God is. Truth is. Love is. There is no way to say it, and there is no way to hide it. There is no word which can express it, and there is no methodology of how to keep it unexpressed. That is the dilemma of the mystic. He has to say it, and it cannot be said. He cannot keep quiet about it; he cannot keep silent. It overfloods him; it starts overflowing; it is beyond him to keep silent. He has to say it, and nobody has ever been able to say it.
God is not a word, neither is truth a word, nor is love a word. And they are not just silences either, because their isness is a singing isness; they are songs. It is not just dull and dead there. It is full of joy, it is overflowing joy. It is celebration, it is ecstasy, it is orgasm, because it is a meeting of the opposites, because it is a meeting of the polarities, because it is a marriage, a marriage of yin and yang, day and night, summer and winter, life and death, sound and silence.
So when it happens, you cannot say it, but you have to sing it, and that is the beauty of the song. It has something of the word and something of silence in it. That is the beauty of poetry, the beauty of dance. Something is visible, something is invisible; the manifest and the unmanifest meet there, embrace each other, are fulfilled in each other.
If you simply say and use words and there is no silence in those words, your words will be like dead stones. They can hit somebody’s head, you can argue with them, but you cannot convert. They don’t have that quality of silence which becomes conversion. When a word has a silence at its innermost core, when a word is luminous with silence, it brings conversion.
Then it is a gospel, then it is good news. Then somebody, who is saying something with silence in it, is not throwing a dead rock at you, but is throwing a flower. It will also hit you, but it will also caress you, and it will go deeper because you can be vulnerable to it and it will reach to your very heart. Because how can you protect yourself against it? You will be nondefensive.
So remember, all the mystics have been singing and dancing, celebrating. They go on saying, “We cannot say it,” and they go on saying all the same.
There is a difference in saying and saying. When you say without knowing it, without realizing it, it is just gibberish, just words and words and words, without any soul in them; it is a corpse; there is no aliveness in it. Those words stink – they stink of death. There is no heartbeat of life. When you know, when you have experienced, when you have fallen into that abyss called God, when you are transformed by that surrender, when you are totally immersed in it, when your every cell is bathed in it, then you say; but your words are not mere words.
They carry silence. They are vehicles of silence; they are gestures of silence. We have a special name for it in the East: mahamudra – the great gesture.
Look at my hand. If it is empty, if there is nobody behind it who has experienced, then it is an ordinary gesture. But if there is somebody behind it who has known, who has lived, who has experienced, then raising this hand is a great gesture, mahamudra. Then the ordinary hand becomes extraordinary. Then ordinary words are no more ordinary words. You cannot go to the dictionary to find their meaning. When a word is full of silence, you will have to go within yourself to find its meaning, not to a dictionary, not to a library. You will have to go within yourself. The meaning will be found in your experience.
The word of a man who knows is loaded, loaded with great fragrance. You will have to decode it in your innermost core of being, into the innermost shrine of your being. Truth is a transcendence, transcendence of all duality. So those who say truth cannot be said, only say a half-truth; and those who say that truth can be said only in silence, they also say a half-truth.
Zen brings the whole truth to the world. Zen is a great blessing to the world; it brings the whole truth.
The whole truth is: Truth cannot be said, and yet can be said. If not said, then showed, indicated. The ordinary duality is transcended. We are always moving from one pole of the duality to the other. Sometimes we say, “Yes, it can be said”; this is one pole. Then we become aware, “How can it be said?” – the other pole. Then we keep silent, but then again we become aware that there is something left: “Yes, it can be said.” This way it goes on moving, it swings.
Zen says truth is a transcendence, transcendence of all duality. The duality between the word and the silence is also to be transcended.
The Bible says in the beginning there was the word. The Vedas say in the beginning there was silence, eternal silence, and the silence brooded over the sea, and it was dark. And the Bible says there was the word. The first thing that happened in existence was the word. God said let there be light, and there was light. Both are half-truths.
If you ask the Zen people . . . They have not written any Bible or any Veda yet, and they will never try, because they don’t believe in scriptures. They say it is beyond the scriptures; it is a transmission beyond the scriptures. But if they ever write a Bible, or if they are forced to, like Lao Tzu was once forced to write the Tao Te Ching because the king wouldn’t allow him to leave the country unless he wrote his experiences . . .
