Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 7:14 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 7:11 PM

Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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At their most basic level, developmental (“spiritual”) models are constructed around a system of symbols which represent certain fundamental concepts and ideas. A symbolic representation allows for a flexibility of meaning which is not possible in everyday language, particularly when dealing with abstract ideas or subtle aspects of experience; the use of symbols, whether linguistic or pictorial, is an essential part of human communication and is present in everything from Freemasonry to Zen. What interests me is the possibility that all genuine traditions, from East to West, are using symbols to represent the same concepts, ideas or sensate experiences; the symbolism itself will be unique to the culture in which the tradition developed, of course, and each will, at first, appear to be describing very aspects of experience. Further investigation, study and contemplation of those symbols has led me to understand, through direct experience of what those symbols represent[1], that, while we may speak in different languages, we’re talking about the same basic sensate experiences, and the same general concepts, which form the framework of every model.

Bringing things back to a more practice-related angle, my practice and experiences over the last few years have left me unable to subscribe to any one particular model of reality anymore. However, of the dozen or three conceptual models, maps, and belief systems I’ve worked with, there are a few recurring themes which are present, to some extent at least, in all of them. In my experience, understanding how one tradition uses a particular symbol to represent a specific concept can lead to strong insights into how other, seemingly unrelated, tradition uses it; this can then deepen insight into how the that symbol is used and what it communicates in the tradition you’re currently working with.[2] In the diagram below, I have tried to demonstrate how the Buddhist concept of the Five Aggregates can be related to the Five Elements as found in most magickal models, as well as their relation to several other models which may be of interest.

I intend to write five separate pieces about the connections I’ve outlined in this diagram, and also to explain the symbolism more clearly with some practical examples, but I hope that this will at least provide some food for thought and possibly encourage a clearer understanding of other traditions. I could be completely wrong, as always, so I encourage you to check out the validity of these correspondences for yourself; the way to go about this is the same regardless of traditions, however it’s time-consuming, requires a lot of study and boils down to intense contemplation of the symbol over a period of time. I’ve found this to be a reliable and revealing practice to work with, it’s well-suited to those inclined towards understanding these things intellectually first and is a great way to observe how the mind goes about finding these connections.
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 7:17 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/19/12 7:17 PM

RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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I didn't know how to format the picture and then add text afterwards, so here are the footnotes I'd indicated in the first post.

[1] To simplify this, let’s call it a “eureka” moment; a realization, an insight, or whatever you want to call it.
[2] As a practice in itself, it engenders an incredible flexibility of thought and makes the boundaries between traditions meaningless; this can also make you far less judgemental of the belief systems of others, even if they seem diametrically opposed to your own. Although if you’re doing such a practice sincerely, diametric opposition takes an experiential kicking...This freestyle, synergistic approach to practice has served me very well over the years and, if you’re able to skilfully navigate in this world and are willing to take some serious risks, I recommend it highly.
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Jeff Grove, modified 10 Years ago at 6/21/12 5:57 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/21/12 5:57 PM

RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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nice article
We find the five elements or a minor variation such as the four elements in traditions across the world bothe eastern and western.
Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space, and Consciousness,
Earth, Fire, Sky, Water and Air
Earth, Fire, Metal, Water and Air
Earth, Fire, Water, Air

Some of the specific uses in meditation are the four element meditation that I have found very useful but hasnt appeard to have much discussion around here


"Then he should advert to his entire material body, and discern the elements in brief in this way, “In this body what is hard or rough is the earth-element, what is flowing or cohesion is the water-element, what is maturing (ripening) or heat is the fire-element, what is pushing or supporting is the air-element,” and he should advert and give attention to it and review it again and again as “earth-element, water-element, fire-element, air-element,” that is to say, as mere elements, not a being, and soulless. As he makes effort in this way it is not long before concentration arises in him, which is reinforced by understanding that illuminates the classification of the elements,"

Basically you investgate or note each sensation or zero in on a specific part of the body and break it down e.g.
air element - movement
fire element - pain
earth - solid
water - mucus

Then in Dzogchen the elements play an important part as in the visions there are 4 complimentary tigles around a center tigle and each of these are related to an element
There are mediations for investigating each element such as around a creek or a mountain, under the sky and watching a fire
The chakras are related to an element
Sounds are related to an element
In taoism there is the 5 elements representing the changing cycles of nature

