Bhante Vimalaramsi

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby mirco » Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:51 pm

A short introduction to Venerable Vimalaramsi's technique. Maybe it is of any benefit for this discussion.

Simple Easy to Understand Mindfulness.
by Venerable Sister Khema

This Meditation is about "observing how mind's attention moves moment-to-moment in order to see precisely"HOW" the impersonal (anatta) process of Dependent Origination (Pattica Samuppada) occurs. Seeing and understanding "HOW" mind's attention moves from one object to another is what Buddhist Meditation was revealing. The consequences of that understanding is why Dependent Origination is so important. The meditation helps you develop an impersonal perspective with all arising phenomena and leads the meditator to see for yourself the true nature of all existence.

Successful meditation needs a highly developed skill of Mindfulness. The "6Rs" training taught at DSMC follows the text definition of RIGHT EFFORT and is a reclaimed ancient guidance system which develops this skill. The first R is to RECOGNIZE. But, before we do it, the meditator must remember or use their observation power [mindfulness] to start running the meditation cycle. Mindfulness is the fuel. It's just like putting gas into an engine. Without Mindfulness, everything stops! Being persistent with this practice it will reduce all kinds of suffering. To begin this cycle "smoothly" you must start the engine and have lots of gas in the tank!

Mindfulness remembers we should first RECOGNIZE. Mindfulness reminds the meditator to recognize and observe any movement of mind's attention from one thing to another. This observation notices any movement of attention away from an object of meditation, such as the breath, sending out of Metta or, doing a task in daily life. You can notice a slight tightness or tension sensation as mind's attention begins to very slightly move toward any arising phenomena. Pleasant or painful feeling can occur at any one of the six sense doors. Any sight, sound, odor, taste, touch, or thought can cause this pulling sensation to begin. With careful non-judgmental observation, the meditator will notice this slight tightening sensation. RECOGNIZING early movement is vital to meditation progress. You then continue on to the RELEASE step.
When a feeling or thought arises, the meditator RELEASES it and allows it to be there without giving anymore attention to it. The content of the distraction is not important at all, but the mechanics of HOW it arose are very mportant! Just let go of any tightness around it; let it be there without placing attention on it. Without attention, the tightness passes away. Mindfulness then reminds the meditator to RELAX.

After releasing the feeling or sensation, and allowing it to be there without trying to control it, there is still a subtle, barely noticeable tension within mind/body. This is why this extra RELAX [tranquilization] step is being pointed out by the Buddha in his meditation instructions in MN-118. PLEASE, DON'T SKIP THIS STEP! It would be like not putting oil in a car so the motor can run smoothly. Without performing this step of relaxation every time in the cycle, the meditator will not experience a close-up view of the ceasing (nirodha) of the tension caused by craving or feel the relief as the tightness is relaxed. It should be noted that craving [tanha] always manifests as a tightness or tension in both mind and body. You have a momentary opportunity to see and experience the true nature relief through this brief cessation (of tightness and suffering) while performing the RELEASE/RELAX steps. Notice the relief. Mindfulness moves you on now to remember to RE-SMILE. If you have listened to the Dhamma talks at http://www.dhammasukha.org you might remember hearing about how smiling is an important aspect for the meditation.

Learning to smile with with your heart and mind, and raising slightly the corners of the mouth helps mind to become alert and agile. Getting serious, tensing up, or frowning causes mind to become heavy and your mindfulness becomes dull and slow. Insights become more difficult to see, thus slowing down your understanding of the Dhamma. Imagine, for a moment, the Bodhisatta resting under the Rose Apple Tree as a young boy. He was not serious and tense when he attained a pleasant abiding [jhana] and he experienced deep insights with this light mind. Want to see clearly? It’s easy! Just lighten up. Turn on your curiosity. Have fun exploring, and smile! Smiling leads us to a happier more interesting practice. If the meditator forgets to Release/Relax, rather than punishing or criticizing yourself, be kind, re-smile and start again. Keeping up your humor, and sense of fun exploration. Keeping this going is important. After re-smiling, mindfulness leads you to RETURN.

