Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Nichijew ()
Date: May 17, 2013 08:43AM

May I suggest donating to Sensei what Nichiren received, sweet potatoes, taro, some bean cakes, a summer and/or winter robe, a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, a Samurai sword, a bottle of sake, and/or a bunch of coins.


Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 05/17/2013 08:47AM by Nichijew.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 17, 2013 10:32AM


Of course, the counselor's minimal experience with anything Buddhist was Tibetan and she had never heard of the SGI. She wouldn't listen to my cult explanation.

Was this counselor herself involved with a TB sangha? If so, this might have put blinders on her.

Its a serious issue when a spouse repeatedly goes beyond negotiated budget in order to pay into a religious project of any sort.

Charity begins at home.

Too bad this "therapist" did not see this. Money is a marker for a myriad of other issues, because money is a marker for priorities.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Spartacus ()
Date: May 17, 2013 10:47AM

Quote Scooby:
Thanks for the advice Spartacus. We actually tried counseling once, unsuccessfully. The counselor felt I (as a non religious person) was attacking her spirituality. Of course, the counselor's minimal experience with anything Buddhist was Tibetan and she had never heard of the SGI. She wouldn't listen to my cult explanation. Oh well. We may try it again at some point, with someone different of course. This year I will committ to a small amount only, just trying to keep the peace. I will stand my ground.

When you do start looking for someone, I strongly suggest finding a councelor experienced in religious cult deprogramming, as many are not familiar or skilled at effectively dealing with the (cult)beast that consumes brains (and $$$ savings).

Nichijew's creative suggestion of offering traditional gifts based on the gosho is a superb idea! IF those items were good enough for Nichiren, they should be good enough for cult daddy Decay-da. You could even add a few bodhisattva mud pies in for good measure! Imagine how much fun it would be to use one giant donation envelope to stuff all those non-monetary items into, then hauling it inside your CC in front of everyone to turn it in. What a picture that would make, ha ha! :D


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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Hitch ()
Date: May 17, 2013 02:45PM

The general mindset of the membership is that the $$$$$ is not for the Cult Org., but rather, for yourself. They have genuinely come to believe this magical thinking. You give the money, you get the benefit (i.e., confirmation bias). You give the money and if you don't get the benefit, your "karma" is too deep or heavy (therefore, give more next time around to cut or lessen your karmic burden). You give a little and get a little benefit, you should have had more "faith" and given a larger sum. If you can't give any money, then it is the most crucial time for you to find a way to give something; your magic return benefit or karmic lessening is directly proportional to either the amount of sincerity of the "spirit" that you offer it in (i.e., please oh please gohonzon, put me into a position where I can get / make / or have lots of $$$$$, so that I can give even more to the Cult Org. in appreciation for the magic).

That sums up many of the versions that I've heard. I recall that "special zaimu" or regular "zaimu" campaigns seemed to come around every few months back in the 80's. You'd just finish one and give a huge sigh of relief, then another would be approaching right on the horizon. It was endless and every campaign was just as, or even more, important than the one that came before it (so they said and tried to put into your head).

Gakkai members give, but in the back of their minds, they are always questioning the amount: "Should I be giving more than this?" "It's a reflection of my faith and sincerity." (Translation: more magic goodies in the return mystic slot machine payout OR I have to in order to maintain my "good fortune.") That's exactly what every single one of them is thinking on some level.

Manipulative mental shackles and the month of May is when the Cult Org. officially starts pulling on everyone's chains again.

- Hitch

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: May 17, 2013 04:16PM


The general mindset of the membership is that the $$$$$ is not for the Cult Org., but rather, for yourself.
It's the corollary to the "Prosperity Gospel" or "Prosperity Theology" of the Pentecostals:

Last year’s Pew Foundation mega-poll, which surveyed nearly 35,000 people (one of the largest religion polls ever accomplished), revealed a few interesting facts about Christians in the Pentecostal tradition, among them:

• Pentecostals have the lowest incomes of any other Christian denomination.
• Pentecostals have the least education of any other Christian denomination.

