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The Coming into Being of Worlds

Chapter Four



Sutra:

A single dust mote includes lands great and small,
Their variations as multitudinous as motes of dust.
Whether level, high, or low, each terrain is unique.
The Buddhas travel to them all to turn the Dharma wheel.  

Ksetras appear in every mote of dust
By the power of spiritual penetrations and past vows.
Fulfilling the different wishes of sentient beings,
The Buddhas can accomplish anything within the void.  

Consider all the dust motes in every land:
The Buddhas enter each and every one.
For all beings, they perform spiritual transformations.
The Dharma of Vairocana Buddha is thus.  

Commentary:

In cultivating the Way, there are all kinds of dharma doors that lead to enlightenment. For example, the ancients would cultivate dharma doors that others could not cultivate and would practice paths that most people couldn’t practice. Today the Elder Dharma Master Huiseng gave an instructional talk here. [Sept. 15, 1974, the Day of Celebrating the Completion of Bowing Every Third Step for World Peace by Dharma Masters Heng Ju and Heng Yo and the last day of the 1974 Summer Session at Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco.] He is someone with senior standing in Buddhism. A very long time ago he was the Abbot of Ci wen Monastery in Manchuria. This Dharma Master is a seasoned cultivator. And as old as he is, he still maintains his daily practices of reciting the Buddha’s name, reciting sutras, and holding mantras, without being idle for a single moment. He practices vigorously at every instant. For example, every day he recites the Rebirth Mantra from two to three thousand times. When he was younger he suffered from a stomach illness, but now the ailment has gone away, which is a response from his cultivation. What he said today had a lot of meaning, especially the story of Dharma Master Pu zhao.

Dharma Master Pu zhao (“universal illumination”) used to have a huge temper. He would become enraged over anything at all. Finally he hired someone to hit him each time he lost his temper, paying the man two dollars each time he did. It was not exactly two dollars . He gave him two pieces of the silver currency in circulation in China at the time. It’s not recorded exactly how many times the man hit him, but he collected over $200, which means he must have hit him over a hundred times. The last time the man hit him, he used a kerosene can and hit the Dharma Master so hard over the head that the angry ghost simply got chased out. There was no more hitting after that, for Dharma Master Pu zhao was enlightened and never got angry anymore.

All of you think about it. That’s the kind of suffering and difficulty that went into making him a Good Advisor. After that he continued to cultivate, and he would fulfill whatever wish anyone had. He dwelt at Huangyin Mountain. There were lots of monks there, and he would fulfill their wishes and meet all their needs. Some of them wanted wristwatches, and he would get them wristwatches, expensive as they were. Others might want to take some Korean ginseng and he would provide it. All anyone had to do was express his wish and he would fulfill it. Telling you of this, I am very remorseful that I myself have no way to fulfill the wishes of beings. But the Elder High Master Pu zhao was truly “Universally Enlightened.” He cultivated the dharma door of being hit, and through its cultivation he chased his temper away. He had very great accomplishments afterwards.

So you see that there are a great many dharma doors you can use to cultivate. The important thing, however, is to cultivate them to completion. If you start to want to enjoy yourself and take it easy, if you get greedy to do as you please and not use effort, then no dharma door will be of any use.  

A single dust mote includes lands great and small. In each mote of dust there are large lands and small ones. They aren’t all the same size. Their variations as multitudinous as motes of dust. In a single particle of dust all the seas of worlds are gathered in, each having its own individual characteristics. There are as many differences to them as there are motes of dust. Whether level, high, or low, each terrain is unique. Some lands are level and flat, with no mountains and rivers. Others have mountains and rivers. The lands all differ from each other. The Buddhas travel to them all to turn the Dharma wheel. Whether the lands are flat, or have peaks and depressions, the Buddha follows the power of his vows and goes there to teach beings and turn the Dharma wheel.  

Ksetras appear in every mote of dust. The countries in each dust mote are manifested by the power of the Buddhas’ spiritual penetrations and past vows. / Fulfilling the different wishes of sentient beings, / The Buddhas can accomplish anything within the void. Beings do not all like the same things, and the Buddhas adapt themselves to what beings like in their hearts. The Buddhas can at any time manifest these kinds of things in space in order to comply with what beings seek. 

