Self Reliance

To you, the self-made man or woman, I bow.

To you, that never received care or love from a parent or relative when young, that never had a meal prepared for you, never had anyone teach you anything, I bow.

To you that never attended a public school, never used a public library, never traveled upon a public highway - well you have the right to beat upon your chest and proclaim your great achievements and brag to the world how you did it all yourself.

You that never had a teacher, counselor, or friend listen to your problems and help you through a tough time, you are truly self-made and I bow.  I'm sorry you missed out on the human experience.

Most of us have received some form of love and support during our lives.  Most of us have been receivers of gifts of love and compassion at one point or another.  We have had to learn to receive, to be grateful, and to be a part of a community.  In doing so we have had the opportunity to to reciprocate and to be generous - all human qualities.

The self-made man is a lie, delusion - a very sad self deception that hides one's inability to feel humility and gratitude.

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Stepping Off



Realizing that "I" am a part of all that is, in the same way that my toes are a part of what I call my body, I drop the small minded identity called self.

Realizing that the ability to think is like the ability to see; that thoughts come and go and are a function of a bodily organ, I know that I am not my thoughts.  Realizing that the individual self is a product of the mind, I vow to live for the good of all.

Events, thoughts, and emotions - empty of inherent existence - come and go.  They rise and fall from the infinite possibilities of emptiness.

Loosing our selfish sense of identity, our ego, is terrifying at first.  It is like "stepping off of a 100 foot pole."  Terrifying or not, we must take the step.  We must lose the self and commit to the Bodhisattva Vows or be imprisoned to our tiny world atop of  a pole forever.

Every day, challenge your assumptions.  Stretch your boundaries.  Be willing to step off of the pole.

And now as long as space endures,
As long as there are beings to be found,
May I continue likewise to remain
To drive away the sorrows of the world.

—Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva



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The Sin

The old man has accomplished much.  He studied, he worked hard, and he helped many.  He had his work cut out for him.  This new generation has lost the path and it saddens him. Don't they see the value in tradition?

The young woman feels the strain, the grief of generations past.  She sees their mistaken ways and feels a passion for change.  Why can't they see the wrong in their stubborn ways?  There is much to be done.  She has her work cut out for her.

I see a single flaw, replicated in two gems.  Why won't they listen?  Why don't they see what is so clear to me?  I have my work cut out for me.

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Who is Responsible?



When you look out and see the world, how do you see it?  Do your eyes "see" anything, or do they simply receive energy and transmit signals to your brain?  Our minds process everything and tell us a story.

Your eyes don't see.  Your ears don't hear.  They provide raw data which your mind uses to fabricate an empty reality.  Do you think you really KNOW what is going on in this world, independent of the spin your mind puts on it?

Ultimately we are responsible for the world we see, real or not.  This is why karma; our thoughts, speech, and actions are so important.

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Belief

If I believe in someone, I have to believe in myself.

If I hate someone, I have to hate something in myself.

If I love someone then I have love somewhere down inside, something deep within myself.

The world "out there" reflects what is inside.

Their is no duality, no separation.

Don't take my word for it.  Change how you think, what you believe and watch the world change.


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As You Are

Start now, as you are.
Start here, where you are.
There is no other time, no other place, no other way.

All is mind, all you see is illusion.  Every moment coming and going, self liberating.



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Life Experience - Reality

ALL APPEARANCE / EXPERIENCE IS MIND.  
You do not see what is really going on.  You can't.  You have limited observation capabilities through your senses and your mind interprets all information received.  The way I experience a sunset, a movie, or any event will be different from the way that you experience the event. My version of you is different from your version of you.

YOUR MIND EXPERIENCE IS EMPTY OF AN INDEPENDENT FIXED REALITY.
What you see as a tree, as a deer, or whatever....doesn't even inherently exist as you see it.  "Trees" consists of cells, which consist of elements and compounds, which are made of quantum particles interacting with consciousness and other quantum particles. Trees as you know them do not exist absent your consciousness.

EMPTINESS / EXPERIENCE SPONTANEOUSLY ARISES FROM POSSIBILITY.
Everything is in constant flux, interpreted and arising from a myriad of quantum possibilities interacting with each other, moment by moment.  Every single moment arises from a myriad of possibility collapsing into a reality we call now.

