Tao

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Tao

Postby skakos on October 20th, 2013, 1:39 pm 

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Tao is full of paradoxical phrases.
It contains wisdom our western logic cannot comprehend.
But the world is inherently illogical - so why try to understand it logically?
Being illogical could be the best way to reach the truth.

In this thread I will try to post some thoughts/teachings of Tao for discussion.

I will start with a favourite of mine...

"Seek the empty, if you wish to be full"...
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Re: Tao

Postby Watson on October 20th, 2013, 4:12 pm 

Sorry the meaning of that one is not immediately apparent to me. Unless empty is what you want, so you are full what you want?
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Re: Tao

Postby sponge on October 20th, 2013, 4:47 pm 

skakos wrote:Tao is full of paradoxical phrases.It contains wisdom our western logic cannot comprehend.But the world is inherently illogical - so why try to understand it logically?Being illogical could be the best way to reach the truth.In this thread I will try to post some thoughts/teachings of Tao for discussion.I will start with a favourite of mine..."Seek the empty, if you wish to be full"...


I agree Tao is paradoxical but the logic is sound once you see through the paradox, surely?

Empty the mind of all preconceptions, beliefs and learned truths if you wish to fill it with pure unconditioned truth.

In general, I don’t think Western minds lack the necessary logic, just the will to question the status quo too deeply, perhaps?
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Re: Tao

Postby Obvious Leo on October 20th, 2013, 6:46 pm 

Once again, where the hell is neuro when you need him?

I think this is how the Tao works in the above example. "Emptying" the mind basically means disengaging the pre-frontal cortex and activating the anterior cingulate cortex. Different logic systems seem to come into play in these different brain regions. Instinctual logic takes over from what we might regard as more "rational" step-by-step logic, but there is no reason to believe it is any the less logical. Quite the reverse, in fact. Yoga meditation can achieve much the same thing and the adept acquires a considerable benefit in all brain functions, including in what we would more usually describe as reasoning.

It's a very sophisticated piece of kit, a human brain.

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Re: Tao

Postby BadgerJelly on October 21st, 2013, 12:21 am 

Be careful when quoting from an eastern text. There are a vast number of interpretations.

Even the meaning of the word "Tao" does not translate easily into English.
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Re: Philanthropic perspective?

Postby Faradave on October 21st, 2013, 12:39 am 

My interpretation may be shallow yet still apply.

Find fulfillment by giving to those in need.

Seems a correspondence to the western teaching, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
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Re: Tao

Postby Don Juan on October 22nd, 2013, 3:52 pm 

skakos wrote:Tao is full of paradoxical phrases.
It contains wisdom our western logic cannot comprehend.
But the world is inherently illogical - so why try to understand it logically?
Being illogical could be the best way to reach the truth.


Trying the illogical is only a means...the bottom line is to really understand what you think you already know. Some parts of wisdom are so "obvious" that they are very difficult to see. Approaching the illogical can disturb (but not always) our canalized ways of viewing the world, crumpling our maps, and discovering new paths toward the hidden treasures.
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Re: Tao

Postby Venus on October 23rd, 2013, 11:41 pm 

skakos wrote:Tao is full of paradoxical phrases.

Many phrases do not make much sense.
One reason is that no-one really knows how to translate those old works.

skakos wrote:It contains wisdom our western logic cannot comprehend.

Logic is logic, it is not culturally determined.
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Re: Tao

Postby kensavvy on October 24th, 2013, 6:47 pm 

sponge wrote:
I agree Tao is paradoxical but the logic is sound once you see through the paradox, surely?

 


What does 'paradox' mean to others?

To me if something is 'paradoxical', then it is logically sound. To me 'paradox' means seemingly not true but expressing a truth. I do not see it is a case of seeing through the paradox but more the case of seeing through the way one looks at it. For example the saying 'We do not need money to live' is seemingly not true on first glance but on deeper inspection it expresses not just a truth but the truth.

That sentence Is true. Always was and always will be. It is just paradoxical in nature. We did not need to see through the sentence (the paradox) to find the logic is sound logic. It always has been and always will be sound. We just needed to change the way we looked at it to discover this.

A great deal of what is written is paradoxical not just Tao.

I do not think trying to put your own perspective on any "quote" is the best thing to do. If you truly want to know what was truly meant by a quote, then ask the person who wrote it. If that is not possible, then see past your 'own' perspective (look through the way 'you' look at it) and see it from the perspective of everything.
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Re: Tao

Postby Don Juan on October 24th, 2013, 10:48 pm 

kensavvy wrote:I do not think trying to put your own perspective on any "quote" is the best thing to do. If you truly want to know what was truly meant by a quote, then ask the person who wrote it. If that is not possible, then see past your 'own' perspective (look through the way 'you' look at it) and see it from the perspective of everything.


