Yin/Yang



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QUANTITY - How much?

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Balance - Amount - Opposites - Rhythm - Pendulum - Ideas - Gender - Difference - Duality

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Unity                                 -                     Division
Together                           -                      Separate
Attraction                         -                      Repulsion

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From unity comes duality. One becomes two.


 1. Opposites


The yin/yang symbol represents the idea of polarity. 

Polarities situate our world by defining its boundaries. They describe the states and qualities of things, but never the things themselves. The qualities of a rock - hard, heavy - may have their opposites - soft, light - but 'rock,' as a thing in itself, has no opposite.

This is because a rock is the sum of its qualities. 'Rock' is shorthand for all of these various attributes.

We perceive things through their qualities, which is another way of saying that we perceieve them through their differences. A specific set of differences makes a 'rock' a 'rock'; but tweak a few and it may become something else altogether.

By virtue of its attributes, every thing is two-faced, caught between multiple pairs of opposites, like a spider at the centre of a web.


2. Rhythm & Balance


In everything there is a measured flow, a backwards and forwards from one state to another; sometimes more, sometimes less. A deficiency of one thing is always an excess of another, and vice versa. Too much of any one thing is an imbalance, and leads to ill health. Health itself can be defined as a state of balance between two opposites, or extremes.

True balance is impossible because it implies a standing still. Nothing in this world stands still; if it appears to do so it is only because we cannot perceive its movement.


3. Gender


Gender is a way of talking about the interactions between things. 

In some teachings, the numbers one and two are regarded as the parents of all of the other numbers. We can see One as a latent thought, or idea, emerging from the nothingness of Zero as a point of potentiality. We can see Two as a receiver, or womb, for this thought. From it is birthed Three (the firstborn), along with its infinity of siblings.

The idea of gender suggests that for creation to occur - in other words, for things to exist - there must be a pair of complementary, and fundamentally different forces that interact with one another. These are the poles of life - positive and negative, life and death. Each strives to unite with the other, and from their union new forms emerge.

1 + 2 = 3.

If we accept that everything is connected - that every thing interacts with other things - then it becomes apparent that everything must both give and receive (everything has inputs and outputs). Thus, in all things there is an active force (Yang) and a passive force (Yin). Gender is a way of characterising these forces: the active force is regarded as masculine, and the passive as feminine.

Thus the principle of Gender manifests in all things.


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Main posts:-
The Principle of Polarity
Masculine - Feminine
The Middle Path
Balance
Shades of Gray
In-between



The Colour Wheel



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QUALITY - Who are we?

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Types - Diversity - Position - Relations - Communication - Jigsaw - Connection - Devotion - Order -

Chaos

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Part                            -                      Whole
Mono                         -                      Poly
Absolute                    -                      Relative

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1. Connection and Separation


A simple colour wheel may only show a handful of colours, and may separate them, each to its own segment. In separating its colours and attributing labels (“red”, “blue”) it speaks to us about types; about how the things of this world can be separated and categorised. Each takes a position within the wheel. We can describe this kind of wheel as Euclidean, Newtonian, or Classical, and can see it as representing order.

A more complex wheel will show all possible colours, each merging into the other. It reminds us that our categorisations and positions can be ‘seen through’, and transcended; and that, in spite of our boundaries, we are all connected. It suggests that perhaps these boundaries are not as definite as we may take them to be; that they are, at bottom, no more than temporary vessels atop a turbulent sea.

However, it also reminds us that without boundaries there are no colours; that it is only through separating things - saying, 'this part is green, this part is red' - that we are able to see them at all. We can describe this kind of wheel as Non-Euclidean, Einsteinian, or Quantum, and can see it as representing chaos.


2. Point of View


Each colour has its opposite, and yet all are contained within the overall Truth of the wheel. No one colour holds the truth, rather each contributes toward something greater than itself.

All earthly truths are dependent upon our viewpoint, which in turn is defined by our intentions or goals. When we are in red, we may think red to be 'true' and green to be 'untrue'; yet when we move to green the truth moves with us. This points toward the idea that all things are true and at the same time untrue, and that our 'truths' are relative: what is true for you may not be true for me.

We can define relative truth as "Things as the highest reason of Man understands them."

Yet some believe that there is a Truth - with a capital 'T' - that transcends both of us, in which our differences are united. This is absolute Truth, and it is not relative, nor contigent upon our individual viewpoint.

We can define absolute Truth as "things as the mind of God knows them."

Thus, when all colours are merged together they produce the pure white of Truth. If any are left out then the picture is incomplete: all are necessary.


