Women in Pure Land

Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Mon Jun 27, 2011 12:31 pm

It seems to be a common idea that there are no women in Sukhavati because they have to change sex. I the three primary sutras I have found no such statement, unlike in the Medicine Buddha Sutra where it is explicitly stated there are no women. In commentary literature it is indeed said that no women exist in the Pure Land (see: Visions of Sukhavati, p. 299). At other places it is understood that while the doctrinal position was that there are only males, women often believed they need no sex change to be born there.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Aemilius » Mon Jun 27, 2011 2:43 pm

I think it is said in the 48 vows of Dharmakara. The case is that women are beings with wombs, and in Sukhavati you are born by transformation, so there cannot be aný womb-beings!
If there are no women there cannot be men either, by definition.

In the longer sutra there is a sentence about goddesses, nymphs or something like that..., have you found it ?? -Any explanations ???

( I am refering to the Louis O. Gomez translation of the two sutras.)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:39 pm

Aemilius,

Only the 35th vow addresses the issue of women and doesn't state anywhere there are no females there. Also, the vow gives only the option of changing sex, it doesn't say women have to do that.

"If, when I attain Buddhahood, women in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters who, having heard my Name, rejoice in faith, awaken aspiration for Enlightenment and wish to renounce womanhood, should after death be reborn again as women, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment."
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Mon Jun 27, 2011 3:56 pm

A source of the concept that there are no women in the Pure Land:

"Women, the disabled, and those of the two vehicles
Are never born in the Pure Land of happiness as they are;
The sages of the Tathagata's pure lotus
Are born transformed from Dharmakara's lotus of perfect enlightenment."
(Treatise on the Sutra of Immeasurable Life by Vasubandhu)
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jun 27, 2011 4:30 pm

Astus wrote:A source of the concept that there are no women in the Pure Land:

"Women, the disabled, and those of the two vehicles
Are never born in the Pure Land of happiness as they are;
The sages of the Tathagata's pure lotus
Are born transformed from Dharmakara's lotus of perfect enlightenment."
(Treatise on the Sutra of Immeasurable Life by Vasubandhu)


I wonder if these sentiments are a result of monastic training. The novices are told women are dangerous, impure, responsible for your samsara, etc...

I know one monk in real life who frequently cautions me that "women are dangerous". He keeps clear of them, too.

It would be easy to develop misogyny with such attitudes.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby rory » Tue Jun 28, 2011 7:14 am

For scholarly discussions: Bernard Faure's "The Red Thread" is excellent, what we read in my seminar. For reality just look at how Shinran dynamically viewed his sexuality and women: he saw his wife as Kannon. I think personally that says it all.
the scapegoating of women in Buddhism (to this woman) is depressing to read, and it's interesting you don't read female monastics belittling men.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Paul » Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:03 pm

Huseng wrote:
Astus wrote:A source of the concept that there are no women in the Pure Land:

"Women, the disabled, and those of the two vehicles
Are never born in the Pure Land of happiness as they are;
The sages of the Tathagata's pure lotus
Are born transformed from Dharmakara's lotus of perfect enlightenment."
(Treatise on the Sutra of Immeasurable Life by Vasubandhu)


I wonder if these sentiments are a result of monastic training. The novices are told women are dangerous, impure, responsible for your samsara, etc...

I know one monk in real life who frequently cautions me that "women are dangerous". He keeps clear of them, too.

It would be easy to develop misogyny with such attitudes.


I think you're 100% correct. Sad, really.
This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Aemilius » Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:26 pm

Astus wrote:Aemilius,

Only the 35th vow addresses the issue of women and doesn't state anywhere there are no females there. Also, the vow gives only the option of changing sex, it doesn't say women have to do that.

"If, when I attain Buddhahood, women in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten quarters who, having heard my Name, rejoice in faith, awaken aspiration for Enlightenment and wish to renounce womanhood, should after death be reborn again as women, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment."


