emptiness = interdependence?

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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby tobes » Fri Dec 24, 2010 2:22 pm

Huifeng wrote:I'd still rather use the term "dependent origination" than "interdependence", not just for the fact that the former is an actual term used by the Buddha and Buddhist traditions, whereas the latter is not strictly found in all traditions. There is a difference, and it is an important one.


I agree. I think "interdependence" is prone to breed misunderstanding, because it does not really signify the kind of causality clearly at play in "dependent origination."

If I may say so Ven Huifeng, it's a great pleasure to hear your endlessly sharp cyber wisdom again.

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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby Jnana » Sat Dec 25, 2010 5:12 pm

tobes wrote:Indeed. But of course, the Lankavatara Sutra is especially privileged in traditions which have a strong Yogacaran influence. So I think that taking that text as authoritative on this question already situates the discourse in a particular way.

I think that the Prajnaparamita Sutras are a little more open ended on the matter.

I'd suggest that all dharmas are always non-abiding (apratiṣṭhāna), and to paraphrase Maitrīpa, "Enlightenment is due to non-attachment." All of the sūtras, treatises, tantras, and oral instructions point this out. It's up to each practitioner to follow the practice injunctions that they have faith in and find helpful.

All the best,

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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby tamdrin » Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:35 am

lol I know Lama Gursam... But honestly I think Geshe Micheal explains emptiness and interdependence a bit better.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujZz6fkn7cw&NR=1
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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby ground » Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:13 am

Luke wrote:Here is a video of Lama Gursam ...
He also points out that emptiness is inseparable from true compassion.


This needs to be clarified.
What does this mean? "inseparable from true compassion"?
Firstly what is "true" in comparison to "untrue" or "false"?

Secondly, either these are the same or these are different.
"The same" is impossible.
It is impossible since - taken as an object of investigation - "compassion" and "emptiness" have different meanings.
Taking the subject's side since it is taught that from the subjects side "emptiness" is a non-conceptual experiential event, if there would be "compassion" involved then there would be necessarily thought (even if non-verbal) and therefore the qualifier "non-conceptual" would be false.

If not "the same" it follows that there is difference. But if there is difference what does "inseparable" stand for?


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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby kirtu » Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:26 am

Huifeng wrote:I'd still rather use the term "dependent origination" than "interdependence", not just for the fact that the former is an actual term used by the Buddha and Buddhist traditions, whereas the latter is not strictly found in all traditions. There is a difference, and it is an important one.


That's true but there are teachings not found (at least not identically) in other schools. Interdependence is a description of a teaching found primarily in the Avatamsaka Sutra but also implied at least in the Brahma Net Sutra and perhaps other sutras*. It is definitely an interpretation. It also has some currency in Tibetan Buddhism and Zen Buddhism (so it's not just a Huayen/Kegon thing).

As with many Mahayana teachings I would expect to find echoes of it in the Pali Suttas but am at a loss to provide a pointer.

Kirt

*I'm thinking in particular of a sutra in which I think Shariputra criticized Manjushri in a circumstance and the Buddha shows Shariputra a vision of Manjushri in multiple universes performing the same actions under the same circumstances.
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby kirtu » Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:33 am

TMingyur wrote:Secondly, either these are the same or these are different.
"The same" is impossible.
It is impossible since - taken as an object of investigation - "compassion" and "emptiness" have different meanings.
Taking the subject's side since it is taught that from the subjects side "emptiness" is a non-conceptual experiential event, if there would be "compassion" involved then there would be necessarily thought (even if non-verbal) and therefore the qualifier "non-conceptual" would be false.

If not "the same" it follows that there is difference. But if there is difference what does "inseparable" stand for?


I haven't seen the Lama Gursam video but during meditation insight into emptiness causes (or can cause) compassion to arise naturally and non-conceptually. So one has some insight and then immediately the compassion arises not from analytic analysis.

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby ground » Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:07 am

kirtu wrote:... during meditation insight into emptiness causes (or can cause) compassion to arise naturally and non-conceptually. So one has some insight and then immediately the compassion arises not from analytic analysis.

Kirt


So with the arising of compassion "insight into emptiness" (metaphorical, since non-conceptual) ceases because the non-conceptual state ceases? If it is a flip-flop mechanism this does not justify to speak of "inseparability".

