Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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In Eastern traditions, there is much discussion revolving around Duality and Non-duality, One Taste, and Oneness. In Western traditions, these discussions often categorize under the term, Monism. Our direct experience always has a unified wholeness but the foundation of our thinking process continually creates distinctions, separations, dualistic paradox, and conceptual fixations. While this process of separation and categorization benefits the pragmatic details of daily living, it also creates “golden chains” curtailing our creativity, innovation, individuality, and the most wise and skillful means of living our lives. While the seductive pulls of duality and non-duality normally pull us one way or the other, the possibility of reconciling and unifying these two opposites leads to the most wise and compassionate paths leading to happiness, peace, wisdom, and enlightenment.

Beginning with the ancient Greek Stoics and continuing through philosophers like Giordano Bruno and Spinoza, Oneness became a foundation for Pantheism’s belief that all reality has only one substance called at various times God, Nature, or just the Universe. Neoplatonism begins with this belief that everything comes from The One. A variation known as Panentheism describes a divine, cosmic force that interpenetrates all of life which pulls it more toward the dualistic side of the balance. This approach characterizes much of Hindu belief, Hasidic Judaism’s dimensions of Kabbalah, and the Christian theologies of people like Paul Tillich and Matthew Fox.

The popular Deism of the 17th and 18th centuries grew out of these philosophies, became popularized by thinkers like John Locke, David Hume, Voltaire, and Rousseau. Promoted in the USA particularly by Thomas Paine, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson; it became a strong inspiration for the principle of religious freedom, the First Amendment, and the abolition of slavery.

The Pandeism doctrine with it’s view of Oneness combined some pantheism with some deism, traces it’s roots back to Marduk and the ancient Babylonians, continued into modern times with advocates like Lord Tennyson and Robert A. Heinlein, and formed the basis for much of today’s New Age movement.

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Quotes (96)

“We behold what we are, and we are what we behold.”

Vyasa व्यास 1
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

Themes: Oneness

10. The Power of Goodness

“When you succeed, be one with success. When you fail, be one with failure.

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Shan Dao
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

23. Nothing and Not

“[The Tao] unites the world into one whole.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via John Wu, chapter 4
from Tao The Ching

Themes: Oneness

4. The Father of All Things

“Filled with infinite possibilities and one with the dust, the Tao unites the world into one whole like a deep pool that never dries up.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Shan Dao, chapter #4
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

Themes: Oneness

“In separateness lies the world's greatest misery; in compassion lies the world's true strength.”

Buddha गौतम बुद्ध 563 – 483 BCE
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
Awakened Truth

67. Three Treasures

“There is a oneness that strings my Way together.”

Confucius 孔丘 551 – 479 BCE via Edward T. Ch'ien
(Kongzi, Kǒng Zǐ)
History's most influential "failure"

Themes: Oneness

“When we realize the universal oneness, there will be nothing we do not know. But if we do not realize the oneness, there will be nothing that we truly know.”

Wenzi 文子 1 via Shan Dao
"Authentic Presence of Pervading Mystery.”
from The Wenzi, Wénzǐ 文子

“Reality is now, all at once, one and continuous, not divisible, never any more or less of it and nothing that could stop it holding together but always alike and full of what is.”

Parmenides 540 – 450 BCE via Shan Dao
Grandfather of Western philosophy
from On Nature

12. This Over That

“People have lost sight of the truth by coming to believe in two forms: one with the fire of heaven and light, one the opposite as a dark, heavy night. But in truth, everything at the same time is full of both light and dark, both equal.”

Parmenides 540 – 450 BCE via Shan Dao
Grandfather of Western philosophy
from On Nature

22. Heaven's Door

“All things come out of the one, and the one out of all things.”

Heraclitus Ἡράκλειτος 535 – 475 BCE
(of Ephesus, the "Weeping Philosopher")
A Greek Buddha

“at one time there grew to be the one alone out of many, and at another time it separated so that there were many out of the one”

Empedocles 490 – 430 BCE
"The father of rhetoric"—Aristotle
from On Nature

“Use oneness [truthfulness] to put the 3 universal world virtues—wisdom, goodness, and courage—into practice.”

Zisi 子思 481 – 402 BCE via Daniel K. Gardner, Shan Dao
(Kong Ji or Tzu-Ssu)
Confucius' grandson and early influence on Neo-Confucianism
from Doctrine of the Mean, Maintaining Perfect Balance, Zhongyong 中庸

“The most truthful and capable of giving full realization to their human nature can form a trinity, a union of heaven, earth, and man.”