3. Relationship


The colours of the wheel sit in relation to one another, merging, mingling and communicating. Thus, the wheel can also be used to think about relationship; the relationship between individuals - colour to colour (opposing, complementing, neighbouring); and the relationship between part and whole.


4. From centre to outskirts


Some wheels combine the principles of separation and connection. On these wheels the centre is the area of greatest overlap, a place of merging and homogeny. As the wheel radiates the separate colours become more distinct - more saturated - the further they get from the centre. At the edge of the circle the colours are less adulterated, and more ‘unique,’ or pure. If the centre is a complex polychromatic synergy, then the outskirts are altogether more ordered and simple.

We can see the centre as the middle path; that is, the neutral point that mediates between opposites. In this sense, the centre is a position from which the entire wheel - and all its various colours - can be seen dispassionately. When we are at the centre we can move freely in any direction, and so all possibilities are open to us. It is a watery place, with nothing certain to lean upon. Here the colours are ill-defined, their boundaries confused, and they merge into one another, producing new combinations. Its indeterminacy makes it a fertile and latent place, from which novel forms can emerge.

The outskirts, on the other hand, are dry places, with solid forms that can be relied upon - red is red, and green is green; and of that much we can be certain. Things here are clearly defined, with strong borders and strict segregation. They are easily seen, grasped, and known. Enduring familiarity is valued over fleeting novelty.

The boldest examples of each colour are found at the edges, suggesting that the further we travel in one direction the more vividly we manifest the particular colour that we’ve chosen (an idea that has an analogue in Carl Jung's notion of individuation). Looked at this way, extremity is synonymous with differentiation and uniqueness.

However, the further we walk a particular path the harder it is to return to the centre. It is easier for those who are not as devoted to see things dispassionately; for those who are not as attached to be indifferent. Inasmuch as we must devote ourselves to a particular colour, then our challenge is being able, when necessary, to see through this colour; to loosen our grip and to return to a place of impartiality.

The centre is the meeting point, the place where real communication takes place. Here is where all colours merge to produce white (all views merge to produce God's view), suggesting that it is here, and only here, that Truth is to be found.



5. One/Many


In view of the larger balance, it is important that red be red, and green be green; and that neither worry too much about their lack of blue, yellow, purple, and so on. In putting forward an argument (i.e. speaking from a position) it may be tempting to try and make our argument as invulnerable as possible, by anticipating and accounting for all of the possible counter-arguments that may assail us.

But if all truths are contingent on our viewpoint, then no single position can ever be truly invulnerable. Inasmuch as assuming a position requires us to come down from the fence and move in a direction, then our position will always be lacking something. After all, one thing cannot be every thing: every point has its counter-point, every argument its detractors.

To choose a direction is to forsake all others. Thus, to the extent that you have an excess of red, you will also, to the same extent, have a shortage of green.

However, the wheel warns us against becoming lost in any one colour, insisting that there are always other ways of seeing and being. It may be tempting to think that our way of seeing the world is ‘correct’ - that our colour is the ‘right’ one. But a glance at the wheel shows us that no one colour is privileged over any other. The holism of the wheel is an antidote to fundamentalism. It encourages both the ‘mono’ and the ‘poly,’ each in good measure.

Whilst sometimes it may be necessary to devote ourselves to one thing - to take the red path and forsake the green -  it is important to remember and acknowledge those colours, those ways, that we didn't choose. Whilst red may be the one we favour, green still exists; and, importantly, still has a place, and a voice, within the wheel. It may not be as important to us, but it remains a crucial element in the overall balance. When we deny - or repress - it, we do not make it disappear: we simply reduce our field of vision, making ourselves colour-blind.

Although no one colour has a greater inherent value than any other, there are times when one may be better than another. For instance, if you are wanting to create a calm and soothing atmosphere, it may be that blue paint is a better choice than red. It is our goals that determine the value of things, rather than an inherent value within the things themselves. Thus, how we look at the wheel - the intention that we bring to it, and the stories that we tell about it - determines how we see it.


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Main posts:-
The Colour Wheel
Everything is Connected
A Higher Power
Separation
Connection 
Mono / Poly



Circle / Spiral / Line


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PROCESS 

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Growth - limits - evolution - progress - movement - direction - culture - storytelling - autonomy - The Act - journey - development

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Circle                        Spiral                      Line
Birth                           Life                       Death
Being                       Becoming                Nothing 
Finite                             -                          Infinite
Limited                          -                          Unlimited
Deflation                       -                          Inflation
Perfect                     Imperfect                  Perfect

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1. Expansive / Limited

The line represents the idea of expansiveness. It heads in a straight line, forever. It inspires us to keep moving; to progress, advance, and evolve.

