The negative language of Theravada.

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Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by kc2dpt » Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:28 pm

Individual wrote:...That Nirvana is true self, Emptiness is true self, Buddha-nature is one's true nature... Are these ideas just different ways of stating Theravada Buddhist teachings or are they completely contrary to the Pali canon?
They seem to me expressions of eternalism and thus completely contrary to the Pali Canon.
The desire to exist for ever and ever is, I think, a very basic desire in all of us.
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Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by Individual » Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:50 pm

rowyourboat wrote:i think no one can guarantee permanant happiness- that would be a lie- as happiness itself is impermanant- the only truth is the cessation of suffering (it almost goes without saying- but it has been said clearly by the buddha that he is not leading his bikkhus towards suffering but to calm, mindful, blissful mental states- but even these arise and pass away- no doubt more frequently). Saying 'I teach more frequent happiness' doesnt quite have the same ring to it for me.
to talk of positives or negatives in terms of nibbana would be a falacy- at least talkng of nibbana in the negative is closer to the truth
If you aren't looking for abiding happiness (or an even more deep, more profound sense of equanimous inner peace and clarity), why are you practicing Buddhism? Numbness to suffering? Numbness and death?
Peter wrote:
Individual wrote:...That Nirvana is true self, Emptiness is true self, Buddha-nature is one's true nature... Are these ideas just different ways of stating Theravada Buddhist teachings or are they completely contrary to the Pali canon?
They seem to me expressions of eternalism and thus completely contrary to the Pali Canon.
The desire to exist for ever and ever is, I think, a very basic desire in all of us.
Peter... An inference based on the Pali canon.

The Dhamma is eternal (SN 47.13), precisely the reason it's a secure refuge:
"But, Ananda, when he attained total Unbinding, did Sariputta take the aggregate of virtue along with him? Did he take the aggregate of concentration... discernment... release... the aggregate of knowledge & vision of release along with him?"

"No, lord, when he attained total Unbinding, Ven. Sariputta didn't take the aggregate of virtue... concentration... discernment... release... the aggregate of knowledge & vision of release along with him.
The Buddha's body is the Dhamma (SN 22.87):
Enough, Vakkali. Why do you want to see this filthy body? Whoever sees the Dhamma sees me; whoever sees me sees the Dhamma.
Now, if the Dhamma is eternal... And the Buddha is the Dhamma... Then this logically means... hmmm? Could anyone here finish the inference for me? :)

Back to SN 47.13, in that passage, the Buddha said (also elsewhere), "...each of you should remain with your self as an island, your self as your refuge, without anything else as a refuge."

Refuge in a self that can't be found among any of the five aggregates of clinging, a self that can't be found here or elsewhere, a self that is not simply the earth or in the universe, or any realm beyond. Hmm.

It is too easy to merely suggest that this was just a "conventional" expression with no meaning, considering it being repeated in various places, and the entire chapter in the Dhammapada on the self, which uses the more positive language about self.

With metta :heart:,
Individual
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Element

Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by Element » Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:18 pm

Individual wrote:Yes, but would the Buddha have to express it as, "There is rust everywhere. My teaching is for the removal of rust"?

Could he not also say, "Everywhere, there is luminosity, luster, shining light, only hidden by rust. My teaching is for the realization of this hidden luminosity"?
Buddha did say that. Buddha said his teaching has one purpose: "Unshakeable freedom of mind". (MN 29 & 30)

However, the essence of what you are saying Individual is not according to the Dhamma.

Your view is one of seeking the positive rather than having insight into the negative.

The power to practise comes from insight into the negative or unsatisfactoriness rather than lust for the positive.

Your view is without dispute wrong view according to the dhamma.

Buddhadhamma is not like shopping in a supermarket: "This sounds great. Let me try it!"

It does not work that way. Like a Quoting Bimbo, one can quote and quote but never find the path.

The path starts with seeing dukkha & dispassion rather than inspiration.

Buddha said the condition for faith was dukkha.