Zisi 子思 481 – 402 BCE via Daniel K. Gardner, Shan Dao
(Kong Ji or Tzu-Ssu)
Confucius' grandson and early influence on Neo-Confucianism
from Doctrine of the Mean, Maintaining Perfect Balance, Zhongyong 中庸

“He hewed the humans in two just as one cuts fruit for preservation… After that, with their natures hewn in two, each one missed the union with its other half… nor would it appear that we want anything else… cooperation and fusion - becoming one out of two. For this is the basis; this is our primeval nature, described as being whole.”

Plato Πλάτων 428 – 348 BCE

Themes: Oneness Marriage

45. Complete Perfection

“The universe and I exist together, all things and I are One.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE via Wing-Tsit Chan

Themes: Oneness

“All things are good and acceptable. That is why all things – a blade of grass or a hundred-foot pine, a leper or a legendary beauty, a national hero or a traitor – are equal in the Tao.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周 369 – 286 BCE

62. Basic Goodness

“It’s because Heaven becomes one that it graces the sky with constellations and light. It’s because Earth becomes one that it remains still and immovable… It’s because kings become one that they pacify the world. But Heaven must move between yin and yang.”

Heshang Gong 河上公 202 – 157 BCE
(Ho-shang Kung or "Riverside Sage”)

39. Oneness

“The ‘One’ in Ho-shang Kung’s commentary means the essence of Tao… the ‘One’ is the ‘key’ or ‘kernal’ of the Way.”

Heshang Gong 河上公 202 – 157 BCE
(Ho-shang Kung or "Riverside Sage”)

Themes: Oneness

39. Oneness

“We are all sprung from the same seed, all have the same father by whom mother earth conceives and supplies for a pleasant life and the continuation of our race”

Lucretius 99 – 55 BCE
(Titus Carus)
from De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things)

“in the beginning the Eloheim created mortals male and female; they were one body, perfectly united and absolutely equal…. when you are redeemed from the Fall, male and female will cease to exist, you will become a perfect whole, accomplishing a single work.”

Jesus 3 BCE – 30 CE via Didymos Thomas
from Gospel According to Thomas

Themes: Oneness Marriage

39. Oneness

“The human features and countenance, although composed of but some ten parts or little more, are so fashioned that among so many thousands of men there are no two in existence who cannot be distinguished from one another.”

Pliny 23 – 79 CE
(Pliny Gaius Plinius Secundus, Pliny the Elder)
Founding father of the encyclopedia

from Natural History

Themes: Oneness

“All things are interwoven, a sacred bond uniting them into the oneness of truth.”

Marcus Aurelius 121 – 219 CE via Shan Dao
from Meditations Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν

Themes: Oneness Truth

“Everything in the world is full of signs. All events are coordinated. All things depend on each other. Everything breathes together.”

Plotinus 204 – 249 CE
from Enneads Ἐννεάδες Plotinus / Porphyry

45. Complete Perfection

“One is the beginning of numbers and the end of things. All things become complete when they become one. But… by focusing on being complete, they lose their mother… they crack, they crumble… their mother has no form.”

Wang Bi 王弼 226 – 534 CE

Themes: Oneness

39. Oneness

“When everything is seen as One, we return to the Source and stay where we have always been.”

Jianzhi Sengcan 鑑智僧璨 529 – 606 CE
(Jiànzhì Sēngcàn)

Themes: Oneness No Trace

“The mind is very great in capacity… When we use it, we can know something of everything, and when we use it to its full capacity we shall know all. All in one and one in all.”

Huineng 惠能 638 – 713 CE
(Huìnéng, Enō)
The Sutra of Hui Neng

Themes: Oneness

32. Uncontrived Awareness

“Although it has many parts like arms and legs, our bodies are one whole. In a similar way, all beings with their yearnings for happiness, their joys and sorrows are like one body, different but equal.”

Shantideva ཞི་བ་ལྷ།།། 685 – 763 CE via B. Alan Wallace, Shan Dao
(Bhusuku, Śāntideva)
from Bodhisattva Way of Life, Bodhicaryavatara

“Understanding the unity of multiplicity is meditation.”

Bhadrapa 1

39. Oneness

“those who seek for something objective outside their own minds have all turned their backs on the Way…Buddhas and sentient beings do not differ at all.”

Huangbo Xiyun 黄檗希运 1
(Huangbo Xiyun, Huángbò Xīyùn, Obaku)

Themes: One Taste Oneness

39. Oneness

“Gather every thought and concept into the clarifying universe of body, speech, and mind that empties into the all-embracing mind.”