If it is not the case that compassion arises once emptiness is directly experienced then one who thinks that compassion arises once emptiness is directly experienced might actually be practicing the small vehicle if the generation of bodhicitta (that is caused by compassion) is neglected. Why? Because direct experience of emptiness not based on bodhicitta aims at the liberation of the small vehicle.


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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby tobes » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:16 am

kirtu wrote:
Huifeng wrote:I'd still rather use the term "dependent origination" than "interdependence", not just for the fact that the former is an actual term used by the Buddha and Buddhist traditions, whereas the latter is not strictly found in all traditions. There is a difference, and it is an important one.


That's true but there are teachings not found (at least not identically) in other schools. Interdependence is a description of a teaching found primarily in the Avatamsaka Sutra but also implied at least in the Brahma Net Sutra and perhaps other sutras*. It is definitely an interpretation. It also has some currency in Tibetan Buddhism and Zen Buddhism (so it's not just a Huayen/Kegon thing).

As with many Mahayana teachings I would expect to find echoes of it in the Pali Suttas but am at a loss to provide a pointer.

Kirt

*I'm thinking in particular of a sutra in which I think Shariputra criticized Manjushri in a circumstance and the Buddha shows Shariputra a vision of Manjushri in multiple universes performing the same actions under the same circumstances.


Yes, good point Kirt.

I think that there is little doubt that the metaphor of Brahma's net grants an ontology of interdepedence: where everything is literally connected to everything else.

This is not implied in any way via the earlier concepts of dependent origination, and I also think as a view of emptiness, it is quite radically distinct from early Indian Madhyamaka.

Your example illustrates that we actually need to engage in metaphysics here, because it is not simply a matter of different soteriological or hermeneutical strategies at play through different texts: there are different ontologies at play.

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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby muni » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:22 am

kirtu wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Seconeither these are the same or these are different.
"The same" is impossible.
It is impossible since - taken as an object of investigation - "compassion" and "emptiness" have different meanings.
Taking the subject's side since it is taught that from the subjects side "emptiness" is a non-conceptual experiential event, if there would be "compassion" involved then there would be necessarily thought (even if non-verbal) and therefore the qualifier "non-conceptual" would be false.
dly,
If not "the same" it follows that there is difference. But if there is difference what does "inseparable" stand for?


I haven't seen the Lama Gursam video but during meditation insight into emptiness causes (or can cause) compassion to arise naturally and non-conceptually. So one has some insight and then immediately the compassion arises not from analytic analysis.

Kirt


Yes.
No any focus to me and other should be other than looking to own motivation only, so I understand a bit. Altruistic action through warm heart opens the door to "compassion in understanding" which is Bodhichitta. This I think Lama Gursam is teaching.

I learned to see Bodhichitta as a bird's two wings (compassion and emptiness) to freedom. To see how nature of all is, than tears flood over ones face by looking how our fellows struggling and suffering in a misperception. Automatically a completely selfless action (or non action) to free all is the spontaneous compassion which is in understanding by those showing us the example and offering Dharma.
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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby tobes » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:24 am

Yeshe D. wrote:
tobes wrote:Indeed. But of course, the Lankavatara Sutra is especially privileged in traditions which have a strong Yogacaran influence. So I think that taking that text as authoritative on this question already situates the discourse in a particular way.

I think that the Prajnaparamita Sutras are a little more open ended on the matter.

I'd suggest that all dharmas are always non-abiding (apratiṣṭhāna), and to paraphrase Maitrīpa, "Enlightenment is due to non-attachment." All of the sūtras, treatises, tantras, and oral instructions point this out. It's up to each practitioner to follow the practice injunctions that they have faith in and find helpful.

All the best,

Geoff


I have no cause to refute Maitripa here, but wouldn't you also say that it is up to each practitioner to develop and sharpen their prajna, and learn to discern the correct view of reality?

All dharmas are non-abiding, yes, but one must still be able to discern what is true. Otherwise, there is no dharma at all.

:namaste:
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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby kirtu » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:27 am

TMingyur wrote:
kirtu wrote:... during meditation insight into emptiness causes (or can cause) compassion to arise naturally and non-conceptually. So one has some insight and then immediately the compassion arises not from analytic analysis.

Kirt


So with the arising of compassion "insight into emptiness" (metaphorical, since non-conceptual) ceases because the non-conceptual state ceases?


