Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Quiet Heart » Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:32 am

:smile:
Every time I read that topic heading I have to laugh.
Reincarnation: A gift or a curse.
Surely you must be joking.
I also see the tpoic has run away from the original post lately.
So let me just add a few comments.
First of all, I don't think, at least I hope not, that anyone really expects to be "reincarnted" after death like waking up from a dream; in another body and with the memory of the previous life. If they do, I'm afraid they are likely not to have that happen.
In short, there is no personal reincarnation...where your individual Ego survives death.
Secondly, I prefer to think of reincarnation as in the nature of a flower, that blooms for a brief time; then goes to seed. When the flower dies and fades away, that seed will carry on and eventually there will be another bloom.
That bloom will be another chance for the flower.
That is the same as being reborn as a "sentient being" with the possibility of finding the Dharma.
Of course, there is "suffering"; but without suffering there is no understanding of the nature of "liberation from suffering" and therefore no "liberation".
Now, how can anyone actually call that a "curse" and not a "gift"?
:smile:
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in your wife's lovely face
in your baby's laughter?
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Paul » Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:48 am

Quiet Heart wrote:Now, how can anyone actually call that a "curse" and not a "gift"?
:smile:


Easy http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsite ... hell3.html
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:29 am

This is yet another example why reincarnation is a blessing and not a curse. If you were a Christian all these hells would be permanent, at least with reincarnation you know that at some point you will leave!
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:31 pm

Quiet Heart wrote::smile:
Every time I read that topic heading I have to laugh.
Reincarnation: A gift or a curse.
Surely you must be joking.
I also see the tpoic has run away from the original post lately.
So let me just add a few comments.
First of all, I don't think, at least I hope not, that anyone really expects to be "reincarnted" after death like waking up from a dream; in another body and with the memory of the previous life. If they do, I'm afraid they are likely not to have that happen.
In short, there is no personal reincarnation...where your individual Ego survives death.
Secondly, I prefer to think of reincarnation as in the nature of a flower, that blooms for a brief time; then goes to seed. When the flower dies and fades away, that seed will carry on and eventually there will be another bloom.
That bloom will be another chance for the flower.
That is the same as being reborn as a "sentient being" with the possibility of finding the Dharma.
Of course, there is "suffering"; but without suffering there is no understanding of the nature of "liberation from suffering" and therefore no "liberation".
Now, how can anyone actually call that a "curse" and not a "gift"?
:smile:

Very well said.
Regarding the last point, well, you know there are people so desperate who attempt suicide as a way to put an end to their problems.
The fact that there is a mental continuum which will continue to experience the circumstances allowing suffering to arise, if such is their karma, may seem like a curse for those in such situation. Imagine someone who is traveling through this life more or less happily yet with a dreadful karmic potential (perhaps in result of murder). He dies and, soon after, the secondary causes for the manifestation of such karmic potential come to be projecting his rebirth under extremely unfavorable circumstances. Even though his karmic potential may wear off, there are no guarantees that all along, due to his ignorance, he hasn't been generating more unfavorable karmic potential. So a gazillion of time may pass until he finally regains a favorable birth. When I say "he", you know what I mean. It's the stream of beads, not the bead traversing the stream, but in terms of awareness there's a continuum (although it seems to fade in periods like deep sleep and briefly after death) so allow me the freedom to use this word. For such person, rebirth may seem a curse, since it makes it impossible for him to escape to results of his actions.
I'll go out on a limb and say that for most the idea of rebirth shouldn't be soothing. It should be regarded a little bit like a curse, since there are things worse than death if we consider this carefully. Who knows what karmic potential we have been accumulating? I know it's a bit depressing saying these things, and generally people prefer the positive aspects of the teachings, but the fact is that unless we have to ability to see past lives, we don't know when our "luck" will run out. So it's good if we do the best we can, each day.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:37 pm

Actually it would probably be correct to say that reincarnation is neither a curse nor a gift but just a fact of samsaric existence.
Is dependent origination a curse?
Is ignorance a curse?
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Jul 22, 2011 2:30 am

