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The Riddles of the World and Anthroposophy

Schmidt Number: S-1170

On-line since: 15th August, 2016

The Basic Concepts of Theosophy. Human Races

Berlin, 9th November 1905

One has often said that the human being himself is the best and most important study of the human being, and that the human being himself is the biggest riddle of the human being. In view of certain facts, one has to emphasise that this riddle faces the human being in manifold forms. The human riddle appears as multiplied to us and looks at us from all sides. The manifold forms of the human being, the races, are certainly such a multiplication of the human riddle. Natural sciences and spiritual science have always tried to bring in light to this variety of the human existence, in these different forms of the human being. Besides, we realise plenty of questions. We have the consciousness in ourselves that in all human beings a uniform nature and being exists. However, how does this uniform nature and being behave to the manifold forms and physiognomies, which face us as races? In particular, this question approaches us if we see which different abilities the single human races possess.

Apparently, to our consideration, the one human being is on the highest cultural level, the other on the most primitive, subordinated one. All that makes it appear strange to us that the human being who has, nevertheless, a uniform nature can appear in such a different and imperfect figure. One feels it often as an injustice of nature that it condemns one to an existence in a lower human race and raises the other to an apparently perfect race. To put a new contemplation to this mystery, to lighten up this riddle, the spiritual-scientific worldview seems to be more suitable than any other is. For this spiritual-scientific worldview does not speak in the same sense of the uniform human being as the other worldviews. It has a concept of it, which is different from that of the philosophers, religions et cetera, and it speaks of a recurrence of the human soul. It says to us that the soul, which lives in the modern human individual, was already often on this earth and will still often return. If we look at the matter even closer, we see that the souls of the human beings go through the different races. Thus, the variety of the races gets sense and reason. Thus, we see how the one is not condemned to live only in a primitive race and the other to be on the developmental levels of race existence.

Each one of us goes through the most different levels of the races, and this passage just signifies a further development of the single soul. Someone who appears as a member of the European race today went through other races in former times and will go through others than ours later. The races appear to us as levels, and this variety becomes coherent and reasonable.

However, if we want to see this sense quite thoroughly, we have to investigate the developmental basis of the different races deeper. Someone who rises above the only sensuous view to the invisible, supersensible world and tries to answer this question from such realms can really get an adequate solution of the riddle.

The usual natural sciences, which have to confine themselves to the sensuous observation in this question, were only able to bring in one leading thread in these cases concerning the human types. They are able to lead us back to the imperfect levels of human existence according to the modern Darwinist point of view. They trace the human being back to the former epochs of the earth evolution. They show us how the human being experienced stages in the former times in which he satisfied his needs with simple, imperfect tools with which he could only perform small work. To even former times the natural sciences want to lead us back in which the human being developed from the animal realm. We are led to the statement that we can no longer prove the earliest developmental stages of the human being scientifically, presumably because the areas of the earth in which the human being developed at that time are covered with the floods of the ocean. The natural sciences only point to an area repeatedly. This is the area in the south of Asia, in the east of Africa and down to Australia. Ernst Haeckel supposes that an ancient, extinct continent is to be sought there and that the interstates of animal and human being developed there. He calls this continent Lemuria.

Indeed, in the same sense in which Haeckel speaks about this continent and his inhabitants, about pithecoid human beings as the ancestors of the modern human beings, spiritual science cannot speak about this matter out of its experience. I have tried to show that there are other methods and means to find out something of the prehistoric times as those are on which the natural sciences must rely, other methods than the investigation of the leftovers, which one has found in the earth. You find everything about the origin of the human being and his classification in different races that has always been taught in the so-called secret schools out of inner mystic experience in my essays From the Akasha Chronicle (CW 11). Physical records and sensuous experience cannot lead us to the times, which can really teach us the decisive of this question. The supersensible experience only can teach us this. Today, I can only give a spare concept of this supersensible experience, and only a comparison should show us where from that is taken which we want to discuss in the main.

