referring to. Not knowing the context of these constructs I can just respond to your saying ""Actuality behind a concept" means that consciousness creates a concept on the basis of what the senses actually perceive through contact." to me this is somewhat perplexing in that it is not clear that consciousness creates concepts nor is it clear that senses perceive (at least not clear to me...is there sutta reference supporting?) and setting that aside it seems to me that the only way for concepts to arise is through the senses so it sort of seems like it would be more direct to just say that all concepts arise through sensual input and thus avoid the problematic term "actuality" which may lead people into various interpretations based on the various meanings of "actuality" which people might use....and to take this even further why not just say that The All is behind concepts (and all other aspects of experience) which would bring the term into line with theravada suttas. Doesn't "The All" resonate with what the buddha taught better than "Actuality"?.....but even this is strained in that it is not clear that The All is behind concepts but perhaps rather that The All IS concepts....or even better that The All arises whenever concepts arise.....I guess....don't know for sure....to me it seems like parsing things out and creating relationships between concepts ("this is behind that" for example) is just identity view.....I interpret most of what is going on in this thread as identity view with respect to the various aspects of experience which sort of makes some kind of mechanical process out of experience which I think is a mistake....
chownah
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

Post by AlexBrains92 »

chownah wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 2:57 pm
AlexBrains92 wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:29 am
chownah wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:10 am
Nanananda's quote on this page immediately above does not seem to answer my question or if you think it does then please explain.

I don't know what you mean by "If you pretend similiar sutta terms"....I am simply asking for a theravdin perspective based on the suttas.....if I am left to my own inferences (I prefer something more direct than inference) then "actuality behind a concept" and what is "intrinsic nature" both refer to identity view grounded in ignorance....
chownah
I share your inference about "intrinsic nature", and if you read carefully, intrinsic nature is denied.
"Actuality behind a concept" means that consciousness creates a concept on the basis of what the senses actually perceive through contact.
Read what? Can you copy and paste what I should carefully read and even maybe make the pertinent part colored?....I'm not sure that I'm reading the right thing. Also, having the text under discussion in the post discussing it helps others reading this topic to follow along....a lot of people not seeing the text under discussion in the post with the discussion will not take the time to dig back through the thread to find it especially if not knowing exactly where it is to be found.

Are "actuality behind a concept" and "intrinsic nature" your constructs or are they found in the Ven's presentation?...I don't know because I don't know what presentation you are referring to. Not knowing the context of these constructs I can just respond to your saying ""Actuality behind a concept" means that consciousness creates a concept on the basis of what the senses actually perceive through contact." to me this is somewhat perplexing in that it is not clear that consciousness creates concepts nor is it clear that senses perceive (at least not clear to me...is there sutta reference supporting?) and setting that aside it seems to me that the only way for concepts to arise is through the senses so it sort of seems like it would be more direct to just say that all concepts arise through sensual input and thus avoid the problematic term "actuality" which may lead people into various interpretations based on the various meanings of "actuality" which people might use....and to take this even further why not just say that The All is behind concepts (and all other aspects of experience) which would bring the term into line with theravada suttas. Doesn't "The All" resonate with what the buddha taught better than "Actuality"?.....but even this is strained in that it is not clear that The All is behind concepts but perhaps rather that The All IS concepts....or even better that The All arises whenever concepts arise.....I guess....don't know for sure....to me it seems like parsing things out and creating relationships between concepts ("this is behind that" for example) is just identity view.....I interpret most of what is going on in this thread as identity view with respect to the various aspects of experience which sort of makes some kind of mechanical process out of experience which I think is a mistake....
chownah
OMG

Ven. wrote:
AlexBrains92 wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:40 pm it is void (suñña) of the very characteristics which made it a 'world' for oneself.
I synthesized:
AlexBrains92 wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:40 pm it's void of intrinsic nature.
"It's void of..." is to deny, not to affirm, therefore I'm not reifying. Ceisiwr affirms the intrinsic nature of "actuality", not me.
The actuality of a table is what I'm actually seeing and touching in this moment, regardless of the concept "table" attributed to that by consciousness. And, I repeat, what I'm actually seeing and touching is void of intrinsic nature, of the very characteristics which made it a "table".
Ven. used these words referring to the world seen objectively (that is my "actuality", so in the sense of objectivity).
Why talk about actuality? Because there are those who claim that everything is nothing but a concept, that the world is "purely a projection of the mind in the sense of a thoroughgoing idealism", but it is not so. There's an actuality behind a concept, but it's void of intrinsic nature.
"If appeasement of desires is what is really blissful, 'desirelessness' as the appeasement of all desires would be the Supreme Bliss, and this in fact is what Nibbāna is." (Bhikkhu Kaṭukurunde Ñāṇananda)
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Coëmgenu
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

Post by Coëmgenu »

AlexBrains92 wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 4:21 pm I synthesized:
AlexBrains92 wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:40 pm it's void of intrinsic nature.
"It's void of..." is to deny, not to affirm, therefore I'm not reifying.
I don't think Chownah is saying you are a reifier, but instead that he's looking for the Buddha saying "empty of inherent existence" (inherent existence here being svabhāva, lit. "its own existence"). Reified ultimate reality is an invention of the divergences of the Buddha's later disciples. It's not clear even that the original Abhidharma writings of the Buddha's disciples reified reality like the "classical" Ābhidharmika Buddhisms of the 18 schools would later. In light of this, we oughtn't expect the Buddha saying "no intrinsic natures" like he's a Mādhyamika. That debate was after the Buddha's parinibbāna. It's a little bit like looking for where the Buddha denies that Jesus is the son of God.

