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The Riddles of the World and Anthroposophy

Schmidt Number: S-1287

On-line since: 15th August, 2016

Parzival and Lohengrin

Berlin, 29th March 1906

Eight days ago I was allowed to speak to you about the esoteric core, about the spiritual contents of those great legends in which Central European thinking and feeling express themselves in the first third of the Middle Ages with the renewal of which Richard Wagner achieved something prophetic for our art at the same time. Today another legend type has to occupy us, two legends that Richard Wagner also renewed and which were made accessible to art significantly in our time. The Parzival and the Lohengrin legends should occupy us today. With both these legends we touch a land different from that was which occupied us eight days ago. I want to characterise in a few words once again, what takes, actually, the Siegfried and the Nibelungs legends up and what lives in them. The old spiritual experience of the ancestors expresses itself in the consciousness of the Central European population. This consciousness is sunken in the darkness of the time, and the usual sensory view has already substituted it in the epoch in which these legends originated. It was the old spiritual experience, which still lived like an echo, just as the world of the gods or legends.

The legends of the Nibelungs and of Siegfried are echoes of the ancient pagan time with its secret doctrines, with its views of the initiation of the old leaders of the people, and we have found Siegfried as such a great initiate of the Teutons. However, Lohengrin and Parzival are individualities of quite different type. We enter that time with them when Christianity, a worldview completely new to Central Europe, had spread out and won influence. Now the whole being of the newly emerging Christianity and everything that is connected as a result with it lives in these both legends, in the Parzival and in the Lohengrin legends. We want to imagine how the being of medieval-European development expresses itself in this legend world at first. We have emphasised eight days ago that to us the legends of Siegfried and the Nibelungs point to an ancient prehistoric time in which a kind of natural ties of love connected the single tribes, the single parts of the population. Something like an echo of this time is contained in that which Tacitus reports when he says that the Germans still revered an old tribal god at whom they looked up like at a father with whom they were connected by family ties, which extended to tribal communities.

The blood, the natural relationship gave that love. Every single tribe had such a tribal divinity that had a kind of ancestor again. This natural love is a result of the blood relationship, resting like a breath on these old times, and just the recollection of these old times and tribal communities, of this old love, based on blood relationship, is expressed in the legend type of the Nibelungs. We have seen that the legend type of the Song of the Nibelungs originated in a time in which the tribal love had already withdrawn. Something else replaced it: greed, everything that is symbolised by the gold that is connected with egoism and is based on it. The old love based on blood relationship was no longer authoritative, but new connections that were based on statutes, contracts and laws. This reversal is reflected in the legend of the Nibelungs.

Later, other aims replaced these old communities, which were based on gold, so to say, on possession and mere warlike knightly bravery, which were out for possession. Other ideals gradually appeared with Christianity. The inner being of Christianity maybe was nowhere expressed as magnificently and tremendously as in the legends into which we settle down bit by bit and in which the task of Christianity within Central Europe is represented allegorically: in the Lohengrin and Parzival legends.

What did Christianity have as its elixir of life? The absolute equality of all human beings. One felt Christianity that way at least at that time. One felt freedom, equality before the highest that the human being can imagine as the jewel, as the real mission of Christianity. The ancestors of the Teutons were proud of the name of their ancestors, of the name of a tribe or of a family name. They referred to it if they wanted to assign value to themselves in the world. They referred to the law, to titles and names in the time, which had superseded the family love. Now both should no longer be valid, but simply the human being had to be important who felt intrinsically in his core. The human being without title, without name was the Christian ideal. Something great was said with it. The Lohengrin and the Parzival legends express this.

How do both legends express this? If we take the Parzival legend, we need only to visualise the structure of the Parzival legend how it lived in the Middle Ages, lived in Wolfram von Eschenbach (~1170-~1220). We have to deal with a young person who grows on, torn out from any community, torn out from that which gave distinction and weight to the human beings at that time. The mother Herzeloide experienced that sufferings, pains could be connected with the old order that was based on titles, distinctions, and names. In the old order, her husband was led to the East where he had an accident. Now she wants to bring her son up far from all those things. He should know nothing about the striving of the worldly knights. However, one day he sees such worldly knights. There he decides to depart, and he starts hiking. We know that this hike leads him to two places that we must consider as something particularly important for the spiritual perception in the middle of the Middle Ages.