You know that my words I speak here are carried away by the undulations, which are stimulated in the air. The oscillatory air brings my words through your organ of hearing into your soul. While I am speaking here, this whole airspace is filled with sound waves. Imagine that these sound waves could be fixed, one could get an imprint with any means at every moment of that which is spoken here. Then you would have a recording of everything that is spoken here. Just as the word that I speak here makes an imprint on the medium around us also the other expressions of the human nature do, indeed, not on the air, which is somewhat coarse in relation to many other and subtler substances, because there are subtler substances than the air is. I point only to the ether, although our consideration deals nothing with it. However, I mean, actually, the finest matter, the akashic matter in which not only the spoken words imprint themselves, but all thoughts, feelings and will impulses of the human being.

This akasha matter with its imprints really forms a large phonograph. While these sound waves pass here in the air perpetually, last only as long as the sound is heard, the imprints that the human achievements up to the thoughts cause in this so-called akasha matter always persist. Somebody who is able to develop so far to read in this akasha matter can read the recordings, which have been put down since primeval times. From this chronicle, from the higher spiritual experiences the information comes which spiritual science announces about the human development through the different races. We are led back not only to the human beings who the natural sciences and archaeology register investigating the leftovers of human beings who had primitive tools and weapons in the caves of France or anywhere. These human beings had low receding foreheads and were backward in their intellectual development compared to the modern civilised human beings.

These researches do not lead us back to those forms of humanity that the spiritual-scientific worldview teaches us, even if the modern naturalists think that they lead us back ten to fifteen millennia, maybe even farther. All those human forms and racial forms that the naturalist can find in the earth point again back to quite differently formed human physiognomies, to races which have lived on another earth area, on Atlantis which extended between Europe, Africa and America. The idea is also no longer strange to the natural sciences that the Atlantic was once land. The resemblance of the fauna, of the animal realm and the various soil formations, also some relationships of languages, all these matters point the naturalist to the fact that we deal with a big earth subsidence, with a flood of a large land domain that took place in very early times of our development. Plato tells about an island Poseidonis which is still stated by him as an island in the ocean, it was the last rest of the past world. The spiritual-scientific view teaches us that, too.

If we go back to the inhabitants who lived in Atlantis, then something appears to us that is different from today. We get to know a race in which the most significant abilities, which make the modern civilised human being a civilised human being, did not yet exist. The Atlantean race did not yet have these abilities, the ability of combining, of counting, of logical thinking. These human beings had memory and language at that time. That had only developed in them. However, in return, they had other abilities. A progress of the human abilities takes only place if certain so-called higher levels of the human existence are purchased with the disappearance of former levels of development. Exactly the same way as the human being has a very low ability of smelling compared to certain animals, whereas the animals have less developed higher senses, the brain in particular, however, they bring the lower abilities to perfection. It is the same here on these higher levels of humanity.

The Atlantean had an almost omniscient memory. His knowledge was generally based on his memory. He did not know what we call law or rule. He did not calculate in such a way that he knew a multiplication table; indeed, he did not know this. His memory was the basis for his whole thinking. He knew if he had piled up twice five beans that this was a small heap of so and so many. He did not count, but he kept it in his memory. His language was also different from ours. I will come back to this phenomenon in the course of this talk. Because the Atlantean had developed these abilities only, a certain clairvoyant talent belonged to him inevitably which withdrew when our day consciousness, our reason, our mathematical, logical consciousness, our cultural consciousness developed. The Atlantean was able to quite different sense to work on the growth of plants out of his nature using the special magic willpower. Without sensuous mediation, the Atlantean was able to carry out certain magic effects. All that also was connected with a completely different body structure, above all with a receding forehead and with a defective formation of the forebrain. On the other side, other parts of the brain were unlike those of the modern civilised human being. This enabled him to use his big abilities of memory.

If we observe such an Atlantean according to the recordings of the Akasha Chronicle, we find that at the same time the brightness of our present consciousness was not yet achieved. It was a dream consciousness. It was brighter than this, but it did not yet have that bright clarity of the intellect, which our modern consciousness has. It was more a brooding and dreaming one. What worked with him was also not in such a way that he could regard himself as the master of that which he caused, but it was in such a way that everything that was in him was like a kind of inspiration. He felt to be connected with other forces, like with a spirit flowing through him. The spirit was something concrete to him, it was that which was in the wind, in the clouds and which grew up in the plants. The spirit was something that one could feel if one moved the hands through the air, if the trees rustled. This was the language of nature. The independence of the Atlantean was also not as great as that of the modern human beings.

