Buddhism and Parapsychology

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Miroku
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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Miroku » Sat May 04, 2019 2:09 pm

Loving wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 1:11 pm
Miroku wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 12:14 pm
You are on a Mahayana forum this limited view of what was taught by Buddha is not accepted here.
I am new to Buddhism. Do you want to offer an alternative point of view?
Well, the mahayana sutra canon. :D Also tantras were taught by Buddha Shakyamuni.
A boat delivers you to the other riverbank.
A needle stitches up your clothes.
A horse takes you where you want to go.
Bodhicitta will bring you to Buddhahood.
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Even non-buddhists have many virtuous accomplishments
~ Jigten Sumgon

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Loving » Sat May 04, 2019 3:08 pm

Miroku wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 2:09 pm
Well, the mahayana sutra canon. :D
Yes! :D

I wanted to explore the Pali canon, and pre-sectarian Buddhism, first for historical reasons (for scholarship, you would say :D). But as a Buddhist practitioner, I will have a much greater interest in the preservation and evolution of the teachings, across time and borders, into many great traditions of practice.

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Brunelleschi » Sat May 04, 2019 4:04 pm

Loving wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 3:08 pm
Miroku wrote:
Sat May 04, 2019 2:09 pm
Well, the mahayana sutra canon. :D
Yes! :D

I wanted to explore the Pali canon, and pre-sectarian Buddhism, first for historical reasons (for scholarship, you would say :D). But as a Buddhist practitioner, I will have a much greater interest in the preservation and evolution of the teachings, across time and borders, into many great traditions of practice.
I mean, you'll have to limit your scope on research then. :smile: "Pre-secterian" Buddhism only existed during the Buddhas life and about a hundred years after that 'til the second council meeting at Vaishali.

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Dechen Norbu » Mon May 06, 2019 11:50 am

Hi Loving!

Alan Wallace is among the best teachers I've met.
He has a tremendous background and his teaching credentials are nothing but impeccable. You should judge for yourself, but this a a guy I deeply trust.

So, regarding his approach to the Buddhism and science dialogue. It's very reasonable and lucid. In a nutshell, he proposes actually studying the mind and not just its neural correlates through introspection. The main difference between his proposal and earlier, but failed, attempts to carry such endeavor to success is a rigorous training of the researcher for its designated task. The method of choice would be the extensive practice of shamata. Unlike previous researchers, who had no idea that introspection and attention could be higly refined since they tackled the problem from an Eurocentric worldview/perspective where such faculty has not been explored, Alan suggests using the time tested methods known to Eastern civilizations to improve the skills of the researcher. This makes sense. You can't ask an undergraduate to review a top notch mathematical publication. Likewise, you can't trust the discoveries gained through the use of introspection if the researcher is not adequately trained. In the past, that was not known to be possible by scientists. Now, some are much aware that it is and progress in this field is, sooner or later, to be expected. Since little to none advance has been made towards resolving the hard problem of consciousness by neuroscience or psychology, perhaps a fresh approach is exactly what is needed. Alan's ideas are very clear. Perhaps, the most formidable obstacle to progress in this field is not actually scientific, but metaphysical. The actual physicalist paradigm hinders progress in both the study of consciousness and the measurement problem (physics). Perhaps there lies the reason why development in solving both is pretty much stagnate.

This subject interest me, and I dare to say it should interest anyone with a bit of compassion, because of the tremendous influence science helds today when it comes to shaping the worldview of billions. Shifting the paradigm in the right direction, at least in what concerns the study consciousness, could bring benefit to countless beings, perhaps at a scale never seen before. Personally, there's not much I can do about it, but I hope younger people listen to what Alan has to say and grow enough courage to pursue academic careers that may help. It will be hard. And I mean hard in a Galileoan way, because they won't be struggling against facts, but deeply entrenched cognitive biases, some with very strong emotional liaisons.

Anyway, despite all this being very interesting, what I find more awesome about Alan are his amazing teaching skills. Having a decently erudite past and academic formation together with a successful western socialization, gives him a rare understanding about the problems many westerners, especially those scientifically and/or philosophically minded, face when trying to practice Dharma. This allows very meaningful bridges between him and this particular kind of audience. I wouldn't say he is everyone's the cup of tea, though. Some people are more faith driven, others prefere a secularized watered down version of Dharma, others are more prone to trust a teacher because of the shape of his eyes and his exotic accent... who knows, really? Different strokes for different folk.

