Supportive Disciplines in the Way of Adidam


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The Purpose of Discipline: Some Useful Analogies



 

A man went to his Master and said, "Master, I feel like there are two dogs fighting inside me, a good dog and a bad dog. Which one is going to win?" The Master said, "The one that you feed the most."

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

 


Before discussing the specific areas of discipline, several analogies are worth introducing and considering:


1. Engaging the disciplines leads to better reception of the Spiritual Master’s Transmission

Let’s return, for a moment, to the analogy between the Transmission of the Spiritual Master and the transmission of a TV signal. Sometimes, no matter how much you adjust the basic position of the antenna, you still get poor reception. This usually is because your house is located in a valley in the hills, or the geography is such that there is no direct, unimpeded path between the broadcasting antenna and the receiving antenna. You could, on the one hand, adjust the antenna to the position that provides the best reception, and accept the fact that it is just going to be rather poor. Or you could change the location of your antenna (by moving, by buying a satellite dish, etc.) to a place that provides better reception.

Just so, changes in one’s diet, relations, sexuality, work, etc. can all facilitate reception of the Spiritual Master’s Transmission. While the practice does involve feeling through all limitations under all circumstances, there is no point in making the practice harder or the course longer (even indefinitely longer) than it need be through maintaining ill-informed life choices that unnecessarily create imbalances and obstacles to free feeling.


2. Bringing the body-mind to a “low-maintenance” state of maximal balance or equilibrium naturally frees up energy and attention

Will Johnson, an expert in rolfing, provides a nice analogy:



 

One of the simplest examples of this phenomenon can be demonstrated by trying to balance a kitchen broom upside down on a finger. There is a point when the broom becomes completely vertical and, top-heavy though it may be, seems to balance with effortless poise in midair. As soon as the broom begins to wander away from this perfect verticality, the finger supporting it must quickly be shifted to prevent it from falling to the floor.

Will Johnson, Balance of Body, Balance of Mind

 


In a similar manner, when, through ongoing disciplines, the body-mind is brought to a state of equilibrium, minimal energy and attention are required for its maintenance. Thus, energy and attention are freed up for locating and Realizing the Divine and the Awakened State more and more fully. This instead of the conventional life, where we distract and indulge ourselves in all kinds of ways that (sooner or later) bring about significant imbalances in life and the body-mind, which then require great energy and attention to manage. I recall a young friend who was a new car owner, whose car had a small oil leak, but who let his car go without replenishing oil. After a few months, the engine got so dry that one of the rods shot up and hit the hood! The engine was completely shot. How much more time and energy (not to mention money) my friend had to invest buying a new car, than if he had simply maintained his car in a “balanced state”.


3. Enabling the radical purpose of self-discipline: self-understanding via being the ego entirely (rather than one-sidedly)

"Balance" is not just a useful ideal for "maintaining" the body-mind; the "balancing" or "countering" of egoic tendencies also is essential for self-understanding:



 

The effective Process enacted at every stage of the Way is that of expansion beyond the present limitation or contraction. Expansion beyond contraction is the responsibility at every stage, relative to the unique milieu of contraction in which the devotee is responsible, by Grace, at each stage. Infinity, the Perfect Domain, is not at the furthest point of the reach of expansion. It is the "point" where the problematic cognition of space and time, subject and object, is cancelled. It is revealed in the moment when the mutual gestures of contraction and expansion are equal. The Way of expansion in Truth is not a willful effort from the ego-center. The Process is not generated the way a balloon expands by pressure from within. It is like the way a balloon, when punctured, equalizes with all space and time.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Paradox of Instruction

 


Adi Da Samraj has described the ego (or egoic activity altogether) as pairs of conflicting tendendies or "endlessly multiplied contradictions":


 

On this extraordinary night I sat at my desk late into the night. I had exhausted my seeking, so that I felt there were no more books to read, nor any possible kind of ordinary experience that could exceed what I had already embraced. There seemed no outstanding sources for any new excursion, no remaining and conclusive possibilities. I was drawn into the interior tension of my mind that held all of that seeking, every impulse and alternative, every motive in the form of my desiring. I contemplated it as a whole, a dramatic singleness, and it moved me into a profound shape of life-feeling, so that all the vital centers in my body and mind appeared like a long funnel of contracted planes that led on to an infinitely regressed and invisible image. I observed this deep sensation of conflict and endlessly multiplied contradictions, such that I was surrendered to its very shape, as if to experience it perfectly and to be it.

