Interdependence

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Interdependence

Postby Hoja » Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:41 pm

In Hua-Yen School there is the view that everything is a single nexus of simultaneously interdependent conditions. So, in a simple way to say, everything affects everything.

What is the Theravadin view about it? Is just another way to express the paticcasamuppāda doctrine?

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Re: Interdependence

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:42 am

Greetings Hernán,

Yes, I believe so.

Pali: Imasmiŋ sati, idaŋ hoti, imass' uppādā, idaŋ uppajjati; imasmiŋ asati, idaŋ na hoti; imassa nirodhā, idaŋ nirujjhati.

English translation: This being, that becomes; from the arising of this, that arises; this not becoming, that does not become: from the ceasing of this, that ceases

Appears in: M ii.32; S ii.28 etc.


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Interdependence

Postby cooran » Fri Jul 10, 2009 1:03 am

Hello Tantrayogi, all,

The Buddha taught Specific Conditionality.

Read Specific Conditionality in "The Great Discourse on Causation - The Mahanidana Sutta and its Commentaries" TRANSLATED FROM THE Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Scroll down to page 13 here:
http://books.google.com/books?id=kMDd3d ... ry_r&cad=0

metta
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Re: Interdependence

Postby Hoja » Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:12 pm

Cool! Definitely, I'm more and more akin with Theravada. I will start to learn the suttas.
Thanks to both of you!
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Re: Interdependence

Postby Macavity » Fri Jul 10, 2009 5:04 pm

Tantrayogi wrote:In Hua-Yen School there is the view that everything is a single nexus of simultaneously interdependent conditions. So, in a simple way to say, everything affects everything.

What is the Theravadin view about it? Is just another way to express the paticcasamuppāda doctrine?


I wouldn't say so. It is built upon it, but it's more than just "another way to express it." The Hua-Yen/Avatamsaka Sutra teaching is what you get if you take the Buddha's paticcasamuppada teaching and then indulge in an overdose of conceptual proliferation (or maybe mescaline).

Consider eye-consciousnesss, for instance. The Theravada suttas say: "Dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there is feeling; with feeling as condition there is craving."

But from a Hua-Yen point of view that's just a provisional teaching for followers of the Lesser Vehicle. The Hua-Yen version would be more like this: Eye-consciousness arises dependent on every dharma that has ever existed in the ten thousandfold world-system throughout the entire history of the universe; dependent on every dharma that presently exists in the entire ten thousandfold world-system; and (believe it or not) dependent even on the dharmas that don't yet exist but which will arise in the future.

:alien:
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Re: Interdependence

Postby Individual » Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:40 pm

Chris wrote:Hello Tantrayogi, all,

The Buddha taught Specific Conditionality.

Read Specific Conditionality in "The Great Discourse on Causation - The Mahanidana Sutta and its Commentaries" TRANSLATED FROM THE Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

Scroll down to page 13 here:
http://books.google.com/books?id=kMDd3d ... ry_r&cad=0

metta
Chris

Are the terms "particular characteristic" (visesalakkhana) and "general characteristic" (samannalakkhana) actually found in the suttas themselves, or only the commentaries?
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Re: Interdependence

Postby Individual » Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:58 pm

Macavity wrote:
Tantrayogi wrote:In Hua-Yen School there is the view that everything is a single nexus of simultaneously interdependent conditions. So, in a simple way to say, everything affects everything.

What is the Theravadin view about it? Is just another way to express the paticcasamuppāda doctrine?


I wouldn't say so. It is built upon it, but it's more than just "another way to express it." The Hua-Yen/Avatamsaka Sutra teaching is what you get if you take the Buddha's paticcasamuppada teaching and then indulge in an overdose of conceptual proliferation (or maybe mescaline).

And perhaps it's what you get in deep meditation or the way a Buddha might see the world with his divine eye?

Macavity wrote:Consider eye-consciousnesss, for instance. The Theravada suttas say: "Dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there is feeling; with feeling as condition there is craving."

But from a Hua-Yen point of view that's just a provisional teaching for followers of the Lesser Vehicle. The Hua-Yen version would be more like this: Eye-consciousness arises dependent on every dharma that has ever existed in the ten thousandfold world-system throughout the entire history of the universe; dependent on every dharma that presently exists in the entire ten thousandfold world-system; and (believe it or not) dependent even on the dharmas that don't yet exist but which will arise in the future.

This isn't difficult to see when looking at causality directly as it is, and not through the lens of Theravadin Abhidhamma.

