Stoicism and Buddhism

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.
waryoffolly
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Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by waryoffolly » Wed Dec 24, 2014 4:32 pm

Has anyone checked out stoic philosphy?
It's quite astounding to me how many similarities there are with buddhism.
Supposedly the skeptic Pyrhho studied in India and brought some philosophy back with him. -Perhaps he is the link between the two?

Here is a very, very abridged intro to stoicism:
http://hackthesystem.com/blog/stoicism- ... hilosophy/

Please read at least the two "steps" in the article before responding.

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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by vinasp » Wed Dec 24, 2014 5:23 pm

Hi waryoffolly,

Here are two works on Pyrrhonism which I read recently and found to be very interesting. Both are available as free PDF files online - just google.

1. Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism.
Adrian Kuzminsky. Lexington Books, 2008.

2. Towards A Philosophy of Tranquility: Pyrrhonian Skepticism and Zen Buddhism in Dialog. Carlo Jamelle Harris, MA Thesis, National Chengchi University, Taiwan, 2009.

Regards, Vincent.

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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by waryoffolly » Wed Dec 24, 2014 9:07 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi waryoffolly,

Here are two works on Pyrrhonism which I read recently and found to be very interesting. Both are available as free PDF files online - just google.

1. Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism.
Adrian Kuzminsky. Lexington Books, 2008.

2. Towards A Philosophy of Tranquility: Pyrrhonian Skepticism and Zen Buddhism in Dialog. Carlo Jamelle Harris, MA Thesis, National Chengchi University, Taiwan, 2009.

Regards, Vincent.
Thanks, I'll take a look at these.

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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by clw_uk » Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:29 pm

It seems that all three have the same end but approach it from different angles.

The stoic uses reasoning to tamper emotional responses, however this is a past the post response.

The Pyrrhoinic sceptic weighs up both sides of an argument/perception and decides that since he can't know what is true he should then suspend judgement (and so then experience calm)


A follower of Buddha rests in clear mindfulness and awareness and so doesn't react to dhammas in the first place (after seeing their nature).


Personally I have tried all three philosophies and I have found scepticism to be the most ineffective in daily life, although useful for debates.


Stoicism was easier but I found that since it was past the post it only tampered dukkha

Dhamma I found to be best in not experiencing dukkha in the first place. That being said I still find some use from the other two schools.
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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by Dhammanando » Thu Dec 25, 2014 12:37 am

clw_uk wrote:The stoic uses reasoning to tamper emotional responses, however this is a past the post response.
The Stoic writers had quite a panoply of exercises for cultivating apatheia, and not all were past-the-post. For example, one of the most elementary ones is that the prokopton (Stoic sage-in-training) should begin each day by recollecting the most terrible things that could happen to him in the course of the day. This would enable him to be mentally prepared if any of these terrible things should actually happen, indifferent to any milder annoyances that might arise, and in for a pleasant surprise if the day should pass with no adverse events of any sort.

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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by clw_uk » Thu Dec 25, 2014 12:41 am

Dhammanando wrote:
clw_uk wrote:The stoic uses reasoning to tamper emotional responses, however this is a past the post response.
The Stoic writers had quite a panoply of exercises for cultivating apatheia, and not all were past-the-post. For example, one of the most elementary ones is that the prokopton (Stoic sage-in-training) should begin each day by recollecting the most terrible things that could happen to him in the course of the day. This would enable him to be mentally prepared if any of these terrible things should actually happen, indifferent to any milder annoyances that might arise, and in for a pleasant surprise if the day should pass with no adverse events of any sort.

True but these practices always seemed to kick in as a recollection that occurred past the post, probably due to no knowledge of the three marks/D.O.


I have a lot of time for stoicism however it can only get you so far, or least it was that way for me. That being said stoicism does seem to have the same goal as Buddhadhamma.