The circle represents the notion of limitation. It always ends up coming back on itself. It reminds us of the importance of limits.

The spiral can be seen as a combination of the line and the circle. It brings together the ideas of expansiveness and limitation. The path of the spiral evolves, but does so by revisiting familiar territory. As we work our way around the spiral we end up back where we began, but we return changed. Things are the same, yet different. It has been said that ‘all progress is a returning home.’ The spiral shows us how we can both progress into the new whilst returning to the old.


2. Life / Death

Within every living thing there is a tug of war, consisting of the the pull towards life, and the pull towards death. The life urge is conservative, the death urge expansive.

Life is defined by the process of limitation; a thing is only a thing because of all the things it is not; from a sea of infinite possibility certain characteristics are chosen, at the expense of others. Infinity is bounded.

Death is the return to infinity; the unbinding of what has been bound. If life is synonymous with 'limited', then death is synonymous with 'unlimited.'

As humans we have an urge towards expansiveness - the need to constantly explore new territory - that must be balanced by the imposition of limits. A lack of boundaries allows us to adventure to far flung places, full of mystery and novelty - but whenever we travel to extremes we also dance with death.


3. Process

The Line, the Circle and the Spiral talk to us about process, development, evolution; about getting from one place to another, or one state to another; and about journeys, and the different kinds of journeys we can make. A journey is often preceded by a mission, or a story; and the stories that we tell ourselves can determine the paths that we then choose to walk down, along with the subsequent twists and turns that we make on our journey. Our stories are our guides, leading us towards certain things and away from others. “We see what our ideas allow us to see.”


4. Personal growth

“Going round in circles” is used to convey the idea of moving without progress. If we go round in circles too much then we may become stuck in a rut. ‘Moving without going anywhere' is also a way of describing the pattern of game-playing. Games can be fun and, in the right context, healthy; but they can also be a form of denial or avoidance - we play them so as not to move forward.

Equally, we can get stuck in linear movement, in a continual tearing up of new territory. We can get addicted to novelty, always wondering what’s round the next corner. No sooner have we landed then we’re off again. To get stuck in this mode is to forget the importance of boundaries. We “go too far” and, like Icarus, run the risk of flying too close to the sun. Our towers become too high, ripe for a thunderbolt or two to bring them down to size.

The growth of the spiral, balancing as it does the two extremes, can be seen as an ideal. It covers new territory whilst staying within certain boundaries.


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Main posts:-
Lines and Circles
The Mature Individual
Guiding Fiction
The Tyranny of Novelty



Land and Sea



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STATE - What is it: solid, liquid, or gas? Or something in between?


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Change - Becoming - The Sea - Shaking Up - Absolutes


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Life                           -                      Death
Solid                         -                      Liquid
Stability                    -                      Plasticity
Certain                      -                      Uncertain
Permanence              -                      Change
Rigid                         -                      Flexible
Cohesive                   -                      Random
Fundamentalism        -                      Relativism
Order                         -                      Chaos


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Change is in the nature of all things. Like the Sea, nothing stands still. It is speculated that all life began in the sea; and without water there would be no life. The land stands as a counterpoint to the sea. Nothing is permanent. All of our structures are castles made of sand, destined to one day be washed away. Everything is forever becoming, but nothing ever truly is.

To get from one state to another you must be prepared to sail the turbulent seas; to abandon your structures, say goodbye to the land beneath your feet, and journey to somewhere new. From certainty to uncertainty; known to unknown.

The Sea is a fertile place. It is the place from which new structures emerge, and into which old structures fall. It is the negative space between our structures. It eludes definition, and cannot be pinned down. It is a place from which alternatives emerge; where other things can be tried out.

1. Solid and Liquid

Every thing is composed of other things. Imposing order is like telling a story, weaving together separate elements to create something new. Order is, then, synonymous with fusion; and whenever we make connections between things we are creating order. The stronger the connections the more solid the totality.

I use the image of Land to represent this idea of order and solidity. If we want to build structures then we need Land - solid ground - to build upon. Our structures act as bulwarks against the uncertainty and chaos of the outside world, sheltering us from the elements, and providing safety, security and familiarity. They are sanctuaries in which we can express ourselves - our view of things - without fear of rebuke. They are predictable places, where things are arranged just as we like them. Each structure is a little ordered world, with its own set of rules, preferences and meanings; its own culture.

