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Thread: I am Shunryo's Pig

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    I am Shunryo's Pig

    Dumped into life’s slop recently, I turned to a book I’ve had on my shelf for a long time but never read: Crooked Cucumber. Just a few pages in, Shunryo tells the story of feeding pigs as a youth that are never satisfied, won’t eat until he leaves because they always want more. This is how we are with problems, says Shunryo, always wanting more when we have “just enough problems.”

    Well, my just enough problems included a new position with new responsibilities sprung on me with little warning. My (too) simple life suddenly got too complicated with too much stress. The things I am not all that good at (details and accounting) suddenly became many of the tasks that I needed to be good at, and the consequences felt serious. As my Norwegian grandmother used to say, uff-da! The stink of all that I disliked made me miserable as it all piled up. But it was compounded by commitments I had already made for things that stirred my passions and rewarded my soul.

    Oh, it was a huge conflict of attachments and aversions all at the same time. But besides that, it was also totally exhausting. I was working an average of 10+hour days regularly trying to meet all the various demands that needed to be met. The weight upon me felt huge in every way; physically, existentially, monetarily, and psychically. Life just sucked because I was just surrounded by shit, and what made it worse was that I cared about all the outcomes that were my responsibility, which meant that I needed to turn all of that shit into flowers. To shrug anything off was not an option. I felt like the narrow end of a wide funnel; the flow was just too fast and all I could do was try to keep it contained.

    Long story short, everything worked out, some things quite well and others as good as can be expected. But I became so miserable during it all that I was like Shunryo’s pig with a bad attitude that just kept asking for more than the just enough problems I already had with all the demands on me.

    The pig is my new favorite animal, and having just enough problems is my new mantra. We get all the problems we need, and how we deal with them can only add on to them. Living life lessons sucks, but the rewards of recognizing our pig-ness can be its own non-reward.

    Here is image of how it felt to be surrounded by all my shit with Buddhist sun on the other side, which is of course no side at all.
    AL (Jigen) in:
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    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Always wanting more when we have just enough problems- excellent!!!
    Gassho
    C

  3. #3
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Thank you for sharing. I too like that quote "always wanting more wen we have just enough problems"

    Gassho
    Joyo

  4. #4
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Hello,

    Thank you, Al.


    Gassho,
    Myosha
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajña from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  5. #5
    Thank you Jigen. =)

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Sounds familiar.
    Gassho ~ from a fellow shit wallower.
    P.S. I too am emerging from the pile, it is good to feel the sun once again.
    Last edited by Hogo; 05-11-2014 at 06:03 PM.
    The more I learn, The less I know.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Heishu's Avatar
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    If only a pig could truly fly, then there would be no need to wallow.

    Gassho,
    Heishu


    “Blessed are the flexible, for they never get bent out of shape." Author Unknown

  8. #8
    Hmmm. There are endless problems in life. There are no problems from the start.

    There is no "problem" in life. In order to have a problem, there must be a situation in life and one's internal reaction and emotion response to the situation to make it a "problem". It takes "two to tangle". The situation is just the situation. It is just what it is. Our emotional response to the situation to turn it into a "problem" or "not a problem", a "welcome situation" or a "bad situation", is another matter. When we sit Zazen ... we drop all resistance and judgments, and situations are situations. Each a shining jewel, no problem.

    On the other hand ... life is endless problems, nobody escapes problems, one problem after another. Right now I am reading a book about life in an Zen monastery in America ... and the monks have endless problems. Onw would think that by running from the duties of the outside world, into a life of simplicity and renunciation, one can run from all problems. Not true! They have problems with the temple washing machine, problems with each other, problems with the Teacher, problems with their friends and loved ones, problems with Zazen. Suzuki Roshi had many problems in his life, family problems, health problems, which we can read about in "Crooked Cucumber". Back in the Buddha's day, if one reads the old Suttas and Vinaya, he had endless problems too ... problems with his students, problems with the army that wanted to attack his old country, problems with his bad health, problems with people of all kinds. In fact, the Buddha became the Buddha because of life's biggest problems of "sickness, old age and death" ... and he never found a way around those (as evidenced by the fact that he eventually got old, sick and died!). Life is endless problems, constant pig shit.

