The Subtle False “Me” Refuted Only by Gelug Prasangika

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Review: First Level of the Four Point Analysis: Refuting the Coarse Impossible "Me" and the Subtle Impossible "Me"

We have refuted now the coarse impossible "me," which is doctrinally-based and coming together with that are the twenty forms of this deluded attitude towards the transitory network – throwing out "me" or "mine" onto the different aggregates. And we have now identified, hopefully, the subtle impossible “me.” Everybody says that it automatically arises, and Prasangika says it could also doctrinally arise. When it’s in this doctrinally arising form also you get these twenty deluded outlooks towards a transitory network.

When you have automatically arising forms of these types of unawareness – some level of unawareness – then the deluded outlook toward a transitory network is not divided into these twenty. It is just a more general thing directed at the five aggregates in general – not specified in terms of each of the aggregates and not specified in terms of controller, possessor, or inhabitant. I mention that because that will come in the meditation – what you work with.

Also I should mention – but I will not go into any detail about it – that from the non-Prasangika point of view – and remember we’re always talking about the Gelugpa version of these; other Tibetan traditions have quite a different understanding of these four Indian schools – this deluded outlook toward a transitory network is throwing out this net of "me" and "mine" onto the aggregates. The deluded outlook toward a transitory network – that is this throwing out of the net of “me” onto any of the aggregates; or that "They’re mine" – my possession, my thing to control, or my residence – onto the aggregates. So it’s throwing it onto the aggregates.

Tsongkhapa says that the Prasangika position is that this deluded outlook throws this out onto the conventional “me” – not onto the aggregates – “me” is identical to the aggregates, or “me” as the possessor, the controller, or the inhabiter of the aggregates – rather than the aggregates as “me,” or the aggregates as the possession of “me,” what is controlled by “me,” what is inhabited by “me.” There are many reasons for that and one has to work with it to see why this Prasangika view is far more sophisticated. It has to do with the fact that the same understanding of voidness is required for both liberation and enlightenment; for both how the self exists and how all phenomena exist.

What is Left Over Once We Have Refuted the Subtle Impossible "Me?"

Now, what is left over when we have refuted this subtle impossible “me?” This is now exclusively the Prasangika assertion according to Gelugpa. What are we left with? We understand:

  • The self is non-static; it’s changing form moment to moment.
  • It has parts.
  • It can never exist independently of a body and mind. It’s imputed on it and we understand what that means.
  • We also understand that it is imputedly knowable; it can’t be self-sufficiently knowable.

And yet – now here is what’s to be refuted – there is a referent thing findable in the basis for imputation. That really has to be explained. The conventional “me" is what the designation "me" refers to on the basis for labeling. In a sense it’s a bit like an illusion, isn’t it? A referent thing would be an actual findable thing that you could point to that establishes itself. It would be like for instance – let’s go back to our example of motion – there is motion, isn’t there? Motion is an imputatiopn on an object that is moving in space over time. It can only be known and observed by observing the object that it’s imputed on. So the referent object of the designation "motion" is motion, conventionally existing motion that you can see. But if we make that object into a “thing” in quotation marks, it is as if it were a concrete thing that existed by itself independently of, for instance, space and time. We make motion into a thing – there it is by itself and now we can study its properties and so on – but you don’t think of it in terms of it being something relative, relative to space (because the ball has to move through space) and over time etc. So it’s just a “thing” there by itself, establishing itself from its own side.

So it is like for instance, in a movie or a play or drama on stage. You have the scenery just standing there – that would be like the referent object; and the referent thing would be like a prop that is holding it up. (There is a Tibetan terms that this is referring to, dmigs-rten.) It is something that is holding up the object – self-established by itself – that is holding up the referent object. There is nothing behind our various objects that we know. There’s nothing behind it holding it up.

One way of understanding this is in terms of something more general, since this point about there being no referent "thing" holding up the referent object pertains not only to the self, but it pertains to everything. That’s why we have to understand the voidness of everything here. Let’s say, love. There’s the designation "love" and we have so many different moments of experience that have some sort of emotion in it. And of course in each moment it’s something slightly different; what I experience, what you experience – it’s a little bit different. But we have the designation “love” and it refers to something; there is love. I feel love; it’s not that I feel nothing. That’s the referent object. The referent thing would be now making a concrete thing out of “love.” Love – "I’m looking for love" – as if "love" is something that’s a thing, existing encapsulated in plastic somewhere by itself and that’s what I’m looking for. That is what I imagine is backing up and holding up what I’m experiencing in each moment. I experience “love;” I do experience “love.”