Yes, I guess it boils down to what we do with it.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby mudra » Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:24 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Actually it would probably be correct to say that reincarnation is neither a curse nor a gift but just a fact of samsaric existence.
Is dependent origination a curse?
Is ignorance a curse?
:namaste:


Yeah ignorance is a 'curse'. The worst part is we curse ourselves.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jul 22, 2011 5:25 am

mudra wrote:Yeah ignorance is a 'curse'. The worst part is we curse ourselves.
No, I don't think "curse" is the correct term, again it is just an element of human existence, of sentience. It is no more a curse than knowledge is a curse.
Anyway, if we did not experience ignorance, how could we experience enlightenment?
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Jul 22, 2011 5:51 am

gregkavarnos wrote:
mudra wrote:Yeah ignorance is a 'curse'. The worst part is we curse ourselves.
No, I don't think "curse" is the correct term, again it is just an element of human existence, of sentience. It is no more a curse than knowledge is a curse.
Anyway, if we did not experience ignorance, how could we experience enlightenment?
:namaste:

If we didn't experience ignorance, we would be enlightened. Ignorance, avidya, is the starting point of samsara.
I believe you mean that if we, humans, don't realize our fundamental ignorance, we won't start the path or something like this, no?
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jul 22, 2011 6:06 am

Hmmmmm.... how can I say this? Can we realise the true nature of brightness if we have not experienced darkness?

I mean, if one is brought up in the tropics then ones idea of cold has no true bearing if one does not go to live in a polar region. Okay, one may have a relative experience of cold, 16 degrees celsius is colder than 39 degrees celsius, but this is is a pretty limited range of experience when you consider that Arctic temperatures can fall to -50 degrees celsius (even less with wind chill).

Without having experienced ignorance will we truly appreciate the bliss of enlightenment?

Even the Buddhas started off as plain old sentient beings and developed through countless lifetimes of experiences in order to arrive at omniscience. So, to me, it seems that ignorance is an unavoidable aspect of sentience and thus actually not a curse but a springboard into enlightenment.
:namaste:
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Fri Jul 22, 2011 2:29 pm

Yes the essence of mind is not just emptiness but also cognizance of that emptiness.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:22 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Hmmmmm.... how can I say this? Can we realise the true nature of brightness if we have not experienced darkness?

I mean, if one is brought up in the tropics then ones idea of cold has no true bearing if one does not go to live in a polar region. Okay, one may have a relative experience of cold, 16 degrees celsius is colder than 39 degrees celsius, but this is is a pretty limited range of experience when you consider that Arctic temperatures can fall to -50 degrees celsius (even less with wind chill).

Without having experienced ignorance will we truly appreciate the bliss of enlightenment?

Even the Buddhas started off as plain old sentient beings and developed through countless lifetimes of experiences in order to arrive at omniscience. So, to me, it seems that ignorance is an unavoidable aspect of sentience and thus actually not a curse but a springboard into enlightenment.
:namaste:

I understand what you were saying, but still you are putting it in dualistic terms. We enjoy pleasure, bliss and so on, but enlightenment goes beyond these emotions, feelings and sensations. It's not the opposite of ignorance. It's its absence.

If there's no ignorance, there's enlightenment, not because ignorance projected you, very much the opposite, but because it was overcome. Ignorance is the biggest cloud in the sky, if you get my meaning. The fact that the sun shines has nothing to do with it being there. :smile:
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Jul 23, 2011 5:51 pm

Ignorance is a term that refers to something you don't have (wisdom), not something you have.
But there are different aspects of ignorance.
Suppose you are going some place, but you are headed in the wrong direction,
but you don't realize it.
You can go on for a long time this way, which is basically what samsara is.
At some point, you realize that all this time you have been headed in the wrong direction.
Now, there is some level of realization.
At least now you know you are lost.
You are less ignorant about your situation,
but you still may not know in which direction you should be headed.
If you find out, if somebody points you in the right direction,
then that degree of ignorance has been replaced by knowing.
But you still do not know what lies ahead,
what obstacles you will face, even though you know which way to go.
So, there is still some degree of ignorance,
but it's like a hole that gradually this gets filled up with knowledge and wisdom until,
by becoming filled, it no longer exists.
But of course, without that hole,
there is no place to pour in all the wisdom.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby denice » Sat Jul 23, 2011 8:19 pm

