The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians: A Lost Classic by Magnus Incognito


Writing as Magnus Incognito, William Walker Atkinson reintroduces a new generation of readers to the Rosicrucian ideals, as well as to a myriad of connections between occult concepts as varied as alchemy, reincarnation, the astral plane, auras, Eastern and Western mysticism, and the "evolution of mankind."

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The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians: A Lost Classic by Magus Incognito

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Writing as Magnus Incognito, William Walker Atkinson reintroduces a new generation of readers to the Rosicrucian ideals, as well as to a myriad of connections between occult concepts as varied as alchemy, reincarnation, the astral plane, auras, Eastern and Western mysticism, and the "evolution of mankind."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578635344
  • Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
  • Publication date: 11/10/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 800,057
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

William Walker Atkinson (1862-1932) was an American writer, merchant, attorney, publisher, and occultist. He was a pioneer of the New Thought and Prosperity Consciousness movements, and wrote dozens of books on various aspects of learning mentalism, psychic power development, and clairvoyance. He is the author of

Clairvoyance and Occult Powers under the pseudonym Swami Panchadasi.

Clint Marsh is a writer and publisher of practical esoterica. A graduate of the University of Iowa in journalism, he lives in Berkeley, CA where he distributes work through Wonderella Printed. Visit Clint online at

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The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians

By Magus Incognito

Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

Copyright © 2012 Red Wheel/Weiser
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57863-534-4


The Rosicrucians and Their Secret Doctrine

The student of the history of occultism and the esoteric teachings, and even the average reader of current books and magazines, finds many references to "The Rosicrucians," a supposed ancient secret society devoted to the study of occult doctrines and the manifestation of occult powers. But when such person seeks to obtain detailed information concerning this supposed ancient "order" he finds himself baffled and defeated. Before acknowledging the futility of the quest, however, he usually investigates one or more so-called "orders" having as a part of their title the word "Rosicrucian," only to find himself invited to join such "order" upon the payment of a fee or fees ranging from a small amount in some cases to quite large amounts in others, each "order" claiming to be the "only original order," and asserting that all the others are base imitators.

The truth is that there is not in existence, and never has been in existence, any popular occult order sanctioned by the real Rosicrucians, which anyone may join upon payment of fees, large or small, just as he may join any of the better known fraternal organizations of which there are so many. The true Rosicrucians have no formal organization, and are held together only by the ties of common interest in the occult and esoteric studies, and by the common acceptance of certain fundamental principles of belief and knowledge. This unorganized "order" has members in all walks of life, and in all countries, and its members never announce themselves as "Rosicrucians" to the general public. Admission to this unorganized "order" is never granted upon the payment of a fee, and is possible only upon the request and recommendation of three members in good standing who have themselves been members for a certain period of time, and who have attained a certain degree of proficiency in the attainment of the esoteric knowledge, and in demonstrating the principles discovered by them under the direction of certain higher adepts in the arcane wisdom.

Members of the Rosicrucian body are prominent in the councils of nearly all of the occult organizations and societies throughout the world—in fact, it is these persons who are the real leaven in the general mass, and who keep alive the Sacred Flame of Truth in them. Many Rosicrucians are also prominent in philosophic and scientific circles, and some of them are men quite prominent in the large affairs of the business and professional world, and in the ranks of statesmanship. Others are prominent in movements like the "labor movement" and similar activities. Some are prominent in the councils of the various churches, and others are leaders in Masonry and similar secret societies. In all of such circles the Rosicrucians exert a powerful influence, and always in the direction of good.

"The Brothers of the Rosy Cross"

The modern interest in the Rosicrucian T eachings dates back to the early part of the seventeenth century—about 1610, to be exact. At that time there were rumors of the existence of a society known as "The Brothers of the Rosy Cross," the officers and meeting places of which were not known to the public. The mysterious society was severely attacked by the ecclesiastical authorities and others, and was as vigorously defended by those who were interested in the general subject of occultism and the esoteric teachings. There were many spurious and counterfeit "orders" established during the following century, and for that matter in nearly every century since, but none have been able to show an undoubted connection with the original order. Some of the original teachings of the Rosicrucians have been incorporated in some of the higher degrees of Masonry, and have served a good purpose therein.

