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Essential Aspects

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Essential Aspects ?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Essential Aspects

A Presence in Which the Beingness is Itself the Knowingness

The Blue aspect is usually difficult for most people to access because their minds are so busy and their inner consciousness is so agitated. Things like worry, guilt, and agitated desire all tend to dissipate such repose and lead us away from our Being. What we are left with is a subject-object kind of knowing, mostly of the mental/conceptual type. Yet this basic knowing inherent in the Blue aspect is the foundation for all knowing, for it is the simple and original element of knowing—the element that every other kind of knowing is based on. We see here the unity of epistemology and ontology, for this aspect is a presence in which the beingness is itself the knowingness. When knowing splits off from being, we end up with ordinary knowledge, a knowledge that is not sufficient to reconnect us with our Being, no matter how useful it is in the practical world.

A Specific Integration of all the Essential Aspects

The Diamond Guidance, which is the dimension of Essence related to guidance and understanding, is a specific integration of all the essential aspects. All essential aspects exist in the Diamond Guidance, but differentiated. It is a structure of consciousness that I call a Diamond Vehicle. It holds all the essential aspects, and each one is present in a differentiated and delineated way. So there is Strength, Joy, Compassion, Brilliancy, and so on, all present as themselves. They are, however, organized and integrated in a certain configuration and constitute a complete vehicle. They are all there functioning in unison, in harmony with one another. It is like a group of individuals who function in a harmonious way doing a specific work. One of the aspects can dominate and function while the others recede. Sometimes two of them are functioning while the rest have receded. But when Brilliancy functions, it functions in unity. It is one aspect.

Brilliancy, pg. 34

Absorption of all Essential Aspects into the Personal Essence

So the capacity to be without this ego sense of self eliminates selectivity in one’s personal experience of essential qualities, opening the consciousness to an unlimited range of qualities. The absence of inner selectivity due to cessation of the feeling of self, coupled with the openness to expansion due to disidentincation from ego inadequacy, allows a new possibility of realization. It makes it possible to complete the process of personalization of Essence, which is the absorption of all essential aspects into the Personal Essence, or the synthesis of all aspects into a personal presence. The essential aspects now constitute the very substance of the Personal Essence. One not only feels one is a full personal presence, but that this very same presence includes the presence of Love, Joy, Strength, Compassion, Merging, Peace, Intelligence, Will, Consciousness, etc. Aspects are simultaneously personalized, with their capacities and functions integrated. This is a condition of completeness, of an amazing degree of integration. One is full and firm, strong and soft, sweet and warm, and so on. One is a complete person. This does not mean that one’s personal presence from now on is always this complete state. It indicates that one is able to be present in this expanded state of Being. The Personal Essence is an organic and fluid presence; there is no rigidity in it at all. All its states, through the whole process of its realization and development, are available to it now, manifesting according to the situation. Practically, this realization allows the capacity to be personal in any of the essential aspects, or any combination of them, depending on the demands of the situation. The complete state of the Personal Essence brings a perception of one’s presence as preciousness, beauty and regality. It is no wonder that the Personal Essence is called in some stories, the Princess Precious Pearl.

Acceptance Aspect

This aspect is extremely subtle to experience. Its nature is the exact opposite of that of ego. The ego, of its very nature, has a rejecting attitude. Its defenses are based on the rejection of parts of experience. Its structure is never devoid of defense, which is rejection. The very presence of identification systems implies a subtle rejection of Being. This means that no part of ego is capable of accepting. The individuality of ego is incapable of Acceptance, because its very existence depends on a subtle attitude of rejection. The ego can only cease rejecting, but it cannot accept. The complete cessation of rejection is the absence of all defense and resistances. This precipitates the aspect of Acceptance. Thus Acceptance involves the cessation of ego, or of a segment of its structure.

