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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

ANATMAN IN DETAIL


ANATTA / ANATMAN IN DETAIL 


The definition of one word where modern Pseudo-Buddhism took a turn into the dark corner of ignorance 
Copyright 2007 webmaster kathodos.com, REVISED 2-2008 


     The Buddhist term Anatman (Sanskrit), or Anatta (Pali) is an adjective in sutra used to refer to the nature of phenomena as being devoid of the Soul, that being the ontological and uncompounded subjective Self (atman) which is the “light (dipam), and only refuge” [DN 2.100]. Of the 662 occurrences of the term Anatta in the Nikayas, its usage is restricted to referring to 22 nouns (forms, feelings, perception, experiences, consciousness, the eye, eye-consciousness, desires, mentation, mental formations, ear, nose, tongue, body, lusts, things unreal, etc.), all phenomenal, as being Selfless (anatta). Contrary to countless many popular (=profane, or = consensus, from which the truth can ‘never be gathered’) books (as Buddhologist C.A.F. Davids has deemed them ‘miserable little books’) written outside the scope of Buddhist doctrine, there is no “Doctrine of anatta/anatman” mentioned anywhere in the sutras, rather anatta is used only to refer to impermanent things/phenomena as other than the Soul, to be anatta, or Self-less (an-atta).
     Specifically in sutra, anatta is used to describe the temporal and unreal (metaphysically so) nature of any and all composite, consubstantial, phenomenal, and temporal things, from macrocosmic to microcosmic, be it matter as pertains the physical body, the cosmos at large, including any and all mental machinations which are of the nature of arising and passing. Anatta in sutra is synonymous and interchangeable with the terms dukkha (suffering) and anicca (impermanent); all three terms are often used in triplet in making a blanket statement as regards any and all phenomena. Such as: “All these aggregates are anicca, dukkha, and anatta.” It should be further noted that, in doctrine, that the only noun which is branded permanent (nicca), is obviously and logically so, the noun attan [Skt. Atman], such as passage (SN 1.169).
     Anatta refers specifically and only to the absence of the permanent soul as pertains any or all of the psycho-physical (namo-rupa) attributes, or khandhas (skandhas, aggregates). Anatta/Anatman in the earliest existing Buddhist texts, the Nikayas, is an adjective, (A is anatta, B is anatta, C is anatta). The commonly (=profane, consensus, herd-views) held belief to wit that: “Anatta means no-soul, therefore Buddhism taught that there was no soul” is an irrational absurdity which cannot be found or doctrinally substantiated by means of the Nikayas, the suttas (Skt. Sutras), of Buddhism.
     The Pali compound term and noun for “no soul” is natthatta (literally “there is not/no[nattha]+atta’[Soul]), not the term anatta, and is mentioned at Samyutta Nikaya 4.400, where Gotama was asked if there “was no-soul (natthatta)”, to which Gotama equated this position to be a Nihilistic heresy (ucchedavada). Common throughout Buddhist sutra (and Vedanta as well) is the denial of psycho-physical attributes of the mere empirical self to be the Soul, or confused with same. The Buddhist paradigm (and the most common repeating passage in sutta) as regards phenomena is “Na me so atta” (this/these are not my soul), this most common utterance of Gotama the Buddha in the Nikayas, where “na me so atta” = Anatta/Anatman. In sutta, to hold the view that there was “no-Soul” (natthatta) is = natthika (nihilist). Buddhism differs from the “nothing-morist” (Skt. Nastika, Pali natthika) in affirming a spiritual nature that is not in any wise, but immeasurable, inconnumerable, infinite, and inaccessible to observation; and of which, therefore, empirical science can neither affirm nor deny the reality thereof of him who has ‘Gone to That[Brahman]” (tathatta). It is to the Spirit (Skt. Atman, Pali attan) as distinguished from oneself (namo-rupa/ or khandhas, mere self as = anatta) i.e., whatever is phenomenal and formal (Skt. and Pali nama-rupa, and savinnana-kaya) “name and appearance”, and the “body with its consciousness”. [SN 2.17] ‘Nonbeing (asat, natthiti [views of either sabbamnatthi ‘the all is ultimately not’ (atomism), and sabbam puthuttan ‘the all is merely composite’ [SN 2.77] both of this positions are existential antinomies, and heresies of annihilationism])’”. In contrast it has been incorrectly asserted that affirmation of the atman is = sassatavada (conventionally deemed ‘eternalism’). However the Pali term sasastavada is never associated with the atman, but that the atman was an agent (karmin) in and of samsara which is subject to the whims of becoming (bhava), or which is meant kammavada (karma-ism, or merit agencyship); such as sassatavada in sutta = “atta ca so loka ca” (the atman and the world [are one]), or: ‘Being (sat, atthiti [views of either sabbamatthi ‘the all is entirety’, and sabbamekattan ‘the all is one’s Soul’ [SN 2.77] both are heresies of perpetualism]). Sasastavada is the wrong conception that one is perpetually (sassata) bound within samsara and that merit is the highest attainment for either this life or for the next. The heretical antinomy to nihilism (vibhava, or = ucchedavada) is not, nor in sutta, the atman, but bhava (becoming, agencyship). Forever, or eternal becoming is nowhere in sutta identified with the atman, which is “never an agent (karmin)”, and “has never become anything” (=bhava). These antinomies of bhava (sassatavada) and vibhava (ucchedavada) both entail illogical positions untenable to the Vedantic or Buddhist atman; however the concept of “eternalism” as = atman has been the fallacious secondary crutch for supporting the no-atman commentarialists position on anatta implying = there is no atman.
     Logically so, according to the philosophical premise of Gotama, the initiate to Buddhism who is to be “shown the way to Immortality (amata)” [MN 2.265, SN 5.9], wherein liberation of the spirit/mind [Greek = nous] (cittavimutta; Greek = epistrophe) is effectuated thru the expansion of wisdom and the meditative practices of sati and samadhi (assimilation, or synthesis, complete disobjectification with all objective [unreal] 'reality'), must first be educated away from his former ignorance-based (avijja) materialistic proclivities in  that he (the common fool) “saw any of these forms, feelings, this body in whole or part, to be my Self/Atman, to be that which I am by nature”. Teaching the via negativa methodology of anatta in sutta pertains solely to things phenomenal, which were: “subject to perpetual change; therefore unfit to declare of such things ‘these are mine, these are what I am, that these are my Soul’” [MN 1.232]. The one scriptural passage where Gotama is asked by a layperson what the meaning of anatta is as follows: [Samyutta Nikaya 3.196] At one time in Savatthi, the venerable Radha seated himself and asked of the Blessed Lord Buddha: “Anatta, anatta I hear said venerable. What pray tell does Anatta mean?” “Just this Radha, form is not the Soul (anatta), sensations are not the Soul (anatta), perceptions are not the Soul (anatta), assemblages are not the Soul (anatta), consciousness is not the Soul (anatta). Seeing thusly, this is the end of birth, the Brahman life has been fulfilled, what must be done has been  done.”