So we are confusing the referent object with the referent thing. We’re confusing the conventional self with the false self – but it’s a very very subtle false self. So it is a misconception about the self that changes from moment to moment, has parts, can’t exist separate from a body and mind, can only be known with a body and mind – and yet still we have a misconception about it: that there’s something holding it up when you can’t find that. So when you say that the self can’t be found, that’s what can’t be found; not that you can’t find yourself up your nose – this is trivial, it's obvious.

That’s one aspect. Digest that a little bit. Conventionally there are things, just imputedly knowable. There is “me,” but it’s not a “me” wrapped in plastic by itself. It’s very subtle. Anyway, just the general idea; we will have our meditation on this. As I say you can’t really work with this unless you’ve worked with the grosser levels.

This belief – this unawareness of the fact that this doesn’t refer to anything (and this is impossible) – that will automatically arise. In other words, the unawareness about a findable referent thing, which doesn’t correspond to reality, that doesn’t refer to reality – either we don’t know that such a referent thing does not refer to anything real or Gelug Prasangika says that we know it in the incorrect way: we imagine that it does refer to something findable and real – that automatically arises. Prasangika also says that can be doctrinally-based as well; it can be doctrinally-based on the tenets of the Sautrantika, Chittamatra or Svatantrika systems.

Defining Characteristics of an Object According to Sautrantika, Chittamatra and Svatantrika

Now of course you have to understand these other systems. All of them are going to agree that the self is designated on the aggregates; it’s changing, etc.; and it cannot be self-sufficiently known. They all agree on this. We’ve left behind Vaibhashika now. But what they are saying is that the characteristic features, the characteristic mark for being able to distinguish and either non-conceptually see "me" or conceptually label "me" with the category "me" and designate "me" with the word "me" is findable in the basis for imputation. What is the basis that contains the characteristic feature of “me?” It’s a technical term: according to Sautrantika, it’s the "mental consciousness;" according to Chittamatra, it’s the "foundational consciousness," alayavijnana; according to Svatantrika, it again is "mental consciousness."

Now, when we distinguish things – remember we had the aggregate of distinguishing – when you distinguish something you are distinguishing characteristic features. Objects do have qualities; we’re not denying that they have qualities. So, body – we have the sixteen characteristics of the four noble truths and four pertain to the body as an example of true suffering – so it’s non-static and it’s suffering and all of this. So these are characteristic features. And we distinguish that characteristic feature and that is how we consider it in terms of that characteristic feature. It can either be accurate or inaccurate. Discriminating awareness, remember, just adds certainty about it. So you can be certain about something that’s incorrect or you can be certain about something that is correct. And your level of certainty could be not so strong, so you have indecisive wavering – maybe, maybe like this, maybe like that.

According to these three schools – and I don’t want to get into the more subtle differences of these three schools – Sautrantika, Chittamatra, and Svatantrika – they’re different – let’s just talk about Svatantrika. Everybody asserts that the basis for imputation – the mind or the body, the aggregates, or whatever – they have defining characteristics. The non-Madhyamika systems say that the defining characteristic has the power to establish by itself what something is. It has a defining characteristic so that establishes it is a dog. It has the genome of a dog and that establishes that it is a dog – on the side of the basis, on the side of the cells and so on of this animal, this thing. That has the power to establish by itself that it’s a dog. You can find it on the side of the basis.

Svatantrika says that the defining characteristic on the side of the basis doesn’t have the power to establish what something is by itself. It has the power to establish it in conjunction with mental labeling. What they're saying is there has to be something on the side of, let’s say a person, that in conjunction with mental labeling would make them a king. Otherwise anybody could be labeled a king. This is coming out of the caste system in India and that type of culture. There has to be something that makes somebody of the ruling class from their side, otherwise you could label a sweeper, you could label a beggar, as a king. So there has to be something also on the side of the object. It's like any belief in aristocracy, there has to be something on the side of the person that they are nobly born, they are aristocracy; otherwise a commoner could be the king. So together with imputation, there has to be the conception of a king – animals don’t have that concept – so there’s the concept of the king and something on the side of the object that allows for correct mental labeling. And on the side of the mental consciousness – now it’s Svatantrika – it has the defining characteristic both of mental consciousness and of a person, of the conventional “me.” Both of them are findable in the basis and because of that, that is equivalent to saying that there is a findable referent thing; that there is somehow not just mental labeling alone, which is the Prasangika point of view; but something on the side of the object in connection with mental labeling that establishes something, and that would be a referent thing.