Best wishes

Element

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Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by kc2dpt » Mon Jan 26, 2009 9:49 pm

Individual wrote:An inference based on the Pali canon.

The Dhamma is eternal (SN 47.13), precisely the reason it's a secure refuge:
This passage doesn't say the Dhamma is eternal. It says that just because Sariputta died doesn't mean the teachings died with him. The Buddha was reminding Ananda that it is the teaching which matters, not any particular teacher; Ananda could still develop the Path even though Sariputta had died.
The Buddha's body is the Dhamma (SN 22.87):
This passage is saying pretty much the same thing as the last passage: the teaching is more important that the teacher. In this case Vakkali wasn't even developing the Path a little bit; he just followed the Buddha around and stared at him.

These seem to me very ordinary passages about the relationships between students and teachers. That you are interpreting them to be making claims about an eternal self seems to me to be stretching quite a bit.
Back to SN 47.13, in that passage, the Buddha said (also elsewhere), "...each of you should remain with your self as an island, your self as your refuge, without anything else as a refuge."
Yet another passage saying you develop the Path yourself; a teacher can't do it for you.

Really, Individual, these arguments of yours are so old. I'm sure you've read plenty of refutations of them over on E-S. If you are still convinced the suttas teach an eternal self perhaps you would rather go find the Dark Zen folks and study under them; I recall they have their own forum over at Beliefnet.
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Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:06 pm

Greetings Individual,
Individual wrote:The Buddha's body is the Dhamma (SN 22.87):
Enough, Vakkali. Why do you want to see this filthy body? Whoever sees the Dhamma sees me; whoever sees me sees the Dhamma.
Now, if the Dhamma is eternal... And the Buddha is the Dhamma... Then this logically means... hmmm? Could anyone here finish the inference for me? :)
Whether intentionally or not, you are completely misrepresenting the relationship between the Buddha and the Dhamma. The purpose of that sutta quote is to demonstrate that only someone who sees the Dhamma can properly understand and comprehend the Buddha's attainments, and spiritual attainments cannot be seen simply by walking along behind him and looking at form which not-self, not his, not Buddha.

As for your speculation on "self", are you a puggalavadin?

Puggalavāda Buddhist Philosophy
http://www.iep.utm.edu/p/pudgalav.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

Element

Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by Element » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:21 pm

Individual wrote:If you aren't looking for abiding happiness (or an even more deep, more profound sense of equanimous inner peace and clarity), why are you practicing Buddhism? Numbness to suffering? Numbness and death?
Individual

If one is free from suffering, how can one be numb to suffering or numb to death? When a mind is free from suffering, there is no suffering to be numb to. Further, there is no death. There is merely selfless change or impermanence.
Individual wrote:]Peter... An inference based on the Pali canon.

The Dhamma is eternal (SN 47.13), precisely the reason it's a secure refuge:
"But, Ananda, when he attained total Unbinding, did Sariputta take the aggregate of virtue along with him? Did he take the aggregate of concentration... discernment... release... the aggregate of knowledge & vision of release along with him?"

"No, lord, when he attained total Unbinding, Ven. Sariputta didn't take the aggregate of virtue... concentration... discernment... release... the aggregate of knowledge & vision of release along with him.
Individual,

The passage you are referring to does not say Dhamma is eternal. Dhamma as truth or true nature of reality is eternal but human realisation of Dhamma is not eternal. I would suggest you consider the following part of the sutta:
It was as if my body were drugged, I lost my bearings, things weren't clear to me, on hearing that Ven. Sariputta had attained total Unbinding."

It's just that he was my instructor & counselor, one who exhorted, urged, roused, & encouraged me. He was tireless in teaching the Dhamma, a help to his companions in the holy life. We miss the nourishment of his Dhamma, the wealth of his Dhamma, his help in the Dhamma."
Individual wrote:The Buddha's body is the Dhamma (SN 22.87):
Enough, Vakkali. Why do you want to see this filthy body? Whoever sees the Dhamma sees me; whoever sees me sees the Dhamma.
Now, if the Dhamma is eternal... And the Buddha is the Dhamma... Then this logically means... hmmm? Could anyone here finish the inference for me? :)
The above quote does not say the Dhamma is the Buddha's body. You are sounding like a Mahayanan muni, declaring the guru is the Dhamma.

