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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 53 - 8/6/2001
What is 'Will' or 'Willpower'?
Okay, now that you're all rested up from your fun festival experiences, time to stretch the ole brain cells once more: What do you think the human/spiritual/magickal 'will' may be? Where does it come from? How do you get it? Is it a function of the brain, of the spirit? Does it emerge from rational mind processes/training or is it an instinctual survival method? How might 'will' be used to produce good ends and/or how might it be abused? Do you believe that a person or persons with 'will' can affect the processes of the natural world or change the course of history? If decisions and the course of human/political/social events are determined every day by people and systems with an agenda, how could/would (or not) Pagans use their own 'willpower' to either aid or deter such agendas? Finally, do you believe- REALLY believe- that one person or a group of like-minded persons with sufficient will can change the world? If you do, then why does it seem that so few people are actually working at doing so?
| Reponses: There are 19 responses posted to this question.
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| In Science, Energy Is Defined As The Ability To Do Work. Will... ||Aug 6th. at 3:02:17 pm EDT|
|Jason Brookbank (Grand Rapids, Michigan US) ||Age: 27 - Email |
In science, energy is defined as the ability to do work. Will is the tool that one uses to focus and manipulate this energy. The tool of your will is shaped by many things. The first thing is your faith/beliefs. This dictates how you wield the tool of your Will. Your faith and beliefs determine whether you use prayer, spells, chants, rituals, invocation, evocation, etcÉ to focus you will and bring it to bear. This is the most visible and tangible of the elements that focus your Will. Second, and probably most important is your sense of self. This encompasses your perception of yourself, your self-confidence, and your belief in your own limitations. This also includes your state of grounding and centering. Think of this second item representing your ÒfootingÓ and balance. If this is out of order it will be like hammering in nails while standing on marbles. The third item is a simple one and that is your health. If you are not at your best both mentally and physically, your focus will not be at its best.
As I stated the Will is a tool to be used. And like any tool it is not the size that matters, but how you use it. A tool cares not if it is used for good or bad, so it falls to the wielder to determine where and how it is used. To change anything in the world it takes force. Not necessarily physical or military. It can be through convincing discussion, or clever debate. It can also be done via prayer and less tangible things. All it takes to change anything is force and time. A small force over a long time can be just as effective as a large force over a short time. This of course assumes that this force is being applied correct and at the proper point and time. It is your learning and wisdom that will show you how to bring your Will to bear as well as where and when.
I strongly believe that an individual or like-minded group can bring their will to bear and change the world. All it takes is force and time. Many people have the ability to do this, but they care not to. To change the world is not an easy task and is defiantly not an easy path to walk. There is rarely a personal reward attached with changing things for the better, only the knowledge that things will be better for others. For the ones who are willing to make changes in things, this is a truly great reward in and of itself. It is true that a greedy person can change the world for a short time as, history has shown us, but things quickly revert back to where they essentially were before this change.
| Will Is Decisions That Affect. Decisions That Don't Affect Are Wishes... ||Aug 6th. at 6:30:50 pm EDT|
|Moonraker Brooktrout (Halifax, Nova Scotia CA) ||Age: 27 - Email |
Will is decisions that affect. Decisions that don't affect are wishes.