Well it's a meditative experience so it changes and anyway fades because the meditation ends.

But although the Abhidharma says that we can only have one thought at a time (although thought moments are very short) both compassion and the emptiness insight continue for some time (maybe a few seconds maybe longer because time isn't really experienced and people don't take out a stopwatch and time it).

So the insight might have arisen due to analytic meditation but when the compassion arises the analysis ends and the meditator rests in the dual insight and compassion which can become momentarily non-dual (in which case it's not conceptual).

It's more like that.

Then later the insights can be deepened analytically.


If it is a flip-flop mechanism this does not justify to speak of "inseparability".


In the video Lama Gursam isn't justifying his statements based on analysis and in fact said just prior to the statement on the interdependent nature of emptiness and compassion that one could gain insight into emptiness through analysis but then said the other way is through the practices. Lama Tsognkhapa says the same thing about analysis and practice (although I don't know exactly where) which is why the Geluk tradition generally relies on the alternation of analysis and tantric practice. One takes one's current understanding of emptiness arrived at analytically into the meditation.

If it is not the case that compassion arises once emptiness is directly experienced then one who thinks that compassion arises once emptiness is directly experienced might actually be practicing the small vehicle if the generation of bodhicitta (that is caused by compassion) is neglected. Why? Because direct experience of emptiness not based on bodhicitta aims at the liberation of the small vehicle.


The compassion that arises naturally based on a similitude of insight into emptiness (not direct preception of emptiness) is universal all-encompassing compassion. I have never heard of anything other than that universal all-encompassing compassion arising. So the similitude of emptiness is not analysis just of personal selflessness.

Actually the hinayana analysis does generate a sign of some sort that meditators perceive and then they change their meditation to impermanence or the unsatisfactory nature of samsara or personal selflessness as I understand it (so perhaps they were just doing deep concentration meditation before that). And when those insights develop then they attain stream entry and so forth.

I would make the claim that compassion arises naturally once some insight into emptiness is attained although this isn't necessarily a direct experience of emptiness. But I don't have a scriptural reference to back that up. So compassion may deepen gradually over time or it may arise suddenly during meditation.

If emptiness is directly perceived that all the outer, gross defilements are totally blown away either permanently or at least for 100 lifetimes (the teachings seem unclear on this point). So from outward perception the person would be seen as totally morally scrupulous for example.

Kirt
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby Huifeng » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:45 am

kirtu wrote:
Huifeng wrote:I'd still rather use the term "dependent origination" than "interdependence", not just for the fact that the former is an actual term used by the Buddha and Buddhist traditions, whereas the latter is not strictly found in all traditions. There is a difference, and it is an important one.


That's true but there are teachings not found (at least not identically) in other schools. Interdependence is a description of a teaching found primarily in the Avatamsaka Sutra but also implied at least in the Brahma Net Sutra and perhaps other sutras*. It is definitely an interpretation. It also has some currency in Tibetan Buddhism and Zen Buddhism (so it's not just a Huayen/Kegon thing).

As with many Mahayana teachings I would expect to find echoes of it in the Pali Suttas but am at a loss to provide a pointer.

Kirt

*I'm thinking in particular of a sutra in which I think Shariputra criticized Manjushri in a circumstance and the Buddha shows Shariputra a vision of Manjushri in multiple universes performing the same actions under the same circumstances.


True, Kirt, and I did not intend to deny that these teachings and schools have this understanding of "interdependence".
My habit is just that when no specific system is given as context, then it is safer to talk about a sense that has a more pan-Buddhist acceptance.

The Huayan / Kegon to Chan / Zen connection is mainly just that when the latter took on a more formal doctrinal basis, they took that of the former. At the risk of over simplification, the Zen take is basically just the Kegon take.
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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby kirtu » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:52 am

muni wrote:
kirtu wrote:I haven't seen the Lama Gursam video but during meditation insight into emptiness causes (or can cause) compassion to arise naturally and non-conceptually. So one has some insight and then immediately the compassion arises not from analytic analysis.


Yes.
No any focus to me and other should be other than looking to own motivation only, so I understand a bit. Altruistic action through warm heart opens the door to "compassion in understanding" which is Bodhichitta. This I think Lama Gursam is teaching.


