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Dharma Woman






Reflections of a Modern Buddhist Woman




by Marie Minnich

Copyright May 2018 by Marie Minnich

Smashwords Edition

ISBN: 9780463536803


Dharma Woman: Reflections of a Modern Buddhist Woman

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Disclaimer: This book is for popular entertainment purposes only. The author makes no claims that any psychological, psychiatric, or spiritual benefits may be derived from this book, any benefits claimed are solely at the discretion of the reader, and the author makes no claim of offering any professional guidance of any kind for any purposes whatsoever.


 Table of Contents

Dharma Woman: Reflections of a Modern Buddhist Woman

Author Bio

Other books by Marie Minnich

Connect with Marie Minnich



I would like to acknowledge my parents without whom I would not have this wonderful earthly existence and would not have learned the essence of being a good, compassionate person.  My friends, family and loved ones have surely added to my amazing life, and my little dog who is my best guru.

The translation of the fifty-nine Lojong slogans used in this book are versions taken from the Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche translation as revised by Diana J. Mukpo and the Nalanda Translation Committee,  Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness,” by Chogyam Trungpa. (See Bibliography.)

However, “Dharma Woman” is in no way affiliated with this organization. Sometimes definitions of terms are extrapolated from a number of sources.

The purpose of this commentary is to illuminate Mahayana Buddhist concepts and principles of Lojong in the most modern terms possible as revealed to me.  The Appendix includes a glossary of Buddhist terms and definitions, some meditations, and a Bibliography of recommended Buddhist books.






-We can always start over again-



Ego is the father of all lies…
Compassion is the mother of all truth



Meditation on modern woman

Beautiful woman, you are the heart of the universe. You are the crown of creation. You serve selflessly every day of your life. You are expected to be mother, wife, teacher. You wake up in the middle of the night to feed the baby, then you get up and go to work, pay the bills, come home and take care of the baby again. You are the nurturer, the lover of life. You are oftentimes abused, overlooked, and passed by in life. What need have you of teachings of compassion, of meditation, of loving kindness, when in every gesture of your life you manifest these selfless attributes? You are the living, breathing goddess of love and nurturing. You are the manifestation of compassion itself.





I consider myself extremely fortunate that Ive experienced a great deal of hardship in my life.

Without these hardships, I doubt that I would have become the compassionate human being that I am today. Without the hardships Ive experienced, I may never have found my Buddhist path.

Ive been practicing meditation and following the teachings of Buddhism for a long time—over 40 years to be exact. I emphasize the word “practice,” as it is an ongoing daily challenge to open our hearts and minds to the precepts and teachings of Buddha, particularly as citizens of the secular world. We sometimes need all the help we can get to conquer the habitual traits and negative emotions that lead to our greatest failures as human beings.


Enter: Lojong.

Lojong, or mind-training instruction, is handed down by two great Tibetan Buddhist master teachers: Atisha in the 10th century—and then Geshe Chekhawa in the 12th century, who summarized the teachings into 59 slogans, or aphorisms, formally named Lojong. This is when Lojong was birthed—and venerable Lojong has survived for a few centuries now.

The 59 slogans are provided as principles for study and meditation. (There are many esteemed books and commentaries on Lojong just waiting for you to discover: see Bibliography.) Once I found Lojong, I was inspired to incorporate the 59 slogans into my daily Buddhist practice. Lojong study proved to be an immense help. Reflecting or meditating on a slogan can be exactly what I need to shift my perspective at exactly the right moment.

Lojong is a Tibetan word of two syllables. Loosely translated Lo means “mind.”  Jong means “training” or “processing.”  The purpose of the Lojong practice then is to train or discipline our mind. But the training is deeper than that as we are also asked to purify our hearts.


Living Lojong

The 59 proverbs

Lojong practice is energetically designed to undo negative mental and emotional habits that have created stumbling blocks for us. Just pronouncing a slogan, or thinking about it,  is useful to break up old, crystallized thought patterns.