The first place to which the Parzival comes is the Round Table of King Arthur; the other place is the castle of the Holy Grail. What are these? In the Middle Ages one imagined the Round Table of King Arthur as a community from which all spiritual strength goes out for that which existed in the Middle Ages before the influence of Christianity as worldly knighthood, generally as all worldly. We come back to ancient times, to those times to which we could point already last time in the talk on the Song of the Nibelungs. We know that the Teutons, the ancestors of the German and Anglo-Saxon tribes took an area in possession that other tribes inhabited, the Celts in primeval times. The Celts: one only knows a little about them; history tells a little only about these past times of Europe in which these strange people had big influence which was pushed then by the invading Teutons to the west, but was also forced back there as people. The Celts were forced back as people. Their influence has remained. A spiritual sediment of this old Celtic time exists in Europe. In this Celtic time people still beheld clairvoyantly into the spiritual regions. Ideas of the spiritual world remained from that.

Among the Celts, the old clairvoyance was preferably home, the immediate consciousness that one could have experiences in the divine-spiritual world. The stories and dramatic actions are an echo of the instructions that the initiate Celtic priests gave to their pupils and via the pupils to the whole people. There we refer to those primeval times of Europe, when there were real initiates, initiates of the old Celtic paganism on European territory.

What I have told to you about the initiation of Siegfried, of Wotan and so on, all that leads back to the old initiations of the old Celtic priests. These old Celtic priests were of the same spirit as in ancient Egypt, in ancient Chaldea or ancient Persia the priest sages were as rulers. They were the rulers. Everything that happened in the world that belonged to the external organisation was done according to the instructions of the priest sages. Everything public, everything common was controlled by the wisdom of these original scholars of Europe.

King Arthur about whom one says that he withdrew with his Round Table to Wales and lived there was nothing else than the learnt lord of these sages who formed a spiritual centre, a kind of spiritual monarchy. One felt that this spiritual centre, I would like to say of “original scholars,” with his choice twelve companions was there. This has good reasons. Thus, one tells that King Arthur was nothing else than the successor of that directing scholar of the old Celtic priests in Wales. With it, we immediately recognise that there was something in Europe that we call a Grand Lodge in spiritual science.

Let us now realise the concept of a Grand Lodge. You know that we think seriously of development, that humanity develops, that humanity ascends higher and higher, that every single human being can ascend the path of knowledge up to those stages where he himself beholds into the spiritual worlds, where the primal ground behind the world manifests to him.

If we speak of the possibility of development of humanity, it is also not abstruse to realise that there are higher developed individualities in humanity already today who have run ahead of the remaining humanity and have walked the paths of knowledge and wisdom due to a life full of renunciation, so that they can be leaders of modern humanity. Today where one levels everything, where one does not want to recognise anything, where one talks of development, but does not want to believe in development, one does not accept this. However, in the times when one knew something of it one really spoke of the existing development.

According to a natural principle, we find twelve different forces of the spirit. I have said about Goethe that he himself talks about such a secret brotherhood that he considers as Rosicrucians. One spoke of such a Grand White Lodge in the Middle Ages. From this, the strands went out which controlled life. One recognised that who directed all that in King Arthur, who lived concealed in Wales. Around him were his knights who were, indeed, no longer at the height of the priests of the old Celtic time for whom the time of love had transformed into a time of egoism when one attempted to conquer countries with the sword in the hand. However, they were still under the guidance of the White Lodge.

Indeed, the question immediately suggests itself: if there are such lodges — also even today —, why do they not appear? — I have said often enough that it depends not only on the fact that somebody appears, but also on the fact that he can be recognised. Today also, Jesus would probably not be recognised. It is hard to recognise a sage within his time. It belongs just that to it which theosophy or spiritual science wants to bring again to humanity. If it finds its way, one understands such a thing as the Round Table of King Arthur, the directing white lodge.

This was the one: Arthur. The other is the castle of the Holy Grail. Only by way of a hint, we can deal with it. One says that the Holy Grail is the chalice in which once Christ Jesus with his disciples took the Last Supper, the wine, and in which his blood was then collected. Then the lance was also brought to Europe with which the side of Jesus was pierced. The chalice of the Holy Grail is on monsalvaesche (mons salvationis = mountain of salvation) where a holy castle was built up. The Holy Grail has the capacity to give everlasting youth, the force of everlasting life generally to somebody who is familiar with its miracles who lives with its sun of grace.

