Our living well can only come out of our living connected.

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I’ve discovered something. Something that keeps us believing in our smallness, in lack, in the absence of goodness and kindness, in a sense of being unsafe and unable to really live who we are and what we came for.

I’ve discovered it through my own life journey of forgetfulness. A life journey where I began so full of light, so full of love and joy. So full of life. And then the journey of forgetting. Forgetting that the Earth is alive. Forgetting that I am alive, truly. Forgetting that I once lived as light.

We are not meant to live alone.

Not just physically alone. We are not meant to believe in the falsity that we are simply human beings on a planet that is just a big rock. We are not meant to believe that there is nothing beyond this place. We are not meant to live as if we are alone. Our living well can only come out of our living connected to both the Earth and to the light. Our living well comes out of knowing we are in direct relationship with the soul of the Earth, with her as an alive being, and filled with the light that infuses us, available to us, always filling us with each breath, in every moment.

We are creatures here on Earth, sacred creatures, living on a sacred planet, being breathed by light. This has nothing to do with any system of belief. It has to do with life itself and how it moves and lives through us.

There is a ‘push out of your existence’ (thank you, Joseph Campbell) that is life moving through you. A push. A force. A living, always in flux, push. To live. To be alive. As you. For life. This IS life. You as life. Living. Connected to the Earth. Filled with light. Filled with breath. Vibrantly alive until you are alive no more in a human body.

We are not meant to live believing we are not connected, separate, from each other, separate from the Earth and nature, separate from the light. 

But, we do forget. And all around us are reminders, everywhere, always, to remember. We walk the Earth in forgetfulness until we remember. And then, we walk the Earth remembering. With each step. Remembering ourselves back into fullness.

And then, we walk the Earth remembering.

With each step. Remembering ourselves back into fullness.

***

My 21-day self-study course Belonging is now available. It’s deep and you can access it in the comfort of your own home.

 

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Nature is Light Made Flesh

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iris

 

ten years ago…

It’s a brilliant sunny day in San Francisco. My boyfriend and I are, very slowly, making our way through the community garden near Fort Mason. It’s a really wonderful place because the people gardening there seem to love what they cultivate. You can feel it in the air. Flowers seem to flourish here. It could be the weather, too, and I can see the care with which each person is tending their patch.

We’ve wound our way through most of the garden, and as we come into the northwestern corner, just before we make our way up the terraced hillside to the gate to leave, I see a flower right before my eyes. Something in this flower draws me in. It’s the colors. It’s the light. And, it’s something more.

My eyes completely take this flower in. I don’t know what kind of flower it is, but it is tall and narrow in shape, and along the height of it it moves from deep purple, to indigo blue, to green, to yellow. The color flows in and out with no perceptible shift from one to the next.

In what is probably not more than a second of looking, I am filled with a profound sense of something that I have no words for. Absolutely no words. But, I am filled with it. My heart…my whole body is filled with it. A space even bigger than my body is filled with it. This space encompasses this flower. For a length of time that is outside of time, I am enveloped in something I have no words for, something that literally causes me to go speechless. Tears are streaming from my eyes.

The beauty of this flower as it moves from purple through to yellow has opened me to the wordless place, and I stand still, transfixed, transported, transformed. In this moment beyond moments, in this community garden filled with the most commonplace happenings of daily life, I come to know something profoundly beyond what my eyes normally take in.

My boyfriend takes my hand and asks me, “What’s wrong, Honey?” He sees my tears. He sees that I am not moving, transfixed in front of what looks like just another flower. I cannot speak. I try, but I am speechless. He puts his arm around me, and his touch slowly brings me back to the garden, to standing there with him.

The flower still looks extraordinary to me, but I am no longer transfixed nor speechless. I begin to try to tell him what I experienced, but again there are no words. Everything I say just sounds ordinary. “It is so beautiful. Look at the colors; how the gradually move from purple, to indigo, to blue, to green, to yellow. It is so incredibly beautiful.” Yet inside, the experience I am trying to relate is so alive with fire, with light, with life. The words cannot capture the feeling, but they do carry some of it because it is alive.

