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To me, the Holy trinity, is 3 separate (but intimately interwoven) parts of the same thing (God) as perceived from the human form. Each part, when viewed microcosmically, is separate from the other parts, but when viewed macrocosmically, are essentially the same.

Left/Right and Center….. Up/Down and center…..
It is the expression of duality, and the acceptance of Oneness.

the father… above
the son… below
the holy spirit… the center

“as above, so below” – that which is above, is the same as that which is below (fractals, microcosms and macrocosms)

The father… in my opinion… is the source… the creative womb of the goddess of our universe… that which manifests… that which gives form to this physical matrix… the source of information and knowledge – the all-knowing father. Light is information… we are all light, just as any physical form. An example of the father – if you want something physical, would be the black hole at the center of our galaxy known as Hunab-Ku, or the energetic center of the initial Big Bang (all black holes are also white holes, which spew out all information in all directions)

The son, is the physical manifestation of that light. Jesus is the Son. The Sun, is the Son. I am the Son. You too are the Son… (let us forget masculine and feminine implications in the words used… I think it would be equal to say the Mother, the daughter, and the holy spirit) –IMO the reason Jesus kept saying that HE was the son, was simply because he had realized this fully to the point where he was no longer living in duality by his own egoic needs and was fulfilling the prophecy of the holy spirit.

The holy spirit, is the energetic connection between all things, between the father and the son, the son and the son, and between the father (with other fathers)…… <— the last point of this gets into multiverse ideas which I won't touch on because there's no way of explaining that in a defined sentence structure…

It is that which binds us together, transcendent of time and space. The father and the son is the duality.. the yin and yang.. the holy spirit is the realization that the separateness between the 2, is but an illusion, that the 2, are really part of a greater whole. This is the 3rd piece of the Trinity, which binds the first 2 together, to create the Holy unification of the God Head.

What this means to me, is every physical manifestation has the potential to channel God through themselves as Jesus did… just think what the world would be like if we all did that! ❤

Mind you this is all my own interpretation… just some thoughts that have been floating around for the past 4 years based on what I've learned on my own meditating on the words "The Holy Trinity"

New Age Theism: Introspect through a Buddhist Lens

Jeremy Green

The Institute of Production and Recording

The following is a research paper I wrote at the beginning of 2010 for a critical reading and writing class I took at IPR. What sparked my curiosity for this topic was a realization I had while in deep meditation my last semester at the University of Minnesota – Duluth in 2009. A realization that Jesus and other figures like him were simply enlightened beings. Countless internet searches and books concerning religion, spirituality, and history have led me to the same conclusion time and time again. It is my wish now to express my insights on the matter in hopes that we may perceive religions and theism in a fresh and new way. Enjoy!

New Age Theism: Introspect through a Buddhist Lens

Suffering… it seems to be the root from which all religions grow. As we struggle through the hardships of life we often wonder, ‘What is the meaning of all of this? Why am I here? To what entity do I owe such a life of devotion and suffering? And is it really worth it?’ As we search for the answers today we find a vast branching out of a variety of religious belief systems that attempt to explain the unknown—to preach what they have discovered and interpreted as the truth. But where are our questions really answered? Can they be answered by someone else—a belief system? And who has answered their questions? What was the fate of the man who first set out to answer these questions? Surely there was no one to confront about the subject. The first man to tackle these questions must have realized that the answers can only come from within. In our quest today we find ourselves torn and fragmented between the higher theistic religions who claim that God is this, God is that. But these are only symbols, they are not absolute. As hard as we try to explain and understand this aspect of God with our own languages and symbolism, we still cannot grasp its concept because we are limited by the symbols and metaphors we use to represent it. Is it even possible to describe the intangible with the tangible? So far it is proving to be futile. As a skeptic and pursuer of the Truth, I have removed myself from the religion to which I was born (Christianity) and immersed myself in the customs and beliefs of all other religions through my own self-interested research so as to explain just how exactly so many different beliefs can coexist in one world. But what I was surprised to find is that although these religions continually denounce each other’s authenticity, they really aren’t all that different from one another; their similarities seem to far outnumber their differences. But there has been one religion in particular which caught my eye that seems to encompass traits of all other religions while explaining the reasoning (or problem) behind their differences as opposed to glorifying them—Buddhism. In this research paper I will deconstruct the history of organized religions in order to propose a new way to approach spirituality, through a Buddhist lens—that all religions have some sort of validity that is universal, not contained within the relative absolutions of their beliefs but within the doctrines they teach which came from their founders—the ones who realized that the answers lie within.

