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What Eastern Philosophy & Zen Teach Us: The Absurdity Of Seeking Only “High Energy”

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During the current Presidential campaign Donald Trump accused Jeb Bush of being “low energy” and the description seems to have stuck, and to have hurt his rival.

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As one looks around social media, it also seems that everywhere the notion of high energy is reinforced; many posts memorialize activity and movement, and many times there are photos of experiences that are challenging, dangerous, or adventurous.  The implication seems to be that if you aren’t always doing amazing things you aren’t really living.

This can take its toll on people leading a “normal” life where they have many responsibilities and little or no opportunity to do amazing stuff.  Holding a job, raising a family, or just getting through the day seem like significant achievements.

The mass media is also instrumental in promoting a predisposition for high energy.  Pharmaceuticals and drinks promise a boost; perfect people populate many TV shows and most advertisements suggesting that we measure up; and even older people, when they make their way into a movie, video, or on TV are generally shown as upbeat, active, and youthfully feisty.

But is this realistic?

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Eastern philosophy and Zen remind us that every state carries within it its opposite.  There is no light without contrast to dark, love without boredom or negativity, day without night, and so on.

Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth and the Power of Now, makes it a point to assert that inevitably life brings with it periods of low energy which can last minutes, hours, days or even years.  His counsel is to be present during these periods and avoid mental labels and interpretations that brand the experience as negative.  It simply is what it is.

I addressed many of these issues in an article about my own anxiety and insomnia which discussed accepting lower energy states.

One of the things I discovered in dealing with my own issues is that trying to maintain a façade as a high energy extrovert is exhausting — especially if  it is your nature to be more quiet and contemplative.  And the consequences of seeing oneself as a failure in maintaining such a persona can be devastating.

It is truly important that we acknowledge and scrutinize all aspects of personality and character deeply.

In fact it precisely within the cult of the positive that some dark aspects reveal themselves.

In the Shadow of New Age Spirituality” by Carolyn Baker, PhD is an article in Huffington Post that truly illuminates the darker side of New Age thought – its ability to cloak truly malevolent actions.

In the piece she highlights the case of Marc Gafni, a “spiritual teacher” who, like many others, used his power to manipulate women; he is referred to now as a New Age Bill Cosby.

Gafni was a colleague of Ken Wilber, co-founder of the Center for Integral Wisdom, and well respected when numerous women came forward and accused him of being a sexual predator.

The truth of these accusations is not at issue here; rather it is the necessity for truth over fantasy and the confrontation of the stark reality within human nature, in all of its many aspects, including the “shadow.”

“The shadow, said celebrated Swiss psychiatrist C.G. Jung, is the unknown ’dark side’ of our personality–-dark both because it tends to consist predominantly of the primitive, negative, socially or religiously depreciated human emotions and impulses like sexual lust, power strivings, selfishness, greed, envy, anger or rage, and due to its unenlightened nature, completely obscured from consciousness.”  (Source: Psychology Today)

The reality is that extended anxiety or depression is often the result of failure to confront the shadow.  Pretending it does not exist (because you’re [supposed to be]  “spiritual”) is sometimes called “spiritual bypass”…

Confronting all aspects of humanity is the only way forward.

Quoting theologian Barbara Brown Taylor:

The problem is this: when, despite all my best efforts, the lights have gone off in my life (literally or figuratively, take your pick), plunging me into the kind of darkness that turns my knees to water, nonetheless I have not died. The monsters have not dragged me out of bed and taken me back to their lair. The witches have not turned me into a bat. Instead, I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.

This is also a cornerstone of the philosophy of nonduality — the recognition that duality (wholeness) requires both sides, yin and yang, masculine and feminine, light and dark.

