first ever practice journal!

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9 years 5 months ago #78983 by EndInSight
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"Where does the tension spike occur in the body/mind complex?


"

Wherever the affect occurs. The process of creating an affect from sense-experience is temporally extended (not experienced as a "point"), so if you look very carefully you may be able to distinguish an "early tension-accretion" phase ("shadow-affect") and a "late tension-accretion" phase ("mature affect").

It may be hard to distinguish the "early affect" from the sense object. Also, you may not be able to see this until right before the point that you make such a transition yourself (unsure).

By the way, Chris, I eventually took your practice advice and did a lot of sitting on benches at a local park, doing nothing. Don't know if I learned about 'authenticity' (unless you consider this to be it), but it was pretty helpful. :)
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9 years 5 months ago #78984 by EndInSight
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Some other things that y'all might be interested in.

How did I attain this current mode of experience? Going 'round and 'round the progress of insight using vipassana. The same stuff that gets you the technical model paths that you already know. Adjusted in some ways, but otherwise literally the same stuff. It works. (This sutta is important in this regard: www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.122.than.html )

Why didn't we know earlier that more development lay beyond 4th path? I don't know, but given how my practice went, I'd say in my case it was because I didn't realize that "hard" 1st gear practices continued to have a place in my practice after 4th path. Perhaps the main difficulty was simply not having the right map.

I also suspect that when people talked about 4th path "deepening" over time, they were referring to the effects that continuing to go through the progress of insight "on the side" were having on their perception. (That the cycles do not end after 4th was a hint from God to us.) I imagine, given enough time, it would have continued to deepen for all of us post-4thers, until suddenly...no more affects! That would have been a strange surprise if not forewarned.

For what it's worth, if I was forced to produce a contemplative map showing how actualism and what we know here correspond, I would say that out-from-control VF (I called it "unconditional happiness" some weeks back) may be sutta sakadagami, and this current state ("early AF", it seems) may be sutta anagami. Richard's state ("late AF") is perhaps sutta arahant (but that is just a guess). In-control VF may be unique to actualism, or (purely speculatively) could be stream entry...as I have not practiced actualism, I wouldn't really know about in-control VF.
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9 years 5 months ago #78985 by EndInSight
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Please keep in mind that this map is just my opinion; please don't take it seriously if you disagree with it. The main point I want to make in this regard is that this transition is completely continuous with Buddhism in my opinion, and in fact seems to me to be what Buddhism has been getting at all along, which I simply managed to misunderstand for a good part of my yogi career. Right now, my appreciation for the wisdom of the Pali suttas is at an all-time high.

I also want to say that there are lots of things that are "real" developmental milestones that may not have any correspondence to anything in the suttas. (The suttas are not the arbiters of what's real; they are merely the arbiters of what's in the suttas.)

If you are interested in making this transition, then, as always, you can do the tried-and-true, or you can experiment on your own, or do some combination, and you'll have to use your best judgment as to what is likely to work best / fastest / easiest. You have some insight into the details of your mind that no one else will, whether or not they're more "advanced" on the path than you are. Make a decision that you'll be comfortable with and go from there. There are lots of methods publicly available.

One similarity that I suspect will be found among those who have made this transition is that, if you want advice or support, any one of us will surely be willing to make every effort to help you, publicly or privately, as you wish. Nick gave me a great deal of help and I am very thankful for it. (I suppose he would get a fancy "liberator" title if this was RT...)

We all likely have moderately different takes on what methods are good, and we obviously have different personalities and styles, but I suspect we are all in deep agreement about the fundamentals.
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  • OwenBecker
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9 years 5 months ago #78986 by OwenBecker
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"Why didn't we know earlier that more development lay beyond 4th path? I don't know, but given how my practice went, I'd say in my case it was because I didn't realize that "hard" 1st gear practices continued to have a place in my practice after 4th path. Perhaps the main difficulty was simply not having the right map.

I also suspect that when people talked about 4th path "deepening" over time, they were referring to the effects that continuing to go through the progress of insight "on the side" were having on their perception. (That the cycles do not end after 4th was a hint from God to us.) I imagine, given enough time, it would have continued to deepen for all of us post-4thers, until suddenly...no more affects! That would have been a strange surprise if not forewarned."