Again, these are twelve, but Christian spiritual knights now. The old Templars guard the Holy Grail, and they used the forces, which they suck from this guard to pour out the spiritual knighthood of the heart, of the inner life, over Europe. Thus, one countered the white lodge of the worldly knighthood that moved to Wales with the spiritual knighthood in the castle of the Holy Grail, which is placed on the Spanish mountain monsalvaesche.

Which task did the knights have who were in the castle of the Holy Grail? The task of the knights of the Holy Grail was not to make conquests, not to acquire external possession, not to appropriate seigneuries; their task was to make the conquest of the soul life. One tells to us about the treasure of the Nibelungs, about the gold as a symbol of possession, as an aim worth striving for by the Nibelungs, the Holy Grail is the spiritualised treasure of the Nibelungs, the treasure of the soul. What is the strength that goes out from the Holy Grail in reality? What do those twelve knights work who are in its castle? A spark of the divine lives in every human being, as often the theosophical worldview emphasises. The mystics of the Middle Ages had their great ideas in the same time in which also these legends originated. They spoke of the fact that the human being is a fourfold being. There is at first the external physical human being who lives here in this world who strives for possession who is on the lookout for gold. The second one is the mental human being who suffers and is glad who has instincts, desires, and sensations who must be gradually improved. The third human being is an even more internal one. He is a spiritual human being who attains admission to the spiritual world bit by bit. The innermost human being is the divine human being. This is that who today and this was felt in particular in the Middle Ages — is only in the earliest stages. To develop this disposition of the divine spark more and more, to raise the human being to the higher worlds, this one had aimed at in the initiation of the old paganism. One aims at this now within the Christian world in a new way. In addition, the Christian initiation was internalised.

You remember from the former talks how the initiation ceremonies were in the old times how the human being had to go through procedures that lifted out the internal soul from the physical body, so that the human being was enraptured to the higher world and could witness the qualities of the higher world. An external procedure belonged to it to go through all that. Christianity should bring an initiation that takes place only in the deepest inside, in the concealed sanctum of the soul. There the god should be searched for, the god, who brought salvation to Christianity by pouring his blood; every single human being in his soul should find this god. The single human being should really be able to attain that which Angelus Silesius, the great Christian mystic, later expressed with the words: “If you rise above yourself and allow God to prevail, then ascension takes place in your mind.” The task of the knights of the Holy Grail was to develop the internal vital spark in the human being.

The Holy Grail was nothing else than the deepest inside of the human nature, and it was something uniform because the internal human nature is a uniform one, because a life spent in the pursuit of wisdom raises hope that one could understand what is meant with the big unity, with the big divine spark. They were there as the brothers of the Holy Grail. Parzival wanted to find the way to the Holy Grail. The legend tells now that when he came to the Holy Grail, he found King Amfortas bleeding at that time. One had said to him to ask not much and nothing wrong. Hence, he did not ask for the wounds of the king and not for the meaning of the Holy Grail. That is why he is cast out. He should ask for the qualities of the Holy Grail and the wounds of the king. This belongs to the experiences that are to be done in the divine life that one must ask for it. He must long for it. The Holy Grail exists; one can find it, it is bestowed on everybody, but it does not impose itself. It does not come to us; we must feel the longing for the Holy Grail, the internal sanctum, the divine vital spark in the human soul. We must have the desire to ask for it. If the human soul has found the path up to the god, the god descends to it. The secret of the Holy Grail is the descent of the god who descends, if the human being develops up to the divine.

John the Baptist shows this following the baptism of Jesus: a dove came down and sat down on the head, and a voice spoke from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; in you I take delight” (Mark 1:11). The Holy Grail is shown in the figure of a dove allegorically.

