my goals and ways of practice

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
Cafael Dust
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by Cafael Dust » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:55 am

I think people are trying to help, and none of us are perfect. So it's good practice to try, little by little, to react to less of the negativity one feels coming one's way, to say, ok, maybe I can let that go. It's really easy to interpret the way other peoples' priorities and understandings express themselves as negativity directed at ourselves. Especially when we're goal oriented, as Buddhism shouldn't but often does seem to make us, and we just want to progress quickly, on our own terms. And how we cope with this is as much a part of the path as meditation, and will feed back into one's meditation.

Not being didactic, more organising thoughts about how it is for me.

I really hope your practice is fruitful, and I don't see why it won't be if you continue, and yes, if possible, seek advice from someone realised. I'm off to bed now, good luck. :namaste:
Not twice, not three times, not once,
the wheel is turning.

santa100
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by santa100 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:03 am

I'm certainly no jhana expert. But regarding your question on how to move on to the formless meditations, the wiki page below might be useful, particularly the Mastering Jhana section, which states:

"A meditator should first master the lower jhānas, before they can go into the higher jhānas. There are five aspects of jhāna mastery:

1. Mastery in adverting: the ability to advert[clarification needed] to the jhāna factors one by one after emerging from the jhāna, wherever he wants, whenever he wants, and for as long as he wants.
2. Mastery in attaining: the ability to enter upon jhāna quickly.
3. Mastery in resolving: the ability to remain in the jhāna for exactly the pre-determined length of time.
4. Mastery in emerging: the ability to emerge from jhāna quickly without difficulty.
5. Mastery in reviewing: the ability to review the jhāna and its factors with retrospective knowledge immediately after adverting to them.

The early suttas state that "the most exquisite of recluses" is able to attain any of the jhānas and abide in them without difficulty. This particular arahant is "liberated in both ways:" he is fluent in attaining the jhānas and is also aware of their ultimate unsatisfactoriness. If he were not, he would fall into the same problem as the teachers from whom the Buddha learned the spheres of nothingness and neither perception nor non-perception, in seeing these meditative attainments as something final. Their problem lay in seeing permanence where there is impermanence"

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jhana" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; )

Hope it helps..

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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:56 am

Hi And welcome Aboard!
I will also sujest you find a teacher skilled in this area you can meet face to face, or other form of one on one contact.
it is the best way as a personal relationship encourages trust, and an ability to understand what you are meaning in a fuller way than forums such are this allow, remember we all use words in a similar way but not entirely the same, and this is why misunderstandings can arise.

from what I read of your experience they seam to agree with what I see in the suttas to an extent, but it is difficult to say if they are in agreement 100% and represent the four Jhanas or not all of them.

good luck, and I would be interested in seeing your progress.
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But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
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reflection
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by reflection » Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:13 am

ohnofabrications wrote:thank you for this suggestion, it's true that i am taking a goal oriented approach (the goal being the end of suffering) but i don't think this is a problem for me.
You're welcome.

I still think it is wise to take into mind that the end of suffering is the end of craving. And so it is the end of craving for any goal as well. Also, your "temporary peek at what i hypothesize the end of suffering would be like" may not be the end of suffering at all. It's always good to consider you may be wrong; it's not just wise, but it also gives some freedom. And this practice without being focussed on the goal is not something I just made up; I got it from some monks who I consider my teachers. In fact, I personally don't know any teacher who says you should focus on goals like you seem to be doing in your meditation. And so I also agree with the above posters who say it's best to find a teacher; even if it is one you just visit sometimes.