For a structure to feel safe, it must be well built. Each element - from the foundations up to the roof - must be put in place with a crucial amount of care and attention, by trustworthy builders. Faulty foundations can cause paranoia and insecurity, a constant worry that at any moment our structure could crumble to the ground. They necessitate an inwards looking mentality, a pathological need to support, defend and maintain. Every blow becomes potentially life-threatening. Firm foundations, on the other hand, allow us to look - and venture - outwards, safe in the knowledge that our structure will remain standing, in spite of our lack of vigilance. A strong, resilient structure allows the odd blow to be absorbed here and there.

We may be so afraid of the outside world that we become reluctant to travel beyond the familiarity of our own four walls; at which point our little world becomes the whole world, and we see everything through its prism. Our vision becomes monocular, and all meanings are conflated with our own. If red is our colour, then all we see is red.

Entering someone else's structure can be like a trip to a foreign land, a place of strange sounds, smells and tastes. When the 'otherness' of foreign structures becomes threatening, then our santuary may become a castle, a fortified position from which we go to war. With its reinforced walls and elaborate defences, a castle is the zenith of solidity: its purpose is to endure; to keep the inside in, and the outside out.

To prevent an embattled mindset, lines of communication must stay open. We must allow an opening in our defences - an entry and exit point - through which we give and receive messages. Dialogue is an invisible thread that connects us to the outside world, allowing a mutual exchange of influence. It stops us from taking our little world too seriously, by reminding us of its relativity.   

Our sanctuary can also become a prison: comforting familiarity can slide into dull habituation. Sometimes things need to be shaken up, constricting bonds loosened.

The Sea stands as a counterpoint to Land. A return to the Sea means a breaking apart of what was held together. Looser bonds allow more movement, and so as things come apart they become more fluid and flexible, and less solid. Water is formless and adaptable, assuming the shape of whatever vessel it is placed within. It is an antidote to the fundamentalism of solid matter.

However, we cannot build upon, or with, water. It is indecisive, enamoured with novelty - here, then there; this, then that - and so cannot be relied upon. In this sense, solid matter stands as an antidote to the relativism of liquidity.


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"stuck in your ways," "firmly rooted"


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Main posts:-
All is Change
Status Quo
Escaping Uncertainty
Solid Ground
Everything and Nothing



The Pyramid










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LEVEL - SCALE - How high/big?

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Viewpoint - Position - Hierarchy - Games - Logical types - Roots - Development - Growth -

Size - Scale - Distance - Proximity - Infinity - Limits - Borders - Planes - Order -

Resolution

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Short                          -                       Long
Concrete                    -                      Abstract
Pragmatic                   -                      Ideal
Narrow                       -                      Wide
Small                          -                      Large
Together                     -                      Apart
Close                           -                      Far
Facts                           -                     Values
Particular                    -                      General
Individual                    -                     Collective
Chaos                           -                     Order
Hot                              -                     Cold 


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1. The Short View and the Long View

I like to imagine a town at the bottom of the pyramid. When we are at ground level we are able to walk within the town and take in various features; the smells drifting from its eateries; the sounds of its markets; the patterns of its cobbled streets; the cracks in its walls. Perhaps we come across a park, and stop and sit on the grass, feeling its blades tickling our neck as we lie down. If we look close enough we can see insects wriggling their way past us. If we are so inclined, we can dig our fingers into the dirt, and, bringing our hands close to our eyes we can see its residue lining the grooves of our fingertips.

These are the experiences that are available to us at the bottom of the pyramid. We are able to rejoice in details.

At the top of the pyramid awaits an altogether different experience. The details of the town are now lost to us; we can no longer see its cracks and crevices; smell its various odours; or touch its surfaces with our fingers. However, from up here we suddenly notice something new. We see that the streets of the town, those streets that we once walked through, make a pattern. And that the park is positioned in a very particular place within that pattern, along with a number of other landmarks. We see how everything fits together in order to create something larger. Up here another level of sense, of meaning, opens up to us.

I often use this analogy in order to illustrate different ways, or levels, of thinking. The sort of thinking that is associated with a ground-level view is pragmatic; concerned with details, and the here and now. It does not see the bigger picture. The thinking associated with the loftier view is idealist, or generalist. It is more concerned with how things fit together, and with long-term considerations. I call the view at the bottom the short view (short-term thinking) and the view from the top the long-view (long-term thinking).

I do not see one as being better than the other; rather, heeding the lesson of the colour wheel, both are necessary for a complete picture. Where one is proficient, the other is deficient. Working together they form a formidable team.

2. Abstraction

Another way of describing the change that occurs as we move up the pyramid is to say that things get more abstract. I like to imagine a pyramid that is constructed from different sized blocks. The very bottom level of the pyramid (‘Level 1’) consists of many small blocks. The next level (‘Level 2’) contains slightly fewer, larger blocks. A single block on Level 2 is large enough to contain a number of blocks from Level 1. Thus, a unit of information from the second Level encapsulates several units from the first.

