A Place Called Ananda

A blog by disciples of Paramhansa Yogananda


My “first prayer,” as I’ve come to think of it, was made when I about 22 years old. I had just begun meditating and was beginning to look at life from a spiritual point of view. I’m sure that I had prayed when I was a child, but in high school I had been an…

‘In Swami’ is how I usually like to end my emails now. I hadn’t imagined though that it’d be so soon. He did give us the slip, didn’t he… perhaps thinking we would never have otherwise let him go. But he hasn’t really gone. Doesn’t love in one form or another touch us every day?…

With few exceptions, only Swami’s music is played at our Sunday services, The Expanding Light, Crystal Hermitage and Master’s Market. Though, in fact, other music does sometimes rear its head, the typical Ananda visitor comes and goes hearing little of it. “What’s the deal?” many have wondered. “Is other music banned?” Well, yes and no.…

After being told the story of Grandfather Tree’s power in the oak forest here at Ananda’s Meditation Retreat in Nevada City, California, I became enthusiastic about going to visit and meditate with this soul. Sometimes I would walk past Grandfather Tree on the way to my cabin, and hear him call to my heart. A…

Last weekend marked the culmination of an extraordinary year as over 700 people filled the Del Oro Theater in Grass Valley, California to watch the debut screening of the film Finding Happiness. I had the great honor to be part of the cast and also produce the soundtrack for this exquisite film by director Ted…

Children can be a force for transformation in the lives of their parents. Some parents, led by their children, rather than the other way around, have even moved to a spiritual community. We often see the Divine working in surprising and mysterious ways, yet seldom in as extraordinary a way as in the story of…

When the Supreme Court heard arguments in two same-sex marriage cases this March, Facebook surged with expressions of solidarity, some from Ananda folk. Rachel Andersen superimposed an equals sign over her profile picture, prompting me to say “thanks.” “It just makes sense,” she said. Bhagavati equated gay marriage with the civil rights movement. “You don’t…

When I was a senior with Ananda Living Wisdom High School, we took our annual “Service Adventure” trip to Quebec and the east coast of the United States. Our first scheduled stop was to spend one week at an intentional community in Quebec called “Cite Ecologique.” To put it lightly, I was not enthused about…

Perhaps the quickest way to gain an insightful glance into an organization or community is through their procedure (or lack thereof) to become a member of the respective organization. Not too long ago, during my senior year at Ananda Living Wisdom High School, I was churning out college applications to schools around the country (eight…

Participating in Ananda’s labor environment throughout the summer thus far has helped me observe some similarities between the ethos of Ananda and Berea College, a small liberal arts college in Kentucky with 1,600 students, where I will graduate from in 2014. Berea, a work college that requires all students to work at least ten hours…

Having been born and raised in Ananda Village my entire life up until my college days, it has been a delightful journey back to Ananda this summer to experience the Village through an entirely new light as an intern. My interest in intentional communities was sparked during my senior year at Ananda’s Living Wisdom School.…

The Divine Romance

“Apprentice Village” in August, 1979, sat surrounded by a white rail fence on Tyler Foote Road at what has become Ananda’s entrance. A small farm house and converted garage hosted classes and meals for folks like me, young and eager the lot, attracted by two “Joy Tours” Swami and his merry band had made cross-continent,…

Since many of you may want a more detailed description of Swamiji’s last days and final minutes before his passing, I thought I would write something here for all of you. In the week before he passed, Swamiji became much more inward. He wasn’t having people over for tea and spent most of his time…

“Honey…David…wake up! Swami passed – he died tonight!” The words melded themselves into my dreaming consciousness, challenging my sleeping brain to accept the shocking news. Rising quickly out of bed, I honestly couldn’t tell if I was still in a dream or in some kind of altered reality. The clock read 12-midnight, and I closed…

It was the Tuesday after Swamiji’s passing and David Eby had organized an evening at Crystal Hermitage for singing and meditation. We gathered around the tulips, which were in full bloom, and sang in gratitude to Swamiji, God’s instrument to bring us such a wealth of inspirational resources. There was a beautiful energy flowing and…

As you probably know, Swami Kriyananda, the founder of Ananda, recently passed away. Since that fateful night, I have felt drawn to re-read some of Swami’s books. One in particular, Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, stood out to me. As I went over all those touching, charming stories, I reflected on my own relationship with Yogananda…

