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I found this Batchelor quote interesting

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Comments

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Maybe we need a new messiah. ;)

    If we give up our evil ways perhaps we can be reborn as companions of Maitriya? [Lobster goes off to pack on the off chance . . . ]

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    Praise the Lord, ooops, I mean Boodha... ;)

    lobster
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran Colorado...for now Veteran

    @Zenff and @Lobster:

    First, I am not disagreeing with anything either of you wrote, just expanding on a thought I had after reading what you wrote.

    Second, I want to preface the following comment by repeating something I have said a number of times on this forum: There is nothing wrong with have faith in something (as long as one recognizes it as faith and not fact).

    We have one source for what happened during Siddhartha's enlightenment -- Buddhist scriptures written hundreds of years after the event.

    There was no independent source to corroborate what happened during that event.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @vinlyn said:> We have one source for what happened during Siddhartha's enlightenment -- Buddhist scriptures written hundreds of years after the event.

    Of course, but I haven't seen anyone arguing here that the suttas are historically perfect, so this looks like a straw man.

    So Stephen Batchelor closely studied the suttas and came up with a different interpretation, the question is then presumably about how convincing his interpretation is compared to others. People without a good knowledge knowledge of the suttas will find it difficult to make an informed comment, so then we're just looking at personal preference. "I like Stephen because he says I don't have to believe all that stuff about rebirth and realms!"

    We could have a very similar discussion about the New Testament by the way. I've heard people argue that all the references to God and miracles were "added in" by the early church as a way of making Jesus more appealing to the masses ( why does that sound familiar?! ). I've heard others argue that you can interpret all the God references in the New Testament in a metaphorical way, making them all refer to an internal psychological experience instead of something "out there" ( again, that sounds very familiar! ). But again, you'd probably need an extensive knowledge of the New Testament to make an informed comment on such ideas.

    lobster
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2015
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran Colorado...for now Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Of course, but I haven't seen anyone arguing here that the suttas are historically perfect, so this looks like a straw man.

    So Stephen Batchelor closely studied the suttas and came up with a different interpretation, the question is then presumably about how convincing his interpretation is compared to others. People without a good knowledge knowledge of the suttas will find it difficult to make an informed comment, so then we're just looking at personal preference. >"I like Stephen because he says I don't have to believe all that stuff about rebirth and realms!"We could have a very similar discussion about the New Testament by the way. I've heard people argue that all the references to God and miracles were "added in" by the early church as a way of making Jesus more appealing to the masses ( why does that sound familiar?! ). I've heard others argue that you can interpret all the God references in the New Testament in a metaphorical way, making them all refer to an internal psychological experience instead of something "out there" ( again, that sounds very familiar! ). But again, you'd probably need an extensive knowledge of the New Testament to make an informed comment on such ideas.

    >

    Oh.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    @vinlyn said:
    Zenff and Lobster:

    Second, I want to preface the following comment by repeating something I have said a number of times on this forum: There is nothing wrong with have faith in something (as long as one recognizes it as faith and not fact).

    Perhaps. Perhaps not.

    It is said that immediately after the birth of Siddhartha Gautama he stood up, took seven steps north, and uttered:

    "I am chief of the world,
    Eldest am I in the world,
    Foremost am I in the world.
    This is the last birth.
    There is now no more coming to be."
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_of_Gautama_Buddha

    Yeah and no doubt a lotus blossomed at each step. Faith in superstitious drivel however charming is not wrong? Story telling and fantasy dharma has a place but sadly some people are infantile and literal.

    Faith is often our preferred fantasy. I would suggest there is usually something wrong with that . . .

    vinlynsilverhow
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    Faith in our own pre-conceptions can also be a problem sometimes.

    lobster
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    So when the Buddha remembered his previous lives and saw the countless rebirths of other beings, do you think he was delusional? Or was he just making it up? Or what exactly?

    Possibly. The Buddha had the same human brain as we do, which has the same capacity for self-delusion as we have. Even if the Buddha WERE delusional about the countless rebirths of himself and other beings, it doesn't detract from the value of his teachings, to me.

    (I know I'm taking this out of the context of the rest of your post, but this idea has occurred to me. Why wouldn't he be subject to his culture like you and I are? How do we know that his teachings about previous lives weren't drawn from his earliest revelations and then some time later, discarded as literalism? We don't know, and don't have to know).

    vinlynlobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    The Buddha supposedly did not talk to Thor, Allah or The Flying Speghetti Monster but the local cods and gods came for advice from Buddha, aliens did not come as they were not available or fashionable.

