Time for Stream Entry • Informal Research Paper

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Can Luis Özkan, modified 4 Months ago at 12/16/23 10:33 AM
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Time for Stream Entry • Informal Research Paper

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Hello dear Friends, 

Over the past few months, I researched into how long it takes to attain Stream Entry and collected my findings in this paper. 

Included are a Questionnaire to Stream Enterers, which was answered by 11 People, as well as analysis of academic research on the subject and more.

I'm open to suggestions, criticism, comments and questions.
​​​​​​​May you benefit from the reading. 

Love
Can 
Martin, modified 4 Months ago at 12/16/23 12:52 PM
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RE: Time for Stream Entry • Informal Research Paper

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Thanks!
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finding-oneself ♤, modified 4 Months ago at 12/16/23 7:59 PM
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RE: Time for Stream Entry • Informal Research Paper

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Thank you for making that, it was very kind of you. It's super interesting.
Eudoxos , modified 4 Months ago at 12/20/23 1:42 AM
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RE: Time for Stream Entry • Informal Research Paper

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Thank you, nice to read.

As a small comment: you mention the three fetters which don't come back after SE. Not being an expert here, I just know they tend to be explained differently (which is also why different ppl would count different things as SE).

The doubt fetter, which you define as "unwavering confidence" in the Triple Gem: it does not fit in many cases — may people don't even know much about Buddha, or did not practice in Sangha context, so don't have that felt sense. A better explanation I've heard/read (don't remember where), in terms of something observable, is that there is "unwavering confidence" that this practice can lead to total purification of the mind.
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Can Luis Özkan, modified 4 Months ago at 12/20/23 11:48 PM
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RE: Time for Stream Entry • Informal Research Paper

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Hey Eudoxos, 

Yes, that is certainly true. I was going to try to define it more universal and not fixed to the Buddhist Doctrine, but didn't go through with it. 
Edward, modified 4 Months ago at 12/21/23 12:40 AM
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RE: Time for Stream Entry • Informal Research Paper

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Most of the exlemplars of stream enterers you present in the paper would reject your definition of it. 
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Sha-Man! Geoffrey, modified 4 Months ago at 12/21/23 4:02 AM
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RE: Time for Stream Entry • Informal Research Paper

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This looks good! I'm on retreat for a bit so might be slow to respond, but two things I can offer to help improve this

- I can make bar charts of the quantitive responses (like how many years since first retreat)
- I can run simple analysis (like correlation of practice time or retreat time or whatever to speed)

​​​​​​​Let me know and I can reach out with my email 
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Ni Nurta, modified 4 Months ago at 12/21/23 6:30 AM
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RE: Time for Stream Entry • Informal Research Paper

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Most of the exlemplars of stream enterers you present in the paper would reject your definition of it.
It doesn't mean most people who claim Stream Entry are correct when they say their definition has anything to do with Buddhadharma. It only applies within specific community which uses given definition.

​​​​​​​If said community's definitions stray away from Buddhadharma then said community should also stray away from using Buddhist terms. It is obvious the whole thing is kept as it is because of popularity of Buddha and Buddhism. Similar blunder as whole Buddhist traditions did eg. Vajrayana which is pinnacle of non-buddhism pretending to have anything to do with Buddha's teachings. Makes me have zero respect for them.
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Sha-Man! Geoffrey, modified 4 Months ago at 12/21/23 7:48 AM
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RE: Time for Stream Entry • Informal Research Paper

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Fwiw I personally think it's useful to take a bit of relaxed view of the role of a specific tradition. In Theravada they make this point that the dhamma existed before the Buddha and exists without the Buddha (and I think people under emphasize the handful of leaves or raft teachings to try and pin down with certainty that "their team" has the "correct" teachings and the "right" views). And you even seen this if you study mystics of other traditions - for example Teresa of Avila clearly practiced something that the Buddhists would call jhanas. And (according to shin zen, I haven't read her biography) she apparently got something that looked basically like stream entry. And like Theravadans don't have a patent on paying attention to experience...
Olivier S, modified 4 Months ago at 12/21/23 11:51 AM
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RE: Time for Stream Entry • Informal Research Paper

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Yeah, and who knows if the Buddha actually existed and what is teaching was like, as the earliest texts were fixed in writing centuries after his supposed dates. 