     Anatta as taught in the Nikayas has merely relative value as it is directly conducive to Subjective awakening, or illumination; it is not an absolute one. It does not say or imply simply that the Soul (atta, Atman) has no reality, but that certain things (5 aggregates), with which  the unlearned man (fool = puthujjana, as is always implied in spiritual texts, a materialist) identifies himself, are not the Soul (anatta) and that is why one should grow disgusted with them, become detached from them and be liberated. This principle of the extremely abused and misunderstood term anatta does not negate the Soul as such, but denies Selfhood to those things that constitute the non-self (anatta), showing them thereby to be empty of any ultimate value and to be repudiated; instead of nullifying the Atman (Soul) doctrine, it in fact compliments and affirms it in the most logical method by which Subjective gnosis is initially gained; that by and thru objective negation. It has been said that: ‘No Indian school of thought has ever regarded the human soul (another error, since the soul is not a possession of, nor is of the nature of the persona, or 'human') or the carrier of human personal (persona [Bob, Larry, Sue] is never confused by the Metaphysician, with the Person/Atman/Purisha) identity as a permanent substance (literally meaning, absurdly "permanent impermanence [substance]")’, which is certainly true when referring to the empirical persona (mere self [aggregates/namorupa], as opposed to the Person, spirit, atman), that ‘ensouled’ being, as was common in old English to say: “late at night, not a soul (mere person) was to be seen walking about”. That the atman is not to be understood as a cartesian thinking substance, phenomena, or eternal soul, is certainly the case, and logically cannot be otherwise.
     It cannot be missed that in so discussing the commentarialist’s position of a ‘doctrine of anatta’ that anatta is merely a qualifier of something else and that anatta in and of itself in standalone is utterly meaningless and untenable to speak or make mention of an ‘anatta doctrine’ without qualification of what, and in what context, anatta is being qualified of X (the afore mentioned 22 things of which anatta is said to equal) i.e. that which is defacto equivalent to or with anatta. That anatta in doctrine is aught but ever equivalent to what is evil, foul, disgusting, phenomenal and repulsive, to therefore make declaration that, as many fool "buddhists" (in name only) have done,  “anatta is a core tenant of Buddhism” cannot be enjoined, since the principle upon which Buddhism was founded is the quest for the immortal (amatagamimagga SN 5.9), and the unceasing bliss as gained by and thru liberation in wisdom’s culmination.  Anatta is, obviously so, a key principle in the doctrine of Buddhism (and other via negativa systems, of which Advaita also makes extensive use of the term anatman) and the metaphysics thereof quantify anatta and being meant all physical and mental consubstantial and temporal objectivity; all compounded things either in simplex (matter, hyle) or complex (mental). As an-atta is meant not-Subject (=object [phenomena]), those things, as Buddhism declares “the unlearned fool bemuses himself as being (those things)”. "What do you suppose, followers, if people were carrying off into the Jeta grove bunches of sticks, grasses, branches, and leaves and did with them as they wished or burned them up, would it occur to you: These people are carrying us off, are doing as they please with us, and are burning us? No, indeed not Lord. And how so? Because Lord, none of that is our Soul, nor what our Soul subsists upon! Just so followers, what is not who you are, do  away with it, when you have made done with that, it will lead to your bliss and welfare for as long as time lasts. What is that you are not? Form, followers, is not who you are, neither are sensations, perceptions, experiences, consciousness" [MN 1.141]. Just as ‘disgusting (anatta) doctrine’ cannot make logical sense, neither does ‘anatta doctrine’ bring light to studiers of Buddhism what anatta is contextually or its philosophical importance as being merely a qualifier of that which is evil, foul, disgusting, phenomenal and repulsive (= anatta). Anatta is of course a doctrinal tenant within Buddhism used to earmark phenomena, however as conventionally and irrationally conceived, there is absolutely no such creature in Buddhism as a "no-Soul doctrine".
     What has Buddhism to say of the Self? "That's not my Self" (na me so atta); this, and the term "non Self-ishness" (anatta) predicated of the world and all "things" (sabbe dhamma anatta); Identical with the Brahmanical "of those who are mortal, there is no Self/Soul", (anatma hi martyah [SB., II. 2. 2. 3]). [KN J-1441] “The Soul is the refuge that I have gone unto”. For anatta is not said of the Self/Soul but what it is not. There is never and nowhere in sutra, a ‘doctrine of no-Soul’, but a doctrine of what the Soul is not (form is anatta, feelings are anatta, etc.). It is of course true that the Buddha denied the existence of the mere empirical “self” in the very meaning of “my-self” (this person so-and-so, namo-rupa, an-atta, i.e. Bob, Sue, Larry etc.), one might say in accordance with the command ‘denegat seipsum, [Mark VII.34]; but this is not what modern and highly unenlightened writers mean to say, or are understood by their readers to say; what they mean to say and do in fact say, is that the Buddha denied the immortal (amata), the unborn (ajata), Supreme-Self (mahatta’), uncaused (samskrta), undying (amara) and eternal (nicca) of the Upanishads. And that is palpably false, for he frequently speaks of this Self, or Spirit (mahapurisha), and nowhere more clearly than in the too often repeated formula 'na me so atta’, “This/these are not my Soul” (na me so atta’= anatta/anatman), excluding body (rupa) and the components of empirical consciousness (vinnana/ nama), a statement to which the words of Sankhara are peculiarly apposite, “Whenever we deny something unreal, is it in reference to something real” [Br. Sutra III.2.22]; since it was not for the Buddha, but for the nihilist (natthika), to deny the Soul. For, [SN 3.82] “yad anatta….na me so atta, “what is anatta…(means) that is not my Atman”; the extremely descriptive illumination of all thing which are Selfless (anattati) would be both meaningless and a waste of much time for Gotama were (as the foolish commentators espousing Buddhism’s denial of the atman) to clarify and simplify his sermons by outright declaring ‘followers, there is no atman!’, however no such passage exists. The Pali for said passage would be: ‘bhikkhave, natthattati!’; and most certainly such a passage would prove the holy grail and boon for the Theravadin nihilists (materialists) who have ‘protesteth too much’ that Buddhism is one in which the atman is rejected, but to no avail or help to their untenable views and position by the teachings themselves.