Jālandhara ཛཱ་ལནྡྷ་ར་པ། 888 CE – via Keith Dowman, Shan Dao
("The Ḍākinī's Chosen One")
Mahasiddha #46

“The Ultimate in which all become the same is free of habit-forming thought and limitations.”

Tilopa 988 – 1069 CE

20. Unconventional Mind

“the many are ultimately one and the one is ultimate”

Zhou Dunyi 周敦頤 1017 – 1073 CE via Wing-Tsit Chan
(Chou Tun-i)
from Penetrating the Book of Changes

Themes: Oneness

“Going from one to two is the origin of all delusion.”

Su Che 呂洞 1039 – 1112 CE via Red Pine
(Su Zhe)
Great writer of the Tang and Sung dynasties
from Tao-te-chen-ching-chu

10. The Power of Goodness

“Self and other are not separated by their names.”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE via Dan Leighton
from Cultivating the Emplty Field

Themes: Oneness

“Just as a circle embraces all that is within it, so does the God-head embrace all. No one has the power to divide this circle, to surpass it, or to limit it.”

Hildegard of Bingen 1098 – 1179 CE

Themes: Oneness

54. Planting Well

“Everything that is in the heavens, on earth, and under the earth is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness.”

Hildegard of Bingen 1098 – 1179 CE

39. Oneness

“Before our body existed one energy was already there.”

Sun Bu'er 1119 – 1182 CE via Thomas Cleary
from Secret Book on the Inner Elixir

Themes: Oneness

“Without deceit, spiritual and temporal affairs are one;
With deceit, spiritual and temporal affairs are different.”

Sakya Pandita ས་སྐྱ་པཎྜ་ཏ་ཀུན་དགའ་རྒྱལ་མཚན། 1182 – 1251 CE
(Kunga Gyeltsen)
from Ordinary Wisdom, Sakya Legshe (Jewel Treasury of Good Advice)

Themes: Oneness Deception

“This is the meaning of Lao-tzu’s entire book: opposites complement each other”

Wu Cheng 吴澄 1249 – 1333 CE via Red Pine
"Mr. Grass Hut"
from Tao-te-chen-ching-chu

Themes: Oneness Taoism

“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”

Meister Eckhart 1260 – 1328 CE
(Eckhart von Hochheim)

14. Finding and Following the Formless Form

“Study the art of science… Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

Leonardo da Vinci 1452 – 1519 CE

Themes: Art Science Oneness

39. Oneness

“The body is not a thing apart but a house for the soul. The physician, therefore, must treat the two simultaneously and strive at bringing them into harmony which is the only true health.”

Paracelsus 1493 – 1541 CE via Kurt Seligman
(Theophrastus von Hohenheim)
Revolutionary, shamanistic alchemist

Themes: Oneness Health

“Union is as if in a room there were two large windows through which the light streamed in it enters in different places but it all becomes one.”

Teresa of Avila 1515 – 1582 CE
from Way of Perfection

Themes: Oneness

39. Oneness

“Every man has within himself the entire human condition”

Montaigne 1533 – 1592 CE
Grandfather of the Enlightenment

“The wise rule the world through selflessness. All things come to them because they are one with all things.”

Deqing 1546 – 1623 CE

35. The Power of Goodness

“To know what truly endures is to know that Heaven and Earth share the same root, that the ten thousand things share one body, and that there is no difference between self and others.”

Deqing 1546 – 1623 CE

16. Returning to the Root, Meditation

“All things are in the Universe, and the universe is in all things: we in it, and it in us; in this way everything concurs in a perfect unity.”

Giordano Bruno 1548 – 1600 CE
from Cause, Principle, and Unity: And Essays on Magic

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

John Donne 1572 – 1631 CE
from Songs and Sonnets

Themes: Oneness

67. Three Treasures

“… any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

John Donne 1572 – 1631 CE

46. Enough

“Although there are many wonderful spiritual techniques, by far the best practice is the unification of luminosity and emptiness.”

Karma Chagme Rinpoche I ཀརྨ་ཆགས་མེད་རཱ་ག་ཨ་སྱས། 1613 – 1678 CE via Shan Dao

Themes: Oneness

35. The Power of Goodness

“Our names united before the whole world as representative of the unity that a man and woman can achieve and must achieve – and will achieve all over the world… the deep companionship that has developed between us so that we almost have one breath, one life, one interest.”

John Keats 1795 – 1821 CE
Writer of "poems as immortal as English"

Themes: Marriage Oneness

“Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship.”

Bahá'u'lláh بهاء الله‎‎, 1817 – 1892 CE
("Glory of God")

“This notion of an all-enveloping noetic unity in things is the sublimest achievement of intellectualist philosophy.”

