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Bak Poya

The significance of Bak Poya

In the fifth year of Enlightenment, The Buddha, perceived with His Divine Eye, a dispute was brewing in the island of Sri Lanka, between the two Naga factions between the two Naga communities under the Kings Chulodara and Mahodara. The fascinating story according to Mahawamsa – the great chronicle was that Mahodara, was the ruler of the Naga Kingdom of the sea. His younger sister was given in marriage to a Naga King who was residing on Kannavaddhana mountain. Her son's name was Chulodara.

His beloved mother's father had given to his beloved mother a very valuable magnificent Gem studded throne.

A dispute arose this ultimately ended with a battle between the uncle and nephew. Both were engaged in a tussle to own the Gem studded throne.

It was on Bak Pura Pasaloswaka Poya Day the Enlightened One visited Nagadipa in Northern Sri Lanka to settle the dispute, as peace-maker and preached His doctrine to the Naga community. This was his second visit to the blessed island. The Buddha visited Sri Lanka, accompanied by a deity or deva namely Samiddhisumana.

Peace-loving Buddha, hovering in mid-air above the battle field of the two Naga factions, first created complete darkness. It was a miracle of the Buddha.

When the Nagas saw the Blessed One in the air, they joyfully worshiped and paid their highest obeisance. They were so pleased, they worshiped Buddha with great respect. The two parties involved in the war listened to the doctrine of Buddha, which highlighted peace and harmony. Both parties were over joyed. The Blessed One descended to earth, expounded the Jataka stories of Kakoluka (269), Endana Lajukika (352) and Wattaka (35). Noteworthy significance of Buddha's sermons were a strong message. They were adopted the story telling method to convince his audience. Buddha was a great communicator.The Kakoluka Jataka tale is woven round the controversy between the birds and animals. The Bhikkhus once questioned about the date of controversy among the crows and the owls. The Buddha stated that it began an aeon ago. He stated, when he was sojourning in the Samsaric journey, as a golden swan, the controversy came to an end.

The Latukika Jataka centred round the evil one, Devadatta. The Bodhisatva, the present Gautama Buddha was born once as the King of elephant. Ketakirilla, an innocent bird appealed to the king not to damage the eggs. In the forest there was a lonely vicious elephants (Devadatta) who planned to kill the Bodhisatva elephant with the assistance of a frog, a fly (nilamessa) and a crow.On the Bak Poya Day, Buddha ended His tour to Nagadipa by delivering Wattaka Jatakaya, a story of a crow.One of the important lessons that we can learn from the noble life of Compassionate One, is that this teachings convey to all of us that one who conquers through enmity and hatred, suffers, mentally. One who is defeated suffers in pain. Therefore, the lesson that we must learn and follow on this Bak Pura Pasaloswaka Poya Day is that victory brings hatred and the vanquished lives in misery.

To prove this Buddha recited the stanza below to King Kosala, who was defeated by Ajasatta, his own nephew.

Jayam Veram Pasavati
Dukkaham seti parajito
Upasanto sukham seti
Hitva jayaparajayam
Victory gives rise to hatred;
Those defected lie in pain;
Happily rest the peaceful;
Surrendering victory and defeat

On this serene Bak Full Moon Poya Day, I wish all Sri Lankans “The Blessing of Tisarana” - Buddha-Dhamma-Sangha and wish A Prosperous Sinhala and Tamil New Year for all Sri Lankans.


Appointed Anu Nayaka

Ven Dr Pategama Gnanarama Nayake Thera, Viharaththrayadipathi, Sri Sumithraramaya, Ampe, Balapitiya, Sri Subadraramaya, Golummahara, Delgoda and Purvarama Maha Viharaya, Dias Place, Colombo 12 and Principal, Buddhist and Pali College, Singapore has been appointed as the Anu-Nayake of Amarapura Sri Saddhamma Yukthika (Matara) Maha Nikaya by the Maha Nayake Thera and the Maha Sangha Sabha of the Nikaya on July 4, 2011 at Sri Gangarama Viharaya, Marapola, Dodanduwa and the ‘Sannaspatraya’ will be handed over to him by the Most Ven Agga Maha Panditha Davuldana Gnanissara, Uttarithara Maha Nayake of Amarapura Sangha Sabha and the ‘Vijinipatha’ will be handed over by W J M Lokubandara, Governor of Sabaragamuwa Province on 4th April at 2.00 pm at Jayawardena Centre, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7.


