What is Reiki

 I cover much more in classes, but the following will give you a basic answer to what is Reiki, or more correctly what is Usui Reiki Ryoho.?   

Continue reading about Usui reiki Ryoho or go to What are Gendai Reiki-ho & Komyo Reiki Kai styles of Usui Reiki Ryoho that were created in Japan and enbrace the essence of Usui Sensei’s original spiritula practice. 

The original spiritual practice/healing art, founded by Mikao Usui in Japan in 1922 is best described in his words, It is love, harmony, and healing energy”. © international 2002

Reiki cannot be learned from a book, DVD or over distance.  Mikao Usui did not write any book or journal about the spiritual healing art he created.  Dr. Usui, Mikao Usui’s brother who was a medical doctor might have written something, but it would not be about Usui Reiki Ryoho.  Any written materials within the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai are only available to members of the URR Gakkai. <learning Gendi Reiki Ho & Komyo Reiki Kai> 

Reiki'(‘ray-key’), is a Japanese noun that has many meanings, but it is commonly used to refer to one of the styles honoring the original Usui Reiki Ryoho, 

 In classes I explain why Hyakuten Sensei writes Reiki in Japanese Kana instead of Japanese kanji it is easy to understand why some distorted stories were created.  <most common myths> 

In Shoden (first level) in the first class we cover the history, or more directly the life events that lead to Mikao Usui gaining enlightenment, opening to a piece of universal energy, and creating what the original spiritual healing method called Usui Reiki Ryoho. 

The noun “reiki” was used by spiritual therapists during the Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-1925), and early Showa (1926-1988) Eras. The phrase “reiki ryoho” was used to refer to hands-on therapy.  Even though Usui Sensei created an original spiritual practice/healing art, the term “reiki ryoho” is not original.  The name used by the society Usui Sensei created, Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, was and is “Usui Reiki Ryoho.” international © Hiroshi Doi 2002

The first question asked when anyone hears the word Reiki is, what style of Usui Reiki Ryoho are you talking about, practicing, or teaching? 

‘Usui Reiki Ryoho’, is the name given to the original spiritual practice/healing art Mikao Usui created/founded in 1922, Usui Sensei created his original method/practice using the piece of universal energy to which he connected in 1921.

Being without ego at all times and in all places,Usui Sensei felt the gift with which he had been blessed to receive should not be kept to himself. 

Usui Sensei did not call himself a master of what he founded.  He was a martial arts master, grand master and O’Sensei. His students who were raised to the level allowing them to teach did not call themselves master. 

Some styles with energy/technique lineage through Hawayo Takata Sensei might say Usui Shiki Ryoho, which is part of the history I explain in classes. 

Univeral energy does not discriminate.  Styles honoring Usui Reiki Ryoho are for all forms of life; the only difference between People Reiki, Animal Reiki, and Bird Reiki is the life form receiving. 

Styles that honor Usui Reiki Ryoho, as Usui Sensei created, are not a religion nor a belief system; they do not use material objects and do not cause any harm.  Side effects are health and happiness.  Nothing bizarre or odd happens in classes or in healing sessions.

Usui Reiki Ryoho Practitioners and Shihans (master instructor/teacher of high standing) who have spent many hours/days in classes and practicing exercises and meditations, can allow the vibrations of unconditional love and harmony to flow to all forms of life, and events at all times and in all places.

Gendai Reiki-ho and Komyo Reiki kai were created in Japan. Each embraces the essence of Usui Sensei’s (honorable teacher) original spiritual practice that he first called ‘my method‘, and then ‘method to achieve personal’ perfection (internatinal © 1999).   

In styles of Usui Reiki Ryoho there is meaning behind the words that goes beyond translated words. Gendai Reiki-ho translates as Modern Reiki Method for Healing, but the meaning goes deeper.   

During the hours in classes, you can learn the depth of the meaning through the experience you gain doing the Japanese exercises, techniques and meditations.

One translation that has a deep meaning is Reiki light, which is obvious when you are studying or practicing a style honoring Usui Reiki Ryoho.