If we look back farther, we come to the ancestors of this population, to those human beings who lived on a part of the world, which the natural sciences know as well as spiritual science: on Lemuria, the land between Asia, Australia, and Africa. However, spiritual science has to portray the appearance and figure of those human beings quite different from the naturalists. The portrayal of the figure of these human beings, which the spiritual researcher gives, is not so different from that which the naturalist supposes. However, it is spiritually completely different. The Lemurian was much more clairvoyant than the Atlantean. He had a gigantic willpower; he was a human being with whom language and memory were not yet developed. The language began only in the later Lemuria. However, the Lemurian could make the plants grow, he could command the wind, he could take natural forces out of the earth like with magic, briefly, what the Lemurian was able to do borders on the miraculous compared with the modern ideas. However, all that was in a vague consciousness, in a deeper dream sleep than it existed with the Atlantean. Completely conducted by higher influence, by higher spiritual beings, this Lemurian was a dependent creature in the hands of higher forces, which gave him the impulses of his intentions, of his actions.

With it, we have three successive developmental forms of our race. This Lemurian developed out of the not yet human companion of the ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, et cetera. These fabulous animals were there still before our mammals and perished because of big physical revolutions in these continents. The volcanic formations that stand out of the ocean are the remains of that old Lemurian age. In addition, those primitive constructions of gigantic size and strange form, as they are found on the Easter Island, are remains of the cyclopean constructions, extend into our time like monuments of those human beings whose soul life was completely different from ours.

Only with a few words, I would like to point to the relation between the human being and the different animal forms. The modern naturalist, accustomed to materialistic ideas, supposes that the human being developed from lower animal forms. The spiritual researcher is not able to do this. He supposes that the spiritual led the way of the material that the primal ground of the outside, of the material is founded in the spiritual that the external human body of the human being is an expression of the human soul. What the spiritual researcher describes as an astral body developed much earlier than the physical body of the human being. This astral body experienced a compression and it forms the etheric body this way, and only the compression of this etheric body forms the physical body.

The denser condition evolved only later. The thinner one, the astral one in particular, existed in much earlier times. Thus, spiritual science shows us that a being did not originate from an accidental agglomeration of physical matter, which has such impulses, passions, and instincts as the human being, but that these impulses and passions are the origin of the encasing matter. The passion did not create this matter, but the former passions created the forms of the physiognomy. Thus, the human being goes through a process of compression. Indeed, if we go back to the Lemurians, we see that their bodies become thinner and thinner, until we come back to human beings whose physical matter is very similar to the gelatinous matter of certain present animals. If we went back even farther, we would find ancient human ancestors, formed in a matter, which one cannot see with the usual physical eyes: the etheric human being. However, I do not want to go back to this very ancient time.

We want to begin our considerations with those human beings who start appearing in such a carnal cover as the present human being carries it, although the covers of the human beings who inhabited Lemuria and Atlantis were completely different from the construction of our muscles and skeletons. All that was much softer, more pliable, and flexible, and complied with the requirements of those vague, dreamlike soul forces I have described to you. Just by the fact that the physical matter of the human being becomes denser and denser; the pole of the physical matter is created on the other side, which is the tool of intelligence. With the creation of the brain, a compression of the remaining human organs took place at the same time.

Thus, the brain becomes the tool of the intellect, of the mind. If we summarise these three stages, we have them in the civilised human being. First, we have the Lemurian human being, his consciousness is trance-like, then we have the Atlantean human being who develops memory and language and then we have the actual civilised human being, the human being of our time.

If we consider the modern human beings, they developed from these former stages of existence. The primitive stage does not disappear at once when the higher one appears. It survives for the time being and changes in manifold ways. So that we can say: a part of the former Atlantean population migrated from Atlantis to Europe and farther to Asia and established colonies, a part stayed behind, so that we have the most manifold stages side by side. Every progressive part leaves behind as it were the stages of development like memories. That also applies to the human being in a similar way. He developed the most different forms of the animals from himself. Just as humanity leaves lower races behind, the human being leaves certain animal forms behind on even former stages which are like externally preserved memories of his former existence. Looking at the animals, we can say that they show the stages of our own development, from the lower animal form up to the forms of our race. However, our own forms did not look like that which stayed behind. At that time, the conditions were still different.

