Does “Oneness” in the Afterlife Mean Loss of Individuality?
Posted on 28 October 2019, 22:03
For those who accept the strong evidence that consciousness survives death, there remains a very big question relative to the nature of that consciousness – namely, does the soul retain its individuality or does it merge into some kind of Oneness with the Creative Force and in so doing lose its individuality? If the soul does lose its individuality, is such a state any more desirable than total extinction at physical death?
Based on an abundance of spirit revelation coming to us over the past two centuries, it appears fairly clear that we awaken on the Other Side with much the same personality as that we had in the earth life. We are not suddenly transformed to angels or devils, as orthodox religions teach. There are many realms or planes in the afterlife, not just the heaven and hell, or heaven, purgatory and hell, of major religions. But the question then becomes whether we gradually lose that individuality as we spiritually evolve to higher and higher realms. If such is the case, then the survival of consciousness at death is just a matter of extending consciousness until a more distant obliteration.
“….you will never lose your identity,” said the spirit claiming to be Emanuel Swedenborg, the eighteenth-century scientist and mystic who communicated through the mediumship of Dr. George Dexter (as recorded by John Edmonds, of the New York State Supreme court during the early 1850s). “ If God designed to absorb all souls into himself, there would have been no necessity at first to give off from himself distinct identical germs, possessing all the characteristics of independence. Therefore, as every spirit is independent in his mind and its exercise, how could God contravene his own institutes? That is impossible, and from this I reason.”
Silver Birch, the name taken by the apparent group soul communicating through the mediumship of British journalist Maurice Barbanell, put it this way: “The ultimate is not attainment of Nirvana. All spiritual progress is toward increasing individuality. You do not become less of an individual, you become more of an individual. You develop latent gifts, you acquire greater knowledge, your character becomes stronger, more of the divine is exhibited through you. The Great Spirit is infinite and so there is an infinite development to be achieved. Perfection is never attained, there is a constant striving towards it. You do not ever lose yourself. What you succeed in doing is finding yourself.”
Silver Birch went on to say that such conditions are beyond human language and that we cannot understand it until we attain it. “You do not lose your individuality in a sea of greater consciousness, but that depth of the ocean becomes included in your individuality,” Silver Birch added.
In their 1920 classic, Our Unseen Guest, authors Darby and Joan, received communication from a Stephen L., a casualty of the Great War, who seemed to be an advanced spirit. When Darby asked Stephen if Nirvana is the goal, Stephen replied that the Western World misunderstands the concept of Nirvana, believing it to be a doctrine of oblivion. “True Nirvana,” he said, “is consciousness at its height.”
Frederic W. H. Myers, one of the pioneers of psychical research, is said to have communicated through several credible mediums following his death in 1901. He communicated that he belonged to a “group soul,” one with common bonds. “ We are all of us distinct,” he said through medium Geraldine Cummins, “though we are influenced by others of our community on the various planes of being.” Myers likened the soul to a spectator caught within the spell of some drama outside of its actual life, perceiving all the consequences of acts, moods, and thoughts of a kindred soul.
As pioneering French psychical researcher Allan Kardec came to understand, this distinctive character of a spirit’s personality is in some sort obliterated in the uniformity of perfection, and yet it preserves its individuality. The same might be said of humans, as one’s personality at age 75 is likely not the same as it was at 15, or even 25 or 35.
When William Stainton Moses, an Anglican priest who developed mediumistic abilities, asked the group soul known as Imperator about “absorption into the Source of Life” and said that such absorption is not especially appealing to him, Imperator harshly replied that no finite mind can grasp existence on the higher realms. “Lower your eyes lest you be blinded,” Imperator cautioned him. “Trust us, the knowledge gained by the journey of life throughout its vast extent, will amply compensate for the toil of having existed.”
Perhaps Carl Jung, one of the pioneers of modern psychology and psychiatry, summed it up best when he said that “a man should be able to say he has done his best to form a conception of life after death, or to create some image of it – even if he must confess his failure.” People who do this, Jung said, “live more sensibly, feel better, and are more at peace.” However, he added, “if there is something we cannot know, we must necessarily abandon it as an intellectual problem.”