William James 1842 – 1910 CE
"Father of American psychology”
from Pragmatism

Themes: Oneness

“I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight”

Black Elk 1863 – 1950 CE
(Heȟáka Sápa)

“For me whatever is in the atoms and molecules is in the universe. I believe in the saying that what is in the microcosm of one’s self is reflected in the macrocosm.”

Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948 CE

4. The Father of All Things

“I seemed to catch a glimmer of the true light. I reflected how truly everything is in anything. If one could really understand a coneflower, he could understand this Earth.”

David Grayson 1870 – 1946 CE
(Ray Stannard Baker)
One of the most insightful journalists, historians, and biographers of his time

from Adventures in Contentment

Themes: Oneness

“Nature compels us to recognize the fact of mutual dependence, each life necessarily helping the other lives who are linked to it. In the very fibers of our being, we bear within ourselves the fact of the solidarity of life.”

Albert Schweitzer 1875 – 1965 CE

“The spirit that penetrates all things is the World Soul... filling all things, binding and knitting together all things that might make one frame of the world.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist

39. Oneness

“He realized how blind he had been, how foolish, how little he had understood life’s secret… Out of a half, he became whole, fulfilled and complete.”

Hermann Hesse 1877 – 1962 CE via Clyve Parker Communications
from Pictor's Metamorphoses

Themes: Oneness

“I have seen all souls as my soul, and realized my soul as the soul of all.”

Inayat Khan 1882 – 1927 CE

Themes: Oneness

39. Oneness

“The truth is that we all are one, that all of us together create god, that god is not man's ancestor, but his descendant.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE
from Last Temptation of Christ

Themes: God Oneness

39. Oneness
54. Planting Well

“This tree—I see it pushing its roots ever more deeply and widely into the soil yet lifting itself up to the sky as if in prayer for light and warmth... I feel in myself the same lust for light and growth; this tree and I are kindred souls sharing the same hunger and the same life.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Fallen Leaves

Themes: Oneness

“Above all, the one important message of Taoism is the oneness and spirituality of the material universe.”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE
from Wisdom of Laotse

Themes: Taoism Oneness

“If we can really understand the problem, the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate from the problem.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)

Themes: Oneness

28. Turning Back

“The Golden Age is an age of innocence and bliss; for to live wholly within the limits and cyclic boundaries of one’s own wholeness is true innocence and bliss… tragedy coming only as one attempts to go beyond these boundaries”

Dane Rudhyar 1895 – 1985 CE
( Daniel Chennevière)
Agent of cultural evolution
from Astrology of Personality, 1936

Themes: Oneness Shambhala

“We always want to alter the outer hoping thereby to change the inner…I think we miss this basic thing, which is; the world is me and I am the world.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)
from Awakening of Intelligence

25. The Mother of All Things

“Every existence is my existence, every consciousness if my consciousness, every sorrow is my sorrow and every joy is my joy”

Nisargadatta Maharaj 1897 – 1981 CE
Householder guru of non-duality
from I Am That

“Our names united before the whole world as representative of the unity that a man and woman can achieve and must achieve – and will achieve all over the world… the deep companionship that has developed between us so that we almost have one breath, one life, one interest.”

Ariel Durant 1898 – 1981 CE
(Chaya Kaufman)

Themes: Marriage Oneness

“individuality can be transformed in a process of growth, but retains its character. It becomes wider and more all-encompassing and transparent until it reflects the whole universe and becomes one with it.”

Anagarika​ (Lama) Govinda 1898 – 1985 CE
(Ernst Hoffmann)
Pioneer of Tibetan Buddhism to the West

from Inner Structure of the I Ching

“No one is anyone, one single immortal man is all men.”

Jorge Luis Borges 1899 – 1986 CE
Literary Explorer of Labyrinthian Dreams, Mirrors, and Mythologies

“Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore,nor actual difficulty in our life… When you can sit with your whole body and mind, and with the oneness of your mind and body under the control of the universal mind, you can easily attain this kind of right understanding.”

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi 1904 – 1971 CE

Themes: Oneness

39. Oneness

“We need myths that identify the individual not with his local group but with the planet”

Joseph Campbell 1904 – 1987 CE
Great translator of ancient myth into modern symbols
from Power of Myth

Themes: Oneness

“The future is too interesting and dangerous to be entrusted to any predictable, reliable agency. We need all the fallibility we can get... to preserve the absolute unpredictability and total improbability of our connected minds.”

Lewis Thomas 1913 – 1993 CE
Gestaltist of science and art
from Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher

Themes: Oneness

“The uniformity of the earth's life, more astonishing than its diversity... we still share genes around, and the resemblance of the enzymes of grasses to those of whales is a family resemblance.”

