Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

reiun
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by reiun »

ronnymarsh wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 10:34 pm
bcol01 wrote: Tue May 31, 2022 6:49 pm Or do we add much more to it than what it really is?
If someone sits down with another thought, thinking it's a meditative practice, thinking of a Koan like Rinzai, thinking of the Buddha's name like Obaku, Tendai, and other Chinese schools, for example, he's not practicing the zazen of the Buddhas. That's why the focus in soto is this: just feel like a Buddha does, without any thought. To be able to do this is satori.
In Rinzai practice, one does not "think" of a Koan.
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by ronnymarsh »

reiun wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 12:39 am
In Rinzai practice, one does not "think" of a Koan.
the purpose of the koan is to take the practitioner to the state of not thinking. it is an illogical and absurd statement to which the only plausible response is to ignore it. In the end, the solution to every koan is shikantaza.
However, until the practitioner awakens to this, he still keeps his thought positioned on an issue, so the practice is to think about the koan.

True zazen practice has no object: it has no koan, no awareness of the breath, no mindfulness in the Buddha, nor any other object that can be used as a crutch. All these things are used only to make a person see reality as it is. This reality is that no amount of exercise a person does will give him enlightenment. Satori is already the actual reality of the mind, yet its brilliance is obscured by the dirt of thoughts. When you stop thinking, there's no dirt, just the shine.

Although we call it meditation (zen), it cannot be called that (mainly because the Western concept of meditating means "thinking about").
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Meido »

ronnymarsh wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 10:34 pm A Buddha when he attains enlightenment sits in zazen and expounds the Dharma using skillful means. This is the behavior of the Buddhas.

So zazen is just that, just sitting like a Buddha.

If someone sits down with another thought, thinking it's a meditative practice, thinking of a Koan like Rinzai, thinking of the Buddha's name like Obaku, Tendai, and other Chinese schools, for example, he's not practicing the zazen of the Buddhas. That's why the focus in soto is this: just feel like a Buddha does, without any thought. To be able to do this is satori.
Precisely, as you say, the behavior of a Buddha is awakening ("enlightenment"). So if one's "just sitting" does not contain a seamless upwelling of that liberative wisdom, it can hardly be called the behavior, or sitting, of the buddhas.

As has been pointed out, we do not sit and think about koans in Rinzai Zen practice. Such a description could only be used by someone who has not received the oral instruction, and foundational practices, for the bodily manner of koan kufu.

In Rinzai Zen we do, however, practice the equivalent of what is signified by the word shikantaza: hokkyo zanmai (the jewel mirror samadhi). This is in fact the core of the post-awakening path in Rinzai practice (and it was explicated well by the Soto ancestor Tozan, whose five ranks are used to point it out).
ronnymarsh wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 2:35 am
the purpose of the koan is to take the practitioner to the state of not thinking. it is an illogical and absurd statement to which the only plausible response is to ignore it. In the end, the solution to every koan is shikantaza.
However, until the practitioner awakens to this, he still keeps his thought positioned on an issue, so the practice is to think about the koan.
This is a completely false understanding of what koan kufu is, and an odd understanding of what koan texts contain. Some of it is reminiscent, though, of the kinds of things we read in popular or scholarly works about koans written by people who do not practice.

It is good not to make definitive statements regarding things of which one has no knowledge. Regardless of lineage or tradition.
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Tao »

>This is in fact the core of the post-awakening path in Rinzai practice (and it was explicated well by the Soto ancestor Tozan, whose five ranks are used to point it out).

Always found that the Five ranks were very useful, it's strange to me that Soto doesnt use them but Rinzai does, as it was a proposal from a Caodong master... In fact Soto Zen always suprises me... :D

And also fits a lot with my experience that Shikantaza is great but post-awakening... and not that great before...

About Zen being just sitting: well Dogen Zen is very different to Hakuin Zen, and that to Bodhidharma Zen which is not simmilar to LinJi Zen, which doesnt look very close to Bankei Zen, and so on and on...

