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A Buddhist Teacher’s Perspective To Donald Trump’s Presidency

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Trump’s presidential win left many people feeling let down by their fellow citizens. It came as a big surprise, particularly to many of the women of America, who saw a clear betrayal in the fact that not only did a woman not win the election, she was beat out by a someone who is perceived as a sexist womanizer.

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Aside from that aspect, I think most people were just left in shock. How could this man have become president? At the beginning many people, myself included, thought this whole thing was a practical joke at best. Toward the end, I was thinking that he was put there just to make Clinton look better. And then he won.

It left many feeling hopeless for the future. If someone like Trump can become President of the United States of America, then we are doomed, right? Well, maybe not. There are more perspectives on this situation. And if you believe that everything happens for a reason, then surely, there is more to Trump winning the election than meets the eye…

A company called Lion’s Roar, which publishes a magazine on Buddhist wisdom for today, decided to reach out to some Buddhist teachers and hear their perspectives on what Trump’s presidency really means for America. Below is what the various teachers had to say about this presidential election and what it means for us.

Pema Chödrön

“During difficult times like this, I’m feeling that the most important thing is our love for each other and remembering to express that and avoid the temptation to get caught in negative and aggressive thinking. Instead of polarizing, this is a chance to stay with the groundlessness. I’ve been meditating and getting in touch with a deep and profound sadness. It’s hard to stay with that much vulnerability but that’s what I’m doing. Groundlessness and tenderness and sadness have so much to teach us. I’m feeling that it’s a time to contact our hearts and to reach out and help in anyway we can.”

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Norman Fischer, Everyday Zen Foundation

“I usually don’t completely believe what I think, so when Trump won the election I was, like everyone else, surprised, but not that surprised. Bodhisattvas are committed to their practice, which means to sit, to get up, and to sweep the garden — the whole world, close in and far away — every day, no matter what. They have always done this, they always will. Good times, bad times, they keep on going just the same. Bodhisattvas play the long game. They have confidence in the power of goodness over time. And they know that dark times bring out the heroic in us.

For those older among us who hold liberal and progressive political views, let’s not forget we survived Nixon, Reagan, and Bush. It wasn’t pleasant but we survived. We will survive Trump. This is not to say that the policies of those presidents weren’t bad, and that they did not make any lasting impact. They were and they did. Still, we survived. We will survive Trump. As of today, we don’t really know what will happen under Trump because nothing he has said so far means much. He seems not to have much commitment to his own words.

We have been fortunate to have had eight years with a decent, intelligent, thoughtful and caring human being in the White House. This is more we would have expected. Lets not forget that the same people who elected Obama elected Trump.

It’s OK to freak out, grieve, and vent for a while. Holds each others’ hands. Then we can get back to work, as always, for the good.

Think of what the Dalai Lama has gone through in his lifetime. He maintains daily practice, he maintains kindness for everyone, though he has lost his country and his culture at the hands of a brutal regime. Yet he doesn’t hate the Chinese and finds redeeming features in them. He maintains his sense of humor. He has turned his tragedy into a teaching for the world.

Lets do the same.”

Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Village Zendo

“We are all reeling from the election news. For most of us, it is unexpected and frightening. Naturally, we ask ourselves what teaching can support us and empower us at this time. I think of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion who “hears the sounds of the world.”

And I realize how vital it is for all of us to listen to all the sounds of this unhappy nation. What suffering has led to the anger and hatred that has arisen? And, why are so many of us surprised at this outpouring? Perhaps we have not been listening to the cries of the world with ears of wisdom and determination.

This we must do, listen carefully, and while listening, we must move with determination to organize, to mobilize, and to find new ways to create change in civil rights, climate change, media ethics, and to inform and enlighten all the people, so that we can in fact relieve suffering and care for this planet, these peoples, all of us.”

Noah Levine, Against The Stream

“Here in the United States of Samsara ignorance is the status quo. The Buddha’s teachings guide us to go “against the stream” to develop wisdom and compassion through our own direct actions. As the path encourages, “Even amongst those who hate, we live with love in our hearts. Even amongst those who are blinded by greed and confusion, we practice generosity, kindness and clear seeing.”
Meditate and Destroy!”

Ethan Nichtern, Shambhala Meditation Center of New York

“When I was a child in New York City, I used to imagine that I lived in an island off the coast of America which was neither part of the continent nor the country. In the middle of the night last night, that childhood fantasy came back to me, but it was only wishful thinking. In fact, the source of all this disruption hails from the same city, which is a great reminder that we are all connected. I am a citizen of the mainland United States and I remain a very proud and patriotic one.