See the Butterfly Effect. As for the future affecting the past... if universes can be created and destroyed, then causality exists outside of time. If causality exists outside of time, then a cause from the "future" influencing the "past" isn't necessarily so implausible.
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Re: Interdependence

Postby Macavity » Sat Jul 11, 2009 1:05 am

Individual wrote:This isn't difficult to see when looking at causality directly as it is, and not through the lens of Theravadin Abhidhamma.


The Buddha taught only dukkha and its cessation. What he taught about eye-consciousness, is all that a person needs to know about eye-consciousness for the sake of developing insight and ending dukkha that arises due to eye-consciousness. Likewise with all other dhammas.

Any proposed causal additions to this are unnecessary proliferations that are of no dhammic interest at all.
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Re: Interdependence

Postby Individual » Sat Jul 11, 2009 2:08 am

Macavity wrote:
Individual wrote:This isn't difficult to see when looking at causality directly as it is, and not through the lens of Theravadin Abhidhamma.


The Buddha taught only dukkha and its cessation. What he taught about eye-consciousness, is all that a person needs to know about eye-consciousness for the sake of developing insight and ending dukkha that arises due to eye-consciousness. Likewise with all other dhammas.

Any proposed causal additions to this are unnecessary proliferations that are of no dhammic interest at all.

But dukkha has a very broad foundation: craving and birth. In teaching dukkha, he taught ultimate reality and the mechanism by which the world changes.
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Re: Interdependence

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Jul 11, 2009 3:37 am

Individual wrote:And perhaps it's what you get in deep meditation or the way a Buddha might see the world with his divine eye?

And that is not necessarily fool-proof. Ajahn Thanissaro discusses this in his introduction to MN 1.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Thanissaro wrote:Although at present we rarely think in the same terms as the Samkhya philosophers, there has long been — and still is — a common tendency to create a "Buddhist" metaphysics in which the experience of emptiness, the Unconditioned, the Dharma-body, Buddha-nature, rigpa, etc., is said to function as the ground of being from which the "All" — the entirety of our sensory & mental experience — is said to spring and to which we return when we meditate. Some people think that these theories are the inventions of scholars without any direct meditative experience, but actually they have most often originated among meditators, who label (or in the words of the discourse, "perceive") a particular meditative experience as the ultimate goal, identify with it in a subtle way (as when we are told that "we are the knowing"), and then view that level of experience as the ground of being out of which all other experience comes.

Any teaching that follows these lines would be subject to the same criticism that the Buddha directed against the monks who first heard this discourse.

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Re: Interdependence

Postby Macavity » Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:22 am

Individual wrote:But dukkha has a very broad foundation: craving and birth.


Don't you mean ignorance and craving? Birth is normally treated as part of the fact of dukkha (the first noble truth), not the cause of dukkha.

In teaching dukkha, he taught ultimate reality and the mechanism by which the world changes.


And that 'world', along with its arising, its ceasing, and the path to its ceasing, are all included in this fathom-long body. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn02/sn02.026.than.html

So no call to go concerning ourselves with all dhammas everywhere, or butterfly effects, or jewel nets of Indra etc.
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Re: Interdependence

Postby christopher::: » Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:42 am

Macavity wrote:
So no call to go concerning ourselves with all dhammas everywhere, or butterfly effects, or jewel nets of Indra etc.


Nothing wrong with it, either, is there?

Teachers such as Ajahn Chah have pointed out that the deeper you go with observations of life, the more one becomes aware of the presence of dhamma everywhere. It simply comes with the territory of being more mindful of the compounded nature of everything in the world.

Beginning first with our illusory selves...

:smile:

"With the tranquil mind investigate the meditation subject which is the body, from the top of the head to the soles of the feet, then back to the head. Do this over and over again. Look at and see the hair of the head, hair of the body, the nails, teeth and skin. In this meditation we will see that this whole body is composed of four "elements': earth, water, fire and wind.

The hard and solid parts of our body make up the earth element; the liquid and flowing parts, the water element. Winds that pass up and down our body make up the wind element, and the heat in our body, the fire element.

Taken together, they compose what we call a "human being." However, when the body is broken down into its component parts, only these four elements remain. The Buddha taught that there is no "being" per se, no human, no Thai, no Westerner, no person, but that ultimately, there are only these four elements -- that's all! We assume that there is a person or a "being" but, in reality, there isn't anything of the sort.

