September 16, 2001
Messages from Ireland's President Mary McAleese and from His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Dearest American Friends,
On this day of terror and terrible sadness I am finishing a retreat to the solitary monks of Big Sur in California, on the coastal cliffs looking so peacefully over the Pacific Ocean. It seems a strange place to be at this time with such news reaching us, only piecemeal, of what is happening in New York and throughout the country. I wanted to send a word of condolence and maybe some consolation to all the members of our American meditating community on behalf of the members from every other country in the World Community.
Not long ago I was visiting the 'Museum of Tolerance' in Los Angeles which commemorates the holocaust and other tragedies of human inhumanity. It is a very disturbing experience to walk there through the virtual reality of the holocaust. As I looked at the photos of the liberation of the concentration camps I stood in front of one that showed an American tank entering through the gates of Belsen with healthy young American soldiers looking in horror at what lay before them and reaching out to touch and help the emaciated survivors. It struck me then and has stayed with me since as a symbol of America's true strength and greatness. It would be absurd to deny the mistakes that have accompanied the use of that strength at times. But it would be even worse to forget the vast generosity that Americans have shown throughout their history to the poor, the homeless and oppressed. A demonisation of America by some groups must lay behind this latest and most terrible of outrages, this blind, stupid and wicked hatred. As you especially reel under its blow and mourn all those innocent people who have died and also those who will suffer for the rest of their lives from what happened this morning, I want just to remind you that there are those who genuinely and deeply love America and the perennial ideals it represents - ideals that are part of the people and so lie above politics.
For the past few days I have been giving talks here on the 'new saintliness' called for by our times. New, not in the sense of a new fashion of spirituality, but new in the way it is releasing more fully and widely than before the ever-newness of Christ and of the God who is always here and now and with us, even at times when the 'absence of God' can seem most cruel. The first characteristic of this new holiness is an explicit acceptance of universality. Another is the depth of solitude (that means our uniqueness, not our loneliness) from which this experience of oneness must arise.
So, although it seems strange to be connecting with today's horrors from such a safe and peaceful spot, it is meaningful, too. With the escalation of violence and vengeance that will no doubt follow, it is all the more urgent that we live our faith in the truth of love, with the energy of peace, through the eye of the coming storm. That would be impossible without depth. We not only pray for those who have died and who have been mutilated or traumatised. We not only pray for those horribly blind perpetrators of this viciousness. We pray, even more deeply and effectively, with them, from that universal centre that is in every human being, oppressor or oppressed. The centre who is God in Christ. At this time the prayer of the heart is the only depth of prayer that makes sense.
At the heart of the Christian vision is the paradox that where sin is grace abounds. How and why that grace is transmitted is the mystery. What is clear is that it happens through each human being, through each of us. This is a day when every person of good will shares in the American experience.
It is also a day when we can be more than usually aware of the importance of the work of our Community here and worldwide in sharing the path of meditation as a way of peace, healing and renewal. As I continue my retreats and talks in the US for the rest of this month I know I will be more than usually aware with gratitude, too, of the great role you as the American community of Christian meditation play in the Community worldwide.
With much love,
|Re: September 15 Observance|
On the first of January as the millennium opened we meditated together at noon (our local time). In our hearts was the hope always present in people of faith for a new beginning. The tragedy in the USA has shaken that hope of our world entering a new era of peace. The old patterns of humanity run deep and dark as we know from our own spiritual growth. Let us join together in meditation again - a half hour of compassionate silence - alone or in our meditation groups and local communities at noon on Saturday 15th September. Let us renew our hope and contribute as each of us can to that transformation into the divine nature that is our common human destiny. I hope all our Christian Meditation Centres will be able to hold a meditation at this time that will be open to all people of all faiths. Let us also renew our love for our Muslim sisters and brothers. We will hold the suffering of those killed, wounded and mourning especially strongly in our heart.
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From Lady Maureen Allan, WCCM Guiding Board
Ever since seeing the horrific pictures from New York and Washington live on my television I have, in a way, felt personally involved and in some small way responsible.as we are all one human family. I have found myself weeping when watching the news both for the ignorance behind these deeds and for my own ignorance. Father Laurence's wonderful message to our American colleagues echoed this and I longed to add something but felt tongue tied.