POSSIBILITY IS SELF LIBERATING.
Once an event arises, it goes away.  Another event arises and goes away.

You are alive, or at least having the experience of being alive.  Your body will die.  Weather changes. These things will happen.  How we experience them is based upon our thoughts, beliefs, speech, and actions.  Change seems hard and takes work, but we create our experience.

Namaste.

Avalokiteshvara
while practicing deeply with
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore,
suddenly discovered that
all of the five Skandhas are equally empty,
and with this realisation
he overcame all Ill-being.
“Listen Sariputra,
this Body itself is Emptiness
and Emptiness itself is this Body.
This Body is not other than Emptiness
and Emptiness is not other than this Body.
The same is true of Feelings,
Perceptions, Mental Formations,
and Consciousness.
“Listen Sariputra,
all phenomena bear the mark of Emptiness;
their true nature is the nature of
no Birth no Death,
no Being no Non-being,
no Defilement no Purity,
no Increasing no Decreasing.
“That is why in Emptiness,
Body, Feelings, Perceptions,
Mental Formations and Consciousness
are not separate self entities.
The Eighteen Realms of Phenomena
which are the six Sense Organs,
the six Sense Objects,
and the six Consciousnesses
are also not separate self entities.
The Twelve Links of Interdependent Arising
and their Extinction
are also not separate self entities.
Ill-being, the Causes of Ill-being,
the End of Ill-being, the Path,
insight and attainment,
are also not separate self entities.
Whoever can see this
no longer needs anything to attain.
Bodhisattvas who practice
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
see no more obstacles in their mind,
and because there
are no more obstacles in their mind,
they can overcome all fear,
destroy all wrong perceptions
and realize Perfect Nirvana.
“All Buddhas in the past, present and future
by practicing
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
are all capable of attaining
Authentic and Perfect Enlightenment.
“Therefore Sariputra,
it should be known that
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore
is a Great Mantra,
the most illuminating mantra,
the highest mantra,
a mantra beyond compare,
the True Wisdom that has the power
to put an end to all kinds of suffering.
Therefore let us proclaim
a mantra to praise
the Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore.
Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!
Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!
Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha!”

The Heart Sutra as translated by Thich Nhat Hanh

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All Beings are Worthy



All beings are worthy of your devotion and love.  Behaviors are toxic, not people.

All of your worldly experiences occur through your mind.  You do not see, hear, or relate to anything other than through the filter of your mind.  Any resistance you have to loving others is due to your own mental defilements, not others.

This may sound radical to many of you, but please give it a try.  Treat all beings as if they deserve your love and respect.  Realize that you are responsible for how you see and interact with all beings. When you quit interacting with the "bitchy" woman behind the counter as a bitchy woman behind the counter, she will cease to be a bitchy woman behind the counter.  Don't believe it?  Give it a try.  What can it hurt to spend a week or two of your life trying to improve your relationship with the world?  When I began to put this into practice it changed my relationships and my world.

You are responsible for your thoughts, speech, and actions. In short, you are responsible for your world.

Thus the state of buddhahood depends
On beings and the buddhas equally.
By what tradition is it then
That buddhas, but not beings, are revered?

~ Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva



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Grateful for Everyone

Be grateful for everyone.

Those that love you give you hope and courage .

Those that oppose you build your strength and determination.

Just this is it.  Use it as you will.

Whenever I catch sight of others,
By thinking, "It is through them,
That I will reach awakening,"
I'll look with sincerity and love.

~ Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva


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Growth

Today I offer my attention, caring; willingness to suffer.

Love, empathy, patience, strength,  compassion, generosity, grattitude, Bliss.

Love, empathy, patience, strength,  compassion, generosity, grattitude, Bliss.

Love, empathy, patience, strength,  compassion, generosity, grattitude, Bliss.

The end of suffering.



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51



Fifty-one.

Woke up in the middle of the night with no idea who I was.  Only consciousness - no identity, no age, no birthday.

Annie was next to me when morning came.  A cup of coffee and a smile.  Fifty-one.

Listened to some of my favorite music, got a few birthday wishes, and ate some eggs.

Put on a gift - no uniform today.

Packed my lunch in a paper bag, kissed my wife good-bye, not the dog.

