Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Winding up 2014

I guess I'm on time in wrapping up this year (last year I dilly dallied my 2013 review until 12 Jan 2013). I won't go into detail how 2014 was. I will try to keep this short and bittersweet. 

What a hell-uva year. 

1. Life, interrupted.
The most stressful year in my life, disrupted by my father's bad fall at the beginning of this year, which made him unable to walk normally again and drastic deteriorated health. Now our family life centers around taking care of him. Total loss of freedom. A few hospital admissions, and numerous A&E visits and follow-ups, we lost track of how many times we visited the hospital. Huge dosage of medicine daily. Constant standby and looking out for infections. His condition has improved but will never be his normal self again. 
Also, lost 2 aunts, a cousin younger than me, and another friend to heart attack and cancer. When I think of their sudden departure, it somehow makes me treasure my ailing father.  As I see his life drifting away, I want to be there for him during the last leg of his life, no matter how tough it is.

2.  She's 90!

Celebrated my grandma's 90th birthday, the biggest celebration this year. I am happy she looks happy and calm and that she still remembers me. May my grandma remain in good health and bliss.  

3. The unspoken.
Made new friends, lost some (sort of). This year, I realise everyone needs a listening ear. That is the reason why each of us sought out friends, to have someone to listen to our problems.  I had this happen to me all the time, friends who ask me out because they need a listening ear/confidante/venting machine. It's good to catch up and mostly, I don't mind being the brunt of their frustrations and verbal diarrhea. However sometimes, I am exasperated that I just want to block out everything I hear, so instead I go out with those friends who like to eat and enjoy a happy relaxing time. Food is music for the soul, no? Haha.

4. Happy times
Group gatherings can be fun, basically chilling out doing whatever activity together and just bonding.  Sometimes I prefer the sessions to be one to one /two, so then can really get to know the person/s better. 

5. We still need to eat. 
Some people complain I post too much food.  I am at the age where I don't care what other people say anymore, just be happy with what I do. Posting stuff online allows me to retrieve/search for them easily when I need to. I still have not learn how to bake, even though I cook a lot.  I like to grill meats and veggies, and boil soups. Also tried to cook more wet dishes so that it is more palatable for my father to chew, like steamed chicken in chicken essence, my multi-ingredients porridge, my first time cooking almost-authentic ramen and also lots of soup dishes and steamboat. 


6.  Lost it.
Just before the year ends, I lost something through my reckless mistake and ignorance. It's a blind stupidity year. It is not convenient to reveal here and something which I will keep to myself. It may not be something significant to everyone, but it is important to me. I lost sleep over the matter for a couple of days. Anyway, it is something material which I will probably get over it in time. It taught me a precious hard lesson though and I will never forget it. All I can say is, I hope justice is served one day. 

7. No regrets
I have said it before and I will repeat again. Despite all the trials and tribulations, I am glad that I am fortunate/blessed enough to meet the Dharma; all the gurus, the teachings and so many spiritual friends whom I learn alot from. Maybe because I am trouble-ridden these few years, it made me appreciate even more that Dharma can help me overcome all the negativities and a tired mind. Or at least I try to view all problems and solve them from the Dharma perspective.

8.  Non existent
Didn't blog much this year. In fact, my blog just past the 10th year mark. A DECADE. 10 years of blogging, and boy, maybe I have become tired.  One thing about blogging, is that I almost never go back to re-read my previous posts. I don't know why, I find it squeamish. I am not sure where this blog will be heading, but I know I will still be hanging around in social media.

So, there. Not a spectacuIar year. Have not travelled too. Missed a work trip to Japan. Missed another trip to India. But no regrets. I have had special moments too, which warmed my heart and which I will treasure forever. 

I will end with this quote which sums up how I feel about 2014. 






No matter how you feel at certain point, be it happiness or sadness, it will soon be just a memory, a dream. So why hold on to such emotions? For it, too, shall pass. 


Saturday, 6 December 2014

Let sleeping dogs lie

early at 7am (my usual auto wake time is 6plus on weekdays). Spent the whole morning clearing 1001 photos from my mobile phone, some to be archived into hard disk, some to be posted in Facebook and the rest to be deleted. 