Parzival was not yet ripe with his first visit in the Grail castle to experience what we have just described. When he felt cast out, something came to his soul that must come to every soul once if it should really become ripe for the last stages of knowledge. Doubt, disbelief, inner mental darkness come to Parzival's soul. Indeed, someone who wants to ascend to knowledge must go through the hard school of doubt once. Not before one has doubted and has gone through the tortures and everything that doubts may bring along, he has acquired that certainty in his inside that he will never lose knowledge again. Doubt is a bad brother, but a purifying brother. Parzival goes through these doubts now, and he brings himself to that knowledge which consists of something else than of intellectual knowledge. Richard Wagner expresses this knowledge with magnificent correctness, maybe not quite philosophically or psychologically correctly but analogously, while he calls Parzival (Parsifal) the “pure fool” who becomes knowing by compassion.

Thus, we come to the description of the way that someone has to go through who still has to struggle through to the stages of higher knowledge. You know that it is the path of the pupils and that one distinguishes there three stages. If anybody has acquired the qualities that constitute the preparatory path, if he has purified himself of the uncontrolled ideas and leads a pure life, then he becomes ripe for chelahood, then he becomes ripe to get the guru, the spiritual leader. The first stage of the path to higher knowledge consists of the fact that one learns to behave quite impartially to the world, to practice love without the slightest trace of any prejudice from the inside. Why do the human beings love in the usual life at first?

Because they have a blood relationship, because they have been connected by any ties for long. This is right. However, who wants to go the path of knowledge must penetrate to another form of love. Nothing that ties me together with a human being in a special way is allowed to prefer him regarding my love. I am only allowed to ask for that which is outside me. Has my brother or my brother-in-law any advantage? No! With it, I say nothing against the love for our relatives; it should concern only the traits of the human being. Even if he is quite foreign to us, we recognise that he is worthy of our love, then we love him like one who is connected with us for long. Such a human being is on the first level of chelahood. We call him the homeless human being because he has lost what one calls home in the ideal sense. This is also meant by the sentence you find in the New Testament: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even his own life, he cannot be a disciple of mine” (Luke 14:26). This sentence means the same, and one felt Christianity that way in Central Europe. No name and no title should give a preference of love. Someone who ascends the path of knowledge should found love for any human being on his innermost worthiness and value.

If the human being has climbed up the first steps of the path of knowledge, the hard moments of doubt come. While we get to know the world more and more and delve into love more and more, the more we also get to know the black and bad side of the world. These are the hard days of the initiates. The initiate struggles upwards bit by bit. Then there awakes that soul light which like an internal sun illuminates the spiritual things and beings. We see the objects round ourselves with eyes because the light shines on these objects. Actually, we see the rays only which are reflected by the objects to us. We do not see the spiritual things because no spiritual light shines on them.

However, who has advanced so far that the so-called kundalini light shines to him is on the second stage of the path of knowledge. Someone has arrived at the third stage who has succeeded in feeling his ego without preference, who does not esteem himself higher than other human beings, who finds his higher ego in the love to all beings. Who does no longer hope for his own selfish ego, but hears the properties of the beings speaking has arrived at the third stage of the path of knowledge. We call him a swan in the secret doctrine, and this is a term that is used all over the world where there is spiritual research.

What does this degree bring? It brings the effluxion about all beings. There we are no longer concluded like within a skin from the world. Foreign pain is our pain, foreign joy is our joy, and we live and are active in the whole existence. The whole earth belongs to us. We feel in everything. Then one does no longer know that one looks at the objects from the outside, then it is, as if one is in them, as if one had penetrated into them by love and thereby knows them. By compassion, by this empathy all knowledge has originated.

A hermit, Trevrizent, initiated Parzival in this wisdom. The fact that he is a hermit is typical. He is somebody who is lifted out of the remaining humanity who has really left everything behind: father, mother, brother, sister, and has become a disciple of that who does not know such differences. There Parzival is informed of the higher virtues, and there he becomes ripe for entering the castle of the Holy Grail and for asking which the miracles of the Holy Grail are. He is taken up; he releases the wounded Amfortas and becomes Grail King. An internal, human way, the way that the secret doctrine prescribes all over the world, transferred into the Christian, a way on which Parzival is described. Lohengrin belongs to the Grail Table. He is the son of Parzival. Whereas the passageway of the human being to the higher self is described in Parzival, a historical-social mission of the middle of the Middle Ages is described in Lohengrin.