Whether taken separately as earth, water, fire and wind, or taken together labelling what they form a "human being," they're all impermanent, subject to suffering and not-self. They are all unstable, uncertain and in a state of constant change -- not stable for a single moment!

Our body is unstable, altering and changing constantly. Hair changes, nails change, teeth change, skin changes -- everything changes, completely!

Our mind, too, is always changing. It isn't a self or substance. It isn't really "us," not really "them," although it may think so. Maybe it will think about killing itself. Maybe it will think of happiness or of suffering -- all sorts of things! It's unstable. If we don't have wisdom and we believe this mind of ours, it'll lie to us continually. And we alternately suffer and be happy.

This mind is an uncertain thing. This body is uncertain. Together they are impermanent. Together they are a source of suffering. Together they are devoid of self. These, the Buddha pointed out, are neither a being, nor a person, nor a self, nor a soul, nor us, nor they. They are merely elements: earth, water, fire and wind. Elements only!

When the mind sees this, it will rid itself of attachment which holds that "I" am beautiful, "I" am good, "I" am evil, "I" am suffering, "I" have, "I" this or "I" that. You will experience a state of unity, for you'll have seen that all of mankind is basically the same. There is no "I." There are only elements.

When you contemplate and see impermanence, suffering and not-self, there will no longer be clinging to a self, a being, I or he or she. The mind which sees this will give rise to Nibbida, world-weariness and dispassion. It will see all things as only impermanent, suffering and not-self.

The mind then stops. The mind is Dhamma. Greed, hatred and delusion will then diminish and recede little by little until finally there is only mind -- just the pure mind."


Ajahn Chah
excerpt from A Gift of Dhamma


Thich Nhat Hanh, a Mahayana teacher, says pretty much the same thing, just coming from another angle, the point of view of interdependence, which he calls inter-being. But aren't these just different sides of the same multifaceted understanding, of the dhamma seals?

What is non-self, Anatta (Pali)? It means impermanence. If things are impermanent, they don’t remain the same things forever. You of this moment are no longer you of a minute ago. There is no permanent entity within us, there is only a stream of being. There is always a lot of input and output. The input and the output happen in every second, and we should learn how to look at life as streams of being, and not as separate entities. This is a very profound teaching of the Buddha.

A flower cannot be by herself alone. A flower has to "inter-be" with everything else that is called non-flower. That is what we call inter-being. You cannot be, you can only inter-be. The word inter-be can reveal more of the reality than the word "to be". You cannot be by yourself alone, you have to inter-be with everything else. So the true nature of the flower is the nature of inter-being, the nature of no self. The flower is there, beautiful, fragrant, yes, but the flower is empty of a separate self. To be empty is not a negative note. Nagarjuna, of the second century, said that because of emptiness, everything becomes possible.

So a flower is described as empty. But I like to say it differently. A flower is empty only of a separate self, but a flower is full of everything else. The whole cosmos can be seen, can be identified, can be touched, in one flower. So to say that the flower is empty of a separate self also means that the flower is full of the cosmos. It’s the same thing. So you are of the same nature as a flower: you are empty of a separate self, but you are full of the cosmos.. So non-self is another guide that Buddha offers us in order for us to successfully practice looking deeply.

What does it mean to look deeply? Looking deeply means to look in such a way that the true nature of impermanence and non-self can reveal themselves to you. Looking into yourself, looking into the flower, you can touch the nature of impermanence and the nature of non-self, and if you can touch the nature of impermanence and non-self deeply, you can also touch the nature of nirvana, which is the Third Dharma Seal.


~Thich Nhat Hanh

Interdependence, Not-self, emptiness, impermanance...

This is simply the Nature of things.

:heart:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Interdependence

Postby jcsuperstar » Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:09 am

i like the poetic side of interdependence but the mahayana idea of it like the mahayana idea of emptiness while i dont have a problem with them, do seem to just take an idea and drive it into the ground. i'm not sure if this comes from a lot of debate with other indian philosophies that theravada didnt have to deal with because of geography or what.
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Re: Interdependence

Postby Macavity » Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:33 am

christopher::: wrote:
Macavity wrote:
So no call to go concerning ourselves with all dhammas everywhere, or butterfly effects, or jewel nets of Indra etc.


Nothing wrong with it, either, is there?