Gently RETURN and redirect mind's attention back to the object of meditation, that is, the breath or the feeling of metta, and relaxing. Continue on with a gentle collected mind to use that object as your "home base". In daily life, when pulled off task, this is where you return your attention back into the task with a smile. Sometimes people say this practice cycle is easier than expected! In history easy things can become a mystery through small changes and omissions! Reclaiming this practice develops very effective focus on daily tasks with less tension and tightness. Mind naturally becomes more balanced and happy. The meditator becomes more efficient at whatever they do in life. Actually, they might have more fun doing all of the things that used to become drudgery. If another thought arises to intrude, then Mindfulness helps you to REPEAT this cycle.

REPEAT this cycle to attain the results the Buddha said could be reached in this lifetime! Repeating the cycle eventually old habits with healthier actions. We see for ourselves what suffering is; notice the cause; experience how to release it; and discover how to exercise the direct path to that cessation of suffering which we cause ourselves. Now practice to notice the Relief.
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby mirco » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:05 pm

chownah wrote:......if you start thinking in terms of a mental "tension" then you might start accepting the reality of this "tension".....but this "tension" is only a fabrication and there is a danger of developing this fabrication by thinking of mental activity in terms of it rather than abandoning it.


But this only goes for non-jhana states. From the second jhana on there is no more thinking.

Venerable Vimalaramsi talks a lot about 'vibration' when talking about deeper states ( from ākāsānañcāyatana on)

Be Well, :-)
Last edited by mirco on Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby manas » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:19 am

mirco wrote:
But this only goes for off-jhana states. From the second jhana on there is no more thinking.



Hi micro,

from 2nd jhana there is no more vitakka-vicara (applied and sustained thought) but I wonder what we are going to call the bolded part below, which describes what can be done with the mind once the fourth jhana is attained:

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to knowledge and vision. He discerns: 'This body of mine is endowed with form, composed of the four primary elements, born from mother and father, nourished with rice and porridge, subject to inconstancy, rubbing, pressing, dissolution, and dispersion. And this consciousness of mine is supported here and bound up here.'


The capacity for motion, intention and discernment would appear to still be present. I guess we will find out when we get there, but it might be helpful for us to know that discernment doesn't shut down during or after jhana, rather it is refined & empowered (that's how I read it - what do others think about this passage?).
Primum non nocere: "first, do no harm."
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby mirco » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:21 am

manasikara wrote:from 2nd jhana there is no more vitakka-vicara (applied and sustained thought) but I wonder what we are going to call the bolded part below, which describes what can be done with the mind once the fourth jhana is attained:
"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to knowledge and vision. He discerns: 'This body of mine is endowed with form, composed of the four primary elements, born from mother and father, nourished with rice and porridge, subject to inconstancy, rubbing, pressing, dissolution, and dispersion. And this consciousness of mine is supported here and bound up here.'

The capacity for motion, intention and discernment would appear to still be present. I guess we will find out when we get there, but it might be helpful for us to know that discernment doesn't shut down during or after jhana, rather it is refined & empowered (that's how I read it - what do others think about this passage?).


Two possibilities:

  1. The above mentioned can be 'seen' without any further thinking, since labelling occurs, "it's like this and that", but no, as you said, applied and sustained thought.
  2. as you say, reflection upon what happend during jhana can be done only afterwards. I know from a person who is firm in all jhanas, that this is the case for the arupa jhanas.

Warm Regards, :-)
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby Billymac29 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:39 pm

mirco wrote:
befriend wrote:he means its so important because no one teaches it nowadays. its important because THATS whats missing he doesnt mean its more important than the metta phrase its more important than the smiling. its the important part because its whats lacking in contemporary buddhism.

That's how I observed it. He emphasizes the relax step, because it has been fallen into oblivion.