Coomaraswamy makes a solid case that his traditional life story is a retelling of a vedic myth, in his cool book, Hinduism and Buddhism

The buddha clearly stated, in SN 12:65, that he did not discover something new but rediscovered an ancient path: 

It’s just as if a man, traveling along a wilderness track, were to see an ancient path, an ancient road, traveled by people of former times. He would follow it. Following it, he would see an ancient city, an ancient capital inhabited by people of former times, complete with parks, groves, & ponds, walled, delightful. He would go to address the king or the king’s minister, saying, ‘Sire, you should know that while traveling along a wilderness track I saw an ancient path.... I followed it.... I saw an ancient city, an ancient capital... complete with parks, groves, & ponds, walled, delightful. Sire, rebuild that city!’ The king or king’s minister would rebuild the city, so that at a later date the city would become powerful, rich, & well-populated, fully grown & prosperous.

In the same way I saw an ancient path, an ancient road, traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones of former times. And what is that ancient path...? Just this noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.... I followed that path. Following it, I came to direct knowledge of aging-&-death, direct knowledge of the origination of aging-&-death, direct knowledge of the cessation of aging-&-death, direct knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of aging-&-death. I followed that path. Following it, I came to direct knowledge of birth... becoming... clinging... craving... feeling... contact... the six sense media... name-&-form... consciousness, direct knowledge of the origination of consciousness, direct knowledge of the cessation of consciousness, direct knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of consciousness. I followed that path.

​​​​​​​You can find a very interesting anthology of the Pali canon and related theravada source texts with commentaries by Thanissaro Bhikku in The Wings to Awakening. This was one of Rob Burbea's main teachers and you can see a lot of Thanissaro's stuff in Burbea's stuff. Highly recommended.

Anyways... Trolls will troll...

Here is the full section, which also discusses cessation, i.e., the fourth noble truth... It is very interesting, as it discusses dependent origination from a somewhat unusual angle, and describes the interdependence/non-linearity of the various elements. Unfortunately the formatting into paragraphs has been messed up as I posted, but you can find this in the Wings to awakenings.

Before my self-awakening, when I was still just an unawakened Bodhisatta, the realization came to me: ‘How this world has fallen on difficulty! It is born, it ages, it dies, it falls away & rearises, but it does not discern the escape from this stress, from this aging-&-death. O when will it discern the escape from this stress, from this aging-&-death?’Then the thought occurred to me, ‘Aging-&-death exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition is there aging-&-death?’ From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: ‘Aging-&-death exists when birth exists. From birth as a requisite condition comes aging-&-death.’ Then the thought occurred to me, ‘Birth exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition comes birth?’ From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: ‘Birth exists when becoming exists. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth.... ‘Name-&-form exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition is there name-&-form?’ From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: ‘Name- &-form exists when consciousness exists. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form.’ Then the thought occurred to me, ‘Consciousness exists when what exists? From what as a requisite condition comes consciousness?’ From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: ‘Consciousness exists when name-&-form exists. From name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness.’Then the thought occurred to me, ‘This consciousness turns back at name-&- form, and goes no farther. It is to this extent that there is birth, aging, death, falling away, & re-arising, i.e., from name-&-form as a requisite condition comes consciousness, from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six sense media.... Thus is the origination of this entire mass of stress. Origination, origination.’ Vision arose, clear knowing arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard before.Then the thought occurred to me, ‘Aging-&-death doesn’t exist when what doesn’t exist? From the cessation of what comes the cessation of aging-&-death?’ From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: ‘Aging-&-death doesn’t exist when birth doesn’t exist. From the cessation of birth comes the cessation of aging-&-death.’... ‘Name-&-form doesn’t exist when what doesn’t exist? From the cessation of what comes the cessation of name-&-form?’ From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: ‘Name-&-form doesn’t exist when consciousness doesn’t exist. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form.’ Then the thought occurred to me, ‘Consciousness doesn’t exist when what doesn’t exist? From the cessation of what comes the cessation of consciousness?’ From my appropriate attention there came the breakthrough of discernment: ‘Consciousness doesn’t exist when name-&-form doesn’t exist. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of consciousness.’The thought occurred to me, ‘I have attained this path to Awakening, i.e., from the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of consciousness, from the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-&-form. From the cessation of name-&-form comes the cessation of the six sense media.... Thus is the cessation of this entire mass of stress. Cessation, cessation.’ Vision arose, clear knowing arose, discernment arose, knowledge arose, illumination arose within me with regard to things never heard before.It’s just as if a man, traveling along a wilderness track, were to see an ancient path, an ancient road, traveled by people of former times. He would follow it. Following it, he would see an ancient city, an ancient capital inhabited by people of former times, complete with parks, groves, & ponds, walled, delightful. He would go to address the king or the king’s minister, saying, ‘Sire, you should know that while traveling along a wilderness track I saw an ancient path.... I followed it.... I saw an ancient city, an ancient capital... complete with parks, groves, & ponds, walled, delightful. Sire, rebuild that city!’ The king or king’s minister would rebuild the city, so that at a later date the city would become powerful, rich, & well-populated, fully grown & prosperous.In the same way I saw an ancient path, an ancient road, traveled by the Rightly Self-awakened Ones of former times. And what is that ancient path...? Just this noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.... I followed that path. Following it, I came to direct knowledge of aging-&-death, direct knowledge of the origination of aging-&-death, direct knowledge of the cessation of aging-&-death, direct knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of aging-&-death. I followed that path. Following it, I came to direct knowledge of birth... becoming... clinging... craving... feeling... contact... the six sense media... name-&-form... consciousness, direct knowledge of the origination of consciousness, direct knowledge of the cessation of consciousness, direct knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of consciousness. I followed that path.Following it, I came to direct knowledge of fabrications, direct knowledge of the origination of fabrications, direct knowledge of the cessation of fabrications, direct knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of fabrications. Knowing that directly, I have revealed it to monks, nuns, male lay followers, & female lay followers, so that this holy life has become powerful, rich, detailed, well- populated, wide-spread, proclaimed among celestial & human beings. SN 12:65
Olivier S, modified 4 Months ago at 12/21/23 11:56 AM
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RE: Time for Stream Entry • Informal Research Paper