To put in a nice and wise quote:
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
Wish you a lot of happy meditation. :twothumbsup:

With metta,
Reflection

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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by reflection » Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:29 am

ohnofabrications wrote:
From your description it appears you are confusing mundane experiences as jhanas.
could you expand on this? it would seem sensible that if you were going to tell me that what i thought was jhana wasn't, you would also give me some explanation on why it isn't, what it is, and what to do... otherwise you are providing no insight and simply creating doubt.

how could simply telling someone they are practicing wrongly without any explanation be beneficial? you said that i should seek someone qualified to teach, implying that you aren't. but if that is the case then why are you telling me i am practicing incorrectly, telling me i am practicing incorrectly implies you know what practicing correctly is - but you're not telling me, simply enforcing a hinderance?
I don't agree that his advice was fruitless. In fact, it is a very solid advice and I stand behind it. Also, it is in line with his answer to not go into details. However, I feel free to pick up this question.

There are some different ideas of jhana, as you already noticed. But there is one thing all ideas I know agree on: Jhana is the absense of hindrances. If I look at your description, I read: a. tension, b. 'fuzziness' of attention, c. narratives and 'stories'. These are not specifically defilements or parts of dependent origination, but hindrances; especially restlessness. And so when you experience these things, it isn't a jhana.

There are more things I can go into why I personally think your descriptions aren't jhanas, but to keep with the less goal focussed approach I've adviced, I won't. Just know that jhanas arise from letting go, not from wanting, striving or doing.

This doesn't mean you aren't on the right path, but you just might want to go a bit too fast and therefore interpret things incorrect. Still you can make some wonderful progress. I think especially if you take some of our advice in mind.

:anjali:
Reflection

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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by Modus.Ponens » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:46 pm

You're all very nice people, but I'm disapointed at this forum for these reasons: as the main Theravada forum on the web, our group should be able to give pratical advice on meditation. But every time anybody makes some claim of this or that attainment, they are looked on with suspicion instead of a healthy, grown-up analysis. When jhana is spoken as an experience, there's imediatly somebody begining a what-is-jhana debate. People with meditation experience, instead of welcome, are treated as unwelcome. We just lost another person who has meditation experience. And it's not the first.

This forum is good for theoretical discussions and learning buddhist tenets, but its weak point is discussion of practice, which is the most important part of buddhism. :?

:soap:
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta

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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:59 pm

Greetings MP,

I understand the sentiment, but I also see the other side. Some experienced meditators have seen other meditators who have cultivated Wrong Samadhi, for whatever reason, and they just want to ensure that the person they're speaking to is diligent enough to cultivate Right Samadhi, and sometimes that difference won't be through lack of effort, dedication of sincerity on the part of the meditator, it might just be that on the path to Right Samadhi there's a lot of potential dead-ends - which may be dangerous (at worst) or an entertaining waste of time and effort (at best). Instructions from A Teacher is one way to avoid the dead-ends.

As I alluded to above, the "bhavana" part of my practice is more focused on Right Effort and Right Attention than it is Right Samadhi, so I've not come face to face with these dead-ends, but I respect that others might claim there to be dead ends worth looking out for. Even when I read about certain meditation practices, I sometimes question whether they are in fact aiding the cultivation of Right View or really just reinforcing Wrong View. So in terms of the avoidance of dead-ends, I may recommend someone check out the teachings of The Teacher. 8-)

:buddha2:

I think however people speak on the subject, they should do so:

- Mindful of their intention
- Mindful of the audience
- And reflect on it afterwards

... and thereby conform to the Buddha's instruction to Rahula... http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"While you are doing a verbal action, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having done a verbal action, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful verbal action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it... you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful verbal action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities.
:soap:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Ben
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by Ben » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:10 am

Greetings MP,

I disagree with your assessment. The OP came looking for advice on meditative experiences and I believe good advice was given and it was given compassionately with the OP in mind. Perhaps it wasn't what the OP was looking for but if we are sincere as practitioners then we will give what is needed.