However, as Venerable Dhammanando pointed out, V's relax step (relaxing the "mental fist in one's head") was never a "step" in anapanasati!!! It was a bad misinterpretation by Vimalaramsi on the sutta. How can something fall into oblivion when it never existed??

Vimalaramsi flat out interpreted the sutta phase incorrectly. His problem is that he based his whole teaching on it and publicly announced that only he is teaching the correct way of the Buddha. Now that the cats out of the bag, everyone under V is scrambling to try to find other justifications for their practice.

Let this be a lesson to newbies.. Be very weary of people who state that only they are teaching the actual Buddha's way of practice.. That only they are right and everyone else is wrong.. In my experience this is a sure sign to turn around and walk away.
"whatever one frequently thinks and ponders upon will be the inclination of one's mind"
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:59 pm

Hi Billly,
Billymac29 wrote:Let this be a lesson to newbies.. Be very weary of people who state that only they are teaching the actual Buddha's way of practice.. That only they are right and everyone else is wrong.. In my experience this is a sure sign to turn around and walk away.

I think that's a useful yardstick.

And I think it is clear that pointing out perceived errors in interpretation by others is of a quite different nature from claiming that one person (or some small group) has the one true interpretation.

:anjali:
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby mirco » Tue Dec 11, 2012 1:44 am

Billymac29 wrote:Let this be a lesson to newbies...
Be very weary of people who state that only they are teaching the actual Buddha's way of practice...
That only they are right and everyone else is wrong...
In my experience this is a sure sign to turn around and walk away.

Sure. Let's abandon the Buddha who did so.

Regards :)
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:47 am

mirco wrote:
Billymac29 wrote:Let this be a lesson to newbies...
Be very weary of people who state that only they are teaching the actual Buddha's way of practice...
That only they are right and everyone else is wrong...
In my experience this is a sure sign to turn around and walk away.

Sure. Let's abandon the Buddha who did so.

Regards :)
Vimalaramsi is no Buddha.
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: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby mirco » Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:55 am

tiltbillings wrote:
mirco wrote:
Billymac29 wrote:Let this be a lesson to newbies...
Be very weary of people who state that only they are teaching the actual Buddha's way of practice...
That only they are right and everyone else is wrong...
In my experience this is a sure sign to turn around and walk away.
Sure. Let's abandon the Buddha who did so.
Vimalaramsi is no Buddha.
He doesn't claim to be one.
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:24 am

mirco wrote:Well, he doesn't claim to be one.
Though he does make a few fantastical claims, but the point here is that your statement in order to dismiss Billymac's statement carries no weight.
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: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby SamKR » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:28 am

Billymac29 wrote:Let this be a lesson to newbies...
Be very weary of people who state that only they are teaching the actual Buddha's way of practice...
That only they are right and everyone else is wrong...
In my experience this is a sure sign to turn around and walk away.

I think many teachers/followers say or imply so, and it's quite natural. No need to turn away or criticise just because of that, I think.
Any individual can find strengths and weaknesses about almost all teachers. We can focus on strengths and ignore the weaknesses, and learn from that teacher anything that seems to be useful, and leave/ignore the useless and controversial things.
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:38 am

SamKR wrote:
Billymac29 wrote:Let this be a lesson to newbies...
Be very weary of people who state that only they are teaching the actual Buddha's way of practice...
That only they are right and everyone else is wrong...
In my experience this is a sure sign to turn around and walk away.

I think many teachers/followers say so, and it's quite natural.
I have not seen that in any of the teachers I have worked with. Look at this video and listen to his comments and watch his body language as he talks about other teachers. I have not seen or heard any of that in any of the teachers I have worked with. http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... si#p116920
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: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby SamKR » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:55 am

tiltbillings wrote:
SamKR wrote:
Billymac29 wrote:Let this be a lesson to newbies...
Be very weary of people who state that only they are teaching the actual Buddha's way of practice...
That only they are right and everyone else is wrong...
In my experience this is a sure sign to turn around and walk away.