Swami Kriyananda served his Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, with a depth of devotion and humility that inspired thousands of people throughout the world to dedicate themselves to spreading Yogananda’s universal message. Writing over 150 books, Kriyananda was tireless in his efforts to show the relevance of Yogananda’s teachings to every aspect of life, and how living…

I felt inspired to write the following article during my recent seclusion at Ananda’s Meditation Retreat in Northern California. I also felt to share my thoughts on seclusion after reading a beautiful book during my experience entitled, : The Joyful Art of Sharing Quality Time with God, by a dear friend and long time Ananda…

A Birthday Gift

Today was my birthday and was filled with such love from friends and family. As this strange world would have it, it has also been six months to the day since my dad passed away, so naturally it has also been a tender time of remembrance. My mind drifted back to this day last year.…

“The most important quality on the spiritual path is deep, selfless, heartfelt devotion and love for God.” “The power of habit is specially important in the spiritual path.” —Paramhansa Yogananda People usually think of habits as things that we do, rather than as thoughts and attitudes. But even our habitual actions have their origin in…

Life on the spiritual path, though blessedly filled with growing inner freedom and fulfillment, is not always an easy road to navigate. As we give ourselves more completely to living for God, more and more is asked of us. With this lifestyle of selfless service we often give a low priority to maintaining our health…

Stubborn as a Mule

I spent my first winter at Ananda Village serving in the Yogoata dairy with a great devotee named Virani. She is responsible for supplying many of the village residents with nutritious and delicious goat milk products. I would say she has the strength of several grown men. After being with her for about a month,…

It is unlikely that in my life-time I will ever again ride through the streets of Mumbai barely seeing another car, and under police escort! It is the day after Swami Kriyananda’s Mumbai event. A key figure in Maharashtran politics has died and trouble is expected in the city. Security is “Code Red”. All public…

Those of you who keep up with my past blogs on this website will know that I had a lot of fun writing a novel called Through Many Lives. This little self-published novel continues to surprise me by selling very well. Thanks so much to all of you who have bought a copy. One of…

The Meditation Experiment

How many of us are hesitant to commit to a practice because we don’t think it will make any difference in our lives? Perhaps a voice in our head holds us back, afraid of any change that could challenge our comfortable status-quo. Or perhaps we doubt our potential or feel unworthy of success, thereby dampening…

Caitlin and I walked to school this morning. Just as I was saying goodbye to her at the classroom door, the teacher’s dog Charlie leapt over the barricade and bounded off enthusiastically down the hill. We all ran after him, adults and kids alike, and finally after 5 minutes found him quite a distance away.…

Learning To Give

I arrived at Ananda Village on January 3rd, 2009. I was looking for my spiritual home on earth and had not found it in any of the ashrams that I’d attempted to live in before this. Within 2 weeks I was certain that this was what I was looking for. I spent the rest of…

Many of you may know that we are in the midst of creating the Cities of Light film here at Ananda, and of the honor I’ve had of being a part of the whole process. What you may not know is how transformational it has been for me, personally. You can read about my first…

A Day On The Farm

When I awoke one morning and realized that I had dreamt I was skipping through a bed of thick, green kale leaves, I knew that the farm life was for me. At that point I was already aware that my time on this Earth was meant to be spent digging in the ground, getting dirt…

This is addressed to my past self of December, 2004, just after I decided to move to Ananda Village.

If this film doesn’t express the highest vibration, I don’t know if anything possibly could. I’ve just come from the ridge where they filmed our two professional dancers, Mirabai Deranja and Christopher Selbie, dancing to Life Is a Dream, choreographed by Lori Van Atta. The sun was setting behind them, creating a beautiful blend of…

Day 4 on the set

Today feels really good so far, and I’m getting more and more comfortable with the whole process. We started with shots at Lotus Lake, with the gorgeous natural morning light. It is a joy to see the directors work together, searching for “where the money is”, or the best shots for light and color. One…

I’d like to introduce our director, Ted Nicolaou, who is an extraordinary gentleman and director. Ted has been working with us on this film for the past 2 years, and is an extraordinarily good fit. He describes himself as “a storyteller with an open mind”, and has a vibration about him that is quite contrary…