     Outside of going into the doctrines of later schisms of Buddhism, such as Sarvastivada, Theravada, Vajrayana, Madhyamika, and lastly Zen, the oldest existing texts (Nikayas) of Buddhism which predate all these later schools of Buddhism [The Sanchi and Bharut inscriptions (aka the Pillar edicts) unquestionably dated to the middle of the second century B.C.E. push the composition of the 5 Nikayas back to a earlier date by mentioning the word “pañcanekayika” (Five Nikyas), thereby placing the Nikayas as put together (no later than) at a period about half way between the death of the Buddha and the accession of Asoka (before 265 B.C.), as such the 5 Nikayas, the earliest existing texts of Buddhism, must have been well known and well established far earlier than generally perceived. Finally proving the majority of the five Nikayas could not have been composed any later than the very earliest portion of the third century B.C.E.], anatta is never used pejoratively in any sense in the Nikayas by Gotama the Buddha, who himself has said: [MN 1.140] “Both formerly and now, I’ve never been a nihilist (vinayika), never been one who teaches the annihilation of a being, rather taught only the source of suffering (that being avijja, or nescience/agnosis), and its ending (avijja).” Further investigation into negative theology is the reference by which one should be directed as to a further understanding of this 'negative' methodology which the term anatta illuminates. It should be noted with great importance that the founder of Advaita Vedanta, Samkara used the term anatman lavishly in the exact same manner as does Buddhism, however in all of time since his passing, none have accused Samkara of espousing a denial of the Atman. Such as: “Atma-anatma vivekah kartavyo bandha nuktaye”-“The wiseman should discriminate between the Atman and the non-Atman (anatman) in order to be liberated.” [Vivekacudamani of Samkara v. 152], “Anatman cintanam tyaktva kasmalam duhkah karanam, vintayatmanam ananda rupam yan-mukti karanam.”-”Give up all that is non-Atman (anatman), which is the cause of all misery, think only of the Atman, which is blissful and the locus of all liberation.” [Vivekacudamani of Samkara v. 379], “Every qualifying characteristic is, as the non-Atman (anatman), comparable to the empty hand.”[Upadisa Sahasri of Samkara v. 6.2], “the intellect, its modifications, and objects are the non-Atman (anatman).” [Upadisa Sahasri of Samkara v. 14.9], “The gain of the non-Atman (anatman) is no gain at all. Therefore one should give up the notion that one is the non-Atman (anatman).” [Upadisa Sahasri of Samkara v. 14.44]. In none of the Buddhist suttas is there support for "there is no-atman" theories of anatta . The message is simply to cease regarding the very khandhas in those terms by which the notion of atman has, itself, been so easily misconstrued. As has been shown, detaching oneself from the phenomenal desire for the psycho-physical existence was also a central part of Samkara’s strategy. There is, hence, nothing in the suttas that Samkara, the chief proponent of Advaita Vedanta, would have disagreed with.
     Due to sectarian (and secular) propagation of commentary over that of doctrine, and more still a nominalized, or neutered mistranslation of the original Pali texts, a general acceptance of the concept of “A Doctrine of Anatta” exists as a status quo, however there exists no substantiation for same in sutta for Buddhism’s denial of the atman, or in using the term anatta in anything but a positive sense in denying Self-Nature, the Soul, to any one of a conglomeration of corporeal and empirical phenomena which were by their very transitory nature,  “impermanent (anicca), suffering (dukkha), and Selfless (anatta)”. The only noun in sutra which is referred to as “permanent (nicca)” is the Soul, such asSamyutta Nikaya 1.169. Buddhism’s ‘na me so atta’ is no more a denial of the Atman than is Socrates’ ‘to…soma….ouk estin ho anthropos’ (the body is not the Man [Aniochus 365]) is a denial of the Man. Young men asked Gotama as to the whereabouts of a woman they were seeking to which he replied “What young men do you think, were it not better for you to seek the Atman (atmanam gavis) than a woman?” [Vin 1.23]. In fact the term “Anatmavada” is a concept utterly foreign to Buddhist sutta, existing in only non-doctrinal Theravada, in some Mahayana, and Madhyamika commentaries. As the truism holds, a “lie repeated often enough over time becomes the truth”. Those interested parties incident to learning of Buddhism are most often incapable of pouring through endless gigantic piles of Buddhist doctrine, and have therefore defacto accepted the commentarial-based trash, the notion of a “doctrine of anatta (or often said "no soul doctrine")” as key to Buddhism itself, when in fact there exists not one citation of this untenable and irrational concept in either the Digha, Majjhima, Samyutta, Anguttara, or Khuddaka Nikayas. Unless evoking a fallacy, we who seek out Buddhism sans the commentarialists slants and opinion-based musings, must stick strictly to sutta as reference, wherein the usage of anatta never falls outside of the parameter of merely denying Self or Soul to the profane and transitory phenomena of temporal and samsaric life which is “subject to arising and passing”, and which is most certain not (an) our Soul (atta). Certainly the most simple philosophically based logic would lead anyone to conclude that no part of this frail body is “my Self, is That which I am”, is “not my Soul”, of which Gotama the Buddha was wholeheartedly in agreement that no part of it was the Soul i.e. was in fact anatta. The spiritual and metaphysical adept is one who must be the “dead man walking” who has followed the commandment: “die before ye die!”, and is one who has died to that (mere) self and lives in the Spirit, or the Self. This is the discernment between the Great Self (mahatta) and little self (alpatman); or the fair Self (kalyanatta) from the foul self (papatta).