Over the last few days I keep coming back to Occam's Razor. The reason there is so much confusion around the technical 4 path model is that it ends at either 1st or 2nd 10 fetters model. I understand the appeal, the meditation attainments are rather liner in the unfolding, but I think it's probably more misleading than it's worth and should be dropped.

The advantage to the 10 fetters model is that it's got a 2500 year history of field testing and very clear phenomenal descriptions that have been observed in the practice of pragmatic yogis. The disadvantage is that the folks who did the field testing didn't talk about it much in the open, so we are forced to work out how this unfolds in public with all the "oops, I guess there is more here" that we keep doing. It forces us all to grow up in public (I'm guilty of this) and it's uncomfortable, but allowing extraordinary human potential to be dismissed as mythical or impossible for anybody but the old dead monks is much, much worse.
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9 years 5 months ago #78987 by cmarti
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Let me propose an exercise that anyone can report back on. Assume you are walking along the street one day, just minding your business in a "normal" and calm state. You are suddenly confronted by a friend who proceeds to very angrily accuse you of a very serious but mistaken moral transgression. Let's assume this person thinks you stole their wallet, even though the claim in untrue. What happens "inside"?

*** Can you walk us all through the chain of causation (dependent co-origination) and the process of perception that you used to experience versus that which you now experience, and under this same scenario? ***

This exercise, I think, would be very helpful to many people here. And, for everyone's benefit, here is the dependent co-origination chain, or at least one version of it:

On ignorance depend willful actions.
On willful actions depends relinking consciousness.
On relinking consciousness depend body and mind.
On body and mind depends the functioning of the six senses.
On the functioning of the six senses depends sense experience.
On sense experience depends feeling.
On feeling depends craving.
On craving depends clinging.
On clinging depends becoming.
On becoming depends rebirth.
On rebirth depend old age, death and the continuation of suffering.

Thanks!

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  • beoman
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9 years 5 months ago #78988 by beoman
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"...
On ignorance depend willful actions.
On willful actions depends relinking consciousness.
..."

I don't think "willful actions" is a good description. Sure, ignorance might cause willful actions... but a released 10-fetter Arahat has no ignorance whatsoever, yet he still initiates willful actions. I prefer "volitional formations". For an example of a volitional formation, try imagining how a friend of yours looks, or what a song sounds like, or imagine your body moving without actually moving, in your head.
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9 years 5 months ago #78989 by cmarti
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I'm going to move this exercise to a new thread so it doesn't mess up this one, and so I can invoke some rules ;-)

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  • EndInSight
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9 years 5 months ago #78990 by EndInSight
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"Over the last few days I keep coming back to Occam's Razor. The reason there is so much confusion around the technical 4 path model is that it ends at either 1st or 2nd 10 fetters model. I understand the appeal, the meditation attainments are rather liner in the unfolding, but I think it's probably more misleading than it's worth and should be dropped."

I understand the reasoning for this, but I think it may be hard for many people to go from technical 1st to out-from-control VF, or pre-path to technical 4th (whichever stream entry is), without any map whatsoever. As I said, some developmental milestones are "real" even if they're apart from the suttas.

Also, I should emphasize this...the progress of insight was very helpful to me as an ongoing guide to what was going on in my experience. It gets one the technical model paths, and it also got me out-from-control VF, and it also got me this current mode of experience. It appeared to apply the whole way through. As "attention-bounce" continues for me, it appears to apply right now.

Out of curiosity, my understanding is that both you and Nick experienced the "out-from-control" phase for only a short time before your transitions. I would be interested in confirming whether this is true or not, to get some informal confirmation (or not) that it corresponds to sutta sakadagami. I spent about 5 weeks there and I would say that it seemed to. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who lived it and tested it out for at least a week.
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9 years 5 months ago #78991 by EndInSight
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"The advantage to the 10 fetters model is that it's got a 2500 year history of field testing and very clear phenomenal descriptions that have been observed in the practice of pragmatic yogis. The disadvantage is that the folks who did the field testing didn't talk about it much in the open, so we are forced to work out how this unfolds in public with all the "oops, I guess there is more here" that we keep doing. It forces us all to grow up in public (I'm guilty of this) and it's uncomfortable, but allowing extraordinary human potential to be dismissed as mythical or impossible for anybody but the old dead monks is much, much worse.
"

Yes, we have all been guilty in various ways of working this out in public in "real time", making mistaken claims, and having to retract our views when new facts emerge.

