The so-called emptiness of objects

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby muni » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:12 pm

Both the external objects and the grasping mind have no inherent existence.
appearances-manifestation and emptiness are inseparable and in essence one.

No separation between the two truths. Then conceptual labeling-reasoning loses its ground. Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche. :meditate:
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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby Jnana » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:02 pm

tobes wrote:Therefore Nagarjuna is explicitly asserting that all of the core Buddhist teachings are efficacious precisely because they are empty of intrinsic existence and dependently originated. Ethical and soteriological practice is only possible on this basis.

Teachings employing conventional truth are soteriologically skillful, but they are still not established as anything more than conventions. Nāgārjuna's Śūnyatāsaptati

    1. Duration, origination, destruction, existence, non-existence, inferiority, mediocrity and superiority were taught by the Buddha in accord with conventional usage, not by the power of the real (tattva).

    Whatsoever was taught by the Buddha in accord with conventional usage: duration, origination, destruction, inferiority, mediocrity and superiority were all not taught by the power of the real.

tobes wrote:The structure of the MMK is very clearly to establish this efficacy.....not to deny earlier teachings and bring in something radically different.

Nāgārjuna has simply corrected the teachings of the Āgamas/Nikāyas which were misunderstood by the ābhidharmika realists.

tobes wrote:But the emptiness of a given rock is more than the linguistic signifiers attributed to it. The pronoun "it" does not express the reality of the given rock, but negating the pronoun does not negate the nature of the rock.

And what nature would that be?

All the best,

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:31 pm

Yeshe D. wrote:
tobes wrote:Therefore Nagarjuna is explicitly asserting that all of the core Buddhist teachings are efficacious precisely because they are empty of intrinsic existence and dependently originated. Ethical and soteriological practice is only possible on this basis.

Teachings employing conventional truth are soteriologically skillful, but they are still not established as anything more than conventions. Nāgārjuna's Śūnyatāsaptati

    1. Duration, origination, destruction, existence, non-existence, inferiority, mediocrity and superiority were taught by the Buddha in accord with conventional usage, not by the power of the real (tattva).

    Whatsoever was taught by the Buddha in accord with conventional usage: duration, origination, destruction, inferiority, mediocrity and superiority were all not taught by the power of the real.



Sure. I don't think anyone seriously disputes that.

The question is how important are conventions. MMK again:

xxiv 9
Those who do not understand
The distinction drawn between these two truths
Do not understand
The Buddha's profound truth


10
Without a foundation in the conventional truth
The significance of the Ultimate cannot be taught.
Without understanding the significance of the ultimate,
Liberation is not achieved.


Pretty important, yes?

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:44 pm

Yeshe D. wrote:
tobes wrote:The structure of the MMK is very clearly to establish this efficacy.....not to deny earlier teachings and bring in something radically different.

Nāgārjuna has simply corrected the teachings of the Āgamas/Nikāyas which were misunderstood by the ābhidharmika realists.

Geoff


Yes. Because Nagarjuna was directly engaged with the Sarvastivadan account of the phenomenal world based on the reality of the dharmas, Nagarjuna can be held to have expanded upon the Nikayas which only asserted anatta in relation to subjectivity. That is, the metaphysics of the subject found in the Nikayas is expanded into a metaphysics of the phenomenal world too. But that is the only strong distinction; there is far more continuity that the Mahayana/Hinayana rhetoric assumes.

Again, verse xxiv:

36
If dependent arising is denied,
Emptiness itself is rejected.
This would contradict
All of the worldly conventions.

38
If there is essence, the whole world
Will be unarising, unceasing,
And static. The entire phenomenal world
Would be immutable.

40
Whoever sees dependent arising
Also sees suffering
And its arising
And its cessation as well as the path


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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby muni » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:45 pm

"Without a foundation in the conventional truth
The significance of the Ultimate cannot be taught.
Without understanding the significance of the ultimate,
Liberation is not achieved."

Yes we need good foundation. :thumbsup:

Is how phenomena conventionally appear and how phenomena ultimately nature is, separate truths?
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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:49 pm

muni wrote:"Without a foundation in the conventional truth
The significance of the Ultimate cannot be taught.
Without understanding the significance of the ultimate,
Liberation is not achieved."

Yes we need good foundation. :thumbsup:

Is how phenomena conventionally appear and how phenomena ultimately nature is separate?