The translations of Louis O. Gomez of the sanskrit and chineses versions of the 35th vow are slightly more elaborate, but in essence similar.
We have here a case of identifying with the human body, and with a body of the human realm. It is a false view that you are your body, or that your body&form is permanent in kind from life to life. Can people not understand that there are four different modes of birth? If you are born through transformation there are neither men nor women, there is no need for a tube to insert sperm into a womb! Words "man" or "woman" are meaningless in Sukhavati.
When it is said that beings are born there through transformation the issue of no womb-beings ( and neither beings with a sperm inserting tube) is said by implication.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:57 pm

Aemilius,

That 35th vow says that if women want to be born as men it can be done. It doesn't say sexless nor does it talk about attaining birth in the Pure Land. On what do you base your interpretation?

Gods are also born through transformation and they still have their genitals all right.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Aemilius » Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:23 pm

Astus wrote:Aemilius,

That 35th vow says that if women want to be born as men it can be done. It doesn't say sexless nor does it talk about attaining birth in the Pure Land. On what do you base your interpretation?

Gods are also born through transformation and they still have their genitals all right.


What would they need them for ?
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:06 pm

Aemilius wrote:What would they need them for ?


No eunuch or hermaphrodite can take the higher ordination. Even if there is no use of such organs within the sangha. Also, only gods of the lowest heavens use their sexual organs but none above. I assume it is not about the use of them but the integrity of the body.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:02 pm

Astus wrote:
Aemilius wrote:What would they need them for ?


No eunuch or hermaphrodite can take the higher ordination. Even if there is no use of such organs within the sangha. Also, only gods of the lowest heavens use their sexual organs but none above. I assume it is not about the use of them but the integrity of the body.


Gods above a certain level have no gender.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby ronnewmexico » Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:20 pm

As a aside of sorts and certainly I am intruding on a pure land site...(my appologies)..

In the southwestern United states many tribes have accomodation for transgender peoples. Not peoples that may change from one to another but peoples that actually do posess the sexual attributes of both male and female.
To what extent this is present suchly in traditional peoples, amongst the navajo a child is first upon birth inspected to see if one has this characteristic.
Due to I'd guess genetic tendency..... this is not uncommon with these peoples. Some present with entirely asiatic identified appearence as well(about one in a hundred I'd guess), though that is not related but just shows genetic tendency.
Those found to have both(usually one or the other predominates and thusly both are not functional) are not descriminated from or ostracized but considered the best of the best...those most inclined to the spiritual, and as consequence are directed to the shamanistic religious fields of endeavor.

So I find those that hold to strict definition of gender are similiar to those that hold strongly to racial strict definitions. No pure races can in actuallity be found if one studies that thing.
Likewise many many composites of that thing of gender may be present. But by my experience the prelevence of such may depend upon the group being studied. Some groups may have none apparent. Some may have many.
As with race...some may appear more pure but never is found one completely pure we are all homogenous.

Considered in that context...such notions may be a bit absurd.
I am intruding of a sort. And certainly feel free to summarily discount my comment, I of course would take no offense.
But I thought this may have application for this discussion. Wether the general public accepts such or the scientific community accepts such, such is nevertheless true...peoples are born with both sexual characteristsics as peoples on occasion are born with tails.
Those that consider things in a literal fashion to my way of thinking may question then the applications of things to peoples in the middle such as these.
As such in a literal sense is seemingly(being not present in the culture from arose their consideration or interpretation I would contend) not accounted for but nevertheless real.

As a aside..is the holding in high esteem in this culture, a function of the prelevence of that thing in the culture, or a karmic effect of sorts that has those with those existant tendency to present as such, within a culture in which such is considered spiritual attribute....
I would guess the second is the case. But nevertheless is both found prelevence and high esteem.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:20 am

I've always been led to believe that in a pureland - well, in Sukkhavati at least - beings are reborn in a form that is neither male nor female.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:20 am

Sukhavati is advertised in the sutra with incredibly luxurious features from food and clothing to baths and music. Pretty heavenly. Then how could there be no sex?
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Aemilius » Wed Jun 29, 2011 12:47 pm

Astus wrote:Sukhavati is advertised in the sutra with incredibly luxurious features from food and clothing to baths and music. Pretty heavenly. Then how could there be no sex?


In one of the Pureland sutras it is also said that beings there become satisfied by merely looking at food.
There are the three Dhatus, you must have heard, or read, about them. Above the realm of sense desires there are the Rupa Dhatu, and the Arupa Dhatu. In the 48 vows it says that the inhabitants of Sukhavati are beyond sense desires, like the gods of the Rupa Dhatu, there is no question about it.