And, finally, what I like most about Alan is his no BS approach. Mind you, his apparent innovative message doesn't deviate one inch from the meaning of what you would learn from an old and seasoned traditional tibetan lama. It's the package that differs. And it's the enfasis in shamata practice that makes a world of difference, not because other practices aren't good (because they are), but without the stability shamata practice brings to everything else you do, the practitioner is mostly kidding himself. Love one expression he once used, it's like Sally being Tara but knowing she is Sally. Like playing dolls.
So, if you like Alan, don't be afraid to look closer. He is a bona fide teacher and has permission from Gyatrul Rinpoche to teach what he teaches and the way he teaches.

Sorry for the long rant (and typos n' stuff). I'll go back to my hibernation again.

Best of luck!

Marcos

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Simon E. » Mon May 06, 2019 12:00 pm

Good to see you Marcos.. :namaste:
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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Loving » Mon May 06, 2019 1:57 pm

Dechen Norbu wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 11:50 am
Hi Loving!

... You should judge for yourself, but this a a guy I deeply trust.
Hi Marcos! :twothumbsup:

You need never apologise for going on a rant, as long as it was well-intentioned. :smile:

I have absolutely no doubt that Alan Wallace is a superbly knowledgeable teacher and is particularly attuned to a Western audience. I am inspired both by his vision and his example.

One thing I have to say, though, is that in his talks he makes it clear that in his opinion there is no reason for pursuing dharma to a materialist who believes the stream of consciousness will cease at death. He reasons that on this belief, the third noble truth is death, and the fourth is "just wait". The implication is that if you believe the scientific materialists, you cannot be a Buddhist. Now, I regard myself as a person to whom it has not been demonstrated either way what happens to consciousness upon death. With this agnosticism, it is pretty hard to stomach what he says on this matter, since it reduces the dharma to a matter of doctrine. Furthermore, his disdain for materialism makes me question the spirit of objectivity which will be required to carry out the consciousness studies he has planned.

This is a strong concern for me personally, but I share it in the light of his many good qualities.

Thank you for your reference :heart:

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Loving » Mon May 06, 2019 3:55 pm

I am aware that this is my own perception, by the way. :thinking: :rolling:

My situation/temperament is basically this:
If you tell me "Look over there, and you may see a path", I will instinctively look, and once I see, I will walk it.
But if you give me a claim, "Such and such is true. Therefore, this is the path", I will only answer: How do I know such and such is true?

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Dechen Norbu » Mon May 06, 2019 5:19 pm

Loving wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 3:55 pm
I am aware that this is my own perception, by the way. :thinking: :rolling:

My situation/temperament is basically this:
If you tell me "Look over there, and you may see a path", I will instinctively look, and once I see, I will walk it.
But if you give me a claim, "Such and such is true. Therefore, this is the path", I will only answer: How do I know such and such is true?
It's perfectly reasonable. That's how I work too.
I know Alan's position on this.
The thing is, if you cling to the metaphysical paradigm of physicalism, you are accepting an article of faith, not a fact.
Now, you say you are undecided, right? Why should it be otherwise? It's just lucid. You still don't have reasons to accept one way or another. Simply, you don't know and acknowledge it. That's a great place to start.
What Alan proposes is that you test it. A working hypothesis, if you will. At least Dharma's alternative to Physicalism CAN be tested. That's the whole point. Then he extensively teaches methods for you to do so.

But if, OTOH although claiming agnosticism one actually clings to Physicalism, things get trickier as Buddhadharma makes little sense under that light. Then there are alternatives, good and way easier alternatives, to cope with this life. At death all your problems are solved. Humanist ethics are enough. Why waste time spending 8 hours or more practicing meditation, for instance? But take this tong in cheek. Alan doesn't entirely dismisses the value of even a secularized Dharma, be it an entry point to the real deal or a stand alone system.

Take your time, investigate and, if you see fit, do learn how to practice as this is the only way you'll know for sure. It works in a sort of positive feedback loop between wisdom and practice.

If you allow me one or two tips, never force yourself to believe anything. It doesn't work. Always question a priori assumptions. Give the benefit of the doubt to a proposed method, go for it consistently and earnestly and your set to discover on your own how things really are. Buddhadharma is said to be like a finger pointing to the moon. This means it is not in its method and conceptual descriptions of the view that you'll find its value. It's only through practice that realization comes about. Words are the map, not the terrain. Very usefull to a point.

You'll also mature as a practitioner and with time and practice, things that make little sense now will be self evident later, not because you want to belueve them, but because you'll know them directly through your own experience. Keep in mind that Dharma practice must make you feel more spacious and free, not oppressed and like having your critical thinking squashed at out your mind. That feeling of ease should be there, though you should know beforehand that there will be ups and downs.

Some initial readings will also help you find genuine value each time you practice, helping you to get rid of future expectations that are the seed of failure. This doesn't mean you shouldn't evaluate signs of progression (because you should), but avoid the anxiety that comes from expecting results after fixed amounts of time.

