SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

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SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:41 am

SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.
Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi


https://suttacentral.net/sn16.13

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Savatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapiṇḍika’s Park. Then the Venerable Mahakassapa approached the Blessed One, paid homage to him, sat down to one side, and said to him:

“Venerable sir, what is the reason, what is the cause, why formerly there were fewer training rules but more bhikkhus were established in final knowledge, while now there are more training rules but fewer bhikkhus are established in final knowledge?” [311]

“That’s the way it is, Kassapa. When beings are deteriorating and the true Dhamma is disappearing there are more training rules but fewer bhikkhus are established in final knowledge. Kassapa, the true Dhamma does not disappear so long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world. But when a counterfeit of the true Dhamma arises in the world, then the true Dhamma disappears. [312]

“Just as, Kassapa, gold does not disappear so long as counterfeit gold has not arisen in the world, but when counterfeit gold arises then true gold disappears, so the true Dhamma does not disappear so long as a counterfeit of the true Dhamma has not arisen in the world, but when a counterfeit of the true Dhamma arises in the world, then the true Dhamma disappears.

“It is not the earth element, Kassapa, that causes the true Dhamma to disappear, nor the water element, nor the heat element, nor the air element. It is the senseless people who arise right here who cause the true Dhamma to disappear.

“The true Dhamma does not disappear all at once in the way a ship sinks. [313] There are, Kassapa, five detrimental things [314] that lead to the decay and disappearance of the true Dhamma. What are the five? Here the bhikkhus, the bhikkhunīs, the male lay followers, and the female lay followers dwell without reverence and deference towards the Teacher; they dwell without reverence and deference towards the Dhamma; they dwell without reverence and deference towards the Saṅgha; they dwell without reverence and deference towards the training; they dwell without reverence and deference towards concentration. [315] These, Kassapa, are the five detrimental things that lead to the decay and disappearance of the true Dhamma.

“There are five things, Kassapa, that lead to the longevity of the true Dhamma, to its nondecay and nondisappearance. What are the five? Here the bhikkhus, the bhikkhunīs, the male lay followers, and the female lay followers dwell with reverence and deference towards the Teacher; they dwell with reverence and deference towards the Dhamma; they dwell with reverence and deference towards the Saṅgha; they dwell with reverence and deference towards the training; they dwell with reverence and deference towards concentration. These, Kassapa, are the five things that lead to the longevity of the true Dhamma, to its nondecay and nondisappearance.”

Notes

[311] The same question, but with a different reply, is at MN I 444,36-445,25.
MN 65
“Venerable sir, what is the cause, what is the reason, why there were previously fewer training rules and more bhikkhus became established in final knowledge? What is the cause, what is the reason, why there are now more training rules and fewer bhikkhus become established in final knowledge?”

“That is how it is, Bhaddāli. When beings are deteriorating and the true Dhamma is disappearing, then there are more training rules and fewer bhikkhus become established in final knowledge. The Teacher does not make known the training rule for disciples until certain things that are the basis for taints become manifest here in the Sangha; but when certain things that are the basis for taints become manifest here in the Sangha, then the Teacher makes known the training rule for disciples in order to ward off those things that are the basis for taints.
...
Possibly Mahākassapa’s concern with the preservation of the true Dhamma, demonstrated in this sutta, presages his role as the convener of the First Buddhist Council soon after the Buddha’s parinibbāna (described at Vin II 284-85). There we see, in the ebullient reaction of the old bhikkhu Subhadda to the report of the Buddha’s death, the first stirring towards the emergence of a “counterfeit” Dhamma. Mahākassapa convenes the First Council precisely to ensure that the true Dhamma and Discipline will endure long and will not be driven out by counterfeit versions devised by unscrupulous monks.