One normally does not imagine at all how infinitely big the changes were which took place on the earth. In the old Atlantis was no distribution of rain and sunshine, air and water as today. There was another air saturated with water. There was not yet rain at that time. Myths and legends hold on these things vividly. Hence, the Nordic legends also speak of “Niflheim,” “nebulous home.” A real fact forms the basis of that. The forms of our ancestors were different from ours, and those human beings whom they left behind got to conditions, which they did not stand. Hence, they had to develop to lower stages, they became decadent, and they degenerated.

The physical conditions of our present earth make it possible that the mind develops with a certain level of the beings. If the earth had not developed from the completely different conditions of rain and sunshine to our advantage, the human being would never have been able to develop to the stage on which we are today. We see that only the progressive race is able to develop suitably. However, what maintains the former form and is as a reminiscent sign of it, becomes degenerate because it does not comply with the later conditions. If we go back to the former times, we understand that that which we were once was completely different from the present animals. These changed because of the completely changed conditions. We also have to regard the subordinated races as stages of former human existence that were adapted, actually, to other earthly conditions according to their nature.

The matter becomes much more understandable, if we look into it that way. Then we understand that the Indian population of America, which appears to us so mysterious with its social structures and peculiar instincts must be completely different. The African race, the Ethiopian one, the black race is different in another way. There are the instincts that tie in with the lower human. We find a certain dreamlike element with the Malayans. Within the Mongolian population those qualities exist which are based on a special energy of the blood. There are also certain mental qualities, which developed quite typically. Hence, the Mongolian race always refuses to accept a pantheistic view. Its religion is a belief in demons, a cult of the dead. The population, which one calls the Caucasian race, constitutes the real civilised race, which is appointed to develop the logical thinking, to create tools for the work on nature using the mere reason of the human being who can no longer use the magic forces but has to rely on the mechanical. Everything that the human being had in the times of the old Atlantis in this way got lost, and, therefore, he manufactured tools because he could no longer work as he worked once; hence, he required tools for the mechanical effect.

The physical research tried in manifold ways to divide the different races. It tried to divide them according to the shaping of the skull in those, which have a narrow and backwards long skull, in those, which have a short and broad skull, and in those, which are between the both. One divided the human beings also according to their skin colour, into black ones: Black, Ethiopians; in yellow-brown: the Malayans and Mongols, and in white ones, the Caucasians. This division is done more according to external signs and gives certain differences, however, is not exhaustive. In the newer time, one has taken the language as a basis. However, if you consider the past spiritual-scientifically, you get quite different views. You find that our white civilised humanity originated from the fact that certain parts separated themselves from the Atlanteans and developed higher under other climatic conditions. Certain parts of the Atlantean population stayed behind just on the former stages, so that we have to observe remains of the different Atlantean races in the population of Asia and America. However, they have changed; they differ from the original Atlantean population.

We distinguish seven human sub-races within the Atlantean population. Five of these seven sub-races are in an ascending development. I only want to mention here that the Chinese are descendants of the fourth sub-race of the Atlantean population, and that the Mongolians are descendants of the seventh sub-race of this Atlantean population. Memory and language gradually developed. Only with the third sub-race, with the Primal Toltecs, language appeared clearly. There also appears a culture supported on memory. The fifth sub-race which we call the primal Semites and which had established its main residence in Ireland was the first germ of our present Caucasian or — as spiritual science also calls it — Aryan human race.

A part of this sub-race — it was very unlike the modern Jewish population but was still called Semitic rightly because of certain processes — moved to Asia and developed the intellectual culture which spread then over Europe, southern Asia and over the population of northern Africa. On the other side, around this centre is a belt of human population that had manifold remains in its character from inhabitants of former times, remains of the Atlanteans. All these inhabitants left behind descendants, and thus we can imagine that the train, of which I have just spoken surged to Asia, collided there with a population that was left from Atlantis and maybe from Lemuria, and formed the Malayan races then. With them, one can perceive a drowsy being and a prematurity concerning passions and sexuality. In such a way, the Indian-Aryan race developed from a choice branch of the Atlantean population, with mixing in of remains of the old population. It connected a certain dreamlike, clairvoyant being with a peculiar intellectual worldview. Perhaps, in no other worldview the clairvoyant view of deeper forces of nature and a system of thinking with such an architectural unity and pervasive astuteness were connected with each other. We find other new populations of quite different forms in the direction to the Middle East.

