Chapter 21 How to empty the heart.
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(Version and commentary of He Shanggong in English)


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21. 1  
The endurance of great Te

孔 = 大great. Men of great Te are able to endure everything. They are able to take up dirt and dust and to live in humble loneliness,

follows alone Tao.

唯 = 獨alone. Men of great Te do not follow the doings of the vulgar. They only follow Tao.

Tao’s relation to the beings is alone ecstatic, alone abstruse.

Tao’s relation to all beings is alone ecstatic and abstruse, as it has intercourse with their baselessness.

In ecstasy and abstruseness it is an image.

Though Tao is ecstatic and abstruse, it is within the formlessness alone the model of all beings.

In ecstasy and abstruseness it is a being.

Though Tao is abstruse and ecstatic, there is unity within it. It effects the changes, helps the breath and establishes reality.

In deepness and darkness it has the essence

Tao is only deep, dark and formless; within itself it has got the essence. Surely the spirits press each other, and Yin and Yang unite with each other.

Its essence is very real.

This means: The atmosphere of the existing reality, its secret is very real and without appearance.

Within itself it has truth.

Tao conceals its merit and hides its glory. Its truth is within itself.

From antiquity till today its name does not vanish.

It follows itself. From antiquity till today Tao eternally exists and does not vanish.

Thereby it takes care of the beginning of everything.

閱 = 稟to take care of, 甫 = 始 beginning. Tao takes care of the beginning life of all beings. If one follows Tao, one preserves the breath.

How do I know that this is the case with the beginning of everything?

How do I come to know that all beings preserve their breath if they follow Tao?

By this.

“This” is the present ( 今 ). By the present all beings receive the breath of Tao and live and thrive. Without Tao this would not be the case.

- Chinese :

《道德經》:孔德之容,唯道是從。道之為物,唯恍唯惚。忽兮恍兮,其中有象;恍兮忽兮,其中有物。窈兮冥兮,其中有精;其精甚真,其中有信。自古及今,其名不去,以閱衆甫。吾何以知衆甫之狀哉?以此。

《老子河上公章句·虛心》: 孔德之容,唯道是從。道之為物,唯怳唯忽。忽兮怳兮,其中有象;怳兮忽兮,其中有物。窈兮冥兮,其中有精,其精甚真,其中有信。自古及今,其名不去,以閱眾甫,吾何以知眾甫之然哉。以此。

《馬王堆·老子甲道經》: 孔德之容,唯道是從。道之物,唯望唯忽。□□□呵,中有象呵;望呵忽呵,中有物呵。幽呵鳴呵,中有請也;其請甚真,其中□□。自今及古,其名不去,以順眾父。吾何以知眾父之然?以此。
(⁎)
- He Shanggong (Chinese) :

孔德之容,孔,大也。 有大德之人,無所不容,能受垢濁,處謙卑也。唯道是從。唯,獨也。 大德之人,不隨世俗所行,獨從於道也。道之為物,唯怳唯忽。道之於萬物,獨怳忽往來,於其無所定也。忽兮怳兮,其中有象;道唯忽怳無形,之中獨有萬物法象。怳兮忽兮,其中有物。道唯怳忽,其中有一,經營生化,因氣立質。窈兮冥兮,其中有精,道唯窈冥無形,其中有精實,神明相薄,陰陽交會也。其精甚真,言存精氣,其妙甚真,非有飾也。其中有信。道匿功藏名,其信在中也。自古及今,其名不去,自,從也。 自古至今,道常在不去。以閱眾甫,閱,稟也。甫,始也。 言道稟與,萬物始生,從道受氣。吾何以知眾甫之然哉。吾何以知萬物從道受氣。以此。此,今也。 以今萬物皆得道精氣而生,動作起居,非道不然。
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- Wing-Tsit Chan (1963) :

The all-embracing quality of the great virtue follows alone from the Tao.
The thing that is called Tao is eluding and vague. Vague and eluding, there is in it the form. Eluding and vague, in it are things. Deep and obscure, in it is the essence. The essence is very real; in it are evidences.
From the time of old until now, its name (manifestations) ever remains. By which we may see the beginning of all things.
How do I know that the beginning of all things are so? Through this (Tao).
(Ⅲ)
- Ellen Marie Chen (1989) :