I realise I take lots of photos, so i can remember the places i had been to and the people I was with. Some I took because there is something I want to write about, some to be shared in social media and friends. Some are for my private collection.

I share different stuff to different groups of friends in Facebook, meaning not everyone can see everything that i post. I'm considered more interactive than most of my friends. Other than a handful of them who share articles or photos regularly, the rest are pretty inactive. When I say inactive, it is not that this group of friends doesn't check Facebook. They do, but they seldom post stuff. So to the world of Facebook it seems that they are inactive.

Recently when I bumped into some friends in a couple of events or gatherings, I have quite a number of them asking me about some stuff I posted in Facebook. They told me they enjoyed my sharing of photos. I was surprised and told them I thought they were 'dead' on Facebook as many could not be bothered to interact. I teased them, saying at least they could have clicked 'Like' sometimes even if they have nothing to comment. Their replies were nondescript. Haha.

So I think it's an unexplained strange phenomena in Facebook. I understand people value their privacy, or just do not like to show their faces. Then why are they in Facebook in the first place? Just to stalk on people whom they considered friends?

Then there are those whom I tagged photos of them in their seemingly happy shots and they would always say, 'yes, post! post!'.  But when I posted and tagged them in the photos, they did not allow them to be displayed on their timeline. Yet the same people would post their own stuff, or things they considered more important. So when I realized this, at times I am a little disappointed. Hence I decided not to tag these people, or even post their photos in the first place. Sharing is not caring sometimes.

A lesson I learned in Facebook is that human biasness still prevails. Many seem to be quiet and inactive and oblivious to everything, but whenever someone 'important' posts something, all will clamor to click 'Like' and comment. All suddenly appears out of nowhere, out on a rampage. So there, we learn something new everyday.

To me, the photos I have taken (of myself and/or of others) have some significance to me, and they contribute to my nostalgic memories, whether they are good memories or not so good ones. Likewise, what i write are solely my thoughts at different moments of my life. I'm not new to social media. Heck, most of my friends don't even know I have been blogging for a decade. I will just continue to do my own stuff and let sleeping dogs lie.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Heart to heart

For the 20 months, almost 2 years, that I did not see my guru Lama Zopa Rinpoche, I was like a lost lamb. Strangely when one is having obstacles, the guru would not appear (physically), even though the guru is in one's heart all the time. Then having gone through that period of struggles of many kinds, I then realized perhaps that itself (not having the karma to see the guru) was also a lesson in the training of the mind.  For one thing, I learned not to take things, and most importantly, the dharma, for granted. The guru, who is the physical manifestation of the Buddha, may not always be there as and when we wish.

In the airport the previous week to welcome Rinpoche, I managed to have some brief moments with him and to make a request to him (in which he looked at me, then smiled and then laughed). That familiar feeling I felt with him since the very first time I met him, has not changed. Perhaps I've forgotten that feeling, or perhaps I had been blinded by lots of obscurations, but this time, that close feeling with him was revived. All these years, as little as I see of Lama Zopa Rinpoche, every time something will happen to make me realize he will always be my guru. No matter what, nothing, and no one can come between me and my guru. I may have many gurus, but there would always be a special place in my heart for just a couple of gurus and Lama Zopa Rinpoche is one of them.

Tonight while I was volunteering, Rinpoche suddenly made an unplanned appearance. There was no scheduled teaching during this brief stay, and there was not any program tonight. So for the few of us there who managed to receive his blessings, even if for a few minutes, naturally we were blissed out. Such good karma. With Rinpoche, there are always impromptu moments, and they are anything but ordinary. However to me, there is always a tinge of the predictable amidst the unpredictable. Certain things, I knew he knows what I had wanted to ask. And many times, what he taught, already answered what I was thinking.

Tonight, through Venerable Drachom, I also learnt what Lama Zopa Rinpoche has said about the elaborate long life puja we offered him the past Sunday. Rinpoche said that although he did not mention it during the puja, he felt there was good heart connection with those present that day, between the students offering sincerely to him and his heart also felt strongly for and went out to the students that day. What more can you ask for, when the guru says this? 

