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Mystique Enigma

Zen Master Greg

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Tales of the Master #1: In which the Master solves a problem.

Customer: My dissertation is due tomorrow and the computer is saying that I can't read the disk? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG? WHAT SHOULD I DO? STOP PLAYING TETRIS AND LISTEN TO ME, YOU GUILD PARASITE!

Zen-Master Greg: Does the cow complain when the grass disappears?


Zen-Master Greg: Clear your mind of this artificial reality. Cease to worry about this "disk". It is of no importance.


Zen-Master Greg: Bring me this disk-object that is the cause of so much frustration.

Customer: Finally! Just fix it, all right? Here it is.

Zen-Master Greg: Your worries are over grasshopper. I will solve your problem.


Zen-Master Greg: You are welcome, misguided one. This matter will trouble you no more.



Tales of the Master #2: In which the Master takes a hands-on approach.

Customer: Hey, I've got a problem. Are you listening to me? Are you even awake? Hello? I've got a problem.

Zen-Master Greg: One moment while I contemplate the infinite.

Customer: But you're playing tetris?

Zen-Master Greg: The ant looks, but it does not see. What is the nature of this so-called problem?

Customer: Look, I've got a problem, okay? Can you just come and help? Now?

Zen-Master Greg: Truly you may be said to have a problem. But I despair of solving it. Let us examine the symptoms.

Customer: See, it doesn't work. I type and nothing happens.

Zen-Master Greg: Truly a puzzling situation. Tell me, unlearned one, what does it say on the mystic screen?

Customer: It says "please insert the disk: Untitled". But what's wrong?

Zen-Master Greg: My son, have you chanced to remove a disk from the drive?

Customer: Yes.

Zen-Master Greg: And have you chosen to favour this disk with a name?

Customer: Um, no.

Zen-Master Greg: Let us then insert this disk, in the hope that the hunger of the computer may be satisfied.

Customer: Okay, if you say so. Hey, it works!

Zen-Master Greg: Truly, your comprehension is beyond understanding.

(5 minutes pass)

Customer: Hi, it's me again! Remember?

Zen-Master Greg: The memory is as a blade in my soul.

Customer: Can you come and help me? It's stopped working again.

Zen-Master Greg: And did it in any way indicate distress?

Customer: Well, it did say something on the screen.

Zen-Master Greg: Tell me, grasshopper, what it happens to say on the screen.

Customer: You know, the damn thing said the same as last time.

Zen-Master Greg: And did you insert the disk?

Customer: No. Should I try that?

Zen-Master Greg: The fool must be beaten with a stick, for an intelligent person the merest hint is sufficient.

Customer: Yeah, well. I'll try it anyway. Hey! It worked!

(5 more minutes go by)

Customer: Hey buddy?

Zen-Master Greg: It is a fool who walks unknowing over the abyss.

Customer: Look, cut the poetry. I've got a problem. Come and help.

Zen-Master Greg: You have followed the mystic rituals?

Customer: It just doesn't work. Fix it.

Zen-Master Greg: The ox complains not of its burden. Am I less than an ox?

Customer: See. Nothing I type comes up.

Zen-Master Greg: Truly a vexing problem. A most strenuous solution is called for. Let us perform the ritual of re-boot.

Customer: What's that?

Zen-Master Greg: Some things one may not know.

Customer: Hey, what's that whirring noise?

Zen-Master Greg: Tell me, my son. Did you try to fix the computer?

Customer: Yes.

Zen-Master Greg: And did you try to fix it by sating its hunger?

Customer: Yeah, so?

Zen-Master Greg: And was there not already a disk in the drive when you tried this?

Customer: Yeah, but that's what we did before.

Zen-Master Greg: One does not achieve enlightenment by copying the actions of the master.

Customer: Cut the crap. I'm working on something that's due in in an hour and the damn computers keep breaking down. Can you begin to do your job and make sure that nothing else goes wrong?

Zen-Master Greg: For the master, all things are possible.

Customer: Well do it then. God knows, we're paying enough for all of this crap. And for your salary.

Zen-Master Greg: I will prevent further problems.

Customer: Well about damn time! AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!

(sound of the Master drawing a hatchet from beneath his robes and chopping off the customer's hand at the wrist, then picking it up and stuffing it into the luser's mouth)


Zen-Master Greg: The problem will not recur.

