36a | CR Book XI, Chapter 4

Chapter 4 - The self and its conditions

It is also useful to accustom oneself to see all own-
being dissolved into the interplay of countless condi-
tions, external to it. The arguments which linked
"being conditioned" with "emptiness of own-being" (II, 4,
39-52) may seem fairly conclusive in the abstract. Ne-
vertheless, when confronted with the experience of the
world of commonsense objects, they, by themselves, fail
to dispel it. Under the influence of the sensory evi-
dence, and of the needs of handling, the boundaries of
the sensory contours and the separateness of our re-
actions assert themselves too strongly for this prin-
ciple to maintain itself as a living conviction and
experience. this obstacle can be overcome only by mak-
ing the experience of the conditions as strong as that
of the commonsense object.

It is at first not clear of what the conditions are
sought. We define the datum which is the starting point
of a successful analysis into conditions by describing
the steps we must take to realise it.

No scientific approach is content with linking com-
monsense objects together in causal relation. The
effect is narrowed down to one aspect (e.g. fire as a
physical process) and the answer refers to abstract en-
tities, their properties, tendencies, habitual behaviour
(atoms, elements, molecules, electromagnetic fields etc).
Commonsense data are thus retraced to, transformed in-
to, replaced by more intelligible and "fundamental" con-
cepts. Buddhists learn to see occurrences insofar as
they are karmically relevant and produce karmical res-
ults in the so-called individual process of existence.
They are explained in terms of skandha, fields, elem-
ents, directing forces, nidanas etc.

Our spontaneous conception of what "this-thing-over-
there" is, is only an abstraction from what actually
occurs. Before we can dissolve it into its conditions,
we must de-reify the thing. Aiming at greater concret-
eness, we take it as a "this-there-to-me-appearing-as-a-
such". We then look for the conditions on which depends
the fact that such an experience of such an object
(thing or event) occurs to such a self.

We saw that the source of the illusion of an own-being
lies in ourselves (II,4,  ; IV,2,  ;    ). There it
must be overcome. When we know clearly that ourselves
we do not own, we can then see more distinctly that a
thing does not stand so much by itself as self-infat-
uation led us to suppose. In order to overcome the
idea of an own-being or an outside object, we must