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Old 08-31-2017, 02:42 PM   #1
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The Promised Meditation Thread!

Hi everyone!

So in "Buddha in Bahai Faith" we found out a lot of the users here practice meditation of some form

Buddha in Bahai Faith

I also promised I would detail some intermediate and advanced styles of meditation, particularly from the Buddhist stand point as at this point in time the Buddhist tradition has probably codified and taken meditation further than any other tradition.

I am knowledgeable about Jhana, Zazen, and although I characterize Vipassana as part of Jhana and "Mindfulness" as part of general meditation I can talk about those separately if people would prefer.

I can also go out of my knowledge area and talk about some forms of meditation that are used in the Tantric Traditions of Tibetan Buddhism if members would like that.

Please let me know soon as I will be leaving for an extended period, that way I can write up what everyone would like to see!

For reference my knowledge of Jhana goes behind my training and exposure with Thai Forest Theravada and my Zazen goes past the lineage I associate with which is Gyobutsuji Zen Monastery in America and Antai-ji Buddhist Temple in Japan.
 
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Old 08-31-2017, 03:35 PM   #2
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I practiced shikantaza "just sitting" Soto zen meditation for two years under multiple masters and am familiar with most forms of Buddhism meditation except Tibitan/tantric stuff. Let me know if you want me to elaborate on anything (though rereading your post, you're a zen teacher yourself so that's well above me. One teacher told me I was too enthusiastic. He told me sit for 20 years and then come talk to him!)
I no longer practice shikantaza because I pray now and in true shikantaza you don't do that.

Gassho _/\_

Last edited by MysticMonist; 08-31-2017 at 04:07 PM.
 
Old 08-31-2017, 05:28 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticMonist View Post
I practiced shikantaza "just sitting" Soto zen meditation for two years under multiple masters and am familiar with most forms of Buddhism meditation except Tibitan/tantric stuff. Let me know if you want me to elaborate on anything (though rereading your post, you're a zen teacher yourself so that's well above me. One teacher told me I was too enthusiastic. He told me sit for 20 years and then come talk to him!)
I no longer practice shikantaza because I pray now and in true shikantaza you don't do that.

Gassho _/\_
Shikantaza is the style of meditation practiced at Gyobutsuji Zen Monastery, Antai-ji, and other places of intense Soto Zen practice.

When I refer to Zazen that would be the style I am referring to. In Rinzai this type of practice is sometimes used alongside Koan work.

It is my view that true Shikantaza is what Dogen was referring to when he spoke:

Quote:
“The zazen I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the Dharma gate of repose and bliss, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the manifestation of ultimate reality. Traps and snares can never reach it. Once its heart is grasped, you are like the dragon when he gains the water, like the tiger when she enters the mountain. For you must know that just there (in zazen) the right Dharma is manifesting itself and that, from the first, dullness and distraction are struck aside.”

― Dōgen
MysticMonist, you mentioned not practicing this style of meditation anymore because you work with the practice of prayer. Is this because you only have time for prayer and are otherwise occupied with necessary tasks?

I ask because in Zen we would commonly say that this form of meditation does not exclude you from doing prayer of any form as a side practice. In fact from the Zen perspective this type of meditation would be "true" prayer. As it goes beyond words, self, other, and any convention.
 
Old 09-01-2017, 05:25 AM   #4
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Cedar tree,

I mostly learned shikantaza zazen from Jundo of the online forum treeleaf. If you haven't seen it, he does some neat stuff with the format to create an online zendo. My main teacher was dharmakara of the freesangha forums who has since passed away. I studied with him for two years off and on in his Ch'an lineage but that amount of time doesn't begin to really grasp Ch'an.

Anyways, I spoke with Jundo about this topic. I was asking if I could sit zazen with the group while I was silently wearing Jewish Tefflin/phylacteries. These items are bound by straps on your arm and head and help form a connection of prayer with God. Jundo said I couldn't because that wouldn't be shikantaza. Even though I'm not saying anything my intention is different. Now whenever I meditate or pray my intention is towards God often using mental prayers to guide this. I'm not "just sitting." You're right that I could set aside time to just sit zazen and not pray, they are not mutually exclusive practices. But for me, when I sit in meditation or mindfulness for any length of time or especially in a "satori" experience I emcounter a loving, beaconing presence. It's why I left Buddhism* and started studying Hassidic Judaism.
Jundo used a great analogy that God is like a table in a room where you are sitting zazen facing the wall. It doesn't matter if there's a table, you keep sitting. I would disagree that when I sit zazen, God is not a table but a beautiful woman, the girl of my dreams who taps me on the shoulder and asks me to dance. Of course I get off the cushion and dance all night long. But again that's just my experience and there's a lot of reasons why that could be.

