We have been speaking about voidness, or emptiness, in general. We’ve seen that it refers to an absence of impossible ways of existing. There are impossible ways of existing that refer only to persons or individuals, and then there are impossible ways of existing that pertain to all phenomena, including persons and individuals.
With “unawareness,” often translated as “ignorance,” we either don’t know how things actually exist, or we believe incorrectly that these projections of impossible ways of existing correspond to reality. There are two ways of formulating unawareness: not knowing or incorrectly believing. Based on this unawareness, we have all sorts of disturbing emotions.
With the understanding of voidness, we understand the total absence of a real referent to these impossible ways of existing. There is no such thing, and there never has been and never will be. The more that we are able to focus non-conceptually on this absence, the more able we are to gradually stop believing in this garbage that the mind projects, and eventually get the mind to stop projecting it. When we stop believing in these false ways of existing, these impossible ways of existing, then we no longer develop disturbing emotions. Not only do we get rid of disturbing emotions, but also disturbing attitudes, disturbing states of mind, etc.
When our mind stops projecting all of this garbage, then, as a Buddha, we’re able to see and understand the interrelation between everything, the causes for everybody’s situation, and the effect of teaching something to somebody. In this way, we are best able to help everybody.
Basically, when we get rid of the unawareness – either not knowing or knowing incorrectly – and the tendencies that cause it to repeat, we gain liberation. That means that we get rid of samsara, uncontrollably recurring rebirth, which is the basis for experiencing the up-and-down problems that we all face: sometimes the “suffering of suffering,” in other words, unhappiness, and sometimes the “suffering of change,” which is our ordinary happiness, which never satisfies, is frustrating, ends, etc.
However, when we have attained liberation, we’re still left with the habits of this unawareness, and it’s only with further familiarity with the non-conceptual cognition of voidness that we get rid of those habits. It’s the habits that cause the mind to project these impossible ways of existing. The mind will continue to project them, even after we no longer believe that they correspond to anything real. With this attainment, we achieve enlightenment.
Unawareness as the Cause of Disturbing Emotions
We also saw that when we investigate the causes of the disturbing emotions like greed, attachment, anger, hostility, pride, jealousy, etc., we discover that the main cause for them is unawareness, ignorance, like when we believe that there is this solid “me” – to just put it in very simple language. Then, what happens? We feel insecure about this solid “me”; we feel we have to make it secure. How do we try to make it secure? By getting enough things to make it secure. That’s what we do with desire, greed, and so on. For instance, if we have something, we don’t want to let it go; so there’s attachment, hoping that it will make “me” feel secure. Of course, it never does.
Or we have anger and hostility, “If I could just get something away from ‘me,’ or destroy it, then, hopefully, that will make ‘me’ secure.” Nonetheless, we always feel threatened; so it never works.
Or we have jealousy, “If I could just have what somebody else has, that will make ‘me’ secure,” or “If that person doesn’t love somebody else, but loves ‘me’ instead, then it will make ‘me’ feel secure.” Again, it never works.
Or pride and arrogance, “If puff myself up, so I’m the best, that will make ‘me’ secure.” But then, we’re always suspecting maybe somebody is better, so we’re still insecure in our arrogance. Arrogance usually hides insecurity.
All of these are disturbing emotions and attitudes, which – if we look at the definition – are states of mind that when they arise, they make us lose our peace of mind and self-control. When we lose self-control, we act in all sorts of foolish ways and say all sorts of foolish things to other people. That just causes more problems, for example, “Don’t ever leave me, I can’t live without you,” and it just chases the other person further away.
All of these disturbing emotions and disturbing attitudes arise from our unawareness of reality. We are unaware that these projections about how we exist don’t correspond to anything real. So, we believe that they are reality and so we understand them in an incorrect way.
We saw that this unawareness and disturbing emotions are fed by incorrect consideration. With incorrect consideration, the mind projects something that is not there. With nonstatic phenomena, it projects that things are static. So, with things that are impermanent, that are going to end, the mind projects that they’re going to be there forever, Further, with things that change from moment to moment, it projects that they don’t change, that they are stable,=and are not affected by anything.
With situations that are suffering and entail suffering, incorrect consideration projects that they’re happiness – the second form of incorrect consideration – or things that are unclean, it projects that they’re clean.