Today I had an experience which brought all this together - I had taken my daughter-in-law to the airport for her flight back to Australia. I had just left the motorway on my return and begun to drive down a fast dual carriageway when the three minute silence called for all over Europe was due. I was wondering how I could acknowledge this and started to repeat the Mantra aloud in the car when I saw cars ahead of me pulling off the carriageway onto the hard shoulder and stopping. I joined between fifty and sixty cars which all remained parked and still for the three minutes following the striking of Big Ben on the radio. It was most moving and afterwards everyone showed amazing courtesy in helping each other get back into the lane of traffic. It is amazing how the physical body of a vehicle can convey love, sympathy and unity but they did!!
I came home and watched the service from St. Paul's Cathedral on television - how wonderful that the nation turns to prayer under such circumstances, and I heard that President Bush has called for a day of prayer. I will certainly be joining in the midday meditation tomorrow, Saturday 15th September.
It seems tragic that the world sees itself scientifically as one, ecologically as interdependent and one yet does not see itself humanly as one - anything done to harm individuals is harming the whole of humanity. Martyrdom rightly used is to save life, not to create mass murder. Suicide does not make martyrs - it seems urgent that the unity in diversity of different faiths is taught to children and that we realise it is ignorance which is the cause of so much cruelty. I join in the earnest prayer of love and compassion for those who have suffered and for those behind these atrocities.
The Australian Christian Meditation Community wishes to express our sorrow and our communion with our fellow meditators in the USA and particularly in New York and Washington, at this time of indescribable tragedy, grief and malevolence. Let us hold in our heart all those who have died and may they be received into the Mystery of Love from whence they came. Our hearts are with all who are suffering, and to all those who have lost family or friends as a result of the terrorist actions .
The World Community for Christian Meditation is the organisational sign of a communion with all, that is profoundly real and deep every time we sit to enter into the silence of God within us. In that silence we are truly united with all others in the Mystery of the indwelling God. When one part of the body is hurting, the whole body cries out with them. Let us sit together to allow the balm of peace and Love to heal the wounds, to bind up the broken hearted, to give courage and quiet strength to those who are suffering.
Let us also pray for peace and for justice for all peoples in the world. May the hearts of those responsible for these attacks be converted to love. And may our Islamic brothers and sisters too know the peace and mercy of God at this time.
As a sign of our shared pain and love we ask all meditators to unite in meditation on Saturday 15th September at 12 midday for all the victims, for their families and friends and for all our meditating sisters and brothers in New York and Washington and the USA.
Please advise any other meditators you know of this sharing of silence. It does not matter whether you are meditating in a group at 12 midday on Saturday 15th or on your own, this freeing chain of silence will be threaded through on the level of Spirit as beacons of peace scattered throughout Australia uniting our continent in an offering of praise and communion.
"Come to me all you who labour and are heavy burdened and I shall give you rest."
I'm sure by now we have all heard the terrible news about the terrorist attacks in the U.S. I heard about them while at my job at the Western Michigan University Library. Naturally little work got done; people moved from cubicle to cubicle listening to the radio, trying to get to news websites, or watching television reports. At one point ten or twenty of us were gathered in a conference room watching TV. We sat in stunned silence.
Later I was talking to a co-worker and friend, and we spoke of how nobody said anything--what could we say? Nothing. There are no words that can express our shock, horror, and sorrow.
At times like these, we need the silence of meditation, where no words can express what we feel, where we can find the strength to deal with situations like these.
I do have a concern--Fr. Laurence is scheduled to come to the Midwest U.S. on Monday for a week-long series of retreats and talks in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, and South Bend. I've been planning this visit for two years now, and of course I am concerned about whether it will now happen. Please hold all these things in your hearts--most especially those suffering; yes, those who would commit such terrible acts; and also those of us waiting for Fr. Laurence in the Midwest. I know he will be able to offer great spiritual guidance to us in this time.
Grace and peace,
The whole world has been shocked and stunned, and deeply pained by events today. America is not alone, much prayer support will be given by the rest of the world. I also think President Bush will need our prayers in the next few days.
I share your concern about Fr Laurence's visit next week (am involved in a similar event in UK). It may not be easy but totally place the visit you have planned into God's hands, accept and rest in His decision.
And from me, love and prayers.