The results show that Pentecostals have the most high school dropouts, the fewest college graduates, and the fewest post-graduates. But the most interesting thing is that they earn the least annual income of any other Christian tradition polled. This is shocking, considering that a main feature in popular Pentecostalism is the Prosperity Gospel, where church members are promised that God will make them rich beyond their wildest dreams if they tithe generously and believe that they will receive the money.

I often speak with coworkers and church members as they slowly slip into despair. I watch helplessly as their hopes dim, and their pennies dwindle. When I attend a service at this church, I hear the pastors declare that God will make everybody rich, if only they will throw what little they do have into the offering plate. Loud confident voices echo off the palatial walls of the sanctuary, while weary, struggling believers bristle with the hope of God’s “promises.” My impoverished friends dance down the plush expensive carpet to the altar and pull out their dollar bills (not their food stamps and government checks, though they have those also) and cheerfully give. The pastor nods approvingly, his hands folded in prayer (a shiny Rolex on his wrist), his eyes misty.

Say what you want about the corruption of the pulpit, or the decadence of the minister—that’s not my issue. My point is that while the world howls at the scam artists who fail to deliver on big promises, Christianity has its very own Ponzi scheme that’s alive and well. At least when Bernie Madoff promised big returns he actually delivered (if only for a moment); the prosperity gospel doesn’t even do that much. When Joel Osteen, Ken Copeland, Paula White, or Benny Hinn take your money, you’ll never see it again (unless you happen to glimpse one of their private jets leaving a runway for Bermuda).

Creating “The Least of These”

When a major tenet of your theology is that people who invest in your church will experience wealth, while the facts show that your congregants are among the poorest and most desperate in the country, you have just been exposed. []
The only reason the SGI has not been likewise exposed is because it's so small that it's currently flying under the radar. Nobody's examining it. Just substitute "SGI" for "Christianity", above, and "Daisaku Ikeda" for any of the names - it ends up being the exact same story.

For me, the fact that the SGI-USA does *NO* charitable work, has no programs to assist the poor and needy, and explicitly states that people need to solve all their own problems on their own by chanting was embarrassing and off-putting. I was ashamed that the group I was affiliated with was so stingy and greedy. What were we getting for our donations? Rented office space in shabby industrial strip malls. When I offered to be in charge of the Future Group (I think that was the name - it was the youngest children, toddlers on up to school age), I was told that I could turn in my receipts for the supplies I purchased and the SGI would reimburse me. Though I turned in my receipts faithfully, I never got a penny in reimbursement.

In Buddhism, one of the foundation doctrines is that attachment causes suffering. Encourage your wife to think about what she receives back for your family's donations. Is it just the private clubhouse? If so, is your family receiving amenities and benefits comparable to what you would get if you used that same amount of money to buy a family YMCA membership? Look around - do you get what you chant for? Do others? Be honest with yourselves. The SGI has enough money to build an entire university from scratch, from the ground up - they obviously don't need your family's money as much as your family needs that money.

Why is she so *attached* to the idea of donating? That is a question to suggest, very gently and kindly. Is it to maintain social standing with the leaders who see all the donations - and talk about everybody behind their backs? Is it because she's hoping it will serve as seed money for a magical financial windfall? Is she afraid that, if she doesn't give, she'll be punished somehow and she won't be able to survive it? What does she get from her donations? What are her donations used for? I remember when I called LA (national HQ - I live in San Diego) and asked for a copy of the SGI's financial statements (you know, transparency?), I was told that, if I drove the 2 hours up there, I would be allowed to go into a room - alone - and *look* at the financial statements (no pictures, no notes). Is that how an honest and upstanding organization handles its financial accountability to its membership?

You might ask her to ask for a financial statement from the local leadership, you know, so that *you* can feel more confident about where your family's donations are going and how they're being used.

Remember: Buddhism is common sense. We've heard THAT enough, right?