The features (yung) of the vast (k'ung) Te,
Follows entirely (wei) from Tao.
Tao as a thing,
Is entirely illusive (huang) and evasive (hu).
Evasive and illusive,
In it there is image (hsiang).
Illusive and evasive,
In it there is thinghood (wu).
Dark and dim,
In it there is life seed (ching).
Its life seed being very genuine (chen),
In it there is growth power (hsin).
As it is today, so it was in the days of old (ku),
Its name goes not away (ch'ü),
So that we may survey (yüeh) the origins of the many (chung fu).
How do I know that the origins of the many are such?
Because of this.
(Ⅳ)
- Ch'u Ta-Kao (1904) :

The great virtue as manifested is but following Tao.
Tao is a thing that is both invisible and intangible. Intangible and invisible, yet there are forms in it; Invisible and intangible, yet there is substance in it; Subtle and obscure, there is essence in it; This essence being invariably true, there is faith in it.
From of old till now, it has never lost its (nameless) name, Through which the origin of all things has passed.
How do I know that it is so with the origin of all things? By this (Tao).
(Ⅴ)
- World by world translation :

Traditional // simplified // pinyin // definition // dictionary
孔 // 孔 // kǒng // ① trou ② ouverture // Chinese-French
孔 // 孔 // kǒng // ① surname Kong // CC-CEDICT
孔 // 孔 // kǒng // ① hole ② CL:個|个[ge4] ③ classifier for cave dwellings // CC-CEDICT
德 // 德 // dé // ① vertu ② moralité ③ volonté ④ coeur ⑤ bonté ⑥ bienveillance ⑦ (abréviation d'Allemagne) // Chinese-French
德 // 德 // dé // ① Germany ② German ③ abbr. for 德國|德国[De2 guo2] // CC-CEDICT
德 // 德 // dé // ① virtue ② goodness ③ morality ④ ethics ⑤ kindness ⑥ favor ⑦ character ⑧ kind // CC-CEDICT
悳 // 德 // dé // ① variant of 德[de2] // CC-CEDICT
惪 // 德 // dé // ① variant of 德[de2] // CC-CEDICT
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (remplaçant une personne ou une chose comme complément) ② (particule possessive dans différentes expressions) // Chinese-French
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (possessive particle, literary equivalent of 的[de5]) ② him ③ her ④ it // CC-CEDICT
容 // 容 // róng // ① expression ② mine ③ aspect ④ contenir ⑤ tolérer ⑥ permettre ⑦ laisser // Chinese-French
容 // 容 // róng // ① surname Rong // CC-CEDICT
容 // 容 // róng // ① to hold ② to contain ③ to allow ④ to tolerate ⑤ appearance ⑥ look ⑦ countenance // CC-CEDICT
唯 // 唯 // wéi // ① seulement // Chinese-French
唯 // 唯 // wéi // ① -ism ② only ③ alone // CC-CEDICT
唯 // 唯 // wěi // ① consentir // Chinese-French
唯 // 唯 // wěi // ① yes // CC-CEDICT
道 // 道 // dào // ① doctrine, raison ② voie ③ dire ④ circuit, intendance // Chinese-French
道 // 道 // dào // ① road ② path ③ CL:條|条[tiao2],股[gu3] ④ principle ⑤ truth ⑥ morality ⑦ reason ⑧ skill ⑨ method ⑩ Dao (of Daoism) ⑪ to say ⑫ to speak ⑬ to talk ⑭ classifier for long thin things (rivers, cracks etc), barriers (walls, doors etc), questions (in an exam etc), commands, courses in a meal, steps in a process ⑮ (old) administrative division (similar to province in Tang times) // CC-CEDICT
是 // 是 // shì // ① être ② oui ③ correct // Chinese-French
是 // 是 // shì // ① is ② are ③ am ④ yes ⑤ to be // CC-CEDICT
昰 // 是 // shì // ① variant of 是[shi4] ② (used in given names) // CC-CEDICT
