"Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

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Re: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby Cafael Dust » Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:09 pm

Buddha and Jesus were clearly talking about the same thing, along with Krishna and others. To answer the post below: there are hundreds or thousands of enlightened teachers writing about the subject, Jesus and Buddha are just two of them who wrote about it a long time ago. The further back something occurred, the more mystical it seems to people, because imagination can flourish in the hazy-edged land of ancient history. The ego doesn't like the idea that enlightenment is mundane, ordinary, all around us, it likes the idea that it's difficult, esoteric, and so on. That's the paradox - to experience enlightenment is nothing like mundane, but from the ego's perspective 'Why am I practicing to be the same shmuck I was before?', so embelishments and distractions and subtle or not so subtle self-aggrandisements pop up.

As I say, I read the Pali Canon because it's useful and well written. Period. Ok, ok, I make my fair share of the mistakes explained above, I like the idea of sitting zazen in Japanese Water Gardens and part of me probably thinks that's enlightenment, but I'm learning, like at Christmas when you learn it's not about the presents, but you still give them.

As to luminous minds:

Luminous mind (also, "brightly shining mind," "brightly shining citta") (Pali, pabhassara citta) is a term attributed to the Buddha in the Nikayas. The mind (citta) is said to be "luminous" whether or not it is tainted by mental defilements.[1]
The statement is given no direct doctrinal explanation in the Pali discourses, but later Buddhist schools explained it using various concepts developed by them.[2]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luminous_mind

I don't explain it by developing concepts - I recognise it as true. I have no real faith in the logic or systems developed by any Buddhist School whatsoever. I regard logical systems ultimately as a category mistake, though useful at times e.g. if you're doing calculus. I regard Buddha's teachings as teachings, meant to be realised and not extrapolated and made to jump through ludicrous hoop arrangements just to reassure the mind which is afraid that the world doesn't make sense on its terms. Apologies for including another poem, but they do explain things better than prose sometimes.

mockingbirds

A soldier is lost in a library. Between page and eye
birds are forming from coloured honey.

The soldier thinks there are so many answers, but mine must be
the prettiest.
The birds are fountains that swallow themselves.

They are all liars, but they sing well and pretend
they exist and are sane. The soldier juggles with them,

clings to them, entreats them,
wrings them till they spill

ink over continents, thinks
that if they are mad then the world is mad.

The birds shed themselves empty.
The answers are not colours and sweetness, the soldier

is pleading, is pleading, is pleading.

Luminous consciousness
Although an enlightened individual's consciousness is a karmic result, it is not limited by usual samsaric constraints.[4] The Buddha discusses in the context of nirvana a kind of consciousness described as:
Consciousness without feature, without end, luminous all around.[14][15]
This "consciousness without surface" differs from the kinds of consciousness associated to the six sense media, which have a "surface" that they fall upon and arise in response to.[14] In a liberated individual it is directly known, without intermediary, free from any dependence on conditions at all.[14][16] According to Peter Harvey, the early texts are ambivalent as to whether or not the term "consciousness" is accurate.[17] In one interpretation, the "luminous consciousness" is identical with nirvana.[18][19]


So there is support for my statement.

Maybe what I say doesn't accord with the view of a monolothic 'Theravada' as you refer to it, though I think I've shown that my view is one accepted interpretation, but I read the passage in the sutra and I know what's being referred to, because that's the experience I've had of my mind. Also in the other, negative, quotes about mind you provided, Buddha was talking about mental processes, thoughts, which can indeed be all the negative things detailed. In the luminous quote Buddha is talking about unconditioned mind, which is not just a mental process but everything experienced (is mind).
Last edited by Cafael Dust on Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:17 pm

Hi Cafael
what relevance does this
Buddha and Jesus were clearly talking about the same thing, along with Krishna and others.

have too this
would anyone say they worship The Lord Buddha as Christians worship Jesus because there are similarities?

?
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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: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:30 pm

Cafael Dust wrote:
So there is support for my statement.
Not that you have actually shown.

Luminous citta. You certainly have not addressed the full range of how citta as the Buddha used the idea within his teachings. You cannot cherry-pick this bit of a text and that bit of text and say this or that based upon your experience and never mind what any other texts have to say. In other words you are making it up as you go along.

. . . . but I read the passage in the sutra and I know what's being referred to, because that's the experience I've had of my mind.
My experience, which is over forty years as a Buddhist of meditation practice and study, working with Tibetan, Zen and Theravadin teachers, tells me something quite different.

In the luminous quote Buddha is talking about unconditioned mind, which is not just a mental process but everything experienced (is mind).
Not that you have shown. Your appeal to experience carries no weight outside yourself. I can appeal to considerable experience, both as a Buddhist and as a Christian mystic before I became a Buddhist.

