Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly without?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 08, 2014 2:20 am

While what is being described is, of course, referring what would be called jhana meditation, and since I really do not have an interest in this issue, I am not going to discuss the point how jhana are understood in the suttas. I do not see, however, in this quote anything really addresses the issue Burmese Vipassana Meditation practice.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 08, 2014 2:27 am

2pennyworth wrote:
Choose a primary object
Rest attention on primary object
Recognise when attention has been caught by something other than primary object
Acknowledge secondary object arisen
Release attention from secondary object/'distraction'
Return attention to primary object
Repeat as necessary

Along with the instructions to investigate anicca, anatta, dukkha nature of all arising 'objects'.

Recently I've applied the instructions of Ven Bhante Vimalaramsi, or rather, his commentary of the Buddha's instructions for tranquil insight, to my own practice and found them to be extremely effective. It seems that the simple but seemingly vital additions/modifications Ven Bhante makes to the above basic practice instructions makes all the difference.

Ven Bhante Vimalaramsi's 'vital' additions/modifications:

Choose a primary object
Rest attention on primary object
Recognise when attention has been caught by something other than primary object
Release attention from secondary object/'distraction'
Relax physical manifestation of craving - ie tightness and tension in head and body
Re-smile (promotes a joyful, uplifted mind)
Return attention to primary object along with the tranquil, uplifted mind.
Repeat as necessary


    Release attention from secondary object/'distraction'
    Relax physical manifestation of craving - ie tightness and tension in head and body
    Re-smile (promotes a joyful, uplifted mind)

The question is: How is this done in actual practice?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby VinceField » Thu May 08, 2014 3:04 am

I do not see, however, in this quote anything really addresses the issue Burmese Vipassana Meditation practice.


It is my understanding that a high level of sustained concentration is required from most Vipassana cultivation methods. Although it is a different type of concentration than the Samatha methods, Bhante makes many references to the fact that momentary, access, and absorption concentration all produce the same restrictive results. Thus every mention of "concentration" inherently refers to both Vipassana and Samatha practices. He actually states that these types of concentration are never even mentioned in the Suttas. The Vipassana method of dealing with pain is also mentioned in the quotes I provided. :rofl:
Uhhh Something clever to give you the impression that I am the identity compulsively projected by my false illusory defiled ego?
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 08, 2014 3:27 am

VinceField wrote:
I do not see, however, in this quote anything really addresses the issue Burmese Vipassana Meditation practice.


It is my understanding that a high level of sustained concentration is required from most Vipassana cultivation methods. Although it is a different type of concentration than the Samatha methods, Bhante makes many references to the fact that momentary, access, and absorption concentration all produce the same restrictive results. Thus every mention of "concentration" inherently refers to both Vipassana and Samatha practices. He actually states that these types of concentration are never even mentioned in the Suttas. The Vipassana method of dealing with pain is also mentioned in the quotes I provided.
Firstly, the level of concentration required for vipassana meditation does not cause the "restrictive results." Also, if we are going to limit ourselves to what is explicitly, and literally, spelled out in the suttas, then his "6-Rs" will not be found.

"Other meditation's instructions have the meditators put their attention into the middle of the pain and try to see its true nature and watch its changes. But pain by nature, is repulsive and thus, the meditators have the tendency to tighten and harden mind so that they can continue watching the pain. The meditators will eventually develop enough concentration (fixed attention) to be able to overcome the pain. However, this is achieved by repressing and tightening mind."
While any meditative practice/technique can be used for "repressing" one's experience (including the 6-Rs), what is being described here is a very shallow, inexperienced understanding/experience of vipassana practice. It does not reflect the teachings I have gotten from experienced Mahasi Saydaw style teachers over the last 40+ years, nor does it reflect, in the least, my experience.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 08, 2014 3:36 am

Greetings,

2pennyworth wrote:Relax physical manifestation of craving - ie tightness and tension in head and body
Re-smile (promotes a joyful, uplifted mind)

tiltbillings wrote:The question is: How is this done in actual practice?