“ ‘Bringing the shadow to consciousness,” writes another of Jung’s students, Liliane Frey-Rohn (1967), ”is a psychological problem of the highest moral significance. It demands that the individual hold himself accountable not only for what happens to him, but also for what he projects. . . . Without the conscious inclusion of the shadow in daily life there cannot be a positive relationship to other people, or to the creative sources in the soul; there cannot be an individual relationship to the Divine.’ ”

Does this mean we should accept destructive or criminal activity and look the other way?

On the contrary — embracing the shadow means taking full responsibility for the full spectrum of human emotions but making conscious choices that enhance life.  The state of presence described by Eckhart Tolle is not passive nor apathetic — it is authentically human and open.

It is the antithesis of New Age Polyanna “niceness” and positivity, and in many ways like leaving childhood behind and being an adult — becoming a complete being who understands all aspects of life but puts her energy into seeking the truth, even when it may be uncomfortable.

Remember that seeking “self improvement,” higher energy, or enlightenment is an assumption that as a human you are wanting, incomplete, or not enough.  Openness and wholeness embrace all aspects of the human condition and proceeding from that assumption enables us to truly live a life of fulfillment.

You may not always be blissful, energized, or upbeat but you will always be present to reality.  That’s a great start.

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Consciousness

New Study Finds Humans Can Access a Higher Level of Consciousness

Gautam Peddada

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Photo By Zelenov Iurii

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new study sheds light on the existence of a higher level of consciousness in humans that is accessible.

  • Reflect On:

    Does consciousness originate in the brain or somewhere else? What does this say about who 'we' are as humans?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

New research has discovered verifiable evidence of a higher level of consciousness. Researchers used brain imaging equipment to analyze the small magnetic fields created in the brain and discovered that, across three psychedelic substances, one measure of conscious level — neural signal diversity — was consistently greater.

Neuroscientists discovered a prolonged increase in neural signal diversity — a measure of the complexity of brain activity — in persons under the influence of psychedelic substances as compared to when they were awake.

The variety of brain impulses gives a mathematical indicator of awareness degree. People who are awake, for example, have more diversified brain activity than those who are asleep, according to this measure.

However, this is the first study to show that brain-signal diversity is more than baseline, that is, greater than in someone who is merely ‘awake and aware.’ Previous research has focused on decreased states of awareness, such as sleep, anesthesia, or the so-called vegetative state. More research utilizing complex and diverse models is required, according to the researchers, who are cautiously hopeful.

Professor Anil Seth, Co-Director of the University of Sussex’s Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, stated:

“This discovery demonstrates that the brain on psychedelics functions quite differently than usual.”

“As evaluated by ‘global signal diversity,’ the electrical activity of the brain during the psychedelic experience is less predictable and less ‘integrated’ than during regular conscious wakefulness.”

“Since this measure has already shown its value as a measure of ‘conscious level’, we can say that the psychedelic state appears as a higher ‘level’ of consciousness than normal — but only with respect to this specific mathematical measure.”

For the study, Michael Schartner, Adam Barrett, and Professor Seth of the Sackler Centre reanalyzed data that had previously been collected by Imperial College London and the University of Cardiff in which healthy volunteers were given one of three drugs known to induce a psychedelic state: psilocybin, ketamine, and LSD.

Using brain imaging equipment, scientists examined the small magnetic fields created in the brain and discovered that, across all three medicines, this measure of conscious level — neural signal diversity — was consistently greater.

The researchers emphasize that this does not imply that the psychedelic state is a “better” or “more desirable” state of consciousness; rather, it demonstrates that the psychedelic brain state is distinct and can be related to other global changes in conscious level (e.g., sleep, anesthesia) by using a simple mathematical measure of signal diversity.

“That identical improvement in signal diversity was discovered for all three medications, despite their rather distinct pharmacology, are both quite remarkable and also encouraging that the results are robust and reproducible,” said Dr. Muthukumaraswamy, who was involved in all three original research.

The findings might help feed ongoing conversations concerning the strictly supervised medical usage of such medications, such as in the treatment of severe depression.