All of the Essential Aspects are for the Pearl, for the Life, Use, Enjoyment and Fulfillment of the Pearl

However, the pearl beyond price feels personal without being the personality. It has the capacity to make a personal contact with another human being and still be free, totally unconditioned, free from the past and its influences. It is the most personally intimate aspect of oneself. Everyone recognizes what it is when he first sees it. Sometimes even the vaguest perception of it brings out the exclamation “but this feels like me, intimately me.” And yet it is not selfish like the personality. The personality is based on deficiency, and this is the source of its selfishness. But the pearl is based on true value and true fullness. In fact, it is itself fullness. All of essential development is ultimately the development of the pearl. All of the essential aspects are for the pearl, for the life, use, enjoyment, and fulfillment of the pearl. That is why in the stories it is represented as a princess of unsurpassable beauty. The joy of the essence is its joy. The love is its love. The pleasure of the essence is for it, the majesty of the essence is its grandeur, the beauty of the essence is it, itself. The whole quest—its meaning, purpose, and completion—can be understood as the realization of the pearl beyond price. Many stories have been written about it.

Although Essence is One, the Same Substance, It has Many Varieties, Many Qualities

But we must use concepts if we are going to communicate verbally. One important concept that we have been using without clarification is that of essential aspects—that essence has many aspects, not just one quality. As we have seen, essential substance has precise and definite physical characteristics. In fact, it can be described in terms of color, taste, texture, transparency, density, luminosity, viscosity, and so on. Variations in these give rise to different aspects of essence, which have different psychological significance. So although essence is one, the same substance, it has many varieties, many qualities. These are aspects of essence. This is true for both the baby and the adult. The aspect of truth is not the same as the aspect of love, and this is not the same as the aspect of will, and so on. They are all essence, and clearly so for the one who knows, but they are experienced differently and affect us differently.

As the Dynamism Takes the Soul Into New Realms, Our Being Reveals Many Pure Qualities

As the dynamism takes the soul into new realms, our Being reveals many pure qualities, which I have called essential aspects. It displays the quality of Love, the quality of Clarity, the quality of Strength, the quality of Peace, the quality of Truth, the quality of Contentment, the quality of Spaciousness, the quality of Existence, the quality of Passion, and so on. These qualities are elements from the beyond, from the unseen world, and our conventional wisdom cannot fathom them, can’t really see or discern their meaning, function, or usefulness. So how can we discern what these essential qualities are? We need to recognize what they mean; we need to understand how they are related to our conventional experience and how they can optimize our lives. For this, we need a vehicle of understanding—a source of discrimination and knowledge—that originates from the same or a deeper dimension than the one these qualities come from. The specific guidance that makes this possible is what I call the Diamond Guidance. The Diamond Guidance is itself a pure manifestation of our Being, which is necessary for it to be able to guide us in the essential dimension. Our Being not only displays its richness, it also provides us with the capacity to comprehend, appreciate, and integrate that richness. Without this discrimination, we are only able to approach this richness as candy. We don’t understand the significance of the richness, that it is really part of our inner nature, so we just want more and more of the candy—these things that taste sweet and wonderful but are separate from who we are.

Aspects and the Essence of the Essence

The aspect of the Essence of the Essence, the source, and the various other aspects differentiating from it are all impersonal. When all of these differentiated aspects are realized, they are then integrated in a new synthesis, a synthesis that has a personal characteristic. This integration of all aspects of Essence into a new and personal synthesis is the pearl beyond price. So from the undifferentiated source, finally emerges a synthesis, a rounded personality that is essential.

Aspects of Essence are Connected to Different Phases of Ego Development

However, the stage of developing essential aspects shifts the inner work on the personality from the superego more to the structure of the ego itself. We have seen, for example, that the merging essence is related psychologically to the symbiotic stage, of fundamental importance for the development of ego structure. Other aspects of essence are connected to different phases of ego development or to different sectors of its structure. Essential strength is connected, for example, to the differentiation subphase of the separation-individuation process of ego development, when the infant begins to perceive that his mother and he are two people. Joy and value are essential aspects related more to the practicing subphase of this developmental process, when the toddler is joyously exploring his capacities and environment. The separation-individuation process leads ultimately to the development of the ego as a structure. Its final phase is that of object constancy, when the ego is formed and established as a permanent existence, separate from the environment (mother), and other people are seen to have separate existences. Finally, the ego is structured and developed, and the child permanently experiences himself as having a separate identity. The ego is seen here in a central position because everything else is really part of its structure. The ego is the product of the child's development.