 By contemplating and meditating on Lojong, we can begin to see how much trouble we actually cause ourselves because of our own ego-based reactions to life. We need to stop working to cause ourselves so much trouble. Buddhists believe it is our personal emotional response to everything that happens to us in our life that causes us a great deal of mental and emotional anguish. Put in the proper perspective, a great deal of our emotional turmoil would just disappear if we recognize that much of our ego-based drama is exactly that: a drama playing out based on nothing but our egocentric, ego based wants and desires. Once we get a handle on how much grief our ego-based desires are causing in our life, we have a much better grip on our suffering. This is not to say that when something truly tragic happens we should not respond with appropriate grief, or likewise appropriate joy. But so much of what happens in daily life is just our own ego reacting to things that, in reality, have very little need to generate so much reactivity.  Much of what happens to us in daily life is not personal, yet we take it personally.

Lojong exists to help us to become more compassionate people. That is, more compassionate not just to other people, but also to ourselves. We will not be so reactive to everything and everybody that doesn’t go our way, if we can begin to see that we are connected to all of life, then we can begin to develop empathy for all living beings. Being a human being is basically difficult and uncomfortable, and we need to recognize this.

It may help to think of our life as a movie. We are the director, the producer, and also the star, and all the people around us are the supporting actors. We’re the witness to the action. If the actors around us are acting up and saying lines that are causing us to be reactive, we need to maintain being the witness. In reality, we can just remain neutral. We have within ourselves the ability to change the script of our life and end our emotional suffering, simply by not reacting to everything that happens around us.

Someone makes an offhand remark that completely pushes our buttons. We react with great indignation and suffer for hours on end. We’re angry and we’re hurt. Pretty soon we’ve turned the incident into a full blown technicolor movie in our head with a supporting cast of thousands. We’re so angry with the person who pushed our buttons that they’re now on our mortal enemy list. But who are we really angry with? Maybe we’re really angry with ourselves for allowing this situation to happen in the first place. Maybe this person always pushes our buttons and we’d be better off not seeing them anymore. Maybe we’re tired of being ambushed by this person. Maybe we’re really angry because we know that we’re overreacting. Maybe we’re actually hurting and suffering because we’re in emotional pain and this incident hurt so much, it really touched our soft spot.  If we could just step back for a minute and witness our own reactions, then we begin to calm down.

It’s possible to learn to maintain our equilibrium and balance in all situations. Meditation can be a useful tool to start maintaining this equilibrium.  This is the best time of all to take a deep breath and practice a Lojong slogan.


The slogans

The Preliminaries

1.    First, train in the preliminaries

First indicates that we must start at the very beginning with the preliminaries to cultivate our practice. The preliminaries contain the four points that change our way of thinking to counteract our normal attitudes.

Four Points: Maintain an awareness of the preciousness of this human life, the reality of death, entrapment of karma, and the intensity of the suffering of sentient beings.

How do we maintain this awareness? When caught up in everyday secular life, it’s sometimes difficult to realize the preciousness of human life. Most of us don’t live in an ivory tower. Most of us are slugging it out, like boxers in the ring. And a great deal of our current culture seems to be anti-preciousness of life.  It sometimes seems like all of modern life is purposely designed to annoy us on a  daily basis. We’re being beeped to death by electronic reminders.

If we are so fortunate as to have young children, we know without even trying that life is precious. We gaze upon our sleeping child and we feel overwhelming love. We feel a love that is the greatest love we have ever felt. Perhaps we love dogs and have a beautiful pup in our care. The unconditional love our dog gives us is truly divine love. But when our innocent child is screaming, crying, and throwing a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store, of course, it’s more difficult to maintain that feeling of unconditional love. All of our good intentions to be an enlightened bodhisattva go out the window. Then we become annoyed and upset. Someone is giving us the evil eye because our child is screaming and we feel anything but loving. We’re mortified and we’d  like to punch them in the nose. Deep down, however, we know that life is still precious.

Many times throughout our day we’re distracted from the preciousness of life. Just when we need to complete critical work to meet an important deadline, our computer crashes.  Our cel phone is flooded with robotic autodialers: ringing the line  and interrupting our workflow.  The news is filled with horrific gloom and doom.

Yet inherently we know that human life is precious. We know that life is precious, because when we’re out in nature, we feel the beauty of life that surrounds us. We know when we gaze at our precious children, or adorable animals, how beautiful and fragile and precious life really is. We have so many moments when we experience the beauty of life.