    Surprisingly or perhaps not so surprisingly the Buddhas ideas were formed and expressed from his education, socialisation and prevailing culture.

    Some people seem to believe that the Buddha was some sort of [Insert fantasy]

    I know he was awake. That is sufficient. His Middle Way to awaken is clear. That is the plan.

    . . . and now back to the interpretations . . .

    silver
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."

    If it makes sense to you, if it resonates with you, if it works for you and comforts you, sustains you and propels you forward in your practice, then it is YOUR truth.

    Carry it, deal with it, live it.

    lobstersilver
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @Hamsaka said:The Buddha had the same human brain as we do, which has the same capacity for self-delusion as we have. Even if the Buddha WERE delusional about the countless rebirths of himself and other beings, it doesn't detract from the value of his teachings, to me.

    I'm trying to keep track of the possibilities!

    1. The Buddha really did remember previous rebirths.
    2. The Buddha was delusional.
    3. The Buddha made it up to communicate his ideas better ( the skillful means theory ).
    4. This was all added in later to widen the Buddha's appeal.
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    Yep :) and since we'll never, ever know (unless being Awakened involves the ability to go back in time and directly observe the Buddha) what we DON'T know for sure doesn't detract from what we DO know, for as sure as we can be about knowing it.

    This is just an opinion, but I do think the Judeo-Christian ethos that is deeply embedded in western culture sets us up with some challenges to our spiritual growth. What with a completely inerrant God, Jesus and Bible, we come to expect perfection from those we seek to emulate or follow -- NONhuman perfection. Noting the Buddha's human mistakes, discussing them, identifying possible ones -- goes against the grain. With me, too, which is a good reason to make a point of it.

    The evidence that my life is vastly improved for the Buddha's example is enough for me that I don't need the Buddha to be inerrant the way some Christians need Jesus to be. With that mindset, one little thing goes wrong and the WHOLE belief system comes into question.

    Like when the Buddhists in Myanmar began acting like terrorists. It was upsetting to a lot of people. It challenged their 'faith', and it highlighted how un-useful 'faith' can be, and the impossible standards we impose upon ourselves and those we try to emulate.

    lobster
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @Hamsaka said:> This is just an opinion, but I do think the Judeo-Christian ethos that is deeply embedded in western culture sets us up with some challenges to our spiritual growth.

    I agree, it would be a mistake to apply an Abrahamic mind-set to Buddhist teachings. I suspect the distinction between revealed and dharmic traditions is significant here.

    On the other hand though it does seem that some people of a sceptical disposition will grab at any theory which supports a materialist interpretation. Of course the Buddha's views were influenced by time and place, but then so are ours. There seems to be an idea that people in the Buddha's time were a bit primitive in their thinking compared to us, but that can easily be challenged because early Indian thought was remarkably sophisticated.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @SpinyNorman said: I agree, it would be a mistake to apply an Abrahamic mind-set to Buddhist teachings......
    On the other hand though it does seem that some people of a sceptical disposition will grab at any theory which supports a materialist interpretation. Of course the Buddha's views were influenced by time and place, but then so are ours.....

    Yes, I suspect it's only in countries where Christianity plays a dominant role that people compare Buddha to Jesus, in wondering whether, for example, jesus was a Bodhisattva.... I don't expect the comparison exists in other places...

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited March 2015
    My way of seeing it is a mixture of 1, 3 and 4.

    I don't think he would have remembered every single previous lifetime because I think the remembering would take longer than one lifetime. I think he was expressing emptiness and D.O. in a way that was accessible to those that believe in reincarnation and presented it as rebirth.

    If a being wakes up completely, they are Buddha as Buddha means the awakened one. If anyone could have Buddha awaken through them if the conditions are just right then every single life lived is a previous life of the Buddha.

    Just thinking out loud.
  • BlondelBlondel Veteran Veteran

    According to Zen master Bassui this is what knowing past lives means.

    “From the moment you realize your inherent nature, your mind will penetrate through aeons of emptiness that preceded creation through to the endless future. Clear and independent, it will not attach itself to the changing phenomena of life and death, past and future, but will remain constant without obstructing doubts. This is the power of knowning past lives” (From Mud and Water: The Collected Teachings of Zen Master Bassui, translated by Arthur Braverman).

    robot
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    How does he know....?!

  • robotrobot Veteran Veteran

    @federica said:
    How does he know....?!