Being a Person is the Most Difficult of the Essential Aspects to Understand

We can manifest as a person, or as love, joy, or compassion. The person is just one of the essential aspects. Being a person is the most difficult of the essential aspects to understand because we have lived an imitation of it which is the false person, the personality. In being a person, there is a true person, and the true person is what I call the Personal Essence, an expression or manifestation of your true nature. Just like love is an expression of who you are. But if we believe that ultimately we are the person, then we form a false personality. We form boundaries. So the person is not something to be rejected or put down or hated. The person is as precious as love is. The person is the way that who we truly are manifests on earth. Who we truly are cannot live on earth because we are nonphysical and have no form, so for true nature to have a window on creation, it manifests as a person. When you realize the true person, the essential person, then you realize one of the essential aspects. This means that sometimes you are person and sometimes you are not. Just like when you experience your true nature as love, you don’t have to have love all the time. Sometimes there is love, sometimes there is compassion, sometimes there is will. You can’t say, “I have to have love all the time. I have to have will all the time.” The same thing is true of the person: sometimes there is a person, sometimes there isn’t a person. This is also true of the true self. Sometimes there is a true self; sometimes there isn’t a true self, depending on the need because you are the source of all these things. If the true person which is made of consciousness and essence is not being protected, then the true person does not feel itself separated and isolated from other persons. There is a sense of true contact and true concern.

Consciousness as an Aspect Seen as Part of the Lataif

Consciousness: this is another aspect that is sometimes regarded as a part of the lataif system. It is the Presence of Being as pure undifferentiated consciousness. It is consciousness of consciousness; as a delicate, fine, restful kind of presence. It is the capacity for inner absorption; for contemplating one's consciousness, by being absorbed in it. It is connected with the state sometimes called samadhi, because there is no mental activity or agitation in it.

Consciousness that Forms the Essence of the Mind

In other words, without ordinary knowledge we have no familiar identity. Using only pure basic knowing, the self cannot maintain itself; it has to be surrendered, melted. Hence, the Blue aspect is an especially selfless aspect. It is in some sense the most undefined and formless of all aspects. The Blue aspect arises in the center of the head, just as the Green aspect arises in the center of the chest. From this we can also see that just as the Green is the sensitivity that forms the essence of the heart, the Blue is the consciousness that forms the essence of the mind. This is probably the reason why some Sufis consider the Blue to be connected to the Green, as if they form the two sides of one latifa.

Each of the Aspects Reveals Itself as a Universal Discrimination, a Natural Cognitive Differentiation of True Nature Itself

The moment we recognize that the aspect is a concept, the transparent black diamond form becomes increasingly nothing, until it fades away. As it fades away we find ourselves to be the boundless presence of undifferentiated being. And we understand that we are not only powerful enough to be ourselves, but that we are boundless power itself; for we are boundless and infinite Being. We can be ourselves; we are not afraid of being ourselves, because we are the infinite Supreme Being itself. This process is repeated for each of the essential aspects, where each aspect appears as a huge, sharp diamond of a particular color and quality. As we directly and experientially recognize that each aspect is a concept, it dissolves and reveals the nondifferentiated ground of pure presence. Each essential aspect reveals itself to be a conceptual differentiation of pure presence, conceptual not in the representational sense but as a discrimination in basic knowledge. Each aspect is a differentiated and discriminated form in basic knowledge. Each of the aspects reveals itself as a universal discrimination, a natural cognitive differentiation of true nature itself. In this dimension it becomes crystal clear what essential aspects are and what their relation to true nature is. It is also very clear that an aspect is a universal manifestation, in the sense that it is not the conceptualization of one person’s mind. It is the conceptualization of the mind of true nature itself, for it is the discriminated differentiation of the basic cognitive dimension of true nature. We recognize that each essential aspect is a universal concept, a concept that embodies in an explicit way a particular perfection of true nature.

Each Quality of Essence is the Self-Aware Field that is Also Aware of the Particular Quality of the Aspect

The aspect of Knowing, as we have mentioned, is the same as the aspect of consciousness. Understanding what we mean by that is important for understanding the basis of this direct and basic knowing. The Blue aspect is a quality of presence, a way that the presence of Essence manifests. It is an aspect that expresses and reveals something significant about our true nature. But it is a very basic quality, in the sense that all other qualities depend on it. By understanding what we mean by consciousness, we can also more fully understand what presence is. Essence is always a presence of a field that is sensitive in itself. It is—it exists—but it is also aware of itself. It is aware of its isness. Each quality of Essence is the self-aware field that is also aware of the particular quality of the aspect. If it is the aspect of Love, then there is the presence of a field of sensitivity that is aware of its isness, but also aware of the quality of Love. The Love and the isness are not separate here; there is simply the presence of Love that is aware of itself as the presence of Love.

