Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby zunor » Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:56 pm

Hello all, My name is Yuval and im new to your community
I am new to Buddhisem and Vipassana. About a month ago I was lucky enough to take a vipassana course (10-day in the tradition of Goenkaji and U Bha Kin). During this course I had a very intense expreince and got to new realisations of my life, I really feel that this course opened my eyes. I keep practising the technique everyday and i feel that it is still helpful.
After some internet research i found some information about other techniques of Vipassana-Bhavana in Theravada, like Mahasi Sayadaw technique. Many people wrote that the Mahasi technique has more benefits and easier to progress on the path. So i decided to take a look and read some books by Mahasi about the practical aspect as he see's it. I even tried Walking meditation and Mindfulness to breathing through the abdomen instead of the nostreals. I realize that to really try this method i have to take a course but in my country (Israel) the closet center to Mahasi tradtion is a center running by this teachers: http://metta.org.il/en/pages.aspx?CID=54

My questions are:
1. If i find Goenka's method helpful in my life should i go to try a course in the Mahasi tradition?
2. Is it recommended to mix the two methods? (like doing a morning session with Body Scan and later do a walking meditation with noting?)
3. In the Mahasi method when i dont understand if noting is really thinking about the word or just be aware of the object? (Example: walking each step is 'lifting' 'moving' 'dropping' should i mentally say lifting moving etc.)
4. The center that i linked you to (http://metta.org.il/en/pages.aspx?CID=52) teache's Mahasi tradition that went through Northern Thailand, Is it original Mahasi method?
5. What technique of Vipassana-Bhavana did Ledi Sayadaw teach? (body scan or noting or something else)

Thanks you all for your time.
Be Happy :)
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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:06 pm

1. I think it's important to try several methods so that you don't get stuck in a rut thinking it's the method that's important. What is important is developing the minds capacity to be present, aware, and equanimous and the method(s) are there to support that. When you get more skilled you'll naturally be able to do that and have less reliance on following a particular method.
2. No, don't chop and change, stick with one method for months or weeks and if you decide to change be clear about the reasons why and how long you want to practise it. Certainly don't mix and match when on retreat at a centre that specialises in one method.
3. Noting doesn't require a word, adding a word is labelling, do this as long as you need it as a support and then drop it when you find it clunky or unnecessary.
4. It's mostly the same but there are differences, western teachers of the method do it differently also, it's really the burmese teachers that are very strict on the methodology.
5. not sure.
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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:15 pm

Hi zunor,
zunor wrote:[/u]1. If i find Goenka's method helpful in my life should i go to try a course in the Mahasi tradition?

Possibly, but I think that it is probably better to stick to one thing at a time. I mostly practice Mahasi style, but I did find it useful to do a Goenka retreat a few years ago.
zunor wrote:2. Is it recommended to mix the two methods? (like doing a morning session with Body Scan and later do a walking meditation with noting?)

It is certainly possible, but I would tend to advice spending at least a year doing one method before trying to mix them up. Otherwise it's easy to have doubts due to the different ways that different teachers instruct beginning students.
zunor wrote:3. In the Mahasi method when i dont understand if noting is really thinking about the word or just be aware of the object? (Example: walking each step is 'lifting' 'moving' 'dropping' should i mentally say lifting moving etc.)

It should be just bringing attention to the object. The exact opposite of "thinking about the object".

There are some resources here:
http://www.aimwell.org/
e.g.
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pandita/
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... structions
U Pandita wrote:In making the verbal label, there is no need for complex language. One simple word is best. For the eye, ear, and tongue doors we simply say, “Seeing, seeing... Hearing, hearing... Tasting, tasting.” For sensations in the body we may choose a slightly more descriptive term like warmth, pressure, hardness, or motion. Mental objects appear to present a bewildering diversity, but actually they fall into just a few clear categories such as thinking, imagining, remembering, planning, and visualizing. But remember that in using the labeling technique, your goal is not to gain verbal skills. Labeling technique helps us to perceive clearly the actual qualities of our experience, without getting immersed in the content. It develops mental power and focus. In meditation we seek a deep, clear, precise awareness of the mind and body. This direct awareness shows us the truth about our lives, the actual nature of mental and physical processes.


zunor wrote:4. The center that i linked you to (http://metta.org.il/en/pages.aspx?CID=52) teache's Mahasi tradition that went through Northern Thailand, Is it original Mahasi method?

A large variety of teachers teach based on Mahasi's approach. Unlike Goenka's organisation (which is somewhat unusual in the Buddhist meditation area), there is no rigid "standard".
zunor wrote:5. What technique of Vipassana-Bhavana did Ledi Sayadaw teach? (body scan or noting or something else)

I'm no expert on this, but perhaps someone else can comment.

