History is filled with oppression, violence, and revolutions. More so, humanity is obsessed with the ideologies that perpetuate conflict, dissonance, and political enmity. It is enough to raise a flag in the name of freedom to incite the blood of millions of individuals to march to war.
People have many justifications for rebellion: the government is negligent, the taxes too high, the laws too strict, the politicians too incompetent. Sadly, our humanity is exclusively concerned with external changes, with rebellion against ideas, culture, politics, religion, or the state. However, people ignore the internal, psychological causes of affliction and social conflict, and therefore do not know how to rebel against themselves.
Our society celebrates rebels, because they set trends and go against the flow, risking their lives often without seeking popularity. Their strong will and rugged individualism set them apart from the rabble. While such qualities are not condemnatory, the masses tend to admire such persons for the wrong reasons. People like Che Guevara, James Dean, rebels without a cause, William Wallace in the film Braveheart, musicians, and poets—individuals who incite violence and political rebellion—they capture the imagination of the populace due to their strong conviction and beliefs in freedom. While humanity admires the good intentions of these philosophers, warriors, and thinkers, the results of their ideologies have produced all the sufferings and bloodshed of the great wars, which have plunged this planet into complete ignorance and darkness.
Ideology, whether from east or west, propounds freedom. People sing it in the churches, on the tops of minarets, before the altar of the synagogues, and in the meeting halls of Congress and the Senate. Yet it is this very concept of freedom that religion and governments have used to provoke all the wars of history, to defend their missions, agendas, and conquests. The concept of freedom fascinates, captivates, and hypnotizes. It obstructs the discernment of the consciousness and its ability to act for the benefit of all people, regardless of race, culture, religion, sex, or tradition.
People want freedom. Many are even willing to kill or be killed for it. But rather than take such ideals at face value, we, in these studies, like to question things profoundly, to understand the significance of such terms at their roots. Therefore, we sincerely ask: what is freedom?
In North America and in many countries, people have the freedom to chose what to eat, where to travel, where to work, what to believe, and whom to marry. And yet everybody continues to suffer. We work at jobs we hate, fearing our boss, envying our co-workers, being constantly consumed by feelings of dissatisfaction, criticism, backbiting, emptiness, and despair.
Yet despite all our tragedies, people like to externalize. They want to blame the exterior world for all their problems. We want to change everything outside of us to conform with our habits, dispositions, and prejudices. While people constantly fight to better their external situations, we prefer, in these psychological studies, to analyze the source of our discontents, desires, and sufferings, which is within ourselves, within the mind.
Humanity always wants to defend its desires, even at the expense of other people’s lives. But what if we were to do something that has not been done before, at least by most? What if, rather than go against the government, political establishment, or popular culture, we were to question our own wants, desires, and cravings? What if we were to rebel against ourselves and our own psychological conditions that we have put in the way of our own personal and spiritual development?
Bloodshed and violence will always recur so long as people do not look within themselves to comprehend the psychological impetus, the impulse, the will, that pushes them to act in mistaken ways. Therefore, rather than rebel against the external world, we ask: “What if we were to rebel against our own desires?”
This question, of course, dissatisfies the majority, because humanity is fascinated and enslaved to desire, yet for the few who want to comprehend and develop their full conscious potential, such an inquiry becomes the foundation and focal point of initiation into a higher state of consciousness, a superior Level of Being.
Radical Change Goes Against Time
To enter, experience, and develop our full potential, the individual must make a very defined and concerted effort within him or herself. Such an effort goes against the concept of time, evolution, and progress. Such an effort requires that we examine our own psychological states of suffering in the present moment, to discover where our pain originates, how it sustains, and how it may be pacified.
People believe that with time, situations will improve. Yet no great luminary, prophet, buddha, angel, etc., ever taught that things improve with time. What the great messengers of humanity emphasized is that true psychological and spiritual development is the outcome of tremendous internal revolutions.
“…the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. —Matthew 11:12
Wars will continue to exist on our planet because people expect external circumstances must change, not their interior life. Rioting, violence, despair, and destruction will perpetuate and condemn humanity to a vicious circle so long as people have delusions about “tomorrow,” that eventually, if we wait long enough, “things will get better.”