Good morning! So here we are in Crystal Hermitage dining room, where we come first thing for makeup and wardrobe. Here is Sarah Kreutz on the left, wardrobe director, and Elisabeth Granli on the right, who is here from LA to assist Elisabeth Rohm during the filming. This morning we will be shooting a “point…

There is a tangible presence of God on the set here, as I step into my role for the film, Cities of Light. I had no idea what to expect from this process, and what a process it is! A few nights ago I couldn’t sleep, as I knew my life was heading into a…

My Friend Garrett

“Go see Garrett today,” my inner voice urged. I had been putting it off. In fact, I’d felt uneasy around Garrett ever since he’d come down with brain cancer a year ago. It had happened so quick! One minute we were cooking corn for 4th of July, the next, he was in the hospital. Now…

Maintenance at the Expanding Light Guest Retreat, here at Ananda Village, is a study in contrasts.  The job can at times feel like smooth sailing, but barely a week later resembles treading water to stay afloat.  Many repairs are straight forward, such as fixing toilets or sinks, but others are larger projects requiring more expertise…

Well here we are, the best part of a year gone since coming to live on the land, here at Ananda Kriya Yogashram in Pune, India. It is now Monsoon, and no better time is there to reflect on the tests and trials that have passed and to wonder at those still yet to come.…

An extraordinary meeting has just taken place, and I will try to convey in words the presence of God that I am feeling so strongly. This is one of those moments that I am trying to absorb to the fullest extent possible, so that I can call upon for it inspiration in the future –…

It is summer now, and I can feel my own and others’ thoughts of “…time to take a vacation!” vibrating in the air. Years ago, I went through real challenge around taking vacations. I found that I was coming back from vacations more exhausted than when I left. One of my problems seemed to be…

Don’t worry! I’m in very good health, and I hope you are, too! Still, I am the last part of my 6th decade, so the subject of the best ways to face into old age and death are important ones for me to consider now. Actually, this is true for everyone, no matter what your…

Fearlessness

This was originally posted at YoganandaBiography.com/blog. “Smile because you are fearless; smile because fear is ashamed to cause you apprehension and failure” –Paramhansa Yogananda I’ve just about finished reading Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, and one story stood out to me in particular. Yogananda was giving a talk in New York and he accused some very…

Since last June, I’ve taught yoga every Thursday night at the local YMCA, and this question is nearly always the number one thing on my mind! Every week I have a fresh class of students. Some are new and some have attended class on and off for months. Some are very experienced yogis, while some…

I am late for satsang with the revered woman saint, Mataji Vanamil Devi. I was unavoidably detained by an appointment with a highly respected vedic astrologer. But Divine Mother comes to my rescue, yet not without a playing a little joke on me. I had professed to a friend, only weeks before, that if I…

Last night was our third and final Easter season performance of Swami Kriyananda’s Oratorio, Christ Lives, of which I have had the honor to conduct. The Oratorio is composed of 50 short pieces including solos, instrumentals, and choir pieces, inspired by a pilgrimage that Swami Kriyananda took to the Holy Land in 1983. Before the…

Our 2012 adventure continues at home, as my wife has begun her online schooling to become a certified health coach (yes, we’re still juicing once a day and feeling great), and I move forward with manifesting new directions for music, consciousness, and inspiration, while keeping up the Ananda Music responsibilities. This is definitely uncharted territory…

Sometimes in the past, I’ve found it difficult to know why certain things are happening in my life — or even, if I’m totally honest, what is happening in itself at all, apart from my emotions, desires, hopes and wishes. Recently, I had an experience that really helped to put things in perspective. In January,…

I have been blessed to witness what many souls would call a miracle through the healing power of prayers. Yogananda’s healing prayer techniques utilize the natural law of electromagnetism and healing energy transmission through the hands and spiritual eye. I have witnessed these prayers work and the following story is another example very dear to…

Ever since I have been on this path after reading Autobiography of Yogi my utmost desire was to visit all the places mentioned in that book, at least those which are in India. Guruji once again heeded my prayer. I received an email from Ananda for a Kolkata pilgrimage. I must say the email was…