Let me first begin by describing the life of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and how he came upon his realizations. According to Buddhist tradition and the oldest Buddhist scriptures, Siddhartha Gautama was born between 600-500 B.C. to a wealthy family in the Himalayan foothills in what is now Nepal (Mabbett, 2002, p.24). Prior to his birth, it was prophesized by royal sages that he was to become a great ruler or holy man (Polish, 2008, p.372). He was to live a life of fortune as prince and heir to the family throne. However, it was also prophesized that Siddhartha would see four signs and leave his throne to become a teacher of wisdom (Polish, 2008, p.372). Fearing the absolution of this foresight, his father sheltered him and forbade him to leave the palace. He was spoiled with gifts and luxuries and his cousin, the beautiful maiden, to which he was wed. Soon afterwards they had a child named Rahula, which means ‘bond’ or ‘link’ (Polish, 2008, p.373). This child was meant to chain Siddhartha to the palace emotionally so that he would not dare leave. However one evening, Siddhartha’s curiosity had taken hold and he bribed his carriage driver to take him outside the walls (Polish, 2008, p.373).

While outside he saw the four signs of suffering: disease, old age, death, and a man who sought to overcome these sufferings of the human experience. This was all that it took to incline Siddhartha to leave the material world and pursue the knowledge necessary to teach his insights. So fulfilling the prophecy of the royal sages, he abandoned everything that was his: the throne, the palace and its luxuries, his wife and child, and set out on his mission. He sought out various teachers and tried to learn their teachings, but realized that they had nothing to teach him (Polish, 2008, p.373). After spending some time wandering and fasting, he realized the only way to achieve enlightenment was through peaceful meditation which could only be compromised by physical discomfort (Mabbett, 2002, p.24). Eventually he came upon a tree, now known as the “bodhi tree”—the tree of awakening, under which he sat meditating for 49 days until he finally attained enlightenment, becoming the Buddha—the enlightened one (Polish, 2008, p.373).

What does it mean to attain spiritual enlightenment? According to the legendary Deepak Chopra,

“The meaning here is that your real self is not a person, that there is no such thing as a separate self, that a person doesn’t really exist. What we call a person is a transient behavior of the total universe, and when you get to the consciousness that is behind your thoughts, you are in touch with the same consciousness that is behind all the intelligent activity of the whole universe. So enlightened here means transcendence to that level of existence where the personal self becomes the universal self.” (Tolson, 2007, para.6)

What this says to me is that Siddhartha was able to tap into what is known to many as God-Consciousness or the Akashic Records. Also referred to as the Universal Mind, this is the place where answers lie within us. Instead of viewing things from our own egos, a subjective point of view, we are also able to view things from an omniscient and omnipotent perspective. With access to this knowledge, Siddhartha thereafter devoted his life to helping people overcome their suffering (keep in mind that the awareness of suffering is what drove Siddhartha to find answers). He taught lessons by telling short stories or parables that would bring the listener to the realization of certain truths eluding them. This seems strikingly similar to the story of another worldly religious icon, Jesus Christ, who claimed that God Himself was acting through him to rid man of his sins. According to Deepak Chopra, “…what Jesus calls sin, Buddha calls ignorance, lack of awareness” (Tolson, 2007, para.8). In order to truly understand the commonality between the two, we must further explore the doctrines of the Buddha.

