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Author Topic: I'm a Refugee
Adam Masterman
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Metaphorically speaking. Just wanted to share the very happy news that I took my refuge vows this weekend, a sort of conformation for Buddhists. For those of you who are interested, that means I committed myself to "waking up" from ignorance and aggression. The reference to refugees refers to the idea of homelessness, which is how a Buddhist should see himself, there being no ground or security in the phenomenal world. I was given a new name to mark the change, in traditional societies this happens at a young age and so the name becomes a persons actual name (I won't be asking any of you to start calling me my refuge name just yet [Smile] ). Anyway, I am very happy. As Chogyam Trungpa would say, the spiritual shopping is over, its time to take something home and cook it.
Adam

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DonaldD
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Congrats! Umm.. mazel tov... not sure what the appropriate Buddhist blessing would be...
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Robertson, Ugly and Nohow
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Congratulations.

quote:
The reference to refugees refers to the idea of homelessness, which is how a Buddhist should see himself, there being no ground or security in the phenomenal world
Would having a family detract from your spirituality? (edit: I'm not sure if spirituality is the right word)

[ November 29, 2004, 12:56 PM: Message edited by: Robertson, Ugly and Nohow ]

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Pete at Home
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Congrats. If you manage to let go of that aggression, please let me know the trick; I could use some help with that myself.
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Gary
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quote:
Originally posted by Adam Masterman:
... that means I committed myself to "waking up" from ignorance and aggression.

How do you square this with your outright refusal to comdemn politically motivated violence during the elections?
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Mr Xin Ku
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quote:
Would having a family detract from your spirituality?
I would be interested in hearing a discussion about this.

I have read parts of Dream of the Red Chamber/Story of the Stone, which is arguably the best novel in ancient Chinese literature. (I read the English translation, not smart enough to be able to read the origninal). It was a fascinating story, and ends with the protagonists becoming detached from his family. He wasn't hostile toward them, but he became a Buddhist monk and quit caring, everything was just humorous to him. (It's been nine years since I read it, so somebody tell me if I am remembering it wrong.)

There is some suspicion that the majority of the text was actually based on a real person's life, especially because it is so long and complicated and realistic it is hard to imagine it was all made up. There is also suspicion that the last part was added on by a later author (the part about the protagonist becoming a monk and not caring anymore).

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Would having a family detract from your spirituality?
I hope not. Seriously, though, its similar to the question of whether material possessions detract from spirituality. The sort of Mahayana answer is that its not our possessions that are a problem, but our attachments to them. Likely the same is true for people. Some do choose to seperate themselves from their family to enrich their practice, but I don't. Of course, that doesn't mean that my attitude towards companions is the same. Trungpa says that, once we take the refuge, the world is no longer considered a source of salvation. It may mock us, dance for us, distract us, etc., but its all maya (illusion). Likewise, there is no more reliance on grace from without, on any god or divine principle coming down to save us. All we have is our own mind. He called it the path of loneliness, so there is definately an aspect of leaving the family behind. For me, though, this is more a question of attitude then physically leaving, and by attitude it just means that my family and friends cannot save me from suffering, nor can my guru for that matter. I have to do it myself. Refuge is my committment to doing that.
Adam

[ November 29, 2004, 02:10 PM: Message edited by: Adam Masterman ]

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Sunil Carspecken
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coool

Buddhism is the religion that interests me (a a completely unreligious person) the most, but I can't say I know a whole lot about it. I take it, Adam, that you're the type who views the Buddha as a teacher rather than a God? Any books/websites you'd recommend on learning more about Buddhism?

Gary: he said he was committed to "waking up", not that he had already =)

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Ikemook
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Congrats, Adam!

--David

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Pete at Home
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Thanks, Adam. That's thought-provoking, and reminds me of the striking argument between LDS leaders over the poem "I am the Captain of my soul" (Walt Whitman, isn't it?).
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
I take it, Adam, that you're the type who views the Buddha as a teacher rather than a God? Any books/websites you'd recommend on learning more about Buddhism?