從 // 从 // cóng // ① de ② depuis ③ par ④ jamais ⑤ suivre ⑥ obéir à ⑦ s'engager dans ⑧ se joindre à ⑨ secondaire ⑩ accessoire // Chinese-French
從 // 从 // cóng // ① surname Cong // CC-CEDICT
從 // 从 // cóng // ① from ② through ③ via ④ to follow ⑤ to obey ⑥ to engage in (an activity) ⑦ never (in negative sentence) ⑧ (Taiwan pr. [zong4]) retainer ⑨ assistant ⑩ accomplice ⑪ related by common paternal grandfather or earlier ancestor // CC-CEDICT
從 // 从 // cōng // ① relâché ② mou ③ sans hâte // Chinese-French
從 // 从 // zòng // ① cousin au 2e degré // Chinese-French
從 // 从 // zòng // ① second cousin // CC-CEDICT
道 // 道 // dào // ① doctrine, raison ② voie ③ dire ④ circuit, intendance // Chinese-French
道 // 道 // dào // ① road ② path ③ CL:條|条[tiao2],股[gu3] ④ principle ⑤ truth ⑥ morality ⑦ reason ⑧ skill ⑨ method ⑩ Dao (of Daoism) ⑪ to say ⑫ to speak ⑬ to talk ⑭ classifier for long thin things (rivers, cracks etc), barriers (walls, doors etc), questions (in an exam etc), commands, courses in a meal, steps in a process ⑮ (old) administrative division (similar to province in Tang times) // CC-CEDICT
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (remplaçant une personne ou une chose comme complément) ② (particule possessive dans différentes expressions) // Chinese-French
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (possessive particle, literary equivalent of 的[de5]) ② him ③ her ④ it // CC-CEDICT
為 // 为 // wèi // ① because of ② for ③ to // CC-CEDICT
為 // 为 // wéi // ① as (in the capacity of) ② to take sth as ③ to act as ④ to serve as ⑤ to behave as ⑥ to become ⑦ to be ⑧ to do ⑨ by (in the passive voice) // CC-CEDICT
物 // 物 // wù // ① objet ② chose ③ être, matière // Chinese-French
物 // 物 // wù // ① thing ② object ③ matter ④ abbr. for physics 物理 // CC-CEDICT
唯 // 唯 // wéi // ① seulement // Chinese-French
唯 // 唯 // wéi // ① -ism ② only ③ alone // CC-CEDICT
唯 // 唯 // wěi // ① consentir // Chinese-French
唯 // 唯 // wěi // ① yes // CC-CEDICT
恍 // 恍 // huǎng // ① trouble // Chinese-French
恍 // 恍 // huǎng // ① disappointed ② flurried ③ indistinct // CC-CEDICT
怳 // 恍 // huǎng // ① variant of 恍[huang3] // CC-CEDICT
唯 // 唯 // wéi // ① seulement // Chinese-French
唯 // 唯 // wéi // ① -ism ② only ③ alone // CC-CEDICT
唯 // 唯 // wěi // ① consentir // Chinese-French
唯 // 唯 // wěi // ① yes // CC-CEDICT
惚 // 惚 // hū // ① troublé // Chinese-French
惚 // 惚 // hū // ① indistinct // CC-CEDICT
忽 // 忽 // hū // ① négliger ② soudainement // Chinese-French
忽 // 忽 // hū // ① surname Hu // CC-CEDICT
忽 // 忽 // hū // ① to neglect ② to overlook ③ to ignore ④ suddenly // CC-CEDICT
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (interjection utilisée en poésie indiquant l'émerveillement) ② Oh! // Chinese-French
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (particle in old Chinese similar to 啊) // CC-CEDICT
恍 // 恍 // huǎng // ① trouble // Chinese-French
恍 // 恍 // huǎng // ① disappointed ② flurried ③ indistinct // CC-CEDICT
怳 // 恍 // huǎng // ① variant of 恍[huang3] // CC-CEDICT
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (interjection utilisée en poésie indiquant l'émerveillement) ② Oh! // Chinese-French
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (particle in old Chinese similar to 啊) // CC-CEDICT
其中 // 其中 // qí zhōng // ① parmi ② dont // Chinese-French