The karmic connection is sealed, there is no doubt. That is why Rinpoche will be coming back soon again to bestow a special empowerment for us. I know this coming from Rinpoche is not that usual, seeing that sometimes for certain teachings or empowerments, he would often not bestow, or would not start the scheduled topic until the time is ripe, ie. when some get too tired waiting and eventually leave, that is when he would begin, even if it is already way past midnight. I know this only too well. If you didn't know, the meaning of Rinpoche's name, Zopa, means patience in Tibetan. You need lots of it. ;)

So, to have Rinpoche said about having heart to heart connection with us that day, this is such blessed news and even more precious a gift any student can receive from a guru. *tears of joy*

See you soon, precious guru.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Life is busy enough

I don't know why it has been such an incredibly exhausting week and time just flew by so quickly. So busy at work. So busy bringing the father for checkup which dragged the entire day. So busy with so many telephone calls. So busy running errands. So busy preparing for guru's arrival. So busy despite my hurt finger and backache cranking up. So busy until no time to cook. So busy until no time to do my hair. So busy until I feel physically and mentally drained. 

So relieved finally the weekend is here. And just when I was beginning to unwind..... 

Had a long discussion with a friend via whatsapp earlier on and it turned into a session which I felt so zapped of energy. It was centered along the lines of the self cherishing ego and guru devotion. What I had thought to be an innocent sharing led to some sort of disagreement with friend regarding self cherishing and selfishness.

While I do not deny that all of us have our own ego issues and delusions in varying degree (that is why we behave and react in certain ways), I do not fancy a highly charged endless debate. An opinion is an opinion. First of all, I am not well versed in the dharma, hence not qualified to correctly point out the futility of having certain thoughts and views. Secondly, I'm not an articulate person. I cannot express myself well when being shot with many points and be expected to give my answers at the snap of fingers. While it's good to ask questions and to clarify, I felt it was too aggressive a session which gave you no chance to explain until /unless you admit and concur with the other party's viewpoint. I'm weak in giving instant analogies and to substantiate my views. And I refused to be drawn into a tiresome exchange just to satisfy the others' idea of a fruitful dialogue. So how? Just pull the hand brakes, period. Even though I did not agree with the way the topic was being broached and being 'attacked', I decided to put an abrupt end to the conversation. I simply do not have the luxury of time to engage in endless discussion day in day out and do not see the need to. 

Life is busy enough without additional, unnecessary invitation to debate in guise of 'contemplation'. 

I rather sleep.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Pokey pokey

Today for the first time in my life,  I got myself poked twice on separate occasions on the same day.

First stop at the Chinese medical hall. My injured index finger was swollen again even after 4-5 months since the injury. It became stiffer. Already I couldn't bend my finger and now it became worse. So the Chinese physician used acupuncture to poke at the vital points and the machine to heat up the hand. In addition, she also poked my shoulder at my back which has been my perennial problem since last year.

Next stop is the Blood Bank! I had a sudden urge to donate blood this morning when I woke up. I had donated at the beginning of this year and so I thought it would be good to do it again to round up this goddamn year which has been sickness and accident-prone throughout the year. The process was usually quite fast for me and it was completed within 10 minutes. Good to note my blood pressure, iron and overall health is optimum.

Truth be told, I actually have a slight phobia of needles, especially the first few seconds when the needle was inserted into my body. I usually close my eyes, take a deep breath, chant something and only open them when the needle is in. 

And this was my reward. Anyway, it felt real good to donate blood. Plus a little dedication after the ordeal. Phew.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Falling in love with less

OK I'm on a roll (blogging) here, but not sure how long I'll be inspired to write. I broke record this year for having blogged the least. I think I've lost plenty of readers but it's OK. You win some. You lose some. So enjoy my writing while you can. Haha!

Anyway I've been doing lots of spring cleaning since I'm stuck at home most of the time to take care of the father. Decluttering. I have packed the different areas of my house and threw away stuff that we no longer needed. I'm not a hoarder of stuff yet things just kept piling up; in the store room, wardrobe, kitchen cabinet and even the fridge. Desperately clearing yester-years junk. I'm not OCD about cleanliness. I just prefer a neat and tidy house which is not messed up so often. A clean slate physically also means a clean mental disposition, yo.

This was what I found - a small vintage suitcase which I bought about 20 years ago! Love the prints and leather trimmings. My sis has another one with different prints. I'm thinking to use it as a bedside table or something. Haven't decided.