Hmmm, I think there may or may not be something wrong with it. It seems to me that the time we spend thinking about these things is at best time wasted ... time spent in a way that is not conducive to progress in the Dhamma. But of course this would be equally true of countless other pointless activities that most of us indulge in. So I don't want to single out speculating on jewel nets of Indra as being somehow worse than other kinds of proliferation and self-indulgence.

But if when thinking about jewel nets of Indra and so on, we imagine that we are NOT in fact wasting our time, and that such thinking is important and has some kind of vital connection with the Dhamma, then there is something wrong with it, for we are not only wasting our time but also nurturing the wrong view that an unprofitable course of activity is in fact profitable.

Sadly, for the most part this is exactly what the admirers of the Avatamsaka Sutra and Hua Yen philosophy are usually doing. They really do believe that these lush and phantasmagorical texts have some vital connection with the Buddha's Dhamma.

Concerning the two teachers you mention, I don't agree that they are saying the same thing. Your quote from Ajahn Chah seems fine to me. It is much like one of the teachings that the Buddha gave to his son Rahula, but it's not at all like Hua Yen philosophy. As for Thich Nhat Hanh, he is a fine example of a Buddhist teacher whose enthusiasm for Hua Yen has resulted in him completely losing the plot. His (and his disciples) obsession with Hua Yen ideas of interpenetration, interconnectedness and so on have led them to prioritize other things than what the Dhamma is centrally concerned with. For example, environmentalism, social activism, and the energetic popularization of Thich Nhat Hanh's crypto-Spinozoan pantheist ideology. But efforts aimed at the purification of mind and liberation from dukkha become only a secondary or tertiary concern. And so to this extent it seems to me that they have gone astray from the teachings of the man who said: "Both formerly, bhikkhus, and now, it is just dukkha that I teach, and the cessation of dukkha."

Far from making dukkha and its cessation his central concern, Thich Nhat Hanh goes out of his way to sever them from the Buddha's teaching, for example by claiming that dukkha is not one of the three common characteristics of conditioned dhammas.
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Re: Interdependence

Postby christopher::: » Sat Jul 11, 2009 5:42 pm

And you make this powerful assessment based on..... ?

Cause the more i read of TNH the more i suspect that many who knock his approach to the dhamma haven't read some of the indepth and detailed things he's written, such as "The Heart of the Buddha's Teachings"... a book that provides the most comprehensive "popular" overview of what the Buddha taught that I've seen so far from a modern Zen teacher.

Not that his approach or teachings are flawless, or superior to what great Theravadin masters teach. I wouldn't put him up on a pedestal, but in my opinion what he's been doing is still very much the teaching of the dhamma, and very helpful to people, just from a Modern Mahayana point of view...

see for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madhyamaka

A focus on interdependence is one of the approaches of Madhyamaka, as i understand it, which isnt for everyone, of course.

People come to Buddha's wisdom from different directions.

There is no one single way to teach or practice the dhamma, is there?

:group:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Interdependence

Postby Hoja » Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:18 pm

Macavity wrote:It seems to me that the time we spend thinking about these things is at best time wasted ... time spent in a way that is not conducive to progress in the Dhamma. But of course this would be equally true of countless other pointless activities that most of us indulge in. So I don't want to single out speculating on jewel nets of Indra as being somehow worse than other kinds of proliferation and self-indulgence.

But if when thinking about jewel nets of Indra and so on, we imagine that we are NOT in fact wasting our time, and that such thinking is important and has some kind of vital connection with the Dhamma, then there is something wrong with it, for we are not only wasting our time but also nurturing the wrong view that an unprofitable course of activity is in fact profitable.

Sadly, for the most part this is exactly what the admirers of the Avatamsaka Sutra and Hua Yen philosophy are usually doing. They really do believe that these lush and phantasmagorical texts have some vital connection with the Buddha's Dhamma.


I would not dismiss Hua Yen teachings as self-indulging or a waste of time.
You can't agree with those teachings and that's perfectly fine, but denying its connection with Buddha's Dhamma seems to me a bit unrespectfull.
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Re: Interdependence

Postby Individual » Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:17 pm

Macavity wrote:
Individual wrote:But dukkha has a very broad foundation: craving and birth.


Don't you mean ignorance and craving? Birth is normally treated as part of the fact of dukkha (the first noble truth), not the cause of dukkha.

Ignorance, craving, and birth are all connected. Each of them condition eachother. Birth is a fact of dukkha, which also conditions further dukkha. It is because of craving and ignorance that people are born, thus craving conditions suffering, but birth is the context in which suffering occurs, and suffering cannot occur without it.