I wish the OP every success on the path. It is a long path and it is filled with many difficulties. And my advice to Ohnofabrications is no different to any person who may believe they have experienced this or that attainment. Seek a teacher in whom one has confidence, practice diligently under their guidance and focus instead on walking the path rather than exotic experiences.
kind regards,

Ben
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ohnofabrications
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by ohnofabrications » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:10 am

reflection - a goal oriented approach is very much suggested by the buddha, 'practice like your hair is on fire' for example. he talks about how the tears you have cried are more than the water in the ocean, what could the intention of these statements be if not creating desire in the listeners for a release from suffering?

true, in the end letting go is of everything, fabricating nothing is the solution to suffering, but in the meantime, the path is fabricated, the jhanas are created through directed thought and evaluation, right effort, right intention, right resolve... i would prefer not to debate this, but it is important to consider that things are not nearly as simple as you have implied. the advice of letting go is only one part of one of the 4 noble truths, it's what you do when you only when you fully understand the cause of suffering... i doubt you will make practice in concentration or the path with the attitude that you have taken.

we would like to hear the advice that the path is all letting go and not trying, but the habits of suffering are deeply ingrained in us and we really do need effort to understand these processes and change them.

when i say all this, i don't mean to imply that you ever, ever put effort into aversion, pushing things away is never the answer, but effort is needed to discern the causes of suffering, at which point you can do all the letting go you'd like. since you used that quote from ajahn chah - here is another.
I'll give you a simple comparison. Suppose you've bought a banana or a coconut in the market and you walk along carrying it. Someone asks you, "Why did you buy the banana?"

"I bought it to eat it."

"But do you have to eat the peel, too?"

"No."

"I don't believe you. If you're not going to eat the peel, why are you carrying it too?"

Or suppose you're carrying a coconut:

"Why are you carrying the coconut?"

"I'm carrying it home to make a curry."

"And you're going to curry the husk too?"

"No."

"Then why are you carrying it?"

So. How are you going to answer his question?

Through desire. If there's no desire, you can't give rise to ingenuity, to discernment.

That's the way it is as we make an effort in our meditation. Even though we do this through letting go, it's like the banana or the coconut: Why are you carrying the peel or the husk? Because the time hasn't come yet to throw it away. It's still protecting the inner flesh. The time hasn't come yet to throw it away, so you hold onto it for the time being.

The same with our practice: Suppositions and release have to be mixed together, just as the coconut has a husk mixed together with a shell and the flesh, so you carry them all together. If they accuse us of eating the coconut husk, so what? We know what we're doing.
On this board i see alot of talk about how non-goal oriented everyone is, rarely does anyone offer up their own explanation, favoring to drop in quick one-liners which would imply an unstated vast understanding. Is this merely a group charade? If no one puts forth their understanding, rather simply telling others that the understanding they have put forth is misguided, then eventually no one is willing to explain their views, because they know that they are entering into a very one-sided form of communication.

Perhaps people justify this with the tradition of silence about attainment, but you might notice that the world of the suttas was ABSOLUTELY NOT a culture of silence about understanding. The monks would constantly talk to one another, sincerely and openly sharing their understanding in the hopes that they could come to the end of suffering, something so much more valuable than the status as wise and accomplished.

I see little evidence that the participants here have a real interest in the unconditional happiness of nibbana or even a belief that such a thing is attainable. Nibbana is not a joke, i mentioned earlier that i had an experience which i hypothesized could be what the end of suffering was like. This was a functional experience, i was walking around after having sat, and if i know that this experience was the result of a *lack* of something rather than the intentional presence of something, which means it could be made permanent. Regardless of whether this was the end of suffering, i doubt that it was (its the closest i've come at least), i would literally give up everything in my life to attain it, this stuff is no joke guys, this stuff is way beyond praise and blame.

I will continue with my 'goal-oriented' practice down the dangerous road of jhana or at least concentration desiring the end of suffering, sincerely sharing my experiences (elsewhere) in the hopes that i can learn something. Other forum participants might continue to simply act in ways which they know are based in conceit and desire for status, and they may continue to inwardly deny these intentions so completely that they will never come to terms with them. In my practice my strongest asset has been samvega, it took alot of suffering and ignorance to build that force up, in the end i suppose it is up to you whether you wait for more or less samvega before you really start taking a walk down this path, fully committing to it and actually plunging in. There really can't be any holding back if you wish to make progress.