Oh yes he was definately a person. Thats part of the value of the sutras, that they were made by a human who knew what being human was all about. They weren't manufactured on high, so to speak, but written on paper with ink, a simple record of what an awakened person thought, spoke, and acted like.

As for books, try The Heart of the Buddha by Chogyam Trungpa. I realize that that is less convenient than a website, but its an easy ready and infinitely worth it. In the meantime, try this.
Adam

[ November 29, 2004, 02:43 PM: Message edited by: Adam Masterman ]

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Gary
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quote:
Originally posted by Sunil Carspecken:
Gary: he said he was committed to "waking up", not that he had already =)

That would be a very reasonable and acceptable response. I wonder what Adam's would be? I suspect he will ignore the question since he has so far. However, I believe it's a legitimate one to ask.

Is condemnation of the violence others commit a part of this 'awakening' or a part of Buddhism in general? Is the violence of others not a concern or is it somehow outside the parameters of this 'awakening' process?

Perhaps politics and religion are maintained in their own seperate compartments of life for Buddhists and the apparent contradiction is no contradiction at all. I don't know any Buddhists so I have only Adam's words and actions upon which to base my views of this religion and the process he describes.

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Adam Masterman
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Gary,
Actually I was just avoiding an argument on what I intended to be a celebratory thread. If you really are concerned or curious, please e-mail me (marpa_lotsawa@hotmail.com).
Adam

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DonaldD
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I believe "congratulations" would be the polite response Gary. You can always pick fights on e-mail.
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Gary
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I didn't mean to step on this as part of a celebration - I had the impression you were offering up something for discussion and deeper thought. Certainly any attempt to achieve a greater understanding of the world and our place in it is something to be lauded.

I am not so much concerned as curious. I know very little about Buddhism and would like to learn more. Judging from the posts so far, I believe there are a number of people here that have the same curiosity and desire to learn. Consequently, I would prefer to have an open discussion so that others can benefit as well as allow me to benefit from their insights.

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Mr Xin Ku
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quote:
its similar to the question of whether material possessions detract from spirituality. The sort of Mahayana answer is that its not our possessions that are a problem, but our attachments to them. Likely the same is true for people.
quote:
so there is definately an aspect of leaving the family behind. For me, though, this is more a question of attitude then physically leaving
Being very attached to worldly possessions is easy to argue as being a problem. I don't think it equivalent to attachment to human beings at all. Attachment to family members or other people is inherently a healthy thing, I would argue.

I could be the first to make a list of examples where attachment is unhealthy, but I have a longer list of problems stemming from attachment problems (i.e., children not having a parent or other adult to have a strong emotional attachment with, losing relationships with attachment figures in traumatic ways like divorce, death, attaching to people and then having them betray the trust like with sexual abuse, or just one parent emotionally withdrawing from an attachment relationship). They might do so because they are severely depressed, if some ideology tells them they should, if they feel overwhelmed in relationships and just quit, or for other reasons.

Perhaps I am wrong about the importance of attachment relationships, but if I am right, detaching just as an "attititude" can easily be just as distressing to your family members as if you actually left. Obviously you are invested in this process and anything I write isn't likely to change your attitude.

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Adam Masterman
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Well, I would (obviously) argue that attachment in relationships is just as harmful. As Buddhists we recognize, first of all, that it is an ignorant perception, solidifying as real that which is ephemeral and transitory (other beings). Eventually this causes us pain for the same reason that attachment to things causes us pain, i.e. that we will eventually lose them. In relationships, for example, this need not be a death; often we see it when the person we were so attached to grows different over time, possibly away from us, and we painfully grasp at the person who no longer exists as he or she did. But anyway...
The point that I think best addresses your concerns is that attachment keeps us from really being close to others at all. We bring so much of our own baggage that it gets in the way of real closeness. All of a sudden we have all these expectations because our own happiness is tied up in another person. Inevitably some of these expectations are impossible for the other person to live up to, and there is pain and resentment. And in the mean time, we are so attached to who we THINK we are with that we neglect who we are actually with. My own personal metaphor for unattached love is the good grandmother. She loves her grandkids without and particular impetus to change or mold them (thats the parents job). They come and she loves them when they do, and then they go and she is happy to let them go. Closeness without possession.