You mention "family," Scooby - you have children? Perhaps you and your wife should have a talk about your family's future. For example, is your children's future college tuition already saved up? If not, you might be able to agree on a certain sense of urgency and agree to put *all* donation moneys into your kids' college funds until they reach a certain amount; after that, you can donate to the SGI if you still want to.

I suspect that there is a fear within your wife that, if she DOESN'T donate, terrible things will happen. The SGI promotes that kind of fear - though very subtly. Since I left the SGI, my (completely nonreligious and atheist) husband's income has increased almost 400%. My children are excelling in school and socially. I discovered I had a thyroid deficiency (which I had but never discovered while chanting) and now, with regular supplementation, I feel better than I have in years. I left in early 2008, so I've had a few years to observe the outcome. It's been all good.

If you could get your wife to perhaps put off the donation until, say, July (instead of doing it as expected during May), that might help break the chains of fear that are driving her. If your family's donation is delayed, and nothing happens, I think she'll maybe start to feel a little more empowered about controlling when she does what.

For me, I looked around me at my fellow members, and what I saw was very disturbing. One high-ranking Japanese-born leader, Jt. Terr. or something, dropped dead - she was only in her late 50s. My former district WD leader's beautiful son was crippled in a freak accident - he'll never walk normally again, and, despite months of 3-hour-long daimoku tosos for his complete recovery, his legs are atrophied to toothpicks and he has to wear a diaper. He is permanently crippled. My last district WD leader is now dead - she was younger than I am. She died after I stopped attending meetings - no one even told me. Her husband is preparing to marry his cousin. My best friend's husband, upon his release from prison, returned to his drug and crime habits, and now, in spite of his devout fortune-baby Japanese wife's untiring efforts and countless hours of daimoku, he's back in prison for the rest of his life. Another very devout member died of stomach cancer. Look around with merciless clarity, and you'll see abundant suffering and failure - just like anywhere. It's not working. Not the way we'd been led to believe it would.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 17, 2013 07:27PM

TaitenandProud wrote:


In Buddhism, one of the foundation doctrines is that attachment causes suffering. Encourage your wife to think about what she receives back for your family's donations. Is it just the private clubhouse? If so, is your family receiving amenities and benefits comparable to what you would get if you used that same amount of money to buy a family YMCA membership? Look around - do you get what you chant for? Do others? Be honest with yourselves. The SGI has enough money to build an entire university from scratch, from the ground up - they obviously don't need your family's money as much as your family needs that money.

TT has given us the root of the SGI distortion of Buddhadharma.

SGI fosters attachment and craving in a myriad of forms.

Instead of teaching about craving and then teaching the many ways to apply insight to one's cravings instead of pushing ways to act out those cravings through chanting and donating.

It is signficant how many of the people Taiten has named died young.


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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: TaitenAndProud ()
Date: May 18, 2013 02:48AM

People die young, corboy - it's unfortunate, but it happens. The fact that it happens to the group that believes it is magically protected because they chant the "one essential phrase" is what concerns me. We've got "actual proof" that it doesn't work. I was at this one district meeting a few years back and overheard some of the members talking about a member they knew who had just given birth to a stillborn baby. It happens, sure, but where is the protection of the Gohonzon? The members are led to believe that they must practice in order to be "protected" from life's many dangers, but they get hit with them just the same.

Study Department chief Shin Yatomi died after a short battle with cancer. So did Culture Department chief Pascual Olivera. Both were young men - under age 50, I believe. And then there's the national SGI-USA leader who died in one of the planes flown into the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 - was it David Aoyama? If THEIR practices and obvious devotion to the SGI organization didn't protect THEM, why would anyone think they could do better?

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Shavoy ()
Date: May 18, 2013 06:20AM

I'm also suspecting Scooby's wife has the fear of Ikeda put into her regarding the annual May contribution season, along with the sincere belief that financial protection and yes, maybe a windfall will come their way. It sounds as if Scooby's wife is truly sincere with showing appreciation through the $$$ activity.