My birthday wishes for myself:

More quiet, less noise.
Deeper relationships with more trust and understanding.
More presence, less distraction.
More flow, less resistance.
More patience, less frustration.
More gratitude, less craving.

Off to work.  Blessings to you all.

For as long as space endures
And for as long as living beings remain
Until then may I too abide
To dispel the misery of the world.

                            ~ Shantideva, The Way of  the Bodhisattva




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Patience



Have patience and compassion.

You never know another person's heart, their reasons, nor their potential.

Despite the pain or strength required, I hope you never give up on a fellow human being.  Truly, we are all interconnected.  When you give up on another, you give up on yourself.



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It's Following You

There is an old story of a monk who carries a sack of horse shit around with him. Each time he goes to a monastery, he puts his sack down, looks around, and says, “Boy, this place stinks! I’m not staying here.” Then he picks up his sack, and carries it with him to the next place and—surprise!—that place stinks too.

From job to job, relationship to relationship, and day to day; this empty set of thoughts, limitations,  and beliefs called self follows you...until you set it down.

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Mind...Adventure

Your mind ...Your thoughts...Your speech...Your actions...Your life.





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Reality, Television, Grandstanding, and Vulgarity

In our day of television vulgarity and grand-standing are very effective means of attracting an audience.  Reality shows have taken this a step further.  The characters are given scripts, conflicts are staged, and entertainment follows; however, the shows are presented as real life and we often believe them to be authentic.  We begin to believe that life really is a show of dramatic proportions and yearn for the adrenaline rush, despite the outcome.

In politics, we see the result of this plight.  Politicians become outrageous to grab our attention.  Their outlandish remarks are spread by the media.  People get swept up in the emotional surge, opinions are formed, policies created, and laws are passed.

In T.V. land we all go to bed when the show is over.  In real life - where people eat, breathe, work,bleed, and live - we must pick up the pieces.  Words, actions, laws, and policies have real consequences.  Everything matters.


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Once upon a time in America



Before we built walls, before we were so afraid, when we took in the World's oppressed.... from once upon a time when "America was Great".

Our thoughts form our beliefs, form our speech and actions which shape our lives and our world.  Ultimately we are all responsible.  Never let fear rule your mind.

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Does the Sky Exist?

Most of us have a fixed image of what the sky is.  We see a blue sky, a cloudy sky or whatever.  We know that it changes, but still think of it all as the sky.  In reality, is there such a thing as "the" sky, other than in our minds?  Clouds form and evaporate, winds blow the air stirring up dust which falls back to the ground.  Storms or tornadoes come and go.  If one looked closely they would see that there is no "sky" that exists as a thing.  There are random elements and particles contained in an area that is moving through space and those elements are in constant flux.

If you think about it the same is true for our bodies, our thoughts, our personalities, and our "selves."

What is this that we call self, I, me?

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Until it's Empty - Turtles All The Way Down

One summer day, two boys were throwing a ball back and forth. One asked, “Here we are playing, and the earth holds us up. But what holds the earth up?”

“I asked my dad about that a few days ago,” said the other, “and he said that the earth is held up by four elephants, one in each of the four directions.” They returned to their play.

A few minutes later, the first boy asked, “What holds the elephants up?”

“I asked my dad that, too, and he said that they stand on the shell of a giant turtle.” 

They threw the ball back and forth again. Then the first boy asked, “What holds the turtle up?”

The second boy stopped playing. He thought for a while and finally said, “I think it’s turtles all the way down.”

When we begin to examine our minds, eventually we come to pure awareness - emptiness.

Do not mistake emptiness as nothingness, it is everything - pure potential.

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Clarity ( For Annie )



Never as alive, as awake
as when sleeping under stars
on the side of a mountain,
under pines
and she by my side.

Clear the air, clear the mind,
purge the dark and doubt
on the side of a mountain,
under pines,
and she by my side.

Starry night, silent night,
holy night
on the side of a mountain,
under pines,
and she by my side.

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The Result



Our thoughts sometimes lead us down a bumpy road.  When someone does or says something we disagree with, "justice" demands that we say or do something about the situation.  We can't just sit here and not speak our mind, BUT what are the consequences?

Will speaking our opinion help the situation?