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From the same anthology, section on "Fabrications". Nice descriptions of cessation.

§ 234. ‘There are these four nutriments for the establishing of beings who have taken birth or for the support of those in search of a place to be born. Which four? Physical food, gross or refined; contact as the second, consciousness the third, and intellectual intention the fourth. These are the four nutriments for the establishing of beings or for the support of those in search of a place to be born.‘Where there is passion, delight, & craving for the nutriment of physical food, consciousness lands there and grows. Where consciousness lands and grows, name-&-form alights. Where name-&-form alights, there is the growth of fabrications. Where there is the growth of fabrications, there is the production of renewed becoming in the future. Where there is the production of renewed becoming in the future, there is future birth, aging, & death, together, I tell you, with sorrow, affliction, & despair.‘Just as—when there is dye, lac, yellow orpiment, indigo, or crimson—a dyer or painter would paint the picture of a woman or a man, complete in all its parts, on a well-polished panel or wall, or on a piece of cloth; in the same way, where there is passion, delight, & craving for the nutriment of physical food, consciousness lands there & grows... together, I tell you, with sorrow, affliction, & despair.[Similarly with the other three kinds of nutriment.]‘Where there is no passion for the nutriment of physical food, where there is no delight, no craving, then consciousness does not land there or grow.... Name-&- form does not alight.... There is no growth of fabrications.... There is no production of renewed becoming in the future. Where there is no production of renewed becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging, & death. That, I tell you, has no sorrow, affliction, or despair.‘Just as if there were a roofed house or a roofed hall having windows on the north, the south, or the east. When the sun rises, and a ray has entered by way of the window, where does it land?’
‘On the western wall, lord.’
‘And if there is no western wall...?’ ‘On the ground, lord.’
‘And if there is no ground...?’
‘On the water, lord.’
‘And if there is no water...?’
‘It does not land, lord.’‘In the same way, where there is no passion for the nutriment of physical food...consciousness does not land or grow.... That, I tell you, has no sorrow, affliction, or despair.’[Similarly with the other three kinds of nutriment.] 

SN 12:64

§ 235. Consciousness without feature, without end,luminous all around:
Here water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing. Here long & shortcoarse & fine fair & foulname & form are, without remnant, brought to an end. From the cessationof (the activity of) consciousness, each is here brought to an end.