    Insight. He has realized it.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    I want to stress what @vinlyn has said as it relates both to the original post and life the universe and everything:

    Second, I want to preface the following comment by repeating something I have said a number of times on this forum: There is nothing wrong with have faith in something (as long as one recognizes it as faith and not fact).

    I believe what is being said here is more 'confidence in' than faith. In other words we do not have faith in science, we have confidence in its methodology. We do not have confidence in dreams when we wake up, in delusions, attachments and such . . . as they fall away . . . maybe that is just me . . . Tsk, tsk . . . truth is so naked . . .

    I have no faith or confidence in nihilism, drugs, psychics, self delusion, suffering is good for you, insanity, obsessive consumerism, my lesser selfish nature, my little pony spirituality, creationism, we'll meet again after cremation, wishful dharma etc.

    We can have confidence in Buddhist practice, good diet, exercise, dharma, our sangha, teachers etc as we find the benefits.

    I do have confidence in My Buddha Nature [as available] and 'Neti Neti' a wonderful Hindu phrase to keep everything including confidence and faith in balance . . .
    en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neti_neti

    Hamsaka
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @lobster said:I believe what is being said here is more 'confidence in' than faith. In other words we do not have faith in science, we have confidence in its methodology. We do not have confidence in dreams when we wake up, in delusions, attachments and such . . . as they fall away . . . maybe that is just me . . . Tsk, tsk . . . truth is so naked . . .

    Sure, but then in Buddhism "faith" ( saddha ) is correctly understood as "confidence", not as "blind belief". And Buddhism has been described as the science of the mind.

    There are enough straw men in threads like this to populate a small town! ;)

    lobster
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @SpinyNorman said:

    I agree, it would be a mistake to apply an Abrahamic mind-set to Buddhist teachings.I suspect the distinction between revealed and dharmic traditions is significant here.

    On the other hand though it does seem that some people of a sceptical disposition will grab at any theory which supports a materialist interpretation. Of course the Buddha's views were influenced by time and place, but then so are ours. There seems to be an idea that people in the Buddha's time were a bit primitive in their thinking compared to us, but that can easily be challenged because early Indian thought was remarkably sophisticated.

    So your second sentence sent me off to google land. SOMEONE must have written an opinion piece about 'revealed religion versus dharmic religion' . . . and sure enough:

    I don't have or want to opine on the title of this person's post (an answer to a question on Quora), but thought the gist of it applied well . . .

    Yes, their desert origins very likely have something to do with it. It also has something to do with the monotheistic nature of these religions.

    Desert cultures are, almost without exception, monotheistic, while rainforest cultures are, again, almost without exception, polytheistic:

    Begin with religious beliefs. A striking proportion of rain forest dwellers are polytheistic, worshipping an array of spirits and gods. Polytheism is prevalent among tribes in the Amazon basin (the Sherenti, Mundurucu, and Tapirape) and in the rain forests of Africa (the Ndorobo), New Guinea (the Keraki and Ulawans), and Southeast Asia (the Iban of Borneo and the Mnong Gar and Lolo of Vietnam). But desert dwellers—the bedouin of Arabia, the Berbers of the western Sahara, the !Kung of the Kalahari Desert, the Nuer and Turkana of the Kenyan/Sudanese desert—are usually monotheistic. Of course, despite allegiances to a single deity, other supernatural beings may be involved, like angels and djinns and Satan. But the hierarchy is notable, with minor deities subservient to the Omnipotent One.

    This division makes ecological sense. Deserts teach large, singular lessons, like how tough, spare, and withholding the environment is; the world is reduced to simple, desiccated, furnace-blasted basics. Then picture rain forest people amid an abundance of edible plants and medicinal herbs, able to identify more species of ants on a single tree than one would find in all the British Isles. Letting a thousand deities bloom in this sort of setting must seem natural. Moreover, those rain forest dwellers that are monotheistic are much less likely to believe that their god sticks his or her nose into other people’s business by controlling the weather, prompting illness, or the like. In contrast, the desert seems to breed fatalism, a belief in an interventionist god with its own capricious plans.

    In desert, nomadic cultures, one consistently sees higher rates of violence, slavery, forced marriage, etc., than in agricultural societies or in societies of people who live in the rainforest, for example:

    So I would say that the hypothesis that the desert origins of the abrahamistic religions almost certainly has something to do with the monotheistic and violent nature of these religions.

    I know we are not discussing 'violence' per se, but this snippet of the full Quora post is a good example of how different natural environments impact the religious traditions of their peoples.

    Things are too edgy, spare and hard to get in the desert. Disobedience is dealt with swiftly, just like death is swift to snatch a child who disobediently wanders too far from the family tent.