[312] Spk: There are two counterfeits of the true Dhamma (saddhammapaṭirūpaka ): one with respect to attainment (adhigama ), the other with respect to learning (pariyatti). The former is the ten corruptions of insight knowledge (see Vism 633-38; Ppn 20:105-28).
See: https://bps.lk/library-search-select.php?id=bp207h
Page 1717 of this PDF: https://bps.lk/olib/bp/bp207h_The-Path- ... magga).pdf
The latter consists of texts other than the authentic Word of the Buddha authorized at the three Buddhist councils, exception made of these five topics of discussion (kathāvatthu): discussion of elements, discussion of objects, discussion of foulness, discussion of the bases of knowledge, the casket of true knowledge. [The counterfeit texts include] the Secret Vinaya (guḷhavinaya), the Secret Vessantara, the Secret Mahosadha, the Vaṇṇa Piṭaka, the Aṅgulimāla Piṭaka, the Raṭṭhapāla-gajjita, the Āḷavaka-gajjita, and the Vedalla Piṭaka.

Spk-pṭ: The “Vedalla Piṭaka” is the Vetulla Piṭaka, which they say had been brought from the abode of the nāgas; others say it consists of what was spoken in debates (vādabhāsita). “Other than the authentic Word of the Buddha” (abuddhavacana), because of contradicting the Word of the Buddha; for the Enlightened One does not speak anything internally inconsistent (pubbāparaviruddha). They apply a dart to it; the removal of defilements is not seen there, so it is inevitably a condition for the arising of defilements.

An attempt to identify the texts cited by Spk is made in the fourteenth century work, Nikāyasaṅgraha, discussed by Adikaram, Early History of Buddhism in Ceylon, pp. 99-100. The Nikāyasaṅgraha assigns each text to a different non-Theravādin school. The late date of this work casts doubt on its reliability, and its method of identification is just too neat to be convincing. Spk-pṭ’s comment on the Vedalla Piṭaka suggests it may be a collection of Mahāyāna sūtras. The Mahāyāna is referred to in the Sri Lankan chronicles as the Vetullavāda (Skt Vaitulyavāda); see Rahula, History of Buddhism in Ceylon, pp. 87-90. Spk-pṭ is apparently alluding to the belief that Nāgārjuna had brought the Prajñāpāramitā Sūtras from the nāga realm. The five types of “topics of discussion” (kathāvatthu), accepted by the Theravādins though not authorized as canonical, were probably philosophical treatises recording the opinions of famous teachers on important points of doctrine. Spk describes at length the gradual disappearance of the Buddha’s Dispensation as a threefold disappearance of achievement, practice, and learning (adhigama-, paṭipatti-, pariyatti-saddhamma).

[313] Spk glosses: ādikenā ti ādānena gahaṇena; opilavatī ti nimujjati . Spk-pṭ: ādānaṃ ādi, ādi eva ādikaṃ. Spk explains the simile thus: “Unlike a ship crossing the water, which sinks when receiving goods, there is no disappearance of the true Dhamma by being filled up with learning, etc. For when learning declines the practice declines, and when the practice declines achievement declines. But when learning becomes full, persons rich in learning fill up the practice, and those filling up the practice fill up achievement. Thus when learning, etc., are increasing, my Dispensation increases, just like the new moon.”

C.Rh.D, following this explanation, renders the line: “Take the sinking of a ship, Kassapa, by overloading” (KS 2:152). I find dubious, however, Spk’s understanding of ādikena as meaning “taking, grasping.” Elsewhere ādikena has the sense of “all at once, suddenly,” contrasted with anupubbena, “gradually” (see MN I 395,4, 479,35; [MN 58]II 213,4 [MN 100]; Ja VI 567,6, 14). This is clearly the meaning required here.

[314] Pañca okkamaniyā dhammā. Spk glosses: okkamaniyā ti heṭṭhāgamanīya, “leading downwards.” A parallel passage at AN III 247 repeats the first four causes but replaces the fifth by “lack of mutual respect and deference.”
AN 5.201
“What is the cause and reason why, Bhante, the good
Dhamma does not continue long after a Tathāgata has attained
final nibbāna?”

“(1) Here, Kimbila, after a Tathāgata has attained final
nibbāna, the bhikkhus, bhikkhunīs, male lay followers, and
female lay followers dwell without reverence and deference
toward the Teacher. (2) They dwell without reverence and def-
erence toward the Dhamma. (3) They dwell without reverence
and deference toward the Saṅgha. (4) They dwell without rever-
ence and deference toward the training. (5) They dwell without
reverence and deference toward each other. This is the cause
and reason why the good Dhamma does not continue long after
a Tathāgata has attained final nibbāna.
[315] Spk: One dwells without reverence for concentration when one does not attain the eight attainments (aṭṭha samāpattiyo) or make any effort to attain them.