 

Back to now, ten years later…

In looking back, I see how my relationship with life changed, my relationship with flowers changed, my ability to ‘see’ changed.

The flower was filled with light, with a fire of radiance, a fire of light in every cell.

That experience stayed with me for a bit, and then it began to recede in memory…until now. I remember trying to understand what had happened. I tried to make sense of it. But, I don’t think that is necessary, even if it is what we tend to do. I feel experiences like this come when they come. I see now that all the while something was deepening in me: a relationship with beauty, with light, with immanence.

In that moment, I felt love. I felt the light of being streaming through me, streaming through the flower. In that moment, I cannot say what I was or who I was. The woman. The flower. The light. The fire. The love.

What birds plunge through is not the intimate space
in which you see all forms intensified.
(Out in the Open, you would be denied
your self, would disappear into that vastness.)
Space reaches from us and construes the world:
to know a tree, in its true element,
throw inner space around it, from that pure
abundance in you. Surround it with restraint.
It has no limits. Not till it is held
in your renouncing is it truly there.

Rainer Maria Rilke, translation by Stephen Mitchell, by way of my friend Barbara

 

To know this, in its true element, throw inner space around it…from that pure abundance, pure love, pure beauty [with]in you.

Why do I share this story with you? We are all this. This love. This light. This fire. This space. We are this force. We are this Nature.

Nature is Light made flesh.

Becoming aware that we are this is the necessary work of our time.

Becoming a Force of Nature is waking up to the divinity, the holiness of your own flesh, blood, and bones. To see this light within you, to see your own divine, sacred Self radiating and pulsing with life, and to see it in all of life. It is waking up to your body’s intelligence, and to your own beautiful self worth.

I’d love to have you join me for this summer course of awakening to the force of nature that you already are. We begin June 9th.

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Dark and Light: Coming to Trust in the Source of Creativity

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So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. — T. S. Eliot

 

 

Just as the moon becomes fully eclipsed, I enter the center of the labyrinth. It’s about 5:00 am. The labyrinth is lit up a bit by the lights surrounding Grace Cathedral, offering a bit of light to this very dark moment.

As I stand in the center of the labyrinth, I gaze at the moon for quite a while.

 

I stand there, simply feeling.

Something is being remembered.

It feels as if my soul is reaching back into time, and back into other layers of existence or understanding or something such as this. It’s a feeling, and along with it are images of dark passageways. Not literal passageways, but passageways that seem to be showing straights of time and existence.

 

I know I am remembering something, but it’s not a remembering of something in this life or something my mind might understand. Rather, it’s a remembering of the Soul. I can feel the ‘meeting’ between knowing and my Soul. I feel it down deep in the darkness, down deep in the cells, down deep somewhere that I cannot see, but can see by feeling.

And so, my opening to the darkness as beauty, darkness as wisdom, darkness as rich soil of the divine comes in waves of knowing and realizations of not-knowing, too. My mind cannot figure out what this all means, and believe me it is trying to figure it out. It wants to sneak into these divine moments of darkness. It is trying, yet the pull of this deep feeling space is so sensual and so deeply loving.

 

There is a beautiful cauldron of creation from which all is born. And for women, this universe of becoming also resides in your female body, deep in the waters of the sacred center that is held so artfully and lovingly by the pelvic bowl

Our relationship to the dark is how we relate to our own creativity. Creativity is born out of this cauldron of creation. We can’t see what will be born from the dark. We must come to trust in the dark, in creation itself.

Perhaps what we’ve been taught to believe about the dark isn’t true at all, anymore than what we’ve been taught about light. It is out of the darkest darkness that the most brilliant light is born. And brilliant light eventually finds its way back to the dark.