Zen is very, very heterogeneous... so Zen can be just sitting for someone but it's not for the whole picture...
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

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Tao wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 9:25 amAlways found that the Five ranks were very useful, it's strange to me that Soto doesnt use them but Rinzai does, as it was a proposal from a Caodong master...
'The use of Dahui’s “short cut,” or huatou (literally, head word), method of working with koans was also known in Japan at this time. This emphasized concentrating on the principle point or critical phrase of a koan in order to minimize unnecessary distractions or misleading discursive thoughts that might arise from studying the entire exchange.
In contrast to these formulized views, Dogen’s approach to koans was wide ranging. He addressed key points of each case, as well as minor secondary points. He frequently examined the koans from the perspective of the “Five Ranks of the Universal and Particular” of Dongshan. He also pointed out the questions that should be addressed, challenging the practitionerto examine them and sometimes also providing his responses.'

(Dogen and Koans by John Daido Loori, in Dogen's Extensive Record - A Translation of the Eihei Koroku, p 62-63)

'Dogen’s apparent criticism of koans ran parallel to his condemnation of the Five Ranks of Dongshan. And it had a similar purpose. Dogen was not opposed to the principles conveyed by the Five Ranks. He was critical of the very intellectual, stylized, and inconsequential way that they came to be used in his time.'
(p 63)

'One unusual aspect of Dogen’s treatment of koans is his use of the Five Ranks and, more than likely, the Fourfold Dharmadhatu teaching of Huayan. He never explicitly talked about either system, except to summarily dismiss the Five Ranks, but he definitely engaged them in a way that reflected a profound understanding and appreciation for their method.'
(p 64)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Tao »

Nice, Astus, thank you.

Can you talk more about: the Fourfold Dharmadhatu teaching of Huayan?

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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Astus »

Tao wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 10:52 amCan you talk more about: the Fourfold Dharmadhatu teaching of Huayan?
The four are the dharmadhatu (fajie 法界) of: things (shi fajie 事法界), principle (li fajie 理法界), unimpeded things and principle (lishi wuai fajie 理事無礙法界), unimpeded things and things (shishi wuai fajie 事事無礙法界).
It's basically the usual set of appearances, emptiness, and unified appearnaces and emptiness; then the fourth is the most interesting where it's just purely appearances to talk of, or it could be called suchness if you like, where there is no more talk of any principle/emptiness. It's like saying that there is no need to talk of no-self but enough to comprehend the aggregates. After all, any ultimate is purely fictional, and such a conceptual construct eventually has to be let go. It fits well with Dogen's criticism of the common reification of buddha-nature. One just has to see clearly the present experiences ("eyes are horizontal and the nose is vertical"). At the same time, on a linguistic level this gives the freedom and playfulness of saying confusing and contradictory things, like the teaching of insentients.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Anders »

Astus wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 10:14 am 'One unusual aspect of Dogen’s treatment of koans is his use of the Five Ranks and, more than likely, the Fourfold Dharmadhatu teaching of Huayan. He never explicitly talked about either system, except to summarily dismiss the Five Ranks, but he definitely engaged them in a way that reflected a profound understanding and appreciation for their method'
(p 64)
Talk about covering all bases. No idea how one can soundly arrive at such a conclusion.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Astus »

Anders wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 1:50 pmTalk about covering all bases. No idea how one can soundly arrive at such a conclusion.
Maybe he was very familiar with his texts? Nowadays a few keyword searches in all the known works should do the job.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Anders »

Astus wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 2:29 pm
Anders wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 1:50 pmTalk about covering all bases. No idea how one can soundly arrive at such a conclusion.
Maybe he was very familiar with his texts? Nowadays a few keyword searches in all the known works should do the job.
Sounds like kumbaya scholarship to be honest.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Astus »

Anders wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 6:07 amSounds like kumbaya scholarship to be honest.
I doubt it was meant to be any sort of scholarship. The author was not a scholar either.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Aemilius »

ronnymarsh wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 10:34 pm
bcol01 wrote: Tue May 31, 2022 6:49 pm Or do we add much more to it than what it really is?
zazen is the subject of several schools in the Ch'an/Zen branch, and each has a different understanding of what zazen is.

