Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

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Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by Azur on Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:06 pm

If you think back to the early days of Spiritualism, when communcation started in home circles, I often wonder did Spiritualism ever meant to be a religion, because there is a difference between spirituality and Spiritualism. Was Spiritualism just meant to be ''a spiritual way of life'' without the dogma.

I have always been interested in Spiritualism as a phenomena, science and ''a spiritual way of life'' without it's religious concept, Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?, I often think about this, and wonder.

Azur


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by hiorta on Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:39 pm

I've getting a lot of similar thoughts.

No, 'Spiritualism' as it's now known, was the breaking through of the desire to communicate by those who had 'died' to bring hope and comfort to their grieving loved ones.

The reasons are many, no doubt, but sufficient numbers of Souls finally achieved this, although individuals here who had attained the suitable levels could always receive communication. Some would be more aware than others.

As to religion, well that is how some kind of Minds think and does no harm. But communication depends on the necessary conditions - no more, no less. Religious trappings are unnecessary, but it may have been fear of Dark Spirits that encouraged it.

The choice of a 'way' of Life is entirely within the gift of the individual exercising their free will, with Cause & Effect coming into matters - whether within a 'religious' setting or not. The Law of Attraction deterrmines so much.
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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by Azur on Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:53 pm

hiorta wrote:I've getting a lot of similar thoughts.

No, 'Spiritualism' as it's now known, was the breaking through of the desire to communicate by those who had 'died' to bring hope and comfort to their grieving loved ones.

The reasons are many, no doubt, but sufficient numbers of Souls finally achieved this, although individuals here who had attained the suitable levels could always receive communication. Some would be more aware than others.

As to religion, well that is how some kind of Minds think and does no harm. But communication depends on the necessary conditions - no more, no less. Religious trappings are unnecessary, but it may have been fear of Dark Spirits that encouraged it.

The choice of a 'way' of Life is entirely within the gift of the individual exercising their free will, with Cause & Effect coming into matters - whether within a 'religious' setting or not. The Law of Attraction deterrmines so much.

I agree with everything you said. I think Spiritualism needs to get rid of the religious setting and have it more as a spiritual way of life. There is no religion in the Spirit world. Spiritualism should be more about Love, Compassion, Forgiveness, Kindness, which are all attributes of the Spirit, being higher than any religion. Or as Silver Birch once said Compassion is one of the attributes of the spirit. Iíve said it is so many times. Love, affection, friendship, compassion, mercy, tolerance, kindness, service, are the attributes of the sprit. When you express them you are manifesting yourself spiritually.

Azur


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by hiorta on Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:53 pm

We know what's needed but seem to have to achieve 'Spiritual critical mass' perhaps to attract the help of Greater Souls in our endeavour.

There is still rampant greed, war and selfishness, with utter indifference to suffering of others and other Life forms. Material powers are valued, while Spiritual realities go unrecognised.

Religion has retreated to doctrinal strongholds, fearfully watching the tides of materialism carrying away their hopes of revival.

However, change appears to be gathering pace. The old set-in-stone-values are rapidly imploding. New Minds will apply themselves to old problems, hopefully with greater insight and success.
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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:26 pm

Blue Lotus I have similar thoughts we should always be more of a philosophy which needs to be brought back to life and regenerated. Yes by the dictionary definition of believing in something which we cannot actually prove God we are a religion but please keep it with a small letter r not a capital one. All a capital does is add theology.
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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by Azur on Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:37 pm

Admin wrote:Blue Lotus I have similar thoughts we should always be more of a philosophy which needs to be brought back to life and regenerated. Yes by the dictionary definition of believing in something which we cannot actually prove God we are a religion but please keep it with a small letter r not a capital one. All a capital does is add theology.

Oh ok sorry about that

Azur


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:54 pm

I suppose I believe that we were always involved in a philosophy of life rather than religion but there are essential elemnets of Spiritualism which became immediately involved once the Fox Sisters made contact. I tend to think that the phenomenaand Mediumship do not stand alone but as part of something much more complete. As Stainton Moses received from Imperator Spiritualism is not a new revelation but an attempt to restore what shoyuld have been before theologians took Christianity away from the simple truths.
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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:55 pm

Of course what I see with teh SNu with Ministers becoming more imporatant and wearing robes is a return to an organised theologically based central "Religion" which like Hiorta I reject.
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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by Quiet on Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:09 pm

I suspect spiritualism became a religion for legal reasons. Churches have special legal privileges such as tax exemptions. Also people coming together in groups often need to have legal status to rent property, gain insurance, and the like.