| I Think Your Will Is Like The Priest Or Priestess Inside Of... ||Aug 7th. at 1:49:19 pm EDT|
|Morgan Ezra Zigler (Salmon Arm, British Columbia CA) ||Age: 18 - Email |
i think your will is like the priest or priestess inside of you, be it spiritual.magickal/human. the fact reamains that your will is the part of you that knows when and where to satisfy your need. be that in it's unconcious calls to the gods or the choice of orages over apples in the supermarket. your will is part of what makes you an indavidual. i think will is something which comes with any spirit, it just depends on weather or not you choose to use it and when. many times i think the will works without concious workings, so in that it is quite instinctual, but some do use their will and sharpen it to do tasks which would be hard for people with nominal spiritual energy or understanding, or even maybe physical strength. a good example was the group of wiccans (spiritualists) who worked together with a cllective 'will' to stop hitler from invading england and subsequently the rest of the world. as to weather or not it worked that is a question of happenstance vs. devinedestiny, a personal opinion/decision. i think the will is a thing most easily harnessed by the spirit, but it is all but useless without the brain/mind to form the outline for which the will is to work. as for spellwork, you need the visualization to construct the change, then the will or need to send it out properly. so in short, the will is used in both, but comes, from my expeirience, from the spirit. it is a christian proverb (if such a thing exists) that g-d gave us the choice but all other parts are devine, exept the will or choice, now i have bent this a bit as to how i understand it, but in the end, no matter denomination or religion, it is something which can be used for good or i'll, it depends on oyur choice. christians have a tendancy to relate this with temptation which makes for quite parinoid people, but that is irrevelent. if we are talking magickal workings, it is hard to decifer weather or not the intent counts as far as outcomes are concerned, you know 'the worst of deeds from the best of intentions', and this is a question which i have stumbled over in my ponderings and experience. intent and will can be constrewed into many diffeerent factions, but what is obvious to me is that intentions are cut and seperate from will, becasue will is more of a question of degree of effort, wheather you have what it takes, the will to be a good person is probably the hardest thing to do, and this is a question of how much you can take, while intent is more what you are trying to achieve, not how you acheieve it, will is how things are achieved though whatever means your intentions choose. i believe not only can people with will affect the natural world but if will is harnessed to it's fullest, then you actually are forfilling your destiny, trying your hardest, if you will :), be it joan of arc, jesus, hitler, or our new tyrannical hypocrit mr. bush, we see that if you have the will, your way shall be made according to how you choose. if the question is can one person change the course of history i say yes, but if its can the course of history be changed, that is something i'll leave the the philosophers..becasue by nature if history has a course, any branch along this course would be a part of it, so canges are natural but not nessisarily seperate from this course. pagans, in my opinion, have a higher responsibility than most concerning what is to be changed. i'm not saying that they are above others in any way, there are still ying and yang in paganism, male and feamale, people with collective good and bad intentions and degrees of will. but since the average pagan has more of a grasp on the concepts of events and processes of the natural and supernatural worlds, he/she has a responsibity to use this understanding properly. how could they/we do this, well there are many methods; the collective consiousness working l'chiam (to life), coven craft, we can lend energy to higher dieties who have a supremem knoledge of what needs to be changed for the good of all, we can go out and make websites like this one to connect all of us so we can be more informed in our daily and life decisions, we can cast our spells collectivly and strengthen the heartbest of this earth, regardless of the events conspiring upon the surface, we can get together for demonstartions against clear cutting, but not selective logging (exept in the older wizened trees), we can get our own into political power so we may have a step up in predicting and preventing such negitive agenda's, basicially we can do what we are already tring to do, and if we use our will to the fullest, to the most we can make of it, then we are forfilling our destiny and helping as best we can...but most of all i think we can stop complaining and start doing, instead of saying the garbage is a problem, try to fix it, 'the ozone is in trouble' as we use our hairstrey and drive to work at the same time. focus our will on solutions, not problems. i really do believe that collectivly people can change the world, they just need suffiencient leaders to bind the fear and combine the wills to things which will help the good to emerge in the indavidual and therfore in the collective. as far as where these leaders are..we need to prove ourselves worthy of their leadership, and then they will emerge in swarms. we talk to much, and i'm not helping, but procrastination and hypicritic forums are a start, but not and end in theirselves...maybe we just need a wake up call, and the next decade or so shall give us that call, once the castle starts falling on your head, you start to think of reservation, conservation and plaster, nu?
| Hi. I'm New. The Phrase That Popped Into My Mind When I... ||Aug 7th. at 11:29:45 pm EDT|
|Colin P. McBride (Easton, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
Hi. I'm New.
The phrase that popped into my mind when I read this weeks question was the heading in the History of Dr. Martens shoes for the section about punk rock. I don't know where the quote is from but it has always stuck in my head. The quote is "History is made by people who say no". As a political science student with an interest in history I agree with this quote. Can a person or group of like-minded individuals change the world? Well, friends, that's all that ever has changed the world.
I believe that the will is that spark within us that says that we will not be slaves to forces beyond our control, that we can forge our own path. Whether (sp?) through magic, organization, rabble-rousing, political action or any combination of the above. The point is, the will is what gives us the strength to say no.