    But what the Buddha found is a way to transcend problems ... even as one has problems! He learned how to be free of the suffering of "old age, sickness and death" even as he got old, sick and died! We can NEVER escape our problems, yet we can ALWAYS be free of problems from the start! Do you know how to have "problems-no-problems"?? Can you have problems ... and feel resistance and aversions ... and drop the resistance and aversions to problems ... at once, as one? The result is a kind of "resistance without resistance" "aversion-no-aversion" at once. Then, even the pig shit is seen as a shining jewel!

    We live in a world in which there can be daytime because there is night, sun because there is rain, birth because there is death ... and so the light contains the darkness, darkness is precisely light ... birth is death and death just birth ... the things we love and run toward, and the things we hate and run from are not two!

    So long as one tries to be free of problems ... one will never be free. But when one learns to be free in/as/right through/right beyond all our constant problems, one is free!

    Shunryu Suzuki said in Beginners Mind [p 118] ...

    Dogen-zenji said, "Although everything has Buddha nature, we love flowers, and we do not care for weeds." This is true of human nature. But that we are attached to some beauty is itself Buddha's activity. That we do not care for weeds is also Buddha's activity. We should know that. If you know that, it is all right to attach to something. If it is Buddha's attachment, that is non-attachment. So in love there should be hate, or non-attachment. And in hate there should be love, or acceptance. Love and hate are one thing. We should not attach to love alone. We should accept hate. We should accept weeds, despite how we feel about them. If you do not care for them, do not love them; if you love them, then love them.

    Usually you criticize yourself for being unfair to your surroundings; you criticize your unaccepting attitude. But there is a very subtle difference between the usual way of accepting and our way of accepting things, although they may seem exactly the same. We have been taught that there is no gap between nighttime and daytime, no gap between you and I. This means oneness. But we do not emphasize even oneness. If it is one, there is no need to emphasize one.

    Dogen said, "To learn something is to know yourself; to study Buddhism is to study yourself," To learn something is not to acquire something which you did not know before. You know something before you learn it. There is no gap between the "I" before you know something and the "I" after you know something. There is no gap between the ignorant and the wise. A foolish person is a wise person; a wise person is a foolish person. But usually we think, "He is foolish and / am wise," or "I was foolish, but now I am wise." How can we be wise if we are foolish? But the understanding transmitted from Buddha to us is that there is no difference whatsoever between the foolish man and the wise man. It is so. But if I say this people may think that I am emphasizing oneness. This is not so. We do not emphasize anything. All we want to do is to know things just as they are. If we know things as they are, there is nothing to point at; there is no way to grasp anything; there is no thing to grasp. We cannot put emphasis on any point. Nevertheless, as Dogen said, "A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love i t ." Even though it is so, this is our life.

    In this way our life should be understood. Then there is no problem. Because we put emphasis on some particular point, we always have trouble. We should accept things just as they are. This is how we understand everything, and how we live in this world. This kind of experience is something beyond our thinking. In the thinking realm there is a difference between oneness and variety; but in actual experience, variety and unity are the same. Because you create some idea of unity or variety, you are caught by the idea. And you have to continue the endless thinking, although actually there is no need to think.

    Emotionally we have many problems, but these problems are not actual problems; they are something created; they are problems pointed out by our self-centered ideas or views. Because we point out something, there are problems. But actually it is not possible to point out anything in particular. Happiness is sorrow; sorrow is happiness. There is happiness in difficulty; difficulty in happiness. Even though the ways we feel are different, they are not really different, in essence they are the same. This is the true understanding transmitted from Buddha to us.
    The Buddha is found right up to our necks and over our heads in mud and pig shit! Like a lotus flower that grows out of the mud and blossoms above the muddy water surface, we can rise above and right through our sufferings of life.



    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-12-2014 at 02:47 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    I appreciate the entire post, but especially this today..

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    So long as one tries to be free of problems ... one will never be free. But when one learns to be free in/as/right through/right beyond all our constant problems, one is free! ......
    Sometimes it seems, in fact it feels pretty clear to me, that living this space and time and change, is living continually off-kilter, like a wave continually tipping. It means that friends die or go away, but it also means that friends arrive and barren trees bloom in May, .... grass seeds sprout. I'll take it all. It is worth it. As long as I stay open and open and feel it all.