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Re: SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:53 am

Thanissaro Bhikkhu's translation:
https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/SN/SN16_13.html

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Re: SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:13 am

Many thanks, Mike. This is profound and thought-provoking stuff, so thank you for taking the time and trouble to present it here. I have Sri Lankan friends who often refer to the "counterfeit" point, and I get the impression that this was impressed on them from an early age.

Some random thoughts to get the ball rolling. First, I was struck with a sense of dismay as to how rapid the process of deterioration is. Mahakassapa could only have raised this point a few decades after the Buddha first began to teach, and yet the decline is already evident to him. Here we are 250 decades later, and without the Buddha himself to guide us. In a way, it is no wonder that some strands of Buddhism seem to have given up on "final knowledge" and seem to aim at no more than a favourable rebirth.

The idea of true gold being supplanted by counterfeit gold is a superb example of Gresham's Law in economics: the idea that "Bad money will drive out good".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gresham%27s_law

This refers to the good being driven out of circulation, rather than out of existence. The pure gold will still exist, stuffed into mattresses and buried in the garden, but will just be harder to find because people prefer to trade in the counterfeit. So, as Dhamma practitioners, it seems our task is just to locate the true Dhamma. Ajahn Thanissaro's notes show why this is not so easy, however. It is easier to use the fake currency because the risk of loss is less. In Dhamma terms, this means that we are tempted to adopt the easier approach to practice, rather than finding out what is true. Moreover, doubt sets in. We don't trust gold at all. In Dhamma terms, we don't know whether a particular teaching (even this one!) is genuine, and any attempt to find out requires a dissipation of our efforts in disputing sources, challenging accepted meanings, learning Pali, and sifting criteria. The sort of thing we do on DW, for example!

I was also struck with the very clear account of human agency as the cause of decline. The cause of decline is lack of respect for the five specified phenomena. It would be interesting to know whether one is respectful merely through avoiding misrepresentation of those things, or whether a more active and committed practice is required. Either way, reflecting on this makes dogmatism seem more perilous, and is very sobering.

Lastly, it might be worth noting that there are other lists of things worthy of respect:
https://suttacentral.net/define/g%C4%81rava

This one includes samadhi, which is interesting.

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Re: SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by SarathW » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:20 am

Ajahn Thanissaro's notes show why this is not so easy,
It is strange Ven Thanissaro saying this.
Some people think that his teaching Nibbana as another consciousness seems the counterfeit of the true Dhamma.

:focus:
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:34 am

SarathW wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:20 am
Ajahn Thanissaro's notes show why this is not so easy,
It is strange Ven Thanissaro saying this.
Some people think that his teaching Nibbana as another consciousness seems the counterfeit of the true Dhamma.
Yes, I hadn't thought of this, but you are right. Presumably he thinks his version is the true Dhamma, and everyone else's is the counterfeit! It's a big problem.

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Re: SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:05 am

Thanks for the excellent comments. I will add some ideas later when I have a good network....

Mike

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Re: SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:08 am

Thanks for your detailed post, SV:
Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:13 am
I was also struck with the very clear account of human agency as the cause of decline. The cause of decline is lack of respect for the five specified phenomena. It would be interesting to know whether one is respectful merely through avoiding misrepresentation of those things, or whether a more active and committed practice is required. Either way, reflecting on this makes dogmatism seem more perilous, and is very sobering.
Yes, I thought this statement was particularly strong:
“It is not the earth element, Kassapa, that causes the true Dhamma to disappear, nor the water element, nor the heat element, nor the air element. It is the senseless people who arise right here who cause the true Dhamma to disappear.
Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:13 am
Lastly, it might be worth noting that there are other lists of things worthy of respect:
https://suttacentral.net/define/g%C4%81rava

This one includes samadhi, which is interesting.
“It is not the earth element, Kassapa, that causes the true Dhamma to disappear, nor the water element, nor the heat element, nor the air element. It is the senseless people who arise right here who cause the true Dhamma to disappear.
Doesn't the current sutta include samadhi?