I have been advised of a post you made on another site, about those who tirelessly taught you the Dhamma from the Buddha's lips, for your welfare and benefit. I recommend if you chant the following verse about those who tirelessly taught you the Dhamma from the Buddha's lips, you may regain your senses again, just like Ananda regained his senses. Remember what the Buddha said about relating to him as a friend and not as an enemy, that he will not treat you like soft clay.
Kāyena vācāya va cetasā vā,
Saṅghe kukammaṃ pakataṃ mayā yaṃ,
Saṅgho paṭiggaṇhatu accayantaṃ,
Kālantare saṃvarituṃ va saṅghe.

Whatever bad kamma I have done to the Saṅgha
by body, by speech, or by mind,
may the Saṅgha accept my admission of it,
so that in the future I may show restraint toward the Saṅgha.
With metta

Element

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Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by Fede » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:33 pm

genkaku wrote:If it seems relevant, the medical profession adheres to the injunction, "Do no harm." It does not adhere to the injunction, "Do a lot of good." Why? My guess is that we invariably do harm of one kind or another and it behooves us to be on our toes. Further, once we utter the word "good," the world fills up with endless interpretations, many of them leading to a good deal of harm.
Actually, I believe you might be referring to the Hippocratic Oath - and nowhere, either in the original version, nor in the Modern version, do medics swear to 'do no harm'.
Why?
because by very virtue of the fact that at times they will have to cause a destruction or altheration to the human body, they will in some way, be constrained to do harm. Even if it's for the good.

Just thought I'd pitch this in, here......

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A1103798

The original version.....

And

the More modern one....

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/doctors/oath_modern.html

Individual, intelligent, bright and wise as you sometimes are, it is this insistence of yours to dispute with those clearly more knowlegeable than you, that makes me throw doubt upon the sagacity of your posts, and to have less faith in your ability to understand and interpret the Buddha's teachings.
Sometimes you attack subjects with a great deal of clarity and insight. But at others, your obstinacy does you - and others - no favours......

I am the least person to talk and to criticise. I know far less than I should, and it is a constant source of self-recrimination. But if I am to learn, i understand that unless it's backed up and agreed with by others (and your posts often are!) I need to take much of what I read, with a pinch of salt (no more than 6g per day.)

Which is a pity, because you had me believing you there, for a moment or two.....! :D

As ever, I am grateful to all for an illuminating thread......
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by Individual » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:57 pm

Peter wrote:
Individual wrote:An inference based on the Pali canon.

The Dhamma is eternal (SN 47.13), precisely the reason it's a secure refuge:
This passage doesn't say the Dhamma is eternal. It says that just because Sariputta died doesn't mean the teachings died with him. The Buddha was reminding Ananda that it is the teaching which matters, not any particular teacher; Ananda could still develop the Path even though Sariputta had died.
He didn't say the "teaching". He said the aggregate of virtue, of concentration, discernment, release, and knowledge & vision. It's basically implied that, while teachings and teachers are subject to decay, these aggregates of liberation are eternal (hence the "forgotten" path, "re-discovered" by the Buddha, not merely the "teaching\belief-system created by Buddha,"). Dhamma doesn't always mean the "teaching", but also the truth\practice the teaching is pointing to.
Peter wrote:Really, Individual, these arguments of yours are so old. I'm sure you've read plenty of refutations of them over on E-S. If you are still convinced the suttas teach an eternal self perhaps you would rather go find the Dark Zen folks and study under them; I recall they have their own forum over at Beliefnet.
Dark Zen is a cult run by a dork. Please don't insult me.
retrofuturist wrote: As for your speculation on "self", are you a puggalavadin?
I am not a puggalavadin, because that would be a speculative wrong view. But I do think that, as with Theravadin Abhidhamma, Puggalavadin philosophy could be useful in illustrating the truth. Whereas the explicit philosophical notion of a puggala isn't upheld by modern Mahayanins, the notion of a "true self," "supreme self," etc., what Zen Buddhists call "one's own true nature," runs throughout several Mahayana sutras (see Wikipedia's article on Buddha-nature). And this same notion of Buddha-nature runs through the Pali canon, in the Buddha's description of luminous mind and his positive description of Nibbana. I have heard Gil Fronsdal make this claim before, that the Pali canon is mostly "negative" descriptions, but the Mahayana is a more "positive" description. Not my own fabrication.
Element wrote:You are sounding like a Mahayanan muni
That is a very lofty compliment.
Fede wrote: Individual, intelligent, bright and wise as you sometimes are, it is this insistence of yours to dispute with those clearly more knowlegeable than you, that makes me throw doubt upon the sagacity of your posts, and to have less faith in your ability to understand and interpret the Buddha's teachings.
Your criticism seems to be arbitrarily dependent on time and place. If I were to argue with a Mahayana monk in a Mahayana Buddhist forum about Mahayana sectarianism, you could make the same claim. If a Theravadin monk today had the same views during Asoka's reign and criticized Puggalavada with a more senior monk back then, you could make the same claim.