    Gassho Daizan
    大山

  10. #10
    This picture is definitely not Kosher or Halal



    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Piggy zazen!
    AL (Jigen) in:
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    hankTae ouyae!

    asshoGae
    C

  13. #13
    Senior Member TimF's Avatar
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    There is no "problem" in life. In order to have a problem, there must be a situation in life and one's internal reaction and emotion response to the situation to make it a "problem". It takes "two to tangle". The situation is just the situation. It is just what it is. Our emotional response to the situation to turn it into a "problem" or "not a problem", a "welcome situation" or a "bad situation", is another matter. When we sit Zazen ... we drop all resistance and judgments, and situations are situations. Each a shining jewel, no problem.
    This just slapped me in the face! Many thanks, Jundo, for the teaching! I am an odontophobe (afraid of the dentist) of Biblical magnitude. The mere thought of going to the dentist makes me break out into a cold sweat. I'd rather fight a MMA champion than go to the dentist (which is funny, because I'd most likely lose some teeth doing so!), and I will not go alone. I have made and cancelled so many appointments that the dentist will not schedule me anymore. It really is sad.

    However, what you have written helps a little (yes, just a little...I feel that my fear may never completely leave) to understand that it just is. My teeth are not going to get any better sitting around wishing for them to, and I know that I need the work to be done. This is not a problem or a no-problem...it's just a situation. There is no good or bad in it. It just is...and I need to focus on this and accept that my mind is creating the "bad".

    Gassho,
    Tim
    "The moment has priority". ~ Bon Haeng

  14. #14
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    With apologies to Suzuki, we have enough situations in life, so why create problems out of them? To approach situations as problems seems a bit selfish to me now, because I somehow wanted the situation to be different, as if that's ever really an option. Life requires we play the cards it deals us. My understanding of Zen is that we approach situations and do as they require of us, no separation, no problem, just one-ness as action. That said, I knew what to do in my situation(s). My "problem" was too many things to do, a perceived sense of too many situations with not enough of energy to go around. I selfishly wanted it all to be simpler, easy, and thus turned a situation into a series of problems, thus further depleting my energy. Would it all have come out different if I had this attitude? As for the immediate events, probably not, but all that greed, anger, and ignorance along the way cost me some karma.

    Tim, if I may, bad teeth is a situation. Being afraid of the dentist makes it a problem. Pardon my simplicity.
    Last edited by AlanLa; 05-13-2014 at 08:40 PM.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post
    Tim, if I may, bad teeth is a situation. Being afraid of the dentist makes it a problem. Pardon my simplicity.
    Nicely said.
    Gassho~ Hogo.
    The more I learn, The less I know.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Kantai's Avatar
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    My aikido-sensei use to say: "In Aikido there are no problems, only challenges."
    Goes for life to doesn´t it?

    Gassho
    Kantai

  17. #17
    I do not understand why there can't just be a problem sometimes?. If the sewer line breaks and pours sewage into my home, it is a problem. Why spin it otherwise? I know that it is possible to indulge in having "problems", but denying that there are problems seems a bit one sided.. The only way I have ever known freedom within a problem is to just have a problem. It is the same the whole range of ordinary ups and downs. The whole ordinary spectrum of human experience.

    Obviously this is just one person's view... Daizan
    大山

  18. #18
    No need to make anything. If don't make problem then there is no problem. :-)

    Gassho, Jishin
    治 Ji (Healing)
    心​ Shin (Heart-Mind)

  19. #19
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    If I may

    Having bad teeth is a problem. Being afraid of dentists is a problem. But both can be no problem, in the midst of the problem. So they are problems-no-problems. It isn't that one is trying to spin problems into something other than problems. Pipes burst;kids get sick. It is how you are experiencing the "problem", which makes it also no problem. This isn't just a philosophical turn;it is actual realization. If you can't find your peace in the middle of the battlefield, then you can turn your problem into someone else's problem. Then it and you are the problem. Experiencing life with the big Buddha Life we are at no problem in the midst of problems, and then the problem becomes something else.