Will the other person learn from what we say or will they feel hurt and further isolated?

Will you win the battle and loose the war?

Is your pride more important than the end result?

Sometimes a few moments of looking deeply are in order before we speak, before we act.

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A World of Fear?

Fear gets our attention.

Seth Godin has an interesting article today on how the media not only reports bad news, but actually perpetuates it.

"What if the fear and malaise and anger isn't merely being reported by cable news... What if it's being caused by cable news?

The world is safer (per capita) than ever before in recorded history. And people are more frightened. The rise of the media matches the rise of our fear."


We have evolved  to notice and focus upon "danger".  In the days of lions, tigers, and bears it served us well to heed signals of fear.  The problem is that we see what we expect to see.  We find what we seek.  We create our reality through our expectations.

We think approximately 60,000 thoughts a day.  Most are unconscious and most are probably negative or fear based thoughts.  Using mindfulness and focused awareness we can create a world of our choosing.  I use Metta or Loving Kindness Meditation almost daily to combat destructive emotions and expectations.

Not watching Cable News probably helps as well.



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Anger, Suffering, and the Fourth Precept


"Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small."

The Fourth Precept as interpreted by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Speech is powerful.  It can be both very constructive and unfortunately, very destructive.  Mindful speech can bring happiness; undmindful speech can wreak havoc or kill.

I have anger issues.  There is a lot of pain stored in my mind from years of suffering.  My anger is often unintentionally released and communicated to the most loved people in my life. My relationships suffer.

Speaking while you are angry can be dangerous.  You may say hurtful things that create suffering and harm in your relationships.  Holding in our suffering can be just as dangerous.  I held in my suffering for years and it has bottled up and become a problem in my life.

I have learned that deep breathing and minding my feeling-tones allow me to calm down and return to a level of sanity.  Deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which slows our heart rate and reduces our stress levels. Using these practices, we are addressing our anger and touching the suffering with mindfulness, but not ignoring it.  I find that Loving Kindness Meditation assists even further in reducing my anger. It is after this that I should address conflicts, when I feel safe and am less likely to use unmindful speech.

Mindful communication is crucial and takes courage.  I hope that we all take a few moments daily to review the fourth precept and use our speech to mindfully improve our lives, our communities, and the world.



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When I Stopped Screaming

When I stopped screaming, when I stopped being right...everything changed.

Screaming didn'work.  Screaming angered others, it muddied waters.  Always being right closed my mind.  I was right, my heart was clenched, and I was alone.

When I really released my fixed views, when I learned to really see....to listen and understand.  When I stopped screaming, everything changed.

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Space

Not every void, not every space needs filled immediately.  Emptiness makes us uncomfortable, we feel edgy.  We rush to fill our free time with activity, our mind with thought, and our heart with emotion.

Meditation allows us to sit, to observe, to allow room for possibility.  All of creation springs from the great void.  Be sure to leave space in your life for creation.

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Signs of Strength?



In western culture we view stubbornness, loudness, and rigidity as signs of strength.  Could they instead be signs of fear and weakness?  Could it be fear that makes one scream and shout?  Could it be that one has to hide behind policy and dogma when one doesn't have the fortitude to make decisions based upon good judgement?

In my personal life I am trying to allow others to be without thinking I must caution them of their wayward ways.  Controlling others is surely a sign of insecurity, a loud voice a sign one feels powerless.

We need to question dogma and running buckshot over other people's wishes as acceptable behavior.   I certainly have.


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Patience

When things go "wrong", ie... not to our liking or expectations, we tend to lose perspective.  We feel persecuted, wronged, and indignant.  It is easy at such times to loose concern for others and become bitter and selfish.

Learning patience allows us to use loving kindness and mindfulness to accept things and others as they are.  Not everything is directed at us.  Sometimes causes align and things happen for reasons we do not understand.  We can learn to incorporate disappointing events into our practice and learn about life and ourselves.  This doesn't mean we have to put a "rosy" fake spin on everything that occurs in our lives, it means that we accept things as they are and transform ourselves.

Difficulties with the people and events in our life are a part of the path.  Developing patience helps us to stay on the path of the Bodhisattva.

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From Silence



From silence, from a blank page, from an empty space - comes all that is, will be, and has ever been.

From the void comes all form.