I also found these plates which I bought from Turkey about 20 years ago too! One is made of porcelain painted with a tree of flowers. The other is made of heavy brass with very nice intricate carvings. Deciding where to hang them. The thing about items which should be hung on walls... I can't bear to drill a hole on my wall because I change the arrangement of my furniture pretty often. I can't possibly keep drilling. Maybe I'll use bluetak. :P

This is one part of my wall which is green and the other 3 sides are white. I can safely say my room is the neatest in my house. My quiet sanctuary of refuge and rest. 

I also cleaned up my fridge. Threw away stuff that were expired and packed items into tupperware boxes and sorted out everything, since we have 1001 tupperware. 

Every day I'm inundated with articles of life hacks for the house. Got the idea to hide all the wires and plugs in my chest drawer. Whatever that needs charging are all hidden and tugged away. No ugly sight of wires hanging all over the place.

While packing I found this very important turquoise mala with sentimental significance to me which has gone missing for almost a year! I thought I had dropped it while I was out. It was hiding inside an old hand bag all along. So relieved. I believe it has lots of wonderful powerful energy. 

Finally put up this beautiful painting of Shakyamuni Buddha with gold trimmings in my living room. Again. Did. Not. Drill. Hole. On. Wall. Yet. 

Paradox of choice

I read an article this morning about this teacher in the USA who wore the same outfit for his school's yearbook pictures for 40 years from 1973-2012. FORTY YEARS. Mind you, it's the SAME outfit, not similar outfit. Although it's perfectly fine and nothing wrong with this, I got to salute this guy, for the fun of it. Heck, it was only but once a year.

It brought back immediate memories of my Physics teacher in secondary school, Mr P, who not only wore the same or similar outfit for photos, but he wore it everyday. EVERYDAY, EVERY SINGLE DAY without fail, it was a neatly ironed (well starched) white short-sleeve shirt and navy blue pants. Plus his thick hair was combed neatly swept across from one end to the other. Even strong winds didn't seemed to ruffle the hair. Once a classmate even attempted to pull his hair just to check. No, it was not a wig, even though it did looked a little stiff. Probably the power of Brylcreem. 

Mr P was a good teacher although his behavior was quirky most of the time. My more cheeky classmates liked to tease him during his lessons and he still continued his teachings with a straight face. Haha. Anyway, all of us adored Mr P in a delightful way, even though I hated science in school.

Then last week, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, explained why he wore similar grey T-shirt every single day. He has a whole wardrobe of greys in the same cutting, and the reason he gave for wearing the same color outfit everyday was so that he didn't have to waste time deciding what to wear. He didn't want to waste energy on silly frivolities, choosing to focus on more important decisions of his giant social media company.

Someone in my Facebook timeline promptly shared this piece of news gleefully, concluding that wearing the same clothes everyday is 'normal'. Yes he seems to wear the same color outfit himself almost everyday too. There's another guy in my neighborhood who is also always wearing the same pastel yellow polo T-shirt everyday. I don't know him, it only made me recognize him, that's all. I cannot imagine myself wearing the same coloured clothes my entire life. 

So what is normal? When a famous personality like Zuckerberg says so, or do so? Does success equate to wearing the same clothes everyday? Or is it simply an excuse for laziness? Wearing the same old boring clothes doesn't necessarily make a man successful or a genius. 

Steve Jobs, with his signature black turtlenecks (designed by Issey Miyake) and jeans, got inspired when he saw Sony's employees in Japan wearing the same uniform at work, and thought he could adopt the same for his Apple staff in order to promote bonding. He got booed, everyone hated the idea.

Psychologists called this phenomenon, 'decision fatigue', or analysis paralysis, which stipulates that when faced with many potential choices, our decision making processes slow down to the point where action is never taken.

Men, in general, presumably don't like the hassle of having to decide over the little things in life. Ladies, on the other hand, live to dress well. Clothes can make a man (more likely a woman). How well one dresses can lift the mood and I personally prefer variety over the same old thing everyday. I do not fancy the idea of wearing the same outfit day in and day out, although I would not be caught dead wearing a black top at all. We all have our favorite colors or designs. What one wears should project that air of confidence. Being comfortable in your own skin is much more important. Not having to make little decisions of what to wear or eat doesn't make us better in making the grand important decisions. I guess we all have our own idiosyncrasies; we have to live with ours as well as others, be it a routined or multi-faceted choice.