I still practice plenty of other meditative practices I learned in Zen. Mindfulness and visualization and the overall emphasis on direct experience are key parts of my practice. Zen opened me to the world of mysticism.

*I said I'm not Buddhist anymore. Dharmakara uses to say there are no Buddhists, only those who dress up like ones on Halloween. I'm strongly drawn to Baha'i's unity of religion anyways so I'm not really not anything.

Does that explaination make any sense? Jundo didn't like it

P.S. I feel like I'm writing too much, but I just wanted to thank you for your practice. It helps relieve the suffering of the world. I was in the army and fought in Iraq. I had bad PTSD when I got back. Zen meditation saved my life and those basic principles continue to allow me to live my life without being controlled by that past. I'd be lost without my past teachers such as yourself.

Last edited by MysticMonist; 09-01-2017 at 05:47 AM.
 
Old 09-01-2017, 06:32 AM   #5
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Hearing about the Zen practices would interest me the most, since Zen Buddhism is like the child of Buddhism and Taoism, and it would be interesting to me to see how it relates to internal alchemy or other Taoist meditative traditions.
 
Old 09-01-2017, 09:56 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticMonist View Post
Cedar tree,

I mostly learned shikantaza zazen from Jundo of the online forum treeleaf. If you haven't seen it, he does some neat stuff with the format to create an online zendo. My main teacher was dharmakara of the freesangha forums who has since passed away. I studied with him for two years off and on in his Ch'an lineage but that amount of time doesn't begin to really grasp Ch'an.

Anyways, I spoke with Jundo about this topic. I was asking if I could sit zazen with the group while I was silently wearing Jewish Tefflin/phylacteries. These items are bound by straps on your arm and head and help form a connection of prayer with God. Jundo said I couldn't because that wouldn't be shikantaza. Even though I'm not saying anything my intention is different. Now whenever I meditate or pray my intention is towards God often using mental prayers to guide this. I'm not "just sitting." You're right that I could set aside time to just sit zazen and not pray, they are not mutually exclusive practices. But for me, when I sit in meditation or mindfulness for any length of time or especially in a "satori" experience I emcounter a loving, beaconing presence. It's why I left Buddhism* and started studying Hassidic Judaism.
Jundo used a great analogy that God is like a table in a room where you are sitting zazen facing the wall. It doesn't matter if there's a table, you keep sitting. I would disagree that when I sit zazen, God is not a table but a beautiful woman, the girl of my dreams who taps me on the shoulder and asks me to dance. Of course I get off the cushion and dance all night long. But again that's just my experience and there's a lot of reasons why that could be.

I still practice plenty of other meditative practices I learned in Zen. Mindfulness and visualization and the overall emphasis on direct experience are key parts of my practice. Zen opened me to the world of mysticism.

*I said I'm not Buddhist anymore. Dharmakara uses to say there are no Buddhists, only those who dress up like ones on Halloween. I'm strongly drawn to Baha'i's unity of religion anyways so I'm not really not anything.

Does that explaination make any sense? Jundo didn't like it

P.S. I feel like I'm writing too much, but I just wanted to thank you for your practice. It helps relieve the suffering of the world. I was in the army and fought in Iraq. I had bad PTSD when I got back. Zen meditation saved my life and those basic principles continue to allow me to live my life without being controlled by that past. I'd be lost without my past teachers such as yourself.

MM, I'm glad that Zen practice was positive for you

I want to clarify that I am not a teacher, just a student. Teachers to me in Soto Zen are individuals like Shoryu Bradley, Shohaku Okumura Roshi, and others. These are individuals who are incredibly well versed in Dogen and the associated texts and have spent possibly 10's if not hundreds of thousands of hours in formal Zazen. Additionally they were trained in formal settings under extremely qualified teachers. All of which is very important as going "off the mark" is common.

I think by reading your posts you are in an important formative process I hope it goes well and with good intention and earnestly seeking I can imagine it will go well.

One thing I would suggest is understanding "convention" and "conceptuality". Until your able to understand the nature of "conditioned" things you won't be able to go beyond or truly be liberated from identity forming which is a crucial practice in intermediate to advanced meditation.

 
Old 09-01-2017, 09:57 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walrus View Post
Hearing about the Zen practices would interest me the most, since Zen Buddhism is like the child of Buddhism and Taoism, and it would be interesting to me to see how it relates to internal alchemy or other Taoist meditative traditions.
Oh jeez! Walrus I should have known you would ask such an amazing thing Lol!
 