i realize a legal term has no place here however.... ignorantia juris non excusat, literally means "ignorance of the law is no excuse" which in essence means the law applies also to those who are unaware of it..
what dechen norbu said was correct in my opinion w regard to ignorance .
which then leads me to say mindfulness is key ,respectfully i say to PadmaVonSamba with regard to your analogy about not knowing where one is driving to .behaviors like that in everyday life lead to chaos .
one should mindfully know where they are going and go there with purpose .and this analogy and even legal term mentioned ties into the topic .we are mindful within our practice( of karma and the elements of reincarnation & attaining enlightenment )
keeping the mind in perfect tranquility and free from any attachment to appearances."
"So I say to you -
This is how to contemplate our conditioned existence in this fleeting world:"
"Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream;
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream."
"So is all conditioned existence to be seen."
Thus spoke Buddha.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Jul 24, 2011 8:10 am

Dechen Norbu wrote:I understand what you were saying, but still you are putting it in dualistic terms. We enjoy pleasure, bliss and so on, but enlightenment goes beyond these emotions, feelings and sensations. It's not the opposite of ignorance. It's its absence.
Hmmmm... Well I'm putting it in dualistic terms because they is no other way to express it! :smile:

Is heat the opposite of cold or the the absence of cold?

Is enlightenment the opposite of ignorance (note here that I did not talk about opposites, you did, I spoke of relative experiences) or the absence of ignorance?

So without one we cannot truly understand the experience of the other.

Would you say that to begin on the (gradual) path one first has to realise that they are ignorant before they can progress towards realising awakening?

If there's no ignorance, there's enlightenment, not because ignorance projected you, very much the opposite, but because it was overcome. Ignorance is the biggest cloud in the sky, if you get my meaning. The fact that the sun shines has nothing to do with it being there. :smile:
True (well not so true coz your statement makes it sound as if ignorance is more powerful than enlightenment), but without the presence of the cloud there would be no experience of the change towards sunlight. This is what I am talking about, the experience of realisation via the change that realisation brings.

Birth as a sentient being is a consequence of ignorance. Sentience (human sentience) is a precondition for enlightenment. Enlightenment is the removal of the veils of ignorance (and the other afflicting emotions). Enlightenment may not depend on the veils, but the veils are there. That is the starting point. The veils are there, tathagatagarbha is there and the fun begins.

So ignorance is not a curse, it is merely an aspect of the condition of sentience (as much as our enlightened nature is).

Ultimately, realising we are ignorant is the same as realising that we are enlightened.
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Dechen Norbu » Sun Jul 24, 2011 4:31 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Hmmmm... Well I'm putting it in dualistic terms because they is no other way to express it! :smile:

Is heat the opposite of cold or the the absence of cold?

Is enlightenment the opposite of ignorance (note here that I did not talk about opposites, you did, I spoke of relative experiences) or the absence of ignorance?

So without one we cannot truly understand the experience of the other.

Would you say that to begin on the (gradual) path one first has to realise that they are ignorant before they can progress towards realising awakening?


I know what you mean, Greg. But you can't say that enlightenment is not possible without the experience of ignorance. That would be conditioning it, so not only speaking of it in relative terms but also defining it in experiential terms as dualistic. The experience of ignorance would become a necessary cause for enlightenment and such isn't the case. One doesn't judge or evaluate enlightenment like one evaluates cold or heat. While heat/cold are loka samvriti satya, enlightenment is paramartha satya and perhaps you can only refer to its nature in an apophatic way. It's not this, it's not that and so on. If you talk about its qualities, then clarity and so on are suitable words, although it seems they obviously don't correspond to the experience.

