Who are you? (3)

Who are you?

A couple of years ago I wrote two posts* that posed the question, “Who are you?” I’m still pondering that question and thought I’d share what I’ve come up with since then.

Self-discovery, true self-discovery where the soul illuminates the ego rather than the ego darkening the expression of soul or adding false light upon itself can be a tricky process. You know when you’re on the right track when your discovery brings awe, beauty, and happiness. This seems pretty simple, so why is it so hard?

I think part of the reason rests in from what part of ones self one is asking the questions. Asking questions and pondering answers generated from the ego-self almost always complicates the process and limits the results.

Sometimes even asking a question at all can distort reality. Sometimes in order to “hear” one needs to shut-up.

Sometimes just observing, watching, looking, minding (as in being mindful), hearing, seeing, feeling, or sensing is all one needs to open the door to enlightenment. Note that I don’t say anything about “doing” anything with any of that incoming awareness data? That’s because “doing” usually shuts the process down whereas the act of “being” keeps the process relevant and alive.

Try the following:

Step outside, go on… what do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel? What do you see? You named it all didn’t you e.g. a “dog” “barking”; new-mowed grass; it’s hot out, must be 90 degrees for god’s sake!; there’s the neighbor playing with their one year old–cute little guy.

Now, try stepping out and observe without doing anything with what you notice. Much quieter, huh? Sometimes when I do this, not only does a sense of peace well up, but tears of happiness, feelings of belonging ,and sometimes a sense of being big enough to include it all–of being bigger than I was before stepping out the door pervades my consciousness. But as soon as I start labeling the experience…poof! It all goes away.

When I “decide” what it is that I’m experiencing I immediately kill all the alternatives, I objectify a subjective experience, I limit the experience. To add “cide” to almost any word means to kill the alternative or object.

Now, it’s not that the process of deciphering and deciding has no usefulness, because on the contrary it’s an evolutionary security process and the faster you can accurately do it, the greater the chance of your personal survival. So I wouldn’t ignore this skill when walking down a dark alley, but one does not have to treat their whole life in survival mode.

When the stresses generated by my mind’s reaction to reality begin to weigh heavily on me sometimes just quieting it by stepping outside and letting the reality wash over me without trying to corral it i.e. define it or add meaning to it will center me and bring me peace.

What does this have to do with the original question, “who are you?” It’s about telling the truth about an observation, whether that observation comes from outside you or from within. It’s about opening to the unvarnished, unmediated experience of reality.

_____________________________

* https://thebookofdreamsblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/who-are-you-2/

and

https://thebookofdreamsblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/18/who-are-you/

The ancient wisdom of Dream Incubation and application to waking world events

 

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A 6th century BCE dream incubation clinic in Ancient Greece

I’ve often said that dreams can be useful in the waking life. Often patterns in a dream reflect the same patterns in our waking life e.g. behaviors, problems, and emotions that show up in dreams show up our waking lives as well. Pay particular attention to the emotions in a dream either those that are experienced by you or by some other character. Notice if there are some repeating patterns of feeling. For example, does anger keep showing up in the dream, or in other dreams? How about conflicts with characters, or between characters in the dream? Do these reflect internal conflicts that you’re having with yourself, or with people or events outside yourself?

Frequently a dream can lead to solving some vexing problem in the waking world. You can even program your dreams to deal with external issues without having to wait for them to show up in a dream. This is called Dream Incubation and to varying degrees has been used for thousands of years as a means of healing and problem solving.

Let’s focus on problem solving for a moment, after all we all have problems, right?

To get things started, here’s an incubation technique that many dream analysts and behaviorists use. Be sure to be as honest with yourself as possible–this is all private, no one’s looking.

Before beginning, OWN THE PROBLEM. Whose problem is it? If it’s not yours, then why are you fooling with it? This process is not about solving someone else’s problem. Once decided that it’s your problem you can then move on.