    Problems are inescapable. Heck life is a problem. What am I doing here stuck in this body in time and space? is a problem. The problem is us wanting life to be other than just is. So we stop. We stop evaluating, judging, competing, analyzing, improving, grasping etc. and we sit. Hopefully then in the midst of problems there is also the other eye looking at the same time seeing that there is no problem, but also no lack of problem. No loss or gain. Do we really know?

    The problem is that some people read too much and after a caffeine high regurgitate too much.

    Gassho
    C
    Last edited by Clark; 05-14-2014 at 02:34 AM.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by TimF View Post
    This just slapped me in the face! Many thanks, Jundo, for the teaching! I am an odontophobe (afraid of the dentist) of Biblical magnitude. The mere thought of going to the dentist makes me break out into a cold sweat. I'd rather fight a MMA champion than go to the dentist (which is funny, because I'd most likely lose some teeth doing so!), and I will not go alone. I have made and cancelled so many appointments that the dentist will not schedule me anymore. It really is sad.

    However, what you have written helps a little (yes, just a little...I feel that my fear may never completely leave) to understand that it just is. My teeth are not going to get any better sitting around wishing for them to, and I know that I need the work to be done. This is not a problem or a no-problem...it's just a situation. There is no good or bad in it. It just is...and I need to focus on this and accept that my mind is creating the "bad".

    Gassho,
    Tim
    Hi Tim,

    Shikantaza can, in my experience, be a big help with phobias (often the only needed cure, as we leave thoughts and fears aside) ... but can also go hand in hand with many of the other fine treatments out there these days. I speak as a guy who has crossed the Pacific about 75 times, but is still afraid of flying. Years ago, I took a free course put on by an airline. It helped! So does Shikantaza when the turbulents hit! Both can go hand in hand. As I sometimes say ...

    Zazen is -NOT- a cure for many things ... it will not fix a bad tooth (just allow you to be present with the toothache ... you had better see a dentist, not a Zen teacher), cure cancer (although it may have some healthful effects and make one more attune to the process of chemotherapy and/or dying), etc. Zen practice will not cure your acne on your face, or fix your flat tire. All it will do is let one "be at one, and whole" ... TRULY ONE ... with one's pimples and punctured wheel, accepting and embracing of each, WHOLLY WHOLE with/as each one. There are many psychological problems or psycho/medical problems such as alcoholism that may require other therapies, although Zen can be part of the total treatment.
    I would look into some counseling on that, talk to a phobia professional, and get those teeth fixed before they fall out. (I also hate dentists, and find the dentist's chair an EXCELLENT place for Shikantaza ).

    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    I do not understand why there can't just be a problem sometimes?. If the sewer line breaks and pours sewage into my home, it is a problem. Why spin it otherwise? I know that it is possible to indulge in having "problems", but denying that there are problems seems a bit one sided.. The only way I have ever known freedom within a problem is to just have a problem. It is the same the whole range of ordinary ups and downs. The whole ordinary spectrum of human experience.
    I would say that it is not an "either/or" question.

    I also hate it when life's sewer lines break and dump a load of crap in my lap! These are REAL PROBLEMS! We can worry and sweat (like when our daughter was near death in the ICU a couple of years ago), we can cuss under our breath, we can be blue or frustrated. We can mumble and growl when we get that flat tire on a rainy day! I do sometimes. We can sweat and shake when the job is lost or the house burns down. Such is just to be human.

    Yet, somehow through this Practice ... the crap is Golden, each and all Buddha Crap. NO PROBLEM, and never was from the start. Sacred Piles of Crap! One somehow transcends life and death ... and is "One with the Flat Tires of Life" at once!

    I think Clark says it so well above.

    By the way, did you ever look closely at the little piles of curls on the head of the Buddha? What do they remind you of?



    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-14-2014 at 03:50 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  21. #21

    I am Shunryo's Pig

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Tim,

    By the way, did you ever look closely at the little piles of curls on the head of the Buddha? What do they remind you of?