     The perfect contextual usage of anatta in sutta: “Whatever form, feelings, perceptions, experiences, or consciousness there are (the five aggregates), these he sees to be without permanence, as suffering, as ill, as a plague, a boil, a sting, a pain, an affliction, as foreign, as otherness, as empty (suññato), as Selfless (anattato). So he turns his mind (citta) away from these and gathers his mind/will within the realm of Immortality (amataya dhatuya). This is tranquility; this is that which is most excellent!” [MN 1.436]. The Buddha never considered the atman to be micchaditthi (wrong view). If the Buddha disbelieved in an atman (soul) why did he not deny the atman unambiguously? There is no such denial.
     By denying outright the soul, by default, the Theravadins, western ‘scholars’ examining Buddhism, and modern "buddhists" imply that the five aggregates are ultimate.  This of course is absurd.  They have merely shifted Buddhism to an empiricism by ignoring pro-atman statements.  According to them, what is real is what makes sensory knowledge possible, namely, the five aggregates which, ironically, according to the canon, are = Mara, or evil (papa); [SN 3.195]“Mara = five khandhas (empirical self)”. It begs the question to assume that the no-soul doctrine had been established at the beginning of the Buddha’s ministry and that the atman (soul) was, in every respect, an abhorrent term.  Still, for such a supposedly abhorrent term, there are innumerable, are countless positive instances of atman used throughout the Nikayas, especially used in compounds which are easily glossed over by a prejudicial commentator and nominalist translators.  In meeting these instances, not surprisingly, these same prejudicial translators have erected a theory that the atman is purely a reflexive pronoun.  The lexical rule that atman (Pali: attan) is to be used strictly in a pronominal fashion, or simply should be used as a signifier for the finite body, is unwarranted. Scholars like C.A.F. Davids, Conze, Humphrey, Schrader, Horner, Pande, Coomarswamy, Radhakrishnan, Sogen, Suzuki, Julius Evola, and Nakamura, just to name some important scholars, disagree with the claim that Buddha categorically denied an eternal (nicca) soul, whose teachings then, would be classified as Annihilationist and Materialist. In fact there are utterly none living or dead who have examined the original texts in detail whilst refraining from sectarian and commentarial explanations and concluded Buddhism has in any way denied the atman thru and by means of the usage of the term anatta or otherwise. The fatally determined conglomeration which comprises the temporal body “headed for the grave” is not in dispute and is what is meant by anatta. To this there can be no opposition since all forms of metaphysics cry out for a “freedom from (that mere) self”, as Buddhism is in full agreement: [Dhm. 147] "Behold! That painted puppet this body, riddled with oozing sores, an erected façade. Diseased heap that fools fancy and swoon over; True Essence is not part of it! For the body befalls utter destruction, [Dhm. 148] "This body is soon worn out. It is that very same abode for disease and sicknesses that is broken apart. The body is soon cast away, that very putrid heap. It is always in death that life meets its end!”, [Dhm. 150] "Behold! This city of bones, plastered together with flesh and blood. Within its walls are old age and death. Pride, arrogance, and hypocrisy are its townsfolk!", [MN 1.185] "What of this short-lived body which is clung to by means of craving? There is nothing in it to say ‘I’ or ‘mine’ or ‘me’."
     The term anatman is found not only in Buddhist sutras, but also in the Upanishads and lavishly so in the writings of Samkara as mentioned earlier. Anatman is a common via negativa (neti neti, not this, not that) teaching method common to Vedanta, Neoplatonism, Buddhism, early Christian mystics, and others, wherein nothing affirmative can be said of what is “beyond speculation, beyond words, and concepts” thereby eliminating all positive characteristics that might be thought to apply to the Soul, or be attributed to it; to wit that the Subjective ontological Self-Nature (svabhava / atman) can never be known objectively, but only thru “the denial of all things which it (the Soul) is not”- Meister Eckhart. This doctrine is also called by the Greeks Apophasis. Via negativa can only go so far, such that the Subject (Witness/Atman) cannot be negated (Subject precedes any object of negation, even and also false attempts at Subject/Witness negation [=nihilism]). Objective negation culminates in Subjective gnosis and liberation, not to mention is the most expedient means to Atman-realization (atmanbodhi, cittavimutta, pannavimutta, etc.). Just as a fool might, for hundreds of hours, pick thru a pile of straw (phenomena) in search of a needle (atman), the wisest of men, in mere seconds, lights a match to the phenomena (straw) which quickly burns and blows away, leaving before his feet the needle sought; and this is of course part of the expediency as core to the via negativa methodology.
     Modern Buddhism (so-called, not that it is Buddhism in any way) labors under the heinous delusion that from the outset there is no immaterial and ontological soul, or atman in the system of Buddhism and therefore the only logical conclusion from this false premise is that Buddhism is merely a profane moral Humanism based in compassionate empirical idealism, ‘liberation but no Liberant’, and this is palpably false. Under the guise of a more polished form of physicalism or rather, Atheism, a mere qualifier of objective phenomena, anatta, has overrun a noetic metaphysics, Buddhism, based in extracting the nous (spirit, citta, Self) from the objective cosmos (=anatta) wherein it has been miserably immersed since time immemorial as due to the attribute of the Absolute (Brahman, Greek = Hen), that being avijja (agnosis, nescience, as is philosophically meant Emanationism). Avijja (a+vijja [atman]) and anatta (an+atman) in no way differ, such that both refer to the beginningless privation, or objectivity immanent to the Absolute. Overcoming this objective desire (tanha) and enthrallment which constitute what is meant by anatta, is vijja (illumination), or conventionally liberation (vimutta, vijjavimutta); namely the only connection between atman and anatta is that of avijja to which Buddhism’s endgoal is pannavimutta (liberation via wisdom) in which avijja has no longer any footing; where avijja is not present, so too is anatta absent, this is the very Tathagata (gone to Brahman, or That), the same ‘dead man walking’, he who has ‘died before he has (physically) died’. Like the ancient riddle about the fool "who rides upon horseback looking to and fro for a horse, and seeing none, denies that horses exist", so too is modern buddhism inept and impotent in 'seeing' that the focus is the Witness (atman), that very Subject which cannot be known (empirical knowledge) objectively, but which can be Known (gnosis, wisdom); thereby effectuating "liberation", "immortality" (amata), and the declaration that "this is my last life".