So, good luck whatever you decide to do!

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Loving » Mon May 06, 2019 7:02 pm

I'm very grateful for your generous advice! :bow:

Since it seems important, I will be more frank. I feel like materialism/physicalism is the refrain mostly of people who expect all truth to be easily accessible to the public domain. When you grow up in a cultural framework that expresses "ultimate reality" in experiments, reports and journal articles, your tendency may be to see all truth as reducible to mathematical modelling. Now, I am a very big believer in the power of mathematical modelling; whether you ask me about what may be possible in genetics, AI, neuroscience, or consciousness studies, I am a serious optimist. But I have no hesitation in pointing out that there are plenty of layers of reality that can only be penetrated with genuine mental training, insight, and virtue. To firmly declare, then, that each of these mental layers of reality, from the real nature of love to, indeed, the appropriate understanding of truth, and who knows how many unknown experiences, can all be proclaimed as complex meta-descriptions of neuronal activity... is, I think, to take this scientific cultural framework and apply scepticism to it. Well, I know where scepticism goes, and it goes a lot deeper than the presuppositions of scientism; deeper, even, than the semantics we use to think our simplest thoughts. I am not interested in useless scepticism, or science + useless scepticism. But I am also not interested in unquestioning faith, faith that cannot abide a curious nature. These are two extremes, and my way is between them. And that's what I think about physicalism. :D

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Dechen Norbu » Mon May 06, 2019 7:25 pm

You know, one of the problems of neuroscience is using a sort of19th century physics ideal to study consciousness, way less advanced than mathematics and physics are at this day. It's a new branch of science and its credibility is still being built. If, by one side, it made tremendous and incredibly usefull advances regarding our knowledge of the brain, it was little more to offer regarding the mind than "the mind is what the brain does". This is beyond primitive. It's no secret that our coarse mind is deeply deppending of the brain. That's not even a secret to some ancient cultures. But coarse mind is not all there is. If you practice with a lot of dedication, given time you'll discover substrate consciousness, which is not dependent of the nervous system. Consider it a working hypothesis when you start, not an article of faith.

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by TrimePema » Wed Jun 26, 2019 5:55 am

Loving wrote:
Mon May 06, 2019 7:02 pm
I'm very grateful for your generous advice! :bow:

Since it seems important, I will be more frank. I feel like materialism/physicalism is the refrain mostly of people who expect all truth to be easily accessible to the public domain. When you grow up in a cultural framework that expresses "ultimate reality" in experiments, reports and journal articles, your tendency may be to see all truth as reducible to mathematical modelling. Now, I am a very big believer in the power of mathematical modelling; whether you ask me about what may be possible in genetics, AI, neuroscience, or consciousness studies, I am a serious optimist. But I have no hesitation in pointing out that there are plenty of layers of reality that can only be penetrated with genuine mental training, insight, and virtue. To firmly declare, then, that each of these mental layers of reality, from the real nature of love to, indeed, the appropriate understanding of truth, and who knows how many unknown experiences, can all be proclaimed as complex meta-descriptions of neuronal activity... is, I think, to take this scientific cultural framework and apply scepticism to it. Well, I know where scepticism goes, and it goes a lot deeper than the presuppositions of scientism; deeper, even, than the semantics we use to think our simplest thoughts. I am not interested in useless scepticism, or science + useless scepticism. But I am also not interested in unquestioning faith, faith that cannot abide a curious nature. These are two extremes, and my way is between them. And that's what I think about physicalism. :D
There's a lot to unpack here but I will do my best with what I find to be the important parts.

Mathematical modeling: yes of course enlightenment is mathematically possible if you also take the rest of Buddhism to be mathematically possible but at the same time if you had that mathematical model it would show physicalism to be mathematically impossible. Which model you accept is based on your realization, not your logic - as we have already seen and can be demonstrated by the fact that coming to a logical, conceptual, intellectual understanding of the nature of mind does not lead directly to looking at it directly.

What Alan Wallace claims is that the current paradigms for approaching the question of the nature of consciousness are immediate failures. He then proposes we use the paradigm set by the Buddha to investigate, since it was used for over 2,000 years with a methodology that would be considered subject-based-objectivity. Again, this is the personal attestation to the truth of the nature of the mind and not the externally demonstrable proof of the truth of the nature of the mind - the nature of consciousness.

It is impossible to realize the nature of the mind while also believing that it has to be something permanent somewhere and also while believing it can not be anything anywhere at all.

It is impossible to realize the nature of the mind while designating it as being this or being that other than saying it has no mode of constant being other than its mode of constant being not being a mode of constant being other than the mode of that which is its nature and not technically what would constitute or equate to the meaning of a mode as we understand it in the way it's used at the beginning of this sentence opposed to here.