It becomes very subtle, very sophisticated. Let’s go back to our example of love. Is there something on the side of the object – what I’m feeling – in each moment that makes it love? We have all sorts of emotions; even emotion – what in the world is that? We have every moment of experience. How do we understand that? Most people don’t even try to understand it. But we see that each part of experience is not something with no parts – it has parts; it’s made up of various components. From its own side does it have these lines that divide it into parts? Does it? No, obviously it doesn’t. It’s mentally labeled. But it refers to something because we have emotion, we have consciousness, we have some level of happiness. You can divide it into parts but they’re no dividing lines on the side of the object; it’s just moments of experience. But there are defining characteristics of the various things that we are dividing it into.

We have it in the dictionary. Defining characteristics; the definition of love: the Buddhist one – wish for others to be happy and have the causes for happiness. And now I’m feeling something and it fulfills that definition; there’s the defining characteristic. Where’s that defining characteristic? Is it in what I’m experiencing? Well, yes, but it is mentally labeled on it; it’s not just sitting there from the side of my experience. So even the defining characteristics are mentally labeled. Does the object, the basis, have defining characteristics? Sure it has defining characteristics, the same way as there is a referent object of the designation “me.” There’s also a referent object of the designation of defining characteristics.

Just as there is a referent object – the actual conventional “me” – there are the actual conventional defining characteristics of things, but somebody made that up. So, where are the defining characteristics? Somebody or some group of people made up definitions. First of all some primitive cave people came along and made up words, just out of meaningless sounds. It’s really interesting how in the world did they come up with the various concepts of the various emotions to start with? That’s extraordinary. Did cave people experience love before somebody had come up with the concept of love and defined it? Well, yes; but... They made up a word and made up a definition. And we experience things and you can mentally label onto it correctly. Others would agree – it has the defining characteristics. But can you find the defining characteristics on the side of the object? No.

So do those defining characteristics have the power by themselves to establish things as what they are? No. Sitting there on the side of the object, do they have the power, findable on the side of the object, to establish something as love? No. Are those defining characteristics sitting on the side of mental consciousness establishing both the person and the mental consciousness? Well those are different defining characteristics but are both of them sitting there, and one defines mental consciousness and one defines a person? No.

Or even the Svatantrika understanding of it, that these defining characteristics are sitting on the side of the object, findable there, and it’s only when they are combined with mental labeling that it establishes what something is. This is where the confusion comes from; that you think – this is why I put it in simple language – that there’s something inside “me,” findable, that makes “me” “me” and doesn’t make “me” you. And then we have all sorts of disturbing emotions that come from that. "There’s something in me that makes me special. I’m special; better than you, more important than you, and therefore I should always have my way, not you. I should come first because there’s something in me that makes me me, by its own power." Even if I understand that it’s in conjunction with mental labeling, still I think there’s something findable in “me” that makes “me” special; that makes “me” “me.” That’s a defining characteristic, and the Svatantrika says, where is that defining characteristic found? It’s found in the mind. Maybe Western scientists would say that it’s found in the genome. Do you follow that? It's very subtle.

The Prasangika Position

Prasangika says that things are established merely in terms of mental labeling. It's very very important to understand the terminology here. We tend to use the term that things exist by mental labeling or by mental labeling alone, and that leads to the misconception that unless somebody mentally labels it, it doesn’t exist. If it is not actively mentally labeled, it doesn’t exist, so that the mental labeling creates it. That’s incorrect. It doesn’t matter whether it’s actively mentally labeled or not. That’s not the point.

How do you establish or prove – it’s the same word as "prove;" it’s not the word "exist" – how do you prove, how do you establish that something exists? There’s nothing on the side of the object that you can point to. You can’t find the defining characteristics on the side of the object or the basis for imputation that establishes it either by its own power or in conjunction with mental labeling. It’s not on the basis of imputation like this misconception about this self of a person being on the basis of mental consciousness; and it’s not a referent thing encapsulated in plastic behind the referent object that’s holding it up, that is establishing that it exists – a findable thing. The only thing that establishes that something exists is what the mental label refers to on the basis for imputation.

