10. The Self

The creation of the self is also caused by mutual dependency. Starting from birth, you perceive reality through your six senses. The beginning of your ‘self’ starts at the moment you begin to form thoughts in the urge for meaning. This will probably happen somewhere between your first and second year of life, and arises from your upbringing. Your parents and other people in your environment communicate verbally, and non-verbally, with you. From their words and behavior, and because you are ignorant, the urge for meaning arises.

This origination of a person is explained in Buddhist texts by the twelve links of mutually dependent origination;

Birth – death (extinction)

From the birth of the self, until its death (extinguishment), it will always be unsatisfied, because the self has originated from sensory desires! These desires must constantly be satisfied. Death should not be seen in a physical sense, as what is dying is only the thought of living. If you have a desire, you are unsatisfied. If all egocentric desires are extinguished (lifted), by taking away the first cause (delusion, ignorance, false-knowing) of mutually dependent origination, you are freed from your dissatisfaction.

Becoming – birth

From becoming, your ‘self’ is formed. This self is born mentally, because you identify yourself with your desires. These desires become mentally separate from your objective sensatory awareness, because you define them, and thus create a self.

Attachment – becoming

By attaching ourselves to our desires, we identify ourselves with these desires; we become these desires.

Desire – attachment

From this desire, attachment to form, sound, smell, taste, touch, and ideas arise:

  • attachment to your senses; holding on to music, beauty, sexuality, health, etc .;
  • attachment to your character traits;
  • attachment to your belief with regard to;
    • religion, cosmological convictions, political views, economic points of view, ecological viewpoints, ethical viewpoints, aesthetic preference, own superiority through the origin, sex, race, education, intelligence, knowledge, experience, power position, ;
    • your actions and behavior;
    • the self.
  • attachment to actions; such as dressing yourself, rules to clean the body, etc. Being convinced of your actions, and the actions themselves, are two different things. Being convinced of your actions is the meaning that you connect to your actions;
  • attachment to the self. Being convinced of the self, and the self itself, are also two separate things. The belief in the self is the meaning that you give to the self. The self itself can be physical; you consider your body as yourself. The self can also be mental; you consider your thoughts as yourself. The self can also be a combination of both; both mentally and physically. Depending on your belief in the self, it can also be a soul that is infinite.

Feeling – desire

From feeling, a desire for a pleasant feeling, and an aversion to an unpleasant feeling emerges.

Contact – feeling

Through contact via the senses with a sensory object, the consciousness of a pleasant, unpleasant or neutral feeling arises.

Form and name – contact

From the eyes, vision is perceived. From the ears, sound is perceived. From the nose, smell is perceived. From the tongue, taste is perceived. From the body, touch is perceived, and from the mind, thoughts arise.

Consciousness – form and name

From the consciousness, as a function of the mind, the basis is established from which you perceive through your six senses:

  • the sensation of matter or physical form, through contact of the six senses with an (external) object;
  • interpretation or imagination, provide a pleasant feeling or an unpleasant feeling;
  • feeling;
  • intention, which is the cause of mental and physical behavior. This intention is the same as the impulse or action as the cause for the conditioned consciousness.

This basis, form and name, refers to the processes in human beings, where form refers to the object identified through the senses. Form and name are interdependent and create an individual being. Here the distinction is made between the self (subject) and objects, because you give the object (form) that you perceive a mental name (concept).

Impulse, action – consciousness

From an impulse or action, the basic awareness of the eye, ear, nose, tongue, touch, and intellect emerges. This is the sensation of the senses, such as in a state where you have your eyes closed and you are aware that you have eyes.

Delusion – impulse, action

Delusion, ignorance or false-knowing creates the abovementioned impulse or action (willful formation). This impulse or action arises because you want to give meaning or substance to your life. Your life exists in reality and you want to give substance or meaning to life, because you think that life exists on its own and you can give substance or meaning to it, or because you know nothing (as a baby). This action takes place in three ways; through the body, verbally, and through thoughts.

Your delusion or ignorance is taken away by the insight that the essence of reality is empty. Through this insight, the urge for meaning, interpretation or substance in life is removed, and as a result, all consecutive links dissolve. The chain of dependent origination of the self is lifted in this way.

First, the mutual interdependent origin of reality will be explained, as this is an important part for understanding the emptiness of the essence.

Go to Chapter 11