Ven Dr Pategama
Gnanarama Nayake Thera

Ven Nayake Thera has been conferred with D Litt (Honoris Caus-a) degree by Sri Lanka Buddhist and Pali University at the annual convocation held at BMICH on 22nd August 2009. One of his students from Singapore was awarded with a Ph.D degree at the same occasion. Our Nayake Thera was born on December 6, 1931. His parents were R G Silva, a businessman and S S E Karunatilleke, a school teacher. They were living at Pategama near Balapitiya. The child was named Ranmuthu Piyasiri.

After receiving education at Ampe Junior School, Balapitiya he was ordained as a novice at Purvarama Maha Viharaya, Dias Place, Colombo 12 under the tutelege of Ven Abhidhammika Welithara Pannananda Maha Thera, Viharadhipathi. He was admitted to Vidyodhaya Pirivena and received education in Buddhism and Oriental languages. Attending Olcott college in the evenings at the premises of Ananda College, he received the essential knowledge of English. He received ‘upasampada’ in 1956 at ‘Kalu Nadi Uda Kukkepa Sima - Malaka’ of the Amarapura Sri Saddharama Ukthika (Matara) Maha Nikaya. He obtained BA degree from Peradeniya University in 1961. In 1966, he obtained BA (Hons) degree from the University of London. Received MA degree in 1968 from Vidyodaya University of Ceylon. In 1986 he received a PhD from the University of Magadha.

From 1961 to 1966, he worked as an assistant teacher and then as a school principal. From 1967-1992, he was a lecturer in Buddhist philosophy and Pali at Sri Jayawardenapura University. From 1984 to 1992, he was the first principal of Saddharmakara Buddhist and Pali College at Panadura. From 1977 to 1992 he was the visiting lecturer in comparative religion and Buddhist Philosophy at the University Kelaniya. In 1992-1993, he was the religious instructor at Maithri Viharaya, Penrose Street, Sun Valley CA 91352, USA.

Ven Maha Thera was instrumental in inaugurating the Buddhist and Pali College in Singapore in 1994 and was the principal from then onwards. This institution is affiliated to Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka. He is the chief Religious Advisor of Ti Sarana Buddhist Association, Singapore, Principal, Ti Sarana Dhamma School, Singapore, Counsellor and Religious Advisor, Singapore Buddhist Federation, Counsellor, Shan Yu Counselling Centre, Singapore, Religious teacher and advisor, Singapore Buddhayana Organization, chief of editorial board and religious teacher, Singapore Buddhist Meditation Centre, Executive Member, World Sangha Council (h.q. in Taiwan), President, Purvarama Welfare Scheme, Colombo, President, Sri Lanka - German fellowship (h.q. at Colombo), Life Member, Oriental Studies Society, Patron, ‘Isura Lama Sevana’, Siyambalape.

He was instrumental in constructing a five storied building with a dagaba on the top floor for Ti Sarana Religious and Educational Centre at Purvarama Viharaya with the help of patrons from Singapore and Sri Lanka. He inaugurated Vidya Niketha Pirivena at Purvarama Viharaya in 2005.

He has travelled widely for conferences, religious ceremonies and Dhammadutha work to India Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Laos, South Korea, Japan, China, Mongolia, UK, Cyprus, Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Malta, Italy, Egypt, Australia and the USA.He has fostered his chief student, Ven Pategama Anuruddha Thera who holds a BA degree from the Colombo University and MA from the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka. He is capable of taking care and handling the viharayas and institutions in the absence of Maha Thera.


Nibbana, the highest bliss

Nirvana in Sanskrit becomes Nibbana in Pali. In Sinhala either Nirvana or Nivana is commonly used. Several equivalent terms can be offered in English such as cool, peace, calm, serenity, bliss, supreme happiness, emancipation, passionlessness and the Summum Bonum (Anandamatreya, 1993).