Then quite suddenly, in a moment, I experienced a total revolution in my body-mind, and, altogether, in my living consciousness. An absolute sense of understanding opened and arose at the extreme end of all this sudden contemplation. And all of the motions of me that moved down into that depth appeared to reverse their direction at some unfathomable point. The rising impulse caused me to stand, and I felt a surge of Force draw me up out of my depths and expand, Filling my entire body and every level of my living consciousness with wave on wave of the most Beautiful and Joyous Energy. . .

In that great moment of Awakening I Knew the Truth was not a matter of seeking. There were no “reasons” for Joy and Freedom. It was not a matter of a truth, an object, a concept, a belief, a reason, a motivation, or any external fact. . . . Instead, I saw that the Truth or Reality was a matter of the absence of all contradictions, every trace of conflict, opposition, division, or desperate motivation within. Where there is no seeking, no contradiction, there is only the unqualified Knowledge and Power that is Reality. . . . .

I also saw that Freedom and Joy is not attained, that It is not dependent on any form, object, idea, progress, or experience. I saw that human beings (and, indeed, all beings) are, at any moment, always and already Free. I Knew that I was not lacking anything I needed yet to find, nor had I ever been without such a thing. The problem was the seeking itself, which ‘created’ and enforced contradiction, conflict, and absence within.”

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Knee Of Listening

 


In any given moment of ordinary egoic activity, only one side of any egoic pairing of tendencies is being dramatized. For example, one such "contradiction" might be a tendency (of the body) to indulge eating and an opposite tendency (of the mind) to suppress eating. The radical form of self-discipline, then, is to always (artfully) perform counter-egoic activity: whenever one is consciously identifying with (and possibly dramatizing) one half of a pair of tendencies, counter it. This means developing disciplines that counter both egoic tendences (e.g., the self-indulgent tendency and the self-suppressive, self-judgemental tendency). The radical purpose behind self-discipline is this: by disciplining both sides of an egoic pair of activities simultaneously, one can become conscious of both "halves" at the same time, and can no longer identify exclusively with either "side" or "half". In such a graceful moment of true self-observation, one can be spontaneously restored to a position of self-understanding that is prior to (and not identified with) either tendency. From such a position of conscious awareness of both tendencies, not identified with either, one is no longer controlled by either tendency, and can easily discipline and master either tendency. Thus, early on in the listening process, one's disciplines are aimed at restoring such self-understanding. Later on, disciplines are enacted from the place of already present self-understanding, as an expression of that self-understanding. Before self-understanding, one is still being possessed and controlled by the tendencies with which one is still identified. After self-understanding, when one is no longer controlled by (and unconsciously "skewed" by) either side of an egoic pair of tendencies, one will naturally choose a balance point.

So the point is to bring increasingly more of the ego — increasingly more of one's egoic patterning — into the realm of self-understanding. Cover the entire ego (all the endlessly multiplied pairings of contradictory ego-tendencies) — close all the loopholes with a full enough suite of disciplines — and hearing can take place: one can be restored to the place of fundamental understanding, prior to all egoic patterning. The secret of self-understanding is to stand in the place of the entire ego — to consciously be the entire complex of egoic activity at once, to consciously be Narcissus perfectly (to stand as the self-contraction) — not just one side of Narcissus in any given moment. This is the prerequisite, or key, to then being able to stand prior to Narcissus in the very next moment.



 

I contemplated it as a whole, a dramatic singleness, and it moved me into a profound shape of life-feeling, so that all the vital centers in my body and mind appeared like a long funnel of contracted planes that led on to an infinitely regressed and invisible image. I observed this deep sensation of conflict and endlessly multiplied contradictions, such that I was surrendered to its very shape, as if to experience it perfectly and to be it.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Knee Of Listening

 


Avatar Adi Da has often said that, without self-understanding, we will tend to not engage the disciplines rightly. Instead, we will tend to engage them in a moralistic or "checklist" fashion (as something we should do as "good practitioners" — "lunch righteousness" is a good example of this mistaken approach to disipline) rather than engage them for their radical purpose as instruments of self-understanding. Thus, in "moralistic" mode, one will tend to be aware of and discipline the self-indulgent tendency, but we often fail to be aware of, and discipline, the self- (and other-)suppressive and self- (and other-)judgemental tendency.