Consider all the dust motes in every land: / The Buddhas enter each and every one. In every single minute particle of dust there are Buddhas turning the Dharma wheel and teaching and transforming beings. For all beings, they perform spiritual transformations. The Buddhas universally for each and every being manifest these spiritual changes. The Dharma of Vairocana Buddha is thus. All of the various sorts of states just described are just the Dharma spoken by Vairocana Buddha.

II.E.2.d. The substances of which the seas of worlds are composed

Sutra:

At that time,Universal Worthy Bodhisattva further told the great assembly, “Disciples of the Buddha, you should know that the seas of worlds are composed of various substances. That is, they may be composed of the adornments of myriad jewels, or of various adornments of a single type of jewel. They may be composed of light from myriad jewels, or of light of various colors. They may be composed of radiance from all adornments, or of indestructible vajra. They may be composed of the Buddhas’ sustaining power, or of the characteristics of lovely gems. They may be composed of the Buddhas’ transformations, or of sun-mani wheels.  

Commentary:

At that time,Universal Worthy Bodhisattva further told the great assembly, “Disciples of the Buddha, you should know and understand that the seas of worlds are composed of various substances. They aren’t all the same. That is, they may be composed of the adornments of myriad jewels. Precious gems may adorn some worlds and make up the substance of these worlds. Or they may be composed ofvarious adornments of a single type of jewel. In this case, the adornments of only one kind of jewel--not many kinds--make up the substance of these worlds.

They may be composed of light from myriad jewels. Precious light streaming from jewels makes up the substance of some worlds. Or perhaps they are formed of light of various colors . They may be composed of radiance from all adornments, or perhaps of indestructible vajra forms their substance.The worlds’ substance might be composed of indestructible vajra. They may be composed of the Buddhas’ sustaining power. It could be that the Buddhas’ spiritual penetrations uphold and maintain these worlds and form their substance, or perhaps their substance consists of the characteristics of lovely gems. They may be composed of the Buddhas’ transformations brought about by their spiritual penetrations, or ofsun-mani wheels. Some worlds are made of sun-mani wheels.

Question: The Flower Adornment Sutra describes how all kinds of adorned Buddhalands, jeweled images, and inconceivable places can appear in a single pore. Later the sutra says it is by the spiritual power of the Buddha that one could see these inconceivable places and phenomena. I wonder if a person could see such inconceivable phenomena without having opened the Five Eyes, simply by relying on the power of the Buddha. For example, the Buddha’s disciple Sundarananda was able to visit the heavens and the hells through the Buddha’s power without having opened his Five Eyes.

Answer: It’s possible for a person to do so if that person truly relies on the power of the Buddha. If we have conditions with the Buddha, we can do it. But we are born after the Buddha’s time, and so can only know that it is a possibility. If we really want to obtain this state, we have to cultivate and open the five eyes and six penetrations. But these kinds of states are not all that wonderful; they are very ordinary. For the time being you don’t understand, and so you think they don’t exist, or that they may exist but not in this world. Actually, however, all these states are right before our eyes.

A few years ago I said that in cultivation one should not harbor hopes and expectations. You should not wonder, “How am I doing?” You should cultivate just the way you eat, sleep, and wear clothes. In all your daily affairs, whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, you should not forget it and you should not think about it. In the midst of no hopes and expectations, you have an implicit expectation, but you don’t really acknowledge it. You should just do your best to cultivate without being concerned about whether or not you realize your work in the Way. For example, if you hold a certain mantra, and you know that someone who holds that mantra can develop spiritual penetrations, you should not pay any attention to whether you obtain the spiritual penetrations or not. You should simply hold the mantra. Keep it up year after year, for twenty years and more. Over a long period of time you’ll come to have success. It’s not like smoking opium, which brings an immediate “high.” But if you can stick with it and maintain your daily cultivation, never slacking off at any time, then responses will occur. 

Sutra:

They may be composed of extremely tiny jewels, of the shining brilliance of jewels, of various kinds of incense, or of a crown of jeweled flowers.