From silence, the quiet place deep within you, give birth to ideas, places, and things that do not yet exist.

"Silence is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence."
Deepak Chopra

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The Power of Being Wrong & The Dalai Lama

There isn't a lot to learn from being right.  When we are sure we are right, our minds are fixed and we only review thoughts and beliefs that we already had, further entrenching ourselves in our fixed views.

My wife and I have completely different memories of a difficult period in our marriage.  For years now we have reviewed it, ie.. fought about it, both entrenched in our own positions.  Nothing has changed, nothing has been learned, and feelings have been hurt.

I've recently heard it said that the Dalai Lama has mentioned that one of his standard meditations is a meditation on being wrong.  He simply repeats "I was wrong" over and over.  Interesting.

At first the thought threw me off.  What value could there be in that?  Then the thought of my embattled position in my marital dispute came to mind.  Was she right?  Could it be I was wrong?  The answer was maybe.  A magical word "maybe".  No entrenched position with fixed views and inflexible opinions...maybe.  Unlimited possibility...maybe.

Meditating on the possibility that I was wrong was not easy at first.  The ego resisted but eventually a small crack appeared in the wall of self-righteousness I'd built around my "self".  Self,  that fragile sand-castle we protect at all costs.  Eventually an opening and light shined through.  The light of love, understanding and possibility.

Whether right or wrong I've learned A GREAT DEAL about myself and made some serious changes for the better.  I think I'll try to be wrong more often.


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Seriously?

What do you need before you start taking your life more seriously and living as you know you should ,or at least start to seriously inquire?

More time? All of these previous years weren't enough?
More drugs?
More parties?
More television?
More sleep?
More shopping?
Another bad marriage?

Death is certain, the time of death is not.

Your precious human life could end at any time.


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Toxic Behavior

Behaviors are toxic, people are not.

All human beings have the unlimited potential for change, including you.

Hence we may love someone, including ourselves, and not approve of their behavior.

Namaste,
Dan

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Magnified

Seeds are small, but given the proper conditions they grow.  Even the smallest negative actions can have tremendous and catastrophic effects.

The same is true of our positive actions.  Be mindful of your actions and the attention they get afterward.

Rejoice in even your smallest virtuous acts.

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Especially Grateful for Conflict

If you are having extreme difficulty in your life; with a person or a particular situation, then be grateful for it. What an opportunity to learn and grow.  

We are only capable of seeing things from within our own understanding and beliefs.  If you see a disturbing situation in the outside world then turn inside to find the conflict or troublesome belief.

Relationships are an excellent opportunity to identify where we need work if we only look inside for understanding and solutions.  Anger comes from our own thoughts and beliefs, not the actions of others.  Guilt is in our minds, it isn't a tangible object someone hands us to hold onto.  Hate means we have some serious conflict going on in there somewhere.


We begin healing the world by healing ourselves.


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Unlimitted Potential

"Yes it's this way" or "No it's that way" are limitting statements and beliefs.  You've already eliminated a wide range of possibilities.

Uncertainty - Beginners Mind, -leaves open a wide range of outcomes.

Attitues of "I don't know" or "let's find out" -  bravery - they open the door to unlimited potential.

If you TRULY look at your assumptions and question them every day, then change will come.  Start with a blank page to open potential.  If your life is perfect then don't bother.

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Worry?

If you can change it, why worry about it?

If you can't cange it, why worry about it?


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Impermanence

This glass will not last forever.  One day the wind may blow it off the shelf, or my elbow may knock it from the table. I know this glass is already broken, so I enjoy it - incredibly.     -Ajahn Chah







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Very Suspicious



Our thoughts come from our own minds.  Our vision happens in our own minds.  We don't see with our eyes.  Light enters our eyes, but it is our mind that composes the images we "see".  The same is true for what we hear, taste, and feel.  Our minds assimilate the data input through our sense organs and we develop a story or thought around them.  A thought, a story...same thing.

Our emotions and beliefs come from our own mind, not what is happening out there.

If you are very suspicious and distrustful of other people, what does that say about your beliefs, your actions ...your own mind?  Are you trustworthy?  Do you trust yourself?

It starts and ends with ourselves.  We experience reality through our minds.  Be trustworthy and you will begin to trust.

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