     That myself or anyone need go into such extensive and repetitive detail about a simple term, anatta, which now corruptly forms the basis of modern Buddhism, only demonstrates the heights from which original Buddhism has fallen severely over the past 2400 years. Like an ancient city in the jungle overgrown with vines and weeds, shat upon by nesting birds, and inhabited by fanged monkeys who fling their feces at visitors, modern "buddhism" attracts only the mentally perverse, often spiritually suicidal, who wrongly see superficially something noble in a soulless nihilistic Humanistic idealism. 
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The Palpable fear of the Soul by Modern Buddhism 

Or, How the Entirety of Buddhism falls upon the sword of anatta's definition
Copyright 2007 webmaster kathodos.com

     The ‘renowned’ Theravada materialist Nyanatiloka has said: 

"Thus with this doctrine of Selflessness, or anatta, stands or falls 
the ENTIRE structure of Buddhism".

     Rightly so, all of Theravada fears and protects the meaning and ‘interpretation’ of anatta like a pack of rabid dogs protect their fresh kill. They fear and protect the meaning of anatta more so than Christians protect their position that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus ‘arose from the dead’.  More than Nyanatiloka have stated the obvious, ALL of Theravada would fall, upon the exposure of the genuine meaning become accepted and widely known as regards anatta, not however would “fall Buddhism”, but Theravada and others misconceptions of same, nothing more. Theravada, a great portion of Vajrayana, and much of Zen fear the soul like a pious monk fears the devil to sneak up upon him, in any event they have heaped upon the definition more sophistry and ages of sectarian fecal matter to make Buddhism appear to be nothing more than the most base form of materialism, that only a very rare few independent scholars who delve deep into the presectarian Nikayan Pali texts can see that Buddhism has not, nor ever denied the atman, and that anatta no more denies the atman, nor is a ‘doctrine’ (i.e. doctrine of anatta, as so often coined by the Theras), that the Upanishads themselves in so saying the “atman is not this, nor that (neti net)”.
     The more superficially one studies Buddhism, the more it seems to differ from the Brahmanism in which it originated; the more profound our study, the more difficult it becomes to distinguish Buddhism from Brahmanism, or to say in what respects, if any, Buddhism is really unorthodox. The outstanding distinction lies in the fact that Buddhist doctrine is propounded by an apparently historical founder, understood to have lived and taught in the sixth century B.C. Beyond this there are only broad distinctions of emphasis. It is taken almost for granted that one must have abandoned the world if the Way is to be followed and the doctrine understood.
     We can only suppose that Buddhism has been so much admired mainly for what it is not. A well known modern writer on the subject has remarked that "Buddhism in its purity ignored the existence of a God; it denied the existence of a soul; it was not so much a religion as a code of ethics"( Winifred Stephens, Legends of Indian Buddhism, 1911, p. 7.). Similarly M.V Bhattacharya maintains that the Buddha taught that "there is no Self, or Atman" (Cultural Heritage of India, p. 259). Even in 1925 a Buddhist scholar could write "The soul . . . is described in the Upanishads as a small creature in shape like a man . . . Buddhism repudiated all such theories" (PTS Dictionary, s.v. attan). It would be as reasonable to say that Christianity is materialistic because it speaks of an "inner man". Few scholars would write in this manner today, but ridiculous as such statements may appear, (and it is as much an ignorance of Christian doctrine as it is of Brahmanism that is involved), they still survive in all popular accounts of "Buddhism"; such as (. Th. Scherbatsky Buddhist Logic 1. 1932, p. 2) saying  Buddhism "denied a God, it denied the Soul, it denied Eternity"! Scherbatsky's The Doctrine of the Buddha (BSOS, V1. 867L) provides a good critique of Keith's demand to "lay aside our natural desire to find reason prevailing in a barbarous age", in his ‘Buddhist philosophy, p. 29’.
      It is of course, true that the Buddha denied the existence of a "soul" or "self "in the narrow sense of the word (one might say, in accordance with the command, deneget seipsum (deny himself ), (Mark, VIII.341) but this is not what our writers mean to say, or are understood by their readers to say; what three mean to say is that the Buddha denied the immortal, unborn and Supreme Self of the Upanishads. And that is palpably false. For he frequently speaks of this Self or Spirit, and nowhere more clearly than in the repeated formula ‘na me so atta’, "That is not my Self ", excluding body and the components of empirical consciousness, a statement to which the words of Sankaracharya are peculiarly apposite, "Whenever we deny something unreal, it is with reference to something real" (neti-neti Brahma Sutra III.2.22); as remarked by Mrs. Rhys Davids, "so, 'this one', is used in the Suttas for utmost emphasis in questions of personal identity" (Minor Anthologies, I, p. 7, note 2). ‘Na me so atta’ is no more a denial of the Self than Socrates'  “the body is not the man” , is a denial of the Man"!
     One of the ‘great’ books thumped by the ignorant manyfolk calling themselves Buddhists today and of which deny the atman, is "Selfless Persons" by Steven Collins, in which he himself in his book never makes the conclusion for the denial of the Atman in Buddhist doctrine, in so saying himself, albeit unintelligently, "Buddhist metaphysics could be reduced to a kind of pragmatic agnosticism in which the self is not so much denied as declared inconceivable. Anatta then simply advises against uselessly trying to conceive it (the Self)." [Page 10, Selfless Persons, Steven Collins]. More laughable than can be imagined, the entire book, large though it is, only contains three pages under the heading of “proof for anatta” (i.e. Souls denial), and yet these same three pages contain absolutely no doctrinal evidences whatsoever.
     The Theras and others fear the inevitable slippery slope Buddhism (theirs) will fall into upon acceptance of the genuine meaning of anatta, whereupon “if anatta doesn’t deny the atman, than how is Buddhism any different than Vedanta, by and large?” The answer is of course none whatsoever.  They protect anatta like their very own baby in the cradle, they will surrender its meaning and definition with their life, like no other word in pali they propagate a lie which is now running on 1700 years old. The only reason they have been unable to crush opposition, is that the Nikayas were recorded and propagated long long before Sarvastivada (Theravada) came into existence to exterminate it.