Lao Tzu wanted to go to the Himalayas, to die there; certainly, there cannot be any more beautiful a place to die. Those eternal peaks, those snow – covered virgin peaks, where can you find a better place to disappear in God? What better moment? He wanted to go – he was very old and he wanted to go to the Himalayas to rest and disappear there, nobody ever knowing about him. He wanted to disappear absolutely alone. He wanted his death to be private.
And death is a private thing. Nobody else can be with you when you die; it is absolutely internal. So he wanted to escape and go away from the crowds. He was afraid too many people will surround him and his death will become a public affair.
But the king insisted, “First you write whatsoever you have known.” And he ordered the guards on the boundary saying that “This man is not to be allowed to go out.” So he was caught at a guard post, and for three days he sat in the guards’ room and wrote down the Tao Te Ching.
If somebody, forces a Zen Master to write down a Bible, a Veda, then they will say there was song in the beginning. Neither word nor silence, but song. There was song in the beginning, and God sang and danced. Not “Let there be light”: God sang and danced. And that dance became the beginning of creation.
That dance continues. That dance is what existence is.
The song has a mystery about it because it is a meeting, a marriage of opposites. In the song there is sound and silence. The song says something, but says in such a way that you cannot grasp it. Not that it doesn’t say anything. It makes much available, but you cannot grasp it, you cannot just possess it. If you try to possess, you will kill it. You cannot have a song in your fist; otherwise the song will be killed. It is too delicate; you cannot be that rough with it.
A song has to be preserved in the heart, not in the fist. About a song you have to be receptive, not aggressive. You can keep an argument in the fist; it is hard, rocklike, it will not die. You can keep and possess an argument, you can become the possessor of an argument. That’s why the ego enjoys very much to have arguments, proofs, logic, philosophies. The ego feels very much fulfilled: “I know so much.”
The song cannot be possessed that way; the ego cannot be its possessor. The song can penetrate your being, but the ego has to give way. If the ego comes in between, the song will be shattered. You may get fragments of it, and you may start interpreting those fragments, but you will miss the unity of it. And it was in the unity.
A song has not to be thought about. If you start thinking, about a song, you are already missing it. When you listen to music, how do you listen? Do you bring your mind in? If you bring your mind in, where is the music? Music and the mind both cannot exist together. That is the mystery of music: you have to put your mind aside. You cannot argue with music; you cannot nod your head in agreement or disagreement. You cannot say, “Yes, I agree,” or “No, I don’t agree.” There is no question of agreement or no agreement. With music you simply become one. If you want to feel it you have to put your head aside. The heart has to open towards it. It goes directly to the heart, it showers on the heart. It helps the flower of the heart to open and bloom. It is a nourishment for the inner lotus.
The Zen people will say, “There was song in the beginning, and then God sang and God danced, and that’s what he has been doing since then.” Each moment it is a dance. Look around. Can’t you hear these birds? These are not birds; don’t be deceived by them. These are not birds. It is God singing, the God of the beginnings – because it is always a beginning. Each moment is a beginning. Never think that the beginning was somewhere in the past. This is the beginning, and it is always the beginning and there is no end. It is God singing.
Can’t you hear the silence of the trees? It is God, silent.
In the birds he is singing, in the trees he is silent. Birds cannot exist without the trees, and, let me tell you, the trees cannot exist without the birds either. The birds sing for the trees, and the trees are silent for the birds, and there is a marriage. They are tied together. If trees disappear, birds will disappear. Kill all the birds of the world, and you will one day see the trees are disappearing. Everything is intertwined, everything is interlinked. This is what we mean by the word “ecology” – everything is together.
It is God singing, it is God silent.
Once you understand that God is both, then this highest possibility opens for you. This is the first principle, that you need not divide, all division is false, that you need not create any duality, because existence is nondual, because existence is one.
And all our misery is because we are divided. Why do you feel so thrilled when you are in love? What happens? Is the thrill just chemical, hormonal? No, it is not. The thrill isexistential. When you are in love, at least with one person you feel to be one, at least with one person you have dropped duality, at least with one person you are no more separate, at least with one person the boundaries are not there. You have removed the boundaries. Two spaces have come so close, they overlap. You feel so thrilled with love, so blissful with love, because it is an experience of God, a very limited experience of course.