The word “consideration” in the term “incorrect consideration” literally means “to take to mind,” so, it’s projecting something that’s incorrect here, and taking that object to mind, or paying attention to it in this incorrect way, as if it were static or clean, or as if it were happiness.
Then, the fourth kind of incorrect consideration is that there is a “me,” or a “self” that exists separate from the aggregates, a mind and a body, although in fact there isn’t. There is no such thing. There may be things that are separate from our aggregates, that are not connected with our aggregates, like this table when we’re not looking at it, but that’s not the case with the self, “me.”
Doctrinally Based and Automatically Arising Incorrect Consideration
Now, these types of incorrect consideration can be either doctrinally based – somebody could have taught us them through some sort of philosophical or religious system, or just through advertising – or they can just automatically arise. Although these four types of incorrect consideration are not considered disturbing emotions, because they project something and disturbing emotions themselves don’t project anything, nevertheless, like disturbing emotions, these four types have doctrinally based and automatically arising aspects or forms.
When we get rid of the doctrinally based disturbing emotions, we also get rid of doctrinally based incorrect considerations. Likewise, when we get rid of the automatically arising disturbing emotions, we get rid of automatically arising incorrect consideration. They go together like that.
When we ask, “What are the causes for disturbing emotions to arise?” there are three causes that work together. There is incorrect consideration, a tendency or habit for a disturbing emotion, and the proximity or closeness of an object that could stimulate the disturbing emotion – something or someone that we have greed for, attachment to, or hostility towards – and our lack of applying any opponent to prevent the disturbing emotion. We need all these circumstances for disturbing emotions to arise. It’s not just because of the tendencies and habits for them. However, the root cause of the disturbing emotions is unawareness, and if we get rid of this unawareness, we’ll get rid of the disturbing emotions, and the incorrect consideration will go away as well.
Grasping for an Impossible Self of a Person
We started our discussion of the unawareness about how persons or individuals exist, which has both a doctrinally based form and an automatically arising form. These two types of unawareness lead to what’s usually translated as “grasping for the self of a person,” the grasping for an impossible soul of a person, which also has both forms. If we just understand them as grasping for a self or a “me” in general, and don’t specify that it is grasping for the type of self that could not possibly exist, it’s easy to fall to a nihilist extreme. We are not denying the existence of a “self” or a “me”; we’re denying here, or refuting, an impossible kind of “me,” an impossible soul.
First, we work to get rid of doctrinally based grasping for an impossible “me,” an impossible soul. Here, Buddhism is speaking specifically about an incorrect view of a soul, or an atman, that is taught in the various Indian non-Buddhist systems. This is a soul, a self, or a “me,” that combines certain features that we have incorrect consideration about.
We think that there is a “me,” or a soul, that is static, meaning that it doesn’t change from moment to moment, it always stays the same, and is not affected by anything. We also think it’s a monolith with no parts, either the size of the entire universe or like a tiny spark of life. In addition, we imagine that it is a separate entity, a separate thing, that enters into a body and a mind in a rebirth – there are various versions of, such as whether it is conscious or not – and then goes off to another body and mind in the next rebirth. But when liberated, it continues to exist totally independently of a body and mind. While in a body, it lives inside the body and the mind and is the possessor of it; it owns and controls it, like pushing the buttons and then it goes off, either to repeated rebirth or to some sort of liberated state.
Buddhism is specifically refuting a soul that has this whole package of qualities, and somebody would have to have taught us that, as we wouldn’t automatically believe in such a soul. We also saw that in our Western philosophies and religions, maybe we don’t have an assertion of a soul that has all these qualities, but we might have the assertion of a soul with some of these qualities, and refuting such a soul would be taken care of in terms of refuting the various types of incorrect consideration. In this way, Buddhism still deals with the impossible views of non-Indian philosophies and religions as well. By using logic, we can understand that all these types of soul are impossible. There are no such things. When we have full conviction that they are impossible, the way that we focus on voidness is to just completely “cut off” this false view, this incorrect view; just cut it off as “no such thing.”
Then we saw that Buddhism asserts that there is a self, or a “me,” a person that does change from moment to moment; it is affected by various things. It is eternal, it has no beginning and no end, and it’s individual. But it changes from moment to moment and is affected by causes and conditions. It’s not something that is separable from a continuum of a body and mind but is an imputation on an individual continuum of body, mind, emotions, etc., from one lifetime to another lifetime, and continues as an imputation on a basis even with liberation and enlightenment.