Old 09-01-2017, 10:57 AM   #8
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Hearing about the Zen practices would interest me the most, since Zen Buddhism is like the child of Buddhism and Taoism, and it would be interesting to me to see how it relates to internal alchemy or other Taoist meditative traditions.
Zen is indeed a blend of Buddhism and Taoism. Especially the Taoism of the Tao te Ching. Ch'an (Chinese zen) is closer to other Taoist practices like the elemental stuff and medicinal stuff than the later Japanese Zen (Soto and Rinzai) which focus more exclusively on meditation.
But the Toa te Ching begins with the famous line "The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao."
Zen says teachings of enlightenment or reality is like a finger (teaching) pointing to the moon (enlightenment).
One of my favorite Zen teachers Hyon Gak (Korean Zen school) says opening your mouth to talk about God/enlightenment/reality is a mistake.
 
Old 09-01-2017, 11:49 AM   #9
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Zen is indeed a blend of Buddhism and Taoism. Especially the Taoism of the Tao te Ching. Ch'an (Chinese zen) is closer to other Taoist practices like the elemental stuff and medicinal stuff than the later Japanese Zen (Soto and Rinzai) which focus more exclusively on meditation.
But the Toa te Ching begins with the famous line "The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao."
Zen says teachings of enlightenment or reality is like a finger (teaching) pointing to the moon (enlightenment).
"The Tao (Way) that can be Way'ed (followed) is not the eternal Tao. The Name that can be Named is not the Eternal Name."

It's always interested me the contrast between Islam and the Baha'i Faith and Taoism in regards to this one line. All three totally accept the idea that God is beyond total definition, and thus escapes all language or attempts at labeling.

The Muslim and Baha'i scholars, from this idea, use a wide variety of names, as no one name can thus encompass the whole totality of God, thus many names, especially when talking about God in relation to His attributes, are employed. God, Lord, All-Bountiful, Ever-Forgiving, Glory of the Most Glorious, etc. That way, as much as can be covered in the naming is, while total linguistic definition remains impossible.

The Taoist scholars, from this same idea, just use one simple name "the Way" and while it can't possibly hope to encompass the whole of what God is with that one word, no word possibly can, so that word is as good as any other.

To be completely honest, I'm not sure which approach is better. Or, perhaps, both are even equally valid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticMonist View Post
One of my favorite Zen teachers Hyon Gak (Korean Zen school) says opening your mouth to talk about God/enlightenment/reality is a mistake.
Well he made a pretty big mistake there, then.

Last edited by Walrus; 09-01-2017 at 11:52 AM.
 
Old 09-01-2017, 02:17 PM   #10
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CedarTree,

Talking about names of God, what about the term Dharma? Strictly it means teaching or way of liberation. I find it's used more broadly and almost with reverence. I asked this at freesangha (a Buddhist forum) but the bunch there who are pretty strict zen or therevada denied any wider meaning. In Mahayana especially the Dharma takes on a more mystical quality simmilar to the Tao. I tried to argue for a cosmic compassion or guiding path, but perhaps that's really a Mahayana and pure land reading. Bodhicitta or wisdom of compassion comes instead as an attribute of the practicioner. But isn't there no self? Who is compassionate? It is definitely a stretch to say philosophic Buddhists believe in "God" but I don't believe in "God" either. Typically culturally Buddhists pray to Gods and bodhisattvas all the time (I'll post about my Chinese restaurant experiences later, they are a good analogy for how I relate to most religions).

What are you thoughts on a ground or source of all being that is infinitely loving and accessible thru some types of knowledge, perhaps intuition? (a Spinoza definition of God)

Walrus, the names of God is a deep topic. The ones I tend to use are from my study of Judaism. I use Adonai (Lord) or my favorite HaShem (literally the name, but used in a very familiar sense a lot like the Friend in Baha'i writings).
 
Old 09-01-2017, 09:41 PM   #11
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CedarTree,

Talking about names of God, what about the term Dharma? Strictly it means teaching or way of liberation. I find it's used more broadly and almost with reverence. I asked this at freesangha (a Buddhist forum) but the bunch there who are pretty strict zen or therevada denied any wider meaning. In Mahayana especially the Dharma takes on a more mystical quality simmilar to the Tao. I tried to argue for a cosmic compassion or guiding path, but perhaps that's really a Mahayana and pure land reading. Bodhicitta or wisdom of compassion comes instead as an attribute of the practicioner. But isn't there no self? Who is compassionate? It is definitely a stretch to say philosophic Buddhists believe in "God" but I don't believe in "God" either. Typically culturally Buddhists pray to Gods and bodhisattvas all the time (I'll post about my Chinese restaurant experiences later, they are a good analogy for how I relate to most religions).