Do you mean seeing past your 'own' perspective and seeing from the perspective of everything is not a part of putting your own perspective on any "quote'? We can put ourselves on multiple perspective but we have to remember that we are coming from our own perspective. What will be another option?

Lay your cards on the table, express your mind, and be ready to change or be changed, either confirming and/or revising your map of the world.
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Re: Tao

Postby Don Juan on October 24th, 2013, 10:51 pm 

Even the first line of the Tao can leave one into deep thinking and it is one of the best and beautiful lines because it summarizes the entire book and serves as its fundamental and compact idea:

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.

If one does not see its context, this line would lead into very long reflections about what it means. The context of this line however is available to every man, if he only knows where to look. The fundamental can sometimes be blinding but this is not a permanent condition. Thus, seek and you will find.

The eternal Tao refers closely to the whole reality itself including its mysteries, intact and unfragmented, as distinguished from abstractions. Abstractions are part of the eternal Tao, but when one describes the Tao, that description, or that aspect described is never the eternal Tao. The eternal Tao has always the largest extension compared to any description of it. The recognition of the eternal Tao is close to the experience of reality without abstracting. It is a de-focusing experience. When one stops abstracting or speaking and just experience the wholeness of reality, this is close to the recognition of the eternal Tao, because abstracting and speaking can potentially send noise and obscure the recognition of the eternal Tao. There is a part in our experience of the wholeness of reality that cannot be abstracted, thus, cannot be told, for descriptions always fall short of capturing it. One of the ways to have a sense of the eternal Tao is to meditate, but one can always recognize it if he has a distinction between his own abstractions and reality itself and their relationship as a whole.

There is then a fundamental difference between God (of at least Christianity) and the eternal Tao, in that, the eternal Tao has wider extension than God, or in other words, God is included in the eternal Tao. God per se is not a part of human experience, thus it is the emptiest part of the eternal Tao. The eternal Tao is close to the recognition of a continuum from existence to God, from something to the total and deepest emptiness (with awareness that even the word ‘emptiness’ is no longer applicable to that part referring to God because that part annihilates even the observer), (with God a different category from existence if one will divide the continuum into two, the source of division being the innate and fundamental structure of the observer). This continuum includes not only the recognized reality but also the observer’s ignorance and the mysteries of the whole reality itself.

Relevant to God, what is part of the human experience are God’s manifestations. God and God’s manifestations are not of the same level, for the manifestations are part of existence, and God is on the other side of the continuum beyond the boundaries of existence.

In my point of view, I can put the eternal Tao in parallel with Christian faith being that the eternal Tao equivalent to the wholeness of God and God’s manifestations (with the universe included as a manifestation of God). In other words, the eternal Tao is not God, but God plus God’s manifestations seen from another standpoint. The eternal Tao and faith on God perspective are two perspectives or metaphors of the same “coin”. The eternal Tao perspective is coming from the standpoint of the observer who focuses on the continuum rather than an ultimate boundary defining a higher powerful entity. The ‘God and God’s manifestation’ perspective is coming from the standpoint of the observer who employs such dividing boundary distinctively into the continuum for the reason that he is comparing his knowing to that part, the emptiest part, of the continuum; and with this, emphasizing it more than the eternal Tao perspective. It basically says, more than acknowledging your ignorance, more than seeking the breadth of your ignorance, you have to seek also the emptiest part of that ignorance.
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Re: Tao

Postby BadgerJelly on October 24th, 2013, 11:53 pm 

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.


There are probably a dozen more translations :

The way that can be seen is not the eternal way.

The truth that can be told is not the eternal truth.


I have seen "Tao" translated as the "path", "truth", "reason", "way", "ideal", etc. I hope one day I find the time to learn Mandarin so I can actually read this thing as it is meant to be read.

I think the biggest difference between eastern and western concepts, in this respect, is that western thought tends to be extroverted whilst eastern thought tends to be introverted. It appears to me that the western world has had a greater tendency to take myth and make it solid in the mind.

For me Tao is something like being inside the outside. It is a state of being that is unrivaled by any other experience of "reality" because that is what it is. You can experience being of it but never become it. Very easy to see how this could be personified and turned into the concept of a supreme being.
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Re: Tao

Postby Venus on October 25th, 2013, 12:01 am 

Don Juan wrote:The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.