I think many teachers/followers say so, and it's quite natural.
I have not seen that in any of the teachers I have worked with. Look at this video and listen to his comments and watch his body language as he talks about other teachers. I have not seen or heard any of that in any of the teachers I have worked with. viewtopic.php?f=33&t=7375&hilit=Vimalaramsi#p116920

Thanks for the video link, tilt. I will watch it.
I do not agree with his views about Abhidhamma/Visuddhimagga and his interpretations, and his criticisms about others. But my point is that if his teachings/interpretations/meditation-method are working for some people, then that's good for them.
Unless any teacher makes Dhamma-teaching a business for monetary profit, and unless he/she acts or teaches anything against Sila, I don't find any reason to criticize any Dhamma-teacher.
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby Sylvester » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:15 am

manas wrote:
mirco wrote:
But this only goes for off-jhana states. From the second jhana on there is no more thinking.



Hi micro,

from 2nd jhana there is no more vitakka-vicara (applied and sustained thought) but I wonder what we are going to call the bolded part below, which describes what can be done with the mind once the fourth jhana is attained:

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to knowledge and vision. He discerns: 'This body of mine is endowed with form, composed of the four primary elements, born from mother and father, nourished with rice and porridge, subject to inconstancy, rubbing, pressing, dissolution, and dispersion. And this consciousness of mine is supported here and bound up here.'


The capacity for motion, intention and discernment would appear to still be present. I guess we will find out when we get there, but it might be helpful for us to know that discernment doesn't shut down during or after jhana, rather it is refined & empowered (that's how I read it - what do others think about this passage?).


Hi manas

This is a problematic passage in English, but not problematic at all in Pali. A standard grammatical analysis will shed some light on this -

With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to knowledge and vision. He discerns: 'This body of mine is endowed with form, composed of the four primary elements, born from mother and father, nourished with rice and porridge, subject to inconstancy, rubbing, pressing, dissolution, and dispersion. And this consciousness of mine is supported here and bound up here.

so evaṃ samāhite citte parisuddhe pariyodāte anaṅgaṇe vigatūpakkilese mudubhūte kammaniye ṭhite āneñjappatte ñāṇadassanāya cittaṃ abhinīharati abhininnāmeti. So evaṃ pajānāti: ayaṃ kho me kāyo rūpī cātummahābhūtiko mātāpettikasambhavo odanakummāsūpacayo aniccucchādanaparimaddanabhedanaviddhaṃsanadhammo. Idaṃ ca pana me viññāṇaṃ ettha sitaṃ ettha paṭibaddhanti.


The portions in red are part of a clause within a sentence. The 2 clauses are described in 2 different constructions. The latter part is in the present tense (abhinīharati abhininnāmeti/directs and inclines), while the preceding clause is in the locative absolute (ie both noun and verb being in locative case).

This locatives of the verbs in this clause are constructed of past participles (ie of samāhita, parisuddha, pariyodāta, anaṅgaṇa, etc etc). When we encounter such a locative absolute construction (ie locatives of past participles preceding in a separate clause), the writer is clearly demarcating time to indicate that the past participles in locative form occured and were completed at an earlier time from the verbs in the subsequent clause.

So, the proper interpretation of this sentence would be to treat the verbs and adjectives for 4th Jhana in clause 1 to have been attained and completed before the review verbs come into action in clause 2.

Aside from the grammatical analysis, this interpretation is also consistent on doctrinal grounds set out in DN 9. According to DN 9, if one exercises enough intention such that one could ceteti (think or will?) or abhisaṅkharoti (will) in a jhana, one immediately falls from the attainment.