Lewis Thomas 1913 – 1993 CE
Gestaltist of science and art
from Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher

Themes: Oneness

“The great oneness of everything may be the ultimate reality, but we don't usually notice it very much in our everyday lives.”

Charlotte Joko Beck 1917 – 2011 CE
Authentic, pioneering Western Zen master

from Ordinary Wonder

Themes: Oneness

“We become compassionate not from altruism which denies the self for the sake of the other, but from the insight that sees and feels one is the other.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE

“Walnuts have a shell, and they have a kernel. Religions are the same. They have an essence, but then they have a protective coating. So the kernels are the same. However, the shells are different”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from World's Religions

“Wholeness, rather than fragmentation, is the basic nature of reality... In effect, the fragmentation expressed in conventional medicine and in our social relations may be a distortion of nature, a false premise which has permeated our lives.”

Ralph Alan Dale 1920 – 2006 CE
Translator, author, visionary
from Tao Te Ching, a new translation and commentary

Themes: One Taste Oneness

“Tomorrow does not exist. There is only now. Please look. It is so beautiful and it will never happen ever again, never, not this sunset, never in all infinity. Lose yourself in it, make yourself one with nature”

James Clavell 1921 – 1994 CE
Fictionalizing and fictional historian

Themes: Oneness

“Life in itself is sufficient, self-explanatory and complete.”

Carlos Castaneda 1925 – 1998 CE
from Journey to Ixtlan

Themes: Oneness

19. All Methods Become Obstacles

“The mind that becomes one with the universe is before thinking.”

Seungsahn 숭산행원대선사 1927 – 2004 CE
(Soen Sa Nim)

Themes: Oneness

39. Oneness

“Forget yourself. Become one with eternity. Become part of your environment.”

Yayoi Kusama 草間 彌生 1929 CE –

39. Oneness

“Although we are in different boats you in your boat and we in our canoe we share the same river of life.”

Oren Lyons 1930 CE –

Themes: Oneness

39. Oneness

“We can't let people drive wedges between us... because there's only one human race.”

Dolores Huerta 1930 CE –

Themes: Pluralism Oneness

“The external air and internal breath are linked through breathing. The external space of the sky and the internal space of the mind are linked through openness.”

Thinley Norbu གདུང་སྲས་ཕྲིན་ལས་ནོར་བུ 1931 – 2011 CE
(Kyabjé Dungse)
from Magic Dance (1981)

Themes: Oneness

39. Oneness

“Our ancient experience confirms at every point that everything is linked together, everything is inseparable.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

39. Oneness

“Awareness without choice or awareness that contains no experience…you begin to see yourself as tables and chairs or rocks and sky and water. You begin to identify with the phenomenal world completely.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

16. Returning to the Root, Meditation

“There is no such thing as independence, it’s an illusion — interdependence is what matters”

Mary Catherine Bateson 1939 CE –

Themes: Oneness

“Once you are really into something,you become part of that experience, or it becomes part of you. When you become part of the teachings, you are no longer hassled. You are no longer an entity separate from the teachings. You are an embodiment of them.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

Themes: Oneness

27. No Trace

“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together”

John Lennon 1940 – 1980 CE
from Magical Mystery Tour

Themes: Oneness

“All things may be one with me, but am I one with them?”

Stephen Mitchell 1943 CE –
from Second Book of Tao

Themes: Oneness

“poems of Parmenides and Empedocles… designed to lead the reader to a direct experience of the oneness of reality and the realization of his or her own divinity.”

Peter Kingsley 1953 CE –
from A Story Waiting to Pierce You

Themes: Poetry Oneness

“Music frees the soul from the cage of the body. Music transforms the Many to a One.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from Utopia Avenue

Themes: Oneness Music

“an utterly direct expansion of the heart... Compassion is a spontaneous feeling of connection with all living things. What you feel, I feel; what I eel, you feel. There's no difference between us.”

Mingyur Rinpoche 1975 CE –
Modern-day Mahasiddha

from The Joy of Living (2007)

Themes: Oneness

“When evaluating global happiness, it is wrong to count the happiness only of the upper classes, of Europeans or of men. Perhaps it is also wrong to consider only the happiness of humans.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from Sapiens

Themes: Oneness

“the very society we create differs based on whether we believe ourselves to be fundamentally separable and independent, or fundamentally connected and interdependent.”

Karmapa XVII ཨོ་རྒྱན་འཕྲིན་ལས་རྡོ་རྗ 1985 CE –
(Orgyen Thrinlay Dorje)
from Interconnected (2017)

Themes: Oneness

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