Because of this, the will can be used for good or evil. Both MLK and Hitler used their wills to change the world, but for different purposes. As with all things, it's the way you use it.
As for why people don't seem to be doing anything, it's all a matter of comfort. As long as people can eat, raise chidren, work and take part in some form of entertainment it is extremely hard to get them to take a chance on losing what they have to get more. Revolution is a gamble. Some aren't willing to take the bet.
| As A Practicing Witch, I Know That Will Is The Most Important... ||Aug 8th. at 4:41:42 am EDT|
|Artemis Moonshadow (Kfar-Saba, Israel) ||Age: 16 - Email |
As a Practicing Witch, I know that Will is the most important aspect in creating a flow of energy for a spell. Will, of course, does not only concern the magical field of life, but every aspect of life. Willpower is what makes the world move the way WE want it. Will is what makes us tick, what we want, what we wish, what we feel, they are all aspects of Willpower. Every person that knows how to use their will, is a true magician.
I am now studying Chaos Magic and Theory (the two have to be learned together since they are so entwined in each other) and in Chaos Magic The Will and System of Meta-Belief are most important. If you want something hard enough, and of course, work to get it, you will.
But we must remember, Will may be one of the strongest powers in the world it is not the only. There is a law in magic (i wish I could give credit to whoever wrote it so nicely) which think dscribes the power of will best:
"The Law of Predestination and Free Will: events are predestined, each person chooses whether and to what extent to participate in them."
| What Is Will? Can Will Work? Will Is Energy In The Form... ||Aug 8th. at 2:04:15 pm EDT|
|mik63033 (Ferguson, Missouri US) ||Age: 41 - Email |
What is will? Can will work? Will is energy in the form of concentrated desire and intention. It can and does work. I proudly call myself both Wiccan and Witch and (to any anal-retentive types - prepare to clench - to me the words are synonymous; tomahto, tomato, what-EH-ver) can claim that my Majick (or will, if you will) has worked something like 14 out of 15 times. I am a solitary, and if one person can be so effective, of course more people should naturally increase the energy, IF that will is combined with concentrated energy raising and direction, usually , but not always, visualization, and assurance. To my sister and brother Wiccans who have possibly let the latest "findings" erode their confidence in their Majick i would say this: take the so-called research with a grain of salt. I don't buy into it and if i did, it still wouldn't change what i know i (and the Goddess through me) have done and of course will always be capable of doing. Archeology is not exactly an exact science. Scientists whether they may like to admit it or not, are not infallable. They're not robots. They're human, subject to subjectivity. Put 10 archeologists in the same room and you'll have at least 4 different theories or conclusions that are promoted and bandied about. Then debunked. Then believed again. I know. I've seen it on PBS. Bottom line is they're just people trying to make pieces of a puzzle fit all nice and tidy. You have the answer. Don't let the argument of origin interfere with what you know. So our religion was reformed 50 yrs. ago. And? So Indiana Jones has yet to find the lost continent of women - And?? That doesn't change the truth or our tenets. Raise energy, direct it, visualize(especially with candle Majick). KNOW it has worked even as you are doing it. Know thyself.
| An Excellent Set Of Questions! Here Is My Opinion On What They... ||Aug 8th. at 2:28:18 pm EDT|
|John (New Naumkeag) ||Age: 34 - Email |
An excellent set of questions! Here is my opinion on what they boil down to and what my answers are.
1. What is will?
Will is deliberate desire. Will is chosen desire. Will is determined desire. As focus is to sight, as yearning is to heart, as concentration is to mind, so will is to desire. Will is the focus of our beings for achieving desire.
Since our being has several aspects (physical and metaphysical), so too does will have several aspects (physical and metaphysical). And since will is about achieving desire, it is a faculty that is both passive and active. Thus, it is a faculty than can be cultivated and developed.
2. Can people use will to cause change?
Yes. It is one step among five in the general process that people use to cause change. They are: the need, the goal, the power, the means and the will. The process works like this:
--First is the need, which is strong desire.
--Second is the goal, which is concept of what would satisfy the need.
--Third is the power, which is the potential to achieve the goal.
--Fourth is the means, which are the forms of the actual into which power is set to manifest the goal.