With practice you start to see the relevance in these ancient ideas that are often looked at as superstitious left overs from another time
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Jake , modified 10 Years ago at 6/21/12 6:18 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/21/12 6:18 PM

RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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Jeff Grove:

Some of the specific uses in meditation are the four element meditation that I have found very useful but hasnt appeard to have much discussion around here


"Then he should advert to his entire material body, and discern the elements in brief in this way, “In this body what is hard or rough is the earth-element, what is flowing or cohesion is the water-element, what is maturing (ripening) or heat is the fire-element, what is pushing or supporting is the air-element,” and he should advert and give attention to it and review it again and again as “earth-element, water-element, fire-element, air-element,” that is to say, as mere elements, not a being, and soulless. As he makes effort in this way it is not long before concentration arises in him, which is reinforced by understanding that illuminates the classification of the elements,"


very cool, probably because I resonate with Vajrayana stuff this is something I do periodically. I didn't realize that such an approach goes back to earlier forms of Buddhism but it isn't surprising.


Jeff Grove:

Then in Dzogchen the elements play an important part as in the visions there are 4 complimentary tigles around a center tigle and each of these are related to an element
There are mediations for investigating each element such as around a creek or a mountain, under the sky and watching a fire
The chakras are related to an element
Sounds are related to an element
In taoism there is the 5 elements representing the changing cycles of nature

With practice you start to see the relevance in these ancient ideas that are often looked at as superstitious left overs from another time


Yeah, I think of it in terms of 'user interfaces'. The descriptive systems of whatever culture serve as a user-level interface for crafting meaning (fabricating) and thus for playing around with attunement/detunement to the 'way things are' which is beyond description. Good practice makes the descriptive nature of descriptions increasingly evident, short circuiting the tendency to 'believe', to regard descriptions in dogmatic fashion rather than in pragmatic or poetic fashion.

The descriptive systems of cultural movements like Vajrayana, Taoism, or other alchemical (?) systems eastern and western seem to reflect a culture that values 'hacking' this feedback between descriptions and the whole field of sensations*, deconditioning the tendency of mind to 'buy in' to descriptions as 'real' and thus ameliorating the reactive tendencies, 'suffering'. The thing I like personally about these sorts of systems is that they seem well suited to revealing and stabilizing profound insights in the context of a full life, without necessarily sitting still for all one's waking hours. As one goes deeper into the symbol system, one is constantly faced with the opportunity to hack deeper layers of conditioning OR get sucked in to a very 'magical' worldview which can be just as dogmatic and experientially oppressive as any other.

*naturally I don't mean to imply that descriptions- whether verbal or non-verbal-- are separate from the whole field of sensations. They are forms/patterns which arise in that field, and this 'hacking' seems to reverse the tendency for mind to be addicted to descriptions and thus miss out on the true nature of sensations. By contrast, an easy going (non fabricated) appreciation for this open ended wholeness of the field is also able to play with descriptions in a laid back way. Reactivity (which as far as I can tell is a bodily-felt resistance to a reified description) relaxes as this reversal deepens. This is one reason why I am skeptical of enlightened, awakened, actually free or whatever folk (claimants) who seem to rigidly stick to certain ways of describing things, and enforcing group dynamics of inclusion and exclusion based on terminology. I acknowledge that this sticking to a particular terminology has a pragmatic value though. I just think the issue is worth a subtler investigation.
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Jeff Grove, modified 10 Years ago at 6/21/12 6:40 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/21/12 6:38 PM

RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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The 5 elements of Wu Xing comes from insight through meditative investigations the 5 elements are related to 5 phases of growth from nature

wood is assoicated with spring and the liver from energetic practices you will literally feel the energy blooming bubbling up from the liver which feeds fire or the heart
the majority of modern men in there 30s to 40s suffer from heat in the liver which causes anger. if you investigate anger you will see that it is an energy which rushes forward expanding outward and will feel the heat in the liver area

will write more when I dont have to doge the boss at work

enjoy your day
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 6/21/12 6:52 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/21/12 6:50 PM

RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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Having a good shiatsu session while paying attention to the body can shed light on the things Jeff is pointing at, in my opinion.
(Shiatsu focuses on applying pressure/stretching to the client's whole body to connect with the qi along the meridian lines and involves such TCM diagnosis as liver/gall bladder/spring/anger relationship. The liver governs the emotions according to TCM)
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Jake , modified 10 Years ago at 6/21/12 7:40 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/21/12 7:40 PM

RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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Jeff Grove:
The 5 elements of Wu Xing comes from insight through meditative investigations the 5 elements are related to 5 phases of growth from nature

wood is assoicated with spring and the liver from energetic practices you will literally feel the energy blooming bubbling up from the liver which feeds fire or the heart
the majority of modern men in there 30s to 40s suffer from heat in the liver which causes anger. if you investigate anger you will see that it is an energy which rushes forward expanding outward and will feel the heat in the liver area

will write more when I dont have to doge the boss at work

enjoy your day


Thank you Jeff. Unsurprisingly this seems like very pertinent information to me. I am grateful and look forward to more pointers in this direction. I admit I have much to learn emoticon This seems to connect to the fact (as I see it...) that this pragmatic/poetic polarity of meaning is mutually inclusive. In other words, when the poetic meaning of a particular system speaks to me, it seems that (often incredibly precisely) pragmatic meaning is bundled with it.

I am interested in hearing a more detailed description of how this imbalanced presence of fire in the (wood natured) liver area causes the dualistic phenomenon 'anger'. Balancing the elements is basically the heart of where I'm at in the alchemical dimension of my Path, and while I definitely feel a strong connection to the ultimate (non alchemical, always already) 'view', this balancing of the elements seems like the meat of my day to day development.
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Jake , modified 10 Years ago at 6/21/12 7:47 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/21/12 7:47 PM

RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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Nikolai .:
Having a good shiatsu session while paying attention to the body can shed light on the things Jeff is pointing at, in my opinion.
(Shiatsu focuses on applying pressure/stretching to the client's whole body to connect with the qi along the meridian lines and involves such TCM diagnosis as liver/gall bladder/spring/anger relationship. The liver governs the emotions according to TCM)


also helpful and pertinent. I definitely notice a connection between the body dimension via massage or movement and the energetic/elemental dimension and the raw relaxedness/openness/awakeness of mind in my daily practice. For instance I find a strong connection between physical movements, whether formal and yogic or more loosely practiced, and the tendency of mind to grasp at experience as constellations of subject/object dualities vs. the tendency of mind to relax into its natural openness/referencelessness. I think I should check into shiatsu a bit too. Can you say a bit more about this in relation to the five elements and massage? Particularly in relation to anger/liver etc.

And perhaps we are veering from your OP Tommy, in which case perhaps this should be broken off? I think we could tie this into the thread of a multi-model overview of the elements, but just in case... emoticon
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Nikolai , modified 10 Years ago at 6/21/12 8:47 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/21/12 8:33 PM

RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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. Jake .:
Nikolai .:
Having a good shiatsu session while paying attention to the body can shed light on the things Jeff is pointing at, in my opinion.
(Shiatsu focuses on applying pressure/stretching to the client's whole body to connect with the qi along the meridian lines and involves such TCM diagnosis as liver/gall bladder/spring/anger relationship. The liver governs the emotions according to TCM)


Can you say a bit more about this in relation to the five elements and massage? Particularly in relation to anger/liver etc.


There are a few differing shiatsu approaches but two main ones. The offshoots of shiatsu seem to jump from the zen shiatsu as a base. I would shy away from calling shiatsu 'massage' as it differes in application from what most people consider 'massage'.

There is Namakoshi shiatsu from the guy who sort of started the shiatsu ball rolling in Japan as a more widespread therapy. But this approach is more focused on working with the pressure point location and the analysis of effectiveness are based on modern anatomy, physiology and pathology.

Zen Shiatsu originating with Masunaga, who was Namakoshi's student, aimed at integrating the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach including the notions of ying and yang harmony, meridian lines, balanced/imbalanced qi/ki flow and corresponding organ function, tsubos, TCM diagnosis, 5 element theory (also known as 5 phases theory), 8 principle patterns etc.