This is why Samael Aun Weor, the founder of the modern Gnostic tradition, stated in his book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology:
“The mechanical hope of people serves no purpose. They think that with time things will get better. Our grandfather and great grandfathers thought that way; however, facts have arrived to precisely demonstrate the opposite of this.” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Waiting around does not produce changes. People always look for political revolutions to transform the state of suffering they are in, ignoring that through regime change or usurpations, one oppressive form of government is replaced by another.
It would be better to rebel against our own states of mind than the external world. Such a spiritual revolution occurs when we go against our own habits, wants, desires, conditions. As we are now, we tend to be slaves of circumstances.
How is this the case? When we are insulted by an aggressor, we return with insults. We are betrayed, then we want to get revenge. When we are patted on the back, we smile.
People have the power to influence us as they wish, and in fact it takes very little effort to make us follow along with someone else’s program. Therefore, the question is: “Are we truly free?” And if not, “How do we become free?”
Examine your daily life. Do people influence you? Are you free from the desire for retaliation? When someone treats you with disrespect, are you able to respond with genuine kindness and concern, with selflessness, compassion? Do you act of your own volition, free of the prejudices, hatreds, and negativity of others? Or are you impelled by your own states of suffering: anger, resentment, anguish, fear, and pride, whenever someone rubs you the wrong way?
Our psychological states repeat in relation to the circumstances that provoke them. Trying to manipulate external circumstances will not produce radical change so long as our mind is egotistical, filled with conditions and suffering. If we truly want the external world to change, we must enact a transformation in our own psyche. Life will continue to roll on beyond our control if we do not know how to consciously manage our own psychological states, replacing the afflictions of mind and heart with the virtues of the soul.
Be sincere. Analyze the facts of your life. People who wait for change never experience it, because the world will continue as it is so long as we do not contribute to it in meaningful and conscious ways.
Spiritual and Psychological Revolutions
The path of the spiritual revolutionary, of the psychologist, is one of internalization: to look within the consciousness to discover the conditions that shape one’s existence. Therefore, rather than rebel against the government, which could be replaced by another far worse, it would be better to rebel against our own negative states of mind.
To be clear, when we use the term psychology, we do not refer to recent studies of the intellect, the brain, and its nervous systems. Instead, our studies focus on psyche, the soul, the consciousness, and its relationship to logos, the divine; psyche-logos, psycho-logy.
A true psychologist understands and manifests his own inner Being, her inner divinity, and because of this, experiences true freedom, bliss, free of external circumstances, afflictions, or conditions.
A spiritual rebel is someone like Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, Beethoven: individuals who fully manifested their spirit, true human beings in the most complete sense of the word. These masters unlocked their creative power and were able to influence millions, since by awakening the full potential of their consciousness, they rose to a higher level of Being so as to express that divinity to humanity.
Another example of such a revolutionary is William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. His own kingdom goes against him, yet he thinks for himself, feigning madness in order to gather information about his enemies. Who are those enemies? His own negativities, defects, desires. His uncle, mother, and old acquaintances, friends, try to provoke him to discover the source of his act, yet he always knows how to handle his foes with intelligence. This is a perfect allegory for how to live in life: observant, watchful, and wise, never reacting with suffering to circumstances, but knowing how to respond with equanimity and understanding.
Hamlet uses the analogy of the individual as a musical instrument, which people can play upon to produce any melody they wish. When people do not train themselves in meditation, they are like a flute that any stranger can manipulate for the desired song, the longed-for effect, the anticipated reaction, frustration, hatred, etc. Yet Hamlet demonstrates, in this remarkable play, how one can rebel against “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” and by “taking arms against a sea of troubles” through meditating on the causes of suffering, can “oppose and end them.” This refers to no longer letting the external world dictate one’s response to life. As Hamlet berates his former friend Guildenstern:
Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me. You would seem to know my stops. You would pluck out the heart of my mystery. You would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass. And there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak? 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me. —Hamlet, Act III.ii
When we no longer react mechanically to life, when we chose how to respond with wisdom to difficult situations, to emotional crises, we can truly rebel against that which perpetuates affliction, chaos, and sorrow.