I finally did see the Lama Gursam video (I have a slow connection so it takes a while) and he is clearly relating relative compassion (which he doesn't define) with relative Bodhicitta and ultimate compassion with ultimate Bodhicitta (so these may be his definitions). But he does so after passing over insight into emptiness based on analysis in favor (it seems) of understanding arrived at through practice. And he doesn't say that emptiness and compassion are inseparable but that compassion is not separate from emptiness and that where there is emptiness there is compassion. He's mostly negating a nihilistic view of emptiness where he says at least twice that emptiness is not nothingness, not like the emptiness of a cup (it's not clear if he means a situation in which a person doesn't have a cup or if he means actually the free nature of a cup to potentially contain something). So for all practical purposes he is saying that emptiness and compassion are inseparable and he is clearly saying that that ultimately is Bodhicitta.

I learned to see Bodhichitta as a bird's two wings (compassion and emptiness) to freedom. To see how nature of all is, than tears flood over ones face by looking how our fellows struggling and suffering in a misperception. Automatically a completely selfless action (or non action) to free all is the spontaneous compassion which is in understanding by those showing us the example and offering Dharma.


:namaste:

Kirt
Kirt's Tibetan Translation Notes

“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
Hevajra Tantra
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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby muni » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:53 am

Kirtu: "he is saying that emptiness and compassion are inseparable and he is clearly saying that that ultimately is Bodhicitta". :anjali:

non conceptual all encompassing compassion ( Nirmanakaya) through the equality of appearances and emptiness.
Lama Gursam = an accomplished Yogi is free by analyzing mind and realizing nature "what cannot be SEEN", free from emotional and cognetive obscurations.
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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby kirtu » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:58 am

Huifeng wrote:The Huayan / Kegon to Chan / Zen connection is mainly just that when the latter took on a more formal doctrinal basis, they took that of the former. At the risk of over simplification, the Zen take is basically just the Kegon take.


That's interesting (but not surprising) but several other Zen schools also have interdependence teachings - the Korean Soen and I think Vietnamese Zen. I'm not sure about Chan itself but Zen Master Sheng-yen and certainly Master Hsu Yun seem to be proponents of interdependence. Did you mean just Japanese Zen or is this a general feature of the Zen schools?

Oh - I didn't see that you had already covered Chan.

Kirt
Last edited by kirtu on Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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“All beings are Buddhas, but obscured by incidental stains. When those have been removed, there is Buddhahood.”
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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby ground » Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:00 am

kirtu wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
kirtu wrote:... during meditation insight into emptiness causes (or can cause) compassion to arise naturally and non-conceptually. So one has some insight and then immediately the compassion arises not from analytic analysis.

Kirt


So with the arising of compassion "insight into emptiness" (metaphorical, since non-conceptual) ceases because the non-conceptual state ceases?


Well it's a meditative experience so it changes and anyway fades because the meditation ends.

But although the Abhidharma says that we can only have one thought at a time (although thought moments are very short) both compassion and the emptiness insight continue for some time (maybe a few seconds maybe longer because time isn't really experienced and people don't take out a stopwatch and time it).

So the insight might have arisen due to analytic meditation but when the compassion arises the analysis ends and the meditator rests in the dual insight and compassion which can become momentarily non-dual (in which case it's not conceptual).

It's more like that.

Then later the insights can be deepened analytically.


If it is a flip-flop mechanism this does not justify to speak of "inseparability".


In the video Lama Gursam isn't justifying his statements based on analysis and in fact said just prior to the statement on the interdependent nature of emptiness and compassion that one could gain insight into emptiness through analysis but then said the other way is through the practices. Lama Tsognkhapa says the same thing about analysis and practice (although I don't know exactly where) which is why the Geluk tradition generally relies on the alternation of analysis and tantric practice. One takes one's current understanding of emptiness arrived at analytically into the meditation.

If it is not the case that compassion arises once emptiness is directly experienced then one who thinks that compassion arises once emptiness is directly experienced might actually be practicing the small vehicle if the generation of bodhicitta (that is caused by compassion) is neglected. Why? Because direct experience of emptiness not based on bodhicitta aims at the liberation of the small vehicle.


The compassion that arises naturally based on a similitude of insight into emptiness (not direct preception of emptiness) is universal all-encompassing compassion. I have never heard of anything other than that universal all-encompassing compassion arising. So the similitude of emptiness is not analysis just of personal selflessness.