The Buddha’s main focus was on the principle knowledge that humans were caught, by karma (the consequences of our actions in one life), in a wheel or an endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth, and that suffering would inevitably arouse from this chaotic behavior of the cosmos (Polish, 2008, p.375). Thus, developed the Buddha’s first teachings of what is known as the ‘four noble truths’. These four truths are as follows: dissatisfaction is unavoidable (suffering, stress, anxiety, fear, pain), the cause of this dissatisfaction is desire (greed, attachment, grasping, craving), there is an end to dissatisfaction (when we eradicate all attachment and desire), and the Eightfold Path (the second teaching of the Buddha) leads to the end of dissatisfaction (spiritual enlightenment) (Polish, 2008, p.375). The final goal, when all notions of clinging and grasping are cut and the karmic process of suffering ceases, is nirvana (Makransky, 2003, p.339). Nirvana literally means ‘going out’—transcending the wheel of karma (Polish, 2008, p.375). It is the realization and manifestation of the infinite and eternal. Makransky (2003) says it best, describing the aesthetics of nirvana:

“…nirvana’s most striking qualities are those embodied by holy beings far on the path to its realization, described in stories or met in person. Such qualities include deep inner peace, stability of attention, profound receptivity to others, equanimity viewing all persons as equal in their causes of suffering and potential for freedom, unconditional love and compassion, joy, humor, humility, penetrating insight that sees through others’ projections, and remarkable ability to communicate such wisdom to others as they become receptive. Such qualities of enlightenment are undivided from the qualities cultivated on the path to its realization.” (p.339)

Let us note that these traits bare remarkable similarities to those exhibited by Jesus. Realizing these commonalities allow us to interpret Jesus from a newfound perspective. Now, when we interpret Jesus’ calling through a Buddhist lens, we read that Jesus found God (nirvana) within himself through attaining enlightenment. He then went about spreading his wisdom throughout the world, acting as a symbol of God (Bodhisattva) in order to rid people of their ignorance (sin) and unawareness of the God-consciousness within them. Could this mean that we have misinterpreted the sayings of Jesus? That he wasn’t really speaking of some sort of higher being separate from himself? It seems here that Jesus was using symbols to communicate his ideas… after all, isn’t that what language and communication is? How do we describe something we don’t have words to describe? The answer, it seems, is through poetic manipulation of symbols. It is possible that we took the symbols Jesus used at face value and misinterpreted their true mysticism and poetic meaning. I believe that this misinterpretation has served to separate Buddhism and Christianity from each other in one cardinal aspect.

The way of the Buddha offers a guide to rid thyself of suffering, whereas Christianity imposes a belief system which is dependent on a higher life form to be the savior of life’s problems; pray to God and He may answer your prayers; do good and God will let you into the Kingdom of Heaven—oppose His ways and He will condemn you to hell. Everything is set as fact which serves as a framework of rigidity; there is no room for growth. I do not believe that this was Jesus’ intention. Lefebure (1996) explains that some Christians who have converted to Buddhism have complained that “Christianity merely talks about a loving God, whereas Buddhism offers effective strategies to change one’s awareness and cultivate a peaceful, loving attitude” (para.4). Christianity is constricted by the boundaries of its own belief system—a belief that materializes the immaterial. Buddhism has no such boundaries. The Eightfold Path is not part of a system. It is instead, a method developed by Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism himself, which aided the process of achieving the same spiritual enlightenment that he and Jesus had attained. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the only concept of God we possess is of this enlightenment. When Jesus says ‘I will lead you to salvation’ it does not mean he is the cause of this salvation, instead he is implying that he is an example of one who has found the way—follow this example and salvation will be yours. Alan Jacobs (2009) agrees that Jesus’ gospel teachings show marked similarities with the ‘four noble truths’ and the ‘eightfold path’ in respect to the causes of suffering and its remedies (p.127). However, Christianity lacks the information concerning how Jesus came upon this personal salvation and the metaphysics of the remedies he prescribed, whereas Buddhism presents it to you in a useful form. Why would Christianity deprive its followers of this knowledge—a knowledge that Jesus was clearly trying to convey to the fellow man?

There is one piece of evidence here that seems to sew the missing pieces of this puzzle together. The Bible gives no account of the life of Jesus and his whereabouts between the ages of 12 and 29. These are known as the ‘missing years’ or ‘the lost years’, the ‘secret years’, or ‘the concealed years’ because of the Church’s lack of accountability on the subject (Jacobs, 2009, p.157). According to Hanson (2005), any evidence not supporting the doctrines of the church of Christ was destroyed or rewritten by the church (p.86). Hanson (2005) goes as far as stating, “Even the four gospels were rewritten to provide the impression that Jesus never left Judea” (p.86). Now all it says on the matter is that “…the child grew and waxed strong, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him” (Hanson, 2005, p.78). While the church may have destroyed the evidence, the questions still remain: Who knows how Jesus grew with wisdom? Where was Jesus during the lost years? These 2 questions must be connected and there must be an answer that lies within the mystery.