The Marvelous Ladder
Therefore, true change is demonstrated through psychological rebellion, through going against our own mechanical reactions to life, and not by trying to force the external world to conform with our ideas.
When we comprehend our own states of being, our own ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, and when we no longer go along with whatever negative response emerges within our interior, we are in truth enacting psychological rebellion.
The liberated consciousness knows how to respond to any situation with equanimity, serenity, and insight. When we act upon our genuine spiritual nature, and no longer follow the imperfections of our own character, we are in truth waging a spiritual war, here and now.
This is the war of the spirit against internal afflictions, against conditions of mind. This type of war has nothing to do with the fanaticism of certain religions or cultures that think that by forcing people to believe in a specific tradition, that one is performing good works, that one is a martyr, an apostle.
This spiritual war is type of conscious work enacted for the redemption of the soul, for its liberation and unification with divinity. Psychological rebellion exists when we rise towards a superior level of being.
Remember that we stated how consciousness can expand to infinite degrees. Divinity, the innermost Being, resides within the most profound regions of our own consciousness. We can learn to experience the Being and rise to higher levels of consciousness when we rebel against our own conditioned selves in this present moment.
…it is not irrelevant if we imagine the numerous rungs of a ladder which extends itself upwards, vertically.
Unquestionably, we find ourselves on any one of these rungs. On the lower rungs will be people worse than us, and on the higher rungs persons better than us will be found.
On this extraordinary Vertical, on this “Marvelous Ladder,” it is clear that we can find all the Levels of Being.
Each person is different; this is something that no one can dispute.
Undoubtedly, we are not talking about pretty or ugly faces, nor is it a question of age. There are young and old people, old persons about to die as well as newborns.
The subject matter of time and of years, that matter of being born, of maturing, developing, marrying, reproducing and aging is exclusively of the Horizontal.
On the “Marvelous Ladder,” on the Vertical, the concept of time does not fit in. On the rungs of such a scale we can only find Levels of Being. —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
The horizontal path relates to time and everything related to the world, with temporality, personality, birth, life, and death. On the horizontal line of life, we are born to this world, grow up, mature, become old, and pass out of physical existence.
It is easy to see that this horizontal path is traveled by everyone. People who live and never question their existence, who suffer all the outrages of life without ever really knowing why, adhere to the horizontal path of life in the most unconscious and severe manner. These people, the public, the masses, simply go with the flow of existence without looking into their own minds to discover the secret causes of affliction.
But what about the vertical path?
The vertical path relates to how one reacts or responds to life based on one’s quality of mind. The horizontal path will always exist, since it refers to the progression of events and experiences along the trajectory of physical life that emerge and repeat mechanically. Yet the vertical path has to do with whether we, as a consciousness, will learn to respond to life with rectitude and love, or react with animosity against the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”
To live in the Being, to remember the presence of divinity in oneself, to be psychologically alert, is to be aware only of the present moment in which we are. The vertical path is constituted by levels of being, ascending towards superior states or descend towards inferior states, based on how we use our consciousness here and now.
What we are psychologically determines how we will respond to the horizontal line, to the facts of life.
When a person simply reacts to external circumstances with anger, frustration, negativity, suffering, and affliction, it is a sure indication that one is attached to the horizontal path. Yet by responding to situations with wisdom, understanding, and conscious love, we are in truth going against the flow of our own habits, dispositions, and desires, indicating that we are ascending to higher levels of being.
The Bible allegorizes the vertical path through Jacob’s ladder:
"And [Jacob] dreamed, and behold a ladder [of the Vertical Path] set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it." —Genesis 28:12
Heavenly states of being exist in the superior part of the vertical path. Diabolic states of consciousness exist in the inferior part of the vertical path, beneath the horizontal.
Heaven and hell are places in the multidimensionality of nature, yet more importantly refer to states of consciousness, as we explained in the previous lecture on “The Level of Being.”
Our level of being is determined by how we use our consciousness in the present moment, whether for good or for ill. We either ascend upon the vertical path based on spiritual works or descend through identifying with all the sorrows of life.