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Buddhism’s refutation of the brain and its consciousness as the point of purification

Buddhisms rejection of the brain/consciousness construct, its contrast to the Will (citta)Copyright 2007 webmaster kathodos.com

     Modern “Buddhism’s” attempt to convince others that Buddhism teaches that the point of purification is as regards the empirical consciousness (vinnana) and the brain wherein it dwells is, according to Buddhism’s doctrine, an utter heresy. This form of secular Humanism so common to modernity and which has fully infiltrated itself into attempting to paint Buddhism as a sort of religious empiricism must be rejected outright. To sum up, Buddhism in fact is entirely a metaphysical religion whose basis is technically a mystical purification of the incorporeal Light, or will (citta, oftentimes conventionally translated as ‘mind’) which has primordially been one of self-agnosis, thereby leading to empirical manifestation. The concept, unfortunately, of the term ‘mystical’ carries a very heavy undertone often given to the rubbish end of the new-age movement and is not generally ideated in its pure form: [Oxford English Dictionary; page 817; v. 1971] “Mystical 1. Having a certain spiritual character or import by virtue of connection or union with…(that)…transcending human comprehension (i.e. psycho-physicality). Mysticism 1.…belief in union with the Divine nature by means of ecstatic contemplation (i.e. sati); reliance on spiritual intuition or exalted feeling as the means of acquiring knowledge of mysteries inaccessible to the intellectual (i.e. discursive, corporeal) apprehension.” That modern secular Buddhism-in-name-only rejects and denies an autonomous locus as the “refuge” which Buddhism commands, leads down a dark hole of humanism, and atheism, wherein purity itself, even its highest form is fleeting, lasting no longer than life itself. This “brain-religion” of modern heretical ‘Buddhism’ is the bastard child of the cult of Scientism, pop-psychology, and Freudianism whereby the modern world denies all but the empirical which can be sensed and studied thru instrumentation. Purity and impurity to this corrupt pseudo-religion is nothing more than DNA and chemical reactions in a jello-like brain where, by what is almost laughable, the ideation of enlightenment is a chemical balance of the brain. Lets proceed at looking at what Buddhism teaches about the brain and its consciousness and how lowly it places same in its teachings.
     This incredibly rancid heresy as taught by modern so-called Buddhist commentators to wit, that purification is as regards the brain and the empirical reflected-light consubstantial consciousness, is everything Buddhism has taught against to its adepts by Gotama. In fact the brain is equated to piss, spit, urine, and blood at [Pati. 1.7], and at  [Sn #201] “And with (this body) hollow head, filled with a (vile) brain (matthalunga), a fool overcome with ignorance, thinks this is somehow beautiful.”, also the brain is compared to the five khandhas of “mara” (SN3). Buddhism pays absolutely no heed to the brain whatsoever, treated seemingly identical to the ancient Egyptians that pulled the brain out at mummification and pitched it in the ditch, giving it no validity whatsoever. What is the reason for this? The ancient peoples, Indians and otherwise, did not have our current knowledge of the Brain’s intricateness but they were fully aware of what it was and the purpose it served, being the receptacle for the manifestation of the will (citta), but empirically so. They did not, like modernity does, confuse consciousness and the brain in which it was inhabited, with the Mind/Will (citta) which was not in the brain.
     The entirety of Suttic Buddhism revolves around nothing else but the incorporeal Citta (mind), not the brain-construct (vinnana), which is indeed “transcending human comprehension (i.e. psycho-physicality).” Such as: His mind (citta) after death goes to the supernal realm [SN 5.371], Followers, this Brahmin life is lived for the sole preeminent purpose of emancipation of the mind (citta) alone [MN 1.197], He gathers the mind (citta) inside the immortal realm [AN 1.282]. The citta (mind) is not part of psycho-physicality (namo-rupa, including the brain/consciousness construct) [MN 1.436]. 
     In Buddhism, the brain/consciousness construct was merely a reflection (by conjunction) between the unmanifest Light (citta/will/mind) and the form it gives illumination to, thereby birthing consciousness (vinnana), such as: [SN 2.102-104] “Suppose there was a house or a hall with a roof and widows on the north, east, and south sides. When the sun rose and a beam of light entered through the window, where would it become established? On the western well venerable. And if there were no western wall, where then would it become established? On the ground venerable. And if there were no ground there, where would it become established? On the waters venerable. And if there were no waters either, where then would it become established? In that case, venerable, it would become established nowhere (no topographically or phenomenally discernable location). So too, followers, if there is no lust after food, lust after nutriment, lust after contact, lust after mentation, and lastly lust after consciousness, then consciousness itself is without establishment (appatit.t.hitam. tattha viñña’n.am. aviru’l.ham.); (there are ten occurrences of ‘established’, and ‘unestablished’ consciousness in this sutta as per mind [the light ray] being unestablished on namo-rupa, therein being vinnana).” The consciousness/brain was never commended to be anything but utterly vile phenomena and went no further than form: [SN 2.104] “The consciousness turns and processions back, it goes no further than namo-rupa (name and form).”
     Whereas the Will (citta/mind) was the highest absolute and the only noun in Buddhism deemed to be purified: “This is immortality, that being the liberated mind/will (citta) which does not cling (after anything)” [MN 2.265], “This said: ‘the liberated mind/will (citta) which does not cling’ means Nibbana”[MN2-Att. 4.68], “The purification of one’s own mind (citta); this is the Doctrine of the Buddha” [DN 2.49].“How is it that one is called a ‘Buddha’?...gnosis that the mind (citta) is purified (visuddham)…such is how one is deemed a ‘Buddha’.” [MN 2.144] [AN 1.6] "I do not have, followers, insight into anything or any dharma which, when made to become and made to expand that brings greater bliss than the mind (citta). The mind, followers, when made to become and made to expand, brings the greatest bliss."; the brain/consciousness is given no such validity: [SN 3.61] “The Aryan Eightfold Path is for making cessation of  consciousness, the vinnana.”, and the vinnana is merely the reflective and consubstantial citta which re-incarnates or re-invigorates the psycho-physical therein denoting an entity [MN 1.296, Dhp. #41]. The consciousness/brain (vinnana) is entirely conditional and the will (citta) is not: [Th2 96] “Behold ultimate Truth (thing as they are or as become), these very aggregates as manifest; my mind is emancipated (vimuttacitta) from these, now fulfilled is the Doctrine of the Buddha.”, [Nettippakarana 44] “The mind (citta) is cleansed of the five khandhas (pañcakkhandha’, including consciousness, being the 5th khandha)”.