It is just the way western society organises things.

To be honest, I would love to belong to a small group with similar beliefs who come together for spiritual purposes, including mediumship and meditation - on a regular basis - without all the power and trappings which come with Churches.

Quiet


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by zerdini on Thu Sep 22, 2011 8:29 pm

Quiet wrote:I suspect spiritualism became a religion for legal reasons. Churches have special legal privileges such as tax exemptions. Also people coming together in groups often need to have legal status to rent property, gain insurance, and the like.

It is just the way western society organises things.

To be honest, I would love to belong to a small group with similar beliefs who come together for spiritual purposes, including mediumship and meditation - on a regular basis - without all the power and trappings which come with Churches.

Why not start your own group with people of like minds?

zerdini


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by nick pettitt on Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:23 pm

zerdini wrote:
Quiet wrote:I suspect spiritualism became a religion for legal reasons. Churches have special legal privileges such as tax exemptions. Also people coming together in groups often need to have legal status to rent property, gain insurance, and the like.

It is just the way western society organises things.

To be honest, I would love to belong to a small group with similar beliefs who come together for spiritual purposes, including mediumship and meditation - on a regular basis - without all the power and trappings which come with Churches.

Why not start your own group with people of like minds?

well said...

nick pettitt


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by obiwan on Fri Sep 23, 2011 4:15 pm

I see no need of a connection between mediumistic phenomena and any form of organised religion. IMHO it is a racket.

obiwan


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by Admin on Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:33 am

Obi the religion of Spiritualism was part of the start of Mediumship and interweaved with it. I have an opposite view about that especially with the appearance of atheist Mediums.
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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by nick pettitt on Sat Sep 24, 2011 8:22 am

The word religion conjurs up so many negative images these days whereas 60-160 years ago the word was more safe and comforting to those looking for wider answers via spirit communication and by interweaving religion with spirit communication it made it more acceptable to those outside looking in encoraging them to investigate it. Today the word repels would be investigators and I would prefure spiritualism to be a science and not a religion. Leave religion to those who are not yet ready to take a step out of dogmas and other people's opinions and begin thinking for themselves

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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by Quiet on Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:51 am

zerdini wrote:
Quiet wrote:I suspect spiritualism became a religion for legal reasons. Churches have special legal privileges such as tax exemptions. Also people coming together in groups often need to have legal status to rent property, gain insurance, and the like.

It is just the way western society organises things.

To be honest, I would love to belong to a small group with similar beliefs who come together for spiritual purposes, including mediumship and meditation - on a regular basis - without all the power and trappings which come with Churches.

Why not start your own group with people of like minds?

I have thought about it. The time hasn't seemed right and I don't know enough people ...... but I think it will happen. Have had some personal issues to sort out as well. My development teacher used to do this 20 or so years ago. I need to do something as the development class is a bit like a social group! It's supposed to be that way for the vibrations but doesn't feel quite right to me. Maybe I am too naturally reserved.

Quiet


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by obiwan on Sun Sep 25, 2011 2:57 pm

Admin wrote:Obi the religion of Spiritualism was part of the start of Mediumship and interweaved with it. I have an opposite view about that especially with the appearance of atheist Mediums.
Hi Jim

Spiritualism is clearly a religion. I don't think the phenomena that underpin Spiritualism are any more connected to it necessarily than the weather is connected to Zeus, Thor or Jehovah. I think we are agreed that the phenomena demonstrated by mediums has been in evidence for centuries, possibly millennia, and has been adopted by religions of various hues. It is not peculiar to modern Spiritualism.