There are also other terms like Nibbuti and Vimmuti mentioned in Buddhist Suttas. Vana means craving. Nir is without or beyond. So Nirvana is a status beyond or without craving. Nibbana is the fourth ultimate reality (paramattha dhamma) in Buddhism. The other three are consciousness (citta), mental formations (cetasika) and material phenomena (ru:pa) which are conditional while Nibbana is not. Nibbana is neither created nor formed.

Extinction of desires

It was Venerable Sariputta who explained to the wonderer Jambukha: Daka that Nibbana is a state to be achieved through the extinction of greed, hate and delusion. Nibbana has to be achieved only by following the Noble Eighfold Path by the realization of the Four Noble Truths. The strategic process is arduous and unidirectional and there are well marked milestone that should be reached when the hurdles or the fetters that bind the individual to sensual life have to be shattered in succession.

Firstly the wayfairer of Nibbana has to break the three fetters; personality view, doubt and clinging to rules and rituals (sakkayaditti, vicikichha, silabbata paramasa) and become a Stream Enterer (sotapanna). When the next two fetters; sensous craving and ill-will (raga, dosa) are overcome he will become the Once Returner (Sakada; gami). Then he reaches the Non Retuerner (ana:gami) level when he has overcome all these five lower fetters when he follows the Buddhist precepts so as to eliminate the remaining five higher fetters; desire for existence in fine material planes, desire for existence in immaterial planes, conceit, restlessness and ignorance (rupaloka kamachanda, aru:palooka kamachanda, vyapada, thina-mijja, uddahaacca and avijja).

He reaches the final goal of becoming the Arahat who is free from all future becoming. The Once Returner (sakadagami) is due to return once to the sense sphere would and then attains nibbana, while the stream Enterer (sotapanna) just enters the stream leading to nibbana. The Once Enterer will not be reborn in the four lower planes of existence. He will take rebirth seven times at the most, either in the human or heavenly planes (Mendis,1985). The arahatship is the highest attainment he is devoid of all defilements. His mind is pure and serene.

Physical ailments

He is free from all sorrow and there is no rebirth for him. But his physical body is subject to disease, decay, pain and injury and finally to physical death. Through his supramundane consciousness, he can overcome these physical ailments and experience a type of nibbana called sa-upadi-sesa-nibbana (Nibbana while he is in a state of physical existence influenced by the effects of residual kamma). It is said that the Buddha experienced a foot injury when Devidatta hurled a stone at him and Venerable Maha Moggallana was battered to death by robbers even they were arahat because of residual kamma.

Suffering is not only of the greatest challenges for today's and tomorrow's happiness, but its prevention and management are a salutary paradigm of the entire spectrum of the life process for all living beings. None is immune to suffering. It is universal, and there are causative factors in operation. A healthy strategic pattern of life based on Buddhist precepts is needed to eradicate suffering by prevention and management and then to improve the quality of life.

The Buddha emphasized that Nibbana is the eradication of tanha, ill-will and delusion or ignorancesas "Tanhakkayo, dosakkayo mohakkayo Nibbanum" which is the definition of Nibbana. It has to be realized individually (paccattam veditabbo) and its features are amara (immoratal), aja:ta (not produced), akata (not done), and asamkata (uncounditioned).

Rest and relaxation

There are four characters in its nature. It is completely devoid of defilements (nissaranartha), it has complete rest and relaxation (vivakatha) as being devoid of defilements and sorrow/suffering; it is once and for all established state and not necessary for overhauling or repeated formation (asankatha) and it is not transmutable/non breakable when established (amathata).

Nibbanic experience there is no logical experience (attkkavacara) and no sensual experience. The experience transcends beyond worldly sensual experience. There are eight types of Nibbana according to some Buddhist classifications. These are:

1. Miccditthi Nibbana; Giving up worldly happiness of the senses is essential for the realization of this aspect of Nibbana. But modern world is heavily leaning on material comforts and sensual enjoyment. To eradicate this false/wrong view of material happiness is the corner stone in Miccaditti Nibbana.

2. Sammuti Nibbana: In common parlance it is the release of the mind worries and troubles. Quenching the fires of passion is a sine qua non for achieving this type of peace of mind.