Usui Reiki brings the balance and harmony that heals in the best way for the life receiving without the need of symbols, material objects or designated hand positions. Where hands are placed is determined by the vibrations of the receiver and universal wisdom. <learning Gendai Reiki-ho and Komyo Reiki Kai>

Usui Reiki Ryoho provides a gental yet powerful complementary healing that can improve the quality of life in all people, animals, birds, and other life forms. 

You can read about Usui Reiki Ryoho or watch a video, but to know you have to experience.  Usui Reiki cannot be described in the same way we describe matter, because it is energy.  You know when you experience feeling inharmonic vibrations from cells in need and the universal vibrations of unconditional love and harmony. In-person classes with a qualified Shihan that gives you experience.  Any style honoring Usui Reiki Ryoho cannot be learned from a book, a DVD, or online. 

‘Usui Reiki’ is what we have come to call the piece of Universal Energy from the highest dimensions/the source to which Usui Sensei (honorable teacher) opened/connected during extremely deep meditation and fasting after attaining enlightenment 

Universal Energy does not shut down on holidays, turn off at night, or have office hours, and it does not depend on colors, material objects, designated hand positions or symbols.  <Read Reiki myths> 

Usui Reiki comes with universal wisdom; it flows to where is needed in the life receiving and heals in the best way at that junction in time.  <learning Gendai Reiki Ho & Komyo Reiki Kai>

The universal vibrations of love and harmony flow to the core of cells in need in mind, body and spirit together and then shine outward healing at a unique level that creates Wellbeing. 

Healing of the spirit is sometimes overlooked. Usui Sensei said, “If our spirit is healthy and conformed to the truth, body will get healthy naturally.© international 2002 

The universe allows freewill.  If for any reason any person, or other life form, does not want to receive Usui Reiki it will not flow.  No one can force universal energy on any life.  

Love is the essence of the great universe, harmony is its will and healing is to be realized as a result.”  © international  Doi 1999   The strength of Love and Harmony has been proven in many ways for centuries; being an actual piece of the source, Usui Reiki can replace conflict with tranquility.  

The Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai is a society founded by Usui Sensei in Japan for the beautiful reason I explain in classes. The same as with many societies around the world, the URR Gakkai does not make public what happens within its meetings, which has created distorted stories.  What is said and done within the URR Gakkai is kept sacred.  

Any journals that survived the WWII bombings have not been released to the public; what is shared within the URR Gakkai is known only by members of the URR Gakkai.  I completed the level allowing me to teach Gendai Reiki-ho directly under Hiroshi Doi who joined the URR Gakkai in 1993.

Each of the 2 Shihans (teachers) between himself and Mikao Usui where members of the URR Gakkai. Even though Doi Sensei prior to joining the URR Gakkai studied style of Usui Reiki Ryoho that had bounced back to Japan from other countries, he has kept Gendai Reiki-ho pure to the essence of the original Usui Reiki Ryoho.  He has not added anything into Gendai Reiki-ho from other practices. In classes he explains what not to do if anyone wants to know some of the popular Western Reiki exercises because he understands popular things can be tempting.  

Doi Sensei created Gendai Reiki-ho as a way to practice Usui Reiki Ryoho in daily life.  Gendai Reiki-ho is based on teachings within the URR Gakkai and was approved of by elders within the URR Gakkai but is not what is taught in the URR Gakkai.  What happens within the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai is not shared with anyone outside the URR Gakkai. 

Doi Sensei description of Gendai Reiki-ho is, “Ayashiku-nai, Okashiku-nai, Muzukashiku-nai”. © international 1999 Hiroshi Doi.  Translated into English it is, “nothing fishy, nothing odd, nothing difficult”. <learning Gendai Reiki-ho>

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Dr. Usui was Mikao Usui’s bother; he had nothing to do with Usui Reiki Ryoho.  This caused some of the mix-ups in Usui Reiki Ryoho’s history when it crossed the oceans. 

Mikao Usui chose a different healing path than his brother. That path resulted in him sharing a beautiful healing gift with the world. Being born into a Samuria family he was advanced in martial arts and earned the titles of master, grand master and O’Sensei in martial arts.  He did not claim to be a master of the original practice he created/founded, and no one can master universal energy.

Breaking Reiki down into rei and ki for a meaning is the same as breaking down kidnap into kid and nap or understand into under and stand.  As I explain in classes there is another Japanese noun beginning with Rei that has the translated meaning often confused with Reiki.

