The Heart of the Matter
April 26, 2020
READ IT & LEAP: Splitting the Arrow

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If you haven't yet had a chance to read Prem Rawat's Splitting the Arrow, a wonderful book of stories, commentaries, and excerpted talks of his, what better time than lockdown? Here's a review of the book on the TimelessToday website.

PremRawat.com
Photo: Courtesy of TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2020
LOCKDOWN 33: A Weak "I" Cannot Understand the Concept of "We"

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There's a lot of things you can do in 20 minutes -- go for a walk, stare out a window, or take a nap. For now, may I suggest you click this link and feast on Prem Rawat's Lockdown talk #33 -- a breath of fresh air, no masks required.

The rest of the series
PremRawat.com
Photo: Courtesy of TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2020
LOCKDOWN TALK #30: The Drunk King on the Drunk Elephant

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Here is the 30th in a series of talks by Prem Rawat in response to these challenging times of the Coronavirus. This one features a story Prem hadn't told in quite a while -- the one about a drunk King riding a drunk elephant and the predicament he ended up in. A great metaphor for what's going on in the world today. Stay conscious!

The entire series of LOCKDOWN talks
Photo: Courtesy of TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

TIM HAIN: My Father's Child

Here is the fifth in a series of songs from people inspired by Prem Rawat -- this one from the one and only, Tim Hain.

The first in the series
The second in the series
The third in the series
The fourth in the series
TimHain.com
Tim's new book on Stirling Moss
Random photos of baseball

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2020
My Sister, Prem Rawat, and Me

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I first heard about Prem Rawat when I was 23 and he was 13. At that time, he was known as "Maharaji" and I was known as "Ditty." Though he was barely a teen, I found him to be extraordinarily wise, well beyond his years. Actually, I found him to be way more than wise, because he wasn't just talking about the eternal verities of life, he was sparking a palpable experience of peace, love, and joy.

And so, at 24, I decided to follow up on his offer and "receive Knowledge" -- his phrase for a kind of inner awakening. It was, for me, the most extraordinary day of my life.

Newly supercharged and supremely confident I had just discovered the secret of life, I soon called my sister and explained why it would be a good idea for her to do the same. It went over like a lead balloon. Make that two lead balloons. Though both of us had grown up in the same house, our bedrooms next to each other, we were now, it seemed, living on different planets -- her perception of me alternating between well-meaning flake, unemployed hippie, and baby boomer going through yet another phase.

Fifteen years passed.

She had three children. I had none. She lived in the suburbs. I lived in the woods. She watched TV. I watched the moon. Finding it painful for my grand declarations about the path I was on to fall on deaf ears, I stopped talking about Prem Rawat in my sister's company. But then, in 1988, upon hearing that he was going to be speaking at Lincoln Center, just 20 miles from her home -- I couldn't resist and invited her to come.

"What the hell?" I thought to myself. "The worst thing that can happen is she says NO." But she didn't. She said YES and agreed to meet me in the lobby of Avery Fisher Hall on the appointed day.

I was thrilled.

Settling into our seats as the hall filled up, my sister and I held hands, agreeing, once again, just how crazy our parents were. And then... the lights dimmed... Prem walked out on stage... sat down... adjusted his mic... and began.

Though I'd heard him speak at least 100 times before, he seemed to be in rare form that night, starting with a joke or two, a light-hearted story, and some funny remarks about New York. The audience loved it. And so did my sister. So much so, in fact, that two minutes into his talk she turned to me and spoke eight words I will never forget, "You never told me how funny he was."

This was my sister's first real introduction to Prem Rawat, everything I had mentioned before that moment merely a weird preamble. THIS was her initiation, laughing her tushie off in the third row of Avery Fisher Hall. Somehow, the man she once assumed she couldn't relate to was getting her to laugh. And laugh she did -- out and out belly laughs, tears coming to her eyes. I just sat there, stunned, amazed at how, in just a few minutes, the man she once was certain was only for her wacky, younger brother had sparked such a delightful opening in her.

Over the next 20 years, Phyllis accompanied me to another five Prem Rawat events. After the fifth, she asked me if there were any videos of him that she could watch. I sent her the links. She googled and followed suit, telling me, now and again, how much she was enjoying what he had to say. A year later, she asked if there was any way that she could receive Knowledge. I sent her the info and six months later she did. In her own home.

When she passed away a few years later, I had a chance to sit by her bedside just before the end, for eight long days, a small picture of Prem Rawat on her bedside table. I rubbed her feet. We talked. We cried. We laughed. She was ready when it was time to go.