Moreover, another train of Atlanteans went to America — the spiritual-scientific worldview can prove this. There were rests of Lemurians and of Atlanteans who intermingled in many respects. This Indian population faces the European immigrants later. There two very different human developments collided. What lived in the ancient times, a completely different soul element, something clairvoyant, something of the spirit flowing through the whole world still lived in this Indian population. A speech is preserved to us that an Indian chief held at a clash of Indians and Europeans. He condemned the breach of promise by the Europeans. One had promised to the Indian population, after one had taken their residences from them, to give them other residences. He possibly said the following, oh you pale-faces, you do not understand what the Great Spirit teaches us. This comes from the fact that you pale-faces read everything that the gods say from books that the letters in your books tell you what is true. You promised us that you give us land again, but you have not kept your promise because your god does not teach you the truth and keeping your word. We know a god who speaks to us in the clouds, in the waves, in the rustling leaves, in flash and thunder. The god of the red man keeps his word. The god knows that he has to be loyal to the tribe. — This was a great speech. The Great Spirit was a rest of a human view that originated from a dreamlike consciousness, from inspirations of higher forces. Hence, at the same time it was closer to the divine, the springs of the divine.

The languages teach us something similar. If we compare the different human races, we find a quite different structure in the languages of this external belt of peoples. We find the old Atlantean structure in the Mongolian languages, and we find something of Atlantean origin expressed in the structure of certain African languages. They emphasise the nouns, and they express by prefixes what we express by inflexions. We learn from that that they originated from an excellently working memory. The Mongolian languages show that they originated at a time in which memory did no longer function in such a way, as it was the case once. There the verbs are more developed which already tend to the reason. The Atlantean did not at all talk, actually, from memory. Everything was present to him. Not before one starts forgetting, the verb forms in the language. I would like to say that a magnificent monument of the middle of the Atlantean culture has remained, and this is the Chinese language. This language has something purely composing and at the same time something original where in the sounds even something inside, mental and a certain relation to the outside world is expressed. If we studied certain parts of the population in the connection with it, we could understand this completely.

We can understand our race if we pursue it in two currents, which we can clearly, prove. There we have that current at first, which moves from the west, maybe from England to Asia. It probably gave cause for the Indian, the Near Eastern-Semitic, for the Indo-African-Semitic races as well as for the Arabian-Chaldean race. Then, however, we must imagine another current that did not progress so far which came maybe only to Ireland or Holland, or also to the area that the ancestors of the ancient Persians inhabited. There we have a belt of related population through the area of the Persians via the Black Sea to Europe.

Thus, we can verify two zones of human population. One extends from India over here and encloses the southern peninsulas of Europe; the other encloses the zones located to the north with different gradations. There we have the Aryan one and the different Semitic gradations in Asia and Africa; then in Greece and Italy the Greek-Latin population. However, we have to imagine them also in such a way that it originated from the mixture with the northern belt which also encloses the Persian population and everything that developed, like from undergrounds, the Slavic and the Germanic populations in the west, and that which provides the basis more or less of all, the ancient Celtic population. We can imagine that we had an ancient Celtic population in the west of Europe. This part of the current of peoples lies farthest to the west, while the Persian population is that part which went the farthest to the east. The Slavic and the Germanic peoples stand between; intermingled with the southern belt, these established the Greek-Latin race. You can prove it in the languages that a relationship of the population exists, which expresses itself the strongest in the deep relationship of the languages in the northern belt.

There we have languages that are completely different from that which constitutes the character of the Semitic-Egyptian culture. The structure of the Semitic-Egyptian languages express what developed in the fifth sub-race of Atlantis as a Primal Semitic culture. It is characterised by the first lighting up of the intellect in the human development. Here logic and intellect developed first. The former dreamlike clairvoyant element intermingled in the most different way, and the different religions formed. However, the Semitic language does not have an atomistic character like the Chinese one, but an analytic character. On the other hand, the Caucasian languages have a synthetic character.