The first can be done via the breath... "In-&-out breaths are bodily; these are things tied up with the body. That's why in-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications." (MN 44) and "He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.'" (MN 118)

Smiling is just smiling. See also this brief TED Talk on The Hidden Power Of Smiling - https://www.ted.com/talks/ron_gutman_th ... of_smiling

:)

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 08, 2014 3:41 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

2pennyworth wrote:Relax physical manifestation of craving - ie tightness and tension in head and body
Re-smile (promotes a joyful, uplifted mind)

tiltbillings wrote:The question is: How is this done in actual practice?

The first can be done via the breath... "In-&-out breaths are bodily; these are things tied up with the body. That's why in-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications." (MN 44) and "He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.'" (MN 118)

Smiling is just smiling.

:)

Metta,
Retro. :)
A rather conceptually busy practice.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby barcsimalsi » Thu May 08, 2014 3:45 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Smiling is just smiling.

Perhaps it is gladdening/satisfying the mind like in the 3rd tetrad;
[10] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in satisfying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out satisfying the mind.'
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby VinceField » Thu May 08, 2014 3:45 am

Firstly, the level of concentration required for vipassana meditation does not cause the "restrictive results."


I guess I'll take your word for it..

what is being described here is a very shallow, inexperienced understanding/experience of vipassana practice. It does not reflect the teachings I have gotten from experienced Mahasi Saydaw style teachers over the last 40+ years, nor does it reflect, in the least, my experience.


Care to elaborate? :thanks:

Just want to be sure you are being :quote: straightforward. :thumbsup: Reviewing your activity and behavior on past Bhante threads, it seems you have a peculiar attachment to this issue.. :cry:
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 08, 2014 3:46 am

Greetings,

tiltbillings wrote:A rather conceptually busy practice.

To be clear, are you calling the Buddha's instructions in the Anapanasati Sutta "conceptually busy"?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 08, 2014 3:47 am

Greetings barcsimalsi,

barcsimalsi wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:
Smiling is just smiling.

Perhaps it is gladdening/satisfying the mind like in the 3rd tetrad;
[10] He trains himself, 'I will breathe in satisfying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out satisfying the mind.'

Potentially... it certainly wouldn't hurt!

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 08, 2014 4:11 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

tiltbillings wrote:A rather conceptually busy practice.

To be clear, are you calling the Buddha's instructions in the Anapanasati Sutta "conceptually busy"?

Metta,
Retro. :)
What is interesting is watching the occasional expressions of struggle we see here with a conceptual practice such as noting, which is a lot simpler than using the phrases of MN 118. If one takes MN 118 as having to be practiced by actually using the set phrases of the sutta, it is a more complicated practice, which certainly would involve a significant conceptual learning curve. And initially, and traditionally, such a practice of using MN 118 would, of course, require learning the sutta by heart. As one uses such a practice, becomes proficient with it, the conceptual framework begins to drop away, as happens with the noting practice.

What is really interesting about MN 118 is the question of how one really puts it into practice. I have read/heard any number of differing ideas as to how that is done. So, yes, initially MN 118 is initially conceptually busy, but in my opinion, which no one in the whole world has to share, Dhamma bhavana boils down, as it matures, to:

    "Herein, Bahiya, you should train yourself thus: 'In the seen will be merely what is seen; in the heard will be merely what is heard; in the sensed will be merely what is sensed; in the cognized will be merely what is cognized.' In this way you should train yourself, Bahiya.

    "When, Bahiya, for you there will be only the seen in the seen, only the heard in the heard, only the sensed in the sensed, only the cognized in the cognized, then, Bahiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms of that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of suffering."
    Udana 10
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 08, 2014 4:14 am

VinceField wrote:
Firstly, the level of concentration required for vipassana meditation does not cause the "restrictive results."


I guess I'll take your word for it..
Okay.

what is being described here is a very shallow, inexperienced understanding/experience of vipassana practice. It does not reflect the teachings I have gotten from experienced Mahasi Saydaw style teachers over the last 40+ years, nor does it reflect, in the least, my experience.