To all our dear friends in New York, Washington and across the USA,
Our thoughts and prayers are with you today and we grieve together with you after this terrible tragedy... deepest peace in silence to you,
Dear friends and family,
My prayers and heart are with you in the USA where together as a nation you will build on the terrible tragedy of 11 September 2001.
Dear friends of WCCM:
Today's incident reminds me of what was said in a Bible study group many years ago.
Our teacher asked, "What would you do if you were told the Russians were on their way to blow up the United States?"
One gentleman replied, "I'd pray for THEM."
That class member had really listened to the message of Jesus.
I have just received the beautiful email message from Laurence and I will distribute it to the 30 members of my meditation group which meets tonight at St. Patrick`s Basilica here in Ottawa.
On behalf of meditators in Ottawa and in all of Canada let me express our solidarity with all of the meditators in the USA and all Americans at a time of such anguish and grief. We will spend a half hour in silence tonight at our meeting but the silence will be dedicated to the victims and their loved ones. All Canada joins in sympathy and we hold you all in our hearts.
...And to everybody in the world. It is terrible to see that through the power of love Mother Therese helped the poor and gave a great example to humanity and at the same time the power of hate can disclose such a tragedy to human kind....All my prayers from Argentina Magdalena
PS: Today four o clock pm argentine. time there will be an interreligious meeting around the Obelisk in Buenos Aires to pray for the victims and for the peace of the world. Please join
To all our American friends................what can one say. Utter shock. I thought I would wake up this morning and find it was a bad nightmare I had.................
My thoughts and prayers and my love go out to all those of you . we all hurt and feel for you
God be with you.
Love and prayers.
Ann, Merseyside, UK
From Washington DC:
Dear Laurence and All,
Thank you for your words of comfort and hope. We were never in danger, but are very upset and confused about what has happened. We are hopeful that, if we can all be together in spirit, friends all over the world, we will become better, more compassionate human beings after this tragedy. We are very grateful to be in the community of faculty colleagues, staff and students at Georgetown University, whose first response was to pray together in a series of ecumenical (in the broadest sense) prayer services that will continue for some time.
We will unite with all in meditation, especially on Saturday 15th September at 12 midday for all the victims, for their families and friends, and for the perpetrators and supporters of this atrocious crime against humanity.
Thank you for your support. We love you.
Peace, justice and love,
From across the Hudson River (NJ):
Bless you for your kind thoughts of concern for our safety ,and for your call to solidarity in prayer with us, your brothers and sisters, here in the USA. We will likewise join you Saturday in our contemplative community of faith for all the victims of this tragedy.
My sister, Susan, lives a short few blocks from the WTC in Lower Manhattan. She left for work across the river to New Jersey prior to the attack. From her office she saw both planes crash into the buildings and watched both towers crumble. A parish member's husband missed his morning train and arrived late to work, his eight officemates arrived on time and perished to a man. These contradictions exacerbate the sense of alienation and impending dread of learning the full magnitude of this event. The loss of the sheer physical mass of the structures is mind numbing. The human devastation staggering. The psychological trauma, yet to set in...
Today, the air is disquieting. A dead silence, a pall hovers . Ironic , yesterday and today have given us the most beautiful early Autumn weather you could picture. Bright ,crisp, blue skies, beaming sunshine, last night a diamond canopy of brilliant stars. And the silence is deafening. All air flights having been suspended, the skies hang heavy with sunshine and stillness. Prayer vigils continue round the clock at local churches. Tonight a unified interdenominational service here in Long Valley, a community where many commute to NYC for work.
Our common human fragility and impermanence is now forefront in our attention. The mourning yet to come, and come it will all too soon. Pray for us that we may be able to find the comfort that dwells in all our hearts, and that we may have the strength to bury our dead, rebuild our shattered lives, and live in peace.
with our love
We are seeing and undergoing a great deal of emotional and psychic trauma here in the Boston area. The idea that flights originated from our local airport, which we think of as being such an ordinary place, and were used as mass instruments of death is simply beyond our ken. There is the constant search in conversation and thought to comprehend how such a thing could have happened in our town. I live directly under one of the flight patterns used by the airport. It is also the flight pattern which the USAF used last night in sending jets out to the coast to guard the metro area.