 

  • Define the problem
  • What are you thinking may be the cause?
  • Have you thought of any solutions and have you tried them? Why won’t they work?
  • While writing these down, what feelings are coming up for you?
  • Can you imagine what benefits you might be getting from letting this problem continue as is e.g. is it easier, or safer to leave it be than to try to resolve it i.e. would you lose anything by solving it? Often at an unconscious level we are the reason that a problem perpetuates itself.
  • How committed are you to finding a solution? If not, why?

 

Sometimes just the process of taking time to work with a problem can reveal a solution, but you can also move on to the next step:

  •   Request an answer from your dream self. For example, don’t use any “yes” or “no”   questions and be precise: “ Show me why I am having problems with______________.”
  •   Place a notebook and pen next to your bed to record your dreams.

In ancient Greece* in such dream incubation and healing centers (Asclepia) such as the one at Delphi, people would travel to the centers and follow certain rituals designed to get the dreamer ready for a healing dream. Candles often set the mood along with a ritual bathing with the intent of cleansing both the body and the soul. Abstinence of all drugs (except those prescribed by a physician), and alcohol and sometimes fasting were required of all seekers. I suggest that you do the same. A time for prayer so as to thank in advance a healing dream from the gods or some special deity was always invoked. You can do this by thanking God, or the spirit, your own soul, or the universe for the insights to be received.

Sometimes the dreamer would meditate, or relax to the sounds of naturally flowing water, or music, or rhythmic drumming as they lay down to sleep, keeping in mind the chosen Question from the Dream e.g. “Show me why I am having problems with______________.”

As soon as you awaken from your dream, record whatever you recall. Note, that it may take more than one night to incubate such a dream. This is not unusual, oft times an ancient seeker would take a week or more. The answer will come, try not to be discouraged.

As with anything worth doing, practice makes perfect and as with most human endeavors your commitment and ‘Will’ may be tested. In the beginning the wisdom of your inner psyche may not give up its secrets easily. If the problem were easy to solve you would have by now…solved it. The ancients as well as moderns go to the Greater Wisdoms than that of their ego-selves when problems (such as health, emotional, behavioral, or social) seem to be resistant to solution through personal manipulation e.g. when you can’t figure it out and no matter what you do the problem stays stuck.

In addition to the above rituals and techniques, you might share your dreams with a trusted friend, often the other person can see things in your dream that you cannot. The ancient Greek seeker would share their dreams with a priest, the oracle or others to aid in its interpretation. Group work with other seekers can be helpful as well as can working with a trained counselor.

Good luck!

______________________________________

* Though I’ve used the Greeks as an example here, the Egyptians, Assyrians, Turks, in the Upanishads from India, the Chinese, and many African tribes, as well as many Christian saints and mystics sought guidance through this kind of dream incubation method. See http://thedreamingwizard.com/history-of-dreams_290.html for more on ancient healing and dream incubation centers.

The Inner/outer worlds of the Everywhere and Everywhen of Experience

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The fractal universe

 

At a men’s group one morning we were discussing the topic of reconciliation and someone brought up how feeling of reconciliation never seemed permanent in that when they achieved it personally, the experience of being reconciled went away over a short time.

I think we all have had experiences, feelings, or ah ha’s where we experience joy, or satisfaction only to have it disappear over time. I’ve often heard about people who have experienced a transformational moment that seems to have changed their lives only to have it slip from their grasp in almost no time at all. Why is this? Why can’t we hold on to these moments? Is it because they’re not real?

I think it’s because the mind always objectifies things e.g. all input, so that it can be dealt with, and worked with. An “experience” is a subjective, non-concrete, almost ethereal “feeling.” The experience transcends the time and space in which it occurs. To objectify it, that is, to think about it is to lock it in time and place i.e., to try and hold onto it and then it loses its “experiential” quality.

This reminds me of the theory in quantum physics that suggests that every thing exists in superpositionality (everywhere and everywhen at the same time) until the field of superpositionality is collapsed into one place, one time. This, I think is a metaphor for what we do when we objectify an experience, we take it out of the realm of the ineffable, the everywhere/everywhen and fix it into one place and time. In the Australian Aborigine culture all time is the everywhen, for all time is the present, no past, no future, only now. And this idea is not limited to the native Australians for some physicists time is believed to be an abstraction, it’s not real. All that’s real is in the now (shades of Ram Dass’ “Be Here Now”).