“Rigorous research into psychedelics is garnering greater interest, not least because of the therapeutic potential that these substances may have when taken wisely and under medical supervision,” said Dr. Robin Cahart-Harris of Imperial College London.

“The current study’s findings assist us to comprehend what happens in people’s brains when they experience psychedelic consciousness expansion. People frequently report having “insight” when using these substances, and when this occurs in a therapeutic setting, it can predict beneficial outcomes. The current discoveries may help us understand how this is possible.”

In addition to informing potential medical applications, the study contributes to developing scientific knowledge of how conscious level (how conscious one is) and conscious content (what one is conscious of) are connected.

According to Professor Seth:

“We discovered links between the intensity of subjects’ psychedelic experiences and variations in signal diversity. This shows that our metric is closely related not just to global brain alterations caused by medicines, but also to features of brain dynamics that underpin specific kinds of conscious experience.”

The study team is currently concentrating their efforts on determining how particular alterations in information flow in the brain underpin certain components of the psychedelic experience, such as hallucinations.

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Consciousness

Does Consciousness Create Our Material Reality?

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CE Staff Writer 7 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new study authored by Robert Lanza suggests observers" are responsible for determining physical reality, and that conscious observers themselves generate and create the structures of time and space.

  • Reflect On:

    We observers, people like you and I, are responsible for how consciousness forms into physical matter, what does this say about the power of our individual and collective beliefs?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Where does the “physical” world come from? Matter at its smallest observable form, atoms, pop in and out of existence all the time. The idea that physical matter is birthed from a non physical realm, such as the “quantum vacuum” or the “void”, or something else we are unaware of is not novel.  Nikola Tesla himself believed that “all perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the akasha, or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life-giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never-ending cycles all things and phenomena.” (Man’s Greatest Achievement, 1907)

A paper published by Parahamsa Tewari in the journal Physics Essays explains,

“A century from now, it will be well known that: the vacuum of space which fills the universe is itself the real substratum of the universe; vacuum in a circulating state becomes matter; the electron is the fundamental particle of matter and is a vortex of vacuum with a vacuum-less void at the center and it is dynamically stable; the speed of light relative to vacuum is the maximum speed that nature has provided and is an inherent property of the vacuum; vacuum is a subtle fluid unknown in material media; vacuum is mass-less, continuous, non viscous, and incompressible and is responsible for all the properties of matter; and that vacuum has always existed and will exist forever….Then scientists, engineers and philosophers will bend their heads in shame knowing that modern science ignored the vacuum in our chase to discover reality for more than a century.”

This non-physical “field” may also be dark energy, we don’t really know or understand it quite well, but we know it exists. A declassified Defense Intelligence Agency document touches on this,

“We do not understand why it exists or how it is created; we simply know it provides an ever-present force on spacetime, causing the universe to expand. Indeed, recent high-precision experimental observations indicate dark energy may be a cosmological vacuum energy.”

So, if our material world is birthed from this non material “stuff”, does consciousness play a factor? It’s interesting to contemplate, especially given the fact that consciousness is not a physical thing, nor is it the result of any known physical process or biology. You cannot pinpoint or find the source of consciousness within the brain. Even at the quantum level, factors associated with consciousness have been known to change the behavior of matter, like photons, suggesting that matter itself may be a conscious perceiving thing.

Does this mean that all “physical” things possess some type of consciousness? Photons don’t have a brain, do they? What about plants? There is a growing amount of evidence suggesting that plants act and behave in ways suggesting that they are a thinking things, capable of feelings, emotions, perceptions and thoughts.

If consciousness can have such an influence over matter, and is a non physical property that exists within all physical things, could it somehow be responsible for the creation of reality? This has been a common theme discussed within the realms of quantum physics for quite some time. In fact, the discussion of “ether”, this non physical, indescribable “stuff” has been the subject of contemplation for thousands of years. Plato wrote about the ether  in his work Phaedo, and explained how life exists within it. He believed what air is to us, the ether is to them. Is the ether alive? Is the universe itself, which could be primarily made up of this non-physical stuff, a conscious living entity?