PremRawat.com
Prem's new series of Lockdown talks
TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:50 PM | Comments (1)

The Three Faces of God

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When my mother and father, Sylvia and Barney, decided to sell their house on Long Island -- the one I grew up in -- and move to Florida, they invited my sister and me to take anything we wanted before they made their big move to West Palm Beach.

My sister, five years older and a mother of three, showed up with an 18-foot U-Haul truck. I showed up with a Volkswagen.

As I walked from room to room, exploring my choices, it soon became clear there was nothing I wanted. Not the blender. Not the toaster. Not the TV. Nothing. And so I spent the rest of the day, helping my sister carry out stuff to her truck.

I'm not exactly sure how long it took us to load it up, but by the time the last item was in -- a red, plastic silverware tray -- the sun was going down.

But I didn't leave empty-handed. I didn't. There was ONE thing my parents had that I wanted -- most definitely -- a wood carving they'd bought in Thailand on one of their rare vacations. It was hanging on the wall right behind the card table where my mother played canasta once a month with her four best friends -- Shirley, Blanche, Selma, and Ellie, each one of them a second mother to me.

Sprayed a nice shade of gold, the wood carving featured what spiritually-minded people from the East believed to be the three forms of God -- Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva -- the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer of all things. Brahma, on the left, was praying. Vishnu, in the middle, was dancing. And Shiva, on the right, looked as if he was just about to kick somebody's ass.

I found it astounding that my parents, they of the bagel and lox school of Judaism, chose to hang this particular piece of art in such a featured place in their home. Neither of them had any interest, whatsoever, in Eastern cosmology. They read the Sunday New York Times, not the Bhagavad Gita. "Om" was a misspelling to them. And their favorite mantra for me? "As long as she's Jewish" -- referring, of course, to their wishes for me, as their only son and carrier of the family name, to never marry outside the religion. For my mother and father to have placed a wood carving of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva just above the canasta table made absolutely no sense to me. But there it was in all its ancient glory. Noble. Pristine. Powerful. And calling to me on this most auspicious day of downsizing.

"Hey, Ma," I said. "Can I have the woodcarving?" pointing to the wall.

"THAT?" she replied. "That's all you want? That?"

"Yup. That's all I want."

My mother shrugged and mumbled something in Yiddish as I reached up and removed the piece from the wall, then positioned it carefully, in my suitcase, in between my pajamas and favorite t-shirt.

When I got back to Denver, the first thing I did was hang it in my living room just above my record player. Every time I left my bedroom and headed towards the kitchen, it was the first thing I'd see.

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A month later, I got word that a fundraising campaign had been launched to help my teacher, Prem Rawat, get his message of peace out into the world -- an effort I very much wanted to be part of. The only problem? Unemployed, I had no money to give. That's when I began cruising my apartment in search of "items of worth" to sell.

The first thing that caught my eye was my record collection which, I reasoned, might fetch about $200. Bye bye Otis Redding! Bye bye Rolling Stones! Bye bye Dave Brubeck! But I wanted to give more than that, so I kept on cruising. That's when it dawned on me that my most valuable possession was my newly acquired woodcarving. Clearly, it was time to let it go, so I reached up, removed it from the wall, and made my way to the finest antiques store in town where I hoped to sell it on consignment.

The owner, a nice Jewish man, loved it, and told me it would fetch a "pretty penny". Yes, he would get his commission, but I would get the rest -- probably, I figured, at least $500. Hooray! Yippee! Yahoo! Let's hear it for Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva! Let's hear it for Sylvia and Barney!

A week passed. Then a second. Then a third. Every time I called the owner of the antiques store he gave me the same response. No one was interested in buying my woodcarving. Did they admire it? Yes. But no one wanted to buy it. No one, he explained, even tried to bargain. Apparently, there wasn't a single person in the Mile High City of Denver who had room for Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva in their living room -- so I returned to the antiques store and fetched my woodcarving, hanging it, once again, over my record player (though, now, I had no more albums to play.)

Part of me was glad it didn't sell. Part of me was sad. And part of me felt bad -- aware that my deep-seated need to GIVE SOMETHING of value to my Prem did not bear fruit.

It was precisely at this moment that I had a revelation. "Why not give it to him? Why not give it to the one has given me everything? Nobody ELSE liked it. Maybe HE will!"

So I asked a carpenter friend of mine to make a box for it, asked another friend to gift wrap it, and gave it to a third friend, a gardener at Prem's residence, to hand-deliver it later that day.

A week passed. Then another. And another, yet. I got no response. Absolutely none. It felt like the antiques consignment store saga all over again. Unwanted. No one wanted what I had to offer. Not even my own Guru.