Well there are fairly major disputes about that, which I think we have been implicitly revolving around on this thread. Certainly it's a big issue in the Tibetan dialectics around the two truths.

I personally favour the classic analogy: they are two sides of the same coin, and thus, inseparable.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:55 pm

Yeshe D. wrote:
tobes wrote:But the emptiness of a given rock is more than the linguistic signifiers attributed to it. The pronoun "it" does not express the reality of the given rock, but negating the pronoun does not negate the nature of the rock.

And what nature would that be?

All the best,

Geoff


"About what one cannot speak, one must remain silent." Wittgenstein

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby norman » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:51 pm

An object is void of the concept of itself, this very non-conceptuality is what Form is.

The Void is objectively inexistent except as Form, as the apparent universe.
But the apparent universe is not, except as voidness; which is void of objectivity.
Therefore, all phenomenal manifestation is not, as what, where, and how we think it is, because it's void.

If Form is anything, if Form has any quality whatsoever, so does voidness, because voidness Is Form. The universe is nothing, it's objectively inexistent. It's not a nothingness, it simply is NOT. This inconceivable absence is what the world is.

The world you perceive ”out there” is nothing, except as an appearance. It's not a question of whether the appearance exists or doesn't exist, that is just elaborate mind-games based on its own terms. It's all just rabbit horns, or children of a barren woman.

Form as its absence of itself as an object IS its own "presence" as what it is, i.e. Form, and so on with the rest of the skandhas. This "presence" is not an object. Form is not an object of perception.

"Form itself does not possess the own-being of form, etc (...)
and own-being does not possess the mark of [being] own-being.
"

- Prajnaparamita in 8000 lines

There is nothing to 'empty', and nothing to be 'emptied'.

tobes wrote:What you speak of here is only one side of emptiness: dependent designation/mental imputation.

Nagarjuna's MMK (VII):

Whatever is dependently co-arisen
That is explained to be emptiness
That, being a dependent designation
Is itself the middle way.


But you do not account for the dependent arising of causality.

Next stanza:

Something that is not dependently arisen,
Such a thing does not exist.
Therefore a nonempty thing
Does not exist.


Emptiness of form is both of these things.

Asserting that it is only the absence of concepts leads to idealism, not the middle way.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby norman » Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:09 pm

Sherab wrote:As long as one has not experienced "the world is not empty of anything, since there is no-thing to be emptied", one will experience the world as full of non-empty things.

As long as one experiences the world as full of non-empty things, one will need to rely on practice.

When one no longer experiences the world as full of non-empty things, then one can practise the practice of no practice.

Or so it seems to me.


Huang Po said:

"You cannot use mind to seek something from mind" and "Mind and the object of its search are one."

It seems to me that whatever we are doing are being done on its own terms, and via itself, so that if we are practicing to reach enlightenment (whatever that means) it is like trying to lift ourselves by our own bootstraps, and any experienced progress is just that: an "experienced" progress. Whether it is really progress or not is beside the point, simply because "the object of its search" is identical with whatever it is that we are trying to achieve. All that we can do is to understand, otherwise we'll just ruin a pair of fine boots.
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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby Jnana » Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:47 pm

tobes wrote:
Yeshe D. wrote:Teachings employing conventional truth are soteriologically skillful, but they are still not established as anything more than conventions.

Sure. I don't think anyone seriously disputes that.

Well, for mādhyamikas there is no ontic grounding of conventional truth. Conventions are simply accepted as worldly conventions. Without employing conventions buddhas would have no way of teaching the path. But nothing is ultimately established, including nirvāṇa. Everything is relational.

tobes wrote:The question is how important are conventions. MMK again:

xxiv 9
Those who do not understand
The distinction drawn between these two truths
Do not understand
The Buddha's profound truth


10
Without a foundation in the conventional truth
The significance of the Ultimate cannot be taught.
Without understanding the significance of the ultimate,
Liberation is not achieved.


Pretty important, yes?