Initiates led the medieval folk consciousness, it was not blind as the scholars imagine. This folk consciousness recorded an important epoch in the middle of the Middle Ages. What happens there? Briefly: an important historical event happened, the so-called urban civilisation started. The old feudal time experiences a mighty revolution. Whereas one dealt once only with land ownership, only with a rural population, now we see in Germany, France, Belgium, in Russia everywhere single cities originating. Cities are founded; one notes a jerk forward in the human development. What had happened there in these foundations of cities? The human beings were torn out from the connections to which they have belonged once. Everybody who felt enslaved went to the city. There he was on his own. There he was only as much worth as he could achieve. The bourgeoisie came into being in the middle of the Middle Ages. This mighty reversal is expressed in the legend of Lohengrin.

Whereas Parzival shows how the human being finds a higher ego in himself, how he dedicates himself to the pilgrimage to the higher ego, Lohengrin shows how the medieval folk goes through a tremendous epoch of human development, namely the human being is freed and his personality comes to light from the old organisations.

If we want to understand the connection of this historical event with the legend of Lohengrin, we have to know that in all mysticism this stage is symbolised by a female personality. Therefore, Goethe also spoke at the end of the second part of his Faust of the fact that the everlasting-female draws us upwards. This must not be interpreted trivially. In truth, the human soul is meant which pulls up the human being. In the general, the soul is shown as female and that which surrounds the human being from without as male. The striving soul is always shown as female.

In the secret doctrine, one knows that the great leaders of humanity, the initiates, further humanity always to a higher stage. Lohengrin is the herald of the Holy Grail. The medieval consciousness regards him as the great initiate leader who furthers humanity to a higher stage in the middle of the Middle Ages. He was the bringer of the urban civilisation, who inspired the bourgeoisie in its originating. This is the individuality of Lohengrin. Elsa of Brabant is nothing else than the symbol of the medieval folk soul which has again to make a developmental step forward under the influence of Lohengrin. This progress in the history of humanity is nicely and tremendously shown in the legend.

We have seen that the pupil initiated in the third degree is called a swan. The master who is deeply initiated rises higher, he rises into the transcendent world, in those worlds, to which the human consciousness does not extend. He knows everything that expresses itself in humanity only in his inside. One cannot ask him, where from you are, which name do you have? — It is the swan that brings him from even higher spheres. Hence, the swan brings Lohengrin into the epoch of urban civilisation. Look at the progress, which has been made in the old Hellenism. The gods in Greece are nothing else than deified initiates. Take Zeus, who consorts with Semele; from this affair Dionysus originates. The Greek culture arises from it. All great proceedings of humanity are shown in this way. Elsa should not ask for the name and origin of that who leads her and becomes her husband. It is with all great masters that way; they go unrecognized and unnoticed through humanity. If one asked them, they would be shooed away from humanity. It is necessary that they save the sanctum from profane looks and questions. This would be also the case if one gave people an understanding of the being of such an initiate. At such a moment, such a being would also disappear as Lohengrin also did. Lohengrin is called a son of Parzival. That means that the liberation of the medieval bourgeoisie took place under the influence of Christianity.

Thus, we look into the legends of the Middle Ages and see how nicely the facts of the spiritual life are expressed in both legends. The mission of Christianity for the medieval culture became with it the mission of the liberation of the human being from the earthly human body. This mission was shown in both legends. It worked on Richard Wagner in particular. He always tried to show the pure love that makes the human being clairvoyant. Already in 1856, he started a drama, called The Victors: a Jandala girl loves Ananda, a Brahmin young man. However, Ananda is far separated from the love of the Jandala girl because of the caste division. He is not allowed to pursue the love of the Jandala girl. He becomes a victor about his nature becoming a pupil of Buddha. As adherer of Buddha, he finds the victory, there he finds himself again, and there he overcomes the human affection. One tells that the Jandala girl was a Brahmin girl in a former life and rejected the love of a Jandala young man. Then she also becomes a victor and is spiritually united with Ananda, the Brahmin. Later, Wagner wanted to use the figure of Jesus of Nazareth in a drama.

He had in mind the complete inner nature of Christianity and the teaching of the free human being who is not bound to title and to anything else. The Holy Grail seeks in the inside of the human soul. In 1857, on Good Friday — Wagner tells — he faced a wonderful nature in Zurich. There something flowed out to him for a moment that expressed the whole mood in him that penetrated the whole knighthood and the Christian knighthood. He says to himself, like by an inspiration, at that day when Christ Jesus died, no one is allowed to bear weapons.