Note that in most cases, a good counter-egoic discipline is one that restores balance, not tips one over into imbalance. Thus, someone who is being all uptight, puritanical and suppressed about diet, need not go out and eat ten pizzas as a counter-egoic discipline — although for really suppressed people, Adi Da sometimes recommended measures along those lines on a short-term basis, to free up severely bound energy and attention. (As He once put it humorously: dramatization is "less mediocre" than suppression. But of course that also makes clear that both are mediocre.) In general, it is a matter of both sides of the ego being disciplined: discipline the diet, and take on the discipline of relaxing the puritanical disposition and all its associated behavior (righteous "superiority" in relation to others, obsessive finickiness in choice of foods, etc.) Conversely, an appropriate counter-egoic discipline for a self-indulgent tendency is not to suppress oneself, or become an ascetic, but to engage in a rightly balanced behavior (for example, a minimal-optimal diet).

Thus, the net result of taking on a full suite of disciplines (that cover the "whole guy" that is the ego) is to be constantly in the disposition that Adi Da refers to as "relaxed self-inspection', and curbing of the ego, moment to moment, in all of its manifestations. (Now it's wanting to indulge; discipline that. Now it's wanting to suppress or be righteous or "feel good" about having disciplined the indulgent tendency; discipline that. Etc.)

Note that discipline of the lower faculties (body, mind, emotion, and breath) is counter-egoic activity at the periphery of the ego; communion with the Divine — Divine Distraction — is the core counter-egoic activity. Discipline is secondary to and supportive of the primary practice of Ruchira Avatar Bhakti Yoga. Both must be enacted responsively and moment-to-moment in order for fundamental self-understanding to occur. Any "discipline" that is not occurring in the context of Divine Communion has its center in the ego rather than the Divine. We express this point every year when we write "confessions of Narcissus":



 

The confessions for the Sovereign-Avataric Holy Month of the Gift of True Water and Divine Spiritual Fire were originally written in the format of "I am 'Narcissus'", or a confession of ego-addiction. These confessions must be transformed and raised up, such that they encompass the heart's confession, so the confession is full-made. What has tended to occur is that devotees make only a kind of negative confession of egoic self, and the full confession of the heart is not made.

The heart is the Way. Devotees must at all times re-direct themselves to confess the heart's motive, rather than just making the confession of the body-mind. Therefore, in the specific exercise of writing confessions for this Celebration, devotees should write their confessions in this higher manner, and, therefore, include the heart, and not just the body-mind.

This does not exclude, of course, the confession of the body-mind's addictions. But it raises the confession up to the heart and should then convert the devotee through his or her confession from this higher Principle.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, February 17, 1993

 


A number of other people have had insights along these lines (about the inherent dilemma of egoic tendencies). For example, Freud's psychoanalytic theory (see The Ego and the Id) refers to a conflict between ego and super-ego. Fritz Perls' Gestalt Therapy (see Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality) refers to a conflict between "Top Dog" and "Underdog". Transaction Analysis (see Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis in Psychotherapy) pictures it as a "Parent Tape" versus a "Child Tape". Do I watch TV or do something I've been putting off? Do I exercise or get out the ice cream? The general argument often takes the form of indulgence versus restraint. Rather than placing ultimate value in standing prior to either side of the ego, we tend to make a value judgment on the conflicting voices, assigning positive and negative, good and bad, etc. tags to the opposing sides, and then we identify ourselves with the preferred side. When the preferred tendency wins, we attribute it to will power. When the disavowed side wins, we say we lack will. Drawing upon wisdom from the Zen tradition, Hubert Benoit (author of The Supreme Doctrine) advocates acceptance in the form of the conciliation of the opposites. He interprets the Zen notion of satori (what Adidam devotees might call a moment of self-understanding) as the release that occurs in the instant when the absurdity of all our pretentious efforts produces true humility. Remaining motionless in the recognition of humiliation allows an intervention that enables a conciliation of the opposites: suffering fades; calm and relaxation occur; the "old" person dies. There's a Zen saying that there is nothing to be done. Benoit understands this to mean a relaxing or not-doing that is necessarily accompanied (and facilitated) by a higher-level doing. However, what is missing from Benoit's picture is the "higher means" that makes his satori moments possible on a consistent basis (to the point of not just "moments" of satori but a permanent Spiritual Realization). The Way of Adidam provides that higher means in the steady, unrelenting form of Adi Da's Divine Transmission, and our devotional resort to that Transmission. In the Way of Adidam, moments of self-understanding occur by Grace (not by Gurdjieff-like tricks played on the ego, egoic efforts to "surrender" the ego, to "accept" the entirety of the ego, etc.), through moment-to-moment practice of Ruchira Avatar Bhakti Yoga.