Yes, both truths are important. And the two truths are indeed inseparable -- conditioned phenomena and nirvāṇa are not ultimately established as independent ontological realities. But this doesn't mean that they are the same, i.e. that there is no distinction between conventional truth and ultimate truth. Otherwise sentient beings would all be liberated just by understanding worldly conventions and there would be no need for correctly discerning emptiness on the path of seeing and the path of meditation. We'd all be fully enlightened buddhas and there would be no need to develop the complete and unerring causes and conditions which result in all-gnosis (buddhahood). As Kamalaśīla states in his Bhāvanākramas, awakening depends upon differentiating and engaging in specific, unerring, and complete causes and conditions:

    It is impossible for all-gnosis [i.e. enlightenment] to arise without causes since this would entail the absurd consequence whereby everyone could be omniscient all the time. If it could arise independently, it could exist everywhere without obstructions, and again everybody would be omniscient. Moreover, all functional things depend exclusively on causes because they only occur for certain persons at certain times. And so, because all-gnosis does not arise for everybody everywhere at all times, it most certainly depends upon causes and conditions. Also, from among those causes and conditions, one should rely on unerring and complete causes.

All the best,

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby Dexing » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:12 pm

tobes wrote:I understand Nagarjuna's use of Dependent Origination only in the sense in which he asserts it:

...........

Therefore Nagarjuna is explicitly asserting that all of the core Buddhist teachings are efficacious precisely because they are empty of intrinsic existence and dependently originated. Ethical and soteriological practice is only possible on this basis.

The structure of the MMK is very clearly to establish this efficacy.....not to deny earlier teachings and bring in something radically different.

Because of this, I do not hold that there can be such a thing as a Hinayana. That is actually an offensive term, which is grounded in ideological difference, not philosophical understanding.

:namaste:


However, the Dependent Origination taught in Mahāyāna doctrines, such as with Nāgārjuna, looks to a deeper cause. What differs is not that things are dependently originated, but on what are they dependent?

Classical teachings on D.O. aimed at the śrāvakas only deals with things depending on other things, but takes for granted that such things are truly existing external phenomena, albeit dependently originated and impermanent, yet still independent of one's own consciousness.

Mahāyāna doctrines stop before asserting any sort of external phenomena. If you cannot establish such a phenomenon as independent of your own consciousness, then how can you talk about its external causes and conditions?

Many people look at this and say; "Idealism!" and quickly steer clear. However, idealism also takes consciousness for granted when stating that the only reality is in ideas.

Mahāyāna doctrines are neither materialism nor idealism. In fact, they don't necessarily assert anything. They only blow the whistle on false starts— starting from a false or unestablished premise, such as taking external phenomena for granted, or taking the mind for granted, when neither have been established.

In schools like Yogācāra, consciousness is only temporarily asserted in order to break the false view of external phenomena existing dependently upon other external conditions. Once this has been done, then consciousness itself is relinquished when one realizes the extraneousness of it as well.

Previous quotes from Nāgārjuna by Yeshe D. have clearly demonstrated these points. But due to the use of similar terminology, it is easy to understand it by Classical Buddhist definition.

And by Hināyāna, it refers to a "lesser" depth of Dependent Origination. While Mahāyāna refers to this "greater" expansion on the teaching. Not only are views of personal selfhood shown false by establishing impermanence through D.O., but equally false are the so-called external phenomena asserted for this very purpose.

They are not merely impermanent and dependently originated, they are neither "produced nor extinguished" (birth and death), neither "pure nor impure" (persisting, from new to old), nor "increasing nor decreasing" (arising and passing away).

Their very existence is unestablished and indemonstrable.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby conebeckham » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:35 pm

Mahāyāna doctrines are neither materialism nor idealism. In fact, they don't necessarily assert anything. They only blow the whistle on false starts— starting from a false or unestablished premise, such as taking external phenomena for granted, or taking the mind for granted, when neither have been established.

In schools like Yogācāra, consciousness is only temporarily asserted in order to break the false view of external phenomena existing dependently upon other external conditions. Once this has been done, then consciousness itself is relinquished when one realizes the extraneousness of it as well.


Good stuff. I think SOME Yogacara views establish or assert consciousness. Others do not, or abide by your description above. this is an important point, and one often missed by those who claim Yogacara/Cittamatra to be "inferior."
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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby Astus » Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:04 am

"Mahāyāna doctrines stop before asserting any sort of external phenomena."

Prasangika Madhyamaka specifically affirms external phenomena, it's even listed among their "unique tenets".
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T51n2076, p461b24-26)
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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby conebeckham » Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:18 am

Prasangika Madhyamaka specifically affirms external phenomena, it's even listed among their "unique tenets".


If by Prasangika Madhyamaka you mean the unique interpretation of Tsong Khapa and his successors, then yes...