How do you establish that there is such a thing as love? We’ve had love regardless of the mental label "love;" but how do you establish that there is such a thing as love? Well, there is the concept; there is the word "love;" and it is labeled on the basis of certain emotions that people experience; and it refers to something – love. So that’s how you establish that there is love; it is what the label refers to on the basis of these emotions. But there’s nothing on the side of the emotions that is from its own side establishing that it is love. You can’t find those defining characteristics; there’s no such thing as love by itself, encapsulated in plastic, sitting out there somewhere, and that is establishing – backing up – that there is love. It’s simply mental labeling; that’s the only way that you could specify or demonstrate that there is such a thing as love.

This is true of everything, and it is also true of the self, “me.” It’s more complicated and more dangerous with the “me” because they’re saying that in the basis for imputation, the mental consciousness, it has defining characteristics that make it both a consciousness and a “me,” which is not a consciousness. Svatantrika and Chittamatra and Sautrantika all say that. (Chittamatra is saying that that’s with alayavijnana, but it’s the same idea.) That is what you’re refuting on this subtlest level, and it could arise either doctrinally-based – we learned it from these Sautrantika, Chittamatra, or Svatantrika systems; or it will automatically arise; or in addition it will automatically arise. For everybody it automatically arises but it also have been doctrinally-based.

So this is the real thing Dharma; this is the full package of what we need to work with in order to understand the first point of the four point analysis: identifying the self to be refuted. It's not so simple, not so obvious.

  • We have to work with first excluding that it’s not the coarse impossible “me,” as asserted by the non-Buddhist Indian schools; and not just leave it on the level of 'Well, these stupid people over there thought like that but I don’t think like that' – try to identify it in yourself. You have to identify it in yourself.
  • Then what is left over, which is correct understanding, but there’s still something imprecise about it.
  • Then you refute that; see what’s left; understand what’s left; and then understand what is the further imprecision that’s there and exclude that.

So, you have to be careful not to exclude or – as Tsongkhapa says – under-refute it, which is that you don’t go to the deepest level: you have refuted the coarse and the subtle but you haven’t refuted the super subtle level. And you have to not over-refute, which means you’re left with nothing; that you have refuted in fact as well that there is such a thing as a conventional “me.” You can’t find a conventional “me” but you don’t say that it doesn’t exist at all.

Now we go back to my point about the difference between emptiness and voidness. Svatantrika says that conventionally you can find the conventional “me,” because the defining characteristics are there in mental consciousness. But on the deepest level, you can’t find it; on the deepest level, you understand it in terms of mental labeling so it’s like the glass, which is empty of water. There is the glass but it’s empty of water. There is a self, where you can find in the defining characteristics in the consciousness, but it is devoid of existing independently of mental labeling in conjunction with this defining characteristic. This is consistent with the Svatantrika assertion that although all validly knowable phenomena have self-establishing natures (rang-bzhin), these self-establishing natures do not establish the existence of these phenomena outside of the context of mental labeling. Svatantrika made that assertion to refute the Chittamatra position that dependent phenomena (gzhan-dbang) (namely, nonstatic phenomena) and thoroughly established phenomena (yongs-grub) (namely, voidnesses) have self-established natures that establish their existence outside of the context of mental labeling, since such phenomena appear to the non-conceptual cognition of aryas; but you can only establish what these phenomena are (their names and so on) in the context of mental labeling.

Further, Svatantrika asserts that within the context of mental labeling, the fact that conventional objects appear also establishes that they conventionally exist. Prasangika refutes that because, conventionally, deceptive appearances of self-established existence also appear and Prasangika refutes self-established existence – how it appears does not correspond to how it actually exists.

So, it’s not just that when I am analyzing with a mind that’s analyzing the deepest level – deepest truth – that I can’t find a self encapsulated in plastic. Analyzing the deepest truth, I can’t find the referent object – the “me” – encapsulated in plastic, or "love" encapsulated in plastic. But even when I examine conventionally, the conventional truth, I can’t find a self encapsulated in plastic. Whereas the Svatantrika says, yes you can find it on the conventional level. This is a very important, very subtle difference. If you haven’t refuted that Svatantrika level, you haven’t gone deeply enough. You have under-refuted. Tsongkhapa makes a huge point about this.