Edit Your Life

Inner Renewal Week, a month ago, focused on life, death and rebirth, viewing our ultimate transition as a “final exam” we might prepare for now. One tip, for me, stood out:  Review your life, but focus on the happy memories and experiences. Since going through hospice with my partner Ken in 1998, I’ve been a…

Okay everyone – raise your hand if your are a fellow addict of getting things done – hooked on that wonderful feeling of accomplishment that comes from crossing things off of the “to do” list, whether it might be cleaning the floor, planting the garden, or writing a book. (you can put your hands down…)…

Through Many Lives: A Tale of Time Travel Through the Yugas by Nayaswami Savitri Simpson. One year ago, in a blog I wrote for this website Writing a Spiritual Novel, I told the story of how I came to be writing a novel. I told of the many interesting lessons learned thus far. If you…

One of the beautiful things about India was nicely put by Nayaswami Dharmadas in one of his last satsangs; he said: “India is more about people than about things”. As a foreigner, having lived in India for the last year and a half, I came slowly to realize that this is true, and that the…

Untangling My Karma

We’ve just finished a wonderful Inner Renewal Week here at Ananda Village, with classes by Jyotish and Devi, Kriya Yoga initiations, renunciate vows, and long meditations, all designed to help us go deeper into God. We have this week every year, and one of the points from last year’s classes was untangling our karma, from…

On the spiritual path, there is an interesting balance to be struck. For if one renounces the world in his search for God, it is easy to get into a mindset that emphasizes noninvolvement in outward activity. And if one is too involved in outward activity, how can one make inward spiritual progress? When am…

Devotion is the foundation of our spiritual path. All the teachings, writings, and talks emphasize its primary importance. Yet it took me over 16 years at Ananda before I realized it and started to actively practice it. My own nature is more “mind” than “heart” focused. I grew up in a Christian religion that never…

Since the first supermarkets in the 1930’s,  a general disregard for nature has been increasing. The need for growing one’s own food has become an inconvenience our “modern age” has conquered. With the rise of factory farms and greenhouses the size of small cities, the need to follow the “whims” of Mother Nature is behind…

A few months ago my wife and I watched an inspiring documentary called “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” which prompted us to take on the challenge of an extended juice fast. I had no idea what to expect, except from what I had experienced doing Yogananda’s Nine Day Cleanse (also highly recommended!) many years ago.…

Sign Me Up!

An affirmation is a statement of truth which one aspires to absorb into his life. It has been said that we are what we eat. It would be truer to say, “We are what we think.” –Swami Kriyananda September 15, 2011. Where was I?… Glued to my computer screen, of course! A new gem had…

Dear all – I wanted to share with you some of the new recordings we’ve been working on these past few months, combined with others to make up a full Ananda Christmas music experience! We’ll be releasing the CD later in 2012, so please forgive imperfections in these, like the volume being too loud or…

Greetings, dear ones, Life here in India is never dull. I want to tell you a little of the hardships (tapasya) and the blessings that inevitably run hand in hand with progress. When Michael and I arrived in India there were 11 or 12 great souls striving earnestly in preparation for Swami Kriyananda’s long awaited…

11-11-11 — an obviously auspicious day for writing a blog. May all sentient and non-sentient creatures be blessed with inner and outer peace today and always.  I was/am amazed at the number of favorable responses to my last blog, wherein I told the story of my husband’s broken leg and how we are working our…

How did you come on to the spiritual path, and find Ananda? Was it by reading Autobiography of a Yogi? Was there a single event, or many long years of searching? A favorite pastime at Ananda is listening to these stories, as they are always inspiring, and often quite fascinating. Please share your own story…

Dance of Divine Grace

Ananda Portland is expanding – you may have read about the new educational campus, Ananda Center at Laurelwood, and the new assisted living venture, Ananda House. But we have many other parts of the work here as well, and as I play my role as manager of the temple and teaching center I find it…

In one of Asha Praver’s excellent MP3 lectures she expressed a remarkable thought that I like to remind myself in many situations: When we are worried and anxious about things that can happen to us, the cause of this is that we actually don’t trust God enough. So, even though I have not yet achieved…

33 Songs on Video!

Hi all — wanted to share with you all the songs that we’ve recorded so far that will be a part of Swami Kriyananda’s Bhagavad Gita TV shows in production. We’ll start you off with “Brave Were the People”, one of the first we recorded. “Come Gather Round”: “Brothers”: “There’s Joy in the Heavens”: “What…

Simon and Narayani in the Kitchen

What do you do to think of God, remember Him, or feel Him with you during your daily activities?