The every when and where can be likened to a fractal image where every portion of the image reflects the total ad infinitem. Everything is in the one image–nothing of the whole is outside the parts, e.g. everything is recursive in that it repeats itself indefinitely, kind of like a recurring dream.

For those who have meditated and entered that state where all thoughts have ceased, time seems to stand still and space becomes infinite. It is only when we try to think about the experience do we collapse the super-positional everywhere/everywhen quality of it into an object locked in time and space.

We can have a memory of an experience, but it’s nearly impossible to live in the experience without putting a box around it e.g. by trying to understand it and categorize it. But even the memory of the experience is further polluted every time we bring the memory down from the bookshelf of our library of experiences and open its pages for review. For every time we look at a memory, who we are at that moment changes the memory. Because we grow, because we change the filters through which we observe our memories this also changes and effects not only the quality, but the substance of the memory. This change in ourselves is then projected onto whatever we observe and alters our experience of the reality.

Reconciliation, for some the process of becoming whole, of including differences and accepting diversity, is on-going and never remaining still, always a moving target. But every experience changes us, noticed or not. We are never the same person from moment to moment. What we are changed into then affects how we experience our past and our present. That is another reason the experience cannot be held on to because that which is holding on is not the same as when the experience was, well…experienced.

The whole idea of superpositionality, time and experience is dealt with in the book The Dragon’s Treasure: A Dreamer’s Guide to Inner Discovery .

Who is dreaming?

 

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Wise men and women have for millennia wondered if what we have assumed was objective reality was only a dream.

Edgar Allen Poe who once queried, “Is life but a dream within a dream?” What a curious question! Is he questioning whether we can distinguish between what is fantasy or reality? Isn’t this inability to distinguish fantasy from reality part of the very definition of what is considered magical thinking and a component of an obsessive-compulsive thinking disorder?

As I looked into this question I found that the Australian Aborigine thinks that we are continuously within a dream that creates what we call reality.

“I do not believe that I am now dreaming, but I cannot prove that I am not.” Exclaimed the 20th century philosopher Bertrand Russell.

The Toltecs believed that we are the dream of God. They suggested that God is dreaming the world into existence. This seems very much like the Australian Aboriginal world-view and not too different in essence to the book of Genesis.

But what happens when God awakens from the dream?

A Taoist philosopher, Chuang Tzu, Relates that he had a dream of being a butterfly and when he awoke he asks whether he was Chuang Tzu dreaming he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Tzu?

He went on to say,

“Someday comes the great awakening when we realize that this life is no more than a dream. Yet the foolish go on thinking they are awake: Surveying the panorama of life with such clarity, they call this one a prince and that one a peasant—What delusion! The great Confucius and you are both a dream. And I, who say all this is a dream, I, too, am a dream.”

 So which is the illusion, the sleeping dream or my waking life? And where does truth lie, in the every day or in the fantasies of my dreams?

The psychotherapist Carl Jung posited the idea of complexes i.e., a core pattern of emotions, images and ideas that influence everything we see or think or feel. Along with these mostly unrecognized complexes there are also ancient archetypes we all share and that are mostly unseen factors that determine our vision of reality as well as our responses to it. These psychic features of human beings show up in both our sleeping dreams and the waking dream we call life.

Many scientists, philosophers, and cosmologists wonder if what we see around us may not actually exist. What we are seeing may only be projections from our psyches. That’s not to say that there is not an object out there to be perceived, but that our relationship to and understanding of it is subjective. The philosopher Schopenhauer stated that there could be “No object without subject.”

 

“There is no one who hears, there is just hearing. There is no one who sees, there is just seeing.”

–C. Beck, Everyday Zen (1989)

 

If I were to carry the idea in the above quote further I might add, that there may be no “I” who is dreaming, there is just dreaming.

When I am dreaming, who is creating the dream and who is observing it? When I talk to myself who is listening? And what about the dreams where I am dreaming that I dream of seeing myself? Is there more than one “I” in there? How many?

