Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi     560 posts


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Only if one knows the truth of love, which is the real nature of Self, will the strong entangled knot of life be untied.
The experience of Self is only love, which is seeing only love, hearing only love, feeling only love, tasting only love and smelling only love, which is bliss.

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The Self alone exists and is real. The world, the individual and God are, like the illusory appearance of silver in the mother- of-pearl, imaginary creations in the Self. They appear and disappear simultaneously. Actually, the Self alone is the world, the ‘I’ and God. All that exists is only a manifestation of the Supreme.

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You see various scenes passing on a cinema screen: fire seems to burn buildings to ashes; water seems to wreck ships; but the screen on which the pictures are projected remains unburnt and dry. Why? Because the pictures are unreal and the screen real.
Similarly, reflections pass through a mirror but it is not affected at all by their number or quality.
In the same way, the world is a phenomenon upon the substratum of the single Reality which is not affected by it in any way. Reality is only One.
Talk of illusion is due only to the point of view. Change your viewpoint to that of Knowledge and you will perceive the Universe to be only Brahman. Being now immersed in the world, you see it as a real world; get beyond it and it will disappear and Reality alone will remain.

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When you truly feel this equal love for all, when your heart has expanded so much that it embraces the whole of creation, you will certainly not feel like giving up this or that. You will simply drop off from secular life as a ripe fruit drops from the branch of a tree. You will feel that the whole world is your home.

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There is first the white light, so to call it, of the Self, which transcends both light and darkness. In it no object can be seen. There is neither seer nor seen. Then there is total darkness or avidya in which also no objects are seen. But from the Self proceeds a reflected light, the light of pure manas [mind], and it is this light which gives room for the existence of all the film of the world which is seen neither in total light nor in total darkness, but only in the subdued or reflected light.

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The final obstacle to meditation is ecstasy; when you feel great bliss and happiness, the tendency is to stay in that ecstasy. Do not yield to this (laya) but pass onto the sixth stage, which is great calm.
The calm is higher than ecstasy and it merges into samadhi (absorption in Self).
Successful samadhi causes a waking sleep state to encompass you, when you are always Consciousness, for Consciousness is your nature. Hence a person is always in samadhi, only he does not know it.
All one has to do is to remove the obstacles I have just mentioned.

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So long as you seek Self-realisation, the Guru is necessary. Guru is the Self. Take Guru to be the real Self, and yourself to be the individual self. The disappearance of this sense of duality is the removal of ignorance. So long as duality persists in you, the Guru is necessary. Because you identify yourself with the body, you think the Guru too is the body. You are not the body, nor is the Guru. You are the Self and so is the Guru. This knowledge is gained by what you call Self-realisation.

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You think that the world can be conquered by your own efforts. When you are frustrated externally and are driven inwards you feel, ‘Oh, there is a power higher than man.’ The ego is a very powerful elephant which cannot be brought under control by any creature less powerful than a lion, which, in this instance, is none other than the Guru, whose very looks make the elephant-like ego tremble and die. You will know in due course that your glory lies where you cease to exist. In order to gain that state, you should surrender yourself. Then the master sees that you are in a fit state to receive guidance and He guides you.

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He has only to act according to the words of the master and work inwardly. The master is both ‘within’ and ‘without’, so he creates conditions to drive you inward and at the same time prepares the ‘interior’ to drag you to the Centre. Thus he gives a push from ‘without’ and exerts a pull from ‘within’ so that you may be fixed at the Centre.

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Silence is the most potent form of work. However vast and emphatic the scriptures may be, they fail in their effect. The Guru is quiet and peace prevails in all. His silence is vaster and more emphatic than all the scriptures put together. These questions arise because of the feeling that, in spite of having been here so long, heard so much, striven so hard, you have not gained anything. The process that goes on inside you is not apparent to you. In fact, the Guru is always within you.

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SIMPLICITY
Recently, while coming from Bangalore, Arvind Bose brought some costly pencils and gave them to Bhagavan. After answering the usual enquiries about his welfare he went away to his compound, named “Mahasthan”.

After he left, Bhagavan examined the pencils closely, wrote with them, appreciated their good quality, and handed them to Krishnaswami, saying, “Please keep these carefully. Our own pencil must be somewhere. Please see where it is and let me have it.” Krishnaswami carefully put away those pencils, opened a wooden box which was on the table nearby, and, after searching for a while, found a pencil and gave it to Bhagavan.

Turning it this way and that, and examining it, Bhagavan said, “Why this one? This is from Devaraja Mudaliar. Our own pencil must be there. Give it to me and keep this one also safely somewhere.”