It’s easy to label things light and dark, good and bad, right and wrong because in a world where we are taught that everything is either/or, we come to believe this way of thinking is the only way. But standing in the labyrinth, feeling the moon and earth and sun deeply affect the deep regions of my psyche, I come to know that nothing is as it seems to the mind. And, it is here in this rich stew of remembering that I settle down into my bones, into the center of a matrix that holds me.

If we truly want to live in harmony with life, and with the earth and moon and sun, we must come to know this aspect of ourselves – the brilliant darkness from which light is born.

Notice how many times you hear dark being used as something bad, while light is seen as the good. Notice how you have learned to shy away from the dark while persistently trying to ‘stay in the light’. Just notice. And, notice what you begin to remember when you allow the darkness of your internal world to welcome you home. Notice how it feels.

Stand in the center welcoming this remembrance, however it shows itself. You don’t need an eclipse or a labyrinth to do so. Simply stand in your own center.

In the stillness of noticing, see how what-you-truly-are is already dancing in divine harmony.

::

I’ll be teaching again next June (14th – 20th) at Feathered Pipe Ranch in Helena Montana.

Feathered Pipe is a beautiful place, with wonderful people, delicious food, and land that welcomes you even before you arrive. I’ll be teaching with Michael Lennox, whom I co-taught with last year. Over our week at Feathered Pipe, we’ll explore this beautiful darkness within from which all is born. I’d love to have you join us.

If you register by October 31st, tomorrow, you can take advantage of two discounts. If you pay in full, both lodging and retreat, you receive 10% off the entire cost. If you register with the $300 required deposit, you’ll pay the 2013 price rather than the 2014 price. You cannot combine the two. Correction: You CAN combine these two discounts.

::

I want to share these wonderful interviews with you that I did with three good friends. I love it when good interviewers get you to share some nuggets you’ve never shared before.

  • Rachael Maddox is the ‘ringleader of the Traveling Soul Circus’. Take a look at what Rachael does. She’s truly inspiring. In our conversation, Rachael and I talk about Bringing Ourselves to the World Situation: Natural, Organic, Real :: Age & Meaning’
  • Evelyn Kalinosky is a catalyst and mentor for business women in midlife transition. I loved getting to know Evelyn and the great work she does with women.This interview was for Evelyn’s Conversations That Matter series. Evelyn asked me to share some of the moments of my life that have been big catalysts for my evolution. I’ve shared some personal stuff here.
  • Nikki Groom has been touted as THE copywriter to watch. She writes exclusively for  women entrepreneurs and believes that words should speak to the heart–not just to the head. Our conversation was fun and is deeply engaging…as is Nikki. She’s fun and has a wonderful way with words.

 

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This Body is My Vessel of Belonging

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Have you ever had a day where everything around you sparkled? Where everything was so vibrantly alive? Where there wasn’t even a question in your head about anything because you were simply alive, aware and awake?

That’s how yesterday was for me. Perhaps it was a combination of dance (my early-Sunday-morning ritual), brunch outside with beautiful friends, a crazy-gorgeous day in San Francisco with a temperature of 80+ degrees, and time spent cleaning my home and cooking good food. And, perhaps it was one-on-one time with my grandson on Friday, a time to just be with him and to see the remarkableness of his unique soul and how it already shines through at 3-years old.

What I know, deep in the belly, is the more I come home to this woman’s body, the more I know I belong to this earth. This body came out of the earth and it will return to the earth, and while I am alive in this body, to know I truly belong is to know I am part of the earth. When I know this, when what I am settles down into the body and fills the cells of the body, I am no longer thinking my way through life, I am alive and I see everything around me as the same unutterably beautiful aliveness.

Yesterday, I came across this brilliance by John O’Donohue (someone I tend to quote often as he was entirely wise):

“In the experience of beauty we awaken and surrender in the same act.”

Beauty isn’t what we are constantly told it is.

Beauty is the sacred appearing gloriously and unabashedly as the form into which it is born.

And when we experience beauty, this appearance of spirit enlivening matter, even if just for a split second, we remember, we awaken to our true nature and we surrender to this nature all in the same moment.