    IMO, it's THIS kind of zeitgeist that gets passed on through the generations, whether or not the religious tradition is practiced. It makes sense of why folks from the 'west' who are new-er to Buddhism struggle through a rather significant 'shift' of perspective.

    Then . . . I keep getting images of the Buddhist Hell @Vinlyn so generously posted pictures of in another thread . . . I guess there were some 'desert' dwellers converted to Buddhism sometime in their past :D .

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    Yes, the desert theory is interesting, it's a harsh environment.

    I think it's worth observing that Buddhism has adapted to many cultures throughout it's long history, or to put it another way the Dharma has been expressed in many ways in different times and places.

    Returning to the OP, I think essentially what we're discussing here is how Buddhism is adapting to modern western culture. The emergence of Secular Buddhism is undoubtedly an important development, but it's not the only game in town.

    HamsakalobsterDavid
  • HamsakaHamsaka goosewhisperer Polishing the 'just so' Veteran

    Nor the 'best'. Too many individual variables, and they are 'real' (until they aren't anymore) for there to be only ONE game in town, or a claim to be playing the RIGHT game.

    lobster
  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran

    @vinlyn said:
    "The Buddha was not a mystic. His awakening was not a shattering insight into a transcendent Truth that reveled to him the mysteries of God. He did not claim to have had an experience that granted him privileged, esoteric knowledge of how the universe tick. Only as Buddhism became more and more of a religion were such grandiose claims imputed to his awakening. In describing to the five ascetics what his awakening meant, he spoke of having discovered completed freedom of heart and mind from the compulsions of craving. He called such freedom the taste of the dharma."

    This is the Buddhism in which I believe.

    What are your thoughts?

    I would say that the Buddha truly is a mystic and that mystic knowledge does not have to do with God.

    But most of all how does SB draw the conclusion that

    " He did not claim to have had an experience that granted him privileged, esoteric knowledge of how the universe tick. Only as Buddhism became more and more of a religion were such grandiose claims imputed to his awakening. "

    Are there any references or deductions in the book?

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    @Victorious said:
    I would say that the Buddha truly is a mystic and that mystic knowledge does not have to do with God.

    I would agree Victor but that is quite a challenging interpretation for some. Can you say more about this?

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @Hamsaka said:> Nor the 'best'. Too many individual variables, and they are 'real' (until they aren't anymore) for there to be only ONE game in town, or a claim to be playing the RIGHT game.

    Indeed. There are many approaches, and I think the best we can say is "This one is right for me", at least for the time being.

    lobsterHamsaka
  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @lobster said:
    I would agree Victor but that is quite a challenging interpretation for some. Can you say more about this?

    I dont know if there is so much to say really. It is only a matter of definition I guess.

    I happen to agree with the definition in the wikipedia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysticism

    Mysticism is "a constellation of distinctive practices, discourses, texts, institutions, traditions, and experiences aimed at human transformation, variously defined in different traditions."[web 1]

    The term "mysticism" has Ancient Greek origins, with various, historically determined meanings.[web 2][web 1] Derived from the Greek μυω, meaning "to conceal",[web 1] it referred to the biblical, the liturgical and the spiritual or contemplative dimensions in early and medieval Christianity,[1] and became associated with "extraordinary experiences and states of mind" in the early modern period.[2]

    In modern times, "mysticism" has acquired a limited definition,[web 2] but a broad application,[web 2] as meaning the aim at the "union with the Absolute, the Infinite, or God".[web 2] This limited definition has been applied to a wide range of religious traditions and practices.[web 2]

    I think that foot fits this shoe. What do you think?

    There is also a section on Buddhism.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysticism#Buddhism

    lobster
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    What he (the Buddha) saw through may have earned him the 'title' of mystic - but maybe SB felt it important to impress on interested parties that the Buddha would have wanted those overly-enamored of the mystic-al part of him and his experiences and teachings to focus on the far more important aspects...the old looking at the finger instead of the moon thingy(?) Just my paltry 2 cents.

    vinlynHamsaka
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran

    sradda (faith) also means embodying the teachings. so a person with enough sradda meditates and so forth whereas those lacking might have great insight but not make use of it because they practice very little relatively. on the other hand having sradda and no insight is the classical thing where you say 1000000000 om mani pema hum and never even think what those words mean. Or meditate hours without any interest in the meditative experience.

    silverlobsterrobot
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @Jeffrey said:> where you say 1000000000 om mani pema hum and never even think what those words mean. Or meditate hours without any interest in the meditative experience.