As Adi Da means it, egolessness — or self-transcendence — is about being free of the sense of "dilemma" or "problem" that is at the root of human suffering. The pairs of contradictory tendencies are at the core of the sense of dilemma (the word's Greek roots literally mean: "two alternatives"). To stand prior to them is to freed from the sense of dilemma.

While a person no longer bound by either "horn" of their egoic dilemmas will tend to choose a balanced life, a particular behavior is not what characterizes their egolessness. Freedom from dilemma is what characterizes it.

Self-transcendence is a matter of "standing" prior to one's egoic patterning. It doesn't necessarily "disappear" altogether (although some of it may disappear). Adi Da has said that one may have to continue to actively discipline oneself even in the seventh stage of life. It is likely, however, that such tendencies will weaken in force, through non-use. But regardless of the status of the egoic patterning, one is free of its implications because one is no longer identified with it.


4. All the disciplines need to be engaged with consistency in order for fundamental self-understanding to occur

We can make an analogy here to boiling a pot of water. While in some sense the basic idea is simple heat up the water to the boiling point, whereupon it changes state and becomes a gas the nature of the “vehicle” for boiling (i.e., a pot on a stove) has to be taken into account. There are all kinds of things that could keep the water from boiling, or slow the process down: We could turn the heat down; we could remove the pot from the heat; we could take the lid off the pot; we could add more water to cool things down; etc. If we want the process to proceed to the boiling point, we must not do these things.

Just so, if we “take on disciplines” to heat us to the point of hearing, and, then we let ourselves off the hook with the dietary discipline on this day or the relational discipline on that day (because we’re having problems enduring the heat), we will never “boil”. We need a set up of disciplines that cover "the whole guy", every aspect of egoity, and that we then engage with consistency, in order to enable the fundamental self-understanding that is hearing.


5. The disciplines are countering ADDICTIONS; therefore, Divine Help is necessary

 

 

Being undisciplined is another way of seeking to be in control. After all, when you abandon discipline, you do something undisciplined. And why do you do it? Because you want to feel good, right? You want to be in control of feeling good.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

 


When we look at all the ways in which we distract ourselves from feeling, from moment to moment, we can accurately characterize these forms of seeking as addictions. Some of them are what are conventionally viewed as addictions food addictions, drug addictions, alcohol and smoking addictions, gambling addictions, TV addictions, sexual addictions, etc. But even the activities we don't normally classify as "addictions" can be viewed as such because their motivation and their pattern is the same: they are motivated by the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

Because, until we develop the hearing capability, the source of the pain is at a deeper level than our conscious awareness, we cannot simply will ourselves to engage the various disciplines that curb these addictive habits. The motivation for the addiction is at a deeper level than what we are consciously being, and therefore we are not the master of it, and are re-possessed and driven by that deeper, still unconscious motivation the instant we run out of “will”. This is characteristic of all addicts who, through will alone, try to counter their addiction; it is an endless cycle of indulgence and “discipline” (as in the area of food: alternately dieting and bingeing). The only way out of this cycle, as groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous have discovered, is to resort to Divine Help. The reason is clear: as the very Source of one’s being, as one’s True Self, God is even “deeper” than one’s motivation to avoid pain (and deeper even than that primal addiction, the self-contraction itself), and so resort to God is capable of overcoming the addiction because God is deeper than the addiction while mere will, which is shallower than the addiction, cannot. By "living to God" consistently, the force of the addiction is broken, and eventually the joy of God-Communion replaces and exceeds the (ever-diminishing) pleasures of the addiction to being a separate self.