For your appeal to be anything more than “I believe this because of my experience (and never mind evidence to the contrary),” you need to meaningfully tie the texts you are trying to press into service to the context in which they are found. You, however, have tried to brush any of that aside with this anti-intellectualism: ” I regard Buddha's teachings as teachings, meant to be realised and not extrapolated and made to jump through ludicrous hoop arrangements just to reassure the mind which is afraid that the world doesn't make sense on its terms.”

As for the Wiki article, there is really no meaningful look at the question of luminous citta from with the framework of it s actual home, the Pali suttas, in which it is found. It presents a latter - much later - Mahayana gloss that runs contrary to very fundamental aspects of the Buddha’s teachings found in the Pali suttas.
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: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:56 pm

Cafael Dust wrote:Buddha and Jesus were clearly talking about the same thing, along with Krishna and others. To answer the post below: there are hundreds or thousands of enlightened teachers writing about the subject, Jesus and Buddha are just two of them who wrote about it a long time ago. The further back something occurred, the more mystical it seems to people, because imagination can flourish in the hazy-edged land of ancient history. The ego doesn't like the idea that enlightenment is mundane, ordinary, all around us, it likes the idea that it's difficult, esoteric, and so on. That's the paradox - to experience enlightenment is nothing like mundane, but from the ego's perspective 'Why am I practicing to be the same shmuck I was before?', so embelishments and distractions and subtle or not so subtle self-aggrandisements pop up.

still doesn't actually answer the actual question! and it was a good job I re-read your post because I wouldnt of see it after your edit! it is customary to respond in a new post not edit the original to answer apparently later posts below it!

As I say, I read the Pali Canon because it's useful and well written. Period. Ok, ok, I make my fair share of the mistakes explained above, I like the idea of sitting zazen in Japanese Water Gardens and part of me probably thinks that's enlightenment, but I'm learning, like at Christmas when you learn it's not about the presents, but you still give them.

As to luminous minds:

Luminous mind (also, "brightly shining mind," "brightly shining citta") (Pali, pabhassara citta) is a term attributed to the Buddha in the Nikayas. The mind (citta) is said to be "luminous" whether or not it is tainted by mental defilements.[1]
The statement is given no direct doctrinal explanation in the Pali discourses, but later Buddhist schools explained it using various concepts developed by them.[2]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luminous_mind

I don't explain it by developing concepts - I recognise it as true. I have no real faith in the logic or systems developed by any Buddhist School whatsoever. I regard logical systems ultimately as a category mistake, though useful at times e.g. if you're doing calculus. I regard Buddha's teachings as teachings, meant to be realised and not extrapolated and made to jump through ludicrous hoop arrangements just to reassure the mind which is afraid that the world doesn't make sense on its terms. Apologies for including another poem, but they do explain things better than prose sometimes.

mockingbirds

A soldier is lost in a library. Between page and eye
birds are forming from coloured honey.

The soldier thinks there are so many answers, but mine must be
the prettiest.
The birds are fountains that swallow themselves.

They are all liars, but they sing well and pretend
they exist and are sane. The soldier juggles with them,

clings to them, entreats them,
wrings them till they spill

ink over continents, thinks
that if they are mad then the world is mad.

The birds shed themselves empty.
The answers are not colours and sweetness, the soldier

is pleading, is pleading, is pleading.

Luminous consciousness
Although an enlightened individual's consciousness is a karmic result, it is not limited by usual samsaric constraints.[4] The Buddha discusses in the context of nirvana a kind of consciousness described as:
Consciousness without feature, without end, luminous all around.[14][15]
This "consciousness without surface" differs from the kinds of consciousness associated to the six sense media, which have a "surface" that they fall upon and arise in response to.[14] In a liberated individual it is directly known, without intermediary, free from any dependence on conditions at all.[14][16] According to Peter Harvey, the early texts are ambivalent as to whether or not the term "consciousness" is accurate.[17] In one interpretation, the "luminous consciousness" is identical with nirvana.[18][19]


So there is support for my statement.

Maybe what I say doesn't accord with the view of a monolothic 'Theravada' as you refer to it, though I think I've shown that my view is one accepted interpretation, but I read the passage in the sutra and I know what's being referred to, because that's the experience I've had of my mind. Also in the other, negative, quotes about mind you provided, Buddha was talking about mental processes, thoughts, which can indeed be all the negative things detailed. In the luminous quote Buddha is talking about unconditioned mind, which is not just a mental process but everything experienced (is mind).