In subsuming multiple blocks under one larger block - one ‘heading’ - we connect things that were formerly separate. In other words, we tell a story about them; which is another way of saying that we make sense of them. A 'story' is, in this sense, synonymous with a 'concept', or a 'category': it is a binding together of separate things.

However, the pay off is that in making sense we lose detail. Thus, as we travel up the pyramid, each level is more abstract than the one beneath it. The blocks continue to increase in size and decrease in number, resulting finally in a very large capstone. The capstone is akin to universally binding truth; it encapsulates everything beneath it, but only in a very general, or abstract, way. Such a truth could be something like “everything is connected”, or “universal love.”

The process of abstraction, then, is one of travelling upwards and away from the ground - away from concrete tangible reality and up toward the heavens. Its opposite is concretisation, which is a downward move; a grounding.

If we have our head in the clouds for too long then we may lose sight of reality. And too much time spent examining details may lead to us forgetting the bigger picture. As ever, balance is key.

3. Chaos and Order

As things become more abstract they also become more ordered, and so we can see the movement up the pyramid as one of increasing levels of order.

At ground-level we are presented with a chaos of details, but as we move upwards these begin to disappear from view. Movement becomes stillness; chaos becomes order. It is not that there is no movement, only that we are no longer able to perceive as much of it.

What this shows us is that the more we abstract - the further we move up the pyramid - the more we are able to hold things still (or to fool ourselves into thinking that we have done so). Looked at this way, our concepts are ways of solidifying, or fixing things.

This may explain the comfort that some people find in general concepts or overarching stories that appear to explain (hold together) many seemingly separate things. The chaos of change can be bewildering, and we all, to some extent, seek the comfort of solid ground, and the sanctuary of strong walls. However, the more a story seeks to include (the more abstract is the concept) the less in touch with empirical reality it becomes (the further it gets from ground-level).

4. Resolution


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"Touching base"
"Head in the clouds"
"Can't see the forest for the trees"
"Seeing the bigger picture"
"Keep it real"
Being "well grounded"

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Main posts:-
Abstract / Concrete
Only Playing
The Real Thing
Digging Deeper
Scale
A Higher Power



The Front Door


Knock knock! Is anybody there?

Ah, its you. I've been expecting you. Please come in. Put your feet up for a few minutes. The internet can be an exhausting place, and you must be tired.

I am actually, its just one thing after another out there. Now then, what exactly is this place?

Good question. Foreverbecoming is a storehouse for the various bits of information that I come across on my travels; those that I find interesting enough to want to save.

I do my best to link all of the separate posts up to one another, creating threads - or constellations - that make (to my mind) greater sense out of the various bits of information.

By linking things up - gathering separate elements together to make larger wholes - a higher, more abstract layer is created on top of that which already exists.

Essentially, I am using specifics to get at generalities. And sometimes generalities to get at even greater generalities.

I see it as akin to building a pyramid, where every subsequent layer of blocks gets larger and fewer in number. It culminates in a single block at the top - the capstone - which could be seen as a universal binding truth (such as the golden rule, "harm no one, help others as much as you can"). A true capstone is something that can in some way encapsulate everything beneath it, albeit in a very general way. It contains no details.

I'm not sure what the capstone of foreverbecoming is, although I suspect it may be something like "L O V E."

That sounds rather wishy-washy. Who the devil are you?

I am an enthusiastic amateur. I have the kind of mind that needs to make sense of things. My default mode is to be a step back from the world, looking, listening, and taking notes. Hence the site you see before you. It is, basically, a way in which I make sense of the world.

Sounds dubious. So where do we go from here?

Below are the central themes of the site. They are much like the main branches of a tree; each one leading to smaller branches, with those branches leading to still smaller branches, and then on to its many leaves.

Most posts can be found through these starting points. Alternately, there is a temperamental search bar up to the right there - if you have a subject of interest then just type it in and see what comes up.

Many posts will also have labels attached to them. These can be found at the bottom of the post. Clicking on one will bring up all other posts associated with that label.

To the right there's also an index of all authors featured on the site. If there's someone in particular you're interested in then click their name and all posts featuring them will be shown.

I hope you enjoy exploring this place. It has some interesting nooks and crannies. But don't get lost! That can happen all too easily around here ...

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1. Yin/Yang

2. The Colour Wheel

3. The Pyramid

4. Land and Sea

5. Circle / Spiral / Line




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