3. Tadanga Nibbana: The happy state of mind attained after performing a meritorious act like saving a person from a dangerous situation is nothing but experiencing tadanga Nibbana. For instance one donates a healthy kidney to a needy patient merely on human sympathy.

4. Vikkambana - Nibbana/Vikkambana Vimutti-This aspect of Nibbana is achieved through instense mental concentration (meditation) on any one of the 40 subjects stated in Buddhist texts. The Subject becomes blissful and serene in mind being cleaned of defilements and passions. The subject is said to be in a state of jhanic bliss which is transient. But the subject can proceed further in depth and insight to achieve in depth states of mentally happy states.

5. Sumccheda Nibbaba; When the meditating subject perceives the reality of the Four Noble Truths (dukka, samudya, nirodha and marga) and eradicates all passions he reaches this higher level of Nibbanic state/experience.

6. Patippassandi Nibbana: While meditating the subject has been battling with defilements and passions by way of suppressing, destroying and eliminating from ones mind. There could be mental fatigue after completely freeign the mind from defilements. When the mind is completely free of defilements the state of Patippassandi Nibbana is said to be realized.

7. Sa-upadiseas-Nibbana; This is the experience of Nibbanic bliss of an Arahat which is not logical and sensual. The Arahat experiences Nibbana while the Karmic process is still in action. The Arahat has a physical body subject to the process of physical decay and decline and death.

8. Anupadissa-Nibbana is the other name given to sa-upadesa-Nibbana, when the Arahat's physical body has perished.

Comparison

In the Milinda Panna and the Udanapali Nibbana has been described as not being a creation of karma nor by any other case. It has no script or design or a format and it cannot be compared with any other object, entity, situation, paradigm or sign. However, the lotus, the ocean, water, drugs, nutrients, sky, etc have been used for examining the qualities of Nibbana for instance the lotus rises above the muddy water without getting stained with mud. Likewise Nibbana is a level above all defilements and passions. But in essence Nibbana is a state of mind achieved through the eradications of defilements (Maitri Murti, 2000).

Dependent on the kamma process of becoming is rebirth (bhavo paccaya ja:ti) is the link well stated in the Doctrine of Dependent Originaiton (Patticca Summapada) in Buddhism. It is at this level where clinging gives rise to kamma process (Upadana paccaya bhavo) and the importance of breaking these linkages for the actualization of Nibbana is impressively indicated in the patticca Samuppada too (Dhammapala, 1969).

Although in the Upanishad teachings there is a concept called the moksha potent with perceptions, feelings and a soul (atma) the Buddhist Nibbana has no soul and no sensual feeling. It is a supramundane state of supreme bliss that has to be actualized/realized through mental culture and development.


Celebrating effortless discipline

It is indeed a great pleasure to write this felicitation on the 60th birthday ceremony of the Most Venerable Dr. Kanumuldeniye Sri Dhammasoka Maha Thera, the chief incumbent of the new Polonnaru Rock Temple, Dehiwala. With regard to his personal achievements, and the educational, missionary and socio-religious activities it reminds as the stanza appeared in the Dhammapada.


Most Venerable Dr. Kanumuldeniye Sri Dhammasoka Maha Thera

‘By the effort, earnestness, discipline and self-control let the wise man make for himself an island which no flood can over whelm.’

Beginning of holy life

Born on April 16, 1952, in Kanumuldeniya, Hambanthota District as a son of D J Liyanarachchi, the village headman and Dona Gimara Ruwanpatirana, the Venerable Thera received his primary education at government school, Kanumuldeniya. In 1965, at the age of 13, he entered the Buddhist order of Sangha under the preceptor, the Most Venerable Kamburupitiye Sri Bodhigupta Nayaka Thera, the Director and the chief Incumbent of the Maha Manthinda Privena, Matara.

After his primary monastic training, in 1973 he received the Higher Ordination (Upasampada) at the Malwathu Maha Viharaya, Kandy. At his higher ordination he was so fortunate to have his second preceptor, the most Venerable Dr. Maragoda Saddhananda Thera, the Chief Incumbent of Sri Dumindaramaya, Dehiwala.