Please add your experience in the comments below — or reply to the suggestions of others!

Working on an organic farm can be a very interesting and entertaining endeavor, especially when you have little or no experience in farming! There are all those preconceived thoughts that come to one’s mind with what goes on, on a farm: waking up early, lots of manual labor, remembering when and how much to water…

Homeward Bound

The time finally arrived for Michael and me to leave the island home we had known for 8 years, and the UK itself where we have lived for all our lives. As we left the house we had sold I looked back, but not with any regret or emotion. A short while later we sailed…

Getting on the Path

The summer I turned 24, life fell apart. I lost one job, and my closest friendship crashed and burned. My parents didn’t understand me, and I considered giving up on them, as well. “Wait,” I thought. “Have you tried explaining yourself? It would be dumb to give up without having done your part. Besides, if…

Swami Kriyananda asked a group of people to move to Los Angeles and help Ananda happen down here. So last fall 10 or so of us packed up and moved down to the big city. We are now quickly coming up on our one year anniversary. I think all of us have been stretched in…

Finances are tough for everyone, especially now and usually the thought is “We must save and pinch our pennies!” Now this isn’t a bad thing, in fact we should be smart with our money, but with everything on the spiritual path, the question should be, “Am I being more contractive or more expansive?” Even though…

Preparing for a Storm

Recently the majority of the East Coast experienced multiple days of hurricane warnings and subsequent weather with winds and rains causing flooding in some regions and power outages for days to weeks in others. Road signs flashed everywhere to prepare for the hurricane and stay home.   As I was preparing for the storm in southern…

Melody West

Q: What inspired you to come live here? A: I’d never seen anywhere else a large amount of people dedicating their lives to God. I saw the results happening here that I had longed for in my own life. I could see the joy in their eyes and in their lifestyles and attitudes. For the first time…

I got sick recently and was slowly losing my voice. As a singer in the LA Joy Singers quartet I was starting to get a little concerned as I saw an important concert approaching. We had planned an interfaith event called “Unity through Music”. We had invited members of other churches and spiritual groups for…

“…love can befriend you today.” This lovely excerpt from Swami Kriyananda’s song, Life Is a Dream, comes to mind often in these times of difficulty. My wife lost her job this past summer, and making ends meet has become more of a struggle. We are both faced with the daily challenge of keeping our energy…

I do not know how many times I have taken birth. I also don’t know whether in my previous birth I was in some way associated with Master. But I wish to share here that when the right time comes, God swings his magic wand and drops the ripened fruit of our karma which changes…

Workers were out all over the property when we arrived on Saturday. Building a chicken coop, raising fence around garden, hauling trash, building an altar, cleaning, installing windows, and of course, cooking for the 100+ Anandans who converge from all the different communities to add their energy to the growing vitality that is rapidly becoming…

Dear ones, I do not have a great deal of time for writing at this present time (the packers and shippers are upstairs packing boxes for India as I speak!), but I wanted to briefly share a delightful experience from my wonderful, and deeply inspiring visit to Ananda Village for Spiritual Renewal week. A large…

Sometimes I wonder these things: a) Why would anybody want to write a blog about what is going on in their lives lately? and more importantly, b) Why would anybody want to (or have time to) actually read it? Our Ananda webmasters have convinced me that people do want to read what we have to…

We had a very uplifting concert last night featuring Swami Kriyananda’s music, and even though there are some imperfections in the recordings such as wind on the mic, I thought I’d post them for you all: Dark Eyes with solo by Ramu Atwell Keep Calling Him with solo by Maitri Jones, Krishna Dewey, and Latika…

Just before I started the Karma Yoga Program at the Expanding Light, I had a few days of dealing with a paralyzing fear. At that point, I had only a month’s (beautiful, life-changing) experience of Ananda, at the Meditation Retreat in the foothills of the Sierra mountains.  I was so new (and still am!). And…

Question: How did you become interested in following the spiritual path? Answer: I was interested in consciousness, and wanted to know how to use more of my brain and unlock the potentials of body and mind. I got into the Indian philosophy when I read Autobiography of a Yogi. I wanted to do a meditation retreat, so I…