Next blog post: November 11
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
Kevin, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I think Arthur Findlay got it right. He said put an extra “o” in the word God. Even us atheists can go along with a force of goodness in the universe.
Michael Roll, Tue 12 Nov, 17:11
It took the Crusaders three days to kill every man, woman and child when they took Jerusalem. The historians reported that the gutters were running with blood.
Thank you for your additions comments and the links. I think we are in agreement and I will be discussing this somewhat more in my next blog in two weeks, but Stafford Betty’s comment on my current blog pretty much reflects my view of it.
I think the problem is not so much rejecting God but an anthropomorphic God. I very much doubt the existence of an anthropomorphic God and that might make me an atheist in the eyes of most Christians. But that does not mean I reject a much more abstract God—one that is beyond my comprehension. Again, see Stafford Betty’s comment at the current blog post.
Thanks again for your comments.
Michael Tymn, Mon 11 Nov, 23:43
Michael Roll wrote: “Kevin, for goodness sake get rid of this crazy God business.”
Michael, I grant you that the concept of “God” is a crazy business. Even the word “God” has so many meanings to so many different people that it is crazy business even trying to discuss the concept when there are so many contradictions among them.
In the NDE literature, “the Light” is a more preferable concept of “God” than any anthropomorphic definition. The plethora of NDErs who have experienced the Light have understood the Light to be the very “life force” of the universe and the “Source” of all things. We are not talking religion here. Religion is the crazy “God” business. The Light has more to do with quantum theory than religion. All matter can be described as “condensed” or “frozen” light according to David Bohm. Physicist Stephen Hawking once stated ,“When you break subatomic particles down to their most elemental level, you are left with nothing but pure light.” Science discovered light was pervasive at the beginning of the universe for example. Kurt Godel, the foremost mathematical logician of the 20th century, offered a theorem and a proof that atheism is not logical. If you visit Keith Augustine’s website, Infidels.org, on the home page you will find the following statement:
“Naturalism is ‘the hypothesis that the natural world is a closed system, which means that nothing that is not part of the natural world affects it.’ Thus, ‘naturalism implies that there are no supernatural entities’ - including God.”—Quote from Keith Augustine’s website
However, Kurt Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem shows that no consistent formal system can prove its own consistency. See the Wikipedia article for the mathematical logic. In plain language, it proves that all closed systems depend upon something outside the system. So according to Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem, the quote on the Infidels website cannot be correct. If the natural world is a closed, logical system, then it has an outside cause. Thus, according to Godel’s theorem, atheism violates the laws of reason and logic. Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem definitively proves that current scientific models can never fill its own gaps. We have no choice but to look outside of current scientific models for answers concerning illogical statements such as, “An all-powerful Life Force does not exist in the natural world.”.
The incompleteness of the universe’s own consistency regarding its existence isn’t proof that the God of any particular religion exists; but it is proof that in order to construct a rational, scientific model of the universe, a new scientific model that includes an outside, all-powerful Life Force is not just 100% logical - it’s necessary. Kurt Godel also developed an Ontological Proof of God’s existence which has been proven by German computer scientists in 2013. However, Godel’s theorems and proof cannot be applied to prove the existence of Santa Claus, nor to prove the existence of a Flying Spaghetti Monster flatulating the universe into existence. More on this subject can be read here: https://www.near-death.com/science/evidence/people-have-ndes-while-brain-dead.html#a05
Kevin Williams, Mon 11 Nov, 21:57
Kevin, for goodness sake get rid of this crazy God business. It is still sending people bonkers all over the world. Arthur Findlay sums up this God business very well in his true history of mankind ‘The Curse of Ignorance’ that was published in 1947.
Michael Roll, Sun 10 Nov, 11:19
“We have a choice of two paths, one is the secular way and the other is the theological; one is the democratic and the other the despotic; one is the sane and the other the insane.”
Hence god merchants flying aeroplanes into twin towers and murdering people on the London underground.
There is another paradox concerning oneness and individuality involving free will which has implications about the problem of evil. If God is Love, then why does God allow evil to exist? Why there is so much suffering? The Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis, argues:
(1) God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go either wrong or right.