However doesn't stoicism achieve apatheia through the wrong view of materialism and determinism, the stoics being proponents of both?
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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by Disciple » Thu Dec 25, 2014 4:42 am

Basically the same as buddhism minus the rebith and karma

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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by dhammacoustic » Thu Dec 25, 2014 7:07 am

clw_uk wrote:However doesn't stoicism achieve apatheia through the wrong view of materialism and determinism, the stoics being proponents of both?
If the wiki page isn't lying, it seems to be a highly spiritual approach.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism
Uppādā vā tathagātanaṃ anuppādā vā tathagātanaṃ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā idappaccayatā. Taṃ tathagāto abhisam­buj­jhati abhisameti. Abhisam­bujjhitvā abhisametvā ācikkhati deseti paññāpeti paṭṭhapeti vivarati vibhajati uttānīkaroti. ‘Passathā’ti cāha; ‘avijjāpaccayā, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā’. Iti kho, bhikkhave, yā tatra tathatā avitathatā anaññathatā idappaccayatā-ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, paṭiccasamup­pādo.
:heart: namō tassa bhagavatō, arahatō, sammā sambuddhassā

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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by clw_uk » Thu Dec 25, 2014 11:52 am

silver surfer wrote:
clw_uk wrote:However doesn't stoicism achieve apatheia through the wrong view of materialism and determinism, the stoics being proponents of both?
If the wiki page isn't lying, it seems to be a highly spiritual approach.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism

They still viewed things in a material way and held a determinist view of the world, with fate playing a central role. It's one of the arguments why one should remain calm, because of fate.

I also don't understand you distinction between materialism and spirituality. I don't see any problem with someone being a materialist and being spiritual, the stoics are evidence of that. I would argue the epicureans were/are as well.


"The fundamental proposition of the Stoic physics is that "nothing incorporeal exists." This materialism coheres with the sense-impression orientation of their doctrine of knowledge ...

All things, they said, even the soul, even God himself, are material and nothing more than material...

the individual is not free. There can be no true freedom of the will in a world governed by necessity."

http://www.iep.utm.edu/stoicism/#H3


So here we have a school that adheres to deterministic materialism. I would say you can possibly draw parallels between the thought of Ajita Keskambali, or possibly Makkhali Gosala, and Stoicism.
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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by Dhammanando » Thu Dec 25, 2014 2:51 pm

clw_uk wrote:However doesn't stoicism achieve apatheia through the wrong view of materialism and determinism, the stoics being proponents of both?
Yes, that for me is what makes them so intriguing. They start out from the most appallingly rotten premises (theism AND materialism AND fatalism — one can scarcely imagine a worse combination of wrong views!), yet in spite of this they get it exactly right about eudaemonia (i.e. there is nothing in the Gotamī Sutta that a Stoic would deem an unworthy aim) and almost exactly right about the nature of the sage (the Stoic sage differs from the Buddhist arahant only in that the former is expected to busy himself with public affairs, while the latter is expected to be a bhikkhu, and thus more like the uninvolved sage pictured by the Stoics' great rival, Epicurus).

But the fact that the Stoics sought apatheia on the basis of radically wrong views may also go some way to explaining why (on the Stoic writers’ own admission) none of their number actually achieved it — that is, nobody is regarded as having graduated from a prokopton to a proficiens, not even such worthies as Heraclitus and Socrates whom the Stoics held as their patriarchs. In effect, therefore, Stoic sagehood appears to be a merely theoretical ideal.

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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by dhammacoustic » Fri Dec 26, 2014 2:04 am

clw_uk wrote:
silver surfer wrote:
clw_uk wrote:However doesn't stoicism achieve apatheia through the wrong view of materialism and determinism, the stoics being proponents of both?
If the wiki page isn't lying, it seems to be a highly spiritual approach.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism

They still viewed things in a material way and held a determinist view of the world, with fate playing a central role. It's one of the arguments why one should remain calm, because of fate.

I also don't understand you distinction between materialism and spirituality. I don't see any problem with someone being a materialist and being spiritual, the stoics are evidence of that. I would argue the epicureans were/are as well.


"The fundamental proposition of the Stoic physics is that "nothing incorporeal exists." This materialism coheres with the sense-impression orientation of their doctrine of knowledge ...