The example that I always use to explain this is a movie, let’s say “Star Wars.” We have a continuum of one scene after another scene after another scene. We’re not talking about the plastic film; we’re talking about the actual seeing of a movie. There is one scene after another after another. It’s constantly changing; nothing is staying the same throughout it, and we refer to the whole thing as “Star Wars.” “Star Wars” isn’t just one tiny, little moment of it. The whole thing doesn’t play at once, but there is a movie, “Star Wars,” which is an imputation on the basis of the continuum of all these scenes.
When we see any one scene, what are we looking at? We’re looking at “Star Wars.” Are we looking at the whole movie at the same time? No. Is “Star Wars” just a name? No, it’s not just a name, it’s what the name refers to. Where is “Star Wars?” It’s not one scene and it’s not the whole thing altogether because we can’t see the whole thing altogether in one moment, but there is a movie called “Star Wars.” The conventional “me” is just like that.
When we say, “I know myself. Here I am.” Does this refer to just this one tiny, little instant? Does it refer to our whole life? Can anybody know their whole life in one instant? No. Am I just a name “me,” or a name “Alex?” No, but the name refers to something, a person, on the basis of the continuum of body, mind, feelings, experience, etc.
Because the basis for “me” is changing from moment to moment, a person, “me,” is also changing from moment to moment. It is non-static. A person has parts because its basis has parts. In any moment, there is a body, a mind, some emotions, and so on. A person also has temporal parts and all of them are the basis for “me” – the Alex as a young man, the Alex as a middle-aged man, etc., as well as a social life, academic life, sports life, and so on. There are parts; it’s not a monolith. It’s not like the simple-minded view of Tintin in comic books: Tintin as the same unchanging, partless person now in Tibet, Tintin in Egypt, Tintin in Switzerland, etc. It’s not like now there is this solid Alex, static, staying the same with no parts and now in this situation or that situation. “Me” at each time and in each situation is different, but not totally unrelated, of course. There’s a continuum.
We’ve spoken about a doctrinally based impossible “me” that we would learn from some system. There is also an automatically arising impossible “me.” Before we describe that, it might be good to spend a few moments digesting what I just explained.
Automatically Arising Grasping for an Impossible “Me”
With automatically-= arising grasping for an impossible “me,” we imagine that there is what’s called a “self-sufficiently knowable me.” That means a “me” that can be known by itself, without cognizing first and then simultaneously its basis for imputation – I’ll explain that. “Self-sufficiently” means that to cognize it, it is sufficient or enough just to cognize it by itself. It doesn’t require anything else – namely, a basis – also to be cognized in the process. A self-sufficiently knowable self is also called, literally, a “self that can stand on its own feet,” all by itself. Grasping for the self to exist in that impossible way “automatically arises,” which means that nobody had to teach us this at all. A dog has this as well.
For instance, I’m looking over here and what does it seem to me? It seems to me that I see Massimo. It doesn’t seem to me that I see a body and then, on the basis of the body and together with the body, the imputational phenomenon of the person, Massimo. No. It just appears as though I see Massimo.
There is Claudia. I know Claudia. What do I know when I say, “I know Claudia?” Do I know her mind? Do I know what she looks like? When I hear her on the telephone, “Ah, I’m speaking to Claudia,” or “I hear Claudia.” Well, what do I hear? I don’t hear only Claudia all by herself; I hear a voice. I don’t even hear a voice; I hear a vibration of some electronic things and, on that as a basis, I hear, as an imputation, the voice of a person. Further, on the basis of that, I hear, as an imputation, Claudia. But no! It seems as though I’m talking to Claudia and I’m listening to Claudia. The person Claudia seems to be self-sufficiently knowable and I consider that deceptive appearance to correspond to reality.