And if it is so beautiful to be one with one person, how much more beautiful will it be to be one with the whole, to be one with all the persons, men and women, trees and birds and animals and the clouds and the mountains and the stars? How will it be? How much more beautiful? The beauty cannot be imagined, because the difference will not be only of quantity, it will be of quality. It will be utterly different.
Love can at the most be only a glimpse of a ray, not the ray itself, but only a glimpse in the lake. A ray of the sun playing on the lake, and you see the glimpse. That glimpse is love. When you find out the real ray, it becomes prayer. When you start moving through that ray, upwards, you start climbing on that ray and you start reaching towards the source of all light, then you are growing in spirituality. One day you are dissolved into that light. You yourself have become that light. That is the orgasm I talk about. That’s ecstasy.
And Zen people say that when you know, you have to say, knowing well that it cannot be said. You have to sing it.
Zen Masters have been very creative. Either they were singers, dancers, or painters, or in some sort of art, calligraphy, pottery. Whatsoever they could do they did. That became the gesture of their expression. They were not inactive people. Deep down they were not doers, and on the surface, they were not inactive at all. Deep down they were just instrumental to the divine. No doer, no idea of doing anything – just being, but on the surface very creative. The world would have been far richer if every religion had developed such a school as Zen. For example, Hindu monks have lived a very uncreative life. Jaina monks have lived a very uncreative life. Except Zen, even Buddhists have lived a very uncreative life. So has been the case with the Catholics.
Zen brings creativity. And remember, if you want to be one with the creator, you will have to learn some was of creativity. The only way to be one with the creator is to be in some moment of creativity, when you are lost. The potter is lost in making his pottery; the potter is lost while working on the wheel. The painter is lost while painting. The dancer is lost; there is no dancer, only the dance remains. Those are the peak moments, where you touch God, where God touches you.
Now, the scholar, the so-called scholar, becomes wordy. He goes on learning more words, more words, more information, more scriptures. He has no silence. That is a very lopsided phenomenon. Then against the scholar there are a few saints, who keep quiet; they don’t even say a single word. That too is moving to the other extreme. They become uncreative. Of course, they are silent, better than the scholar – at least they will not throw their rubbish into other people’s heads, at least they are not committing any crime – but in a higher sense they are also criminals because they are not benefiting existence. They are parasites. They are not making existence richer by their being here. They are not helping God in his dance, in his song.
Zen brings the highest synthesis. Don’t be afraid of speaking, but don’t go on speaking if you don’t know. Don’t be silent. Just being silent will not help.
It has to be understood because too many times this comes to your mind too: Why go on speaking? Why not keep quiet? But your silence will be YOUR silence. The words will go on moving, revolving inside you. You will become a madhouse inside. You may look silent from the outside; you will not be silent inside. How can you simply drop those words, those old habits of many lives? The mind will go on chattering, the mind will go on saying things, repeating things. The mind is like an automaton; even if you don’t want to talk the mind goes on. If you don’t talk to others it goes on talking to itself. It creates both the parties: it talks from one side and answers from another side; it goes on playing the game. From the outside one can be easily silent, but from the inside?
And if you are silent from the inside, you will be surprised that your silence becomes so loaded with ecstasy that you have to sing. There is no other way. That you have to dance, that you have to share. When you have you have to share. If you have it at all you will have to share. If you don’t have it you can keep quiet, but what is the point of keeping quiet if you don’t have it?
There are two types of people: one who goes on talking without having it, and one who goes on keeping silent without having it. Both are in the same boat.
There is a third type of person, who has come to know it, who has really become silent and in the silence he has heard the soundless sound, in the silence God has delivered his message to him. God has spoken to him. He has had a dialogue with God himself. The silence has filled his heart with so much juice, with so much life, with life abundant, that he is bursting.
He has to say it. There is no way to get rid of it.
And his saying will have a totally different significance because words will not be mere words. If such a person sits silently, even his silence will be a sharing. If such a person keeps completely silent, you will see his silence is singing all around him. You will feel the vibe. His silence is saying something. He is indicating from his silence too. If he speaks he speaks. If he is silent, then too he speaks.