Of course it may still sound very theoretical and unconvincing. The only other thing I could say is that the proof of the pudding is in the eating (as an aside, that is the correct phrasing of that analogy, NOT "the proof is in the pudding"). When you meet someone who has really devoted their life (or lives) to the practice, the overriding chareteristic is one of warmth, compassion, and real humanness (for lack of a better term). Meeting with a real accomplished Buddhist master is really a wonderful experience, even for non-Buddhists, because nearly everyone comes away feeling like that person really communicatwed with them in an open, honest, and compassionate way. Words are failing me here, but hey, if H.H. the Dalai Lama ever comes to your city, get tickets and see for yourself, you won't regret it.
Adam

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Perhaps I am wrong about the importance of attachment relationships, but if I am right, detaching just as an "attititude" can easily be just as distressing to your family members as if you actually left. Obviously you are invested in this process and anything I write isn't likely to change your attitude.
Just re-read this part, and realized I didn't explain myself or the dharma very well. The whole point is to be close to people, to treat yourself and others with warmth and compassion, and to always respect the ineffible dignity of sentient beings. The attitude of homelessness is designed to allow one to have relationships without expectations, so that we can love others unconditionally, not only if they satisfy our needs. If one's dharma practice were making him aloof and uncaring, then there would be a serious problem, as he would obviously be doing something very wrong.
Adam

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Zyne
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On reading the subject line, I thought, oh my goodness, he went north.

The reality is much better.

You go [Smile]

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Mr Xin Ku
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That was a helpful clarification. I had pictured in my head that novel, and how, while obstensibly the story was one of enlightenment of the protagonist, it really reads like a tradegy (but that is from my attachment-loving, seeing-people-as-not-emphemeral perspective. [Wink]

What you said sounds great in some ways. The lingering question I have is about your relationship with your kids. I would argue that, whether it develops in healthy or unhealthy ways, there is a basic human drive to develop and maintain close, intimate attachment relationships. Moreover, when it is MOST crucial is in childhood. So do you support your children developing an attachment relationship with you (or anyone)? Are you abivalent about it? Would you encourge some form of detachment at a certain age?

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Politius
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Congradulations, Adam. I'm buddhist also. [Smile] so i know how happy it feels to begin to eliminate your aggression (sometimes i DO release it here too though, e.g. after the election) and how good it is to work on releasing yourself from Samsara (if you don't know what that is, just ask me or Adam). It's a loooong road towards enlightenment, good luck, you've taken the first steps.

BTW "Mindfullness on Breathing" is another VERY good book on Buddhism and getting started with Buddhism.

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Adam Masterman
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I think that ordinary detachment is just as grounded in ignorant perception as attatchment, and even more negative because it even more strongly prevents closeness. Its a form of closing one's self off from the world and other people, usually in response to pain or fear, and it has nothing to do with the Buddhist ideal of non-attachment . I intend to teach my children (I haven't any yet) to be open, honest, and caring. Freedom from attachment is a fruit of practicing mindfulness and compassion, not something imposed by others. I realize this may seem like a dodge, but it really isn't. When I read a sentence like:

quote:
I would argue that, whether it develops in healthy or unhealthy ways, there is a basic human drive to develop and maintain close, intimate attachment relationships.
its jarring because the word attachment seems to me to contradict the words close and intimate.
Adam

[ November 30, 2004, 02:45 PM: Message edited by: Adam Masterman ]

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Wayward Son
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Congratulations on your first steps toward Enlightenment, although I suppose Tom Petty might disagree. [Smile]
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Daruma28
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Congratulations Adam.

I'm not a Buddhist (I just don't buy into the pacifist mentality), but I am a long time martial artist that has done a lot of reading about Bhoddidarma Daruma the 28th Enlightened One in the tradition of Sidhartha Gautama (hence the inspiration for my screen name).