All things, they said, even the soul, even God himself, are material and nothing more than material...

the individual is not free. There can be no true freedom of the will in a world governed by necessity."

http://www.iep.utm.edu/stoicism/#H3


So here we have a school that adheres to deterministic materialism. I would say you can possibly draw parallels between the thought of Ajita Keskambali, or possibly Makkhali Gosala, and Stoicism.
I didn't mean materialists cannot be spiritual, I only said their approach is not materialistic, as they seem to believe in deliverance through methods. And their idea of fate is probably their version of kamma.
Uppādā vā tathagātanaṃ anuppādā vā tathagātanaṃ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā idappaccayatā. Taṃ tathagāto abhisam­buj­jhati abhisameti. Abhisam­bujjhitvā abhisametvā ācikkhati deseti paññāpeti paṭṭhapeti vivarati vibhajati uttānīkaroti. ‘Passathā’ti cāha; ‘avijjāpaccayā, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā’. Iti kho, bhikkhave, yā tatra tathatā avitathatā anaññathatā idappaccayatā-ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, paṭiccasamup­pādo.
:heart: namō tassa bhagavatō, arahatō, sammā sambuddhassā

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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by clw_uk » Fri Dec 26, 2014 2:36 am

I didn't mean materialists cannot be spiritual, I only said their approach is not materialistic, as they seem to believe in deliverance through methods. And their idea of fate is probably their version of kamma.

Explain the difference between a materialistic approach and an approach through "methods"?
And their idea of fate is probably their version of kamma
No their version of fate is fate. It means that A causes B which causes C and that A had no choice to do B and B had no choice to do C.

Kamma in Buddhism isn't a ridigid determinism, that was the domain of the Jains and Ajivakas. You come across as someone who has a limited understanding of what the stoics actually taught and what their approach to Nibbana was. As has been shown by Ven. Dhammanando they had a noble goal in sight but their outlook was tainted by various wrong views, namely that of materialism, hard determinism and pantheism.



"Their theory of the universe is indeed a completely deterministic one; everything is governed by fate, identified with the sequence of causes; nothing could happen otherwise than it does, and in any given set of circumstances one and only one result can follow — otherwise an uncaused motion would occur."

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dhammacoustic
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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by dhammacoustic » Fri Dec 26, 2014 3:09 am

clw_uk wrote:Explain the difference between a materialistic approach and an approach through "methods"?
I said deliverance through methods.

I cannot define "materialistic approach" either, as in; approach to what? When I said Stoics' approach seems spiritual, I meant the approach is spiritual, not their mental fabrications regarding the nature of matter/material.
their version of fate is fate. It means that A causes B which causes C and that A had no choice to do B and B had no choice to do C.

Kamma in Buddhism isn't a ridigid determinism, that was the domain of the Jains and Ajivakas. You come across as someone who has a limited understanding of what the stoics actually taught and what their approach to Nibbana was. As has been shown by Ven. Dhammanando they had a noble goal in sight but their outlook was tainted by various wrong views, namely that of materialism, hard determinism and pantheism.
As far as I'm concerned, according to the doctrine of kamma, A also causes B which causes C and so forth. Kamma is part of paṭiccasamuppāda. And the mind either has momentum and is part of kamma (the law of cause and effect that covers any substratum of existence), or it's set free through awakening.

As for my understanding of what the Stoics actually taught, I found out about Stoicism about 2 days ago, thanks to this thread :) I only had a quick look on the wiki page.
Uppādā vā tathagātanaṃ anuppādā vā tathagātanaṃ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā idappaccayatā. Taṃ tathagāto abhisam­buj­jhati abhisameti. Abhisam­bujjhitvā abhisametvā ācikkhati deseti paññāpeti paṭṭhapeti vivarati vibhajati uttānīkaroti. ‘Passathā’ti cāha; ‘avijjāpaccayā, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā’. Iti kho, bhikkhave, yā tatra tathatā avitathatā anaññathatā idappaccayatā-ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, paṭiccasamup­pādo.
:heart: namō tassa bhagavatō, arahatō, sammā sambuddhassā

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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by clw_uk » Fri Dec 26, 2014 3:57 am

As far as I'm concerned, according to the doctrine of kamma, A also causes B which causes C and so forth. Kamma is part of paṭiccasamuppāda. And the mind either has momentum and is part of kamma (the law of cause and effect that covers any substratum of existence), or it's set free through awakening.
So you adhere to the wrong view of the Ajivakas which the Buddha said was the worst of all the wrong views (even hedonistic materialism came off better). He did state that it would have been better for the world if Makkhali Gosala, a proponent of your view, had not been born at all.