Care to elaborate? :thanks:

Just want to be sure you are being :quote: straightforward. :thumbsup: Reviewing your activity and behavior on past Bhante threads, it seems you have a peculiar attachment to this issue..
Simply, I find it unfortunate that methodologies and monks and traditions are being grossly misrepresented by Vamalaramsi.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 08, 2014 4:33 am

VinceField wrote:
Just want to be sure you are being :quote: straightforward. :thumbsup: Reviewing your activity and behavior on past Bhante threads, it seems you have a peculiar attachment to this issue.. :cry:
I do not know what threads you have looked at, but rather than repeating myself, this thread viewtopic.php?f=14&t=10912#p165199 is a more detailed discussion of Vimalaramsi, which involves some of his followers.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby Mkoll » Thu May 08, 2014 5:29 am

VinceField wrote:"The Lord Buddha had never taught suppression of any experience nor did he teach a meditation that causes mind to fix or to absorb into the meditation object. Remember, he rejected every form of 'concentration meditation' as not being the correct way. Rather, suffering must be accepted with equanimity, full awareness or strong attention and not identifying with it or taking that pain personally."


I don't agree with the emphasized part of that quote. I think the Buddha did teach suppression in many ways. For example, one way is found in MN 20:

"If evil, unskillful thoughts — imbued with desire, aversion or delusion — still arise in the monk while he is attending to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts, then — with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth — he should beat down, constrain, and crush his mind with his awareness. As — with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth — he is beating down, constraining, and crushing his mind with his awareness, those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it. Just as a strong man, seizing a weaker man by the head or the throat or the shoulders, would beat him down, constrain, and crush him; in the same way, if evil, unskillful thoughts — imbued with desire, aversion or delusion — still arise in the monk while he is attending to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts, then — with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth — he should beat down, constrain, and crush his mind with his awareness. As — with his teeth clenched and his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth — he is beating down, constraining, and crushing his mind with his awareness, those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it.
-MN 20


Maybe Ven. Vimalaramsi is using the word "suppressing" to mean something different than what the dictionary says. But if "beat down, constrain, and crush" and that vivid simile don't qualify as suppression, I don't know what could.
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu May 08, 2014 8:39 am

tiltbillings wrote:What is really interesting about MN 118 is the question of how one really puts it into practice. I have read/heard any number of differing ideas as to how that is done.


Yes, there are many conflicting interpretations of how the 4 tetrads should be applied. I found it all rather confusing and ended up reverting to a much simpler approach.
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu May 08, 2014 8:41 am

retrofuturist wrote:To be clear, are you calling the Buddha's instructions in the Anapanasati Sutta "conceptually busy"?


Well, there is certainly a lot to get through. ;)
Well, oi dunno...
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby robertk » Thu May 08, 2014 8:57 am

mikenz66 wrote:
2pennyworth wrote:For what it's worth, I think the pertinent issue here is beginning to see how the way one habitually greets the hindrances has an effect. ....

Which is something emphasised by many teachers.

I've nothing against Ven V's instructions, they seem consistent with the suttas, and many other teachers. What I always find problematical (not just in this case) is claims that others have overlooked various stuff. In most cases I'm familiar with, these sorts of claims appear to be a matter of not having a detailed knowledge of what the "others" actually teach. And, by this I mean not just their introductory instructions --- one has to look at their whole "package".

:anjali:
Mike

Dear Mike
in the case of ven vimalaransi he sent over 10 years doing teh Mahasi system in Myanmar as an ordained monk so I think he does have a detailed knowledge of the 'others' that he criticizes.
Not that I agree with Vimalaramsi but let us be fair to him.
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby tiltbillings » Thu May 08, 2014 9:45 am

robertk wrote:Dear Mike
in the case of ven vimalaransi he sent over 10 years doing teh Mahasi system in Myanmar as an ordained monk so I think he does have a detailed knowledge of the 'others' that he criticizes.
One would not know it by what he says and how he says it in relation to his characterization of Mahasi Saydaw style practice and the various teachers he has disrespected. In the same way he claims to have studied the Visuddhimagga for 20 years, but offers no real actual critique of its content; rather, he just does an extended character assassination of Buddhaghosa by distorting the Buddhaghosa story as a way of trying to discredit the VM.
but let us be fair to him.
He has opened himself up to criticism by the things he says and does not say, and these things have been appropriately responded to.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby mikenz66 » Thu May 08, 2014 10:27 am

robertk wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:
2pennyworth wrote:For what it's worth, I think the pertinent issue here is beginning to see how the way one habitually greets the hindrances has an effect. ....

Which is something emphasised by many teachers.