You cannot explain consciousness in terms of the existing fundamentals like space, time, mass,  and charge. As a result, the logical thing to do is postulate whether consciousness itself is something fundamental to the existence of reality, to view consciousness itself as one of these fundamentals.

“Why do you insist the universe is not a conscious intelligence, when it gives birth to conscious intelligences?” Cicero, c. 44 BCE 

A New Paper

Another paper has emerged claiming that “observers” are responsible for determining physical reality, and that conscious observers themselves generate and create the structures of time and space.

What’s interesting to contemplate here is that, if this is true, it would include all “observers” within the universe itself, not just human observers. It reminds me of the double slit experiment, where tiny bits of matter are shot through a slit forming what’s called a wave pattern of probabilities and possibilities, but when an observer is introduced the wave function collapses.

One of the authors of the paper, Robert Lanza, told Big Think that observers can dramatically affect the “behavior of observable quantities” both at a microscopic and massive spatiotemporal scales. In fact, a “profound shift in our ordinary everyday worldview” is necessary. The world is not something that is formed outside of us, simply existing on its own. “Observers ultimately define the structure of physical reality itself.”

How does this work? Lanza contends that a network of observers is necessary and is “inherent to the structure of reality.” As he explains, observers — you, me, and anyone else — live in a quantum gravitational universe and come up with “a globally agreed-upon cognitive model” of reality by exchanging information about the properties of spacetime. “For, once you measure something,” Lanza writes, “the wave of probability to measure the same value of the already probed physical quantity becomes ‘localized’ or simply ‘collapses.'” That’s how reality comes to be consistently real to us all. Once you keep measuring a quantity over and over, knowing the result of the first measurement, you will see the outcome to be the same

The implications of this are and have always been quite large. The idea that consciousness itself is fundamental to reality suggests that it must have played an integral part in the creation of reality, that consciousness itself had to exist prior to the birth of physical material reality. One could go on and on contemplating things like: if consciousness is fundamental to the creation of physical matter, then what created consciousness itself? Where does consciousness itself originate from? Does existence itself even have a beginning? Can the future change the past, can the past change the future?

Who knows, but the most important point to takeaway here is that consciousness itself is fundamental to the creation of our physical experience. If we want to change the world, ultimately we have to change the way we think, feel and perceive. This is a key factor that is directly intertwined with the type human experience we create for ourselves.

This is why, perhaps, sometimes it seems that the greatest resource for powerful people, politicians and corporations is human consciousness itself.  If we ourselves determine what direction humanity heads simply by what we think and feel, just imagine what somebody could do if they could manipulate that aspect within us? The state of the world today, some might say, is chaotic, and that could be a direct result of the fact that the collective mind and heart is not in a state of coherence.

You might say “we are all over the place.” We’re separated by our beliefs and unable to come together in understanding and harmony. This collective state of being in turn will create a physical experience that reflects that, which is exactly what we are seeing today and have seen throughout human history.

Below is a great little documentary from a colleague of mine, it’s based off an essay he wrote for his philosophy master’s degree. It dives a bit deeper into this discussion.

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Consciousness

‘Ring Of Fire’ Solar Eclipse In Gemini: A Shift In Mindset

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

We are having a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Gemini on June 10th which peaks at 10:42am Universal Time. It will be an annular eclipse which is when the Moon almost completely blocks out the Sun with the exception of its outer edges. It appears like this because the Moon is near its apogee, which is its furthest distance from the Earth. This type of eclipse is also referred to as a ‘Ring of Fire’ due to it appearing this way.

The full annular eclipse will only be visible from parts of Northern Ontario (Canada), parts of Northern Quebec (Canada), parts of Nunavut (Canada) as well as Northwestern Greenland and a portion of Eastern Russia. It will be seen as a partial eclipse throughout most of Canada (with the exception of Southwestern part), the Northern half of Alaska, most of Eastern USA, parts of North Central USA, Greenland, most of Russia, most of Europe, and parts of Asia closer to Russia. However, from some of these locations the Sun will be barely eclipsed and with a shorter window to see it.