It's possible that, even now, we're misunderstanding things in some way. It seems unlikely to me...but the possibility that I'm wrong does typically tend to seem unlikely to me. :)

One big difference between now and the past is that there is an emerging consensus in the pragmatic dharma scene that the 10 fetter model is true and ought to be interpreted quite literally (rather than true and ought to be interpreted non-literally, rather than false and mythological or culturally-specific).
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9 years 5 months ago #78992 by EndInSight
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Random thought. There seems to be some confusion about how jhanas interact with this mode of experience. But, I think it can all be resolved by explaining it in a certain way.

In one sense, I have no jhanic experiences. There is no 'I' to be absorbed.

In another sense, I am always to some extent in jhana, as the hindrances (and 'I') am always suppressed. I recognize that, in past jhanic experiences, the border between "soft" and "hard" jhana is a bit like this state in some way.

In another sense, the fundamental thing that I lack is "soft jhana". Soft jhana is mostly an affective mess, and, as I have no affects, there is no soft jhana. However, if jhana is defined as the presence of the jhana-factors and nothing else ("hard jhana"), then, there is no reason for that to be incompatible with my state.

In another sense, there is a kind of "shadow-soft jhana" that I may attain whenever I like. It is very vague and hard to notice, but it's there. It took me a while to recognize that I had it, and I only found it because (intellectually doubting the idea that there would be no jhana for an anagami, which makes no doctrinal sense) I made it a point to look very carefully. (Related to this, the soft arupa jhanas are much clearer than the soft rupa jhanas, as the latter are vague shadow-affect, whereas the former are actual arupa qualities plus vague shadow-affect.)

The big picture is that this confusion about jhana / no jhana exists because there is an analogous confusion about what jhana means in the first place. Resolve the latter, and the former is resolved too.
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9 years 5 months ago #78993 by cmarti
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"One big difference between now and the past is that there is an emerging consensus in the pragmatic dharma scene that the 10 fetter model is true and ought to be interpreted quite literally (rather than true and ought to be interpreted non-literally, rather than false and mythological or culturally-specific)."

I'm going to try to put this in perspective:

I think this is too aggressive. In the sea of dharma there is a small-ish practice community, a bucket full, called "Practical Dharma," and within that there is a very small-ish number of practitioners (a cup full) who adhere to this view and an even smaller number who claim the related attainments (a thimble full).

I'm not disavowing the claims here, but rather making sure that words like "emerging consensus" are used accurately. We all tend to think our little group is the majority and forms a "consensus." In this case that is an exaggeration ;-)

Perspective, you see.

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9 years 5 months ago #78994 by EndInSight
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I agree. There are different stages of "emerging". Perhaps I should have said "a slowly-growing consensus" (perhaps emphasizing the "growing" aspect rather than the "consensus" aspect) as that would have been more precise.
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9 years 5 months ago #78995 by cmarti
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BTW - I know you were talking about consensus in pragmatic dharma circles, but my reasoning still applies, I think.

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9 years 5 months ago #78996 by beoman
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"However, if jhana is defined as the presence of the jhana-factors and nothing else ("hard jhana"), then, there is no reason for that to be incompatible with my state."

How do you currently experience piti and sukha?

More generally, what part of the 1st-4th jhanas (the rupa jhanas) do you find to be non-affective, or more pertinent to your state, non-shadow-being? (Are those rupa jhanas anything _but_ shadow-being right now?)
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9 years 5 months ago #78997 by EndInSight
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"How do you currently experience piti and sukha?

More generally, what part of the 1st-4th jhanas (the rupa jhanas) do you find to be non-affective, or more pertinent to your state, non-shadow-being? (Are those rupa jhanas anything _but_ shadow-being right now?)"