But other lineages consider "Prasangika Madhyamika" to mean something like "Consequentialist Middle Way," and use this title to describe a certain philosophical "system" or approach, yet they do not assert external phenomena.
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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby Sherab » Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:49 am

norman wrote:Huang Po said:

"You cannot use mind to seek something from mind" and "Mind and the object of its search are one."

It seems to me that whatever we are doing are being done on its own terms, and via itself, so that if we are practicing to reach enlightenment (whatever that means) it is like trying to lift ourselves by our own bootstraps, and any experienced progress is just that: an "experienced" progress. Whether it is really progress or not is beside the point, simply because "the object of its search" is identical with whatever it is that we are trying to achieve. All that we can do is to understand, otherwise we'll just ruin a pair of fine boots.

Here's what I was trying to say in my earlier post:
When one is still in the deluded state, one has no choice but to apply various practices to thin down the delusions. When the delusions are sufficiently thin, then there can be a breakthrough of the veil of delusions. When that breakthrough is achieved, practices to create the conditions for the breakthrough are no longer relevant. One then practise according to the new state that one is in.
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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:25 am

Yeshe D. wrote:
tobes wrote:
Yeshe D. wrote:Teachings employing conventional truth are soteriologically skillful, but they are still not established as anything more than conventions.

Sure. I don't think anyone seriously disputes that.

Well, for mādhyamikas there is no ontic grounding of conventional truth. Conventions are simply accepted as worldly conventions. Without employing conventions buddhas would have no way of teaching the path. But nothing is ultimately established, including nirvāṇa. Everything is relational.

tobes wrote:The question is how important are conventions. MMK again:

xxiv 9
Those who do not understand
The distinction drawn between these two truths
Do not understand
The Buddha's profound truth


10
Without a foundation in the conventional truth
The significance of the Ultimate cannot be taught.
Without understanding the significance of the ultimate,
Liberation is not achieved.


Pretty important, yes?

Yes, both truths are important. And the two truths are indeed inseparable -- conditioned phenomena and nirvāṇa are not ultimately established as independent ontological realities. But this doesn't mean that they are the same, i.e. that there is no distinction between conventional truth and ultimate truth. Otherwise sentient beings would all be liberated just by understanding worldly conventions and there would be no need for correctly discerning emptiness on the path of seeing and the path of meditation. We'd all be fully enlightened buddhas and there would be no need to develop the complete and unerring causes and conditions which result in all-gnosis (buddhahood). As Kamalaśīla states in his Bhāvanākramas, awakening depends upon differentiating and engaging in specific, unerring, and complete causes and conditions:

    It is impossible for all-gnosis [i.e. enlightenment] to arise without causes since this would entail the absurd consequence whereby everyone could be omniscient all the time. If it could arise independently, it could exist everywhere without obstructions, and again everybody would be omniscient. Moreover, all functional things depend exclusively on causes because they only occur for certain persons at certain times. And so, because all-gnosis does not arise for everybody everywhere at all times, it most certainly depends upon causes and conditions. Also, from among those causes and conditions, one should rely on unerring and complete causes.

All the best,

Geoff


Agreed.

(Always somewhat disappointing in a debate about emptiness!)

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:34 am

Dexing wrote:
tobes wrote:I understand Nagarjuna's use of Dependent Origination only in the sense in which he asserts it:

...........

Therefore Nagarjuna is explicitly asserting that all of the core Buddhist teachings are efficacious precisely because they are empty of intrinsic existence and dependently originated. Ethical and soteriological practice is only possible on this basis.

The structure of the MMK is very clearly to establish this efficacy.....not to deny earlier teachings and bring in something radically different.

Because of this, I do not hold that there can be such a thing as a Hinayana. That is actually an offensive term, which is grounded in ideological difference, not philosophical understanding.

:namaste:


However, the Dependent Origination taught in Mahāyāna doctrines, such as with Nāgārjuna, looks to a deeper cause. What differs is not that things are dependently originated, but on what are they dependent?

Classical teachings on D.O. aimed at the śrāvakas only deals with things depending on other things, but takes for granted that such things are truly existing external phenomena, albeit dependently originated and impermanent, yet still independent of one's own consciousness.



If things depend upon other things than they cannot be truly existing. The fact of their dependent origination and impermanence precludes this possibility: that is precisely what Nagarjuna establishes.