Taiten, you are spot on regarding the magical protection one is supposed to get, moreso than the general population, with chanting NMRK and praising President Ikeda. I, too, know of circumstances where people have died before their time, as well as yuk-ko karma that never seems to change, even getting worse with no actual proof being shown. I think we all have here. It was David Aoyama who died on American Airlines 11 on 9/11. And he was an important presence in SGI leadership. The thought cannot help but come, like you say, that how could this happen?? It should NOT have happened, because his devotion was so rock-solid. His passing was muted in the WT (although his children have since given experiences about their dad)---I always interpreted that, with all due respect to Mr. Aoyama, being on a plane which explodes into a building, HOW IS THAT PROOF??? We have to downplay it, yes, yes, YES.

Hitch, yes, the emphasis is on how zaimu will help YOU, first and foremost. You are giving back to your life by contributing as much as you can.

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Hitch ()
Date: May 18, 2013 07:58AM

I can add many names and stories to the list about long time, sincere practicing gakkai members who met with some horrible deaths (alone, wasting away with metastasized bone cancer, senseless accidents, etc.) in the end. These things are never faced, thought about, mentioned, nor discussed by other gakkai members. It's all quickly brushed aside, put out of mind and bypassed so as to avoid any discomfort in having to deal with any of it (i.e., how the so-called "practice" didn't really help when it truly mattered). I've seen this many times and other less severe things (not dealing with deaths) that also get conveniently swept under the rug. For example: model "YOUTH!" division leader role models who were celebrated for getting married and having "fortune" babies (the perfect gakkai member love story fairy tale, kids given names from Ikeda, etc.), gossip of the town and THE model couple / family, envy of all, worth of emulation in behavior, etc. . . . . . . who later got divorced. Oooops!

Their confirmation bias is, of course, always a one-way street.

- Hitch

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Re: Soka Gakkai International -- SGI
Posted by: Hitch ()
Date: May 18, 2013 08:01AM

Bit of a long post, but I do feel it is worthwhile to see how the gakkai cult org. functions.

Came across this, not sure if it has ever been posted here before:

**** (All of my comments, bolded)

"The SGI (Soka Gakkai International) is the lay organization for the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonen. I started practicing this Buddhism in 2004 and received my Gohonzon (a holy scroll that represents your life) in 2005.

Initially, I believed I had found where I belonged, but gradually, and especially since coming to SA and joining SGI SA, I realised that the organisation ain't really that organised. I began to grow very disillusioned with the organization altogether, and several events culminated and allowed me to make the decision to break ties completely.

I am not faulting the practice of Buddhism – Nichiren Daishonen’s or anyone else’s. It’s not the practice of Buddhism I have left behind: it’s the SGI.

In points, and no particular order, here are my reasons:

For a practice that is supposed to be about tolerance, I have seen a great deal of judgement delivered. I am openly gay and while I didn’t encounter any homophobia with the UK groups, I have in South Africa. I was waiting in line for a cup of tea at the end of a meeting, chatting to one of the ladies behind me. She was bemoaning the fact that she just couldn’t find the right man. I joked that perhaps she should be looking for the right woman. We both cracked up and laughed about this. The man in front of us, also a leader in the SGI, turned around and with venom spat out: “You people with your agendas. You come in and take our women from us. What’s the matter with you? Why can’t you just leave our women alone? Why do you always have to push your agenda in everyone’s faces?” He looked so angry, I was certain he would have hit me, if he had the chance. His tirade went on, saying pretty much the same thing in several different ways. Not cool. Another member in Singapore has told me that because she was gay, she was being ostracized by her family – all of whom are practicing Nichiren Buddhists with the SGI.

(When I was in, it was a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" type of environment, with an additional "Don't talk about it, just chant to change yourself and keep a lid on it" attitude.)

"I was told that I need permission to practice healing modalities such as Reiki. Not a fucking chance. I don't have to ask anyone's permission."

(There was also lots of immature dependency going on, with full grown adults, where members stopped thinking for themselves and began to behave as if they needed to get "guidance" and official sanction to do even some of the simplest things in their own lives - going to "leaders" for direction as to the next step, etc..)