What are you thoughts on a ground or source of all being that is infinitely loving and accessible thru some types of knowledge, perhaps intuition? (a Spinoza definition of God)

Walrus, the names of God is a deep topic. The ones I tend to use are from my study of Judaism. I use Adonai (Lord) or my favorite HaShem (literally the name, but used in a very familiar sense a lot like the Friend in Baha'i writings).
MM, Knowledge and really delving into the conditioned (Mind & Body) is beneficial

But the practice of Zazen and of Awakening is of a different sort.

As you progress in your understandings of various paths remember to think on "Conceptuality, How things are conditioned, Etc." This will help you arise wisdom and insight out of the knowledge and information you acquire.

Remember some of the quotes of Dogen:

Quote:
“To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.”
Dropping off body and mind is the path and awakening.
 
Old 09-02-2017, 02:04 AM   #12
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ClearTree,

Thanks, that's a wise and very zen response. I'm going try to keep my reply on topic of Buddhist meditation.
You seem to be going back to what that teaching of the table in the zazen room is getting at. My Buddhism is a bit rusty so please correct my explanations as needed. Another teaching getting at this is that when you meditate zazen your mind should be like the sky. You shouldn't be focused on having clear skies, just let your mind be. If clouds (thoughts, emotions) come, let them come. But don't be attached, keep sitting and observe them come. Even a violent storm, keep sitting. Master Jundo says all zazen, even really distracted zazen is good zazen.
The key thing about Buddhist meditation, of any technique, is it's not just about what you do when you are sitting your meditation time. Meditation becomes part of every aspect of your life. Buddhists call this their "practice". I still use that word to describe my journey and daily commitment to finding and being found.
So what I think clear tree is saying is that I need to let all these concepts of God of being a Kabbalist or a Christian or a Baha'i or if I think there's a trinity or not a trinity and on and on go. I need to say oh that's an interesting thought but then let it pass. I even should do this with mystical experiences. There's a famous zen teaching that if you are walking the road and you see the Buddha kill him. It's meant to a shocking reminder to just keep meditating and not get caught up in religious or mystical excitement.
Walrus (or others reading): clear tree is quoting Dogen the founder of Japanese Soto Zen. Do gen studied Chinese zen and brought it to Japan. His style focus pretty exclusively on zazen (sitting meditation). Soto Zen is sometimes called the peasant's zen because it is so "simple" in its focus and doesn't have a lot of complex practices or philosophies. But there's nothing simpleminded about it, it's a profound path of practice.
My biggest response to your teaching clear tree, would be that zazen isn't the only practice though. Remember the 84,000 Dharma doors. Within Buddhism there are many other wonderful techniques and later we can talk about them, I just want to mention that they are out there. Zazen deserves some time to focus on though.

Also, fundamentaly I'm a theist. I experience and believe in some kind of God. My practice is centered around finding that God in prayer/meditation and my life as well as allowing myself to be found by Him/Her/It. But Zen philosophy still has a lot to offer in that search. Christian theology has a long apothetic (negative theology) tradition that recognizes God is not the same as my concept of Him. We as humans never possess God. Paul Tillich even says God doesn't "exist" because that would make him subject to the rules of existence, yet God is very real to Tillich. Philosophy aside, in my practice the process of loving and submitting to God is about letting go of myself and my attachments to my way of doing and thinking. I'm transformed and consumed by the fire of God's presence. It's something I have to return again and again too. as one zen friend told me, enlightenment is not a noun or an adjective it's a verb. His Holiness the Dahi Lama nor the Pope are enlightened all the time, they don't possess it. But we all can encounter It in meditation and let It transform us.

Clear tree, is that your Dharma name or just a screen name? My Dharma name which I don't use anymore is Ch'an so it's Chinese. It's Laing Taio Lujing, which means "One who follows two paths." Dharmakara gave it to me when I struggling with conflict between being a "Buddhist" and going to a Christian church with my family and between my meditative practice and my family and work life. It's a reminder to me that I don't follow multiple paths, it's all one path. (Some Dharma names are like clear tree and remind us whar we should aspire to be, others are like mine or if someone where named "monkey mind" and remind us of our tendencies we should aspire to overcome.)
 
Old 09-02-2017, 02:29 PM   #13
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First I think I will talk about Jhana.

Jhana is a meditative absorption style of meditation prevalent in the Theravada Tradition. In particular schools like Pa Auk.

In Jhana meditation one develops calm and concentration with samatha meditation. Most commonly they watch their breath at a certain point such as the tip of their nose.