Sukha is some kind of tactile sense-contact. Piti I'm not sure about (I have not analyzed this carefully), but I lean in the same direction.

To some extent there is constant sukha in my body; I am not doing anything to produce or cultivate it. This began at out-from-control VF.

What is actual about the rupa jhanas is contact. That's all that's ever actual!
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9 years 5 months ago #78998 by EndInSight
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A different way of thinking about this is, sukha may be what we call it when the physical (not mental!) vedana of all tactile contact is "pleasant".

Just my thoughts at the moment. I haven't considered the issue carefully; I have no inclination towards the rupa jhanas and never cultivate them anymore.
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9 years 5 months ago #78999 by EndInSight
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"In another sense, I am always to some extent in jhana, as the hindrances (and 'I') am always suppressed. I recognize that, in past jhanic experiences, the border between "soft" and "hard" jhana is a bit like this state in some way."

A few weeks ago, after out-from-control VF, I mentioned in this journal that my concentration was suddenly abnormally high. This is the kind of thing I was trying to get at. Out-from-control VF shares some similarities with my current state.

An OK description of how things are for me right now could be "always in hard arupa jhanas". I am "stuck" in them, except thinking is not suppressed. I rapidly switch between them depending on what I'm doing at the moment. Nothing I can do shakes the jhana-like state off. It's compatible with normal behavior (obviously). Don't take it too literally, it's just to paint a picture of what this is like.
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9 years 5 months ago #79000 by NikolaiStephenHalay
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"Nothing I can do shakes the jhana-like state off. It's compatible with normal behavior (obviously). Don't take it too literally, it's just to paint a picture of what this is like."

Since edited for bad spelling, grammar and flow.

I've thought about this lately. Some things might be off on first glance without really investigating:

1st jhana focus: When i am directing the mind in a very concentrated way towards an object and the focus is very narrow and precise and their is some effort in trying ot make out what I'm looking at, this reminds me of the 1st jhana focus.

2nd Jhana focus: When the focus widens slightly and there is no effort to make out what is being looked at, this is the 2nd jhana focus. It's like there is a fly on the wall and the 1st jhana focus has the mind look to see the details of the flies wings with some effort to make them out. Then the focus shifts to just looking at the fly but without looking at the minute details, without the sustained effort to make out the details.

3rd Jhana focus: To continue with the fly , the fly goes out of focus and the rim of the eyes' vision, the outer periphery comes into focus sort of. It's like the focus I have when something is happening to the sides of me but I don't wish to look head on, but just catch what's going on in the periphery of the vision. This is the 3rd jhana focus.
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9 years 5 months ago #79001 by NikolaiStephenHalay
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4th jhana focus: This is a relaxed panoramic view of everything in the front of the eyesight. It is a gentle focus, not picking on any details. The fly and the whole wall is seen together from this wide panoramic angle.

5th jhana focus: The space around the fly becomes the object. The fly in it as well. But the space around becomes predominant.

6th jhana focus: The focus narrows down onto a single object , the fly. The fly is seen without effrot like in the 1st jhana focus. There is this sense of appreciating the form and details of the fly and even the immediate wall space directly around it. Details become obvious. The indentations in the wall, the slight little movements of the flies wings. The way its little arms shoot over its massive eyes to clean itself. These little details become more obvious and are quite interesting to watch infold.

The 7th jhana focus: There is a sense of no mind, no focus, which is kind of the focus. A focus on no focus. It is a gentle resting that has a sense of equanimity to it. Let happen what may happen. From this focus the mind can take it. The fly on the wall is no longer anything in particular to look at. It's just part of the scenery. Not much going on.