Right here and now, those more wise than me have a different view, but those here and now are not sum of all wise people in the world, past, present, and future. Consider that there have been many wise people in the past who did not share their view, but shared mine, or who didn't share either of our views but a totally different one, and that in the future, their views might not necessarily be regarded as "wise" and mine as "foolish". The wisdom of an assertion should be judged with mindfulness, not on the conceit of comparing one "person" with another, saying, "Oh, well he's wise, so everything he says is correct," but "Oh, he's not as wise, so I should be skeptical of what he says," and "Oh, he's a complete fool. I should ignore everything he says." That is conceit.

With metta :heart:,
Individual
Last edited by Individual on Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:04 pm

Greetings Individual,
Individual wrote:I am not a puggalavadin, because that would be a speculative wrong view. But I do think that, as with Theravadin Abhidhamma, Puggalavadin philosophy could be useful in illustrating the truth. Whereas the explicit philosophical notion of a puggala isn't upheld by modern Mahayanins, the notion of a "true self," "supreme self," etc., what Zen Buddhists call "one's own true nature," runs throughout several Mahayana sutras (see Wikipedia's article on Buddha-nature). And this same notion of Buddha-nature runs through the Pali canon, in the Buddha's description of luminous mind and his positive description of Nibbana. I have heard Gil Fronsdal make this claim before, that the Pali canon is mostly "negative" descriptions, but the Mahayana is a more "positive" description. Not my own fabrication.
Repeat after me... "not self, not I, not mine" :reading:

That applies to all mindstates, including a luminous one.

:meditate:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by Prasadachitta » Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:14 pm

I dont think it is altogether necessary for us to use via negativa language. We can point out that to those who knew the Buddha personally he was supremely kind, calm and compassionate. While these qualities could be discerned objectively, it is clear that there was no identification on the side of the Buddha with them. While we always say something from a conceptual point of view or at some level rest our way of perceiving in some kind of axiomatic paradigm, the Buddha did not. This is why the Buddha could not suffer. I think that this is all we need to know about the Buddha and his doctrine.

Metta

Gabriel

PS: I still delight in all the doctrinal formulations. :popcorn:
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by Individual » Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:16 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Individual,
Individual wrote:I am not a puggalavadin, because that would be a speculative wrong view. But I do think that, as with Theravadin Abhidhamma, Puggalavadin philosophy could be useful in illustrating the truth. Whereas the explicit philosophical notion of a puggala isn't upheld by modern Mahayanins, the notion of a "true self," "supreme self," etc., what Zen Buddhists call "one's own true nature," runs throughout several Mahayana sutras (see Wikipedia's article on Buddha-nature). And this same notion of Buddha-nature runs through the Pali canon, in the Buddha's description of luminous mind and his positive description of Nibbana. I have heard Gil Fronsdal make this claim before, that the Pali canon is mostly "negative" descriptions, but the Mahayana is a more "positive" description. Not my own fabrication.
Repeat after me... "not self, not I, not mine" :reading:

That applies to all mindstates, including a luminous one.