And then, in the fifth week of this outtake from my own Mahabharata, I got a call from the gardener friend of mine who'd hand-delivered the woodcarving a few weeks ago. Prem, he explained, after a month in Denver, had traveled back to his home in Malibu. A few days later he called the Denver residence and requested that someone ship him the woodcarving immediately. Which they did.

As the story was told to me, he hung it in a place of honor in his living room.

Prem's recent series of Lockdown talks
PremRawat.com
TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:54 PM | Comments (1)

April 15, 2020
MUSIC! John Adorney, Kim O'Leary, and Steve McPeters

Here's a beautiful break from washing your hands, wearing your mask, and thinking about how you're going to make a living. Plenty of time for that later. For now, music! Three delicious songs by John Adorney, Daya Rawat, Kim O'Leary, and Steve McPeters -- wonderful musicians who have been inspiring people for many years. Here's to music and courage and love and perspective and trust!


EVEN IN YOUR DARKEST HOUR: John Adorney


UNIVERSE: Kim O'Leary


UNTRAVELED ROAD: Steve McPeters

More John
More Kim
More Steve

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:09 AM | Comments (0)

An Intro to the Wisdom System

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Recently, Dr. John Horton, via Skype, had a very informative and inspiring conversation with Prem Rawat about Covid-19, part of Prem's recent series of Lockdown talks. It's nine minutes long. Here it is.

What follows are excerpts from a book John is currently writing: The Wisdom System -- an exploration of what it really means for human beings to live up to their full potential.

EXCERPTS FROM JOHN'S FORTHCOMING BOOK

"As we try to understand what it is to be a human being and appreciate life, I am asking myself, these days, what can we learn from brain research? Towards that end, I find myself increasingly fascinated by neuroscience's discovery of the two unique brain networks inside our heads. One is known as the "executive function network" and the other is known as the "salient network."

The function of the executive function network is to prioritize what is most important to a human being at any given moment in time so we can continue to thrive. According to the highly regarded psychologist, Abraham Maslow, self-actualization is a human being's most important priority -- one of our five primal needs, the other four being: survival, safety, socialization, and self-esteem. We share these needs with our fellow primates.

Self-actualization (a modern day term for "know thyself"), according to Maslow, has two aspects to it. The first is what it takes to access and express our highly individual abilities, understandings, and potentials. The second is about the choice we all have to cultivate our own inner contentment.

The need we all have to become fully ourselves in actions and relationships evolves over the course of lifetime, accompanied by many different learning experiences and discoveries. This is the first part of self-actualization. The entire process, you might say, is the dance of our outer lives enlivened by our own, unique inner being.

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This dance, however, is only part of the story of what it means to be a fully functioning human being -- the husk, but not the seed. Ultimately, human beings are more than just their the quest for survival, safety, socialization, and self-esteem. While these four aspects of our life are necessary, they are not sufficient. Indeed, there is another force at work, inside of us -- the need for inner contentment.

Bottom line, our need for inner contentment is very simple. We knew this need as children and, unlike the first part of our need for self-actualization, it does not evolve as we grow. It is always with us -- right from the beginning of life -- a need that is so simple it is often overlooked or ignored.

The essence of this simplicity is something I have increasingly come to understand in response to the input, guidance, and inspiration Ive received from Prem Rawat over the the past 50 years.

For me, busy as I've been being a full-time physician, simplicity, too often, has remained only a remote possibility, as well as the effort required to enjoy inner contentment in the midst of my normally very busy day. However, with the inner practice I usually do first thing in the morning, I have a way to connect to simplicity and feel the priority of enjoying inner contentment.

All well and good. But what about the rest of my day? Just because I've connected with my inner contentment in the morning, does than mean I can neglect my other needs (survival, safety, socializing, and self-esteem?) No, it doesn't. It just puts those needs into a much more human context, helping me stay aware of them during my busy and sometimes challenging day. Yes, there is the heartfelt enjoyment of inner contentment, but there is also a mental component to my choice.

This is precisely where the salient network of the brain comes into play. Since this network is designed to focus on the most important feature needed to accomplish a particular goal, I can choose to activate it to focus on the kindness of existence.

"We are all connected to an infinite source of kindness," Prem said years ago. And the memory of that single sentence still provides me with the inspiration I need to call on the salient network -- the prioritizing and focusing part of my brain -- to help me connect with the kindness within me.

Here's an example of what I am getting at: Sometimes, when I'm driving on the freeway, in Los Angles, a question comes to mind: "How, in the world, are thousands of people able to drive their cars, in five lanes of traffic, with only few feet separating them, and not have tons of accidents -- especially when the people in the cars are talking to friends, listening to music, thinking about other things, or worse, are stressed out of their minds trying to get to their destination on time?