If you don’t sing it, remember, you don’t have it. If it does not overflow in a thousand and one gestures, then it is not there. You cannot hold it if it is there. And you cannot possess it if it is there; it is not your property. You cannot become the owner of it. You cannot hoard it, you cannot be miserly about it. If it is there at all, it drowns you utterly. It possesses you. You cannot possess it; it possesses you. And then it leads you into a thousand and one gestures. In a thousand and one streams you start flowing, and whatsoever you do becomes an expression.
I have heard a very beautiful legend. The legend is, there was a great Master in India, the twenty-seventh successor of Gautam the Buddha; his name was Hanyatara. A king in south India requested him to come to his court. The king himself came, bowed down to Hanyatara, touched his feet, and said, “Please, come to my court, to bless us. And this has been my desire, to listen to some sutras of Gautam the Buddha by a man who is a Buddha himself, so I have been avoiding scholars, pundits, professors. I have been avoiding, I have been waiting, because those sutras that Buddha uttered are so pregnant that only a man who has attained to that consciousness will be able to give expression to them.”
Hanyatara came to the court with an attendant. The king was thrilled; it was his dream for his whole life one day to have a Buddha in his court, in his palace. The whole palace was decorated, the whole town was decorated; the whole capital was celebrating. It was a great day of celebration. But the king was puzzled, a little bewildered: Hanyatara sat silently, not saying a single word, and the attendant recited the sutra. Now, this was not the purpose at all. The king could have found better people to recite the sutra than the attendant. He was just an attendant who looked after Hanyatara, just used to do small errands, a very ordinary man, not even a great scholar. His grammar was faulty, his pronunciation was not exactly as it should be. He was an ordinary man. Just out of respect, the king kept silent. When the sutra was finished, he touched the feet of Hanyatara and said, “Sir, enlighten me about this; otherwise I will remain puzzled. Why did not you recite the sutra?”
And Hanyatara said, “What, I did not recite the sutra? Then what else was I doing the whole time here? You fool!”
The king was even more puzzled, because he had kept quiet, he had not said a single word.
The king said, “Please, explain it to me. I don’t understand. I am an ordinary, ignorant person.
I may not know the ways of the Buddhas.”
And Hanyatara said, “I sat silently, breathing in, breathing out. That was my sutra. What else is there in life? Breathe in, breathe out. Be alert, aware. When I breathed in, I was aware; when I breathed out, I was aware. It was all awareness! What else is a sutra? Awareness. If you had listened to the rhythm of my breathing you would have understood. I have recited it!
Words are one way to recite it. Breathing silently, but with full awareness, is another way to recite it – and far better a way. I have been very expressive today, as I have never been before.
Thinking that you have been waiting for so long, I thought, ‘Why not give the real thing?’ ” The king was thrilled, seeing the compassion. Now he felt there was a certain rhythm in his silence. Now he became aware, retrospectively of course, that this man was not silent in the ordinary way. He had seen silent people; sometimes he himself had sat in silence. This was a different silence. There was a song, certainly there was a song. There was a fragrance around this man. There was a vibe of a different quality; he was vibrating. Strange it was, but now he remembered, yes, it was there. And the way he was breathing was no ordinary way. Not that he was doing anything special in the breathing: his breathing was pure, natural, like a small baby.
When you breathe, your breathing is never natural. If you are a little angry, your anger changes your breathing. If you are full of passion, lust, your lust changes your breathing. If you are greedy, your greed is reflected in your breathing. Continuously your mind mood infiltrates breathing and changes it. You can watch it. When you are angry, try not to disturb the breathing, and you will be completely unable to be angry. Just try not to change the breathing. Let the breathing remain as it was before you became angry, and then try to be angry. It will be impossible. The breathing has to change first. Through the breathing the body changes; the mind first affects the breathing. When you are in a moment of lust, watch, keep the breathing natural, and you will suddenly find the lust has disappeared, the moment came and passed.
By and by you will be able to see each mood is reflected in your breathing, so your breathing is never natural, because there is some mood or other. The natural breathing means there is no mood: that means there is no mind – neither anger nor greed nor lust nor jealousy nor love nor hate. No – mood means no-mind. In that state of no-mind the breathing is natural. Then there is a song to it, then there is a totally different quality to it. Then it is pure life. Then the flame is without smoke.
Yes, the king remembered, there was something strange, something was happening. He had missed it. He started crying. He said, “I have missed it. Why didn’t you tell me before?
