the great Nibbana = annihilation, eternal, or something else thread

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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David N. Snyder
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Re: Thanissaro's view of nibbana

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed May 07, 2014 5:16 pm

Zom wrote:In this case the skillful explanation is: nibbana = ending of greed/hatred/delusion. Saying that nibbana is some transcendental "out of space and time" existence (or smth like that) is a bad idea.


I'm not saying what it is; just reporting the different views on the subject.

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Re: Thanissaro's view of nibbana

Postby Bakmoon » Sun May 11, 2014 5:57 pm

I personally never looked at Thanissaro Bhikkhu's view of Nibbana as being pantheistic. I've always come away with the understanding that he teaches that at Nibbana the mind becomes indefinite or indeterminate and can't be pinned down or described rather than that he teaches some sort of oneness. I personally don't really agree with that kind of view, but I can definitely see where in the suttas he is getting that kind of understanding and I certainly think it falls within the realm of legitimate differences of interpretation of very subtle points rather than being a major doctrinal divide.
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.

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Re: Thanissaro's view of nibbana

Postby SarathW » Mon May 12, 2014 12:35 am

I have read many books of Ven. T.
I have such an admiration for him for his contribution to Buddhism in terms of his effort in translation and writing his books.
He warned us the danger of trying to objectify the none objectified.
The same time he went on to say there is a consciousness outside the five aggregate as an explanation for Nibbana.
I think the safest bet is to leave Nibbana as it is and try to attain a one step short of Parinibbna. (sa-upadisesa Nibbana dhatu) which we all can experience in this life itself.
=============================
"What lies on the other side of Unbinding?"
"You've gone too far, friend Visakha. You can't keep holding on up to the limit of questions. For the holy life plunges into Unbinding, culminates in Unbinding, has Unbinding as its final end. If you wish, go to the Blessed One and ask him the meaning of these things. Whatever he says, that's how you should remember it."

http://buddhasutra.com/files/cula_vedalla_sutta.htm
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Re: Thanissaro's view of nibbana

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon May 12, 2014 7:45 pm

Thanks for the responses. I also don't see the question as cause for a major doctrinal divide, but it's not entirely insignificant either. Part of the reason has to do with skillful means as David mentioned above. It's not just that the non-existence view could put people off, but also that people who lack a strong belief in rebirth (or who lose that belief for some reason) may drift into annihilationism and moral nihilism.

This might be less of a risk with the "undifferentiated awareness" sort of view, as it presents the culmination of the path in more positive terms.

The different views may also be relevant to Buddhist ecumenicalism, if such a thing can be said to exist. Thanissaro's view and the Thai Forest Tradition in general seem to bear some affinities with Zen and perhaps some Tibetan schools, whereas that might be less the case with proponents of the non-existence view.

I'm not advocating any particular view, by the way. It's just something I'm interested in. I remember listening to a talk by Joseph Goldstein several years ago in which he recounted his experiences over the years with different traditions. He also mentioned the different points in his life journey where he had run into some sort of doctrinal problem that caused him difficulty. One of them, if I remember rightly, was this question. He had started out being trained by Burmese teachers but at some point engaged with the Thai Forest Tradition and found that their teachings on nibbana were quite different.

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Re: Thanissaro's view of nibbana

Postby beeblebrox » Mon May 12, 2014 8:08 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:The different views may also be relevant to Buddhist ecumenicalism, if such a thing can be said to exist. Thanissaro's view and the Thai Forest Tradition in general seem to bear some affinities with Zen and perhaps some Tibetan schools, whereas that might be less the case with proponents of the non-existence view.


Hi Lazy Eye,

It is my impression (which could be mistaken) that Ven. Thanissaro still would prefer it if his views were not associated with these. He's been critical of things like the Buddha nature, the so-called romanticism in Buddhism, etc.

:anjali:

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Re: Thanissaro's view of nibbana

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon May 12, 2014 9:33 pm

beeblebrox wrote:
Lazy_eye wrote:The different views may also be relevant to Buddhist ecumenicalism, if such a thing can be said to exist. Thanissaro's view and the Thai Forest Tradition in general seem to bear some affinities with Zen and perhaps some Tibetan schools, whereas that might be less the case with proponents of the non-existence view.