:meditate:

Metta,
Retro. :)
With reflection on notself, there can be a subtle commentary... This suffering is not self, I, or mine (it's just the way the world is or it's somebody else's). The joy is not self, I, or mine (it's just the way the world is or it's somebody else's). This equanimity is not self, I, or mine (it's just the way the world is or it's somebody else's). "Other-view" and "world-view" are both themselves forms of self-view.

Anatta: Your suffering is my suffering. Your joy is my joy. Your equanimity is my equanimity. But also, my suffering is your suffering. My joy is your joy. My equanimity is your equanimity.

How can you appreciate Zen while not knowing or caring about what they mean by "true nature"?
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:20 pm

Greetings Individual,
Individual wrote:Anatta: Your suffering is my suffering. Your joy is my joy. Your equanimity is my equanimity. But also, my suffering is your suffering. My joy is your joy. My equanimity is your equanimity.
No, the point of anatta is that these things are not self (not I, not mine)... not that they belong to anyone and everyone.
Individual wrote: How can you appreciate Zen while not knowing or caring about what they mean by "true nature"?
Understanding "true nature" is a synonym for seeing things as they really are, namely "not self, not I, not mine".

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

Individual
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Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by Individual » Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:30 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Individual,
Individual wrote:Anatta: Your suffering is my suffering. Your joy is my joy. Your equanimity is my equanimity. But also, my suffering is your suffering. My joy is your joy. My equanimity is your equanimity.
No, the point of anatta is that these things are not self (not I, not mine)... not that they belong to anyone and everyone.
There is an unnecessary emphasis on particular language there. Our experiences arise co-dependently. You can interpret this as, "Nothing is mine" (the self-construct is arbitrary) or you can say, "Everything is shared," (the other-construct is arbitrary) and it is the same claim.
retrofuturist wrote:
Individual wrote: How can you appreciate Zen while not knowing or caring about what they mean by "true nature"?
Understanding "true nature" is a synonym for seeing things as they really are, namely "not self, not I, not mine".
...which could be called Buddha-nature, emptiness, and luminous, right?
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:36 pm

Greetings Individual,

"Everything is shared" is something else altogether, and is totally inconsistent with...

AN 5.57: Upajjhatthana Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"'I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir'...

"[This is a fact that] one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained...

"Now, based on what line of reasoning should one often reflect... that 'I am the owner of my actions (kamma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir'? There are beings who conduct themselves in a bad way in body... in speech... and in mind. But when they often reflect on that fact, that bad conduct in body, speech, and mind will either be entirely abandoned or grow weaker...

"A disciple of the noble ones considers this: 'I am not the only one who is owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator; who — whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir. To the extent that there are beings — past and future, passing away and re-arising — all beings are the owner of their actions, heir to their actions, born of their actions, related through their actions, and live dependent on their actions. Whatever they do, for good or for evil, to that will they fall heir.' When he/she often reflects on this, the [factors of the] path take birth. He/she sticks with that path, develops it, cultivates it. As he/she sticks with that path, develops it and cultivates it, the fetters are abandoned, the obsessions destroyed."
...which could be called Buddha-nature, emptiness, and luminous, right?
So long as it's not the basis for creating a proxy-atman.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: The negative language of Theravada.

Post by Prasadachitta » Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:38 pm

Isnt our "true nature" no nature. Or rather our true nature is conditioned arising. Buddhas arise in the world by knowing what cannot be known by any characteristics. The world can be known by limitless characteristics which are all conditionally arisen. They all have no self nature and that is their nature thus "Buddha Nature". I do see that this way of teaching is highly prone to problematic interpretations and in my opinion probably only suitable to those who have developed a strong faith in the Buddhas achievements If at all.


Metta


Gabriel
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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