The Ven Thera can be considered an earnest seeker of learning and scholarship. This is obvious from his series of educational activities and academic qualifications. In 1973 he entered the Buddhasrawaka Dharma Pithaya, Anuradhapura and followed the Tripitakavedi Degree Course with success.

Later on, he entered the International Training Centre for Missionary Bhikkhus at the Paramadhamma Chetiya Pirivena, Ratmalana. This training has no doubt helped him to perform his duties as a successful missionary monk. Each and every year he receives invitations from many Buddhist Organizations worldwide. As a result, by now he has visited more than 100 countries including USA, European countries and many other Asian and African countries. His study has not been restricted merely to religion and education.

Social work

But he has made his great effort to train as social worker. The training he had at the Sarvodaya Bhikkhu Training Centre, Patakada, no doubt, has benefited him greatly to involve socioeconomic and welfare activities of the nation.

One of the greatest achievements of the Nayaka Thera includes his studies at the Kelaniya University, Sri Lanka. In 1977, he entered the Vidyalankara University and followed the B.A. (Hons) Degree course in Pali Language and related studies. His studies at the University were so successful and finally he reached a Second Class Upper Division. In 1982, he entered the Postgradaute Institute of Pali and Buddhist studies attached to the Kelaniya University and followed the MA and the M. Phill Degree course with a great success.

His reputation as a well-versed scholar in Pali, Sanskrit, Buddhist Philosophy, Buddhist Civilization etc has paved the way to be invited as an orator, lecturer and instructor in many Buddhist higher educational institutions and organizations worldwide. Soon he completed successfully his B.A. Degree, he was appointed to a teaching post at the Padhanagara Maha Pirivena, Dematagoda.

In 1988, he was selected for the post of lecturer in Pali at the Keleniya University where he served for five years and then proceeded to missionary activities in England. In his return to the island, he then received a lecturer post in the Buddasrawaka Bhikkhu University, Anuradhapura.

His educational activities and services are not restricted to mere lecturing or teaching, but he has engaged earnestly in a number of research programmes related to Buddhism and in particular, the Buddhist social work.

As a result, he has been able to provide several publications, and articles which exceed more than 80. The other most important service rendered by him includes the missionary work. His learning and scholarship as a reputed Buddhist monk has proved the way to be invited as a missionary Bhikkhu by various Buddhist institutions and organizations worldwide. As a result, each and every year he receives invitations from many countries.

Foreign travels

He has already visited more than 100 countries and this includes India, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, UK, USA, Mexico, France, Switzerland, Japan, Sweden, Norway, USSR, Dubai, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zambia, Botswana, Uganda, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Italy, Check Republic, Slovakia, Nederlands, Taiwan, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Eygpt, Korea, Israel, China, Ladak, Tibet, Australia, and Lebanon.

On account of his missionary carrier, he can be considered an exemplary monk who has devotedly followed the instructions of the Buddha;

‘Charatha Bhikave Charican Bahujana Hitaya, Bhujana Sukhaya’ (Oh, Bhikkhus, travel and travel for the good and welfare of many, and the happiness of the world).


Meditation for daily life:

Practising Ahare
Patikkula Sanna

Today we thought of explaining briefly the Ahare Patikkula Sanna (perception of the impurity of material food.)

We think that this is something all of us know. Something we practise. If it is not practised it should be practised. Some people ask us how this Ahare Patikkula Sanna has to be practised. It is something that has to be practised extensively. It is a meditation that has to be developed extensively. It has to be practised daily.

Little practice

Some practise for a little while today. Then after a week do a little more. It should not be like that. This meditation should be practised daily. Should be practised extensively. It is only then that one gets the relevant benefits. Sometimes it is given up saying that there are no results. Finally he finds fault with the meditation. When it is not done in the proper way the relevant benefit is not received.

Then he blames the meditation. Whose fault is it? It is one's own. He has not done it in the proper way. He has not practised properly. Because it has not been done in the proper way the expected benefit is not received. Then he says that it does not work. These days it cannot be done. He comes up with various stories like that. The reason is he has not done it in the proper manner. Therefore try to practise this meditation daily.

If we start doing these daily we get enough work to do. Then we will not feel bored. We can avoid idle chatter, meaningless journeys etc. Why? Because we have enough work to do.