There are the six levels of gods in the Kamadhatu, they equal six levels of refinement of sense desire. Tushita devaloka, where Maitreya resides, belongs to one of these six levels. They are described in the Shuramgama Sutra, and in the Abhidharma.
In the Devaloka of Buddha Maitreya there is some level of sense desire, this is told in traditional stories that you find in the Pureland literature. This is a feature that makes it different from Amitabha's Purefield.

The Devalokas are beyond the human realm, they are difficult to conceive. Like for ants it is difficult to conceive the world of humans. At most they are able to think that humans are like bigger ants with more power.

The presence of sense objects does not imply the realm of sense desires. The Rupa Loka and Sukhavati have utterly beautiful sense objects, therefore it is called the Realm of Pure Form, the Realm of Spiritual Form.

The sutra makes it clear that music in Sukhavati is designed to invoke the mindfulness of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Don't misread it!

When you die you lose your human form, it gets destroyed.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:12 pm

Quotes from the Larger Sutra:

Vow 38: "If, when I attain buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not obtain clothing as soon as such a desire arises in their minds, and if fine robes as prescribed and praised by the buddhas should not be spontaneously provided for them to wear, and if these clothes should need sewing, bleaching, dyeing, or washing, may I not attain perfect enlightenment."

"those born in that buddha land are endowed with such bodies of purity and provided with various exquisite sounds, supernatural powers, and virtues. The palaces in which they dwell; their clothing, food, and drink; the wonderful flowers; and the various kinds of incense and adornments are like those naturally provided in the sixth heaven of the world of desire."

"The śrāvakas, bodhisattvas, heavenly beings, and humans there have lofty and brilliant wisdom and are masters of the supernatural powers. They are all of one form, without any differences, but are called ‘heavenly beings’ and ‘humans’ simply by analogy with states of existence in other worlds. They are of noble and majestic countenance, unequaled in all the worlds, and their appearance is superb, unmatched by any being, heavenly or human. They are all endowed with bodies of naturalness, emptiness, and infinity."

"Devas and humans in the land of Amitāyus are each provided with robes, food and drink, flowers, perfume, ornaments, silken canopies, and banners, and are surrounded by exquisite sounds. Their abodes, palaces, and pavilions are exactly in accordance with the size of their bodies. One, two, or even innumerable jewels appear before them, as soon as they wish. In addition, beautiful jeweled fabric covers the ground where all the devas and humans walk."

So, from this sutra we learn that the beings there have uniform bodies but at the same time their sizes are different. They have no desire but at the same time wish for food, clothes, water temperature, music, etc. They have brilliant wisdom and supernatural powers while at the same time they have to spend aeons to attain any sort of enlightenment.

If we think about it a bit then we can come to the conclusion that the Pure Land appears to those who are there according to their individual needs and perspectives to eventually help them attain liberation. That makes any fixed interpretation of the Pure Land impossible and contrary to the intention of Amita Buddha to accept all kinds of beings with all kinds of karmas.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Madhyama Pratipada » Wed Jun 29, 2011 8:21 pm

The doctrine that a woman must be reborn as a man in order to attain Buddhahood - 変生男子之説 (Japanese: henjo nanshi setsu; Chinese: biàn shēng nánzǐ zhī shuō) - is not at all unfamiliar to Pureland Buddhism. To dwell in Sukhāvatī, the female form must be shed and transformed into male form. In the Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra, the Buddha refers to the Pureland as being devoid of women, but there is no mention of it being devoid of men. Why is this so?
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na kimcitkasyacitkaścid dharmo buddhena deśitah

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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby ronnewmexico » Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:25 pm

Not abscribing necessarily to pure land or to buddhism in any fashion certain this opinion may be taken with a grain of salt, and may be summarily dismissed and perhaps even deleted by monitor. But I owe a great greaT debt to pureland practitioner...

That aside and stated there are two potential variations to this thing. ONe....the scriptures are in error showing existant gender bias...which I opine is not true.
Or....the term male must be examined. It has been explained in other post above.... normally no real form is present in such a place as we would normally describe male or female. so other reference must be present.
WE abscribe certain things to our conceptual notions of what comprises male and female. This presents in actual form as real language reference as in spanish... a library is a thing entered to find wisdom and education,,,then is found to be female...la(female) bibloteca(the a being female).
and to the navajo a thunderstorm is refered to as male. A male linguistic reference.