One theory is that Jesus remained in Jerusalem throughout his early adulthood working as a carpenter with his father Joseph. Although this may seem like a somewhat reasonable explanation for his whereabouts during that time, it still does not explain why 18 years of his history are vacant from the gospels. If Jesus remained in Jerusalem there would have undoubtedly been scriptures and documentation of his whereabouts considering his youthful reputation.

Research in non-biblical texts, however, suggests that Jesus may have traveled outside of Jerusalem. Muslim accounts refer to Jesus as the “travelling prophet”—that he was called the Messiah because he wandered about and did not stay in one place (Hanson, 2005, p.78). Surely his travels would have led him into contact with other cultures. This seems like a much more reasonable conclusion than the traditional notion that Jesus stayed with his parents working as a carpenter. This raises the question of whether or not Jesus may have come into contact with other worldly religions like Buddhism.

For over 100 years, there has been research conducted linking the western with the eastern world. Many texts have arisen urging the similarities between the two religions, and expressing the many historical and textual evidences that invoke controversial ideas such as the religions of the world affecting each other. According to Makransky, the Buddhist was very skilled at communicating his truths from one culture to the next through their manipulation of symbols in symbol-based languages; this was helpful in the Buddhist’s missionary activity to spread their truths to the cultures of East Asia and Tibet in the first millennium C.E. (2003, p.335). This implies that Buddhism would have spread throughout East Asia before Jesus was born. This implication only reinforces the possibility that Jesus could have come into contact with other world religions. It would explain how Jesus was able to learn of such doctrines without leaving Jerusalem (if those doctrines came to him). It would also explain Jesus’ extensive use of metaphors and parables. According to Alan Jacobs, it seemed as if though Jesus was using metaphors in his own native language to describe doctrines (2009, p.138). Other research further emphasizes these implications.

In 1887, Nicolai Notovitch, a celebrated Russian adventurer set out on a journey through India and Tibet as an oriental correspondent. When he returned, he began writing articles about the unknown life of Jesus Christ (Jacobs, 2009, p.69). What did he discover on his journey that led to these writings? Surely it must have been something that grasped his attention. While in Tibet at a Buddhist monastery, he held a conversation with the head Lama there who spoke of the prophet Issa who had visited Tibet nearly 2,000 years ago (Jacobs, 2009, p.70). The Lama first notes that Christianity has diverted from its path by electing a false Dalai Lama (the Pope) to ‘act’ as an intermediary between the Earth and Heaven. Notovitch first interprets the Lama’s accusations as being directed towards Jesus. The Lama then replies, “It is not of him I speak, Sahib! We too respect the one you recognize as Son of the One God, not that we see in him an only Son, rather a Being perfect among all the elect. The spirit of Buddha was indeed incarnate in the sacred person of Issa who, without aid from fire or sword, has spread knowledge of our great and true religion throughout the world” (Jacobs, 2009, pp.70-71).

According to this Lama, the implication here is that Jesus was in contact with Buddhists and spread the knowledge of Buddhism (or a knowledge similar to Buddhism) around the world. Certainly this sparked the interest and curiosity of the explorer Notovitch, who was then led to the Hemis Monastery where the Gospel of Issa was read to him and translated from Tibetan (Jacobs, 2009, p.71). The Gospel was written by Brahmin historians (Indian priests) and Buddhists from India and Nepal describing detailed accounts Jesus’ appearance in India and Tibet (Jacobs, 2009, p.74). This is but one instance of a handful of historical and textual evidences linking Jesus to East Asia during the time of the ‘lost years’.