This idea of ​​"just sitting" concerns the understanding of this theme in the Soto/Caodong school.
In other Zen/Ch'an schools, zazen is a Buddhist practice, it is part of the meditative teachings within the three trainings, but in Caodong/Soto zazen is just sitting.
The notion of this school depends on a non-dualist understanding, on the idea of ​​innate enlightenment to make sense, on the understanding derived from the Mahayana expressed, for example, in the Treatise on the Awakening of the Mahayana Faith. Since "essentially" everything is Shunyata, both Buddhas and ordinary mortals, we are all the same at this deepest level of reality, the only difference lies in the "behavioral" level of beings. So, as it is understood from the Heart Sutra, there is no need for any gain, no cultivation, for the buddha wisdom already exists in our core, the only thing we need to do is behave like a Buddha.

A Buddha when he attains enlightenment sits in zazen and expounds the Dharma using skillful means. This is the behavior of the Buddhas.

So zazen is just that, just sitting like a Buddha.

If someone sits down with another thought, thinking it's a meditative practice, thinking of a Koan like Rinzai, thinking of the Buddha's name like Obaku, Tendai, and other Chinese schools, for example, he's not practicing the zazen of the Buddhas. That's why the focus in soto is this: just feel like a Buddha does, without any thought. To be able to do this is satori.
Entangling Vines (Thomas Yūhō Kirchner, 2013) Case 139 Nanyue Polishes a Tile

“Worthy monk, why do you sit in meditation?” Mazu replied, “I wish to become a buddha.” Thereupon Huairang picked up a tile and started to rub it against a stone in front of Mazu’s hermitage. Finally Mazu asked him what he was doing. Huairang replied, “Polishing it to make it a mirror.” “How can you make a tile into a mirror by polishing it?” asked Mazu.

“How can you become a buddha by sitting in meditation?” responded Huairang. Mazu asked, “Then what should I do?” Huairang asked, “It’s like riding in an ox cart. If the cart doesn’t move do you hit the cart or do you hit the ox?” Mazu had no reply. Huairang continued, “Are you practicing seated meditation? Are you practicing to be a seated buddha? As for seated meditation, meditation isn’t limited to sitting or lying down.

As for being a seated buddha, “buddha” isn’t limited to any fixed form. In the nonabiding Dharma, you should neither grasp nor reject. If you sit to be a buddha, this kills the buddha. If you cling to the sitting posture, you will never realize the essential principle.” When he heard this, Mazu felt as though he had just imbibed ghee.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

It strikes me that the challenge is actually sitting being Zen, and not Zen being sitting....at least when I was practicing Soto, that is how it was for me. I can do whatever practice I want, kinhin, zazen, and if it's just fanciful conceptualization about "what is Zen", then that's all it is.
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Astus »

Aemilius wrote: Sat Jun 25, 2022 6:19 pmEntangling Vines (Thomas Yūhō Kirchner, 2013) Case 139 Nanyue Polishes a Tile
'“To attach to the sitting form is not to have attained the principle of that [sitting].” This “to attach to the sitting form” means to reject the sitting form and to defile the sitting form. The fundamental principle here is that when we are already practicing sitting buddha, it is impossible not to be attached to the sitting form. Because it is impossible not to be attached to the sitting form, although attachment to the sitting form is something brilliant, it may be “not to have attained the principle of that [sitting].” Effort like this is called “the dropping off of body and mind.” Those who have never sat do not possess this state of truth. It exists in the moment of sitting, it exists in the person who is sitting, it exists in the buddha that is sitting, and it exists in the buddha that is learning sitting.'
(Zazenshin, in SBGZ, BDK ed, vol 2, p 121)

'Polishing a tile to make a mirror is effort in practice.
How can people plan to take a mirror and make it a tile?
The point of deceiving each other is completed within clarity.
Square and circle mold their forms, using themselves as models.

Even when called the iron man, how can you be a tile or mirror?
Even before killing Buddha is born, the sitting Buddha descends.
Sitting, lying, and walking meditation are all just right.
Clouds arise south of the mountain; rain falls on the western river.'