Moreover, you cannot just extrapolate all of the earlier teachings on D.O and make them conform to Sarvastivadan realism. Are you asserting that the Buddha was a realist?

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:40 am

Dexing wrote:
tobes wrote:I understand Nagarjuna's use of Dependent Origination only in the sense in which he asserts it:

...........

Therefore Nagarjuna is explicitly asserting that all of the core Buddhist teachings are efficacious precisely because they are empty of intrinsic existence and dependently originated. Ethical and soteriological practice is only possible on this basis.

The structure of the MMK is very clearly to establish this efficacy.....not to deny earlier teachings and bring in something radically different.

Because of this, I do not hold that there can be such a thing as a Hinayana. That is actually an offensive term, which is grounded in ideological difference, not philosophical understanding.

:namaste:


Mahāyāna doctrines stop before asserting any sort of external phenomena. If you cannot establish such a phenomenon as independent of your own consciousness, then how can you talk about its external causes and conditions?

:namaste:


Because when emptiness is established, so too are (conventional) phenomena.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:49 am

Dexing wrote:
tobes wrote:I understand Nagarjuna's use of Dependent Origination only in the sense in which he asserts it:

...........

Therefore Nagarjuna is explicitly asserting that all of the core Buddhist teachings are efficacious precisely because they are empty of intrinsic existence and dependently originated. Ethical and soteriological practice is only possible on this basis.

The structure of the MMK is very clearly to establish this efficacy.....not to deny earlier teachings and bring in something radically different.

Because of this, I do not hold that there can be such a thing as a Hinayana. That is actually an offensive term, which is grounded in ideological difference, not philosophical understanding.

:namaste:



Many people look at this and say; "Idealism!" and quickly steer clear. However, idealism also takes consciousness for granted when stating that the only reality is in ideas.

Mahāyāna doctrines are neither materialism nor idealism. In fact, they don't necessarily assert anything. They only blow the whistle on false starts— starting from a false or unestablished premise, such as taking external phenomena for granted, or taking the mind for granted, when neither have been established.

:namaste:


Nagarjuna clearly establishes that mind and external phenomena are empty.

Of course, so many people read xxvii 30 of MMK (I prostrate to Gautama/ Who through compassion/ Taught the true doctrine/ Which leads to the relinquishing of all views) whilst ignoring every chapter and verse before it, and every thing written in other texts....in order to proclaim the very pronounced view that there is no assertion, nothing established, no view, no metaphysics.

But yes, certainly there are other Mahayana doctrines which emphasise this.

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Re: The so-called emptiness of objects

Postby tobes » Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:56 am

Dexing wrote:
tobes wrote:I understand Nagarjuna's use of Dependent Origination only in the sense in which he asserts it:

...........

Therefore Nagarjuna is explicitly asserting that all of the core Buddhist teachings are efficacious precisely because they are empty of intrinsic existence and dependently originated. Ethical and soteriological practice is only possible on this basis.

The structure of the MMK is very clearly to establish this efficacy.....not to deny earlier teachings and bring in something radically different.

Because of this, I do not hold that there can be such a thing as a Hinayana. That is actually an offensive term, which is grounded in ideological difference, not philosophical understanding.

:namaste:



In schools like Yogācāra, consciousness is only temporarily asserted in order to break the false view of external phenomena existing dependently upon other external conditions. Once this has been done, then consciousness itself is relinquished when one realizes the extraneousness of it as well.

Previous quotes from Nāgārjuna by Yeshe D. have clearly demonstrated these points. But due to the use of similar terminology, it is easy to understand it by Classical Buddhist definition.

And by Hināyāna, it refers to a "lesser" depth of Dependent Origination. While Mahāyāna refers to this "greater" expansion on the teaching. Not only are views of personal selfhood shown false by establishing impermanence through D.O., but equally false are the so-called external phenomena asserted for this very purpose.

They are not merely impermanent and dependently originated, they are neither "produced nor extinguished" (birth and death), neither "pure nor impure" (persisting, from new to old), nor "increasing nor decreasing" (arising and passing away).

Their very existence is unestablished and indemonstrable.

:namaste:


Yes, existence is not given.

But existence is not given in the earlier teachings on D.O either: that is an absolutely seminal component of the twelve links.

What do you mean by Classical Buddhist? Perhaps it is time to provide some evidence from the Pali Sutta's where D.O. grants existence.

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