At that time, he realised the whole greatness of the figure of Parzival who attained knowledge becoming engrossed in humanity and in all beings. Now he resumes his incomplete piece The Victors in a Christian-modern way. He shows Parzival as somebody who leaves his home who knows nothing about names and titles, about ties and nothing of father and mother. He meets, on one side, the magic castle of Klingsor and the enchantress Kundry. Meeting Kundry he experiences the whole significance of the earthly sensuous life and what it means if the human being gets to know it only by desires. On the other side, he realises in that moment when Kundry kisses him that this sensuous appears in its true acceptation in the human being only if it is free of desires. Richard Wagner nicely shows the sensuousness free of desires how it is gained by the internal strength of the spirit, the Parzival spirit that he calls the Christian one. He shows how it is gained on one side by the Holy Grail and on the other side in the magic castle. On one side by overcoming it, on the other side by deadening it. These are two sides, which are used to ascend to the spirit. The ones deaden the sensuous living ascetically; they take the organs away from themselves in order not to become addicted to weakness.

The others remain human beings, they do not want to ascend to higher knowledge this way, but they want to develop the higher to a bigger strength in themselves. Parzival recognised this way as the right one. One has to become stronger as strong as the temptations may be. Then it is that time to be taken up in the Holy Grail. Now he asks correctly and is initiated into the secrets of the Holy Grail, he is ripe for becoming the Grail King.

Wagner endeavours to show the Holy Grail. For years, he pursued studies, not academically, but fulfilled with artistic and visionary gifts. He pursued studies, while he complied with the spirit of the medieval legends, so that he really expresses that guidance caused by initiates of the Middle Ages where the old order is represented by Ortrud, the new order by the emerging consciousness of the people which wants to free itself. This consciousness, which the swans introduce, the chelas of the third degree, is symbolised quite appropriately by Elsa of Brabant and Lohengrin.

Wagner appropriately shows the greatness that is in it. The renewal of art was crucial to Wagner. He wanted to make something out of art again that came close to religion, he wanted to embody moods with his pieces of art that lead the human beings again to the divine by which he wanted to make the artists religious leaders. Wagner needed topics that led beyond the usual life. He also wanted to represent the spirit of Christianity, the spirit of love for humanity artistically. He felt deeply and seriously, how in the newer time the spirit of egoism, the spirit of the external possession, substituted the spirit of love. He describes that which developed as social order and with which he went along intensively and radically, as pursuit of gold, as a time the real Christian spirit of love must supersede again. He wanted to represent something like love flowing in a world where the gold rules in his music dramas with the means of the supernatural and divine living in the human being. Hence, he also resorts with these questions to the great legends of the Middle Ages. This lived in Richard Wagner.

You can realise how theosophy or spiritual science approaches with its view of the myths the art of Wagner. The theosophist realises above all that we have to see in the legends nothing else than pictures and expressions of great truth. The pictures of the development of the external life and the soul were given to the ancient peoples. In the Lohengrin legend, something is made clear, so that the human being knew what happens to him if he has arrived at certain stages. Truth is announced to people in such a way that they can grasp it. There were and there are tribes and peoples that can grasp the great truth only in legend form. Today we are no longer talking pictorially. Spiritual science contains the same truth that was put before the folk in magnificent legends, which Wagner tries to renew. Spiritual science speaks in another way, but what it lets stream into the world is the same spirit. Thus, we feel that not only that is true which Schopenhauer says that the great spirits like Plato and Spinoza, Buddha and Goethe, Giordano Bruno and Socrates, Hermes and Pythagoras understand each other, talk with each other, communicate mentally. Not only this is true, not only the choice individualities understand each other, but also that which lives as truth in the spirit of the people. This sounds together for a big historical sound of the spheres, and we feel this if today we realise what lives in the legends and myths, if we let it rise for the higher soul of the present. Truth lives at all times and expresses itself in the most various forms. If we penetrate into this truth, we understand how the peoples and times speak in these single forms, and we hear it echoing how in the manifold tones the one truth announces itself to all peoples, to all human beings.




Last Modified: 19-Sep-2018
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