So it really gets into very very subtle discriminations that we need to be able to recognize in ourselves. We might understand, 'Well, the way that I experience myself is sort of like an illusion. You know, I understand that ultimately I can’t really find “me” in the basis, or some solid “me’ holding up this “me.” But that conventional “me” – well, here I am. I can point to it.' So we make that illusion into a thing. The thing that is like an illusion we make into a thing because then it feels more secure.

So this is very very subtle actually, and we have to understand that there are conventional defining characteristics. I am an individual. I’m not you; and so there are defining characteristics – genome or whatever. There are defining characteristics but they have just been labeled, imputed as defining characteristics. They don’t have the power by themselves, nor do they have the power in conjunction with mental labeling to make me an individual, to make “me” "me." Yet I am an individual, but there’s no plastic around "me" making “me” and individual, just as there’s no plastic enwrapping anything making it what it is. There is dependent arising on many many levels, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no individuality; it’s not that it’s all one big undifferentiated soup. These are very difficult things to understand, and these are the things that we need to work with.

That is the presentation of the object to be refuted – the first point of the four point analysis.


Clarifying the Prasangika Position

I just want to clarify whether I got the Prasangika view right. Things are only established as existing through our mental labeling, and they do exist regardless of our mental labeling.


Then what would be the proof of them existing regardless of our mental labeling? Our experiencing them? And if so, does that refer to our experiencing them through moments of non-conceptual cognition?

No. Some of the lower schools, the less sophisticated schools like Vaibashika, say that everything has substantially established existence because it can be known. This word that’s translated as "substantially established existence" means that it’s established as a thing because it can be validly known – both static and non-static phenomena, whether conceptually or non-conceptually; it doesn’t matter. Sautrantika comes in and says that it gets very very complicated so I don’t want to get into it in too complicated a level – things can produce and effect, and because they can produce an effect, then that establishes that it exists. That’s primarily with non-static phenomena; they do something. And static phenomenon – well that’s established in another way. I don’t want to get into that, that’s even more complicated. This is complicated enough.

So anyway, the ability to produce an effect establishes that things exist. Everybody accepts that going up; but then Prasangika says, 'Hey, if you say that that is what establishes that something exists, that’s speaking from the side of the object' – so that is again that there is an actual findable referent thing.

Prasangika says that if there is something on the side of the object, you are just using that to try to establish that things exist from their own side by their own power that they have an ability to produce an effect. In other words, the assumption behind saying that the fact that something has the power to produce an effect is that conventionally it’s findable and there it is; by its own power it can produce and effect and that establishes that it exists. So that’s incorrect.

You can only establish that things exist merely from the side of the mind. What prepared us to be able to understand that is the Chittamatra view that there’s nothing on the side of the object that establishes the appearance; that the appearance and the consciousness that cognizes it come both from the same natal source – the karmic tendency, the seed. So Prasangika would say, 'Well that’s not really precise, it's not quite correct,' because Prasangika does assert external phenomena – physical objects come from the elements and so on; but it prepares us to be able to understand that you can only establish the existence of things not from the side of the object but from the side of the mind.

You have this in Chandrakirti’s explanations. How do you validate your cognition? Svatantrika would say, "Well, there has to be something on the side of the object that allows you to label correctly a king the king." "No, no, no, no, no, no" – Chandrakirti says, "It’s all from the side of the mind."

There are three criteria for validating correct cognition of something:

  • First there has to be a convention agreed upon by a group of beings. So a group of beings have the concept of "king," the convention of "king." Animals don’t have it and certain societies don’t have; but our society has that concept of "king." So there has to be a convention that’s agreed upon – that’s coming from the side of the mind, of course.
  • Then it has to be not contradicted by minds that validly see the conventional truth. So everybody in the society agrees that this guy is the king. One crazy person comes along and says, "No, no, I’m the king, I’m the king" and puts a paper crown on their head – nobody would agree that this crazy person is the king. A valid mind that sees validly conventional truth would not agree. You know, a little child that puts a paper crown on his head and says "I’m the king." So that’s again validated from the side of the mind.
  • And it has to be not contradicted by mind that sees the deepest truth. Somebody says, "Well, I have the right to be the king because I’m from this caste and I was born like this and so on, so it’s something from my side that makes me the king." Then a mind that validly sees that there is no such thing would contradict that. 'I am the son of the king or the queen, so therefore from my side I should be king' – this is false.

So we can only validate and establish things from the side of mental labeling, from the mind. But that doesn’t mean simplistically the Chittamatra view or this view that everything exists in your head, and nobody else exists. This is narcissism, solipsism; there are many aspects of it.