If you start doing something systematically you will find that the twenty four hours in the day are not sufficient. We have so many things to do. Therefore you should not waste time. You should work. Add valuable things to your life. Then you do not become a waster of time.

Even Ahare Patikkula Sanna has to be practised little by little. When is this meditation carried out? It should be done before taking meals. Don't we do it generally? It should be done with mindfulness.

We are making a suggestion. There is no compulsion. Contemplate before consuming food. How does one do it while eating? Do it with mindfulness. First develop Sampajjanna (getting rid of defilements wisely). Do not be in a hurry. Practise mindfully. As time goes on you will get used to it gradually. You will get another opportunity to further establish mindfulness up to Vedananupassana. When we experience "tastes" We can establish mindfulness. Don't be in a hurry. Get used to consume the food mindfully at the start.

Along with the passage of time it becomes possible for us to consume the food while being aware of all the tastes. It is impossible to do it at once. Therefore first get used to eat food with Sampajjanna. If you do not understand it read Satipatthana sermon. It is explained there.

Practice of mindfulness

After the meal practise this in the way an ordinary meditation is practised. Not while eating. While eating eat with mindfulness. Thereby you get used to Sampajanna.

This can be developed up to Vedananupassana (contemplating the sensations). Some people while eating think that food is disgusting. Do you think of food as disgusting while eating? Some have told us so. We ask them why they think food as disgusting when they eat something delicious. It is not the correct thing to do.

It is like proceeding backwards when climbing down the staircase. Will he find any delight in it? Will he find any comfort? Will there be an accident? There is a hazard. It is similar to eating something delicious while thinking of it as disgusting. Is it correct? Then what have we got to do? If it is tasty eat while being aware of it as tasty. If it is bitter eat while being aware of it as bitter.

Therefore don't consider food as disgusting when eating. That is meaningless. First get used to Sampajanna when eating. Eat with mindfulness. After practising mindfulness for some time you will be aware of desire as well as taste. Accordingly you will be able to recognize sensation or Vedana. Do not be hasty.

Practise this meditation seated as you sit for normal meditation. As mentioned earlier keep the body erect, establish mindfulness and think "I must now practise the perception of the impurity of material food". It is a different perception. Asubha is a different perception. Ahare Patikkula is a different perception. When meditating establish the mind in the relevant perception. If you are developing the Ahare Patikkula Sanna think "I must practise Ahare Patikkula Sanna now"

Gradual training

Therefore little by little practise the relevant perception. Think "However flavorous or tasty this food is it becomes uneatable if somebody else touches it with his/her hand. Therefore this food is disgusting, disgusting, disgusting. When this food is taken into the mouth it gets mixed with the saliva and mucus in the mouth. Therefore it becomes further disgusting. Therefore this food is disgusting, disgusting, disgusting. When it goes into the stomach it gets mixed with various juices in the stomach. It turns into vomit. Therefore this food is disgusting, disgusting, disgusting.

When the food goes to the intestines it becomes feces. It gets transformed into something with a very unpleasant smell. Therefore this food is disgusting, disgusting, disgusting. If this food remains uneaten it becomes stale and emits an unpleasant smell. Therefore this food is disgusting, disgusting. Even if this food is left uncooked it decays and becomes disgusting and gets transformed into something emitting a bad smell. Therefore this food is disgusting, disgusting, disgusting.

Practise this meditation in this manner. It is short. Therefore contemplate from the beginning. There is one thing to be remembered when practising Asubha or Ahare Patikkula Sanna. When these meditations are practised there is no reason for nausea. Why? When a meditation is practised what should arise is a delight, a comfort. If nausea occurs it is due to the wrong way we have done it.

Therefore we think the above mentioned words are enough when Asubha or Ahare Patikkhula Sanna is practised. Do not use words indiscriminately and generate unpleasant feelings. In these meditations although we think of the disgusting nature it is wrong if a disgust arises. Disgust means sorrow. If a sorrow arises due to meditating it is meaningless. A sorrow cannot arise from a meditation. If a sorrow arises it has been done in a wrong manner. Some people use various words and think of generating disgusting states. Don't do it in that manner.

(Compiled with instructions given by Ven Nawalapitiye Ariyawansa Thera.)

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