Are our dreams like a book that our soul is writing about us? Am I really awake when I climb out of bed and into the waiting day? Is it as Jung once quipped, “Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakens.”

 

“The awakening of consciousness is the next step for mankind.”

–Eckhart Tolle

A Zen story

 

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There is a story of a young, but dedicated Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find enlightenment?

 The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years .”

 The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast — How long then?”

 “Well, twenty years.” replied the Master.

 “But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?” asked the student.

 “Thirty years,” replied the Master.

 “But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?”

 “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.” replied the Master.

 We take our attention off the path in a number of ways. Even the chasing after a goal can distract and limit you. There’s nothing wrong with a goal, but whether it be happiness, peace, money, or enlightenment whenever you chase after something your focus is on “not enough” i.e. insufficiency versus abundance. So if your goal is to experience sufficiency and abundance of anything then shift your focus away from doing and toward being.

“He who knows enough is enough will always have enough.”

–Lao Tzu

You can’t get abundance, but you can “be” abundance i.e. you can tune into it. Focusing on what you don’t have automatically makes what you have “less-than”. A mind that’s focused on what it doesn’t have is always functioning in insufficiency. Abundance can’t gain a foothold in a mind tuned to “not enough”. First step: start acknowledging what you have. The second step: Start giving it away to others.

 

“Wherever I go, and whoever I encounter, I will bring them a gift. The gift may be a compliment, a flower, or a prayer. Today, I will give something to everyone I come into contact with, and so I will begin the process of circulating joy, wealth and affluence in my life and in the lives of others.”

–Deepak Chopra

 

“The measure of your life will not be in what you accumulate, but in what you give away.”

~Wayne Dyer

 

The truth is that life is like a mirror, it reflects what you put out there and boy have I learned that lesson yet again this week.

 

________________

Picture found on https://sites.google.com/site/briansatchwannabe/exhibition

 

 

 

Spending time with the shadow

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Found on silenthillmemories 

I just spent an interesting, stressful, scary and embarrassing week with my shadow.

Recently I wrote an article promoting an alternate view to our current politics and deliberately posted it to those regions in the country that I was pretty sure had the opposite view. I was expecting pushback and thought that the dialog might prove interesting maybe even transforming. Though to be honest there was also a need to make them wrong for what I perceived was a very dangerous politic.

What I got was the most negative vitriol I’ve ever read. The things I was called and likened to couldn’t possibly exist in one person even if I were as evil and worthless as my detractors believed me to be.

Eventually the negative rhetoric got to me and I took down the posting.

After some thought I tried to apologize for what I’d done to stir up so much emotion. One detractor however, noted, correctly, that I was still attacking others points-of-view even with the apology. How embarrassing to be called out like that. It was a very negative experience.

The whole episode did have some positive for me in that it forced me to look at my original motivation for the article i.e., an ill disguised and dishonest put down of a very different point of view. The rejection that came my way was immediate and hostile.

Though embarrassment is often a shadow that follows me wherever I go, rejection is my greatest bogeyman and threat to my sense of well-being and yet I am continually rejecting myself or putting myself in the space of rejection.

When threatened or when not feeling safe for whatever reason I bellow, flail, reject and dominate. When I hurt I withdraw. When at peace and feeling safe I am open and accepting. When feeling accepted and at peace I am able to give of myself instead of trying to hurt others.

I suspect that this reaction to my shadow is not uncommon with others though it may take different forms in different folks.

So what’s the name of this particular shadow? Why do I react so strongly to something when I feel it’s trying to make me feel less than? Why is it I get so frightened and angry at being rejected?

In asking this shadow those questions it reminds me that I have always been angry at myself for not being better than I am. And yet what is this “better” that I am comparing myself to? How is it I know of it if it’s not already in me? And if it’s in me, why am I not accessing it? What do I put in the way of being this better version? Why all the clutter around the better me and why did I put it there? What do I gain?