(Eihei Koroku, vol 9, case 38, p 562)

'When polishing a tile to make a mirror, our body is not the four great elements, but is suchness, imposing and magnificent. When polishing a hammer to make a needle, our mind is not the five skandhas but is the absolute, completely clear and bright. Therefore, no colors obstruct our eyes, no sounds plug our ears, no interactions bind our body, no affairs mislead our mind. Taking away objects is like a donkey looking at a donkey; taking away the person is like the well seeing the well.169 Ultimately, what is it? A wooden horse neighing in the wind freely settles in the mountains; a clay ox bellowing at the moon is able to enter the ocean.'
(Eihei Koroku, vol 4, Dharma Hall Discourse 345, p 309-310)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Aemilius »

Dogen is brilliant.
Some japanese teachers have said (I can't remember the names) that your ability/realization is seriously limited if your dhyana-state is limited to the sitting posture.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Aemilius »

Aemilius wrote: Mon Jun 27, 2022 10:12 am Dogen is brilliant.
Some japanese teachers have said (I can't remember the names) that your ability/realization is seriously limited if your dhyana-state is limited to the sitting posture.
I am remembering a book about Zen that I read in early 1970's. It was in a public library, it discussed "stillness in movement" being different from "movement in stillness", and various Do's (Tao/Way) that combine movement and stillness.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Aemilius wrote: Mon Jun 27, 2022 10:12 am Dogen is brilliant.
Some japanese teachers have said (I can't remember the names) that your ability/realization is seriously limited if your dhyana-state is limited to the sitting posture.

I think the same argument could made with insisting on an allergy to mental movement.
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Aemilius »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Mon Jun 27, 2022 11:49 pm
Aemilius wrote: Mon Jun 27, 2022 10:12 am Dogen is brilliant.
Some japanese teachers have said (I can't remember the names) that your ability/realization is seriously limited if your dhyana-state is limited to the sitting posture.

I think the same argument could made with insisting on an allergy to mental movement.
Depends on your motivation/experience: If you do not believe that stillness or a thoughtless state exists, or you have not experienced it, or if you have experienced it, makes a lot of difference when you make such statements. This is quite subtle and difficult because it involves personal experience, and some people are allergic to that. You must have personal experience of diving to understand that it is completely still and peacfull under the surface, even when there is a powerfull storm raging on the surface of the sea.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by Tao »

Mental stillness is needed to see.

But it's not the goal.

Not even to see is the goal.

There must be some "return" to a not-always-still mind who is aware of what you saw in stillness.

So we have some possibilities:

Non-stillnes and non-essence (nature of mind) -> Beginning
Stillness in ignorance -> focusing/absortion
Stillnes while seeing the essence -> kensho/understanding
Non-stillness while seeing the essence -> samadhi/shikantaza

and then bear in mind how pervasive is each state, when the last state is 24x7 pervasive you are very close...

Some Zen propose some variations like:

Non-stillnes and non-essence (nature of mind) -> Beginning
Stillnes and Non-stillness in ignorance
Stillness and Non-stillness while seeing the essence

PS: Of course terminology is very rough, sorry, hope you are tolerant :)
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Re: Is Zen simply "sitting"/Zazen?

Post by master of puppets »

Tao wrote: Tue Jun 28, 2022 11:04 am Mental stillness is needed to see.

But it's not the goal.

Not even to see is the goal.

There must be some "return" to a not-always-still mind who is aware of what you saw in stillness.

So we have some possibilities:

Non-stillnes and non-essence (nature of mind) -> Beginning
Stillness in ignorance -> focusing/absortion
Stillnes while seeing the essence -> kensho/understanding
Non-stillness while seeing the essence -> samadhi/shikantaza

and then bear in mind how pervasive is each state, when the last state is 24x7 pervasive you are very close...

Some Zen propose some variations like:

Non-stillnes and non-essence (nature of mind) -> Beginning
Stillnes and Non-stillness in ignorance
Stillness and Non-stillness while seeing the essence

PS: Of course terminology is very rough, sorry, hope you are tolerant :)
still too much words. just tell me one word. and ı know what ı am chasing.
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