Right now my mindfulness practice is dedicated to my many friends who are expressing such unbearable hurt and fear at the hatred and abuse which this current version of America has directed at them. My many friends who are women, People of Color, members of the LGBT community, immigrants, and non-Christians are all rightfully expressing their fear and traumas right now, and I want to especially be there for them.

Soon, perhaps, I will try to make contact with those I know who voted for this outcome and do my best to listen to their fears and desires as well. I have no idea how that will go but I will do my best.

I also feel at least some optimism that this outcome sharpens and clarifies where humanity stands in the 21st-century. All of us must come together with empathy and connection if we are going to survive this era.

Tomorrow I will try to follow the lead of those whose vision I trust to see how I can help move our world forward with compassion. But today, it is OK to grieve the fact that we have taken a massive emotional and spiritual step backwards. Please remember, the point of meditation is not to suppress your feelings. It is to make friends with yourself. On days like this, meditation is simply a way to remember a glimmer of your own basic goodness. Please remember it is OK to feel exactly what you feel.

In loving kindness and solidarity with the human race, Ethan.”

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, Still Breathing Zen Meditation Center

“Today, after the 2016 elections in the U.S., we are living out the example of what happens when what goes unacknowledged surfaces and it feels like a new reality but you know in your heart it is not. To suffer based on expectations is to live haunted and hunted. But we are fortunate. There could be no other answer to our meditation and prayers in dissolving hatred than to be placed front and center with it and be exposed. When a shift in a system has occurred, especially one that causes fear and discomfort, it allows for something strikingly different to appear, furthering our evolution as people. We can only know where we are going when we get there.

Many of us have been practicing Buddha’s teachings or walking a spiritual journey forever and preparing for every moment of our existence. We are ready and have been waiting for this time. Our rage, pain, and anger are to be exposed if only for us to transform and mature with it. In Buddhist practice we say congratulations because now is the time we have been practicing for. No more just practicing the dance. We must now dance. And this is not a dress rehearsal.”

Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center

“Standing at the edge of this election, it’s clear we have our work cut out for us. It is the work of love and wisdom in the face of the terrible suffering of war, environmental issues, racism, gender violence, and economic injustice. We have to work together to shift the tide toward what will benefit our children, the natural world, the future. Part of this means that we have to change the mind, move out of harsh negativity, eroding futility and fear, and build toward the good and the wise. We also have to work to shift the mood of the country and of the world through compassionate education, deep practice, and service to others.

Let’s reach through differences, listen deeply, and “give no fear.”

So please, stop and look deeply, and let’s work together in not building a contentious future, but a generative one. And let’s not pretend we know, but be open and learn; let’s bear witness to what is happening in our country, in our world, and take wise, compassionate, and courageous responsibility. Let’s reach through differences, listen deeply, and “give no fear.”

Here are the four great vows of the Bodhisattvas in community:

Creations are numberless, we vow to free them.

Delusions are inexhaustible, we vow to transform them.

Reality is Boundless, we vow to perceive it.

The awakened way is unsurpassable, we vow to embody it.

…. do not squander life!”

James Ishmael Ford, Boundless Way Zen

“I rather feel like I’ve awakened on the day after the apocalypse. As a member of the progressive community I am shocked and profoundly saddened by Trump’s campaign, which unapologetically appealed to fear of, if not outright hatred of pretty much all others. He casually insulted anyone not precisely like him, and frankly seemed to be little more than an incarnation of America’s Id. And, whatever I think of him and that campaign, while he in fact does not seem to have won a majority of America’s voters over, he did win the Electoral College and with that the election.

So, what now? I find a couple of emotions rising within my heart. One is to flee. I understand Canada’s immigration website crashed due to the number of visits to it last night. Of course that also represents all the privilege I bring along with being white and male and middle class. And beyond those immediate facts, I am cautioned by the Buddha’s “last temptation,” to take the peace and equanimity he found and to retire from the world. While he was a renunciant, he did not retire away from the world, but rather brought his monastic practice into the larger community, and continued to live and teach among people living in the world. The deeper point to this is that we are in fact made up of the world and there is no escape.

The other emotion racing over my heart has been to place blame, mostly on others, but also on myself. What would have been a better, or more skillful, simply put, more successful strategy? Who is responsible for this mess? And what shortcomings are at fault? These are in fact important things to consider, particularly those relevant to our own individual hearts, but to take a necessary step and make it what we’re about would be just one more mistake on a long list of mistakes. In this world we have to make decisions and some large percentage of them will be wrong. I’m ever mindful of our popular Western adaptation of something Eihei Dogen said, “one continuous mistake.”