:anjali:
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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:03 am

zunor wrote:[/u]1. If i find Goenka's method helpful in my life should i go to try a course in the Mahasi tradition?

You should try a course for sure, but it's a good idea to commit to one tradition or the other after a while. It's hard to reach a buried treasure if you keep starting a new hole every day!

2. Is it recommended to mix the two methods? (like doing a morning session with Body Scan and later do a walking meditation with noting?)

There's nothing wrong with doing so, but again, I really think it's a good idea to choose one or the other after experimenting for a while. Also examine other traditions, like the Thai forest tradition or Pa Auk Sayadaw's method.

3. In the Mahasi method when i dont understand if noting is really thinking about the word or just be aware of the object? (Example: walking each step is 'lifting' 'moving' 'dropping' should i mentally say lifting moving etc.)

Say it in your mind, but still put 99% of your attention on the actual action itself - the noting is a very small part of it.

4. The center that i linked you to (http://metta.org.il/en/pages.aspx?CID=52) teache's Mahasi tradition that went through Northern Thailand, Is it original Mahasi method?

Probably, there isn't a really rigid "Mahasi method."

5. What technique of Vipassana-Bhavana did Ledi Sayadaw teach? (body scan or noting or something else)

Ledi Sayadaw was in Mahasi's camp as a present awareness, mindfulness all the time advocate.

Good luck with your practice.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby zunor » Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:08 am

Thank you all so much, your comments are really helpful. After the Goenkaji course all the practise and theory seemed so simple but when i got to know the complications and different methods it became much more complicated haha (Sattiphatana Sutta has so many interpatetions). I have learned so much from Goenka and i appreciate him, his method and his discourses very much. All of his talks are very simple to understand yet has depth's, but this simplicity just dont give you any reason to think of something else. But know im starting to think "hey maybe there are better methods" which makes it more difficult to choose the Goenka method without knowing the other one's. On the other hand im afraid that getting deeper into other method's (like taking a course by Mahasi tradition) will give me more doubts and make it even harder to choose one method. Is there a real difference between the progress on both methods?
What should i do? If ill try Mahasi course will it help me decide which method fits me more or will it confuse me even further? and what are this other methods you mentioned "Thai forest tradition or Pa Auk Sayadaw's method."
While asking about mixing the methods i meant in my day-to-day life and ofcourse not on a strict course (like doing sitting sessions in Goenka's method and then in the rest of the day using Mahasi's one)..
I have tried a bit of Mahasi practise today and it is the only way i can keep my attetion in meditation while driving persay but its very fraustrating noting and labeling everything and also kind of the opposite of what ive learned (to be aware of sensations just as they are without labeling them).. How are those methods coming from the same close origin and yet are so different?
LonesomeYogurt, So Ledi Sayadaw method is to use noting and abdomen awareness?

If a teacher who has the expreince or someone who have been in my situation could just give me a strict decision on which method should i stick to or guide me on how to decide which one to choose it will be very helpfull because all this plurality of opinions is so confusing!


Thank you all for your guidance it is of great help to me!
:anjali:
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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:03 am

zunor wrote:Is there a real difference between the progress on both methods?

Whether it is Mahasi, Goenka, Pa Auk, or Chah, in the end it's all about what works best for you. I am not a supporter of the Mahasi tradition, honestly, but I don't think it is bad - I just think other methods are better. But in the end, you have to stop asking what other people think works and ask yourself instead - if a practice makes you happier, more centered, more balanced, and a better person, then that's all that matters!

What should i do? If ill try Mahasi course will it help me decide which method fits me more or will it confuse me even further? and what are this other methods you mentioned "Thai forest tradition or Pa Auk Sayadaw's method."

Oh, they're just like Mahasi or Goenka; just different styles of meditation. The Thai Forest Tradition, which I practice is, is more focused on breath meditation and states of strong concentration called Jhana. Pa Auk Sayadaw is from the same country as Mahasi Sayadaw and they have similar methods but Pa Auk also teaches other things as well.

While asking about mixing the methods i meant in my day-to-day life and ofcourse not on a strict course (like doing sitting sessions in Goenka's method and then in the rest of the day using Mahasi's one)..
I have tried a bit of Mahasi practise today and it is the only way i can keep my attetion in meditation while driving persay but its very fraustrating noting and labeling everything and also kind of the opposite of what ive learned (to be aware of sensations just as they are without labeling them).. How are those methods coming from the same close origin and yet are so different?

If noting doesn't work for you, then don't worry about it! The methods are just different because people interpret the Satipatthana sutta differently and different things work for different people.


LonesomeYogurt, So Ledi Sayadaw method is to use noting and abdomen awareness?

Yes.