*And the luser was enlightened*



Tales of the Master #3: In which the Master resorts to mantras.

Zen-Master Greg: Bow down before the one you serve.

Customer: Um, excuse me?

Zen-Master Greg: You're going to get what you deserve.

Customer: Ah, hello?

Zen-Master Greg: Greetings child. Let me turn down the mantras. Now, what is your request?

Customer: I have a problem.

Zen-Master Greg: This is so. But what do _you_ believe your problem is?

Customer: Well what do you think it is?

Zen-Master Greg: You are not ready for the knowledge.

Customer: Oh. Okay. My disk is stuck.

Zen-Master Greg: And?

Customer: What do you mean, "and".

Zen-Master Greg: I seek the completed statement. I wonder what the disk has to do with me.

Customer: I want you to fix it.

Zen-Master Greg: Truly has it been said that one can't always get what one wants. For lo, I have been perusing my job description and stuck disks are in no way mentioned.

Customer: When's Pete going to be around?

Zen-Master Greg: But there is no need to trouble the great sage at this time, for lo, I feel moved to help you. Let us seek the cause of this sticking.

Customer: See, it's stuck.

Zen-Master Greg: "Stuck" is but a transient condition, having no meaning for those in timeless existence. Yet I will fetch the official disk extraction tool.

Customer: That's a paperclip.

Zen-Master Greg: Ah, you are right. I will fetch the tool.

Customer: Hey, that's still a paperclip.

Zen-Master Greg: Truly you know all.

Customer: Where are you going?

Zen-Master Greg: Every time I enter with the disk extraction tool, you are moved to remark that it is a paperclip, and I look down and it has become so. It is truly confusing. I go to listen to the mantras. Especially the one entitled "Head Like A Hole".

Customer: Are you trying to be funny?

Zen-Master Greg: What is there to laugh at?

Customer: Well, all right. But what about my disk.

Zen-Master Greg: I shall take the disk extraction tool...

Customer: But that's a... oh.

Zen-Master Greg: and I shall extract the disk.

Customer: Nothing is happening.

Zen-Master Greg: Your wisdom is like vision from the corner of the eye. It seems to exist, but disappears when examined.

Customer: So what are we going to do?

Zen-Master Greg: The situation calls for extreme philosophical measures.

(5 minutes pass)

Zen-Master Greg: Head like a hole, black as your soul, I'd rather die than give you control!

Customer: What the hell are you doing? You're supposed to be helping me!

Zen-Master Greg: Have I not resorted to philosophy to do so?

Customer: What are you talking about?

Zen-Master Greg: Is the disk stuck in the drive?

Customer: Yes.

Zen-Master Greg: If the tree falls in the forest, and no one is in the area, does it make a sound?

Customer: Yes.

Zen-Master Greg: I shall ask again. If the tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Customer: Um. No?

(The master reaches into his robe, thinks for a moment, then reluctantly withdraws his hand)

Zen-Master Greg: If the tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, then does it make a sound?

Customer: I DON'T KNOW!

Zen-Master Greg: Correct on all counts. Without knowledge, the state of affairs is indeterminate.

Customer: And like this has anything to do with my disk.

Zen-Master Greg: Can you see the disk?

Customer: No, it's in the other room.

Zen-Master Greg: How do you know? It may not be. I may have it in my hand.

Customer: Hey, that's a neat trick. Give it to me.

Zen-Master Greg: I don't actually have it, but while it is unobserved, I might have. While it is not seen being stuck, it is not. And since the disk is not stuck, there is no problem.

Customer: But I still don't have it.

Zen-Master Greg: Then the original question was faulty. And I have laboured enough this day. Yet hark! Here comes the sage. Mayhap he will soil his hands to help you.

Sage: There is a problem?

Customer: Yes!

Sage: I know all. Let us examine this problem.

(5 minutes pass)

Sage: I shall require a disk extraction tool.

(5 minutes pass)

Sage: Truly a vexing problem. I shall require my toolkit.

(10 minutes pass)

Sage: Truly a DEU problem. I shall require some mantras and a punching bag.

(5 minutes pass)

Sage: Here is your disk.

Customer: Thank you, O sage!