Hi Lazy Eye,

It is my impression (which could be mistaken) that Ven. Thanissaro still would prefer it if his views were not associated with these. He's been critical of things like the Buddha nature, the so-called romanticism in Buddhism, etc.

:anjali:


Yes, that's a good point. Still, it could be true that affinities exist in some areas, even if there are differences in others.

And although I'm not enough of a logician to build this case, I have a sneaking suspicion that the notion of an "undifferentiated awareness" can be shown to imply something like Buddha nature. Because if such an awareness is possible, it must in some sense be intrinsic to sentient beings. That is, you can't simply subtract conditioned awareness, and then presto, a new kind of unconditioned awareness springs up where there was none before. The concept itself necessitates an already-existing pure mind.

That's my hunch anyway.

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Re: Where does one go on attaining Nibbana

Postby Kwaingo » Thu May 15, 2014 3:48 am

Indian Buddhist wrote: "It is easy for Western people to follow Buddhism because they live in comforts of life. Here in India, there are poor people who do daily Physical labour for 12-14 hours per day lifting weights of 100 kgs behind their back for an earning of 100 Rs(2 Dollar) per day."

Hmmm....just curious, why this quote about "western people" (whatever country they come from, people of European descent I presume, or Farang as we call them...) Just a clue, most Buddhists are not westerners. Most are Asian, and most are poor(as are most people in the world btw, at least in terms of money). I am Lao. In Laos, people are poor, even more poor than what you describe. Some make LESS than the equivalent of $1 a day, so the amount you quote would be quite fantastic to most Lao people, $60 a month could be considered middle class! And we work just as hard. Do you assume that most posters on this forum are a bunch of privileged white folks living in America or Europe? Most Buddhists are poor, whether it be Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, etc. Yet many of us try to follow Dhamma. And many follow Dhamma devoutly. Many ordain as monks or as precept-keeping laypeople. How does "comfort" make it easier to follow Buddhism? I can see how it could also be a hindrance. Many poor people in southeast Asia ordain as monks to escape poverty, to have more opportunities to study, etc. The level of devotion to Buddhism in a country like Myanmar is humbling, no, their poverty, nor the poverty of Lao, Thai, Cambodian, Sri Lankan, etc. does prevents them from being Buddhist or following the teachings of Buddha, meditating, going to the monastery, doing other Buddhist things. If anything, it makes them try harder, to seek a better rebirth or even Nibbana. So I am not totally clear what your point is, and I think you are making some serious assumptions.

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Re: Where does one go on attaining Nibbana

Postby seeker242 » Thu May 15, 2014 11:09 am

indian_buddhist wrote:Again and Again the Buddha talks about Noble ones seek the Deathless - One which is not subject to Rebirth.

So Nibbana has to be Permanent right?.



Conventionally speaking, yes. The Buddha could not stop being a Buddha and go back to being an ordinary person again, that would be impossible. It's a final end of suffering and rebirth.

But to ask "where does one go after?" is a misguided question to begin with because the concept of "one", it fails to take into account "Anatta".

I like this little story.:)

Once there was a layman who came to Ajahn Chah and asked him who Ajahn Chah was. Ajahn Chah, seeing that the spiritual development of the individual was not very advanced, pointed to himself and said, "This, this is Ajahn Chah."

On another occasion, Ajahn Chah was asked the same question by someone else. This time, however, seeing that the questioner's capacity to understand the Dhamma was higher, Ajahn Chah answered by saying, "Ajahn Chah? There is NO Ajahn Chah."


If there is "no Ajahn Chah", then how can Ajahn Chah go anywhere? If there is no Ajahn Chah, the whole question becomes not applicable.

What is the Motivation for him to follow Buddhism if all he can gain from it is UNKNOWN?