We distinguish five human races. I leave it undecided whether the word is used rightly or wrongly. The ancient Indo-Aryans with their marvellous visionary thinking established the first culture. This culture preceded the Vedic culture. That is why there are no recordings of it. What you read in the Vedas is only an echo of the ancient visionary Indian culture. Then the ancient Persian culture comes as the second race, that population which preferably applies the intelligence to the external work. The ancient Indian culture has something unworldly. In these northern regions, we find human beings who enclose the world who want to conquer the world who use tools and the like. Hence, we see in this culture how there the consciousness develops that humanity has to achieve something that there is good and bad. Here Ormuzd and Ahriman confront themselves. Then we come to the Near East. There develops another race. What expresses itself in the structure of the Semitic language is the combinatorial, the mathematical, and the logical-conceptual aspect. This faces us in the architecture of Egypt; this is expressed in the pyramids and in the great thought structures, then in the marvellous science, in the astrological form of astronomy.

We have three sub-races now. We come now to Europe to the southern peninsulas. There we find that which flows from the north and expresses itself in old cultural peoples. We find that something develops that looks for the inner life. While the Egyptian builds up externally, with internal symbolism, the Greek starts erecting monuments and cultivating sculpture stimulated by the mystery dramas. However, the most significant action within this fourth sub-race or culture epoch is the rise of Christianity. The southern peoples are not able to understand this Christianity in its peculiar figure. In Greece, it is Grecized, in Rome it is Romanised and becomes state church. This happened while the fifth sub-race approached gradually in the Middle Ages. This is our own sub-race. It had the task to bring the culture down to the physical plane. This indicates that sense and reason is in the succession of races.

Still in another sense, sense and reason are in this racial development. The human being consists of three members according to his lower nature: of physical body, etheric body, and astral body. The physical body is that which we see with eyes, can touch with hands. The astral body is the bearer of our desires, passions, and instincts, of our emotions, affects, of rage and hatred. The etheric body is the bearer of the vital forces. The human ego lives in them. This expresses itself differently.

I immediately want to begin with the way in which it expresses itself in our present cultural epoch. It has developed the physical body most remarkably, elaborated it most marvellously. The body, the brain became the tool of the intellectual life and thinking. Gradually the body had to be conquered. If you were able to look back, you would see that during the Lemurian age the body looks like an awkward huge thing. The astral body is not yet able to move the limbs. The ancestors of the Lemurian age were clumsy. You see this still echoing in the Native American population. On one side, the instincts still fight because the human beings do not yet have the consciousness to penetrate themselves from the inside, they work on the body from the outside, they tattoo it because it does not yet appear finished to them. If we go up to the other races, we see the human being conquering the etheric body. The functions of life and nutrition developed, so that the human being becomes a conscious and autonomous being from an unaware one.

The human being gradually starts the campaign of conquest through his own being. The Lemurians conquered the astral body, the Atlanteans the life body, and our present humanity conquers the physical body. The conquest of the spiritual-mental forces follows, which is the task of our time. Thus, the racial development gets an even higher sense and we understand that it is a training of the developing human mind. We look back to areas where the human being is structured quite differently. Our souls embodied themselves at that time and got to know the phenomena of the external world. Later they returned to the earth in another race and learnt to look into the world in another way. Moreover, it goes on that way. The human being goes through race by race. Those who are young souls reincarnate in those races that remained on their former level.

Thus, that which lives as race and souls round us fits into each other organically and mentally. Everything gets a sense, becomes transparent, and becomes explicable. We approach the solution of these riddles more and more and we can understand that we have to go through other epochs in the future that we have to go other ways than the race made them. We must be clear in our mind that mental and racial developments are different. Within the Atlantean race our own souls lived which developed then upwards to a superior human race. This gives us a picture of the human development up to our time.

Hence, we also understand the principle to found the core of a general brotherhood without taking into consideration race, colour, social rank et cetera. I shall explain this thought in particular. I wanted to show today only how in the different figures the same being exists, namely in a much more correct sense than the natural sciences teach it. Our soul steps from stage to stage, that is, from race to race, and we get to know the significance of humanity if we look at these races. We learn to understand one thing more and more, namely how deep and true the saying is, “Somebody was successful, and he lifted the veil of the goddess of Sais. However, what did he see? He saw — miracle of miracles — himself!” We see ourselves everywhere and in the manifold figures. — This is self-knowledge! The great saying in the temple of the Greek school of wisdom comes true: human being, recognise yourself.

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