    Gassho, J
    Buddha is a shithead? No problem. :-)

    Gassho, Jishin
    Last edited by Jishin; 05-14-2014 at 10:57 AM.
    治 Ji (Healing)
    心​ Shin (Heart-Mind)

  22. #22
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Oink !!!!

    gassho

    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing.
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  23. #23
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Situations are empty. Problems are form. There is no denying it, both have their place.
    AL (Jigen) in:
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  24. #24
    Got a flat tire this morning! . That's kind of poetic. When was the last time we had a flat tire?

    Was it a problem? Getting the car out of traffic and getting my hands dirty was not a problem.. it was a fun change of pace, but the little cascade of missed obligations and changed plans were problematic. Still, it was a problem for Parliament, not the Sovereign, who is never off kilter. .. or something.

    Gassho, Daizan


    The transport minister thinks those dinky little “spare tires” you get these days are crap.
    大山

  25. #25
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    Got a flat tire this morning! . That's kind of poetic. When was the last time we had a flat tire?

    Was it a problem? Getting the car out of traffic and getting my hands dirty was not a problem.. it was a fun change of pace, but the little cascade of missed obligations and changed plans were problematic. Still, it was a problem for Parliament, not the Sovereign, who is never off kilter. .. or something.

    Gassho, Daizan


    The transport minister thinks those dinky little “spare tires” you get these days are crap.
    Chop wood, delay parliment.
    Gassho
    C

  26. #26
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    An empty situation for us can be a problem for others (Headline: Flat Tire Delays Parliament), so where is our no separation then?
    AL (Jigen) in:
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    Courage/Love
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  27. #27
    Senior Member Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post
    To approach situations as problems seems a bit selfish to me now, because I somehow wanted the situation to be different, as if that's ever really an option.
    I really identify with your comment, Alan. Recently, I have realized that so many of my problems arise because I, selfishly perhaps, want things to be different, just as you say. Sitting zazen, I have found, helps me accept things as they are.

    As I have come to feel more a part of this sangha and wanted to better understand our origins and teachings, I have recently been reading some writings by Nishijima Roshi. He says that most religious traditions are based on some kind of idealism, whereas our practice is founded on accepting life as it is: "Buddhism is an affirmation of the real world, a deep acceptance of the world as it is."

    Gassho,
    Matt J

  28. #28
    Most of my problems these days are middle-class non-problems, or universals like sickness and death... no complaints. But I have also experienced real destitution, and the destitution and degrading death of a loved one. Even in these kinds of extremes there is no birth and death right in the middle of it, but I would be a smug solipsist to diminish or deny in any way the distress of other people in such situations. I can't help but be a little weary of that.

    Gassho Daizan
    大山

  29. #29
    Once upon a time I was also destitute with one hundred dollars in my pocket and no money for rent, food and without a job. I called it a problem. So it was a problem. Looking back, I wish I had that situation at times and not the situation I have now. It's not a problem if it's not a problem. So I try not to make it a problem. :-)

    Gassho, Jishin
    治 Ji (Healing)
    心​ Shin (Heart-Mind)

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    Once upon a time I was also destitute with one hundred dollars in my pocket and no money for rent, food and without a job. I called it a problem. So it was a problem. Looking back, I wish I had that situation at times and not the situation I have now. It's not a problem if it's not a problem. So I try not to make it a problem. :-)

    Gassho, Jishin
    Hi Jishin. My point is not that such a situation would be problem or not for me now, but whether I could say it is or not for someone else. I couldn't and wouldn't.

    Gassho Daizan
    大山

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Daizan View Post
    Hi Jishin. My point is not that such a situation would be problem or not for me now, but whether I could say it is or not for someone else. I couldn't and wouldn't.

    Gassho Daizan
    You are right.

    Gassho, Jishin

  32. #32
    Destitution and poverty are problems. Please do not think I advocate ignoring real problems in this world or overlooking the problems in the lives of others. We should help and repair what we can.

    At the same time, yes, in Zazen one encounters the reality that is "No Problem". Still, in Zazen and all of life there are problems ... and they are bad problems.

    May we someday soon live in a world where nobody need live in destitution.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post

    May we someday soon live in a world where nobody need live in destitution.

    Gassho, J
    Amen to that. :-)

    Gassho, Jishin
    治 Ji (Healing)
    心​ Shin (Heart-Mind)

  34. #34
    Member Nandi's Avatar
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    "The situation is just the situation. It is just what it is."

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