Faith that what the Buddha says is true. Faith that you can realize what the Buddha realized and find freedom, where the unknown becomes known. :smile:

I like this explanation. :)

If we follow through the comparison of the Buddhist discipline to a tree, faith (saddha) would be the seed, for it is faith that provides the initial impulse through which the training is taken up, and faith again that nourishes the training through every phase of its development. Virtue would be the roots, for it is virtue that gives grounding to our spiritual endeavors just as the roots give grounding to a tree. Concentration would be the trunk, the symbol of strength, non-vacillation, and stability. And wisdom would be the branches, which yield the flowers of enlightenment and the fruits of deliverance. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... html#roots

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Re: Where does one go on attaining Nibbana

Postby Lostegasa » Fri Jul 18, 2014 10:48 pm

Dhammakid wrote:The first is the nibbāna experienced by a person who has attained the goal and is still alive. This is described metaphorically as the extinguishing of passion, aversion, & delusion. The second is the nibbāna after death. The simile for these two states is the distinction between a fire that has gone out but whose embers are still warm, and one so totally out that its embers are cold. The Buddha used the views of fire current in his day in somewhat different ways when discussing these two levels of nibbāna, and so we must consider them separately.


Hello Dhammakid and all, I loved this topic and the post of Dhammakid also about Nibbana and this quote.
The Fire from my experience is this power and energy of life and any effort of doing, acting, breathing, living, digging, lasting, feeling, joking (hope you got it) and this power goes upward towards Nibbana through great effort and discernment. What left is nothing of your concern and death will take it.

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Re: Where does one go on attaining Nibbana

Postby dhammacoustic » Fri Aug 01, 2014 6:03 pm

Reductor wrote:
1. Once you've attained nibbana, you no longer have a fixed conception of you and no longer place any importance on whether you continue or cease, or change or whatever. But, to the point, Nibbana is not a place and no one can 'go there'. You simply cease to cling to your own existence and no longer think of yourself as eternal and unchanging, and what it is more, you have no desire for an eternal, unchanging self.

2. Nibbana has no feeling. It is not something that exists, but is lack greed, hate and delusion and all the mental states, and mental turmoil, that arise because of them. But, when an arahant reflects on the cessation of greed, hate, delusion, and all the mental turmoil, they feel pleasure. But they don't try to keep that pleasure for ever, and don't morn when it fades away.

3. No one stays in nibbana for ever. But once greed, hate and delusion have been existinguished in a human being, they don't return. So, this non-returning of greed, hate and delusion could be seen as eternal nibbana.


Hi, but I should inform you that you're knowledge about Nibbana is not really accurate. Nibbana has nothing to do with annihilation. It can't be described using conventional words, that's all. It's not a state of being or non-being - totally different than all sorts temporal individual experiences.

indian_buddhist wrote:My questions are :-

On attaining Nibbana:-
1. Where does one go?.
2. What are the qualities of attaining Nibbana. Is it pure happiness and bliss?.
3. Does one stay in Nibbana state permanently for infinite eons?.


1. It's true that Nibbana has its unique sphere, which is beyond all samsaric and formless existence.
2. I haven't experienced it. But i know a few things about it, talked to many people and i have my knowledge on idea level still. But if you wanna hear, i'd say that Nibbana is beyond joy and pain. It's calm, cool, the point where there is no need to go any further. The point which allows you to be still and restful outside of all sorts of time/movement zones. The ultimate thing.
3. No, there is no "staying" in Nibbana. Once Nibbana is seen, the next is to experience it, and after that - you are Nibbana. Infinite eons - it's nothing compared to what is "unconditional", see?

Hope it helped.
Taṃ tathāgato 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.

I am taking the risk of not meaning anything I say. Derrida

ex nihilo nihil fit.

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Re: Where does one go on attaining Nibbana

Postby Aloka » Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:35 am

This free book " The Island - teachings on Nibanna " by Ajahn Amaro & Ajahn Pasanno might be helpful.

http://forestsanghapublications.org/viewBook.php?id=10&ref=deb


7) “And what, Ānanda, is the perception of cessation? Here, having gone to the forest, to the root of a tree, or to an empty hut, a bhikkhu reflects thus: ‘This is peaceful, this is sublime, that is, the stilling of all activities, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the destruction of craving, cessation, nibbāna.’ This is called the perception of cessation."

http://suttacentral.net/en/an10.60



:anjali:

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Re: Where does one go on attaining Nibbana

Postby Kusala » Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:37 am

indian_buddhist wrote:Nibbana - from my understanding is the deathless stage.