--Fifth is will, which is the focus of our beings that connects need to goal, power to means, potential to forms of the actual. (That is also a way to understand the Threefold Rule.)
3. Can people use will to change the world?
Yes and no.
Yes, people can use will to cause change in the world, through the five-step process that I outlined above. Millions of people around the planet are, right now, working very hard and with very focused wills to change their lives to what they will. Change in the physical realm (and thus in the world) takes time; but then, what is time except change in the physical? Also, with millions of people each working their own wills, there is often conflict between wills. Considering that plus natural law and Divine will, it shouldn't be surprising that not all will manifests. Also, when will does manifest, it can do so in unexpected ways. That said, yes: people can and do change the world with their wills. Often the change is in mundane tasks -- things that are not usually considered to be examples of change but which really are: raising children, feeding families, and so on. But, there is other change -- the kind that is usually considered to be "change." Around the planet, people are working to change their material living conditions for the better; they are working to change their societies (governments, cultures and so on) to be more free, fair and just; and when they succeed and notice that there is something Essential missing, they (hopefully) work to change their religions too. This is especially true now and in the previous century and probably in this new century too. Hence, we are witnesses to (and participants in) enormous amounts of change in the world and of the world, change that is mundane and extraordinary, change that is willed by millions of people around the world.
No, people cannot change the world itself, when the "the world" is understood as Nature Itself. That is because of two general facts.
The first general fact is that we, this planet, the physical and metaphysical dimensions, and the lives we live therein are parts of Nature. Thus, human will is a part of Nature. And Nature has laws for how its parts behave. (For example, one such law is that change takes place through time.) Thus, the manifestation of human will 1) must occur in compliance with Nature's laws for its parts and 2) must occur through the processes of Nature.
The second general fact is that Nature Itself has a will. Put another way, it seems that Nature is not just the sum of Its parts; It seems also to be a Whole that is more than the sum of Its parts. This, I think, can be observed and inferred and believed in, but not proven. Yet, because it so often observed and inferred and believed in, I treat it as a fact (albeit, an unprovable one). And, it can be theistically or atheistically or agnostically understood, perhaps best, as Being-Becoming. As Being, It is infinite. Thus, Being is "beyond" everything that is finite. As Becoming that which is finite, Being is everything and is infinitely in everything. And Being-Becoming --precisely because It is becoming-- has (or, can be said to have) a will. And that will is everything and is in everything and is beyond everything. Thus, human will is an aspect of Being-Becoming; thus too, human will must comply with the will of Being-Becoming (Nature-as-a -Whole) in order to manifest.
It also means that people whose wills are exceptionally attuned to Divine Will (or, the Will of Nature-as-a-Whole) can sometimes seem to do exceptional things. For example, those whose orientation to reality is through knowledge and whose wills are exceptionally attuned to Divine Will can produce exceptional knowledge, as shown (for example) by modern science or by other forms of scholarship. Those whose orientation to reality is through love and whose wills are exceptionally united to Divine Will can love in exceptional ways; such people are usually called the saints.
Those whose orientation to reality is through work and whose wills are exceptionally united to Divine Will can produce exceptional work -- for example, through the arts or through business or through society and politics or through technology; sometimes, their exceptional results are regarded as miraculous (Divinely or demonically) by the ignorant. Likewise are those whose orientation to reality is through mysticism or magic and whose wills are exceptionally united to Divine Will; their prayers seem to be granted to an exceptional degree and their magics seem to manifest to an exceptional degree, and their exceptional results also seem to be miraculous (Divinely or demonically) to the ignorant. The key for all of these --for producing exceptional results through human will-- is for human will to be exceptionally attuned to Divine Will, and the price of that key is usually exceptional renunciation of the will of self, for Truth.
In sum, people can use will to change the world, and millions of people are doing so in mundane and extraordinary ways. However, humans and human wills are but parts of Nature; thus they must comply with Nature's laws for Its parts, and thus too human will must manifest through Nature's processes --including taking time and often being conflicted by other wills. Also, Nature-as-a-Whole has a will. To the degree that human will complies with and is attuned to these is the degree to which human will manifests. If it does manifest, its form of manifestation will also be shaped by the will's conformity to Nature's law and attunement to the will of Nature-as-a-Whole.