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Sound familiar?

Thank God for the salient network of our brain! With so much going on around us, it regulates the focus we need to accomplish our goals, while not having a traffic accident. Simply put, it keeps us attentive to one essential focus, watching the road and we are good at doing this with nearly 100% efficiency. If our focus wavers for just a second, we immediately refocus or somebody honks their horn to remind us we have drifted from our lane.

Here's my big takeaway from this.
If my innate drive for inner contentment is life's way of helping me reach my destination, then it is the salient network of my brain is the GPS for my journey, enabling me to multi-track, but still enjoy the kindness within.

My aspiration? To become as sensitive to paying attention to inner kindness as I have learned to pay attention to the road.

When I attend to the innate kindness within me, it becomes my full-time companion, my co-pilot -- as I navigate my way forward on the highways and bi-ways of life, all the time knowing I have a choice of what to focus on."

PREM PHOTO: Courtesy of TimelessToday
PremRawat.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:14 AM | Comments (1)

April 13, 2020
A Song for Silent Heroes

This just in from Stuart Hoffman (music), Jennifer Edwards (lyrics), and Stephen Rivera (vocals) -- a song of praise to the unsung, silent heroes everywhere whose selfless efforts are saving lives, raising spirits, and being of service to so many people in need.

Anthems on the Rise
Other Stuart Hoffman songs and anthems

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:10 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2020
Grateful for Another Chance

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Sitting here in semi-isolation in an AirBB in Epping, Australia (where?), I am feeling particularly grateful to Prem Rawat whose endless guidance, encouragement, graciousness, care, humor, love, storytelling, and wisdom continues to buoy me up at a time when there is so much that could easily bring me down. And though I feel the heaviness of the world in distress, more than that I feel grateful for yet another chance to meet my own Maker within -- the spark of life, the oasis in the middle of the desert of unknowns. What a great gift this man is. What a blessing on the Earth.

If you haven't had a chance to watch his recent series of daily Lockdown talks, you're in for a treat. Breaths of fresh air they are. Goodness. The long view. Light at the end of the tunnel (and the beginning, too) -- simple reminders of that which thrives even in midst of difficulty and tough times.

PremRawat.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2020
In My Soul, There Is a Temple

This just in from Guenther Schoell. Inspiring! Deep! A perfect message for today (and any day).

THE LYRICS

In my soul, there is a temple,
A mosque a shrine, a church where I kneel.

Prayer should bring us to an altar
Where no walls or names exist.

In my soul, there is a temple,
A mosque a shrine, a church where I kneel.

I'm no Christian I'm no Muslim I'm no Jew
I'm no Buddhist I'm no Hindu
I'm the gust of wind that trembles in God
I'm the wind that dwells in your heart.

In my soul, there is a temple,
A mosque a shrine, a church where I kneel.

Rabia of Basra (717 - 801) is, without doubt, the most popular and influential of female Islamic saints and a central figure in the Sufi tradition. The abbreviated and slightly altered poem is from Daniel Ladinsky's book LOVE POEMS FROM GOD: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West.

Frithjof Schuon (1907 - 1998) is considered by many to have been the 20th century's greatest metaphysician and exponent of Perennial Philosophy. His perspective is of one who perceives the essence of all great religions to be the same.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2020
A Free Online Tool to Spark Some Big Ideas & Breakthroughs For You

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If you have found your way to this blog, there's a good chance you have a rich inner life. Your commitment to "know thyself" has probably served you well during these tough times of the Coronavirus. Outwardly, things may be falling apart, but inwardly you are still connected to the changeless. Yea! Congratulations! Stay with it!

Still, there's no denying the fact that "things on the outside" are in disarray. It's stressful, chaotic, and sometimes downright scary. Perhaps you've lost your job or your business has gone under. Maybe your income has shrunk or you're scrambling to figure out how to "make it" in the world.

If that's the case, I have a present for you.

It's not a mask or money or a magic pill, but it it may be more useful than any of those things. Simply put, it's an online creative thinking tool I invented to help people originate big, bold ideas -- a way to go beyond the status quo and increase their odds of thinking more creatively -- something that is much needed these days.

I call it Free the Genie.

I used to sell it in the hopes of getting rich (ha!), but now I'm giving it away -- my little effort to be of service without breathing on you.

It's easy to use and takes very little time. All you need is a compelling question, some curiosity, and the willingness to go beyond the status quo.