Friday, 14 November 2014

The leaving of Geshe Jinpa

Received news a couple of nights ago that 86-year-old Geshe Jinpa had passed away and he was in thugdam (clear light meditation) for 2-3 days. Yesterday morning in Gaden Shartse Monastery, his body was offered to the fire on the auspicious day of Lhabab Duchen. 

Geshe la was known to be very skilful in conducting many powerful pujas. Despite constraint in mobility, Geshe la was limping, he still visited Singapore numerous times together with the Rinpoches and monks. The most memorable puja to me was when he conducted 2 grand fire pujas in 2012 concurrently together with Healing Lama His Eminence Kangyur Rinpoche. More than 1000 devotees turned up that night and it was a fantastic experience. We nicknamed Geshe Jinpa the "Xi Xi Geshe la" because of his unique way of saying 谢谢 (thanks in mandarin). 

Checking back my old photos taken in the past, I found many photos I've taken of Geshe Jinpa, especially those in the airport when we were sending him off. He was so friendly and gladly obliged photos with each of us as well as blessing us. I guess that was what touched me most. 

I always made it a point as much as possible to send the monks off at the airport whenever they were flying back to the monastery. Over the years there were so many different batches of monks who came to conduct pujas for us. I observe and always feel that when it comes to the monks, they understandably do not receive as much fanfare compared to the Rinpoches. While throngs of followers or devotees would turn up to send Rinpoches off, there are significantly lesser people when it comes to the rest of the ordinary monks. That is the reason why I feel strongly I should do it, as a sign of appreciation for them as well as recognizing their efforts and hard work during their stay here. We should treat  the Sangha community with equal respect, no matter what position they are, for they are the ones who might become great teachers and masters in future lifetimes. 

A few months back, another old Geshe-la, Geshe Ngawang Longtho, also passed away. Geshe la also visited Singapore GSDPL numerous times.  Geshe-la was a great practitioner and adept in conducting powerful pujas. 

I last saw him in the monastery when we visited him during His Holiness Dalai Lama's teachings. At that time, he was already quite thin, frail and weak. He gave us heartfelt advice and told us to keep His Holiness' precious teachings in mind. Inside his small room where almost 50 of us squeezed together, there were no dry eyes for most of us that day. Understandably, I knew it could be my last time seeing him. 

May both old Geshes continue to benefit many beings in all future lifetimes wherever they choose to take rebirth. I believe we will meet again.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A little of guru in my heart

I was gifted a very precious holy object yesterday. It is a big pendant made from Khensur Rinpoche Lama Lhundrup's holy relics and ashes, and many other holy relics and holy water. It even has tiny bits of his robe and blessed pills in it. It is encased as one of my favourite and important deity as well. It is powerful protection. 

As today is the twice-monthly guru tsog day, I remember and pay tribute to Lama Lhundrup who passed away into parinirvana about 3-4 years ago. Thinking of Khenrinpoche (as I used to call him), always make me both happy and sad; happy to be able to have connected with such an endearing guru, and sad that he is gone and I only had a brief period with him in this lifetime. 

Khenrinpoche was a humble and simple monk very well loved and respected by many many many. He was not any high-ranking reincarnated lama. However he has achieved the ultimate state within one lifetime, leaving behind numerous holy relics after his passing. He was an affable, jovial and true practitioner who lived a pure life serving his gurus earnestly and looking after the entire Kopan monastery of monks and nuns, his disciples and students. He spent his whole life teaching and serving others. He was also a powerful healer (from my own experience). 

His next coming will be awesome. For now, as I wear the holy pendant and relish in having a little of guru with me in my heart. 

I miss you, Khenrinpoche, and thank you for agreeing to be my personal guru in all my lifetimes until enlightenment. May your reincarnation return swiftly to guide us as soon as possible. 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The gift

His Holiness the Dalai Lama once said, 
"The best gift for me on my birthday is ... please keep your own mind, your own heart more compassionate..... seriously and genuinely concerned for others' well-being.... with that motivation, serve others, help people and also animals. If you do not have the opportunity to serve others, then at least restrain from harming them. So, all my friends, brothers and sisters, please keep in your mind for the rest of your life, (to have) a more compassionate life. Then that's the best present on my birthday."