    SB was writing for a western audience, so do you think there are western Buddhists who need this pointing out? Like people doing ngondro preliminaries for example? I'm not sure how anyone could meditate for hours without any interest in the experience though!

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @silver said:> What he (the Buddha) saw through may have earned him the 'title' of mystic - but maybe SB felt it important to impress on interested parties that the Buddha would have wanted those overly-enamored of the mystic-al part of him and his experiences and teachings to focus on the far more important aspects...the old looking at the finger instead of the moon thingy(?) Just my paltry 2 cents.

    There are a number of schools for example in Zen and Theravada that take that approach, focussing on here-and-now practice. I think SB went one step further by rejecting all the mystical and religious content, hence "secular" Buddhism.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:

    my comment was not addressing stephen bachelor or anything else. I think relatively a lot of people meditate without a strong suit in insight (or prajna). One can take this pointer to extremes of a completely vacuous person meditating, but that is an extreme. It's a relative thing. For myself I am more balanced to sradda than prajna (I feel). I don't know the relationship between the sradda and the ngondro preliminaries.

  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    Re: OP, I certainly don't think the Buddha ever claimed to know anything about God or the various mysteries of the universe, but I think he was certainly a mystic in the sense that @victorious describes above. And his quest was certainly religious and spiritual, not (merely) philosophical. Remember that he left home after seeing the sick man, old man, dead body, and a religious mendicant, and then he sought to live like a religious mendicant, engaging in some rather extreme austerities (i.e. spiritual practices) at first. Then of course he abandoned that and subsequently attained deep insight into reality during a famous marathon meditation session. This method of achieving direct insight into reality is very different and much more mystical than the logical hairsplitting and academic argumentation that you find in, say, Socrates or Aristotle. It's also quite different from the methods used in modern science to gather measurable empirical data. Which leads me to believe that the Buddha really was a religious/spiritual figure from the beginning, rather than the non-mystical secular philosopher that Batchelor seems to think he was.

    Jeffrey
  • vinlynvinlyn Veteran Colorado...for now Veteran

    Thank you, Zenguitar. I enjoyed reading your post.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Maybe we need a new messiah. ;)

    Me! me! pick me! I need a full time position and I come with good references...Umm what's the salary like ? :D

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    In Zen there is an expression "Going over the wall".

    It refers to what sincere monks some times did at monasteries when it looked like they were just about to be chosen to be the next abbot.
    Getting tied up into a position that required political maneuvering was often considered a difficult path for any renunciate.

    Like wise, the pay of a messiah is usually being surrounded by F-wits you'd never have chosen as friends while waiting for one of them to inevitably off you for their own advancement.

    lobsterShoshinDavid
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @how said:
    Like wise, the pay of a messiah is usually being surrounded by F-wits you'd never have chosen as friends while waiting for one of them to inevitably off you for their own advancement.

    @how.... I won't be put off that easily...Besides there must be some bonus pay for working with F-wits.... :D

  • howhow Veteran Veteran

    Perhaps one of them offing you is the bonus.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    That reminds me... I still have to rebuy and finish reading The Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @how said:
    Perhaps one of them offing you is the bonus.

    Easy come easy go..... :D

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    @Shoshin the salary is one bean on the first day of the month and one more bean until 30 beans at the end of the month. That is to keep your nice visible ribs.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Bean there - done that :D

    DairyLama
  • VictoriousVictorious Grim Veteran
    edited March 2015

    @Shoshin said:
    Me! me! pick me! I need a full time position and I come with good references...Umm what's the salary like ? :dizzy:

    @how said:
    In Zen there is an expression "Going over the wall".

    In Sweden there is an expression "Toksnurra".

    But I am not going to translate that because I'll be in trouble with Fed!

    =) .

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Now that's what I like. Personal restraint! :D

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    @vinlyn said:
    Second, I want to preface the following comment by repeating something I have said a number of times on this forum: There is nothing wrong with have faith in something (as long as one recognizes it as faith and not fact).

    I was once playing Grand Theft Auto, a sizeable part of the game involves crashing cars into others or avoiding being run over. As I went into the hall for a needed tea break I could see through the glass front door a car heading towards me. For a split second I was preparing to dive out of the way of a neighbour merely turning their car around. Oops.

    In a similar way we suspend belief when watching fantasy films, thinking our Lama is the Buddha or crucified faith healers have divine parentage.

    Too much faith and the game becomes our 'reality' . . . o:)

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