Krishnaswamy searched everywhere but could not find it. “See if it is in the hall,” said Bhagavan. Someone went there and came back saying it was not there.

“Oh! What a great pity! That is our own pencil, you see. Search properly and find it,” said Bhagavan.

Devaraja Mudaliar, who was there, said, “Why worry, Bhagavan? Are not all these pencils your own?”

Bhagavan said with a smile, “That is not it. You gave this one; Bose brought the other ones. If we are not sufficiently careful, somebody may take them away. You know, Swami is the common property of all people. If your pencil was lost you might feel aggrieved, for you bought it, spending a good amount of money, and gave it to me. If it is our own pencil it does not matter where it is kept. It costs half-an-anna and even that was not purchased. Some one brought it and gave it, saying it had been found somewhere. So, it is our own. As regards the others, we are answerable to the donors. No one will question us about this one and that is why I am asking for it. The others are for the use of important people. Why do we want such pencils? Have we to pass any examination or have we to work in an office? For our writing work, that pencil is enough.” So saying, he had a search made for it and ultimately got it.

Sometime back, a similar incident happened. Some rich people brought a silver cup, saucer and spoon and placing them reverentially before him, said,

“Bhagavan, please use these when you take any liquid food.” Bhagavan examined the things and passed them on to his attendants. As the attendants were placing them in the bureau in the hall, he objected and said,

“Why there? Let them be kept in the office itself.”
“They were given for Bhagavan’s use, were they not?” said a devotee.

“Yes,” replied Bhagavan, “but those are things used by rich people. What use can they be to us? If required, we have our own cups and spoons. We can use them — why these?”

So saying, Bhagavan told his attendant, “Look, from tomorrow we will use our own cups. Take them out.” A devotee asked, “What are those cups, Bhagavan?”

“Oh! Those cups are made of coconut shells, smoothed and preserved. They are our cups and spoons. They are our own. If we use them the purpose is served. Please keep the silver articles carefully elsewhere,” said Bhagavan.

“Are not those silver articles Bhagavan’s own?” asked the devotee. Bhagavan said with a laugh,

“Yes, they are. But tell me, why all this ostentation for us? They are costly. Should we be careless, some one might steal them. So they must be guarded. Is that the job for Swami? Not only that. Somebody might think, ‘after all, he is a sannyasi and so will he not give them away if asked?’ and then ask for them. It is not possible to say ‘No’. Yet, if they are given away, those who presented them might resent it, as they gave the articles for Swami’s use only. Why all that trouble? If we use our own cups it does not matter how we use them or what we do with them.” So saying, he sent away the silver articles, had his own cups taken out and shown to all present.

About the same time, a devotee brought a nice walking stick with a silver handle, and presented it to Bhagavan. Turning it this side and that, and examining it, Bhagavan remarked to the devotee,

“Good. It is very nice. Please use it carefully.”

“But it is not for my use,” he said. “I have brought it thinking that Bhagavan would use it.”

“What an idea!” exclaimed Bhagavan. “A nice walking stick with a silver handle should be used only by officials like you. Why for me? Look, I have my own walking stick. That is enough,” concluded Bhagavan.

“When that one is worn out, you could use this one, couldn’t you?” asked another devotee.
“Why these costly things for me? If a bit of wood were chiselled, a walking stick could be made out of it in an instant. While I was on the hill, I used to chisel a lot of wood into walking sticks, smooth them and preserve them. Not even a paisa was spent on that account. Several people took away those walking sticks. They were our own. Why all this ostentation for us? Those cheap walking sticks will do for us.” So saying, Bhagavan gave the stick back to the devotee.
As a rule, Bhagavan does not use costly things. He likes things which do not cost even a paisa.

-Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 13th September, 1947

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Dr. Paul Brunton (1898-1981), a British journalist, attracted by Indian mysticism first visited India in 1930. Author of eleven books, he has emphasized the value and importance of the Self within us. He is generally considered as having introduced meditation to the West. He once wrote: “Sri Ramana was a spiritual torch carried to the waiting souls in the West. I was only the unimportant ‘link-boy’, the humble carrier.” The Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation, New York, has posthumously published his post-1952 writings (the year when his last book The Spiritual Crisis of Man was published), in 16 volumes. He was awarded a doctorate in philosophy by the Roosevelt College, USA.
During his first visit, among many saints and yogis, Brunton also met Sri Ramana. He stayed for a few weeks in an impro- vised shelter very close to Sri Ramana’s Ashram.The number of full-time devotees being limited at that time, Brunton had ample opportunity of observing the Maharshi at close quarters and interacting with him. He provides a dispassionate, illumi- nating and intimate account of the Maharshi’s divinity and its

impact in his A Search in Secret India published from London in 1934. In his inimitable way he says:

There is something in this man which holds my attention as steel filings are held by a magnet. I cannot turn my gaze away from him. I become aware of a silent, resistless change, which is taking place within my mind. One by one, the questions which I prepared with such meticulous accuracy drop away. I know only that a steady river of quietness seems to be flowing near me; that a great peace is penetrating the inner reaches of my being, and that my thought-tortured brain is beginning to arrive at some rest. I perceive with sudden clarity that intellect creates its own problems and then makes itself miserable trying to solve them. This is indeed a novel concept to enter the mind of one who has hitherto placed such high value upon intellect.
I surrender myself to the steadily deepening sense of restfulness. The passage of time now provokes no irritation, because the chains of mind-made problems are being broken and thrown away. And then, little by little, a question takes the field of consciousness. Does this man, the Maharshi, emanate the perfume of spiritual peace as the flower emanates fragrance from its petals? I begin to wonder whether by some radioactivity of the soul, some unknown telepathic process, the stillness which invades the troubled water of my soul really comes from him.The peace overwhelms me.

The Maharshi turns and looks down into my face; I, in turn, gaze expectantly up at him. I become aware of a mysterious change taking place with great rapidity in my heart and mind. The old motives which have lured me on begin to desert me. The urgent desires which have sent my feet hither and thither vanish with incredible swiftness. The dislikes, misunderstandings, coldness and selfishness which have marked my dealings with many of my fellows collapse into the abyss of nothingness. An untellable peace falls upon me and I know that there is nothing further that I shall ask from life.

The Sage seems to carry something of great moment to me, yet I cannot easily determine its precise nature. It is intangible, imponderable, perhaps spiritual. Each time I think of him a peculiar sensation pierces me and causes my heart to throb with vague but lofty expectations.

I look at the Sage. He sits there on Olympian heights and watches the panorama of life as one apart. There is a mysterious property in this man which differentiates him from all others I have met.

He remains mysteriously aloof even when surrounded by his own devotees, men who have loved him and lived near him for years. Sometimes I catch myself wishing that he would be a little more human, a little more susceptible to what seems so normal to us.

Why is it that under his strange glance I invariably experience a peculiar expectancy, as though some stupendous revelation will soon be made to me? This man has freed himself from all problems, and no woe can touch him.
The Sage seems to speak not as a philosopher, not as a pandit trying to explain his own doctrine, but rather out of the depth of his own heart.

I am not religious but I can no more resist the feeling of increasing awe which begins to grip my mind than a bee can resist a flower in all its luscious bloom. The [Maharshi’s] hall is becoming pervaded with a subtle, intangible and indefinable power which affects me deeply. I feel, without doubt and without hesitation, that the centre of this mysterious power is no other than the Maharshi himself.

His eyes shine with astonishing brilliance. Strange sensation begins to arise in me. Those lustrous orbs seem to be peering into the inmost recesses of my soul. In a peculiar way, I feel aware of everything he can see in my heart. His mysterious glance penetrates my thoughts, my emotions and my desires; I am helpless before it.

At first, his disconcerting gaze troubles me; I become vaguely uneasy. I feel he has perceived pages that belong to a past, which I have forgotten. He knows it all, I am certain. I am powerless to escape; somehow, I do not want to, either.
I become aware that he is definitely linking my own mind with his, that he is provoking my heart into that state of starry calm, which he seems perpetually to enjoy. In this extraordinary peace, I find a sense of exaltation and lightness. Time seems to stand still. My heart is released from its burden of care. Never again, I feel, shall the bitterness of anger and the melancholy of unsatisfied desire afflict me. My mind is submerged in that of the Maharshi and wisdom is now at its perihelion. What is this man’s gaze but a thaumaturgic wand, which evokes a hidden world of unexpected splendour before my profane eyes?

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The truth of oneself alone is worthy to be scrutinized and known. Taking it as the target of one's attention, one should keenly know it in the Heart. This knowledge of oneself will be revealed only to the consciousness which is silent, clear and free from the activity of the agitated and suffering mind. Know that the consciousness which always shines in the Heart as the formless Self 'I', and which is known by one's being still without thinking about anything as existent or non-existent, alone is the perfect reality.