Regarding rebirth etc - don't worry about it. Recognize the nature of the mind and look. As recognition stabilizes, you will know for yourself whether there is rebirth or not. It will be obvious when you investigate your dream-realities and thought-feelings and the proliferation of their concretization and totally out of hand expansion.

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by muni » Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:46 am

Now, I am a very big believer in the power of mathematical modelling; whether you ask me about what may be possible in genetics, AI, neuroscience, or consciousness studies, I am a serious optimist. But I have no hesitation in pointing out that there are plenty of layers of reality that can only be penetrated with genuine mental training, insight, and virtue
:buddha1:
But I am also not interested in unquestioning faith, faith that cannot abide a curious nature.
I think as well, faith arises more naturally by cleaning perception. The more pollute my view is, the less faith. While faith in my dust is perhaps one of the many descriptions of samsara. :smile:
May I be a guard for those without one,
A guide for all who journey on the road,
May I become a boat, a raft or bridge,
For all who wish to cross the water.

Which human beings are “fortunate and connected?” They are the ones who generate love, compassion, and devotion, as well as the commitment to remain steadfast on the path until all beings are liberated. Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches.

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Aemilius » Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:06 am

Ajahn Brahmavamso tells a story of a boy with no brain who was studying mathematics in a university, when this was found out. There is a name of a professor connected to this story. And according to Brahmavamso there is also an older case of a man with no brain that was found dead in the trenches during the First world war. So it seems that the spirit, mind or consciousness has a much stronger existence than modern buddhists are usually willing to accept. Because consciousness can, at least in some cases, function in a body without a brain. It means according to Brahmavamso that a human being with as little brain as a reptilian has, can learn mathematics and function normally. And it makes the bardo state a much stronger form of existence than the brain-equals-consciousness view would give us.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Simon E. » Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:42 am

Are you saying that Ajahn Brahm made that connection with Bardo states or is that your linking of the various elements of that story?
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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Aemilius » Sat Jun 29, 2019 10:01 am

No, he didn't draw that conclusion, but that is fairly obvious, I think. The rest is from him, including for example the comparision with reptilian brains. In away he said that, because the after life necessarily includes the in-between state. So it has been implied by him, the Sravakayana Abhidharma and Sutras do mention the in-between state.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Grigoris » Sat Jun 29, 2019 1:19 pm

Aemilius wrote:
Sat Jun 29, 2019 10:01 am
No, he didn't draw that conclusion, but that is fairly obvious, I think. The rest is from him, including for example the comparision with reptilian brains. In away he said that, because the after life necessarily includes the in-between state. So it has been implied by him, the Sravakayana Abhidharma and Sutras do mention the in-between state.
There is a rebirth connecting consciousness and the bhavanga consciousness in Abhidhamma.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Aemilius » Sun Jun 30, 2019 8:15 am

That is a different thing, the rebirth connecting consciousness. The bhavanga consciousness which is usually equated with the Alaya-consciousness is in sanskrit bhava-agra, the peak of existence. There is also a word for the antarabhava or bardo in the Sravakayana literature. It is explained in Sravasti Dhammika's Guide to Buddhism A2Z, with canonical quotations. There is more about the in-between state in the Sarvastivada Abhidharma, and in the Abhidharmakosha of Vasunbandhu, more than in the official theravada doctrine.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

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Grigoris
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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Grigoris » Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:12 am

Aemilius wrote:
Sun Jun 30, 2019 8:15 am
That is a different thing, the rebirth connecting consciousness. The bhavanga consciousness which is usually equated with the Alaya-consciousness is in sanskrit bhava-agra, the peak of existence. There is also a word for the antarabhava or bardo in the Sravakayana literature. It is explained in Sravasti Dhammika's Guide to Buddhism A2Z, with canonical quotations. There is more about the in-between state in the Sarvastivada Abhidharma, and in the Abhidharmakosha of Vasunbandhu, more than in the official theravada doctrine.
Can you provide the citations? I have studied Abhidhamma quite extensively (albeit by myself) and have never really come across the notion, nor the term antarabhava. I am not doubting you, I am genuinely interested. Thank you.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Aemilius » Sun Jun 30, 2019 12:38 pm

Here is a link to the site of Sravasti Dhammika concerning the topic of the In-between state https://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=188
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

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Aemilius
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Re: Buddhism and Parapsychology

Post by Aemilius » Sun Jun 30, 2019 12:42 pm

In Leo Pruden's english translation of the Abhidharmakosha part four, index section, page 1383 there is the term antarabhava (intermediate existence), it is found in 23 places in the Abhidharmakosha-bhashyam.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

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