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So there you have it -- my best shot at helping you give it your best shot. Click here for your free subscription.

PS: If online creative thinking tools are not your thing, maybe one of the articles below will be the spark you need to get the wheels turning.

As John Cage once said, "I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones."

Einstein's approach to problem solving
50 awesome quotes on possibility
Listen to your subsconscious mind
25 ways to free up your creativity
How to attract a breakthrough idea
20 quotes on beginning
101 CreativiTeas for Innovators
The awesome power of immersion
100 quotes on what it takes to innovate

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2020
Quarantining My Mind

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The practice of quarantine began during the 14th century in an effort to protect coastal cities from plague epidemics. Ships arriving in Venice from infected ports were required to sit, at anchor, for 40 days before landing. This word for this phenomenon harkens back to two Italian words, "quaranta giorni", which translate as "40 days".

OK. I get it. Quarantining makes sense. When someone or something is infected and contagious we remove it from society. We protect the whole, by isolating the parts.

But the body is not the only part of us that gets infected. So does our mind -- what the dictionary defines as "the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences -- the faculty of consciousness and thought."

On a good, uninfected day, our mind is a capable of many glorious things: wonder, gratitude, focus, clarity, creativity, compassion, generosity, appreciation, and wisdom, just to name a few. But when it gets infected, watch out, my friends, watch out. The game changes quickly. All hell breaks loose.

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The symptoms of the body's contagion are relatively easy to recognize, especially these days with all the coverage Covid-19 is getting: fever, chills, sneezing, coughing, body aches, and fatigue.

The symptoms of the mind's contagion? Not quite as easy to detect. Why not? Because, like pollution and hidden bank charges, we've become so accustomed to them, we barely notice anymore. But just because we don't, it doesn't mean the contagion isn't wreaking havoc. It most definitely is.

The symptoms of an infected mind? Take your pick: worry, doubt, fear, stress, anger, blame, confusion, panic, powerlessness, loneliness, hopelessness, irritation, frustration, hypochondria, lethargy, and overwhelm -- and that's just for starters.

Simply put, our body gets physically infected and our mind gets metaphysically infected. And when it does, its contagion begins spreading exponentially. Other people are affected -- our families, our friends, and our communities.

These days, I have never been more aware of my mind's infection.

Living in semi-isolation as I am, 10,000 miles from home, more time on my frequently washed hands than usual, I am acutely aware of the condition I have. I've caught something. I have something. But the thing that I've caught and have doesn't need to catch and have me. It doesn't. Nope. No way. I'm in charge. Not it.

That's where choice enters the picture -- to quarantine the infected part of my mind before it gets out of hand.

What does this so-called quarantining look like? For me, it begins with a kind of peeing around my soul's territory and then choosing not to engage, not to react, not to fight back, and not to take a single bite from the seeming infinite supply of poisoned cookies my mind tosses my way.

Instead, I take a breath, return to the place of peace inside me, and send the feral monkeys of my mind back to their room for a long time out. And if they refuse my directive, as often they do, I simply turn and walk away, their nervous chattering now fading background noise in the soaring symphony of my life.

Does it always work? No. But sometimes it does. And the more I practice quarantining my mind, the flatter the curve.

Covid-19 is just a dress rehearsal, folks, an opportunity for each and every one of us to see through the illusory nature of the world and all we've constructed -- our identities, personas, possessions, accomplishments, systems, institutions, civilizations, and distractions. None of them are real. All of them come and go in the blink of an eye.

What remains when they skedaddle out of town? Now that's the 279 trillion dollar question, isn't it? What remains?

For now, let's keep it real simple. You and I and the other 7.7 billion people on planet Earth have a choice -- the choice to choose life over death, light over dark, love over hate, now over later, and presence over absence. And, perhaps above all else, the choice to pay attention to that which is truly worthy of our attention. You know what it is. I know you do. No matter what name you call it or how you invoke it, I invite you to pay more attention to that during these crazy Coronavirus days of change.

Photo: Courtesy of TimelessToday
The Two Wolves
Ending Violence with Chopsticks
Is That So?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:12 AM | Comments (3)

April 02, 2020
LOCKDOWN #12: Resting and Boosting Your Immune System

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Prem Rawat continues his series of daily talks in response to the Coronavirus situation. Also includes a very informative conversation between Prem and Dr. John Horton. HINT: Boost your immune system, decrease your fear.

Photo: Courtesy of TimelessToday

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

Welcome to Mitch Ditkoff's blog about what's really important in this life: Peace, gratitude, love, joy, clarity, and the effort required to wake up and smell the roses. Enjoy!

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