So, what to do? What to do?

For me I find a couple of things are critical. One is to not forget my practice. Taking time and returning to the pillow is critical. For all sorts of reasons, but most of all to help me recall the fundamental matters of presence and intimacy.

The bottom line is recalling there is no separation.

Another is to recall all the suffering of the world. For me this starts with those who are terrorized by the event, the immigrant, the person of color, the GBLT person, women, everyone who seems themselves the target of Mr Trump’s campaign of purity. But, also, to recall the hurt and fear that led so many people to support him. To simply dismiss their emotions by cavalier broad struck condemnations, while it feels good, and I do like doing that, ultimately does no good. The Buddha was right in the great play of cause and effect we are all of us caught up in layer upon layer of grasping after things in flux.

For me the bottom line is recalling there is no separation. We have to act. There is no alternative. But, what will that action look like? More hate? More blame and condemnations? Or, can we genuinely recall there is in the last analysis no goal, but only the path? I think, feel, believe, if we can recall that last thing, we are all of us in this together, we are all of us, at the end, one; well, then ways through will appear.

We met the enemy and he is us. We met the friend and he is us. That is the secret that will win the ultimate victory.”

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

“On this cheerful unaffected glorious day of democracy playing itself out, I am as shocked as many of you are by the election results. But, as Americans, we must respect the democratic system that our country was built upon, and welcome its results. Trump has won, and now we must see what happens next. While firmly believing in, and defending, one’s values and principles, we must also give this new president-elect the benefit of the doubt, and be open to see what he and his new administration can do for the good of our country. We want to honor the voice of many and trust in the goodness of the country. We want to respect our differences and also believe that there is goodness in everyone. We cannot afford to fall into pessimism. We must continually see where we can unite and keep looking forward together as this new era unfolds, without fixed pre-concepts.”

Much Love

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Consciousness

On Taking Life Too Seriously

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Much of the time in life, we allow ourselves to take situations VERY seriously. This will sometimes turn pain into suffering, or prolong the challenges we face for growth. It also stops us from truly finding peace in life.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you feel a constant sense of anxiety in your life? Underlying everything? Where do you notice you take life or situations too seriously? What do you do to begin connecting back to self, and taking life less seriously?

Do you go through life with constant angst? A feeling deep down that there is always a little bit of stress or a little bit of worry? I’ve been through this. And in some ways, I thought it would never go away. But I focused on self awareness and living in the heart enough to kiss those days goodbye.

We can sure take life too seriously at times can’t we? I mean it’s fair. We have stresses in life that we get caught up in, we go, go, go, go, and often forget to take a moment to breathe. In Western culture, it’s all about obsessing over goals and getting there and telling ourselves sotries about what life will be like when we do finally get there… but what often happens to us when we live this way? We step into unconsciousness. We stop taking time to FEEL.

I want to help us remember to be STILL with this.

Various experiences and events have taken place in my life that have challenged some of my deepest ideals, belief systems and concepts that I felt were a part of me. This has gone on and occurred in my entire 11 year journey of truly changing myself. Whether it had to do with the work I do, friends, the world, relationships or big decisions in life, many things were challenged. It has truly been an incredible ride.

We sometimes might think “when will all the change and ‘chaos’ end?” A good question indeed, but isn’t this what we are here for at this time? To truly look at ourselves, look at all that we hold onto and all that we define our reality with. Literally everything! If you are feeling like you are the only one out there going through this stuff and feel like everything is backwards -that things are constantly being challenged, know that what you are experiencing is perfect, and we must remember to have fun with it!

Not Just A Human Experience

We are not here at this time to simply have ‘a human experience,’ we are here to evolve the human experience. It’s different! Stop looking at the past to tell us what to do, how we should move forward, and what ‘the greats’ did in our past to figure things out. We are not in that time, and the zeitgeist of our time now is not to simply exist but to be present as we deeply evolve the way of life on this planet.

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We hear a lot “but we’re human, just embrace that!” That’s all fine, but what does that mean? What is a human? How should we be? Does being human mean accepting the world as it is? Are we capable of more? Can we redefine what it means to be human and what life should look like? Why do we give up so easily on dreaming big about these things?

I used to accept MANY limitations about myself and what I could do. But eventually, I was faced with the chance to let all that go, and reimagine what was possible. Even when everyone told me I was crazy and I couldn’t do what I was trying to do, I used my connection to self and consciousness to create it. Because I believed I was capable of more, and so is everyone else. This is how Collective Evolution, the site your on, came to be.