It signifies the following:-

1. Complete destruction of Greed, Hatred and Delusion.
2. No more rebirths in any realm of existence.
3. It is a deathless stage.

My questions are :-
On attaining Nibbana:-
1. Where does one go?.
2. What are the qualities of attaining Nibbana. Is it pure happiness and bliss?.
3. Does one stay in Nibbana state permanently for infinite eons?.


The Nature of Nirvana

King Milinda said: "I will grant you, Nagasena, that Nirvana is absolute ease, and that nevertheless one cannot point to its form or shape, its duration or size, either by simile or explanation, by reason or by argument. But is there perhaps some quality of Nirvana which it shares with other things, and which lends itself to a metaphorical explanation?"

"Its form, O King, cannot be elucidated by similes, but its qualities can."

"How good to hear that, Nagasena! Speak then, quickly, so that I may have an explanation of even one of the aspects of Nirvana! Appease the fever of my heart! Allay it with the cool sweet breezes of your words!"


"Nirvana shares one quality with the lotus, two with water, three with medicine, ten with space, three with the wishing jewel, and five with a mountain peak. As the lotus is unstained by water, so is Nirvana unstained by all the defilements. As cool water allays feverish heat, so also Nirvana is cool and allays the fever of all the passions. Moreover, as water removes the thirst of men and beasts who are exhausted, parched, and thirsty, and overpowered by heat, so also Nirvana removes the craving for sensuous enjoyments, the craving for further becoming, the craving for the cessation of becoming. As medicine protects from the torments of poisons, so Nirvana protects from the torments of the poisonous passions.

Moreover, as medicine puts an end to sickness, so Nirvana puts an end to all sufferings. Finally, Nirvana and medicine both give security. And these are the ten qualities which Nirvana shares with space. Neither is born, grows old, dies, passes away, or is reborn; both are unconquerable, cannot be stolen, are unsupported, are roads respectively for birds and Arhats to journey on, are unobstructed and infinite. Like the wishing jewel, Nirvana grants all one can desire, brings joy, and sheds light. As a mountain peak is lofty and exalted, so is Nirvana. As a mountain peak is unshakeable, so is Nirvana. As a mountain is inaccessible, so is Nirvana inaccessible to all the passions. As no seeds can grow on a mountain peak, so the seeds of all the passions cannot grow in Nirvana. And finally, as a mountain peak is free from all desire to please or displease, so is Nirvana!"


"Well said, Nagasena! So it is, and as much I accept it."


Image
Image

"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "

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Re: Where does one go on attaining Nibbana

Postby Mkoll » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:50 pm

From K.R. Norman's translation of Sn 5.7, lines 1075-1076:
1075. 'He who has gone out, does he not exist, or does he remain unimpaired for ever? Explain this to me well, sage, for thus is this doctrine known to you.'

1076. 'There is no measuring of one who has gone out, Upasīva,' said the Blessed One. 'That no longer exists for him by which they might speak of him. When all phenomena have been removed, then all ways of speaking are also removed.'


Ven. Thanissaro's translation of the same:
[Upasiva:]
He who has reached the end: Does he not exist, or is he for eternity free from dis-ease? Please, sage, declare this to me as this phenomenon has been known by you.

[The Buddha:]
One who has reached the end has no criterion [3] by which anyone would say that — for him it doesn't exist. When all phenomena are done away with,[4] all means of speaking are done away with as well.