In other words, a basis has to appear first and then at the same time as we know, think about, or see a person. Nonetheless, it seems to us that we just know a person, we just see a person. When we start to analyze and realize that we actually grasp for persons to exist in that mistaken way, we discover all sorts of disturbing thoughts and emotions that arise from that. “Poor ‘me,’ nobody loves ‘me.’” What are we thinking of? Are we thinking of a body? Are we thinking of a mind? What are we thinking of? We’re thinking of just “me.” “I want somebody to love ‘me’ for ‘myself,’ not for my money, not for my good looks, not for my body, not for my intelligence. I want them to just love ‘me,’” as if there were a “me” that could be loved separately, by itself – separate from all these things. It’s not just that “me” exists separately, but that it can be known and be loved separately, for example. I’m using that as an illustration here, that a person could be loved separately from a body, a mind, possessions, a sense of humor, etc. “Just love ‘me’ for ‘myself,’” we say.
“You don’t know the real ‘me’; you just know my writing,” “You don’t know the real ‘me,’” as if there were a real “me” that someone could know separately from all of this. Funny, isn’t it? Sometimes it gets a little bit more complex, so we think, “The real ‘me’ is my emotional life; it isn’t my professional life, it’s just this one aspect.” There are many variations that come up here. These derive from yet another incorrect view that the real “me” can only be known on the basis of certain aspects, but not the other aspects – they’re not the real “me.” This is the automatically arising form of grasping for an impossible “me” or soul of a person.
Let’s take a few moments to try to recognize and understand that. When we talk about voidness, it’s usually spoken in terms of a lack of an impossible “me.” Such a “me” is totally absent because there is no such thing. There are many, many consequences of this. Often, we say that we love somebody, but we’re just basing that on a few aspects of the person. It’s usually the good points that we exaggerate, and we don’t really even consider the negative points. We think that we can only know the person in terms of this little aspect, and then there is an incorrect consideration, “This is just fantastic,” whereas it might be quite ordinary.
That’s like the syndrome “I’m not ‘myself’ today,” or “you weren’t ‘yourself.’” Let’s think about all of this.
What is your advice to bring this awareness into everyday life?
My advice is, like this example, if I’m thinking in terms of a relationship with someone, and I want you to love “me” for myself, and not for all these other aspects, to realize that this is ridiculous. This doesn’t correspond to anything real; there is no such “me” as that. If they love “me,” that “me” can only be known on the basis of my personality, my possessions, what I’ve accomplished, my body, and all these other things. There is nothing wrong with that. It has to be on that basis; it cannot be anything other than on that basis.
Further, if I love somebody, well I can’t just love this person, although it might seem, “I just love you, and I want you.” We are going to get the whole package of this person – all their strong points, their weak points, their familial relationships, and their level of intelligence and physical strength. We get the whole package; we can’t just love this person. But often we want to deny and not deal with certain aspects that we find disagreeable, and just as soon ignore them. We can’t ignore them, as they come with the whole package. There is no “me” that’s separate, that we can love separately from all of that. If our love of someone is on the basis of their entire basis for imputation, then it becomes much more realistic.
Also, I know some people here are involved with Tara Rokpa training, which is a training in which one reviews one’s whole life in this lifetime, going from the present back to the earliest days, then back up to the present, and then back again to the earliest days. Not only does one realize – I haven’t done the training myself, but I would imagine that one realizes – nonstaticness, that we change, and are influenced and affected by so many different things, and so on; however, in light of what we’ve been discussing here, one would also realize that the “me” is an imputation on this whole history and that we can’t really know “me” when we argue that there is a “me” that’s knowable and functioning separately from all of this. Such a training can help us to integrate our whole history, everything that we’ve studied, everybody that we’ve met, and all the experiences that we’ve had and that they have had that have influenced them.
I understand that the “I” is not one instant, and that it’s not the whole movie seen in one instant, because that’s impossible. So, what are we left with? What is the “I?” I understand what it’s not, but not what it is. The second question is about the automatically arising incorrect consideration of an impossible “me.” Why would that arise automatically? There must be a reason why it arises automatically.
First of all, what we are left with is an “I” that exists as an imputation on the enormous basis of the everchanging five aggregates and can only be known on the basis of these aggregates. To go more deeply into what we’re left with brings us to the next topic, which is the voidness of all phenomena, and it’s only in the context of that discussion that we can go deeper into that question: “What are we left with?” and “Can we refine that further?”
Why does automatically arising grasping for this impossible “me” occur? Well, like I was just explaining before in terms of the causes for incorrect consideration – habit, tendency, reinforcement from other people, the influence of objects, for example, like a telephone when we just hear a voice and don’t see someone, etc. This is the horrible thing: our mind has been making such an appearance without any beginning, so the habit is deeply rooted. Each prior cause has its own set of prior causes. It’s like that.