One place I so often experience this is when I commune with flowers, especially when the light flows through their petals. Just last night, as I was walking home from the grocery store, I passed by my neighborhood florist shop and stopped to look in the windows. All last week, the shop was filled with at least six different kind of peonies. Big, huge bunches of peonies lined their old oak tables. I took photos. I sat and just looked, while tears filled my eyes. The proprietress knows me, now, and she came over for a second just to stand with me as we both admired the fullness of beauty we were witnessing. But last night, the shop was closed and the only peonies left were those that filled two vases sitting in the front window. They’d been left in the front window for the weekend, just to delight the senses of passersby like me.

These peonies in the window were in their last stages of blooming, with the petals already a little bit translucent, as happens when the decay begins. I was captivated by the mix of such intense beauty and short life span…how for just a short, short time these blossoms poured their uniqueness forth into the world, only to soon return to the earth.

We are like this. It’s what makes life so precious and amazing…the luminosity, and the numinous presence that looks out from behind your eyes.

We belong here because we are this. It has taken me all my life to come home…55 years of wandering to realize I am home. This body is my vessel of belonging.

My gift is to help guide women to come home to this body, right here, right now, and to open to this deeply erotic field in which we live, and create, and love. To know we belong here and have such beautiful gifts to share with this world that is hungry for our wisdom, our nature and our love is the gift that is waiting to be received.

This is the feminine in real life, and it is deeply practical. We can’t fully give our gifts until we are fully here. When we are fully here in the body, we are no longer fighting being fully alive, no longer fearing what might come in the next moment.

::

And, you?
What is your gift to give in this life?
How fully do you feel you belong here, on this earth?
What can help bring you home to this knowing that you belong and are an intrinsic part of the life that is breathing you?

Take some time today to notice what brings you home into your body, into your vessel of belonging. Notice when you are already here, already aware of the aliveness of life. And, notice if there is resistance to being fully here.

::

I’ve included this amazingly sensual song from yesterday’s dance (thank you, Claire!). I hope you enjoy it.

 

Jericho by Weekend Players (Pursuit of Happiness, ’03)
The lyrics speak to what I’ve written here. When our senses are filled with life, with Source, with what we really are, we see things as new, as continually coming into existence and then back into non-existence.



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Light All Around

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Light

Today is Christmas.

Merry Christmas, dear one.

We’ve just celebrated Solstice, the beginning of the return of the light, and this morning the sunrise over the city is brilliantly painted with glorious colors of existence.

Last night I attended a late-night service at the Swedenborgian church. Much of the service was focused on the birth of Jesus, celebrating this day as a birthday, not only for Jesus, but for us all.

I was wonderfully surprised when the pastor spoke words from multiple faiths, including words from Krishna and about Buddha. And then we spoke this prayer:

“O God, place light in my heart, light in my tongue, light in my hearing, light in my sight, light behind me, light in front of me, light on my right, light on my left, light above me and light below me; place light in my nerves, in my flesh, in my blood, in my hair and in my skin; place light in my soul and make light abundant for me; make me light and grant me light.”

(which is very close to one attributed to Muhammad).

And then there is this Navajo prayer, which I find evokes the same feeling in me:

“Beauty is before me, and beauty behind me, above me and below me, hovers the beautiful. I am surrounded by it, I am immersed in it. In my youth, I am aware of it, and in old age I shall walk quietly the beautiful trail. In beauty it is begun. In beauty it is ended.”

Light, love, beauty… all words that point to something that no word could begin to capture…

At the end of the service we each lit our candle and carried them outside back into the world. It was moving.

I felt the thread of Oneness of all religions, the love and the light.

Perhaps some might feel this mixing of religions to be upsetting. Perhaps, though, this coming together of ways of seeing God and ourselves is exactly right-timing.

Isn’t the realization of our Oneness what we must come to know to survive?

Isn’t the very-real lived experience of the love and light we truly are what will help us to lay down our separateness?