The legend concerning the origin of the order—true in some respects, but erroneous in others—was as follows: That a certain Christian Rosenkreutz, a German nobleman who had donned the robes of a certain order of monks, had visited India, Persia, and also Arabia, and had returned bringing with him a certain Secret Doctrine obtained from the sages and seers of those Oriental lands. He was said to have established the original Rosicrucian Brotherhood about 1425, its existence not becoming generally known until nearly two hundred years afterward. The true Rosicrucians, however, recognize this legendary tale as being merely a cleverly disguised recital of the real facts of the establishment of the unorganized order, which must be read between the lines, aided by the spectacles of understanding, in order that its real import may be grasped.

The present writer does not feel justified in telling in these pages the tale as he understands it, and as it has been transmitted to him by those in authority; in fact, to make the same public, he would be violating a most sacred promise, which would amount to a betrayal of his initiation secrets. He, however, is permitted to state that the Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians is a body of esoteric teachings, handed down for ages by wise men deeply versed in the esoteric doctrines and occult lore. This Wisdom originally came by way of the Orient, and in fact even today comprises part of the Inner Teachings of some of the highest Oriental Brotherhoods. Its history is but another instance of the truth of the old Secret axioms, one of which says that we must "Look to the East, whence comes all Light."

For many years little or nothing was permitted to be revealed to the general public concerning the Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians, but during the past twenty-five years there has been a greater, and still greater freedom in this respect, until today many important Rosicrucian teachings form a part of nearly all writings and teachings upon the subject of the Esotericism in general, and of the Higher Metaphysics in particular. Theosophy, and the general interest in Oriental Philosophies and Religions, have done much to bring into public notice some of the more elementary points of the Secret Doctrine. In fact, in the highest writings and teachings of some of the great organizations above referred to the Rosicrucian may find many half-hidden bits of the Rosicrucian Doctrine, cleverly disguised from the unprepared Many, yet plainly revealed to the prepared Few.

The Higher Alchemy

The Rosicrucians, according to the public encyclopaedias, and other works of reference, are held to have been devoted to the subject of Alchemy. And, indeed, this statement is correct. But the modern compilers of such reference books have fallen into the error of supposing that the Alchemy referred to was performed wholly upon the Plane of Matter—and concerned wholly with the Transmutation of Elements. They are ignorant of the fact that the Alchemy which attracted the Rosicrucians, and which took up most of their time and attention, was Mental Alchemy, and Spiritual Alchemy—something quite different indeed, though having of course a correspondence to the Material Alchemy, according to the Law of Correspondence. The student of the present book will discover this fact, and will receive many valuable hints concerning the higher forms of Alchemy, providing he is prepared to read between the lines of the text, and to reason by Analogy. The axiom "As above, so below," will be found to work out well in this connection.

Why the Esoteric Teaching is Kept Secret

It is difficult to convey to the average European or American the true reasons underlying the Secrecy which invariably surrounds the Esoteric Teachings of all the great schools of occult thought. Such a person is inclined to think that the only reason therefor is the delight in "mystery mongering" which he thinks he finds among all occult teachers. But to one who penetrates even but a short distance on The Path, the true reasons are perceived. Such a one perceives the dangers of premature disclosure of important esoteric principles to the unprepared public mind. The following quotations from a well-known writer will perhaps give a hint to the solution of this question. The writer says:

"The Oriental method of cultivating knowledge has always differed diametrically from that pursued in the West during the growth of modern sciences. Whilst Europe has investigated Nature as publicly as possible, every step being discussed with the utmost freedom, and every fresh fact acquired circulated at once for the benefit of all, Asiatic science has been studied secretly and its conquests jealously guarded. I need not as yet attempt either criticism or defence of its methods. The student will later on see that this falls naturally into its place in the whole scheme of occult philosophy. The approaches to that philosophy have always been open, in one sense, to all. Vaguely throughout the world in various ways have been diffused the idea that some process of study which men here and there did actually follow, might lead to the acquisition of a higher kind of knowledge than that taught to mankind at large in books or by public teachers. The East, as pointed out, has always been more than vaguely impressed with this belief; but even in the West the whole block of symbolical literature relating to astrology, alchemy, and mysticism generally has fermented in European society, carrying to some peculiarly receptive and qualified minds the conviction that behind all this superficially meaningless nonsense great truths lay concealed. For such persons eccentric study has sometimes revealed hidden passages leading to the grandest imaginable realms of enlightenment. But till now, in all such cases, in accordance with the law of those schools, the neophyte no sooner forced his way into the region of mystery than he was bound over to the most inviolable secrecy as to everything connected with his entrance and further progress there. In Asia, in the same way, the chela, or pupil of occultism, no sooner became a chela than he ceased to be a witness on behalf of the reality of occult knowledge. I have been astonished to find, since my own connection with the subject, how numerous such chelas are. But it is impossible to imagine any human act more improbable than the unauthorized revelation by any such chela, to persons of the outer world, that he is one; and so the great esoteric school of philosophy successfully guards its seclusion. * * * It is however desirable to disabuse the reader of one conception in regard to the objects of adeptship that he very likely has formed. The development of those spiritual faculties, whose culture has to do with the highest objects of the occult life, gives rise as it progresses to a great deal of incidental knowledge, having to do with physical laws of Nature not yet generally understood. This knowledge, and the practical art of manipulating certain obscure forces of Nature, which it brings in its train, invest an adept, and even an adept's pupils, at a comparatively early stage of their education, with very extraordinary powers, the application of which to matters of daily life will sometimes produce results that seem altogether miraculous; and from the ordinary point of view, the acquisition of apparently miraculous power is such a stupendous achievement, that people are sometimes apt to fancy that the adept's object in seeking the knowledge he attains has been to invest himself with these coveted powers. It would be as reasonable to say of any great patriot of military history that his object in becoming a soldier has been to wear a gay uniform and impress the imagination of the nurse maids."

"The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians"

What is known as "The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians" is an extensive body of esoteric teaching and occult lore which has been transmitted from Master to Student, from Hierophant to the new Initiate, for countless generations. Seldom has any part of the Secret Doctrine been committed to writing, or exposed to public view on the printed page, until the present generation. Previous to that time the little that was written, or printed, concerning this body of teachings was disguised in the vague terms of alchemy and astrology, so that the same would have one meaning to the average reader and another and closer meaning to those who possessed the key to the mystery. The frequent references in the ancient books to "sulphur," "mercury," and other chemical elements, and to "The Philosopher's Stone," etc., were all intended to indicate certain portions of the teachings of the Secret Doctrine to those who already possessed the key.

The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians is believed by those best informed to have been built up gradually, carefully, and slowly, by the old occult masters and adepts, from the scattered fragments of the esoteric teachings which were treasured by the wise men of all races. The legend runs that these fragments of the Secret Doctrine were the scattered portions of the old esoteric teaching of ancient Atlantis— the bits of the great mass of the Atlantean occult teachings which were scattered in all directions by the great cataclysm which had destroyed that great continent. The few survivors of the Atlantean civilization carefully preserved these Fragments of Truth, and passed them on to their chosen students and capable descendants.

The old Masters who made it the object of their lives to gather together once more these scattered fragments, and to thus reconstruct the Occult Doctrine of the Atlanteans, found a portion of their material in Egypt, in India, in Persia, in Chaldea, in Medea, in China, in Assyria, and in Ancient Greece, and also in the mystic records of the Hebrews, such as the Kaballah and the Zohar. The common source, however, may be regarded as distinctly Oriental. The great philosophies of the East, in fact, may be said to have been built upon the base of these still more ancient teachings. Moreover, the great Grecian Secret Teachings are believed to have been based upon knowledge obtained from this same common source. So, at the last, the Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians may be said to be the Secret Doctrine of Atlantis, transmitted through the descendants of the people of that great centre of occult knowledge.