Kamma doesn't = determinism. Kamma only occurs when there is clinging which gives rise to a "me" that intends. The result of kamma only ripens when there is a "self" to experience it.

When craving/clinging stops then there is no more birth of "I" and so no more intentional action (Kamma) and no result of intentional action (Kamma vipaka). This is D.C. and it's cessation.

To put it another way, the path of Buddha leads to the stoping of jati (birth) of self, and so kamma (intentional action) and it's result stops.

That's completely different from deterministic Ajivaka karma which you seem to support.

Paṭiccasamuppāda is based on conditionality, not on determinism.
Last edited by clw_uk on Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:33 am, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by clw_uk » Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:01 am

As for my understanding of what the Stoics actually taught, I found out about Stoicism about 2 days ago, thanks to this thread I only had a quick look on the wiki page.
Fair enough :) I can see how their teachings can seem benign, however their doctrines are not much different from those who Buddha argued against. As shown above, they don't lead to freedom from dukkha.
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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by dhammacoustic » Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:37 am

clw_uk wrote:
As far as I'm concerned, according to the doctrine of kamma, A also causes B which causes C and so forth. Kamma is part of paṭiccasamuppāda. And the mind either has momentum and is part of kamma (the law of cause and effect that covers any substratum of existence), or it's set free through awakening.
So you adhere to the wrong view of the Ajivakas which the Buddha said was the worst of all the wrong views (even hedonistic materialism came off better). He did state that it would have been better for the world if Makkhali Gosala had not been born at all.

Kamma doesn't = determinism. Kamma only occurs when there is clinging which gives rise to a "me" that intends. The result of kamma only ripens when there is a "self" to experience it.

When craving/clinging stops then there is no more birth of "I" and so no more intentional action (Kamma) and no result of intentional action (Kamma vipaka). This is D.O. and it's cessation.

To put it another way, the path of Buddha leads to the stoping of jati (birth) of self, and so kamma (intentional action) and it's result stops.

That's completely different from deterministic Ajivaka karma which you seem to support.
I can assure you that I'm trying to get rid of all my wrong views.

But I don't disagree with anything you said here. About the mind having momentum, I meant egoic mental/physical action and inaction also, which originate out of clinging, which brings about suffering. And awakening; realizing that nothing conditional-is-self. Hence wu wei :)

But I happen to have this idea that; awakening also depends on kamma, and not everyone has the capacity at any given time (it's what I observe as well). There must be some sort of a kammic barrier.

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Uppādā vā tathagātanaṃ anuppādā vā tathagātanaṃ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā idappaccayatā. Taṃ tathagāto abhisam­buj­jhati abhisameti. Abhisam­bujjhitvā abhisametvā ācikkhati deseti paññāpeti paṭṭhapeti vivarati vibhajati uttānīkaroti. ‘Passathā’ti cāha; ‘avijjāpaccayā, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā’. Iti kho, bhikkhave, yā tatra tathatā avitathatā anaññathatā idappaccayatā-ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, paṭiccasamup­pādo.
:heart: namō tassa bhagavatō, arahatō, sammā sambuddhassā

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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by clw_uk » Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:46 am

I can assure you that I'm trying to get rid of all my wrong views.
I wouldn't say it's about getting rid of wrong views, which is Vibhava-tanha (not wanting wrong views), but instead seeing wrong views as anicca, dukkha anatta.