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The Maharshi occupied a couch in a corner of a middle-sized hall in the Asramam. Barring this corner the entire hall was at the disposal of the visiting public, and anybody could go into the hall at any time of the day or night. Visiting devotees would quietly steal in, sit for a while in quiet meditation and then leave unobtrusively. One day a man following the path of devotion came in and occupied a place very near the sage. Then he unburdened all that lay buried in his heart. His speech was choked with feeling. He poured forth, "I have gone on pilgrimage all over the land. I have been regular in my spiritual practices. Many a sleepless night have I passed in prayer. Still to this day I have had no mercy from the Lord. I am forlorn." He cried bitterly, but Maharshi sat unconcerned. Eventually all his suppressed feelings were worked out, and then in a measured voice the sage said, "Strange man. He cries – what is there to sob about? Instead of being poised in the blissful Self, he goes on wailing." This observation had a telling effect. The man saw that his problem was self-created, and a new chapter in his life started.

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There is no non-self.

The non-self also exists in the Self. It is the Self which speaks of the non-self because it has forgotten itself. Having lost hold of itself, it conceives something as non-self, which is after all nothing but itself.

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Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen, try as you may.
Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to prevent it.
This is certain.
The best course, therefore, is to remain silent.

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Annamalai Swami recorded conversations with Bhagavan in the late 1930s.

The following questions were asked by an aristocratic- looking American lady. Bhagavan's answers are a succinct summery of his practical teachings.

Q.: What is the truth that I have to attain? Please explain it and show it to me.

Bhagavan: What we have to attain and what is desired by everyone is endless happiness. Although we seek to attain it in various ways, it is not something to be sought or attained as a new experience. Our real nature is the 'I' feeling which is always experienced by everyone. It is within us and nowhere else. Although we are always experiencing it, our minds are wandering, always seeking it, thinking in ignorance it is something apart from us. This is like a person saying with his own tongue that he has no tongue.

Q.: If that is so, why did so many sadhanas come to be created?

Bhagavan: The sadhanas came to be formed only to get rid of the thought that the Self is something to be newly attained. The root of the illusion is the thought which ignores the Self and thinks instead, 'I am this body'. After this thought rises it expands in a moment into several thousand thoughts and conceals the Self. The reality of the Self will only shine if all these thoughts are removed. Afterwards, what remains is only Brahmananda, the bliss of Brahman.

Q.: I am now sitting peacefully without the thought 'I am this body'. Is this the state of reality?

Bhagavan: This state must remain as it is without any change. If it changes after a while you will know that other thoughts have not gone.

Q.: What is the way to get rid of other thoughts?

Bhagavan: They can only be removed through the powerful effect of the enquiry, 'To whom have these thoughts come'

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DIVINE FORCE

I went to the hall at 2-30 this afternoon. Bhagavan was there already, reading a slip of paper which someone had handed over to him. I sat there waiting to hear what Bhagavan would say. Bhagavan folded the paper with a smile and said, “All this will occur if one thinks that there is a difference between Bhagavan and oneself. If one thinks that there is no such difference, all this will not occur.”

Is it enough if we say that there is no difference between Bhagavan and ourselves? Is it not necessary to enquire who oneself is, and what one’s origin is, before one thinks that there is no difference between oneself and Bhagavan? Why is Bhagavan saying this? I was thinking of asking Bhagavan why he was thus misleading us but could not summon up enough courage to do so. I do not know if Bhagavan sensed this misgiving of mine; but anyway he himself began speaking again as follows:

“Before one could realise that there is no difference between him and Bhagavan, one should first discard all these unreal attributes which are really not his. One cannot perceive truth unless all these qualities are discarded. There is a Divine force (Chaitanya Sakti) which is the source of all things. All these other qualities cannot be discarded unless we get hold of that force. Sadhana is required to get hold of that force.”

I got courage as I heard those words and said unconsciously, “So there is a force?”

“Yes,” replied Bhagavan, “There is a force. It is that force that is called swasphurana (consciousness of the Self).”

I said with a quivering voice, “Bhagavan said casually that it is enough if we think that there is no difference between us and God. But we can discard these unreal attributes only if we are able to get hold of that force. Let it be the Divine force or the consciousness of the Self. Whatever it is, should we not know it? We are not able to know it however much we try.”

Never before this did I ask Bhagavan questions in the presence of others so boldly. Today, the inner urge was so great that words came out of my mouth of their own accord in the course of the conversation, and my eyes were filled with tears and so I turned my face towards the wall. A lady sitting next to me told me afterwards that Bhagavan’s eyes also became moist. How tender-hearted he is towards the humble!