Isn’t that what we all really want? To be loved. To be loved simply as we are. To know the light within us, and the light that surrounds us, as our true nature.

May you know the great love that you are.

May you be filled with the Light of this great love.

May you radiate this Light, simply as an expression of your true nature.

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A Mystery to be Loved

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“So the darkness shall be the light,
And the stillness the dance.”

~ T.S. Eliot
{}
Tonight I danced.
We began in darkness, and ended with light.
We began with flow, and ended in stillness.
Life is cyclical.
Life is rhythmic.
Life is mysterious.
Perhaps the unknown can be opened to as a mystery to be loved,
not a problem to be solved or a demon to be feared.
{}

Happy Solstice!

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Your Beauty

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“It does not pay to cherish symbols when the substance lies so close at hand.” ~ Audre Lorde

::

Why do we look for God out there, up there, outside of us, when all that exists is the sacred made manifest?

The substance of the sacred is so close you can touch it, so close you can breathe it, in fact closer than your breath.

I am filled with the light of the sacred.

You are filled with the light of the sacred.

All is filled with the light of the sacred.

A shadow hovers over this light. We fear seeing it.

We fear our own magnificence.

We’ve been taught we are not worthy. That is not so. We are the sacred made manifest in form.

Hide not from your own light.

Hide not from your own darkness.

Turn to look within.

See the light of the sacred shining from the very center of your being.

See the darkness of the mystery, where what is yet to be lies waiting to be known.

I can tell you one thing: I see your beauty and it is breathtaking.

I will not be silent about your beauty.

I will not be silent.

::

image  by Flickmor, shared under cc2.0

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Kissed by Creation

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Close to the Earth.

Full and ripe.

My body is cooking something up.

She’s been with something unseen and unknown.

She’s been kissed by Creation.

Supple and supine, she dances in the dark.

With quivers and shivers, she responds to an unseen touch.

There is something I know, but don’t yet know.

Something moves within her,

silently waiting to bring forth great light into the world.

Receptive and soft, my heart places trust in

that which knows of things to come.

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Alive & Awake: part one

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Woman with a Crescent Moon (or) The Eclipse, by Paul Albert Besnard - 1888
Woman with a Crescent Moon (or) The Eclipse, by Paul Albert Besnard - 1888

She eclipses the moon. And in response, it’s as if the moon highlights the darkness of the feminine mystery that surrounds her.

The Moon. The Dream World. Mystery.

Last night, I slept within a vivid dream world. The overarching theme of the dreams was the simplicity of life when we live from the truth.

Simple, yes. Painless, no.

I dreamed of the body and it’s relationship to truth. In my dream, I became completely embodied. All the way home. Conscious throughout. The further down I went into the body, the clearer the truth was.

In my dream, when I arrived at the very bottom, so to speak, of my body, meaning I was conscious all the way down from the hairs on my head to the ends of my toes, and in every cell in-between, the truth was sparklingly clear and radiant.

If I attempted to do something that did not come from this truth that my body knows, I couldn’t move. I couldn’t act. My body stood steadfast, while my mind argued like a sullen child.

Then, even my chattering mind dropped away. I was only conscious through the body, but in every cell. All there was was truth. All action came from truth. I didn’t fight myself. I didn’t fight others. I just lived from the wisdom of the body.

In this place, full embodiment meant full truth. There was no choice but to live truth, to act from truth, to love from truth.

I could feel the peace that moved throughout the body as I moved in the world.

Coming down into the sacred flesh and bones that was home for me, I could no longer pretend I’m not powerful beyond any kind of human measure; I could no longer stay quiet in the face of the violence that others face every day; I could no longer choose false safety and security over right action. Choice and action were a fluid dance that flowed straight out of conscious awareness.

In the light of morning, I sat up in bed with a new understanding of the power of embodiment.

Next…

In part two of this three part series, I will move deeper into the body and the power it offers to us if we’re willing to come home to it. The body knows. The body remembers. The body could tell stories, all the stories of my life from before I was born up to this very moment.