 

The ego-"I" is (inherently and entirely) an addict, a seeker in pursuit of utter self-fulfillment and self-release. . . . The ego-"I" is an addict (or a seeker) in everything he or she does. That search is always a lust for objects and effects (whether apparently external or apparently internal). And the search itself is always founded upon "Narcissus"-the basic self-contraction, the alienated, separate, and separative ego-"I".

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, "The ego-'I' Is Inherently an Addict"
from
The Basket Of Tolerance

Every ego-"I" is an addict of self-contraction. And egoity, or the addiction to self-contraction, is not just one kind of self-indulgence. Egoity, or self-contraction, is the total pattern of one's life, and it inevitably produces suffering and bondage. Therefore, every practitioner of the Way of Adidam must remember this fact, be honest, know for certain that it is true of him or her, and regularly confess his or her addiction to other practitioners.

Just as alcoholics confess, "I am an alcoholic," practitioners of the Way of Adidam must confess to all: "I am 'Narcissus'. I am bound to the self-contraction in every dimension of body, emotion, and mind. And I am suffering the mood and the motive of separation, and dramatizing it via the search for union and release. All my tendencies are a mechanical effort, and, if I indulge in them, they lead to suffering and failure in life. Therefore, because I know this about myself, I constantly commit myself to ego-surrendering, ego-forgetting, and ego-transcending devotion, service, self-discipline, and meditation in heart-Communion with the Divine Heart-Master, Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Samraj."

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, "I Am (Myself) What you Require"

 

6. Like training a dog


 

Why tell Me about "Narcissus" when you are heart-born to My Face? "Narcissus" is an appendage-waste in the intestines. Let it pass out. Be purified. Stop telling Me about it. Stop telling yourself, stop telling everybody about it.

There are occasions to be confessed, but do not make too much of such secondary business. Do not make a philosophy out of it. Make your life out of your heart-response to Me. Your egoic garbage is not philosophy. Purification is not philosophy. The purification is simply the result of your heart-commitment to Me, and you endure it, love Me, and live the Way, and that is it.

You think that to change your life entirely on the basis of your heart-response to Me would be being idealistic. That is not being idealistic, that is the ultimate realism. Idealism is a mental preoccupation that inspects nothing. Idealism is not a heart-motive. To find Me out, to be Blessed, to be Awakened to Divinity, so that you are willing to throw all your trash away-that is not idealism, that is conversion. That is the realism of the Ultimate Reality. And having gotten that Blessing, even that Beatitude, this is the basis for great conversions of life, great transformations of life, great purification-just cutting it all away, without doubt. You do not have to "consider" your contractions up and down to find out whether the body-mind is feeling good or whether it will protest in the meantime. Who cares if it protests? Of course, it will protest. Drag the "dog" along.

The great heart-impulse founded in Me is the basis for all the changes that My devotees make. And that is not idealism. Disregarding the heart and just thinking of some imagined purity is idealism. That will not hold, because there is no heart in it. With the heart in it, making the heart your way in My Company, the impulse in My Company, you can do anything.

Ruchira Avatara Bhakti Yoga is the Way of Adidam. You think it is a conversation about yourself. Ruchira Avatara Bhakti Yoga is the Way, not a conversation about yourself. Of course, the Way is about self-understanding, but self-understanding occurs in the context of this devotion. There must be self-understanding arising in that circumstance, in that heart-dimension. But the Way of Adidam is not about talking with yourself, talking to others about yourself, talking to others about themselves, and thinking that is going to become Real-God-Realization.

If you become My devotee, let the body-mind follow! Require it to do so. Why do you have to worry if it is going to protest or not? Of course, it will protest. None of its adaptations has anything whatsoever to do with Real-God-Realization.