Embracing Change

After experiencing the many deep questions and challenges I have thus far, overcoming them and moving forward, I have one very special thing that I have reminded myself about over and over and truly understand to a deep level. We are here to play and evolve! None of what we are experiencing is as serious as we think!!

The mind and ego can make things very real, very dramatic, very frightening. I know! But the highest aspect of who we are is always clear, always neutral, and always sharing with us exactly what we need to hear because IT IS US! We are not the mind or the stories it creates that makes things so serious. They are there because that is our challenge. To go beyond the mind and the stories it creates -so we can experience this sensorial world and remember who we truly are (click to listen to my podcast on this topic.)

So let’s remember, whether it’s life choices, relationships, friends, work, family, sports, or everyday events, know that it’s just an experience! We can spend our whole lives always caught up in the drama and the intensity, saying “oh my gosh things are so tough, the world is so crazy, my life is upside down, and I’m so busy!” but where does this lead us? This is a question we must ask ourselves.

If we remain caught up in these perceptions, repetitive patterns of mind, we will continue to miss out on the entire journey we are on because we are lost and caught up in the mind. We perpetuate our so called “suffering” when we make things serious and make them a big deal. When we can see it for what it is, we allow the emotions to subside, allow back in our full potential and know how to take action forward. This is called finding true peace.

I’m not talking about simply accepting things and saying “well get over it” or “that’s how it is, so deal with it.” No. I’m talking about truly seeing things for what they are. Seeing why we color something in a particular way. Seeing the belief system behind why something is good or bad or right or wrong or even why it’s serious!

I promise you, behind every strong emotion, every serious situation, there is a belief system that makes it that way. One that is held in the mind and made real by the mind. But the mind is not YOU! See the story! Let it go and just play! You will find much peace and joy in flowing through your experience in this way.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Consciousness

Have You Realized The Profundity Of Our True Nature?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In life, we typically move about, seeing all material for what we define it as. This makes things convenient in a way, but there is a profoundness to not only seeing beyond these definitions, but also tapping back into full potential.

  • Reflect On:

    Have you ever tried practicing the awareness that you are not your mind nor your body? Why do we identify so strongly with just our physical body, and is it time to begin to remember we are much more than that?

Who we really are has been staring us in the face the whole time.

Take a look at your body, but look at it from a completely impersonal perspective; free of any thought about it at all. Without labels like arms and legs; without any sense of ownership, just as it is. Look in the mirror at your face, your eyes, but look without the thinking mind. This body that you get to use and throw around the joint, is a product of the universe. Conditions were apparently perfect here on Earth for Humans to exist. A magnificent sculpture, carved from stardust, gases, cells, minerals, heat – one of the most complex arrangements of cells and energy you have ever laid your eyes upon.

There is no boundary to the human body; there is no “in here” and “out there.” The body is a constant flow of energy, never a stationary or permanent thing we could pin down. There is a constant flow of air coming in and out, molecules by our skin, bacteria breaking down food in our stomach, there is no boundary between the body and the environment. It’s like a river, never the same body of water in any two moments.

Then, how about all the stuff the body perceives. All the sounds, tastes, smells, visual images and so on. The human body makes the whole world we’re privy to. The brain selects a very narrow band of frequencies and constructs reality according to the bandwidth of what our senses relay for us. The visual spectrum is only a very narrow band, while other sentient beings select out different bands for their viewing pleasure. So reality as we know it, never exists objectively, only subjectively through the being that is observing it. Without an observer what does it exist as? Just a soup of frequencies I suppose.

I find this phenomenal! There are little reality bubbles existing wherever a sentient being is alive. Energy has coalesced into the form of a human being, a giraffe, an ant, a butterfly, a chameleon, an amoeba, and through these configurations, the universe is observing itself. It is having experiences with itself.

1619136_420984308034739_245289130_nSo essentially, the whole world that you exist in – the reality bubble that you spend your entire life in – is entirely made by the human body. Your human body. Everything, all of it. Look at the image your eyes are creating. Look at how immaculate, perfect and impeccably high the resolution is! Check out how infinite the colour palette is. Take another look in the mirror at the wonder of your eyes. Those things stuck in that head, those things that we call eyes are absolutely wondrous biological organs, composed of trillions of living cells; living in harmony, being fed by the fuel you place in your mouth. Those things are taking frequencies of energy, sending it at light speed to your brain, where trillions more cells convert it into a picture. WOW!

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And while I’m on that subject: have you ever wondered how electrical signals in the brain – how realistically an infinite amount of neurons in our brain – can create the conscious experience of sound out of electrical impulses? How does something biological turn electricity into the conscious experience of smell? Into the emotion of love, of anger?