"The SGI discourages investigation into other schools of Buddhism. Nichiren Buddhism is promoted as the ONLY path. I like to think for myself and explore. If people are telling me not to look into other schools of Buddhism, I want to know why, and telling me that “those schools are wrong” isn’t a good enough reason. The SGI also discourages silent meditation. Again, the ONLY path is to chant. Stuff that – I have gained a lot of insight from silent meditation as well as chanting.

(What I saw was outright hostile intolerance in this area.)

"The SGI is infatuated with its lay leader, Daisaku Ikeda. Maybe I just didn’t get the lesson of mentor/disciple, but from working with Demartini’s Quantum Collapse Process, I know that I am no greater or lesser than another person. Yes, he has written great works and is a great leader, however, I am not going to view him as some kind of Buddhist Jesus. Nichiren’s Buddhism tells us we are ALL Buddhas. We all have Buddhahood. Then this man is no more enlightened than anyone else – we are both Buddhas."

("Infatuation" is putting it mildly, I'd label it as an obsessive cult of the personality, to be more accurate.)

"Talking about everyone being Buddhas… We are told we are all Buddhas, but when we begin to think for ourselves and move away from the SGI, investigate other faiths and practices or meditate silently, you are labeled arrogant and ignorant.

The teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, the guy who started it all, are left a little on the wayside. The eightfold path is not discussed. Ever.

I engaged in SGI activities. When my schedule no longer permitted me to be as involved, I was given a series of phone calls and emails, bordering on guilt trips in order to get me to come back. The organization didn’t like NO as an answer. Even after leaving, I have been pursued with a cult-like enthusiasm to return.

(I've been thru the same. The "guilt tripping", not taking "NO" for an answer and the arm-twisting pursuit to try to get you back, from various high and low level "leader" personalities.)

"Finally, I don’t need to have permission to do what I do, nor is it necessary to apologise for who I am. No one has the right to tell me how my spiritual life should be structured or what I must believe."


"So I have started my own religion. I call it Hectic Eclectic and I embrace all things and nothing. In fact, I do a lot of embracing. I’ve named myself the Huru Guru and I am basking in my own glory."


(More here: For the record, I'm not promoting nor endorsing anything from this site. It's all various degrees of cult-hopping as far as I'm concerned, but to each their own.)

(Some interesting, to me, selected replies from the comments section that follow.)

"l left the SGI when my chapter leaders here in South Florida privately discouraged me from taking my medications I use to combat my HIV infection. I was then accused of lacking faith when I diplomatically declined their advice. It even got to the point where I was asked to return my gohonzon when I disagreed to hed local leaders' advice on this subject. When I raised this issue publicly I was told that by bringing my same-gender partner with me to meetings in local member's homes, that I was making them uncomfortable. So much for a value creating society based on the Lotus Sutra's teachings..."

(Again, I've seen the same kind of thing, with "leaders" suggesting that a particularly mentally unstable member not really needing their psychotropic medications and to replace it all with the magic chant & practice.)

"Hi, I practice Independently! I have been practicing for decades, and finally I realized I couldn't make it fit anymore in SGI or NST. I became Independent for good, recently! Now, I am happy except when an SGI, KHS, or NST member tries to convince me I am wicked or stupid! Someone I used to chant with said "Why are you chanting to a non-SGI Gohonzon?" He was appalled I would do such a thing! He is SGI, and he has a Gohonzon that was not given to him by Nichiren Shoshu (but don't tell him...shhh!!). I had to laugh, I thought it was so funny that he was all mad at me that I would chant to a Gohonzon other than SGI's and then he says I am evil and he is not! I don't think "friends" or learning to believe TOGETHER works unless everyone is on the same page, do you? Meaning.... How can you have WP if you are finding faults in others, but you have faults yourself? Was this practice made so we could point out the faults of other people and yet think we are perfect? I don't think so!"

(Must say, pretty typical, common and pervasive attitude from gakkai members.)

"I was an SGI SA member for many years. I became very disillusioned with the leadership, intolerance and personality worship of Mr Ikeda."