The following quotation from a writer who, himself, has gathered together many bits of the ancient wisdom, may be interesting. Speaking of these ancient teachings he says: "The teaching has come down to the present age through the corridors of time, from the dim ages of past eras, races, and schools of thought. Even those highest in the ancient occult councils, however, are unable to trace the teachings, in an unbroken direct line, further back than the time of Pythagoras (about 500 B. C.), and a little later in Ancient Greece, although they find many references thereto, and extracts therefore, in some of the older records of ancient Egypt and Chaldea, which serve to show that the schools of Pythagoras, and other ancient Grecian occultists, were founded on occult instruction still more remote, received in a direct line of succession of teachers and pupils extending over centuries. Investigators have found traces of the teachings in the records of Persia and Media, and it is believed that the inspiration for the original philosophical teachings of Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, was received from the same sources. Traces are also found in the Hebrew Esoteric Teachings."

The writer continues: "The Grecian Teachings were undoubtedly obtained directly from Egyptian sources, through Pythagoras, the relation between the early Grecian teachings and philosophies, and the older school of old Egypt, being very close and intimate. Pythagoras is known to have received instruction from Egyptian and Persian hierophants. There is to be found the closest resemblance between the ancient Grecian teachings, and those of the Egyptian Esoteric Fraternities. Some of the Teachers, however, hold that the Grecian and Egyptian schools, respectively, were but two separate offshoots of an original and older Teaching which had its origin in the lost continent of Atlantis. There are many traditions connecting the Teaching with Atlantis, and it is possible that both Greece and Egypt received it from this common source, instead of Greece being indebted to Egypt for the line of transmission. But, be this as it may, it is a fact that all of the traces of teaching that the various occultists gather from the traditions, scraps of doctrine, and legends regarding Atlantis, can be reconciled with the best esoteric and occult knowledge had by the race today. The fragments of the Egyptian Esoteric Teachings, many of which are still preserved in an undoubted direct line of succession, are practically identical, in fundamental and basis points, with the Grecian Occult Teachings. And, as has been said, the Persian, Medean, and Chaldean legends and traditions, and scraps of teachings which have been preserved, show a common source or origin with those of Egypt and ancient Greece."

The writer adds: "We are speaking now of the historical view of the subject, only. The occult traditions hold that the Teaching, in some form, is as old as the race itself, and has been known to the advanced minds of every great civilization of the past, many of which disappeared thousands of years ago, all traces of them having been lost to the present sub-race. The traditions hold that the Teaching was handed down from the Elder Brethren of the race—certain advanced souls who appeared in the earlier days, in order to plant the seeds of Truth, so that they would grow, blossom, and bear fruit throughout the ages to follow. We do not ask you to accept this statement—it is not material—for the Teaching bears evidences of its own Truth within itself, without needing the force of such high authority. The ancient tradition is mentioned merely that the student may know that the same is accepted as truth by many of the highest occult authorities and teachers."

Excerpted from The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians by Magus Incognito. Copyright © 2012 Red Wheel/Weiser. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Clint Marsh xi

Part I The Rosicrucians and Their Secret Doctrine 1

The Legendary Rosicrucians

Truth and Error Regarding Them

Counterfeit Rosicrucian Orders

Who Are the Rosicrucians?

"The Brothers of the Rosy Cross"

"The Early History of the Rosicrucians

The Legend of Christian Rosenkreutz, and the Truth Behind It

"Look to the East, Whence Comes All Light"

Lifting the Veil of Secrecy

Why the Esoteric Teaching Always Is Secret

The Higher Alchemy

Contrasting Methods of Orient and Occident

"The Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians"

An Age-old Wisdom Teaching

Found in Egypt, Indian, Persia, Chaldea, Medea, China, Assyria, Ancient Greece, and in the Ancient Hebrew Secret Teaching

The Basis of Great Oriental Philosophies

The Secret Doctrine of Atlantis, Its Real Source and Origin


Gautama, the Buddha

"The Seven Aphorisms of Creation"

The Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians

The Explanation of the Symbol of the Rosy Cross

Part II The Eternal Parent 13

The Sleep of the Cosmic Night

Before the Rekindling of the Flame of Spirit

Before the Advent of Time

Before the Beginning of Change

The Infinite Unmanifest

The Symbol of Infinite Space

That Which Was Before the Universe Was

The Cosmic Days and Nights

"The Days and Nights of Brahm"

The Essence of the Flame of the Spirit

"The Dark Flame"

Duration Without Time

Pure Duration

Formless Existence

Absolute Motion Identical With Absolute Rest

Existence Without Qualities

Superconscious Existence, Not Unconscious Existence

The One-All Without a Second

The Immeasurable Infinite

The Farhomless Abyss

Part III The Soul of the World 31

The Germ Within the Cosmic Egg

The Formless Takes on Form

The Flame Is Rekindled

The Beginning of Time

The Commencement of Action

The Manifestation of the Pairs of Opposites

The Birth of the World Soul

The Dawn of the New Cosmic Day

The Appearance of The Demiurge

The Presence of the Anima Mundi

The Manifestation of the World Spirit

The Production of the Logos

The First Born of the Infinite Unmanifest

The Cosmic Egg

The First Cause

The "Golden Egg of the Kalahansa"

The Symbol of the Egg, in the Secret Doctrine

The Teaching Concerning the Logos

The Doctrine Respecting the Demiurge

The Universal Will

Plastic Nature

The Will-to-Live

The First Manifestation

The Garments of the World Soul

The Thrill of Life in the World Soul

Part IV The Universal Androgyne 41

The Birth of Sex

The Neuter Becomes Bi-Sexual

The Cosmic Hermaphrodite

The Universal Androgyne

Bi-Sexuality in the Universal Manifestation

The Inner Teachings

The Ancient Mysteries

Phallicism, the Shadow of the Truth

The Symbol of Universal Bi-Sexuality

The Cross and the Circle

The Phallic Cross

The Swastica

The Rose Cross

The Male Universal Principle

The Female Universal Principle

Sex Manifest on All Planes of Existence

The Positive and the Negative Poles of Being

Sex Activity in Electricity and Magnetism

Sex, the Secret of Chemical Affinity

How Love Makes the World Go Round

How the One Becomes Two, and the Two Becomes the Many

Part V The One and the Many 49

How the One Becomes the Many

How Unity Becomes Diversity

How the Identical Becomes Variety

No Separation Possible to Unity

The Manifold Reflection of the One Reality

The Falling Raindrops

The Jars of Water

The Ocean of Being and Its Bubbles

Absolute Being is One

Relative Being is Apparently Many


Involution and Evolution

The World Soul and Its Material Garments

The Descent into Matter

The Ascent from Matter

The Spiral Stairway of Being

Sub-Mineral Forms

Mineral Forms

Plant Forms

Animal Forms

Human Forms

Superhuman Forms

God-like Forms

How the One Apparently Becomes Many, and Yet Remains One in Reality

The Paradox of Being

Part VI The Universal Flame of Life 57

The Sparks of the Flame of Life

The Rosicrucian Symbol of the Flaming Fire

The Fire of Spirit

The Essence of the Spiritual Flame of Life

Life is Universal

There is Nothing Without Life in the Universe

The Universe is Not Half-dead, but All-Alive

The Living Universe

Life in the Ether

Life in All Matter

The Universe a Living Dynamism

Life in the Atoms

Life in the Chemical Elements

Life in the Mineral World

Life in the Plant World

Life in the Animal World

Life in the Human World

Life in the Superhuman World

Life in the Divine World

Living Crystals

Scientific Proof of Life in the Inorganic World

Marvelous Reports of Modern Science

Metallic Vegetation

How Modern Science Confirms the Secret Doctrine of the Rosicrucians

Part VII The Planes of Consciousness 69

The Seven Planes of Consciousness

Life the Essence of Spirit

Consciousness the Essence of Life

Everything is Conscious

Nothing is Unconscious

The Plane of Elemental Consciousness

Mental Action in the Atoms and Electrons

How the Occultist Works "Magic" by Knowledge of the Elemental Consciousness

The Plane of Mineral Consciousness

The Presence of Consciousness in the Crystals

The Secret of Cohesion and Mineral Organization

The Plane of Plane Consciousness

How Plants Manifest Intelligent Action

Plants Exhibit Consciousness Pertaining to Nutrition, Nervous Organization, and Thought Processes