The Present Moment
To ascend to a higher level of being, we must awaken as a consciousness, here and now. We usually do not pay attention to the present moment but think only of the future or the past. Most people never contemplate the present instance in which they are, in its totality, richness, and novelty. This fundamental ignorance of what exists inside and outside of us, here and now, indicates that our consciousness is very asleep, that it is dreaming.
Since we have energy, some level of awareness that we are in our physical body, we tend to believe that we are awake. The reality, however, is different.
Humanity believes that dreams only relate to the sleep of the physical body. Yet people ignore that their consciousness is asleep even while the physical body is active. People who are unconscious in the dream state are also unconscious in their physical bodies. People whose consciousness is trained and awake through meditation in the physical body are also awake as a consciousness during the normal hours of physical sleep. They experience what are known as heavens in religion, different dimensions related to the Tree of Life that we spoke about previously. They leave behind the body and enter the dream world with full consciousness; they are no longer dreaming. They experience the realities of those internal worlds beyond the physical body with full awareness through what are known as out of body experiences and astral projections.
So besides this, how do we truly know humanity is not conscious?
People tend to live their entire lives in complete distraction. By this I do not just mean watching television or reality shows, by using Facebook or the iPhone, by going to Six Flags: Great America and roller coasters, by not being responsible members of society. While these are obvious examples of distraction, there exists a deeper application to this principle.
Why do people get into car accidents? Why do accidents happen? It’s because people are not paying attention. They are dreaming.
If it’s true that people get killed in accidents because they don’t pay attention, the same principle applies to spiritual life. Our spirituality is dead if our mind is constantly wandering with thoughts and anxieties, if we are always distracted in life and never paying attention to where we are at or where we are going.
You cannot experience divinity if you are thinking of your friends when washing the dishes, or when driving your car remembering your fiancée. You cannot know the Being if you are constantly distracted by memories, daydreams, preoccupations, and fantasies, instead of being attentive with whatever task engages you in the present moment.
To access higher states of consciousness, we must be present. We must be alert and vigilant as a consciousness. All religions and mystical traditions, in their original forms, taught that watchfulness of the present moment is the beginning of union with divinity. This means that if we are doing something, we don’t think or worry about other things, but only engage our attention and concentration to the task at hand.
While listening to this lecture, how often have you become distracted and lost the thread of my meaning? You might have been listening, but started thinking about other things, until your minds have wandered off completely. Suddenly, you remember, “I’m supposed to be listening!” This type of distracted thinking needs to be controlled by the consciousness. We must always learn to be watchful in all events and situations.
Experience of the truth occurs here and now, within our own perception, when a profound state of attention and remembrance has been established within our interior through conscious works. Yet this can only occur when we no longer allow ourselves to be distracted.
This is why certain traditions practiced vigils, whereby the practitioners would perform rituals without physically going to sleep. The essential meaning is that we, as a consciousness, must never lose our guard, must never cease paying attention to what is going on around and within us in this instant.
It is alert vigilance, watchfulness, that opens the doorway to seeing and understanding why we suffer. When you perceive in yourself your own negative psychological states and no longer invest them with your conscious energy, it is a sure indication that you are ascending to higher levels of being. This is the vertical path that leads towards different experiences of divinity, in gradual steps.
Our level of being, therefore, can only change when we are aware of this moment.
"It is not irrelevant to remind our readers that a mathematical point exists within us. Unquestionably, such a point is never found either in the past or in the future. Whosoever wants to discover that mysterious point must look for it here and now within oneself at this exact moment, not a second earlier, not a second later. The two horizontal and vertical lines of the Holy Cross intersect at this point. Thus, we find ourselves from moment to moment before two paths: the Horizontal and the Vertical. —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
To be is different from existing mechanically in life. As Hamlet stated, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” To remember the presence of the Being by ascending the vertical path, or to be unconscious of the truth by following the horizontal line of life: that is the essential question of Shakespeare’s play. To live mechanically is to live identified with personality, materialism, mechanical thoughts, desires, habits, addictions, preoccupations, anxieties, monetary needs, work problems, struggles in relationships. To think that one is thinking, to be lost in the mind and its conditions, is to be asleep, dreaming.