If, as Spiritualists would have us believe, such phenomena are natural then it makes no more sense to me to give such phenomena a religious dimension that it does to have a church devoted to Meteorology, the Telephone, or Radio. Even given that communications from 'beyond' show wisdom and are intended to help, doesn't lead me to see how there is a need for religion, ceremony, orders of ministers, a bureaucracy. If there is a need to disseminate wisdom and educate, why not do this through some form of secular agency? Why does it have to be through churches and entail other religious paraphernalia? With the murky history of world religions I would have thought it far better to dissociate oneself, than to seek to emulate such organisations. It looks to me like a rather desperate attempt to acquire some form of apparent respectability, or to hang on to a comfort blanket of old religious beliefs, almost a superstition - that surely does not make it right?

As for atheism - I cannot see why a person cannot accept continuity of life without the need to accept the existence of a deity (depending on one's definition of course). Silver Birch it seems to me, although referring to the "Great Spirit", doesn't say, at least as far as I recall, that this Great Spirit is a being as such, or is even personal in the sense of being an individual. If I were to accept this premise, I would be an atheist in many folk's eyes.


obiwan


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by Quiet on Sun Sep 25, 2011 5:24 pm

obiwan wrote:
Admin wrote:Obi the religion of Spiritualism was part of the start of Mediumship and interweaved with it. I have an opposite view about that especially with the appearance of atheist Mediums.
Hi Jim

Spiritualism is clearly a religion. I don't think the phenomena that underpin Spiritualism are any more connected to it necessarily than the weather is connected to Zeus, Thor or Jehovah. I think we are agreed that the phenomena demonstrated by mediums has been in evidence for centuries, possibly millennia, and has been adopted by religions of various hues. It is not peculiar to modern Spiritualism.

If, as Spiritualists would have us believe, such phenomena are natural then it makes no more sense to me to give such phenomena a religious dimension that it does to have a church devoted to Meteorology, the Telephone, or Radio. Even given that communications from 'beyond' show wisdom and are intended to help, doesn't lead me to see how there is a need for religion, ceremony, orders of ministers, a bureaucracy. If there is a need to disseminate wisdom and educate, why not do this through some form of secular agency? Why does it have to be through churches and entail other religious paraphernalia? With the murky history of world religions I would have thought it far better to dissociate oneself, than to seek to emulate such organisations. It looks to me like a rather desperate attempt to acquire some form of apparent respectability, or to hang on to a comfort blanket of old religious beliefs, almost a superstition - that surely does not make it right?

As for atheism - I cannot see why a person cannot accept continuity of life without the need to accept the existence of a deity (depending on one's definition of course). Silver Birch it seems to me, although referring to the "Great Spirit", doesn't say, at least as far as I recall, that this Great Spirit is a being as such, or is even personal in the sense of being an individual. If I were to accept this premise, I would be an atheist in many folk's eyes.


Obiwan, I know you were responding to Jim but you make some interesting comments and I'd like to respond as well.

Annie Besant in her book Esoteric Christianity describes Christianity as the great religion for the West and possibly a motive for establishing spiritualism as a religion is that people thought that kind of structure would reach more people and that the status of religion gave it some legal independence and protection. People being as they are and western culture being as it is the structure of religion has now become pre-eminent. My own development teacher operates completely outside the local church which has been riddled with conflict and narrow mindedness. Many mediums used to operate within the church structures because it was the only they could really practise their craft.

This same teacher used to participate in home circles, also, I believe. I think there are some who still do that. However, there are many good people who want to participate in the communities which the spiritualist churches provide. If it was not for organised British spiritualism I would not have had access to some of the literature which means so much to me now.

Silver Birch actually speaks quite clearly about the disadvantages of 'theology'. I was reading this just yesterday morning. He seems to imply that the work of Spirit will continue, no matter what, and that those who want so much for us to reach our divine potential will find ways to guide us. Ramadahn does the same but in different words, as does Chan. In the mean time, to love in the divine sense and to give service to brothers and sisters in spirit seems to be the most important thing in life. If we really want, we will be guided to communities or means to service that will be best for us, I believe.

Quiet


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by obiwan on Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:20 pm

Hi Quiet

Please feel free to jump in - it's an open conversation Smile
I have no axe to grind - other than the fact that I find organised religion repellent personally.

I don't know when Spiritualism was officially recognised as a religion, however from the mid-1800s onward there have been many denominations identifying as Christian for a wide variety of reasons I suspect.