Commentary:

Worlds can be formed of many different substances. Our world, for example, takes earth as its substance. Within our bodies are bones, blood, and the circulatory system. Upon the Earth are rivers, lakes, and oceans. These bodies of water form the circulatory system of the Earth. Beneath the Earth are gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, lead, and other metals and minerals, which can be likened to the bones of the body. The hard substances of the Earth are like its bones, and its soft substances are like its flesh. That which moves is like its circulation. Just like a person, the Earth has its skin, blood, flesh, bones, and marrow. It’s just that the Earth is much more massive than a human body. Within the earth are hot substances just as in the body there is warmth.

I haven’t thoroughly investigated the reasons why volcanoes erupt and the lava flows forth, or why there are avalanches and earthquakes and tidal waves, but there are specific causes for these phenomena. When there are landslides or when the seas dry up, you could say that the Earth is sick. When it quakes, the Earth is like a person having seizures. The sickness of the Earth differs from that of people in that it takes a long time to develop. A person can in a few decades pass through many illnesses, whereas the sicknesses of the Earth happen over hundreds of millions of years.

The magnetic pull of the sun holds the Earth in space, causing it to orbit around the sun. One revolution of the Earth around the sun is a time-span we call a year. One rotation of the Earth on its axis is called a day. No matter how hard people try to mathematically calculate these motions, they remain inconceivable. To try to calculate it with numbers is to never finish the reckoning, even if that calculation went on until the sun, moon, and galaxy were destroyed. If this world were destroyed, another would come into being.

And each world has its own particular kind of substance which different from that of others. The principles discussed in the Flower Adornment Sutra are very general, not detailed. Although each kind of thing is expanded into ten, the descriptions are still very generalized. To try to describe them in detail would be a never-ending explanation. In the first volume of the Flower Adornment Sutra, there are as many as thirteen trichiliocosms’ worth of chapters, with verses as numerous as dust motes in those world-systems.

Not only could someone never actually compute this kind of number, but there would be no place for the brain to put it! The principles spoken here are very simplified. So when you hear them, you shouldn’t think, “Oh, this is really too complicated.” When I lecture this sutra, I pay no attention to whether I speak well or not; I just speak. I don’t pay attention to whether people are falling asleep or not, but continue lecturing. People might think, “He’s just saying the same thing over and over again,” and then decide to go to sleep. In this bodhimanda, there are countless gods, dragons, and other Dharma-protecting spirits of the eightfold division who have come to listen. I don’t pay attention to how many people attend; whether there are many or just a few, I lecture just the same.

If some of you don’t like what you hear, you can take a nap, and if some of you like what you hear, then listen. Whether you listen or not, you are planting bodhi seeds. By merely sitting here, you are all developing affinities with the Dharma. In the future when all of you become Buddhas, everyone will meet again, sooner or later. Regardless of who you are, if you listen to even a single sutra lecture, the benefits you obtain are so boundless that I won’t even try to describe them to you.

They may be composed of extremely tiny jewels. Not to speak of worlds, just consider this amazing floor right here in the Buddha H all. You may see it as linoleum, but others see it as gold or silver, or they may see the whole lecture hall suffused with a brilliant golden light, or they may see gods, dragons, or other beings of the eightfold division who have come here to protect this place. Who sees such things? Don’t ask. If you are one who sees, then look. If you are not one who sees, then why are you trying to find out who can? Why are you being so nosy?

“But Dharma Master, you’re the one who brought it up in the first place,” you say.

“I did talk about it, but you didn’t have to listen, right?”

“Dharma Master, you must be joking with us.”

In the bodhimanda, those who are wise find wisdom. Those who are humane find compassion. For people with good roots, the more they hear, the happier they become. They think it’s a lot better than daydreaming . Some people even think listening to s utra lectures is better than sleeping. Some are so delighted to hear them that they forget about eating. The three people who are fasting believe that it is okay not to eat, but it is not okay to miss s utra lectures.

Does th at mean your teacher forces you to attend lectures, but wouldn’t pay attention if you starved? No. For those of you who don’t know Chinese, it’s permissible to sleep. As far as your teacher is concerned, “Everything’ s okay.” Don’t be afraid and think, “Oh! If the Master finds out I fell asleep, he’ll be mad at me!” I’m still happy.