So look around you. Look what you’re part of. You’re on a planet zooming through space at hundreds of kilometres per second, circling around in a gigantic galaxy. You’re amongst animals, forests, bodies of water, lightning, rain, drought, plants and soil. You’re amongst life! You’re seeing it unfold right before your eyes, seeing life in all its animation. I don’t see why it should seem like there’s anything else to do, other than admire what we’re amongst, and create.

Just as the bus motors down the street, so too does the galaxy arms revolve around its core. A child eats breakfast, while an asteroid erupts as it passes through an atmosphere. We are as much an expression of this universe as the plants and galaxies. This universe has arranged itself in such complex ways, in such exquisite patterns, so that it may know itself through our eyes. We have become an aperture for energy to know what it inherently is.

When we look deeper into our own nature, we find that things are even more extraordinary than what exists in the physical realm of bodies, animals, plants and stars.

There is this notion of separation in our society, where we exist separately from the outside world of other stuff. We are separate from the table, our house, other people and the whole cosmos. We feel this too, because we feel that we are the human body, or the thinker somewhere in the head. But this notion is learnt, cultivated, but not all cultures prescribe to this way of being at all.

The whole world is consciousness; it all exists within, not out there somewhere. This is the worldview slowly being ushered in by quantum mechanics and eastern traditions. They’ve arrived now at the same point, but there is obvious resistance because the old system composed of survival-of-the-fittest, authority, institutions and competition rely on our illusory separateness for vitality.

Consciousness is the way in which biological functions of firing neurons in the brain are turned into a conscious experience. Consciousness is something transcendent of the physical world, and is therefore never affected by the  realm of form. It is so perfect and complete already, not needing fulfillment or healing in any way.

The thing is, most of us don’t feel this way though. We still feel separate, small, incomplete and not an integrated part of the whole. We still feel like we are locked up inside a head looking out at separate stuff. But there are ways in which consciousness can shift and identify with something much deeper. The first step is usually quieting the mind through meditation. Our thoughts have run rampant, and we’ve taken this incessant internal monologue to be who we are. But if you do one session of meditation, you’ll see that the mind comes in all by itself, starts up fantasies, conversations, judgments and memories all by itself, while you are trying to focus on your breath. While you’re trying to be silent, the mind has other ideas. Meditation shows us we aren’t the thinker at all; it shows us that we are the witnessing presence OF thought.

A thought is as much a sensation as the taste of ice cream is; we’ve just placed too much emphasis and belief in thought. So rather than identifying consciousness with something superimposed upon it (the mind, the “small self”, the ego) we can shine the light back in on itself via techniques like meditation, and identify as pure consciousness itself. We become not only the witnesser of all sensation, but we merge with it, just as we did with the mind. The feeling of self shifts from the mind with all its thoughts and ideas about the world, to sensation. And sensation is essentially the universe! You become the whole universe.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
Continue Reading

Consciousness

When Is The Last Time You Were GENUINELY Yourself? If You’re Still Thinking About It, Read This.

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Some of us go our entire lives without truly being ourselves. There may be many reasons for it, but we often find ourselves living via others' expectations or approval.

  • Reflect On:

    When was the last time you noticed yourself hold back or be different than YOU because you were worried about what someone may think or do? Worried about challenging someone? Perhaps just appeasing people's egos?

Being 100% authentic to who you are, and at peace with it. Living from the Heart. Feeling comfortable within yourself. At all times. With everyone. No matter what “people dynamics” you are exposed to.

Now that’s a tough one for an ego who needs the approval, love and acceptance of others. Inner-peace sure is conditional when we are afraid to have our mind and its beliefs challenged in one way or another. But instead of basing our actions and state of being according to the fears, worries and desires of our ego, what we should ask our heart instead is:

Is it really worth it to compromise our natural state for the sake of appeasing the ego of others? Is it worth it to step away from our natural state and rather buy into our own egoic beliefs and fears?

The truth is, when others are truly comfortable and at peace with themselves, they won’t need you to change who you are. And when you are truly comfortable and at peace within yourself, you don’t need others to change who they are. Only the ego does.

When you have reached a state of utmost clarity and inner-peace, the only thing that can really make sense… is to BE who you truly are!

So the bottom line is, when you are authentic and at peace within yourself, YES, there will always be egos challenged by you, yet there will always be souls INSPIRED by you. In both cases, it is as perfect as it can get 😉

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This is a simple reminder, not long, just simple. You can read it today, pass it on. Deep wisdom doesn’t have to be super long. Enjoy your day! 🙂

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
Continue Reading
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