I don't see anything of a spiritual nature in the teachings of Spiritualism that hasn't been mentioned in many other religions. Its teachings seem to me largely derivative (of course that doesn't mean they are incorrect). If I understand you correctly, you suggest that one possible motive for the establishment of Spiritualism as a religion might have been to use religion as a vehicle for the phenomena and teachings of spiritualism however that seems to support my idea that it was done to acquire a reputation or respect that it did feel it commanded in its own right.

I don't see why a medium would find it necessary to operate inside a church structure other than for fellowship (which can be effected by other means). Perhaps the reason is obvious but it escapes me. I can see the benefits of having some form of organisation to support mediums, but not the benefits in its being specifically religious.

As far as Spiritualism giving access to information which might have eluded you if it did not exist; I am not sure what you are referring to but I don't see how the works of the SPR, Oliver Lodge, William Crookes etc and the dissemination of their work owe much to Spiritualism as a religion (other than that some mediums profess to be spiritualists). I recall reading that Silver Birch did not want to be called a Spiritualist (or anything else for that matter). Certainly modern research doesn't owe anything to Spiritualism as a religion as far as I can see.

I guess the observation I would make is that perhaps if those who practice mediumship had presented their abilities outside the framework of an organised religion, they may have been even more successful. Who can say?

Your comments on Silver Birch's views on Theology reflect my own readings of his reported sayings.

The observations you make regarding service and love for others is, I think, quite correct.

My objection is that communication through mediums is tainted by its association with organised religion, and particularly Christianity, which has done so much to oppose the distribution of information about survival over the centuries and has persecuted so many who did not conform (and continues so to do in many of its flavours around the World still).

I am not saying that there is anything wrong with practicing some form of religion which incorporates mediumship. It is a personal choice. I am simply saying that I cannot see the necessary connection between mediumship, proof of survival and trappings of religion which is how the SNU churches I have visited come across to me.

In fact my own experience of Spiritualist churches is that there is nothing to offer but spiritual teachings and fellowship that are available in one form or another in all organised religions and have been for millennia. There is of course nothing wrong with that, but there is already plenty of it available everywhere. In today's increasingly secular western societies, looking like a desiccated 19th century protestant church can't be an advantage surely?


obiwan


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by Quiet on Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:46 pm

I agree that there is little new in the philosophy of spiritualism. The only thing that makes spiritualism any different from other lovely philosophies is the commitment to evidential mediumship. The rigour that has existed around 'evidential' stands out. I belong to some internet forums where this rigour doesn't exist and I think that opens the door to charlatanism and celebrity mediumship which always needs to be taken circumspectly (in my opinion).

The mediums I know who use the spiritualist churches as a platform do so from a desire for love and service The churches have provided a medium for their practice which would not have been so available otherwise. I am so glad one of them did choose that option because she was there when I really needed to experience evidential mediumship. To be honest, I was never very interested in the Church itself. It seemed quite mediocre in everything else, but especially in the way it treated people. It had an excellent library, however Smile.

I am not advocating for Churches (being a Catholic who rejected the Church as a teenager). Perhaps I was simply explaining my understanding of why the spiritualist churches came into being. I would love to see something else emerge, and feel that I may have to look for some other path as stated in an earlier post.

Many blessings Smile

Quiet


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by obiwan on Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:34 pm

I agree Quiet, evidential mediumship is the only thing that makes Spiritualism different from many other philosophies. It is a shame that so much of what passes for evidence seems so poor. I guess one of the problems with evidence is that the definition of what constitutes 'good quality' is somewhat subjective. I don't think that is necessarily wrong, after all what I need to satisfy me that something is true may not be as much as you need. It is only a problem when I need to persuade you Smile

I am sure that many mediums demonstrate based on a desire to serve and in a spirit of love. Unfortunately, as I am sure you would agree, that has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of evidence produced. As for assessing their motives - I must confess that I try to avoid doing that as it is difficult enough to assess my own at times.

I am pleased you had a positive and evidential experience of mediumship, particularly so at a time when you needed it. I think your earlier observation to the effect that if you have a genuine need then communicators will find a way if at all possible. Sometimes this seems to be despite the medium Smile

I understand your position and that you are not advocating churches per se and I think the points you made are interesting.