They may be composed of the shining flame-like brilliance of jewels, of various kinds of incense. This means that a multiplicity of exquisite scents make up the substance of these worlds. They are extremely fragrant, unlike our world of the five turbidities , which stinks. Or they may be composed of a crown of jeweled flowers as their substance.

Sutra:

They may be composed of the reflections of jewels, of a display of myriad ornaments, of a state pervasively manifested by a single thought, of jewels in the form of Bodhisattvas, of jeweled flower stamens, or of the sound of a Buddha’s voice.  

Then Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, wishing to restate his meaning, received the Buddhas’ awesome spiritual power, contemplated the ten directions, and spoke verses.  

Perhaps there are seas of worlds
Composed of clusters of wondrous gems,
Solid, adamant, and indestructible,
Peacefully dwelling on jeweled lotus flowers.

Commentary:

People are attached to their own bodies, to their own homes, to their own clothes, to their own good food, and to how great their own world is. It is because of these attachments that they create all these false, empty worlds. Originally there is not one thing; the Buddha nature is empty. It is because of attachments that the stars, moons, suns, and all the worlds come into being. The formation, dwelling, decay, and extinction of all worlds appear because of the power of the karma of empty and false attachments.

This and also what I said previously about how the earth’s rivers were analogous to the bloodstreams in the human body are not principles that I read in the s utras. They may be in the sutras, but I didn’t get them from the sutras. I make up these analogies. People are tiny, like motes of dust floating in space, so there is no way they can totally comprehend all of space. They are like ants scurry ing around in an airplane without any conception of what is going on around them or how big the airplane is. This is no joke. People are really this way. We don’t know how big this world-system is. You may say, “Oh, scientists figured all that out long ago,” but I ask you, have they figured out exactly when they will die? Do they know how many grams of food they eat every day? You say, “They can just weigh themselves before and after they eat, and the difference between the two figures is how much they’ve eaten,” but that’s not science; any fool can figure that out. All of you should deeply realize that this world is impermanent. Not to be attached is the best way to be.

They may be composedof the reflections of jewels. How could they possibly be composed of reflections from jewels? The reflections from a jewel are intangible; they are empty and unreal. One perceives an image , but it doesn’t have a ny substan ce . Although you can see reflections, when you reach out to touch them there is nothing there but reflections of dancing light. Worlds may also be composed ofa display of myriad adornments. I have many more ideas to bring up, but if I say any more about them, people may not be comfortable with them.  

Or they may be composed of a state pervasively manifested by a single thought. A person may have a single false thought that may be pervasively experienced.

They may be composed of jewels in the form of Bodhisattvas. Such an appearance of a Bodhisattva may be just a manifestation, not absolutely real. They may be composed of jeweled lotus flower stamens. Or some worlds may be composed of the sound of a Buddha’s voice.  

Then Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, wishing to restate and explain the meanings of his meaning, received the Buddhas’ awesome spiritual power, contemplated beingsthroughout the ten directions, and spoke verses.  

Perhaps there are seas of worlds / Composed of clusters of inconceivably wondrous gems . They are solid, adamant, and indestructible, so durable that nothing can destroy them, not even atom bombs or hydrogen bombs can break up this kind of world. Peacefully dwelling on jeweled lotus flowers are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. They are seated upon lion-thrones speaking the Dharma. 

Sutra:

Perhaps there is pure brightness
From which emerge unknowable
Myriad adorning lights
Shining in empty space.  

Some lands are composed of pure radiance
And exist within bright light.
Luminous clouds embellish those lands,
As Bodhisattvas wander in their midst.

Commentary:

Perhaps there is pure brightness / From which emerge unknowable / Myriad adorning lights . Some worlds are enhanced by pure light. The number of these pure rays and of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Arhats appearing in their midst cannot be reckoned. There’s no way to know them. The “rays of light” refers to red light, white light, purple light, yellow light, green light, and so forth, but there’s no black light. Black light belongs to the demonic realm. Demons may transform themselves so that they look exactly like Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, and come to disturb a person’s cultivation. Those who have the wisdom-eye can observe the aura around the heads of these apparitions and distinguish what they are.

Demons can emit gold light, purple light, red light, white light, green light, and so forth--not only black light--but the source of all those lights is a black light. Even if they transform themselves into other forms, they cannot totally shed their original black aura. That’s how you can identify the transformations of demons. People who have opened the Five Eyes can distinguish this. All kinds of light adorn these worlds, shining in empty space.