(2) Because of free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only things that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata—of creatures with no free will that worked like machines—would hardly be worth creating.
(3) The happiness which God designed for higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to God and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free.
(4) When we have understood about free will, we shall see how silly it is to ask, as somebody once asked me: ”Why did God make a creature of such rotten stuff that it went wrong?” The better stuff a creature is made of—the cleverer and stronger and freer it is—then the better it will be if it goes right, but also the worse it will be if it goes wrong. A cow cannot be very good or very bad; a dog can be both better and worse; a child better and worse still; an ordinary man, still more so; a man of genius, still more so; a superhuman spirit best—or worst—of all.
(5) You make the thing voluntary and then half the people do not do it. That is not what you willed, but your will has made it possible. It is probably the same in the universe.
(6) Perhaps we feel inclined to disagree with God. But there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. God is the source from which all your reasoning power comes; you could not be right and God wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against God you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it’s like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.
So a paradox can be seen that, as one goes from lower-order creatures (such as a dog) to higher-order creatures (such as archangels), the more that higher-order free agents automatically do the will of God. It would be absurd for a higher-order archangel, for example, when confronted with a choice between right or wrong, to waiver on which choice to choose. In other words, as one experiences the higher orders of existence, intelligence, freedom, and individuality (i.e., the closer you are to Godhood) means your ability to choose between right or wrong is paradoxically inhibited as higher-order creatures automatically choose to do the will of God. So the spiritual condition of higher-order creatures automatically choosing God’s will over another is a paradoxical condition of ultimate freedom and individuality as these are also characteristics of the ultimate freedom and individuality of God.
Kevin Williams, Sat 9 Nov, 20:03
Mary, there is no need to “believe” in an afterlife. We have had the scientific proof that we all have a soul that separates from the dead physical body for exactly 145 years. This is ever since Sir William Crookes published the results of his three year experiments in The Quarterly Journal of Science in 1874. These reports can now be seen at the top of my website.
michael Roll, Sat 9 Nov, 10:46
Don’t let the materialists know about this.
Mike (Tymn) I see nothing wrong with following philosophers who taught survival after death like Jesus and Silver Birch. However, as we think and behave on Earth has a great deal to do with who we attract from the etheric wavelengths.
Michael Roll, Fri 8 Nov, 11:31
The Materialisation medium that I worked with, Rita Goold, did not have any connection whatsoever with religion. She therefore tuned straight into the part of the ethic universe where Arthur Findlay now resides - where all the secularists graduate to. All the ancient religions are now hopelessly out of date.
I believe in an afterlife, but not that there is no accountsbiility for one’s previous life . You become the recipient of all your criminal deeds—alone with no body to hide in forget—distracted. The soul is naked to it all for however onl it takes.
mary mcmorrow, Thu 7 Nov, 04:57
Just because various sects of Christianity say you have to accept the atonement doctrine, believe that Jesus is God, and that the resurrection was a physical one, etc., does not mean they have a license on who gets to call him- or herself a Christian. Moreover, while you may believe that Jesus was a mere philosopher, there has been testimony supposedly coming from advanced spirits that he was the most evolved of all spirits and therefore chosen to deliver the resurrection message, which was misunderstood or misinterpreted by many.
To quote Silver Birch, “there has never been on earth anyone through whom the manifestations of the spirit has been greater than through the Nazarene. There has never been any through whom the laws have revealed themselves at so great an intensity as the Nazarene.” If we can give any credence to Silver Birch and other advanced spirits who have said much the same thing, that would make Jesus more than mere philosopher.
Coincidentally, I was planning to write my next blog on this subject, but the bottom line is that to call oneself a Christian does not mean you have to believe what mainstream Christianity believes. It can mean that we follow the teachings of Jesus as they were intended and not as they have been distorted and perhaps that we recognize him as in the hierarchy of spirits, if not the “chairman” of that hierarchy.
Michael Tymn, Wed 6 Nov, 23:39
Michael Roll asks, “Kevin, how can one be a Christian mystic? To be a Christian a person has to believe that the philosopher known as Jesus is not a philosopher but God - the creator of the universe no less. Because of the story of Jesus being seen again after he had been killed by his disciples, he was made into the 17th Pagan saviour-god, Christ, in the year 325 at the Council of Nicaea. The second person in a trinity of gods.”