If one does not see its context, this line would lead into very long reflections about what it means. The context of this line however is available to every man, if he only knows where to look. The fundamental can sometimes be blinding but this is not a permanent condition. Thus, seek and you will find.

The eternal Tao refers closely to the whole reality itself including its mysteries, intact and unfragmented, as distinguished from abstractions. Abstractions are part of the eternal Tao, but when one describes the Tao, that description, or that aspect described is never the eternal Tao. The eternal Tao has always the largest extension compared to any description of it. The recognition of the eternal Tao is close to the experience of reality without abstracting. It is a de-focusing experience. When one stops abstracting or speaking and just experience the wholeness of reality, this is close to the recognition of the eternal Tao, because abstracting and speaking can potentially send noise and obscure the recognition of the eternal Tao. There is a part in our experience of the wholeness of reality that cannot be abstracted, thus, cannot be told, for descriptions always fall short of capturing it. One of the ways to have a sense of the eternal Tao is to meditate, but one can always recognize it if he has a distinction between his own abstractions and reality itself and their relationship as a whole.

There is then a fundamental difference between God (of at least Christianity) and the eternal Tao, in that, the eternal Tao has wider extension than God, or in other words, God is included in the eternal Tao. God per se is not a part of human experience, thus it is the emptiest part of the eternal Tao. The eternal Tao is close to the recognition of a continuum from existence to God, from something to the total and deepest emptiness (with awareness that even the word ‘emptiness’ is no longer applicable to that part referring to God because that part annihilates even the observer), (with God a different category from existence if one will divide the continuum into two, the source of division being the innate and fundamental structure of the observer). This continuum includes not only the recognized reality but also the observer’s ignorance and the mysteries of the whole reality itself.

Relevant to God, what is part of the human experience are God’s manifestations. God and God’s manifestations are not of the same level, for the manifestations are part of existence, and God is on the other side of the continuum beyond the boundaries of existence.

In my point of view, I can put the eternal Tao in parallel with Christian faith being that the eternal Tao equivalent to the wholeness of God and God’s manifestations (with the universe included as a manifestation of God). In other words, the eternal Tao is not God, but God plus God’s manifestations seen from another standpoint. The eternal Tao and faith on God perspective are two perspectives or metaphors of the same “coin”. The eternal Tao perspective is coming from the standpoint of the observer who focuses on the continuum rather than an ultimate boundary defining a higher powerful entity. The ‘God and God’s manifestation’ perspective is coming from the standpoint of the observer who employs such dividing boundary distinctively into the continuum for the reason that he is comparing his knowing to that part, the emptiest part, of the continuum; and with this, emphasizing it more than the eternal Tao perspective. It basically says, more than acknowledging your ignorance, more than seeking the breadth of your ignorance, you have to seek also the emptiest part of that ignorance.

I think there is some irony in you explaining what the eternal Tao is while that actually is in contradiction with the first statement, because, well, a Tao that can be told, as you do is not the eternal Tao.

Furthermore would you care to explain how you reach an understanding that "the eternal Tao" includes a deity in Daoism? Is that your own interpretation or can you point out any text that claims that?

One other question would be why leave "Tao" untranslated?
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Re: Tao

Postby Venus on October 25th, 2013, 12:05 am 

BadgerJelly wrote:I have seen "Tao" translated as the "path", "truth", "reason", "way", "ideal", etc. I hope one day I find the time to learn Mandarin so I can actually read this thing as it is meant to be read.

That would not help at all.

Most Chinese will not be able to read the original text. Although characters have been simplified in mainland China they still may recognize many characters but their meanings are almost completely different in contemporary Chinese.
Last edited by Venus on October 25th, 2013, 12:09 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Tao

Postby BadgerJelly on October 25th, 2013, 12:05 am 

One other question would be why leave "Tao" untranslated?


Because it does not translate.
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Re: Tao

Postby kensavvy on October 25th, 2013, 2:25 am 

Don Juan wrote: Do you mean seeing past your 'own' perspective and seeing from the perspective of everything is not a part of putting your own perspective on any "quote'?


What I mean is do not look from just 'your own' perspective. Become bigger than that and look from 'Everything's' perspective.

If 'you' is a part of 'everything', which obviously 'you' are, then obviously when you see from the perspective of 'everything' then you will be seeing from your own perspective also.


Don Juan wrote: We can put ourselves on multiple perspective but we have to remember that we are coming from our own perspective. What will be another option?