Jesus is found in sacred Hindu texts as Ishaputra and Isha-Masiha (Jesus the Messiah) in the Bhavishyat Maha Purana and as Isha Natha in the Natha Namavali Sutra (Jacobs, 2009, pp.122-125). He is found is the Chinese text, the “Glass Mirror”, as Yesu who proclaimed himself the savior of the world (Hanson, 2005, p.80). He is also referred to as Isa or al-Masih (the Messiah) in the Koran of Islam which claims that not only did Jesus escape his crucifixion, but that he lived the rest of his life as a religious leader in Kashmir where he is buried today (Jacobs, 2009, pp.143-144). In Kasmir he is known as Yuz Asaf (Son of Joseph), which can also be defined as the corruption of the Buddhist term Bodhisattva, meaning ‘enlightened-being’ (Jacobs, 2009, p.145).

Even more intriguing are the written accounts of “…the highly gifted spiritual and psychic medium, Reverend Dr. Levi H Dowling” (1844-1911) known as ‘The Aquarian Gospel’ published in 1908 (Jacobs, 2009, p.6). The transcription of this gospel, however, was no ordinary task, according to Dowling’s second wife, Eva Dowling, ‘after forty years of profound study and silent meditation, he entered deeply into the study of ethereal or heavenly vibrations. He found himself miraculously placed into that higher state of spiritual consciousness which allowed him to enter the world of those superfine ethers called the “Akashic”’ (Jacobs, 2009, p.7). He was then able to undergo a process known as spiritual channeling. Spiritual channeling is a process by which an individual enters a state of deep trance, becoming a channel through which the ‘spirit world’ can communicate with the physical world (Jacobs, 2009, p.181). Focusing on the life of Jesus Christ, Dowling was able to retrieve the necessary information from the Akashic to fill in ‘the missing years’ with incredible detail and startling insight. The book tells of Jesus’ life and journeys through India and Tibet as if from a first person account. How is this possible or even remotely reliable? The answer seems to remain within the teachings of our religious founders, Siddhartha Gautama Buddha and Jesus Christ, whom we relied on when there was no credible source.

The process by which Dowling wrote ‘The Aquarian Gospel’ seems to be the same process by which Siddhartha attained enlightenment and by which Jesus channeled the Holy Spirit through his being. Does this make Dowling, a human just like the rest of us, a god? Or does this make Jesus and the Buddha just like any other man? The answer, I feel, is both. Author Michael O’Keefe’s interpretation of the Aquarian Gospel provides us with insights into the nature of this:

“In this marvelous book of Christ, Jesus reveals that every living thing is a deity manifest, and each has a soul, which is on a very long trek – from total unawareness of its own divinity, to full consciousness. Every creature, after many incarnations, eventually becomes fully aware of its own divine lineage; and later, during subsequent incarnations, each one learns more and more about developing and exercising divine Strength, Wisdom, and Love; until eventually, every one (plant, animal and human) achieves pure perfection – oneness with God (our Father).” (Jacobs, 2009, pp.19-20)

According to Thich Nhat Hanh, a proponent of Zen Buddhism, Christ is no different than any other human being (Lefebure, 1996, para.32). He is but an example of a man who achieved this oneness—our elder brother who came forth to teach us. Further implications in the Bible draw us to this conclusion. In Luke 24.28-30 it states:

‘and they drew nigh unto the village whither they went; and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, “Abide with us; for it is toward evening and the day is far spent,” and he went to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and broke, and gave to them.’

This passage is interpreted by scholars as meaning that Jesus was very much alive and of the flesh; what need do spirits have to sit and eat (Jacobs, 2009, p.147)? Regardless of who Jesus may have claimed to be, he was still flesh and blood just like any other human being, just like Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.

If this is the truth, then how is that we still displace our faith in ourselves as divine beings and place it upon another—upon a symbol we call God? It all seems to be tied into a vicious cycle of suffering, hope, corruption and power. As religions conjure up their symbols and morals according to the experiences of religious and spiritual figures before them, they alienate themselves and their followers from the Truth that remains buried within our souls. Why do we seek to understand God from the outside-in when even Jesus Christ states “man knows nothing by being told” (Jacobs, 2009, p.53)? Clearly this means the only place we need to look is inside ourselves—through genuine experience. Yet we continue to perceive the information provided to us as fact without analyzing the data and coming up with our own interpretations. This pertains to the Buddhist concept that:

“…such speculative thought processes are intrinsically confused because they occur within a mode of attention that looks only outwardly, away from their own mechanisms of concept-making, reification, and clinging. Religious figures that cling to such representations of reality as absolutes are trapped unawares in the “net” of their own subconscious habits of thought which hide the unconditioned reality that transcends them.” (Makransky, 1996, p.342)