As I muse on these questions it occurs to me that the question of what am I gaining might be better put as, “What do I stand to lose?” At that exact point I realize what is the “me” I’m operating out of, it’s the “me” that’s asking the questions, and the “me” who’s been reactive all along and at this point a new answer to the revised question makes itself known.

It’s the ego-‘me’ the ‘me’ I so often think of as the real me that stands to lose. It stands to lose power and control. It is the pretender to the real me, the deeper me, the soul and deeper Self who fears loss of control and its belief that it should be the heir to the throne of my life. Loss of this control through domination looks like death. No wonder it fights so hard to keep me in the dark. From it’s limited perspective it’s about survival i.e., life and death.

In short, when not being me the shadow me takes over.

_______________

For more on the Shadow read the Archetypes section in the book Morpheus Speaks: The Encyclopedia of Dream Interpreting.

 

 

 

Morpheus Speaks: The Encyclopedia of Dream Interpreting

Morpheus Speaks: This is the book 10 years in the making that many of you have been waiting for.

In it you will find a means for decoding the alchemy of dreams and the mysteries of the inner self. There are special sections on Native American, Aboriginal, shamanistic , pagan, and the Abrahamic and Asian religious traditions spread throughout the book.

The symbols of our dreams are like the paradoxical parables and koans of all religions. As with the questions presented by all holy ones our dreams are speaking to us in a way as to offer us an illumination of who and what we are. They are truly the road to our souls.

 

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In both Kindle and Soft Cover (click on this and preview and purchase on Amazon)

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Living Life Intentionally

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Not so long ago while waiting for my wife outside the pharmacy I was listening to a podcast discussion regarding the living of one’s life intentionally.

Intentionally? Like what? Intentional Parenting, was my first thought versus laizez faire (or unconscious) parenting. What would that look like? Do we take an interest in our children’s education other than letting them watch whatever they want on T.V. whenever they want (thus letting something else input their learning)? Do we allow a T.V. in their room? (what effect does that have on their learning?) Do we think we’ve done enough if we just say, “Do your homework!” or “Have you done your homework?” or do we sit down with them while they’re doing it? Or do we just let the teachers do it? Do we make sure there are books in the house and make sure that they see us reading? Do we read to them regularly, or do we just expect them to learn to read at school? What are our expectations for them and do we communicate those with them? Do we care what they want out of their life? How much do we even think about what we want for them?

How about Intentional Living versus just letting it happen? Do we watch what we eat and intentionally eat what is good for us? Is pre-prepared food good enough? Is exercise important? What about intentional recreation? Are we conscious of what we put into and onto our bodies and our children’s bodies? Do we honor life’s feedback or just resist it?

Then there’s Intentional Personal Development. Do we ask what would help us to be better people, or do we wait for it to just happen, or do we even care? Do we look to see what would be the responsible approach to our finances? Are we proactive with our finances, or just buy things on impulse? Do we practice Intentional Spending and Saving?

And what about intentional dreaming? Imagine going to bed every night with the intention of having a dream that helps us get in touch with our lives at a deeper level.

 

Imagine

 

Zen masters talk of a mindfulness walk, a fully conscious walk of intention. Imagine walking through life being aware of what’s going on around you. Imagine treating the one life you’ve got like a favored pastime, being as interested and engaged in it as possible. Imagine treating your life as something sacred.

Imagine a life lived with purpose. What would this require? Certainly at the very least it would require us to be more conscious of what’s going on both inside us as well as outside us. What if we treated our lives as a game plan, or a book i.e. a story? How would we want the story to go and how would we want it to end? Instead of walking through life letting others and circumstances write the story for us, how would we write it ourselves? What would that take? We already know who the hero is. What do we want for them?

What does your version of the Quest for the Golden Fleece look like?

One thing I’ve learned about writing stories is that it helps to have a good outline, or you’ll just wander around in the wilderness letting the story write the story. It also helps to stay on message and be consistent with my intended purpose. The other thing is that details are important; they can make the difference between a ho-hum story and a good read. Lives are like a story, the good one’s require intention.

A marriage of our disparate aspects

 

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This morning I received a comment from a reader who identified as being non-binary and was musing as to whether women in the current gender equalization movement were suppressing their feminine aspect in favor of their more powerful masculine.