If the heart responds, the "pig" is no longer in charge. It is like training a dog. The dog protests, it is just a vital being. You have to know how to train it, how to conform it to your will. How to conform it to your heart, then, is what you have to do with the "pig", or the "dog", of your own body-mind. The first thing is to be converted at heart, be heart-alive, heart-reborn. Then you are in a position to deal with the body-mind, and you do not have to be the slightest bit concerned about any of its future protests. Tell the body-mind that that is your commitment, and you do not have to consult the body-mind about it. Instead, consult the heart about it.

If this response to Me has converted your heart, if this is your understanding of yourself, then you have to start dealing with yourself in quite a different fashion, on the basis of that heart-conversion, rather than on the basis of the talkative manipulations of the egoic self. Instead of living in the context of the world, live in the context of Real (Acausal) God. That is the basis for making changes in the Way of Adidam.

Bring your devotion to Me to the front. Live on the basis of the Blessing you have received, the understanding that you have acquired by Finding Me. Do not forget this Blessing and this understanding, living on the basis of your own tendency.

Why do I also call this Way "the "Radical" Way of the Heart"? This heart-response is the key to the transformation. You must enliven it. You must keep it to the front and make it the basis of your discipline. If you do make this heart-discovery of Me-the Divine discovery-then it is your responsibility to keep it to the front and deal with your life.

Instead of constantly continuing to fall back into the garbage of egoity, you must live on the basis of your heart-conversion, your Communion with Me. That is Adidam, the "Radical" Way of the Heart. That enables you to make all the life-changes necessary for your sadhana. All of My devotees should be living with this impulse and making changes on that basis.

Everything about "Narcissus" and your problems and your tendencies is just garbage. Stop taking it seriously. You have to deal with it, but from the point of view of the heart, as My true devotee. Your heart is what I Speak to. Your heart-relationship to Me is what sadhana is about. You must use your heart to purify your body-mind. That is the sadhana. That is the Way of Adidam.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, February 15 and 16, 1993

 


7. What disiplines are NOT

It is important to keep in mind that disciplines are necessary but secondary practices that are supportive of the primary practice of Divine Contempation through surrender of the faculties. In itself, discipline will not make us Happy, or bring about Spiritual Realization. At best, it will bring the body-mind into a greater state of equlibrium.



 

Discipline is difficult enough. Why burden it with the obligation to make us Happy?

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

 


A common error of beginners is to get all puffed up about being "good" at one of the disciplines — say diet — and then to go around and point out everyone else's limitations in that area. Avatar Adi Da Samraj humorously calls this beginner's pitfall, "lunch righteousness". Disciplines simply are necessary for Spiritual Realization, in the same way that not walking off cliffs is necessary for human life, but not nearly sufficient for a good human life.

Most disciplines in the way of the heart have no moral component.* This is in contrast with many religious traditions. For instance, the dietary precepts of orthodox Judaism or Islam are very much associated with being a "good Jew" or "good Muslim". The thought of "eating pork" would send shivers up the spine of an orthodox Jew! In Adidam, however, such disciplines have a purely pragmatic purpose: they serve Spiritual Realization. They are like the scaffolding used during the process of building a new building. Once the building is built, the scaffolding is no longer needed. Just so, once Spiritual Realization has been awakened, the disciplines are no longer needed. As it turns out, since most of the disciplines coincide with a lifestyle of equanimity and balance, and since a Realized person is no longer driven by the imbalanced tendencies of either side of the ego, the Realized person may very well continue the same "disciplines", not as a support on the way to Realization, but as an expression of Realization. On the other hand, their Realization is permanent, and not threatened by their behavior in any way. So if some unconventional behavior proves useful in serving the liberation of others, they may freely engage such a "crazy-wise" behavior for that purpose.

People who are used to religions in which prescriptions for behavior are understood in moral terms can easily misunderstand the unconventional behavior of Spiritual Realizers (including the unconventional behavior of Adi Da Samraj), because such people immediately label as "hypocrisy" any difference between what the Realizer prescribes for their devotees and Their Own behavior, suggesting they are not practicing what they preach. But this is simply a misunderstanding (a major one), based on confusing the social morality of certain familiar religious traditions (like Judasm, Christanity, or Islam) with the supportive disciplines of spiritual Ways purposed toward Spiritual Realization.



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*The exception are what we call the relational disciplines --which apply to our intimacies, to how we live and work with others in community, and how we live in the world altogether.


 
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