     In Buddhism, [SN 3.195] “Vinnana is Mara (evil)”, it is not ‘purified’, it is not thought of as being the nexus of anything but the vile, its transient nature is that it “goes no further than name or form” because it is entirely manifest and phenomenal construct, a fleeting codependent entity. Just as white Light (will/citta) falls upon red form, one gets back the reflection of red-vinnana, or white light upon blue form, one gets reflected back blue-vinnana. Consciousness’ nature being thusly codependent, it can neither be the basis for “immortality”, nor for Nibbana  as the will/citta is: [MN 1.436]. “This is immortality, that being the liberated citta” [MN 2.265]. [AN 1.282] “He gathers the citta inside the immortal realm”, [DN 2.157] “No longer with (subsists by) in-breath nor out-breath, so is him (Gotama) who is steadfast in mind (citta), inherently quelled from all desires the mighty sage has passed beyond. With mind (citta) limitless (Brahma) he no longer bears sensations; illumined and unbound (Nibbana), his mind (citta) is definitely (ahu) liberated.” The taintless (anasava) mind (citta) being = parinirvana: [SN 3.45] “The mind (citta) being so liberated and arisen from defilements, one is fixed in the Soul as liberation, one is quelled in fixation upon the Soul. Quelled in the Soul one is unshakable. So being unshakable, the very Soul is thoroughly unbound Parinirvana).” “This said: ‘the liberated mind (citta) which does not cling’ means Nibbana” [MN2-Att. 4.68].
     Regardless of the endless thousands of scriptural citations that deny the brain/consciousness construct as anything but “what is to be transcended”, or that the heretical notion that modern Buddhism advocates that any aspect of the empirical brain and its consciousness is the locus of purification is absolutely absurd and nonsensical, for if purity were as regards the brain, the liberation and immortality (amata) which Buddhism commands his path is (path to immortality = amatagamimagga SN5), then Gotama Buddhism himself was both self-contradictory in what he taught and also a raving lunatic whose religion must be rejected outright by anyone with the sense given even to a fool . As Samkara himself said in perfect accord with Buddhism: [Upadisa 12-1] “Just as a man (erroneously) looks upon his body (5 khandhas, including vinnana) placed in the sun as having the property of light in it, so, he looks upon the intellect pervaded by the reflection of Chit (will/mind) as the Self.”, and [#6] “An ignorant person mistakes the intellect (consciousness/brain-awareness) with the reflection of Citta (mind/will) in it for the Self (Soul), when there is the reflection of the Self in the intellect like that of a face in a mirror.” I have shown by scriptural citation that earliest Buddhism denied that A: the will/mind/citta was in the brain as consciousness itself was, B: that consciousness/brain was ever taught to be the point of purity, C: that the brain itself was given no stature greater than being compared to the foulest components of the corporeal body [Pati. 1.7]. We know the will/citta to be the locus of “past life recollection”, not the brain which rots at death, for it is “the will that recollects past lives” [DN 1.80].
     One cannot logically vindicate the praise of any brain as “pure” or a point of focus, when the prime commandment of Buddhism is Emancipation (vimutta) by the will (citta) from same, and that the “end-goal” is Aryan immortality for the will/citta ([MN 1.436], [MN 2.265], [AN 1.282]). Unless one heretically and against Buddhism is advocating that Gotama taught a fleeting and “only as long as life lasts” Humanistic purity, then the doctrinal de-emphasis of the brain must be heralded, for this brain, the jello-like lump, the putrid mass of something that grows and dies with the body, that this is the “made”, the “form”, the “become”, and Buddhism’s message nowhere upon this rests: [Udana 81] “There is, an unborn, an unoriginated, an unmade, and an unformed. If there were not monks, this unborn, unoriginated, unmade and unformed, there would be no way out for the born, the originated, the made and the formed.”
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The Teaching on the Self (Atman) 
in the Mahaparinirvana Sutra

this text copyright by Stephen Hodge
   
In the Nirvana Sutra, the Buddha upholds his earlier teaching that what the ordinary person regards as his or her "self" is in fact "not the Self" (anatman). That is to say, the five skandhas (constituent elements) which make up our "mundane ego" are not the essence of what we are. What are these skandhas? They are: 1) form/ matter;  2) feeling;  3) ideation/perception;  4) intention-related impulses;  5) consciousness. None of these, whether taken singly or together, constitutes our Self (atman).
     However, according to the Buddha's final Mahayana teachings, as embodied in this Mahaparinirvana Sutra, there does exist a "true Self" (ATMAN). This is equated with the Buddhic Element (Buddha-dhatu) which resides deep within all beings, beneath the coverings of negative states of mind and character which have, since beginningless time, concealed this Supramundane essence from view. Here follows a discussion from Chapter Four of our sutra (Tibetan version) between the Buddha's monks, who have long been meditating on ("cultivating") the notion of impermanence, suffering, and non-Self, and the Buddha, who now teaches them to balance their practice with the recognition that there is a Self, and that it is eternal and unchanging:...when those monks heard that the Tathagata [Buddha] was going to pass into Parinirvana [Complete Nirvana, at death] , they became downhearted. Murmuring "How terrible!", their eyes brimming with tears, they bowed their heads at the Tathagata's feet and circumambulated him many times. Then they said this to the Blessed One [Bhagavat]: "Blessed One, you have related to us your teaching that suffering, impermanence, and non-Self is most excellent [just as] the footprint of an elephant is the greatest of all footprints. Thus, we shall eradicate our attachment to [the Realm of ] Desire, eradicate our attachment to [the Realm of ] Form, eradicate our attachment to the Formless [Realm],  if we repeatedly cleave to, and cultivate, the idea of impermanence; all ignorance will be eradicated; all arrogance will be totally eliminated.
“… Blessed One, for example, a person might drink wine and become intoxicated, not even knowing who he is himself, unable to distinguish right and wrong, unable to recognize his mother, his sisters or his daughters; he falls head over heels and soils his whole body with urine and excrement; later he becomes sober and learns for some reason what befell him and reflects how useless alcohol is and decides to rid himself of all his sins. Then he thoroughly trains himself to regard the drinking of alcohol as utterly useless, and gives it up. Likewise, Blessed One, this world of living beings has spun around from time without beginning like a dancer. Whirling around, completely confused, they are unable to recognize their mothers, sisters or daughters, and so get lustful thoughts towards their mothers, sisters or daughters, and like those inebriated by alcohol, they experience suffering. Then those people who have a sense of shame, just like a drunk becoming sober, train themselves thoroughly to regard the world as useless and then totally leave behind its miseries.