" The extent to which there are viewpoints, view-stances, the taking up of views, obsessions of views, the cause of views, & the uprooting of views: that's what I know. That's what I see. Knowing that, I say 'I know.' Seeing that, I say 'I see.' Why should I say 'I don't know, I don't see'? I do know. I do see."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

But I happen to have this idea that; awakening also depends on kamma
No no, the great path is beyond kamma

"§ 30. "And what is kamma that is neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result, leading to the ending of kamma? Right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration."

— AN 4.237"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/stud ... #diversity


"The Buddha taught us to give up evil and to cultivate the good, then to abandon good and evil all together"

"The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice.

Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing.

Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this-just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. Why not give it a try? Do you dare?"

Ajahn Chah


In essence use good intentional action to get beyond intentional action, this is the raft.
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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by dhammacoustic » Fri Dec 26, 2014 5:15 am

clw_uk wrote:
I can assure you that I'm trying to get rid of all my wrong views.
I wouldn't say it's about getting rid of wrong views, which is Vibhava-tanha (not wanting wrong views), but instead seeing wrong views as anicca, dukkha anatta.

" The extent to which there are viewpoints, view-stances, the taking up of views, obsessions of views, the cause of views, & the uprooting of views: that's what I know. That's what I see. Knowing that, I say 'I know.' Seeing that, I say 'I see.' Why should I say 'I don't know, I don't see'? I do know. I do see."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
:goodpost:
No no, the great path is beyond kamma

"§ 30. "And what is kamma that is neither dark nor bright with neither dark nor bright result, leading to the ending of kamma? Right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration."

— AN 4.237"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/stud ... #diversity


"The Buddha taught us to give up evil and to cultivate the good, then to abandon good and evil all together"

"The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice.

Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing.

Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this-just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. Why not give it a try? Do you dare?"

Ajahn Chah


In essence use good intentional action to get beyond intentional action, this is the raft.
So anybody is capable of practicing the N8P? At any given time? Honestly, I've met people in my life who call night as day, and vice versa. Some people just aren't capable of understanding.

I pretty much meant;
abhabbàgamana: ‘incapable of progressing’. “Those beings who are obstructed by their evil actions (kamma, s. karma), by their defilements (kilesa, q.v.), by the result of their evil actions (s. vipàka), or who are devoid of faith, energy and knowledge, and unable to enter the right path and reach perfection in wholesome things, all those are said to be incapable of progressing” (Pug. 13). According to Commentary the ‘evil actions’ denote the 5 heinous deeds with immediate result (ànantarika-kamma, q.v.), whilst the ‘defilements’ refer to the ‘evil views with fixed destiny’ (niyata-micchàdiññhi;s. diññhi).
Uppādā vā tathagātanaṃ anuppādā vā tathagātanaṃ, ṭhitāva sā dhātu dhammaṭṭhitatā dhammaniyāmatā idappaccayatā. Taṃ tathagāto abhisam­buj­jhati abhisameti. Abhisam­bujjhitvā abhisametvā ācikkhati deseti paññāpeti paṭṭhapeti vivarati vibhajati uttānīkaroti. ‘Passathā’ti cāha; ‘avijjāpaccayā, bhikkhave, saṅkhārā’. Iti kho, bhikkhave, yā tatra tathatā avitathatā anaññathatā idappaccayatā-ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, paṭiccasamup­pādo.
:heart: namō tassa bhagavatō, arahatō, sammā sambuddhassā

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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by clw_uk » Fri Dec 26, 2014 5:23 am

So anybody is capable of practicing the N8P? At any given time? Honestly, I've met people in my life who call night as day, and vice versa. Some people just aren't capable of understanding.
No of course not as some people cannot even grasp the basics of Dhamma. As I said firstly one comprehends kamma and then cultivates the wholesome and tries to abandon the unwholesome, however the higher teaching is beyond kamma be it black, white or grey :smile:

Nibbana is beyond good, evil and grey morality (since these states are bound up with self/dukkha).
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Re: Stoicism and Buddhism

Post by Jetavan » Mon Jun 05, 2017 12:24 am

Another interesting (and practical) Stoic text is:

Irvine, W. B. (2009). A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

He also describes his comparison of Stoicism with Zen Buddhism, and why he chose the former.

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