Another option is to 'come' from Everything's perspective. If, as you say, 'We can put ourselves on multiple perspective', then we can put ourselves on Everything's perspective. I, again, suggest not to come from one's own perspective, as this will distort the truth that lays in front of you. Coming from Everything's perspective allows you to very quickly and clearly see truth.

Don Juan wrote:Lay your cards on the table, express your mind, and be ready to change or be changed, either confirming and/or revising your map of the world.


I am not sure what this is in regard to.
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Re: Tao

Postby moranity on October 25th, 2013, 6:10 am 

There is no Diety as such in taoism, there are many gods etc, but not in the christian sense. Also the statements are statements of fact, not for interpretation, they don't mean this or that, they mean exactly what they say. They are a description of actual fact, in the spirit of zen koans, such as "the bridge flows and the stream is still" this is not to be thought about, but is a description of fact.
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Re: Tao

Postby Don Juan on October 25th, 2013, 8:53 am 

kensavvy wrote:What I mean is do not look from just 'your own' perspective. Become bigger than that and look from 'Everything's' perspective.


Ok

If 'you' is a part of 'everything', which obviously 'you' are, then obviously when you see from the perspective of 'everything' then you will be seeing from your own perspective also.


But when you are coming from your perspective, it is not always necessarily the case that you are seeing from the perspective of 'everything'. Still this condition is important, because of its relevance to wisdom and ignorance (and emptiness as well). By avoiding the tunneling effect of one's perspective, he is avoiding also a part of that emptiness that needs to be explored. It is better for him to witness the struggle from the tunneling to broad perspective. One of the basic tenets is to know thyself and a part of that is to be familiar and aware of labyrinths of his the 'you perspective'. He will not be able to get into that if all he has to do is assume an 'everything' perspective. Speak your mind, present ideas (lay your cards on the table), and be ready to change or be changed as to those ideas, this way you evolve and update your mind.

Another option is to 'come' from Everything's perspective. If, as you say, 'We can put ourselves on multiple perspective', then we can put ourselves on Everything's perspective. I, again, suggest not to come from one's own perspective, as this will distort the truth that lays in front of you. Coming from Everything's perspective allows you to very quickly and clearly see truth.


This is very counter-intuitive, if you avoid the hole, you will end up in a larger hole. Experience the smaller hole first so that from there you will notice that there are so many holes ahead. The truth is, you have the 'you perspective', it is better then to know it thoroughly. Do not avoid mistakes and one will have many on one's own perspective, but that's the good point of it, that is, every step of the way is learning. So by multiple perspective I mean coming from both, that is, you learn to jump to and fro the perspectives to see a greater range of the situation. Let the 'you perspective' evolve and be purified in fire.

The basic principle of the Tao, especially the first line, is to look into your experience in your own perspective because remember that:

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.

You do not need to ask it from others, look into your own universe in your own perspective (for not all are fundamentally different between individuals, even if some of these cannot be told; there are laws that are similar for all of them because they fundamentally share the same structure)! What is that which cannot be told but is there?
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Re: Tao

Postby toucana on October 26th, 2013, 6:05 am 

If you are interested in the Chinese text of the Dao De Jing, then I would recommend the Chinese Text Project website:

http://ctext.org/dao-de-jing

This is a wonderful resource with many other valuable and hard to find Chinese texts of philosophical interest, including the works of Confucius and Moh Tzu.

As well as the interlinear Chinese character text and English translation, each line has a set of small icons that link to other pages of character by character glosses for each line, and the full archive of traditional Chinese commentaries by generations of Classical scholars all the way back to the Han dynasty (206BC- 220AD).

Probably my favourite quote from the Dao in this context is 56.1
Attachments
L56.png
'Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know'
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Re: Tao

Postby BadgerJelly on October 26th, 2013, 10:22 am 

Zhīdao = "know"?

Zhīdao is made up of two characters: 知道. The first character 知 (zhī) means "to know,” or “to be aware” and the second character 道 (dào) means “truth,” or “principle.” Dào also means “direction” or “path” and in this context it forms the first character of “Daoism” (Taoism).


I personally think it would be better to say :

"Those who are aware do not speak. Those who speak are not aware'

There is a big difference.
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Re: Tao

Postby toucana on October 26th, 2013, 12:29 pm 

Zhidao as the composite verb "To know' is a modern Baihua or colloquial expression in Mandarin Chinese of the Beijing dialect, not Wenyen or classical Chinese. In the latter it is simply Zhi

The Dao De Jing is written in archaic Wenyen and in the format of matching Chengyu or 'Four Character Phrases' which are often highly compact and difficult to translate without reference to other contextual material.