Zen-Master Greg: May I enquire as to the nature of the illusory problem, O sage?

Sage: Yes my child. The problem was in the nature of the inserted disk. It seems that the unlearned one had covered the high-density notch of the disk.

Zen-Master Greg: And the nature of this substance, which had presumably become attached to the inside of the drive.

Sage: Duct tape, my child.

Zen-Master Greg: DUCT TAPE! THAT LUSER COVERED A DISK IN DUCT... I mean, the unlearned one was so foolish as to tamper with substances beyond his power?

Sage: Yes my child.

Zen-Master Greg: What an idiot.

Sage: Truly it is so.

Customer: Well I'm going now. And I'm going to make a complaint. You haven't been at all pleasant and you've deliberately set out to embarass me.

Zen-Master Greg: May I borrow the punching bag, O sage?

Sage: It appears to have become broken, my child. I fear we shall have to get more from storage.

Zen-Master Greg: It is well that we get them in bulk.

Sage: Truly, my child. Turn up the mantras.



Tales of the Master #4: In which the Master instructs the young.

Customer A: Do you think he's awake?

Customer B: Nah, he's asleep.

Customer A: Well, should we wake him up?

Zen-Master Greg: My child, there is no need.

Customer A: Who said that?

Zen-Master Greg: I did, my child. I was merely resting my eyes.

Customer B: While snoring?

Zen-Master Greg: A mystic breathing exercise. What is your query?

Customer A: Oh, we just wanted to know if you were awake.

Zen-Master Greg: You are now closer to enlightenment. Go in peace, my children. Now.

Customer A: Why do you keep calling us that?

Zen-Master Greg: To what do you refer, child?

Customer A: That! You keep calling us 'child' and 'children'.

Zen-Master Greg: Are you not?

Customer A: No way! I'm 15 and he's 16. So cut it out.

Zen-Master Greg: Truly, I am far from enlightenment and the terms were not in the least appropriate. I shall endeavour to better suit my address to your luminous natures.

Customer A: Good.

Zen-Master Greg: Is there anything else?

Customer A: No we'll be fine. We're both computer experts.

(5 minutes later)

Customer A: Are you asleep again?

Zen-Master Greg: Your presence wearies me. Speak before I am tried beyond endurance.

Customer A: Oh, okay. Um, my friend wants to know of some ftp-sites where he can get some games. Can you help?

Zen-Master Greg: Surely. Try, and

Customer A: Thanks. Ah, can you write those down?

Zen-Master Greg: It is a pleasure to help those lesser than one's self.

Customer A: Thank you.

(5 minutes later)

Customer A: Hey, get your head off the desk!

Zen-Master Greg: Yet my head is on my hands.

Customer A: So?

Zen-Master Greg: I fear that were I to release my hands they might move of their own accord.

Customer A: You're really strange. And the music is crap, too.

Zen-Master Greg: Your wisdom belies your countenance.

Customer A: What's that?

Zen-Master Greg: You look very intelligent.

Customer A: Oh. Right. Look, those ftp-sites you gave us weren't any good.

Zen-Master Greg: And why not?

Customer A: Well, my friend wants this game, and it wan't on any of them.

Zen-Master Greg: And the name of this game?

Customer A: Magic.

Zen-Master Greg: Ah, but that is a commercial game, and you could not want a site containing that, FOR THAT WOULD BE ILLEGAL WITH THE PENALTY FOR DOWNLOADING CONSISTING OF CIVIL AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES INCLUDING FINES OF $100,000.

Customer A: Okay, okay, okay. And could you lower your voice? All these people are staring.

Zen-Master Greg: Indeed. Truly the world is vexing. Now you must go and tell your friend that WHAT HE WANTS IS ILLEGAL AND HE SHOULD STOP TRYING TO DO IT AT ONCE.

Customer A: Okay, okay. Just be quiet. I'm going.

Zen-Master Greg: Now you begin to see enlightenment.

(30 minutes pass)

Zen-Master Greg: Nothing can stop me now, 'cause I don't care anymore.

Customer A: Hi again.

Zen-Master Greg: Nothing can stop me now, 'cause I don't care.

Customer A: Excuse me for being rude, but that music is bugging the shit out of me. Can you turn it off?