4. "Then, why does it seem that so few people are actually working at doing so"?
If it seems "that so few people are actually working at" manifesting change in conformity to will (including changing the world), it is because that perception is inaccurate -- probably because of an inaccurate understanding of will and of change. To review:
--Will is the focus of our beings for achieving desire.
--Achieving desire is done through a five-step process, the culmination of which is will (which is the focus of our beings that connects the other steps: need to goal, power to means, potential to forms of the actual).
--People can cause change to occur in conformity with will 1) to the extent allowed by Nature's law, through Nature's processes and 2) to the degree their wills are to attuned to Divine Will; and
--Millions of people are causing change in conformity to will, right now, around the planet, in mundane and extraordinary ways.
All of this takes time. Also, with millions of wills, there are plenty of conflicts of wills. Hence, particular wills do not always manifest; when they do, they can manifest in unexpected ways.
5. How can people use will for good or evil?
Morality lies in the wielder of a tool and not in the tool itself. Will is a human faculty; nevertheless it can be used as a tool, for good or for evil.
Leaving aside the issue of what counts as good and evil, it is useful to recall *what* good and evil are. They are qualities by which we describe aspects of existence; they are not Existence Itself. Rather, Existence (Being-Becoming or Nature-as-a-Whole) simply Is. It thus includes but is not limited to what is finite, including qualities used to describe It.
Paradoxically, this means that Infinity includes but is not limited to the finite, that Truth includes but is not limited to ignorance, that the Will of Nature-as-a-Whole (or, "Divine Will") includes but is not limited to human free will . . .
and its various choices for good or for evil.
That also means that there is also ultimately only Divine Will (or, the Will of Nature-as-a-Whole). People eventually discover that (in this lifetime, the afterlife or another lifetime), in large part as they experience the consequences of their actions --i.e., as they are rewarded by their good deeds and as they are punished by their sins. And in that sense, the Divine Will --which is all, which is in all and which is beyond all too-- is good, though It includes (but is not limited to) evil.
6. So what is the real issue regarding will?
As focus is to sight, so will is to desire, and people shall always have both as part of their being -- a being that is always becoming. Hence, the issue regarding will is *what* people desire. For, "We are our deepest desires. As we desire, so we will. As we will, so we act. As we act, so we become." (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, chapter 4, section 4, verse 5.)
| To "will" Something To Occur Takes Focus, Determination And Dedication (until The... ||Aug 8th. at 9:48:00 pm EDT|
|Lynne-Renee (rural STL, Missouri US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
To "will" something to occur takes focus, determination and dedication (until the achieved goal is resultant). This takes brain function, connectedness to spirit and comes built in and can be honed.
My main point here is that we do have "will" whether we notice it or not. I once truly lost my will. Heck, didn't even know it was there before.
Shortly after making my peace with impending death, it was lost. There was a nothingness that was an abyss. I don't mean that poetically. I cannot describe...it was an "oubliette." Living in this world without your will is a condition so unnatural and completely wrong that the Universe reached right out (after some hours) and sent someone to me. At the time I thought she was human, now I understand she most definitely was not. Anyway, the beauty of this was how easily it came back or "the cup was refilled." It took simply her brushing back my bloody, vomit-filled hair and saying, "Baby, you've been so sick." I looked at her and instantaeously was in this world. She disappeared without bringing me any mundane help but all I needed then was WILL.
An earlier post said something about our will being part of the "Diving Will." I agree. I believe that even 1 person can change the world but few do it because it is extremely difficult to maintain focus that strong while denying the physical world (which would need to be done for significant change, I think).
| So Many Questions, In Such Small Font! I Think I Want To... ||Aug 9th. at 3:28:14 am EDT|
|Liz Law (Salt Lake City, Utah US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
So many questions, in such small font! I think I want to focus mainly on the last two. First, I absolutely believe that one person or a small group of people can change the world with their own 'willpower'. It's all a question of perspective. What is 'your world'? Who is 'your world'? What makes 'your world' crumble? As I was growing up and my world expanded beyond my backyard, and then beyond my block as I began to attend school I learned a very painful lesson... I will never be able to know everyone who is alive (let alone who has ever or will ever live.) This was very hard for me, but I quickly learned that I can choose what is part of 'my world' and what is not. Once I found out who I was and what things I wanted as part of my life, I began to see how someone or something could add or detract value from 'my world'. This may seem arrogant, but please understand I do not think I am better than anyone else, but if I passed out at the sight of blood, I would decide that phlebotamy is not what I should be doing in my life. This is the kind of choosing I am talking about.