Essence Manifests in Different Aspects

The Sufis hold that Essence is one, but manifests in different qualities or aspects; and as we have seen, these qualities, which are part of the deep nature of a human being, can be readily experienced when the personality identifications which block the experience of space are surrendered and space is allowed.

The Void, pg. 72

Essential Aspects are Absolute in the Sense that they Cannot be Reduced to Anything Else

These essential aspects are absolute in the sense that they cannot be reduced to anything else. Truth is always truth and always feels the same. In other words, regardless of how much the person changes, truth still retains its specific substantial characteristics. This permanently absolute aspect of truth remains the same for every human being. Whenever it is experienced by anyone, it is experienced as the same thing. It is universal truth. In other words, its substantial characteristics of texture, taste, color, density, and so on are invariant for everybody. As we have stressed before, essence is an objective ontological presence, which means that the personal subjectivity does not touch it.

Essential Aspects are Amenable to the Most Precise Descriptions by the One Having the Experience

The interesting thing about the essential aspects, including the personal aspect, is that they are amenable to the most precise descriptions and discriminations by the one having the experience, but the words will not communicate the essence of the experience to another who never had the experience. However, if someone has had the experience then it is easy for him to understand what is being described. Because of this, descriptions of essential aspects are useful mainly to those who have had a specific experience or are on the verge of having it. It is also true, however, that these descriptions, like literary and poetic ones, can evoke those deeper and truer experiences of reality and of one’s nature; in some artistic or spiritual contexts, the ego can become slightly more “transparent” and one will intuit some new level of truth.

Essential Aspects Form the True and Authentic Ground for all of Our Subtle Capacities

Our understanding of the essential aspects reveals that they are the elements of the authentic experience of being simply and freely ourselves. They are the richness of the free and creative unfoldment of the human potential of our soul. Their presence indicates a measure of freedom in our experience and a degree of openness to the mysteries of our Being. The essential aspects also form the true and authentic ground for all of our subtle capacities. Sometimes termed the higher faculties, these are the soul’s deeper-than-ordinary capacities for perceiving, experiencing, and inner functioning. The presence of each aspect imbues the soul with a certain property of consciousness that opens it up and develops its potential, providing it with a specific subtle capacity or faculty of functioning. For example, the aspect of Truth, which we will look at fully in chapter 23, possesses a specific affect discernible as truth. It provides the soul with the capacity to directly differentiate truth from falsehood. Without this capacity, inquiry would not be possible as a path of understanding. In other words, the experience and realization of the aspect of Truth activates in the soul a certain faculty that makes it possible for her to recognize truth without having to resort to reasoning or logic. Over time, this becomes the ability to recognize truth directly and with certainty. One is confident that the capacity to discern truth is functioning because one is aware of the presence of the essential aspect of Truth, which is recognized by, among other things, its clearly discernible affective tone. It feels real, dense, warm, and smooth, but above all, has a preciousness that makes it feel very close to our heart, as if it were the depth of the heart itself.

Impersonal Aspect

The Impersonal aspect usually begins to appear in flashes of perception of a new reality. One becomes aware of a strange kind of awareness or perception, which is in some way constant, always there, that is not involved in whatever is happening. One becomes conscious of an awareness which is in complete contrast to one's ordinary personal awareness, which is always involved in the particulars of one's experience. At this point an awareness arises of the totality of the life process, sometimes in unexpected flashes and one sees the complete involvement of the personal consciousness in this life process. The awareness is perceived as separate from the personal consciousness, as if there is a background of constant, unchanging awareness that is always aware of what is happening, even though the personal consciousness is sometimes so involved in events that it is lost in them.