So....that said.... I presume the femaleness of the occupant of a pure land is a guarantee, as this is a mayahanan person. A female conceptual reference implies compassion giving caring things of that sort. That is a given or always, in a successful mayahanan practitioner. The maleness conceptuallly may imply force persistance of a particular sort as found in a thunderstorm.... thought of as person. That is not a given, as our actual may not necessarily imply that as mayahanan.

But persisitance force and such things conceptually identified with male(though being just concepts are not really purview of a gender but a accomodation in language and concept)must be present in one that attains pureland.

So hence the reference to the various attributes of maleness being a requirement of those that are in pureland .
This is of course not to imply that males posess that, or that females do not, in actuality necessarily. It is just that it is thought of in that fashion, as in spanish, a library is automatically female. A man may as well have female conceptual held things such as compassion and giving. A female may as well have male conceptual held things such as forcefullness and persistance of a certain sort.
It is a reference of accomodation to express a idea. Pureland being beyond concept is actually i presume very hard to desribe in all its aspect.


A female ground in this sense must already be present, but the actual requires a male aspect as well. Both not real but in the terms of explaination.

So that may explain this question asked.
Certainly others improve upon this or have this deleted if thought inadequate.
I find it this way but I am a dull tool in the shed of tools.

So phrases such as this..."Women, the disabled, and those of the two vehicles"
would refer by implication not to the actual but as perhaps one that is compassionate but lacking in other componant, such as perhaps a stupidly compassionate person may be very nice but not really be resultant in the spiritual at all. In this case I would affirm that it is a male aspect that is referenced suchly its contextual reference with the disabled and two vehicles.
Point then being..... it is not simply compassion that impells one to such a place. If so all women being generally compassionate.... would be there(to this way of thinking) . It imlies other.....my opinion would be preserverence and a sort of arrogance which persists despite the circumstance. As one must continue with a spritual practice and mantra.... and not just say things on and on and expect realization to this place. Real consistant forcefull action must one do in this world to attain such a state. Not male characterisitic at all absolutely considered. For language and in conventional terms..abscribed to male are those particular characteristics.

I would not exclude the potential for cultural nuance as well, as I attempted to express above. In many cultures the actuality of a genetile state is not what makes one female or male. It is the propensity for a particular sort, of way of acting, that makes one to be thought of as male or female.
The western way of thinking which to a extent pervades both east and west currently, and may strictly abscribe to genitile status as being always the conclusive indicator. But that is representative of but one culture at one time,.. now. It is not necessarily how even paterally based cultures reference things at all times.

Male as way of acting as opposed to state of psychiology.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: Women in Pure Land

Postby Astus » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:49 am

Madhyama Pratipada wrote:The doctrine that a woman must be reborn as a man in order to attain Buddhahood - 変生男子之説 (Japanese: henjo nanshi setsu; Chinese: biàn shēng nánzǐ zhī shuō) - is not at all unfamiliar to Pureland Buddhism. To dwell in Sukhāvatī, the female form must be shed and transformed into male form. In the Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra, the Buddha refers to the Pureland as being devoid of women, but there is no mention of it being devoid of men. Why is this so?


The Lotus Sutra says,

If there is any woman who hears and holds to this chapter ‘Ancient Accounts of Bodhisattva Bhaiṣajyarāja,’ she will never be reborn with a female body. If there is any woman five hundred years after the pari nirvāṇa of the Tathāgata who hears this sutra and practices according to the teaching, she will immediately reach the dwelling of the Buddha Amitāyus in the Sukhāvatī world, surrounded by great bodhisattvas, and will be born on a jeweled seat in a lotus flower. Never again troubled by the [three poisons] of greed, anger, or ignorance, by arrogance or jealousy, he will attain the bodhisattva’s transcendent powers and the acceptance of the nonorigination of all dharmas.

First of all, there is no need to take the Lotus Sutra as definitive from a Pure Land perspective. In fact, it isn't. There are some other sutras that have no problem with female buddhas, not to mentioned tantras (that are also part of the Chinese Canon). Also, Guanyin is female.
"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)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“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; T2076p461b24-26)
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