Now I know there was something, and I had even felt it, but my consciousness is not so developed, so I could not understand what was happening.
“And I was too concerned about that foolish sutra. I was continuously thinking about why you were not reciting the sutra and why this attendant was reciting the sutra. I was so much concerned about the sutra that I missed.
“But I am grateful that you showed such compassion, that you showed your being so naked, so true, so authentic.”
He presented a great diamond, the most valuable he had, to Hanyatara, and then he said to Hanyatara, “I have three sons. Sir, be kind enough. I will call them. Bless them.”
Thinking that young people are young people, and the youngest was only seven, they may disturb the sutra reciting, he had not called them to participate before.
The three young princes came in.
Rather than blessing them, Hanyatara showed the diamond that the king had presented to him to the first prince, the eldest. He must have been somewhere near fifteen. The prince looked at the diamond and said, “A great diamond, of the finest water, purest water. Where could you get it? It is rare. It is no ordinary diamond.”
Yes, his understanding about the diamond was perfectly true. It was a rare diamond, of the most perfect water. Even Hanyatara had never seen such a thing.
Then he called the second prince, who must have been near about ten, and the second prince looked at the diamond, and he said, “Not only the finest, not only the best, it is certain that it belongs to my father because in this kingdom nobody can have such a diamond. It is rare. Sir, it does not belong to you, it cannot. To protect this diamond you will need a great army, otherwise you cannot have it. Just this attendant won’t do.”
Yes, his understanding was also very correct.
And then the third son was called. He was only seven. He looked at the diamond, looked at Hanyatara and laughed and said, “What? Do you want to befool me?” He was only seven, and he said, “Do you want to befool me? You cannot! Because the real diamonds are never of the outside. And what are you trying to show me? You have the real diamond within YOU. I can see it! This is just a stone that you have in your hand. Throw it, sir!”
And it is said that Hanyatara hugged this small boy.
This boy’s name was Bodhitara, and Hanyatara changed his name to Bodhidharma. He became the twenty-eighth successor of Buddha; he was the first patriarch of Zen in China, this small boy Bodhitara, whose name Hanyatara changed to Bodhidharma.
Hanyatara said, “This boy has looked into the deepest reality anybody can look into. Dharma means ‘the ultimate reality’. He has penetrated to the ultimate reality.” He said to the king, “Even you could not see who I am. That’s why you missed my sermon, my silent sermon. That’s why you missed my silent song. I was singing here but you missed. But this boy, yes, I cannot befool him. This boy is going to be my successor.”
And then he said to the king, “Sir, forgive me. I have not come for you and I have not come because you requested me to. I had to come because of this boy. I have been in search of this boy! This has been a promise from the past life, and this has been a decided gesture: in the past life I told this boy, ‘I will seek you and find you and I will show you a diamond, and that will be the moment of your examination. If you can see my inner diamond and you are not befooled, you will be my successor.'”
The legend is of tremendous value. First, the silent sermon. Yes, sometimes a mystic can be silent – but he is not silent! His silence is a very telling silence. He may not do anything, he may not even move his eyes, he may not move any of his limbs, but still his presence goes on doing a thousand and one things. Just to be in his presence, just to breathe with him in the same rhythm, and something is transferred: his song, his silence, his dance. You will never be the same again.
Truth is not hidden, from the very beginning. Truth is unhidden; only your eyes are closed. Truth is being preached from every tree and from every bird and from every rock and from every star; just your eyes, your ears, your sensitivity is not there. You are deaf. Truth is not dumb; you are deaf. And truth is not hiding anywhere.
A man came to a Zen Master and asked, “Sir, where should I go to find the truth?” And the Zen Master said, “You just keep looking in front of your nose and go on, and you will find it. It is just in front of your nose! Truth is just in front of you. In fact, wherever you look it is truth, you just need to know how to look for it. But you are looking for other things; that’s why you go on missing.
That great king missed Hanyatara’s sermon. It was a Zen sermon, the same as Buddha preached to the first Zen Master, Mahakashyap, sitting silently, holding a flower in his hand.
This second sermon, of Hanyatara to the king, was even more subtle. He was not even holding a flower in his hand. He was just breathing in and out, a natural breathing, an ordinary breathing, unaffected by the mind. And truth was there and the sutras were recited there through his breathing, but the king missed.