Ryoho is best translated as healing method.  Usui Reiki Ryoho is a healing method that brings the healing balance and harmony to all cells in need in mind, body and spirit together.

Gendai Reiki-ho and Komyo Reiki Kai create a healing rhythm in the entire life (mind, body, spirit and energy field/aura).  Healing universal balance and harmony flow to where is needed at that moment

It is important to know the resources of any person teaching or writing about any subject.

In 2002 I studied under Hiroshi Doi.  In 2003 I studied under Rev. Hyakuten Inamoto.  Each Japanese Shihan lives in Japan, has only 2 Shihans between himself and Mikao Usui, embraces the pure essence in which Usui Sensei created Usui Reiki Ryoho, and knows the Japanese dialect that Usui Sensei spoke.

At Usui Reiki Ryoho  2002 (international conference)  I met other Shihans from other countries who spent years researching and interviewing in Japan those who knew Usui Sensei.

Over the decades science has broken down healing into categories such as emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and many acronyms.  With Usui Reiki Ryoho it is simply healing of the whole/complete life, which cover all of those categories.

Usui Sensei said that the Five short lines of the simple Usui Reiki Gokai (5 precepts/5 principles) he brushed in 1921, are the key to health and happiness. In classes guide students to live the Usui Gokai.

The translated words that begin each line, Just for today or Now, have a much deeper meaning.  The translated Japanese poem I share in classes helps to explains the depth of the true meaning.

The Usui Gokai (five precepts) is said from the heart, the place of true knowledge.

One English translation given by a Japanese person living in Japan is as follows.

  1. I let go of anger
  2. I let go of fretful worry  
  3. I give thanks for what I have
  4. I do my work honestly/diligently 
  5.  I extend kindness

Beginning in Shoden (first teaching) classes I explain the depth of the meaning within each short line.  One of the goals in Usui Reiki Ryoho is to live the Gokai  <Learning Gendai Reiki-ho or Komyo Reiki Kai> 

Before I continue Gassho for not copying anything from this website. Feel free to contact me with any questions. 

Note that arigatou is the Japanese word for thank you. Gassho used frequently in styles honoring Usui Reiki Ryoho has a much deeper meaning, which I share in classes along with how to pronounce it.

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Styles honoring the essence of Usui Reiki Ryoho as it was created can be thought of as integrated healing. When all parts of the whole are healing together, well-being naturally happens. <Usui Reiki Ryoho is simple yet profound>

What is Reiki, what is Usui Reiki, what is Usui Reiki Ryoho, and what are different styles of Usui Reiki Ryoho are all different questions with different answers, as I explain in classes.

In Doi Sensei’s classes many things were shared with us that are not shared in his books. One example of these things is the truth surrounding Hayashi Sensei’s passing on (death); when I share this in classes students say it makes sense considering what was happening in the world at that time. 

My Canadian Usui Reiki Shihan, prior to Doi-Sensei and Hyakuten-Sensei, was an excellent source because of the years he spent researching factual history through Japanese sources. He also studied under Doi-Sensei and Hyakuten Sensei as did others who I communicated with at URRI 2002.  <Shihan Roberta R. Barnes>

What you see here is an introduction similar to the introduction of Hiroshi Doi’s book ‘Iyashion Gendai Reiki-ho’ written to introduce Gendai Reiki-ho.  As first translated into English in June 2000, it is an excellent book, but it is not a training manual.  Because Hiroshi Doi autographed a copy of this book for me and I received his training manual in classes I know the difference. <what is Gndai Reiki-ho> 

One of my student’s comments about my classes: “It was a joy to learn the history of Mikao Usui.  Roberta was incredibly clear and concise.  Incorporating the simply practice of Shoden level had immediate and lasting benefits.  I very much look forward to continuing study with Roberta.  She is a true Ray of Light!”– Karl

Once you know the factual history, you are able to see the life-time of events, mindset, beliefs, abilities and knowledge you would have to have/experience to teach yourself Usui Reiki Ryoho.

Many other healing modalities have been created; they are simply different than the original method Mikao Usui created.   