To begin the path one has to realize one's ignorance, only to do a full circle and understand enlightenment was there from the very beginning. It's not that I am disagreeing with your statement, only with the sentence that without ignorance one can't experience enlightenment as without cold one wouldn't know what heat is (and that is debatable). There are Buddhas who never were unenlightened, so never ignorant. Can you say that they are not enlightened? No.
It seems an adequate simile like comparing enlightenment to awakening from a dream. It doesn't matter what your dream was. When you wake up, it's a different thing altogether. Being awake has nothing to do with the contents of the dream. It doesn't matter if you dream with a bird, a flower, a monster or even with being asleep and waking up.

True (well not so true coz your statement makes it sound as if ignorance is more powerful than enlightenment), but without the presence of the cloud there would be no experience of the change towards sunlight. This is what I am talking about, the experience of realisation via the change that realisation brings.

It seems to me that this is the point where you go wrong. Enlightenment as the change of experience in relation to a deluded experience. The deluded experience is still the play of your energy. Enlightenment is already present. I'm not sure I am making sense. Imagine a crystal prism emanating the colors of the rainbow. These colors are due to the crystal, but you fail to see this and assume they are external and self existing. That is ignorance (instead of being a color). Realizing this ignorance is understanding the nature of those colors. That would be possible even if you hadn't mistaken them for being independent.

Birth as a sentient being is a consequence of ignorance. Sentience (human sentience) is a precondition for enlightenment. Enlightenment is the removal of the veils of ignorance (and the other afflicting emotions). Enlightenment may not depend on the veils, but the veils are there. That is the starting point. The veils are there, tathagatagarbha is there and the fun begins.

Yes, but this doesn't mean ignorance is a prerequisite for enlightenment.
So ignorance is not a curse, it is merely an aspect of the condition of sentience (as much as our enlightened nature is).

Ultimately, realising we are ignorant is the same as realising that we are enlightened.
:namaste:


Rebirth is what some could consider a curse (that is the debate of this topic, right?), while others a blessing, not ignorance.
It depends, no? For those engaged in practice who haven't had the time to finish the path, it can be a "blessing". For those who will be ripening the fruits of unfavorable karma, it may look like a curse. But this discussion is a little silly I guess.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby mudra » Sun Jul 24, 2011 4:44 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Ignorance is a term that refers to something you don't have (wisdom), not something you have.
But there are different aspects of ignorance.
Suppose you are going some place, but you are headed in the wrong direction,
but you don't realize it.
You can go on for a long time this way, which is basically what samsara is.
At some point, you realize that all this time you have been headed in the wrong direction.
Now, there is some level of realization.
At least now you know you are lost.
You are less ignorant about your situation,
but you still may not know in which direction you should be headed.
If you find out, if somebody points you in the right direction,
then that degree of ignorance has been replaced by knowing.
But you still do not know what lies ahead,
what obstacles you will face, even though you know which way to go.
So, there is still some degree of ignorance,
but it's like a hole that gradually this gets filled up with knowledge and wisdom until,
by becoming filled, it no longer exists.
But of course, without that hole,
there is no place to pour in all the wisdom.


Ignorance that is relevant in relation to samsara is not simply not knowing - it is a darkness of the mind that creates the setting for wrong views, some argue that they (darkness and wrong views) are pretty much the same thing.
in samsara, we definitely have wrong views.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby ronnewmexico » Sun Jul 24, 2011 6:37 pm

Quiet Heart..

This depends upon your form of buddhism..."Of course, there is "suffering"; but without suffering there is no understanding of the nature of "liberation from suffering" and therefore no "liberation".
Now, how can anyone actually call that a "curse" and not a "gift"?"...
in some forms of buddhism one can indeed rebirth in places where there is no perceivable suffering but not enlightenment. A god realm or formless realm in Tibetan buddhism perhaps. In a form realm one may becomes stuck for eons of time they say.

Eventually in all things there is suffering as one leaves the formless realm eventually one rebirths to a suffering state, but not perceived in formless area is usffering.