DN11

§ 236. Where water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing:There the stars don’t shine, the sun isn’t visible.There the moon doesn’t appear. There darkness is not found.And when a sage,
a brahman through sagacity, has realized (this) for himself,then from form & formless, from pleasure & pain,he is freed.
​​​​​​​
Ud1:10
Edit: Damn, formatting messed up again.
Olivier S, modified 4 Months ago at 12/21/23 12:59 PM
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RE: Time for Stream Entry • Informal Research Paper

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    Another epic one, where the Buddha describes ontogenesis, the coming into being of this world and its inhabitants, and the path to its contemplative reversal. Notice that this one hints at a sequence reminiscent of the stages of insight, and sort of manages to describe the connections between jhanas, ñanas, factors of awakening, dependent originiation, etc., all in a few paragraphs:

The ending of the effluents is for one who knows & sees, I tell you, not for one who does not know & does not see.

For one who knows what & sees what?... ‘Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance. Such is feeling.... Such is perception.... Such are fabrications.... Such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.’ The ending of the effluents is for one who knows in this way & sees in this way. The knowledge of ending in the presence of ending has its prerequisite, I tell you. It is not without a prerequisite. And what is its prerequisite? Release...Release has its prerequisite, I tell you. It is not without a prerequisite. And what is its prerequisite? Dispassion.... Disenchantment.... Knowledge & vision of things as they have come to be.... Concentration.... Pleasure.... Calm.... Rapture.... Joy.... Conviction.... Stress.... Birth.... Becoming.... Clinging.... Craving.... Feeling.... Contact....The six sense media.... Name-&- form.... Consciousness.... Fabrications.... Fabrications have their prerequisite, I tell you. They are not without a prerequisite.

And what is their prerequisite? Ignorance....

Just as when the devas pour rain in heavy drops & crash thunder on the upper mountains: the water, flowing down along the slopes, fills the mountain clefts & rifts & gullies. When the mountain clefts & rifts & gullies are full, they fill the little ponds. When the little ponds are full, they fill the big lakes... the little rivers... the big rivers. When the big rivers are full, they fill the great ocean.

In the same way:

fabrications have ignorance as their prerequisite, consciousness has fabrications as its prerequisite, name-&-form has consciousness as its prerequisite,

the six sense media have name-&-form as their prerequisite, contact has the six sense media as its prerequisite,feeling has contact as its prerequisite,

craving has feeling as its prerequisite,

clinging has craving as its prerequisite,

becoming has clinging as its prerequisite,

birth has becoming as its prerequisite,

stress & suffering have birth as their prerequisite, conviction has stress & suffering as its prerequisite, joy has conviction as its prerequisite,

rapture has joy as its prerequisite,

calm has rapture as its prerequisite,

pleasure has calm as its prerequisite, concentration has pleasure as its prerequisite,

knowledge & vision of things as they have come to be has concentration as its prerequisite,

disenchantment has knowledge & vision of things as they have come to be as its prerequisite,

dispassion has disenchantment as its prerequisite, release has dispassion as its prerequisite, knowledge of ending has release as its prerequisite. SN 12:23

So it goes like this, with each element being a prerequisite for the next one:

First, the world comes into existence:
Ignorance>Fabrications>Consciousness>Name-&-form>Six sense media>Contact>Feeling>Craving>Clinging>Becoming>Birth>Stress & suffering>

Path begins:
Conviction>Joy>Rapture>Calm>Pleasure>Concentration>

A&P and progress of insight, aka, the world blinks out of existence:
Knowledge & vision of things as they are>Disenchantment>Dispassion>Release>Knowledge of ending.

Pretty extraordinary.

And then, the devil is in the details, but ...

This basic process seems present in all great mystical traditions, according to Michael Taft for instance, he says this at the beginning of one of his death sanghas, perhaps this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkV14TMaMg0.