About 45 years ago, I spent two and a half years paralyzed from the chest down. The neurosurgeons tried unsuccessfully to remove a cyst that was compressing my spinal cord, and a year of physical therapy brought no improvement, but a second surgery succeeded, and I gradually recovered the use of my legs. I’ve had…

A few weeks ago, Ananta and I were walking through the fields with four apprentices who have come to work with us on the farm this season. Specifically, we were identifying local weeds and talking about their function in soils as indicators of soil quality and health. One of the common weeds we were discussing…

Time marches on and the move to India is almost upon us. Our home is sold and we have left our jobs. Yet had Michael and I known how difficult it would be to opt out of the ‘rat-race’ we might have planned things slightly differently. Not that it has affected our decision to move…

If you’ve ever been to Ananda Village, you’ve witnessed the abundance of deer that we have here. They are a mixed blessing for many of us, for although serene and peaceful, they do eat up a good deal of our flora (ah, the duality of life!). They must know that they are safe here, and…

It’s dark out and I realized I’ve been awake for awhile unable to sleep. I still my heart and mind as I always do with the words, “I love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my mind, all my soul and with all my strength.” And then, in complete awe, I say…

Ananda Portland recently purchased a former Seventh-Day Adventist Academy. The academy buildings sit on 55 acres of rolling hills 30 minutes west of the city of Portland. The setting is rural, but not isolated – the school once housed, fed and educated hundreds of students and was the heart of life in the valley. A…

I was working at the publications building at Ananda Village one day in the summer of 1976, when Swami Kriyananda stopped by. He asked for my help with photographing some art for a project he was working on. I followed Swamiji and several members of the publications staff outdoors where the light was better for…

How about — to affirm our underlying oneness with all beings. This may sound like quite a leap, but today I had an experience that brought this truth home to me in a very unique and unexpected way. Let me explain how. I never minded sending healing prayers after meditation when I first learned how…

Master said time and time again how we must remain calm in times of adversity, amidst ‘the crash of breaking worlds’. Please allow me to set the scene. It would be better if the beautiful Isle of Man, located in the middle of the Irish Sea, was renowned for its spiritual history; a centre for…

It’s been a very busy Spring here at Ananda, filled with events that usually happen during the summer: a weekend with Swami Kriyananda, a Crystal Clarity donor dinner, concerts, recordings, and filming. On top of my school teaching schedule, it has made life quite a bit more challenging. As I write this I am in…

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how being part of a community changes a person, in both subtle and obvious ways. I’m in a good position to speak, because after taking a fairly wonderful and much-needed break from my previous life, I’ve been living at Ananda for three wonderful months… …first as part of…

When I moved to Ananda Village in 1976, I was offered a job at “Pubble,” the department where Swami Kriyananda’s books were published. Not long after I arrived, Swamiji invited the staff to his home to discuss some projects. Swami’s house was on the other side of the ridge from the main part of the…

Day by Day

These are thoughts of daily life are from over a year ago — I’m just now sharing them! This is an experiment, and I’d be glad to know what you think of this format in the comments. February 3, The Joyful Arts Center Right now I’m standing in the auditorium of the Joyful Arts Center,…

Sadhana Devi and I shifted last month to Gurgaon from Pune after being away since 2008. In our absence, the Ananda center/ ashram went through significant changes, making our return like coming back to a different place. Even Delhi seems to have changed for the better but my guess is that these transformations are more…

Brahmacharini Narayani has been travelling with Swami Kriyananda for the past several years through all our Ananda Communities. She has become one of his personal staff. Dear friends, Swami Kriyananda’s health has in general been doing very well, and his spirit is always soaring in divine joy. As you may know from having seen the…

It’s early morning and you’re shuffling to your meditation seat. You’re feeling that peaceful anticipation that comes before a meditation. Still walking, you glance up and see your laptop on your desk. It seems to beckon to you. The thought arises, “You know, it would only take a few moments, a few keystrokes to check…

Over the last 3 years ‘the watcher’ in me has quietly observed my spiritual advancement. It is becoming very clear that a pattern is forming when my usual slow, steady steps have leaped two at a time. One might well ask what coincided with these definite peaks in advancement. Simple…I visited Ananda communities! All who…

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