A Solar Eclipse is a much more significant type of New Moon which influences a longer term period then a regular one. This is when it occurs near the Lunar Nodes, which is where the path of the Sun and Moon intersect from our perspective on Earth. This happens every six months, along with Full Moon Lunar Eclipses happening prior or following. In this specific case we had a Lunar Eclipse in Sagittarius two weeks before this one. You can read more about that one here.

Both Solar and Lunar Eclipses reflect changes and shifts which affect the following six months and could also influence up to six weeks prior. You may or may not see the effects of it around the time it occurs, but you may feel it and then see it play out in the weeks or months afterwards.

Eclipses are always part of a series that occur in the same opposing signs for 1.5 to 2 years which is where the Lunar Nodes are for most of that period. The positions of the Eclipses and the Lunar Nodes reflect an evolutionary process in how we work with the energies of these signs and pertaining to the areas of our lives being affected (based on our astrological blueprint at the specific time of each of our birth). What results from a series of eclipses in the same signs over these approximately 1.5  to 2 year periods may have longer-term effects beyond the window in which they occur.

North Node Solar Eclipse In Gemini

The shifts reflected by this eclipse are connected to Gemini themes and areas of life, ultimately leading to a revision in how its energies are expressed. It is near the Lunar North Node which in many cases could also indicate changes that have an increasing effect on Gemini expressions.

This process is something that began a year ago and will play out until the end of the year. However, this energy will be the most prominent now, from late Spring to Early Summer. This is because it will be the only Solar Eclipse in Gemini (in this eclipse series) along with its ruler Mercury being retrograde here as well.

Gemini belongs to the Air element which is socially and intellectually oriented. As a Mercurial sign, it is associated with the mind, communication, information, words, writing, facts, curiosity, and commuting. Gemini energy is adaptable, dualistic, agile, versatile, rational, and quick witted yet can also be restless, scattered, duplicitous, overly talkative, and superficial.

Gemini correlates with our local/immediate environment, neighborhood, neighbors, siblings/cousins, communication devices/computers, childhood education, vehicles, and friends/acquaintances from earlier years. Gemini energy is also associated with LGBTQ+ matters as well the different expressions and orientations under that umbrella.

Solar Eclipse Conjunct Mercury Retrograde, Applying Square To Neptune

As mentioned above, Gemini’s ruler Mercury is also retrograde in its own sign of Gemini. What is very interesting is that the halfway point of this (three and a half week) retrograde process will occur hours after this eclipse. This is when Mercury is aligned with the Sun (and the Moon in this case), known as its ‘inferior conjunction’, and is a very significant period of the entire retrograde.

The ‘inferior conjunction’ is a time in which Mercury passes through the heart of the Sun  (from a geocentric perspective) and is symbolically seen as a ‘purification’. In our real world experience, it can be a time of ridding ourselves of certain thoughts, ideas, perceptions, old interests, expectations, or other things that are not serving us while the potential for new ones may be seeded. We may experience important insights that can contribute to this process. Although this technically occurs on June 10th/11th, these themes can also play out in the days surrounding this period.

Considering that this significant astronomical event is occurring in the hours following the eclipse, this can suggest that the Mercury retrograde effect of re-calibrating our minds and perception can also be a major part of a longer term astrological backdrop over this following six months that is under the influence of this eclipse. This is a rare occurrence to have both of these happening at the same time, and its even more rare and interesting that it is all happening in a sign that Mercury rules.

The Sun and Moon in this Solar Eclipse are also moving towards a square with Neptune in Pisces. This can add to the scattering and lack of focus reflective of Gemini and the Sagittarian energy of the previous Lunar eclipse in the same nodal polarity. This can also bring confusion, uncertainty, and deception.