The 8th jhana focus: Here the mind rests in the middle. It is a focus where there is no object being taken as object, neither is there the movement to ignore objects. It has a resting quality that allows the mind to just stop a lot of the 'focusing'. There is a signlessness to it. Nothing is being taken as the theme. If I maintain this focus for a length of time, maybe 30 seconds, if I am sitting or lying down, the mind will then get so still that parts of the mind seem to turn off. But there is consciousness still. Hearing is still occuring, yet it is hard to say if the hearing is actually heard. Strange and pretty cool experience when there is the rare thought to hang out in the 8th's focus. Very rare though.
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9 years 5 months ago #79002 by EndInSight
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"The 8th jhana focus: Here the mind rests n the middle. it is a focus where there is no object being taken as object, neither is there the movement to ignore objects. It is a resting quality that allows the mind to just stop a lot of the 'focusing'. But there is a signlessness to it. Nothing is being taken as the theme."

One of the interesting things about this current mode of experience is that, without passion, one can cultivate all kinds of stuff whenever and wherever, as nothing really pushes and pulls the mind anymore. (Thoughts, intentions, etc. have no "clout".)

Hard 8th jhana with eyes open is uniquely weird / interesting, and when I've tried, I've been able to sustain it for reasonable lengths of time (which was previously impossible due to passional reactions to the visual field, among other things). Being able to check it out in this careful and clear way was helpful for me in understanding what it was about.

My mind has long had a special attraction to 8th jhana. In the past, when I figured out what it was like to advert to it while walking around, I realized I would often spontaneously advert to that state. Subjectively, while distorted by affect, I experienced it as if 'I' were dazed. But the non-affective version is interestingly different.

Just sharing.
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9 years 5 months ago #79003 by EndInSight
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This mode of experience is so much better than anything that came before. I could not appreciate how much pain everything caused until seeing the very same experiences without the affective junk that the mind would automatically generate (via dependent origination) in reaction to it. Third noble truth FTW!

At one point I thought that there was some kind of tradeoff between having self-experience, and not having self-experience. (As if each form had good qualities, and one would have to make an informed decision about which was better overall.) However, there is no tradeoff. To the extent that the mind generates affects in reaction to experience, that is the extent to which experience sucks.
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9 years 5 months ago #79004 by EndInSight
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Listening to music, it occurs to me that music is the fabric of the universe.

Turning the music off, it occurs to me that silence is the fabric of the universe.

Whatever I experience, the universe is made of that...in part. The universe *is* that...in part. There is nothing here but the universe, in various forms and permutations. Without self-experience, that is becoming clearer all the time, as a lived fact, not as a theory, not as a view that seems true in some reflective way.

Things are getting better all the time...
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9 years 5 months ago #79005 by Antero.
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"
Unlike the case of prior forms of developmental enlightenment, this one has serious repercussions for one's cognitive machinery in terms of everyday functioning. There are many examples of this (and they take a variety of forms), but the most troubling one for me is that, without affective feedback, I have trouble recognizing when I'm saying something that is likely to come across as rude, dictatorial, or argumentative; there is no feeling of being an assh*le (and no shadow-feeling that is easy to discern), but unfortunately my personality tends towards that sort of thing, so unless I constantly monitor my behavior, I "default" to behaving in various extremely unskillful ways due to the absence of an "affective warning". And there are many subtler instances of similar kinds of things happening. So, this mode of experience is a double-edged sword; I can rationally overrule various behavioral tendencies with ease, but only if I recognize them.

- EndInSight"

I have also noticed this possibility of unskilful action in social situations as the emotional breaks do not function anymore. Still, for reasons that I do not understand, I make every effort to keep from harming others, more so than previously. Where is this motivation coming from? This I do not understand. Are there perhaps some built in preferences in this condition that I cannot see?

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9 years 5 months ago #79006 by stephencoe100
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" Still, for reasons that I do not understand, I make every effort to keep from harming others, more so than previously. Where is this motivation coming from? This I do not understand. Are there perhaps some built in preferences in this condition that I cannot see?

"

Isn't it just universe looking after universe?
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9 years 5 months ago #79007 by cmarti
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I have to agree - there is nothing surprising about not wanting to harm anyone else. That's something that's been with my practice for quite some time now and seems to increase in focus with time. I suspect all of these realizations are more incremental than they sometimes present. One day we wake up and think we're in a new land when in fact the new land has been sneaking up on us for some time, not noticed or appreciated, until it reaches a certain level in our awareness.

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