Today is His Holiness the Dalai Lama's 79th birthday. Today is also my birthday too. Today I remember a dream I once had of His Holiness.

In the dream, I was in the courtyard is a temple, where many monks and lay people were busy running about. Then somehow a voice told me to make something to offer to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I was told that by making that "something" I would be accumulating lots of merits. In the dream, I was quite excited and happy, because firstly, I was going to meet His Holiness, secondly I was going to make something for him, and thirdly it was a merit-making opportunity!  However I had absolutely no idea what to make from scratch. 

Then all of a sudden, 'poof' ! And in my right palm appeared a small white sachet. Instinctively that became the offering I was supposed to offer. Then just as suddenly, His Holiness the Dalai Lama appeared about 2-3 metres in front of me, followed by a monk.  Immediately I bowed my head and put my palm together.  His Holiness smiled brightly as he walked towards me and stopped by my side. I opened my palm to show him that sachet offering. Then His Holiness was talking to me about something, I heard his voice and I could not recall what he said. After he finished talking, he took the sachet from my palm with his right hand.  When he opened his right palm again, instead of the plain looking sachet, there appeared on his palm, was a small statue of Guru Rinpoche !! 

I was stunned and amazed as His Holiness put the statue on my palm and whispered something into my ear. The statue of Guru Rinpoche was small and very colourful indeed and very very exquisitely beautiful. Then I woke up.  I always remember this vivid dream. Perhaps that explains why I always have a particular affinity and connection with Guru Rinpoche and that is why I love him so much. 

This was the best birthday gift, albeit in a dream. 

Saturday, 14 June 2014

From Him where it all started

Humans are really full of feelings and emotions. I'm talking about me, haha. Today is the auspicious day of Saka Dawa where we celebrate Buddha Shakyamuni's birth, enlightenment as well as parinirvana. Merits are multiplied 100 million times. 

I attended a puja in ABC where we paid tribute and homage to Shakyamuni Buddha, from whom everything begins. During the puja, many thoughts and reflections overwhelmed me. Many  flashbacks of memories and things that happened the last couple of years. I was a little choked with emotions when reading the text in praises to Buddha, partly affected by the recall of the past that I couldn't continue reciting for a while. There are some things I regretted, there are some things I was bitter about, there are some things I feel so helpless about, there are some things I resented, there are some things I wanted to forget forever. There are some things I wished they never happened. There are many things I wished they be erased from my past. There are many things I wished to change if I could turn back the clock. 

But then I realise, of course, as cliche as it sounds, things happened for a reason. The only constant is change. Many things have changed. People I know have changed. I have changed. The situation around us has changed. For good for bad I do not know. 

Then afterwards, I realise there are those around me who cares, even those we hardly meet or close to. Last night a friend said she had wanted to pass an amulet to me for weeks. As we didn't see each other, she had been carrying the amulet with her all the time. The amulet has been blessed by His Holiness Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche for my father. And she only knew about my father's plight briefly from our conversation weeks earlier. Last night a couple of friends also gifted me precious holy objects. 

Since the beginning of this year, friends have given me so many blessed items. A couple of friends gave blessed holy water from His Holiness Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Some gave blessed dharma pills from HH Dalai Lama, HH Karmapa, Healing Lama Kangyur Rinpoche and Dagyab Rinpoche as well as other great masters. Yet another friend committed to 100,000 Tara mantras to be completed within a month specially dedicated to my father's recovery. Many powerful pujas were arranged for him (how wonderful and powerful the pujas and dharma pills were warrant a separate post which I will share next time).  Some friends visited my father. Some friends gave him on the spot treatment (relief) or massage. Lots of friends as well as strangers, through word of mouth (and whatsapp group chats) did prayers and dedications for him. A venerable also did animal liberation for him. 

Despite the changes in my life which I am perplexed about (not just because of my father's condition but other matters as well), I am truly grateful for friends' concern and their encouraging words. My faith in humanity restored, I just cannot continue to dwell in the past with regrets and the unpleasant stuff. Only then can I move forward in this samsaric life and to continue my practice with a little more confidence. 

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