Good question, Michael. The dictionary defines a mystic as “a person who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain unity with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute.” Obtaining a unity with the divine has been a mystery for thousands of years of which Christians have debated. All the Abrahamic religions erroneously reject ideas of people becoming “one with God” because they interpreted it to mean becoming God. But Jesus taught people that “you are gods” (John 10:30-36) which means we are “children of God” having God’s Spirit within us. Having God’s Spirit dwell within human beings was a confusing concept to the early Church and they didn’t understand it. Just because God’s Spirit dwelt in Jesus didn’t mean he was God as the early Church assumed. God’s Spirit dwells within everyone whether they know it or not according to correct interpretation of scripture and NDEs.The early Church also embellished the Jesus story with pagan savior-god motifs to attract pagans to Christianity. So, you are correct to believe that Christianity and mysticism together is like an oxymoron. But with correct interpretations of scripture, we can see how the Church erroneously rejected mysticism and becoming one with God.
Edgar Cayce was a fundamentalist Christian in his waking state; but he was a mystic in his out-of-body state. Accepting the concept of reincarnation, for example—which he revealed much about in his out-of-body state—was a difficult thing for the awake Cayce to deal with given his fundamentalist Christian beliefs. But he eventually accepted it like everything else that was revealed to him. So I suppose becoming a “Christian mystic” - although an apparent oxymoron - means to be (1) a Christian. Note that everyone who loves other people is the definition of a “Christian” (see 1 John 4:7-8; 16). And to know that (2) God’s Spirit lives within you. And what is God? God is life (Acts 17:28). God is love (1 John 4:7-8). And God is light (1 John 1:5). Here is my NDE article about God which reveals more along these lines: https://www.near-death.com/science/research/god.html
Most Christians today reject these ideas; but elements of early Christianity were mystics and left their teachings in other gospels which the early Church rejected. I am referring to the Nag Hammadi library of Gnostic Christian writings which were thoroughly mystical.
Kevin Williams, Wed 6 Nov, 19:21
Kevin, how can one be a Christian mystic? To be a Christian a person has to believe that the philosopher known as Jesus is not a philosopher but God - the creator of the universe no less.
Michael Roll, Wed 6 Nov, 11:33
Because of the story of Jesus being seen again after he had been killed by his disciples, he was made into the 17th Pagan saviour-god, Christ, in the year 325 at the Council of Nicaea. The second person in a trinity of gods.
My father proved to me that he had survived the death of his physical body in 1983. He was a very good cricketer, but not God or a god.
Thanks for adding the Edgar Cayce link.
Michael Tymn, Tue 5 Nov, 21:05
The Christian mystic and NDEr, Edgar Cayce, has a lot to say about the subject of individuality and its relation to body, mind, soul, spirit, God, free will, and personality. I have an article dealing with this here:
Excepts: “All things, including the souls of individuals, were created as ‘fractals’ of God for companionship with God—the ‘Whole.’ This revelation from Cayce reveals the astonishing fact of how self-similar the universe is on every scale: from the atom to biological organisms, from human beings to the planet Earth, from solar systems to galaxies, from the universe(s) to God.” We are indeed multi-dimensional beings living in a multi-dimensional reality. Individuality exists at all levels of existence as does free will.
As souls, individuals were “issued from God and remained dependent upon God; but individuals were also aware of an existence apart from God. Individuals were given the power to choose (free will) and direct their own activity. Without free will, it would only remain a part of the individuality of God. The mind, issuing as a force from God, would naturally fulfill God’s thoughts unless directed otherwise. The power to do this - to direct the force of mind individually from God - is free will. And the record or memory of this freedom is the soul. The soul began with its first expression of free will through the force of mind. The first thought the spirit generated from free will - the first diversion of the force of mind from its normal path of unity with God - was the beginning of the soul.”
Kevin Williams, Tue 5 Nov, 02:42
In answer to your question, my book, “The Afterlife Revealed,” has a chapter (“Many Mansions”), which discusses the various levels in the afterlife as set forth through various mediums and includes the comment above by Silver Birch, but otherwise does not go into the individuality issue. Most mediumship seems to involve communication from spirits on the lower or middle spheres and they apparently are not advanced enough to know anything about this issue.
