nexus of reality appears to contradict this mechanical process. At this point, a psychological model of an empirical individual without inherent, independent essence is introduced: with an anti-Upaniṣadic assertion of a No-Self (anattā), Buddhism places the karmic intention (saskāra) into an intricate model of interaction: the five ‘heaps’ or ‘groups of grasping’ (upadāna-skandha). In this model, the conditioned and misguided notion of a ‘Self’ arises as the result of a process of demarcation, dualisation of reality into subject/object, and alienation of the part from the whole. This process could be likened to the misguided notion of separateness, for instance, a wave could «feel» with regard to the rest of the ocean. Our self-awareness as separate and individual (5th skandha: vijñāna) arises as the result of intentionally charged impulses (4th skandha: saskāra) towards reality (cf. 1st skandha: rūpa, form) as we perceive (2nd skandha: vedanā, feeling) and conceptualise (3rd skandha: sajñā) it. Buddhism recognised these immediate impulses of separation as fuelled by desire (‘I like something’, tā, rāga), or aversion (‘I dislike something’ dvea) or confusion (‘I am not sure’, mohā, avidyā). It is according to these basic categories that sentient beings are thought to be constantly pigeon-holing their environment and by doing so asserting their own identity i.e. demarcating the boundaries of the Ego. But since beings construct Egos without there being any inherent essence or Self, this individuation is ultimately the reason for them being in a state of suffering, i.e. of pain, change and not being enlightened. The three impulsive psychological reactions (like, dislike, confusion) are therefore characterised as the ‘roots of the unwholesome’ — the causes of difficult conditions.
The difficulty still lies with the notion of rebirth without a Self. Without employing an agent, patiens or subject to re-birth and suffering, how is it possible to console the concept of intention with a seemingly mechanical process of causation resulting in continuous re-becoming? Here it is vital to realize that karma in Early Buddhism is not only fully ethicised and intention-driven; but also karma appears to such a degree of a mental nature that accidental or even ignorant actions cause no offence (Milindapañhā, iv. 2. 27); non-intentional karma does not cause grave negative results (Harivarman, Satyasiddhiśāstra 2, 84). This feature of Early Buddhist karma theory was severely criticised by the Jainas (e.g. Sūtraktāga 2.6.26–8).
 Cp. Krishan 1997, 62–66.