The line I quoted and attached as an image consists of two Chengyu of four characters apiece.
(The smaller four characters after each phrase are textual notes added by commentators.)

Zhi Zhe Bu Yan
Yan Zhe Bu Zhi


Zhi (tone 1) means "To know" in Wenyen, but the second character in each line Zhe (tone 3) is a pronoun suffix that adds the sense of "The ones who.."
Bu (tone 4) is particle that negates a habitual state or action
Yan tone(2) is a verb meaning "To Speak"
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Re: Tao

Postby BadgerJelly on October 26th, 2013, 1:24 pm 

six of one, half a dozen of the other

The first character 知 (zhī) means "to know,” or “to be aware”


I am not fluent in any form of Chinese and no really is fluent in ancient Chinese. Plus the Tao Te Ching was almost certainly written by several authors over a long period of time (I do not care to guess at).

My point was simply to show that subtle changes in translations, or in meaning over time, can misrepresent the true intent of the words written (that were themselves an approximation of an actual thought that was trying to be expressed by the original orator/writer.

Semantics fascinates me. All language fascinates me.

The way I understand the Tao Te Ching "to be aware" makes much more sense. It is a personal view from my understanding of the complete text (which is limited obviously).
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Re: Tao

Postby toucana on October 26th, 2013, 2:01 pm 

Classical Chinese is a strange beast. It is a wholly literary artifact that exists solely on the written page, and one that hasn't been spoken as a living language for almost two millenia.

When I was student in this area (many years ago now), one of my regular companions in the Far Eastern reading room turned out to be a radio astronomer who was only interested in extracting astronomical data from the ancient Chinese dynastic annals. His single minded focus on this particular area meant that he only needed to learn the rather specialized shorthand forms for dynastic names, reign periods and dates, plus the Chinese names for phenomena like 'comet', 'meteor' 'bright star' etc.

Within an improbably short time. he could speed-read his way through the Chinese astronomical records at twice the rate of the professor of the department. It's just a matter of what you focus on.

If you enjoy the semantic challenge of the Dao De Jing then do spend some more time on the Chinese Text Project website and see how you fare.
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Re: Tao

Postby BadgerJelly on October 26th, 2013, 3:33 pm 

I'll take a look. The "I Ching" fascinates me more than the Tao Te Ching.

I have the standard translation of it by Richard Wilhelm. One day I'll find time to read through it all properly, with my now fresher eyes. At the moment I am just trying to stay focused on half a dozen things at a time instead of several dozen! :P

Just took a peek at the site. Looks good! I'll certainly use it when I get time to study the "I Ching"

Thanks

btw am I correct in thinking that Taiwan is now the best place to learn traditional Chinese? Someone from Taiwan told me this. Their vague reasoning was that it is being phased out in China and they didn't really like to teach it there as much!?!? Seemed strange to me. Any idea??
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Re: Tao

Postby Venus on October 26th, 2013, 3:38 pm 

BadgerJelly wrote:btw am I correct in thinking that Taiwan is now the best place to learn traditional Chinese? Someone from Taiwan told me this. Their vague reasoning was that it is being phased out in China and they didn't really like to teach it there as much!?!? Seemed strange to me. Any idea??

Traditional Chinese characters are used day to day in Hong Kong and Taiwan, in mainland China the simplified system is used. But please do not mistake traditional/simplified Chinese with classical Chinese that is something entirely different.

Simplified Chinese basically means that some characters are simplified because they have too many strokes or are used so often it makes sense to make them a bit shorter. If you want to learn Chinese characters I think it is better to start with traditional characters because if you know the traditional characters it is easier to learn the simplified form from it.
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Re: Tao

Postby skakos on May 4th, 2014, 1:24 pm 

Only ignorance is true knowledge.
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Re: Tao

Postby Hendrick Laursen on May 5th, 2014, 5:11 am 

Really?!
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Re: Tao

Postby skakos on May 5th, 2014, 5:39 am 



Every time you analyze something in order to "understand it", you destroy it's true nature...
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Re: Tao

Postby Hendrick Laursen on May 5th, 2014, 8:38 am 

The Delicacy of Flower wilts under the fingers of dissection.
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Re: Tao

Postby TheVat on May 5th, 2014, 10:29 am 

Somehow, horse manure still retains its telltale odor no matter how vigorously I sniff.
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