Thanks to all others for the comments and links.
Michael Tymn, Wed 30 Oct, 02:24
The quandry about losing one’s identity would not be an issue—not for Spiritualists, anyway—if they’d have stuck to their traditional roots, instead of getting mucked up with Eastern religions and their various teachings, including karma, reincarnation, and absorption into some sort of cosmic Whole. Or, hole.
For my part: I’m me, always was, always will be, and have every belief that I will keep ascending to something better, while always remaining me. If someone wants to belief in karma, endless rebirth, and eventual individual annihilation by becoming One with the Cosmic All: that’s fine with me, too. It’s when you start co-mingling two contradictory belief systems that the confusion arises.
James McArthur, Tue 29 Oct, 20:43
We spiritually oriented people often absolutize our spiritual experiences. We enter a trance and temporarily lose awareness of our individuality. The trance wears off and we return to ourselves, but then we think egolessness must be the highest state, the God state.
Daniel Kealey, Tue 29 Oct, 20:40
As I was booting up my computer this morning I read a Zen story about Matsu who spent hours meditating everyday. “What do you hope to gain from such cross-legged sitting?” asked Hwai-Jang. “Buddhahood”, whereupon Hwai-Jang picked up a brick and began vigorously polishing it. “What do you hope to achieve by such polishing? asked Matsu. “I am making this into a mirror.” “You can polish till doomsday but it will never become a mirror!” “Just so, you can meditate till doomsday and you will never become the Buddha!”
Great article, clearly expressed about something that has always been at the back of my mind, but never adequately articulated… Thank you!!
I think Jung speaks for me when he says that even in the face of the failure of one’s imagination, you can “live more sensibly, feel better, and are more at peace.”
He goes on to say “if there is something we cannot know, we must necessarily abandon it as an intellectual problem.” As I recall, this is your and has become my position regarding the common perception of reincarnation. For my part, there are other just as valid explanations for it, such as tapping into the so-called Akashic records ... Sort of like a medium supposedly using super psi.
Norm Jenulis, Tue 29 Oct, 20:16
It is my firm conviction that even the animals will not be absorbed and will maintain their eternal individuality.
Carlos, Tue 29 Oct, 17:57
Dear Mike et al. Our MEDICAL SPIRITIAT CONGRESSES each 2 year in London, bring information by Psychiatrist Doctors, researchers, and Doctors Mediums, to the public. Please, visit http://www.medspiritcongress.org and have an idea from the past congresses and the 2019 in November. Look the themes, subjects and participate. It will be a great joy.
Elsa Rossi, Tue 29 Oct, 10:46
Hello! I have read your blog page for the first time and find it fascinating. Does anyone of your books specifically talk about retaining individuality in the afterlife?
Bianca Ferri, Tue 29 Oct, 10:01
Dear Michael and all your correspondents,
There is at least one sense or manner in which individuality cannot be lost, even in an all-comprehending Whole Oneness. If that Whole entity of Oneness is indeed what the words purport, then if individuality were lost to any component part of it the entity or quality that is individualness itself would be lost. The Wholeness would then be incomplete. An all-comprehending single entity cannot so lose something that is an integral part of that of which it is composed, and an integral part of Its own Being. Now some will say that this it a merely verbal argument, but it is not that delusive thing (which I abhor when I do come across it). A little contemplation will show most of us, I think, that an entity that comprehends all will be able to comprehend those things that, to verbal minds (rather than holistic contemplative minds), seem to be mutually exclusive. After all, the individualness was a part of the HISTORY of all those entities which later aggregate into the Oneness, and that history has to be an entity which is PRESERVED in any entity of Oneness that results after that history has run its course and passed into the timeless still-all-there-ness of the Whole Oneness. In juvenile churchy and naive terms, the oneness of god must comprehend all the little histories of each and every one of its component ‘individual’ beings - eg each of us. The final state of Whole Oneness must include its own component histories as if they were still there, which indeed they have been, since the beginning - if there ever was a beginning. Even Relativity gives a structure for this understanding, as I have pointed out before, without much interest from most of you. I can’t pursue this further now, but those origins and histories must have been always there, but the individual entities (including EACH of us as ‘independent’ component Beings were not CONSCIOUS of that state of one wholeness, which unavoidable ignorance (I am accusing no-one of culpable ignorance) is what gives rise to the question - but the one wholeness WAS conscious of the limitation of its component beings. The problem giving rise to the question is an expression of our limitation as minds during that (long) period when we are evolving to become more conscious of the already-existing-wholeness of which we have always been component parts, but could never before become conscious of the fact as experience (even if as a mere concept).