Sometimes the beneficial things are far from what we'd like to hear. I know that my mind is filthy with defilement, and I am likely at very near the same level of defilement and ignorance as of those who i am speaking to, but without the courage to admit that defilement existence you can't even begin to comprehend the first noble truth, and you will never move to the third, and this will continue until enough suffering drives you bat shit crazy and you desire the end of suffering - imagine that.

edit: ben - the reason i didn't appreciate your advice as compassionate and beneficial is that for me it wasn't. the teacher who's teachings i follow lives in California (thanissaro bhikkhu) and I live across the U.S. from him and I have nothing close to the financial means to go to California and talk with him in person. I would visit with a local teacher, but it seems that alot of buddhism in the U.S. at least is focused on developing a equanimous 'watcher' of experience, one dissociated and apart from experience, what they teach simply does not lead to the end of suffering, i actually did go to one of these teachers once, but they taught me all they could teach (they were convinced that they taught the end of suffering, and that I had achieved it) but what so much of the teachings here teach is something far from the end of suffering.

edit2: ben you said:
practice diligently under their guidance and focus instead on walking the path rather than exotic experiences.
what exactly are you practicing if jhana does not qualify as being part of the path?
Last edited by ohnofabrications on Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

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mikenz66
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:25 am

Hi ohnofabrications, Modus.Ponens,

Certainly discussing personal meditative experience and getting good advice can be problematical on a forum such as this. Such advice is much easier to communicate in live situation, where one knows the other people, and it is much easier to assess where people are by their body language and so on. In fact, one of the teachers I've had one said he didn't really need to talk to me, just watch me walk into the room...

I am generally wary about saying too much about my detailed experience on forums such as this, but I did get some useful feedback in this topic:
http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=11240" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
I think one of the important things to keep in mind is that if you ask for feedback you may well get feedback you don't expect, or that seems completely off-base. This may be due to a number of things, including the difficulties I alluded to above of others understanding where you really are from words alone...

:anjali:
Mike

ohnofabrications
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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by ohnofabrications » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:32 am

Certainly discussing personal meditative experience and getting good advice can be problematical on a forum such as this. Such advice is much easier to communicate in live situation, where one knows the other people, and it is much easier to assess where people are by their body language and so on. In fact, one of the teachers I've had one said he didn't really need to talk to me, just watch me walk into the room...
this is true, real life is better than virtual, a stream-winner is better than some random dude, an arahant is better than a stream-winner, the buddha is better than an arahant.

but he's dead, and i don't accept the teachings of most teachers.

edit: sorry i will not be responding or checking this thread any more, hindrances are arising, i see little chance that someone will respond in a way that will help me move forward in a more effective way, and i don't think that i can help anyone else understand the dhamma in this environment, so my remaining here will benefit no one... and there is work to be done. thank you to anyone who was sincerely interested in the wellbeing of others in this conversation, whether or not i recognized it and whether or not the wellbeing in question was positively affected.

i don't know what anjati means but
:anjali:

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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by Goofaholix » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:40 am