Abhidharma, at its heart, is proto-scientific inquiry into the nature of reality and the Buddhist path, both of these things being seen as inseperable. It is when the Ābhidharmikas elevate their scholastic schemitizations to the level of the Jina's wisdom that problems arise, especially when the scholastics seek to reform and replace the Jina's wisdom.

And yes I'm using Jina instead of Buddha because I feel like a hipster today.
The thus come thus gone,
who has neither came nor went,
enthroned on men’s breath,

like the still turtle,
withdraws six appendages
and is clothed in light --

illuminating
the unilluminated
with three shining cures.
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

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:popcorn:
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AlexBrains92
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

Post by AlexBrains92 »

Coëmgenu wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:57 pm
AlexBrains92 wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 4:21 pm I synthesized:
AlexBrains92 wrote: Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:40 pm it's void of intrinsic nature.
"It's void of..." is to deny, not to affirm, therefore I'm not reifying.
I don't think Chownah is saying you are a reifier, but instead that he's looking for the Buddha saying "empty of inherent existence" (inherent existence here being svabhāva, lit. "its own existence"). Reified ultimate reality is an invention of the divergences of the Buddha's later disciples. It's not clear even that the original Abhidharma writings of the Buddha's disciples reified reality like the "classical" Ābhidharmika Buddhisms of the 18 schools would later. In light of this, we oughtn't expect the Buddha saying "no intrinsic natures" like he's a Mādhyamika. That debate was after the Buddha's parinibbāna. It's a little bit like looking for where the Buddha denies that Jesus is the son of God.

Abhidharma, at its heart, is proto-scientific inquiry into the nature of reality and the Buddhist path, both of these things being seen as inseperable. It is when the Ābhidharmikas elevate their scholastic schemitizations to the level of the Jina's wisdom that problems arise, especially when the scholastics seek to reform and replace the Jina's wisdom.

And yes I'm using Jina instead of Buddha because I feel like a hipster today.
Are you saying that 'sabhava' is not mentioned in the suttas, and therefore no school can be right about it?
"If appeasement of desires is what is really blissful, 'desirelessness' as the appeasement of all desires would be the Supreme Bliss, and this in fact is what Nibbāna is." (Bhikkhu Kaṭukurunde Ñāṇananda)
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Coëmgenu
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Re: An argument for ultimate reality from a Theravādin perspective.

Post by Coëmgenu »

AlexBrains92 wrote: Wed Oct 14, 2020 2:19 am
Coëmgenu wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:57 pm
AlexBrains92 wrote: Tue Oct 13, 2020 4:21 pm I synthesized:


"It's void of..." is to deny, not to affirm, therefore I'm not reifying.
I don't think Chownah is saying you are a reifier, but instead that he's looking for the Buddha saying "empty of inherent existence" (inherent existence here being svabhāva, lit. "its own existence"). Reified ultimate reality is an invention of the divergences of the Buddha's later disciples. It's not clear even that the original Abhidharma writings of the Buddha's disciples reified reality like the "classical" Ābhidharmika Buddhisms of the 18 schools would later. In light of this, we oughtn't expect the Buddha saying "no intrinsic natures" like he's a Mādhyamika. That debate was after the Buddha's parinibbāna. It's a little bit like looking for where the Buddha denies that Jesus is the son of God.

Abhidharma, at its heart, is proto-scientific inquiry into the nature of reality and the Buddhist path, both of these things being seen as inseperable. It is when the Ābhidharmikas elevate their scholastic schemitizations to the level of the Jina's wisdom that problems arise, especially when the scholastics seek to reform and replace the Jina's wisdom.

And yes I'm using Jina instead of Buddha because I feel like a hipster today.
Are you saying that 'sabhava' is not mentioned in the suttas, and therefore no school can be right about it?
No, just that I think Chownah is looking for the Buddha literally saying "empty of inherent existence" and no one is going to find that anywhere but in Gelugpa-influenced exegeses of Madhyamaka. Sometimes in the Mahāyāna sūtras the text goes out of its way to have the Buddha saying that the svabhāvas are empty, but it doesn't happen as often as one would think. Like looking for where the Buddha denies the paternity of the father of Jesus, one doesn't find it because the Buddha simply never talked about it. The same with "ultimate reality" and "inherent existence" and "intrinsic essence/nature." It could all be right or wrong, so I'm not saying that no school can be right about it.
The thus come thus gone,
who has neither came nor went,
enthroned on men’s breath,

like the still turtle,
withdraws six appendages
and is clothed in light --

illuminating
the unilluminated
with three shining cures.
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