But when we’re in a hurry to get home after work, perhaps because we have to get home and pay the babysitter, and some person is pushing us to drive faster, or cuts us off, it’s pretty difficult to maintain an “awareness of the preciousness of life”.  How do we remind ourselves of the preciousness of life at these uncomfortable moments?

The only way we can is by accepting life exactly the way it is. We have to accept that somebody pushing us to drive faster, as annoying as it is, is a part of our precious life. It’s not life the way we want it, or even think it should be. But it’s life the way we are experiencing it at this moment. And that’s precious. If we’re feeling angry, that’s okay. The idea is not to suffer with our anger, but just to let it flow over us like water. For a minute we can feel our anger, and then let go and realize life is precious. We can let it go. Our anger is like a separate living entity we’ve just created, and we’re feeding it our angry emotional energy. The more emotional energy we feed our anger Beastie, the larger it’s getting. Pretty soon it’s as big as King Kong. We don’t have to hold on to our anger for an hour, take it home and feed it and nourish it like a pet.

Here Beastie, eat some more of my anger, nom nom nom”.

If we don’t feed our anger Beastie, it will dissipate and shrink down into its original form of nothingness. It will starve to death. We can feel  our anger, then stop being angry because we realize life is precious and this is just one moment of our life. We don’t have to suffer all the way home for another hour on the 405 because some jerk cut us off. It’s our precious life, and life is precious. Maintain an awareness of the preciousness of life. Practice being aware of the preciousness of life. The next time someone cuts us off on the 405, we can take a deep breath and say, “This too shall pass.”

Starve our anger beastie. Life is precious. When we get home, we can be with our precious child, or children, or dog, or  partner. We can know for a fact that life is precious and be aware of the sacredness of life. We can even begin to have  compassion for that jerk on the 405. Maybe they were having a bad day. Maybe their boss just yelled at them. We can remember that just last week we cut someone off. It’s all good.

The reality of death. We’re all going to die. This sucks. This is the truth that none of us want to face. It’s just too unsettling and too gloomy and it makes us sad. We do everything we can to avoid this reality. We want to believe that we’re immortal. And then we grow old anyway. Our body ages and we feel embarrassed and ashamed about our aging body. We want to believe we can hold back the hands of time forever. We eat healthy and work out and we use all the creams and elixirs in the world, we dye our hair and we get plastic surgery. And then our body ages anyway. Our western culture is very much in denial of aging and death, and worships youth.

Aging is particularly horrifying for women. We look in the mirror at our aging face and see death. Our culture worships youth and beauty and a woman’s value is based on her youth. Just to look in a mirror at our aging face brings us shame and depression. This calls for the most diligent Buddhist practice. We  must practice non-attachment to our body and reflect on the impermanence of life. We must focus on giving out love and compassion. Paradoxically, as our inner light shines, it sometimes lights up our face and we sometimes appear a little more attractive.

In some cultures the elders are respected and worshipped. Sadly, in our current culture, ageism is prevalent. Many times elders are made fun of, neglected and warehoused. Nonetheless, death is the most natural part of life ever. We don’t have to go around being all gloomy and thinking that we’re going to die, so what’s the point of living anyway? But to be aware of impermanence is a good thing. Everything changes, and everything is temporary. In reality, nothing is static.

So when we view life from the point of view that everything changes, and everything is impermanent, we don’t get so attached to things and we roll with the punches more. We become more open minded and not so set in our ways. We might say, “What’s so great about my way anyway?”  Everything is impermanent and will change as causes and conditions change.

If we remember that everything is impermanent, we won’t feel so rigid about everything. We might bend a little and give a little. Realizing that everything dies doesn’t mean we should have a nihilistic attitude. On the contrary, life is precious and we should revere life. Realizing that we are only temporarily on earth should make us appreciate even more the sacredness of our time here. Be aware of the reality that life can end at any moment of our life, and then we will appreciate the life that we have in this very moment even more. Be grateful for the life we have right now in this very minute. Be grateful for everything going on in  our life, the screaming baby and the barking dog. The baby is probably screaming because she’s alive and healthy and needs her diaper changed, and the dog is barking because this is what dogs do. Barking is a dogs dharma. Life is impermanent and we’re going to die and this is the beauty and perfection of our life right now. Death means rebirth. It’s immutable. Buddhists believe in reincarnation. Whether we believe in reincarnation or not is immaterial. The fact is, that all degeneration leads to regeneration.  We have to bury the old to make room for the new. Think of death as renewal and we won’t feel so gloomy about it. The best thing we can do is be compassionate and work to leave a kind legacy, a more beautiful earth for future generations.