So, we create our own worlds then decide who and what we let in. These people can change our immediate worlds. A kind word at the right time. Or an understanding silent nod... these small gestures can change the world of an individual. To assume that this ability stops when we begin to look beyond our little circles is like saying that water will only help the plants in your garden grow.
Then why, you ask, does it seem that so few people are actually working at doing this? I am reminded of my high school Humanities teacher, John Jackson. He introduced me to books such as Siddartha (Herman Hesse) and would ask, "Well, will this bring Siddhartha the answers he is searching for. What do you think?" The most common response was "I don't know." and I never tired of his response, "What do you mean you don't know? You are a graduating high school senior, about to go out into 'the real world' and you don't know what you think? I don't believe that. I believe that you don't want to share what you think. You need to stop assuming that what you think can't be right because you thought of it." How does this relate? It is a sad thing, but many people lack faith in themselves. Not us Pagans/Wiccans/Witches/Heathens though right? We have found truth, beauty and magic in everything. We believe in things that we were told are figments of our imaginations. We evolved past that left level, right?
Wrong. We work towards it and perhaps our spiritual paths help us reach these conclusions sooner than others. But how many of you worried about doing something wrong the first time you went to a festival or public ritual? Anybody worry that they might forget which direction they were facing and call to the element of fire while facing west? It is human nature to worry that you are doing something wrong. It is Divine Nature to know you are Divine and as a result, if you follow your heart, and trust in yourself it will be right. Until more of the human race realizes their Divine Nature, there will always be too few who trust in the words "So mote it be!"
| It's Free Will. Just Like The Books I'm Reading Say. No One... ||Aug 9th. at 10:25:30 am EDT|
|Ciarrai's Two Cent (Somewhere in Somerset County, New Jersey US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
It's free will. Just like the books I'm reading say. No one coerced me into a magickal lifestyle. No one converted me to WitchCraft. The Craft found me and my desire to study it is of my own free will. Will is of body/mind and spirit. I do think it is also instinctive. Just like our own reflexes. Say a reflex of the spirit, of the soul, of our "self." My will affects all around me. The will of others dually affects me. We all have willpower, but we all don't know how to use it. I am a firm believer that a Pagan lifestyle does promote positive use of willpower through adherence to the Rede as well as through living a magickal life. It is amazing what one person can do. It is amazing what Witches can do. Every day.
Things go wrong b/c of two things: (1) bureaucracy, and (2) lack of common sense. We really don't give ourselves the credit we deserve. We will to do we we will.
"An it harm none, do as ye WILL." I think there's more to that than just just doing what you want to do as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. I think we need to control our "will" as well as our "willpower." Or, as Mr. Crowley says, "Do what they wilt shall be the whole of the law." I don't quite understand Mr. Crowley, but it screams logic about will, free will and willpower.
At least this little mouse thinks so!
Peace, Ciarrai (aka Kerry or KC)
| Will Is... The True Voice Of The Soul. Much As The Desire... ||Aug 9th. at 11:42:26 pm EDT|
|Coyote (Clifton, New Jersey US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
Will is... the true voice of the soul. Much as the desire to know itself caused the One to will forth existence, Will is what keeps us rooted in and directs our course in this universe. Sometimes distractions or obstacles can cause us to turn aside from our Will, but somewhere in the back of our heart & mind it is always there. You know what is true for you.
Through Will we can change ourselves. By changing ourselves we can change the way we interact with the world (ordinary & non-ordinary). By changing the way we interact, we can change the world. Even if it starts small, say by convincing your neighbor to turn down his radio at night. Your act lets everyone around get better sleep and they go through their next day perhaps a little more relaxed and interact with the people they meet as such.
| Testing: Hello... ||Aug 10th. at 1:38:34 am EDT|
|nury (oz, North Carolina US) ||Age: 1 |
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