Other times one simply lets there be an awareness of the breath that is held with continuity.

There is also some ancient practices of Kasina - A meditator will visualize some simply object like a disc or some other basic object made of clay or another material. One this image is memorized one will hold it in concentrate.

Jhana usually begins with a strong feeling and commonly a "Sign". This sign can be a glowing white light, a blue star like figure, or something else.

If one shifts their attention to this image right away instead of the breath or kasina, or whatever it usually will dissipate.

If one however continues to let this Sign develop and strengthen there is a point in which you can "enter" it.

This leads to an absorption state.

Would anyone like me to clarify into this practice and explain more about the different stages within this practice once you have become absorbed? Or to contrast it with Zazen?
 
Old 09-02-2017, 02:59 PM   #14
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Would the mindful breathing sutta be an example of this?
It's always been a favorite of mine, but it's not zazen.
Anapanasati Sutta: Mindfulness of Breathing
 
Old 09-02-2017, 04:28 PM   #15
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Would the mindful breathing sutta be an example of this?
It's always been a favorite of mine, but it's not zazen.
Anapanasati Sutta: Mindfulness of Breathing
Anapanasati (Breath meditation) has a long history.

The Buddha in the Pali Canon gave a very systematic explanation of it's practice and how it fits within the framework of Buddhist teachings.

Alongside the Anapanasati Sutta there are various other references of it's practice.

It is commonly associated with concentration practice (Jhana) and also the "Frames of Reference".

In modern practice the beginning is usually associated with Satipatthana practice and the last part with Jhana practice.

The difference in emphasis is highlighted between "Dry" insight schools such as (Mahasi Sayadaw & Sayadaw U Pandita) & "Wet" insight schools such as Pa Auk.

Personally I think going to far in either direction is a mistake. There is also a debate between "Sutta" Jhana and "Commentarial" Jhana but that is another discussion hah

Hopefully that clarifies MM.
 
Old 09-03-2017, 11:29 AM   #16
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You said "absorption state". Is the being absorbed in the moment or experiencing be absorbed by the universe? Is it a "Kensho" experience? I know talking about meditative states in words is difficult at best.

I'll save the rest of questions till we get to Mahayana
 
Old 09-03-2017, 02:46 PM   #17
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You said "absorption state". Is the being absorbed in the moment or experiencing be absorbed by the universe? Is it a "Kensho" experience? I know talking about meditative states in words is difficult at best.

I'll save the rest of questions till we get to Mahayana
"Absorption" refers to how the "outside" world disappears once this state is entered.

Time, "Doer", and many other things simply are not present.

As one goes from material to immaterial Jhanas they start dismantling the mind in some sense. I can talk more on this if you would like as it may be a point for clarification.

Kensho and or Satori would in this framework be related to Stream-Entry.

Jhanas are conditioned just like anything else.
 
Old 09-03-2017, 03:24 PM   #18
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Thank you that makes sense.
There's a book "In the Buddha's Words" edited by bhikkhu bodhi. It's a great survey of the Pali Cannon. Walrus or anyone who really wants to study Buddhism it's well worth it. Anything by Bhikkhu Bodhi, a great therevada scholar, is amazing.
Cedar tree, sounds like you are more versed and have more experience in therevada than I do.
If you want to elaborate on anything Therevada I'm sure we'd all love to hear it. Also I'll give it a few days to see if anyone wants in on the subject. I'm more interested in Mahayana and also Pure Land. Or maybe we can start a new thread in a little bit for Mahayana meditations.

Last edited by MysticMonist; 09-03-2017 at 03:56 PM.
 
Old 09-04-2017, 01:13 PM   #19
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Bhikkhu Bodhi & Bhikkhu Thanissaro are excellent references for Theravada information, in particular information and understandings regarding the Pali canon.

Ajaan Thanissaro in particular offers all his works for free through Dhamma Talks. Check out the book section you will not be disappointed.

This will be my last message for a long time as I am heading out for intensive practice most likely at some of the places I mentioned (Gyobutsuji Zen Monastery, Sanshin Zen Community, Ajahn Chah Lineage Locations, Etc.)

For Jhana I would recommend Ajahn Brahm's two books on the subject. Ayya Khema also has a book which details Jhana. These resources are great at understanding the experiential aspect of Jhana practice.

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana I.e. Bhante G also has a great work on the Jhanas for a more scholar approach.

Wishing everyone well! May your practices always bear fruit
 
Old 09-04-2017, 02:28 PM   #20
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If you see this before you go. I will be praying metta for you. Thank you for your practice. I'll look forward to hearing about when you return.
Please pray metta for me! Thanks!
 
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