You may have come across a Buddha in your life – or you may have come across many Buddhas in your past lives – but you have missed because you were not sensitive enough to feel that vibe. That vibe is subtle. You were not aware enough to move to that height, to feel the presence.
Be a little more alert. The sermon is preached constantly. From everywhere God is speaking to you. Even when everything is silent he is speaking through silence. His song is eternal.
Zen says, “Truth is not hidden, from the very beginning, so you are not to uncover truth, you are only to uncover your eyes.” You just have a curtain on your eyes. Just pull your earplugs out. Your ears are plugged; hence you cannot hear.
How to unplug the ears? How to open the eyes? How to drop barriers that don’t allow you to become sensitive enough? What is the way? The way is immediacy. Be immediate, be in the moment.
Otherwise Buddhas can go on shouting from the housetops, and you will not hear – or you will hear something which has not been said at all.
A few scenes. First scene:
Warden: “Can’t you see the sign ‘NO FISHING HERE’?”
Angler: “Yes, and I don’t agree. There is good fishing here! Just look at this lot I have landed today. Whoever put that sign up must be crazy.”
The second scene:
The Dean of Women was lecturing to a class on the subject of sex morality. “In moments of temptation, ask yourself just one question: Is an hour of pleasure worth a lifetime of shame?”
One of the girls raised her hand naively and asked, “How do you make it last one hour?”
The third scene:
Ethel was shapely out shy, and visited a doctor for the first time. He ushered her into his private office and said, “Now, my dear, please get completely undressed.” Ethel blushed and replied, “Okay, Doctor, but you first.”
The following ad appeared in the Personal column of a London paper: “My husband and I have four sons. Has anyone any suggestions as to how we may have a daughter?” Letters poured in from all over the world. An American wrote, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again.” A Buddhist from Thailand suggested that they should seek the help of Buddha.
A South African recommended a special diet. An Indian proposed yoga.
A Frenchman merely wrote, “May I be of service?”
And the last and the fifth scene:
A lion tamer had quit without notice, and the circus manager needed someone to replace him for the next night’s show. He put an ad in the local paper, and the next morning two applicants showed up outside his office. One was a rather ordinary looking young man, and the other a ravishing redheaded beauty. Neither one of them looked very much like a lion trainer, but the manager was desperate. “All right,” he said. “Here is a whip, a chair, and a gun. Let us see what you can do with the big Leo over there. We will let you have the first try, miss, but be careful. He is a mean one.”
The ravishing redhead strode past the whip, the chair, and the gun, and empty-handed, fearlessly entered the cage. Big Leo rose, snarling, then came charging across the cage towards her with a ferocious roar. When the lion was almost upon her the girl threw open her coat. Underneath, she was stark naked. Leo skidded to a stop and crawled the rest of the way on his belly. He nuzzled the girl’s feet with his nose, purred, and licked her trim ankles. The astonished circus manager grinned happily and turned to the pop-eyed young man.
“Well, young fella,” he asked, “think you can top that?”
“Yeah,” panted the applicant. “Just get that stupid lion out of there.”
Truth is all around, but your interpretations are your interpretations. God is speaking all the time, but you hear not, or even if you hear, you hear something else. You hear according to you, your mind comes in, and hence you go on missing.
Unless the mind is dropped you will not be able to know what truth is. Truth cannot be discovered by mind; mind is the barrier. It is because of the mind that you have not been able to discover it. It is not a question of how to train the mind to know the truth. The more the mind is trained and becomes capable, the less is the possibility to know the truth. The more skilled a mind, the farther away you are from the truth.
Mind is the barrier. No-mind is the door.
How to attain to no-mind? The only way – the only way – is to be in the present. The only way is not to think of the past, not to think of the future. And you cannot think of the present. That is the whole secret: you cannot think of the present; there is not space enough for thought to move. Thought needs room to move. Can you think anything right now? If you think it, either it will be of the past or of the future.
This moment of silence. If you think, “Yes, this is a moment of silence,” it is already past. Or you say, “How beautiful!” It is already past. Utter a word “beautiful,” and it is already past. You cannot think. Thinking stops when you are in the present. So that is the only key, and it is a master key; it unlocks all the doors of being. Immediacy, that is the whole insistence of Zen.
From The First Principle, Discourse #7
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