Macavity wrote:
In teaching dukkha, he taught ultimate reality and the mechanism by which the world changes.


And that 'world', along with its arising, its ceasing, and the path to its ceasing, are all included in this fathom-long body. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn02/sn02.026.than.html

So no call to go concerning ourselves with all dhammas everywhere, or butterfly effects, or jewel nets of Indra etc.

From the sutta you cited:

It's not to be reached by traveling, the end of the cosmos — regardless. And it's not without reaching the end of the cosmos that there is release from suffering & stress.

So, truly, the wise one, an expert with regard to the cosmos, a knower of the end of the cosmos, having fulfilled the holy life, calmed, knowing the cosmos' end, doesn't long for this cosmos or for any other.

Not longing for the end of the cosmos, but knowing it.
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Re: Interdependence

Postby Macavity » Sun Jul 12, 2009 3:03 am

Individual wrote:Ignorance, craving, and birth are all connected. Each of them condition eachother. Birth is a fact of dukkha, which also conditions further dukkha. It is because of craving and ignorance that people are born, thus craving conditions suffering, but birth is the context in which suffering occurs, and suffering cannot occur without it.


When you previously wrote of birth being the 'foundation' of dukkha I took the word 'foundation' to mean the cause or condition of dukkha, and so having to do with the second truth rather than the first. You are right of course that in paticcasamuppada, with birth as condition there comes ageing, sickness and death. But when the 12-fold paticcasamuppada is mapped onto the four noble truths, the convention is to treat birth as part of the truth of dukkha, and ignorance and craving as the truth of origin.
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Re: Interdependence

Postby Macavity » Sun Jul 12, 2009 3:05 am

christopher::: wrote:And you make this powerful assessment based on..... ?


I don't know which part of my post you are calling a 'powerful assessment', but its content as a whole is based on my understanding of the Dhamma as it is found in Theravada texts, and then my understanding of Hua Yen philosophy as it is found in the scholarly works of Garma Chang, Francis Cook, Thomas Cleary and Paul Williams, and then in the more popular presentations of Thich Nhat Hanh, Robert Aitken and other western Zen teachers.

There is no one single way to teach or practice the dhamma, is there?


As Theravada Buddhism is an exclusivist teaching, and not at all a universalist or a relativist one, I don't see how its followers could accept your statement without some important qualifications. In the Dhammapada the Buddha says:

"Of all the paths the Eightfold Path is the best; of all the truths the Four Noble Truths are the best; of all things passionlessness is the best: of men the Seeing One (the Buddha) is the best.
"This is the only path; there is none other for the purification of insight. Tread this path, and you will bewilder Mara.
"Walking upon this path you will make an end of suffering. Having discovered how to pull out the thorn of lust, I make known the path."
(Dhp. 273-5)

Of course this still leaves open the possibility that there may be more than one way to develop the eightfold path. Does Theravada teaching allow for this or is there just a single way to develop the path? If we go by the suttas I think it depends on which factors of the path we are considering.

Right view: insight into the four noble truths is basically the same for everyone, with variations limited to whether the first truth is taught in terms of dukkha or with something else substituted ('nutriment', for instance, as in the Sammaditthi Sutta).

Right thought: the three right thoughts are the same for everyone.

Right, speech, right action and right livelihood: of variable content according to a person's status as a householder or a monastic.

Right effort: the four right endeavours are the same for everyone.

Right mindfulness and concentration: of variable content according to what sort of practice suits a person's character type, as conditioned by his or her past kamma.

So I would say that there are some permissible variations in how the eightfold path might be developed by different persons, but these variations are not unlimited, and none of them involve making noble right view into something other than discernment of the four noble truths. And there's the rub, for the Theravada/Hua Yen differences mostly do concern right view.
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Re: Interdependence

Postby Macavity » Sun Jul 12, 2009 3:08 am

Tantrayogi wrote:I would not dismiss Hua Yen teachings as self-indulging or a waste of time.
You can't agree with those teachings and that's perfectly fine, but denying its connection with Buddha's Dhamma seems to me a bit unrespectfull.


In your opening post you asked, "What is the Theravadin view about [Hua Yen]? Is it just another way to express the paticcasamuppāda doctrine?"

If confirmation of your present view is all that you were really looking for, then you should have added, "Please make sure that your answer is 'yes', or I will judge your post disrespectful."
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