Explain to people that we are not a metro area of a few millions. We are a link in the Bos-Wash corridor stretching from mid-Maine to mid-Virginia. New York is where many of us are from, where we go for a weekend or a week, or for a day of business and return home in the evening. We like to think of ourselves as being friendly, easier to get around, smaller. Many NewYork/New Jersey people have moved here in the last decade because Boston seemed so manageable.
We need a massive out pouring of prayer from you, nothing less. I was supposed to fly out in a few weeks on family business. At this point, with all 16,000 badged Massport employees assigned to Logan undergoing security checks, I wonder if, when or from where I will actually leave. A business acquaintance is supposed to fly to Virginia next week, not something he relishes at this moment.
Pray always. Pray without ceasing. Pray with and for us when we forget how. When you are not praying, meditate for us on the golden words of our holy father Saint Benedict: "Let them prefer nothing to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life."
Hesed Community, California:
Once again I am awed by this world-wide community and its solidarity in meditation. In all the anger, fear and pain there is such hope to know that the prayer of the heart can be a source of healing and transformation.
Tonight at a liturgy at Hesed Community, I was consoled and encouraged by our presider's image of God holding the perpetrators in compassion for the pain that led to their violence. May we as a nation know this mercy and compassion as well and work toward understanding rather than retaliation. May our leaders choose dialogue.
Our presider tonight has also composed a beautiful Prayer for Peace which we say at Hesed each time we gather.
O God, of peace and love,
Help us to embrace simplicity,
Teach us to conserve
Increase among us the spirit of tolerance
(by LaVange Rai Guinn OSB)
Noreen O'Brien <firstname.lastname@example.org>
We are with all of you. You are in our hearts and minds. You don't stand alone.
Patrick Van Campenhout
To all friends in New York, Washington and all USA, my deepest thoughts and prayers - there are no words to express how horrified we are assiting to all you are going through.
May God and his peace be with you.
May God inspire all authorities to make them understand that we are responsable for changing a world where this attrocities became possible into a new world for us and that the way to it is certainly not the one of other attrocities.
Greetings of Peace!
I am also in a quiet place, a small farm north of Kansas City, Missouri. I usually stay at a cabin in the woods, but I have been staying close to the TV throughout yesterday & today. I am trying to absorb the enormity of what has happened & what it means, what it will mean. I now feel numb with many levels of sadness ... for those who have died horribly, for their families & others affected, for the increasing militarization of this country, and for increasing violence in this world.
There are many aspects of this tragedy to be worked through in the days ahead. For now, mourning for the victims -- of yesterday's inhuman act as well as other acts of terrorism -- and mourning for humanity is called for. Coping with the emotions -- fear, anger, confusion, vengeance, numbness -- is the task at hand. These are what are now playing across the TV screens.
I second your call for all people to draw on their spiritual traditions, practices, faith, and commitment to do what we can to represent and speak for compassion, patience, peace, honesty, and healing in the days and weeks ahead. Those who meditate may have a particular role to play. I hope we have the inner resources to find effective words and expressions.
This government and others are contemplating things that will change American lives in ways we can't understand. Maybe this will make us more like many other countries in the world; maybe the other countries of the world will also be tragically changed. What are our possible Dhammic responses to what has happened and is coming?
Terror has been active throughout the last 100 years. Has it now ratcheted up a notch? Or was it just "far away" for Americans? I don't know, and I fear for humanity. Not only those who have been or might become direct victims, but also all of us who may stifle some of our humanity in how we react.
I, too, believe that there are noble qualities in America's culture and people, more than the ignoble. Let us do we can to bring these to the surface and let the best of our humanity rule.
May the Dhamma and God guide us all.
I find myself wordless and empty, the horror of America is so great it is almost inconceivable. The reality for those who survived and those who lost their loved ones is so terrible it does not bear contemplation. I have read many rich words here from meditators around the world. It is a blessing to see the other reality at this time of such darkness for so many - the reality of love.