There is nothing uncommon or lofty about Usui Sensei’s teachings; once he attained enlightenment he was without ego at all times and in all places.  Therefore, you will not find any teacher of any style that honor Usui Reiki Ryoho who claims their style is the best or he or she is a master.   

Usui Sensei was a master, grand master and higher in martial arts; some referred to him as O’Sensei.  Usui Sensei did not say he was master of his original method/spiritual practice/healing art that he created, and obviously no one can master universal energy.    One translation of Shihan is master instructor, so the term Reiki master is simply a translation error.  

On Usui Sensei’s memorial he is referred to as simply Sensei, which gives the meaning of him being the’ honorable teacher.

Weaving Usui Reiki into your life after putting in the many hours of study with a qualified Shihan helps to improve the quality of your life, which automatically invites health and happiness. <learning Gendai Reiki-ho & Komyo Reiki Kai>

 Usui Reiki flowing to your mind, body and spirt through one who has studied a style honoring Usui Reiki Ryoho allows you to heal faster and better than expected. In healing sessions Usui Reiki flows to mind, body and spirit together as you slip into a relaxing yet energizing state. <healing sessions>

When mind, body, and spirit are in-balance and with harmony you can Usui Reiki heals all life return to your natural state of wellbeing. That allows you to experience the health an happiness that is best for you at that time.  

There is natural beauty in what is simple, and when you add in the profound, such as in Usui Reiki Ryoho, it is amazing.

The photograph of the deer and turkeys is the simple beauty I enjoyed one spring morning outside my natural healing studio 

Wildlife doesn’t search for ‘state of art’ ways to make things better, they simply are in-harmony with the natural world/universe around them and follow their dharma (A sanskrit word with a simple meaning I explain in classes)

There is a fine line between fact and fiction; if a person does not hear all that is being said he or she sometimes fills in the bnks with thier own facts form there memory. Three words you just read were not spelled corectly, but you may not have noticed because the mind can automatically rearrange things as you have seen or herad in your past. 

What I write is based on what I learned directly from my Japanese Shihans with a very close lineage to Mikao Usui <Shihan Roberta R. Barnes>   

Styles honoring Usui Reikio Ryoho as created by Usui Sensei do not use complicated rituals, material objects, charts of hand positions, many symbols or anatomy/biology studies.   <read Reiki myths>

The vibrations of universal love and harmony cannot be measured, manipulated, or touched, but this piece of universal energy is as real as the air you breathe.  

Whatever you believe becomes your reality, your way of viewing everything. 

 A quote from Buddha, “one cannot be on the path without becoming the path”.  

A quote I learned years ago is, “In what is seen should one be the seen”.

 Practitioners and teachers of styles honoring Usui Reiki Ryoho do not focus on treating the disease or injuries. We focus wellbeing of mind, body and spirit together. 

Gendai Reiki-ho and Komyo Reiki Kai embrace the quintessence of what Usui Sensei taught, practiced and lived.  Each style takes its cue from nature in being beautifully simple yet profound; healing happens in the way that is best for the receiver at that junction in time.   <what are Gendai Reiki-ho & Komyo Reiki Kai>


Light has been intertwined in spiritual practices and beliefs for centuries.   Shihans practicing pure styles of Usui Reiki Ryoho often say Reiki light.  Reiki light’s meaning is the most beautiful and nourishing light that goes beyond description because it is not the same as any light on this plane.  

 While Usui Reiki/ Reiki light will flow through you as soon as a qualified teacher/instructor has opened your pathway, that is just the beginning, Usui Sensei (honorable teacher) taught many powerful lessons, which I share in classes and in the newsletter I send to my students.  <learning Gendai Reiki-ho & Komyo Reiki Kai>

Scientific medicine is subdivided into many mental and physical forms; each having its own diagnoses and prognosis.  Usui Reiki Ryoho is healing for the mind, body and spirit of all people, animals, birds, other life forms and events.

 Usui Sensei recognized that there is an inner healer within all people and other life forms; he created a way to teach others how to allow Usui Reiki to awaken, realign, and enhance the inner healer while bringing the healing balance and harmony of universal energy to all atoms in mind/body/spirit together. 


       natural healing universal energy

Due to an abundance of canards/distorted stories and translation errors this beautiful spiritual practice we call Usui Reiki Ryoho might seem complicated and mysterious. Its true essence is complete healing that happens in a strong yet gentle way.  <read more>


When Usui Reiki is added into mainstream medical practices, including massage and acupuncture, the result is amazing healing of mind, body and spirit together. As one doctor said to me after completing a level, “it gives that extra I could not give before”.  