The following is my answer to those comments:

I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said. I too believe that women are suppressing their feminine aspect in lieu of strengthening their masculine. I don’t see this as unusual for any time an entrenched behavior is shifted it takes time for the new behavior to become more balanced, though I also don’t see a call for this balance coming from the movement.

I also believe we are seeing the effects of a gender change in roles that have rendered some males feeling emasculated and others becoming over masculinized as a compensatory effect. However, there is also a small minority that are empowered to seek out and reinforce their feminine aspects so as to be more balanced and effective in their lives. These are all to be expected as well.

Not sure what you mean by non-binary because this can encompass those that see themselves as neither male nor female, while others see themselves as both and still others who might want to be categorized as transgender. As for myself I identify as male but find a lot of shadow aspects to that identity and spend a lot of time learning to strengthen my more feminine aspects e.g., compassion, inclusiveness, intuition. I’m trying to include all sides of my personality and only move one or the other to dominance when occasions arise that may require it.

The concept of non-binary is as I understand it been around for millennia. A form of this can be found in many Native American tribes as an individual called a “berdache” or “two-spirit” person who was allowed to switch gender roles within the tribe and was considered normal and embraced. It should be noted that this was allowing another expression of the soul and spirit of the individual and perhaps even of the tribe and not necessarily a sexual expression.

Interestingly my spirit guides are feminine e.g., A she wolf, a woman, and an eagle. These dream beings usually come to me in when I am in a transition or high anxiety state in my waking life. I reveal all this to say that I don’t want to use a term such as non-binary when describing my inner self. I am looking toward a marriage of the disparate, and sometimes conflicted, parts of myself i.e., what Jung might have called a coniunctio or a synthesized polarity or culminating non-duality. The tension between these dualities is in my mind necessary in order to function as a whole being so I’m not looking to create an undifferentiated oneness even if that were possible while a living human. Another of the aspects that are by definition highly related to this marriage of aspects is that of the intellect and feeling. These can coexist but if one or the other is allowed to dominate a person can become behaviorally skewed.

The attempt to bring into harmony all aspects of the psyche is not unlike what the alchemists were really up to with all their experiments.

 

“It is the moral task of alchemy to bring the feminine, maternal background of the masculine psyche, seething with passions, into harmony with the principle of the spirit, truly a labor of Hercules!” –C.G. Jung

All the world’s a stage, but at a profound level, it’s as you like it

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My wife and I have spent many a happy moment with William Shakespeare at the Ashland Shakespearean Festival in Oregon, something we have been doing for over 35 years now. As always I was drawn into to his wild and fanciful stories and coming back into my own reality only when the actors bid ado and exited the stage. Where I go when they begin, I do not know for it seems as though I’m always there even though the “there” seems to be somewhere else– a secret dream-like place.

I’ve also found that there’s a secret place deep inside each of us that speaks in images, not words, and in sounds that aren’t really heard. It is a knowing unlearned from the pages of a book or the ministrations of a teacher that never gets old for it is always discovered anew. It is a mystery place, an inner school, and library of wisdom.

Some mistakenly imagine it to be a result of past experience interacting with present events, but look closely and you will see that this is not so. For this mysterious part of our self speaks from more than just the debris of our past or the confusing chaos’s of our present or some previously scripted story from some offstage deity. This is the almost soundless voice of our true-self whispering its guidance while we sleep– asleep as we walk through our days, asleep as we lay our heads upon our beds.

We are “Sleepers” you and I and for a brief moment in time we disappear into the mystery story that we call life. We become transfixed with the images conjured through its living text and forget it is but a story.

And oh what a story! We create fantastical tales full of intrigue, emotion, and plot twists with multiple beginnings and ends that we’ve stitched into a Dream Book of ideas that arc towards a promised resolution and an ending that never really materializes. We ache with the main character as they rush headlong into the plot searching for the promised grail– the answers that will bring them to the stories’ monumental and mind-expanding conclusion.

Then we wake up and leave the stage.

 

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