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Re: SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:41 am

I thought that Bhikkhu Bodhi's footnote to this sentence was interesting:
But when a counterfeit of the true Dhamma arises in the world, then the true Dhamma disappears.
Bhikkhu Bodhi summarises the Commentary:
Spk: There are two counterfeits of the true Dhamma (saddhammapaṭirūpaka ):
one with respect to attainment (adhigama ), the other with respect to learning (pariyatti).

The former is the ten corruptions of insight knowledge (see Vism 633-38; Ppn 20:105-28).
See: https://bps.lk/library-search-select.php?id=bp207h
Page 1717 of this PDF: https://bps.lk/olib/bp/bp207h_The-Path- ... magga).pdf

The latter consists of texts other than the authentic Word of the Buddha authorized at the three Buddhist councils, ...
So the Commentary identifies not only incorrect information (the latter) but also incorrect practice (the former). Or, to be more precise, incorrect interpretation of the progress of one's practice.

In the Progress of Insight the "Corruptions /Imperfections of Insight" are, quoting from The Visuddhimagga, Chapter XX:
[THE TEN IMPERFECTIONS OF INSIGHT ]
105. Now, when he is a beginner of insight with this tender insight, ten
imperfections of insight arise in him. For imperfections of insight do not arise
either in a noble disciple who has reached penetration [of the truths] or in persons
erring in virtue, neglectful of their meditation subject and idlers. They arise only
in a clansman who keeps to the right course, devotes himself continuously [to
his meditation subject] and is a beginner of insight. But what are these ten
imperfections? They are: (1) illumination, (2) knowledge, (3) rapturous happiness,
(4) tranquillity, (5) bliss (pleasure), (6) resolution, (7) exertion, (8) assurance, (9)
equanimity, and (10) attachment.
So these are important attainments. However, if they are mistaken for the final goal they become corruptions/imperfections:
123. And as in the case of illumination, so too in the case of the other imperfections
that may arise, the meditator thinks thus: “Such knowledge ... such rapturous
happiness ... tranquillity ... bliss ... resolution ... exertion ... assurance ...
equanimity ... attachment never arose in me before. I have surely reached the path,
reached fruition.” Thus he takes what is not the path to be the path and what is not
fruition to be fruition. When he takes what is not the path to be the path and what is
not fruition to be fruition, the course of his insight is interrupted. He drops his basic
meditation subject and sits just enjoying the attachment.

124. And here illumination, etc., are called imperfections because they are the
basis for imperfection, not because they are [kammically] unprofitable. But
attachment is both an imperfection and the basis for imperfection.

As basis only they amount to ten; but with the different ways of taking them
they come to thirty.
It's interesting that the Commentary warns about practitioners overestimating their attainments. This is something that is undoubtedly quite prevalent in the present day, but it is sobering to think that it has been a problem for a couple of thousand years.

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Re: SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:48 am

Related to this overestimation of attainments, I am reminded by Thanissaro Bhikkhu's introction to MN1:
...
Although at present we rarely think in the same terms as the Sāṅkhya philosophers, there has long been—and still is—a common tendency to create a “Buddhist” metaphysics in which the experience of emptiness, the Unconditioned, the Dharma-body, Buddha-nature, rigpa, etc., is said to function as the ground of being from which the “All”—the entirety of our sensory & mental experience—is said to spring and to which we return when we meditate. Some people think that these theories are the inventions of scholars without any direct meditative experience, but actually they have most often originated among meditators, who label (or in the words of the discourse, “perceive”) a particular meditative experience as the ultimate goal, identify with it in a subtle way (as when we are told that “we are the knowing”), and then suppose that level of experience to be the ground of being out of which all other experience comes.

Any teaching that follows these lines would be subject to the same criticism that the Buddha directed against the monks who first heard this discourse.

https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/MN/MN1.html
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Re: SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:54 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:08 am

Doesn't the current sutta include samadhi?
Yes, sorry, that's what I meant. The current sutta in question includes samadhi, whereas the other lists of things worthy of respect do not. I'm wondering why that is.