If a teacher who has the expreince or someone who have been in my situation could just give me a strict decision on which method should i stick to or guide me on how to decide which one to choose it will be very helpfull because all this plurality of opinions is so confusing!


in the end, that decision is up to you, but I would recommend focusing on samadhi, or concentration. A concentrated mind is the basis of all meditation practices. Even if you want to end up going towards Goenka or Mahasi or anyone else, they all agree that it's important to calm the mind. To do this, try anapanasati:

If you have the time, I would recommend reading Buddhadasa Bhikkhu's manual for breath meditation: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/anapanasati.pdf

Try and get a good basis in calm and then, with your centered and balanced mind, try and explore the different traditions and see what works for you.

Otherwise, read the Satipatthana sutta and the Anapanasati sutta yourself and see what you get out of them. Do you have a language you're more comfortable with than English?

Good luck! PM or email me if you have any other questions.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby Ben » Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:35 am

Greetings Zunor

Definitely try different approaches to vipassana if you want. But only try one approach at a time. That way you can assess for yourself which particular approach is most suitable to you.

With regards to Ledi Sayadaw, he is a teacher to both the Mahasi and U Ba Khin/Goenka traditions. His writings support both approaches to Vipassana.
According to the U Ba Khin/Goenka tradition, Ledi Sayadaw was Saya Thetgyi (U Po Thet)'s teacher. Ledi Sayadaw authorized Saya Thetgyi to teach and before the Sayadaw died advised his monks to learn meditation from Saya Thetgyi. Monks retreats are still held regularly at Saya Thetgyi's centre at Pyawbwegyi. What was passed down to Saya Thetgyi was passed down to U Ba Khin and through U Ba Khin to SN Goenka.
kind regards,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:26 am

Hi zunor,
zunor wrote: But know im starting to think "hey maybe there are better methods" which makes it more difficult to choose the Goenka method without knowing the other one's. On the other hand im afraid that getting deeper into other method's (like taking a course by Mahasi tradition) will give me more doubts and make it even harder to choose one method. Is there a real difference between the progress on both methods?

That's why it's probably best to stick to one thing if it is working. I've seen people who have spent a lot of time looking for the perfect method, and I think that can be a real waste of time. Any of the approaches mentioned above are worth sticking to for some time, in my view. Once you have a reasonably deep understanding of a particular method then trying others is less of a problem, since you'll be able to see how it's largely just some different emphasis or sequence.

The problem with trying out a lot of things before you are confident about one particular thing is just that sort of doubt, especially if you come across a teacher who doesn't understand the method you happened to have been doing and says things that seem negative about it. Once you know what you are doing you'll realise that you can just ignore such teachers, not because they are necessarily incompetent, but because no one person knows all the possibilities... :meditate:

:anjali:
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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby SamKR » Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:58 am

No one method is "better" than another. But for an individual one method may work and another may not. If any method is working it's better to stick with it at least for sometime (at least 1 year regular practice, in goenka method).
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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby zunor » Sat Sep 29, 2012 11:16 am

in the end, that decision is up to you, but I would recommend focusing on samadhi, or concentration. A concentrated mind is the basis of all meditation practices. Even if you want to end up going towards Goenka or Mahasi or anyone else, they all agree that it's important to calm the mind. To do this, try anapanasati:

If you have the time, I would recommend reading Buddhadasa Bhikkhu's manual for breath meditation: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/anapanasati.pdf

Try and get a good basis in calm and then, with your centered and balanced mind, try and explore the different traditions and see what works for you.

Otherwise, read the Satipatthana sutta and the Anapanasati sutta yourself and see what you get out of them. Do you have a language you're more comfortable with than English?

I can do a bit better with Hebrew.
I know how to practise samadhi in Goenka's method (isnt it enough?),, but shouldnt i spend most time at home practising the Vipassana-Bhavana like goenka suggests?
One last question about mahasi's tradition: In "A DISCOURSE ON VIPASSANA / MAHASI SAYADAW" he is saying something that to me feel's like an opposite from what Goenkaji taught me. Mahasi is suggesting that we should believe some things that the Buddha and Arahants are teaching (like the exictense of Deva's and Brahmea's) because they have more exprience etc and that you shouldnt only base on your own exprience.
Opposed to that Goenka is saying that the buddha himself was always telling people "do not believe me because i say this things, try it for yourself and then decide". in Goenka's words, you should blindly believe but base only on your own exprience.
Are there many contradictions between the traditions (because it will be very difficult to try [in the long future] other traditions if they contradict with what ive learned)?

I think ive made up my mind to continue Goenka's method because i really feel the benefits from it in my daily life. I use to be a sad, angry and very very steressed - now i am not yet fully free from those but i have learned a way of dealing with those emotions instead of blindly reacting and multiplying my sufferings. I wont mix up the methods and I agree with what people here said: "It's hard to reach a buried treasure if you keep starting a new hole every day!".
On the other hand im sure that when i will strengthen my Sila, Samadhi and Panna and gain more meditation expreince i will do a Mahasi style course, from reading about it - it seems like very interesting tradition.