Every day we can bury our past. We can bury the past of those old memories of our ex, of those old dreams that died and didn’t work out.

Let the old dreams die. We can have new dreams. That’s the beauty of regeneration. Every moment of our life we can start over. When we know that life is impermanent, we will love our children, our families, our life even more. We will never take anything for granted again. We will hug our children or  our loved ones even tighter. We will appreciate each moment of each passing day with our loved ones. We will appreciate our struggles. Life is impermanent, but love itself is eternal. Our love for our families and children and partners is an eternal thing. Love is a whole ingredient and the bonds of love can never be diluted, not even through death. So although death comes for everyone, we don’t have to mourn the end of  life because we can rejoice that love and compassion are whole ingredients of the universe and cherish our love ones even more in each passing moment.


Entrapment of Karma. The immutable law of the universe is that everything has an equal or opposite reaction. From a spiritual point of view, we might call this karma. Or, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, what we reap we sow. In other words, every thought word and deed has a consequence. Like a stone being thrown on water, there is a ripple effect to our actions. This ripple effect is immutable and inescapable. Perhaps the result is not immediately experienced. Perhaps it takes  a lifetime. Sometimes the result is immediately apparent, such as we stub our toe and get a bruise. Sometimes the emotional bruise takes much longer to manifest. But sooner or later, karma comes full circle. Man’s laws may not always be fair, but natural justice is impartial.

 If we really could see the results of all our actions, it would almost be painfully comical. It’s as if there is an invisible jury presiding over us, watching at all times. The judgement is simply the long term consequence of our actions. We can avoid a lot of emotional suffering simply by becoming aware of the long term consequences of our thoughts and actions.

We really shouldn’t be alarmed, as truly it is not that hard to take care and behave somewhat virtuously. Most of the world’s great religions have given us ethical guidelines since time immemorial, such as “Thou shalt not kill," and “Thou shalt not steal,” or “Do unto others.” It really shouldn’t be that difficult to live a moral, ethical life, but we complicate things all the time. We want to stretch the truth just a little bit all the time. We want to test the waters. We want to find short cuts. Maybe if  I lie to myself just a little bit, or steal just a little bit, or ignore my bad behavior just a little bit, then eventually I won’t have to pay the piper and have a negative consequence. The bill won’t come due. This is where we get in trouble.

We can begin by meditating on the precepts, or other ethical prescriptions,  and we will probably make good, well informed ethical decisions most of the time. Lojong teaches the prescriptions are “antidotes to wrong thinking.” We go to the doctor and we get a prescription for a cure to what’s ailing us. So the prescriptions are a cure of sorts. The prescriptions are like an internal system of checks and balances. We need to be constantly putting ourselves in check so we can maintain our balance and equilibrium.

Of course, we’re human, and much of the time our ego will get in the way.  But if we make enough good choices, odds are we will have enough merit to escape having really bad karma.  It’s tantamount to building up a bank account of intangible assets.

Nor should we have “false piety," as in doing good works we hope others will see. As a matter of fact, that kind of egocentric approach may just be a neutralizing effect. Just try to be a good, compassionate human being. Work at it day and night. For the most part, we already are good, compassionate human beings.

 Buddhists believe that inherently, most human beings are good. In truth, we actually have to work at being bad. It’s our normal state to feel empathy and compassion for those who are weaker than ourselves. Something has to have really gone wrong internally for people to become bullies, thugs and murderers.  Try to have compassion for these suffering people. They suffer too.

 We all have some degree of neurosis by virtue of the fact that we live in a very imperfect world in a very imperfect human body with a flawed mind. Nonetheless, our true nature is inherently good. It has to be because our hidden nature is  a living part of nature.  It’s just that we’re somewhat enveloped by a mucky morass of our own negative thinking or neuroses. These neuroses are referred to as kleshas in Buddhism. But we can overcome our neuroses by not feeding these neuroses more and more negative energy.