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Blessing Self

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Diana
Diana

“Give voice to what you know to be true, and do not be afraid of being disliked or exiled.” – Eve Ensler

For some time now, I have seen a vision of where women must go if we are to discover the true depth of our capacities as women.

I know we’ve been under the shadow of men for a long time, and I know we must step out from under this shadow if we are to discover our nature as women, and bring the beautiful gifts of this nature to our world, a world that is thirsty for it…and the feminine.

When I speak of this, it is sometimes misunderstood as being under the thumb of men, but that’s not what I mean.

Stepping out from under the shadow has more than one layer of meaning.

Under the shadow, we can’t see who we are. We see ourselves in a masculine light, like there is no other way to be than like a man, or to be liked by a man.

Under the shadow, we take on the shadow side of the collective, seeing ourselves as the shadow of the culture, you know, the whole Eve complex, that women are responsible for the fall (and I don’t mean Eve Ensler).

Under the shadow, we don’t see our own light…we simply see the reflection of the masculine, or we see the masculine’s light and believe it is ours, too.

The second wave of feminism helped open the doors so we could discover our place in the world, discover our abilities to make it in a masculine world, and we’ve done that. We’ve proven we can lead alongside men. We’ve also come to see that many of us have had to ‘do it all’ in order to succeed in the ways we’ve wanted. Many of us also see we had to put away something, we had to put away our true nature, our womanliness.

Using words such as womanliness has its risks. To be honest, I don’t know what womanliness is. I know what I’ve been told it is. I know what I experience as a woman, but to know a nature not in relation to men is to relearn what it is to be woman. In some ways we can only know something by way of something else. But when we see our womanliness in response to men, or the masculine, it gets obscured by conditioning, and conditioned responses.

If we’ve put that away, what is it we take back out? What did we hide away?

::

Today I came across this quote by Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee, a Sufi Sheik. I’ve seen him speak many times. He is an extraordinary mystic who sees what can’t be seen, and speaks to us of what we need to know.

Many women are unknowingly caught in a collective conditioning in which the feminine is made subservient to masculine, rational values. The feminine qualities of relating, listening, waiting are repressed in favor of rational thought and goal-oriented drives. American culture may appear to give freedom to women, but there is a collective pattern that denies the real nature of the feminine. As one woman said to me, “In this culture a woman can be anything she wants, as long as it is masculine.” Yet many spiritual qualities needed for the path, such as creating a sacred inner space, belong to the feminine. Often our spiritual nature lies buried under collective taboos, and requires courage and commitment to be rediscovered and lived. Love is a Fire: The Sufi’s Mystical Journey Home, page 52

“Our spiritual nature, buried under collective taboos.”

“A collective pattern that denies the real nature of the feminine.”

As Vaughn-Lee shares, the feminine is a both/and: the feminine principle (that which is in both women and men), as well as the embodiment of the sacred feminine that is inherent in women.

We women can’t see our true reflection by looking into the cultural pool, for it is laced with ideas, taboos, fears and beliefs that hide the true nature of the feminine.

The cultural shadow is built upon those taboos. The shadow is what we repress, what we put away into the dark, what we learned at a young age we couldn’t be if we were to remain ‘good girls’ living in the collective.

The real nature of the feminine lies buried under the shadow. We can’t know ourselves at the core, until we’re willing to look into the darkest places. We can’t come into balance within, balance between our feminine and masculine natures, until we aren’t obscured by this collective taboo-ridden shadow. And, we won’t come into right relationship with men, until we know ourselves fully as women.

It takes courage and commitment, and I add, a community of like-minded women committed to the journey

::


sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;

~Galway Kinnell

::

To relearn through touch, through words, through connection: the real nature of the feminine can only flower from within.

So we begin with self-blessing: blessing self as woman, blessing self as sacred, blessing self as lovely.

This image, Diana, was taken by gAbY on Flickr, shared under CC2.0 license

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