Facts, details, and rational thinking can be in conflict with illusions, fantasy, escapism, and ideals. Issues around lack of boundaries may also be a theme over the coming months. This energy can be good for creative efforts that are mentally or communication oriented, or spiritual practices that involve air such as breathwork and meditation. Some of this can play out around June 13th/14th when the Sun makes an exact square with Neptune.

Saturn In Aquarius Square Uranus In Taurus

This month Saturn in Aquarius is currently in its 2nd exact square with Uranus in Taurus which I have mentioned in previous articles. This started in February when the first square occurred and is present all of this year and somewhat next year. This month, especially from June 8th-20th, will be one of the stronger periods of this energy especially when it peaks around June 14th/15th.

This reflects tension and challenges between Saturn and Uranus themes or expressions. Saturn is traditional, conservative, serious, rational, and cautious. It rules commitments, maturity, responsibilities, limitations, restrictions, the status quo, the established order,  and structures. It is about patience, practicality, discipline, and boundaries.

Uranus is freedom seeking, detached, revolutionary, radical, rebellious, progressive, reforming, idealistic, unconventional, inventive, innovative, futuristic, and scientific. It represents new technology, discoveries, surprises, disruptions, and separations.

This configuration can play out as ‘old versus new’, ‘restrictions versus freedom’, ‘the status quo versus revolution’, ‘commitments/responsibilities versus liberation’, ‘elder versus youth’, ‘progressiveness versus tradition’ and so forth. This can also be a time of integrating Saturn and Uranus such as applying new, technological, scientific, or metaphysical approaches to help us with our work.

In some cases we can express a certain mix of combined Saturn-Uranus themes and be at odds with a different mix of these energies. Depending on the variables, this can potentially lead to contradictions or hypocrisy.

Venus ‘Out Of Bounds’, Square Chiron & Sextile Uranus

Venus, the planet of love, relationships, friends, social life, values, money, beauty, art, and aesthetics, went ‘out of bounds’ on May 23/24th which will last until June 17th/18th. This when a planet moves outside of the boundaries in the sky which the Sun travels from our perspective on Earth. This is about exploring new territory as well as going outside of our usual limitations and conventional ways of doing things in regards to how we approach Venus areas of life. This can also reflect seeing things objectively and from a different perspective.

At the time of this eclipse, Venus in Cancer is moving towards a square with Chiron in Aries which will be exact on June 12th/13th. This can bring up wounds, blockages, negative patterns, or can reflect themes around healing, holistic perception, or perhaps solutions when it comes to love, friendships, pleasures, values, or monetary issues. In some cases these themes may be tied into family matters, security, or emotional needs being at odds with our individuality and personal needs.

Venus is also in a sextile with Uranus in Taurus which can bring a new, stimulating, unusual, exciting, inspiring, liberating, unexpected, or unique energy around our relations with others.  This can also reflect surprises, positive changes, or freeing type of developments around financial matters.

In some cases it can be good for exploring new ways of making money that can be innovative, online, metaphysical, or technologically oriented. This will be strongest on June 13th/14th but it’s possible that our experiences of both this Venus-Uranus configuration and the Venus-Chiron one mentioned above may be intertwined.

Things To Consider

Is there something that you need to shift when it comes to your mindset? Do any of your perceptions, thoughts, ideas, or approaches to communication need to be revised? What has been coming up for you that can be contributing to this process? Is there anything that you need to change or adjust when it comes to your relationship with neighbors, close friends, siblings, or extended family? Are your sources of information reliable, factual, and rational? Do you need to look at things more objectively?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up during this period and over the coming months; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  This isn’t a time to necessarily set intentions but instead to embrace the evolutionary process that eclipses facilitate. It will peak and reach its maximum eclipse at 10:42am Universal Time on June 10th while it will begin and finish approximately two and a half hours before and after. The exact moment of the New Moon will be 10:53am Universal Time. You can click here to see when the peak is in your time zone.

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