Pure Being is the Ground for all Essential Aspects, for all Qualities of Being

The dimension of pure presence is more fundamental than any of the essential aspects, and more fundamental than divine love, because it is prior to the arising of the differentiated qualities of presence. Differentiated means not complete; a particular essential aspect has only one element of the completeness of pure presence. We see here that simplicity is actually more complete than richness, even though we might see richness as more abundant. We also recognize here that the deeper we go into our realization of true nature, the nearer we are to its transcendence, the simpler it will appear in experience. One significant insight we may have here is that pure being is the ground for all essential aspects, for all qualities of Being. The qualities are simply the differentiation of the implicit perfections of true nature into explicit qualities of presence. True nature prismatically differentiates its presence into these qualities. In other words, these aspects are true nature itself, but true nature that has manifested itself in an explicit perfection that it timelessly possesses in potential, implicitly. It is the pure presence of true nature, with an added quality, a color and flavor. The added quality, which has timelessly been implicitly present, pervades the transparent purity of Being.

Space Aspect

Space: this is the aspect that is the open dimension of the mind, which is its most inner nature. It is the experience of Being as a vast, clear and empty space. It is not an emptiness in the sense of lack, of something missing. It is the presence of Space; clear, light and immaculate. We have devoted a book, The Void, to this aspect. In that book, we develop the understanding that ego development is not only a matter of building mental structure, but that, because Space is the ontological nature of mind, these structures are built in the emptiness of Space. So ego structures are seen as structuralization of Space, building content in it instead of letting it be in its purity. This leads to the loss of this aspect.

The Flow of Essential Presence Becomes the True Experience of Time

The unfolding of essence becomes the process of living. Life is no longer a string of disconnected experiences of pleasure and pain but a flow, a stream of aliveness. One aspect manifests after another, one dimension after another, one capacity after another. There is a constant flow of understanding, insight, knowledge, and states of being. As this unfolding proceeds, it affects the mind, the personality, and the external life. When conflicts arise, inner or outer, it is the expression of the lack of understanding of incoming essential aspects and dimensions. It is part of the creative process of living. Every new insight or knowledge is preceded by its absence. This absence is seen from the perspective of the ego as a conflict or a problem. However, if the individual is interested in the truth, the conflict is seen for what it is, an absence of a certain understanding. The presence of this understanding is the same as the presence of a certain aspect or dimension of essence, with its qualities, capacities, insights, and mode of living. However, the center of all this understanding, insight, knowledge, discovery, creativity, conflict, and tension is the unfolding of essential presence. This flow of essential presence becomes the true experience of time instead of the linear memory time of the personality. At the beginning, the work of understanding continues as a necessity. However, the necessity is more apparent than real. The ego believes in the necessity of its own work, but this is due to the lack of understanding of deeper essential dimensions. As these dimensions unfold and bring about their understanding, one starts seeing how the activity of the ego (the sense of self) is the main barrier, the cause of any conflict or inner suffering.

The Nourishment Aspect

Nourishment: This aspect of Being is equivalent to mother's milk on the physical level. Its issues are those of the oral stage; of nursing and weaning, of oral gratification and frustration. Its relationship to the Personal Essence is equivalent to the relationship of mother's milk to the infant -- it is the essential nourishment needed for the realization and development of the Personal Essence. It is the material needed for building the substance of the Personal Essence. That is why the longing for this aspect usually starts right after experiencing the Personal Essence.

The Perfections of Spiritual Nature Manifest in the Soul as Essential Aspects

In our view, Being has a final, irreducible simplicity that we call the absolute or absolute dimension. It is the original nature of everything, the source of all manifestations. Everything arises out of this ground and ultimately returns to it. This ground is totally mysterious and indeterminable, but implicitly contains all the perfections of spiritual nature. It manifests these perfections in a differentiated and explicit way within the soul as the essential aspects. So each aspect of Essence is a differentiated manifestation of an inherent, implicit perfection in the Absolute Essence, each explicitly expressing a specific quality and function. Each aspect serves to provide the soul with a quality and function needed for her life, development, and maturation. But centrally, each aspect reveals one of the perfections of the Absolute in the experience of the individual soul and its role in the relationship of the soul to the Absolute.