Zen-Master Greg: I shall do as you ask, O one who is as a moth entranced by the flame of enlightenment.

(30 minutes later)

Brother Mike: Hi Greg, how's it... Jesus Christ! Why's the music up so loud? GREG, WHAT'S WITH THE MUSIC? Hell, I'll just turn it down.

Zen-Master Greg: Greetings, fellow seeker of enlightenment.

Brother Mike: Why was the music so loud? And why do you have bits of paper in your ears?

Zen-Master Greg: Forgive me, but could you repeat the question once I have removed the paper?

Brother Mike: Why on earth was the music so loud?

Zen-Master Greg: I had great need.

Brother Mike: Didn't the customers complain?

Zen-Master Greg: Truly they did not. Indeed, they asked for it.

Brother Mike: Really?

Zen-Master Greg: Truly. They even tapped on the door in time to some of the more enlightening passages.

Brother Mike: That door over there?

Zen-Master Greg: You speak with wisdom.

Brother Mike: That closed door? The locked one?

Zen-Master Greg: Truth is strong within you. I closed and locked the when it appeared the glass might shake loose.

Brother Mike: Are you going to let them out?

Zen-Master Greg: Is it not that there exists nothing eternal?

Brother Mike: It is so.

Zen-Master Greg: Then even that which we wish were forever must end.

(60 minutes pass)

Zen-Master Greg: Greetings, O customers. Might I ask you to leave now, as the Sage has asked me to run the assimilator program before I leave.

Customer B: But it's not 7pm yet.

Zen-Master Greg: It is truth you speak, yet time is an illusion, and I wish to leave now.

Customer A: Well we're not going until 7pm. You can get stuffed. I'm going to finish this game.

Zen-Master Greg: You are aware of the notion of karma, grasshopper.

Customer A: Yeah, so what?

Zen-Master Greg: Enlightenment will come.

Customer B: Ah, are you kicking those chairs for a reason?

Zen-Master Greg: Order is of benefit to the universe. I am placing them according to pattern and availing myself of catharsis.

Customer B: But you're kicking them across the room.

Zen-Master Greg: The patterns of the universe are indeed strange, and not to be understood by those who are as unworthy pustules upon the buttocks of the Buddha.

(5 minutes pass)

Zen-Master Greg: As time is measured, it is now 7pm.

Customer A: Okay, just one more life.

Zen-Master Greg: That life may not be long.

Customer B: Oh, he's really good at this game.

Zen-Master Greg: The unenlightened listen, but do not hear.

Customer A: Damn. Well, that's it.

Zen-Master Greg: Even the worst agony must end.

Customer A: Okay, we're out of here. Oh, one small thing.

Zen-Master Greg: Yes, O gnat?

Customer A: I've got some files on this machine that I haven't saved to disk. Can I just leave them on there?

Zen-Master Greg: As long as they are on the illuminated temp directory, there is no problem.

Customer A: They're on the hard drive, actually. There wasn't enough space on temp.

Zen-Master Greg: Yet the most excellent temp directory has a capacity of 15 meg.

Customer A: Well I started downloading this stuff via the web and it didn't fit.

Zen-Master Greg: You downloaded this stuff over the mysterious web, the cosmic nature of which is such that this facility gets billed for each megabyte downloaded.

Customer A: Yeah. So can you take care of it?

Zen-Master Greg: The files shall be taken care of.

Customer A: Thanks a lot. Oh, and if you can tell Pete that that mail I sent him about you doesn't count?

Zen-Master Greg: It shall be as though the mail never reached him.

Customer A: Okay. See you later.

*And when the lusers came back the next day, they became enlightened, and did not return*



Tales of the Master #5: In Which The Master Lays Down The Law (Part One)

(The Master walks into a three-quarter fulled lecture theatre, with the rows filled from the front. Seeing all the people, he looks down at his watch. It's ten minutes to the hour. The Master sighs, and takes a seat in the very back row, which is empty)

(5 minutes pass)

Brother Charles: Greg! You're at a lecture.

Zen-Master Greg: It is the case.

Brother Charles: It's good to see you again.

Zen-Master Greg: It is good to be back. I fear that I may have grown soft during my time in the halls of philosophy. It is time to quench myself in fire once again.

Brother Charles: Um, yeah. Whatever.