Where is this support?
if your practice is confirmed by the Suttas of the pali canon why aren't you referencing the pali canon?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
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: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby alan » Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:47 pm

It seems this thread has run down to it's logical conclusion, which is that there are two distinct ways of viewing the subject, and neither side can be convinced, because they begin from different premises. The premise of Tilt, who I think has said every thing that needs to be said on the matter from the Therevada perspective, is that the Buddha was real, He was enlightened, and we should follow those teachings. Bravo, Tilt! It's case closed, at least for me.
But there is another way of looking at this, I like to call it the Spiritual Smorgasbord Syndrome. Just pick whatever you like from any tradition and call it real. No bother if you have to stretch the Dhamma to fit it into the mold that has been cast--how do we know if those are really his words anyway? And besides, goes this reasoning, many others have become enlightened along the way, there are many paths up the mountain, its all just culturally relative, blah blah blah.
Anyone locked into the Many Ways Up the Mountain theory has the burden of proof on them. I'd also like to draw your attention to the fact that by constructing your thought-world this way, you are running the risk of re-affirming to yourself what you already are predisposed to like. Blind spots are guaranteed.
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Re: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:02 pm

alan wrote:But there is another way of looking at this, I like to call it the Spiritual Smorgasbord Syndrome. Just pick whatever you like from any tradition and call it real. No bother if you have to stretch the Dhamma to fit it into the mold that has been cast--how do we know if those are really his words anyway? And besides, goes this reasoning, many others have become enlightened along the way, there are many paths up the mountain, its all just culturally relative, blah blah blah.
Anyone locked into the Many Ways Up the Mountain theory has the burden of proof on them. I'd also like to draw your attention to the fact that by constructing your thought-world this way, you are running the risk of re-affirming to yourself what you already are predisposed to like. Blind spots are guaranteed.

I like your name for it! but you forgot to include 'whether or not the context is relevant'
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
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: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby alan » Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:22 pm

Not sure what you mean, Manapa!
(Thanks for your generous offer to teach me how to use the quote buttons. I'll PM you as soon as I figure out how to do it...)
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Re: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby Cafael Dust » Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:27 pm

The odd thing is that I consider myself a Buddhist fundamentalist. In terms of not-self and emptiness, I'm unshakeable. Except that they're empty too...

If these things are true, there must indeed be many ways up the mountain, because all ways are empty.
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Shine on

Postby Jechbi » Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:36 pm

alan wrote:Anyone locked into the Many Ways Up the Mountain theory has the burden of proof on them. I'd also like to draw your attention to the fact that by constructing your thought-world this way, you are running the risk of re-affirming to yourself what you already are predisposed to like. Blind spots are guaranteed.

Good point. It's worth noting that we can do the very same thing with our views about Theravada Buddhism (namely, re-affirming to oneself what we already are predisposed to like). At a certain stage, we're talking about saddha.
_________________________________________
tiltbillings wrote:This forum is not the usenet hell-holes, and even at it worse, it is a million miles from that. The reality is the people are going to get testy from time to time and that not everyone is going to like everyone and that someone may see impoliteness where it was not intended and so forth. Academic discussions or technical debates are not always going to be salutary for everyone. Though the primary focus of this forum is Theravada, this is a market place of ideas. Ceavat lector; it cannot be helped that we are going to say things or hear things that might unsettling to others or oneself.

The individual who participates in a forum such as this needs to learn to step back a bit at times, not take too seriously the two bozos who may be poking each other a bit as they exchange ideas about how they think things are. If that individual gets caught in the heat, he or she may miss something of considerable interest or entertainment.

Ideally, we all act as gentlemen and gentlewomen, but ….

The issue in this thread of the luminous citta (mind) is of interest. Is the luminous mind nibbana? Is it equivalent to buddha-nature and the Quaker’s inner light? It is worth a discussion, a debate, a technical excursus or two, and there might be something to learn from all that, but I see no reason in presenting my side not be as direct and informative as I can be.

Good post. I don't wish to derail this discussion. I agree with you on most of these points.

My post was not specifically directed at you, but rather at the broad practice of impassioned and prosecutorial debate as it sometimes can manifest on forums like this (with this thread as a possible example of that). If you look back at what I wrote, I was discussing the dangers of "too much" debate. As you say, polite debate can be very helpful. At the same time, I think it's worthwhile to consider how we debate, what tone we set, how we choose to proceed in the face of seemingly intractible viewpoints.

I especially like this part of your post:
tiltbillings wrote:It is worth a discussion, a debate, a technical excursus or two, and there might be something to learn from all that ...

... and I think one thing we can learn from such a discussion is what we can bring away with regard to practice. As you yourself correctly point out. At any moment in such a discussion, we can ask ourselves: When is it wise to step back? Are we taking it too seriously? Or, conversely, are we taking the other posters seriously enough? Are we really listening? These are great questions to ask ourselves in the midst of discussions like this.