Many religions claim that their rendition of God is closer to the Truth than others—that the ideologies and dogmas they infer based on their interpretations of the divine are the only way to salvation. However, these dogmas are presented using the symbols native to the culture and language relative to the location of its origin. As it is clearly stated in the Aquarian Gospel:

“The nations of Earth see God from different standpoints, so He doesn’t seem the same to all. Man names the attribute of God he sees, and this to him is all of God; and every nation sees a part of God, and every nation has a different name for God. You Brahmins call Him Parabrahman, in Egypt He is Thoth, in Greece He is Zeus, Jehovah is his Hebrew name; but everywhere He is the causeless Cause, the rootless Root from which all things have grown.” –Jesus (Jacobs, 2009, pp.46-47)

What Jesus is implying here is that all religions have some sort of validity—that all religions stem from God. But when God is interpreted from indirect experience or conveyed to one who has not been blessed with that experience themselves, the process of clinging to symbols and representations as absolutes inevitably begins to spin out of control.

In essence, the main lesson learned here is that we must not cling to representations of the Absolute because it only serves to divert us from the Truth which can only be realized through genuine human experience. Just as we can describe an apple to someone with the symbols at our disposal, that someone will never know what an apple is, how it looks, how it tastes, how it smells, or how it feels until they have experienced it for themselves. Those symbols will resonate only with the past experiences of that individual. Rather than describing an apple to them, give them an apple and let them observe and experience for themselves. This principle must be applied to all areas of life, including God. Instead of defining God—let people discover the infiniteness of his wisdom within their inner silence. The rigidity of religion is uncharacteristic in an ever-changing universe. Even Buddhism is subject to this discrepancy. Although he holds viewpoints similar to that of Buddha, Deepak Chopra states “I don’t consider myself Buddhist because I don’t think Buddha himself believed in ideology or dogma. He would say that he was showing us very practical ways to get the same insights ourselves” (Tolson, 2007, para.7). Buddha proposed a guide which aided the process of enlightenment accompanied by the cessation of suffering. Perhaps Jesus may have been helped along the path of enlightenment by these practices, however the point is not to say that Jesus was a Buddhist or that he spread Buddhist doctrines, but that the knowledge and wisdom he taught came from the same source we are all allowed to access. I am proposing that Christ and Buddha taught the same doctrines—doctrines which can only be understood when realized within ourselves.

References

Chinn, E.Y. (2006, July). John Dewey and the Buddhist Philosophy of the Middle Way1. Asian Philosophy, 16 (2), 87-98. Retrieved January 19, 2010 from Infotrac Religion & Philosophy Collection database.

Hanson, J.M. (2005). Was Jesus a Buddhist?. Buddhist/Christian Studies, 25, 75-90. Retrieved January 19, 2010 from Infotrac Religion & Philosophy Collection database.

Jacobs, A. (2007). When Jesus lived in India: The Quest for the Aquarian Gospel: the mystery of the missing years. London: Watkins Publishing.

Lefebure, L.D. (1996, October). Mystical theology: The science of love. The Christian Century, 113 (29), 964-972. Retrieved January 20, 2010 from Infotrac Religion & Philosophy Collection database.

Mabbett, I. (2002, January). The beginnings of Buddhism: Ian Mabbett considers how Buddhism, while preaching the rejection of societys, simultaneously became a popular religion. History Today, 52 (1), 24-30. Retrieved January 19, 2010 from Infotrac Religion & Philosophy Collection database.

Makransky, J. (2003, June). Buddhist perspectives on truth in other religions: Past and present. Theological Studies, 64 (2), 334-362. Retrieved January 19, 2010, from EBSCO MegaFILE database.                                  

Polish, D.F. (2008, Summer). The Buddha as a lens for reading Koheleth/Ecclesiastes. Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 43 (3), 370-383. Retrieved January 19, 2010 from Infotrac Religion & Philosophy Collection database.

Tolson, J. (2007, June). Imagine the life of Buddha. [Interview with D. Chopra]. U.S. News & World Report, 142 (23), 28. Retrieved January 19, 2010 from EBSCO MegaFILE database.