Personally I look at buddhism as a means to stop this rebirth. Much as we may learn from it suffering is most painful. The suffering we cause others in this human realm to just exist is most profound, and purvasive. That suffering we suffer from knowing we produce such suffering in others, is the greatest pain to my opinion. ONe inclined in this manner as I am..... can seek only to not rebirth to stop that.
So I personally find it no gift. But of course no curse(both imply other)...product of ingorance it is. We would benefit much more others if we did not and were enlightened I surmise.
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:54 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:I know what you mean, Greg. But you can't say that enlightenment is not possible without the experience of ignorance. That would be conditioning it, so not only speaking of it in relative terms but also defining it in experiential terms as dualistic.
No more than darkness conditions lightness. Initially, in experiential terms, the experience of enlightenment (or a moment of enlightenment) would be defined dualistically. That is our habitual mode of definition. Just because we define it dualistically does not mean that it is dualistic. We also define sensory experience as a dualistic process (object of sensation, subject that is sensing) but its not. So... :shrug:

To begin the path one has to realize one's ignorance, only to do a full circle and understand enlightenment was there from the very beginning. It's not that I am disagreeing with your statement, only with the sentence that without ignorance one can't experience enlightenment as without cold one wouldn't know what heat is (and that is debatable). There are Buddhas who never were unenlightened, so never ignorant. Can you say that they are not enlightened? No.
I agree with you here, I did not say though that one cannot experience cold without having expereienced heat, but that the experience of the difference becomes more distinct if one has experienced both. Buddhas that were never unenlightened? Some examples please.

It seems an adequate simile like comparing enlightenment to awakening from a dream. It doesn't matter what your dream was. When you wake up, it's a different thing altogether. Being awake has nothing to do with the contents of the dream. It doesn't matter if you dream with a bird, a flower, a monster or even with being asleep and waking up.
But the expereince of wakefulness is understood as different from that of dreaming because of its different qualities. Even here there is a point of comparison.

It seems to me that this is the point where you go wrong. Enlightenment as the change of experience in relation to a deluded experience. The deluded experience is still the play of your energy. Enlightenment is already present.
I am aware of this, thgat is why I do not consider ignorance as a curse! ;)

That would be possible even if you hadn't mistaken them for being independent.
I am not willing to make a statement like that, because, as long as I can remember i have been trapped in dualism (hell, I'm there now too), so I really can't say if your statement is true or not. And everything that I have described thus far has been through the limited prism of my own experience. In my experience it is like the blissful nature of mediative absorption becomes even more "appealing" when I compare it to the shallow drudgery (broken up by periods of emotional eruption) of daily existence.

Yes, but this doesn't mean ignorance is a prerequisite for enlightenment.
Didn't say it was, but it is definitely the starting point for everybody that I know. This is our current situation. This is the materials that we have to work with right now.

Rebirth is what some could consider a curse (that is the debate of this topic, right?), while others a blessing, not ignorance.
It depends, no? For those engaged in practice who haven't had the time to finish the path, it can be a "blessing". For those who will be ripening the fruits of unfavorable karma, it may look like a curse. But this discussion is a little silly I guess.
Aren't all beings in samsara ripening the fuits of unfavourable karma?
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Reincarnation: A gift or a curse?

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Jul 24, 2011 8:33 pm

mudra wrote:Ignorance that is relevant in relation to samsara is not simply not knowing - it is a darkness of the mind that creates the setting for wrong views, some argue that they (darkness and wrong views) are pretty much the same thing.
in samsara, we definitely have wrong views.


What does "darkness of the mind" mean?
If we have wrong views, why is that?
Isn't it because we do not know what the right views are?
Isn't not knowing ignorance?

The "three poisons" of attachment, revulsion, and ignorance relate to one's understanding (views) and subsequent way of relating to (actions)the appearances of a phenomenal world. That phenomenal world includes one's notion of 'self' (including one's own thoughts) as well as what is around them.

Ignorance is a karma-propelling force because as a result of not knowing, we are not able to determine what will cause more suffering and what will end it. Without wisdom, we suffer from a lack of better judgement.

In a sense, it is like walking in a dark space, not being able to see where you are going, and falling down a hole and breaking your legs. So in that sense, "darkness of mind" would be a good description, but I am not sure this is what you meant.

But with attachment and repulsion, we are consciously motivated to respond one way or the other, intentionally. We like or dislike something on purpose, for a reason.

I am open to reading examples of how ignorance functions intentionally.

.

.

.
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