My favorite story of Daruma, about his philosophy, from the book "Bhodidarma, founder of Zen"

quote:

Emperor Wu had done great service to the philosophy of Gautama Buddha. Thousands of scholars were translating Buddhist scriptures from Pali into Chinese and the emperor was the patron of all that great work of translation.

He had made thousands of temples and monasteries, and he was feeding thousands of monks. He had put his whole treasure at the service of Gautama Buddha, and naturally the Buddhist monks who had reached before Bodhidharma had been telling him that he was earning great virtue, that he will be born as a god in heaven.

Naturally, his first question to Bodhidharma was, "I have made so many monasteries, I am feeding thousands of scholars, I have opened a whole university for the studies of Gautama Buddha, I have put my whole empire and its treasures in the service of Gautama Buddha. What is going to be my reward?".

With great fear, Emperor Wu asked this question, and Bodhidharma said, "Nothing, no reward. On the contrary, be ready to fall into the seventh hell. Your actions have no merit. Pure consciousness alone is merit.".

The emperor said, "But I have not done anything wrong -- why the seventh hell? I have been doing everything that the Buddhist monks have been telling me.".

Bodhidharma said, "Unless you start hearing your own voice, nobody can help you, Buddhist or non-Buddhist. And you have not yet heard your inner voice. If you had heard it, you would not have asked such a stupid question.

"On the path of Gautama Buddha there is no reward because the very desire for reward comes from a greedy mind. The whole teaching of Gautama Buddha is desirelessness and if you are doing all these so-called virtuous acts, making temples and monasteries and feeding thousands of monks, with a desire in your mind, you are preparing your way towards hell.

If you are doing these things out of joy, to share your joy with the whole empire, and there is not even a slight desire anywhere for any reward, the very act is a reward unto itself.

Otherwise you have missed the whole point."

I see this all the time in the martial arts. Students AND Instructors, obsessed with belt rank, their belt color, degrees and other such silly systems of trying to validate or display self-importance. IMHO, these people miss the point of training in the martial arts. The reward is not in attaining some rank or recognition ("I am a ninth-dan {degree} black belt certified...blah blah..."}, but in the WAY OF LIFE being a true martial artist entails.

And this precept applies to all other aspects of life as well.

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Mr Xin Ku
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quote:
I realize this may seem like a dodge, but it really isn't.
It doesn't seem like a dodge at all. It is hard to discuss comparisons like we are when we are almost speaking different languages. What I have written uses language from behavioral sciences, so I may not sound like I have a clue, but I do know enough of Chinese literature, language and culture to understand where you are coming from. (I know Buddism didn't start in China, but still . . .).

[ November 30, 2004, 07:41 PM: Message edited by: Mr Xin Ku ]

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musket
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Congrats, Adam.

I feel I should point out, for others here, that Buddhism is not monolithic. There are considerable differences in the "taste" of the various sects, and indeed in the sub-sects of same. There is no such thing as "just Buddhism."

It's sorta like when people come to me for guitar lessons and say they "just want to play guitar." You can't do that. You have to play music on the guitar, and there's a world of difference between playing blues and playing classical. The instrument may be (basically) the same, and one style of playing is not better than any other by definition... but there is no such thing as "just playing the guitar."

BTW, Daruma, I assume you're aware that in the traditional Chinese martial art systems, ain't no belts or ranks. Teachers of traditional Chinese systems who have adopted the equivalent of Japanese kyu and dan have done so because that's the best way to attract the most students.

[ November 30, 2004, 08:11 PM: Message edited by: musket ]

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Daruma28
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Oh I'm not saying the belt system or whatever is wrong or improper, nor do I deride schools that use it -- indeed I am an instructor at a school that uses the belt system.

I do recognize the benefit of organization and for a teacher to symbolically recognize a student's progress in the course of study...I'm merely referring to the mindset or mentality of some who define themselves and their percieved importance and status by their rank from their class. I've met many many people that attain black belt and then stop training regularly or altogether...as if reaching a pre-determined level of skill and practice is a defined level of success is adequate with no further effort required. These are the people who train for the "reward" of achieving the status of "black belt."

