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We do see motion; motion does objectively exist. Now we can ask the question, what about the relationship between perceiving the whole and the parts? Perceiving the whole, is that something which is imputably knowable or is it self-sufficiently knowable? Do you have to see the parts first and then the next moment you see the whole? The same thing in terms of seeing some basis for qualities and the qualities. Or the defining characteristics: You see the defining characteristics and the dog at the same time. Just one more point before we have our break. When we talk about non-conceptual cognition, sense cognition — seeing or smelling or hearing etc.

And its natal source, of the object aspect of it, is from an objective entity existing externally the moment before cognition. And, according to Gelug explanation, the mental hologram is fully transparent, so through it we actually see the external object. So we see both, basically we see the mental aspect, the hologram and that animal in front of us. Remember we were speaking about them as objects that extend over all the sense information and also endure over time, not just one microinstant. Of course it changes from moment to moment.

Nevertheless it is something which — this is part of the definition — holds its own individual essential nature. And when we talk about holding its own individual conventional identity as this and not that, we have to add, that is established as valid in relation to certain groups of beings.

For instance, we have this classic example of a glass with liquid.

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It holds the identity of water for human beings, of nectar for the gods, and pus for the ghosts. It is validly each of these things. However, this liquid does function as nectar or pus or water to either the gods or the ghosts or the humans. So you have to watch out not to think of this in terms of water which is pus for the ghosts.

Deceptive appearances: seeing looks in a new light

It is water for humans which functions as pus for ghosts. It is equally valid, each of these. But it is a person, an individual being, and that individual being one lifetime is Napoleon, one lifetime is Alex, one lifetime is the poodle, one lifetime is So, a commonsense object retains its individuality, its individual conventional identity as some item, over time. And another part of the definition is that it is an object of ordinary experience to which conventions of words and concepts refer.

We said that it holds its individual identity as this and not that. When we get into words and conventions and concepts, now we enter into the realm of conceptual cognition. When we talk about conceptual cognition, what it involves is metaphysical entities. Remember, we said Sautantrika divides what exists — what exists is what can be validly known — divides it into objective entities and metaphysical entities.

So, the objective entities are things which are nonstatic, which means it changes from moment to moment, affected by causes and conditions and affects other things. And remember, we had forms of physical phenomena and ways of being aware and these affecting variables that are neither of these two, these noncongruent affecting variables. They change from moment to moment, most of them endure, have a continuity, a continuum. Most of them, not all. And they perform a function, they do something. So, there is of course a list of these things, but the ones which are relevant to conceptual cognition are categories spyi.

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So the ones which are relevant to our discussion here are what I translate as categories. We have two types of categories. What is an audio category? That is a category derived from sounds. It is something which is mentally created by one person or a group of people. Language is the best example. What is a conceptual cognition? It is a cognition that imputes either an audio category or both an audio and a meaning category onto a hologram, a mental hologram of some objective entity, and it mixes the two together.

Why is it confused? Because it considers this mixture to be an objective entity existing externally. Everybody would agree with this definition, not just Sautantrika.

Appearances can be deceptive

Or our example of an individual being and thinking that objectively there is Alex that was always Alex as part of the continuum. This process is what is also referred to as mental labeling. And so if you stopped mental labeling, there would be no such thing as dogs. What we are speaking about in the entire Buddhist discussion of how things exist is not really talking about how things exist.

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So how do you establish that there is such a thing as dogs? Some of the non-Prasangika schools will say that from the side of the object there are findable defining characteristics that by their own power make it into a dog. Sautantrika and Chittamatra would say that. How do you establish that there are such things as dogs? When we have non-conceptual cognition, we see things. Mental labeling is purely conceptual. It is imputing an audio or a meaning category onto a basis, something that appears.

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We see various things. But how do you establish that there is such a thing as a dog? This is true for a Buddha as well. What establishes that there are such things as dogs for a Buddha? And our cognition of it in that moment can be accompanied by a mental sound of the word or not. Static phenomena, metaphysical phenomena, do not have the qualities of these nonstatic phenomena.

A category is not aware of anything. OK, now how would we analyze what appeared in your mind? How would we analyze this? Is there a dog that appears? Is it a specific dog? What kind of dog is it that appears? Does the category dog only refer to your mental picture of a dog? What do you think of when you think of a dog? Now, let me just introduce the way that the non-Gelugpas say.

Deceptive Appearances: Sautrantika

They say that the mental hologram is opaque. Because you only have a mental hologram in sense perception of one moment of sense data, visual data or audio data or whatever. And so the external object from which this mental hologram comes no longer exists. One man determined to change the way we see ourselves is Svein Nossum.

We want to make teachers aware of these biases so they can overcome them. But what could students expect to learn in such a class? We would teach them that self-esteem need not be linked with appearance. The principle behind positive image education is that learning to feel better about the way we look is a more effective route to success than altering our actual appearance. Perhaps good-looking people do better in life because on average they regard themselves in a better light. Maybe they perform better at school, in work and before a court because they have been conditioned to believe that looking good makes them a better person.

Changing the way we see ourselves is a collaborative project for which the wheels are already in motion. In the last year, several prominent figures have taken to social media to highlight examples of how their appearance has been distorted by the media.

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