This is a Northern Ireland prayer - I think it is fit to share it with you now:
Almighty God have mercy on the people of this land. Forgive our hardness of heart, and contempt of Your word and commandments. Help us to lay aside the pride which deludes us, the prejudice which blinds us, and the hatred which destroys us. Lord, give to our leaders patience and wisdom and the humility to seek your way forward. May Your spirit of truth guide them, your justice direct them and your love unite them, so that Your will may be done.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
With deepest sympathy to all those who grieve,
From the Dalai Lama to President Bush:
Here is a letter from His Holiness the Dalai Lama to President Bush on the recent tragic events in the USA. It was forwarded to us by Joshua and Diana Cutler, Directors of the Tibetan Buddhist Learning Center, Washington, New Jersey.
> The Dalai Lama's Letter to the President of the United States of America
> Your Excellency,
> I am deeply shocked by the terrorist attacks that
took place involving four
> I am confident that the United States as a great and
powerful nation will be
> It may seem presumptuous on my part, but I
personally believe we need to
> With my prayers and good wishes
> The Dalai Lama
> September 12, 2001
I will be joing the meditation community in compassionate silence. I feel compassion for all humanity, in particular Americans and for Moslems worldwide now being needlessly demonised. I hope that this situation can be dealt with through reflection, loving kindness and compassion.
With love, Meredith
Adelaide, South Australia
I am writing to you all on this Day of National Mourning here in Ireland, a day when we mourn and pray for all Americans. Like so many others, I have wept bitter tears of sorrow for America and for the World. I have spent many years in America and have three periods of formal education there. I have longed to return but have been unable at least so far. Any words would seem trite and cliche, so that I must confine this letter to a very few lines. Please accept the deepest sympathy which is felt by this whole country and myself.
Community in action
How wonderful to have the outpouring of loving messages from the community and I would like to add my own given that I am currently the beneficiary of community love in action. Joe Doerfer and I were in New York Monday for Medio Media and as the meetings finished early Joe left downtown to be with his daughter and I continued to Boston Monday instead of Tuesday morning.So it was from here that I watched the horrors of the day unfold and like you all, was stunned at the scale of the carnage and the unimaginable collective and individual suffering.
At times like this we seek refuge in some form or the other and being far from my home and family in London my instinct was to join in the local church service.It was a beautiful and simple service. Leaders of many faiths, including Islamic teachers participated. Not much was said, instead we shared deeply in the communion of silence which expressed more eloquently than words, the need to have grace take over from the limitations and inadequacy of our human responses. And Grace there was in abundance.
Having been so brutally confronted with the destruction of that which we perceived to be permanent, here was a gentle and comforting reminder to discriminate between that which is transitory and that which is truly permanent.
Together with thousands of others I found myself stranded indefinitely in Boston and I have had the most wonderful experience of being 'rescued' by Elisabeth Byrne, a meditator whom I first met at the JM Seminar in Belfast,who is lovingly and generously sharing her home with me. In aftermath of Tuesday peple seem to have softened and I have met with kindness at every turn. It makes me immensely grateful not only to be part of the human community, but also to have the privilige of sharing in the WCCM and to know that wherever we are we are connected to one another in love.
The challenge to restoration for America is huge and will be met with characteristic vigour. The challenge for global leaders is even more demanding - how to respond appropriately?The Buddha taught that the antidote to anger is patience.Let us pray for wisdom and patience in their decision making and in our deepest meditations may we know that God is present to us all- always.
with love and gratitude
After reaping the rewards of your thoughts for several months, I must come forward to thank all who have shared such magnificent insights about this tragedy. It helps to dissipate the grief and give hope. I have forwarded or printed several of the messages for friends who are also suffering.
Words cannot express the sorrow and horror that we feel at this time. A friend of mine works in the building in Melbourne that houses the American Consulate. He said that today there were many people, thousands of flowers and many lighted candles at the entrance of the building. This was the way that some Melburnians were expressing their solidarity with their American brothers and sisters.
I feel especially for those people who are uncertain about the fate of their loved ones. The waiting, praying and clinging to hope.
As for the perpetrators of this heinous act, the words of Jesus from the cross are especially apt. " Father forgive them for they know not what they do"
Our Prime Minister Mr John Howard called on Australians today to put their anger and outrage to one side and continue to live in unity with those of Middle Eastern descent. These people are mostly good, law abiding citizens who are just as devastated as the rest of us about the terrible events of 11/09/01.
Thanks to Father Laurence for his beautiful message to U.S. meditators on Tuesday last which I read to the Seaford group at our regular 9 am meeting today ( Saturday).