Isn’t this strange?
Yes, this is strange. This is beginningless samsara.
With the example of a relationship, you spoke about how we want somebody to love us in a certain way, and how we want somebody to be. I think that most of the time it’s not like that in a relationship. We try to see the other person in a “holistic” way, in which we know and accept “the whole package” of the other with their good aspects and their not-so-good aspects, and that they can change day by day. It’s not that we have an image of the other that we just take for this, but not for that, and all the time we are deluded. Most of the time, in relationships with our friends or our partners, we try to spontaneously see the others in all their aspects and not separate them into this part that I want and that part I don’t want.
If you are able to do that, that’s wonderful. However, I think, for most of us, a certain situation comes up and, “You just did that!” or “You let me down!” Then, we get annoyed and angry. We think just of that type of “you”: “You did that.” We don’t think of the whole basis, “Well, maybe they were involved with other things. Maybe they weren’t feeling well,” maybe this or maybe that. So, the misconception automatically arises; this is the point of this idea of a self-sufficiently knowable person. Another example, “I wish you were here.” What’s behind that?
What’s behind it is just “you.” We don’t think of all the other stuff that is the basis for you.
I didn’t get a chance to ask my question.
“I didn’t have a chance to ask my question” is another good example. What does that mean? Your body didn’t have a chance to ask it? Your voice didn’t have a chance?... No. Just “me.” I didn’t have a chance to ask it. So now, when I reply, “What is your question?” Who or what am I asking? Am I asking the body? Am I asking the mind? No, I’m asking just “you.” And now you’re going to answer. What or who is answering? It’s a voice coming from a body on the basis of which, as an imputation, is the person Lisa.
My question is, when we talk about projection, is it wrong to project, or are there wrong projections and right projections? I project something as permanent, which is impermanent. I project happiness and that’s unhappiness. Now, these you also explained as incorrect considerations. Are considerations projections? Are projections wrong, or are there right and wrong projections?
I’m sorry if I confused you, but I was trying to simplify things, so I used the word “projection,” and I wasn’t really using it as a technical term. There are many different technical terms that are included here, but in the beginning I didn’t really differentiate them.
For instance, we have something called “interpolation.” This means to add something that’s not there. It’s described like putting a feather on the end of an arrow. The feather wasn’t naturally there. Basically, we can add something that is impossible, which was never there, like an impossible way of existing, or we could add something that could exist, but doesn’t exist there now, or it could be exaggerating something that’s there. We add or exaggerate the good qualities of something when we have attachment or desire. We add or exaggerate the negative qualities of something when we have anger and repulsion.
The inverse of interpolation is called “repudiation”: we deny something that is there. We deny that there is anything wrong with our relationship when it happens to be an unhealthy one. We deny that there is such a thing as death. A lot of problems come from a state of denial.
Then also included in this broad general word “projection” is the “mental labeling of a category,” which is what is involved in conceptual cognition. Take, for instance, the category “table.” We can conceptually mental label it onto this object next to me, that object over there, which has a slightly different shape, and each of these objects in front of you. We can fit all of them into this category that we mentally label them with. In addition, we can conceptually “designate” a name onto the category, for instance “table,” and through the category, designate it on each item that we mentally label as fitting into this category. Obviously, there are different names in different languages that the category can be designated with.
These categories and names can either be conventionally accurate or they could be inaccurate. If we look at this object and think of it as a table, that’s conventionally correct. Everybody here would agree, However, if we look at it and label it “a dog,” other people wouldn’t agree with that, and it couldn’t function as a dog. If I put this at the gate for it to bark and chase people away, it’s not going to do that, so there is something incorrect here. “Incorrect consideration” is a very technical term, but it could include, for instance, considering this object a dog rather than a table.
The “I” is imputed on the aggregates or is it labeled on the aggregates.
The “I” or a person is an imputation on the aggregates, it can be known either conceptually or non-conceptually – we can think of a person or see a person – whereas the category “I” or the category of “a person” can be labeled onto many individual persons. The category can only be known conceptually. We will investigate further what that means.
If I go to a psychiatric hospital, we see that patients there have so many problems with the “I.” The “I,” then, should be more than something that is an imputation on the aggregates. If it were not something more, why are there so many problems? Their “I” is not well-structured, so they do well because they don’t deconstruct the “I.” However, they have a lot of problems.