Thank you all for your comments! Chüs
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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby Ben » Sat Sep 29, 2012 11:50 am

Greetings Zunor

Perhaps the path of least confusion for you is to practice what Goenkaji has taught you for at least a year and then try Mahasi-style Vipassana for a similar length of period. There are differences between the two approaches but they are superficial, they both lead to the development of vipassana (special wisdom).
kind regards,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:50 pm

If it was easy to be free from confusion we would all be enlightened by now. There are as many opinions as there are Buddhists. You will have to form your own opinions about how best to develop your own practice and remove any doubts about the right method by careful reading and regular practice.
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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:54 pm

zunor wrote:I can do a bit better with Hebrew.

Wow, a native Hebrew speaker, that's really cool. Sadly I can't find a translation in Hebrew but I'll keep looking.

I know how to practise samadhi in Goenka's method (isnt it enough?),, but shouldnt i spend most time at home practising the Vipassana-Bhavana like goenka suggests?
One last question about mahasi's tradition: In "A DISCOURSE ON VIPASSANA / MAHASI SAYADAW" he is saying something that to me feel's like an opposite from what Goenkaji taught me. Mahasi is suggesting that we should believe some things that the Buddha and Arahants are teaching (like the exictense of Deva's and Brahmea's) because they have more exprience etc and that you shouldnt only base on your own exprience.
Opposed to that Goenka is saying that the buddha himself was always telling people "do not believe me because i say this things, try it for yourself and then decide". in Goenka's words, you should blindly believe but base only on your own exprience.
Are there many contradictions between the traditions (because it will be very difficult to try [in the long future] other traditions if they contradict with what ive learned)?

I think that these differences are superficial and not important in the end. Different people have different ideas about what you should and shouldn't believe, but that's up to you in the end.

I think ive made up my mind to continue Goenka's method because i really feel the benefits from it in my daily life. I use to be a sad, angry and very very steressed - now i am not yet fully free from those but i have learned a way of dealing with those emotions instead of blindly reacting and multiplying my sufferings. I wont mix up the methods and I agree with what people here said: "It's hard to reach a buried treasure if you keep starting a new hole every day!".
On the other hand im sure that when i will strengthen my Sila, Samadhi and Panna and gain more meditation expreince i will do a Mahasi style course, from reading about it - it seems like very interesting tradition.

If Goenka is working best for you then by all means you should keep doing it! Don't worry too much about tradition - the Buddha's teachings transcend petty differences between schools.

Good luck bud :)
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby daverupa » Sat Sep 29, 2012 4:03 pm

zunor wrote:I can do a bit better with Hebrew.


http://tovana.org.il/en/library/suttas

Maybe it's helpful; I can't tell.

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    "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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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby zunor » Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:06 am

So thank you all for these usefull comments it helped me to sort out my mind.
Im pretty sure that i will have some more "rookie's" questions in the near future haha but for the moment i will keep practising Goenka's meditation style.

Wish you only happiness :anjali:
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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby Ben » Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:55 am

zunor wrote:So thank you all for these usefull comments it helped me to sort out my mind.
Im pretty sure that i will have some more "rookie's" questions in the near future haha but for the moment i will keep practising Goenka's meditation style.

Wish you only happiness :anjali:


No problem, Zunor!
kind regards,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:51 am

I recently re-listened to this talk by Patrick Kearney:
http://www.dharmasalon.net/Audio/Bodhi% ... _2011.html
Bodhi Tree 2011 Talks given at the Bodhi Tree Meditation Centre, September 2011
Buddha_Wat_Po
01 (AM) Introducing Mahāsī method
We look at the origins of the modern insight movement in Myanmar, and at the characteristics of Mahāsī Sayādaw’s approach to satipaṭṭhāna vipassanā (insight based on establishing mindfulness). We see how Mahāsī Sayādaw divides the meditator’s experience into “primary object” and “secondary object;” and how the three fundamental movements of the practitioner are “noting,” “naming” and “noticing.”

At the start he gives a quick history of modern meditation methods in Burma. This may well gloss over some details, but I think it is worth listening to. What I particularly liked was his comparing meditation methods being somewhat similar to being confronted with all those brands of washing powder in the supermarket, each claiming to give the best wash...

My take on it is that any one of the reputable brands will do the job...

:anjali:
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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby hermitwin » Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:27 am

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Re: Some questions about the Vipassana-Bhavana traditions

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:35 am

Hi Hermitwin,
hermitwin wrote:hope this is helpful.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzSFB3PO6Js

Can you summarise what it is about?

:anjali:
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