Bhagavan sometimes used to say, “The Jnani weeps with the weeping, laughs with the laughing, plays with the playful, sings with those who sing, keeping time to the song. What does he lose? His presence is like a pure, transparent mirror. It reflects our image exactly as we are. It is we that play the several parts in life and reap the fruits of our actions. How is the mirror or the stand on which it is mounted affected? Nothing affects them, as they are mere supports. The actors in this world — the doers of all acts — must decide for themselves what song and what action is for the welfare of the world, what is in accordance with sastras, and what is practicable.” That is what Bhagavan used to say. This is a practical illustration.

Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, 2nd February, 1947

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NO ATTACHMENT AND TRUE BRAHMACHARYA

D.: Is work an obstruction to Self-realisation?

M.: No. For a realised being the Self alone is the Reality, and actions are only phenomenal, not affecting the Self. Even when he acts he has no sense of being an agent. His actions are only involuntary and he remains a witness to them without any attachment.
There is no aim for this action.

Even one who is still practicing the path of Wisdom (jnana) can practise while engaged in work. It may be difficult in the earlier stages for a beginner, but after some practice it will soon be effective and the work will not be found a hindrance to meditation.

D.: What is the practice?

M.: Constant search for `I', the source of the ego. Find out `Who am I?'
The pure `I' is the reality, the Absolute Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. When That is forgotten, all miseries crop up; when that is held fast, the miseries do not affect the person.

D.: Is not brahmacharya (celibacy) necessary for realisation of the Self?

M.: Brahmacharya is`living in Brahman'. It has no connection with celibacy as commonly understood. A real brahmachari, that is one who lives in Brahman, finds bliss in the Brahman which is the same as the Self. Why then should you look for other sources of happiness? In fact the emergence from the Self has been the cause of all the misery.

(Excerpt from Talk 17: Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi)

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I do not say that you must keep on rejecting thoughts. If you cling to yourself, to the 'I-thought', and your interest keeps you to that single thought, other thoughts will get rejected and will automatically vanish.

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Sages say that the state in which the thought 'I' (the ego) does not rise in the least is Self which is silence. That silence, Self, alone is God; Self alone is the individual soul, Self alone is this ancient world. The experience of silence alone is the real and perfect knowledge.

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Take the instance of moving pictures on the screen in the cinema-show. What is there in front of you before the play begins? Merely the screen. On that screen you see the entire show, and for all appearances the pictures are real. But go and try to take hold of them. What do you take hold of? Merely the screen on which the pictures appeared so real. After the play, when the pictures disappear, what remains? The screen again!
So with the Self. That alone exists; the pictures come and go. If you hold on to the Self, you will not be deceived by the appearance of the pictures. Nor does it matter at all if the pictures appear or disappear.

Ignoring the Self the ajnani thinks the world is real, just as ignoring the screen he sees merely the pictures, as if they existed apart from it. If one knows that without the seer there is nothing to be seen, just as there are no pictures without the screen, one is not deluded. The jnani knows that the screen, the pictures and the sight thereof are but the Self. With the pictures the Self is in its manifest form; without the pictures It remains in the unmanifest form. To the jnani it is quite immaterial if the Self is in the one form or the other. He is always the Self. But the ajnani seeing the jnani active gets confounded.

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Question: I begin by asking myself "Who am I?" and eliminate the body as not 'I', the breath as not 'I', the mind as not 'I', but then I am unable to proceed further.

Bhagavan: Well, that is all right so far as the mind goes. Your process is only mental. Actually all the scriptures mention this process only in order to guide the seeker to the Truth. The Truth cannot be directly indicated; that is why this mental process is used. You see, he who eliminates all the 'not-I' cannot eliminate the 'I'. In order to be able to say 'I am not this' or 'I am That', there must be the 'I' to say it. This 'I' is only the ego, or the 'I-thought'. After the rising up of this 'I-thought', all other thoughts arise. The 'I-thought' is therefore the root thought. If the root is pulled out, all the rest is uprooted at the same time. Therefore seek the root 'I'; question yourself: "Who am I?"; find out the source of the 'I'.

Then all these problems will vanish and the pure Self alone will remain.

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The Self is Pure Consciousness. Yet a man identifies himself with the body which is insentient and does not itself say: ‘I am the body’. Someone else says so. The unlimited Self does not. Who does? A spurious ‘I’ arises between Pure Consciousness and the insentient body and imagines itself to be limited to the body. Seek this and it will vanish like a phantom. The phantom is the ego or mind or individuality. All the scriptures are based on the rise of this phantom, whose elimination is their purpose. The present state is mere illusion. Its dissolution is the goal and nothing else.

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Is the Self the Witness?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: The idea of the Self being the Witness is in the mind. It may be useful for helping to still the mind's restlessness. But it is not the absolute Truth of the Self. Witnessing is relative to objects witnessed. Both the witness and his object are mental creations.

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