And it does actually pertain to the issue of luminous mind. Assuming the validity of the understanding of luminous mind that Ven. Thanissaro puts forth, I think it's worth considering what happens with this luminosity in the midst of discussions like this.
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Re: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby alan » Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:49 pm

Caeful--I was always a fan of the concept of emptiness. From the standpoint of philosophy it is fascinating. But I can't find any relevance to it in daily life, and have come to the conclusion it just gets in the way of understanding the Dhamma, especially when it is used as an end-all.
For instance, "we are empty, it is empty, your statement is empty",etc. It goes nowhere. I'm afraid it also leads nowhere; and since we all want to get somewhere, I'm going to suggest it should not be used outside the framework in which it was intended.
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Re: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby alan » Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:57 pm

Jechbi--many more ways for the mind to proliferate outside Therevada! Spiritual Smorgasbord Syndrome is a problem primarily in those who are inclined to find their own way by choosing only what appeals to them.
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Re: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby Cafael Dust » Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:01 pm

Yes it does go nowhere. That's the whole point. Tilt accused me of anti-intellectualism; no, I have the greatest respect for the intellect. In worldly things it's very useful.

It goes nowhere though, has done for thousands of years. That's where Buddhism comes in.
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Re: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby alan » Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:06 pm

Please excuse me for misspelling your name.
Responding to your post: what is it that goes nowhere? I don't get what you are trying to say.
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Re: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby alan » Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:34 pm

Ok Manapa I think I know what you said now. Sometimes it is hard to follow your words.
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Re: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby Cafael Dust » Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:51 pm

Ah, Manapa, I was responding to this post:

Caeful--I was always a fan of the concept of emptiness. From the standpoint of philosophy it is fascinating. But I can't find any relevance to it in daily life, and have come to the conclusion it just gets in the way of understanding the Dhamma, especially when it is used as an end-all.

For instance, "we are empty, it is empty, your statement is empty",etc. It goes nowhere. I'm afraid it also leads nowhere; and since we all want to get somewhere, I'm going to suggest it should not be used outside the framework in which it was intended.


(it's Cafael, by the way. Pronounced 'kaph ai el', like Raphael)

Emptiness isn't just a philosophical idea, it isn't merely intellectual. It's meant to cause a shift in our approach to the world; a distancing and diminishing of an identity based upon intellectualism, not a relaxing of intellectual rigor.

and have come to the conclusion it just gets in the way of understanding the Dhamma, especially when it is used as an end-all.


It is central to understanding and living within the Dhamma. It is central to everyday life - for instance, how often have we heard someone say something that could be interpreted as hurtful and wondered 'what does that person really mean by that? Are they insulting me subtly? etc'.

In light of emptiness, they don't mean ANYTHING. That person is just a being like you, the words come and go and their lifestream goes on, just as it works with you. there's no 'self' behind experience 'meaning' things.

Anatta - there's no self there to be insinuating anything; understanding this how could you possibly get angry with anyone, diminish the loving kindness that now flows unimpeded by views of self and others, or in any way leave nibbana?

Emptiness: there's nothing behind the forms (another way to put it would be to say there is a truth behind the forms but it is unknowable by the mind, which in practical terms is the same thing), they are as they are. Emptiness in practice is meant to bring the mind off its high horse of thinking it knows a thing or two about a thing or two.

That's just a brief example.
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Re: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:06 pm

What are you on about cafael? I didn't respond to you.
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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: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby Cafael Dust » Tue Dec 29, 2009 7:08 pm

Sorry Manapa, I meant Alan. :rolleye:

Alan, I'm amazed that you attack me (quite nastily, to be fair) about my lack of orthodoxy while at the same time discounting teachings on emptiness, the most fundamental concept in Buddhism. How do you reconcile those two approaches?
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Re: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:27 pm

Cafael Dust wrote:The odd thing is that I consider myself a Buddhist fundamentalist. In terms of not-self and emptiness, I'm unshakeable. Except that they're empty too...

If these things are true, there must indeed be many ways up the mountain, because all ways are empty.

One does not follow the other, but if you think they do, then it is up to you, since made the claim, to show it to be so.
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: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:53 pm

alan wrote:Not sure what you mean, Manapa!
(Thanks for your generous offer to teach me how to use the quote buttons. I'll PM you as soon as I figure out how to do it...)


missed this earlier?
there is a PM button on the left side of the the post, all you do is click on that under my name, then you don't have to do anything but type the message.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
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: "Luminous mind" was Question Regarding God and Agnosticism?

Postby Cafael Dust » Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:00 pm

Tilt:

There is no such thing as Buddhism, there are just sounds that are perceived as sounding like 'Buddhism' and 'Buddha', people sitting cross legged on the floor and so on, even these can be broken down and shown to be empty, even concepts like 'sound', so how can something that is intrinsically empty of self nature, of essence, make claims of being the only path to enlightenment? How can Buddhists say on one hand 'there is no path' and on the other 'this is the only path'. It's ridiculous.
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