     “Moreover, just as a castor-oil shrub (eranda) does not have a core, likewise this body does not have a self (atman), a being (sattva), a life-essence (jiva), an individual (pudgala), manava, nara or an acting agent (kartr). In that way, we repeatedly cultivate the idea that a self does not exist. For example, just as it is pointless to plant even ten million (koti) dry husks, likewise is this body, which is devoid of a Self. For example, just as the flowers of wheat (valla-puspa) have no fragrance, likewise this body is devoid of a Self. In that manner do we cultivate repeatedly the idea that this body is devoid of a Self. “The Blessed One has instructed us [in this way]: ‘Monks, all phenomena [dharma] are devoid of a Self. Practise thus! Those who practise thus will eliminate clinging to self (atma-graha). When clinging to self has been utterly eliminated, Nirvana will be attained.’ Blessed One, since all phenomena are thus devoid of a Self, we repeatedly cultivate the idea that a Self does not exist. Moreover, just as a bird leaves no tracks in the sky, so we shall detach ourselves from all types of [false] views when we have cultivated the idea that there is no Self.” The Blessed One asked, “Do you know how to cultivate that kind of meditation?”
     The monks replied, “Blessed One, if we were to cultivate anything contrary to the idea of suffering, impermanence and non-Self, we would be like a staggering drunk who sees the heavens, mountain peaks, the ground, the sun, the moon, trees and hills whirling around, though they are not moving; for those worldly beings who do not cultivate the idea of suffering, impermanence, and non-Self are just like drunks. [For this reason], Blessed One, we have cultivated it properly.” The Blessed One said, “Monks, I shall explain the meaning of this example. With regard to the meaning of this verse, you do not clearly understand, ‘this is the meaning, this is the letter’. Just as a staggering drunk sees the heavens, mountain peaks, the ground, the sun, the moon, trees and hills whirling around, though they are not moving, in the same way do those who are utterly confused, ensnared by numerous kinds of distorted notions, adopt the idea that they are a Self, eternal, happy and pure.
     “Herein, ‘Self’ signifies the Buddha; ‘eternal’ signifies the Dharma-kaya [Body of Truth; quintessential being]; ‘happiness’ signifies Nirvana, and ‘pure’ is a synonym for the Dharma. Monks, you should not pride yourselves, arrogantly and haughtily saying, ‘We have cultivated the idea of suffering, impermanence, and non-Self’. When you engage thus in those three kinds of meditative cultivation, then for you to have cultivated that threefold meditative cultivation in the context of my Dharma is a worthless cultivation. These three types of meditative cultivation of suffering and so forth are contingent, most contingent [visista].
     “To think of suffering as happiness is perverse, to think of happiness as suffering is perverse; to think of the impermanent as eternal [nitya] is perverse, to think of the eternal as impermanent is perverse; to think of the non-Self as the Self is perverse, to think of the Self as non-Self is perverse; to think of the impure as pure is perverse, to think of the pure as impure is perverse. “You repeatedly cultivate these objects of cultivation without properly knowing these four perversities. You engage in meditative cultivation [treating] the eternal as though it were impermanent, that which has Self as though it lacked Self, and the pure as though it were impure. [Pronouncements regarding] happiness, the Self, eternity, and purity are found both amongst mundane people and amongst supramundane people, but these are each different. The letters [ = words] are mundane designations, while the meaning is supramundane Knowing [lokottara-jnana]." Then the monks said this to the Blessed One, "Blessed One, since we have for a very long time repeatedly seen and repeatedly cultivated various cognitive distortions, such as these four ideas which the Tathagata has established in the correct manner, we now entreat you to tell us how we are to proceed ..."
     "Monks, you ask me how you are to cultivate the ideas of suffering, impermanence, non-Self, and impurity? Monks, as an example: at the height of summer, some people dam a stream in the woods and, each bringing their bathing things, play in the water. One of them puts a genuine beryl gem [into the water] and then, because they all want to have that beryl, everybody puts aside their bathing things and climbs into the water. Thinking that a pebble or a piece of gravel is the gem, they grab it and cry out, 'I've got the gem! I've got the gem!', each holding it aloft. But when they get to the banks of the pool, they realise that it is not the gem after all. Then the very water of that pool gleams beautifully, as though with moonlight, by the glinting light of that gem. Seeing that beautiful gleaming, they say, 'Ah! There's the real gem!', and realise how magnificent it is. Then, somebody in their midst who is skilled in means and intelligent is actually able to get that gem. In the same way, monks, you have latched onto such extremes as 'everything is suffering', 'everything is without a Self', 'everything is impermanent', everything is impure' and repeatedly cultivate that. All of that is mistaken and worthless -  just like the pebbles and gravel in the pond. Be like the person who is skilled in means! I declare that there is happiness, the Self, eternity, and purity in whatever you meditatively cultivate of all those extremes which you have latched onto; those four [extreme views] are perverse! Therefore, cultivate the idea that the reality [tattva] of the Dharma is eternal, like that gem. ...theTathagata Arhat Samyaksambuddha [utter and total Buddha] ... the Supreme, the Teacher of Gods and Men, the Blessed Buddha appears in the world ... and then takes himself to all the heterodox teachers [tirthika] ... He utterly quells them all, utterly destroys them, and delights many kings. In order to curb [nigraha] the heterodox teachers, he says that there is no Self, no sattva [being], no jiva [life-essence], and no pudgala [individual]. The teachings about the Self by the heterodox teachers are like the letters bored [by chance, without understanding] by worms, and therefore I made known the teachings that all beings are devoid of a Self. Having proclaimed that the absence of Self is the word of the Buddha ... I also teach that there is a Self, after I have taught that all dharmas [phenomena] are devoid of Self, taking the occasion into consideration with regard to those who need to be trained and in order to benefit beings.
     "The Self of the worldly, which they say is the size of a thumb or a mustard seed, is not like that. The concept of the Self of the worldly is also not like that. In this instance, it is said that all dharmas [things, phenomena] are devoid of Self. [But actually] it is not true to say that all dharmas are devoid of the Self. The Self is Reality [tattva], the Self is unchanging [nitya], the Self is virtue [guna], the Self is eternal [sasvata], the Self is fixed [dhruva], the Self is peace [siva];  ... the Tathagata teaches what is true. Let the four divisions of the assembly strive meditatively to cultivate that."
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