Concerning 5 elements, it is used more so for diagnosis of how a patient presents via looking/observing, asking, hearing/smelling and touching/palpation. Certain 'signs' will lead to a diagnosis of what and where the imbalances are presenting and thus what area of the body and/or corresponding organ meridian line to work on to help balance the flow of qi there. A patient presenting with much anger in their lives (as well as other info gleamed from the 4 diagnostic tools mentioned) could point to a liver qi disharmony, which could affect this and other organ functioning. Quite in line with the whole psychosomatic disorder notion. If the signs pointed to stagnation of liver qi, that is what would be worked on to ublock that stagnation and aid in the body's capacity to right this flow. All via perpendicular, stationary pressure/palpation from thumbs, knees, elbows, forearms, palms and specific stretches on a fully clothed patient. This aids in tonifying and dispersing stagnant and deficient areas of qi/ki. The ongoing compounding of 'anger' may reduce or drop away as a result of righting the flow in the area in question. it may present differently for people with different baselines, obviously.




The Seven Emotions

The seven basic emotions related to organ function are anger, joy, worry, pensiveness, sadness, fear, and shock (fright). Although the mind/body connection has been acknowledged only relatively recently in Western medicine, the interaction of emotions with the physical body is an essential aspect of traditional Chinese medicine.
Each organ has a corresponding emotion; imbalance of this emotion can affect the organ's function. For example, prolonged anger can lead to an imbalance in the liver. At the same time, liver imbalances can produce symptoms of anger, often leading to a self-perpetuating cycle.

In discussing the emotional aspect of the disease process, it is important to remember that it is normal to experience the full range of emotions. It is only when a particular emotion is experienced over a prolonged period or with particular intensity that it becomes a source of imbalance. It is obviously important for a person with severe emotional problems to get professional help from a trained psychotherapist. But even in these cases, the therapy is more effective when the corresponding organ imbalance is rectified. Acupuncture is especially effective in treating disorders of the emotions. Even when it is not completely effective in treating a physical ailment, it almost always brings about a state of emotional peacefulness.

Anger

Anger is associated with the liver. By its nature, anger causes qi to rise, leading to a red face and red eyes, headaches, and dizziness. This matches the pattern of liver fire rising. Anger can also cause liver qi to "attack the spleen," producing lack of appetite, indigestion, and diarrhea (often experienced by those people who argue at the dinner table or eat while driving).
In a more long-term view, suppressed anger or frustration often causes liver qi to become stagnant; this might result in depression or menstrual disorders. It is interesting to note that people who take herbs to release stagnant liver qi often experience bouts of anger as the stagnation is relieved. The anger passes as the condition clears. Similarly, anger and irritability are often the determining factor in diagnosing liver qi stagnation. Many people are relieved to know their rage has a physiologic basis. It is essential to avoid drinking coffee when treating anger-related liver disorders, as coffee heats the liver and greatly intensifies the condition.

Joy

The emotion of joy is connected with the heart. A disorder related to joy may sound perplexing, since most people want as much joy in their life as possible. The disorders from this emotion are not caused by happiness; rather, the imbalance comes from too much excitement or stimulation, or sudden good news that comes as a shock to the system.

When evaluating stress levels, psychologists look at all sources of stress, both positive and negative. Clearly the death of a spouse or a job loss is a significant source of stress. However, a marriage or job promotion, while a happy occasion, is also a source of stress. A person who is constantly on the go, partying, and living a life of excess can eventually develop heart imbalances with palpitations, anxiety, and insomnia. A person with heart imbalances may also exhibit emotional symptoms, since the heart is the seat of the spirit (shen). A person with extreme disturbances of heart shen might be seen chattering happily to himself with outbursts of laughter.

Such behavior results from the heart organ's inability to provide a stable resting place for the spirit. This type of imbalance is treated with acupuncture along the heart meridian. Herbal treatments consist of formulas that nourish heart blood or yin. If heart fire disturbs the spirit, herbs that clear heat from the heart are used.

Worry

A very common emotion in our stress-filled society, worry can deplete the energy of the spleen. This can cause digestive disturbances and eventually lead to chronic fatigue: A weakened spleen cannot efficiently turn food into qi, and the lungs are unable to extract qi from air efficiently. A person who worries too much "carries the weight of the world on her shoulders," a good description of how a person feels when her weak spleen qi leads to dampness. Treatment would include moxa and herbs that strengthen the spleen, allowing a person the energy to deal with life's problems instead of dwelling on them.