Intelligence in Plants

Wonderful Reports of Modern Science

Rosicrucian Secret Doctrine Corroborated by Modern Science

The Plane of Animal Consciousness

The Evolution of Mind in the Animal World

A Fascinating Story

Part VIII The Three Higher Planes of Consciousness 97

The Plane of Human Consciousness

The Dawn of Self-Consciousness

The "I Am I"

The Inward Mental Gaze

Simple Consciousness versus Self-Consciousness

The Psychology of Self-Consciousness

The Mystery of the Sense of Selfhood

How Man Pays the Price of Self-Consciousness

The Mastery of Mind

The Plane of the Consciousness of the Demi-Gods

The Light from Above

Mystic Experiences


Cosmic Consciousness

At One with the Universe

Testimony of the Poets, Mystics, and Seers

Recognition of the Oversoul

The Phenomenon of Cosmic Consciousness

Beings Who Function Habitually on the Plane of the Demi-Gods

Legendary Beings of the Ancients

The Planes of the Consciousness of the Gods

Transcendental Knowledge

Exalted Beings "Like Unto the Gods"

The Secret of the Archangels

The Truth of the Symbols

The Riddle of the Symbol

Part IX The Sevenfold Soul of Man 121

The Soul is One in Essence, Yet Wrapped in a Sevenfold Veil

Veils Which Conceal, but Yet Reveal

The Elemental Soul

The Pattern of Form

The Etheric Double

The So-called Astral Body

The "Ghost"

The Mineral Soul

The Spirit of the Chemical Processes in the Laboratory of the Body

The Plant Soul

The Spirit of the Vegetable Processes of Growth in the Body

The Animal Soul

The Spirit of the Animal Functions of the Body

The Truth About the Animal Passions and the Physical Processes

The Human Soul

The Spirit of Intellectual Activity and Reasoning Processes

A Plane of Great Trials and Struggles

The Soul of the Demi-Gods

The Spirit of the Altruistic Emotions and Activities, and of Cosmic Consciousness

The Higher Planes of the Soul

The Soul of the Gods

The Spirit of the Divine Faculties of the Soul

Summary of the Spiritual Evolution from Element to Godhood

Part X Metempsychosis 141

The Occult Doctrine of Metempsychosis, Reincarnation, or Transmigration of Souls

The Most Ancient of the World's Beliefs Concern the Soul

The Teachings of the Ancient Egyptians, Chaldeans, Persians, Hindus, and Greeks, and of Many Other Ancient Peoples

The Teaching of the Great Philosophers of All Times

How One Knows for Himself the Truth of Metempsychosis

Hidden Memories Awakened

Past Events Brought into the Field of Consciousness

Infant Prodigies, and Their Explanation

Remarkable Instances of Memories of the Past Life

The Law of Attraction determines Rebirth

The Life After Death, and Its Incidents and Phenomena

The Astral World

The Mystery of the Soul Sleep

The Astral Planes and Sub-planes

Life on the Astral Planes

How a Soul is Reborn on Earth

The Current of Rebirth

The Power of Desire in Determining the Character of Rebirth

Part XI The Soul's Progress 161

The Chain of the Seven Planets

The Spiral Stairway of Spiritual Progress

The Ascending Tide of Life

The Spiritual Wakes

The Seven Rounds

The Seven Races in Each Round

The Fourth Round on Earth

The First Race

The Second Race

The Third Race

Life in Lemuria

The Destruction of Lemuria

The Fourth Race

Life in Atlantis

The Doom of Atlantis

The Atlantean Survivors

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