I've nothing against Ven V's instructions, they seem consistent with the suttas, and many other teachers. What I always find problematical (not just in this case) is claims that others have overlooked various stuff. In most cases I'm familiar with, these sorts of claims appear to be a matter of not having a detailed knowledge of what the "others" actually teach. And, by this I mean not just their introductory instructions --- one has to look at their whole "package".

:anjali:
Mike

Dear Mike
in the case of ven vimalaransi he sent over 10 years doing teh Mahasi system in Myanmar as an ordained monk so I think he does have a detailed knowledge of the 'others' that he criticizes.
Not that I agree with Vimalaramsi but let us be fair to him.

Based on my investigation, I think I'm being very fair. I have listened to over 100 of his talks, and I find myself in agreement with much of what he says, when he sticks to explaining his approach and interpretations.

When he talks about what he learned from his teachers, what he says bears little resemblance to what I have learned from real-life teachers, and what I have picked up from listening to recorded talks by people such as Patrick Kearney, Steve Armstrong, and Joseph Goldstein, who teach based on the Mahasi approach.

Since variations of the Mahasi approach are taught in thousands of places (it is not a standardised system like Goeka's organisation --- not that I have anything against Goenka either!), I am not disputing what he says about his teachers. I have no idea who they were. I am simply stating that it doesn't match my experience with my real-life teachers or the recordings I linked above.

In my experience many teachers discuss this "relax" idea of dealing with the hindrances. Of course, they don't necessarily express it in the same way, but since all such advice on "technique" is an elaboration and explanation of the suttas, one would not expect it (the advice) to be identical.

:anjali:
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Re: Key component missing? Does the wheel turn smoothly with

Postby robertk » Thu May 08, 2014 10:55 am

http://www.dhammasukha.org/ven-bhante-vimalaramsi.html
background
Bhante Vimalaramsi has studied with several monks who held the title of “Bhivamsa”. Among them were Venerable U Pandita, U Lakkhana, U Silananda, U Janaka, U Dhammananda, U Dhammapia.
He further studied with The Mingun Sayadaw, who had memorized the entire Tripitika,
Sayadaw U Thatilla, who had a pure audiographic memory was one of his teachers.


http://www.dhammasukha.org/bhante-vimalaramsi.html
I began meditation in October, 1974, in San Diego with the practice of the Burmese style of meditation called Vipassana. After a few months of practice, I did a self-retreat for about two weeks and then decided to find a teacher to guide me.

So I went to San Jose, California, to begin meditating with a former Sri Lankan monk and wound up staying at that center for about a year and a half. While there, I met and practiced with an Indian teacher, Munindra, who practiced in Burma for nine years. Munindra is a famous meditation teacher, best known as Joseph Goldstein's mentor.Under Munindra's guidance, I meditated intensely for nearly 16 hours a day, alternating between walking and sitting each hour.



http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ven_Vi ... _Sutta.htm

Bhante Vimalaramsi became a Buddhist monk in 1986 because of his keen interest in meditation. He went to Burma in 1988 to practice intensive mediation at the famous meditation center, Mahasi Yeiktha in Rangoon. There he practiced meditation for 20 to 22 hours a day for almost a year, then because of some social unrest, all foreigners were asked to leave the country, so Bhante went to Malaysia and practiced intensive Loving-kindness meditation for 6 months.

In 1990, Bhante went back to Burma for more intensive “Vipassana” meditation, for 16 hours a day, at Chanmyay Yeiktha in Rangoon. He practiced for 2 years, sometimes sitting in meditation for as long as 7 to 8 hours a sitting. After two years of intensive meditation and experiencing what they said was the final result, he became very disillusioned with the Vipassana method and left Burma to continue his search. He went back to Malaysia and began teaching loving-kindness meditation.

In 1996, Bhante was invited to live and teach at the largest Theravadan monastery in Malaysia. This Srilankan monastery offered public talks every Friday evening and Sunday morning where 300 to 500 people would attend. Bhante gave talks every other Friday and on every Sunday. While staying there he had the opportunity to meet many learned monks, and Bhante questioned them at length about the Buddha’s teachings

Dear Mike
looking at his background I find it hard to see how he can be seen as someone who as you said " appear to be a matter of not having a detailed knowledge of what the "others" actually teach".
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