Usui Mikao (correctly written) spent many years in Buddhist and other studies for his self-growth, before he attained enlightenment and opened to a piece of universal energy during deep disciplined meditation while fasting. When you know the factual history it is easy to see what it would require to teach yourself Usui Reiki Ryoho, and why you cannot learn Usui Reiki Ryoho through a book, DVD, or instant download. 

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As originally created Usui Reiki Ryoho does not create a need for anything. Drinking water is not required, unless you are thirsty.  Eating certain foods or following certain procedures before or following a Usui Reiki Ryoho healing session or classes is not required–the universe allows freewill. <most common Reiki myths>

Each Usui Reiki Ryoho teacher or practitioner is pleased to show his or her energy and technique lineage back to Mikao Usui, certificates from his or her teachers, and most importantly tell you if he or she has changed the way in which he or she was taught.<Shihan Roberta R. Barnes>  


I enjoy allowing Usui Reiki Ryoho to blend with the harmony of nature.  One day while taking a photograph of what I thought was a baby humming bird, I heard a buzzing to my left.

Looking to see what it was I saw an actual hummingbird hovering and looking directly at me.  When I looked back at what I had been trying to photograph I saw it was a moth often called a fake humming bird.

The hummingbird seemed to be reminding me that there is a difference between the actual and the mako (created from what is wanted not what actually is)– even if they are both cute.  I still enjoy seeing the Clearwing Moths, but I no longer think they are related to the hummingbirds that visit my gardens 

The universe is endless/timeless and there are infinite cosmic energies; universal energy has an infinite number of vibrations and cords (as in music) within those vibrations. 

The actual piece of universal energy from the highest dimensions to which Mikao Usui connected, and developed his method around, is the vibrations of universal unconditional love and harmony. 

We all know how powerful love is; as a visual Dr. Emoto showed us the visuals of water molecules changing shape when exposed to various emotions; the water molecules exposed to love changed to a beautiful shape/form.  

Mikao Usui passed on in his sleep after a long day of giving blessings (healings) on March 9th, 15th year of Taisho (A.D. 1926).   He was born August 15, 1865.  

Usui Sensei attained enlightenment and opened fully to an actual piece of universal energy in 1921, and created his original method we not call Usui Reiki Ryoho in 1922.  In 2002 I listened to Hiroshi Doi say, “Usui Reiki Ryoho is worldwide healing method born in Japan”. © Universal Copyright 1999 

Mikao Usui

International © 1999 by way of Hiroshi Doi Sensei

One of the things Mikao Usui said in his humble way, “For achieving my teachings, training and improving physically and spiritually and walking in a right path as a human being, first we have to heal our spirit. If your spirit is healthy and conformed to the truth, body will get healthy naturally.”  international © Hiroshi Doi 2002– thank you for respecting these copyrights.  

While Usui Sensei’s brother was a Medical Doctor, Mikao Usui chose a different path.  A path that even today is a blessing to people around the world. Sensei meaning honorable teacher goes beyond Dr. when you reflect on the original spiritual practice/healing art he created.

Just as a baby is not born with an instruction manual, the piece of universal energy Usui Sensei opened to did not come with instructions.  Being able to create a way to share what had been bestowed upon him in only a year shows Usui Sensei’s intellect, his compassion, and his want to share with others.

Usui Sensei’s compassion caused him to create 3 symbols in 1925 for those students who needed something visual to understand energy/vibration. Prior to that he had not used symbols.  Whie you learn that Reiki symbols are only training wheels, you also recognize those 3 symbols represent so much that there is no need for any more. 

In the last part of the Usui Reiki Ryoho journey Reiki symbols and other training wheels become cumbersome and their weight can hold you back from resonating fully with universal love and harmony. Therefore, when you reach the third spiritual level preparing you for the teacher’s level, you learn to transcend all training wheels.   