Some lands are composed of pure radiance / And exist within bright light. / Luminous clouds embellish those lands. These worlds are not only formed of pure light and dwell within that light, but are embellished by clouds of light, as Bodhisattvas wander in their midst, dwelling in these worlds to teach the beings there. 

Sutra:

There may be seas of ksetras
Born from the power of vows.
Like reflections they abide,
Beyond apprehension and speech.  

Some may be fashioned from mani,
Everywhere shining like the sun.
Wheels of pearls adorn their ground.
Bodhisattvas fill these lands.  

Some lands from jeweled flames are made,
With blazing clouds hovering above
And myriad gems exquisitely glowing.
Such are the results of karma.

Commentary:

There may be, and then there may not be, seas of ksetras. Since there are different kinds of lands, the text introduces the possibility of there being lands born from the power of vows. These lands are brought about by the vows made by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas when they were cultivating the Way. Like reflections they abide. These worlds are illusions, basically empty and false. Therefore, although they can be seen, they are beyon d apprehension and speech. Since they cannot be grasped, you could say they don’t really exist. 

Some may be fashioned from mani, / Everywhere shining like the sun. There may be worlds comp o sed of various jewels, such as mani gems, which give off brightness like the sun. Wheels of pearls adorn their ground. These worlds have precious pearls to adorn the ground, which is much more ornamental than the ordinary carpets that we use. Bodhisattvas who teach beings fill these lands.  

Some lands from jeweled flames are made, / With blazing clouds hovering above. The clouds act as a shade to cool off beings. And there are myriad gems exquisitely glowing. / Such are the results of karma. It is by means of beings’ karma and the Bodhisattvas’ vows that these lands come to be. 

Sutra:

Some lands arise from the wondrous hallmarks.
Myriad forms adorn their terrain,
Like crowns worn at the same time.
These are the Buddhas’ creations.  

Some arise from the ocean of the mind,
And according to the mind’s understanding they dwell.
Illusory, they have no fixed abode,
Since everything is made from discriminations.  

Lands may be composed of the Buddhas’ brilliance
Or formed of the light of mani.
The Buddhas appear in their midst,
Each using his spiritual powers.  

Perhaps Universal Worthy Bodhisattva
Transformationally creates the seas of lands.
Adorned by the power of his vows,
Everything is rare and exquisite.

Commentary:

Some lands arise from the wondrous hallmarks of the Buddhas. Myriad forms adorn their terrain. The mountains in these worlds may be in the shapes of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Arhats, as well as other kinds of beautiful shapes which adorn the land. These forms are like crowns worn at the same time. Some worlds appear to have jewelled crowns above them. Where do these phenomena come from? These are the Buddhas’ spiritual penetrations and their creations.  

Some arise from the ocean of the mind. Some worlds arise from beings’ minds. Since there are so many beings, the power of their minds creates worlds. And according to the mind’s understanding they dwell. These worlds come into being from the mind, and are also destroyed because of the mind. Illusory, they have no fixed abode. They are like illusions. Even though the worlds appear to exist, they cannot be grasped, nor can they be renounced. They have no fixed location. Since everything is made from discriminations, so, too, are worlds, which are products of the discriminating thoughts of beings. 

Lands may be composed of the Buddhas’ brilliance / Or formed of the light of mani. The light of mani also refers to the Buddhas’ light. Since these worlds take the Buddhas’ light as their substance, the Buddhas appear in their midst, / Each using his spiritual powers.  

Perhaps Universal Worthy Bodhisattva , by means of his spiritual penetrations, transformationally makes the seas of lands appear. / Adorned by the power of his vows, / Everything is rare and exquisite. Because of his magnanimous vow power and profound cultivation, everything Universal Worthy Bodhisattva does is especially supreme compared to what other Bodhisattvas do. This Bodhisattva can adorn these worlds and make them exceptionally beautiful.

II.E.2.e. The adornments of the seas of worlds

Sutra:

At that time,Universal Worthy Bodhisattva further told the great assembly, “Disciples of the Buddha, you should know that the seas of worlds have various kinds of adornments. Perhaps they are adorned by splendid , wondrous clouds emerging from amidst myriad ornaments.  