The Personal Essence is the Only Essential Aspect that Makes Ego Development Understandable

The personal essence is not a well-known manifestation of true nature, but it is a major potential of our soul. It is the only essential aspect that makes ego development understandable as a stage of the soul’s development. In fact, the individuation of the soul is the way true nature, in its transcendent ground, is able to experience its manifestations in the various ways available to lifeforms. Here, true nature, transcendent to all manifestation, appears in the form of a human person who can walk, talk, and think, but is still the presence of this nature. Normal ego development is a stage toward this essential individuation, necessary for the personal development of her potential just as the grain of sand is necessary for the development of the pearl. The individuation of the soul, which happens through metabolizing ego structures and everyday experience, is not only a matter of the arising in the soul of an essential aspect. This essential aspect becomes the structuring form, the essential prototype, for the soul to develop in such a way that she can be the personal embodiment of all dimensions of true nature, all the way to its absolute depth and subtlety. (See The Pearl Beyond Price, chapters 35–39, for a more complete discussion of how the soul individuates on the boundless and transcendent dimensions of true nature.)

Two Interacting Capacities that Need to Operate Simultaneously

The Point provides inquiry with the skill of focusing, of not being distracted, of not going off on tangents. Focused inquiry is the skill of gravitating toward the significance of the situation, of going toward the main point instead of becoming scattered, going off on tangents, and getting excited about one thing or another. It is a particular skill. In some of us, this ability is more developed than in others. Some of us can’t help getting scattered; others go right to the point, getting the insight. But what is the process of finding the point? We have discussed how the Point gives us the capacity to get to the point, to comprehend the heart of the matter and find its meaning. What are the actual ingredients of the focusing skill? Two primary capacities are required: one provided by the Point, the other provided by another aspect, Brilliancy. The essential aspect of Brilliancy provides the capacity to see the totality of a situation, to look with a large perspective, to hold the whole experience. The Point, on the other hand, provides the capacity to hone in, to focus, to zero in. These two interacting capacities need to operate simultaneously so that we can get to the meaning of what’s going on.

Universal Will is a Universal Aspect

This is different from the aspect of Will already discussed. That aspect is a personal Will, one's own inner support, for one's own Presence and functioning. Universal Will is the capacity to support others. We use the term "universal" to differentiate it from personal. So a universal aspect is for everyone, and not just for the individual. This differentiation is clearly seen in the essential realm. Universal Will creates the sense of immense strength and solidity, a confidence in one's capacities in relation to others. Hence, it is quite important for personal relationships. When Universal Will is present the feeling is that one's personal Will is supported by a bigger, more immense and more universal Presence.

What the Aspects of Essence Provide the Soul

And the aspects of essence provide the soul with the true inner richness of which she is capable. These aspects give the soul her experience of, and capacity for, all that is precious and desirable for human beings and their life: love, sweetness, warmth, friendliness, kindness, empathy, clarity, discernment, discrimination, intelligence, synthesis, will, steadfastness, commitment, contact, personalness, humanness, gentleness, subtlety, refinement, openness, curiosity, happiness, enjoyment, exquisiteness, balance, courage, justice, detachment, objectivity, precision, spaciousness, expansion, depth, capacity, initiative, passion, fulfillment, satisfaction, contentment, nourishment, generosity, even individuation, identity, and existence. These essential qualities can be experienced directly, or through their effect on the soul. In other words, some of the descriptive terms refer to qualities of presence and others to the impact on the soul of this presence. The effect in the soul can be in her inner experience, her attitudes, or her actions and expressions. For example, the presence of the emerald aspect is the quality of loving-kindness or compassionate consciousness. It affects the soul by making her sensitive, empathic, and attuned. The presence of the ruby aspect is the presence of strength, and it impacts the soul by making her courageous, bold, energetic, and capable of initiative. The ruby or strength aspect also impacts the mind of the soul by sharpening her discriminating intelligence. The presence of the water aspect is the presence of the quality of humanness. It affects the soul by making her gentle, exquisitely ordinary, and vulnerable without fear. Satisfaction is the presence of a particular aspect, so is fulfillment, and so is contentment. Spaciousness is the experience of the presence of the space aspect, which affects the soul by making her open and receptive, not controlled by mental positions. In other words, essence, with all its aspects, provides the soul with the prototypes of her capacities and functions, as well as the qualities needed for her life with others.

Will, the Support to Be

One cannot be the Personal Essence, and function from its perspective, if there is an unconscious state of castration. On the other hand, the realization of Will means the cessation of ego activity. So Will is basically the support to be. When there is no Will there is bound to be fear, which can be experienced as a sensation of falling endlessly.

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