Here is an excerpt from a paper Daniel and I just submitted to Frontiers in Psychology — with the prospective title Documenting and Defining Emergent Phenomenology: Theoretical Foundations for an Extensive Research Strategy. Contains some more refs:

If we turn to classical early European mystical texts, such as those by late-antiquity author Plotinus, we find that they describe “mystical ascent”, the phases of which are described in Mazur (2021), as culminating in a total “annihilation” into the “One” called henosis (Greek for “union”), which is followed by a “desubjectification”. Similarly, the last stage of the “path to God” as described by 13th-century German Mystics like Meister Eckhart or his student Tauler, is called a “modeless good” (De Libera, 1996), referring not as much to an “experience” with specific phenomenal features, but as a going beyond all manifest appearances (including going beyond feelings of bliss, of sacredness, of unity, of transcendence, etc.). Early mystical theologies like that of 5th- or 6th-century church father pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (Luibheid and Rorem, 1987) — a ubiquitous influence on medieval contemplatives — and later ones such as that by St. John of the Cross (St. John of the Cross [2010]; Marler and Rorem [1996]), respectively describe unio mystica[33] as “an obscure and luminous darkness” and a “going forth from the flesh”. The same is true of other Abrahamic traditions, as described in Fisher (2022). All of these quintessentially mystical experiences seem to bear more resemblance with the Buddhist notion of “cessation of consciousness” than with Jamesian or Stacean “mystical experience”, which likely should be correlated with phenomena and experiences encountered at earlier phases of these developmental models. Note that in Theravada texts, even such “cessations of consciousness” are classified into various types depending on their setup, mode of entrance, and phenomena and effects after the exit.

The exact phase names are definitely not exactly the same as the stages of insight, emphases are different, etc., etc., but there is something undeniably similar there, I find.

Edit: More on this, an excerpt I wrote for the same article, but had to be cut out due to lack of space — glad I can still use it here!:

In contemporary research, meditation practices are often divided into “constructive,” “attentional,” and “deconstructive” types (Dahl, 2015). Similarly, in their model for the cross-cultural analysis of altered-states of consciousness, anthropologists Locke and Kelly (1985) propose to regroup a variety of ASC-induction modalities into the category of “inversion procedures,” which is a broader category than the previous, but, taken, at the level of contemplative practices, corresponds to the deconstructive type (which includes e.g. vipāssana meditation). The “mystical” itinerary has even been termed “decreation” by Simone Weil (Carson, 2019), i.e. the reversal of the process of “creation.” Indeed, one of the most influential figures on European contemplatives since antiquity, Plotinus, “envisioned the final stages of mystical ascent to the One to be homologous to the process by which the Intellect first emerges from it,” and “ believed that the ultimate mystical union with the One (MUO) could be attained through the contemplative or visionary reiteration of the first reflexive moment of ontogenesis,” as quoted in Mazur (2021, chap. 4). Ontogenesis means the “coming-into-being” (genesis) of “beings,” or “things” (ontas). This notion can be directly related with the more recent concept of Emergence (Varela, 1992). If emergence (as we mean it) has something to do with the meditative deconstruction of the process of emergence (in the scientific sense of emergentism) of phenomena–beings, as is claimed here by Plotinus, then the semantic overlap is not just a fortuitous mishap, but reveals a direct connection between emergence, emergent phenomena and emergentism. This general semantic nexus is confirmed by other contemplative traditions — for instance, some buddhist mahamudra texts describe the process of ontogenesis as “co-emergence” (Ṅag-dbaṅ-kun-dgaʼ-bstan-ʼdzin and Abboud, 2014) and equate the fruit of meditative practice with the “realization” of, or direct insight into, this process of co-emergence, thereby presenting the result of the contemplative process — much like Plotinus did — as the experiential uniting of the direct perception of the metaphysical or cosmo-phenomenological process of phenomenalisation (Henry, 1973) with a process of psychological development achieved through intentional cultivation. In this perspective, what we call here the process of emergence — a developmental trajectory which an individual may go through — is thus in direct connection with the “ontological” or “phenomenological” process theorized by some cognitive scientists as emergence.
   
Like, how much more epic does it get than this sentence by Mazur: "Plotinus envisioned the final stages of mystical ascent to the One to be homologous to the process by which the Intellect first emerges from it, and believed that the ultimate mystical union with the One (MUO) could be attained through the contemplative or visionary reiteration of the first reflexive moment of ontogenesis" ?

​​​​​​​Add the jewish Tree of Life in Kabbalah, which can be seen as representing many things including Cosmogenesis (the origin of the phenomenal world), and the contemplative process (as Daniel tried to map quite precisely a long time ago with a kabbalist friend, in his infamous table: freaky ñana/sephirot table), and you have yourself a solid case...
  
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Sha-Man! Geoffrey, modified 4 Months ago at 12/22/23 8:44 AM
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RE: Time for Stream Entry • Informal Research Paper

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I like that ancient city quote. We're on the hunt for el dorado

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