One of the most important things we can do is live a compassionate life that tries to set a good example for our children. Children learn by watching what we do. They model themselves after what we do, not what we say. They watch our every move. So if we’re responsible for other human beings, watching our own actions and reactions not only benefits our own karma, it benefits those who are watching our every move. This is why behaviors are generational in families. We can sometimes turn around family karma by checking behaviors in ourselves so emotional patterns don’t get passed on for generations.

It’s very important that we don’t fall prey to the “payback” consciousness that is so prevalent in current society. This vengeful type of consciousness really is a disease. It’s not our job to seek vengeance on others.  Seeking vengeance  brings really bad karma that sets up a vicious cycle.

 For example, if you’re really, really angry with your ex, it’s better to just let go of that shit. Work on feeling compassion for him/her no matter what a jerk they were to you, even if they abandoned you with three children, even if they were abusive or violent. The consequences of their karma will fall on them,  we’re not the judge. We can feel compassion for whatever pain caused them to be so callous, and just move on with our own lives. The more we judge someone else, the more we enmesh ourselves with their karma. Judging someone else doesn’t make us a superior person. It just puts us on a lower karmic level.  Don’t allow other peoples bad karma to enmesh with your own.

The more neutral we can be in our emotional responses, the less likely we will react to emotional dramas. The less we react to emotional drama, the better choices we will make with better consequences. This sets up better circumstances for the future to unfold in a more harmonious fashion. This is how we escape the cycle of suffering.

Suffering of all sentient beings. Obsessing about getting what we want and avoiding what we don’t want results in discomfort (dis-ease).

Ego has no mercy. Ego is the father of all lies. We will do well to remember this. Ego is the part of our personality that believes that we are separate from all other living beings and that the only way that we can survive is to be in control of everyone else. This narcissistic, egocentric point of view leads to all sorts of distortions and deceptions in the way that we view the world and other people. It puffs us up with self importance when self-importance is not merited, and keeps us away from the light of our true inner nature which is essentially loving, non-judgmental and kind. Ego separates, our true nature unites.

When we operate from a non-ego based point of view, with a genuine desire to help other people, amazing things happen and it feels like the universe bends to meet us. Suddenly we start meeting all the right people, and all the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place. When we operate from an egocentric point of view, sometimes we can power our way through situations, and  we can make things happen. For a while it may seem like we’re on top. But the victory is temporary. Ultimately, things fall apart. It’s like a beautiful structure that has been built and it looks great from the outside. But the foundation is rotten or not holding, and one day the entire structure just collapses. Fundamentally, this is what happens when we build things from our ego. It’s a house of cards.

Obsessing about getting what we want is often the most  surefire way to get what we don’t want. We can’t control other people and things, at least not for long. The more we obsess about something, in reality, the more we are pushing the thing away.

Obsessing is different from determination or having a goal. Obsessiveness has an ego-based controlling energy to it. How do we know when we are obsessing as opposed to just having a goal? When we’re obsessing we will have no peace of mind. A part of us will understand that we’re being obsessive and that in reality we should be surrendering and letting go of the object of our desire. When we have a legitimate goal, we will have a strong, calm peace of mind and simply be working towards our goal. We won’t feel that crazy obsessive energy.

Have you ever been stalked by a crazy stalker? Someone who just won’t take no for an answer? Perhaps it’s a stranger, or more likely an ex-lover. It’s a really bad experience. This person is obsessed with us. They turn up everywhere. They turn up on our street in front of our house, or in front of our workplace. They call our phone 25 times in a row and hang up. This person has a crazy, obsessive desire for us, even though we’ve made it abundantly clear we don’t want them in our lives. Sometimes we have to get authorities involved. Why can’t this person let go? They can’t let go because they are being blindly led by their desires and obsession. We’ve become the object of their desire and obsession. They’re in love with an idea of who we are, not with the real person. They’re in love with some image in their mind of who we are, and this image is a complete illusion. They can’t see that in reality they’re actually causing us strife and danger. This is the nature of obsession and of obsessive, crazy energy. So if we can just let go, stop obsessing, and stop avoiding what we don’t want, and let go of what we think we want, we can avoid crazy obsessiveness.