I think we are each safe as individuals, and alive in that infinitely busy perfectly still Wholeness.
Now, when I have done some plumbing I must do today, I shall stop a while and read the article carefully. Sorry there’s no time to read it immediately. (My personal history is rolling on and will not yet allow me a pause.)
Eric Franklin, Tue 29 Oct, 09:57
Thanks for this summary of an important topic, Mike. I suspect a further survey of other mediums would produce even more comments on this topic. It is unlikely that this is the totality of what has been communicated about our individuality. But the interesting thing is that the spirit communications you refer to largely agree with each other. I make evidential videos for Youtube on afterlife topics and though this material interests me I cannot conceive a way to discuss it in visual form, apart from as a sraight lecture, and it is much more suited to the written format of your blogs. Thanks.
Keith P in England, Tue 29 Oct, 09:52
This is what my studies confirm. The nine year old boy, Russell Byrne, who died of cancer has been physically reunited with his parents during something like 100 experiments. He is exactly the same as his parents Gwen and Alf Byrne remember him when he was on Earth. It was the same when I met my “dead” father, a former professional cricketer at Lord’s and Warwickshire. He was with me in spirit when my son came out to bat for England young cricketers at Lord’s.
Michael Roll, Tue 29 Oct, 09:24
The prospect of losing your personality begs in the first place the traditional Buddhist question “who are you”. Personality fears disappearing because it is an empty illusion, and thus strives to perpetuate itself, among other things through perpetual chatter in the mind. However, when you practice being conscious of your body, mind, etc., eventually you discover (gradually, through glimpses at first), that you simply exist, and this is much more real and fulfilling than just trying to manufacture your own personality or identity through an endless stream of thoughts. Iguess that as physical body dies, then the astral body dies (second death), etc., in the end only remains the seldless etrnal consciousness, and that it is much more real and fulfilling than believing to be a fragmented, separate personality.
DOM, Tue 29 Oct, 07:16
Thank you, being absorbed has never appealed to me.
Jean, Tue 29 Oct, 03:55
I’m glad that individuality persists since after making the transition, I will still be able to make the beast with two backs.
Bob, Tue 29 Oct, 02:58
Thank you for answering my question about eventually being part of the whole and basically losing my identity. I did not like the idea of evolving until I was swallowed up as a miniscule part of the whole. You have assuaged my fears regarding the afterlife and evolving. I have been wanting to be reassured about the concept and it is like it is said - Ask and you shall be given the answer.
Janet B., Tue 29 Oct, 02:40
Dave Haith, Tue 29 Oct, 02:18
Mike, When you were editor of The Searchlight you included an interview of an Episcopal priest named The Reverend Doctor Ruth D. Walsh. She spoke about what she experienced with her dying patients at a nursing home regarding their fears of what might happen to them in the afterlife. Below is the interviewer’s question and Dr. Walsh’s answer:
What other lessons did you learn about death and dying from your work as a nursing home or hospice chaplain?
David P. Stang, Tue 29 Oct, 00:11
Some of the people I encountered had deep and disturbing fears of being sent to Hell, as punishment for their past sins; being sent to an isolated, lonely place somewhere in a galaxy surrounded by coldness, silence and total lack of any form of companionship; being sent into the afterlife in a non-compos mentis state in which they would not be able to even comprehend or adjust to the horrors of a surrounding dark spiritual chaos; and finally lose their identity and not be able to find their family members who predeceased them. Once I understood these specific anxieties, I was able to help them make a transition into the afterlife more peacefully.”
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