As we mentioned, when people do no pay attention on the road, they end up crashing their car and killing themselves and others. This is a very common occurrence.
When we allow ourselves to be distracted by our own mind and the difficulties of life, we are traveling the horizontal path. But when we consciously rebel against negative qualities of mind through perceiving the present moment in its fullness, we are in truth ascending the vertical path of being.
The Being is Not of Time
Therefore, eternity is the present moment. People like to think of eternity as some utopia in the clouds, that one will reach after living a pious life of belief and servility to some tradition. These types of illusions, however, constitute the mechanical hopes of people, since beliefs and traditions belong to the horizontal line of life, to time. Such thoughts, beliefs, religions, and ways of thinking are born in time and die in time. It is enough to look at the birth, life, and decay of certain past civilizations to see this dynamic in action.
The Being, however, is eternal. The consciousness, with its multiple levels, exists in different rungs, higher and higher, in the present instance, not in the future, nor the past. Truth is the unknown, discovered within ourselves from moment to moment. We can experience the spiritual flavor of the Being and of the psychological qualities of the consciousness by learning to direct attention and keep it active in all events of life.
The Being is beyond thought, feeling, and will. Our consciousness emanated from the Being, and has nothing to do with thinking, desires, or conditions.
Consciousness is simply the capacity to perceive without thought, feeling, or impulse. To think that we are thinking, to feel that we are feeling, to act without internal self-reflection, indicates that the consciousness is not active, but identified with thought, feeling, and desire. It is mechanical, dreaming.
Therefore, how can we experience and unite with the Being if we are caught up in thinking and reacting to the mechanical circumstances of life, by not paying attention to what is going on?
Whenever we are caught in thinking or daydreaming of other things, we become lost in the horizontal line of life, with temporality, which is a subjective form of experience.
As Samael Aun Weor indicated, everyone has their own ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Everyone has diverse levels of being, different dispositions and character. Such dispositions and habits are subjective, not objective. Our own beliefs, ways of thinking, and behaving are unique to us. Yet the Being is different, objective, truthful, beyond the temporal personality.
Most of humanity has no idea what the Being is, because they do not look within themselves for divinity. To experience the Being, we must learn to awaken consciousness, since our soul, our perception, is the only thing that can help us to understand what the truth is, beyond time, thought, feeling, habit, and desire.
As Einstein wisely postulated, “Time is relative.” Only the Being is eternal, is never subjected to time, beliefs, dreams, ideas, or concepts.
People have a lot of theories about God, religion, science, philosophy. But none of it is grounded in actual experience. All these theories and beliefs are relative to the minds and conceptions of people whose consciousness is asleep, is dreaming. All of this has to do with traditions, which belong to time, the horizontal line of life.
Someone who awakens consciousness can experience the Being, the reality. Therefore, such a person possesses true objective knowledge. Such a person knows the truth because he or she has ascended to higher levels of Being upon the vertical path.
Only by rebelling against ourselves, here and now, by fighting against daydreams, fantasies, and wishful thinking, by learning to pay attention, can we experience the Being within us. This rebellion is enacted when we work as a consciousness to overcome the distractions of the mind.
Whenever we are thinking of other things than what we are doing, we are asleep, dreaming. We dream whenever we identify with temporal things, whenever we give all our energy to material existence, to the things that relate to our personality.
Sadly, most people believe that their name, language, culture, customs, religion, and beliefs, constitutes their true nature. These things, however, are born in time and die in time. They have nothing to do with the consciousness, the Being, the eternal.
"The personality develops and unfolds on the Horizontal Line of Life. The personality is born and dies with its linear time; it is mortal. A “tomorrow” does not exist for the personality of the dead person. The personality is not the Being.
“The Levels of Being are not of time. Since the Being himself is not of time, He has nothing to do with the Horizontal Line. He is found within our own selves, now, on the Vertical.” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Everyone loves their heritage, their inheritance, their self-concepts, personalities, and beliefs. Yet humanity ignores how these types of materialistic and even so-called “spiritual” things were born in time and die in time. They have nothing to do with conscious experience or objective fact.