The nature of desire is that we often desire the idea of the thing we want more than the thing itself. This is what creates obsessive longing and attachment.  This is why we should not be attached to the outcome of our desires and longings, and it is better to regard all dharma as dreams. Practice non-attachment to the results of your desires and longings. Or at least recognize that your desires and longings may not have the outcomes that you want and that’s okay.

It’s like a person at a casino playing the slot machine whose losing.  When we stop enjoying the game, and we’re losing money we really can’t afford to lose, we’ve become obsessive. We’re obsessing over winning. It’s no longer about playing the game, or even enjoying the game. It’s about winning the game and trying to come out ahead at any cost. Even if we lose our house. Even if it ruins our marriage. After a point, it’s no longer about not losing. It’s an obsession about beating the machine.

If a person is mentally balanced, maybe a practitioner of Lojong or some other wisdom teaching, a person could just walk away after the first few losses. We can just shrug our shoulders and say, “Well, today we lost. Better luck next time.” Next time we’ll maintain our goal of just having a little fun, or whatever, without all the obsession. No harm done.

This is the difference between ego-based obsession and avoiding what we don’t want. We don’t want to lose. But if we do lose, just take it on the chin, stay neutral and walk away. Don’t turn everything into a drama fighting an impersonal slot machine that’s been intelligently programmed against you. Sometimes we sit down and we hit the jackpot. Good for us. Sometimes we don’t. Okay. Walk away. Better luck next time.

Further, we should not avoid the difficult way just because it’s hard. When faced with two paths, often the difficult path is the path we should choose.  Don’t try to avoid what you don’t want.

You may have heard  “The only way out is through.” There is great truth to that little saying. Sometimes we have to go through the fire to be purified and get where we’re going. Perhaps we have to confess to something we did and take our medicine. Perhaps we have to go back to school and start over. Perhaps we have to leave a relationship behind.

The longer we avoid what we don’t want to do, but know that we have to do, the more we will suffer emotionally.  We need to stop obsessing, face everything, own our mistakes, and get on with what has to happen. The results will actually be better and lessen our suffering. The only way to ease our suffering is to stop obsessing over what we think we want, and let nature take its course. Sometimes disappointment simply leads us to be on a better path. We have to surrender and let the plot unfold.

Sometimes it’s difficult in this “me focused” world to discern where the line is drawn between  “being the best we can be” and unadulterated Ego. If we watch advertisements, they’re mostly about separating everybody and everything into classes, that is, who is the best, the biggest, the richest, or the strongest. If we drive this car, we will be superior. If we dress this way, we are a cut about everybody else. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves, as a matter of fact, we’re fortunate to have a healthy beautiful body and it needs to be valued, dressed, fed, provided for. But it’s somewhat silly to believe that we are better than anyone else because we drive a certain car or dress a certain way. Being the best we can be has nothing to do with comparing ourselves to anyone else. Actually, we are no better or no worse than anyone else. We’re just humans living our life, with all our weaknesses and foibles, and the sooner we understand this, the less puffed up we will be. The more we compare ourselves to others, the more we will suffer.

In summary, it’s best to go back to our basics. Train in the preliminaries. This is the essence for all buddhist practice. Just breathe in and out. Breathe in, breathe out. Life is precious. Death is inevitable but life is sacred. To have good karma just practice good thoughts and deeds. No obsessing over what we want, no comparing to others. Be compassionate.


Bodhicitta means to have a good kind heart that wishes to help others and to refrain from hurting others.(1)  Buddhists primarily define two types of Bodhicitta, relative and absolute. Absolute bodhicitta encompasses realizing direct insight into the true nature of everything. We might think of  this state as  having our “real eyes.”

Relative bodhicitta encompasses the compassionate wish to be enlightened for the benefit of everyone. Relative bodhicitta is first about our correct relationship to everything.

Absolute Bodhichitta Slogans

2. Regard all Dharmas as Dreams.

All phenomena that appear as external are not separate from the mind. They are appearances of the mind, similar to a dream. Regarding all dharma as a dream doesn’t mean that our experiences aren’t real. Our experience is certainly real in our world of experiential reality. But we can’t hold on to phenomenal experience, our temporal experience is fleeting due to the very nature of physical life. The lessons we learn from earthly experience are nonetheless a lasting imprint on our experience.  As a matter of fact, the lessons we learn from our human experience of being in a human body are the only thing that is lasting.

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