其中 // 其中 // qí zhōng // ① among ② in ③ included among these // CC-CEDICT
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① avoir ② posséder ③ il y a ④ exister // Chinese-French
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① to have ② there is ③ there are ④ to exist ⑤ to be // CC-CEDICT
象 // 象 // xiàng // ① éléphant ② forme ③ image ④ aspect // Chinese-French
象 // 象 // xiàng // ① elephant ② CL:隻|只[zhi1] ③ shape ④ form ⑤ appearance ⑥ to imitate // CC-CEDICT
恍 // 恍 // huǎng // ① trouble // Chinese-French
恍 // 恍 // huǎng // ① disappointed ② flurried ③ indistinct // CC-CEDICT
怳 // 恍 // huǎng // ① variant of 恍[huang3] // CC-CEDICT
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (interjection utilisée en poésie indiquant l'émerveillement) ② Oh! // Chinese-French
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (particle in old Chinese similar to 啊) // CC-CEDICT
忽 // 忽 // hū // ① négliger ② soudainement // Chinese-French
忽 // 忽 // hū // ① surname Hu // CC-CEDICT
忽 // 忽 // hū // ① to neglect ② to overlook ③ to ignore ④ suddenly // CC-CEDICT
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (interjection utilisée en poésie indiquant l'émerveillement) ② Oh! // Chinese-French
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (particle in old Chinese similar to 啊) // CC-CEDICT
其中 // 其中 // qí zhōng // ① parmi ② dont // Chinese-French
其中 // 其中 // qí zhōng // ① among ② in ③ included among these // CC-CEDICT
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① avoir ② posséder ③ il y a ④ exister // Chinese-French
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① to have ② there is ③ there are ④ to exist ⑤ to be // CC-CEDICT
物 // 物 // wù // ① objet ② chose ③ être, matière // Chinese-French
物 // 物 // wù // ① thing ② object ③ matter ④ abbr. for physics 物理 // CC-CEDICT
窈 // 窈 // yǎo // ① retiré // Chinese-French
窈 // 窈 // yǎo // ① deep ② quiet and elegant ③ variant of 杳[yao3] // CC-CEDICT
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (interjection utilisée en poésie indiquant l'émerveillement) ② Oh! // Chinese-French
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (particle in old Chinese similar to 啊) // CC-CEDICT
冥 // 冥 // míng // ① sombre ② obscur ③ profond // Chinese-French
冥 // 冥 // míng // ① dark ② deep ③ stupid ④ the underworld // CC-CEDICT
㝠 // 冥 // míng // ① old variant of 冥[ming2] // CC-CEDICT
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (interjection utilisée en poésie indiquant l'émerveillement) ② Oh! // Chinese-French
兮 // 兮 // xī // ① (particle in old Chinese similar to 啊) // CC-CEDICT
其中 // 其中 // qí zhōng // ① parmi ② dont // Chinese-French
其中 // 其中 // qí zhōng // ① among ② in ③ included among these // CC-CEDICT
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① avoir ② posséder ③ il y a ④ exister // Chinese-French
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① to have ② there is ③ there are ④ to exist ⑤ to be // CC-CEDICT
精 // 精 // jīng // ① finesse ② essence ③ substance ④ vitalité ⑤ vigueur ⑥ raffiné ⑦ fin ⑧ soigné ⑨ intelligent ⑩ malin // Chinese-French
精 // 精 // jīng // ① essence ② extract ③ vitality ④ energy ⑤ semen ⑥ sperm ⑦ mythical goblin spirit ⑧ highly perfected ⑨ elite ⑩ the pick of sth ⑪ proficient (refined ability) ⑫ extremely (fine) ⑬ selected rice (archaic) // CC-CEDICT