Once Usui Sensei’s siritual practice crossed the oceans various teachers felt their own need to create their own symbols for various reasons. 

While Usui Sensei’s second awakening has been told in various way, the depth and importance of his first awakening is one of the important things explained in the first Shoden (level one) class. <learning Gendai Reiki-ho & Komyo Reii Kai>

One of the ways Usui Sensei (honorable teacher) first referred to his simple yet profound teachings was a  ‘Method to Achieve Personal Perfectioninternational © 1999.

Usui Reiki Ryoho is a blissful journey that you travel at your pace.  With each level your vibration raises and you are connected more fully to universal unconditional love and harmony.

What I am sharing here are only some of the basic facts about this amazing man and the beautiful gift he shared with the world. With so much to learn no level can be done in just one day and then it takes weeks, months sometimes years of practice before a students knows he or she is ready to move on to the next level.   

Experience natural healing energy

“Everyone is born with the right to be healthy and live with happiness, and the path of Usui Reiki helps us to fulfill that right.” © Roberta R. Barnes, 2002

When Dr. Chujiro Hayashi Sensei (who was a medical doctor prior to studying under Usui Sensei) combined Usui Reiki Ryoho with his medical practice the custom of the receiver laying on a table for a healing session was initiated. Nevertheless, you can receive from a qualified Usui Reiki Ryoho practitioner or Shihan at any time in any place. < healing sessions>


The healings I have witnessed and those that my students have told me happened through the Usui Reiki flowing through them have been nothing less then awesome.

While medical care should never be ignored or stopped without consulting the attending medical care professional, adding Usui Reiki healing sessions into the recovery process allows healing to happen faster and better than expected. I can state this without reservation as I personally have experienced it.

Usui Reiki Ryoho is no worry about whether the glass is half-full or half-empty, but instead is accepting what is within and moving forward in the best positive light for you.

When you take the time to study Usui Reiki Ryoho as a spiritual practice, and not a technique to satisfy an egotistic purpose ” © Hiroshi Doi 2002,  you learn what cannot be symbolized in any language.<learning Japanese Reiki>

More and more hospitals welcome qualified Usui Reiki Ryoho practitioners with certificates from qualified Shihans (master instructor) coming in to assist in the healing process of those patients who have requested it. 

Reiki is in harmony with nature

The sun may set but the universal vibrations of Usui Reiki Ryoho flow without harm even while you are sleeping.

 There remain many things that are currently kept sacred by Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai members. I explain in classes the reason Usui Sensei created the Gakkai, which reflects his want to share the gift he was blessed to receive with the world. <Gendai Reiki-ho & Komyo Reiki Kai>

The next time you hear something new about Reiki, stop and remember the world’s history from Usui Sensei’s birth year to the year following Hayashi Sensei’s passing on (death). Also ask where that information came from; it is not yours to judge, but it is yours to believe or not to believe. Usui Reiki Ryoho is the original spiritual practice Mikao Usui created in 1922; in his humble gentle way he never claimed it to be better than any other healing modality.


Usui Reiki Ryoho can be visualized as the nourishing sunlight that connects the earth with healing balance and harmony the morning following a disaster.

Call 207-445-5671 or Contact by Email  Shihan Roberta R. Barnes  Gendai Reiki-ho Shihan, Komyo Reiki Kai Shihan, Master Herbalist, Author and Speaker by Email today and begin your healing journey

Copyright (C) 2005 Roberta R. Barnes Natural Healing & Learning Center. All rights reserved.

Thank you for respecting the © on all the information I, Roberta R. Barnes, am sharing with you and not copying anything from this website without my written permission.  My journey has been long and I ask that you respect/honor those I have been blessed to have studied directly under . 

Resources for this article and sources of quotes are; Hiroshi Doi-Sensei and his Gendai Reiki Ho Healing Kyokai class 2002 (Hiroshi Doi jioned the URR Gakkai in 1993), Rev. Hyakuten Inamoto-Sensei and his Komyo Reiki Kai class 2003,  Richard Rivard Reiki Shihan I studied with from 1996 though 2001.  Interviews and research done by Usui Reiki Ryoho colleagues Richard Rivard, Tom Rigler, Dave King and Don Beckett.

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 last updated 01/28/2023

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