Kate and I also observed the suggested noon half hour silence today and we will continue to pray for all affected by the cataclysmic events of Tuesday in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
We think it especially important to pray for Moslems worldwide who can be so mindlessly demonised by even believing Christians. Already here in Australia the unfortunate current groups of asylum seekers, many who managed to flee Iraq and Afghanistan, are suffering added pain since the events of Tuesday. As well even our Government, supported by the official Opposition, using coded language about " Border control " and 'Sovereignty "has not been slow to imply a link between the kind of fanatics responsible for the mass murder of people in the U.S. and people like those on the M/v Tampa who were so disgracefully treated near Christmas Island and still await last resort judicial endorsement of their right to have their refugee status claims properly assessed.
Finally, with all the martial talk about retribution it is appropriate to note that a couple of days after the U.S. tragic events we had the Feast of St John Chrysostom who is quoted as teaching that :
"Violence is not overcome by violence but by forbearance ". Cf. John 18:10.
Count me in on the Saturday Sept. 15 meditation, in Houston. I just re-read "The Root of War is Fear" in Merton's _New_Seeds_of_Contemplation_. Much wisdom , and I pray that our nation can become conscious enough to follow steps that de-escalate destruction. As someone said, there are the sanctifed and those waiting to be sanctifed, and hopefully we can respect all of us who are in the "waiting" mode.
Thank you so much for the condolences. Knowing that others care so much about our pain helps me grieve and hopefully heal. Like others, I wake up and hope that it was only a dream. But no, the horror continues as we hear more war rhetoric.
Please continue to say prayers for our new President and his team. Remember this man is in the first nine months of a new job. What an extraordinary test for him.
[This is the text of my sermon this morning at St Dominic's Priory, Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K.]
Sunday 24© 16/09/01
Exod 32:7..14 "Your People" whose
In the light of Tuesday or should we say in the shadow of Tuesday - what is God's word saying to us today?
Moses pleading with God not to let his anger blaze against his erring people; Paul celebrating the mercy of God towards him; Jesus telling the story of the younger brother and the elder brother to the people who complained about him mixing with sinners. Are we in any mood to listen to this? We are choked with horror; we are overwhelmed with grief for the thousands slaughtered, for tens of thousands bereaved, for lives ruined; we are numbed at the size of the horror, yet clamouring for explanation; we have fury which does not know where to vent itself, and are tempted by the emotional luxury of a quick scapegoat; we are worried that the demand for justice will lead to more horror and more suffering of the innocent; perhaps, when the panting for blame holds its breath for a moment, we wonder who is innocent in a world with so much injustice and violence in it.
And we hear Moses pleading with God not to let his anger blaze; we hear Paul rejoicing in God's mercy toward him; and we hear Jesus tell of a father being moved to pity for his erring son who has shamed him.
It may be hard to match our faith and our mood right now; but our faith will last and our mood will not. It is vital that we hold onto the faith which will take us through all our moods, and save us from becoming the victims of any of them. Our faith is in a God who does not add evil to evil, but sees the new possibilities beyond the evil; a God of judgment who humbles our pretensions to be judges; a God of truth who asks us to see the world from his perspective, and that of his special friends, the poor; a God of mercy who himself bears the pain inflicted by violence and sin, and transforms it into healing; a God who sets us free from the chains of hatred begetting violence begetting more hatred begetting more violence.
The prodigal father in Jesus' story defied the conventions, did the unexpected, transgressed the norms. None of Jesus' parables are simply advice on how to behave: they are pictures of a God who brings new life out of seeming death, who is not limited in his responses.
Our responses to Tuesday, if we've got beyond feeling numb and sick, are likely to be limited to reaction responses: how do we punish whoever is responsible? How do we dismantle the structures of terrorism? Those may be valid questions, though the right answers are not going to be easy to find. But our faith challenges us to have vision responses and not just reaction responses: how are we going to build a world to God's specifications? How can we shape a world community in which people are not driven to desperation because of the deafness of the powerful or the greed of the rich? How will good come out of Tuesday's evil? How can we respond to God's creative, healing, renewing love for us? Where will we find the strength to be unpopular with those who are baying for blood? God alone knows; for God's sake, then, let's take the time to listen to him.
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