其 // 其 // qí // ① son ② sa ③ ses ④ leur ⑤ leurs ⑥ il(s) ⑦ elle(s) ⑧ ceci ⑨ cela // Chinese-French
其 // 其 // qí // ① his ② her ③ its ④ their ⑤ that ⑥ such ⑦ it (refers to sth preceding it) // CC-CEDICT
精 // 精 // jīng // ① finesse ② essence ③ substance ④ vitalité ⑤ vigueur ⑥ raffiné ⑦ fin ⑧ soigné ⑨ intelligent ⑩ malin // Chinese-French
精 // 精 // jīng // ① essence ② extract ③ vitality ④ energy ⑤ semen ⑥ sperm ⑦ mythical goblin spirit ⑧ highly perfected ⑨ elite ⑩ the pick of sth ⑪ proficient (refined ability) ⑫ extremely (fine) ⑬ selected rice (archaic) // CC-CEDICT
甚 // 什 // shén // ① que ② quoi ③ tout ④ n'importe quel ⑤ quelconque // Chinese-French
甚 // 甚 // shèn // ① très ② extrêmement ③ plus que // Chinese-French
甚 // 甚 // shèn // ① what ② very ③ extremely ④ any // CC-CEDICT
甚 // 甚 // shén // ① variant of 什[shen2] // CC-CEDICT
真 // 真 // zhēn // ① vraiment ② réellement ③ vrai ④ véritable // Chinese-French
真 // 真 // zhēn // ① really ② truly ③ indeed ④ real ⑤ true ⑥ genuine // CC-CEDICT
其中 // 其中 // qí zhōng // ① parmi ② dont // Chinese-French
其中 // 其中 // qí zhōng // ① among ② in ③ included among these // CC-CEDICT
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① avoir ② posséder ③ il y a ④ exister // Chinese-French
有 // 有 // yǒu // ① to have ② there is ③ there are ④ to exist ⑤ to be // CC-CEDICT
信 // 信 // xìn // ① avoir confiance ② croire ③ lettre // Chinese-French
信 // 信 // xìn // ① letter ② mail ③ CL:封[feng1] ④ to trust ⑤ to believe ⑥ to profess faith in ⑦ truthful ⑧ confidence ⑨ trust ⑩ at will ⑪ at random // CC-CEDICT
自古 // 自古 // zì gǔ // ① dès les temps les plus anciens ② de temps immémorial ③ depuis l'antiquité // Chinese-French
自古 // 自古 // zì gǔ // ① (since) ancient times ② (from) time immemorial // CC-CEDICT
及 // 及 // jí // ① atteindre ② parvenir à ③ et ④ ainsi que // Chinese-French
及 // 及 // jí // ① and ② to reach ③ up to ④ in time for // CC-CEDICT
今 // 今 // jīn // ① actuel ② présent ③ ce ④ cette ⑤ aujourd'hui ⑥ maintenant // Chinese-French
今 // 今 // jīn // ① today ② modern ③ present ④ current ⑤ this ⑥ now // CC-CEDICT
其 // 其 // qí // ① son ② sa ③ ses ④ leur ⑤ leurs ⑥ il(s) ⑦ elle(s) ⑧ ceci ⑨ cela // Chinese-French
其 // 其 // qí // ① his ② her ③ its ④ their ⑤ that ⑥ such ⑦ it (refers to sth preceding it) // CC-CEDICT
名 // 名 // míng // ① nom ② nomination ③ place ④ réputé ⑤ célèbre // Chinese-French
名 // 名 // míng // ① name ② noun (part of speech) ③ place (e.g. among winners) ④ famous ⑤ classifier for people // CC-CEDICT
不 // 不 // bù // ① ne... pas ② non ③ (pour former une question placé à la fin d'une phrase, pour indiquer l'indifférence avec shen me ④ pour indiquer une alternative avec jiu) // Chinese-French
不 // 不 // bù // ① (negative prefix) ② not ③ no // CC-CEDICT
去 // 去 // qù // ① aller ② quitter ③ enlever (placé après un verbe pour marquer la direction ou la destination) vers ④ dans la direction de ⑤ pour // Chinese-French
去 // 去 // qù // ① to go ② to go to (a place) ③ (of a time etc) last ④ just passed ⑤ to send ⑥ to remove ⑦ to get rid of ⑧ to reduce ⑨ to be apart from in space or time ⑩ to die (euphemism) ⑪ to play (a part) ⑫ (when used either before or after a verb) to go in order to do sth ⑬ (after a verb of motion indicates movement away from the speaker) ⑭ (used after certain verbs to indicate detachment or separation) // CC-CEDICT