(Brother Charles gets up to leave)

Zen-Master Greg: Where are you going?

Brother Charles: You are at a law lecture. You will take notes. I am no longer needed here.

Zen-Master Greg: Indeed. Are you enrolled in admin law?

Brother Charles: This is so.

Zen-Master Greg: Then I shall not be there.

Brother Charles: Truly, you follow the path.

(They bow to each other, and Brother Charles leaves)

(Suddenly a mob of law students rush in. Half are dressed in (bad) suits, and the other half are dressed in casual surf clothing. Almost all are carrying laptops. They race for the back row, and the one available power outlet, which is directly behind the Master. When they get to the outlet they fight over who gets to plug in their laptop, causing the Master's seat to be jostled against the desk. Finally, one being successful, they sit down on either side of the Master. Throughout this process, the Master's expression does not change. He is, however, rotating the fingers on each hand, one by one, methodically.)

Student A: Can I have a go on your laptop?

Student B: No. I'm using it.

Student A: But you're just playing a game.

Student B: No I'm not. Besides, there isn't time.

Student A: Prick. Woah!

Student B: What?

Student A: That guy's wearing a robe.

Student B: You're kidding. Where?

Student A: Beside you. Hey man, cool robe. Very black.

Student B: Yeah. Way cool.

(The Master says nothing, but continues to rotate his fingers)

Student A: So is that like a kilt?

Student B: Huh?

(The Master looks faintly puzzled)

Student A: Do you wear anything underneath it?

Student B: Oh. Yeah, what's under the robe?

(The Master has switched to forming a fist with one hand, hitting the opposite palm, and then repeating with the other hand, very fast)

Student A: Come on Mr X. I want to know. What's under the robe.

(Student A reaches out to grab the robe of the Master, and the Master grabs the reaching hand by the wrist. The face of student A begins to change colour)

Student B: Hey, all he wants to know is what's under the robe.

Zen-Master Greg: Pain. Would you like some?

Student B: No, no that's quite all right. Don't trouble yourself.

Zen-Master Greg: There is no burden in the teaching of the way.

Student B: Um... ah... oh here's the lecturer. No time to learn. Maybe next time.

Zen-Master Greg: I shall look forward to it.

(The Master releases that hand of Student A)

(5 minutes pass)

Student A: So what's your name anyway?

(The Master says nothing)

Student A: I said, what's your name?

Zen-Master Greg: I heard.

Student A: So what is it?

Zen-Master Greg: You may call me...

Student A: What?

(The Master says nothing)

Student A: Come on, what did you say?

Zen-Master Greg: Are you referring to me?

Student A: Obviously. You said that I can call you... and then I didn't hear the rest.

Zen-Master Greg: My most humble apologies. You may call me...

Student A: But what did you say?

Zen-Master Greg: I said...

Student A: But you keep saying you'll tell me your name and then you don't say anything.

Zen-Master Greg: Precisely.

Student A: I don't understand.

Zen-Master Greg: Yes.

Student A: Why won't you tell me what to call you.

Zen-Master Greg: But I have. I have told you to call me nothing.

Student A: Come again?

Zen-Master Greg: You will call me nothing because you have nothing of interest to say. Experiencing enlightenment, you shall realise this, and cease to trouble those who are as spiritual oxen to your spiritual dung fly.

Student A: But how do you know I don't have anything to say?

Zen-Master Greg: In the same fashion as I know not to expect wise discourse from the ant, the cockroach, and those that dislike Leonard Cohen.

Student A: Huh?

Zen-Master Greg: Their natures forbid wisdom. As does yours. You are a law student.

Student A: But so are you.

Zen-Master Greg: Incorrect. Law students are eager. They race into lectures ten minutes early. They wear suits to lectures out of choice. They carry around laptops without knowing how to use them. They leave the same laptops lying around since they think that no one would bother to steal them because "everyone has one". They take no notice of what is said and they ask stupid questions. Repeatedly.

Student B: So if you're not a law student, what are you doing here?

Zen-Master Greg: I am not a law student. I do, however, study law.

Student A: That's crap, and you're an arrogant prick.

Zen-Master Greg: Do you know what the Buddha looks like?

Student A: No. Why?

Zen-Master Greg: Because it is said, "If you meet the Buddha travelling down the road, kill him".