We have to go back to what I mentioned. Perhaps I didn’t emphasize it enough. There is a difference between the “conventional me” and the “false me.” The conventional me is the one that is an imputation on the aggregates, as is age, and we will get further and further into what that actually means. What we call in the West “a healthy ego” is one that considers itself in terms of this conventional me. Now, a “false ego,” an “inflated ego,” is when we interpolate or throw on top of this conventional me qualities that it lacks. Some are qualities that could exist, but don’t exist in our own case, like the ability to do physical work as if we were 25 when we are 75. Some qualities that we interpolate are qualities that are impossible, like being the most important person in the world who should always have his or her way or being self-sufficiently knowable. With both types of interpolation, we would have an inflated ego. People that have a lot of psychological problems either have a tremendously inflated ego or they have no healthy ego, in which case they have no sense even of the conventional me.
I don’t know if you make this distinction in the Italian language, but there’s a distinction in English at least between an “ego” and a “me.” An ego is a way of being aware of oneself as “me.” With a healthy ego, we are aware of ourselves as a conventional me. With an inflated ego, we are aware of ourselves as a false me. This is how we put the Buddhist explanation together with Western psychology. The conventional me and the false me are actually the objects, respectively, of a healthy ego and an inflated ego. An ego and “me” are not equivalent; they are related to each other.
That’s why it’s very important that when we go deeper into the study of Buddhism that, basically, we have to be qualified as a student. The major qualification is that we are mature and have some sort of healthy sense of “me.” Because if we deconstruct the “me” and don’t have a healthy sense of “me,” then we are left with nothing. Therefore, it’s not recommended to teach voidness to children or young teenagers, who haven’t yet developed a healthy sense of an individual “me,” because they will deconstruct too much. We hear over and over again in the teachings this warning, and we can take vows for this, not to teach voidness to those who are not ready. That’s the danger, that they will refute everything and then it can result in real psychosis.
Is there also the danger that the ego could become even stronger?
Yes, with the arrogance that we have actually understood voidness, when in fact we haven’t, the ego could become inflated and stronger because of this interpolation.
You spoke about the suffering in relationships that results from the disturbing emotions, which arise from the projection of impossible ways of existing of a person, or a “me.” However, there is another, maybe deeper kind of suffering that comes as a lack of purpose, a lack of a sense of meaning. I see that in my children.
Are you talking about not finding a meaning in life? Again, that’s not having a healthy sense of the conventional me. There are several factors involved here. One factor deals with what we call “refuge,” which I call a “safe direction” in life. The direction in life that we are going in with Buddhism is to achieve a true stopping of all the disturbing emotions and so on that cause suffering, and to attain a true pathway mind – the understanding and realizations that will bring us not only happiness but also the ability to help others, like the Buddha has done in full and the Arya Sangha community has done in part. With this as our aim, we have a direction, a safe direction; it gives us a meaning in life.
The term “refuge” is too passive, as it has to do with seeking someone or something that takes the responsibility to protect us and we don’t have to do anything ourselves except submit to it. This is not what refuge is all about. Rather, if we put a safe direction in our lives – one in which the further we go in it, the more we protect ourselves from suffering – then we know where we’re going in life. That helps us to establish a sense of the conventional me. Of course, we could inflate that, “I’m going to save the world because I’m Saint Alex.” However, having this safe and positive direction in life is very, very fundamental. That’s where we start in Buddhism; it’s absolutely essential.
With children, there is no need to give them technical jargon. Just speak to them in terms of what their purpose and meaning in life can be. For example, to grow up, to become a good and kind person, not to get angry, to learn as much as they can so that they can be helpful to others, and so on. In doing that, which I think a child can understand without bringing in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha and all these sorts of things, then a child has a feeling that “I’m doing something,” “I’m going somewhere in my life.” This helps to establish a healthy ego based on the conventional me.
We don’t have to explain in terms of “imputation” and “conventional me,” and so on. Having a safe and positive direction in life helps to establish a sense of a “me” with a purpose. Then, we can worry later on about an exaggeration of it. Of course, the way that we explain and present this to a child depends on the age of the child. We wouldn’t explain to a three-year-old in the same way that we would to a ten-year-old.