ohnofabrications wrote: and i don't accept the teachings of most teachers.
I suspected as much, so why entertain the notion that an internet forum will be any kind of substitute?
ohnofabrications wrote: edit: sorry i will not be responding or checking this thread any more, hindrances are arising, i see little chance that someone will respond in a way that will help me move forward in a more effective way, and i don't think that i can help anyone else understand the dhamma in this environment, so my remaining here will benefit no one... and there is work to be done. thank you to anyone who was sincerely interested in the wellbeing of others in this conversation, whether or not i recognized it and whether or not the wellbeing in question was positively affected.
Many of those who came to see me have a high standing in the community. Among them are merchants, college graduates, teachers, and government officials. Their minds are filled with opinions about things. They are too clever to listen to others. It is like a cup of water. If a cup is filled with stale, dirty water, it is useless. Only after the old water has been thrown out can the cup become useful again. You must empty your minds of opinions, then you will see. Our practice goes beyond cleverness and stupidity. If you think that you are clever, wealthy, important, or an expert in Buddhism, you cover up the truth of non-self - I and mine. But Buddhism is letting go of self. Those who are too clever will never learn. They must first get rid of their cleverness, first empty their "cup". - Ajahn Chah
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by manas » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:04 am

Modus.Ponens wrote:You're all very nice people, but I'm disapointed at this forum for these reasons: as the main Theravada forum on the web, our group should be able to give pratical advice on meditation. But every time anybody makes some claim of this or that attainment, they are looked on with suspicion instead of a healthy, grown-up analysis. When jhana is spoken as an experience, there's imediatly somebody begining a what-is-jhana debate. People with meditation experience, instead of welcome, are treated as unwelcome. We just lost another person who has meditation experience. And it's not the first.

This forum is good for theoretical discussions and learning buddhist tenets, but its weak point is discussion of practice, which is the most important part of buddhism. :?

:soap:
MP, I say this whilst having affection and gratitude for DW, but - you do have a point.

:meditate:
Last edited by manas on Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:16 am

manas wrote:
Modus.Ponens wrote:You're all very nice people, but I'm disapointed at this forum for these reasons: as the main Theravada forum on the web, our group should be able to give pratical advice on meditation. But every time anybody makes some claim of this or that attainment, they are looked on with suspicion instead of a healthy, grown-up analysis. When jhana is spoken as an experience, there's imediatly somebody begining a what-is-jhana debate. People with meditation experience, instead of welcome, are treated as unwelcome. We just lost another person who has meditation experience. And it's not the first.

This forum is good for theoretical discussions and learning buddhist tenets, but its weak point is discussion of practice, which is the most important part of buddhism. :?

:soap:
MP, I say this with affection and gratitude for DW, but - you do have a point.

:meditate:
The problem, however, with MP's complaint is that the OP was, indeed, given good advice and direct responses to his claims of "experience." The OP simply did not like what he/she heard. As pointed out forums such as this are not really conducive for talking about these things, especially when they are so highly idiosyncratic as the OP postings. There is no easy answer to this question of discussing one's personal experiences in a public forum, but if one puts it out there, it is open for comment and the opinions are going to vary greatly. Quite frankly working with an experienced teacher is ideal, but in the mean time one's meditative experince, no matter how "profound," is just stuff of which to let go.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: my goals and ways of practice

Post by manas » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:34 am

tiltbillings wrote:The problem, however, with MP's complaint is that the OP was, indeed, given good advice and direct responses to his claims of "experience." The OP simply did not like what he/she heard. As pointed out forums such as this are not really conducive for talking about these things, especially when they are so highly idiosyncratic as the OP postings. There is no easy answer to this question discussing one's personal experiences in a public forum, but if one puts it out there, it is open for comment and the opinions are going to vary greatly. Quite frankly working with an experienced teacher is ideal, but in the mean time one's meditative experince, no matter how "profound," is just stuff of which to let go.
Many people, for reasons of physical distance but also personal issues, might not be able to gain direct access to a teacher. For some of us, the Internet, and places such as Access to Insight, Buddhanet, forums like this one, etc, are pretty much all we've got, and we just make the best of it. Furthermore, as MP was pointing out, we do seem to 'lose' some people rather quickly - they come here, feel uncomfortable in some way, then leave - and while I am also not blaming anyone here (I know people are trying to help), I just agree that there is room for improvement in how we handle such new people. (Maybe we need to brainstorm that issue, come up with some ideas?)...

:anjali:
Last edited by manas on Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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