Ergo my application of Bhoddidarma's recriminations of Emporer Wu's efforts to promote Buddhim to "earn" heavan, rather than promoting buddhism for the sake of buddhism as a reward unto itself.

The same principle applies to martial arts -- or any other endeavour in life.

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Politius
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So Daruma, just for the sake of interest, what degree ARE you? I'm a 3bd (3rd black decided) at taekwondo and a Go-dan at Kendo. I've been at martial arts for some time too and i find that with younger children, who find it hard to understand the meaning of "training" work better with belts. I know what you mean when you say that people get their black belts and leave (it happens ALL the time at our school) but i think that if the objective is JUST to train for the sake of training, you'd have to keep owning a martial arts school as a side job with the lack of students that would TRULY be interested.

That is what we do in our Taekwondo school. In the beginning, when our students are children, we encourage them to work hard with the incentive of belts. However, we don't tell them that belts are kind of like a path to lead them towards black belt, where their TRUE training begins. We actually tell them, at their black belt testing, that their beginning steps have been taken and now their TRUE endeavor begins. Along the process, the weak also drop out. Those too weak-minded or those who feel martial arts are not for them simply leave. We do not criticize those people, but the strong-willed stay on the path. That is why we make 1st degree such a whooping hard belt to receive. We work them for hours, making sure ONLY the toughest and the strongest people who are willing to stay at the martial art will continue.

Essentially, some people DO get lost in the belt system and stop when they are black belts, but if you throw every bit of philosophy at them as soon as they start, it seems impossible to master at all. As musket pointed out, you cannot just say "I want to do taekwondo" and become a world champ. You have to work and ease yourself into it. Slowly progressing, and allowing the learner to slowly immerse him/herself in the martial art is the best way , in my opinion, to teach.

BTW, i'm going 4th degree next june and i'm taking my certification exam (for those who don't know, that means i'm certified to teach or open a school) in february! [Big Grin]

[ December 01, 2004, 02:53 PM: Message edited by: Politius ]

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Daruma28
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I guess I'm just involved in a different mentality of training. I've been training in Hawaiian styled Kenpo for over ten years, running my own school for about 3 years now. My school (and the one I trained as a student in) is pretty much run by word of mouth. We've had classes as big as 50 people and some with myself and one student.

Some schools have belt tests and charge $$$ for each test, with a huge fee upon reciept of the black.

Not mine. A belt promotion only comes when the instructor informally recognizes a students progress, than calls them up without them suspecting anything at all to the front of the class for promotion. No money or tests - though we do test them on their knowledge of the roots and history of our art regularly (including knowledge of Bhoddidarma Daruma and his role as founder of the martial arts).

The true test is the students dedication and steady, committed attendance - and the inevitable progress in techniques that comes from enduring that...and we only train people that WANT to be there for the sake of training, not to achieve a rank or belt.

I have much respect for people that train any marital arts system with dedication, humbleness and a spiritual consciousness for developing character. I'm only pointing out the differences I see in terms of belt systems, ranks etc. as for what I percieve to be the philosophy that drew me to the style and art for which I've dedicated my life to. There is no end, no finish, no goal.

It is a way of life.

In terms of "degrees" their is only one degree that really matters - as my long time Chief Instructor puts it, "There are those that train, and there are those that used to train. Which are you?"

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RickyB
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Hey, Gary, what's that between your eyes? [Smile]

Adam - congrats. Hope you find satori, and eventually nirvana.

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Adam - congrats. Hope you find satori, and eventually nirvana.

Thanks, Ricky. At the moment, I'm working on finding my car keys. Little steps, long path. [Wink]
Adam

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Zyne
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I am thinking they're where you put them... [Razz]
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Gary
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
Hey, Gary, what's that between your eyes? [Smile]


Huh? I don't get it. [Confused]
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