People dream about who they are; their name, culture, customs, and education will not continue with them past the grave. Therefore, “To be or not to be!” That is our dilemma.
Therefore, psychological rebellion refers to our internal disassociation with the illusions we carry within ourselves, to experience the true nature of the Being, which is happiness, peace, divine love, patience, altruism, and direct knowledge.
Psychological rebellion is about transforming the mind, to become conscious of that which we typically ignore. We learn to gather information and data about our genuine spiritual nature the more we reflect on the present instance in which we find ourselves.
Internal Revolution and the Vertical Path
Most people follow life mechanically and never question their identity, their language, customs, beliefs, habits, and desires. However, people who are tired of suffering question themselves and inquire into the source of their most intimate problems, which are psychological. Transforming our sufferings in the present moment through superior action indicates progress in the vertical path or levels of Being.
“It is apparent that the Horizontal path is too base; it is traveled by my buddy and everybody, by those who are juvenile and those who are senile. It is evident that the Vertical is different; it is the path of intelligent rebels, of revolutionaries.
"When one remembers oneself and works upon oneself, when one does not become identified with all the problems and sorrows of life, it is a fact that one is traveling along the Vertical path." —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Therefore, spiritual revolutions occur within the soul when it learns to pay attention and constantly maintain mindfulness. By observing ourselves and not assuming we know anything, to simply look at the facts of our existence, we begin to see and live within the consciousness.
To be identified is to invest our energy, our consciousness, into circumstances, with conditions of mind, with thoughts, feelings, or impulses.
Non-identification occurs when we observe the facts of life without becoming worried, depleted. We do what we need to do with heightened attention and watchfulness, with compassion and equanimity, so that we do not lose energy in negative thinking, negative emotions, and negative actions.
Non-identification and self-reflection is how we can learn to live life with greater serenity, insight, and compassion, to discover and uproot the psychological causes of suffering in a permanent manner. We don’t react mechanically and habitually to external events, but respond with comprehension, intuition, and pure action, devoid of the need to think. Traveling the vertical path, therefore, is making conscious choices, rather than lashing out towards the injustices and circumstances of life.
Psychological Change and Genuine Freedom
True freedom, then, occurs through psychological revolutions, which help us to go against the causes of suffering in ourselves. By discovering our true, divine nature, we enter and follow the ascending, vertical path for profound, radical, and genuine transformation.
This type of work is profound. It is about taking the path of greatest resistance, the resistance of years of habits and conditions in the mind. However, such a path must be distinguished from superficial changes, like adopting or changing one’s habits in a conventional sense.
Renouncing alcohol or smoking—although wonderful—is superficial in the larger scale. People tend to give up habits while engaging in new ones, failing to comprehend and eliminate the desires or conditions of mind that exist in the subconsciousness of a person. While it is an achievement for an alcoholic or drug addict to renounce their destructive habits, the unconscious elements or desires for alcohol and drugs will continue to exist until the consciousness learns to eliminate such conditions through the work of the vertical path.
The more we free ourselves of psychological conditions, the greater our insight into the Being will be.
"It would be absurd, obviously, to look for our own Being outside of ourselves. Therefore, it is not irrelevant to establish the following as a corollary: titles, ranks, promotions, etc. in the external physical world cannot in any way originate authentic exaltation, re-evaluation of the Being, or a move to a higher rung in the Levels of Being.” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Discovering the Being has nothing to do with diplomas, with a college education or intellectualism, with becoming a scholar and paragon of knowledge. The exaltation and re-evaluation of the Being occurs within someone who rebels against their own psychological conditions and the sufferings such states produce in the consciousness.
We must learn to ascend the ladder of being towards the light of our true divine nature. The way that a person ascends such a vertical path is through self-reflection, meditation, and humility. Sincerity opens the doorway to real change. When we truly want to cease suffering, we must examine our own selves and not try to run away through vain dreams, speculations, assumptions, and theories. We should ask the question: “What in me provokes all the calamities and afflictions of my existence?” By taking responsibility for our own actions, we in truth can develop our greatest potential, securing our own happiness as well as the happiness of others.
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