Perhaps they are adorned by the proclamation of the Bodhisattvas’ meritorious virtues. Perhaps they are adorned as expressions of the karmic retributions of beings. Perhaps they are adorned by the appearance of the Bodhisattvas’ seas of vows. Perhaps they are adorned by the displayed images of all Buddhas of the three periods of time. Perhaps they are adorned by the states of spiritual penetrations that manifest boundless eons in the space of a single thought. 

Commentary:

At that time, Universal Worthy Bodhisattva further told the great assembly, “Disciples of the Buddha, all of you Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas, you should know that the seas of worlds have various kinds of adornments. Not only do the seas of worlds have different substances, they also have all kinds of different and wonderful adornments. Perhaps they are adorned by splendid, wondrous clouds emerging from amidst myriad ornaments. From the score s of embellishing objects--perhaps flower vases, censers, candles, and so forth--auspicious portents come forth to adorn these worlds.

Why are adornments used? Because when beings see these adornments, it’s easy for them to bring forth the bodhi resolve. For example, some may wonder, “Why do we make Buddha images? Buddha images can neither talk nor eat nor drink. They are made of wood or clay. What’s the use of spending so much money to make Buddha images for people to worship? Isn’t that superstition?” No, it’s not superstition. When we bow to the Buddhas, we are not bowing to a wooden Buddha, a clay Buddha, or any other kind of Buddha image. We are bowing to the true Buddha. Images of Buddhas are merely representations that suggest the real entity within our true minds.

Perhaps they are adorned by the proclamation of the Bodhisattvas’ meritorious virtues. Some lands are adorned by the pronouncement of the Bodhisattvas’ virtues. Perhaps they are adorned as expressions of the karmic retributions of beings. In some other lands the constant speaking of beings’ good and evil karmic retribution serves as the adornment. Good karma reaps a good retribution, while bad karma reaps a bad retribution. Perhaps they are adorned by the appearance of the Bodhisattvas’ seas of vows. The appearance of these vows means that they do not exist in the beginning, but later on they are realized.

Perhaps they are adorned by the displayed images of all Buddhas of the three periods of time. Images of the Buddhas of the past, present, and future adorn these worlds. Perhaps they are adorned by the states of spiritual penetrations that manifest boundless eons in the space of a single thought. Limitless eons are condensed to a single thought; a single thought expands to cover limitless eons. Such spiritual penetrations allow a long period of time to be contained in a brief interval, and vice versa. These are the states that adorn some worlds.

Sutra:

Perhaps they are adorned by the appearance of Buddhas’ bodies. Perhaps they are adorned by the appearance of clouds of incense and jewels. Perhaps they are adorned by the dazzling radiance of rare, exquisite objects appear ing in all bodhimandas. Perhaps they are adorned by the revelation of the practices and vows of every Universal Worthy Bodhisattva. S uch adornments a re a s numerous as the fine motes of dust in an entire sea of worlds.  

Commentary:

Perhaps theyare adorned by the appearance of Buddhas’ bodies. Some worlds are adorned by mountains and trees which are shaped like the bodies of Buddhas. Perhaps they are adorned by the appearance of clouds of incense and jewels. Previously they did not exist, but now these jewels and incense-clouds appear to adorn these worlds. Perhaps they are adorned by the dazzling radiance of rare, exquisite objects appear ing in all bodhimandas. Within all the bodhimandas of the Buddhas are many precious treasures and wonderful objects which emit light so bright it is dazzling.

Perhaps they are adorned by the revelation of the practices and vows of every Universal Worthy Bodhisattva. In all of these worlds, Universal Worthy Bodhisattva manifests in all the bodhimandas as the Buddha’s eldest disciple. The conduct he has cultivated and the vows he has made are inconceivable. There are Universal Worthy Bodhisattvas in all the Way-places throughout space and the Dharma Realm. Through the cultivation of all kinds of practices and vows, Universal Worthy Bodhisattva attained spiritual penetrations and transformations. By his practices and vows he adorns all these worlds. S uch adornments a re a s numerous as the fine motes of dust in an entire sea of worlds. Above, ten were listed, but in fact, there are as many adornments as there are dust motes in the sea of worlds.

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