Actually the hinayana analysis does generate a sign of some sort that meditators perceive and then they change their meditation to impermanence or the unsatisfactory nature of samsara or personal selflessness as I understand it (so perhaps they were just doing deep concentration meditation before that). And when those insights develop then they attain stream entry and so forth.

I would make the claim that compassion arises naturally once some insight into emptiness is attained although this isn't necessarily a direct experience of emptiness. But I don't have a scriptural reference to back that up. So compassion may deepen gradually over time or it may arise suddenly during meditation.

If emptiness is directly perceived that all the outer, gross defilements are totally blown away either permanently or at least for 100 lifetimes (the teachings seem unclear on this point). So from outward perception the person would be seen as totally morally scrupulous for example.

Kirt


Nice wordings, thank you!

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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby Huifeng » Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:36 pm

kirtu wrote:
Huifeng wrote:The Huayan / Kegon to Chan / Zen connection is mainly just that when the latter took on a more formal doctrinal basis, they took that of the former. At the risk of over simplification, the Zen take is basically just the Kegon take.


That's interesting (but not surprising) but several other Zen schools also have interdependence teachings - the Korean Soen and I think Vietnamese Zen. I'm not sure about Chan itself but Zen Master Sheng-yen and certainly Master Hsu Yun seem to be proponents of interdependence. Did you mean just Japanese Zen or is this a general feature of the Zen schools?

Oh - I didn't see that you had already covered Chan.

Kirt


The input of Huayan teachings to Chan, what is known as the conformity of teaching and meditation, occurred in China. From there, the combination of the two as standard, then enters Korea and Japan.
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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby tobes » Mon Dec 27, 2010 2:33 pm

kirtu wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Secondly, either these are the same or these are different.
"The same" is impossible.
It is impossible since - taken as an object of investigation - "compassion" and "emptiness" have different meanings.
Taking the subject's side since it is taught that from the subjects side "emptiness" is a non-conceptual experiential event, if there would be "compassion" involved then there would be necessarily thought (even if non-verbal) and therefore the qualifier "non-conceptual" would be false.

If not "the same" it follows that there is difference. But if there is difference what does "inseparable" stand for?


I haven't seen the Lama Gursam video but during meditation insight into emptiness causes (or can cause) compassion to arise naturally and non-conceptually. So one has some insight and then immediately the compassion arises not from analytic analysis.

Kirt



I think the key here is that it is only on the basis of things being empty, that the attribute of compassion can arise.

That is, if the subject was not empty, then it would not be possible to transform from uncompassionate to compassionate.

The ethical logic of earlier forms of Buddhism is premised on the subject being anatta, and the relation between causality (dependent origination) and karma (subjective intentions and actions).

Because the subject is anatta, she can abandon unwholesome dispositions and cultivate wholesome dispositions. Good attributes are produced because they can be produced.

I see no disjuncture at all between this ethical logic and the metaphysics of emptiness as given in the Mahayana. In fact, I think that the metaphysics of emptiness gives great coherence to this position, rather than presenting something radically distinct.

The spanner in the works here is the idea of a Buddha nature which is an innate quality rather than a potentiality. In this case, the ethical logic is not about producing wholesome qualities, but uncovering what is already there. Compassion is then something which must be associated with the realisation of Buddha Nature ~ spontaneous, natural, pre-given.

I think that if we clarify where we stand on these matters, it will be much easier to have a fruitful dialogue about this interesting question.

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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby ground » Mon Dec 27, 2010 2:41 pm

IMO the issue of discussion is just the indefinite term "inseparable".

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Re: emptiness = interdependence?

Postby White Lotus » Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:27 pm

'dependence' is causality, in order for there to be dependence there must be a relationship. an integration/interrelating/interdependence. But, fundamentally there is no word... "dependence" does not exist, and yet i cut myself and it hurts... still... no cut, no hand, no dependence. since the beginning "not a single thing there is".

attachment to any "word" is a post to which a donkey is tied for eons. that which is pointed towards is not a word, nor is it a state, it does not exist, nor did it ever exist. seeing, hearing, smelling is not seeing, not hearing and not smelling.

dont get trapped in emptiness or nothingness, they hinder development, but are an important stage to what "isnt". there is no longer a subject, only an object. the object is non existent, seeing it it does not exist.

sorry to waffle.

with love from White Lotus. x
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.
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