Pensiveness

Too much thinking or obsessing about a topic can also deplete the spleen, causing a stagnation of its qi. A person with this condition may exhibit such symptoms as poor appetite, forgetting to eat, and bloating after eating. In time, the person may develop a pale complexion from a deficiency of spleen qi. This can eventually affect the heart, causing the person to dream about the same subjects at night. Students are often affected by this imbalance; the standard treatment is use of herbs that tonify heart blood and spleen qi.

Sadness

Sadness or grief affects the lungs, producing fatigue, shortness of breath, crying, or depression. Treatment for this condition involves acupuncture to points along the lung and kidney meridians. Often, herbal formulas are used that tonify the qi or yin of the lungs.

Fear

The emotion of fear is related to the kidneys. This relationship can readily be seen when extreme fear causes a person to urinate uncontrollably. In children, this can also manifest as bed-wetting, which psychologists have linked to insecurity and anxiety. Long-term anxiety due to worrying about the future can deplete the kidneys of yin, yang, and qi, eventually leading to chronic weakness. Treatment involves tonifying the kidneys with yin or yang tonics, depending on the particular symptoms.

Shock

Shock is especially debilitating to the kidneys and heart. The "fight or flight" reaction causes an excessive release of adrenaline from the adrenal glands that sit on top of the kidneys. This causes the heart to respond with palpitations, anxiety, and insomnia. Chronic stress from shock can be very debilitating to the entire system, causing a wide range of problems. Severe shock can have a long-term effect on the heart shen, as is evident in victims of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Treatment involves psychotherapy, herbs that calm the spirit and nourish the heart and kidneys, and regular acupuncture treatments.
http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/traditional-chinese-medicine-causes-of-illness6.htm
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Tommy M, modified 10 Years ago at 6/22/12 8:19 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 6/22/12 8:19 AM

RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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And perhaps we are veering from your OP Tommy, in which case perhaps this should be broken off? I think we could tie this into the thread of a multi-model overview of the elements, but just in case...

Not all all! This is amazingly useful stuff from a variety of angles I've got little or no practical knowledge in, so it's wonderful and I really appreciate how this thread is developing.

Thanks lads, this is excellent stuff and absolutely does tie in with the multi-model overview, I just started out with the elements and the aggregates since, in some form, they're present within every tradition I've ever worked with. Getting hands-on information regarding Vajrayana and Shiatsu, amongst other models, is nectar to me!
Pål R, modified 5 Years ago at 11/26/16 3:59 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 11/26/16 3:59 PM

RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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Finally, I found it, s DhO thread sbout gaining insight through contemplating symbols, if I understand it correctly. Do any of you have any experience of practices based on symbolism for extended periods of time? What did it do? Why do you think it affected you the way it did?
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Supreme Maharishi Bhumi 1000, modified 5 Years ago at 1/10/17 8:09 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 11/27/16 9:51 AM

RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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Pål R, modified 5 Years ago at 11/27/16 11:38 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 11/27/16 11:38 PM

RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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"As above so below" seems to be a tool in a lot of traditions, do you think it works because it teaches us to see how we look for patterns or just that it brings the mind attention back to itself, through the external world? 
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Supreme Maharishi Bhumi 1000, modified 5 Years ago at 1/10/17 8:17 AM
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RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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CJMacie, modified 5 Years ago at 11/28/16 6:02 AM
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RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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Supreme Maharishi Bhumi 1000:
I think it's a kind of supra-algorithm for the mind. I wouldn't say it teaches us "how we look for patterns", rather that we are fundamentally patterns ourselves, thus "made in the image of God", as everything boils down to the dance of the opposites.

Tibetan sand mandalas, Native American sand paintings, rose-windows in gothic cathedrals...
Banned For waht?, modified 5 Years ago at 11/28/16 6:25 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 11/28/16 6:25 AM

RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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before opposites there is 0's and 1's what just shows the state, before that you have nothing/anything just you need something waht could react to it like semiconductors and you get transistor....eventually a computer adn games or videos, paintings wahtever, it is same what previous post said.
Pål R, modified 5 Years ago at 11/28/16 11:06 AM
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RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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Cool blog, where to start?
Pål R, modified 5 Years ago at 11/28/16 11:09 AM
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RE: Aggregates & Elements: A Multi-Model Overview

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...Goetic circles emoticon

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