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Re: SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:37 am

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:54 am
mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:08 am

Doesn't the current sutta include samadhi?
Yes, sorry, that's what I meant. The current sutta in question includes samadhi, whereas the other lists of things worthy of respect do not. I'm wondering why that is.
Not sure. See footnote [314] for another sutta that lists “lack of mutual respect and deference" instead.

Might be interesting to look at parallels....

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Re: SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:21 pm

I thought that there were alternative lists of "things worthy of respect and deference", but haven't got very far with it on Sutta Central. It seems that the essential difference here is that one form is "lack of mutual respect and deference", and the other is "lack of reverence and deference towards concentration".

The first is (I assume) about sociability and agreeableness within the Sangha. The second is interesting, and especially from a lay practitioner's perspective. Here is the interpretation given:
[315] Spk: One dwells without reverence for concentration when one does not attain the eight attainments (aṭṭha samāpattiyo) or make any effort to attain them.
Rather ambiguous, in that it sets the bar very high for actual attainment, yet relatively low (does 20 minutes on the cushion every day count?) for the effort involved; it does say any effort! I am assuming here that the "eight attainments" in this context refers to the standard jhanas, rupa- and arupa. So it appears that a sincere effort to attain the jhanas counts as reverence for concentration; this reverence is a necessary condition for the continuation of the dhamma; and that this is as important in itself as reverence for the Triple Gem and the training. That certainly seems to put a lot of emphasis upon concentration/jhanas, rather like MN 117
https://suttacentral.net/en/mn117
seems to. Central and indispensible to the practice, perhaps.

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Re: SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by dharmacorps » Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:54 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:34 am
SarathW wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:20 am
Ajahn Thanissaro's notes show why this is not so easy,
It is strange Ven Thanissaro saying this.
Some people think that his teaching Nibbana as another consciousness seems the counterfeit of the true Dhamma.
Yes, I hadn't thought of this, but you are right. Presumably he thinks his version is the true Dhamma, and everyone else's is the counterfeit! It's a big problem.
The bottom line for any evaluation as to whether something is dhamma or not is based on lessening of defilements and progress on the path. Ajahn Geoff teaches very in depth courses on this very subject--about identifying true dhamma based on the suttas, not his pontifications.

Parenthetically, Ajahn Geoff's statements on nibbana (which I think people get tripped up on unnecessarily) are actually quite common in Thai Forest Tradition monks, just not very many English speaking ones.

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Re: SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by JohnK » Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:02 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:21 pm
I am assuming here that the "eight attainments" in this context refers to the standard jhanas, rupa- and arupa.
As I was reading it, I was assuming 2 x 4 (where 2 = path and fruition, and 4 = stream entry, etc.).
But this assumption was not based on any research into the particulars of the discussion which was concerning concentration-- so I may be way off -- but of course the concentration factors of the path are aimed at path and fruition.
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

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Re: SN 16.13 Saddhamma­patirūpaka Sutta. The Counterfeit of the True Dhamma.

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:07 pm

JohnK wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:02 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:21 pm
I am assuming here that the "eight attainments" in this context refers to the standard jhanas, rupa- and arupa.
As I was reading it, I was assuming 2 x 4 (where 2 = path and fruition, and 4 = stream entry, etc.).
But this assumption was not based on any research into the particulars of the discussion which was concerning concentration-- so I may be way off -- but of course the concentration factors of the path are aimed at path and fruition.
My assumption was based on little more, John - I just googled "Buddhism eight attainments" and that's what it came up with! e.g.,
When concentration is properly established the mind enters one of the jhānas. In the four fine-material jhānas (rūpa-jhāna or simply jhāna) one uses aspects of materiality as the object of attention. More refined than these are the four formless jhānas (arūpa-jhāna), in which one uses immaterial objects as the object of attention. Together these jhānas are called the eight ‘attainments’ (samāpatti).
http://www.buddhistteachings.org/calm-v ... ht-samatha
so I'm more than happy to be corrected on this. Is there a standard definition somewhere for "Eight attainments"?

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