Cognizing Conceptually Through Categories

So much depends on how we label things with regard to the label we use or the word we use to designate something. That raises the question of how a little baby, for example, starts developing attachment or desire towards its toy or its bottle of milk even though it hasn’t yet developed verbal thinking that would allow it to either label itself or the object that it clings to.

That is why we speak of automatically arising deluded outlook toward a transitory network. Automatically you throw the net of “me” and "mine" – "This is my toy" – whether you have a word for it or not. A dog doesn’t have a word for it but this is "my bone," "my master," "my house." So that gets’ into the whole discussion of conceptual cognition. Conceptual cognition is done with categories. We have audio categories and we have meaning categories and object categories; meaning and object categories are the same.

An audio category would be the category of the sound of a word. We can have a sound which has been mentally labeled to be a word. It’s just an arbitrary sound; sound from its own side doesn’t have any meaning. Regardless of what voice is saying it, regardless of the volume in which it is said, we’re able to understand it in the category of being the sound of the word “me.” It fits into this audio category of the sound and it’s associated with the word. The category is not the word, but the word represents the category for us. Category is a static abstraction. Now, various sounds – regardless of the volume and type of voice and so on – we all recognize as being the sound of the word “me.” And if we think of that category, we represent it with our own individual mental sound "me," or the sound of our own voice saying “me.” That’s the sound of a word.

Now, that word has a meaning, and we have a meaning category like the meaning of the word "love." What it means is also an object – a knowable object, validly knowable object. And every time that we experience some emotion or that you experience some emotion, it fulfills the defining characteristics. We understand it in the category of "love" – the meaning of the word "love." So the baby will have the meaning category of “me” even though it doesn’t have the audio category of “me;” it hasn’t learned the word. And the same thing applies to "mine." The same as the dog: the dog will have “me” – "my bone," "my master." It doesn’t have a word; there’s no audio category going on but there’s a meaning category, an object category.

So it has to be taught the word, and then it has the category that whoever says the word in whatever voice, it has the same meaning. That’s conceptual cognition – very important to understand it. Very often it’s not very clear what conceptual cognition really is talking about. That’s what it’s talking about – how we understand things; how we work in general.

So designation with words for everybody except the Buddha is conceptual; it’s with a category. Words are designated on categories. For a Buddha, designation with words is non-conceptual; it is not on the basis of categories. Buddha knows that this is called a "table" in English; it’s called a "Tisch" in German; it’s called a "stohl" in Russian. But a Buddha is not thinking of that in terms of the category of "table" – just in terms of the name, so it’s non-conceptual, but it’s still designation. But for everybody except the Buddha, designation is conceptual, and because it’s conceptual it throws together with it an appearance of truly established existence. Every instance of "love" seems to exist in the box – meaning the category – of the emotion "love" as if various emotions were self-established boxes – the box of "love," the box of "hate," the box of "loyalty" – and now the emotion exists as something in that box. That’s the appearance of self-established existence.

That’s the difference between a referent thing and a referent object. Our designations refer to something – conventionally existent things; but there’s nothing that corresponds to these designations sitting in a box that is made up by a dictionary. You have it in the dictionary: "good," "bad," "nice," "not nice" – this is in the dictionary. Then we think that objects exist like things that are in that box. That’s the object to be refuted on this deeper level. How could you establish that something exists by the fact that it is found in a box when there aren’t even boxes. There are not even boxes; so how could it establish that it exists, that from its own power it’s in this box of "love" or this box of “me,” not you? Things don’t exist in boxes. Our mind makes it appear like they exist in boxes but they don't.

The Origin of Meaning and Object Categories

Is it right then that that meaning category that a baby has has to do with his karmic imprints that he or she brought from previous lifetimes?

That’s an interesting and difficult question because the categories are static phenomena. You could say that there are previous tendencies to think in terms of these meaning and object categories, but do the categories come from previous lifetimes? That would be difficult to say. So where do the categories come from? That’s a very difficult question because now we have the category of "computer;" did people have the meaning category of computer five hundred years ago? No. So there are certain categories that we have to learn about, like "computer;" and there are other categories which will just sort of automatically arise as part of the mechanism of how cognition works, and one of those would be the category of “me” and "mine." So there are many different more and more subtle levels of conceptual cognition; it’s not just one level of that. That’s also analyzed in more and more subtle levels.