Student A: And?

Zen-Master Greg: I also do not know what the Buddha looks like. So I am forced to guess. And you appear to be convinced of your own enlightenment.

Student A: So you're going to kill me? Yeah, right.

Zen-Master Greg: Philosophy demands it.

Student A: You're full of it. For one thing it's illegal. You know, murder? Those who study law do read the Criminal Code, I take it?

Zen-Master Greg: Which is subject to the constitution. Which guarantees freedom of religion. Fortunately, Zen is realised as philosophy _and_ religion.

Student A: That'll never work.

Zen-Master Greg: Possibly. Certainly a test case would appear required to settle the matter.

Student A: But that would mean...

Zen-Master Greg: Your insight is masterful.



<The sound of something being forcibly ingested>

(As the screams echo through the crowded lecture theatre, the lecturer's drone ceases abruptly, and all heads bent over work rapidly rise and turn towards the back. The Master innocently returns the stares directed his way. On one side of the Master sits a student looking ill, whilst the seat on the other side would appear unoccupied)

Lecturer: Is there some problem down the back?

Zen-Master Greg: There is no problem.

Lecturer: Then what was that noise?

Zen-Master Greg: Problem resolution.

Lecturer: Oh.

(The lecture continues)

(The Master leans forward and taps the shoulder of the student in front of him)

Zen-Master Greg: Might I borrow a tissue?

Student C: Sure. Do you have a cold too?

Zen-Master Greg: Not exactly.

(The Master takes the proffered tissue, and wipes his fingers with it, before screwing it up and throwing it into the bin. He receives a puzzled look from student C, who also looks oddly at the green Student B)

Student C: Is your friend okay?

Zen-Master Greg: It's just that he ate something disagreeable. I grant that he was morose earlier, but action has been taken. Indeed, I can now guarantee he contains the humour of two people.

Student C: Oh, right. What was that on your fingers, by the way.

Zen-Master Greg: Merely something disagreeable.

Student C: Oh, okay.

(The lecture continues. Student B doesn't do much except look straight ahead, although he occasionally looks quickly at the Master before looking away again. The Master stares serenely ahead. Then the lecturer is interrupted by a question. He gives a long and complicated answer. The speaker then asks the same question again. The lecturer answers again, this time in a simpler fashion. The speaker then asks the same question again, re phrased. The lecturer answers yet again, in language so simple that a child could understand)

Student D: But it _can't_ work like that. I couldn't do that and get away with it.

Lecturer: As I've explained, international law operates on different principles from municipal law. You can't act that way because you're not a country.

Student D: But it just _can't_ work that way. It's wrong. It shouldn't happen.

Zen-Master Greg: Excuse me.

Student D: Yes.

Zen-Master Greg: You've asked the same question three times, and rejected three factually equivalent answers on the basis of your personal moral convictions as to how the law should operate. If you really need to discuss this, could you do so after the lecture when the rest us have left?

Student D: No. I don't understand and I want an answer now. If you can't give me an answer, just shut up and let me talk to someone who can.

Zen-Master Greg: Oh my child, I have an answer for you.

Student D: Well let's have it then.

Zen-Master Greg: Who am I to deny enlightenment? As you will.

(The Master reaches towards student B, who screams out "NO! NOT ME AS WELL!" and covers his eyes with his hands. The Master, however, simply takes the now unsecured laptop of Student B, and then hurls it at the head of Student D. The impromptu missile lands neatly in the (widely) open mouth of Student D, who is flung backwards (with his chair) by the force of the impact. All that remains to be seen are the feet of Student D, which are sticking straight up. They twitch. Several of the more bored-looking students perk up, and clap politely. The Master stands and bows)

Zen-Master Greg: A true answer is one which denies the possibility of further questions.

(Those clapping rise and bow to the Master)

Lecturer: My God! What's going on here! You!

Zen-Master Greg: Yes?

Lecturer: What kind of violent savage are you?

Zen-Master Greg: A perfectly enlightened one, my child.

Lecturer: Well I've had enough of your 'perfect enlightenment'! Get out! Your days in this faculty are numbered!

Zen-Master Greg: Indeed? Tell me, for it seems necessary to inquire. Do you know what the Buddha looks like?


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