3.
For a discussion of the meaning of "criterion" in this passage, see The Mind Like Fire Unbound, Chapter 1.
4.
Although Upasiva refers to the goal as a phenomenon (dhamma), the Buddha describes it as the transcending of all phenomena. For some of the implications of this statement, see AN 3.134.


~~~

I think Wittgenstein's famous quote sums up how the Buddha is teaching us to regard the question.

Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote:Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
Buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi
Dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi
Saṅghaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi


Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world; by non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is an eternal law.
-Dhp 5

sabbe sattā sukhi hontu :smile:

Courage can only be cultivated in the face of fear.

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Re: Where does one go on attaining Nibbana

Postby Reductor » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:31 pm

silver surfer wrote:
Reductor wrote:
1. Once you've attained nibbana, you no longer have a fixed conception of you and no longer place any importance on whether you continue or cease, or change or whatever. But, to the point, Nibbana is not a place and no one can 'go there'. You simply cease to cling to your own existence and no longer think of yourself as eternal and unchanging, and what it is more, you have no desire for an eternal, unchanging self.

2. Nibbana has no feeling. It is not something that exists, but is lack greed, hate and delusion and all the mental states, and mental turmoil, that arise because of them. But, when an arahant reflects on the cessation of greed, hate, delusion, and all the mental turmoil, they feel pleasure. But they don't try to keep that pleasure for ever, and don't morn when it fades away.

3. No one stays in nibbana for ever. But once greed, hate and delusion have been existinguished in a human being, they don't return. So, this non-returning of greed, hate and delusion could be seen as eternal nibbana.


Hi, but I should inform you that you're knowledge about Nibbana is not really accurate. Nibbana has nothing to do with annihilation. It can't be described using conventional words, that's all. It's not a state of being or non-being - totally different than all sorts temporal individual experiences.



I didn't assert annilhation, nor do I assert eternalism. If you don't understand my point, or don't agree with me, that's fine. But if I am mistaken, I'd bet you are too. Consider that.

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Re: Where does one go on attaining Nibbana

Postby daverupa » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:50 pm

I am sorry about letting these off-topic comments through, folks. I may clean a bit up later on, given that this is the Discovering forum; let's get back to answering the OP and stay away from these asides.

:heart:
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Why has annihilationism proliferated Theravada so profusely?

Postby Kasina » Sat Dec 06, 2014 5:57 pm

Greetings.

I come consistently across the idea that Nibbana is the cessation of all mentation, perception, and existence period. For some reason in Theravada, the idea that Nibbana means the destruction of an existent being seems to have spread.

This still remains a point of confusion for me, and I'd appreciate some good answers.

:anjali:
"This world completely lacks essence;
It trembles in all directions.
I longed to find myself a place
Unscathed — but I could not see it."


Sn 4.15 PTS: Sn 935-951 "Attadanda Sutta: Arming Oneself"

"You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go... This is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life..."

Wilbur Mercer in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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Re: Why has annihilationism proliferated Theravada so profus

Postby Zom » Sat Dec 06, 2014 6:33 pm

This is because Buddha taught, that 5 khandhas = suffering, and apart from 5 khandhas there is no any living being.

And, by the way, annihilationism is a different thing. It means that there is a "self" that is annihilated. But Buddha does not say that there is any self, so there is nothing to be annihilated. Only suffering is annihilated, and suffering is 5 khandhas.

If one has a self-view of any kind, then he will conceive Buddha's goal as annihilation (because he thinks there is a self somewhere in 5 khandhas).
If one does not have a self-view, then he will conceive Buddha's goal just as a cessation of suffering.
Last edited by Zom on Sat Dec 06, 2014 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Kasina
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Re: Why has annihilationism proliferated Theravada so profus

Postby Kasina » Sat Dec 06, 2014 6:41 pm

How would this differ from the non-existence of a being that was annihilated (if such a thing were possible)?
"This world completely lacks essence;
It trembles in all directions.
I longed to find myself a place
Unscathed — but I could not see it."


Sn 4.15 PTS: Sn 935-951 "Attadanda Sutta: Arming Oneself"

"You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go... This is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life..."

Wilbur Mercer in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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Re: Why has annihilationism proliferated Theravada so profus

Postby Zom » Sat Dec 06, 2014 6:45 pm

What would differ?

A being = 5 khandhas.
5 khandhas = suffering.
Suffering ends, when 5 khandhas end.

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Kasina
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Re: Why has annihilationism proliferated Theravada so profus

Postby Kasina » Sat Dec 06, 2014 6:47 pm

Would it be proper to say that the khandas cause suffering, or would it be how a "being" relates to the khandas, i.e. this is mine, this is myself? Wouldn't non-identification with the khandas and any other given phenomena be the same result?
"This world completely lacks essence;
It trembles in all directions.
I longed to find myself a place
Unscathed — but I could not see it."


Sn 4.15 PTS: Sn 935-951 "Attadanda Sutta: Arming Oneself"

"You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go... This is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life..."

Wilbur Mercer in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?


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