"I have recently felt compelled to bring out my Gohonzon, dust off my Butsudan and set up my altar again. I received the Gohonzon from SGI in New York City in 2003. While I appreciated the support of practice and the community feeling from the meetings, I began to feel that I was being pressured to ascribe to a "belief system" hook, line and sinker and that any deviation from the party line was frowned upon. Looking back, I realize that what I wanted was to practice independently from the get go. I felt offended when I was asked to join in directing 'voodoo-moku' against another Nichiren organization, I was seeking a place of refuge, not to get involved in organizational politics. During this time, I was also embracing The Radiance Technique(R) /Authentic Reiki(R) as a healing art and science and exploring esoteric Christianity and Vedanta Philosophy - all of which promote the Divine spark or the concept of 'God' within everything - which I felt was complimentary to the Universal Law. When I shared these interests with others, the term 'slander' was pitched at me by a few - but not all members. Other members said they didn't see a conflict necessarily as long as I didn't 'mix' practices. Having been raised in an apocalyptic Christian religion (Jehovah's Witnesses) - where their way is the 'only way', it was all too easy to see similarities in the religious approach of SGI and the JWs and their focus on retribution for 'slander' or 'unforgivable sin' (little difference in the concepts of certain death at Armageddon or unending kalpas in an Avichi Hell) for any doctrinal deviation. Ummm, no."

(I love the "voodo-moku" remark. Absolutely spot-on. I saw the same thing first-hand when the priesthood ex-communication battle started.)

"I too felt that by labelling something as the 'only' path was incredibly restrictive and intolerant. I don't feel there is anything wrong with exploration in meditation and in recognising the wisdom of other teachings. Ultimately, we are all striving for the same thing - understanding, tolerance and a connection with a part of ourselves that is not flesh, blood, bone and a cascade of chemicals."

"Hi. I've been practicing Buddhism for about three years now, but as part of the Zen school. Recently I've been looking into Nichiren, as the demands of life, family, and work have really kept me from practicing zazen. After checking out things on the web, I've already become disillusioned with the various schools of Nichiren, and have considered independent practice, which I've actually only started a few days ago. It's good to know that I'm not alone in my feelings that Nichiren, and particularly SGI, have become nothing more than cults, .."

(And finally, the expected and inevitable $GI Cult apologist's take on it all . . . . )

"Gosh, you know, I am really sorry to hear these bad experiences of SGI. I am an active SGI member here in Australia and have to say that although I can understand that these things do happen, we put a lot of effort into making sure every member understands the teachings of Nichiren and the the three founding presidents. What they never taught was the kind of intolerance and dogmatism that you all seem to have experienced. For me, the benefit of being involved in the organisation is that I always have support and I don't in any way feel like there is hero worship as we are all encouraged to seek and have that "stand alone spirit" I'm sure you've all heard about. Because of my engagement in activities, I have had opportunities to challenge myself personally and really work on that human revolution. I would never have done that otherwise. We have a multitude of members who also happen to be gay. I have never seen nor heard of that kind of intolerance here. You may be interested to know that Australia has been setting an example through the group movement that is quite different, yet more aligned with what Ikeda wants people to do (for their own sake). Nothing I understand about SGI is about intolerance or dogma and it's a real shame that people have suffered that in SGI. My understanding is that Daisaku Ikeda would be really upset if he knew that had happened. I guess the problem of leadership is that most people view it as a hierarchical structure and treat it as such. It's difficult for us in the west particularly to understand that organisation doesn't necessarily equate to corporate organisation. In Australia, all leaders are encouraged to have groups as well, so that we don't have a hierarchical structure. And we are constantly cautioned against arrogance, which is a common problem of leadership."


That last comment from the cult apologist above, is typical gakkai cult member denial and brainwashed spin on display --> feign ignorance, frame it all as isolated events, not the norm in the cult org. and parrot the cult-speak-lingo (underlined) to wash over it all and put all back on the member who is not getting with the program correctly.

- Hitch

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