以 // 以 // yǐ // ① prendre ② utiliser ③ selon ④ à cause de ⑤ pour // Chinese-French
以 // 以 // yǐ // ① abbr. for Israel 以色列[Yi3 se4 lie4] // CC-CEDICT
以 // 以 // yǐ // ① to use ② by means of ③ according to ④ in order to ⑤ because of ⑥ at (a certain date or place) // CC-CEDICT
㕥 // 以 // yǐ // ① old variant of 以[yi3] // CC-CEDICT
㠯 // 以 // yǐ // ① old variant of 以[yi3] // CC-CEDICT
閱 // 阅 // yuè // ① lire ② passer en revue // Chinese-French
閱 // 阅 // yuè // ① to inspect ② to review ③ to read ④ to peruse ⑤ to go through ⑥ to experience // CC-CEDICT
衆 // 众 // zhòng // ① nombreux ② foule // Chinese-French
衆 // 众 // zhòng // ① variant of 眾|众[zhong4] // CC-CEDICT
甫 // 甫 // fǔ // ① à peine // Chinese-French
甫 // 甫 // fǔ // ① (classical) barely ② just ③ just now // CC-CEDICT
吾 // 吾 // wú // ① je ② mon // Chinese-French
吾 // 吾 // wú // ① surname Wu // CC-CEDICT
吾 // 吾 // wú // ① I ② my (old) // CC-CEDICT
何以 // 何以 // hé yǐ // ① comment ② pourquoi ③ pour quelle raison // Chinese-French
何以 // 何以 // hé yǐ // ① whence // CC-CEDICT
知 // 知 // zhī // ① savoir ② connaître ③ connaissances // Chinese-French
知 // 知 // zhī // ① to know ② to be aware // CC-CEDICT
衆 // 众 // zhòng // ① nombreux ② foule // Chinese-French
衆 // 众 // zhòng // ① variant of 眾|众[zhong4] // CC-CEDICT
甫 // 甫 // fǔ // ① à peine // Chinese-French
甫 // 甫 // fǔ // ① (classical) barely ② just ③ just now // CC-CEDICT
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (remplaçant une personne ou une chose comme complément) ② (particule possessive dans différentes expressions) // Chinese-French
之 // 之 // zhī // ① (possessive particle, literary equivalent of 的[de5]) ② him ③ her ④ it // CC-CEDICT
狀 // 状 // zhuàng // ① forme ② état ③ situation ④ plainte // Chinese-French
狀 // 状 // zhuàng // ① accusation ② suit ③ state ④ condition ⑤ strong ⑥ great ⑦ -shaped // CC-CEDICT
哉 // 哉 // zāi // ① (particule exclamative ou interrogative) // Chinese-French
哉 // 哉 // zāi // ① (exclamatory or interrogative particle) // CC-CEDICT
以此 // 以此 // yǐ cǐ // ① avec cela ② de ce fait ③ ainsi ④ à cause de cela // Chinese-French
以此 // 以此 // yǐ cǐ // ① with this ② thereby ③ thus ④ because of this // CC-CEDICT
(Ⅵ)
- Yi Wu (1989) :

To one who keeps the Way, nature bestows its richest gifts.
The working of the Way cannot be clearly stated,
But one can find an image in its vagueness,
Substance in its obscurity,
Essence in its vast, uncertain expanse,
And confirmable manifestations of that essence.
What existed at the earliest beginning
Is existing now, in the developments of all beings,
And that is what helps me to know the nature of all things.
(Ⅶ)
- Lynn (2004) :

A capacity for the virtue of emptiness, this alone allows conformance with the Dao.
The Dao as such is but dim, is but dark.
Dark, oh, dim, oh, but within it some image is there.
Dim, oh, dark, oh, but within it something is there.
Abstruse, oh, indistinct, oh, but within it the essence of things is there.
Its essence is most authentic, for within it authentication occurs.
From antiquity until now, its name has never been revoked.
We use it to convey what the father of everything is.
How do I know that the father of everything is so?
It is by this.
(Ⅷ)


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