Kind regards.

obiwan


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by nick pettitt on Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:33 pm

Even though spirit communications received over the years often contradict each other (ie reincarnation and conditions in other worlds/planes) one of the things they say that's consistant is we all continue to evolve and learn throughout eternity whether in the physical universe, astral world, spirit world, parallel universe or anywhere else we happen to find ourselves on this journey of life.
Spiritualism as a religion has it's seven principles which implies to me that these are the absolute truths and there's no tweeking or changing 'em as we evolve and learn new things, instead we remain stagnant.

nick pettitt


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by hiorta on Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:23 pm

The Principles have become something of a sacred cow in SNU circles.

There are other sets of them and the point of all of them is to try to assist the newcomer in evaluating a philosophy that might be very different from earlier teachings.


Personal interpretation of Principles is necessary and the understanding taken will change - and hopefully deepen - as experience comes.


Principles are not 'written in stone' of course and anything that helps to increase the depth of appreciation of the great Truth that Life, truly, is immortal, for the individual, must be welcome.


Last edited by hiorta on Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:24 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Additional text)
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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by Quiet on Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:37 pm

Hi there, again Smile

There is nothing absolutely new in the 7 Principles, either. Like the 12 Steps of AA, they were developed by the founders and people hold them dear partly because they hold those traditions dear. I don't have a problem with that and respect that some feel they do hold fundamental truths as well as capturing the spirit of the organisation at the special time of its creation. I should add that the 12 Steps of AA outline a specific program of recovery and should not be altered too much because they have proven to be effective. I don't think the 7 Principles of Spiritualism ar quite the same.

Incidentally, did you know that Bill Wilson, one of the AA founders, explored spiritualism for a little while? He had a quite particular spiritual experience which inspired and changed him. The Fellowship that he and others founded as been responsible for a tremendous amount of love and service. The 12 Steps were based on the Oxford Principles at the time and have parallels in various spiritual paths

Quiet


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by Quiet on Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:53 pm

obiwan wrote:I agree Quiet, evidential mediumship is the only thing that makes Spiritualism different from many other philosophies. It is a shame that so much of what passes for evidence seems so poor. I guess one of the problems with evidence is that the definition of what constitutes 'good quality' is somewhat subjective. I don't think that is necessarily wrong, after all what I need to satisfy me that something is true may not be as much as you need. It is only a problem when I need to persuade you Smile

I am sure that many mediums demonstrate based on a desire to serve and in a spirit of love. Unfortunately, as I am sure you would agree, that has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of evidence produced. As for assessing their motives - I must confess that I try to avoid doing that as it is difficult enough to assess my own at times.

I am pleased you had a positive and evidential experience of mediumship, particularly so at a time when you needed it. I think your earlier observation to the effect that if you have a genuine need then communicators will find a way if at all possible. Sometimes this seems to be despite the medium Smile

I understand your position and that you are not advocating churches per se and I think the points you made are interesting.

Kind regards.

Thank you Obiwan.

I agree that 'quality' can be very subjective. I have had quite explicit conversations with a spirit through a medium which have been so factual and unique as to be a source of great happiness. At the same time I've had simple names and words given that I had no doubt were meant for me. I've also had messages that were perhaps not so concrete as to pass my teacher's rigorous tests but which had such deep emotional resonance that I took them to be especially for me.

Once, from the platform, on a practice day for developing mediums, I made one observation to a young woman that was purely warm and intuitive and she told me later that it meant a great deal to her. I didn't feel that it was anywhere near the level that my teacher requires for evidential mediumship but I felt so drawn to make the comment. I had nothing else for anyone - and feel that that kind of mediumship, the kind that thrills me when I see or receive it - is some way off for me Smile

Spirit works in ways we don't understand, it seems.


Quiet


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Re: Was Spiritualism ever meant to be a Religion?

Post by Admin on Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:52 pm

Hi Quite,

Yes I did know that about Bill Wilson it is a very interesting story. I think that one of our problems as a movement is that we are stuck upon the issues of proof of survival and have failed to take the philosophy out into the world in any meaningful way. Maybe the 12 steps of AA is an example where it did some good.

Jim
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