I think the trick is trying to figure out when one should begin analysis, and when one should merely observe and gather data. Gombrich, for one, would disagree with my analysis, as he believes that after disappearing in 2nd Jhana, vitakka-vicāra would re-appear in the 3rd Jhana to enable analytical thought. On the other hand, his student Sue Hamilton argues persuasively (not only from the authority of MN 117) that vitakka-vicāra are aspects of intention at the most basic level.

Ven Sujato has written essay on why the Buddha had to choose such an unsatisfactory (and perhaps misleading) word like vitakka or vicāra to describe an aspect of the jhanic experience -

http://sujato.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/ ... -in-jhana/

:anjali:
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:10 am

mirco wrote:
Billymac29 wrote:Let this be a lesson to newbies...
Be very weary of people who state that only they are teaching the actual Buddha's way of practice...
That only they are right and everyone else is wrong...
In my experience this is a sure sign to turn around and walk away.

Sure. Let's abandon the Buddha who did so.

Regards :)

The Buddha didn't dismiss everything out off hand another said, and corrected/showed what was correct also.

but
Vimalaramsi wrote:Even today if you go to teachers of one-pointed concentration and ask them: “How does craving arise?” Or you ask them: “What is craving?” They can’t tell you.

Where has Ven. Vimalaramsi answered these questions?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby mirco » Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:09 pm

tiltbillings wrote:I have not seen that in any of the teachers I have worked with. Look at this video and listen to his comments and watch his body language as he talks about other teachers. I have not seen or heard any of that in any of the teachers I have worked with.

Your personal choice of past teachers does not tell anything about the level of the teachers or that they where right or state of the art or anything. It was just your choice correlating to your level of personal development. Btw, how sensitive to critics are you?

Regards :-)
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby mirco » Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:11 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
Vimalaramsi wrote:Even today if you go to teachers of one-pointed concentration and ask them: “How does craving arise?” Or you ask them: “What is craving?” They can’t tell you.
Where has Ven. Vimalaramsi answered these questions?

Check his teachings and you'll know.

Regards :-)
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:39 pm

mirco wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:
Vimalaramsi wrote:Even today if you go to teachers of one-pointed concentration and ask them: “How does craving arise?” Or you ask them: “What is craving?” They can’t tell you.
Where has Ven. Vimalaramsi answered these questions?

Check his teachings and you'll know.

Regards :-)

i had and could not find it precisely.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:41 pm

mirco wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I have not seen that in any of the teachers I have worked with. Look at this video and listen to his comments and watch his body language as he talks about other teachers. I have not seen or heard any of that in any of the teachers I have worked with.

Your personal choice of past teachers does not tell anything about the level of the teachers or that they where right or state of the art or anything. It was just your choice correlating to your level of personal development. Btw, how sensitive to critics are you?
As for myself, I do not care on a personal level what other people think of me, but that has not a thing to do with the question at hand. I am making no claims about the teachers I have had, other than I have never seen, heard, or heard tell of them being critical of other teachers, especially in a dismissive, self-aggrandizing manner, all the while claiming to have discovered the true technique (not understood by other teachers) the Buddha meant us to use, as is evident in the video that opens this thread: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... =0#p116920

If Vimalaramsi speaks to you as a teacher and you are getting value out of your relationship with him, fine. But, by his own public statements, he has opened himself up to this sort of scrutiny by his self-made claim about himself and most especially about others whom he -- I feel -- very unfairly dismisses. How, or if, you respond to criticisms of Vimalaramsi is your choice. I can see that these criticisms are difficult for you, and for whatever discomfort I may causing you with this, I am sorry.
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: Bhante Vimalaramsi

Postby mirco » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:35 pm

Cittasanto wrote:
Vimalaramsi wrote:Even today if you go to teachers of one-pointed concentration and ask them: “How does craving arise?” Or you ask them: “What is craving?” They can’t tell you.
Where has Ven. Vimalaramsi answered these questions? I had and could not find it precisely.

Here are two from the articles section:

If one listens to the talks or reads the transcipts, one will stumble over his explanations of what craving is and how it works over and over again.

Warm Regards,
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